New town in northern Buckinghamshire, about half way between London and Birmingham built in the open country between Bletchley and Newport Pagnell, handily on a major transport corridor (the M1 motorway, the West Coast Main Line and the Grand Union Canal) in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and named for one of the small villages which it engulfed.

The city is designed in clusters of residential "villages" and light industrial and commercial zones, separated by a grid of major through "H" and V" roads and permeated by a network of "Redway" cycle routes. It is probably the closest that the UK comes to American beltway suburbia.

Milton Keynes Central, the heart of the town, such as it is, comprises one of Britain's first great shopping cathedrals, a true place of worship of the One True Religion of Her Majesty's subjects, as well as a major cinema and entertainment complex (The Point), a more orthodox place of muiltidenominational worship, and the railway station; the streets in this area are in a strictly orthogonal grid which is said to be aligned precisely with the Great Pyramid of Cheops.

I feel I have to add a personal touch to this node, as I live in Northampton, but work in MK.

To put it bluntly, it's boring. I loathe Milton Keynes, everything about it is awful. The layout, while efficient, just feels completely wrong. Nearly all of the buildings were designed from the 60's to the 80's, and it shows. Everywhere you look it's one square monstrosity after another. The grid system they used may seem OK on paper, but it's a nightmare in reality. Every kilometer there is a roundabout, and it's actually been proven that MK residents will have to replace the front-left tire of their cars much sooner than the remaining three, due to navigating the endless roundabouts. In fact, if it were not for the above mentioned shopping complex and cinema, there would be no defining landmarks by which to navigate, and you would find yourself lost among grids of identical looking buildings in no time.

The newest additions to MK are the theatre district, and the snowdome. They have fast become bustling areas of Milton Keynes as bored residents finally get some kind of outlet. The snowdome (called Xscape) is the largest indoor ski-slope in Europe, and looks like a giant ice-cream cone on its side. It not only houses a ski-slope, but also a multiplex cinema, numerous pubs and bars, a bowling alley and a few surf and skate shops. The theatre district is exactly that, with numerous bars and restaurants surrounding the place. It all looks very modern, and therefore completely at odds with the rest of the town.

Many of my colleagues live in MK, and it's interesting to hear their attitude towards it. It seems that they compare it to London although I can't see how. I frequently hear MK being referred to as 'The City', it's not a city by a long shot, it is still, a town. It also seems, that they compare the (rather small) theatre district to London's West-End. I've seen colleagues stare aghast at the suggestion of a trip to London. The attitude seems to be "We don't need London when we have our own theatres here." To each his own, but personally, if I had the choice between, say Blood Brothers or Chicago in London, or something in MK involving an Abba Medley or the greatest hits of the 70's, I know what I'd choose.

Finally, the place has no night life. Again, due to the grid-system, there is no discernable town centre, nearly all of the various entertainment complexes (and nightclubs) are miles apart in their own little oases. Most people will either travel to Leicester or Northampton (or even Birmingham and London) for a decent night out.

So there you have it, my rather biased view of Milton Keynes. For me it was hate at first sight and it has never managed to redeem itself in my eyes.

Oh, and there's the concrete cows too.

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