TebayAs you must surely know by now, I am very proud of the area in which I live, and consider myself very lucky to be surrounded by hills and and valleys, lakes and rivers. Whenever we drive back home after a spell away, the stretch of the M6 when the mountains really take shape is when I feel like I am almost home. Somewhat sadly in my mind, this also heralds the approaching Tebay service station, which is definitely the finest on the M6, if not in the country. It’s not often you can sing the praises of a motorway service station; usually featuring grey tiles, “comfort facilities” of dubious standards, and the ubiquitous fast food outlets serving flavourless, chewy burgers, pizzas and other such stodge, meant to eat and run, they aren’t establishments usually known for their ethics, produce, service or overall quality. But they serve a purpose (and if you are on a long car journey, and need to stop, you need to stop!)

A stop at Tebay will spoil you. Service stations will never be the same again. So why am I sad about this perfect oasis in the midst of the 6 lanes of tarmac? It’s just too darned close to home! If we are heading southward, we have only set off 40 minutes earlier – too soon for a stop. And coming the other way, well, we are almost home. herdyI must confess, on more than one occasion we have timed our journey so that we can stop and get various delicious treats, like smoked Cumberland sausage, scotch eggs (the scrumpy scotch egg is a personal favourite) and cakes (I highly recommend the white chocolate and cranberry tiffin!) to take on our way, happy in the knowledge that we have  treat of a packed lunch squirreled away for later. We have also been know to use the farm shop to buy unusual cheeses and chutneys for my father in law when we visit for a weekend. That always goes down well! Which leads me nicely on…

When you think of stopping at petrol stations to buy last minute gifts, you probably think of dropping carnations and a road map of the UK. However, if you find yourself passing Tebay around the festive period, and need a last minute gift, I urge you to stop and peruse the fantastic range of delightful and unusual presents. From cuddly toys (including Herdy, naturally) to pottery, cosmetics to clothes, not to mention toys. games and even presents for pets, I was astounded not only at the range offered, but the unusual items from local suppliers – what a wealth of talent! I can see myself putting together a hamper made solely from local producers to pop under my in laws’ Christmas tree.

Christmas hamperI can see I am going to have to make a journey down the motorway to pick up a few treats for my nearest and dearest… and maybe a bottle of toffee vodka or local Cumbrian gin might happen to fall in my basket along the way…

Do you have any usual tips for Christmas shopping, last minute or otherwise?

It’s so great to find things that aren’t on the high street – not only because they are often more appreciated and individual, but also for the sake of supporting local businesses, which I intend to do as much as possible over the coming few weeks.



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