The George Pub, Reading, UK

The George Pub, Reading, UK
“ David will drop me off and I can spend the day with you Unc Oz,” I said on my phone call, while on my trip to the UK. My Mum’s brother and wife have aged since I last saw them probably three years earlier or more. My son obligingly takes me over, but for several visits to the UK, I just could not go. They live too far away and we had a hundred things going on.

Must visit this time I thought as they definitely are not getting any younger. But it was with a shock that I realised during this visit that one of them is quite blind and the brain functions are permanently off and the other is dragging himself around sadly on knees that are giving way and a stoop that’s scary. Old age is a terrible time, especially with all the illnesses that come along with it. And it was heart breaking to see two old people struggling together.

“ Roma is coming and will be able to spend time chatting with you, “ said my Uncle and I realised his life is centred around care giving and I was definitely intruding. This was definitely my final visit.

Lovely plump Roma, his step daughter arrived and demanded to know if I wanted a cup of chai. Ofcourse I did, in the UK one can drink unending cups and want another and another all day. So we chatted and caught up on the years, as I knew Roma and her sister Angela from my New Delhi days.

I ofcourse loved my Uncles rain water butt in the garden, where in rainy UK he collects the rain off his roof and uses it for the garden. Trust an engineer to think scientifically, cause filtered drinking water is hardly what should be given to the garden and expect it to grow and prosper. The minerals are all lost, but then that is only understood by those who want to.

“ So! Your Uncle Ozzie wants me to take you out for lunch and after that drop you off to Woking if you like. The whole day is yours my dear,” said Roma magnanimously. “ Where would you like to go?”

How was I to know I thought, but watching my beloved daughter-in-law in the US just check yelp for everything, we did just that . A no-nonsense chain pub called The George, with a menu of traditional British dishes and a family-friendly vibe came up on Romas phone screen.

The George pub and restaurant at Earley is a traditional olde worlde style pub on the site that used to be a toll house for the toll bridge over the river Loddon said the directions on Yelp. It was situated next to the cinema on the riverbank, overlooked by the terraced patio. The pub sits on the corner of Wokingham and Loddon Bridge Road on the riverbank. I love the UK and it’s surfeit of water bodies.

Like all Chef and Brewer pubs the George pub serves freshly cooked, pub food. You can sit and overlook the river from the terraced patio that we just looked at from indoors, as suddenly it had become chill.

I wanted the hand-battered cod & chips,my old favourite, with a huge helping of coleslaw and tartar sauce.While Roma a hearty eater, ordered a traditional Sunday roast with a huge Yorkshire pudding and unlimited gravy.

I always enjoy local cuisine wherever I travel. And so traditional British cuisine was what I wanted. But Roma also wanted a grilled Shrimp and mango starter (definitely fusion food) and some white wine, which I passed. Might as well pick my sugars is my motto and I wanted the delicious looking crusted potato wedges or chips as the Brits call them.Those are high sugars for a diabetic.

We chatted in the lovely ambience of the pub, with its ancient old low roof and the whole interior cluttered with bric-a brac. Roma is a fun person and a writer like me, so we had so much to talk about and bring ourselves upto speed on. The manuscript she is writing and I am too was the focus. Plus the new avenues open for us writers to publish online, instead of the traditional way and earn more royalties is what we dissected and bi-sected.

Roma writes DIY manuals and I write non-fiction couched in fiction to circumvent the nasties.

Soon it was time to go and the youngsters who were serving us, asked if we wanted some coffee. Most pubs and restaurants in the West are manned by students from Universities, paying for their daily expenses. I was shocked when I heard they don’t get a salary like our waiters do in India, but instead live on the tips customers like us pay out. That’s why my sons would always make sure the tips were more than decent.

Then Roma drove me home to Woking and she loved spending the rest of the afternoon with us, wandering around the garden and enjoying baby Arthur along with Naila the au pair. London in the Spring and Summer is where I would like to be every year -- must just make it happen.

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