Bristol vs the world

A travel (and sometimes fashion) blog about exploring Bristol and the rest of the world, one post at a time.

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Food Friday: Jack Spice, Swindon

Jack Spice, Swindon

In my office, it seems to be more normal to commute an hour to work than to be native to the area (Swindon). Consequently, when it comes to eating out, our limited knowledge of the area means we always go to the same three restaurants and pub within a five minute walk. There’s nothing wrong with these places at all, but, having previously worked near Oxford Street in London, the lack of variety did come as a bit of a shock at first!

But for a recent evening do we pushed our boundaries; following the recommendation of the one local on our team, we tried out Jack Spice, an Indian restaurant about five minutes’ walk from Swindon station.

The first thing that struck me about the restaurant was quite how extensive the menu was – and how many of the dishes on it I wanted to try. Each one is also handily labelled with a recommendation like ‘suitable for everybody’, ‘not recommended for children’ or (perhaps slightly confusingly) ‘suitable for non-curry eaters’ (I assume by this they mean curry newcomers or people who avoid the spicier/more traditional options…). This makes it a perfect venue for something like a work meal where you’re catering for lots of different people and tastes.

After much deliberation, I eventually went with the Lamb Korai, a ‘highly spiced’, tomato-based dish served sizzling in a pot. I also shared a Pashwari Naan and Basmati rice with colleagues. The lamb was lovely and it was certainly full of flavour, but I’d say it was a relatively mild dish – if you were expecting ‘highly spiced’ to mean it had a bit of a tang then you would be disappointed. That said, it was a ‘recommended for everybody’ dish, which does, I suppose, suggest it’s unlikely to be particularly hot.

However the mild nature of the dishes was a common comment from the table; everyone agreed that their dishes were tasty, but lacked that heat you usually expect from an Indian meal, especially ones rated medium or even hot.

Sadly that wasn’t the only downside; I personally found the Peshwari Naan – usually one of my favourite things about an Indian meal – to be a little on the plain side. It was perfectly fine, but nothing more, and certainly as sweet as I’d have liked.

On the plus side, the prices were really reasonable. Depending on the meat you choose, a main dish could cost as little as £5.95, and very little – if anything – cost more than £10. The rice and naan weren’t quite as good value at £2.50 and £2.75 respectively; not exactly expensive (or even more expensive than normal), but just not a great price considering the size of the rice and quality of the naan. (Also worth noting is that, from memory – it was a few weeks ago now! – my main was more expensive than the price advertised on the website due to the meat I chose so just be aware than this could be the case for all meals. But it’s still very affordable.)

Overall Jack Spice was a perfectly pleasant place for a meal out. Decent service, decent interior and decent food. It’s not the best Indian I’ve ever experienced (or even in my top five). But it was still mostly nice – just slightly lacking in sweetness and/or spice. Despite these shortcomings, I’d still recommend it for someone looking for a curry close to Swindon town or station – just don’t expect to be needing milk to wash down the meal!

The Details
Jack Spice
61 Fleet Street, Swindon, SN1 1RA
01793 488098
Website: http://www.jackspice.co.uk/
See reviews on Tripadvisor

Image Credits
Photo courtesy of Tripadvisor

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Weekend wanders

One of the best things about living in Didcot – especially in summer – is how close you are to the countryside. Within a 10 minute cycle of our house there’s some lovely cycle/footpaths which lead to nearby villages via endless fields boasting gorgeous views. More importantly, both East Hagbourne to the south and Long Wittenham in the north are home to some great pubs, complete with beer gardens – the perfect (arguably essential) accompaniment to any country walk or cycle. The Fleur de Lys in East Hagbourne does particularly good baguettes and has incredibly friendly staff. Long Wittenham’s Vine & Spice is more of a restaurant, offering Indian food, but its large beer garden is perfect for enjoying a mid-walk pint.

Didcot Power Station from Route 44. Hazy glow courtesy of Instagram.

Another great thing about these paths is that they are mostly flat (or at least the bit from Didcot to Upton definitely is) – perfect for a relaxing cycle or walk regardless of your ability or age. The majority of them are off-road too, so great for families or less confident cyclists – and just in general (there’s no denying that no cars makes for a much more pleasant journey!).

The Fleur de Lys, East Hagbourne. Photo Credit: Oxfordshire Churches on Flickr
Mid-walk treat in the Vine & Spice beer garden.

This weekend we took on Route 44, an 11-mile route south of Didcot. Although we only ventured as far as Upton this time we’re already planning our next adventure down to The Ridgeway, a trail along one of the oldest roads in Europe. Though judging by my slightly red palms today, I might just have to invest in some cycling gloves first!

Your Spirits Will Sour, on Route 44 (Sorry..!) Photo Credit: Visit Oxfordshire

The Details

Cycle Path Information: Sustrans provides information on routes across the UK and free maps. South Oxfordshire & Didcot information can be found here.

Getting Here: First Great Western run regular trains to Didcot Parkway run from London Paddington (45 minutes), Oxford (15 minutes) and The West (Bristol Temple Meads is 1 hour away). Visit First Great Western for more details, and information on which routes allow bicycles on board.

Staying here: See TripAdvisor for information on local B&Bs and hotels.

Fields of green on Route 44

Balboa Park

This is the last of the San Diego posts, and I couldn’t let the section finish without something about the beautiful – and ginormous – Balboa Park. Home to over 15 museums, a number of theatres – including The Old Globe which looks suspiciously like an older Globe theatre I know, a variety of different landscaped gardens, San Diego zoo and much, much more it would probably be impossible to cover the whole park in a short break, so it’s worth planning which bits you’d like to see in advance. We meandered through it after visiting the zoo, taking in the lovely architecture, relaxing in one of the gardens to the sounds of a saxophonist and marvelling as the planes landing into the city seemed to almost skim our heads (it seems that San Diegans like getting up close and personal with aviation). Unfortunately none of my photos came out amazingly, but hopefully they give you some sense of the area – and inspire you to visit to take better ones!

Apparently this is the most photographed view in Balboa Park – well I couldn’t not take it, could I?!
Infront of the Botanical Gardens
I particularly loved the architecture, and the way the light fell on the arches at the end of the day
San Diego Museum of Man, Balboa Park