Workspace with soul: Your Summer guide to the WL neighbourhoods: Reading

We continue our odyssey of WL locations with a focus on Reading.

Sitting at the confluence of the Rivers Thames and Kennet, this Berkshire town is packed with shopping centres, bars, restaurants and entertainment. It’s home to the famous Reading Festival and birthplace of Hollywood royalty Kate Winslet, comedian Ricky Gervais, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Chris Tarrant, to name a few.

Just 25 minutes on the train from London Paddington, WL Reading is a perfect hub to visit – set in the calm of a shire with the cosmopolitan buzz of an aspiring city.

But it’s not all work, work, work. Here are some top ideas of where to swill, refill and chill…

EAT

Reading is blessed with a growing independent food and drink scene, a fine example of which is the hugely popular Blue Collar street food market. The brainchild of Work.Life Reading member Glen Dinning, this vibrant food fest pitches up every Wednesday 10am-4pm in Market Place Square, satisfying veggies, vegans and dedicated carnivores with its eclectic international offering.

Picnic’s plethora of homemade cakes is a masterclass in creativity. It goes beyond the expected flapjacks or hipster pastéis de nata. We’re talking lemon and mascarpone cheesecake, raspberry and blackberry cake with tangy lime drizzle, Cinnabon cake, and vegan cranberry and cashew balls, to drool name a few. Savoury fans also won’t be disappointed with their fresh, wholesome, superfood-packed salads, sausage rolls, soups and handmade sandwiches on organic bread.

Reading’s first café to serve up exclusively gluten-free food, from sandwiches and wraps to salads, quiche and cake, Nibsy’s has been on the scene for a healthy four years. Proprietor Naomi Lowe also offers many dairy-free, refined sugar-free and veggie or vegan options.


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DRINK

Serving original, carefully curated cocktails (and a killer rum list), Milk is tucked away off the high street in probably the coolest first floor of anything you’ve ever seen. They also run monthly comedy nights featuring rising stars, and host DJs including one who keeps the joy of vinyl alive.

The legendary Purple Turtle bar is hard to define, channelling tiki beach bar, 50s diner, goth and rock, Moroccan influences and 70s living room in its décor. But what is clear is its friendly atmosphere, a stalwart venue for gigs, and an ideal, spacey gathering place for those post-work dos.

Real ale fans won’t be left out in a trip to Reading too. The Nag’s Head is a CAMRA award-winning pub a brisk 10-minute walk from the WL office. Closer to our hot desks is The Allied Arms, a go-to town centre boozer with an impressive urban garden. And BrewDog has also landed in nearby Castle Street, keeping craft beer and chicken wing aficionados in hot sauce and suds.

EXPLORE

After the completion of considerable conservation work to its remains, Reading’s 900-year-old Abbey Ruins reopened this year. Family events, talks, tours and workshops are underway in their programme of events. But taking time out just wandering through this evocative location is experience enough. It’s also a wonderful location to eat your lunch and is mere steps away from Work.Life Reading.

A leaf’s blow from the ruins is the popular Forbury Gardens. Enjoy musicians in the bandstand, food festivals, grab an ice-cream at the kiosk or just sunbathe in view of the famous Maiwand Lion statue.

A trip to Reading is also a perfect opportunity for kicking back by the River Thames with something refreshing – or using your lunch hour for an invigorating jog into the countryside. Feeling adventurous? Take a stroll along the Thames to South Oxfordshire where you can try star-spotting George Clooney in Sonning-on-Thames.

EXPERIENCE

Need some inspiration? Reading Museum’s nearly half a million accessioned objects of art, archaeology, natural and social history and world cultures should help you clear some headspace. You can snap up some local crafts from its shop too. Oh, and the museum also has a copy of the Bayeux Tapestry, all 70 embroidered metres of it.

Not ready to go home after a productive day in Work.Life? Theatre, music and comedy are at your command at The Hexagon performance venue, Reading Concert Hall and fringe hub South Street. Big names and emerging talent are on the bill so why not take in a show to re-energise?

Why not see what WL Reading has to offer and book a tour here. If the town’s good enough for Ricky and Kate…

If you’ve been looking for a shared workspace in Reading, you might want to check out our coworking office space in Reading.