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gloucServs

No sooner has one service station featured on these pages, than we feel compelled to write about another.  The new Gloucester Services on the M5 is run by the Westmorland Family group who also run Tebay Services, serving home made food from local producers.  Currently the services are only open on the northbound side, but the southbound will be opening next year.

The vegetarian and vegan food is being supplied by The Parsnipship, a great, Cardiff based company, producing unique seasonal food.  In-house bakers have also apparently perfected a gluten free Chocolate and Almond cake – check out the recipe on their blog.

We haven’t had the chance to visit yet, but that all sounds like a services should, and the pictures show a lovely, inspiring design, making for a relaxing break.  We can’t wait to go, but if you get the chance, let us know what you think!

Gloucester Services, between J11a and J12 on the M5 northbound (sounthbound 2015)

gloucServs2

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We don’t often cover motorway services on this blog, but the original Offmotorway website was created because of the dire state of the food (particularly vegetarian food) served at the UK’s motorway service stations.  The site existed to recommend getting off the motorways and finding alternatives, which is still largely to be desired of course.  However I do occasionally cover interesting developments when something pops up!  And in this spirit, I finally made it to the new(ish) services at Beaconsfield, Junction 2 of the M40.

beaconsfieldservices

The services caused a stir when they opened earlier this year as this is the site of the first pub allowed at a motorway services, operated by JD Wetherspoon.  But that aside, this is a slightly different service station, which makes for a pleasant stop.  It feels more like a shopping centre than a services, with a large, airy interior.  There’s a huge selection of food outlets, so no shortage of veggie options, although they are all chains.  Patisserie Valerie are there, a favourite still, despite it’s expansion over recent years to near ubiquity in every town in the country!

What sets this place apart though, is the outside space, with a lake, small walking trail, picnic area and children’s play area.  All free to use of course, even if you bring your own sandwiches and flask of tea.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of having a pub at a motorway services, at least here there is evidence of careful thought having gone into the design.  And you can take a proper, relaxing break here if you want to rather than just be ripped off buying terrible food!

Tebay Services on the M6

The RAC in the UK have launched a campaign for better roadside services, where travellers can have picnics in pleasant surroundings.  It’s good timing for their ‘Picnic with the RAC’ campaign, what with ‘staycations’ due to the recession, and now we have the Icelandic ash cloud keeping holidaymakers on the ground.  Sign their petition here.

Mind you, they’re actually a bit late in the day, as I’ve been doing my bit on this subject for years – Offmotorway.co.uk was my first website, started up as a result of my frustration with the appalling food available at motorway service stations.  It’s hard to understand why they have to be so bad and so expensive – and why more people don’t vote with their feet and go elsewhere!

And this very subject came up this morning on BBC Radio 2, when Chris Evans commented on how bad motorway services were.  His comments sparked a littly flurry of texts recommeninding the Tebay services at junction 38 on the M6.  This little slice of motoray heaven is also  described in  ‘B****cks to Alton Towers’ as ‘in every sense, a complete pleasure’.

So, have you ever been to Tebay services?  Or found any other roadside picnic spots or eateries you’d like to recommend?

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