Anyone familiar with the town in question will understand this post’s title, though for the benefit of those of you who aren’t it is a reference to Milton Keynes (also known as MK), where the mid-noughties saw a spate of large buildings named (or renamed) in a similar manner, including: stadium:mk (since renamed ‘stadiummk’), the local football team’s ground; centre:mk, the town’s largest shopping centre; hub:mk, home to restaurants, bars, and hotels; and even office blocks, such as pinnacle:mk. Modern day Milton Keynes is one of Britain’s newer settlements, arising as part of the third wave of ‘new towns’ in the late 1960s, taking its name from a pre-existing village in the area.
It has to be said that Milton Keynes, unless you are particularly fond of snow sports (more on that later), isn’t much of a tourist destination. I found myself there for the first time yesterday evening to see my closest university friend, Emma, who lives in a nearby village. My first impression of MK (or what I saw of it, anyway) was that it seems very functional, if a little soulless: the town’s centre, for example, presents a collection of large industrial-looking buildings with sprawling car parks throughout a grid of wide multi-lane roads (admittedly a much more efficient and simple to navigate road system than the usual mess of narrow and poorly maintained roads seen in most of Britain’s towns). Due to its brief history and rapid construction, the town’s uniformity in architectural style is also unusual; I, for example, grew up in a 20th century house directly opposite a church built around the turn of the 12th – though for context the area is a lot older, having been continuously inhabited since the Saxons settled there during the Dark Ages.
One building, ‘Xscape’ (our destination for the day), stands out from the rest. The enormous glass-fronted half-dome houses not only shops, restaurants, and bars, but also a casino, a nightclub, an art gallery, a multiscreen cinema, a bowling alley, an indoor skydiving centre, and a real-snow indoor slope (one of only six in Britain!). We filled the afternoon with back-to-back bowling and pool best of threes, having a laugh while catching up on what’s new, then grabbed a bite to eat before heading back to hers to kick it for a bit.
Every time I get back from an enjoyable trip somewhere new I wake the next morning with the itch to get out there and discover somewhere else, and this morning was no different; as always it was wonderful to get in my car and explore, made even better by the fact I got to see a close friend I’d missed into the bargain. Yes, it could have been the worst place on earth and I’d have had a great time thanks to the company I had, but honestly MK has no shortage of fun looking things to do: I’d really like to try the snow slope, as much for the novelty of being able to snowboard indoors on real snow as for anything, and indoor skydiving sounds fantastic. As the old adage goes, you should never judge a book by its cover.