A long-time lover of travel, good food and sustainable living, founder Alastair’s idea of a guide to alternative places to stop near the motorway has been brewing for some time. Here he shares why he thinks the time is now right.
Where did the idea for The Extra Mile come from?
Years of dismay at the grimness of motorway service stations, then a chance conversation with a friend.
Why not? The food ‘revolution’ is buzzing, with fine people all over the UK offering delicious and decently-sourced food within reach of motorways and main roads. If enough of us use them, there will be more of them and more support for local economies. Rural Britain will be the beneficiary, as will better farming and more honest food production in general. We hope to be one tiny nail in the coffin of industrialised and junk food.
What’s so bad about motorway services?
What is good about them? They are devoid of soul and personality, character and humanity. They support fast-food chains, gambling, junk food companies and the gradual elimination of independent shops and eateries. Even their toilets are soul-destroying.
What, in your opinion, makes a better stop?
One where you immediately sense that good people, with a stake in their businesses, are working; where the food is of high-quality and sourced locally; where every effort is made to make the visitor feel welcome as a person rather than as a passing wallet.
What’s your weakness? What do you seek out?
My own idea of travelling bliss in the UK is to come across a church fete or tea-party quite by chance, with cakes made by the women who serve you. Or to come across a wild corner of England, perhaps a river to dip into, a long view for tired eyes and food that you know will nourish rather than undermine you.
Which are your well-trodden paths?
Bristol to Redruth in Cornwall, and Bristol to Saxmundham in East Suffolk
What home comforts do you take with you on the road?
Few – perhaps a copy of the day’s newspaper, a rug for picnics, a flask for hot tea, and sometimes a pillow for a snooze.
What makes a long journey fly by for you?
Good conversation, word games, wild and open spaces seen from the car.