Boswells Blog - 2018

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!

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


30th November 2018

Why Do We Give Gifts?

Why Do We Give Gifts?

This week in our series on gift-giving practices we’re taking a look at different theories for why we give each other gifts. The practice of gifting is so common in modern society that most of us don’t think about why we do it, but when you dig a little deeper you’ll discover a number of reasons for this tradition. Sometimes culture dictates when gifts are given, like on birthdays and at Christmas, while at other times, they’re given simply to build and reinforce relationships.


Giving someone a gift is a strong way to communicate your appreciation for the receiver. Some sociologists argue that this is the reason why we only give gifts to people we want relationships with. Certain gifts can also carry significant symbolic meaning and are used as a way of communicating with the receiver. Take for example flowers and engagement rings and what these tokens of appreciation symbolise when given to a romantic partner.


According to sociologist, Dimitri Mortelmans, giving someone a present creates a debt in the relationship, meaning that something is expected in return. When giving a gift to reciprocate, giving something much less valuable is considered a sign that you don’t appreciate the relationship equally. On the other hand, giving a much more valuable gift can also be a faux pas as this can create an embarrassing imbalance in the relationship.


As you can see, giving gifts is far from a simple practice and you can discover even more theories for why we give gifts in the visual below and the original article by Activity Superstore.

Why We Give Gifts Infographic Activity Superstore

Types of Gifts Infographic Activity Superstore

23rd November 2018

The History of Gift Giving

The History of Gift Giving

With December and the festive period fast approaching, many of us are looking for inspiration when it comes to finding the best, most unique gifts to give to our loved ones. To help you with this challenging task, we have three exciting blog posts to share with you on the psychology and history of giving gifts in the run-up to Christmas.

This week, we’ll be taking a look at the history of gifting. The practice seems to have been around for almost as long as human civilisation has existed, with cavemen giving each other unusually-shaped rocks and animal teeth to show their appreciation for each other.

In Ancient Egypt the deceased were given gifts to bring with them to the afterlife. These gifts were buried with the dead and consisted of everyday necessities such as bowls and food, with wealthier people also being buried with amulets, jewellery and other valuables.

In Medieval Europe, gifts were given to forge and strengthen social bonds. Dowries were a prominent example of this, with the father of the bride showering the groom with gifts such as land, money and livestock, amongst other things.


Have a look at the illustration below for some of the most famous gifts throughout history and come back next week for the next installment in our series on gift-giving with Activity Superstore - you can read their full article here.

Activity Superstore Infographic Psychology of Gifting History

21st November 2018

The Top Toys to Look Out for this Christmas, 2018

The Top Toys to Look Out for this Christmas, 2018

Another Christmas is almost here! As exciting as that is, we all know that there’s a lot of preparation to go into the celebrations between now and then. And, with new toys appearing in the shops all the time, figuring out what will make the perfect gift for a special child can be a perplexing thing indeed. With that in mind, we’ve saved you some of the work and put together our predictions for which toys are going to be big this year.

Collectable Card Games

Yu-Gi-Oh! Mega Tin ImageYu-Gi-Oh! trading card game is a seasoned favourite. Keep an eye out for the Yu-Gi-Oh! Mega Tin set in the coming weeks, as these are proving popular already.

The tin comes with one of 2 designs on the cover of the tin, and inside you’ll find a selection of the past year’s cards, as well as some new surprises to keep things interesting.


Hearing Things Game Image

Looking for some fun with the family this festive season? We think we might just have the game for you! Hearing Things is a fantastic new game that allows you plenty of opportunities to mildly embarrass yourself as you attempt to guess what phrases the family are saying to you, purely by lip reading. Pop on a pair of fetching looking speech cancelling headphones and try to decipher the phrase…it promises some good giggles as it really is harder than it sounds!

Fun with Science

Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty ImageOur science toy section always proves to be one of the busiest parts of the shop in the run up to Christmas. What better way to learn, after all, than through play! Last year it was all about the slime and, although that certainly hasn’t completely changed, we’re predicting putty to be huge this year. What’s the difference you ask? While slime has quite a runny consistency, putty is thicker, can be a bit more pliable and is definitely less likely to spill all over the floor!

We have some very special putties in stock at the moment, with Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty range offering weird and wonderful versions of this squashy toy. We particularly love the Cosmic Northern lights Thinking Putty, which has a tinge of aurora colours in it, but it also amazingly glows sky blue in the dark! Wowza!

Power Tracks ImageIf you’re looking for something less gooey, though, who doesn’t love a good remote-control toy to drive the family mad with on Christmas day? The Science Museum Heliball  is one of our favourites and can keep a wide age range amused. This flying remote control toy can detect when it’s near a surface and move away accordingly! 

Power Tracks also promises to bring lots of fun to the table this Christmas, as kid’s can get their first taste of programming, as they give commands to adorable robot, Volty, to move in whatever direction they choose! It’s a fantastic introduction to STEM, but also, who doesn’t love robots!

Interactive Electronic Toys

Little Live Pets Wrapples Image

Speaking of robots, you might want to take a peek at these new arrivals!

Pokibot is a tiny little robot, but packed with great features and functions that are bound to keep the kids entertained well beyond Christmas. You can record your voice and play it back, watch Pokibot dance and spin and move about and, rather impressively, if you have more than 1, the Pokibots will interact with each other!

You may have heard of Little Live Pets Wrapples recently, but might be wondering just what exactly these are… Wrapples are little electronic pets that you can wear on your wrist. They talk, sing, giggle and purr and are both a pet and a friend that children can keep by their side, wherever they are. They’re furry, friendly and even have light up eyes. We reckon that these are going to be a big hit this year, because of the cunning combination of cuteness and portability that these fuzzy little friends offer!

Harry Potter

Hermione Grainger Doll ImageAs you may very well have heard, 2018 marks 20 years of Harry Potter. Thankfully this has meant a mountain of amazing new Harry Potter toys! Here are a couple we predict being in high demand this Christmas…

Ah yes, what could be better than Harry Potter? Harry Potter LEGO®, of course! This amazing Hogwarts Great Hall set is made up of 878 pieces to help you to build the most iconic of buildings from the Harry Potter universe in your own home. We reckon this will bring a lot of joy to quite a few people’s Christmas’s!

Also released this year were the range of Harry Potter articulated dolls. These detailed character toys are poseable, so all those favourite scenes can be recreated through play, and new stories invented too! We think this 25cm Hermione Grainger doll looks pretty realistic!

Hot Wheels

Hot Wheels Pack of 10 ImageA perennial favourite, Hot Wheels have proven popular for 50 years…well we’re impressed! This year, we’re delighted to introduce the 10 car pack, which is exactly as it sounds. Each pack comes with an assortment of cool little cars to send down ramps, round loop de loops and more than likely under furniture (rescuing them from the sofa is, of course, part of the fun!)

LOL Surprise

LOL Surprise Image

A new toy to the scene this time last year, LOL Surprise has stayed as big as ever. We think that the LOL Surprise Innovation Doll and the LOL Surprise Glam Glitter Doll are both ones to look out for this Christmas. The Innovation Doll contains a LOL surprise doll in disguise, waiting to have their true-identity discovered, while the Glam Glitter Doll brings a sparkly touch to things, which sounds about perfect for Christmas to us!

TY Flippables

TY Flippables ImageThe TY Flippables arrived at Boswells only a couple of weeks ago, and immediately started flying off the shelves. Although they’re selling extremely quickly, don’t worry, we do still have some of these adorable cuddlies ready for you to take home. If you don’t know what a TY Flippable is, think of a Beanie Boo that’s covered in reversable sequins! They’re cute, shiny, and lots of fun (well we had to have a play ourselves, of course, just to be sure…)

So, there you go, our predictions for some of the biggest toy hits this Christmas. We hope that you’re now feeling a little less daunted by the prospect of all that planning and shopping, but if you do still need a helping hand our staff are more than happy to help you to find that perfect gift. A very merry Christmas to you, from all of us at Boswells!

16th November 2018

Preparing Your Kitchen for the Festive Family Season

Preparing Your Kitchen for the Festive Family Season

Image: Pexels

As the year draws to a close, the kitchen begins to become the epicentre of family festivities, big and small. Whether it’s a friend dropping by for their pressie and a brew, or the whole family calling in for a mammoth Christmas dinner, the social hustle and bustle of the festive season means your kitchen has to be fully prepared for every eventuality—luckily, we’re here to help.

Today, we’ll explore the many different ways you can ensure you’re ready to make this winter period one you’ll never forget.

Free Up Surface Space

Clutter is the Ebenezer Scrooge of the Christmas kitchen. Messy surfaces will inhibit both your cooking and hosting capabilities, so keep worktops and dining surfaces clear at all times to ensure nothing hinders the festive fun.

For those with a kitchen island, utilise the surface by making it a service space for all those tasty treats and snacks, served on a food display stand for functionality and cute festive aesthetics. For those kitchens without space for a central kitchen island, simply spread your special selection of snacks on a granite worktop that can be wiped down quickly and easily, lasting for many Christmases to come.

Maximise Your Storage

A great way to assist in the decluttering of your surface space is through maximising your available storage options.

Wall-mounted and tall storage cabinets offer effective utilisation of vertical space in smaller kitchens and can be used to store any additional plates and bowls that those rumbling festive tummies require.

There are plenty of food storage options available for all types of snacks, nibbles and delights - and you should invest in these ahead of time to ensure you can accommodate the somewhat dreaded, but all-important Christmas supermarket shop. Having plenty of storage capability will reduce the need to go back and forth to the shop throughout the festive period, meaning once the big shop is done you’re able to sit back and relax with a glass of mulled wine, assured that you’ve got enough food in to fill the bellies of family, friends, Santa and his reindeer.

 Christmas Cooking Image

 Image Credit: Unsplash

Accommodate Everyone

One of the most stressful parts of the festive season is trying to be an accommodating host to everyone. With everyone from the newborn nephew right up to Great Grandad Terry dropping by throughout the festive season, it’s important to plan ahead of time to ensure you’re fully equipped to suit all demands.

First, make sure your cupboards are well stocked with enough glassware to accommodate all the adults—after all, it’s not a festive celebration until the drinks start flowing! Ensure you’ve got mugs, tea cups and teapots for those laid-back, early-bird Christmas catch-ups, while investing in some plastic cups for those contrastingly crazy visits from the littlies.

The festive season is a unique opportunity to create long-lasting memories with family and friends, old and new. Following these tips will help you ensure your kitchen is fully prepped for the season ahead, meaning you spend less time worrying about your hosting capabilities and more time spending those precious festive moments with the ones who matter most.

26th October 2018

Meet The Ghost of Boswells of Oxford

Meet The Ghost of Boswells of Oxford

280 years is a long time for any business to survive and thrive as Boswells has, and so you may not be surprised to hear that over time we've acquired our very own ghost. With the nights growing dark, and the ghouls of Halloween creeping from their hiding places, as they do every year, we thought we'd share our own chilling tales with you.

The legend goes that George worked as a Pharmacist at Boswells in the early 20th century, and met his untimely end at the bottom of the dumb waiter shaft, which runs through the building to this day. Stories of George clattering about the building, knocking stock on the floor have been common amongst the staff ever since. And, on the odd occasion, he's even been seen in the building! He also commonly vanishes useful objects such as stationary, and so, if you're reading this George, the Web Team would like their marker pens back please!


Your Memories of George the Ghost

Dumb Waiter Lift Base Image

When gathering customer recollections of Boswells, earlier this year,  Peter reminisced about seeing George when working in our Pharmacy.

"Whilst doing a temp role in Boswells Pharmacy department/store room I had a great experience of the resident ghost. I was told of old 'George.' I saw his ghost by the dumb waiter. Not at all scary--in fact I felt his happiness to re-visit the department he worked in. But I also felt his life was ended tragically. I guess he loves the old store a lot! Good old George!"

He's typically quite a shy character, and so sightings are very rare, but other forms of spooky encounter are fairly commonplace around here.


Poltergeist or Prankster?

Ghost ImageWe asked current and former members of Boswells staff if they had ever personally encountered George the ghost, and here's what they told us...

Sharon works in our Pharmacy, and on one occasion encountered George's mischievous side. She told us: "I was in the Toys Department one day and a piece of LEGO was thrown at my leg. Nobody was there. Stock [often] falls off the shelves...George is a very cheeky ghost."

Sharon was not the only one to come across stock thrown from the shelves, in fact quite a few people mentioned this to us. Kim, a former member of Boswells staff, told us that: "One time I was speaking with [a colleague] and all the stuff fell off the shelves in Linens!" Being on the 2nd floor of the store, in an area with no external windows, she pointed out that this could not have been the wind. 

Bella used to work in our Linens department, and not only did she see stock inexplicably fall on the floor, she told us that she once also felt a hand brushing through her hair!George Writing Image

All in all, we'd have to say that George is a pretty friendly and well meaning ghost. On one recent occasion, in our web office, the printer suddenly sprang into life, unexpectedly printing off a sheet that simply said "good morning." It's certainly good to know that George has been keeping up with technological advancements since his death...

He's Behind You...

Creepy Manekins Image

Have you ever been somewhere completely by yourself, but sworn that you could hear footsteps? Perhaps you've just met George, going about his daily haunting business. Invisibly sneaking up on our staff is one of George's favourite pastimes! 

Angie from our Accessories department described her encounter with George to us. "One afternoon while I was taking some empty boxes out to the bins, I heard footsteps behind me, quite clearly. As I turned around there was no one there, just an eerie feeling!"

Creepy Moon ImageWho knows what a ghost gets up to when he has a whole department store to himself at night. Anne from Toys told us a chilling story of some of George's late-night antics.

She said that: "A couple of years ago, my manager and I were behind the till (Games) and we served a student who had not long arrived to the city. She was staying in a room that joins onto Boswells and mentioned that she could hear the night security guard walking about and banging about. Both my boss and I looked at each other, then back to the customer and informed her that we had no night security guard, nor was anyone working over night in the building." Our apologies to anyone else out there who has found our resident ghost to be a noisy neighbour while staying nearby!


The Scene of the Crime

Staircase ImageLaura from our Luggage Department has been un/fortunate enough to have had more than one run in with our resident phantom. "I was covering in China and Electrical when the till [used to be] by the stairs. It was really quiet and no one was around and I heard footsteps coming from the sub-basement stairs as they are wooden. I waited for someone to come one did." But George wasn't done there, as he felt like startling Laura once again...

"One weekend I was up on fourth-floor pricing stock. I was on my own...when I heard footsteps coming towards me. Once again, the floor was wooden. I looked, and no one was there. I assumed it was George."

We don't think that Laura is aware of this, but the sub-basement, where she first heard the footsteps, is where the base of the dumb-waiter shaft is, and the fourth floor stock room is where this shaft would have originally begun at the time of George's demise. Her two encounters were in precisely the parts of the building where George fell, and where he landed.

Spooky coincidence? We'll let you decide...


22nd October 2018

Celebrating Bonfire Night in and Around Oxford 2018

Celebrating Bonfire Night in and Around Oxford 2018

Gunpowder Plotters ImageRemember, remember the 5th of November, or so the saying traditionally goes. It was, of course, on this infamous date in 1605 that a group of 13 gunpowder plotters attempted to bring both King and parliament to an explosive end with 36 barrels of hidden gunpowder. Guy Fawkes, the most remembered of the plotters—not, in fact, the leader of the conspirators but rather the man caught holding the lantern in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament—will be burned in effigy up and down the country in the coming days to mark the anniversary of the thwarting of the plot, as has become the custom.

Those who enjoyed last year's BBC series Gunpowder will understand that a with many of our traditions the reality was somewhat more gruesome and serious than our current celebrations which as well as bonfires aplenty include fireworks, hot dogs, burgers, and even funfairs to accompany the burning of "the Guy." So yep, 410 years on from Guy Fawkes’ arrest the act of remembering gunpowder, treason and plot is far from being “forgot,” and has grown into a full scale annual tradition. 

To mark this occasion, and to help you make the most of Guy Fawkes Night, we’ve gathered up a list of upcoming bonfire and firework events in and around Oxford!

Fireworks Image

2nd November

22nd Oxford Sea Scouts Firework Display—OX4 4BJ (Fundraising firework display, BBQ, 5pm).
Botley School Fireworks, Oxford—OX2 9JZ (Fireworks and BBQ, 6pm).
Hanborough Musical Fireworks—The Pavillion, OX29 8JG (Fireworks to music, refreshments and funfair, 6pm).

3rd November

Bicester Round Table Firework Display and Bonfire—Pingle Field (Fireworks, fairground and refreshments and music, 6pm).
Oxford Round Table Fireworks Display—South Park (50th annual charity fireworks display, live music, refreshments and funfair, gates open 4:30pm, fireworks 6:45 followed by bonfire). Using KimBolton fireworks the same company we sell in store.
Blenheim Palace Halloween Firework Display—Woodstock (Firework Spectacular at Windsor Racecourse with pyrotechnics, spooky projections, 5:30pm).

4th November

Dorchester on Thames Village Firework Display—Recreation Ground, Dorchester on Thames (5:30pm).

Witney RFC Bonfire and Fireworks Spectacular—Witney Rugby Club (Fireworks, bonfire and refreshments, Guy competition, 6pm, fireworks 7pm).


5th November

Bonfire Night at the Plough, Wolvercote—OX2 8BD (Fireworks and BBQ, 5pm).

10th November

Abingdon Festival of Fireworks—Norden Farm Centre for the Arts (Fireworks, bonfire, funfair, food and pyromusical display, 5pm).


Lantern Image

We also recommend taking a November trip to The Ashmolean Museum where, in the basement, you will find the lantern purported to be the very one Guy Fawkes had with him in the cellars of Parliament on November 5th 1605.

If you know of any other firework or bonfire events taking place nearby we’d love to hear from you. You can email us at or contact us via facebook or twitter.

Image copyright of Ben Sutherland.

We also sell a range of KimBolton fireworks in store—which are also available through the click and collect option on our website—so if you’re planning your own display, big or small, we can help you to make this bonfire night something a bit special. If you’re not sure what kind of fireworks you need you can always pop in to store to talk to one of the members of staff on our fireworks desk (near the Cornmarket entrance) who will be happy to help.

So wrap up warm, get to a display nice and early for the perfect view, and remember, remember the 5th of November in sparkly, spectacular style!

19th October 2018

Making the Most of Autumn

Making the Most of Autumn

Image Credit: Wondrousink Ltd, cropped from original.

The evenings are getting darker, the leaves are changing to hues of red and gold and there’s an unmistakable crispness in the air. There’s no denying it, Autumn is finally upon us! To prepare you for the chilly months ahead we’ve put together a guide to some useful products to help you make the most of this gorgeous, if frosty, season.

Staying Cosy at Home

Banishing the Cold


Stay warm: this is really the key to the season. There are a number of ways to go about making your home warm and welcoming this autumn, from the little things such as warming up a hot water bottle, to burying yourself under a mountain of warm and snuggly blankets.

Perhaps the most important change you will need to make in your home as the long nights draw closer is to get hold of a warm Autumn/Winter duvet, preferably 13.5 tog or more (the higher the tog rating, the thicker and warmer the duvet!). 

Hudson Throws Image

For those who particularly feel the cold, we have one crucial word for you: layers! Blankets and throws can be added to your bed to keep you extra-warm, and they’re great for curling up under on the sofa too. 

For added reinforcement against the chill weather a hot water bottle can be a loyal ally, as can a microwavable warmer. These come in standard wheat pouches—some of which can be used to soothe aches and pains as well—as well as in cuddly-creature form. A halogen or convection heater may also be worth investing in to take the edge off the weather.

Making the Most of the Weather

It may be getting cold outside, but it’s really the perfect excuse for spoiling yourself with a warm drink and a hot bath (not necessarily at the same time). In fact, while tea and coffee are year-round mainstays, hot chocolate and cocoa are never better than when enjoyed on a cold Autumnal evening.

A milk pan will help you to make delicious and warming beverages—we highly recommend adding some marshmallows, and if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, a little whipped cream too! Alternatively, stop by our 1738 Tea Room or our Broad Street Cafe to enjoy a hot drink without the fuss of having to prepare it yourself!

Candles Image

As for the bath, we suggest throwing in a scented bath melt to help you unwind while you thaw in the tub. You could also try a reed diffuser or an oil burner to spread soothing seasonal scents around your home.

As we plunge into the darker portion of the year a little light goes a long way. For atmosphere some candles can make a big difference, we have a huge selection to choose from. However if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder you may want to try a daylight bulb to bring a little more brightness to your home.

It’s also a good idea to have a torch on hand for unexpected power-cuts or even just a small one to fit on your keyring to help you to get into the warm that little bit faster. If you're a dedicated cyclist, bold enough to get on your bike at any time of the year, then we have some bike lights to help you light your way. 

Venturing Outside

Wrapping up Warm

Scarves imageWho knows what the typically unpredictable British climate will have in store for us this Autumn, but it pays to be prepared. After all, stepping out your door needn’t be an ordeal.

By now you’ve probably dug your winter coat out from the back of the cupboard and reunited yourself with whatever it was you left in your pockets the last time it was cold, but throwing on a scarf, hat and gloves as it gets colder will also help make outside all the more hospitable.

You could also try a thermos flask so that you never need be parted from a hot drink or soup while you’re out and about. The Thermos ThermoCafé range has a whole host of great flasks to choose from.

And, as with bedding, the key word for staying warm this time of year is layers! Bundling up under your coat is one of the best ways to keep in the heat, so layers are a wise choice if it gets especially nippy.

 Keeping Dry


The other important thing to remember about the weather this time of year is actually a year-round concern—sooner or later it is bound to rain! Nevertheless, getting caught in a downpour on a cold Autumn day can be infinitely more unpleasant than on a warm summer’s one, and the cold and flu season is indeed now here. It’s more important than ever, then, to have a good umbrella  to hand.

Autumnal Festivities

Pumpkin It’s finally that time of year again when gruesomeness becomes a matter of décor and ghoulishness is positively encouraged. Halloween is a bit of spooky fun, and the occasion warrants a perfectly chilling costume, whatever your age! 

If you’re planning on transforming your home into something a little scarier this Halloween, or if you’re throwing a party, some fake spider webs can be a fun way to add some eerie atmosphere. If you’re planning on carving something magnificently ghastly into a pumpkin then tea lights are a great way of showing off your work—just be sure to watch those fingers!


As we near Bonfire night, we will have a  whole host of fireworks available in store, ready fro the big night itself. Keep an eye out for updates on local firework displays on our website and social media, or pop in to store soon to see if we can help you light up the night sky from your own garden.

Whatever you do this Autumn though, just remember to enjoy this beautiful season while it lasts!

14th October 2018

Winter City Breaks: What to Pack for Your Long Weekend Away

Winter City Breaks: What to Pack for Your Long Weekend Away

Image: Pixabay

With the cold and dark nights of Winter right around the corner, there’s no better time to book that weekend getaway. But whether you’re a greenhorn globetrotter or a veteran voyager, when it comes to deciding what clothes to pack, we’re all just as hopeless as each other. Luckily, today we’ll be offering our best tips for packing a suitcase that ensures you remain versatile, comfortable and stylish no matter where you’re jetting off to.


The key for packing for your weekend away is versatility. As such, consider a day outfit and a night outfit to ensure you have something to wear for any occasion. A classic day dress, for example, assures comfort and style throughout the day. Whether you’re navigating your way around the streets of an exciting new city or exploring fascinating museums and attractions, a day dress typically lends itself to a number of different styles and climates to make sure you’re looking your best whatever the weather. 

Once night falls, it’s always nice to be able to glam it up. A classy evening dress for that fancy restaurant on the harbour or that scenic rooftop bar ensures you’re looking and feeling your best during those unforgettable holiday moments.


Lightweight layers are ideal for weekend getaways as they can be packed tightly into suitcases with limited space (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t have limited space in their suitcase). Thin cashmeres and silks can be easily taken on and off without the burden of lugging heavy layers around, meaning they’re the perfect versatile addition to any outfit. Furthermore, layers often lend themselves perfectly to mixing and matching, so you can get multiple outfits from fewer items. 

If you're visiting a country that favours modest dress, or if you simply love a modest style, consider packing a couple of stylish hijabs to ensure you can mix up your style daily. Abayas also offer the same great benefit of supplying that extra layer whenever needed, and offer you the opportunity to choose a light style that matches your headwear.


Accessories are often overlooked during the hectic packing stage, as many people feel they’re not a travel necessity. However, accessories are the golden secret to looking stylish on holiday. Why? They can add that extra little oomph to any outfit, without taking up too much space in your suitcase. Throw in a couple of pairs of your favourite earrings, necklaces and bracelets to have the option of adding that extra ‘wow’ factor to your outfits, both day and night.

The Little Things

Occasionally overlooked at the last minute; remembering the little things will make all the difference to your weekend away.

Whether it’s making sure you have the correct travel adaptor to ensure your phone stays charged for those holiday snaps, or packing particular travel essentials for a seamless and stress-free flight, remembering the little things is vital to making your weekend away the very best it can be.


We saved the most important for last - a pair of comfy shoes are an absolute must on any holiday. Likelihood is, you’ll be doing a lot of walking whilst exploring the ins and outs of your destination, so prioritise comfort over style to save yourself that trip to the pharmacy for plasters on day two. But this doesn’t mean you’ll be getting a call from the fashion police. A simple pair of Converse will provide a suitable walking pump that still looks cute with any daytime outfit. 

For nights, pack a pair of multi-purpose heels that will look just as at home in the theatre as they will in a trendy bar or restaurant. Opt for a neutral colour with a smaller heel - both your suitcase and your feet will thank you! 

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Image Credit: Pixabay

The key to packing for any weekend getaway is to make outfit choices that are versatile and comfortable, whilst remaining fashionable. Following these tips will ensure you have something for every occasion, without filling an extra suitcase - just don’t leave your packing to the last minute!

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