Last weekend I went to Reading with Maddy - she took me around the town centre, Reading Museum, and the Museum of English Rural Life. We also cycled out to Kassam Stadium to see the Joker.

The MERL is of particular importance to me as a student of ‘rural social change.’ I’ll have to go back in future to really dig through their collections.

Of course, I was very interested in all their old rural union material.

union poster

The museum itself is also famous for having a super popular twitter account, and it doesn’t just post brief news updates. Museums ‘speak’ to us as if they were real people and I continually find this unsettling.

Here is Maddy at the MERL, sporting a top hat. 🎩


And here she is in Reading museum, wrapped in a royal robe.


This is a tapestry of rural Kent produced for the Festival of Britain in 1951, it’s called Fruit and Hops.


The caption on the tapestry reads:

One of the kindliest of Britain’s landscapes,
long devoted to the warmer things of life.
Here grow the flowers of spring,
the summer cherry,
Autumnal harvests of pear and apple.
Here also climb the tawny hops
that brew the nation’s beer.

The tapestry was hung opposite this very spooky straw man.


Lot of rural mysticism going on there.

The side of the musem was taken up with large wooden carriages.


On the way out I picked up some ‘Great British Tea’. It’s always been a contradiction that as much as tea is a recognised national drink, along with a cube or two of white sugar, tea consumption is (almost exclusively) the historical product of colonialism. So it’s a rare thing to find ‘real’ British tea actually grown in Britain Cornwall.

I guess the tea is also fresher, because the leaves are cultivated locally? That might make a difference to the taste.