With main-line rail, three motorway junctions, easy access to Heathrow (M4 approx 20mins), and a bus and taxi service other towns can only dream of, Reading is the ideal centre for many blue chip and multi-national companies, who rate ease of access and mobility amongst their foremost criteria. For the same reason, Reading attracts many national high street retailers who are keen to take advantage of the many benefits Reading has to offer. For non business visitors to Reading, the town marks the centre of an attractive area of the Thames Valley. The River Thames, Kennet & Avon Canal, the surrounding hills, small towns and villages with thatched cottages and quaint pubs are amongst many areas of outstanding beauty within a stones throw of Reading. It is a long inhabited and well domesticated area, within 30 mins (approx) commuting time to London by rail and the south coast (via M3) within an 1 1/2 hrs. Incidentally, describing Reading as a city could raise the odd eye-brow locally. City status in the UK is quite different to that in other English speaking countries, with most incorporated communities formally described (like Reading) as Boroughs. Every decade or so the government runs a 'beauty contest ' and one town gets promoted to city status; Reading just lost out in the millennium contest (to Brighton) and it still rankles amongst the locals.