We asked born-and-bred Reading girl Emma Cossey to share her favourite places in the city with us. Emma is a blogger and social media journalist who writes for sites like Shoewawa, Dollymix and DorkAdore. You can also find her on Twitter too.
Reading’s famous for two things; a certain muddy music festival and Ricky Gervais. In fact, the first thing people ask when you say you’re from Reading is “Have you been to the festival?” (for the record, no I haven’t – I’m more of a heel-wearing, pop-loving, GHD-reliant kinda girl). But my humble town has lots more to offer. In the past ten years, Reading has gained a swanky shopping centre - The Oracle, dozens of restaurants and enough entertainment to keep you busy. Here are some of my favourites in Reading and the surrounding areas.
In terms of shops, Reading has everything from high street staples like Topshop and Waterstones to more quirky shops like But Is It Art, which specialises in quirky homeware and gifts. Once you’re done shopping, head to X Feet in The Oracle, where you can spend ten minutes enjoying a fish pedicure. Ta da! Refreshed feet for the evening ahead. Still got a little time to spare? Head to the beautiful Forbury Gardens, an ideal place for a picnic with friends. It gets really popular in the summer, when everyone swarms to the nearest green patch.
If you’re hoping to hit Reading in the evening, there’s a huge variety of bars, restaurants and clubs to choose from. Highlight comedy bar offers comedy nights on Friday and Saturday nights, and turns into a club afterwards. Downstairs is also Rewind club, which specialises in 70s, 80s and 90s music. If you’re into your cocktails, Mix bar does a superb Apple Crumble, a dangerously easy-to-drink cocktail. It helps that the barmen are cute, and there’s always a cheesy film playing in the background.
The Mix Bar – Emma recommends the Apple Crumble!
Reading also has plenty to offer for those into art and theatre. The Hexagon, South Street and Caversham Court all have shows, comedy and music throughout the year. Caversham Court is currently running a series of open air Summer Screenings, like Pulp Fiction and Girl With A Dragon Tattoo, while the Hexagon and South Street are preparing for the Comedy Festival, which takes place in October. The festival this year boasts a line up of Al Murray, Russell Kane, Dave Gorman and Jack Whitehall.
See comedy, drama and shows at The Hexagon
If you prefer to eat rather than dance, you’re spoilt for choice. You can skip to the local Pizza Hut and Yo Sushi or you can try something a little different: LSQ2 is particularly fancy, with its beautifully laid out starters, and delicious desserts. Glo is ideal for Thai-inspired meals, and does an extensive range of cocktails too. Who ate all the pies? Probably best to ask the customers of Sweeney & Todd. This pie shop is Reading’s best kept secret, and its residents rave about the delicious pies and bitters.
Fans of Midsummer Murders may want to edge outside of Reading, to The Cricketers in Maidenhead. It’s rumoured to be one of the filming locations for the daytime show, unsurprising considering its picturesque location on a cricket green, surrounded by chocolate box cottages.
The super-cute Sweet Cabin at Holme Craft Village
Finally, on a lazy Sunday I love to go to Holme Grange Craft Village. It’s based 15 minutes outside Reading, near Wokingham, and hosts a number of independent shops. All the shops are based in tiny little huts, which adds to the cute factor. In particular, I adore The Sweet Cabin, which offers shelves and shelves of retro sweets, and Shirleyz which is hugely appealing to anyone that likes their home ware bright and fun. You can also paint your own pottery and enjoy an afternoon tea in the on-site café. Perfect for old souls.
sarah_drinkwater on September 5th 2011 in City guides, East, South