Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Vital funding could mean bright future for MK Museum

Eggscellent - MK Museum is running its annual Easter egg hunt this April half-term holiday. 

Hidden from the spring sunshine by trees, the Milton Keynes Museum’s entrance is the front door of a farmyard house. To a first time visitor, it’s not that clear how big the site is until you step inside.
Parlour rooms littered with paintings and drawings of the 17th century farm lead to a period style school classroom, complete with slate to write on and worn wooden desks. Following on, there is a warm farmhouse kitchen, complete with real fireplace, before visitors end up in an indoor High Street.
Shops have been painstakingly recreated, from groceries to medicines, there are objects as small as matchboxes to 6-foot high signs advertising products. There’s even a makeshift cinema and a Post Office (all created by the museum’s dedicated team of volunteers).
All without stepping foot outside, there’s a large barn dedicated to the area’s farming history, which leads onto the newest exhibition and activity gallery about human communication, Connected Earth. Elsewhere there is a transport gallery that features the world’s largest working phone and an enormous tram.
Needless to say, Milton Keynes Museum is bursting at the seams with activities for families, all relating to the history of the area. And following decades of hard work, it has been awarded a vital boost in funding from the Arts Council England. If they win the second stage, the council will give them a total of £7.2 million to renovate the site. 
Formed in 1973, the museum was a result of local people who wanted to collect items from farms and factories that were being closed down to build the new town. Volunteers bought the Stacey Hill Farm estate in Wolverton, with the long-term aim of building a museum. 
Today’s museum director, Bill Griffiths, says: “Milton Keynes had everything, but it didn’t have a museum. There was space here for expansion and changes, and people wanted to preserve their heritage.
“They had parents and grandparents who had lived in the area before the city was built. It’s part of their history and culture.”
After a fire in 1996 destroyed a lot of the grade II listed barn and cowshed, the past 15 years has focused on rebuilding the museum. Today, schools from the Milton Keynes area regularly visit the site, which saw nearly 30,000 visitors this year.
Bill adds: “The museum itself tells the story of the area’s heritage from the Victorians up until the start of the city. We all relate to the Victorian period because a lot of it is mechanical, we can see how it works, and we have a lot about farming too, although that can be more difficult to explain.”
This year, it announced plans for further expansion, funded by Milton Keynes Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council. They include two major galleries being added, with special exhibits featuring some of the town’s biggest success stories, including Red Bull Racing and The Open University. Due for completion in spring 2018, it would also focus on the area’s early history dating back to the Bronze Age.
“I think Milton Keynes is a fantastic city. It has so much green space and wildlife too,” explains Bill.
And residents’ stories will play an important part in the transformation.
“There are many stories that have their roots here and my view is that museums should reflect the people who visit them.
“We want people to contact us with stories. Most of the time they won’t have that opportunity. It’s difficult to get to people and hear everyone’s story, if we don’t know we can’t do anything about it.”
Bill adds: “We are here to interest those who are just finding out about the world. If we are boring we won’t encourage that.”
For more information on Milton Keynes Museum and the expansion go to miltonkeynesmuseum.org.uk.

Easter activities

Milton Keynes Museum is putting on its annual Easter egg hunt this half term, with youngsters invited to hunt for treasure and unlock the way to chocolate prizes. Everyone wins something in the traditional game, and opening hours will have been extended ready for the summer. The museum is open Wednesday to Sunday, 11am until 4.30pm, until October. Normal admission prices apply for the Easter hunt, which lasts from Friday until Monday (April 3rd-6th). 

Win a family ticket to Milton Keynes Museum

Fancy paying the site a visit? We’ve teamed up with the museum to give away a family ticket (two adults and up to four children) to visit for a day. All you have to do is answer this simple question:

What concrete animals are commonly associated with Milton Keynes?

A. Cats
B. Cows
C. Chickens

All you have to do is send your answer, name, address and daytime contact number to competition@phoneboxmagazine.com or MK Museum Competition, Phonebox Magazine, Unit 2 Stanley Court, Olney, Bucks, MK46 5NH. The closing date is April 22nd.

A Knights' trail- Discover the sculptures of Northampton

If you're looking to get out of the Milton Keynes area during the Easter holidays, then why not pay a visit to Northampton?

Since the 23rd March until the end of August, 'A Knight's Trail' features six large-scale Medieval knight sculptures, which are currently dotted around the town, to create the knight's trail, with each of the knights depicting the historical details of the English knights from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. These periods have been chosen as they relate to significant events in Medieval England and Northampton, such as: The signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, the Second Barons' War in 1264, the start of the Hundred Years' War in 1337, the last Parliament held at Northampton Castle in 1281 and the Battle of Northampton in 1460.

All the sculptures of the knights have been carved from huge trunks by a group of three chainsaw artists, Daniel Cordell, Simon O'Rourke and Hue Thomas, who have exhibited around the world and won a number of prestigious commissions, including ones at Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and more.

A great idea for a day out with the family, you could do it as a race or just enjoy a walk through the town, taking photos of the knights as you go. Follow the map below to discover where the various sculptures of the knights will be, as well as a sculpture of the Borough crest. Maps can be picked up from various points around the town, at the Tourist Information Centre, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery and Grosvenor Shopping Centre.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Earth Hour- Tonight at 8.30pm

'Earth Hour' is a charitable organisation, and runs the 'lights off' event which began in 2007 in Sydney, Australia. Since then it has grown in size and now incorporates 162 countries and territories worldwide. Earth Hour is now the world's largest public environmental action, encouraging people to take responsibility for caring for the world in which we live.

Earth Hour this year takes place tonight, 28th March, at 8.30pm. The project aims to create worldwide environmental and social impact. Earth hour isn't just for the hour; the idea of the 'lights out' event is to join hundreds of millions of people across the globe in switching off the lights for an hour but also to think more long-term about how they can help the environment.

Earth Hour is about making a commitment to ongoing change in reducing the impact we have on the environment. Some of the longer-term ways of doing this include:

  • Turning off non-essential lights
  • Installing energy saving lights and devices i.e. timers on lighting
  • Switching your property's electricity to Gold Standard Green Power
  • Making use of recycling
  • Installing rainwater collecting tanks for watering gardens and lawns.

This Earth Hour why not get involved at the centre:mk, as the centre:mk and their employees will join in the event by switching off the lights of the business premises for one hour. During this time they will be acknowledging their commitment to personal and operational actions which will benefit the planet in the year ahead. Participating in Earth Hour is a great way to join the community in caring for our future and working towards finding solutions for environmental changes. Various places around the world will be taking part, and as well as the centre:mk in Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes Theatre will also be turning out their lights, during The Woman in Black show, making it even more scary!

If you can, do get involved in turning out your lights for this hour, while remembering that fighting climate change and protecting the environment needs to be a daily thing, and turning off lights, recycling and other small steps can really make a difference. Find out more by watching the official video below.

Friday, 27 March 2015

What to do this Easter holidays...

There are numerous activities and events to get involved with in and around Milton Keynes this Easter holidays. As the weather starts to brighten up and we can begin to venture outside, the numerous canal, wood and park walks are always something free and fun to do. For something a little more organised, we've collected a selection of events that are going on this Easter to give you a few ideas of what you could do and where...

Frosts Garden Centre, Woburn Sands

Saturday 28th March-Saturday 4th April, anytime from 10am-4pm: There will be a bunny hunt around the centre, as well as some Easter egg fun- children will be able to decorate their own chocolate Easter egg with some sweets, and will finish their activities with an activity sheet and a glass of squash. The activity lasts around 25 minutes and children must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets cost £5.99 per child.

The National Museum of Computing

Wednesday 1st- Sunday 12th April, from 12 noon-5pm: Digital fun and games for all the family, including: LEGO robots, mine craft, codeability- introducing youngsters to coding, FUZEliers to help control robots and many retro computer games.

Bletchley Park

Monday 30th March- Sunday 5th April and 7th-12th April from 9am-5pm: Fun activities over the Easter holidays for the whole family. See if you've got what it takes to be a Bletchley Park Codebreaker. Different activities each day, including craft and spy workshops, children's guided tours, trails, quizzes and more.

Intu Milton Keynes

Tuesday 31st March: For those of you with young children, you'll probably be well aware of the CBeebies' animated series 'Kate & Mim-Mim'. Mim-Mim will be paying children a visit this Easter at intu Milton Keynes. Children will have the chance to meet their favourite bunny, learn some bunny-hop movies and take part in some fun games, as well as getting a bunny hug with Mim-Mim himself. Mim-Mim will be making appearances at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm, lasting for 30 minutes each time. Children can pick up their very own CBeebies activity booklet. Tickets for the meet and greet are  FREE and available by clicking here, additional tickets will be available on the day on a first come, first served basis.

Saturday 4th & Thursday 9th April : Have your face painted for free at intu Milton Keynes.

Tuesday 7th April: Come and have a go at some circus skills, and learn how to plate spin and juggle!

Friday 10th & Saturday 11th April: Pit stop challenge with Formula Fast Karting. Change the wheels in the fastest time to win a prize.

Newport Pagnell:

Good Friday, 3rd April: Come and join the Churches Together Newport Pagnell on a procession down the high street, with drama, music and readings. Meet outside the Parish Church and ending at Market Hill.

Gulliver's land 

Sunday 5th & Monday 6th April: This Easter there are two special days of Easter entertainment. Enjoy the Easter egg hunt, the big bunny bounce, meet the Easter bunny and see the Easter bunny parade- if you wear an Easter bonnet you'll get a £1 voucher to spend within the park.

MK Gallery

There will be a number of sessions throughout the Easter holidays, including 'start the art' sessions on Tuesdays from 11am-12noon, and Saturday mini makers sessions from 1-2pm and 2-3pm. These artist-led creative sessions are free, but places are limited and can be booked on the gallery website

Milton Keynes Council

Thursday 2nd April, 10.30am-12 noon and 2-3.30pm: Kids' recycling factory tour. A fun and free event where children aged between 7 and 14 can join the council's recycling team for a fun-filled morning at the factory to learn about recycling, tour the factory and make their own recycled item to take home. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Booking essential, click here to book a place. 

Thursday, 26 March 2015

What to do this weekend...

All weekend: 

Lifestyle: Interiors and Exteriors show @ Middleton hall, the centre:mk, Thursday-Sunday
Come along and find out how you can update and upgrade your home without breaking the bank. Enjoy a range of stalls with ideas and products to help you transform your home. From designer bathrooms, to state-of-the-art kitchens, handmade furniture and more, don't miss it this weekend in the centre:mk.

Eco Event @ intu Milton Keynes, Saturday-Sunday
It's Eco weekend, have you got any clothes you want to learn how to upcycle? Come and join Milton Keynes College Fashion and Textiles students in the centre, who will be showing you how to turn your unwanted denim clothing into style masterpieces.

Friday 27th March:

Bingo @ Lavendon Village Hall 7pm for 7.30pm start
Tickets cost £1, there will also be a raffle and refreshments.

The Carlton House Club Presents: Race Night @ The Carlton House Club, 7.30pm start
A night in aid of the Olney-Newton link, an opportunity to have a great night out while raising money for a great cause. Tickets cost just £8 per person and includes a sausage and chips dinner. A bar will also be available. Tickets are available from the Phonebox Magazine office at Stanley Court, Olney. Don't miss out on a great night.

Saturday 28th March:

Charity Pamper fair @ Wavendon Gate Pavillion 11am-3pm
Charity Pamper fair in aid of The Henry Allen Trust with a selection of craft sellers and beauty treatments available. Feel relaxed and pampered by one of the therapists, with Indian Head Massage, mini manicures, brows, nails, mini facials and more. Treat yourself and indulge in some retail therapy, all from local craft companies, with products such as scarves, jewellery, soaps and cosmetics and other handmade products. There will also be refreshments available in the vintage pop up tea shop, and a raffle with great prizes and all proceeds going to The Henry Allen Trust.

Nathan Grisdale @ Crauford Arms, Wolverton, 12.30pm start 
Nathan Grisdale comes to Milton Keynes as part of his UK tour. Suitable for ages 14 and over, under 14s allowed when accompanied by an adult. VIP tickets are also available to meet Nathan, have photos and get a front-line spot for the show. Nathan is a solo artist but will be performing with a full band. There will also be two support acts, Hester & Holly Rose, and Mr Meanor. Click here for tickets.

BRTA Forum @ The Two Brewers Cabin Room, Olney, from 1pm.

Bozeat British Legion Buffet Dance @ Bozeat Church Hall. 7.30pm-Midnight
Lots of dancing to Bob Watts, raffle and bar will be available on the night. Tickets cost £9.

Charity Night @ Bletchley Working Mens Club, 7.30pm-Midnight
Music from Sahara C, Michelle Nova and Indifference, raising money for Deaf England Rugby. Admission is £5.

Stony BreakDown 3 @ York House Centre, London Road, Stony Stratford, 8-11pm
The banjos are back in town for the third Stony BreakDown, with fiddles, guitars, basses and more. Enjoy the wild and wonderful music of the Bluegrass State, and of North Carolina, Arkansas and West Virginia. Entry is £5.

Sunday 29th March:

Wedding Open Day @ Mercure Parkside House, Newport Road, Woughton on the Green, 12-4pm
If you're planning a wedding, come along to this open day to view the House as your potential wedding location, and for some inspiration. Enjoy a glass of Buck's Fizz and canap├ęs on arrival and have the chance to view the newly refurbished bedrooms and the Orchard Suite, which will be set up for a wedding. Also the opportunity to meet dedicated wedding planners, recommended suppliers and also enjoy a fashion show.

Paul Carrack @ MK Theatre, starts at 7.30pm
Enjoy a show from Paul Carrack following his new album, Rain or Shine. Paul was originally in a number of bands, before becoming a solo artist in 2004. He is a unique British talent and is an artist who is at the top of his game. Tickets cost £32.40 and are available to buy by clicking here.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Beer Festival- Easter weekend

You don't have to wait for summer for this Beer Festival! The Club at Hanslope are holding a Beer Festival from Friday 3rd April until Sunday 5th, open from noon-11pm every day. There will be a number of Real Ales and Ciders from local breweries, with live music every day, quizzes, games and competitions for all the family.

On Friday there will also be 'The Wheel of Fortune', and on Saturday there'll be a quiz to see how well you know your beers, with great prizes to be won. The Clermont vs Northampoton rugby kicks off at 5.40pm, and there will be live music with The Jazz Collective from 8pm.

Easter Sunday (5th) includes a great variety of Easter-themed events. There will be a giant Easter egg raffle and drawing and colouring competitions for children, with chocolate egg prizes. From 5pm there will be live music with Chaos Theory, and at 7pm the festival will close with a quiz night.

All are welcome, and admission is free, sky and BT Sports available every day. Don't miss out on a great event this Easter weekend, in just over a week's time.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

REVIEW: The Woman in Black at MK Theatre

A spine chilling horror story that will leave you terrified

The Woman in Black is at MK Theatre until March 28th. 

If you hanker after the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, enjoy Dickens` ghost stories and appreciate the gothic retelling of mysteries, then you won’t be disappointed by this adaptation of Susan Hill`s novel, The Woman in Black.

Stephen Mallatratt carefully took the story and adapted it into a play within a play, always being mindful to the original text. Sadly he has since passed away, but director Robin Hereford continues his work.

The action takes place in the 1950s, a time where instant communication was unheard of
and the north was a very long way.  The director uses the audience`s imagination to build the tension but knows how to break it too with some humour at just the right times.

It`s a well told horror story with a gradual build up, a fantastic atmosphere and palpable tension. The use of smoke, loud bangs, music and lighting create a terrifying overall effect. There`s much skill going on behind the scenes to bring this production to life.

The actors Malcolm James and Matt Connor are perfectly cast in their roles, never being over the top.

If you want to be scared, don`t miss this production. Until March 28.


Monday, 23 March 2015

Five Guys in Milton Keynes

If you've been to America you'll have probably come across Five Guys, a burger restuarant which uses fresh ingredients and peanut oil and gives you 250,000 different ways of ordering a burger.

Starting as a family business, with five sons, Five Guys began in Washington DC in 1986.
Today there are currently 20 restaurants open in the UK, with lots more coming soon, and most interestingly to us, one looks set to come to Milton Keynes.

Not to be compared to the fast food burger chains of McDonalds and Burger King, probably the closest comparison would be GBK (Gourmet burger kitchen) which is situated in the Hub in Milton Keynes.

To add to the variety of recent updates and additions to Milton Keynes, the addition of a Five Guys when there are currently so few in the UK makes the city stand out yet again. As well as this, Milton Keynes is home to the only Banana Tree restaurant outside of London, and the only Byron Burger in Buckinghamshire, making it quite a home to a number of up-and-coming names.

Five Guys has a unique way of ordering as well as uniquely fresh ingredients. It allows you to choose the size of burger you want (and is one of the few places you can order a small and still be full!) and then customise the fillings and sauces, similarly to the way you build a sandwich in Subway, but with potentially even more choices.

It's very early days so there's no plans set in stone yet, but it looks like the restaurant will be added to the already wide selection of restaurants at Xscape in the city centre, so keep an eye on our blog for any more updates.

Friday, 20 March 2015

MKFM given full time FM licence

Local radio station, MKFM, started in 2011, with the simple mission of bringing local radio back to Milton Keynes on FM. After 4 years of campaigning, the station has now been granted a full time licence by Ofcom. The decision was made yesterday, and means there are a number of exciting new plans for MKFM.

MKFM have just announced plans that they will be moving into a permanent studio in the Milton Keynes Intu shopping centre, and the FM service will be launched from here in the next few months.

A large number of people supported the campaign, and thorough showing their support helped the station secure it's licence, including members of the public, MPs, MK Dons chairman, the Mayor of Milton Keynes and more. Local charities, businesses, community groups, musicians and sports teams have also showed their support to MKFM, many of whom have benefited form the radio station in one way or another.

Until now MKFM has only been available on DAB Digital radio, but is now able to transmit on FM, with a license that can be renewed every 5 years. A popular station, it has around 20,000 Facebook fans and has achieved around 84,000 listeners each quarter. It seems MKFM has proven itself in popularity and shown it can provide what listeners want, with not just the radio station but also supporting numerous local community events.

The future of MKFM is now underway, and they will be hoping to start test transmissions in May this year.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Partial Eclipse- Look outside tomorrow morning!

A couple of weeks ago you may have read one of our blogs about the upcoming partial solar eclipse, set to take place tomorrow morning. Find out a little bit more here, with what's happening and how to best watch it happen in a safe way...


A solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, which causes a shadow to be cast onto the Earth. The Sun is 400 times bigger than the moon, but because it is 400 times further away from Earth than the Moon, they look the same size. To experience the total eclipse you need to be beneath the Moon's shadow.


There is going to be a total solar eclipse which will be visible across the arctic and Northern Europe. It is going to be the first solar eclipse seen in Europe for over a decade, and the best places to view it are going to be The Faroe Islands and Svalbard. Many parts of Northern Europe will witness a partial solar eclipse, which is what we will see. 98% of the sun will be blocked out and most of the country will be thrown into darkness. The National Grid have been preparing for the loss of 2 hours of solar power for over nine months, although if it is a cloudy day tomorrow there won't be as much to be seen.


In England, we are likely to see the partial eclipse between 8.21am and 10.41am tomorrow morning, the best time to view it will be at around 9.30am. As always, looking at the sun is extremely dangerous and can seriously damage your eyes, so while many will be heading out to view this spectacle, make sure you do so safely. Reflections of the partial eclipse can be seen through using a mirror or putting a pinhole in a piece of paper and reflecting it onto a piece of plain paper, or you can get hold of special eclipse goggles or glasses. There is also going to be a live streaming online of the eclipse, which you can watch by clicking here. The next eclipse to be seen in Europe won't happen until 2026, so don't miss it!

This Weekend's Events

Friday 20th March:

The Pad Presents: Ian McCulloch (Echo & The Bunnymen) + Guests @ Bedford Corn Exchange, starts at 7.30pm. Echo & the Bunnymen were formed in Liverpool in 1978 and became one of the UK's most important bands. They have had numerous hit singles along the way, including Seven Seas, Never Stop The Killing Moon and Lips Like Sugar. Front man Ian McCulloch will also be performing solo, in a fully acoustic show with stripped down versions of their songs. A one-off experience. Tickets cost £18.50.

Quiz Night @ Olney Rugby Club, starts at 7.30pm.
All are welcome, cost is £3 per person, with a maximum of 6 people per team. The money raised will go towards the U18 girls rugby tournament in Gent. To register a team, email: christinebebbington@hotmail.com.

Saturday 21st March: 

Easter Coffee Morning @ Westbury Grange, Newport Pagnell, from 10am-12 noon.
Come and join the fundraising coffee morning, raising money for outings and treats for the residents of Westbury Grange. All are welcome to come along, there will be a selection of stalls, raffle and a wide selection of cakes and coffee.

Race Night @ Lavendon Village Hall, first race is at 7.30pm.
Plougmans supper will be provided, bring your own drinks. Tickets cost £8.

Olney Ward Councillor Surgery @ The Institute, Emberton from 12.30pm-1.30pm.

Newport Pagnell Singers: Great Choral Masterpieces @ Newport Pagnell Parish Church, from 7.30pm. Including excerpts from the following works: Gloria- Vivalidi, Messiah- Handel, Requiem- Mozart, Elijah- Mendelssohn and Requiem- Jenkins. An evening for all those who appreciate fine choral music- don't miss out. Tickets cost £10 in advance or £12 on the door.

ArtFULL Monthly Show @ The Centre:MK, Sidbury Arcade between doors 13 and 15, all day.
This is a free event, and the first of ARTfull's monthly shows in the centre:mk is 'Over the Top'. Featuring the limited edition bronze sculptures of Tim Cotterill, the Frogman and a special custom made Over the Top frog, there will be art to see, artists to talk to and more, including a free raffle.

MK Dons vs Notts County, and family fun day @ Stadium MK, from 12 noon.
Another chance to enjoy a family fun day at the Dons, with a selection of activities taking place around the ground from midday, and discounted ticket prices for all the family. Adult tickets start at £10, and under 18s go for just £1. For an extensive list of stalls and activities, click here.

Bark in the Park @ Furzton Lake, from 10am.
Bring your four-legged friends to meet other dogs and discover a new dog-walking route. Pre-registration is essential, costs £1 per dog. Walks are not suitable for dogs under 1 year old.

Sunday 22nd March: 

Museum Lunch @ Donzella restaurant, Stanley Court Olney, 12.15-3pm.
Open to friends, volunteers and partners of the museum. An opportunity to mix socially and contribute to raising funds for the museum. Cost is £15 for a two-course lunch. Email friends@cowperandnewtonmuseum.org.uk to reserve a place.

Orienteering @ Linford Wood, starting from 10am-12 noon.
The first of informal orienteering events which will run throughout 2015 for beginners, more experienced orienteers and runners. No special equipment is needed and no need to pre-register, just turn up! There are a number of different courses to choose from, in varying levels of difficulty and length. Costs £5 for individuals, couples and families, and £10 for groups with more than two adults. Click here for more information.

Creative Space @ The Stables, Wavendon, MK17 8LU, from 11.45am-1pm and 2.45pm-4pm.
Interactive music events for disabled children and their families. Come and make music, crafts and dance with the charity, 'Create'. The 75 minute event is unique, fun and interactive. Music will be performed by talented pianist, Derek Paravicini, who is himself blind and has severe learning difficulties. Tickets cost £6, call the box office on: 01908 280800 to book. 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Free cookery classes and fitness classes on the NHS...

In a bid to tackle the country's obesity crisis, the NHS have revealed they are going to start offering Brits free cookery classes and exercise classes. A radical new programme to help prevent the rise in obesity and type 2 diabetes, which is closely linked to obesity, it is set to be trailed in Birmingham, Bradford, Durham, Herefordshire, Kent, Manchester and London, and analysed, before it is introduced nationally.

NHS staff, including doctors and nurses, are being included in the scheme, with the head of health service stating that the NHS need to 'practice what they preach' and slim down themselves, before tackling the rest of the country's waistlines.

GPs will start to offer tests for pre-diabetes to those overweight patients, as well as free cookery lessons, exercise classes and online coaching to encourage weight loss. The trial scheme at Britain's largest hospital will be where thousands of staff are offered free Slimming World classes, and those who are classed as obese could be offered help from psychologists and specialist dieticians.

Preventing obesity can cut diabetes and save lives, and so rather than dealing with the effects of obesity and diabetes, it makes sense to spend time and money educating people on healthy living and ways of slimming down.

Around 2.5 million people in England suffer from type 2 diabetes, and that number is set to rise if nothing is done to educate people on how to live a healthier lifestyle.

If the programme goes well, it will be rolled out into other cities across the UK; watch this space!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The property ladder in MK

Milton Keynes, and it's surrounding areas, has recently been cited as the fastest growing urban area in regards to population, and has become a highly attractive location to live in. This is largely due to the easy commute to London, but also because of it's growing status and surroundings.

As well as being fast growing in population, Milton Keynes has experienced the largest net increase in jobs, the second highest rate of business start-ups and strongest growth in housing supply in the country. House prices are increasing faster than nearly anywhere else in the country, according to a latest report from Bidwells property consultants.

This all sounds promising if you're a Milton Keynes resident, but what if you're an aspiring resident, wanting to rent or buy in Milton Keynes, how easily is that done?

Renting may be seen as the cheaper option, but it can also be difficult to get onto the market. Many rental agencies do not operate on a first-come-first-served basis, and therefore it's not a case of the early bird catches the worm, but it seems to be down to a popularity contest or luck of the draw. Various agencies operate in different ways: some accept all viewings and toss a coin to choose the prospective renters, others let the landlord decide, sometimes based on job, others seeming to judge by the personality of the viewer as perceived and described by the letting agent. While rented accommodation seems in high demand, it does beg to question how these landlords choose. What puts you at a disadvantage? Are you better off going in as a couple or single? Do they prefer you to work long hours or be around the house more? Do they care if you work locally or are a commuter? It probably all depends on the personality and past experience of the landlord, although technically everyone should have a fair chance. It seems that even if you call up about a property almost immediately after it's gone on the market, you're either not the first, or you're the first and they still want to show 7 other people round. In this sort of market it seems a bit pot-luck, but at least Milton Keynes is apparently the place to be, when you do finally get in somewhere!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Theatre District MK up for a re-vamp

The Theatre District
The Theatre District in central Milton Keynes has a pretty good selection of restaurants, and of course the theatre, but in recent years it has become something of a ghost town, not picking up the same amount of interest as many other areas of the city.

With the large number of restaurants and attractions in Milton Keynes, there is a huge choice for people when choosing where to eat or drink, particularly among the chain restaurants which are at the Theatre District as well as many other areas in Milton Keynes, including the shopping centre, Xscape, Kingston and now the new MK Stadium restaurant area. With so much of the same, there needs to be something more than just the food attracting visitors, and this is where the Theatre District has been struggling a bit lately, often seeming very quiet and dead, particularly during the day.

However, all this is set to change, with a whopping £20million development plan which was granted just this week. The plan is set to create over 100 jobs, and will be completed in late 2016. The plan includes building a Premier Inn hotel with 130 rooms, as well as 234 square metres of retail and 994 square metres of leisure, which is likely to include restaurants and bars.

Jonathan Manns, Colliers International Planning Director who advised on the development, says: "In rejuvenating and expanding the Theatre District these plans also improve the wider public realm and enhance links to existing shopping facilities..."

Jack Paravicini of Bursha Holdings commented: "We're keen to create a 'family friendly' area with a vibrant daytime and evening economy that increases footfall and supports the adjacent gallery and theatre."

With a bit of work (£20 million worth!) it's hoped that the Theatre District will be back in the runnings in competing with Milton Keynes' other leisure areas. The building of a Premier Inn hotel in such a central location is sure to be hugely popular, and the surrounding restaurants and bars will be sure to benefit as a result of the customers it will attract.

On top of all this, intu Milton Keynes has also just announced a new development, a major face-lift which will feature a five-screen boutique cinema, new shops and green spaces. The development could cost up to £70 million, and would be the most significant development the city centre has seen in over a decade. Pictures and information about the proposal are on display until 22nd March.
Proposal for intu Milton Keynes development
How do you feel about all this development? In a time where landmarks such as the Point are being demolished, is it right that money is being put into expanding and re-doing the already more modern areas?

Thursday, 12 March 2015

This weekend's events in MK


Comic Relief:
Whatever you're up to this Friday, you're bound to come across Red Nose Day in one way or another. The idea of making your 'face funny for money' is interpreted in a number of ways across the country. If you have children at school or work in a school you'll probably be wearing your red noses and raising money for comic relief there in one way or another, from bake sales and wearing red clothes, to danceathons, swimathons and quiz's. If you're not getting involved during the day, there's always the 6-hour marathon TV show on Friday night from 7pm. An evening of entertainment aiming to make you laugh out loud with a selection of stars, including the return of the classic shows; Little Britain, Mr Bean, and Vicar of Dibley among others. As well as the humorous, comedy elements, will be the more serious films and footage which show Comic Relief's charity work and where the money raised will be going to.

Locally, there are activities going on for comic relief in schools and other locations, one of these is in Stantonbury, with various activities taking place from 3.30-6.30pm. There will be face painting, with a professional makeup artist. You can be entered into the competition to win Best Funny Face by simply donating to Comic Relief, having your face painted and photo taken. There's also a bouncy castle, so you can make those funny faces while you bounce! From 7-9pm there'll be a table tennis tournament for Comic Relief, so you can pop on your nose and enter the mini tournament, both juniors and adults are welcome. The Commonwealth medal winner and current reigning world Ping Pong champion, Andrew Baggaley will be awarding the trophies. You can watch from Buskers cafe & bar.


80's night held by Domesticats, at Lavendon Village Hall. 7.30-11.30pm, Fancy dress is optional, but would be fun! Tickets cost £10 and the money raised will go towards Lavendon Village Hall. Come along for a great night of the 80's!

The Edelweiss Pirates at Stantonbury Theatre, 3.30 and 7.30pm. A show featuring the Edelweiss Pirates of Cologne, a group of teenagers in Germany during the Second Wolrd War who realise they must start showing their resistance to the Nazis. Suitable for ages 13 and over. Tickets cost £14, concessions £11.

Tennis Works at Stony Stratford Tennis Club (MK11 1AR) is holding a free indoor mini tennis session this Saturday. A great introduction to tennis, with fun and games. 4-6 year olds are welcome from 1-2pm, and 7-10 year olds from 2-3pm. For more information email Stony@tennisworks.net.

Milton keynes Gin Festival at the Buszy (MK9 1LR) All afternoon and evening, 2 sessions from 12-5pm and 6-11pm.
Over 60 different gins will be showcased, and visitors will receive a brochure with information on all the gins available to try. You will need drinks tokens to purchase drinks, available at the front desk. The cost is £4 per drink, including tonic and a fresh garnish. There will be live entertainment, talks from gin industry experts and food available to buy all evening, as well as the chance to get chatting with other gin lovers! Tickets are £6 and are available to buy here.


Mothers Day:
Beat the queues and book yourself a table at one of the lovely restaurants or pubs in or around Olney, Newport Pagnell or Milton Keynes for your Mum and family, and celebrate Mother's day locally. If the weather is nice, why not take a walk along the canal, or through the countryside or through one of the local villages to enjoy some local scenery.

Ant & Dec's Supercomputer is in Milton Keynes this Sunday! Come along to the centre:mk between 9am and 5pm to be in for a chance of winning 2 tickets to New York. The morning session is from 9am, and the afternoon session from 2pm. If you're over 18 come and get involved, come dressed to impress with your hidden talent, and see if you can wow the supercomputer!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

REVIEW: To Kill A Mockingbird at MK Theatre

Production truly brings the classic novel to life on stage

To Kill A Mockingbird is at MK Theatre until March 14. 

The book has delighted fans for generations, and now there’s a play to keep audiences entertained. For those of us who loved To Kill A Mockingbird from our school days, you do feel a little apprehensive about seeing the production. Could it possibly do the novel justice? 
But you don’t need to be concerned. The play is firmly rooted in the book and pays homage to the beautiful words of Harper Lee, truly bringing the tale to life on stage. Even if you don’t know the book firsthand, the themes of racial prejudice and fighting for what you believe are still relevant today. 
To Kill A Mockingbird follows the story of a black man wrongly accused of rape in a close-knit Southern community, all told through the eyes of a child. The three children, Rosie Boore, Billy Price and Milo Panni, were excellent in their observations of the adults’ behaviour. 
Overall, the cast was brilliant, but a special mention should go to Daniel Betts, who played one of the most famous characters in English literature and the moral compass of the story, Atticus. As he says, “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes.”
A wonderful evening. Until Saturday. 


Make your Face funny for money!

Red Nose Day has been going now since 1988, and each time it comes back around, it seems to get even more funny and silly. Red nose day takes place every two years, and this year the theme is 'Make your face funny for money.' 

Friday 13th is Red Nose day, and over the last couple of weeks there have been activities and television shows raising money for Comic Relief, including the Comic Relief danceathlon, let's play darts for Comic Relief and more. It all comes to a head this Friday, when everyone is encouraged to get involved at home, at work and at school, making their faces funny for money!

Friday night sees a great night of television for Comic Relief, filled with entertainment, comedy and stories, aiming to inspire and encourage viewers to give generously. There are loads of ideas on the Red Nose Day website, of how you can get involved and raise money for Comic Relief. You can buy a red nose at Sainsbury's, Oxfam or online, and there is a free fundraising kit with ideas for face painting, and a pack for getting involved in the Great Comic Relief bake Off competition. There are also official Comic Relief t-shirts, available at TK Maxx and online.

The money raised from Comic Relief goes to helping fund some amazing projects which change people's lives, both in the UK and across Africa. It's an extremely worthwhile cause, and well worth getting involved in, whether you go all out, or just want to buy a red nose, it would be great for everyone who can to get involved. Have a look at some of the ideas below or on the website for inspiration, or get creative and come up with your own ways of making your face funny for money!