Monday, April 2, 2012

Reading escape

Life post-operation has settled into a routine of coping with one usable arm - kind workmates give me lifts to & from work, not being allowed in the plant at work, shopping done online, groceries turning up, eating a variety of pre-prepared meals (which aren't quite as bad as I expected), reading a lot of books & watching many series of Spooks. This isn't too bad, the worst thing being that the weather has been exceptionally good (& unseasonal) lately - many afternoons spent outside in the sun eating lunch at work or reading at home after work with temperatures the high-teen or low-twenties. But one weekend of that was enough - there's only so much walking around in the sun that one can do without getting itchy feet.

So it was up the line to Reading last weekend (only fifty minutes on the train) to finally see Anna & Luke (Anna being one of my sister's best friends & the sister of one of my best friends). They've been over in these parts for about a year now & like most Kiwis over here, have many travel stories to share. It was great to see some faces from back home - including one I suppose I've known for over twenty years now, there's a sobering thought. With my slight disability, there wasn't much planned - but I was more than to happy to wander around a charming (big) town, up & down the Kennet & Thames rivers and eat ourselves silly.

Saturday was a little cloudier & cooler than recently, but coffee/hot chocolate in a coffee house dating back over five-hundred years on the nice big pedestrianised main thoroughfare warmed one somewhat. Luke & Anna have only just moved in to a new loft flat on a nice Georgian square. The architecture isn't quite as regular I'd usually expect from that period, but it is charming all the same. The nice big lawn & garden right out their front door is quite a bonus. My left-handed attempt at using the camera on my phone is up to its usual standard, oops.

After dumping my bag, I was treated to Anna & Luke's walking tour of the area. For the transport historian, the Great Western Railway and Avon & Kennet Canal were of note. After strolling past the prison, a ruined abbey & Forbury Gardens - home of the Maiwand Lion, which it turns out that the sculptor of didn't kill himself over getting the gait or feet wrong - we popped in to the museum & got a brief history of the city from an amusingly dated video. Reading grew to prominence trading the three B's - beer (Simmons), bulbs (mail order seeds) & biscuits (the home of Huntley & Palmers). More wandering took us to a great & large lunch beside the Kennet - the sticky toffee was incredible & apparently the brownie wasn't too bad either.

After chilling back home for a while & remembering how to play Yahtzee, we were keen to head out to the cute village of Twyford - but still feeling full from lunch, headed out for another walk. This time we went further down the Thames & then cut over to Palmer Park (land donated by the biscuit family). Eventually we were in the car for the only trip that weekend & heading towards the Gaylord. This tandoori house was highly recommend by someone to Anna & as well as providing fantastic food & some interesting, almost dictatorial, service the name was the source of much amusement well into the next day. This lack of biking must be reducing my appetite - the amount I was able to take home with me was shameful. More great picture taking on my behalf, this one's for you Adele.

Sleeping well considering the proximity of the Royal Berkshire Hospital & its ambulances, it was a slow start to a very sunny Sunday. When we did eventually head out for brunch, we found ourselves cut off from the centre of town by the Reading Half-Marathon. Luke was wishing he was out there, but couldn't really do much about that as we waited for thousands of runners to thin out just so we get across the street without being trampled. My reward was Eggs Benedict - which I haven't had in ages, yum. With more pottering around town in the sun, when Anna & Luke started itching to do something beyond my current capabilities, that is running - actually, I can't/won't/don't run at the best of times - I left them to it & started my little trek back home. Turned out to be a bit more of it as I had to walk to West Reading station due to engineering work - I saw first hand why it was good Luke & Anna had moved from that area. A delightful weekend with good friends & a lot of outstanding food.

OK, this is from the more gloomy Saturday

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