We have ended up by living in Reading by default - an office relocation - and I had never really rated the place. It does not appear to have the charm of other places I have visuted and it could not match up to the places I left behind in London. On Thursday I wrote about some of my favourite places to eat in Reading and now I find myself waxing lyrical again.
Alas most of Reading seems to be focused on the Oracle centre, which is rammed with your standard chain stores. As we skipped through to get to the town I was stopped in my tracks. The sight of bunting and colourful knits and a long table looked so tempting, we had to investigate.
This is how we found Jelly. A place in a shopping centre where you can sit with your own coffee and learn craft, make necklaces, and chat all for free? Was I dreaming? We wondered over tentatively and were soon getting stuck in. the Pickle was drawing a post card when she noticed a truck full of beautiful beads. She filled her skirt with beads and was given some thread to make her won jewellery. Of course we got totally carried away: she made a bracelet, necklace and headband - and even got given beads to come home with. Meanwhile I found myself being taught to crotchet - something I had wanted to go for ages. It was so relaxed and so friendly. Every shopping centre should have a place like Jelly!
All that craft had given us a hunger, and we needed something special. We are not really a McDonalds family so we headed for the China Garden for Dim Sum. We love Dim Sum, we can try so many small portions of different things and it gives us a chance to chat. We set the world to rights! I love it, as a Mum you are always talking but it tends to be more immediate - what we are about to do, hurrying her along to get ready for school or bed, what she would like to eat - but we don't often get to forget time and logistics and enjoy each others' company.
A little shopping: I do have a sad failing for TK Maxx - even if it does not got a very impressive ethiscore (the ethical score as awarded by the exhaustive research by the Ethical Consumer magazine). We found DB some adorable Koala style sheepskin boots and Pickle some Moshi trainers. The Husbter had given Pickle £5 and she was going to spend it.
We had been heading for The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) and their apple day. I was sad not to get there as it sounded interesting and their events are always really cool, but I was adamant that we were not going to be ruled by time we were just going to enjoy each other. Rather than racing on we decided to have a coffee.
Naively I had not realised that Patisserie Valerie had mushroomed into a chain, having frequented the Soho branch and ambled by the Knightsbridge outpost. Now, we even have one in Reading. It was not Soho but the menu was good, the service excellent, the cakes delicious and even the most delicious Croquet Monsieur for the Pickle who was now late for supper.
I almost crawled home, on my knees with exhaustion, the Pickle was bouncing off the ceiling. It was the best day ever - let the honeymoon go on: not just with the Pickle, I think I may finally have fallen for Reading!