Boswells Blog

26th May 2016

A Boswells Visit to Dartington Crystal

A Boswells Visit to Dartington Crystal

Choosing a gift for a very special birthday or occasion can be difficult. What do you get for someone who has everything? Boswells has a large selection of great quality gifts, so that’s where I started my search. 

Dartington Vase Image

Obviously there would be wine, so glasses and decanters might be nice, and of course bouquets of flowers would need vases. It soon became clear, crystal clear in fact, that I should be looking at Dartington Crystal!

Torrington Image

One of my favourite days out was to the Dartington Crystal Visitor Centre and Factory Experience in North-West Devon, where I enjoyed learning about the history of the only remaining crystal brand still producing in the United Kingdom. During my trip I was told about how the vision, nay “Euro-vision,” of Dorothy and Leonard Elmhurst resulted in a team of talented Swedish glass makers coming to rural Devon in 1967. At that time unemployment in the area was high and rural craft based skills were in decline, so the Dartington Hall Trust opened a new glass making factory in Torrington.

(Image Credit)

Dartington Decanter ImageIn the new factory, those 16 Swedish craftsmen passed on their love of glass blowing and trained the locals to create simple, clear glass for the UK market. Over the years Dartington Crystal has grown to also include Royal Brierley Crystal, Caithness Glass and John Beswick giftware.

Nearly 50 years on and Dartington continues to use high quality natural materials to create beautiful, handmade lead crystal and glassware. The Sharon collection, designed by the late Frank Thrower in 1971, comprises such high quality crystalware that it was included in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Power of Making, 100 greatest designs exhibition.

Visiting Dartington

Dartington Glass ImageOn occasion the staff at Boswells are fortunate enough to get to visit our suppliers and see the amazing work that goes into producing some of the things that we sell. Dartington has been a real highlight for any lucky members of staff who’ve had the chance to visit.

Dartington Factory Image

After being one of the visitors to Torrington, Jane in our Cookshop observed that Dartington is a bit like Boswells, as you can tell that the staff are not only happy in their work, but they also love to tell people about it. She commented that “It feels like a small family run business; everyone is important, with important roles.” Seeing the work that the people at Dartington are doing, it soon becomes clear why this friendly atmosphere is important, since working with glass is very tricky, and it takes twelve years to become a Master Blower!

Kerry's Glass ImageOn the tour I watched these skilled men and women working together as a team, transforming molten crystal into elegant shapes. They obviously love their jobs and enjoy sharing their skills. I didn’t have a go at blowing glass, but others who did were able to take home a unique souvenir.

Dartington Glass Blower Image

Kerry, from our China & Glass Department, was another lucky Dartington visitor and did have a go at glass blowing; we're very impressed by the result! 

The above photo is the glass kerry made.

After her visit, and seeing just what goes in to making the crystalware, she commented that she “Realised why they were so expensive—when you see the work and craftsmanship that goes into each piece.”

Handmade crystal is understandably expensive, as it takes years of practice to be able to produce almost identical pieces to such high standards. Meanwhile, Nick Davey, the Master Engraver, hand engraves the crystal and creates pictures so lifelike you can almost see them move. Any pieces that don’t make the grade are recycled as cullet (waste that can be re-melted) or can be sold as seconds in the factory outlet. Given the skill that goes into making each piece It’s no wonder that masterpieces can be commissioned for thousands.

Dartington Essentials Champagne FluteFortunately the Dartington ranges you’ll find in our China & Glass and Gifts Departments won’t set you back anywhere near that much. All of our Dartington Crystal is sure to catch the eye, but not to completely empty your pockets, and we currently have some great savings on the Dartington Wine & Bar Essentials range that are definitely worth a look.

Making the Most of Your Crystal

There is a lovely, satisfying feeling to gently cleaning and polishing heavy crystal glasses and holding them up to the light to admire the sparkle. But sometimes life gets suddenly busy, and on those days wouldn’t it be great to just stick them in the dishwasher? Well thanks to Dartington's new Shine On range, you can!

Shine On Red Wine ImageThese glasses are specifically designed with heat treated rims to resist chipping and with shorter stems and curved profiles to minimise contact between other items in the dishwasher. The material is designed to be strong and durable and with a long lasting shine. The Shine On range also comes with a lifetime guarantee so you can relax knowing that they will always come up with a brilliant sparkle.

Dartington Spangle Glasses

We stock many of Dartington’s crystal and glassware ranges, both in store and online, so you should be able to find something special to suit your price range and style, from everyday glasses to the popular Glitz range (with real Swarovski elements). Now the only thing left to do is to choose one…

All glass blowing images are courtesy and copyright of Dartington Crystalour sincere thanks to them for allowing us to include them in this blog. For more information on Dartington, and their amazing day trip activities, click here

6th January 2016

How to Banish Dandruff This New Year

How to Banish Dandruff This New Year

Managing Dry Scalp and Dandruff 

There may not be white snowflakes on the ground, but we may see the odd white flake on people’s shoulders this winter. Dry skin is a common problem and when it affects the scalp we see the evidence of dandruff very clearly. It affects both men and women, mostly in their twenties; it is the most common scalp problem to walk into a Pharmacy.

Winter Image

There are several factors that control the occurrence of dandruff and, like snow, cold windy weather is one of them. Wintry weather and moving between warm buildings and cold environments has a drying effect on our skin and almost everything you do to your hair can have a drying and damaging effect. Of course, the last thing you want is to spoil your crowning glory. Too many sugary and refined carbohydrates and not enough nutrients like Vitamin B and essential fatty acids can also dry the skin. Not such an easy fix at this time of the year.                                                                                                                                        Image copyright of                           

Hair Brush ImageThe elements you can control are making sure you eat well, brush your hair regularly, and generally treat your hair gently when shampooing and drying. The dandruff that you see is usually made up of piles of dead skin cells and regular brushing will encourage these skin cells to shed normally. Apart from unsightly clumps of dandruff, ready to fall whenever you move your head, the scalp can become itchy. Of course, do check that the white bits in your hair aren’t crawling nits, which is a whole other problem. Not scratching an itch can be almost impossible to do, but try rubbing or massaging the area rather than getting your nails out. You can also try to brush your hair gently to avoid getting an infection. 

Dandruff ImageAnother cause of dandruff is an overgrowth of a fungal yeast, previously known as pityrosporum ovale, but now called malassezia - try saying that after a few mulled wines! Seborrhoeic dermatitis can affect the whole body and might be caused by that same fungus: it can look more serious and might need a visit to the GP for a prescription of anti-fungal, or even antibiotic, treatment.

Never Fear, Anti-Dandruff is Here!

Those embarrassing dandruff flakes can be cleared up easily with a specialised shampoo. Which one to use can be a harder decision; generally speaking if you haven’t seen an improvement within a few weeks, try a different one. Once you do see an improvement stick with it, as it may come back. Anti-Fungal shampoos containing Zinc Pyrithione, Coal Tar, Arachis Oil, Extract of Coal Tar, Ketoconazole, Selenium Sulphide, Ciclopirox Olamine, Undecenoic Acid all help to reduce the overgrowth of yeast. Keratolytic, Salicylic Acid and Benzalkonium all help to remove the build up of dead skin cells and can be found in combination with some anti-fungals. Ask your GP, as these can be cheaper on prescription.

Here at Boswells we have a range of specialised shampoos including (in our cosmetics department):

In the Pharmacy we have:

  • Selsun ImageSebamed Anti-Dandruff Shampoo for an oily dandruff prone scalp. £5.10 200ml.
  • Selsun Shampoo 2.5% w/v (Selenium Sulphide) Medical treatment for Dandruff £5.53 150ml. Not recommended for children under 5 years old. 
  • Capasal Therapeutic Shampoo (Salicylic Acid 0.5% w/w, Coconut Oil 1.0% w/w, Distilled Coal Tar 1.0% w/w;) £9.38 250ml. For dry, scaly scalp conditions, and to remove previous scalp applications.
  • Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo Coal Tar Extract. £5.90-£9.10 125ml-250ml.
  • Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Fragrance Free. £6.48 60ml.
  • Alphosyl 2 in 1 Shampoo Medicated Coal Tar. £6.99 250ml.
  • Oilatum Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo £9.18 100ml. For itchy, flaking scalps, including stubborn dandruff.
  • Neem Shampoo £5.99 200ml. Contains extracts of Neem leaves and has a soothing action, leaving the scalp and hair feeling fresh and healthy. Keep out of reach and sight of children. Not suitable for those with nut allergies and not for use during pregnancy.
  • Head & Shoulders: the classic choice of various shampoos, conditioners and 2 in 1's. £2.99-£3.10.

Head and ShouldersDon't forget that if you use harsh shampoos they can dry the scalp out, so don't overdo these products, as you could make things worse! Call in to Boswells and ask the advice of our pharmacists to prevent this from happening. There are many other products designed to moisturise your hair and scalp, including deep oil treatments that can be left on the hair. If you really want to give your dry itchy scalp a treat, Baby Oil and Baby Shampoo are the key. Gently massage a few drops of Baby Oil into your scalp, place a shower cap over your hair and leave for an hour while you relax. Later use the Baby Shampoo to gently rinse the Oil out, leaving your skin richly moisturised and flake free. This treatment does not increase the dryness of the scalp skin, which makes dandruff worse.

So why not start the New Year with a happy, flake free scalp? Enjoy!

Banner image credit, cropped from original.

13th November 2015

Get Inspired by Adult Education

Get Inspired by Adult Education

An academic life straight after school isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it can be a rewarding and enjoyable addition in later life. Rosie in our Pharmacy shares her experience at Oxford's own Ruskin College.

You're Never Too Old To Learn!

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, so be more cat. Academic life isn’t for everyone and many people miss that first step from school to college. It’s a doozy. They invented gap years and clearing to help with the transition from college to University, but, contrary to popular belief, the world won’t end if you don’t get the exam results you wanted. Reality can be tough and it often seems like your choices are limited, and life certainly fills up with chores, hobbies, friends, family, work and debtsand studying disappears from view. I certainly didn’t get the results I had expected and had to radically change my plans. After re-taking exams at the local college I thought that I had enough to get a job. My friends who had studied, moved away to University. I gave up on education and settled for a more domestic life.Exam Image

Still there was something missing. I tried the odd writing course at youth centres and theatres. I even went to Oxford Brookes to learn how to use computers! This wasn’t taught when I was at school but seemed to be essential in the 21st century. With help from the local library and the job centre I gained qualifications that enhanced my C.V. When I started work in a pharmacy I found that part of my employment contract was to study all the medicines that I was going to be selling. With a lot of help and hard work I gained a Medicine Counter Assistant Certificate—and a pay rise!

You’re never too old to learn, but it wasn’t until a leaflet came through my door in 2012, about the courses at Ruskin College, that I was persuaded to follow my dream. I applied to Ruskin College to study Writing for Performance and was amazed that they let me in. It was the start of two of the most challenging, exciting and happy years of my life. I graduated last year with a Foundation Degree and now write pieces for the company blog (like this one) which I really enjoy—I would never have considered doing anything like that before.

Ruskin College is well known around the world for the second chance it gives to people, no matter what their background. Some take incredible journeys to get here because they want to learn and gain the bits of paper that had eluded them at school, or to go on to study at other universities, or improve their skills in their chosen profession. 

Graduation ImageRuskin is aware of the obstacles that make it difficult to study at any age, and offer support for students both with their personal and their emotional difficulties. Several students discover at a mature age that they have dyslexia or other problems that were missed at school, and Ruskin offers specialist help to improve their learning experiences. Though Ruskin is a small college it welcomes students from all over the world with a wonderful sense of community. It was the staff and the other students that made it such a magical place to study for me. The college allows multicultural people of all shapes and sizes to learn together in a supportive environment in the leafy suburb of Old Headington. 

What to Look For in a Course

Wherever you are thinking of studying I recommend looking for these facilities to make a truly supportive experience:

  • Small class sizes and weekly tutorials to allow you to get time to work directly with a tutor and to develop your knowledgebase and skills.
  • An excellent acedemic reputation with highly qualified staff who are there to support your learning every step of the way.
  • A supportive and encouraging environment to boost your confidence.
  • Opportunities for professional and career development .
  • Funding opportunities to help you realistically balance your work, home and study life. 
Learning Image

My friend, the late poet Davey MacArnold, used creative writing to help him overcome the horrors he had seen as a military veteran. Ruskin for him was a lifeline and led to performing his Homeless Oratorio in London. Philip Stevens has collected stories from Adult learners at various colleges (including Ruskin) in his excellent book Rita and Gerald: Adult Learning In Britain Today, so if you think studying isn't for you read about how others discovered a better life through education.

Stay curious and discover more about the things you are interested in. Perhaps you’ll end up teaching or who knows, writing a book. Why not make an academic qualification the next chapter in your life?

For more information on adult education why not take a look at:

The Open University,281595982,17976108862,[part%20time%20study]&mkwid=ga187-857-7519&KWID=374912437&keywordid=ggluk_[part%20time%20study]&kwcampaign=bau%20england%20-%20generics%20-%20exact#

Oxford Brookes

Ruskin College

Library Image

Birkbeck College: University of London

Other Local Study Programmes

30th September 2015

How To Outrun Athlete's Foot

How To Outrun Athlete's Foot

Rosie in our pharmacy has put together some helpful tips on how to shift athlete's foot, and keep your feet happy and healthy.

The Fungi’s You Don’t Want To Be Seen With At The Pool

When you take off those sweaty shoes and trainers it’s not only the smell that will linger, but also invisible spores from Fungal Infections. Athlete's Foot or (Tinea Pedis) is highly contagious. The name comes from damp floors in changing rooms and around swimming pools, where it is easily picked up by bare feet, as the sufferer will shed skin cells and spores wherever he/she goes barefoot.


Feet Image

Bless your cotton socks and leather/canvas shoes, as they actually let your feet breathe. Fungi love damp moist conditions and thrive amidst unnatural materials. To prevent infection wash your feet daily with soap, making sure to dry thoroughly between your toes. Athlete's Foot usually starts as red, itchy skin between the 4th and 5th toes. If left untreated it can become inflamed and weepy. The spores may spread to the rest of the foot and into footwear. If it gets into the nails it will need more expensive treatment. In the case of fungal nail infections such as Onychomycosis the nails turn white/yellow as they thicken. They become brittle and may separate from the nail bed.

Treating Athlete's Foot

Once Athlete's Foot is found there are several products that can be used to treat this unsightly condition. Here in Boswells Pharmacy we have:

Treatment should continue on the surrounding skin for another two weeks after the symptoms have gone. Check with our friendly pharmacist as some creams should not be used for longer than 5-7 days.

Breaking the Athlete's Foot Cycle

It's important to remember that fungi can be invisible to the eye; you may not see the spores but they could still be there. Don’t forget to spray in shoes, socks and hosiery to eradicate the spores. When battling athletes foot always maintain the daily hygiene routine, using a separate towel for your feet. Don't share towels and make sure that you do change socks and hosiery daily.

Spores can remain in the skin, ready to reappear as soon as those moist and sweaty conditions return. If you are unable to break that cycle you may have to buy more footwear. Still, who doesn’t like buying more shoes?

Lastly, but importantly, don’t let it go on for too long without treatment, as ignoring minor infections can lead to more serious medical conditions such as abscesses. 

14th July 2015

How To protect Against Malaria When Travelling Abroad

How To protect Against Malaria When Travelling Abroad

Wherever you travel this year you can never be far from the sort of biting, stinging insects that ruin a good holiday. There are even mosquitos in Britain due to higher temperatures, but luckily so far none of the Malaria carrying kind. If you’re venturing further afield you would do well to seek expert advice from one of our friendly Pharmacists so we thought this blog might be helpful too.

MosquitoMalaria is a very serious disease, but one that we can treat and take steps to lower the risk of catching. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito which passes the malaria parasite (Plasmodium Falciparum) into the bloodstream.

Symptoms can include fever, headache, chills, and nausea, but can take weeks and even months to appear. Nothing is 100% effective but with expert advice from your Doctor or Pharmacist you can greatly reduce your chances of contracting the disease, even if bitten.

While making your travel plans it’s worthwhile doing some health research on the areas that you will be travelling through. We recommend the NHS Fit for Travel Website.

If you discover that you are travelling to an area with Malaria then there is a set procedure to go through to get your antimalarial medication. If you see a Doctor Malaria protection is not normally available on NHS prescription. However, there are exceptions based on certain underlying health conditions in which case the standard £8.20 prescription charge per item is applicable. Unless you also qualify for free NHS prescriptions. Otherwise, a Doctor can make a private prescription which normally costs £15 plus the cost of the medicine.

Malaria PGD form exampleThe cheaper alternative is to ask your pharmacist who will use a “Patient Group Direction Form (PGD)” which contains questions designed to determine which anti-malarial treatment would suit you best. The form costs £12.50 at Boswells. Other pharmacies normally charge between £12.50 and £15.

Please note that if you consult a Nurse or Doctor and they recommend a type of medication without a prvate prescription the PGD is still required.

Here at Boswells of Oxford we provide a private consultation room where you can discuss your travel needs with the Pharmacist in comfort and in confidence. This is available Mon – Sat after 10.30am. Appointments are not necessary although we recommend avoiding lunchtimes.

Jungle FormulaA consultation will include checking your travel location, medical history, age and other circumstances in order to recommend and supply anti-malarial and other travel medicines without the need for that private prescription. A minority of people may still need one of the few types of medication that is prescription only. They would then still need to see a Doctor for a private prescription. However we cannot tell this without going through the PGD.

It is worth noting that the medication is tailored to your specific requirements for your specific current plans. It is not applicable to someone else, even if they are making the same trip.  Any antimalarial you may have taken in the past may not be correct for your current trip. Malaria warnings change frequently, often with the season so we can’t make a recommendation more than 6-8 weeks prior to travel.

Once you have your medication it is VERY important that the full course is completed. This includes before you travel to the malaria risk area and for some time after you have left the area. Therefore the cost of your medication will depend not just on the type of medicine but on how many tablets you need.

Don’t think that just because you have the tablets you don’t need to worry about being bitten. There are sensible preventative measures that you can take to lower your risk. Wearing long sleeves and long trousers after sunset outdoors may be a buzz kill, but better than a buzz bite. Applying insect repellent with a high percentage of DEET regularly on exposed skin is advisable. We have a range of the popular Jungle Formula products and alternatives in our Pharmacy Department.

Those people who prefer to use a more natural product, such as citronella to repel insects, will find Quit Bugging Me Lotion Spray in our cosmetics department. This hydrating lotion helps keep mosquitoes, gnats, horseflies, black and biting flies at bay.

There is little hard scientific evidence that changes to your diet will deter insects from tasting your blood, so we certainly don't recommend relying on this.

Anthisan CreamIf bitten then immediate treatment is recommended. An Anthisan Bite & Sting cream is a traditional treatment, but whether using a cream or not it is important to clean the wound with clean water or even better an antiseptic wipe or spray. Scratching the bite may be tempting, but that raises the possibility of infection.  Keep an eye out for signs of infection which can include increased redness and swelling with pain and perhaps blistering or pus at the bite site. If the bite doesn’t improve after treatment or you see infections signs see a Doctor. Your hotel can often help locate a Doctor for you.

Knowing what weather to expect will aid your packing. Knowing which vaccines/medicines you will need will keep you healthy. As will understanding what protection ’s important to the locals.

Don’t forget the sunscreen, take pictures and leave only memories. Enjoy your travels.

16th June 2015

The Free Ruskin Theatre Platforms

The Free Ruskin Theatre Platforms

Oxford is a busy place for literary and theatrical events. Many of us wish we took up more of these opportunities, so Rosie in our Pharmacy shows us a good way to start.

Hearing the sad news of Ron Moody’s death reminded me of the time I met him, at the Oxford Literary Festival a few years ago. He was promoting his autobiography and interspersed his talk with snatches of songs from “Oliver”. A rare treat and Oxford is one of the few cities outside of London that we get these opportunities more regularly than most.

Another famous writer I enjoyed meeting was Mark Haddon. This was at Ruskin Theatre Platforms last year. He talked about watching the play of his novel “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime” in Denmark. He knew what was happening but he didn’t understand a word that was spoken as it was a translated version!

Ruskin Theatre Platforms ProgramThe Ruskin Theatre Platforms are exactly the sort of free opportunity that we can all take advantage of. They are run by Ruskin College's Writing For Performance (WFP) initiative in association with the Oxford Playhouse and incredibly John Retallack (a WFP Tutor), encourages all these talented people to donate their time for free! Thanks to that generosity the events themselves are also free to attend. The money raised from donations goes to support the events and the students.

The format is a rehearsed reading of a modern play followed by a chaired discussion with cast and director afterwards. I certainly enjoy the Ruskin Theatre Platforms and how they manage to get such a depth of feeling with only one day of rehearsal is amazing. 

Previous speakers have included: David Edgar, the aforementioned Mark Haddon and the superb actress Maxine Peake who is also the Patron of WFT.

The remaining events this June are:

"Playhouse Creatures" (1997) by April De Angelis at Ruskin on Wednesday June 7th and at the Oxford Playhouse on Friday June 19th. Described as "1669 - a bawdy troublesome year. Theatres have just reopened after years of Puritan suppression, and for the first time, English actresses appear onstage...

"The Lover" (1962) and "Landscape" (1968) by Harold pinter on Wednesday 24th June at Ruskin. Described as "beautifully written...The Lover is the sexiest play I remember seeing on the television" by the Sunday Times and "landscapre is spellbinding" by the Daily Telegraph.

There is normally a second tranch of platforms in the Autumn so it is not over yet...

Everyone is welcome at these FREE events but booking is essential as space is limited. All money raised goes to support more events and students at this well known college. To book Contact

The college is a short bus or cycle ride from Oxford City Centre. Further details can be found on: