Thursday, 8 September 2016

Reading and me, Part Three – Location, Location and, erm, Location

Ah well, two out of three…

The house was ideally placed for my commute, the branch line station being almost literally at the bottom of the garden (although I couldn’t actually get to it that way, having instead to walk a full two hundred yards down the road, something that initially frustrated me until I saw the benefits of not having hordes of commuters and other less savoury station denizens traipsing past the back gate at all hours).  There were good local shops, if we needed them, and a small friendly supermarket just up the road.  There were also a couple of interestingly quirky restaurants.  And the town centre was walkable.  So far, so good.

It was also within staggering distance of three or four inveterate party-givers, who formed part of what I soon learnt was jocularly termed the ‘Reading Mafia’.  This sobriquet wasn’t entirely appropriate; there was no firm evidence that any of them were involved in anything seriously dodgy, although contacts could no doubt be picked up in extreme need.  But the parties were good and frequent; and once the worst of our building work was done we fairly quickly became junior members of this party clique.  I was, of course, the new boy: believe it or not, especially if you know anything of my earlier history, I’d never been anywhere near this kind of scene before.  I dived in headfirst and lapped thirstily.

The only downside of the location, it transpired, was the noise factor.  We should of course have worked out that having a railway in the back garden entailed the odd train going along it – in this case, as it was the main line from practically everywhere to everywhere else, every few minutes during the day and irregularly during the night.  The first 4 a.m. goods train shook us, and the house, awake.  It is, however, surprising how quickly you get used to that.  There was also an unforeseen amount of road traffic; if you saw a map of Reading, and knew where my road is, you’d see that it’s a natural north-south rat-run between the Thames bridges and the M4.  Again, we just had to get used to that.  And secondary double glazing works wonders.



  1. It surprises me how quickly you can get used to extraneous noise. Our first house in Norwich was adjacent to the Crown Point train maintenance depot so engines were being moved around all night. We missed it if it was a quiet maintenance night! The second house was very quiet so even the slightest outside noise would disturb us. The third one was a couple of hundred yards from the busy A140 (Norwich/Ipswich road) so the lorries began thundering past around 4am. Rarely woke us! Our current house is just the right distance from the A47 (Norwich/Great Yarmouth dual carriageway) so that we can listen if we want to or easily shut out the sound. On the boat, the lapping water keeps us awake the first night, then lulls us to sleep from then on.

  2. The road traffic got to me much more than the trains, presumably because I could focus my ire more precisely on individuals, even though I had no idea who they were.
    When we're at the caravan, the sound of the sea is noise of the best sort.

  3. I've always lived in fairly quiet roads - the first night I spent in this house, years before moving here, I found the sounds of the country much more intrusive than those of the town. Owls, cows, pigeons, bats (I was very young and could hear them then)...