As it was almost Shalisa's birthday, we decided to gather in Reading for some fun and frolics. It just so happened that it coincided with Reading Pride. This was my first time attending a Pride festival, so I was not sure what to expect. I have always wanted to go to one. I am not sure how Reading measures up to the more well-known Pride destinations like Brighton and London, but the town was bustling with many people. There was a sea of rainbows and all sorts of different organisations and lifestyles represented.
When Sammi and I arrived, we saw that the parade had already gone past the train station, but they eventually came back around. It was very pleasing to see people of all ages, communities and even different religions getting involved. The general public walking by generally seemed very interested in seeing the parade and a lot of people were happy to join in, although there were a select few who were maybe not dressed in an appropriate way for a public area (I purposely chose a picture which did not show this).
A lot of well-known companies got very involved with Pride this year, including Nando's. They were giving out rainbow chicken stickers and they also had these rainbow chicken flags. I managed to get hold of a couple of the stickers and later in the day, I found one of the flags, which Shalisa was very pleased to get hold of! Personally, I think Nando's should adopt this rainbow logo permanently! My sticker is now proudly stuck to my fridge.
Shalisa's mum recommended this Thai food place to Shalisa, so we decided to give it a go. It did not disappoint! My usual rule with Thai places is I will only go to them if I feel I wont get a mouthful of lemongrass. I like lemongrass, but I had a bad experience at a Thai place once where it was all I could taste, so I stopped eating Thai for a while. I ordered a pork dish which featured ginger, peppers, onions and oyster mushrooms. Thankfully, the lemongrass was very well balanced! It was such a wonderful dish to eat and it was so well cooked. The coconut rice we shared between us was beautiful too. All of our dishes were decorated with these beautiful flowers carved in to vegetables. It was interesting, as each of us got a slightly different flower design. Mine was quite pointy!
The chicken satay starter we shared deserves a special shout-out because it is honestly the best satay I have ever had in my entire life. The chicken was cooked to perfection. It was juicy and tender. Whenever I cook chicken, it never comes out this good! I am getting hungry just remembering it. The satay dip was lovely too, although maybe a little too oily, as it started to separate. Very tasty though.
After a very satisfying meal, we decided to go and check out the Pride fair. But first, we had to get Shalisa's presents through the security at the entrance! The security guy was not at all bothered about the bottled drinks we were carrying, but a wrapped packet of Party Ring biscuits were apparently suspicious. So whilst Shalisa was safely out of the way, James had to explain what was in each present. When he got to the Party Rings, the security man questioned why we would wrap up a packet of Party Rings and James' response was simply- "Who doesn't love Party Rings?"
This explanation more than satisfied the security man, and we were all allowed in! I got Shalisa a pack of Party Rings after we all reminisced about them during our ILD picnic. They are an integral part of a children's birthday party here in the UK (I don't know anybody who did not grow up eating them) and as far as I am concerned, you are never too old to enjoy them.
The fair itself was a bit of a mixed bag. It was mostly different charity stalls looking for donations, a small funfair and randomly, some Lexus cars. I feel that getting together and celebrating the meaning of Pride was probably the key element at play here. There was a surprising number of people who approached us and knew about lolita fashion. There was even somebody who usually wears fairy kei, who was very excited to see us! Out of all of the stage shows, I was most moved by the talk being given by a gay man, who was also a Muslim. I can't even begin to imagine what a challenging situation that must be, and I had a lot of respect for this guy for having the courage to not only come to Pride, but to get up on stage and share his story. Afterwards there was a singer who quite frankly, needed some singing lessons. As we walked away to take some photos by the river, all we could hear was this painful rendition of Teenage Dirtbag.
I wore Princess Honey's Tea Salon by Baby the Stars Shine Bright, which I have owned for months, but I have only just gotten around to wearing. You would suspect it would be the pinks that would cause the issue here but in all honesty, it was the ivory/off-white I had troubles with. The dress has both white and ivory on it and my Bodyline boots of doom were the only footwear I had that came close to matching the dress. I tried making an outfit with white pieces instead, but something about it just didn't feel right. So basically, I had to wait for the weather to be comfortably cool enough for me to wear the boots. Although it does not match my outfit in any way, I felt the rainbow flag was a lovely touch!
We completely forgot to get group pictures last time, so I am glad we remembered this time! Sammi looked so cute in head-to-toe chocolate and I always love seeing Shalisa is this bold pink tartan dress. We also managed to get a fantastic Instax photo that didn't cut off our legs.
Afterwards we decided to find out why this ice cream shop in the train station called Tutti Frutti is rated the number one food establishment in Reading on TripAdvisor (I think this says quite a lot about the food places in Reading). I have to say that the ice cream did win me over and the lady who served us could not have been any sweeter if she tried. She let us sample as many ice creams as we wanted, even though I felt as though I was taking advantage a little bit by asking for so many. I went for the raspberry sorbet, which was just the right combination of sharp and sweet. It was very refreshing on what was quite a muggy day too. Do they deserve their number one ranking? Yes, I think they do, because I don't really know how they could improve on what they do. Good service, clean and yummy ice cream. What more can you ask for?
As we were sat down, we finally let Shalisa open her presents. I can't help but love Shalisa's face in this photo. She really liked the cushion Sammi and I got her! The other gifts (including the Party Rings!) seemed appreciated as well.
I spotted that Tutti Frutti were selling duck shaped chocolates, so naturally I had to get one! The chocolate was nice and creamy.
We were going to head to Starbuck's, but they were all completely packed. So we ended up at the Outlook. They seem to be training new staff at the minute. Shalisa asked James to get us a jug of tap water for all of us to share, and we ended up being given this one glass of water! We ended up having to share it, as none of us felt like going back up and probably only being given another single glass of water. At least we had a bit of a laugh about it.
I am really pleased that we have found a new restaurant that all of us really enjoyed. It was good that we tried something new, and we were rewarded with fantastic food. I have never attended a Pride festival before, so that was a new experience for me too. Overall, I had a fantastic day. I really hope we meet up and go back to that Thai place soon!