Prepare for a wonderful winter (whatever the weather) in Reading

It may be hard to believe, what with the Indian summer we experienced only last week – but the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting (slightly!) colder, and it won’t be long until we’re turning back our clocks to enjoy an extra hour in bed. Yep – there’s no doubt about it – winter is on its way!

Although we may be lucky enough to have had a few more weeks of dry weather, it’s important that we don’t procrastinate, and instead prepare for whatever this winter may bring… whether that’s snow or showers.

Make the most of the mild weather now, enjoying those last walks and cycles… but also start thinking about:

Checking your lights

Everybody knows that when you’re cycling at night, you’ll need some lights: a steady or flashing, fixed white light on the front and a steady or flashing, fixed red light on the back, in fact. But in winter, these lights become even more vital, as the evenings get darker. Make sure that you regularly check both your lights are fully functioning, and don’t forget to turn them on when leaving work, heading off on a night out or just popping to the shops if the sun’s already setting. For more information on bike light regulations, click here.

 

Getting some reflective gear

Walking, running or cycling this winter? Get your hands on some reflective clothing to make sure you’re visible to every type of traffic. From helmets and gloves to vests and shoes, there are plenty of options out there. Take a look at this list if you need some inspiration.

 

Wrapping up warm

It may be unseasonably warm now, but this may be the perfect time to work out your winter wardrobe without being left in the cold when it comes! For some top tips on what to wear when heading outdoors for an active adventure, take a look at this handy interactive guide.

 

Preparing for repairing

We hope that you won’t need it– but when you’re cycling in wet weather, it’s better to have a tyre puncture repair kit and a pump with you than to be stuck pushing your bike home in the rain!

 

Walk the right way

It goes without saying that you should watch out when walking in the winter – and invest in some safe shoes if you feel particularly unsteady on your feet – even the smallest slippery patch can send you skidding, so take extra care. There will always be another bus or train, but there won’t be another you!

Have fun!

This is probably the most important point – and we’ve got a way to make your journeys even more exciting this month! Take a look at our ‘signs of winter’ checklist, and the next time you’re heading outside – with the kids, your partner, friends or on your own – see how many you can tick off!

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How are you preparing for winter, despite the warm weather? And do your travel plans change around this time of year? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages, tweet using the hashtag #RDGinfo, or simply comment below!

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Freshers: Work hard, play hard and save hard with RDG 4 ME

You studied, you got the results you needed, and now you’re off to university – congratulations! We’ve no doubt you’ve a lot on your mind, from moving away from home to meeting new mates and enjoying some much-needed independence.

But with this independence comes a lot of responsibility. Now’s your chance to find your own way around a new town – making sure that you get to all of your lectures on time, and get back from town after a big night out!

There’ll be no more catching free lifts off your parents any more, either… you’ll have to fund your trips, and as a skint student we know this thought can be pretty scary. Not to worry, though… there are plenty of ways to get around for free, or for very little: easily, quickly and safely.

Here are some of our top tips to travelling around Reading and beyond – for all you freshers out there!

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  • Taking your car to uni? Liftsharing with your housemates and coursemates can be a great way to get to know each other! Why not put a tariff on the wall of your shared accommodation with required contributions? For example… supermarket: £1, cinema: £1.50, town: £2? That way, you can make back your petrol and parking costs in a fair and consistent way. Or you can be part of Reading University’s car sharing scheme.
  • Studying in Reading? The Reading Buses NightTrack service operates – as you can probably work out, especially if you’re going to university (!) – at night. The bus stops right outside your student accommodation, and is safe and affordable. Reading Buses run a number of other student bus services at reduced rates, which you can read more about here. There’s also a free late-night safety bus run by the University of Reading Students’ Union, which is available for students leaving campus into the evening. Click here to read about it!
  • Living locally for the first time? Use the hashtag #RDGinfo on Twitter to ask Reading residents for tips and advice – whether you’re looking for the best bus route or looking to buy a bike on a budget.
  • Travelling back home, or fancy a day trip to London or Oxford (both just a 30-minute ride away)? You might want to invest in a 16-25 railcard for discounted train travel – or a Network Railcard if you’re a mature student.
  • Live in Reading, within walking distance of the university or shops? Download the Reward Your World app to track your journeys and earn rewards, like high street vouchers! You can use the code ‘app4rdg‘ to earn bonus points!

Are you a university student already? Do you have any top tips for freshers? Or are you a University of Reading fresher with questions about travelling around town? Get in touch on our Facebook and Twitter pages using #RDGinfo, or comment below!

RDG 4 ME: Reinventing the school run

Can you believe that it’s September, and the summer’s over already? We hope you had a season of awesome adventures, happy holidays and top quality time with your friends and family – however you decided to travel and wherever you went.

Now, it’s time to talk about the one journey we know all too well come term time… the school run. Whether your kids are starting school, starting at a new one, or simply moving up a year group, it’s the one trip you’ll need to get used to taking every morning and every afternoon… whether you like it or loathe it!

That being said, we’ve come up with four great ways that you can learn to love the school run every single day. And here they are!

Choose our Back To School Challenge

19985-RDG4ME-Back_to_school-challenge-Twitter_880x440px-V01-RC-01Looking for a fantastic new family activity, a method for getting the kids moving, or a healthy habit for yourself? We’ve got just the thing: our Back To School Challenge!

Download our Back To School Challenge wall chart here and start filling in your journeys to and from school – then fill us in on how you’re doing! You could even introduce treats for the children (or for you!) once they’ve met certain milestones. Our planner can be printed off weekly and filled in for as long as you like… good luck, and we can’t wait to hear how you get on!

Get a game going

We don’t know about you, but it certainly takes a little bit of time to get our brains going in the mornings! And maybe that’s true of your children, too. They also say time flies when you’re having fun, so make your journey fly by walking, cycling or taking the bus or train to school whilst kick-starting your kids’ days by engaging them in an exciting and educational game, like the ones found here.

Count your steps… and your calories

Remember our 10,000 steps a day challenge? How much of that do you currently cover? Pack in a huge proportion of it by taking to your feet for the school run – and use a pedometer, activity-tracking mobile phone app or our Back To School Challenge wall chart to see how you’re doing each day. Some apps will even tell you how many calories you’re burning to boot… so you can see how much you’re improving your health, and your children’s fitness as well, just by walking.

Pssst! If you track your journeys with the Reward Your World app, you can also earn rewards, like high street vouchers; as if you needed an extra incentive!

Don’t fancy doing the walk daily? Why not team up with other local parents and start a ‘walking bus’ – taking it in turns to walk all of the children into school, teaching them valuable road safety skills and encouraging them to form friendships. For more information on starting one, click here.

Scoot or cycle for super speed

If you live too far to make it on foot, or walk to get to school in speed and style, why not invest in scooters or bikes for yourself and your children? For tinier tots, you could even source a scooter with adjustable handlebars and let them scoot to school, then scoot home yourself afterwards (or push it if you’d rather not be noticed!) Biking is often far faster than driving, and you won’t need to worry about funding fuel, paying for parking or securing yourself a spot at the school gates either!

So, will you be taking our Back To School Challenge? And will you be supplementing it with any of our ideas… or do you have some of your own? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages, or by commenting on this blog.

RDG 4 ME’s seven secrets of surviving festival season – for rockers!

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Whether it’s Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys or Blink-182 you’re most looking forward to rocking out to this August bank holiday weekend, there’s no doubt you’re as excited about Reading Festival as us!

Following on from our ‘residents’ blog, here’s our guide to having a fantastic festival weekend… for those rockers among us!

Be prepared

No doubt there are hundreds of like-minded festival goers who want to start the fun as soon as they can – and that means avoiding the traffic.  Have a read of this article and plan your route for a smoother journey around town.

Liftshare and save… without the sat nav

You could always arrange your own liftsharing, through Reading Carshare, or with friends and other festivalgoers. Here’s a top tip, too:  follow the directions on your parking pass – not your sat nav– which will take you directly to the car park… instead of a random Reading field.

PlusBus makes the perfect lineup for your journey

Travelling from afar? Then you may well be taking the train and the bus. Save on both with PlusBus – offering unlimited bus rides around Reading, on top of your train ticket. Click here to learn more.

Take the £1 shuttle – no trekking and no traffic!

Did you know there’s a shuttle bus that runs regularly between Reading train station and the Reading Festival site? And even better, that it only costs £1? Don’t sit in traffic… don’t trek from the train with all your stuff… just hop on the shuttle and relax! Find out more here.

Do it like a pirate

Ahoy sailors! There’s a completely free shuttle boat which runs between Kings Meadow and Reading Festival’s Green pedestrian gate. Find out when, where and how to catch it here.

Travel cheaper by train and bus

Have you seen our handy guides to travelling cheaper by train and by bus? If not, this may be a great time to take a look – if you know what we mean…

Make the most of your mates

…and here are some more top tips for you – for travelling cheaper with your mates. Because what would a festival be without friends?

What are your top festival tips? Let us know on our Twitter and Facebook pages, and we’ll be sure to share them too!

RDG 4 ME’s seven secrets of surviving festival season – for residents!

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Every year, tens of thousands of rockers take to our town for the legendary Reading Festival. And no doubt a number of you will be, too!

But maybe you’re not quite as excited about the weekend: whether you didn’t manage to get a ticket, or you just didn’t want one. Still, don’t get down! Reading will be buzzing around the bank holiday, offering a fantastic opportunity to have fun without the festival… or an excuse to escape it if you’d rather.

And whichever ‘camp’ you sit in, we’ve got some secrets to surviving festival season – seven, in fact – which we’re sure will make your bank holiday weekend better!

Here are our seven secrets of surviving the Reading Festival weekend… for Reading residents. Our ‘rockers’ blog will follow next week!

Don’t just be a witness… jumpstart your fitness

You have two options you can take over the festival weekend: you can complain about it, or you can conquer it! The weather’s bound to be wicked, so why not free those happy endorphins and get out and about on your feet or a bike seat?! Run or cycle to your destinations this weekend – maybe you’ll even overhear some of that uplifting festival noise – and get there much quicker than you would on the roads! Plus, you’ll save money and cut down calories. Bonus!

Enjoy a Reading staycation

Want to just get away from it all? A holiday may be closer than you think! Take a look at our blog post, Reading: a staycation sensation! – it’s your ticket to an RDG staycation! And even better, it’s free!

Switch and save

Even if running and cycling isn’t your bag, the frantic festival weekend still gives you the chance to try out some different types of transport – and see how much time (and money) they can save you! Take a choo-choo-chance on the train, or board the bus, for a tiny trial period… and don’t forget to use our top train and bus tips too!

Walking does wonders

Taking a short trip? Fancy seeing some local sights? Use our hidden gems walking map and explore our town like a tourist, whilst taking in the awesome festival atmosphere! You can find the map here.

Try a daring day trip

There are plenty of places to escape to for the bank holiday, in Reading and beyond! With trains running regularly to London in half an hour, and seaside destinations like Bournemouth in just an hour and a half, there’s no excuse for staying at home being bored. Or, if you’re looking for something a bit bolder, check out this list of adventurous activities just around the corner.

Sharing is caring

Are your mates gutted they didn’t get tickets too? Or are they just trying to find a way to get around and avoid the crowds? Travel somewhere terrific together, cut your costs (and carbon) and be part of our liftsharing revolution!

Let go and embrace the music!

If you can’t beat ‘em, why not join ‘em? You may not be at the festival – and rock music may not even be what you’re into – but there’s no reason you can’t host your own mini-festival in your house or garden! No matter your age, it’s always fun to put up a tent, put on your favourite playlist, get your mates round, eat barbeque food and dance like no one’s watching!

What are your top tips for getting through Reading Festival weekend, fuss-free? Let us know on our Twitter and Facebook pages, and we’ll be sure to share them too!

Reading: a staycation sensation!

Craving another holiday – or planning on spending your summer here, at home? Well, we’ve got some good news for you: Reading is the perfect staycation destination!

From gorgeous gardens to exciting exhibitions, stylish shops and kids’ crafts, there are plenty of things to see and do, right on your doorstep. Here are just a few ideas to make Reading a more rewarding holiday destination:

You made our summer bucket list

19985-RDG4ME-August-Campaigns-Reading-Staycation-twitter-880x440-V03-CAWe’re proud to be your hub for local information – and that’s why we asked for your help to create the ultimate Reading summer bucket list!

You sent us your suggestions for ‘must-do’ and ‘must-see’ things around Reading and beyond – like outdoor events, farms and parks, fascinating museums and activity days! We took all of your tips and use them to create our Reading summer bucket list, to share with our fans and followers.

Let us know which of these you’ve done on our Facebook and Twitter pages, or whether you think we’ve missed any out.

Ride on with ReadyBike

Want to get the kids cycling? Fancy getting out and about with your partner? Looking for a fun new family activity? Or just after some alone time? All of these can be achieved on the back of a bike. And whether you’ve got one or not, you can still cycle this summer!

With ReadyBike, Reading’s new and exciting bike hire scheme, you can borrow a bike at loads of local pick-up points… then just pay for your journey, get on your way, and return it to a docking station once you’ve finished! And with cycle docking points at nearly 30 places in Reading, including the Madejski Stadium, Reading station, Caversham centre and the University of Reading, you really can go anywhere you’d like, by bike!

Reward Your World, and your wallet

Walking doesn’t need wheels. Or any fancy equipment, in fact. That’s one of the reasons we love it so much – as well as the fact that it’s free, fun and keeps you fit!

Now, there’s an extra reason to love walking in Reading: Reward Your World. We’ve mentioned Reward Your World – an app that tracks your steps and offers vouchers in return – before, but if you haven’t given it a go yet, now’s your chance! Whatever holiday activity you may be doing in Reading, whether that’s walking to the park or around the shops (or even using our hidden gems walking map), you can earn as you go.

For more information, click here.

See a nearby city, or travel to a local town

Did you know that from Reading, you can get to London in just half an hour? Or the seaside at Bournemouth in just an hour and a half? With plenty of other places, like Henley, Windsor, Oxford or Bath, easy to access on both the train and the bus, we won’t blame you for leaving our terrific town for the day to see places further afield! And if you’d like to save whilst doing so, take a look at our top train tips and brilliant bus ride boosters too!

So, what are your summery suggestions for a Reading staycation? Send them over on our Facebook and Twitter pages – we can’t wait to hear them!

Guest blog: Biking over hiking!

RDG 4 ME community member Melanie hates walking, so she decided to give Reading’s new bike hire scheme, ReadyBike, a go instead. She loved it so much that she’s blogged about it for us! Here’s what she had to say:

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I’ve never been a big fan of walking. It just takes so long, walking from one place to another, using all that energy, plodding along. I trudge along thinking, “isn’t there a way to speed this up, but to still take in the fresh air and sunshine?” Well, I’m happy to say there is. And it’s never been easier thanks to the ReadyBike hire scheme in Reading.

READY BIKE

Cycling takes all the hassle out of getting from one place to another. Instead of a 20-minute trek from work to the town centre, I can have a 10-minute bike ride and turn up to my meeting happy and relaxed. The nearest docking station for me is just a 90 second walk away along the river. It takes 60 seconds to log out a bike and I’m away. I cycle off along the river path, enjoying the wind in my hair and the easy pace that’s getting me to my meeting with plenty of time to spare. Docking the bike is even easier; you just cycle up to the docking station and clip the bike back into the stand and you’re done. No worrying about finding somewhere to lock up your own bike, or carrying around a heavy chain. No worrying about finding, and paying for, a car parking space or getting stuck in traffic. And no turning up hot and sweaty from rushing on the walk!

Now that I’ve used the ReadyBikes, I see others cycling them everywhere. I see people in suits cycling to work, or to meetings like me. I see groups of friends on the bikes exploring the town. I’ve even seen a couple of dressed up girls cycling into town for a night out. The bikes are a great idea and so easy and cheap to use – if you haven’t given them a go yet, you should!

Have you given ReadyBike a try yet? Do you agree with Melanie? We’d love to hear your thoughts over on our Facebook page or on Twitter !

The challenge: 10,000 steps to a healthier, happier you

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We all know that regular exercise is good for not only our health, but also our mental wellbeing. It stimulates various brain chemicals (natural hormones called endorphins), which are proven to diminish stress and feelings of depression, and boost self-esteem, confidence and energy levels.

Experts say that walking or running 10,000 steps a day will significantly improve your health and your mood – which really isn’t much when you consider that the average person takes between 3,000 and 4,000 steps a day. This is where our challenge comes in – can you walk those 10,000 steps?

You won’t need any fancy equipment or extra hours in your day to take on this task. Think about all the times you’ve legged it to the lift or the escalator instead of walking just one or two flights of stairs. Think about the occasions you’ve driven to the shops down the road. Think about the sunny days you’ve spent inside watching TV. Every time you walk even 10, 20, 50 or 100 steps, you’re contributing to your daily total, burning calories, releasing your endorphins and reaching your ultimate goal.

It’s easy to achieve these little accomplishments. Why not take a break from your screen at work every now and then and walk around the office, get off the bus one stop earlier and walk the rest of your journey, park further away when you drive somewhere or go on a walk with friends in the evening?

Although we’ve no doubt many of you will rise to our challenge, you may be asking, ‘how will I know when I’ve walked 10,000 steps?’ Well, you’ll be pleased to know there’s no need to count every time you make a move! There are plenty of pedometer apps and exercise trackers you can now download on your smartphone – including the Reward Your World app, where you can record your walks and runs, know when you’ve travelled those 10,000 steps and earn treats along the way! To find out more, click here.

So, think you’re up for the challenge? Slip on your stomping shoes, pick up a pedometer or open that app, and show us what you’ve got! Remember, take one step at a time – you don’t have to stride from Reading Railway Station to Winnersh in one go (unless you really want to).

Keep us updated on how you’re progressing on our Facebook and Twitter pages – we can’t wait to hear how you’re getting on.

Guest blog: Joe Denny’s day at a marketing agency

Following on from our recent collaboration with Reading College, here’s a short blog by Joe Denny about how he created his animation.

I’m a student from Reading College, working towards a Graphics and Digital Design Level 2 BTEC qualification and recently undertook work experience at an agency after submitting an animation for a competition for RDG 4 ME, which challenged me and my classmates to come up with digital assets which show how people can travel cheaply by public transport.

My inspiration for the topic of the animation I submitted was RDG 4 ME’s blog post on how cheaply you can travel with Reading Buses. I then took down the most important facts and figures to use in my work. The inspiration for the design of my submission was based on infographics used by RDG 4 ME to help inform people of small facts worth knowing. The background of the infographics usually depict a cityscape made up of basic vector shapes plus some fields or empty grassland in the foreground.

Taking part in the RDG 4 ME design competition I developed my Photoshop skills further by designing the animation. I also learned new skills in Adobe Flash by learning how to create frame‐by‐frame animations and the basic skills needed to use Adobe Flash.

During my time at the agency I’ve learnt a lot more about how a Graphic Design team works and how they operate on a normal day. I’ve also improved my Photoshop drawing skills by using a graphics tablet, and learnt more drawing techniques in Adobe Illustrator.

Did you like Joe’s animation? Tell us what you think of his experiences on our Facebook or Twitter pages, or comment below!

Need some #RDGinfo? We’re here to help!

How much do you know about your local area?

 The chances are, you have some degree of knowledge – maybe you love eating out and have experience of most of your local restaurants, or maybe you’re a proud parent who’s been to all of the parks in the area. But although information like this might not seem very important to you, others could see it as gold dust!

#RDGinfo

We’ve created a useful new hashtag – #RDGinfo – which we’re hoping that all of you will start using on Twitter, to find and share local information and start a community of readily available Reading residents.

 

So, how should you use #RDGinfo? The next time you’re stuck – whether your bike’s got a puncture, you’re looking for someone to liftshare with, or you’re just seeking a Reading recommendation – simply use the hashtag #RDGinfo. We’ll retweet you, and others searching for the hashtag will find you that way too, hopefully offering a helping hand.

 

Meanwhile, if you get a moment, you can also search on Twitter for #RDGinfo and offer advice to somebody in need. This way, the cycle can continue – and we can all enjoy an easier and more exciting Reading!

 

Have you ever helped someone in Reading? What questions do you have about your local area? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook, and don’t forget to start using #RDGinfo!