Rugby Truckstop, a slice of real life and cheese on toast
So I eat out a fair bit and I go to some very nice swanky places. However my day job involves me selling my wares to various retailers. I've effectively been a sales rep since 1997 when I joined the United Biscuits graduate scheme. Back then I had a vague notion of doing something in operations so they offered me a job learning to manage people and machinery at a processed fish factory in Grimsby (oh the glamour). However all graduates (there were 50 of us) had to do 6 months in sales first to learn the ropes of the business. The idea behind this was where better to get to know the company and product range but at the coal face of customer contact. I was unsure about this as I had visions of selling biscuits door to door. However I was given a Ford Escort Estate, first class training from Ken a proper geezer who had been a sales rep for years and I was let loose on the East End. Needless to say I loved it. It was fun, I chose my own hours, the product sold itself and for a callow 22 year old the relative success I had gave me a lot of self confidence. It was confidence that got me through my subsequent 2 years in Grimsby in a job I hated. I knew I could always go back to selling and make a living. Life on the road can be a solitary experience but it does encourage you to seek out company and try new places. One of the highlights of training with Ken was that we would stop every day for a cooked breakfast. I soon got to know loads of great places in North & East London. On the road lunch is often skipped as you are travelling but a good breakfast either before your first call or just after can set you up for the day.
Nowadays I'm not out on the road as much but when I do travel up and down the M1 it is important to know where to stop. I try and avoid motorway services which are ruinously expensive. The food and surroundings never tempt me to linger. Supermarket cafes are always a good choice. The food is often fresh, cheap and plentiful. However my favourite place to stop is the Rugby Truckstop which is just off the M1 about a mile up the A5. It is now part of a big Eddie Stobart depot but anyone can use the services. There is plenty of parking and it is cheap, clean and friendly. It largely caters for truckers who often stay overnight as it is close to lots of the midland distribution centres. However the canteen is big with plenty of room for all. There are TV's dotted around usually showing some BBC day time fayre (i recently saw a rare episode of Bargain Hunt where both teams made a profit). The food however is why people come and it is good. Nothing too fancy but good fresh meals in plentiful portions. My current favourite is 2 slices of cheese on toast and a coffee which comes in at about £4! However in the past I have had pie and chips, scampi and chips, curry , rice & chips, bacon sarnie & chips. I am also very familiar with various permutations of the traditional fried breakfast which can come with chips.
It's not for everyone I admit, the "trucker" grade reading material in their adjoining shop might raise eyebrows. However this is a friendly spot where you can take 20 minutes out of the day to enjoy some tasty food. I also like the fact that this depot forms part of the hidden economy. The (mostly) chaps here work long hours driving freight all over the country to keep the country going. It's nice they have somewhere to stop, rest and not be ripped off with bad expensive food. The coffee comes out of a fearsome self serve machine but it's perfectly drinkable. As you can see from my pic last time I had a couple of slices of cheese on toast, nothing earth shattering about that but it was reassuring to know there is a clean place that will knock it up for you fresh in 10 minutes. When you have been driving around all day you begin to plan your day around great spots like The Rugby Truckstop.