• Gareth Ellis

Love where you Live

For years I have loved where I live.

Anyone who knows me will know that I love Milton Keynes and I will defend it against anything anyone says – which is usually that it’s just roundabouts and concrete, that it is soulless and that it’s just chain stores and restaurants.

Firstly, yes, we have a lot of roundabouts in Milton Keynes, more than 120 in fact and they keep putting more of the fuckers in. But a positive thing is you can never get lost, if you make a wrong turn at one of them then you can correct it at the next one. As for being all concrete, we have a vast amount of green space here – more than 6,000 acres of parkland – so it’s great for exploring on some beautiful walks.

As for the soulless aspect, I don’t understand that either. Each ‘suburb’ has its own vibrant community that is full of local characters and events that people don’t just enjoy but are proud of too.

The last aspect is one I can’t defend, but I am actively trying to do something about. We currently have a lot of chain stores and restaurants and yes although a lot of other large areas do too we seem to be filled with them, I mean, we have five Nando’s for crying out loud.

However, Milton Keynes is full of local treats and businesses run by hard-working and from my experience lovely people. I wanted to share some of my favourites with you so that if you live or work in MK or one day you find yourself visiting, you can check them out too.

Carlo’s: Carlo’s is a coffee bar run, unsurprisingly, by Carlo. I’ve been going here every Monday and Friday for the past three years for a large Caramel Macchiato and it’s delicious. The reason for Monday and Friday? It’s the perfect start and finish to my week. Carlo’s a cracking guy and I’ll often stand and chat to him and his family (who also work there) for way longer than I should, seeing as we should both be working. This is high on my list of priorities for a visit when the lockdown is lifted.

Oh My Cakery: This is a new discovery for me but one that is equally delicious. These guys make some amazing sweet and savoury treats (I’ve sampled both) and my biggest compliment to them is that their treats don’t last long enough – because as soon as I’ve started eating them I have to finish them. We’ve had afternoon tea and lots of boxes of cakes from them and they’re delicious every time. So if you like ‘slutty’ cakes, delicious brownies and the most amazing cakey creations then check them out.

FitMK – Just to prove I’m not a massive fatty who does nothing but eat and drink I thought I’d highlight a local company that encourages you to get fit outside. FitMK is run by a good friend of mine, Simon Williams, who is passionate about helping people achieve their fitness goals, including running a marathon, losing weight, feeling generally fitter and everything in between. They have exclusive use of Willen Lake so you get to be beasted with a view. I personally loved their boot camp style and they have built up a solid community of members.

Percy’s: Again, this is a recent find in the last few years. A lot of people used to tell me about a place where you could get great tasting BBQ style food and I was always curious. Living in Newport Pagnell I was always out of the catchment area (at the time). Then when we moved to Greenleys in 2014 I fell into the area and ordered it for our first meal in our new home. Since then I’ve moved to Bradwell and again, have ordered it quite a few times. I follow them on Instagram and every day I have to stop my mouth from watering (and stop from ordering too.)

The Brother’s Supper: When the Coronavirus first started, brothers Shane and Aaron Clarke delivered food to over 65s in self-isolation and NHS workers to make sure they were eating a good meal. We got a Sunday roast delivered and it was a bit of a no brainer, get a delicious roast (and it was delicious) that you haven’t had to cook and help fund their brilliant work as well. Only ordered from these guys once but it was amazing and it arrived so quickly and it had full instructions on how to heat it to perfection. Perfect. You can just tell they love what they do.

Nonna’s: One of Jess and I’s favourite places to eat. Whenever we get a chance we’ll go to Nonna’s in Woburn Sands and have three courses. Even if I’d eaten a couple of hours before I’d still go for three courses to make the most of the beautiful food. Lovely service, lovely people and the owner is someone who is passionate about food, family and creating not just a restaurant but a hub for the local area.

Mrs Mac’s Sweet Treats: This is another recent find and as I sit here I’ve just finished eating a box of delicious blondies from them. I mean, these blondies had Kinder Bueno, Jammie Dodgers, Biscoff biscuits and so much more. I mean they’re so far out of my imagination that I can only sit back and admire the fact that someone else has thought of it. These guys are based in Woburn Sands but will also deliver in Milton Keynes too.

So, there you go, and that’s just a handful of some of the amazing local businesses that are available in Milton Keynes. There are so many out there offering everything from coffee and food to fitness and haircuts.

When this lockdown is over (or even during it) wherever you live, please try to buy from and support small and local businesses in your area.

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