OS Explorer map 192, Buckingham & Milton Keynes: Leighton Buzzard & Woburn – I have visited this map before starting this blog, but do not own the map. Visited again for this post 18th February 2018.
So, my last post had me having left Cambridge for the weekend to go to Oxford for the Tolkien Society banquet. Late on Saturday evening I left Oxford to sleep that night at home, at my parents’ house. Now, the reason I needed to be home was because the next day, Sunday, there was to be a one-year-on remembrance service at the gurudwara in Milton Keynes for my grandfather, who died last year.  So indeed, we left home and went to Milton Keynes, and it all went according to plan, the service happened, and various family whom I hadn’t seen for a while were there.
We left for home at about 3pm, where I sat around for a bit, and went and saw our new chickens,  before leaving to go back to Cambridge.
So, I’ve been to Milton Keynes a fair few times, since it’s very close to home in Northamptonshire, barely a half-hour drive, and the shopping centre there is our closest major out-of-town shopping centre. However, shopping trips tend not to produce either a lot of photographs or be particularly memorable. Most of the pictures I have seem to be from rather a while ago, so be prepared to be thrown into my childhood!
Something else that is in this map is Woburn Safari Park, which used to be one of my absolute favourite places to go when I was very little, and to which I therefore ended up going several times per year. I can’t seem to dig out many good photos, and those I do have tend to be of animals rather than of me, so here is a screen grab of me and Guacamole preparing to get on a rope swing thing – the video is very amusing, featuring my squeaky eight-year-old voice!
Another thing that frequently draws my family to Milton Keynes is the Chinese restaurant Taipan, which until a few years ago, when one opened in Northamptonshire, was the closest place to get Dim Sum, which Father Dearest rather finds it difficult to live without.  Behold, a suitably amusing picture of a thirteen-year-old me with Father Dearest in that illustrious establishment.
The Milton Keynes gurudwara was also where my cousin, the same one pictured above, got married eight years ago; here he and I are at his wedding:
I’ll leave you with a set of pictures from July 2010, still in my pre-beard short-hair phase (I was only fifteen) when I and my dear school friend Cabbage made a trip to Milton Keynes on the train in order to do some shopping. I distinctly recall that I needed to get some new everyday shoes, and Mother Dearest, of the opinion that my clothing tastes were overly set in stone, gave Cabbage strict instructions not to let me buy any brown shoes, and generally hoping that his rather more cool taste would rub off on me. However, I believe this ended up failing, as I therefore didn’t buy any shoes at all, and dragged Cabbage into Marks and Spencer, where I ended up causing him to buy clothing rather in my vein than the other way around.
Those pictures show us on the train from Northampton to Milton Keynes – in those pictures, and until very recently (December 2017), the line used to be operated by London Midland, with the distinctive green branding and seat moquette, but it has since been taken over by London Northwestern.
It’s been a little while since I used any of my archive material other than pictures, so I will leave you with the one text message I have from that day, sent from Father Dearest to me at 11:58am – Going 2 gym bit l8r so can pick u up until 4.30 if nec. – presumably picking us up from returning from Milton Keynes.  The train photos are taken at 9:35am, and the brunch ones at 11:02, so it seems to have been a morning/early afternoon shopping trip.
 There are gurudwaras in Northampton, but they’re not particularly accessible, whereas the Milton Keynes one is on a large site with plenty of parking, and has lifts and so on, so my family tend to go there.
 So my family keep chickens at home; we usually have about eight to twelve of them. (When we first got chickens, in June 2008, and for a while after that, I used to name them, but I gave up on this when I realised that they all look the same and so when one died I had no idea which one was no longer with us…)
However, very unfortunately, at the beginning of this year, they were all of them but one killed when a fox got into their pen. The one survivor was a cute little chicken, the one remaining from several years ago when we got three cute little chickens more for their cuteness than their egg-laying capabilities (the other two died previously of natural causes). That one little hen survived this tragedy because of her habit of sleeping in the branches of the little tree in their enclosure rather than down with the other chickens.
But yes, so they all but one died, and Father Dearest a couple of weeks ago bought five new chickens as a replacement – after the enclosure was thoroughly rebuilt, very solidly to ensure its foxproofness.
 Father Dearest grew up in a village in Malaysia with a population that apart from his family was entirely Chinese. He thus has firm tastes when it comes to Chinese food, some of which have been passed onto me, and going to a Chinese restaurant with him invariably ends up with him gabbling in Cantonese with very shocked waiters as the rest of us sit around blank-faced.
 The phone which I was using at the time is the earliest one from which I have text message records, but unfortunately I only have the received texts saved, rather than those I sent. I don’t have a record of sent ones until October 2010, and this is in August.