About two weeks ago, Brendan and I took the bus to Bedford, a town about 14 miles north of MK. We went to jump through official hoops to get a National Insurance Number. This is your tax number.
However, unlike the US, you're not considered a non-person without one, and you can still work. You just end up paying the maximum tax rate (which I think is around 25% in Britain - hardly a lot compared to NZ's 40% max rate!), and companies are a bit shy of hiring you in case you're not 'legal'.
In the true tradition of UK weather, it was lovely and cloudy (note: not actually sunny) the whole 40-min trip on the bus. As soon as we got off the bus, the heavens opened and it poured with rain. It did this on the return trip to Milton Keynes, too, with even more vigour. Luckily Brendan insisted on bringing both umbrellas.
Compared to NZ or the US, there are so many little villages. You only have to drive about 5km most of the time before getting to another little village with its own strong sense of community. Most of the little towns have satellite villages all around. It's very picturesque. Milton Keynes itself is made up of 3 larger towns and 15 villages combined! (I have the feeling I may have mentioned this in another post - apologies if so.)
This house was for sale opposite the Job Center - it even has a tiny clock! I love it.
After, we went for a walk around Bedford to find some food. Brendan ate fish'n'chips while I was in my meeting. By the time he came out of his meeting, after mine, the shop was shut!
We couldn't find any other fish'n'chip shops, so instead I bought chocolate biscuits (cookies) and we wandered around a central shopping street until we arrived back at the bus station. Another fish'n'chip shop had been there at the bus station all along! So I had my first chips in the UK with salt and vinegar on them. Overall they were OK, but I felt rather off-colour later since I hadn't eaten chips for about a year! Plus the bus driver was rather mad since we arrived just as the bus was leaving (we didn't know the timetable), and had to eat hot chips not-so-secretly on the bus....