Motorway service stations have always held a particular fascination for me. Visits were rare as a child, mainly because motorways were rare. The first proper one didn’t open till 1959, the M4 not until 1966. Watford Gap services opened in the November of that year. When my brothers first learned to drive, we’d often just take a drive to the nearest, at Aust Services over the Severn Bridge. They were exotic. Exciting. A symbol of modernity.
And then somehow it all went wrong, and they became a by-word for poor service and poor food. It’s been a long haul back to respectability, but how they’ve changed, even to the point now that they have become mini-destinations in themselves. But it’s patchy, and there are times that I reckon the operators don’t see what an asset they ahve on their hands.
I experienced five service stations on my way down to London, and in fact I’m staying in one.