Wednesday 3 May 2017

Petrol in the Past

Over the past few weeks we travelled up to Edinburgh and down to the Isle of Wight. That's a lot of miles covered in our car and plenty of petrol used. We've been through densely populated areas, out in the sticks without a building in sight and up and down the motorway. One thing we always had to do was keep our eye on the fuel gauge as the last thing we wanted to do is run out of petrol or find we have to fill up at somewhere overpriced. With all the planning we have had to do it has got me thinking about the car journeys I have taken over the years and how buying petrol has changed.

When I was a child we used to take our holidays in either Belguim, France or the Netherlands. Getting to Dover or Folkstone to catch the ferry meant driving round from south west London and across Kent. Since the M25 or London Orbital as it was known wasn't open at first we had to travel around the South Circular to get to the A20. If we were going to Dover today to the port we would go straight down the M20. In those days we took in the ancient Kentish villages of Charing, Harrietsham and Lenham. There were no motorway services to rely on if you ran out of fuel or wanted to stop for a break. You might be lucky if you found a pub that was open as the licencing laws meant many pubs opened for lunch and then reopened again in the evening. Many also didn't allow children and if they had a family room it was a dark and cold extension at the back of the pub.

Once we got across the English Channel one thing that used to surprise me was the number of petrol stations that still had attendant service. You had to work out quickly if it was self-service or attendant operated as getting out of your car to pump your own fuel was seen as quite insulting! At least with the petrol station using their own staff there was less chance of spillages, damages and the problem of drivers going off without paying. Such issues can be covered now by taking out cover. Find out more about petrol forecourt insurance here. I'm sure I remember some of the attendants holding a cigarette or have one hanging from their mouth. Can you imagine anyone taking such a risk with their own safety now?

As we were travelling along the motorway at the weekend I noticed that the petrol stations located at services were selling fuel at around 10p more a litre than what the same companies at selling around where I live. I know it makes good business sense to charge a higher price to a captive market. A good bit of travel planning though means that you could come off at one junction and find within a couple of miles petrol stations, supermarkets and all the other services you need on a long journey at a much cheaper price.

Years ago there were no big out-of-town supermarkets or the petrol stations that come attached to them. The fuel market was dominated by a handful of big companies all vying for customers. There were catching slogans – did you 'put a tiger in your tank'? How many of you still have mugs, soup bowls or wine glasses collected through petrol vouchers? Now it is the supermarkets who offer loyalty points and set the price of a litre of petrol. You don't even have to worry what time you need to buy fuel now as many of the supermarket petrol stations offer a 24 hour pay at pump service. Buying fuel has never been easier!

Do you plan in advance where to buy your fuel on a long journey? Will you only use certain brands of petrol or diesel?

This is a collaborative post.

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