No 3: The Bloody Mary

No 3: The Bloody Mary

Continuing our journey round Swindon in 50 drinks, this post features the Bloody Mary you see in the picture below – at The Tuppeny in Swindon’s Old Town.

I saw this image of this rather splendid looking Bloody Mary on the Twitter stream of The Tuppenny in Old Town.

Now while I don’t care for too many cocktails, I am partial to this one. So seeing this … part drink/part… snack piqued my interest.

About the Bloody Mary

Legend has it that the Bloody Mary drink is named for Queen Mary. She of the five-year reign in which she tried to turn the country back to Catholicism.

The story of its invention is a long one and you can read it all here: The story begins with an American bar in Paris, that opened on Thanksgiving Day 1911, by an expat and horse jockey named Ted Sloan.

How to make a Bloody Mary here:

What’s in a Bloody Mary?

This cockail contains vodka, tomato juice, and combinations of other spices and flavourings including Worcestershire sauce, hot sauces, garlic, herbs, horseradish, celery, olives, salt, black pepper, lemon juice, lime juice and/or celery salt. 

The drink is often taken as a hangover cure or ‘ hair of the dog’ drink, reputed to cure hangovers with its combination of a heavy vegetable base (to settle the stomach), salt (to replenish lost electrolytes), and alcohol (to relieve head and body aches).

Its reputation as a restorative beverage contributes to the popularity of the Bloody Mary in the morning and early afternoon, especially at brunches. Which might explain why, when I went to The Tuppeny on a Thursday evening to sample the magnificent specimen you see above, they hadn’t got the necessary ingredients. Disappointed! Another time I hope.

They did though – and do have – some splendid craft beers. Which I sampled with gusto.

As it says on their website:

‘We carry an amazing, ever changing range of craft beer and cider sourced both from our own region and from across the world. Our house beers are from the crack team at West Berkshire Brewery, located just up the road from Swindon, these guys brew some of the most exciting award winning beers around.

Always available on keg from their Renegade range is  Craft Lager and West Coast Pale Ale, and they supply us with their multi-award winning cask beer “Good Old Boy” as well. We work closely with these guys and will also be running their pilot brews and any other exciting, cutting edge beers when the opportunity arises.’

No 2: Coffee

No 2: Coffee

Hello listeners. Welcome to the second post in my tour round Swindon in 50 Drinks.

Because I don’t want you all getting the idea that I’m ONLY interested in alcohol (almost but not quite) the subject of this post is that magic bean – coffee.

Now Swindon has more coffee shops than you can toss a finely ground Arabica bean at. Thus it’s no hardship to find coffee and coffee shops to talk about. There’s plenty of Costa outlets for sure. But Swindon is also blessed with a good number of independent coffee shops – both in the town centre and in Old Town.

We all have our favourite places to go and one of mine is DaPaolo’s Italian deli on the bottom of Commercial Road. Paolo serves delicious coffee to drink in or to take-away for only £1. And scrummy canolo for £0.50p.

Black Coffee

Black coffee and cannolo in DaPaolo's Italian deli, Swindon

Coffee and cannolo in DaPaolo’s. The best bargain in town surely?


Cortado (from the Spanish cortar, known as “Tallat” in Catalan, “Pingo” or “Garoto” in Portugal and “noisette” in France) is an espresso “cut” with a small amount of warm milk to reduce the acidity.

The ratio of coffee to milk is between 1:1 – 1:2, and the milk is added after the espresso.

Flat White

flat white coffee at Baila in Swindon

A flat white at Baila coffee and vinyl on Victoria Rd, Swindon

According to the North Star roasters a flat white is: ‘an espresso-based coffee drink accompanied with steamed milk and microfoam.

This microfoam is made up of steamed milk which is gently infused with air. This results in silky, textured milk containing tiny air bubbles. Air bubbles should be barely visible to the coffee drinker when perfectly made. It traditionally comes in a small size only (5oz-6oz), much smaller than typical cappuccinos and lattes.’


History of Coffee

To find out more about the life and times of coffee see this guest post from Blog Frog about the history of coffee.

The History of Coffee

The History of Coffee

Amazing Facts about Coffee and Caffeine

This guest blog from The Blog Frog is all about the history of coffee. Sit back and look forward to a few fab facts about coffee and caffeine.

But first a bit about The Blog Frog:

‘The Blog Frog has a simple mission. To provide insights on the best blogs across sixteen categories. We identify the top blogs so you get the best content.

We consider BlogFrog a next-generation influencer marketing platform. Because we know how important to find good quality content for your business can be, we network communities and websites together to create a larger interest-based social network.’

There’s an awful lot of coffee in Brazil … or Ethipioa

As the 2ndmost traded commodity in the world, coffee has a rich history. Thought to have originated in Ethiopia, this beverage was also used in the Middle East to aid concentration. Here are the most interesting facts about coffee:

It Forged a Revolution

So powerful is coffee, that it led to a social revolution. People used to drink it at home and in public coffee houses that sprung up in cities and towns across East Africa and the Middle East. Soon enough, these coffee houses were the go-to places for socializing – as the blog Coffee or Bust explains this.

Drinking of coffee was accompanied by different types of entertainment, including chess games, musical performances, gossip, and dancing. Coffee houses became the places where people went to know what was happening in the world. Therefore, you can say that coffee sparked a social revolution by bringing people together.

Goats Might Have Discovered It

According to legend, a goat herder in Ethiopia discovered the intoxicating effects of coffee after his goat got excited after eating the beans. The herder went to the local monastery and told the abbot, who decided to dry and boil the beans to make a beverage. The berries were thrown into a fire and the roasted ones taken from the embers to make coffee.

The monastery’s monks found that the drink gave them energy and kept them awake. As soon as word spread about this drink, people loved it.

A Yemenite is also said to have discovered coffee after seeing birds that ate the berries flying more energetically than usual. After tasting the berries, he also became more alert than usual.

It was Thought to Be Sinful

Like alcohol, this beverage also has a long prohibition history. Coffee has attracted religious disquiet from different corners. Had these fanatics gotten their way, coffee would be illegal today. In 1511, the beverage was banned by scholars and jurists who held a meeting in Mecca.

A Meccan governor led the opposition and was afraid that coffee would cause conflict because it would bring people together to discuss his shortcomings.

In 1524, the ban was overturned by a Turkish Sultan. This same Sultan ordered the execution of the Meccan governor and declared coffee sacred. A similar ban occurred in 1532 in Egypt and coffee houses were raided.

It was Called the ‘Devil’s Cup’

Countries in the Mediterranean also received coffee with some suspicion. Catholics called it the ‘bitter invention of the Devil’ and outlawed it. It caused such disquiet that the pope had to intervene by sampling the brew and declaring it to be a Muslim and Christian drink.

The history of coffee - coffee beans with cup and saucer

A Saint from Mocha Brewed It

Another story claims that the first person to discover coffee was a Sheikh known as Omar. While in exile, the man felt hungry and sampled the berries but found them to be bitter. He found that roasting them turned them hard and boiled them to get an aromatic beverage that gave him instant energy and kept him awake.

This miracle drink made it possible for him to return home and elevated him to sainthood. By the sixteenth century, coffee was a beloved drink in Turkey, Syria, and Egypt. Merchants from Yemen started taking the berries home and growing them.

Sufis prized the drink and used it as a spiritual intoxicant as well as to increase concentration. From the Middle East, this drink spread to Italy, Europe, and the Balkans.

The history of coffee - coffee beans, grinder, cups

A coffee conclusion

As you can see, coffee has a long and complicated history.

Now you know some facts with which to show off to your friends on your next coffee date.

No 1: Ouzo – it’s all Greek to me

No 1: Ouzo – it’s all Greek to me

Swindon in 50 Drinks

7th August 2019

No 1: Ouzo
Four days ago myself, family and friends were out celebrating the launch at the Baker’s community cafe, of my second book Swindon in 50 Buildings.

Me outside the Baker’s Cafe talking about the book:

Now, more than once in recent weeks the topic of covering Swindon in 50 Drinks arose. It was somewhat tongue-in-cheek TBH. But then I got to thinking ‘Why not?’ Something a little different for this blog. I hasten to point out that this series of posts WILL feature non-alcoholic drinks too!

So these posts are not about drinks that are #madeinswindon – that would be beer and nothing else I imagine. Though no doubt someone can put me right on that. No, this series of posts are intended as a light-hearted journey around drinks once can enjoy in Swindon. I aim to namecheck 50 different establishments on this journey.

Ergo, being as how the location for my book launch celebrations was the Greek Olive, what better drink to have for No 1 in this series than Ouzo?

My sister knocking back her complimentary ouzo shot at the Greek Olive on Faringdon Rd.


According to Wikipedia, ‘Ouzo (Greek: ούζο, IPA: [ˈuzo]) is a dry anise-flavoured aperitif that is widely consumed in Greece , Cyprus and North Macedonia. Its taste is similar to other anise liquors like rakıarakpastis and sambuca.’

And for a one-minute history of ouzo read this article here.

According to this article from The Spruce Eats,:

‘There is an old Greek saying that “ouzo makes the spirit” and this is especially true in Greece. The Greek spirit or kefi (KEH-fee) is found in hearty food, soulful music, and the love of lively conversation. A glass of chilled ouzo is the perfect companion to all of these things.

Most people would agree that ouzo is Greece’s most popular alcoholic drink. No other beverage is as uniquely Greek or as closely linked to a culture as ouzo is to Greece. In fact, in 2006, the Greek government won the exclusive rights to use the product name ouzo.’

All I have to say to that is Yammas!

‘Sorry Swindon’ says Weighbridge Brewhouse

‘Sorry Swindon’ says Weighbridge Brewhouse

July 2nd 2019

‘Sorry Swindon’ says Weighbridge Brewhouse as it relaunches with a little help from its friends.

Hello listeners – few days ago I published this post about the Weighbridge Brewhouse following my invitation to one of their dry runs. So what follows now is their official press release.

Long-established Swindon venue, The Weighbridge Brewhouse, relaunched last week [26 June] with a refurbished restaurant and bar, and changes to its food and drink menus – thanks in part to its friendly Facebook followers

The Weighbridge took to the popular social media site to apologise for previous changes at the venue that hadn’t quite ‘hit the mark’.

The restaurant and bar asked its following to suggest what they would bring back and what new elements they would introduce for relaunch, with the aim of making it up to its loyal customer base.

Followers saw a number of their ideas implemented during a successful four-day relaunch, which invited guests from local businesses, press and loyal customers to the venue to attend lunch and dinner services, experience the new decor and enjoy live music from local artists. 

This included the reintroduction of The Weighbridge Brewhouse’s famed Dauphinoise potatoes, brought back by popular demand to complement its new, broader menu boasting ingredients from handpicked local suppliers and a great offering for those with dietary requirements. 

Drinks at The Weighbridge Brewhouse have also been refreshed with a new cocktail menu – featuring delicious Strawberry Daiquiris and After Eight drinks – and a more extensive wine list by fine wine merchants Berry Bros & Rudd.

The bar area has been overhauled with a striking, illuminated tree at its centre to create an informal bar space and a new feature wall filled with station clocks reconnects to the unique venue’s past as a weighing station for trains. Luxurious teal fabric stools line the bar, updated with new silver chrome pumps, to link the restaurant’s decor. 

The Weighbridge Brewhouse’s restaurant also features further illuminated golden maple trees throughout and a new wall of black and white pictures showcasing the Weighbridge building and Swindon’s railway heritage.

To celebrate its relaunch, The Weighbridge Brewhouse also ran a relaunch raffle to raise money for local Swindon charities, Prospect Hospice and Jessie May Children’s Hospice at Home service, as well as Bowel Cancer UK. Prizes from The Weighbridge Brewhouse, its owners the Upham Group, and suppliers – such as Berry Bros & Rudd – as well as ticket purchases and generous donations from its valued customers, helped to raise £1,800 for the three charities.

David Butcher, director at The Weighbridge Brewhouse said: “The relaunch has been a wonderful event, allowing us to showcase the fantastic changes we’ve made to The Weighbridge Brewhouse, from the food and drink menus to the decor, as well as additional training for all our teams.

It’s also enabled us to reconnect with some of our valued customers past and present, who we hope have enjoyed the changes – many of which have been thanks to their feedback online – and we look forward to seeing many more of them over the coming months.” 

David continued: ‘The icing on the cake has been the amount everyone has helped us raise for three amazing charities and we’d like to say a massive thank you to our staff, suppliers and our generous customers for getting behind it.’ 

The Weighbridge Brewhouse

The Weighbridge Brewhouse

Drawing of the Weighbridge Brewhouse

You may remember the Weighbridge Brewhouse under the management of the people from the Three Crowns at Brinkworth. It’s USP was that it was the same format as the Three Crowns: no starters, large plates of meat, tons of veg and lots of cream and butter. It was the closest thing that Swindon had to Fayn Dayning – though it wasn’t really. I loved it – though these days my digestive system is less enamoured of rich sauces. The desire is strong but the gut is weak.

Anyway – you have to now forget all that.

Cutting a long story short, new management took over the Weighbridge and it all went horribly wrong. Details not needed – suffice to say it went pear-shaped. So the owners, the Upham Group, decided to take stock, do a Fagin, and think it out again.

The place has been refurbed both inside and out. The front courtyard is now astro-turfed and equipped with some super luxus outdoor dining furniture. A mixture of stylish bench seating and tables, chairs and cushions. All with huge parasols. It’s rather smart. I had my eye on the plant pots on the table I admit.

outside seating at the weighbridge brewhouse

The astroturfed outdoor dining area at the restaurant.

While indoors, they’ve reupholstered the seating and installed these rather funky illuminated tress. Possibly slightly kitsch? But I love kitsch. It’s a cavernous place is the Weighbridge so they do fill the space and add atmosphere. Overall a big thumbs up.

Interior of the weighbridge brewhouse

How do I know all this?

Well, as part of their thinking it out again process, the management decided to do some dry runs, with invited guests, to try it all out and – crucially – ask for feedback, before they unleash themselves upon the public. And I , and five fortunate pals, were blessed with an invite. I now feel guilty that the building is not included in Swindon in 50 Buildings … I couldn’t get them all in … sorry …

What were our impressions?

Overall: really good. We’ll definitely go back.

Between us we picked a good cross-section of stuff from the menu. Again overall we were delighted but there were a few niggles – duly fed back at the end of the evening. Someone ordered a quinoa salad which was rather more green than quin … someone else felt that the lobster should have had a sauce and new potatoes rather than fries. While others in the group were delighted with their choices. I for one was happy to see a chimichurri dressing for steak alongside the usual cream sauce and pepper sauce. The sharing dessert platter got rave reviews and the sharing starters platter was also rather nice,

So a bit inconsistent – and needs sorting out. But nothing that would stop us going back.

Also fed back to them was to have low-level table centrepieces rather than tall vases. Nice touch to have them, but it got in the way of our view across the table. After we’d shifted it around umpteen times, Sandra, owner of Fabulous Functions UK and someone who knows a thing or two about table centrepieces, snapped off most of the stalks to create a lovely low arrangement that we could all see over.

Note to management – you’d do a lot worse than speak to Sandra about these things. #justsaying

So that’s it for the negatives. To pick out the positives of the experience:

a. We loved the new look – both inside and out.
b. It’s an interesting menu that will have seasonal variations
c. It has a lovely outside eating area – few and far between in Swindon
d. There’s lots of good places to eat in Swindon but they’re mostly … casual …what the Weighbridge represents is somewhere to go for something a bit special.
e. ABOVE ALL what impressed me was that the management are making a huge effort to put right what evidently went wrong. Kudos to them for that. And I think that deserves our support.

So if you’re one of those that went there in recent weeks and months and weren’t happy – give it another go. They’re working super hard to get it right.

The food pictures

Contact the Weighbridge

Call: 01793 881500

Their social media:

  1. Facebook:
  2. Twitter: – @WeighbridgeBH
  3. Insta: @weighbridgebrewhouse –

About the Weighbridge Brewhouse

‘Our building used to be a Weighbridge! At the turn of the industrial revolution Weighbridges were used in station yards and at railway depots to weigh goods before they were sent onto their destinations.

Our building is pretty big as it had to be able to house massive amounts of freight. It was nearly derelict when it was purchased and renovated and now is a fantastic dining space with room for 120 downstairs and 30 on our mezzanine level which houses a beautiful glass piano.’

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