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Travel tips: Day trips

Katie Parris

Bored at the weekend? Go on a day trip! 

Are you bored at the weekend and fancy doing something different? Here’s my list of things to do whilst studying in Reading:

Reading is well known for its close proximity to London, but there are many other days out to enjoy and experience whilst studying here other than the obvious attraction of ‘the Big Smoke’. One destination which is based relatively close to Reading is the Harry Potter Studios in Watford. If you travel by train you will notice, once arriving at Watford station that there’s the night bus, which is iconic to the films and this will transfer you to the Warner Brother studios. The studios offer a great day out for Harry Potter fans but also those interested in film sets and movie making. The tour lasts between two and three hours, depending on your walking speed for the tour. The first stop is the Great Hall which displays all the house tables, just like in the films; including figurines of Hogwarts’s Professors! During the rest of the tour there are lots of props, costumes and sets which were also used in the films. Then towards the end of the tour there’s an outside section which offers the famous drink, known as Butterbeer. Butterbeer is only sold at the studios and at the Universal’s Island of Adventures, so it’s worth trying it when you’re there! The studios have an extensive range of photo opportunities from having your photo taken outside the infamous ‘Number 4, Privet Drive’ to posing on Hagrid’s motorcycle, so make sure you bring your camera! The studios also have a few opportunities to have a professional photo taken such as sitting on a broom in a Hogwarts cloak, where you can then pick from a variety of backgrounds to have your photo taken against. Also, towards the end of the tour, there’s another chance to ‘don a cloak’ and this time a wand! The studios offer certain photo deals so the photos can be cheap and bought at an attainable price! A ticket to the studios is £29 which may seem expensive, but it’s definitely worth the money. And if you go in a big group then a group discount can be acquired. One important thing to remember is that tickets must be purchased prior to arrival at the studios in order to gain entry. If you get the train from Reading station the train passes through London, so if you want to make the most of your day I’d recommend going and doing some sight-seeing, which won’t cost you any extra.

Another enjoyable place to visit is Thorpe Park. It is better to visit the park during the summer as it’s mainly outside and there are many water rides which are great fun! However, during the month of October, Thorpe Park hosts several ‘Fright Nights’ for Halloween. The Fright Nights are where the park is open from 10am until 10pm in order for people to ride the attractions in the dark! Scary! On a ordinary park day a ‘2 for 1’ ticket can be bought which will reduce the ticket cost into the park considerably, and is a great bargain for students to save some pennies whilst having a fun day out. Thorpe Park is perfect place for roller-coaster lovers. To make the most out of your day it is best (and advised!) to arrive early and ride the popular attractions before the big queues.

If you’re looking for a cheaper activity to do at the weekend or perhaps on your day off, then a slightly lower-priced venue to visit is Basingstoke. I’ve visited Basingstoke a couple of times due to its large ice ring. The complex is located just outside the centre of Basingstoke so if you take the train to Basingstoke you will then have a short bus journey to the ice ring. The complex also offers a swimming pool with flumes, a cinema and restaurants. If you want to make the most of the day Basingstoke has a variety of chain store shops too – perhaps the perfect opportunity to do some Christmas shopping as well!

Next on my recommendations of things to do around Reading is Oxford, which is about twenty-five minutes on the train from Reading station and a train ticket there is very reasonably priced. The main focal point and attraction to visit Oxford is, of course, the University, but there are plenty of other activities to do there, such as going to the array of museums or even punting! During the summer months Oxford has punting boats which are very popular with tourists. Also, a lot of Oxford’s architecture is very impressive and worth a visit in itself. Also located relatively close to Reading is Henley, which can be reached by two buses. Henley has a beautiful canal where it’s relaxing to sit and watch a series of canal boats, perhaps whilst having lunch or finishing off your uni work beside. The area is fairly upper class so it doesn’t have a student vibe if that is more your scene, nevertheless it’s a beautiful place to visit as it’s based on the River Thames, and is just ten miles from Reading.

Another place to visit if you’re free and looking for something to do, is going into Reading town centre which is a fantastically short distance from the university. Reading is largely popular for its variety of shops, which are predominantly based in the Oracle shopping centre. However, Reading has shops in the Broad Street Mall and along the streets outside of the Oracle. Reading also has a Vue cinema which offers relatively cheap leisure activity. On a Wednesday the phone network Orange offers its customers 2 for 1 on tickets which greatly reduces the cost, meaning you can enjoy the latest films and it won’t damage your bank balance. Along the riverside there are a range of restaurants to suit a variety of tastes if you get peckish too. Many of the restaurants offer a student discount so a good quality meal can be easily attained. The Pizza Hut lunch buffet is a possible place to try, due to it’s reasonably priced lunch menu. If you’re missing home and in particular your family’s the traditional Sunday roast then hop on a bus in the opposite direction to Reading town centre towards Earley. Situated closely to Asda there is a Toby Carvery – from Monday to Saturday a roast dinner costs between £6 and £7, and if you subscribe to the newsletter the Carvery frequently offers two meals for £10!

So whilst studying here at Reading, feed your travel bug and discover something new today right on your doorstep!

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