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Milton Keynes

Just stuff

Why I love Milton Keynes (for #LoveMK Day 2016)

#LoveMK and the concrete cowsToday is #LoveMK Day, the fourth annual day of its kind celebrating Milton Keynes. I’ve lived here for nine years now and I’ve only just caught on. Yes, I’m a bit slow. Born and raised in the shire, I moved to Leicester for a year and headed south to grace the MK Massive with my presence. And I’ve been here ever since.

Despite the extortionate house prices and as a non-native, I REALLY love it here. We’ve often talked about moving somewhere else to get more bang for our buck, but MK just has too much to offer. What, I hear you cry? (in my head). Let me spell it out for you…

M is for motorway

Sitting right next to the M1 motorway (I can see it from my house, lucky me), MK is super accessible and it makes hot-footing it up north or down south to see friends and family super easy.

I is for inspiring

Ever heard of Bletchley Park and the codebreakers? Then you’ll know that Milton Keynes has more to it than a load of dual carriageways and roundabouts; it has some proper cool history.

Milton Keynes aerial shot

An aerial shot of Milton Keynes.

L is for layout

Milton Keynes sits on a grid system, a bit like New York, albeit it named in a more obvious way. We have V roads and H roads (that’s V for vertical and H for horizontal) and they’re numbered from 1 to 10 (ish). They have proper names too, but are always accompanied by the letter and number (V10 Brickhill Street, for example), making it pretty easy to navigate anywhere once you’ve sussed out which direction you’re going in. Newbies will tell you everywhere looks the same, but once you get used to it it’s very handy. As well as the grid system, there’s the city centre, a hub of bars, restaurants, shopping and leisure facilities split into smaller sub-areas like The Hub, Intu MK, Centre: MK, Theatre District and Xscape – you can get anything you want, within reason, here. And then nestled amongst the housing estates dotted across the V and H roads, you’ll find what we call local centres, mini city centres comprising all the basic facilities you need. It’s all very handy. MK is built for convenience and easy access, with loads of parking spaces. I like convenient, therefore I like Milton Keynes.

T is for 10 minutes to anywhere

Generally, it takes no longer than 10-15 minutes to get from A to B in MK. Which supports what I said above – very convenient. I’ll happily take an abundance of roundabouts and dual carriageways over one-way systems and a sporadic sprinkling of speed cameras.

O is for open spaces

I grew up in Shropshire and it’s pretty damn, well… pretty. But I kid you not, from my front door in Milton Keynes I have access (by walking)  to more green and open spaces than I did back in the shire. Ralphie is spoiled for choice on his walks and if we decide to hop in the car and go a bit further, there’s even more. Take a wonder along the canal at Great Linford, for example, and you’ll soon forget you’re not in the middle of the countryside.

Swan on Tongwell Lake, Milton Keynes

And here’s yet another swan – there are lots in Milton Keynes. This one’s having a lovely time on Tongwell Lake.

N is for nightlife

I don’t really know what a nightlife is these days. Having two children kind of killed that off. But in my 20s I spent many a weekend frequenting the local pubs, clubs and restaurants. I never had to walk too far, I could always get a dirty kebab (or equivalent) before calling it a night and never failed to get a taxi home. Now my evenings are more boring civilised there are two big cinema complexes and loads of places to eat – the popular chain restaurants as well as loads of village-y style pubs nestled away in the prettier parts of Milton Keynes or just on the fringes. I’m thinking The Swan, the other Swan, and the other, other Swan off the top of my head.

Willen Lake, Milton Keynes

What we refer to as ‘mini Stone Henge’ at Willen Lake.

K is for kids

There is so much here for kids to do and you can find out more about this on this very handy blog. As the proud owner of two such kids, I’m not short of things to do with them and without having to wander far either. For example, the park on the housing estate where I live looks pretty cool from Google Earth. And it’s free! I think it truly hit home how great MK is for children (and their parents) when we moved to Dorset for a few months while waiting for our new house to complete. Dorset is beautiful and I’m never one to scoff at beautiful countryside and beaches, but… there was very little organised stuff for kids and what was on offer involved travelling a bit.

E is for enterprise

Did you know that Milton Keynes is the 22nd best place to launch a startup? Or, if you read the 2016 Cities Outlook report, MK has the second highest number of startups per 10,000 population. To me that says MK is good for the economy, offers job opportunities, is creative, enterprising and innovative. This is good news for me and good news for my kids – I want them to grow up somewhere full of opportunities. I was pretty much laughed out of Shropshire when I told the school careers woman I wanted to be a journalist. I think much more is possible in MK.

MK Storm netball team

Lovely ladies: Me and members of the awesome MK Storm netball team, playing in the Milton Keynes Indoor Netball League.

Y is for…

Okay, so I’m struggling with Y. Read on peeps, nothing to see here.

N is for netball

I’ve been playing netball since I can remember and have always found teams to play in wherever I’ve been living. We all know when you put competitive women in a sports hall and throw a ball in the air it can get a bit bitchy. But I have the pleasure of playing for and with the nicest bunch of netballing ladies ever. And it just so happens that they’re pretty awesome at netball too. Go team MK Storm!

E is for education

Milton Keynes is home to The Open University, making education accessible to all, wherever you live and whatever your circumstances. I know this because I work there (and I won’t get flowers for writing this) and see first-hand the impact it makes. It reminds me every day that education is really important.

S is for smart

Milton Keynes is a smart city. Officially. And because I can’t be bothered to write anymore, you can read all about it here.

Life in general, Marriage, Motherhood

I was hacked

Head in handsFeckety feck. I’ve FINALLY gotten around to writing a blog post – my first in the best part of a year – only to find out my website has been hacked. And I have no idea how long for! Note to self: even if not blogging regularly, check your website!

So, while my magnificent husband has managed to reclaim my site from the gremiins, I’ve lost a couple of posts. Quite important ones too: the story of the birth of my first child, and one on breastfeeding. I was amazed by the huge response I got to the latter post and was hugely saddened to find my breastfeeding story is the norm, rather than the exception, and that so many women out there face pressure, guilt, and extreme pain trying to feed their children. (Both posts have been reposted below, as they were).

But a lot’s happened since that first post, not just the fact my boobs are now purely ornamental and not for touching, I can’t stand it. My daughter, now 11 months old, accidentally pinched a nipple while trying to climb me the other day and if she wasn’t my child and I didn’t love her terribly, I may well have flung her across the room. God, it hurt. Continue Reading

Media, social media, Technology

Cybher – meet and greet

cybher 2012 logo

I’m really chuffed and exciting to be attending Cybher 2012 in May, the first all inclusive female blogger event of its kind in the UK. Woo! Not only will I revel in excellent blog company, learn some new stuff and hopefully put faces to the Twitter names I’ve been following for some time, I may well cover the event as part of an assignment for my Masters. We’ll see. I’ll be popping along with my fellow blogging friend Carrie Walton and thoroughly looking forward to a day which celebrates the fact there are so many fabulous female bloggers out there.

So here’s my Cybher Meet and Greet post *waves to everyone*…


Name : Robyn Bateman (formerly the artist known as Robyn Slingsby)

Blog :

Twitter ID: @robynbateman
Height : 5ft 9ins
Hair : Mostly crap and not nearly thick enough for my liking, prompting underlying fear I’ll one day go bald. Currently cut in a lopsided bob which I’ve since learned is asymmetric.


Five things you should know about me…
1. When I was younger I wanted to be the female equivalent of Linford Christie and be an Olympic sprinter. I then wanted to be an author (and still do) and then a journalist (tick).

2. I used to be a newspaper reporter then editor and got nominated for the Midlands Media Awards Headline of the Year a couple of times, but didn’t win.

3. I have an 18-month-old Cocker Spaniel called Ralphie who I love to bits. And he even has his own website (created for one of my MA projects, refer to point 5)

4. I was born and bred in Shropshire which I fondly refer to as ‘The Shire’. I then lived in Leicester for a year or so and am now in Milton Keynes, which isn’t nearly as horrible as most people think it is.

5. I’m doing an MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University (via distance learning) and loving it. And Cybher may well form the basis for one of my assignments!


You can find out more about me by reading this blog (or my Journo Nest blog where I post about my studies) or by following me on Twitter.

If you would like to join the Cybher Meet and Greet, do a post and add it to the Linky here. Really looking forward to seeing you in May!

Oh, and if you already have your ticket make sure you grab your badge here.

friends, Just stuff, Life in general, Serious stuff, what I think

Drink too much, it gets ugly

Only a small scuffle for a taxi took the shine off an evening of cockails and convo with the girls last night. I’m exaggerating when I take it took the shine off, ‘cos the shine was firmly in place after a gathering of five girls, 15 cocktails, a sharing platter, some main courses and a sprinkling of cheesecake and chocolate brownie. But it has inspired this blog post.

We laughed when my friend, the birthday girl, announced at the dinner table: “I’ve been looking forward to staying out until it’s dark.” Now in our late 20s, early 30s we’re mostly in bed or asleep on the sofa when daylight leaves the sky.

But as a heavily intoxicated girl fell from the top of her four inch heels to the cold concrete of a Milton KeyneGirl dancing on a night outs pavement, yelling obscenities as we climbed into the pre-booked taxi she’s tried to hijack, I was reminded that night time is when the monsters come out.

As the taxi pulled off we glimpsed back at the high heeled girl struggling to stay on her feet but steady enough to plunge her middle finger clearly in our direction and yell a few unoriginal swear words. I felt embarrassed for her.

And it’s only because I’ve been there, done that and got the T shirt  (the whole outfit in fact) in a previous life that I’m able to say this: how unattractive and unsafe it is to get so leathered you’re happy to make a show of yourself in public.

Drink too much, it gets ugly, says the Australian Government and if I’d heard that 10 years ago I’d have raised a hand to my mouth and mocked a yawn. Now, it’s truth rings a huge bell of recognition.

According to this report it is estimated that the cost of alcohol related harm to the NHS in England is £2.7 billion in 2006/07 prices. That’s a lot of money.

The statistics linking alcohol with fatalities, serious injuries, broken homes, and major health problems, don’t make for good reading and it’s easy to catch a glimpse of that when you look around town on a Friday night. When I go out and about on an evening I want my wits about me and that doesn’t involve numbing them vodka.

But what will change? Probably nothing. Getting hammered, waking up with no memory of how you got home (if you even did get home) and spending a morning gripping the toilet bowl isn’t how I want to spend my weekends but I’ve given plenty of them over to just that in a previous life. Perhaps it’s part of growing up. My younger siblings are certainly continuing the tradition.

Am I saying I’ll never get drunk again? Hell no. When the first sip of that Kir Royale touched my lips the stresses and strains of the week wriggled from my shoulders and I eased myself into the weekend. And while three cocktails sounds miniscule my pansy arse self feels a tad jaded this morning. The difference is I don’t want to waste my weekend shaking off a hangover, I don’t want to have grazes on my knees from toppling drunkenly off my heels, I don’t want to have a black hole where my memory should be and I don’t want my friends to hold my hair back while I empty my stomach contents onto the street. I want to know when my mascara is sliding down my face, I want to hold myself upright when I walk, I want to treat people with respect when I talk to them and I want to avoid losing hours to alcohol induced blur.

I’ve reached the point in this blog post where I need to draw some kind of conclusion, but I’m not entirely sure I have one. I had a fab night last night with the girlies and think it’s only experience and hindsight that can turn you from binge drinker to sensible drinker and still have just as much fun.

Picture by Edward Allen L. Lim taken from Flickr under Creative Commons Licence

crime, Life in general, Serious stuff

On a serious note…

Domestic violence isn’t a topic I expected to be covered when I rocked up at the netball AGM this week. Umpire difficulties, fee increases, voting for a new chairman, yes. Domestic violence, no.

To hear that a member of the netballing community lost her life earlier this year to domestic violence churned my stomach and when I connected it to the local newspaper reports of past months, I just felt sad.

One in 10 people is suffering domestic violence in their life right now and one in four will experience it at some point in their life. Numbers don’t tend to mean much until it happens to someone you know, or, in my case, rubbed shoulders with on a netball court. Knowing the victim, even through sight alone, personalises it and the message hits home harder.

As a tribute to a netballer who lost her life so tragically and needlessly, a rep from MK Act came to talk to us about the help and support available to anyone suffering from violence or abuse at home. The Milton Keynes Netball Indoor League is a community of around 500 women, an ideal forum to pass on the message that there is help out there and no one need face it alone.

MK Act is a service for the victims and survivors of domestic violence and abuse, offering support, advice, emergency refuge or rehousing.

For most of us our home is our haven, where we feel safest and happiest and no matter how crappy a day we’ve had, we can return home, switch off and be ourselves. Imagine if going home is the worst part of your day, the place where you’re most vulnerable and at risk.

The speaker from MK Act asked that everyone pass on information about their services in the hope it may help someone, someday, avoid losing their life like one of our netballers did. So this is me doing my bit. To contact MK ACT call 0844 375 4307 between 9am and 5pm or to speak to a member of the Thames Valley Domestic Abuse Unit call 0845 8 505 505.