It’s the autumn half term which can only mean one thing – time for a well earned break. I know it doesn’t seem long since we returned from our summer holiday in France, but that was ten weeks ago. And enjoyable though that summer break was there were times when it seemed like I had only swapped one kitchen for another! Albeit an outside kitchen! And despite the trials and tribulations of lengthy drives and pesky small dogs (see posts in August), we still had Small Persons 1 And 2 Of 2 to look after.
So this half term, we decided to take a break without our Small Persons. I say without ‘our’ because our break was with Chef and Nursey, and the latter is a small person in her own right!
The four of us had rented a cottage in the Yorkshire Dales for a week. So, on the first Saturday of the half term, we set off at silly o’clock in the morning to avoid the major build up of traffic around Birmingham. We had agreed to rendezvous at a service station north of Birmingham on the M6 for breakfast.
In the week leading up to half term the weather had been tremendous; late summer, early autumn sunshine and quite warm temperatures. We knew that Yorkshire would not be as warm as it is down south, and we were expecting it to be wet. But that wasn’t going to put a damper on our break. We knew what to expect and we were prepared for it.
I had hoped for an easy drive to Yorkshire, and going so early in the morning I had hoped to miss the traffic. And miss the traffic we did, but, as with any long journey I seem to drive, the weather is rarely kind to me. We set off at 4am in very heavy rain. And the rain just didn’t stop. The entire journey, over 300 miles was spent with windscreen wipers working overtime trying to clear not only the rain, but also the spray from idiots who overtake and pull in in front of you without leaving much of a gap!
By the way, if you are ever thinking of driving a long journey, and don’t want bad weather, just avoid travelling the same time as me!
Meanwhile, back on the M6, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I had reached the service station and were awaiting the arrival of Chef and Nursey. As they were twenty minutes behind us, She Who Must Be Obeyed had time to check out the facilities. This is something which is becoming quite a habit of hers – should I be worried? 😉
Twenty minutes later, with facilities checked and the four of us ready for breakfast, we decided to put the dreaded motorway service station food to the test. We were expecting a good breakfast because these weren’t just any services; they were M & S services! (Apologies to readers from outside the UK who won’t have seen the commercials!)
There was a choice of three breakfasts to be had and the only difference was the number of sausages on the plate! They each had a fancy name though, which is something I can’t recall now, just as I couldn’t then; it wasn’t just ‘One Sausage Breakfast’ or ‘Two Sausage Breakfast’, etc. None of us fancied the baked beans with our breakfast, an the lady behind the counter was quite accommodating and gave us all an extra egg – after all, she wasn’t just any operative, she was an M & S operative!
Once you had made your choice, and been handed your plate, you had to pass on to the drinks station. This was no longer M & S, it was Costa. And this is where any good feelings we had built up were about to come tumbling down.
There were two young girls working behind the counter, but only one of them was serving. The second girl seemed to busy herself doing tasks which could have waited until the queue of customers had cleared. It was hardly a queue – there were only two people ahead of me, and one behind.
But, the second girl refused to be distracted from her task of moving cups from one shelf to another or rearranging the milk cartons. This left the first girl to make all the coffees and teas. And sadly, she only had one speed and wasn’t able to multitask. The man behind me started to sing a song by Take That – Patience! By the time I had given my order – one large latte and tea for one please – the fat from the breakfast was visibly congealing in front of my eyes. Well, obviously not in front of my eyes, because I wouldn’t have been able to see; it was congealing on the plate! 😉
Having watched the first girl fill what can only be described as a two handled bucket, with coffee, I was somewhat surprised to be asked “anything else?” I refrained from recounting my earlier order in a tone suggesting she needed to listen carefully. After all, it was only ‘one large latte and tea for one please’ – nothing complicated. So a polite ‘yes, a tea please’ followed.
That tea took her ages to make – a tea pot, a tea bag, a hot water pot, some hot water, a small milk jug, some milk and a cup and saucer – how difficult is it? And why did it seem like she went to India to pick the tea? Now, after a lengthy delay, I had to carry my tray with the tea and two cold breakfasts and iced coffee to the cashier. As I placed my tray in front of the cashier, he instantly recognised one tea and a bucket of iced coffee; however, he was unable to identify the breakfasts. Now bearing in mind there were only three variants, 1, 2 or 3 sausage, how difficult could it have been? In front of him there were two plates; both contained the usual suspects of a fried breakfast and both only had one sausage.
So, when asked, and as I couldn’t remember the fancy names they gave them, I simply pointed to the sausage and said ‘the one with only one sausage!’
Sounds like an episode of Friends. The one with only one sausage! 😉
So, cold coffee and fatty breakfast consumed, it was time to get back to the M6, but not before She Who Must Be Obeyed had to revisit the facilities to ‘squeeze another one out’! (If she ever reads these posts, I’m dead!)