Aylesbury is the county town of Buckinghamshire, effectively replacing the eponymous Buckingham since 1849. It is situated just to the west of London and is easily accessible via the A41 or by an hour-long train journey from London's Marylebone station.
Nice Pubs and Bizarre Offices
On arrival at the station, one can see one of the more memorable sights of Aylesbury, the blue glass Equitable Life office building, which leans at an angle and is locally dubbed 'The Blue Leanie'. Nearby one can also find the 'olde worlde' market square, complete with clock tower and several pubs.
However, despite bizarre office buildings and nice pubs, Aylesbury is unique in that when a national radio show invited people on from different towns around the country each week, the guests from Aylesbury were the only people to have nothing good to say about their town.
True, the pubs are very nice, and there is a very nice old section of the town. Granted, there is an excellent museum complete with a section devoted to Roald Dahl1, who lived in nearby Great Missenden. The schools have a very good reputation and the people of Aylesbury are about as nice as you can get.
The problem is that there is a feeling that anything Aylesbury had going for it was in the past. The once vibrant arm of the Grand Union Canal is of course not the great industrial vein it was in the 19th Century. The famous Friars Club which saw countless important bands play there has long been closed.
The last few decades in particular have not been kind. Once upon a time, the highest building was St Mary's Church - now it's the monstrous County Offices building; a huge, grey pickle. The Friars Square Shopping Centre was thought to be futuristic in design - but clearly that was a rather bleak future, given that Stanley Kubrick chose to film the exterior scenes for A Clockwork Orange there. Hooray for '60s 'Brutalism' and concrete architecture.
However, things are looking up. The new cinema superplex has the most up-to-date cinematic technology in the country, plus the huge 'Hollywood Screen' which, with tables, allows the audience to bring in drinks from the bar. The new-look Friars Square (now roofed over) has many excellent stores, both national and local, and there's a huge swimming pool complex on the way. Stores aplenty are moving in and there are more supermarkets than you can shake a loyalty card at.
Tips for Visiting the Town
The best place to play football is Bedgrove Park.
The best pub is The Bell in Market Square.
The independent card shop next to Boots in the Hale Leys shopping centre is probably better than either of the major chain stores.
Don't use the toilets in Kingsbury Square.
To get to Friars Square from the station, go to the 5th floor of the adjacent multi-storey car park and head across the enclosed footbridge.
For daytime parking, B&Q's car park is a safe bet.
Don't mention Buckingham. There's a bit of a perpetual war of words between the two towns.