Yes.. your eyes are working correctly. This is a blog post about a motorway service station.
A few weeks ago, in a passing conversation about an upcoming trip to Bristol, my brother surprised me with his enthusiasm about Gloucester Services which was en route. He extolled the virtues for a good ten minutes and made me promise we’d stop on the way down.
40 minutes later with possibly the most middle-class and expensive services shop ever undertaken (£45 including a copy of Private Eye, two cans of Williams Chase gin and ginger beer, some locally made biscuits and a tea towel) and we were back on the road – full of conversation around why services in this country are so crap and why they should be more like this one. It had an almost Scandinavian feel – light, airy and relaxing. An actual break from the road rather than the garishly bright, smelly pitstops we’re used to.. you know what I mean – crowded spaces filled with gaming machines and overpriced, under delivering chain food.
Some online research has only increased my love for this place. Gloucester Services is run by a family business (who also run a similar set up in Cumbria) and their whole focus is on community and sustainability. So, not only are these services completely green and built to be in tune with the local environment, the company also works alongside the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust and give a percentage of their sales back to the local community. Again … JUST WOW. On top of this, the vast majority of stuff for sale is locally sourced.
As well as the main cafe area, there is a ‘quick kitchen’ shop selling freshly made sandwiches, cakes and such like and a big farm shop selling everything from alcohol and locally sourced foodstuffs to pottery, books and gift items. I was literally in my element.
The kids play area was beautifully done (sadly I was too tall to go and enjoy it) all very natural and in keeping with the feel of the place. The whole place was also decorated with lovely artwork by Stephanie Cole – who I’ve subsequently found and now follow on Instagram. A member of staff told us she came and hand painted everything – it must have been a real labour of love and helps give the place a unique feel.
No.. not Centre Parcs, not the peak district. Gloucester Services. Yes really. Again…JUST WOW.
Thanks yet again to Dave for lending his photographic eye to the blog. I’m paying him in dinners but even so, what a hero! Head over to David Parry Imaging to see his work.