Boswells Blog - February 2019

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!

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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’.

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