It was my birthday yesterday. I am now an ancient twenty-two years old.
I spent the weekend at my cousin’s place near a little town of Stony Stratford, which is just down from Milton Keynes. Stony Stratford is has been around since the fourteen hundreds, Milton Keynes is about twenty-five years old.
Simone picked me up from the bus station Saturday morning after a quick one and a half hour bus ride down from Nottingham and then took me back to her place. She and her husband Toby live in an old converted mill called Stratford House. Here’s the view out of my bedroom window . It’s a fantastic place, out in the countryside with the river running past just out the back (and part of it still right underneath the house).
It was a nice day outside so Toby and Simone took me on a twenty minute walk into Stony Stratford where had a drink at The Cock Hotel (that’s the carpark out the back by the way). The Cock Hotel is just up the road from The Bull Hotel. Now during the late 18th, early 19th, centuries, during the height of the greaty coaching era, Stony Stratford (which is in the north of Buckinghamshire and is located on the old Roman Road of Watling Street) was an important stopping point for coaches travelling between London and Birmingham (at the time England’s two largest cities). Those in the two regarded the travellers on these coaches as a great source of current news from different parts of the county. This news was imparted in the towns two main hotels, The Cock and The Bull. Stories would flow and change between the two until a rivalry would develop as to which could come up with the most exaggerated and fanciful takes. And thus you have the saying, ‘A cock and bull story’. The UK is great. You just don’t get anything vaguely historic like that back home.
So we had a few drinks, walked back to Stratford House, had dinner, and then went out on the town. First we went to <a href=
Xscape which is home to a heap of clubs, pubs, shops, as well as a massive snowdown, which boasts two 175 metre slopes and a 135 metre nursery slope of real snow, all indoors. Simone said she would take me skiing next time I was over, but tonight we were headed for Revolutions which is a vodka bar. They have so many different types of vodka’s I couldn’t even begin to list them. I only managed to sample a few before we left, the drinks were good but the music was crap that night, so we decided to head on over to Sim and Toby’s regular hangout, The Slug and Lettuce. This place had better music, and a more laid back atmosphere, and after seeing that they had cheap After Eight’s (a shot of Kahlua, a shot of creme de menth and a shot of Bailey’s layered into a shot glass in that order), we decided to stay. The pool table was hideously expensive at one and a half pounds a game, so we gave up on that (which is good because I was losing all my games). We stayed there until final call (11pm, how crazy is that!), and then went back home.
Sim had a close to fully stocked liquor cabinet so I raided that to make an almost-after eight (Kahlua, Bailey’s and Cointreau) then we listened to Morcheeba’s Big Calm while Toby played along with it on his guitar. All of a sudden it was 1am, our birthdays had arrived! I rang home, but only got the answering machine, Simone rang her parents, talked to them for a while, and I said hello to them too. We crashed out soon after that and I feel asleep to the peaceful sound of water flowing outside my window.
The next morning I woke up around 11. I had had a great night sleep and was looking forward to a good birthday day. We exchanged presents, and then headed out to this little English pub to have “Sunday dinner”. Toby drove us in his Black Porsche 968 (like this one). It’s a great car, small, fast, but so unlike Fragma’s 180sx in the way in handles. I can’t remember the name of the pub where we had lunch; I almost banged my head entering it though. After lunch we went to have a look at a traditional English canal and section of locks before heading back home.
That night we had champagne, roasted marshmallows on the fire, listened to music, watched Pulp Fiction, and talked about old times. It was fun.
The next day I slept in again, before borrowing a heap of books from Sim (she is a huge Murakami fan) and then getting dropped down to the bus stop. I’ve been home for about four hours now and I’m just about to head down to the hall bar for a drink before going out tonight. It’s traffic light night at the Works. If you’re wearing red you’re taken, orange and your not looking but could be tempted, while if you’re wearing green your single and ready to go! Time to find a green shirt.

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