We drove towards the centre and parked in the multi-storey carpark next to Debenhams and then walked in and down the escalator and stated off in the restaurant which we noticed immediately had been refitted. We had coffee and then made for the ladies department where Carol browsed the clothing and her mum and I bought her some things which will be birthday presents. One problem solved as I wasn't certain what she wanted.
We walked through Midsummer Place and Carol found it quite cold. This is one of the side-effects of the chemotherapy she's currently going through. Then we walked into the main shopping centre which is, thankfully, a good deal warmer.
It seems that Carol has come a really long way since her diagnosis. She has been through a great deal (haven't we both) and at an early stage she wouldn't have been able to walk as far as she did this morning, so it seems things are getting better.
We got as far as W.H. Smith and went in to look at books. They recently moved into a far smaller unit. No doubt because they seem to have cut the amount of stock they have and no longer sell, such as CDs and DVDs which used to be on the floor upstairs. At one time they used to have a travel agent (well, at least in the Bedford branch) as well as knitting wool and a host of other items which they've stopped selling. We spent some time browsing and Carol found a couple of adult colouring books, which seem to be popular at the moment. Really perfect to keep her occupied whilst having chemotherapy and at home. One is based on 'Vogue' magazine illustrations and another you can barely see the outlines of the illustrations and wouldn't see what the picture was until all the colours are filled in.
We continued on walking on leaving Smith's.
We reached Middleton Hall, the vast open space in front of John Lewis. We were in need of something to eat, as the time was nearing lunch time. So we decided on going to John Lewis's restaurant. We have been in there before, but, unless you knew where it was, you'd be hard-pressed to discover it's whereabouts. It's on the top floor and up several flights of elevators. There don't seem to be any signs from the ground floor as far as I could see. I suppose you'd have to ask a member of staff or look on one of the department location boards dotted around the store. On arriving in the restaurant we ordered our food. Carol had soup and a roll, I had a sandwich, although I must say they had a rather poor selection and it would appear that they were somewhat short staffed and it seemed to take ages for a member of staff to serve me. All he had to do was put the sandwich I wanted on a plate and hand it too me. Carol's mum and dad had scones and jam. I went back to get a pot of tea although Carol's dad didn't want tea. I was somewhat disappointed that the milk was only available in those horrible little plastic pots with those nasty foil lids which are virtually impossible to peel off in order to get at the milk inside. Also, they made the tea with just one teabag on a piece of string which I dislike intensely. I'm surprised at John Lewis, who have fairly high standards, to use such a method of tea-making.
The restaurant was fairly busy, including a couple a few tables along from us, who had young children, one of which was causing some problems for them, making a lot of noise. I'm also surprised how under-staffed it was for the time of day considering how busy it was. It got busier as we were about to leave.
We went down on the elevator and on the ground floor walked through the kitchen department. We had a brief browse and Carol had a look at the food mixers. She's seen a Kenwood hand mixer on the John Lewis website so knew that this was the one she wanted. At £20 it seemed good value, compared with other models and a reasonable price when comparing such companies as Argos, surprisingly, since John Lewis is generally somewhat more expensive than other stores although you always know you will get good customer service. The Milton Keynes store was refitted a few years ago and as a result they moved departments around. For example, the kitchenware department was on a different floor, as was the restaurant which used to be at the front and overlooking Middleton Hall. The departments had been in their old locations probably since the store opened back in the late 1970s and the store probably hadn't been remodelled since then. Anyway, we decided on purchasing the mixer and then left the store.
We slowly walked back through the shopping centre along the other mall and walked back through Midsummer Place to return to Debenhams and then up the escalator to the carpark and home. We spent some time talking before Carol's parents left for home when their friend from church came back almost precisely at 3 p.m. to drive them home to Bournemouth.