It pains me when the sun is out to be stuck inside. I love being outside in the summer but here in Reading it’s hard to find a decent place to bask in the sunlight. There is a park just down the road, but it isn’t all that pleasant as the field is scruffy and the only only nice place to sit is a lonely bench in the middle of a playground. My step-dad also told me that he thought two teenage girls were murdered in that park the other year, which makes me less inclined to sit in it on my own. Since living in Reading I’ve missed Norfolk and the endless green we seem to have. I’m desperate for fish and chips on the beach, or to take a stroll through the forests with my friends, or to lie idly in the grass between Ed’s home and mine and watch the hours float by with the clouds.
Today I was walking through town and I looked down a street I don’t normally look down and I saw a river snaking its way through the city, and in the distance I saw an old looking wall and a lot of green so I followed a path down to where a few barges were and found a very peaceful area of town. It wasn’t huge, but there was a canopy of trees shadowing a path, there were swans and geese moving in the water and people sitting on their barges in the day light. In the middle of a city I found a spot of paradise.
It turns out that the old looking wall was part of a medieval abbey built in the 1100’s under the rule of king Henry I, and he founded it to be his place of burial, and the abbey was then dissolved by king Henry VIII in 1539 along with thousands of others across the country at the time when England was split from catholic Rome. The abbey was turned into king Henry VIII’s palace and then over the years has slowly become abandoned. There’s tours around it in June that I might go to to have a proper look at the building and learn a bit about the local history.
This is what I love about Reading, it keeps surprising me with these little places. The bookshop in town also used to be a church that was built in the 1300’s and the original stained-glass window and doorway remain, which is beautiful. There’s another medieval church and another small park near the train station which is pleasant and peaceful. The walk to university passes through a field and crosses a river and right now in spring it’s over flowing with flowers and birds, and there’s the place I found today.
While the sound of the cars and the buildings that surround these areas destroy the peacefulness of these places it’s nice to know they’re there. Of course, I still miss Norfolk and all of my favourite memories include Norfolk in the summer, from standing on a beach amidst a storm, or filming Reprieve in the fields and forests and rivers and lakes that are abundant in the countryside outside of town, but while I live in the city I will grasp at the spots of paradise for all that it’s worth.