I’ve just come back from my lunch break where I had a sudden realisation when walking back to work.
I like Reading.
That may not seem like such a big deal, and it’s not really. But to me it is. I had to write this post with the sudden urge to just get it all off my chest, admit defeat and apologise to Reading for being so bloody cynical about the place.
You see, I’ve never really liked Reading that much at all. I moved to Berkshire nearly 14 years ago, from York, and I’ve never been a big fan. Until now.
I guess it’s true about us Yorkshire folk being loyal and all that.
Grey, miserable and the very first time I ventured to the Oracle back in 2005, around 8 months pregnant, I got straight back in my car and drove back to my home in Wokingham.
I’ve always compared Reading to my hometown, which isn’t fair at all because you can’t ever get a fair opinion if you do that, and York is pretty frickin special to me, so I really didn’t give my new home or place of work that much of a chance.
But do you know what has swung it for me lately… the people. And not just the friends I’ve made, the people that come from Reading and surrounding areas. The people that so passionately and continually run their independent businesses and thrive doing it.
I work in central Reading in an industry so different to my blogging and cake making career.
But believe it or not, my ultimate dream is to open my own shop. You can often find me day-dreaming and checking out new premises and what the rent costs. I think I’m waiting for that moment where the perfect spot is going to come along. Aside from the fact I do really like my marketing manager job, I feel like I’m running out of time and at some point, I need to get brave and figure out exactly what it is I want to do.
I have a secret Pinterest board. I save photos and pin all sorts of things to do with what I’d want my shop to look like. In my mind I picture somewhere girly but clean & modern. Somewhere with comfy seats, blankets, candles, a coffee/tea drinking kind of place with cool teapots and fresh lemonade in the summer. Pastel coloured stand mixers, large fancy ovens, wedding cakes in a big bay-front windows… you get the gist.
A place where I can throw on my pinny and work on my wedding cakes, bake every day and just maybe one day soon, that will happen for me.
There’s lots of independent businesses in Reading and there’s lots of room for them too. Some may say it’s saturated, I don’t. I say there’s room for all, and each is unique and 100% have their own selling points.
I love going to CUP because it’s fun, the coffee is delicious, the food has its own little place in my ever-growing preferences, and you couldn’t meet a more down-to-earth couple that run it. It is however sometimes, actually a lot of the time, very difficult to get a seat.
So, just around the corner is the very calm and cool newly opened Anonymous.
I’ve just come back and after one visit I couldn’t wait to share my thoughts. It’s run by Phil Carter (you may know him from the delicious Tamp stand) and it’s tucked away in The Tasting House. Walking through the door I instantly liked it. You know when you just know… I had that feeling where you wish your lunch-break lasted that little bit longer combined with the thought of wondering how many cups of coffee my stomach could handle.
Anonymous almost came across as effortless, which I’m sure it isn’t and I’m sure a tremendous amount of work has gone into getting it how it is.
There’s a black & white painting all along the length of one wall…
There’s wine bottle after wine bottle on the opposite wall…
Then neatly tucked in the front window corner is the coffee counter. In the middle there’s a large, what I assumed communal table, some smaller marble-topped tables, then what I would call a breakfast bar with high stools for those who want to just take a pew and enjoy a drink.
Light, airy and with some jazz-come-chill-out-vibe music going on, it’s kind of my perfect place.
I ordered cake (standard) an oat-milk flat white, and some hummus with paprika on toast. Sat on my own, ready to read my book, I didn’t even get to opening my bag and taking it out. I just sat there, living in the moment and that’s when I realised, suddenly, that I now actually like Reading!
I love going to SHED for a home-made soup and cake.
I love Picnic when I fancy a salad… and cake. Which, by the way, can you believe Picnic is celebrating it’s 11th birthday today!! What an accomplishment.
I love Nibsy’s when I want quiche… and cake…
And I occasionally still go to Workhouse which is where we used to go when our children were younger.
I know, I know, there’s a bit of a cake obsession going on here too… I just can’t help it!
Forbury Park has lots of memories for me and if you haven’t been it’s a small(ish) park with a giant Lion monument in the middle, a band-stand, small hills, lots of trees and the gardeners plant rows of pretty flowers too. I slept here one night (not as random as it sounds) when taking part in Byte night, we’ve enjoyed picnic after picnic, ball-games with the kids, and walks around.
You may struggle to find your own patch of grass to sit on a workday sunny lunch break, but when you do, it’s worth it.
There’s Blue Collar street food, lots of independent bloggers including Claire from Explore Reading who is lovely, and whom I got to meet recently over (another) lovely lunch at SHED. There’s Edible Reading who anonymously tweets about Reading’s food scene and there’s the lovely Sam over at Independent Reading.
There’s the Biscuit Tin over by the station and if you don’t mind a small walk over to Caversham there’s Nomad Bakery too. I’ve met Laura from Nomad a couple of times now. The first was at a secret supper club, where I dragged Steve over to a random house and had to convince him it was totally normal and no, we weren’t about to get murdered by a set of strangers….
Now I know I said the reason I like Reading is because of the people, and the post may read like it’s about the food… it’s not. It’s about all of it. It all inspires me! It’s the whole package.
The people in Reading make me feel like someday I may be able to live my dream and open my own little place.
Now that is why I love Reading. And I feel so much better now that I’ve got it off my chest.