25 May, 2013

Reading, Berkshire: Biscuit city.

I lost a packet of biscuits in the great biscuit city of Reading.  Possibly in the Reading Public Library, which caters to the reading public of Reading.

Reading was home to Huntley and Palmers biscuit factory, allegedly the biggest biscuit factory in Britain although I'm suspicious of superlatives.  The Reading Museun has a whole gallery devoted to the history of Huntley and Palmers. The rest of the museum was quite good too although they have gone down the volunteer route. A volunteer accosted me as I went in, rather like a shop. 'Can I help you?' was the cheery greeting, and my reply 'No thanks I'm just looking' which if you think about it is all you can do in a museum. I quite enjoyed the museum visit although there was no self guided town heritage walk. I did eat my lunch in Forbury Gardens in the shadow of a huge cast iron lion, reportedly the largest cast iron sculpture in Britain, those superlatives again. It's a memorial to those men of the Berkshire Regiment who lost their lives in the Afghan campaign although not the one that's still ongoing but one of many years ago in the nineteenth century. Reading Abbey ruins has been closed to the public as it is unsafe but the gateway stands outside surrounded by scaffolding. The Abbey is where the earliest secular song was written down. Sumer is icumen in with its musical rhythms and barnyard humour, Bullock starteth, Buck now farteth Merry sing cuckoo, comes from the 1200s.  But nothing much in Reading coes fromm the 1200s these days.  The town really grew in the nineteenth century around the railway, biscuits and Suttons seeds.   There are some old buildings but not many and some pretending to be old.  There are some artworks too.

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