21st July 2017
Here we go with another guest post, in the spirit of Switch on to Swindon, written by my AA Editorial Services client Reshma Field – aka Ishbel’s Wardrobe.
Aside from Reshma’s feelings about the town centre I couldn’t agree more! So thanks Reshma for a super positive post about Swindon’s retail offering. Love it.
Swindon shopping – seven reasons why it’s rather good!
Not many people think of Swindon as a great place to shop. So, I’m going to let you all into a little secret … it really is!
And here are seven reasons why:
THE McARTHUR GLEN DESIGNER OUTLET
Swindon is lucky enough to have a great McArthur Glen designer outlet. It’s located in the sympathetically restored Great Western Railway works. And it’s a great place to bag a bargain from some of the high-end high street shops.
It’s all indoors so it’s a lovely shopping experience whatever the weather. If you’re visiting with young children it boasts a brilliant play area – and there’s a mini land train, the Hooter Express.
The shops include: Hobbs, Jigsaw, Reiss and the White Company to name but a handful. Find out more about the brands available at Swindon’s outlet village here, on the McArthur Glen website.
The key, I find, is to go there on a regular basis as you never know when you’ll find a great bargain and the stock changes on a regular basis. There’s a great choice of restaurants and it’s easy to spend the day there.
If you want a small distraction from shopping the area also houses the Swindon Steam Railway Museum and Heelis, the Headquarters of the National Trust which has a delightful coffee shop and, of course, a gift shop.
The terrace of Heelis looking towards the Outlet Centre
NB: The outlet centre is linked to the town centre by a tunnel. It used to be used by the railway workers leaving their homes in the railway village to get to the works.
It’s only a few minutes’ walk from the outlet to the town centre via the tunnel. So, if you’ve the time, the inclination and the energy it’s easy enough to do both. Plus, the tunnel boasts some rather cool art/light picture/sculptures of railway workers across the years.
2. THE ORBITAL SHOPPING PARK
The Orbital in north Swindon is another favourite shopping spot for me. Next, New Look, Marks & Spencer and Outfit all have a presence here.They are large stores so you tend to find great choice in each of them. The Orbital also contains one of the largest Asda Walmarts in Europe. The George at this Asda is huge so there’s always a high chance of grabbing a bargain.
Once again, it’s a pleasant shopping experience and parking is free.
3. GREENBRIDGE RETAIL PARK
This is another firm favourite of mine. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I love all things Laura Ashley and this is where you will find Swindon’s Laura Ashley as well as a huge Home Sense, Boots and Matalan. I tend to visit for homeware but can’t resist popping into Matalan to make sure I’m not missing out! Again, parking is ample and free.
THE TOWN CENTRE
This is last on the list for Swindon as it’s my least favourite place to shop. However, once you do venture into the town centre and ignore the layout, the parking fees and the lack of ambiance, the shops are more than adequate!
There’s a fab and huge H&M opposite an even larger Debenhams. The River Island is a pleasure to shop in and the New Look and Primark are also huge. I keep mentioning the size of the stores because it means that they have a wide range of stock (something you of course can’t have in smaller branches). It does mean you’re spoilt for choice.
And, when you need some refreshment, there are some super independent coffee shops to rest your legs in. Friend of Ishbel’s Wardrobe, Born again Swindonian has written about some of them on her Swindon blog.
Paolo’s Italian deli – & coffee!, Swindon
By now I hope you’re getting the point! Swindon is a fab location for shopping. The combined retail offerings of the town are jolly good! But what if you want to spread your wings a little and go out and about for your retail therapy?
Out and about
The beauty of Swindon is that it is also close to so many other great places to shop. Marlborough is a favourite for me.
Marlborough is a beautiful, historic market town with boutique shops as well as the likes of Joules, Mint Velvet, Monsoon and Phase Eight to name but a few.
I LOVE a day out in Marlborough broken up by the obligatory cream tea. And now that Rick Stein has opened a restaurant there it’s a firm favourite for me as a location to shop – not that I’m food driven at all!.
Only an hour away, by car, is the Bicester Village Designer Outlet.
This McArthur Glen set shopping location boasts over 130 boutique outlets including All Saints, Burberry, Gucci and Jimmy Choo. I’m drooling already! So, if you want a real treat, this is the place to go and grab yourself a designer bargain. It’s also a great place to people watch!
BATH, CRIBBS CAUSEWAY & CABOT CIRCUS (both Bristol), THE ORACLE (Reading), OXFORD & LONDON
With Bristol, Bath, Oxford, Reading and London not much more than a stone’s throw away you’re never far from a wonderful shopping experience when you live in Swindon. In fact, you’re spoilt for choice. I often have to flip a coin to decide where I’ll spend my day enjoying a little retail therapy!
For other posts in this ‘I’m in a great place right now’ see: https://swindonian.me/category/switch-on-to-swindon/
Sandra Trusty, The Fab Gift Boutique: https://swindonian.me/2017/07/15/discovering-swindon/
Jo Rigden, 4Points Leisure: https://swindonian.me/2017/06/29/dragon-boat-racing/
Carol Aplin, Pink&Green: https://swindonian.me/2017/06/24/nature-in-swindon/
Tim Perkins, Wild Goose Gear: https://swindonian.me/2017/05/29/kings-farm-wood-walk/
7th July 2017
Eggelicious hatches into E3
It was back in 2013 that I discovered the cracking good place to eat that is Eggelicious. I was late to the party though because they were established in 2009 would you believe? That’s a lot of eggs. And chicken. And lamb. And chickpea and paneer. And more – much, much more. All of it scrummylicious.
But now a new era dawns for the Eggelicious empire as the father of it all leaves the tented market to move into The Crossing, the new food court in the Brunel Centre, and becomes E3.
‘The ethos of Eggelicious is to deliver ‘slow food fast’. By which we mean delicious yet uncomplicated food that is freshly prepared each day and cooked before you. Our wraps are hearty and wholesome and each one is packed with a variety of health benefits.
Don’t be deceived by the term ‘Eggelicious’. Whilst eggs feature in our food they don’t define it. Whether a meat-eater, vegetarian or vegan you will be sure to find a wide choice of offerings each day.’
Here’s the Mistry family on the very last day of serving in Eggelicious in the tented market:
The Mistry family on the last day of trading in the tented market
And here’s one of Tim Carroll’s 100 views of Swindon – of the tented market of course.
And for a taster of what the new unit in The Crossing will look like:
And if you’re on Old Town then E2 is alive and well down the bottom end of Wood Street. So whichever end of town you’re at you can enjoy your slow food fast!
Find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eggelicious/?fref=ts
28th April 2017
Via Buzzfeed: 24 Things That Aren’t Completely Awful About Swindon or
Put another way: Great Things about Swindon
Hello listeners. In case you’ve missed it on social media this post is mainly a share of a Buzzfeed article with the snappy title:
It’s a fab article that highlights lots of super things about our town. That’s always ace to see and it deserves a share for that reason alone. It was written by Clare Wilson and you can find her on Twitter:
In the article she writes about lots of things that I’ve mentioned on here in the past so it’s also a perfect opportunity to remind me – and you of some them.
- Number 1 on Clare’s list is the Magic Roundabout. I’m v.fond of that thing. I wrote about it during my degree studies so it has a category all it’s own on this blog: https://swindonian.me/category/the-magic-roundabout/
- No 4 for Clare is the Outlet Centre. Formed from the old GWR works it is indeed lovely and I’ve written about it several times. Here’s one post about it: https://swindonian.me/2013/10/22/swindon-designer-outlet-village/
- 7&8 feature the Lawns park and Lydiard Park – wonderful places for a walk for sure!
The Lawns: https://swindonian.me/2014/11/23/lawns-park/
Lydiard Park: https://swindonian.me/2013/05/17/ten-things-i-like-about-swindon-no-1-lots-of-parks-and-green-spaces/
Of course there’s more parks and open spaces than those but they’re good ones to highlight.
4. I’m soooooo pleased she mentioned the Art Deco diving board at Coate Water. It’s unloved but a gem nevertheless. https://swindonian.me/2013/11/30/coate-water-diving-platform/
She’s hit on quite a few other things that I’ve featured on here which is great. For instance Baila Coffee and Vinyl and Darkroom Espresso and of course the incredible Museum of Computing.: https://swindonian.me/2013/08/19/ten-things-to-celebrate-about-swindon-no-6-the-museum-of-computing/
I love too that she mentioned the David Murray John Tower – if only as point of navigation. I LOVE that building for all sorts of reasons. But I especially love how, when I’ve been away, and am coming home on the train that’s the first thing I see. And I know then that I’m home. In Swindon. It’s on my list of great things about Swindon for sure.
There’s much more in Clare’s article so give it a read. And thanks to her for writing it and getting it out there and for reminding us all of how surprising and super Swindon is.
There’s also much more in general. The main problem with Swindon is that there’s a plethora of fabulous stuff. And that’s no bad problem to have eh?
11th February 2017
Delicious Diwali Delights
Diwali swindon back entrance
Well listeners. It just goes to show. Y’never know what you might be missing.
For quite some time now, on my regular perambulations into town from home, I’ve passed by this curry house but never given it any consideration – being in the ‘oh not another curry house’ mindset.
And there, no doub,t I would have stayed had it not been for my current house guest, Arun.
In conversation about curry houses in Swindon, Arun told me he’d been to Diwali a number of times and had enjoyed it greatly because it was authentic Indian food. I make that point because the vast majority of ‘Indian’ restaurants are actually run by people from Bangladesh. I hasten to add that there’s nothing wrong with Bangladeshi food – far from it. It’s just not Indian that’s all.
So last week I addressed my sorry lack of attention to Diwali and went along there with Arun, one of his work colleagues and his wife.
On their website it says: ‘Our British curry Award Winning Chefs work tirelessly with their skill and knowledge in the creation of the tastiest meals using the finest spices from around the world. We are dedicated to ensure that the food we serve you will be packed full of flavour and not fat.
Diwali offers not only the finest food but also an excellent service from our experienced and friendly members of staff.’
And I think I’d have to agree with all of that. The food was lovely and the service was indeed friendly and attentive. I definitely hope to return before too long. If nothing else it’ll be top take-away pick.
Diwali is on Faringdon Road – a bit before the Green Olive (another favourite) and after La Carbonara on Westcott Road/Place – making that stretch of road something of a gastronomic pleasure strip.
The Golden Temple, Amritsar
12th December 2016
Carluccio comes to town
Where: Carluccio’s Italian in Swindon’s Designer Outlet Village
When: Friday 16th December 2016
Time: 3pm – 5pm
No need to get into a vegetative state this Christmas listeners! Why? Well because:
The godfather of pasta, Antonio Carluccio, will be at Swindon’s Designer Outlet next Friday (16.12.16), where he will be signing copies of his new cookbook Vegetables (as well as his other collections) and sharing some hints and tips on how to give your Christmas veg a festive Italian twist.
So chop chop!
A bit about Mr Carluccio:
From Antonio Carluccio’s website: ‘Commendatore Antonio Carluccio is an OBE, OMRI and a much loved and respected Italian cookery writer, cook, restaurateur and food expert. He was raised in the rural North West of Italy; this gave Antonio a rare and privileged breadth of culinary knowledge. It was here, in Piedmont, at the age of seven that Antonio started his life-long past-time of hunting and collecting mushrooms and fungi with his father.’
A bit about his books: http://antonio-carluccio.co.uk/books/
About his new book ‘Antonio Carluccio’s Vegetables’:
‘Antonio describes in loving detail how to buy and prepare 100 different varieties of vegetable, from leaves and roots to pods, seeds and shoots, and from squashes, pulses and grains to herbs, spices, nuts and mushrooms.
Although vegetables are at the very heart of his recipes, Antonio also shows us how to complement them with meat and fish.
Recipes showcase the versatility of vegetables through vibrant salads, tarts, pasta, soups and stews, risotto, dips, jams and pickles as well as cakes, biscuits and ice cream.’
Follow him on Twitter:
Find him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cookcarluccio/
20th November 2016
Sourcing Sunday Lunch
The Source Grill at the Swindon Marriott
Well now listeners. A good old-fashioned Sunday lunch is a rare treat for me. I’m not keen on cooking generally I won’t lie – and I’m even less keen on the clearing away part. And goodness knows cooking a roast seems to generate an awful lot of that. *Shudders*
SO, the opportunity to visit the Source Grill at the Swindon Marriott for Sunday lunch was greeted with enthusiasm. Particularly as the day in question was just a tad miserable weather wise. A hearty Sunday roast was definitely on the menu!
Where: The Swindon Marriott is on Piper’s Way on the edge of Swindon’s Old Town. The hotel offers two dining options:
- Chat’s Cafe bar. Open for lunch and dinner, ‘Chat’s Café Bar provides a perfect spot for relaxing with friends or colleagues after a busy day in Swindon. Dine on gourmet sandwiches and delicious desserts, or surf the web using our free Wi-Fi access.’
- Source Grill. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner: ‘Discover the flavours of Europe right here in Swindon. Source Grill, our hotel restaurant, showcases cuisine from all over the world, as well as English classics. Pair your meal with a choice from our wine list, and be sure to visit us for Sunday lunch!’
The Source Grill menu: http://www.marriott.co.uk/hotelwebsites/us/s/swidt/swidt_pdf/Main_Menu_Swindon.pdf
The Source Grill wine list: http://www.marriott.co.uk/hotelwebsites/us/s/swidt/swidt_pdf/Source_Wine_Menu.pdf
But it was to the Source Grill that I was headed with my companion for Sunday lunch.
We were given a super little table for two tucked away in a quiet corner. It was ideally placed in close proximity to the main event: the food – while being set back a little from the main restaurant area. So that was a good start.
The ‘set-up’ for Sunday lunch in the Source Grill is buffet with waiter service for drinks – it’s a nice mix if you don’t want to be too formal. That said, the service when you need it, is polite and solicitous and the right side of obsequious.
As I’ve already mentioned, I was set upon partaking of a roast dinner. But if Sunday roast doesn’t float your gravy boat there’s a good range of other choices available for the delectation of your taste buds.
While I opted for, and enjoyed, the pea and mint soup to start, my friend chose to sample some of the wide range of cold appetisers. On the day we visited there was smoked salmon, mackerel and gambas for the fish lovers along with a selection of cold hams and meats – salami and the like with a range of salads. Alternative main courses on offer were chicken hotpot and a fish dish.
Getting a roasting
So, although my companion and moi enjoyed different starters we both went for the roast. On the day of our visit pork and beef was on the menu.
A good amount of each meat was duly carved and placed on our plates. We then proceeded to help ourselves to the various accoutrements. The Yorkshire puds were well risen and light. The roast spuds were fab: crispy and golden on the outside and soft and fluffy in the middle. New potatoes were available too.
When it comes to beef my personal taste is for it to be on the rare side. This wasn’t – but then it wasn’t rendered to an imitation of Ghandi’s sandals either. Far from it. Both meats were moist and tender in fact.
I was very pleased too by the vegetables. So, so, so often vegetables are done to death. The old joke about getting the sprouts on in September for the Christmas dinner is, it can seem sometimes, not tooooooooo far from the truth! But not the ones I ate there. Both the broccoli and carrots were fab and firm rather than super soggy. Good work Marriott!
One of the best things I think about a buffet situation is that you get lots of gravy. ‘Cos let’s face it – there’s nothing worse than Yorkshire’s and roasties without oodles of gravy. And, just as there’s often soggy vegetables, it’s not uncommon in restaurants for there to never be enough gravy. I mean – what the Bisto?! So frankly I was loving the ‘help-yourself’ to oodles and ladles of gravy. And ditto with the horseradish sauce!
And all washed down with a bottle of an agreeably palatable Granfort Merlot.
Having waded our way through that little lot there was little room left for dessert. Here again there was a selection. My friend chose to valiantly tackle a rather tasty looking pear and sultana crumble. I’d still got red wine left in my glass, and I’m not a dessert lover, so I opted to partake of the cheese board.
So there you have it listeners. I have to be honest and say I’m not, as a rule, a fan of carvery eating. But this I thought was a good compromise between that and full à la carte or table d’hôte service.
Would I go again? If the opportunity arose – yes, most certainly. Gah – now I’m hungry again. Best go raid the fridge then.