whilst visting my mum, me and the kids went up to the downs. it was my first visit for over 10 years, since i moved away from the area. as a kid me and my parents used to drive up to the downs regularly, park on the grass looking out over the countryside. we could picnic near the car and play on the large wild open spaces. there was a small cafe, but this wasnt used much as everyone bought there own stuff and made a day of it. now they have built a massive cafe/shop and big tarmac carpark which stops you parking anywhere and charges and the paths over the hills are now concreted. the only thing still natural are the gale force winds. i remember reading the controversy aroused when they planned this and i now must agree. although the kids enjoyed the place, i believe that they would have enjoyed the old style downs more. we did use the cafe, which was very neat and tidy and served nice stuff (although £2.70 for a hot chocolate was a bit steep). but i wish now we had driven on a further couple of miles to Ivinghoe beacon which is still in its natural condition.