Via Buzzfeed: 24 Things That Aren’t Completely Awful About Swindon

Via Buzzfeed: 24 Things That Aren’t Completely Awful About Swindon

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:

24 Things That Aren’t Completely Awful About Swindon

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: @clarewilson86

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.

  1. 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:
  2. 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:

The old hooter on the Outlet Centre - great things about Swindon

  1. 7&8 feature the Lawns park and Lydiard Park  – wonderful places for a walk for sure!

The Lawns:

Lydiard Park:

Lydiard House - - good things about Swindon

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.

Art deco diving platform - great things about swindon

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.:

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?


Diwali: authentic Indian cuisine

Diwali: authentic Indian cuisine

11th February 2017


Delicious Diwali Delights

Diwali swindon back entrance

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.




Source grill: Swindon Marriott

Source grill: Swindon Marriott

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!

Marriott logo - the source grill at the swindon marriottWhere: 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:

The Source Grill wine list:

Source Grill at Swindon Marriott

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.

Roast dinner swindon marriott

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.

Just desserts

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.












Revamped & Reopened: Cross Keys Inn Wootton Bassett

Revamped & Reopened: Cross Keys Inn Wootton Bassett

16th September 2016


I’ve not until now had any posts here concerning Royal Wootton Basssett. Chiefly because, when I started this blog, I set a parameter of things, people and places within the remit of Swindon Borough Council. Otherwise I could be writing about Chippenham and Cricklade and it would just get too silly!

But on t’other hand RWB is mighty close to Swindon so perhaps an exception can be made eh? So this press release about the Cross Keys Inn is as good a place to start as any.

Reputed to be the oldest public house in Royal Wootton Bassett the Cross Keys was built in 1742.

crossed keys on boards

Following a recent revamp the pub is welcoming customers once more:

Twitter: – @CrossKeysInnWB

New food offering as revamped Cross Keys welcomes back customers

Royal Wootton Bassett’s historic Cross Keys pub is welcoming back customers following a revamp that has seen it get a fresh new look and an improved food offering.

The refurbishment of the 273-year-old High Street pub means it now has a modern kitchen in which to prepare a host of new dishes on a menu aimed at all tastes.

It features freshly-baked pizzas cooked in a newly-installed pizza oven, and a selection of burgers. There is also a range of classic British dishes, bar snacks, local real ales, and cocktails.

The Cross Keys also boasts two bar areas, restaurant, function room for 60 people, and a large beer garden, which has covered seating, rattan sofas and chairs complete with cushions, and outdoor heaters, making it an all-year-round option for drinkers and diners.

Twelve new jobs for local people have been created, and four existing employees retained, following the £110,000 refurbishment.

New Cross Keys manager Steve Hunt, who is an experienced pub industry operator, said: “I’m very excited to have an opportunity to take this iconic local pub to the next level.

“It’s a real landmark building, right in the centre of town, and is well-loved by locals and visitors alike, and me and the team want to make it the place that people choose when they want a drink, good food, top quality service, and a friendly welcome.”

At the official reopening, local charity Prospect Hospice, which cares for and supports supports patients, their carers and families across north Wiltshire, was presented with a cheque for £250.

The Grade II-listed building, which dates from 1742, was rebuilt after being severely damaged by fire in July 2013.

cross keys inn sign

For further information, please contact:

Alastair Gray                Tel: 0121 262 3904     Mob: 07967 320 050   Email:

Steve Dann                  Tel: 0121 262 3900     Mob: 07973 886 084   Email:

Geoff Campion                         Tel: 020 3567 5804     Mob: 07957251475     Email:

Royal Wootton Bassett

‘Royal Wootton Bassett in the north of Wiltshire was a Saxon holding in 681 ‘Wodeton’, eventually passing to Lord of the Manor Alan Bassett in 1200 who was granted the right to hold weekly markets by Henry III.

The Town Mayor in 1408 was John Wollmonger at the height of the successful wool trade and hiring fairs and cattle markets continued to be held until 1939.

Katherine Parr one of Henry VIII’s wives family home was Vastern Manor.

This Wiltshire town offers a weekly market, monthly farmers market, an abundance of places to eat and drink and an interesting variety of shops.’

Read more here:


Chop Chop!

Chop Chop!

27th April 2016

Helen Browning’s Chop House

A pig Helen Browning's Chop House SwindonI haven’t yet had a chance to visit the new chop house on Wood Street in Old Town so what we have here dear listeners is a guest review from my friend Gill Thomas – otherwise known as Contemporary Botanicals. 

Before we get to that here’s a snippet from the restaurant’s website:

‘Good, fast, simple, casual food from great ingredients.  Brunch, lunch and supper, Wednesday to Sunday from March 30 in Swindon’s Wood St; serving our own organic beef, pork & lamb.

We like to feed children. We don’t care what clothes or boots you are wearing. We’ll even take dogs. Our default response is ‘yes’. We very much look forward to welcoming you in. ‘


So far so good – so what does Gill have to say about the place? Read on!

Helen Browning's Chop House in Swindon

“We arrived a few minutes before 7pm and it was already pretty full but thankfully – I’d say crucially – we had a reservation because people were piling in all the time, at one point forming a queue! 

The decor and discreet lighting provide a subtle, warm ambiance which was matched by the warm welcome from the staff.  The seating is a mix of dining tables and high cocktail tables – we had the latter which was turned around to give better access. 

Nothing was too much trouble.  The menu is small, offering a limited choice of meat,  fish and veggie options which is more than enough choice, most accompanied by skinny chips and salad.  There is no pretension here, just simply good food.  We both went for the salads of the day which were large, fresh, full of textures and flavours that just filled the mouth.  The meat meals  that we saw were handsome steaks and nicely presented steak sandwiches held together with a “dagger”.  The wine list is similarly brief but, again, we found it more than adequate and chose the house red, a very nice Merlot.  

It was really busy and the manager and one waitress really had their work cut out in providing good service which they did with efficiency and good humour.  To use an old phrase “the joint was really jumping” – diners were clearly happy and we were so impressed that we ended up making a reservation for next month.”

All of which sounds really fabulous and leaves me with only one question: is this small but delicious menu served on plates? I’m utterly bored with boards and browned off with baskets and saddened by slates. I simply want my food on a piece of plain, white china. It’s not much to ask surely?


Find the chophouse on Facebook:

Contact the chophouse:

01793 527082

opening hours Helen Browning's Chop House in Swindon

The Greenhouse Kitchen

The Greenhouse Kitchen

17th January 2015

screen shot from Greenhouse kitchen Caribbean restuarant

The Greenhouse Kitchen

Okay listeners, I’ve been trying to get round to writing this post for goodness only knows how long. It’s ridiculous. Anyway ….

“Betta belly buss dan good food waste”

Roughly translates as ‘it’s better to overeat than to waste great food.‘ And certainly when I visited the Greenhouse Kitchen I didn’t leave a scrap.


Tucked away on a corner of Eastcott Hill this is a ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it establishment’.

As soon as I saw the green door the first thing I though of was the song of that name. And for those of a certain age the song is not associated with Shakin’ Stevens! I remember the Frankie Vaughn version from the 1960s from I think – but it was written in 1956:

“Don’t know what they’re doin’ but they laugh a lot behind the green door
Wish they’d let me in so I could find out what’s behind the green door”

Well – what’s going on behind this green door is cooking up a Caribbean storm is what.

Now don’t visit this place expecting ambiance. Unless it’s changed since I visited back in November you won’t find any. Now I won’t lie – I like a bit of ambiance, a bit of hygge, and some dimmer lighting and a T-light on the tables wouldn’t come amiss.

However I will sacrifice that for tasty food. And at least there’s a fun and funky sun, sea and sand muriel on the wall (yes – I know it’s ‘mural’- okay?) to add a cheery note.

It would have been nice too if they were licensed – a can of Jamaican Red Stripe would have gone down a treat. Hopefully in the future.

All of that said, I enjoyed my goat curry no end! It was filling and tasty.

Judging by the number of people coming and going either eating in or collecting take-aways it’s certainly popular. It’s also very reasonably priced and is definitely worth a try.

I absolutely intend to make a return visit and try something else on the menu next time.


Meanwhile, here’s the 1956 version of ‘The Green Door’:

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