It's a really pretty place to stop, and most unlike any other service station that I have stopped at. It has a great reputation for lovely products and fabulous food.
What.... wait a minute? Service station - fabulous food..... how does that work? Well, it does, check out their Trip Advisor reviews more more details.
So, I was delighted to be invited to their "Driving Home For Christmas" event last week. It's not too far from home for me, 40 or so miles, down the straight M6, but just in case there was 'tipple' on offer, I organised a driver ;) Good job too as it happens.
It is a very clean and inviting building, and of course I need to mention the toilets, as surely this is the number one reason that most people stop off at Motorway Services?
Spotlessly clean, plenty of cubicles and a Dyson hand dryer (I do love those things!!) You can even have a shower if you need one.
When we got there we wandered into the event room, which overlooks the pond with lots of little ducks bobbing about. Got offered a soft drink, or Prosecco - well, I had a driver so why not, thank you very much.
Tables were set all around with all the different suppliers that supply Tebay Services with the amazing goodies that you will find within the shop there.
Our first stop was the Christmas Pudding table, aka The Buxton Pudding Company.
The most amazing Christmas pudding I have ever tasted, bar my Mother's. I never usually like a 'bought' pud, but this was very yummy, and best of all - vegetarian! A lot of bought puds use beef suet, so it was lovely to find a veggie one. Dom (the chap above) told us that the little Robins that feast on the leftover suet each year were not impressed at 'going veggie'.... the first year they didn't eat the veggie suet, the next they returned - so all is good there :)
Next stop was all about pies. The Pie Mill is based in Threlkeld, right bang in the middle of the Lake District, and their pies are names after the fells in the area.
I didn't eat at this table as they were all meat based (apart from a delicious looking apple one, but I fear that was there for show and I didn't think I could eat it all in one go without anyone noticing ;)
It was hard to get a review out of them as they were so busy chewing and making very appreciative noises. But I did get 'tender', 'beautiful', ' creamy', 'delicious'. Work out what you will from that :)
Onwards to the cheese table, aka, The Appleby Creamery. I LOVE cheese, and there was plenty to sample on here. From Smoked Brie (unusual, yet really good) to a hard, cheddar style, goats cheese called 'Hootenanny'.
This is Morris, and his name is not on the supplier information below as he has taken over the business. He's the 'new guy'.
And vegetarians need not worry as veggie rennet is used throughout their whole range! Fantastic.
(I had to buy some of this Brie as it was just so good!!)
The next stop was a relish and cracker offering.... but I got side-tracked by a lady waving Toffee Vodka samples at me, so will backtrack to that one later :)
This is her, Judith, from Kin Vodka, the lady with the tray of naughtyness - good job I had a driver really as I delved in for a taste.
Oh my goodness..... I could happily drink a bottle of this, without mixer!
Vodka tested, we backtracked back to the relish table where we found The Hawkshead Relish Company, and seven pots of various relish, jams, butters to try.
I tried every single one of them! I really did. My very favourite was the Damson & Port Jam... or was it the Rum Butter?, I think I am still undecided. But that jam would be amazing on a Brie baguette with Brie from the Appleby Creamery.
Following on to the next stand was a bit of a dangerous one for me as it was Stollen! I totally love stollen, I try not to buy it too often as I just trough it until it is gone, but it would have been most rude not to try some of this lovely looking handmade one.
Great big slices.... which Patrick, from More Artisan Bakery, then spoiled by cutting in half, and I told him so too, so I got a full slice all to myself :)
Heaven in a bread, that's all I am going to say about that!
I spent the rest of the evening trying to brush icing sugar off my top, it was in vain. Hint: don't wear black when taste-testing Stollen.
Fellow Veggie people look away now as the next stop was A Taste Of The Lakes, who specialise in charcuterie.
Last, but not least, was The Eden Brewery stand - no samples at this one, but we did get one in a goody bag to take away with us. Not yet tried it, I am waiting for the right moment.
I really do need to get a bottle of the beer called Antifreeze, it is such a brilliant name. A few of their beers are inspired by the film Withnail & I and they have fab names too such as The Embalmer and HearHareBear.
Look at this - Kendal Mint Cake Liqueur!, sadly no taster available, but I really need to buy a bottle. I bet it is just divine.
I will leave you with some final photos, just so you can see what a wonderful event you missed. But I hope you will be inspired to visit Tebay Services next time you are passing. I certainly will, in fact we have made it our mission to be our stop next time we are heading off somewhere. We were planning to eat dinner there after the event, but we had all eaten too many samples to squeeze anything else in!
A final note, can I just thank Tebay Services, and namely Ellen, for inviting me to this exciting event. I really enjoyed it and your hospitality was just wonderful.