Three cheers for David Charman, whose Parkfoot Garage in West Malling, Kent, scooped the Convenience Retailer of the Year award last month. I don’t live too far away from this site so managed to take a look recently, and it really is very impressive. Where I live, the forecourts aren’t that special but my trip to West Malling was worthwhile as David’s site really does stand out from the rest of the crowd.
You’d be hard-pushed not to find something that makes your mouth water in this Spar shop and Mr West can vouch for that!
You see, in this world of low-fat, low-sugar, low-everything food, he says things don’t taste like they used to.
Sausages are his biggest bug-bear at the moment. Yes, he says, you can find every flavour under the sun (added caramelised onion anyone? Or hint of apricot?) but you can’t find a decent, traditional sausage, he says. But you can now.
The Parkfood Spar has its own butchers and I don’t think many forecourt stores can say that. During my visit, I had a chat with the on-site butcher who, upon hearing about Mr West’s plight, suggested the Old Spot sausages. They looked nice (I don’t eat red meat, so no sausages for me) but I wasn’t convinced because we’d been here before, so to speak.
Anyway off I pootled home, sausages in tow and guess what, they were a great success.
Mr West says: "They didn’t look particularly big but once they hit the frying pan, they plumped up. They tasted lovely."
So much so, that he cooked four, intending to eat two there and then and save two for sandwiches, but they didn’t last long enough for sandwiches. Needless to say, I’ll be making a return trip soon.
David’s site is also big on car valeting and has a car wash centre to the rear of the store. I mention this because the Office for National Statistics has recently published its 2014 Basket of Goods and Services, which is used to track consumer price inflation.
Under vehicle maintenance and repairs, then maintenance of motor vehicles, automatic drive-through car wash has been replaced by ’car wash manual and automatic’ to widen the coverage to both automatic and hand car wash facilities. It’s a sign of the times but not a very good one.