..........you could do worse than pop into "The Three Guineas" for a decent pint (and the food's not too bad as well!).
The pub here at Reading station is well worth stopping off at in its own right as a boozer - a good selection of well-kept beers, decent food, good atmosphere - even internet access if you have a Cloud subscription. The bar is vast with a predominantly rugby theme and with its big screen and several other TV's is ideal for catching a bit of live sport - and you can always catch a later train!!
Just one thing to note though is that the pub is no longer accessible direct from the platforms and so you have to go through the ticket barriers which means you need to ensure that your ticket is valid for the break of journey - but that's not necessarily a problem if you speak nicely to the guys manning the barriers.
The ruins of Reading Abbey, and their adjacent Forbury Gardens, provide a pleasant open space in the middle of the town centre to have a wander or sit with a take away lunch.
The Abbey was, in its Medieval heyday, one of the wealthiest abbeys in England. It was founded by Henry 1st in 1121 and by the 15th century was both a major site of pilgrimage and a commercial centre. The Abbey's period of grace pretty much ended overnight with Henry the 8th's Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 and the buildings were looted by the crown of their valuables and the very stonework used for rebuilding around the town.
The present ruins are now Grade 1 listed and have been stabilised and a few pieces of modern art, such as the one pictured, by the Danish sculptor Jens Flemming Sorensen, added to create the public space now enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
For a comprehensive, interestingly presented, history follow the link below:
At the Pendon Museum the aim to recapture, in detailed and colourful miniature, scenes showing the beauty of the English countryside as it used to be in the years around 1930. Realistically modelled cottages, farms, fields and lanes recall the peaceful country ways of that period. Cavalcades of trains, accurately represented, provide a fascinating record of the railways of the time. Pendon is being created entirely by volunteer modellers who work to the most exacting standards.
Pendon Museum is situated in the village of Long Wittenham, near Didcot in Oxfordshire, England. Long Wittenham is very picturesque, as is its neighbour Clifton Hampden. Both villages are on the River Thames, and moorings are available for boaters. Three pubs in the village offer good lunches. Pendon has a small shop selling a variety of interesting books and other items, as well as light refreshments.
Stonehenge consists of a group of standing stones on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, S England. Preeminent among megalithic monuments in the British Isles, it is similar to an older and larger monument at Avebury. The great prehistoric structure is enclosed within a circular ditch 300 ft (91 m) in diameter, with a bank on the inner side, and is approached by a broad roadway called the Avenue. Within the circular trench the stones are arranged in four series: The outermost is a circle of sandstones about 13.5 ft (4.1 m) high connected by lintels; the second is a circle of bluestone menhirs; the third is horseshoe shaped; the innermost, ovoid. Within the ovoid lies the Altar Stone. The Heelstone is a great upright stone in the Avenue, northeast of the circle. It was at one time widely believed that Stonehenge was a druid temple, but this is contradicted by the fact that the druids probably did not arrive in Britain until c.250 B.C. In 1963 the American astronomer Gerald Hawkins theorized that Stonehenge was used as a huge astronomical instrument that could accurately measure solar and lunar movements as well as eclipses. Hawkins used a computer to test his calculations and found definite correlations between his figures and the solar and lunar positions in 1500 B.C. (However, as a result of the development of calibration curves for radiocarbon dates, the main structure at the site, Stonehenge III, is now believed to have been built c.2000 B.C.) Some archaeologists object to Hawkins's theory on the basis that the eclipse prediction system he proposed was much too complex for the Early Bronze Age society of England. Most archaeologists agree, however, that Stonehenge was used to observe the motions of the moon as well as the sun. Research by the archaeologist Alexander Thom, based on the careful mapping of hundreds of megalithic sites, indicates that the megalithic ritual circles were built with a high degree of accuracy, requiring considerable mathematical and geometric sophistication.
Every year there is a Barge Festival where boat after boat is dressed up and cruises along the River Kennett right through the city centre of Reading.... accompanied by a festival on land where music and other attractions lure the audience in.
Reading Abbey was founded in 1121 by King Henry I. In 1539 it came to an end when King Henry VIII dissolved all the monasteries in England.
Being one of the most important and wealthiest monasteries in Medievel England.
As it was a Royal Abbey, it was often visited by Kings and Queens and was also host to events of national importance.
Set in a very nice part of town across from the River Kennett.
If you like 1960's type (this was probably 1970s actually) architecture of the concrete monstrosity type, then the Hexagon is the place for you!
This is actually a venue for Music, Theatre, Pantomime, Sporting occasions such as snooker, and sometimes even filming for TV shows.
You are unlikely to visit the Hexagon, just for the sake of visiting it. I remember several years ago, when Leonard Nimoy (Spock of Star Trek fame) was signing copies of his new book, the Hexagon was booked out for this too.
The attached picture probably says it all... Just in case the picture doesn't make it obvious, the Arts Centre is built as a six sided building, hence the name.
Having enjoyed a decent lunch at Bel and the Dragon, along with a few beers of course, it was time for a little cultural/historical break before the next pub. Next door to the Bel are a couple of interesting little buildings showcasing part of Reading's riverside history.
The two buildings are: the Screen House and the Turbine House. The Screen House contains an ornate Gypsy caravan, with an accompanying video, a medieval mill wheel and a little museum giving an insight into the town's industrial history. The Turbine House has preserved turbine machinery and doubles up as an art exhibition space.
Entry to both is free and the next pub isn't far away!
There is a huge multi-screen cinema on the outskirts of Reading, between Loddon Bridge and Winnersh Triangle at the A329/A3290/A329(M) junction, but this one in the town centre is an architectual gem.
Whilst not as impressive as some London-area art-deco cinemas, it's still a good example of the style and going to it must have been a treat in its pre-1960s heyday.
Reading town centre is literally in the Thames Valley, so leaving it involves varying degrees of gradients to climb. Once you've got up the hills, you have good views of the town centre.
This picture simply shows one of the main roads going out of Reading & wasn't taken specifically for the view. Better views of central Reading can be had a couple of hundred yards away on Whitley Street.
There are a lot of things for hikers and cyclers in the vicinity.
I enjoy the Thames path - which on a sunny day are really lovely.
The Thames path is an easy route both in terms of ground and route finding. Finding camping sites would be difficult along parts of the route. 180 miles (290k) 12-14 days. (Windsor to source fits into a week). Minimal ascent, 5m to 110m in 180 miles, with a few minor ups and down along the way.
Henley regatta End of June into July. Womens' mid June.
Reading regatta Mid June
Swan Upping Third week of July on upper Thames
The Great River Race Richmond to Greenwich in September
Head of the river race womens' race Mortlake to Putney in March
University boat race March, Putney Bridge to Chiswick Bridge.
Doggett Coat and Badge race and Port of London Challenge Race London Bridge to Chelsea, two dates in mid July
Marlow Regatta June
When visiting Reading, walk down Caversham Road, towards the Thames River.
Its really nice walking along the river, expecially during sunset. Also makes for good photo opportunities.
The walk is particularly nice during summer when the sun only starts setting late.
You will also seen many keen rowers going up and down the river, as its a very popular spot for rowers and the boathouse is also closeby.
There are also loads of swans to be seen. I personally do not like them, but many people do, so also nice to take some pictures of them.
The Great Western Society was started nearly 40 years ago by a group of schoolboys to preserve the spirit and style of the old Great Western Railway. Without the foresight of the founding members the unique collection of steam engines, signalling and the engine shed at Didcot Railway Centre would have disappeared forever.
The GWS has assembled a more representative collection of locomotives, rolling stock and other artefacts of the old Great Western Railway than exists of any other major railway. These achievements are the result of volunteer effort by their members - becoming a member means that you help in practical skilled or unskilled activity, as well as helping out on their Steam Days.
Reading is infamous for it's Gaol where Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for 'homosexual practices' in 1897 and hence wrote 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol'. Reading has some fine museums including the Museum of Reading, Museum of English Rural Life and the Ure Museum at The University of Reading. I have personally obtained details of old farm machinery from the Museum of Rural Life, and the team there are most helpful.
When you feed the swans, please do it away from the rowing club landing stages (I have been in boats which have hit swans with oars - in one case breaking the swans wing) because people have been feeding the swans by the landing stages.
Also if you have young children make sure you only feed the birds that are in the water. The swans aren't aggresive, but they come after the food. When you have around 50 swans milling around pecking at what they think is food, it terrifies small children as in most cases the swans are taller than them. They also seem to terrify adults in these cases too. All you need to do is act confidently and walk through them, or gently shoo them away with your hands.
The best thing to feed them is bread.