Milton Keynes: Where I live and why I love it

A few weeks before my seventh birthday my parents moved with my sister and I from Garston (just outside of Watford) in Hertfordshire, to a town called Linslade in Bedfordshire. Linslade is right next door to a town called Leighton Buzzard, in fact if you wanted to go shopping you had to go to Leighton Buzzard as that is where the high street is.

Leighton-Linslade (as it is known colloquially) is one of those places that is brilliant to live but really rubbish to visit. Unless you are on a canal trip, into WW1 aircraft the Vimey Bombers, interested where Mary Norton who wrote The Borrowers lived or want to see where The Great Train Robbery happened. For those in to popular music Kajagoogoo and The Barron Knights were formed in the area (and I use to live two doors up from Stuart from Kajagoogoo and I use to speak with one of the Barron Knights when I was a credit controller!) and if you want something a little more scary The Fox was in the area and caused a big todo in the summer of 1984.

Okay so maybe it isn't that bad.

Of course there were times when you wanted something a bit more exciting, like a trip to McDonald's or a trip to the cinema or even a trip to C&A's and for that you would have to go to Milton Keynes. Milton Keynes was shiny and exciting and where I moved to when I got married to Daddy, in 2001.
Milton Keynes has been the butt of many jokes in the past due to the impression that it is a concrete city with an extraordinary number of roundabouts, but this is not the real Milton Keynes. That is not the Milton Keynes that I have fallen in love with. Did you know that here in Milton Keynes there are more than 22 million trees? For a town that is 34.1 square miles that's not bad going!

Of course we do have concrete cows, a concrete snowman and lots of roundabouts, but we also have a fantastic shopping Centre, which is so fantastic that Cliff Richard recorded a music video there. I would of put the video into this post, but for some reason Cliff doesn't want me to share the worlds greatest music video in my blog post, so you will have to go and see it at YouTube. Go on go watch it, I'll wait.

Cliff is to Tennis as Strawberries are to Cream.
Did you watch the video? Speed Boats, sports cars and roller skates. Tell me its not the best music video ever and I shall give you your crazy certificate ;) The best bit (IMHO) is the skating up and down past trees and a big brown wall, which is actually the external wall of the Milton Keynes John Lewis! If you look you can actually see that the wall tiles spell out John Lewis!.

Oh and the shopping centre doesn't have a C&A anymore, but it does have banana trees!

As you saw in the Cliff video, there is a lake in Milton Keynes. Actually there is more than one, there are several and each lake is great for walking or running or cycling round. In fact the whole of Milton Keynes is great for walking or running or cycling round. Then are a number of redways (the local cycling routes) that criss cross the city with over 280km covered and a lot of paths that mean walking from the local Hospital to Ikea (as I did once with Top Ender and Baby Boy) doesn't take that long and can be done without crossing a major road. This is because of the number of underpasses and bridges (more bridges in Milton Keynes than there are in Venice you know) and the fantastic grid road system.

An underpass, makes it safe to cross a major road

Of course you don't have to walk as Milton Keynes was designed for the car, (as the grid system proves) but with being green and environmentally friendly so important we have a fantastic public transport service, with all parts of the city being accessible by bus (well there are some disputes about that, but I can get where I want by bus if I need to) and by train. There are five train stations in the Milton Keynes area (six if you include Woburn Sands, but technically it is just out of the area) and if you think that the train station at Central Milton Keynes looks familiar you might be pleased to know that it was the UN Building in Superman IV... (and I saw a bit of it being filmed on a day out!)

The Roads in Central Milton Keynes all numbered too, and referenced as either a "V" or a "H" road. That's right there are vertical and horizontal roads. It makes it very easy to not get lost and to work out where you are and is why you will often here locals talking about not being on the H8 at rush hour. The rather brilliant thing about Milton Keynes being set on a grid system if you ever take a wrong turn it is very easy to get back to where you were a few moments before! All we need now is an underground service and we would be set!

Not really an underground system, but a map of Milton Keynes!
It has been said that Milton Keynes has no culture. This really annoys me because people don't look at Milton Keynes more than seeing that it has a grid system and houses which at first glance all look the same and that it is a "new Town" built for people to move to who lived in London. We have an Art Gallery and a Theatre, we have art trails, sculptures in public places, buildings which are beautiful to look at (the Art Gallery won an Architectural award in 2008), Churches with history (St Marys in Bletchley for example has what looks like a Wine Glass in the external wall, but its is really part of a tomb that was reused), there are places to go to to listen to live music such as The Stables ( Dame Cleo Laine and the late and great Sir John Dankworth set it up) and there is even an international festival planned for July 2010.

To you Milton Keynes might just be a place on a map, but to me its home and I love it. And if you ever want a tour just let me know!