Sunday, August 26, 2012

Visit to Leighton Buzzard

Yesterday was yet another one of those days when the weather can't really make it's mind up. Warm one minute, with blazing sunshine, and then it clouds over and the rain starts. Or it just clouds over and it just goes really dull. We'd been shopping really early, and by late afternoon we had nothing else to do. It's really not like us to sit around indoors in the Summer. We're usually visiting somewhere or other, usually a National Trust property, which we did a few weeks ago when we went to Ickworth. We have recently renewed our membership, so we're ready for a further year of visits, and have planned to perhaps visit one more before Carol goes back to work in a little over a week's time and may visit Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire. It's not far if we go up the M1, and just past Stoke-On-Trent and wouldn't take much over 90 minutes or so.

We needed to get out of the house (our neighbour not making any sort of noise, but certainly likely to start up at any moment) so we decided to go to Leighton Buzzard, a short drive down the A5 towards Aylesbury and along the relatively-new by-pass. Not somewhere I'd immediately think of visiting, but we have a number of really interesting small market towns around Milton Keynes, such as Wolverton, Stony Stratford, Newport Pagnell and Olney, all with a lot of history and some quirky independent shops to browse in. It's one of those places you go past but there's no need to visiti as there really isn't a lot to go there for. We got to Leighton Buzzard and eventually parked near the library. I think I recall in the past doing a job working for Bedford Libraries, driving a library van, and I think we might have gone to this library. We walked into the centre of the town, and were surprised how run-down and uncared-for it looked. Particularly the branch of W.H. Smith which had tatty carpeting on the floor which was in desperate need of replacing and a really jumbled-up set of display shelves. Then into a bookshop. It was nearly 4.30 and the sun was shining, and the shopkeeper/owner was fixing posters on the windows. We have a habit of chatting to everyone we meet, if we can strike up a conversation, but she was just plain miserable and seemed far more interested in getting us out of the shop so she could shut the place up. We had intended having a coffee and went into the local branch of Costa's, but there were no free seats, so we bought cold drinks and went back to the carpark to leave for home. The place is really nice, but they could have made more effort to be more welcoming and it was really run down. A real shame and rather a disappointment, to say the least.
It took some time to get out of the town centre. Another town with a complex one-way system and poor signage didn't help us much.
We got onto the A5 heading back to Milton Keynes. It was by now really clouding over, and then the rain began, slowly at first, with a few drops, but by the time we reached the outskirts of Milton Keynes, the heavens opened and there was a deluge. Carol was driving, and she decided to pull into a layby. There was a really fast-flowing stream of water running along the side of the layby, and visability had been really poor as we drove along the road, which meant it was really hard seeing the road clearly and the windscreen wipers couldn't go fast enough to shift the falling water. After barely two minutes it stopped and we continued on our way, coming off the A5 near the football stadium. We noticed that the road was dry, which was a real surprise, considering that no more than a mile earlier it was flowing with water, so that rainstorm must have been incredibly local.
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