Saturday 5 August 2017

Musings on Milton Keynes

There and back and there again!
August 2017

We have been treking back and forth across Pearson's page entitled Milton Keynes for the last two weeks, firstly to reach the canal festival at Cosgrove, than back to Linslade and then north again to Cosgrove on our way to Blisworth.

I think three crossings justify a comment about the area, although I have to admit that this is another post without photos. And there is a reason for that - there really isnt a lot to photograph.

If you drive through Milton Keynes its impossible not to notice the grid iron road layout with roundabouts cropping up every half mile, making progress a bit of a painful affair. Well, its pretty much the same on the canal with massive concrete bridges every half mile interspersed with two or three old hump backed bridges built to connect farms and hamlets which exist beneath the modern layout of one of our newest towns.

The canal has been used as the basis for a long string of parks which all look more or less the same with the curving canal lines with hedges and trees. Most canals actually visit the towns they pass through, but not Milton Keynes, its just one housing zone after another, most built in the 1980's all sitting back aloof from the canal and even the towpaths are mostly ignored as there are hundreds of alternative paths crossing the parks.

Now this isn't all bad news. Yesterday we were moored near Milton Keynes Marina and decided we needed to visit a Maplins to buy a new electric fly swat, a gizmo which of particular use to preserve makers. A look on Google Maps suggested that there was one about two miles away and the map layout suggested it would be a long slog along concrete roadways but how wrong can you be. Form the outset we were on a well made pathway through trees, housing estates and under several of those all pervading roundabouts. It did occur to me that the place would be a muggers heaven but the layout is so complex I suspect that all the muggers have long since got lost, died and and now fertilizer for the extensive urban planting.

Maplins was eventually located and was within sight of the railway, so we were probably not far from the main shopping center, but we never actually saw it. And so we retraced our steps and near the canal discovered a path lined with a the most diverse array of cherry plum trees. There were some shocking pink ones which were just about finished, some red ones which were in their prime, some dark purple ones which were well progressed but lots remained on the trees and finally a plethora of the classic yellow mirabelle plums. I returned with bowls and picker and soon gathered as many plums as I could carry. This followed yesterdays blackberrying fest in Fenny Stratford where we picked 9kg and immediately converted them into a big box of Blackberry Wine Jam - not that it will last long. Its one of our fastest selling lines and we will need to repeat the exercise before the end of the season.

We immediately set to and created Rum Punch Plum Jam with the darkest ones and then converted the red ones into Cinnamon Plum Jam, a firm favourite with our customers. Finally there are the three batches of yellow plums which will be processed next week in time for Blisworth. 

Milton Keynes was therefore kind of bland from a boaters perspective, with few landmarks and one is left counting bridges in the same way you count and time progress between kilometer posts on the Trent. Even the bridges are free from graffiti, but a reassuring pile of scrap metal in the shape of bikes and safes sits beside many bearing silent testimony to a less savory side to the town beyond the banks of the Grand Union. As it to emphasise the point only today I saw a Facebook post warning that a stolen car was sitting in the middle of the canal at Simpson. 

Milton Keynes is more an area than a place and most people hurry through from Fenny Stratford to Cosgrove which offer a sense of place. Plenty of people live on boats in these leafy corridors so I would encourage you to pause if you feel the urge, but don't bother with your camera.

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