FEATURE: Ace City Racers – BOF | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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You are now about to witness the strength of road knowledge. Overpriced, and far from glamorous, motorway service stations are still an integral part of a travelling bands survival. After a 6 hour drive the sight of a familiar stop can be the concrete symbol of hope that prevents a band splitting up or at the very least having an in-van meltdown.

Beautifully documented by Martin Parr in his boring postcards book some of the countries oddest architecture can be seen by the motorway roadside.

So, buckle up and let Ace City Racers guide you through 5 of their favourite stops.

Charnock Richard
The psychedelic name alone warrants inclusion on this list. Charnock Richard is the epitome of a brutalist concrete masterpiece. We like it because coming up from Scotland, this is the first stop that visibly uses the word bap instead of roll, and it makes us feel like we are properly ‘on our holidays’. The only thing we enjoy more is the word barm, but being honest we still don’t really know what the difference is.
The mirror image design resulted in ACR losing our van, wandering around gormlessly searching on the wrong side of the road thinking we had been robbed.
We also once also saw Helen Flanagan from Corrie in the Burger King late at night but we were too shy to say hello, I imagine she is similarly regretful.

Northampton
For some reason folk always seem strangely lairy at this stop as if it’s a popular stag night destination, with minibuses full of large men squeezed into tight matching tops furiously jostling for the last scotch egg.
This also used to have those annoying grabby machine games where you put money in to try and pick up a soft toy.  After 5 minutes of strategically positioning the grabber the hand goes limp at the vital moment and a tantrum ensues. Probably for the best it’s not there anymore

Lancaster (Forton)
Now this one really confuses me, because it always seems to be full of men playing driving games. It makes me wonder what drives someone (no pun intended) to pull off the motorway and think,” I know what I’ll do I’ll get a couple of extra miles under the belt on this driving simulator”. I do often want to suggest they should just chuck a pound coin out their car window every mile but I don’t because I am inherently a coward.
Forton has an excellent restaurant/eastern bloc surveillance tower at the top of it which I have always thought looked cool and has a bookie’s in it should you fancy a bit of motorway betting.

Westmoreland (Tebay)
Tebay means home is in sight. It is the nicest stop between London and Glasgow as it has a lake, ducks, a small waterfall inside and outdoor benches. We once stopped here and one of our party members who was a bit worse for wear rolled down the hill into the ducks causing daytime picnickers to disperse sharpish. Boasting a pricey farm kitchen, it has nice food (or gifts for the significant other), but it’s usually our last stop before home so we just load up on caffeine.

Hamilton Roadchef (Little Chef)
We don’t stop at this one, not even for a rock hard Ginsters pasty, nothing against it personally but it’s just too close to home. I have a friend who only ever refers to it as the “Little Thief” because he was once ripped off for a cup of tea in the 90s, and to think people say Scotsman are careful with money. Being a well illuminated bit of road you could almost drive home to Glasgow without lights, not that we would ever condone that sort of thing, not even if your battery is flat……

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