please empty your brain below

This fits Newbury but is it?
Another vote for Newbury. I live there and the description fits perfectly.
I am not sure if "hopefully there will be decent mobile reception" was intended to be a clue or to put us off the scent. If it is Newbury, home of Vodafone, then I would presume excellent mobile reception is almost guaranteed. Of course, that may not be the mobile phone service provider that DG is using.
Further to my 11.21 post, I have just checked out the one 'weakness' in my guess that it is Newbury. Usually there are plenty of direct trains from Paddington but possibly because of the never ending, well behind schedule electrification programme, looking at the timetable, there are less than I expected. DG might have left Paddington on the 8.30 and changed at Reading onto a train arriving at Newbury at 9.44.

The rest of his comments entirely match Newbury: reed beds at Thatcham en route, market in the 'High Street' aka Northbrook Street, always lots of swans in the canal, the local museum reopened recently after a several year long closure in a very antiquated building, the Market Square (en route from the station to the main street) is as described and finally, there is a new shopping area, Parkway, although not a mall being open to the elements.

If DG's hint about Vodafone is a deliberate attempt to mislead how does he know all the other stuff? Certainly the typical mistiness of the Kennet valley near the reed beds would not be a 'Googleable factoid'. Come clean DG!
I did wonder if the waterfront and the swans was a reference to Bedford and the Great Ouse. Not sure if much else fits but there is a decent amount of history and it is surprisingly little known for a county town. There is still an outside chance that this is a Pilgrim's Progress in search of a Panacea.
Ah, can't be Bedford, that has already had DG's attention. Silly me.

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