Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday 22 September - Reading, Henley on Thames

Reading station looking west. The flyover is taking shape in the distance
The circulating area above the platforms with escalators and stairs at either side
We took a train from Paddington so that I could see the new station at Reading. It is very impressive with 15 platforms, very large circulating spaces on the platforms and a wide concourse that spans all platforms. The track layout has been considerably modified and the fly over for the lines through Reading West are taking shape. There are escalators in all areas as well as stairs and the whole is well signposted. Quite an improvement over the station I had to contend with.
We walked into town and admired the extensive pedestrian areas, especially Broad Street which has been completely transformed.  The Oracle centre is an impressive new addition but what surprised me was the complete transformation of the area around the River Kennett. It was at one time very seedy and a place to be avoided. Now there are posh restaurants and fast food places. This area contained the municipal bus garage and at one time  a hostel where one could rent a section of clothes line which was strung across a room - one would sleep slung over the line. This was cheaper and took up less space than providing beds.
Sleeping over a washing line would probably be illegal here now
We took a train to Twyford and changed for the branch to Henley on Thames. We had lunch at the Anchor (New Forest Fortyniner bitter)
The weather was beautiful and we had a walk around this attractive town which is the home of the Henley Regatta.  The walk beside the Thames was very pleasant indeed although it was tainted somewhat by the smell of all the money there must be in the place - there were a lot of Private Keep Out signs.
The maltings. The Henley Brewery, across the street, is now a high end hotel.

The branch train had one of the two cars locked up for some reason and the guard moved us to first class because he expected a full load of teenagers. It was a struggle to get them all in but he finally managed to get the doors closed.  It was noisy and they were all texting to each other.
I decided to come back via Reading. At Reading our train couldn't get completely on to the platform because the train ahead had stopped short. They could only open the doors on the front two coaches. They have a beautiful brand new station but still haven't eliminated the crass stupidity factor. We caught a fast train to Paddington which, of course, was put into the drain at Paddington so we had to use the stairs.
After a drink at the Mad Bishop and Bear at Paddington (Fullers London Pride of course) we took the Circle line back to Gloucester Road and were amused to see a girl come in, take a seat, and calmly proceed to eat a take out Chinese meal with chop sticks. The new trains are very smooth and there was no danger of hurting herself with the chop sticks.  It looked pretty good.
I had a pint of this pale ale at the pub across the street from the hotel.

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