Welcome to Reading, Berkshire

I‘ve taken up residence for a week in a hotel in Reading and have had success in arranging an apartment for myself, available next week. The next task will be to find an office space, which I hope to do this morning.
My hotel is in the "city centre" or downtown area, which is relatively small and includes sections where the streets are closed off for pedestrian use only. With the exception of a few churches and the odd castle tower, the city center is relatively modern and the Lords of Burger King, Subway, and McDonalds are well-represented. Nearby is the mall I mentioned in my last post, "The Oracle", which is the size of Tysons Corners and sits on both sides of the Kennett River, which flows neatly past nicely-designed sidewalks and outdoor cafe seating.
I encounter the charmingly odd aspects of British life every day. For example, when your National Rail Service (not subway) train comes to a stop, in order to exit, you must lower the door window, reach outside, and  use the outside door handle to open the door. Just like you see them doing in 1940s movies! There is no inside handle and I’ve only seen one or maybe two platform attendants available to help people disembark, so you’re very much expected to handle (pardon the pun) this on your own.
I almost had my first brush with the National Health Service as a result of this train door business: when I arrived in Reading with my luggage last Sunday, I disembarked and, as no one else followed, closed the door behind me. Noticing the up-down sliding window was still down, I grasped its top edge and pulled up to close it. It turned out to be counter-weighted and flew up on its own, smashing three of my fingers. I saw stars, I can tell you! No bones turned out to be broken and some cold water soaking helped keep most of the swelling down, but even today I’m sporting a lovely black and blue look on those digits.
Here are some Life-in-the-UK tidbits from my daily observations:
  • Starbucks (yes, ubiquitous here, too) charges different prices for "eat in" or "take-away" purchases. This is because for eat-in they actually serve you using real cups and plates.
  • Here are the coins I’m struggling to learn (p=pence, P=Pound): 1p 2p 5p 10p 20p 50p 1P 2P. Paper money begins with the 5P note. Coins are different sizes, shapes, and materials.
  • U.S. politics and other news, such as the recent tornadoes in the mid-West, get significant and in-depth news coverage here, including from onsite reporters. Contrast this with the scant news coverage the US media gives to similar events in the UK.
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