Boswells Blog

16th May 2019

'The Boswells Connection'... Recovery

'The Boswells Connection'... Recovery

One week to go until the launch of ‘The Boswells Connection’ a book of fictional stories linked to Boswells written by Oxford Inc, a group of writers who compile stories around a common theme. Join us in store next Saturday 25th May between 11am – 2pm to meet four of the authors behind the project and to have them sign your copy of the book (which must have been purchased in Boswells). We have lots of other events planned for that weekend too so join our mailing list or follow us on social media to keep updated.

Seeing as May is ‘Share a Story Month’ we’re posting the start of a couple of the stories to give you a taste of what’s to come. We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

 

Recovery

Annie Winter

As Julie turned into the next aisle of the toy department, the large bag hanging from her shoulder sent a display of novelty balls flying. Mortified, she scrabbled around on the floor to retrieve them as they rolled energetically away. Another woman shopper squatted down to help and between them they managed to retrieve the escaped balls and load them back into their container, by which time a sales assistant had arrived.

‘Thanks so much for helping,’ Julie said. ‘I feel such an idiot.’

‘Don’t worry,’ the woman replied. ‘We’ve all done it.’

‘That’s so kind of you,’ said Julie. ‘Can I buy you a cup of tea as a thank you?’ She felt drawn to her rescuer’s warm smile and the friendly interest in her eyes. She was wearing an elegant green jacket which matched them.

‘Well, that would be very nice, but’ looking at her watch, ‘I have to be at the bus station in five minutes to meet my children. It was nothing, really.’ And with a kindly wave, she shot off down the stairs.

Julie was in the shop to choose a present for her small nephew’s birthday. She loved the toy department. For much of her married life it had been the best – and lately just about the only – toyshop in Oxford. It was full of memories of her children’s lives; the cuddly toys, the Lego, the shelves crammed with everything a child could possibly wish for. Now they were grumping their way into adolescence and were too cool for old fashioned things like toys – screens were all they seemed interested in these days.

After she’d chosen and paid for the present, Julie went into the tea room and looked around for a free table. It was Saturday afternoon and the café was full. Julie didn’t feel like having to exchange pleasantries with a total stranger, but there wasn’t much choice if she was to get a seat at all. Ah! There was someone leaving a table in the corner so she made a swoop towards it, just seeing off a couple of middle aged women who had also been hovering.

While waiting to give her order, she tried not to feel tempted to get out her phone and pretend to the outside world that she had a million emails to answer and lots of games to play. So, she sat and looked pensively into the middle distance until the waitress came. As she waited for her Earl Grey and chocolate brownie to arrive, a flood of painful thoughts seeped into her mind and her eyes filled with tears. The weekends the children went to their father seemed to stretch out forever. She tried to take part in outings and trips with her friends to fill the gap, but with most of them she felt their paths were diverging. What she was experiencing as a single mother, soon to be divorced, bore little resemblance to their comfortable, even smug, existence in couples. She had tried joining things but it was difficult to get out in the evenings, and at the weekends when she did have the children she wanted to be with them.

It was nearly two years since Ted had left…

If you’re tempted to know the ending and read the other varied stories then make sure to get your hands on a copy of the book!!

Permalink
10th May 2019

'The Boswells Connection'... Two Thinkers

'The Boswells Connection'... Two Thinkers

On Saturday 25th May we’ll be launching a book of fictional stories linked to Boswells written by Oxford Inc, a group of writers who compile stories around a common theme. Seeing as May is ‘Share a Story Month’ we’re posting the start of a couple of the stories over the next few weeks to give you a taste of what’s to come.

We hope you enjoy them!

If you’re tempted to know the ending and read the other varied stories then do come into store and purchase a copy of the book from Saturday 25th May. Four of the authors, including Geoff Bremble whose story is below, will be with us from 11am to 2pm on the Saturday to sign your copies of the book. We have lots of other events planned for that weekend too so join our mailing list or follow us on social media to keep updated.

 

Two Thinkers

Geoff Bremble

8 June 1933, Oxford

It was late morning and the professor had at last completed the final draft of the lecture he was to give at Rhodes House. He was staying in rooms in Christchurch and had developed the habit of taking a walk along Cornmarket Street at around midday. He was in the company of James Harvey who had been assigned by the University to look after his needs during his stay in Oxford. They were now in the first-floor restaurant in Boswells department store looking out onto Broad Street and across to Saint Mary Magdalen church. Over the last few days he had observed a rough looking man walking with a distinct limp towards him past the church and pulling a small trolley. Its contents were covered by a well-used tarpaulin and, strapped to the trolley, were a couple of long rods both of which had at one end some sort of net.

‘James, see zat man down there, pulling zat trolley. He’s been doing zat at ze same time each day we’ve been here. Any idea why?’ the professor said in a deep guttural voice.

James Harvey leaned over and looked out, ‘He’s a fisherman on his way to the river. I know him, poor chap. He lost a leg in the Great War and has never really recovered from his ordeal. But nice enough.’

‘I vould like to go and vatch him fishing. Vould zat be alright?’

‘Well you’ve nothing fixed for the rest of today, so why not follow him. But don’t disturb him or you might get a mouthful.’

‘A mouthful? I don’t understand.’

‘You will when you get it,’ laughed Mr Harvey standing up, ‘quick, you had better go or you’ll lose him.’

The professor went down the stairs out onto Broad Street and, from a distance, followed the man down George Street. After about ten minutes and having reached Hythe Bridge he paused for a few moments to take in the feverish activity on the Canal Wharf to his left. There were barges lined up on the canal waiting for their turn to offload their goods before turning round to make the return journey north. Further beyond he could see the outline of Castle Hill which he had visited a few days earlier.  After a moment or two he continued over the bridge, crossing the canal and the river Isis. It was then that he nearly lost sight of the fisherman but, looking to the right, he spotted him 50 yards or so along Upper Fisher Row starting to set up his equipment for the task ahead. After about ten

minutes the man was ready and seated on the river bank. The professor watched as he flicked the baited hook upstream before allowing it to float slowly back towards him only to flick it back up once more. Eventually a fish took a bite causing the line to tighten as it made attempts to escape. The fisherman, engrossed in what he was doing, quietly reeled his catch to the bank manoeuvring it into his catching net and then in to the holding net. He began to re-bait the hook and the professor, seeing his opportunity, stepped down from the bridge and walked towards him.

We hope you're as excited as we are! 'The Boswells Connection' out on the 25th May...

Permalink
11th April 2019

Our Guide To An Unforgettable Easter Egg Hunt!

Our Guide To An Unforgettable Easter Egg Hunt!

Our Guide To An Unforgettable Easter Egg Hunt!

A hunt is no fun if all it takes is the ability to spot the brightly coloured Easter egg basket sitting on top of the fridge and the pile of coloured eggs scattered around the living room. It’s also no fun if it requires the detective skills of Sherlock Holmes and the combination to a padlock. Basically what we’re saying is follow the Goldie Locks rule: not too easy, not too hard, but just right. 

Easter egg hunts should stretch the imagination of your children and make them work for the delicious reward of chocolate bunnies & sugary Peeps. This year, try out one of these themed ideas and make Easter a holiday challenges the mind, works out the body and, of course, satisfies the taste buds!

Dusk Hunt

We’ve heard of the glow-in-the-dark egg hunts, but how about a dusk hunt! It will still be light enough to keep track of the kids, but dark enough that you can give them flashlights and let them go exploring. 

  • Make the game harder with flashlight tag – If a kid is tagged by an adult they must wait five seconds before continuing to search.
  • Make only some eggs that glow in the dark – For a group of all ages, make glow-in-the-dark eggs for the younger kids and require the older kids to search out the regular eggs, this allows for the younger kids to feel like they’ve won, too!

Mini-Game Challenges Theme

It’s no secret that it takes more time to set up an Easter egg hunt than it does for the kids to find and consume the goodies in the eggs. They’re often done and asking for more before you even have time to snap the pictures. This year, extend the hunt with mini-games designed to even the odds of finding eggs between the age groups and allow the kids to have even more fun than usual!

  • Have each game coincide with a school subject: math, science, english, etc. Make them age appropriate questions, then they can continue searching. Ex: fifth graders can only answer fifth grade level questions.
  • Have games require teamwork. Use puzzles, team building activities, quizzes, all games that compel kids to work together before they can continue searching for eggs. Make sure every enough eggs for everyone to feel like they’ve won!

Crack the Code Theme

Add a little mystery to your hunt. Turn your egg hunters into super spies with codes to crack on their way to finding the treasure! It will not only be fun for the kids, but will be stimulate their minds before all the sugar.

  • Provide clues throughout the day that will help them locate the egg stash. Use easy-to-crack codes, magnifying glasses, and backwards writing to challenge the kids. This can be as simple or intricate as you’d like.
  • Provide costumes! If you give the kids glasses, magnifying glasses, and other spy gear it can give the kids the full spy experience and make it truly memorable.
  • Give each child participating one key to deciphering where the eggs can be found. Have them work together to solve each piece of the puzzle and reveal the hidden location of the eggs.

Arts & Crafts Theme

Let’s face it, parents go through a lot of early morning work hiding those eggs, and store bought plastic eggs do not come cheap! Encourage your kids to get involved by letting your kids decorate the eggs themselves; you can even have the older kids hide eggs for the younger ones so they feel a bigger part of the action.

  • Don’t use eggs! Use found items like cardboard boxes, plastic cups, old soda bottles, anything the kids can decorate to hide the eggs and save you some money.
  • Have kids make eggs for each other. Pair up the kids and let them decorate eggs for their partner, they can make them as specific to the kid as they want. Each child will feel special and they will get to show off their artistic skills too!
  • Once the kids find all their eggs, give them a colouring worksheet and have them colour the eggs on the page as they are in front of them. Hang the coloured pages up on the wall so you can all remember the great Easter you had!
Permalink
29th March 2019

Mother's Day Weekend Itinerary Suggestions!

Mother's Day Weekend Itinerary Suggestions!

Stuck for ideas this Mother’s Day weekend? We hope that these suggestions for our fellow Oxonians might just be the perfect timeline combination!

Saturday night why not go to the award winning, 40 year long running performance at the New Theatre Oxford of The Rocky Horror Show! Directed by Christopher Luscombe and featuring timeless classics, including Sweet Transvestite, Damn it Janet, and of course, the pelvic-thrusting Time Warp, The Rocky Horror Show is the story of two squeaky clean college kids - Brad and his fiancée Janet. When by a twist of fate, their car breaks down outside a creepy mansion whilst on their way to visit their former college professor, they meet the charismatic Dr Frank’n’Furter. Safe to say it’s an adventure they’ll never forget and definitely a great pre-Mother’s Day evening outing!...

So Sunday means Mother’s Day has arrived, you might have gone to the Rocky Horror Show or done your own thing, either way I’m sure mum is getting hungry! How about Sunday lunch in our very own marvellous 1738 Tearoom for a sandwich and a bit of cake? Our delicious selection of food and beverages are sure to keep mum feeling happy!

Sunday evening there’s only one place we want to go to… The Sunday Afternoon Social at Tap Social Movement in Botley is the perfect chill out location for the whole family! It even says in their Facebook event ‘Bring the kids, bring the dog’! Founded in 2016, Tap Social Movement grew out of a passion for good beer and social justice. We are a craft brewery which provides training courses for people serving prison sentences, offering courses in brewing and business start-up, and providing one-on-one support in securing permanent employment to assist in effective rehabilitation. A valiant cause with delicious drinks to enjoy with mum!

Permalink
15th March 2019

Early Mother's Day DIY Gift Ideas

Early Mother's Day DIY Gift Ideas

Knowing what to get your mum on Mother's Day is never easy. You could play it safe with chocolates or flowers or try something a bit different that you’ve done yourself. We've rounded up a handful of gifts that fall into the latter category. They might not be for everyone, but they'll definitely surprise and hopefully delight! Remember, Mother's Day 2019 falls on March 31 so you've still got a bit of time to please that special woman in your life.

Coconut Rose Body Polish

Pamper mom this Christmas with a jar of this luxurious DIY body polish. It is made using coconut oil, Himalayan pink salt, sugar and a couple of essential oils which lend a beautiful aroma. Make your way over to Boxwood Avenue to find out all the details of this lovely polish.

Etched Wooden Spoons

If your mom loves to cook, you might consider making her a set of these gorgeous wooden spoons. Begin with plain wooden utensils, then get a basic wood burning kit to customize them with your designs. Head on over to Design Mom to check out the full tutorial.

Floral Embroidery Gift

If your mom loves floral motifs, give this fun DIY project a try. Begin with the free printable, and then add your own embroidery to give it a personal touch. Head on over to the colourful blog Sarah Hearts to check out all the instructions for this creative gift.

Printable Wall Art

If mom loves hanging art on her wall, then she’s sure to love this pretty floral print that has a fun quote – “Home is where Mom is.” And best of all, it’s free! Just print it out and pop it in a frame. Head on over to The Kiwi In The Clouds to download the printable file.

Permalink
1st March 2019

Pancake Day Recipe!

Pancake Day Recipe!

Shrove Tuesday is less than a week away.

Traditionally it was all about emptying the cupboards of fattening ingredients in preparation for fasting through Lent. Shrove Tuesday would have been the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before embarking on the Lenten fast and pancakes are the perfect way of using up these ingredients. In more recent times even those that don’t fast consider the day as an excuse for a pancake feast.

So, whether you can make perfect pancakes or end up scraping batter off the ceiling, whether you’re a frying pan flipper or someone who carefully turns over with a spatula, whether you top with sweet or savory…  it’s time to get your frying pans at the ready!

Ingredients:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml milk
  • Melted butter or oil for frying

Method:

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Now make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Then begin whisking the eggs incorporating any bits of flour from around the edge of the bowl as you do so.

Next gradually add small quantities of the milk, still whisking. The batter should end up smooth, with the consistency of thin cream. Now heat the oil or melt the butter in a pan, pour the rest into a bowl and use it to lubricate the pan, using a wodge of kitchen paper to smear it round before you make each pancake.

Now get the pan really hot, and then turn the heat down to medium. Ladle the batter and as soon as it hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter. You can lift the edge with a spatula to see if its tinged gold as it should be. Flip the pancake over and cook the other side for just a few seconds only - then simply slide it out of the pan onto a plate.

You can stack the pancakes as you make them between sheets of greaseproof paper on a plate fitted over simmering water, to keep them warm while you make the rest. Or keep the plate in the oven on a low heat or re-heat in the microwave after making them all.

Serve with you favourite toppings!

Pancakes

If you’re feeling fancy you could use some of our metal cutters to make neat, shaped pancakes. Place the metal cutter in the pan, carefully spoon in the batter and once the first side looks cooked carefully remove the cutter (with tongs or oven gloves!) and flip the pancake to cook briefly on the other side.

Follow us on social media for more top pancake tips on Tuesday. 

Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food

Permalink
14th February 2019

Half Term Happenings - February 2019

Half Term Happenings - February 2019

We know how difficult it can be keeping the kids entertained during the holidays, so we’ve put together a list of our favourite Oxford activities that both kids and adults will love.

Cotswold Wildlife Park

Rhinos, giraffes, meerkats and penguins might not be what you would usually expect to find in the Oxfordshire countryside but just outside of Burford you will find all these exotic animals and many more at the Cotswold Wildlife Park. With a huge range of animals spread out in the beautiful Cotswold gardens this is the perfect place to spend the day for both young and old.

With restaurants and cafés on site as well as a great adventure playground you really can spend the whole day exploring the Cotswold Wildlife Park.

www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk

Millets Farm Centre

Located just a short drive out of Oxford, the Millets Farm Centre is another family favourite. At its falconry centre for example you get a great chance to see over 80 different kind of birds of prey and they have some wonderful flying demonstrations and hands on experiences that are sure to make this a fun day out for all. At the Millets Farm Zoo, you can go say hello to farmyard favourites such as cows, pigs, sheep and horses not to mention they have some rather special alpacas too! While you're there why not also check out the farm shop and garden centre? 

This half term there are plenty of great activities going on at Millets Farm Centre for the kids to get stuck into, such as the Children's Jewellery Making Workshop and a magic show.

http://www.milletsfarmcentre.com/

Museum of Natural History

A firm Oxford favourite, the University Museum of Natural History is just as well known for its humongous Tyrannosaurus Rex as it is a case of tiny butterflies. There is always something exciting to see!

There are all sorts of family trails that you can download or pick up when you visit to guide you and your family around the museum collections. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of half term between 1 and 4pm there are activities running based on the current exhibition ‘Bacterial World’ and over the weekends there are Science Saturdays and Family Friendly Sundays to get you interacting with all the museum has to offer.

https://www.oumnh.ox.ac.uk/ 

  

 

Ashmolean Museum

One of our favourite Oxford museums, the Ashmolean has an extensive range of collections from across the ages, exploring art and archaeology. You can learn about ancient Egypt in one room and then have a look at Renaissance Italian art in another.

On the 20th and 21st February the Ashmolean are hosting a Chinese New Year celebration between 1 and 4pm which is something you don’t want to miss! Apart from being the oldest museum in the World, one of the amazing things about the Ashmolean is that it’s free to visit (excluding some exhibitions).Ashmolean Museum

www.ashmolean.org

The Oxfordshire Museum

This museum is dedicated to all things Oxfordshire! It holds a wide range of natural and social history collections and exhibits all related to our wonderful county. There are a range of hands-on sections which will draw the children and they offer trails, backpacks and explorer bags to lead you on your journey. As well as dressing up, puppets and a dinosaur garden.

On Tuesday and Thursday of half term there are family fun drop in sessions between 2-4pm based on the theme of tea.

https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/oxfordshiremuseum

Playhouse Theatre

Currently showing at the Oxford Playhouse is The Cat in the Hat, based on the much-loved book by Dr. Seuss. The Cat in the Hat features feline frivolity aplenty, with his acrobatic accomplices Thing 1 and Thing 2. With riotous rhymes that have delighted children for over fifty years, infectious humour and spectacular circus for the grown-ups, this wonderfully anarchic show is the purrfect treat for all the family.

https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/

Oxford Castle

The Oxford Castle is a must for anyone visiting Oxford; you can explore the history in the Castle and Crypt, you can climb the mound or you can simply relax in one of the many restaurants. The Oxford Castle Unlocked experience is a great way to learn and have fun.

This half term bring your little ones along to the castle to try their luck at some amateur Archaeology on 18th, 20th, 22nd and 23rd February 2019 from 12-1pm. The event is one hour-long and activities will include a treasure hunt, fossil making and practicing the art of excavating itself! A perfect afternoon for children with an interest in history, or for just a bit of fun and to try something new!

 

Oxford Castle 

https://www.oxfordcastleandprison.co.uk/

Cutteslowe Park

Cutteslowe Park is the largest park in Oxford, spanning over 42 acres… so there are lots of opportunities for activity and adventure. Those with an adventurous spirit can pick up a map from the kiosk and go orienteering over the 18-control course, go geocaching and find hidden treasure or skate the concrete skate park with ramps, but if you’d rather relax then play some mini golf or feed the ducks and visit the butterfly house. There is always an opportunity for a picnic as well, if the weather allows it!

https://www.oxford.gov.uk/directory_record/363/cutteslowe_and_sunnymead_park

Oxford Spy Mission Treasure Trail

Time to roll up your sleeves! All of those with an adventurous spirit must try this self-guided spy-themed walking trail around Oxford City and Meadow. It takes about 2.5 hours to complete the 2.8 mile loop trail but you can go at your own pace.

All you need to do is download your Trail now for instant fun (or receive your copy in the post), solve the mission and learn about where you live or explore somewhere new. You’ll need to keep your wits about you, but just in case you get stuck - there is a text service with clues to help you out.

https://www.treasuretrails.co.uk/what-to-do/oxfordshire/oxford?dowtk_top_button

Didcot Railway Centre

The Didcot Railway Centre is a great place for visitors of a wide range of ages, after all you're never too young or too old to enjoy a ride on a steam engine. Located right by Didcot station, the Railway Centre is easy to get to, and easy to find. The Centre will be running their usual weekend Steam Days this half term, with two different lines open to take a trip along, and an impressive collection of locomotives and coaches to take a peek at. There should be plenty to keep the family occupied here, and you could also pick up a quiz and puzzle sheet for the kids.

During half term they're open on Wednesday 20th Feb for an extra Steam Day, so there's no need to miss out if your half term weekends are starting to look a little busy with all of the other exciting activities taking place.

http://www.didcotrailwaycentre.org.uk/

We hope this gives you some inspiration for a wonderful week. Please do look at the location website before heading off to check opening times, prices, availability etc and avoid disappointments. Of course, if you can think of any more great Oxford activities that we've missed let us know!

Permalink
1st February 2019

Valentines Traditions Around The World

Valentines Traditions Around The World

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and with us being located in the heart of Oxford, a multi-cultural
city, we’ve been inspired to explore some of the traditions and ways to celebrate 14 th February from
around the world. We’ve covered all the continents and here are the most interesting rituals that
we’ve stumbled upon.


The place to start is the country which has really created the current set up for this modern day
holiday, the USA. They start celebrating young with students in school all exchanging cards with each
other. Couples exchange gifts of chocolates, sweets, flowers and cards. Their most popular ‘candy’ is
Conversation Hearts with messages like “Kiss Me” or “Be Mine”. Expectation generally sits with the
men more than women to deliver on this day.


Over in Asia it’s the opposite story. The Japanese and South Korean women are the ones who spoil
the subject of their affections on 14 th February with specific types of chocolate depending on their
relationship status. Then one month later on 14 th March, White Day is acknowledged in which the
original recipients are expected to return the favour by giving their loved ones gifts to two or three
times the value of the chocolates.


For Australian’s the focus is on giving beautiful Valentine’s cards. The origin of this tradition
apparently traces back to the gold rush in the Ballarat Mine in Victoria, somewhere around the mid-
nineteenth century. The surge in status and wealth of the miners caused it became tradition for
them to lavish their beloveds with extravagant cards, intricately designed and beautifully wrapped.

Whilst there are no permanent human occupants in Antarctica there are natives, it’s just that they’re
penguins! Although not exclusive to Valentine’s Day these birds have a special courtship ritual of the
male presenting the female with the significant and rare gift of a pebble. It’s significant because
Antarctic penguins make their nests out of pebbles and small rocks to protect them from the cold,
and rare because these are hard to find on the frozen, barren continent. If the female accepts this
generous gift they bond and mate for life. How romantic!

Celebrating for only one day is nowhere near passionate enough for Argentinians in South America.
Although they do recognise Valentine’s Day on 14 th February they also hold a festival of love called
‘Sweetness Week’ in July. As the name suggests it’s an entire week celebrating love, where kisses are
exchanged for sweets.

Anonymous love letters to crushes are a little too subtle for South Africans. They literally wear their
hearts on their sleeves on Valentine’s Day following the old-age Roman festival of Lupercalia. It is
customary for young girls pin the name of their love on their sleeve for all to see.

Valentine’s Day is called Ystävänpäivä in Finland, which means ‘Friend’s Day’. For anyone flying solo
that’s the place to be! It’s all about celebrating friendship, exchanging gifts of pink roses and cards
with the greeting ‘Happy Friend’s Day’ so no one needs to worry about feeling left out.

Here in England a historical tradition was for women to place five bay leaves on the corners and
middle of their pillows on the eve of Valentine’s Day. This was said to bring them dreams of their
future husbands. However, more recently our celebrations have fallen more in line with those in
America with gifts, cards and romantic meals.

So, there we go, options from all around the world to inspire you this Valentine’s Day. Whether you
plan to spend 14th February like the Argentinians and celebrate with your love for a week, like the
Finnish and gather all your best friends together for a fun evening or to create your own traditions
just remember to spread the love. After all, as the saying goes ‘it’s not love that makes the world go
around but it’s what makes the ride worthwhile’.

Permalink
27th December 2018

Discover the Incredible Story of the Woman who Gave Birth in Boswells Department Store

Discover the Incredible Story of the Woman who Gave Birth in Boswells Department Store

When a store is around for quite as long as Boswells has been, it starts to collect stories and memories of unexpected things that have happened through the centuries. If you like, Boswells’ history is a sort of tapestry of people and their stories. As our 280th year draws to a close, we thought we’d share one of our favourite of these stories with you, which took place 21 years ago this month.

The Birth

Toy Department Image

In December 1997 a baby girl, Malaika, was unexpectedly born here in store in what was, at the time, our ladies changing room. Her mother, Viviane, had been in labour earlier that day, but was sent home from the hospital as she was only 2 cm dilated. Viviane already had 3 boys and so was sceptical about being sent home so she stayed with a friend, Valerie, who needed to pop into Boswells to pick up some bits from our Haberdashery. Of course, it was at that point that things started to happen…

Viviane suddenly felt a strong urge to push, and her waters finally broke. This was in the days when Boswells had a Ladies Fashion Department and so she dashed into a nearby changing room. These used to stand where we now keep our Keel soft toys, just along the wall, next to the ramp between the 2 parts of our Toy Department. Luckily, Viviane was still wearing a nightie, bed socks and a jumper, as she’d been expecting to stay in hospital, so thankfully she was conveniently dressed to give birth.

The birth happened very quickly, with baby Malaika being born straight into the arms of Valerie. By this time, as you would hope, our staff had rather noticed that there was a woman screaming in labour in the changing rooms, and so they sprang into action. A first aider attended from our Pharmacy, and one of our current Buyers, Marie, remembers closing off the area to other customers and sending colleagues to quickly get towels. As Valerie caught Malaika, Marie told them the time of the birth.

Eeyore Toy Image

Our staff stayed with both mother and baby until the ambulance arrived to take them to the hospital, and Viviane tells us that the changing rooms were a good spot to wait, as it had a calming low-light. She fed her daughter for the first time while she waited.

By the time the ambulance had arrived the news had spread and Viviane remembers a crowd of well wishers from the staff and customers shouting congratulations and best wishes, which is rather a nice memory to have don't you think?

A few weeks later Viviane visited the store with baby Malaika and we gave them a stuffed Eeyore toy and a large teddy bear to mark the momentous occasion. Eeyore is still sround today and they kindly brought him in for a photo.

Catching Up with Viviane and Malaika in 2018

We recently sat down to a cup of tea and a scone with Viviane and Malaika in our 1738 Tea Room to get their thoughts on the whole experience, and life since then.

Viviane and Malika 2018

For Viviane, we discovered, the birth was rather dreamlike; a true WOW moment in her life. She told us that she enjoys talking about it and visiting the store as it makes it all feel more real—although Malaika is also good proof of the event. In fact, Malaika’s birth certificate actually has 1-4 Broad Street listed as her birthplace, giving her a permanent connection to Boswells, and us to her as well.

Malaika uses the fact that she was born in a shop as a conversational icebreaker and when she was little she used to tell all of her friends about it. She’s currently studying for a Geography degree at UCL and is thinking of doing a Masters, possibly on Climate Change or other Global impacts.

Viviane went on to get a BA in Contemporary Art & Music. She is now a professional artist and has since done a picture of the outside of Boswells. She has worked with international fashion designers and her postcards of drawings of Oxford Town Hall are sold in the Town Hall shop. She goes to art fairs and sells online. Both Viviane and Malaika have continued to shop at Boswells over the years. They both like living in Oxford and Viviane thinks she will always live here.

To mark Malaika’s 21st birthday this month, we gave her a special gift of a birthday afternoon tea in our Tea Room and a Boswells gift card worth £210 (see what we did there), which she plans to put towards items for a semester studying abroad this year, possibly a suitcase. Happy birthday, Malaika! We’re very proud to be a part of your story, and to have you as a part of ours!

Permalink
7th December 2018

How to Choose the Perfect Gift This Christmas

How to Choose the Perfect Gift This Christmas

‘Tis the season to give and receive gifts, and now that we’ve learned about the history and psychology behind our gifting practices it’s time to have a look at how you can choose presents that say the right thing. As you can remember from the previous blog post in this series, gifts carry significant meanings, so it’s important to stop and think about how your present may be received.

When considering what to give someone as a gift, first consider how much you know about them. Then you need to decide whether to go for something useful, if not too exciting (like socks) or something slightly more unexpected or luxurious that they wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves.

 

The ‘Holy Grail’ of gifts is something that is both of these things - a present that is practical, but also a positive surprise that shows that you know the receiver well. An example of a gift like this could be a fancy stand mixer for someone who is a keen amateur baker, but can’t justify spending lots of money towards their hobby.

 

There are a few golden rules when it comes to choosing presents for the people we care about. These include getting creative and personal - you should strive to give them a gift that could only come from you. Pay attention to what the gift receiver often brings up - are they often complaining about how their laptop is getting old and slow? Or that they love collecting vintage handbags? Giving a gift that shows that you pay attention to what the receiver likes and needs shows how much they mean to you.

 

Feeling inspired? Check out the gift-giving matrix below from the original article by Activity Superstore for more ideas.

Activity Superstore Gift Giving Matrix Infographic Image

 

Permalink
« Previous | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | Next »