The Swindogs are coming

The Swindogs are coming

June 2022

So! The Swindogs are coming! ‘What are?’ I hear you cry. Swindogs is what! Like the one you see below:

The swindogs are coming
The swindogs are coming

Well – when I say like the one in the image – not quite. For a start, the scale of that one is not unlike the Goodie’s Kitten Kong. Yep – there I go again with my antediluvian references.

As it says in the brochure:

The summer of 2023 will see over thirty larger-than-life balloon dog sculptures – the eponymous Swindogs – let off the leash, right across Swindon.

An artist will adopt each of the dogs and they’ll paint a unique design on it. Then you, the public will discover them along a free, family-friendly big dog art trail. The trail will take you around some of Swindon’s finest landmarks, streets, parks and public spaces. And no poo in sight!

Swindogs - social media info

Who and why etc

Brought to you by Julia’s House children’s hospice and Wild in Art, the big dog art trail is a project BY the community FOR the community.

And it’s going to be EPIC! And barking – sorry – I had to do it!

Find out about the call for artists and becoming a sponsor here.

A bit about Wild in Art

WIA are a commercial organisation employing a core team in the north and south of England. They’re aided and abetted by a pool of specialist freelancers working across the country and overseas.

They’ve got expertise, insights and a network formed in over a decade involved in creating popular art events across the globe.

A bit about Julia’s House

From their website: ‘Julia’s House is not a typical children’s hospice. We provide practical and emotional support for families caring for a child with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition, providing frequent and regular support in their own homes, in the community or at our hospices.’

How you can get involved

Swindon -how to support

Here’s one they made earlier

Swindon artist Hannah Dosanjh has already painted one of the dogs and it’s amazing. I saw it at the launch event the other night and I LOVE what Hannah did with it. In particular I love how she highlighted Sir Daniel Gooch rather than Brunel! IMHO Brunel gets over-stated somewhat. So you can read more about all that here in the Swindon Advertiser.

And now for some photographs of Hannah and her amazing dog! it features, in no particular order:

1. The hooter:
2. Town Gardens:
3. The art deco bowl in Town Gardens
4. The GWR Park:
5. Queen’s Park:

And much, much more!

Swindon dogs big art trail

21. Limoncello Italian Liqueur

21. Limoncello Italian Liqueur

Limoncello Italian Liqueur

Limoncello Italian Liqueur - seen here in DaPaolo's in Swindon
Limoncello Italian Liqueur – seen here in DaPaolo’s deli in Swindon

Only a few days ago I covered Jamaican rum punch in this post here. Now we’re looking at Limoncello. So from the Caribbean to Capri we go! Clink your glasses and we’re off!

I’m not going to lie, I’m not keen on this stuff at all. A shot of grappa I’m partial to but not Limoncello Italian liqueur. Anyway, the bottles of the yellow, lemony stuff you see here are on the shelves in DaPaolo’s deli on Commercial Road in Swindon town centre. But I’m sure you’d get it in any of the many Italian eateries dotted around Swindon.

What is Limoncello then?

The website A Couple of Cooks tells all.

Limoncello – pronounced Lee-moan-cheh-lo – is a lemon liqueur. It’s made from lemon zest, sugar and a neutral alcohol – most often vodka, but it can be grappa or rectified spirit (highly concentrated ethanol). After Campari ( and I can’t stand that either) it’s the second most popular liqueur in Italy.

The drink carries strong associations with the Amalfi coast and the island of Capri. But it’s made all over Italy by producers large and small.

So how do you drink it? Well, diners tend to enjoy it after a meal, neat and chilled, as a digestif or digestivo.

The origin story of the liqueur is, it seems, open to debate, but it originated in the early 1900s. According to ‘A couple of cooks’, explain that the Capris natives claim the recipe stems from a woman by the name of Maria Antonia Faraceha. It seems that her grandnephew trademarked the Limoncello term in 1988. All of that said, the city of Sorrento has differing origin stories. Whatever the ins and outs of all that, it’s a common European drink.

For more Swindon in 50 Drinks posts go here:

I’m on 21 so far – what will come next? Why not come on the journey with me?
You never know what you’ll find and learn!

Mortgage Advisors Racing to the Stones

Mortgage Advisors Racing to the Stones

June 2022


Mortgage Advisors Racing to the Stones
Swindon-based independent mortgage company, TED Mortgages, are in team-training. They’re getting ready to Race To the Stones in aid of local charity SNDogs.

The four-strong team are taking part in the gruelling event on the weekend of July 9 and 10. It starts in Oxfordshire, passes close to the Uffington White Horse and ends at Avebury Stone Circle in Wiltshire.

Mortgage Advisors Racing to the Stones -
Mortgage Advisors Racing to the Stones
The TED Mortgages’ team in training for their Race To The Stones challenge in July.  From left to right: James Harris, Tom Brennan (MD), Chris Blackwell and Daniella Black. 

The challenge

This challenge, voted the best endurance event in the UK for three years in a row, follows the ancient Ridgeway. Participants can tackle it in a single day, or over the weekend. The TED team are going for it over a 24-hour period.

Hundreds of people take part in the iconic event to raise money for their own chosen charities or simply to test their own personal endurance. Or sometimes both.

Chris Blackwell, a director of TED Mortgages, said: ‘We’re all looking forward to the big day. It’s a mix of excitement and fear but we are going to give it a good go. We have got less than two weeks now to get the miles in our legs and be ready for the event.

My colleague Daniella Black is leading the way with her training and is on for the fastest time. We hope she’ll drag the rest of us along with her.

‘Tom has been nursing a knee injury so has had to contend with that, but he is going in the right direction.

‘James Harris has had the end of the football season to help boost his fitness and I’m walking daily to make sure I’m ready to go.’

SN Dogs

The team have pledged to raise money this year for SNDogs as it’s a charity close to all their hearts.

Founder Tom and his wife Emily adopted Ted, a border collie from the organisation several years ago. Then later he went on to include both of his dogs in his company name –  TED standing for Tom, Emily & Dogs!

Clare Fantini-Stephens of SNDogs said: ‘As all our dogs live in foster homes we don’t have kennels. So all money raised will go straight to the dogs for vets’ fees such as neutering, dental work, vaccinations, flea treatments and any other on-going treatment a dog requires when it comes into our care.’

The team hope to raise £3,000 for the organisation during 2022 and this event is one of their activities to achieve that goal. Anyone who wishes to support the TED Mortgages team as they set off on their Race To The Stones can donate here

TED Mortgages is a specialist, independent, fee-free, certified mortgage brokers. They’ll work with their customers with a ‘whole of market’ approach. That means it’s tailored to each person’s circumstances to help customers understand all their mortgage and protection options.

For more information visit

Bouncers at the Bowl

Bouncers at the Bowl



Get your tickets for Bouncers at the Town Gardens Bowl on Friday 1 July at 7.30pm here:

Bouncers at the Bowl - Blackbox theatre company
Bouncers at the Bowl – Blackbox theatre company

Bouncers at the Bowl.
Last year BlackBox Theatre brought Blithe Spirit to the Bowl in Town Gardens.

Now, South Swindon Parish Council welcome them back this Friday with their performance of John Godber’s tour de force, Bouncers.

Maureen and the girls are having their hair done. Barry and the lads are getting a few drinks in down at the pub. And Ralph, Les, Judd and Lucky Eric are readying themselves to man the doors at the town’s hottest nightspot … Mr Cinders.

This great play comes complete with sharp one-liners, 80s dance floor classics and a host of extraordinary characters. And all played by four amazing actors. This promises to be an unmissable evening.

It’s funny but with a touch of pathos and a whole load of nostalgia. This comic drama takes an irreverent look at the ups and downs of urban nightlife through the eyes of its eponymous ‘heroes.’

Get your tickets for Bouncers at the Town Gardens Bowl on Friday 1 July at 7.30pm here:

20. Jamaican Rum Punch

20. Jamaican Rum Punch

Jamaican rum punch – A recent visit to Moshan Island Grill on Swindon’s Devizes Road, provided the perfect opportunity to enjoy a cheeky Jamaican Rum Punch. And then to do a cheeky Swindon in 50 Drinks blog about it.

Jamaican Rum punch at Moshan Island Grill
Jamaican Rum punch at Moshan Island Grill

Find Moshan Island Grill on Facebook:

The rum punch story

Any classic drink you care to mention has a history – and the rum punch is no exception. And this blog, Deeper than the Punch Bowl: A Brief History of Rum Punch – tells it. According to the article, the history of punch stretches back over four centuries. Further, it’s intertwined with the civilizations of the East Indies, the huge fortunes of kings and merchants and Europe’s expanding empires.

You need to travel back to 1632 to find the first mention of punch in the western canon. This was a time before Peter the Great became the Czar of Russia, before William Penn founded the colony that took his name and before Sir Isaac Newton was a twinkle in his mother’s eye.

The rule of five

All that said, it appears there’s no definitive confirmation of the origin of the word punch. It might come from Sanskrit. Or it might originate in the Indian dialect of Hindustani. Others still, argue its root lies in ancient Persia. But whatever the truth of all that – every language’s term for it translates to five. That being the five elements that define a true punch:

  1. Sweet
  2. Sour
  3. Alcohol
  4. Water
  5. Spice

Most common to punches of days gone by was nutmeg. European aristocrats so desired this space that punch journeyed from the shores of the Indian Ocean to London and Paris. In the 17th century, nutmeg was the most valuable of substances.

When the beer went flat

Western sailors of the time were in it for adventure, the possibility of finding fortune – and the drink! They prized their daily ration! Every ship’s belly held barrels of ale to keep the sailors … refreshed. But, as their ships entered warmer waters, their ale went flat and spoiled. Searching for a replacement libation they found … rum! More to the point – rum punch.

It only needed British sailors to discover it, for punch to travel and conquer the world.

By 1655, the rum punch as we know it, was born when Jamaican rum from the West Indies became the alcoholic tipple of choice for a chunk of the western world. As British imperialism crossed the pond to the Americas, the taste for this popular dink grew. So what Jamaica that?! Boom!

Jamaican rum punch - Angela Atkinson and Caroline Davis Khan
Angela Atkinson (looking rather demonic! and the lovely Caroline Davis Khan – not looking demonic!


Yes it was a delicious punch. And yes, the food was amazing!