Archive for the ‘neighbours’ Category

Los Gatos throws Old Town under a bus   2 comments

The owners of Los Gatos tapas bar have a weekly column in the Swindon Advertiser wherein they promote their business under a thin veil of general restaurant lore.  A few weeks ago they moved about 60 meters away and just around the corner from their old location.

This week’s column describes a post-apocalyptic hellscape on Wood Street compared to the bucolic safety of the new digs.  Again, about 60 meters away and just around the corner from their old location.

In promoting their business’ new location as yob free a welcoming to the middle-class pound, they have pretty much called their old one a loud, filthy death trap.  Albeit 60 meters away and just around the corner.

Summary: “That’s right. Fuck the neighbours, fuck the neighbourhood…we are the only venue worthy of your custom in this shithole, so come up for us then run for cover and best of luck to you getting past the war zone that is Wood Street.”

Swindon Advertiser 2014-10-24 Menu page 2


Why DO they have a weekly column, anyway?

DT #271, 28 September 2014 (Pinna Fidelis Roble)   Leave a comment

Pinna Fidelis Roble


Neighbours never met
A stranger, or at least not
Anyone quite as strange.

Name: Pinna Fidelis Roble
Type: red wine
Venue: neighbours’ house

Review/notes: Last bottle opened, and it was after midnight so it counts as today’s tipple.  We took it over to the neighbours dinner party and I hoped we would get to it early but the other couple just returned from France with a white and then there was a queue of other wines on the table.  Fortunately, the neighbour-ess doesn’t know how to make small spreads and there was a plateful to start, then mains with four sides and then a cheeseboard that could have given gout to an army.  Plus fruit and nuts and lot’s more.  So far, I don’t think we’ve scared anyone off although they did make the mistake of insisting we speak of our families (let me remind you of mom, here).

Oh, this wine was fine.  Got it at Magnum, again (hence the red tissue paper wrapping).

[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]

Monthly consolidations/compilations: January

DT #263, 20 September 2014 (Weighbridge Brinkworth Village)   1 comment

weighbridge brinkworth village christ church cemetery


Here’s to the Brewers.
A pleasant time had by all
Except, maybe, them.

Name: Weighbridge Brinkworth Village
Type: bitter
Venue: Christ Church, Swindon

Review/notes: I stopped by the Autumn Fayre at Christ Church because my neighbour was working a display there (along with the vicar’s wife).  The church is grand inside and well worth a visit but there were crowds within and a beer tent just outside.  I fetched a Weighbridge Brewhouse Brinkworth Village and retired to the cemetery whereupon I found a monument to Brewers almost immediately.

Frank, who was noted at the top, had a bunch of letters after his name.  I knew O.B.E. but was curious about C.M.G. and looked them up when I returned home.  It is an honour known as “Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George,” for non-military exemplary service to the Crown whilst overseas.  Turns out, our Frank was a high-ranking civil servant in the China and Malaya offices (as well as serving in the Special Forces in WW2 and being held POW in Sumatra).  Nice find.  Cheers, Frank.

The CMG, for those others that had not a clue and need some juvenile way of assessing its importance, was fictionally awarded to James Bond as well as the Brigadier (in Doctor Who).

[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]

Monthly consolidations/compilations: January



DT #256, 13 September 2014 (Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin)   Leave a comment

Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin


The next door neighbours’
Eclectic acquaintances
Include us, tonight.

Name: Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin
Type: red wine
Venue: neighbour’s house

Review/notes: Our neighbours have been too friendly by half and are simply wonderful people.  They cornered us into coming over for beverages and to meet some of their circle and I really had no other expectations than to meet a few of the faces from the neighbourhood.  Turns out, they had a visitor from Australia and local folk originally from, variously, Iran, Argentina, Algeria, France, Spain, and Highworth.  We seemed to be the North American contingent and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone there had spent time in Antarctica.  Friendly, civilised, and a slight contrast to the last Swindon neighbours I wrote about.

The wine we took over was pretty tasty, I thought, but there were some truly lovely reds flowing.

[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]

Monthly consolidations/compilations: January


2014 Chippy Challenge and Daily Tipple: January Review   425 comments

january cc graph

For January:
The Daily Tipple/Haiku
And Chippy Challenge.

The Chippy Challenge map isn’t filling in very fast but I haven’t really been out very much since it started so mostly the venues have been near work (11 near the Uni) or home (8 in Swindon).  The initial rush is likely to subside, but if not and I stay on the current rate I shall hit 259 (or, if I go to the minimum of 1 every 7 days I will still visit 70 by year end).

january cc map

There were fourteen chippies, shown here by date:

1 Wong Kee Fish Bar Swindon, Wiltshire 01-Jan-14
2 Mediterranean Fish Bar Oxford, Oxfordshire 02-Jan-14
4 Mr. Cod Swindon, Wiltshire 04-Jan-14
6 Carfax Fish and Chips Oxford, Oxfordshire 06-Jan-14
7 Posh Fish Jericho Oxford, Oxfordshire 07-Jan-14
8 York Road Chippy Swindon, Wiltshire 09-Jan-14
10 Saint John’s Fish & Chips Swindon, Wiltshire 11-Jan-14
11 Super Fry Swindon, Wiltshire 12-Jan-14
12 Covingham Fish and Chips Swindon, Wiltshire 15-Jan-14
16 Westway Chippy Botley, Oxfordshire 23-Jan-14
17 The Frying Fish Swindon, Wiltshire 23-Jan-14
19 Sure Fry Swindon, Wiltshire 25-Jan-14
21 Simon’s Fish & Chips Oxford, Oxfordshire 29-Jan-14
22 Harbour Fish & Chips Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire 31-Jan-14


Amongst these you should definitely try to visit Wong Kee, Mediterranean, Mr. Cod, Carfax, York Road, Westway, The Frying Fish, and Harbour.  I would avoid Posh and Sure Fry and only go to Simon’s if you’re tripping your balls off.

Seven fish and chips were had in pubs:

3 The Four Candles Oxford, Oxfordshire 03-Jan-14
5 The Castle Hotel Devizes, Wiltshire 05-Jan-14
13 The White Horse Oxford, Oxfordshire 17-Jan-14
14 Cepen Park Chippenham, Wiltshire 19-Jan-14
15 The Eagle and Child Oxford, Oxfordshire 21-Jan-14
18 Jude the Obscure Oxford, Oxfordshire 24-Jan-14
20 The Royal Blenheim Oxford, Oxfordshire 26-Jan-14


The two that make the biggest deal about being ‘the best in the city’ (The White Horse and The Eagle and Child) were both dreadful.  The rest were okay but not worth seeking out, and the best of this bunch was the shockingly well done Four Candles.

There was one ‘other’ venue which, fortunately for you, is only imposed on Oxford employees:

9 Chemistry Research Building Oxford, Oxfordshire 10-Jan-14


Along the way, I also had supermarket sushi three times for breakfast and five for lunch, smoked salmon for breakfast at New Year’s Day, and fish in recipes for supper three times.  And, not one kebab.

There were, however, copious volumes of beverage and out of all of it I managed to choose one per day.  Brownie simultaneously came up with the idea for a Beer-A-Day challenge and I wish those idiots well but I actually drink even more wine and booze than beer and didn’t want to limit myself.  Re-sorting the progress by category, we have:


DT # Date Name Type Venue
8 08-Jan-14 Punter (Upham Brewery) bitter The Four Candles
17 17-Jan-14 Doom Bar bitter The White Horse
24 24-Jan-14 Hardy & Hanson’s Kimberley Bitter bitter Jude the Obscure
31 31-Jan-14 Arundel Sussex Gold golden ale The Five Bells
3 03-Jan-14 Foster’s lager The Four Candles
15 15-Jan-14 Carling lager The Messenger
21 21-Jan-14 Bristol Beer Factory UPA pale ale The Eagle and Child
2 02-Jan-14 Loose Cannon Porter porter Gardeners Arms
14 14-Jan-14 Hobson’s Kiss Me Now Stout stout house


DT # Date Name Type Venue
1 01-Jan-14 Champagne Pannier Blanc de Noirs Champagne house
9 09-Jan-14 Cooperative Chianti red wine house
10 10-Jan-14 Tesco brand Simply Claret red wine house
12 12-Jan-14 Conviviale Montepulciano d’Abruzzo red wine house
13 13-Jan-14 Marques de Carano Gran Reserva 2007 red wine house
18 18-Jan-14 Rawnsley Estate Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre red wine house
19 19-Jan-14 Conviviale Primitivo red wine house
20 20-Jan-14 Sainsbury’s House Montepulciano red wine house
23 23-Jan-14 Cuvee Emile Fleurie red wine house
25 25-Jan-14 El Prinsapo Rioja red wine house
27 27-Jan-14 Les Cepages Oublies red wine house
28 28-Jan-14 Le Cru des Amoureux Saint Amour red wine house
30 30-Jan-14 Kumala Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz red wine house
29 29-Jan-14 Kourtaki Retsina white wine house


DT # Date Name Type Venue
4 04-Jan-14 Almond/Apple Bourbon toddy booze house
5 05-Jan-14 Cape Codder booze house
7 07-Jan-14 Vodka Tonic (V&T) booze house
11 11-Jan-14 Candy Apple booze house
22 22-Jan-14 Pom Selleck booze house


DT # Date Name Type Venue
6 06-Jan-14 Symond’s Founder’s Reserve cider The White Rabbit
16 16-Jan-14 Savanna Dry cider Oxford bus depot
26 26-Jan-14 Weston’s Scrumpy cider The Royal Blenheim


The tendency seems to be to drink at home or on the way home or with (and not simply as) lunch.  Got to get out more, I reckon.

Oh, the haiku…if they take more than 30 seconds from topic to finished, they are dumped.  That said, I come up with some that make me laugh and don’t use them for a few days because more timely ones come up.  Some of the best just go past their ‘sell by’ date, as well.  I plan to continue these with the Daily Tipple for the near future (maybe the whole year).

Moredon Charcoal Grill, Swindon (kpw* for Week 41)   3 comments

[*kpw = kebab per week for 2013, as noted in an earlier post and the 45th entry for the 2013 Challenge]

moredon charcoal grill swindon kebab

This is a tasty kebab from Moredon Charcoal Grill but first let me tell you of the path to it.  Back in the early days of the Burger Challenge (or, with my waiver, the Kebab Challenge), I scouted some kebab places using Google Maps and found a doozy on Wingate Parade off Northern Road in Swindon, Shapla at the time of the photo but subsequently the Masala Express.  The food might have turned out to be dreadful, but with eye candy like this hanging around on the street I felt I must go:

shirtless at shapla

Google Maps has since driven their Street View Vehicle back down Wingate Parade for an updated view but the neighbourhood seems just as charming (it appears that the Mayor of Swindon recently made a warmly received comment about these folks, as reported in several regional newspapers):

masala express new google streetview

After work and on my way to the G-Had Hash House Harriers site, I zipped in for a lamb donner (as it is spelled in their on-line menu).  “We don’t do lamb donner,” I was brusquely informed.  So, I continued on…

masala express menu no lamb donner

…looking for signs of the trail I knew would be prelaid somewhere nearby and, therefore, making a loop into the Moredon neighbourhood.  Good choice, too, as the meat, while gristly and salty, was flavourful and the homemade chilli sauce was excellent.  The veg, as tends to be the case, was fresh and better than you can probably find in your grocer’s.  I polished this small portion off and returned to the trail hunt finally sated.

moredon charcoal grill swindon

No parking off Stanier Street   2 comments

no parking off stanier 1

When it turned up in the local newspaper, I recognised the alley as one of my regular cut-throughs on runs in the neighbourhood.  Later that same day it turned up on the BBC nightly News so the next morning I decided to go back for my own document of the boondoggle.

Double yellow lines limit parking from the center of the street to the kerb (curb) on the side of the street they are painted; you can stop to load/unload but otherwise the space must be left clear for emergency vehicles.  So, when a fire engine needs to get through the area above…see what everyone is on about?

no parking off stanier 2

My own photo really adds nothing to the debate and only serves to show that I need a few more sit-ups and lot less alcohol on a weekly basis (the gut alone would block an ambulance’s passage).  Here’s the same photo with two vehicles illegally parked, scaled to the alleyway’s dimensions:

no parking off stanier 3

Everyone wants a picture of this alley, now.  While there setting up my own camera two different citizens with SLRs popped up at the wide end and another at the narrow bit.  I posed with my arms partly stretched to the walls for one of the photographers.

See also, “Thomassons” or useless — but still maintained — architectural features.

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