‘Destination Zoë Andrews’ at the Reading Buses July 2018 open day. Photo (c) Zoë Andrews
I hadn’t lived in Reading properly since 2010 when I moved back in 2015. Throughout university in Cardiff, I regularly came home. One of the comfort blankets of home was the buses. I lived in both Cardiff and Bristol between my spells of being back in the ‘ding, and I can tell you something categorically: we have a very good bus service in comparison to elsewhere.
Fox vixen with a rat. Picture (c) David Turner
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.
Jay with a monkeynut. Photo (c) David Turner
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.
Fiona Talkington on New Road, Redlands, in January 2019
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.
Lucky escape for the squirrel. Photo: David Turner
May was a very bad month for predation in my garden, with cats catching blackbirds, pigeons, starlings and squirrels. I do get annoyed, but I would never harm a cat; it’s just a natural instinct on their part, and there is very little I can do to stop it.
Swan sculpture – a nod to the Fleet Pond
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!
A Whitley fox. Photo :David Turner
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.
Male sparrowhawk. Photo: David Turner
March weather was a mix of every type of condition we could experience. We endured storm Freya for the first three days of the month, which consisted of extremely strong winds and rain, although the temperature stayed reasonably mild throughout.
A close-up of a Reading redwood
Redwood near Cintra Park, Reading
Hidden behind an ornate brick frontage on Milman Road stands a quietly growing giant. This giant is a tree, and not just any tree, but a Californian Redwood. It is the only tree on the street with a preservation order, thanks to efforts by local legends John and Edna Tuggey.
Blacksmith Edward Eynott shoeing a horse at his forge in Church Road, Caversham, Reading, c. 1895. Photo courtesy of Reading Borough Library Local Studies Collection.
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.
Bumblebee in crocus. Photo: David Turner
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?
Whitley Social Club and Cafe. Picture (c) Mohan Banerji
WCC bar. Picture (c) Jean Claydon
Whitley Community Cafe. Picture (c) Ellen Bentley
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.
Male sparrowhawk. Photo (c) David Turner
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.
Coley Park flats from the south-east
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, Gunners’ Parade, Gibraltar c. 1910
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”.
A murmuration of starlings at Gretna. Photo: Walter Baxter via Wikimedia Commons
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.
Kabul, by Masoud Akbari via Wikimedia Commons
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.
Pell Street looking west
Nikolaus Pevsner‘s edition of the Berkshire volume of ‘Buildings of England’ was published in 1966, the thirtieth county guide of forty-six. The Reading section starts with the Abbey, followed by churches and finally public buildings.
Our interview with Tony Page continues with reflections on Reading, its waterways and the Abbey.