Restaurant review – The Real Greek in Reading

Earlier this week I talked about my trip to the Clinique counter in Reading. After we’d finished there, S and I decided to go for a late lunch at The Real Greek – a treat for us, because we don’t have a Greek restaurant near where we live.

We’ve been a couple of times now, and unless it’s in the middle of winter after a trip to the Christmas market, we try to sit outside. It’s nice to get some fresh air, and restaurants are always less loud if you can get a table outside! There are several restaurants alongside the canal, but we generally get drawn back to this one.

The staff are friendly and helpful, and the food is both delicious and reasonably priced.

We usually get a selection of meze dishes. The menu recommends 3 or 4 per person, but we found 6 between us was plenty!

We began with humus and flat bread, which was then followed by a selection from the hot and cold meze selection.

One of my firm favourites is the grilled aubergine, but I am also a big fan of the filo parcels stuffed with creamy leek, spinach and feta. On other trips we’ve tried the haloumi fries and the falafel – all very good!

In terms of meat, we tried char-grilled traditional Greek pork and beef sausage, and we also recommend the lamb meatballs that come with yoghurt, tomato sauce, and onions, or the minced lamb served with Anatolian spices.

Stuffed vine leaves are a total pain to make yourself, so I often take the chance to get them when they’re available at a restaurant!

There are various seafood dishes too, but as neither of us is a fan of fish or seafood, I can’t comment on how good they are!

I have to be careful with my allergies and unfortunately the ingredients I can’t have often feature in this type of cooking, but the descriptions on the menu are good, so it’s easy for me to avoid the things I can’t have. I guess it wouldn’t be a problem if you do the traditional English thing where you order your own dishes and guard them against all inquisitive forks, but we tend to put everything in the middle and share!

It’s harder to eat this way when we’re in a big group, but S doesn’t mind, and if he really wants something I can’t have, he has to eat it all himself while I munch on aubergines or lamb!

There is also a children’s menu and a vegan menu – we didn’t need either of them, but it’s good to know that they’re available for anyone who does!

When it comes to dessert, I’m always tempted by the baklava or mango sorbet, but as we usually go at lunchtime, I just have a coffee – either regular or a Greek coffee. If you do still have room though, there is a good selection of desserts.

At the time of writing, there are 15 restaurants listed on the site, so it’s worth checking out whether there’s one near you if you don’t live near Reading.

Have you been to The Real Greek? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

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This post was not sponsored – it’s just a review of somewhere where we enjoy going for lunch!

Jane Austen’s house

Jane Austen’s house

During my week off, we went to Chawton in Hampshire, to have a walk and visit Jane Austen’s house. The house is open to the public as a museum, and you can walk around the house, seeing where Jane lived and wrote her books. There is also a learning centre, where you can watch a short video about Jane Austen’s life and books. The video shows you around the house, but anyone who only listens to the video can still understand what is going on.

Outside there is a garden, where you can learn about the herbs that a family living at this time would have used.

Inside the house, all but one of the rooms are open to the public, and there is a selection of 41 objects, which help visitors to understand more about what life was like in a village home over 200 years ago. The objects include Jane’s writing table, (a very low desk – I can’t imagine that she was very tall!), and a bookcase that belonged to her father, George Austen. You may not be able to see all of the objects at once as they are being rotated throughout the year. 2017 is the 200th anniversary of Janes death in 1817. She died aged only 41 years due to an illness.

Downstairs you can see where Jane worked and wrote her manuscripts, and upstairs you can go into the bedrooms, including the one that Jane shared with her sister Cassandra. There are no audio guides, so my partner read the information as we walked around the house.

Following her father’s death, Jane, her sister and mother needed to find somewhere to live. Her brother Edward made the house in Chawton available to them, and this is where Jane spent the last eight years of her life, revising the three manuscripts she had written previously, writing three more novels, and starting one which was never finished due to her health problems.

In many ways, she had a lot of freedom to write and pursue her own interests there, as her sister Cassandra took over much of the work of running the house. The house was shared by Jane, Cassandra, their mother, and a female friend, who was a close friend of the family. They were frequently visited by other family members. Jane had six brothers, one of whom was instrumental in getting Jane’s books published.

Examples of Jane’s work include Pride and Prejudice, (the only one of the books that I have read so far, and one which I would definitely recommend!), Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, and and Mansfield Park. Don’t forget that you can also get a free book by signing up for Audible using the link on my audio book page.

I did enjoy the Pride and prejudice film, particularly as it stayed close to the plot of the book and true to the clever and witty dialogues, but I’m generally a “the book was better” kind of girl! I was far less impressed by the recent Pride and Prejudice with zombies film, but then I do usually find anything to do with zombies rather pointless!

Although it’s not thought that characters in the books were based on specific people, the depth to the characters leads me to believe that she drew on her experiences of people around her. It’s believed that some of the close relationships between sisters, such as the one between Jane and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, was based on Jane’s own close relationship with her sister Cassandra. I think everyone has come across someone as irritating as Mrs Bennet, and a long-suffering, strong man of few words like her husband!

After Jane’s death, Jane’s mother and sister lived in the house until they died. After this, it was used for workers on the estate until it was sold in 1947, when the museum was established.

After our walk around the house and garden, we bought some lemon gingerbread from the gift shop, and headed to the nearby café, Cassandra’s, for a late lunch.

If you’re interested in Jane Austen, or you have a more general interest in life in the past, I’d recommend that you visit this house and museum.

You can find more information on the Jane Austen’s house website. This post contains affiliate links.

Listen to the podcast episode

I’ve also produced a podcast episode about Jane Austen’s house. You can look for Unseen Beauty on Apple podcasts (previously known as iTunes), or wherever you get your podcasts. Alternatively, you can listen to it here:

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Do you enjoy listening to audio books?

10 reasons why I enjoy listening to audio books, and how readers in the UK and Germany can get a free audio book from Audible.

I love listening to audio books, both in my native language, and In German. I listen to them when I’m running, when I’m cooking dinner, when I want to curl up on the sofa and relax, and when I want to take my mind off work!

When I used to commute to London every day, I had 1.5 hours of time, which I often used for listening to books or podcasts – I just needed to be careful not to listen to anything really sad whilst on the train, or anything that got me so involved in the story that I missed my stop – yes it did happen once! I had to wait half an hour in the freezing cold for the next train to take me back to where I needed to be!

I also recommend audio books for my students who are learning English. People often go straight for the visual media such as films or tv series, and they forget about audio books. However, if you’re going to be listening to a language in real-life situations where there are no visual clues or subtitles, audio books and podcasts are a great way to practice because you have to rely entirely on your ears.

Whether you’re learning a language, or just listening to audio books to relax, here are 10 things that I like about listening to books in this way. Also, if you’re in Germany or the UK, I have a way for you to get a free book from Audible – see the further details at the bottom of the post. I am an affiliate for Amazon, but I only promote things that I love. I am an Audible member and I’m really happy with the service.

1. You can relax and let someone read to you

Did your parents or grandparents ever read to you when you were a child? Even though I could read quite well from an early age, I always looked forward to story time, during which my Nan would read to me. I also had a big collection of audio books, at that time on cassette (that shows my age!, and I enjoyed listening to them as well.
If your eyes are tired from a long day in front of the screen, or you just want to sit back and relax, audio books provide a way for you to do that.

2. You can take your book anywhere

You don’t have to remember to put it in your bag – if the book is on your phone, the chances are that you will always have it with you. It doesn’t weigh anything and you can get it out if you find that you have a spare half hour. It doesn’t take up any more room – apart from the memory on your phone.

2. You can take several books around with you

I love the fact that I can have two or three books on the go at once and I don’t have to decide which one to take with me. As long as I have space on my phone, or a good connection/data package for streaming, I don’t have to decide which books to take on holiday or on a long journey. They’re on my phone, so I can read whatever I want.

4. You’ll improve your vocabulary

Whether you’re reading in your own language or learning another one, it’s always good to learn new words, see how they are used and how different writers use the language to draw you into their world or help you to understand their characters better.

5. Audio books are practical for blind people

I can read Braille, and I think it is especially important for children to read Braille so that they can learn to visualise the words and how they are spelled, but when you’re on a packed train, it’s easier to take out your headphones than a massive Braille book. Braille books often tend to be heavy, so when I’m on the move, I’d rather not have to do some involuntary weight lifting!

6. You can read whilst doing other things

Some tasks are just boring. I don’t find housework mentally stimulating, so I always like to listen to something whilst I’m doing it. My brain keeps occupied with the book or podcast while my hands do the housework. It makes boring jobs less boring!

7. You don’t just have to read fiction

Audio books aren’t just stories. If you want to learn about a hobby or read books for professional development, there are plenty of non-fiction books in the Audible library too.
If you have a list of business books that you would like to read, why not read one of them in English instead. Alternatively, you could subscribe to an audio magazine or podcast that delivers timely news and information about one of your areas of interest.

8. Audio books are not always something that you have to buy

As well as the offer for the free audio book (more details at the end of the post), many libraries also offer audio books that you can borrow, either as a cd, or as a temporary online download. This means you can enjoy the books without having to spend anything, and you haven’t wasted your money if you don’t like the book.

9. The ability to search

Gone are the days of hunting through shelves for something that you might like to read. Services such as Audible provide a good search facility, so that you can find out what else an author has written, or what else a narrator has read, if you particularly like their voice. You can also use book blogs or websites to find the most popular books in the genres that interest you, and Audible will send you recommendations based on the books that you have already bought. Also, Audible and some libraries give you the chance to listen to part of a book before deciding to buy or download the whole thing, so that you can decide whether it’s something you want to read. Some authors write in a style that I don’t like, and some narrators drive me crazy, so I like to try before I buy!

10. It’s fun!

If you can’t wait to find out what happens in the story, or you are really interested in what’s being discussed, you will be motivated to keep listening. There have been nights when I’ve stayed up way too late because of the book that I was reading – I wanted to find out what happened next. I guess this is only true if you enjoy reading, but I can definitely say that I’ve had fun escaping to other worlds for a while so that I could learn what happened to my favourite characters.

Your chance to get a free audio book from Audible

If you’re in the UK or Germany, you can get a free ebook if you sign up for an Audible subscription. Whether or not you continue with the monthly subscription, you get to keep your audio book, and you can choose from 200,000 titles on a wide range of subjects. You can then download the Audible app on your phone and take your book with you wherever you go! (Books have to be purchased on the website – you can’t do it on the app).

Link for the UK
Link for Germany

1. This offer is open to people in Germany and the UK. Remember to use the correct link for your country.
2. You are eligible if you haven’t had a free audio book from Audible in the last year.
3. If you don’t want to pay, you must remember to cancel your subscription within the first month. You will still be able to keep your free book.
4. If you like the service, you will continue to receive a credit each month, which can be used to buy a book. Buying books on subscription is often cheaper than buying them individually.

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.