Why do I #loveMK ?

Ah, Milton Keynes. It gets such a bad rep… for no real reason. Concrete cows? Yep, we have them. A bazillion roundabouts? YES! What about them?

So let’s discuss this…

I’ve lived in Milton Keynes for 38 years – I was here before the City Centre existed, when the grid road system was just one road north to south with a few off-shoots… yes, I do remember when it was all just fields.

From the largest (at the time) under-cover shopping centre (now called The Centre:MK) to the first multiplex cinema in the UK, the wide variety of companies who have a base here to the wide open green spaces, it’s a genuinely unique place to live.

It’s cool. No, really it is. It was mentioned in Marvel’s Agents of Shield, for goodness sake! That immediately puts it in the awesome list. Superman IV filmed scenes at MK train station and other films and music videos have used MK’s interesting architecture and space as a backdrop.

The roundabouts?

We have something like 360 of them, there’s even been a calendar <insert embarrased smirk here>. The road system the roundabouts create ensures traffic flows easily around the busy city. The only jams we have are when someone is digging up the road “to make it better”. Despite this, we have a shockingly bad public transport network. The original design allowed for a monorail style of public transport but unfortunately that never made it into development – we have instead a rubbish bus service… however as a car lover, I love the fact I can get to pretty much any part of MK in 10 minutes or less.

And yes, a much-loved football team moved here and the fans didn’t like it. Get over it! Apart from this season (2015-6) they’ve done brilliantly and have an awesome stadium – let it go, you haters!

The community – well, for a very long time the makeup of the city was varied. We were from all over the UK and overseas (I’m Welsh) and it’s only now that we have adults who were actually born here. It’s beginning to feel like the place people actually come from. Greg Rutherford, for example.

There are so many other reasons to love MK – but mostly I do because it’s so varied and mixed and full of surprises. Just a two minute walk out of my house is the Grand Union canal, and within a few more minutes, you’re in green spaces that just aren’t associated with city life. That’s a good way to live.

My blogging inspiration, Robyn, has spelt out why she loves MK.


Cats v Dogs

As I type, there is an alluring rumble from under my desk. Nope, I’m not hungry, it’s my ginger cat  (Spot) signalling he wants a stroke. And I will contort myself to fuss him, even though he sits just out of reach, and after about 32 seconds (or a length of time of his choosing) he will get up and bugger off to the conservatory to ignore me until dinner time. This is normal cat/owner behavior…

So, yes, I am here to state the case that cats are most definitely better than dogs*. Desperate for a subject to blog about, I blurted “cats v dogs” as a challenge to Robyn (see the Dog side of the argument on Robyn’s blog). This is actually really hard for me (see * below…) but as currently I am owned by cats, here goes…

We had cats (and dogs) in the house when I was a kid, and they made me want to be a vet (I also wanted to marry Simon le Bon… I’m still waiting for him to ditch Yasmin and gimme a call) just so I could help cats. Not house cats. No, I wanted to help lions and tigers and cheetahs and jaguars. And it was all because I’d seen big cats on nature programmes and those big cats were exactly the same as the little cats in my house. Just… bigger. Wow! I was hooked.

Jaffa and Phoebe. Busy as usual.

When I left home and had three jobs to pay my mortgage, it became apparent I definitely couldn’t have a dog. They need walking and are needy and totally dependent. Whereas cats allow you to adopt them, fuss them when they want but they can pretty much get on with life without much looking after. Well obviously some looking after is required, but you get the gist. So I got a cat. Um, I actually got two kittens because they were just so cute and furry…


Nessie and Spot. So tiny!

Skip forward to present day… I’ve loved and lost Jaffa and Phoebe, those cute, mental, moody, bonkers, affectionate, lazy, fur-shedding moggies and have another two. Nessie and Spot – just as cute, mental, moody… (you get the picture) yet TOTALLY DIFFERENT to the other two. I am constantly amazed and delighted at their wildly different personalities and behaviors.

Spot should have been called Hulk (“Smash”) and ruins all notions that cats are clever, stealthy or graceful. He would fall off a rug if it wasn’t on the floor. Nessie is delicate, quiet and looks at her brother with absolute disdain. (If I could get her librarian glasses to peer over, I would.) However, bring a bit of Canadian catnip in the house and she bounces off the walls for hours. They bring me comfort and cuddles, they arse around the house and sleep in the best spots, refuse to go out and get jobs, but I wouldn’t be without them.

Cats. They own me.

(Of course you can chase your own tail, fall off a step and get away with it by rolling over and being cute)

* please note, I am owned by cats but love dogs just as much. However, my overlord cats won’t allow me to have a  “privy-carpet smelling fleabag” in the house…

58 days

All too quickly, my *Dad has been taken away from me. In just two short months he was diagnosed and overrun with pancreatic cancer.
I’m sad.
For my Mum: a widow at 54, planning on an early retirement to share a good many years with him; those missed opportunities, experiences and adventures – I’m devastated for her loss.
For my husband: who didn’t get to know my Dad that well and has therefore missed out on the enrichment that he would have experienced just by spending time with him.
For his family: his parents are heartbroken, his sister hollow with loss.
For his students, past and present: we’ve received so many tributes and stories of how he inspired so many people; he showed compassion, humanity and belief in all.
For Dad: cheated out of so much life, when he had so much more to give and do.
And for me. For all of these reasons, and more.

And, despite all the pain and injustice, he was so dignified and accepting of his condition. I will always be in awe of him.

*(step, but that’s a technicality)