As always, I’ll never get time to write all the stories I want to write. I had a glance at my places slept and places visited list today and they are nowhere near updated – there are a lot of places I have been that I have never mentioned, nevermind written about. Officially, I’ve been to Milton Keynes twice. This is a part of England that confuses people. Was it built from scratch? Is it a town or a city? What is Milton Keynes? Why is it not Northampton? Who are MK Dons? AFC Wimbledon fans might want to look away for this post, though bear in mind that I have backpacked Wimbledon before, met the Womble of Wimbledon, covered Wimbledon’s away trip to Real Madrid and I recognise Wimbledon as a real football club, and MK Dons as an artificial/thieving one.
However this post is actually about Milton Keynes, and Woughton! In summer 1992, I was with my parents on an epic overland trip through 4 countries. We went by car through Northern Ireland, then Scotland, then England and finally we got a ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe – we were on the Stena Londoner and the Stena Parisien (one there, one back). Before that, we backpacked Larne to Stranraer on the Stena Antrim. And yes I was backpacking in those days – my bag was my backpack from school so I was a backpacker and an overland tourist, though Dad was the main driver. Sadly, photos don’t really exist from those days. I’m from Generation X and we remember a life before the internet, the SmartPhone and blogs – all those gimmicks, the Gen Z-ers and Millennials know about. I did find a few photos though…
As a kid, I used to love building Lego boats – I loved the ferry crossings from Northern Ireland to England, to Scotland and from Republic of Ireland to Wales and England.
Arrival in Milton Keynes
I remember it was late afternoon when my Dad drove us in to the city of Milton Keynes – we had driven down from Stranraer on a long day of driving. It was an odd place but Dad had one of those UK road Atlas books in the car and it was written that there was a hotel of some sort called The Woughton House Hotel. We decided to stop and see if they had any free rooms for the night. Dad was always fighting a bargain, and my Mum was even more of a bargain hunter and still is! She’s the queen of bargains. This hotel looked amazing, as a 12 year old I loved it and hoped we could a bargain to sleep here – otherwise we’d end up in a B and B somewhere. Tonight, we got lucky.
So when we arrived, tired and weary at the Woughton House Hotel, I remember thinking how plush and posh it looked. Somehow Mum and Dad got us a bargain or two adjacent family rooms with ensuites including free shower gel, shampoo and soap and breakfast the next day. I’m guessing they bargained down to about 60% of the original price. I shared a room with my brother Marko and sister Cathy. My youngest brother Daniel was born in 1994, so he wasn’t here at Woughton House Hotel. The bar looks like this now, below – it wasn’t quite so swanky back in 1992.
The Woughton House Hotel
Our room was elegant and excellent. This was glory days loyal. My love of travel digs right back to those days. Backpacking in Woughton – who does that? Well maybe Trevor Warman from Nomadic Backpacker who grew up nearby and has written about backpacking Bletchley, Bletchley Park and Milton Keynes.
Ye Olde Swan For Dinner
After checking in, putting our bags in our rooms and freshening up, we made the short walk nearby to the local pub for our dinner. It was called Ye Olde Swan and was a textbook English country pub.
It was a warm July evening and dinner would have been something like chicket nuggets, beans and onion rings. Afterwards, ice cream and sauce. Memorably I had 2 bottles of a fizzy lemon drink called GINI. I have never seen or drank that drink before, after or since – only during my time backpacking in Woughton. I Googled it to check it wasn’t all a dream…it exists and is a French drink!
Milton Keynes After 1992: Oasis Away
13 years later with Millwall Neil, Jody and John Johnson we backpacked Milton Keynes again but only for a day – we attended the Oasis concert here at the Milton Keynes Bowl in July 2005. One of the biggest memories of this concert was seeing some truly beautiful girls near us showing their breasts! Those sorts of memories just stick with us. They never told us their names. As an AFC Bournemouth fan, I also saw us play home matches a few times with the Keynes side, MK Dons. The Oasis concert was huge and quite memorable – it’s part of a 4 day book story which also includes us surviving London’s 7/7 bombings which were 2 days before and we were on the tube just before the first bomb.
In an odd twist of fate, my Dad ended up BACK at the Woughton House Hotel later in life, on a business trip with Business In The Community. He spoke of the oddness at being there alone, years on, for work. For me, and for this lifetime I don’t want or need to go back to Woughton. It was a great memory of a fond time and I’ll leave it at that. Here are some links, maps and videos of the Woughton House Hotel. Thanks for the memories.
Newport Road Woughton On The Green, Milton Keynes Suburbs, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, MK6 3LR