They often say is no place like home. But growing up, I admittedly wasn’t the biggest fan of my hometown of Milton Keynes. Ten to fifteen years ago, I often felt trapped and bored as my friends didn’t live nearby. Relying on my parents for lifts or on the slow, almost non-existent bus service into Central MK naturally led to many frustrations!
When I moved back to Milton Keynes in 2016 after living in Birmingham for three years, I missed the traditional city living, the nightlife and the food scene. After I realised I wasn’t going to go anywhere, I decided to start making the most of MK and try and discover more things to do and places to eat. That whole transition is why I’m writing this blog now – to show you there is more to Milton Keynes than meets the eye.
Thank you Nicole Navigates for tagging me to write about why I love my home town! Here are five things I love about the loveable concrete jungle that is Milton Keynes.
1. Milton Keynes has a unique history
I am about as Milton Keynes as they come. My parents grew up in the area -Bletchley and Milton Keynes Village – after their parents moved from further afield. My grandad had a toy shop on Queensway in Bletchley called Neal’s Toys; my mum used to work at the Open University; other family members used to work at Wolverton Works. MK is in my blood! And now I work at Bletchley Park, I feel even more connected to the area. It’s this mish-mash of heritage towns and modern architecture that makes Milton Keynes so unique and give it a weird, but sort of endearing character.
For those who have no idea what Milton Keynes actually is, let me give you a brief history. In the 1960s, the UK Government decided that they needed to create new towns in the South East of England to help relieve pressure on housing in London. The New Town of Milton Keynes was the biggest of the planned New Towns and Cities. The area it was designated incorporated Bletchley, Wolverton and Stony Stratford along with another fifteen villages and farmland that would be assigned to an MK postcode.
So when people tell me there’s no history here, I say they’re wrong. The history of Milton Keynes is entwined with the towns that came before it. Just check out Living Archive MK!
2. The growing independent food scene
“There’s nowhere good to eat in Milton Keynes.”
I mean, if you have been reading my blog for a while I sincerely hope that you no longer think that! Over the past few years, the independent food scene in MK has grown so much. And I am so proud to have been a part of it and help to highlight so many amazing places to eat. What was once a breeding ground for chain restaurants (did I mention there are FIVE Nandos?) I think the indie scene is really starting to take a stand against the generic chain restaurants.
Not only does MK College churn out fantastic local chefs with their award-winning catering courses, but events like Eat Street MK have really helped to propel the independent food scene into the spotlight and made it more accessible. It’s also why I started Sophie’s Supper Club, to really showcase the amazing independent food scene that we have here.
Afghan, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Punjabi, Maltese, American, Portuguese… We really do have it all here in MK.
3. You’re never far away from green spaces
Did you know that there are over 6,000 acres of parkland in Milton Keynes?
Although we now live closer to Central Milton Keynes as opposed to the edge of MK near the countryside, we are still so close to green spaces. Willen Lake is a stone’s throw away from our new house, with plenty of other parks nearby that make you almost forget you are surrounded by an urban landscape. I don’t think I know many places in the country where you can be in a cityscape one minute and beautiful parkland the next.
We are very lucky to have The Parks Trust in Milton Keynes which is an independent charity that cares for our green spaces and keeps them looking beautiful!
4. MK has got culture!
We are very lucky to have a brilliant theatre in Milton Keynes which has played host to world-class shows and musicals. Milton Keynes Theatre was 25 years old in 2019 and it made me realise how lucky we are to have it! We don’t have to make expensive trips to London to see West End shows. Last year, I saw Les Miserables and SIX The Musical to name a few.
2019 also saw the opening of the new MK Gallery which received so many rave reviews in the national press. The new building is distinctly ‘Milton Keynes-ian’ with the café nodding to the design of the MK Development Committee offices. It has hosted some excellent exhibitions from artists such as George Stubbs and Paula Rego. If you’ve not paid it a visit already, I highly recommend.
And if you aren’t too fussed about the art, the gallery café is really good.
5. Milton Keynes is pretty damn quirky
It’s true! MK has an indoor ski slope, a sky-diving tunnel, 130 roundabouts, Concrete Cows and delivery robots which I find weirdly adorable.
MK’s quirkiness is something that not many people get and I think it’s something you really have to embrace, especially if you live here, but it’s a place you can definitely learn to love. It’s not like anywhere else in the UK. It’s not a traditional town. Yes, the parking is expensive and the buses are naff, but above all it is home and there is a real sense of community here.
And above all, it’s home.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post! As this is a blog post tag, I tag Chanelle from Food & Frolics, Ellen from Eat With Ellen and Laura from Bite Your Brum to share five things they love about their hometowns.
And of course, if you’re reading this right now and you feel like writing your own ‘why I love my hometown’ post, feel free to drop your links in the comments!
Why do you love your hometown?
Come and share your love for Milton Keynes and help people discover new places to eat in my Eat & Explore MK Community Group on Facebook!