Jet Skiing near Theale © Flickr user whologwhy
Being landlocked in London can be a real bore sometimes; aside from the Thames (and let’s face it, we won’t be taking a dip in there any time soon) the city is a bit of an urban desert, and its residents are left pining for open water.
A little-known secret fix lies in nearby Theale, on the outskirts of Reading, where a collection of lakes and associated sailing clubs invites Londoners to escape. And at just one hour’s drive from central London up the M4, why wouldn’t you? Hop in your Zipcar for the perfect aquatic day out.
Wakeboarding © Keith Binns/iStock/Thinkstock
First stop on your on-the-water adventure has got to be the TWSC Waterskiing & Wakeboarding Club (Mill Road, Reading, West Berkshire, RG30 3TA, Tel. 01962 884882, Offering first-time coaching in both water sports, the club owns two 2004 Malibu Response LXi Tournament Boats fitted with Perfect Pass speed and an adjustable ski jump for those wanting to get some air. Their wakeboarding facilities have also recently been upgraded, and both boats are fitted with a monster tower and Malibu power wedge, and twin fatsacs to give nice wake to boarders of all levels. The club operates a ticket system, with each ticket entitling the owner to one waterski or wakeboard tow – usually 10 minutes long, or two circuits round the lake – £10 for members, £18 for visitors. 
Jet Skiing near Theale © Flickr user whologwhy
Not had enough water yet? Try jetskiing with the fast and furious at nearby Lagoona Park (Pingewood Road South, Pingewood, Reading, Berkshire, RG30 3UH, Tel. 0118 9885959, to really get your heart pumping. With day membership starting from just £30 and experience packages from £49, the club offers full training, safety briefing and insurance where required. To get your daredevil kicks, choose from a stand up jet ski, sit down jet bike, or a jet rib: the only machine of its kind in the UK. 
Rump steak © Jag_cz/iStock/Thinkstock
After all those high-adrenaline water sports, a late lunch is most definitely in order. Jump back in the car and head on over to the Fox and Hounds (Station Road, Theale, Reading, Berkshire, RG7 4BE, Tel. 01189 302295,, an award-winning pub and restaurant where all the poultry and eggs are free range, and the meat is locally and sustainably sourced. Get your teeth into their delicious steak sandwich, made with a four-ounce Hereford top rump steak, topped with onion marmalade and served on toasted focaccia. Otherwise, continue the aquatic theme and opt for the moreish beer-battered fish finger sandwich.
L’Ortolan © credit image to restaurant
Fancy something a little more haute cuisine? Try the Michelin-starred L’Ortolan in nearby Shinfield (Church Lane, Shinfield, Reading, RG2 9BY, Tel. 0118 9888500,, a modern French bistro that incorporates influences from around the world. Beautifully crafted dishes produced using the finest ingredients can be sampled from a variety of lunchtime menus: ballotine of oxtail with bacon and smoked pomme purée on the Menu Du Jour, duck breast with poached pineapple and ginger jus on the A la Carte, and the extravagant seared scallop, sesame crusted tuna, compressed watermelon, and wasabi & radish salad on the seven-course tasting menu of Menu Gourmand.
L’Ortolan © credit image to venue
If you’re looking to escape London and find yourself on the water within the hour, it’s never been easier than with Zipcar. Pick up a vehicle in your postcode, and zip along to Theale for an active, invigorating day out.
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