Sunday, June 25, 2006


An Open Letter To The Manager Of The Road Chef Service Station On The M5 Near Bristol (Northbound Carriageway)

RE: The Pricing Structure In Your Cafeteria

Dear Sir,

Are you shitting me?

Let me tell you a story. Once, when I was a child, I joined some rich friends of mine at a Swiss Lodore hotel for the afternoon. I had a cup of tea, and a cucumber sandwich, and it came to about seven pounds. I didn't mind, because I thought I was being suave and sophisticated. I notice that you seem to feel you can charge similar prices at your service station.

There are, however, crucial differences which may explain why I'm a bit narked at you the way I wasn't at them. You see, that hotel was set in beautiful surroundings in the Lake District - your restaurant overlooks the M5. The hotel had obsequious waiters who smiled unctiously at me - I was served at your restaurant by a surly bitch who looked like she was on day release. Finally, and perhaps crucially, the hotel had a foreign fellow with a toothy grin tinkling sweet nothings on a grand piano - in your restaurant, the only audible sound was other diners complaining about the prices.

And who can blame them? Nearly nine pounds for a smothered chicken? Listen, mate, I could buy a chicken farm with a thousand birds and intensively rear them for a year for that sort of dosh. The steaks were over a tenner and looked like burnt leather. My mate paid four pounds for a prawn sandwich which had precisely four prawns on it - a pound a prawn? Who do you think you are? They were fucking tiny as well.

I plumped for a scone in the end, as if that were a meal for fucks sake, because I only had to negotiate a small extension to my overdraft for that, but - and why doesn't this surprise me? - it came with its own problems. It came with clotted cream. Now, I like clotted cream with a scone, but I don't like heart attacks, so why does a scone come with a tub of clotted cream twice the size of the scone? And don't say I didn't have to eat it all - of course I did. I urgently needed to get some value for money after having been robbed by you at the soft drinks machine.

All in all, mate, not too fucking impressive.

Frankly, you might be better off just starving to death.

Piss poor service granted but...

You didn't say if you were at Sedgemoor, Gordano (unlikely as there's no north or south, it's unidirectional) or up towards Gloucester. Still, and I realise that it's after the eventm but what stopped you from leaving the rest area and pulling off the motorway at the next exit in order to buy food at a shop or a pub and having a picnic in the beautiful Mendips or Cotswolds?

Just wondering like.
I recently dragged my ex-boyfriend to the Black Country Museum (yes my ex- i am one persuasive woman!). Anyway we went to the cafe thing and took a bottle of sprite (500ml i must point out) and a normal bag of walkers crisps and the sum of the items in this over-inflated hell hole of opportunistic money grabbing yam yams?? 2 quid! yes two English pounds sterling! needless to say after retrieving my jaw from the lilo i asked if he was joking, and promptly put the crisps back. So i only handed over £1.50 of my meagre student salary for the sprite... needless to say they had the last laugh.(Don't be blue, Peter!)
p.s. funnest post i've read in ages!
funniest!! d'oh!
Mark - Such detailed questions! To answer, I think it was Gordano actually, I didn't see if it was a dual-sided one, but I felt I had to put northbound on the miniscule chance that there are two managers for the two restaurants, and the other restaurant is a reasonably-priced Savoy. What stopped me leaving was that I was part of a coach party.

Happy - I've been there about three times, and I swear to you, I can't remember a thing about it. Does seem rather steep for a place in the middle of the yam-yam locale. Still, you just can't fake that authentic Dudley atmosphere can you?
What stopped me leaving was that I was part of a coach party.

That would be an excellent reason.

Driving homeward bound from the London direction in the evening during Glorious Goodwood week every pub in the vinicity has about three coaches parked up outside. It's like Carry on at your Convenience.
Lol! I do especially dislike coach travel. Once, on a school trip, we travelled from Birmingham to Montecatini in Italy straight, taking 28 hours. Over the rest of the week, we travelled down to Sorrento in the south - another six or seven hours at least, then beack - before another 28 hours home. I've never looked at a coach the same way again.
If you don't like the prices or the merchandise, go elsewhere. Of course if you really do care about the standard of motorway service station food you could always bid for a franchise next time they come up for grabs.
Let me know next time you're there and I'll bring you a coffee and a cake. Ummm white or black? sugar?
I've had that sandwich. That very four-prawn sandwich! The coffee was good though.

Simon - If you put the capital up, I'll go halves on the profits with you.

Ladybristol - Very kind of you! I'm a tea man myself, milk and no sugar. Best drink on God's green earth.

Boudica - Did you find yourself wanting to hurl chairs and abuse indiscriminately like I wanted to?
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