The late summer weather in my Whitley garden varied from warm to very hot indeed, with the occasional very wet day. The sun helped increase the numbers of butterflies, bees, insects and moths, of course. One of my photograph highlights for July was the vixen fox with a huge rat, striking a superb pose.
June was a very warm month; during the rainy days of mid-month the temperatures still held at a warm 20°C. On 1 June, the temperature reached 28°C and was the hottest day of the year so far.
The BBC Radio 3 broadcaster, writer, Norwegian arts enthusiast and Reading Fringe Festival curator Fiona Talkington still lives near Christchurch Green, Reading, in the home in which she grew up. Her house was, as it should be for a music presenter, almost knee-deep in CDs, although Fiona did confide that the CDs also met an insulating role where they lined inside external walls.
The number 7 ‘Tiger’ service from Reading to Fleet in Hampshire is a relatively new addition to Reading Buses’ services. Highlights of the trip include travelling in the bus lane across the middle of the roundabout at Junction 11 of the M4, bouncing through Mary Mitford’s village of Three Mile Cross and, when you get to Fleet, there is an ironmongers and an ice cream parlour!
April temperatures in my Whitley garden reached as high as 30ºC and as low as -5ºC, the hottest and coldest ever recorded for that month; the average temperature for the month was 17ºC. We also experienced an afternoon hail storm at the beginning of the month that briefly covered the garden in what looked like snow.
John Illenden, a resident of Katesgrove, has uncovered the tragic fate of one of his family who lived and died on Basingstoke Road in Whitley during the 1860s.
Who would have guessed, on the first day of February, when snow appeared for a few hours, that by the end of that same month we would enjoy summer conditions with temperatures reaching 20ºC most afternoons?
Sketches (L->R): Mohan Banerji, Jean Claydon, Ellen Bentley
Urban sketchers are a global community of artists who draw on location, and there are local chapters worldwide. The Reading Urban Sketchers got officially recognised as a local chapter recently but it has been around as the Reading Sketchers for two and a half years.
Wildlife activity in my Whitley garden during January was good, despite the cold. There were no great surprises but there was a lot of activity. At the beginning of the year, I saw a female green woodpecker and a pair of great spotted woodpeckers, as well as a squirrel with mouthfuls of dry leaves clearly intended as nesting material.
On a sunny January morning we set out for a walk to see the high rise flats at Coley Park which are a feature on our skyline on the other side of Coley Gorge.
Queen Victoria’s Monument on Gunners’ Parade in Gibraltar is in the form of a drinking fountain with a bowl for dogs at the base. On the rear is the inscription “Erected by the inhabitants of Gibraltar 1910”.
Flocks of birds are a phenomenon that have always intrigued me. Watching how different birds go about it has fascinated me all my life. There are those obscure little flocks of twittering tits that flit about the hedgerows in winter, and there are those massive and spectacular starling murmurations that fill the dusk skies with choreographed magic.
By Tamana Hamidy.
The end of the year is a time when people from all around the world turn to thoughts of home and family. This year, Tamana Hamidy, who is learning English in Reading, sends a letter of love back to her home town of Kabul.
Our interview with Tony Page continues with reflections on Reading, its waterways and the Abbey.
Tony Page has been a councillor for 45 years and is lead councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport and deputy leader of Reading Borough Council. The Whitley Pump interviewed him at the beginning of December at the Civic Offices on Bridge Street and we started with a local topic.