2020: Day Trips near Reading, England

At the end of 2019/beginning of 2020, Phil and I had at least 2 big trips already booked (flights at least): Canada for the early May bank holiday and China-Japan for July-Aug, in time for the 2020 Olympics! But because of COVID-19 that was declared as a pandemic in March, all of these plans went down the drain.

Travels were restricted and on most days since the lockdown in March until around July, I stayed mostly at home. The only times that Phil and I were out were on Thursday evenings for food-shopping and on days/evenings when we run outside for exercise. By early June, restrictions were slowly eased in England. But still, we did not go anywhere. Work-wise, our office was still closed even when lockdown restrictions were lifted in June.

By the end of July, the whole situation was wearing me out – I felt like I was slowly going mad. I want to be out and about, I wanted to go somewhere a little farther from home. I miss traveling and everything related to it!

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October in Prospect Park, Reading
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August in Thames Valley Park

We were stuck on a routine that I feel is not sustainable. The usual walks around Prospect Park and along the Kennet canal, both very close to home, were starting to get boring. Don’t get me wrong, the scenery can be stunning and I have taken so many nice photos but then again, they are of the same scenery. I just felt like I needed to go somewhere unfamiliar.

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Going home from a walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal
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Kennet and Avon Canal

I get it – I get why we can’t go anywhere, why we can’t travel far. Phil’s car at that time was nearing the end of its useful life, therefore, although lockdown was lifted in June, we can’t go somewhere far. But still, it was stressing me out!

It was only at the start of August that we get to explore places a little outside of Reading, but still less than an hour’s drive – which was what Phil was willing to do because of his car’s condition. So here are the places that we went to during the summer weekends, of course, observing strict social distancing measures.

Bracknell: Savernake and Swinley Parks

The first of the many out-of-Reading walks we did during 2020. This was early August and during this particular weekend, I was already starting to break down. The stresses of work was too overwhelming, I feel like I needed a good distraction. And so Phil thankfully suggested and drove us to Bracknell to have a walk around the parks and have a mini picnic. It was refreshing!
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Mayfield Lavender Farm

Visiting a Lavender Field (or farm) is one of the things I really wanted to do over the past few years, but one that we really didn’t get the chance. Probably because during June/July in the past years, we were mostly out of the country on international holiday trips. This time, I made sure that Phil and I visit one of the lavender farms – Mayfield is the closest to home. This was around 2nd weekend of August and we were probably towards the end of the lavender season. It was still lovely!
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Dinton Pastures Country Park

This was another of Phil’s suggestions which initially I thought wasn’t a good idea. I basically based it on recent photos I saw on Instagram and thought the place wasn’t that appealing. So I was having second thoughts. During this weekend, my other option was to go to Castle Combe, which during this time, is a bit far for the old dying car! So I ended up agreeing with Phil. It didn’t disappoint though! We even went back to this place after Christmas (before New Year)! :)
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Windsor Great Park

This was at the start of September – Phil & I decided to have a few days off from work. Most of my co-workers have taken holidays during August, so I thought I needed to also get a much needed break before hitting the crucial weeks of September (which is towards the last 2 weeks!). We decided to do a long walk around the Windsor Great Park, particularly interested with The Long Walk trail. We haven’t really explored this area before, although Phil & I have already been to the Windsor Castle separately and on different times. The walk was indeed long and the views were stunning too! This is probably where my fascination with heathers started!
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New Forest National Park

So on our way home from our trip in Windsor, the old car gave a warning prompt regarding the engine! Two days later, we bought a ‘new’ (used) car and then we are ready to hit on a long drive again! :p The trip to the New Forest was immediately after we collected the new car from the garage; we were quick to decide weren’t we? There are a number of walking trails around New Forest and the one we went for was the Lyndhurst trail (I think!). I can’t quite remember and I can’t clearly work out from my Garmin tracker but anyway, I do remember there was a vast heathland that really impressed me! :p
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Avebury

One of the random ones which we didn’t really plan beforehand. It was a sunny weekend and potentially the last for the year. We wanted to make the most of it and so we ended up exploring around the Avebury National Trust. There were quite a number of people but still enough space for a socially-distanced leisure walk!
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Castle Combe

I have been wanting to visit this place since a couple of years back probably, but didn’t really get the chance to do so. Even when the lockdown restrictions were eased at the start of the summer, I was already bugging Phil to drive to here but can’t really do a slightly longer drive due to the condition of the now-replaced car. So when we had the chance one sunny weekend, we headed to Castle Combe, a village in Wiltshire. It was quite a long drive in total compared to the amount of time we spent in walking around the village. Maybe having too many people visiting the place slightly put us off that we didn’t really explore the place that much. But anyway, it was worth the visit; don’t get me wrong, the village is really stunning. But I guess like any lovely village, visiting once is enough; we probably won’t come back anytime soon.
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So there you go! Though the summer time was brief and that was the only time that we really went out after being on lockdown for a number of months, we made sure that we made the most of it. If anything, the lockdown made us explore and discover places locally. We can’t wait to be back to normal – whenever that is!


Post-script: As of date and time of writing (4Jan’21 10pm), Boris Johnson has just announced the new (and stricter) lockdown rules. Basically, we are back to similar rules as those in place when the pandemic started in March 2020! Oh well…

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