|The Light Pyramid, Milton Keynes|
MK? Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire. It grew up in the nineteen sixties as one of England's planned "new towns" and now has a population of just under quarter of a million. It sits close to the M1 motorway and is equidistant from London, Birmingham, Oxford and Cambridge.
I had driven past Milton Keynes many times but had never visited until Sunday evening as we were returning to The North from our weekend sojourn in London. A night in MK would break up the journey and my curiosity would be salved.
|MK Rose in Campbell Park|
Though three or four historic villages were blended in to the urban design, most of the town is based upon an American-style grid system with wide boulevards and thousands of trees. One of the original planning tenets was that no building in Milton Keynes should be taller than the tallest tree and indeed it still feels like a "low rise" place.
|In MK Centre|
Other English cities have clear historic centres - and the whole city radiates from that point but Milton Keynes is different. Instead of an obvious central focus there is instead a massive, sprawling shopping palace called MK Centre. Look to the left and the gleaming floor stretches out as far as the eye can see. Look to the right and it's the same. Countless shops and eateries.
MK also has parks and paths, housing estates and hi-tec businesses and office blocks. As I sat on the little wall that surrounds The Light Pyramid in Campbell Park, I saw a posse of runners moving up the slope towards me. "Morning", puffed the lead runner and there were other "Mornings" from some of the other runners. It seemed like a friendly place and indeed just then a scruffy black dog mounted a scruffy white dog. The black dog's owner protested, "That's rude Alfie! Get off her!"
Parking by MK Centre cost £2 for one hour so we didn't stay long there. Why isn't it free to park? We got in the car and moved north along Watling Street to Towcester where we stopped for a stroll and sustenance in Towcester Tea Rooms before returning to the motherland - Yorkshire my Yorkshire, this beating heart of the known universe. Interestingly, it was free to park in historic Towcester's little marketplace. Learn from this Milton Keynes instead of ripping off shoppers and inquisitive visitors from UpNorth.
|Church of Christ The Cornerstone, Milton Keynes|