Boswells Blog - January 2015

23rd January 2015

Romantic Oxford

Romantic Oxford

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought we’d help find the most romantic place in Oxford for you and your loved one. Be it your 15th year together or your first date, we’ve got you covered.

Above Image Credit: Colin Smith

Blenheim Palace

Just a short distance outside of Oxford you’ll find the birthplace of Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace. This beautiful Palace is set in 2,000 acres of countryside which you are free to explore on a romantic walk, or maybe you want to find out more about the history and architecture with a tour of the Palace itself.Blenheim Palace

One of the most romantic areas of Blenheim Palace are the formal gardens, with hundreds of varieties of flowers and a beautiful waterfall, you would struggle to find a more romantic place. And if after all of your exploring you need a break, why not settle down for lunch in one of the restaurants, or treat yourself in the Champagne bar.

University Church of St Mary the Virgin

What’s more romantic than looking out above the city of dreaming spires? Take a trip up the 124 steps inside the church spire and emerge on the balcony for the best views in Oxford. Looking south you can see the spires of Christ Church up above many of Oxford’s other famous buildings. From the north side you have the best view of Radcliffe Square and the Bodliean Library, All Souls College, the Sheldonian Theatre and of course the Radcliffe Camera. Having had a bit of exercise you will deserve the coffee & cake in the Vaults cafe located underneath the church in one of Oxford's oldest meeting places!                           

Ashmolean Rooftop Restaurant

After a morning exploring the Ashmolean why not head upstairs and grab some lunch at the Rooftop Restaurant. With delicious food from local Oxford suppliers and a view of the Oxford spires from the terrace, this hidden gem is one of the most romantic places in Oxford. And if you’re not ready to commit to a full lunch or dinner, why not try their afternoon tea, served from 3pm daily.

Oxford University Parks

A favourite for Oxford locals to relax in during the summer, the University Parks also make a great place for a romantic walk in winter. If the weather is on your side, a picnic on the banks of the River Cherwell can make the perfect date. Gather up some delicious picnic food from a local Oxford deli and you have a great recipe for success.

Oxford Castle

This might sound like an odd suggestion if the mention of the Oxford Castle conjures up images of the dungeon, but trust us on this one. The old prison is now home to some of Oxford’s finest restaurants, most stylish bars and fanciest hotels. So why not take a romantic stroll up the 64ft tall grass mound, enjoy the panoramic views of Oxford, and then wander back down and enjoy a delicious meal.

Magdalen Bridge Punting

Magdalene BridgeThis might not be the most suitable option for a Valentine’s Day date, but during the summer months, hiring a punt and taking a trip down the River Cherwell is one of the most romantic things we can think of. Take along a picnic to enjoy as you cruise through the University parks and onto Christchurch Meadow. And if you’re feeling lazy, you can hire a punt chauffeur; but we think it’s more romantic to do it yourself. 

Image Credit: Colin Smith

Botanic Gardens

This might be one to save for a sunny day, but the wait will be worth it. Full of thousands of different plants in many different collections, you can spend hours walking around admiring the rainbow of colours and the beauty of the plants. With no restaurants or cafes on site, the Botanic Gardens are a perfect place for a romantic picnic.


Boars Hill Oxford

Boars Hill

A less well known part of Oxfordshire, the small hamlet of Boars Hill is an ideal place for a romantic walk and picnic. It may only be 3 miles southwest of Oxford, but apart from the beautiful views over the city, Boars Hill feels like true English countryside. There are many spots to sit down and enjoy your lunch, in peace and quiet.

Image Credit Derek Harper

Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

It might be a bit of a mouthful, but Le Manoir is one of the most luxurious places to stay in Oxfordshire and arguably the country. Based in Great Milton, Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin star restaurant and Hotel is the perfect place for a very romantic getaway.

You can spend your time at Le Manoir relaxing and enjoying the beautiful gardens, food and drink or you can get more involved and take part in a cookery class run by world class chefs. The hotel is only a short drive away from the centre of Oxford,

Pierre Victoire

Just down Little Clarendon Street in the centre of Oxford you will find “Oxford's busiest and best-loved independent French restaurant”. Pierre Victoire serves simple French food, and is a well-known Oxford favourite, and for this reason booking is always a good idea.

The prices for the great French food that is served are very reasonable and if you go for lunch, a 3 course meal is only £11.90 – an extremely good price for amazing food. The whole restaurant has a rustic, cosy feel which makes it the perfect place for a romantic date.

The Nut Tree

The Nut Tree may appear to be your usual village pub, but this is a bit different. The restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star 7 years in a row and has featured in a long list of restaurant guides. But don’t think that this cosy pub is trying to be a big city restaurant. It’s still a lovely pub with a great range of beer and wine that just so happens to serve wonderful food. The perfect place to take someone you really want to impress.

The Feathers

If after a long day of exploring Blenheim Palace you need somewhere to stay the night and relax, The Feathers is the ideal place. Located in Woodstock, just outside the Palace gates this hotel has a great selection of rooms, and an even better selection of gins. With over 200 behind the bar, this is the ideal place to bring a gin lover for a romantic weekend. And it’s not all about the drink; they have a great menu to refuel you after a day exploring.

If you think we’ve missed any romantic Oxford places off the list, let us know!

21st January 2015

How a Haberdashery Window Comes to Life

How a Haberdashery Window Comes to Life

To celebrate our rather wonderful Haberdashery section we've created a magical window, but how to create a window out of the rather small buttons, ribbons, scissors, wool, needles and zips etc that make up every good sewers or knitters kit bag? Chrissie our visual merchandiser has the answer. Make rather bigger and even more fun examples!

Cotton reel So we started off with same rather outsize cotton reels bought from an helpful Christmas elf, well not really but one does seem to have helped drop it off - see picture.

Haberdashery Preparation

Then Chrissie got busy with polystyrene and printed designs to create some fabulous buttons and used bottles to create the impressions of thousands of buttons. Then combine with some balls of wool...

What's any good dress maker without their trusty mannequin and scissors?

Don't go looking for any giant scissors in store though, as these are a flimsy plastic, useless to cut with but good for health and safety purposes. We have some rather more helpful real scissors.

Then to put them all together in our window, which is where the designer's eye comes in. Add a "dash" of hearts on the window, and there you go. We hope you love, sewing, knitting and habby as much as we do and don't forget we have new fabric ranges and a cutting table too.

Completed Haberdashery windowClose up Haberdashery window

8th January 2015

5 Top Tips for Dealing with Dry Skin after Winter

5 Top Tips for Dealing with Dry Skin after Winter

After the awful English winter weather comes the problem of dry skin. Too much wind, having the heating on all day, and not enough sun means your skin can feel uncomfortable and lacking in moisture. With nicer weather on the way as spring approaches, here are 5 tips on how to get your skin healthy again and ready for summer.

MoisturiseA Derma Moisturiser

You should moisturise all year round, but it’s especially important after the harshness of winter. Continue to exfoliate and moisturize your body through the winter months to give your skin a boost. A-Derma’s Exomega Emollient Balm is an ideal post-winter moisturiser; it’s been designed for dry skin and it’s fragrance and paraben free.

Reduce length of hot showers and baths

Prolonged hot showers and baths remove the natural oils from your body, reducing the moisture levels in your skin. Taking shorter, cooler baths and showers will help to prevent too much moisture loss. Always remember to moisturise after baths and showers as well, to replace the water your skin will have lost.

Turn the heating down – or even off

It’s understandable that the heating is on during winter, but reducing the humidity of a room reduces the moisture in your skin. When the temperatures outside increases a bit, try to reduce the heat in your home and layer up instead. This is also a good way to save money on your household bills.

Take vitamins regularly

Vitamins are essential to having a healthy body, especially for keeping skin in good condition. Ensure that you take vitamins regularly; also ensure that you eat more foods containing vitamin C, such as oranges, as vitamin C helps keep skin moisturised. Jason Organic Vit E Cream also contains vitamin E, topping your levels up even as you moisturise.Jason Vitamin E

Reduce Dehydration

Lack of moisture in the skin is caused by dehydration. Turning the heating down and taking shorter showers will reduce the amount of moisture your skin loses during the winter, but you also need to increase the amount of water you take in. Drink regularly throughout the day to make sure you’re consuming enough.

You should also consider eating more fish, especially oily fish like salmon and mackerel. The Omega 3 fatty acids in these fish help your body to absorb water, making you more efficient at replacing the moisture you lose.