Reading……. birthplace of Kate Winslet recent subject of Who Do You Think You Are and birthplace of my grandfather……..no doubt because it was a railway town and his father was an engine driver the family had moved there for work.
Despite the rain I managed to fill quite a few hours in this town.
Walking through the Abbey Quarter I did wonder if my grandfather had done much the same as I was doing ……I couldn’t ask him as he died before I was born …..but the historical features of Reading came as a bit of a shock (in a nice way!) as although I have been to Reading occasionally over the years it is mainly to see family or shop.
On the continued subject of the railway I came across a memoriam in the town church in memory of Henry West who lost his life in a whirlwind at the GWR station in 1840… would love to know more?
Waterstones the book shop is housed in the old Broad Street Chapel, there are displays about the building and the the second floor is a circular spin of books and accessories making full use of the original features, you have to go in and enjoy! The other unexpected pleasure was Harris Arcade not far from the railway station, very art deco in style I think! I am no architectural expert. The shops were closed but I could see they were a great mix of independents including a bakery and a vintage store.
The Abbey Quarter as the name more than hints at includes remains of an abbey so no surprise there but I did learn that there had once been a warming area for the monks where a fire was kept burning between November and March…….surely Reading much like the rest of England tends to be cold between September and May? The thought of the monks lifting their cassocks to keep theirselves warm more than amused me.
The Forbury Gardens are very Victorian in style, a bandstand and war memorials, benches and flowers….well maintained and open to the public, …….looked over by the rather grand looking building of the Forbury Hotel.
I rounded my day off with a visit to Reading Museum where entry is free and I got to see Britain’s Bayeux Tapestry and a Ladybird Books Exhibition. The museum is an area where the brickwork is the fabulous terracotta hue and a welcome splash of colour on a grey day.