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Decker Dave's Dreadful Services Blog (Index at the top of Page 1)


davidfowler2000
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On 6/13/2019 at 3:04 PM, davidfowler2000 said:

 

Frankley
Location: M5
Type: One on each side. No connecting bridge. Moto
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Travelodge (Southbound only)
Pros: N/A
Cons: N/A
Comments: I only ever stopped here once when the Volvo shat it's alternator on the way back from The Electric Train museum so I don't rate this place highly.
Conclusion: Avoid.


 

Frankly, it's terrible, Do not stop for a short snooze at night, unless you want a lonely lorry driver tapping at your window to invite you to join him in his sleeper cab.

Also not a good place to wait for rescue with a Phantom V  with stuck brakes as they will want to charge you for parking.

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Still off work. Yet another lazy day. Tea has been made, Pop Tarts consumed. Let's continue.

"The" Warwick
Location: M40
Type: One on each side. No connecting bridge. Welcome Break
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Days Inn
Pros: Fresh interior.
Cons: Car park is easily navigable but mostly ruined by idiots that can't navigate
Comments: I don't think I've ever met anyone who is a car enthusiast or drives for work who doesn't refer to Warwick Services as "The Warwick Services" and I can't think of any other that arbitrarily gets the word "The" applied as a prefix. Generally nice layout with the drive thru away from the main building, nice interior looks to have been reasonably freshly refurbed. Can't speak for the northbound but I can imagine it being the same as south.
Conclusion: Not bad at all.


Cherwell Valley
Location: M40
Type: One site for both carriageways. Moto.
Petrol Station: Esso
Hotel: Travelodge
Pros: Massive. Lots of parking.
Cons: Still offensively busy. Will likely burn down and kill you. Access from the motorway is a pain.
Comments: This is one of those gargantuan services that appear to be popping up. Styled like an airport, you drive up to the building but the access is only at one end of it which is usually the other end from the toilets. According to Mr chaseracer this services also apparently burns down every couple of days so if you ever go, you'll likely die. One thing car drivers will never notice is the largest truck park I've ever seen outside a truck stop. Buses and caravans have to drive through it to get out and it's a noticeable amount of digits on the odometer to go right round it. It's so large there is a drive through, automatic truckwash. The access roundabouts are always busy so even if you use the toilet in the petrol station it still takes a lot of time to go in and get out again.
Conclusion: Avoid if you can. Use The Warwick or Oxford for a toilet stop.


Chieveley
Location: M4 / A34
Type: One site for both carriageways. Moto
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Travelodge
Pros: Not much else on the A34
Cons: Feels claustrophobic. Generally terrible.
Comments: I've only ever used this from the A34 so I don't know what alternatives there are on the M4. This services feels tiny but it really isn't. The car park doesn't flow and the amenities building is really cramped. There's about 4 or 5 stalls outside selling stuff about 6 feet away from the front door so you are constantly bumping in to people. There's also 3 Costas. WHO NEEDS THAT MUCH COFFEE?
Conclusion: Not good but there's not much alternative travelling between Oxford and Southampton unless you go in to a town.

I think that about covers me for everything west of London and the M1. Until I remember something after I hit post.

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1 hour ago, davidfowler2000 said:

"The" Warwick


Can't speak for the northbound but I can imagine it being the same as south.
 

Not enough car parking in the northbound, which becomes apparent at busy times.  Unless there's a massive overflow car park that I managed to miss last time I was there...

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I've used Chieveley once, when Charlie was sick on the way home from me collecting him from Torquay 2 days early on a holiday I didn't go to 2 years ago (which is for another thread). Hateful place, usually so close to home I never bother. 

Cherwell Valley... I got pushed into the kerb on the roundabout by a truck years ago, and cracked an alloy on my Puma. Dad had a mate weld it up after I drove to Peterborough oblivious as to the potential danger of driving very fast with a cracked alloy (aaah to be young again). Again, I think I'd only gone in for a drink. We went there last year, again with the kids as eva felt poorly, I think it's too close to home again to care, but I was over ruled

Moar please, your getting to the ones I've actually visited now! 

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Sorry Sam. For the next little bit it's back north again. Be prepared for exploding Jim Bells...

Scotch Corner
Location: A1(M) / A66
Type: One site for both carriageways. Moto
Petrol Station: Esso
Hotel: Travelodge
Pros: Nothing really special. Tradition more than anything
Cons: Small, cramped. Known feeder point for tour coaches
Comments: This is almost a tradition, old charter or something when traversing the A66 and A1(M) as it's about 2:45hrs from Glasgow. The parking is decent but the amenities building is quite small, as is the toilets. When you wander in you'll see an enormous seating area but last time I was there it was for Costa customers only. Burger King customers are herded off in to a little den right at the end.
Conclusion: Not great. I'll not plan a journey around stopping here.


Wetherby
Location: A1(M)
Type: One site for each carriageway. Moto
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Days Inn
Pros: None
Cons: Access is a pain. Extremely busy
Comments: This is another one of those gargantuan airport style services with one big long building and only one way in and out. As seems to be the way with them, the access is a pain in the hole with Wetherby not being helped by being the same junction as the north town access to the motorway. I've never tried to go round the roundabout at peak time but it must be fucking woeful. This one seems well situated to attract a LOT of patronage so it's always busy.
Conclusion: Avoid unless absolutely necessary.


Bilbrough and Bilbrough Top
Location: A64
Type: Bilbrough (Eastbound only) has fuel and hotel. Bilbrough Top (Both directions) is the main site
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Travelodge (Eastbound only), Premier Inn
Pros: Not too busy. Separate east and westbounds. Saves going to Wetherby if you're heading east from the A1(M)
Cons: Cramped depending who's in.
Comments: I only ever stopped here once coming back from Scarborough in a convoy of 4 brand new 15m coaches to top up the water in one of them. There's no designated coach or HGV parking so we took up the whole site. The main site has access to both carriageways with a road bridge from the eastbound carriageway rather than being off a roundabout like any other one-sided services which keeps traffic flowing.  There's a McDonald's and a fish and chip shop so you can get some eats while you're in.
Conclusion: Not too shabby


Blyth (Update -> Here)
Location: A1(M)
Type: One side for both carriageways. Moto
Petrol Station: Esso
Hotel: Travelodge
Pros: None. Potentially quiet.
Cons: Small
Comments: As will be the case with a lot of the east coast stuff, I only ever stopped here once on the one day round trip to London to get those hi fi speakers I won on eBay. Looking at maps, Blyth services was at the roundabout where the A1(M) finished and the A1 started so the access was pretty sensisble off the A1 southbound and exit back on to the roundabout. Now the roundabout has been removed and the roads continue in to each other so everything got re-jigged at the services. It's weird. From memory you come in, drive through the truck park, double back on yourself and then in to the parking where you are greeted with what felt like a glorified Portakabin™. It was something daft like 9am on a Sunday morning when I rocked up so it was dead however I was still not impressed. The inside is really close and cramped even with noone in it. God knows what it must be like when it's busy.
Conclusion: Come in, go for a pee, get out.

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Aye. Why not have another couple. Getting close to the end of the list now.

Tibshelf
Location: M1
Type: One on each side. No connecting bridge. Roadchef
Petrol Station: Shell
Hotel: Days Inn
Pros: Nice. Leafy. Feels out the way.
Cons: Nothing outstanding.
Comments: Another 1980s build this one so it feels quite modern. The one time I stopped here for a quick pee on the northbound trip from last year's Festival of the Unexceptional I noticed how green the grounds were. The car park is simple and you can drive both ways up each bit of it. The amenities building is laid out like a 1980s shopping centre, but smaller. It's close but quite cosy.
Conclusion: Would like to visit again


Watford Gap
Location: M1
Type: One on each side. Connecting bridge. Roadchef
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Days Inn
Pros:Historical value?
Cons: Everything.
Comments: Watford Gap was one of the original 5 services built with the first motorways. It's quite small and retains none of it's charm from the glory days and it's got to be one of the last words in misery. The last time I was in the car park looked as if it had been rearranged and repainted about 3 times without removing the old paint.
Conclusion: Grim. In the truest sense of the word.


Northampton
Location: M1
Type: One on each side. Connecting bridge. Roadchef
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: None
Pros: N/A
Cons: N/A
Comments: I only ever stopped here for fuel bringing the Olympian up from Purfleet so cannot comment.
Conclusion: N/A


Newport Pagnell
Location: M1
Type: One on each side. Connecting bridge. Welcome Break
Petrol Station: Shell
Hotel: None
Pros: Big car park. The connecting bridge is quite impressive
Cons: Busy
Comments: The oldest services in the UK. I stopped here to get pain killers on the way home from FoTU '18 so I was slightly blinkered by a purpose during my visit. It's quite small and crowded but not too unpleasant with it. I was most impressed by the man in the car park who was amazed to see "an old car" (the 740) and had to bring his two very young daughters over to see it. I had a mission so I didn't have time to talk to him and he was gone by the time I got back.
Conclusion: Not too terrible.

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fek

apart from the strathcaro and the ones frae inverness - ive been to all the others apart from lymm and knutsford and sandbach (too close to home)

and no i dont drive a wagon :D

m4 m25 next? (leigh delamere - shudder and you slag bridgwater)

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If my brain is working correctly I only have 4, maybe 5, more services to do. I'll not do it in one post. I'll break it in to two. For this one I'll finish my round trip to London in a day...

Birchanger Green
Location: M11
Type: One side for both carriageways. Welcome Break
Petrol Station: Shell
Hotel: Ramada
Pros: Close to Stansted airport
Cons: Close to Stansted airport
Comments: I visited once reasonably early in the day on a Sunday so it wasn't too busy. Reports online seem to say it's properly mental busy because it's next to the airport and the services itself gets used as a waiting area for cars doing pickup rather than pay for airport parking. The entire junction it's attached to has a weird layout and the services itself has an odd layout but I liked it. It was the first services I had ever witnessed in the flesh with a Ramada hotel. The amenities building had been somewhat recently refurbed when I visited and it's got quite an airy feel about it and the car park was big enough.
Conclusion: Yes. Very good.


Heston
Location: M4
Type: One on each side. No connecting bridge. Moto
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Travelodge
Pros: If you see it you're almost out of London
Cons: The petrol station doesn't have a toilet
Comments: On my way out of That-There-London I was getting fed up of the perpetual shit that was the city traffic so a quick pee stop at Heston before doing the M4 - M25 - M40 was in order. I was most disappointed to find out the petrol station didn't have a toilet so I had to go to the main building. It was shit. My memory of the building was dark and dingy too so it wasn't even as if there was a benefit to going in.
Conclusion: Just don't do it. There must be other options.

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why is it almost every burger king at the services in 3 quid more expensive than bk in town/retail park... stirling is just a shithole, used to be okay but carpark has more craters than the moon and the truck/caravan park stinks of piss, that applies to almost every services, do all truckies just piss against their trailers??? When your towiing the caravan you end up in with the truckies and its bloody grim... take pieces and a flask of bovril and piss against a stobart trailer

feck knows what tourists really think about motorway services, they are all overpriced with shit food and staff that look suicidal, worst on the planet has to be harthill, you can almost hear the banjos and flute bands in the distance, stopping for a piss is almost bearable but once i had to change a couple of wheels on a caravan we had just bought as the tyres were shagged and about to go bang, the sights of harthill on a saturday night, buses full of flute band members, a minibus with a hen night and a celtic supporters bus... (they just got off and pissed against one of the flute band buses), it was like place of the dammed

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Birchanger Lane has a a Ramada AND a Days Inn. If you order breakfast in the Days Inn you have to walk to the Ramada for it.
Dad used to stay there a lot for work (Stansted Airport) so I'd go with him, walk to Bishops Stortford and get the train into London to do some record shopping etc.

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2 hours ago, davehedgehog31 said:

Excellent write ups Fowler. 

I worked in Abington Services for a few years as a student. Seen some sights.

i would say it is/was one of the okay ones, 

kinross is another that hasnt seen a paintbrush since 1970, happendon was a gay pick up point at one time. there was also the golden fleece services at jnc 44 carlisle, if not towing i used to use tescos on warwick road jnc 43, cheap fuel and good cafe

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With regards to Birchanger, if you're stopping at a busy time e.g. early Saturday afternoon, and all you want is a piss and a machine coffee, head east towards Stanstead for an extra 2 minutes and there's a BP garage. 

There's also a McDonald's next door if you then decide you're peckish but are a mingebag.  89p burger made of arseholes FTW.

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I quite like the M2 services. 

The only services on the 25 miles of the motorway (obviously the A2 connects at either end and has it's own services).

The bridge is a good place to chod spot (with seating available) - has an M&S with exceedingly friendly staff, and a rough burger king actually on the bridge. The Costa is ok. The WH Smiths as depressing as normal.

Loos are sub-standard. Unappealing if you need a 'Jim Bell'.

You access the services from both sides of the motorway.

There is also the 'secret exit' into Rainham which I have used when Junction 4 is stacked-up... 

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5 hours ago, egg said:

There is also the 'secret exit' into Rainham which I have used when Junction 4 is stacked-up... 

To explain the secret* junction - the circles on this map show  the access on to Matts Hill Road (north and south) - you can drive between either side of the services that way so is also a useful motorway u-turn after that high level business meeting.  Although, I believe there are officially no entry signs.

As mentioned before the North bound side takes you in the back end of Rainham, and the South side into various villages.

During commuting times it is used quite a lot by locals.

Another side note, does anyone still call it Farthing Corner any more - 'Medway services' seems to have taken over?

69328664_mattshill.thumb.JPG.bec5a6176d03bcf251523a8e3d7839d1.JPG

 

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21 hours ago, big_al_granvia said:

i would say it is/was one of the okay ones, 

Abington probably is, it's a nice setting. 

I used to work across all the various "units".

One night I was working in the cafe, about 4am I was footering about tidying up the counters etc, ducked down tidying up cups for hot drinks and that type of thing, not a soul in the place. I emerged above the parapet about 30 seconds later to find the place was full of a coach load of Japanese tourists standing there in complete silence studying the menu, then when I appeared, taking my photo. Bizarre. 

Another nightshift in the cafe, towards the end of my shift so probably about 6am. A van reverses up to the front door of the services and two men in Hi-Vis jackets emerge. There were two little kiddies ride on things, Thomas the Tank and Noddy I believe. They picked them up and stuck them in the back of the van. "Well, they must be going to get repaired", thought I. The next day I was summoned into the back office to review CCTV, I was told they were stolen and was asked why I didn't confront them... Because you pay me £5.50 an hour, confronting two strapping pikeys is well above my pay grade. 

They also tried to instruct us to never hand over money to robbers when working in the petrol station. Needless to say if it ever happened to me the till would have been emptied in two shakes of a lamb's tail. 

The CCTV never worked in the petrol station and there were no ANPR cameras. 

The sale of scudbooks was still very much alive and well among the trucking fraternity, I wonder if this has taken a hit nowadays with the advent of fast mobile internet? 

Can confirm there were plenty manky bastard truck drivers. One curled a big brown trout out in the courtesy shower. A mexican standoff ensued between the 3 nightshift staff as to who was going to deal with it.

The absolute worst though were cunts who would come into the petrol station and rant at me about the price of fuel as if I, an 18 year old who works 20 hours a week had any say whatsoever over the pricing of Shell's fuel. I kindly instructed several such customers to "fuck off and buy their petrol elsewhere". Nobody ever got sacked because they were perennially short staffed on account of nobody being willing to drag their arses out there for peanuts.  

To be fair to Welcome Break, apart from the shite wages and the jumped up floor manager types, they weren't the worst. I crashed my car into a big tree one morning after a nightshift, I broke my arm and was off work for 5 months or so. They could have bagged me but they kept my job open and were decent with me going back. The nights out were a good laugh and met some folk I'm still pals with. 

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On 6/16/2019 at 9:58 PM, davidfowler2000 said:

Right ok. I wasn't sure if I'd include this but it's worthy of a post for completeness.

Balhaldie
Location: A9
Type: Petrol station
Petrol Station: Shell (Southbound only)
Hotel: None
Pros: Easy to access.
Cons: Almost not a services
Comments: This is a weird site. Situated a couple of miles north of Dunblane. It has almost always been southbound only for fuel with a Little Chef on both sides - the northbound being literally JUST a Little Chef with northbound fuel located at Auchterarder. Both Little Chefs closed fairly early with the collapse of that chain which left the northbound services abandoned. You could still get in to the car park for a while but it eventually got blocked off. It reopened with an independant eatery chain (Oliver's Grill and Diner). It never gained traction and closed soon after with the car park being blocked up again. A couple of years ago, a Subway opened with a resurfaced the car park and new fencing to make it look a bit more appealing. The southbound side faired a bit better with folk actually using the Little Chef probably because it was attached to a petrol station. In fact, the Balhaldie Little Chef being the last one in Scotland to close. That Little Chef is now closed but the building is still there and the Little Chef signage still being in place last time I was up that way.
Conclusion: Handy fuel stop before making a non-stop break for it through the central belt.

Don't have occasion to pass here very often but did the other day and immediately thought of this thread.

Here's a google snapshot as it needs to be seen in all it's glory.

 image.png.3625eaf10d90c6880921acda3c09b59a.png

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  • davidfowler2000 changed the title to Decker Dave's Dreadful Services Blog (Index at the top of Page 1)

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