Last week, I went on a trip to Milton Keynes with TractorGirl to find a house ready for starting work in September. I can’t say I was in the best of moods when I arrived, and grim weather never makes a place look inviting, but my first impression of MK was of a thoroughly miserable collection of car parks and concrete monstrosities. It seemed to consist of car park after car park after miserable bloody car park, and some of the worst examples of 1960s breezeblock I have ever seen.
The first place I went to look at was in the Hub, a fancy new development surrounding the restaurant district (MK is designed in blocks, ‘districts’) with nice, shiny glass buildings. The flat was a studio flat, but even by the standards of those, it was tiny. It was very pretty, but little bigger than a shoebox! I can see that it would be perfect for someone coming to the UK from abroad to work for six months with only a couple of suitcases and the clothes they were standing up in, but it wasn’t much good for a TOH!
The second place was a nice two bedroom place in the ‘much sort-after’ area of Bradwell Common. I seriously considered that, as it was in a good location relative to work and shops, but I only realised that on a second look, as by that part of the day I’d be dragged through more car parks than I could take, and just needed a coffee.
The next day, I saw a total dump of a flat with rising damp, cracks in the walls and lots of broken stuff. How can they get away with asking £550pcm for a health hazard? Later that day, I saw a nice one-bedroom flat with everything I needed despite the ‘granny’ decor, but thanks to a useless estate agent (avoid Anglo-American Lettings, they make bad customer service into an art form!) I got beaten to it, as he wouldn’t let me do the paperwork, and wasn’t even going to tell me it had gone, despite promising to phone.
This necessitated a second trip down south on Tuesday, and the realisation that furnishing a flat would open up so many more options. The result is that I will now be living in a very, very nice and brand new house that is well within my budget, rather than paying over the odds for an average place, so the bad agent did me a favour in a way.
In the sunshine, even MK didn’t seem too bad, and having discovered that the shopping centre has my favourite three shops in, that the theatre has some really good stuff (and a Friends group that I will enjoy), that there is an ecumenical church where my being an Anglican-Methodist mixture would be seen as perfectly normal and that I could afford to join a really nice gym and work on losing my belly (of which I am sick of the sight) made me feel much better. It seems to have great places to go eating and drinking, and there is an amateur dramatics group I can join that doesn’t do musicals, which is the reason I’ve never done that before.
All in all, it was a worthwhile few days. The other noteworthy thing was the B&B we stayed in. The owner was a very lovely, camp eccentric called Shaun who went out of his way to be helpful. I think he likes looking after people and solving all their problems, and as TractorGirl noted in her post, has the kind of lack of awareness of personal space one usually expects from church ladies, meaning several enthusiastic hugs. If you can deal with that, I would really recommend it as a place to stay should you ever find yourself in MK.