Boswells Blog - March 2015

30th March 2015

Things to do around Oxford this Easter

Things to do around Oxford this Easter

With Easter just around the corner, the kids will have a couple of weeks off school, so we’ve put together this post of great things to do in Oxfordshire to help make sure you make the most of the holiday.

Boswells Easter Rabbit Hunt

Boswells Easter Hunt

This Easter come in store and take part in our Easter Rabbit Hunt! Pick up an entry form from one of the tills and then search the store high and low to find the mischievous rabbits that are hiding. Once you’ve found them all head back to the till to collect your prize.

http://www.boswells.co.uk/competition/10-easter-rabbit-hunt

Bitten Street

The brilliant Bitten Street from Bitten Oxford returns to the Oxford Castle Quarter on the 4th of April. The castle is taken over by street food traders from across the country serving their delicious food to the people of Oxford. From Happy Cakes to Mac and Cheese Pizzas, there will be something there for the whole family to enjoy!

Their March event was immensely popular and having already announced a few of the traders who will be at the April event, we’re sure this will be even better. Just remember to follow their advice and arrive hungry! If you are thinking lunchtime we recommend arriving early as it is popular and queues can be long after noon.

https://www.facebook.com/events/831308026929608/

Ice Rink

The Oxford ice rink has been a favourite for many years, and if you’re looking to get active this Easter and burn off all those chocolate eggs, a few laps of the ice rink is one of the most enjoyable ways. Open 7 days a week.

https://www.fusion-lifestyle.com/centres/Oxford_Ice_Rink 

Earth Trust Easter Outdoor Fun

Wittenham Clumps

Get outside this half term and take part in the great activities that the Earth Trust have got planned at Wittenham Clumps. From egg rolling to an Easter Bunny hunt, there are lots of events to keep the family entertained!

http://www.earthtrust.org.uk/Explore/WhatsOn/14-12-02/Easter_Outdoor_Fun.aspx

Oxford Playhouse

Michael Morpurgo’s I Don’t Believe in Unicorns has been adapted for stage and will be coming to the Oxford Playhouse over the Easter holidays. The story follows Tomas’s discovery of the magic of books and his mission to protect everything that matters to him. As well as the performances there is also a great workshop that kids can take part in.

http://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/show/?eventid=3295

(Image Credits)

Orienteering at Shotover Park

Get active this Easter and take part in a great orienteering event at Shotover Park in Oxford. With different courses for all abilities and age groups it promises hours of fun and adventure. There is coaching available for beginners, so you don’t get too lost.
This event is part of a series of four arranged across Oxford.

http://www.tvoc.org.uk/application/views/events/saturdayseries_view.php

Caldecotte Miniature Railway

Easter Sunday is the opening day of the year for the Caldecotte Miniature Railway. A great day out for kids and adults, you can see the country side from one of their locomotives for just £1 for two trips around! Open every Sunday and bank holiday from April – October.

http://mkmes.org.uk/

Hinksey Pool

Just outside the city centre, Hinksey Pool has been an Oxford favourtie favourite since 1934. Opening on April 3rd for the start of the summer season, this large outdoor pool offers a place for families to come and enjoy a day of fun, or an area where more serious swimmers can swim laps.
There is also a great splash park for younger children.

https://www.fusion-lifestyle.com/centres/Hinksey_Outdoor_Pool

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19th March 2015

Easter Recipe: Sachertorte

Easter Recipe: Sachertorte

For her second guest post on the Life's a Journey blog Julia at Happy Cakes has chosen one of her Easter favourites - the Sachertorte. Famously created for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in Vienna in 1832 by 16 year old apprentice chef Franz Sacher this dark, dense, chocolatey cake is definitely a favourite of the Happy Cakes team and is a real treat for Easter.

This cake keeps well so will last the whole Easter weekend – if you can resist it! To make it you'll need...

Equipment

  • A 10” cake tin, greased and lined with baking parchment
  • Two large, clean mixing bowls
  • Kitchen scales
  • Whisk (an electric whisk will make life easy, if not then a metal balloon whisk)
  • Large metal spoon (electric mixer optional for creaming the butter and sugar)
  • Teaspoon
  • Desert spoon
  • Sharp knife or metal skewer
  • Wire rack or roasting rack (to rest the cake on)
  • Sieve

Ingredients

For the torte

  • 7 eggs, separated in to yolks and whites
  • 220g softened butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 270g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids is best)
  • 140g self raising flour, sieved
  • 3.5 tablespoons cocoa powder, sieved
  • 3 tablespoons brandy or orange juice
For the glaze
  • 150g granulated sugar
  •  250g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • 7 tablespoons of water
  • Apricot jam

Method

Make the Sachertorte

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 C
  2. Whisk the egg whites in a clean grease free bowl to form soft peaks. You should whisk plenty of air into the egg whites but don’t make them too stiff or it will be too hard to fold them into the cake batter later on. When soft peaks have formed set the bowl aside
  3. Melt the chocolate slowly in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water (We sometimes do this in a plastic bowl in the microwave but you have to do it in short bursts and keep stirring)
  4. While the chocolate is melting cream together the softened butter and caster sugar in another clean large bowl, until pale and fluffy
  5. Stir the egg yolks into the creamed butter and sugar
  6. Add the melted chocolate and brandy or orange juice and stir well
  7. Carefully fold in the flour and cocoa powder using a large metal spoon in a figure-of-eight motion
  8. Finally, fold in the egg whites. Make sure they are evenly mixed but try not to overwork the mixture as you'll knock all the air out of the egg whites, meaning your Sachertorte will not rise
  9. Spoon your mix into your prepared tin making sure it’s level
  10. Bake for 40-45 minutes until springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean
  11. Leave in the tin to cool completely
  12. When your torte is cool cut a thin layer off the top cake to make it level
  13. With a plate on top, flip your torte over onto a wire cooling rack ready for glazing
Glazing the Sachertorte
  1. Put all the glaze ingredients in a pan and melt on a low heat
  2. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring and making sure it doesn’t start to burn
  3. Leave to stand for 15 minutes to cool and thicken slightly
  4. Warm a couple of tablespoons of apricot jam, sieve it and brush a thin layer over your cake
  5. Very quickly pour your glaze over your cake, smoothing with a palette knife
  6. Using a slice, transfer your cake to your serving plate
  7. Once the icing is set, melt a little more dark chocolate or some milk chocolate and pipe the word "Sacher" with a flourish over your cake
You should store your Sachertorte at room temperature.

Slice of Sachertorte
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2nd March 2015

Everyday Essentials for the Commuter

Everyday Essentials for the Commuter

Most of us have some sort of commute to work by bus, train, car or bicycle and there are a number of everyday essentials that make our lives easier and able to handle problems that arise. So here's our suggesions for a comfortable life in todays hustle & bustle.

A Good Office Bag

Office BagMale or female we need to carry a number of electronic gadgets these days as well as those handy essentials below. We have often taken a great deal of care in our appearance to look neat & professional so don't let your office bag let you down. A carrier bag or party girl/boy bag is probably not the look you are going for.

An efficient bag that can contain your work & personal essentials shouldn't be too cumbersome to carry every day. There are many smart shoulder bags & backpacks. It needs to provide security, particularly if you use crowded public transport, but still allow you to access key compartments without fuss. A comfortable handle or shoulder strap is also important. Always try a bag out by walking around & adding a weight to simulate weight. Don't be afraid to adjust the straps!

Tablet CaseA Tablet Case

For business or pleasure many of us carry a tablet around and even though a good office bag will have a compartment for a laptop or tablet protecting the tablet as we carry it around (which is the point of them after all) is essential. Anyone who has cracked a screen will recommend one.

notebookPen and Paper

pen and pencilYes we are all gadgeted up but having good old pen & paper to hand can be a lifesaver when you can't make a note and be on the phone at the same time or the charge has run out on those marvellous pieces of kit. It's also easy to pass on a note or scribble a thought. A smart looking notebook and pen will still look professional and rather classic. If you prefer pencil then an automatic pencil will protect the lead whilst being carried around better than a manual & look smart too.

 An Umbrella

umbrellaWhether using public transport or a car you are likely to be exposed to the elements at some point or just want to pop out at lunchtime. Having a bag sized umbrella for emergencies that can withstand the more extreme winds etc that we encounter these days will keep you dry and presentable. You can even be the saviour of a less prepared colleague... 

A Multi-Tool

multi-toolOnly recommended to contain blades for those who can control access to their bag (we don't want any little hands getting hold of even a small blade), but very useful to have for clothing, biking or other mechnical emergencies or even a lunch time picnic. As well as the famous Victorinox brand with all the handy variations of the tools you might want to consider a small torch multi-tool.  

Earphones

If you travel by some form of public transport or you walk you may enjoy listening to music or an audiobook as you go. If you are a sensory mult-tasker you may even be a reader & listener at the same time. So a pair of earphones are essential for your listening pleasure and to keep your fellow commuters happy.

bicycle repair kitFor bicycle commuters

You will have a whole other set of essentials including waterproofs that you like to carry but if we can recommend; 

If you travel in your business clothes then a smart set of bicycle clips are a must and be ready for mechanical emergencies with a bicycle repair kit and if we can suggest a Travel First Aid kit for bumps and scrapes.

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