Tuesday, May 02, 2017

May Bank Holiday and Milton Keynes Marathon

May Bank Holiday Monday. Why is it that 1st May is a Bank Holiday in Great Britain? It never used to be such, although I recall the May Day celebrations in Ickwell, a village in Bedfordshire, not too far from where I used to live in Cardington, where they had (and no doubt, still have) a May Day Festival, with dancing around the Mayple, which is on the village green. Having now Googled the subject, yes, the Mayday celebrations do still happen, with dancing around the maypole and the crowning of a May Queen. It's been going on virtually uninterrupted since the time of the Tudors, but it was banned by Oliver Cromwell during the Commonwealth (miserable old so and so.) but reintroduced when Charles II became king after the Restoration.

So, we get a day off. Doesn't bother me one way or another, as I'm now retired, but I know Carol needs a rest from her efforts, working as a science teacher at Milton Keynes Academy.

After the last Milton Keynes Marathon a few months ago, when the route went past our house in Eaglestone (which meant we were locked in for a couple of hours and couldn't get out) and I vaguely mentioned the fact on one of my posts on this blog, it seemed to upset someone or other connected with this event. It seems you're not supposed to have an a opinion unless it's that of the mass. So much for the idea of the good old British thing called 'Free Speech' or 'Freedom of Expression.' I dared to suggest that the route went along the nearby Redway (only a few yards away.) It was almost as if I'd made some obscene remark, the reaction it caused.

On Sunday we were lead to believe that there was to be a marathon and that we'd be locked in to Eaglestone for several hours whilst this event took place. We saw the yellow signs along some of the Gridroads near Eaglestone, and, as a result, we wouldn't be able to drive to M.K.C.C. for either of the three services. As I'm involved in Better Together (see previous post.) I wanted to make sure I heard the message delivered. But I managed to be able to see this as services are broadcast 'live' via the internet and YouTube, which we can see through our SkyQ box. As it turned out we didn't have any runners come past our house, so whether the marathon (full, half or whatever) actually was diverted away from Eaglestone, I don't know. But on Monday (today) we weren't certain what was going on. We certainly didn't want to be stuck indoors and wanted to get out somewhere. It was a rather undecided day on the weather-front, but mostly it was sunny, although there was some rain during the day. We had talked about a trip to Rutland Water and we were considering taking Alfie. It doesn't take much to encourage him to go out with us and a walk around that stretch of water would have been good for all of us. I have visited before and it's certainly a good place to go to and plenty to attract attention. But then we changed our minds and decided on going to Bicester Avenue, a retail outlet and garden centre. It's very near Bicester Village and a good 40-minute drive just beyond Buckingham. We got away from Milton Keynes before the marathon began and intended getting back home after it finished.

So, we drove out of Milton Keynes and made for Bicester. On arrival at the retail park we had a stroll around the various shops and eventually went into the Wyevale Garden Centre there which is the central largest outlet within Bicester Avenue. We had coffee and scones and then looked around the plants and some of the bird-feeding paraphernalia on sale there with the eventual intention of adding to our bird feeder we already have set up in the garden at home.

We browsed in several of the other shops at Bicester Avenue, one being a pet shop where we actually managed to find Alfie another 'sound' toy (if you read earlier posts regarding the difficulty we've had finding a replacement for the Comic Relief 'laughing ball' which he loves so much, then you'll realise how great it was to find this toy. Actually we bought '2 for £5', which made it doubly great.) Then, into the Cotton Traders shop. We have bought quite a few items of clothing from this company, and get their catalogue in the post. From there, back to the car and home. The traffic going into Bicester was very heavy. Most seemed going to Bicester Outlet Village, another destination we've visited on various occasions, and then back towards Buckingham and Milton Keynes. As we approached Buckingham, the heavens opened and there was quite a rain storm. It didn't last long, but it's as well we didn't go to Rutland Water because we heard on the car radio that there were traffic hold-ups in and around that area, so we might have found ourselves held up on either the M1 or the A1 either outward bound or returning. We had intended visiting Aldi in Buckingham, which has a branch on the road going into Buckingham, but for some reason we couldn't find the exit and must have gone past, but then made the decision to visit the Aldi at Westcroft where we usually shop. The traffic was excessively heavy on the approach to Milton Keynes and, having done some basic shopping in Aldi for the evening's meal, drove home with the simple idea that the marathon had come to an end. How wrong could we be. The roads were chocker-block with very long queues of cars and we couldn't go towards Eaglestone along Chaffron Way and had to turn right along Grafton Street and then onto Standing Way. Completely grid-locked and it took a good deal longer to eventually get into Saxon Street, which by then had been opened up. Runners still running along some of the Redway system as we eventually drove into Eaglestone and home. 
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