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/
21st June 2017
Hello listeners. Continuing with my series of guest posts from friends and AA Editorial Services clients we have this one from Carol Aplin of Pink&Green skincare.
Carol lives in the Kingshill area so often walks and cycles along the canal enjoying the nature to be found there. And in her garden too.
If you’ve not yet taken a trip on Dragonfly down the Wilts & Berks canal put it on your list. It’s a delightful way to pass some time.
NATURE ON MY DOORSTEP
It’s wonderful. I can be sitting in my conservatory and what should appear but a fox taking a little stroll round my garden. I see it often. Where I live, the side of the hill is a woodland. I am visited by all manner of wildlife. Sometimes deer can be seen wondering along the roads. They are quite at home. At dusk, it is not uncommon to enjoy a badger nuzzling the ground in search of bugs. (Luckily it hasn’t decided to dig any big holes in my garden.)
Blue tits, long-tailed tits, coal tits, goldfinches, bull finches, firecrests are among an array of feathered visitors.
For exercise, I love going for a cycle. I’ve never been keen though on tackling busy roads. Here in Swindon the cycle path network comes to the rescue. I can potter along the canal and up on to the railway cutting. My mother lives in Wroughton so I often cycle over to see her. I’ve worked out that by the time I get my car out and drive there, it’s no quicker than pedal power.
It’s a great opportunity to see more of nature. Herons, woodpeckers, swans, water voles. You can even take a leisurely trip in a canal boat if you fancy.
As I leave my house on my bike, I immediately turn down one of the little lanes that run to the canal. From there it’s very easy to get on to the old railway cutting towards Old Town. I branch off and head for Wichelstowe if I’m visiting my mum. Sometimes though, I’ll continue right through to where the old cattle market used to be and head out to Coate Water. The whole journey doesn’t touch a major road.
I can also do the same in the other direction. I can get to Waitrose by using the canal. It’s a very pleasurable way of getting the groceries.
Nature really is on my doorstep.
The first guest post in this series from Tim Perkins of TMP Planning and Wild Goose Gear is here: https://swindonian.me/2017/05/29/kings-farm-wood-walk/
Read about the Wilts and Berks canal and the delightful Dragonfly in this post.
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 April 2017
Wake up and smell the heritage
What follows is a link to an article in the Swindon Advertiser. Not written by me – it’s the work of Graham Carter of Swindon Heritage magazine.
Read also about Swindon Heritage magazine here.
It’s hard to argue with much of what he says in this impassioned article.
Anyway – in case you’ve missed it listeners here is:
‘To mark Local and Community History Month in May, Swindon Heritage editor Graham Carter explains why he believes the town is the heritage capital of Britain and calls for action to capitalise on its potential.
Happy Local and Community History Month from Swindon, the Heritage Capital of Britain.
What’s that? Nobody told you? Well I am telling you now, in capitals.
SWINDON IS THE HERITAGE CAPITAL OF BRITAIN, and it doesn’t matter that the accolade is unofficial.
Our football team has sunk to the bottom rung of the League, but when it comes to heritage, it would be an injustice to say Swindon is Premier League ….
… This town is truly and uniquely blessed with heritage, in its many forms, and if any town or city, outside London, has a greater claim, I would love to see the evidence.
So isn’t it about time all of us worked together and cured ourselves of this crippling compulsion we have for looking our greatest gift horse in the mouth? … ‘
Read the full article here: http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/15274114.Wake_up_and_smell_the_history_/?ref=fbshr
Well yes Graham it IS time to stop sticking the boot into Swindon. I share your pain – as you know. Hence this blog!
Why you should hire a wedding venue stylist
Weddings can get so bogged down in the endless exigencies of organizing and planning that the experience itself, when it finally occurs, can seem as though it has very little to do with the love that inspired it in the first place.
DAPHNE ROSE KINGMA, Weddings from the Heart
How best to avoid all that? Hire a wedding venue stylist of course!
Hatch, Match, Despatch
Christenings, weddings and funerals – any big party at all – take a lot of organization. But arguably none more so than a wedding! Unless that is you’re planning on decamping to the pub for pies and pints all round post wedding ceremony, there’s a lot to think to about it.
But hire a venue stylist and that’s a lot of strain taken away. Unless of course you actually want to be arranging bows on the backs of chairs on the morning of the wedding?
Not convinced? Here’s a few reasons why hiring a venue stylist is a great idea:
In the best of venues, the rooms where the wedding ceremony takes place are often less than inspiring. Step forward the venue stylist.
Experts in their field
A good venue stylist will have had years of practice at what they do. They’ll be able to take the blank canvas of your ceremony room from mundane to magical. And they’ll have ideas that perhaps won’t occur to you.
Your venue stylist can also work with you to transform your reception room into a place that tells your personal story and reflects your personality and your interests.
Being in the industry they’ll have lots of sources and contacts in other wedding-related areas. Hence, it’s well worth talking to them about photographers, cake makers and dress suppliers. You could save yourself a lot of searching and virtual foot-ache.
Think of it. Neither you, nor your mum, or your friends will have to run around working up a sweat fixing bows, freshening up flowers and centrepieces, blowing up balloons or whatever it might be.
Instead you can all make your personal preparations in relaxed anticipation, safe in the knowledge that everything is being taken care of.
Be fabulous with the Fab Gift Boutique
The Fab Gift Boutique is a Wiltshire based event dressing and gift company.
Under their belt is 10 years’ events organization in the rest of Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean.
If by now you’re thinking that hiring a venue stylist is the way you’d like to go for your wedding – or indeed any other special celebration – get in touch with the Fab Gift Boutique for a no-obligation chat to bounce ideas around.
Send an email to: info@thefabgiftboutique or call on 01793 326 354.
11th April 2017
My Switch on to Swindon story
I’ve been in Swindon for around 23 years. But I’ve only properly noticed it for the last 4 years.
That ‘noticing’ process began when I started to write my Born again Swindonian blog – ‘Blogging Positive about all things Swindon’. I was an English student at UWE at the time. So I’ve been an unofficial ambassador for Swindon for a while now. I can bore for Britain on how great Swindon is. So I’ve been switched on to Swindon as #BAS for quite a while now.
With that blog I’ve changed the perceptions many people hold about Swindon. My UWE lecturers who had no idea of Swindon’s hidden gems, actual born Swindonians who had no idea about much of what I’ve written of. And more.
Through my blog I’ve become aware of what a creative hotspot Swindon is. I’ve become aware of what a thriving art, literature and poetry scene Swindon has. Through my blog I’ve been thrilled by the love for Swindon of every incomer I’ve come across. But then Swindon is built on incomers.
I’ve also been awed by the commitment of countless community groups all making Swindon a ‘… great place to be right now’. Their contribution to what makes Swindon so surprising and so special should not, must not, be ignored. It’s immense. Community is what makes a place desirable surely?
Then, after graduating (3 years ago almost) I started my business, AA Editorial Services. And yet again I’ve been delighted – but not altogether surprised – to find what a super place Swindon is to do business in and from.
I was fortunate to have support from the now sadly-defunct Outset Swindon. Several start-ups that I met via them are now my clients. We’ve since formed ourselves into an informal but supportive mentoring group of ladies. We meet monthly and share our collective business and social media know how.
So my story is not yet ended. I’m building my business. I’m still writing Born again Swindonian – over 100,000 views now – and I’m a trustee of Swindon Civic Voice.
And now I’m pleased to add to all that by being an ‘official’ Swindon ambassador via Switch on to Swindon.
So I’m switched onto Swindon in 3 personas: Born again Swindonian, Swindon Civic Voice and AA Editorial Services.
In summary: my niece recently asked me where, if I could live anywhere else in the country would I live. My answer: ‘Nowhere. I love living in Swindon.’
When I’ve visited family in London and Surrey and coming back on the train, I always get a thrill when I catch sight of the David Murray John Tower (I LOVE that building) because then I know I’m home.
If you let it, Swindon gets under your skin. It’s under mine. Hence, I’m in a really good place right now.
See a digital version of the Swindon story book here: Switch_on_to_Swindon_Brochure_web
Switch on to Swindon Ambassador event
Switch on to Swindon