It’s a freezing winters morning as I leave the comfort and warmth of my bed and, after taking care of my ablutions, I climb into my trusty Land Rover for another adventure together. This time we are heading north to Bowness-on-Solway, a rare treat and a journey which won’t involve the dreaded M25. There is a heavy frost and the tyres crunch on the gravel and crack the ice of the small frozen puddles as we trundle out of dry-dock. I am fortified only by a breakfast coffee with just a tot of Courvoisier to keep out the chill.
After a brief journey I arrive at the shop – Bamber Towers – to load up todays delivery, a brand spanking new Brother PR655 embroidery machine. After a quick heave it’s safely loaded into the back along with all the accessories etc. This humping and heaving lark isn’t getting any easier, especially on a freezing cold winters morning like this one.
Before I push off it’s a good opportunity to top up the old windscreen wash. So much salt and grit on the roads at this time of year and it’s a royal pain in the botticelli if you run out and can’t see out ‘cos your windscreen’s filthy. Know what I mean???
Anyway, soon I am chugging along up the M6 and onwards to the first essential destination on any trip north – Tebay Services. Regular readers will not need reminding that yours truly has stopped at almost every service station throughout the land in search of a hearty breakfast. The majority of these stations leave much to be desired and my ‘test’ is the all essential trip to the loo. If the manager/manageress can’t be bothered to keep a tidy toilet then imagine what the kitchens are like. Tebay is the absolute pinnacle and how I truly wish more service stations followed their example.
As I park up the Land Rover a quick mooch confirms light parking and a good chance that there are still plenty of sausages left for yours truly. Mid January is usually a quiet and civilised time to drop in but calling during the summer months can be a bit touch and go as it’s the time of year when the weary traveller is likely to be met by the school coach trip…
It comes as a serious relief to discover that Tebay have kept an eye on their stocks of sausages – imagine the horror of being told – ‘sorry sir, we’ve run out of sausages’. The sheer terror of this message has still left its mark on yours truly after a fateful stop at the M6 Toll service station last year. By the way, the Norton Canes service station is another place that has slipped down the league table. The toilets are appalling and whoever manages the place needs taking outside for five kicks up the arse…
However, I am delighted to report that the Tebay-Brekkie was absolutely scrumptious. The sausages were meaty and the toast was crunchy and the tea was piping.
Take a moment and taste it with me, dear reader. Yummy!
I return to the elements refreshed and repleat and ready for anything. The ducks aren’t happy as their pond has frozen over and all they can do is recreate one of the Dancing on Ice, shows. A quick photo of the bleak and snowy hills and we’re off to the Solway Firth.
Some time later, and after a long drive through some of the loveliest little villages that you normally only see on your Christmas tin of biscuits, here is the Solway Firth. There are regular signs warning me that the tide may be one foot deep on this bit of road or two feet deep on another bit of road, but today the tide is where it should be – in the sea.
Soon, I am inside the customers lovely house – fabulous views – and I’m tucking in to a nice cup of tea and a plate of biscuits. The offer of lunch was made but even yours truly has to draw the line somewhere… As usual, I spend time showing the lady of the house how to operate her new PR655. It’s very simple really but I always take my time to ensure the new user can thread and embroider to my satisfaction.
Another cup of tea is produced and drunk and then it’s time for my journey home. I say my goodbyes and point the Land Rover back to the centre of the Universe – Manchester.
On the way home I decide to stop at Tebay Services – well, I’m feeling a bit peckish…