Today, Friday. The final day of Half Term. We have had a couple of outings, but today we went into Milton Keynes Central Shopping Centre. We parked in Debenham's multi-storey car park and got there before 9 and found the place virtually empty. We couldn't get into Debenham's as they weren't open until 9.30. We have found that it's the best place to park as you can almost always guarantee there will be space to park, provided you get there early enough. You take a ticket from the barrier when you arrive and then, when you are about to leave you go to the machine and put your card in and it registers how long you've been in the car park and works out the cost so you just put the amount in the slot and the ticket is returned and when you drive out you put the ticket in the machine at the barrier which rises and lets you out. Much fairer than just guessing the length of time you'll be parking for if you park in any of the street-level car parks elsewhere in Milton Keynes.
We walked down into Midsummer Place and then through the central shopping centre. None of the shops were opened but we walked as far as Middleton Hall where they usually have some sort of display or exhibition, the place where there's a Christmas display or something on during the school holidays so it was a surprise to see it completely empty over Half-Term. We decided to go into Costa and have coffee. Actually I had a cold drink and Carol had latte and we sat at a table near the window and could see out across the vacant Middleton Hall and were intrigued to see the little birds flying around inside. We went into Paperchase as Carol wanted to find a pencil case and then on to the Disney Store. Not somewhere I would normally go on my own and surprised how much low-quality junk they sell. A real pity, I'm sad to say. We then went into W.H. Smith's and they had a good offer on if you bought any stationary, a really large set of pens which were originally priced at £20 and on offer for £9.99. Also, we got a voucher for £20 off books and statiionary when we went to pay at the till, so I will have to return next week to take advantage of this offer. We walked back through the shopping centre, stopping off at Waterstone's in Midsummer Place. I wanted to see whether they had a book of short stories in written by Susanna Clarke. She wrote 'Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" which is currently being adapted for television and being aired on BBC1 on Sundays. No sign of this book or the book of short stories which is a surprise considering the television serial. They generally have stocks and displays of books that are being dramatised on television in very prominent places so somewhat surprised that I couldn't find either book. Easy enough to find on Amazon. We walked on and reached Marks and Spencer and had a browse in their men's department but didn't see anything I would want. Then we went into the foothill and got food for this evening's meal, a £10 for several items, which turned out to be two meals for £10 so that sorted the evening's meals out for today AND tomorrow. Good value I must say. When we got to the till the poor girl on the checkout had real problems with the printer which printed the receipt as it wouldn't stop churning out a long print-out and she had to call a supervisor to get the thing to work. Then, when we got back to the car park the machine you use to pay wouldn't accept a £2 coin Carol put in the machine but eventually things seemed to sort themselves out. It's surprising that these bits of technology have a habit of going wrong and causing a lot of problems. But we managed to leave the car park and went home. By now it was raining really hard but as the afternoon progressed the sun did eventually come out.