A bar in Reading, Berkshire (UK) that is, IMHO, one of the better places to get drunk in Berkshire. For many years, it was (to my knowledge) one of only two places you could realistically get a pint in after 11 o'clock, the other being the After Dark. Now that Reading has had it's massive overhaul, and The Oracle Shopping Centre brought a string of bars with it, this is no longer the case. This has not decreased it's popularity, however - many of the new bars in Reading are the sort of 'blue neon and glass' upmarket affairs, and as such do not pose a threat to the Turtle - more of this later.

Getting There

The Turtle is located in Gun Street - near the back of Heelas and the Virgin Megastore. This has not always been the case, however as the original Turtle used to be in London Street - but was demolished when The Oracle was built. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to go in there (it was open from 1989-1994), but I am told that it was pretty similar to the current one in Gun Street. Many people outside of Reading have heard of the Purple Turtle, and the reason for this is simple : It is a great place to get drunk ! You don't have to go to Reading to find a Turtle, however, as there are two in London (Islington and Camden) and one that I am told forms part of the Students Union at Oxford University. This writeup will focus on the Reading one, however.
Going to Reading will probably mean getting the train for most people - not a problem as Reading station is a fairly big one, with connections to all major ones (including Waterloo and Padington). Saturday can be a problem with the trains, however - they stop running on the Paddington line at about half eleven - this has always been the case, and I can't see it changing any time soon. Though this really isn't a concern if you live there.

The Atmosphere

Well, it depends on when you go really. Friday and Saturday nights are pretty much the epitomy of a piss up - it can get crowded, so I suggest you get there before 9.
The upstairs bit is where most of the debauchery happens, and leads out into a beer garden (well, beer patio is more like it). When it starts to get really packed, the management usually have the sense to open the downstairs part - a small darkened 'chill out' bit (that serves Absinthe on occasion). They usually have a range of music - usually rock/metal/indie, but it's not unheard of to have some breakbeat/drum n' bass etc. as well. Once they just played the whole of Dark Side Of The Moon all evening. The clientele range through the whole social spectrum - it really is a bit of a melting pot, but I have never seen any sort of aggression towards anyone (other than the usual drunk misunderstandings).
Going on a week day is obviously a bit more chilled, as there are far fewer people there (and therefore a slim chance of getting a seat !). The beer prices are about the same as everywhere else, but with various offers usually on before 10.
The interior is a sort of grotty, laid back style, but not offensive unless you prefer your bars to be upmarket 'glass and brass' affairs. Like I say, it's a melting pot of a place, and the surroundings reflect this. I've been going there for more years than I can count, so it's pretty safe to say that I like it.

The Purple Turtle logo has a turtle (purple, naturally) smoking what looks like a cigar (spliff ?) and holding a huge bottle of beer. He is winking.

Once the toilets overflowed and there was piss dripping from the ceiling. Tell me where else you can have that good a night !

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