Boswells Blog

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.

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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 out...no 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...

 

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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).
https://redkitedays.co.uk/event/hanborough-musical-fireworks-2018/
 
 

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.
https://oxfordfireworks.co.uk/
 
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).

https://redkitedays.co.uk/event/dorchester-thames-village-firework-display/

Witney RFC Bonfire and Fireworks Spectacular—Witney Rugby Club (Fireworks, bonfire and refreshments, Guy competition, 6pm, fireworks 7pm).
https://www.facebook.com/bonfirefireworkswitney/

 

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 web@boswellsltd.com 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!

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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

Llama

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

Cyclone

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!

Sparkler

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!

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15th December 2017

Top things to do in Oxford for Christmas

Top things to do in Oxford for Christmas

Just because the weather makes you want to stay indoors and enjoy a cup of warm tea, it doesn’t mean that there is nothing else you can do in the holiday season.
Winter is the time for family days out and celebrations with friends, with a plethora of events and activities you can partake in and around Oxford. We picked some of the best things to do for Christmas in Oxford this year and compiled them in this list for you.

The good news is that many of these happen every year so if you miss one this year start planning for the next. Merry Christmas from Boswells.

In Oxford

Oxford Christmas Carol Concert Evenings

Christ Church Cathedral ChoirMany of the University Colleges have world renowned choirs and orchestras or ensembles who give concerts at Christmas. Isn't that a great opportunity.  You can see most events on The Daily Info we've created just the right link for concerts until christmas or Music at Oxford.  

The choir pictured is Christ Church cathedral Choir courtesy of Music at Oxford.

 

Oxford Christmas Market

Oxford Christmas MarketThe iconic Broad Street isn't just home to Boswells but to numerous markets and events throughout the year, with one of the most important ones being the Oxford Christmas Market.
It features beautifully decorated wooden stalls offering a great selection of Christmas gifts and seasonal treats, with over 50 different exhibitors to choose from!
Apart from this, local choirs and bands will also be present, performing Christmas carols up until the last day of the market, December the 17th.

Did you know the market has a website too https://www.oxfordchristmasmarket.co.uk/

Christmas Ice Show

Oxford Ice RinkProduced by local skate couches who work at Oxford Ice rink along with skaters and their families, the Christmas Ice Show is an amazing celebration of both the festive season and of the popularity of ice skating in the city.

The theme for the 20172017 edition of the show is “Around the world in 80 minutes”, with the event taking place at Oxford Ice Rink.
Featuring international, national and local skating champions alongside over 150 local skaters, this show is an important member of the city’s Christmas events repertoire.

“The coaches, Ice rink team, skaters and families put a lot of work into making this show one of the premier Christmas events in the county and I would encourage everyone to come to the show and get in the Christmas spirit” said Vincent Harley, General Manager of the rink.

Further afield

Le Manoir At Christmas

Le Manoir Carol Concerts

Belmond le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons is a hotel established in 1984, situated on the outskirts of Oxford, in Great Milton.

Every year they throw some magical Christmas Carols concert evenings with various choirs and singers. These events will be hosted by a well-known personality and will combine a feast of musical enchantment with all the delights of Raymond Blanc’s cuisine.

Each evening includes a Champagne Laurent-Perrier reception, a concert at nearby St Mary’s Church, plus a four-course dinner with accompanying wines, coffee and petits fours.

Read all about it on their website.

The glorious photo of Le Manoir to the left is by Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd

Blenheim Lights FestivalChristmas at Blenheim

Blenheim Palace, the principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough and birthplace and ancestral home of Winston Churchill, is hosting a wonderful lights festival once again, after its success last year.

Its 2000 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown landscape and Formal Gardens will be crossed by a wonderful light trail, winding through the landscape and allowing visitors to discover and interact with various festive scenes and seasonal experiences, while highlighting the palace’s rich history.

The festival is onto January 1st so perhaps a trip out between Christmas and the New Year is in order?

You can read all about it on their website. 

Santa’s Grotto at Frosts Garden Centre

Santa and ChildTake part in a grotto adventure at the Frosts Garden Centre of Millets Farm!
Lasting for around 45 minutes, key activities include singing with the elves, making reindeer food ready to sprinkle on Christmas Eve and listening to a story read by Santa himself in his own cosy living room. Children love a good Santa's grotto and this is a great one.

With lots of other surprises included, this is a marvellous way to spend the 24th of December with your family outside of the house. You can read all about it on their website.

Whether you will spend Christmas alone, together with friends or accompanied by your family, we hope you make the most out of these handpicked Oxford holiday activities. Just remember to bring some warm gloves!

 

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15th December 2017

How to decorate your Christmas tree

How to decorate your Christmas tree

Have you ever noticed how wonderful it looks when you pass a house with a majestic tree in the living room window, glowing in the night, waiting for gifts to be laid under its ornaments? For some of us, decorating a Christmas tree is one of our favourite things to do during the holiday season to create that lovely impression. For others it is a bit of an onerous task that they dread. Which is a shame so if you are not sure how to decorate your Christmas tree or where to start, then read on!

Setting up

There are many possibilities when it comes to decorating your tree and you can easily get creative in the process!

Do you get a real tree, or an artificial one? Getting a real tree means that your house will really smell like Christmas, making it easier for Santa to find your house. However, this also means that you will have to get a new tree every year and spend extra time to find the right one.

On the other hand, an artificial tree can come with built in lights and can be reused a few years in a row, even if it’s not ‘the real deal’. There's no right or wrong answer just what's right for you.

It’s a good idea to set up a budget beforehand, take into account the time it will take for the whole decorating process and ensure that everything is safe during and after you decorate it. Also, look around your house and decide where it’s best to set up your Christmas tree. Don't forget to leave room not just for presents but think about where you'll be giving them out if that's part of your Christmas day tradition.

A good tip is to set up the tree the day before the decorating day, no matter what type of tree you go for. You will give the branches time to settle and be able to observe whether the tree’s structure is sound and if the stand supports it. You should also make sure all the lights are working before you stringing them all up!

Theme

The most important stage in a project is planning, and this is no different when it comes to decorating the Christmas tree. Try and visualize the way you want the tree to look in the end. Spend some time to narrow down your choices and pick an overall colour scheme that you like. It will help you maintain a consistent design for the tree and throughout the house and ensures you won’t end up buying things you don’t even need or like.

Toy Soldier OrnamentsFor a traditional look, go for Christmassy colours, such as red, gold and green. If you’re feeling more minimalistic and contemporary, try going for a maximum of 2 or 3 colours, for example white and silver. Of course, you can take artistic freedom and mix whichever colours you like! Brown, blue, purple and orange are a few other popular choices.

Whatever you choose obviously impacts your hanging decorations choices. You could have a very specific them like our Nutcracker ballet soldier ornaments or just generally want to choose plain baubles for a clean contemporary look or ones with imagery for a traditional or victorian theme.

 

Lights

Do this first! Once you have your lights up on the tree, it makes it much easier to hang the rest of the decorations, compared to doing it the other way around. It’s also a good idea to wind them while they are lit up, so you can see what they look like as you go.

LED Star Tree TopperUsually, tree lights come in two wire strands colours: white and green. Choose the one that matches your tree, in order for it to be less visible. There’s also a variety of colours to go for, such as cool white lights, warm white and multi-coloured ones. Choose the ones that match your theme and also don’t be afraid to mix them! You can even add a lit up tree topper like this stylish star design.

Many people have their own techniques when it comes to stringing the lights. Our best suggestion is to start from the bottom of the tree, winding them around the inside of it working your way up. After reaching the top, wind the lights around the outer branches while going down. Voila!

Garland and Tinsel

These come in many forms, from plain to fancy and from monochrome to multi-coloured and if you watched last years BBC Inside the Factory program you'll know that much of the tinsel sold in the UK comes from a single factory in Wales.

TinselIt’s good practice to add them from the top to the bottom, to avoid branches bulging between tightly secured strands. Thin, beaded garlands look best hung from branch to branch; thicker paper, ribbon, or foil garlands look best wrapped loosely around the entire tree. Ribbon, beaded, or metallic garland all look great. Pick the one that goes best with your theme.

Some people prefer the easy way and just cascade them over the top of the tree, rather than wrapping them around and around looking for that even and balanced look. If done right, this can come outlooking pretty and it saves a lot of time. However, keep in mind that it best works with simple beaded garlands.

Ornaments

The next step in decorating a Christmas tree is to hang your Christmas ornaments. Place your favourites first, in key positions across the tree in order to showcase them. In order to give it depth, hang the bigger ones closer to the centre of the tree and the smaller ones towards the outside. Ornaments positioned towards the centre of the tree add a feeling of depth and give a more interesting display.

BaublesMake sure you space your ornaments evenly around the tree, taking into account weight distribution and going for a balanced look. Be sure to balance ornaments by size too, not just colour. You don’t want one side of your tree to end up with all large or small ornaments. Don't hang ornaments on the tips of branches as it makes them droop which breaks youe even look and in a worst case scenario they will fall off.

It’s all fairly straightforward when you follow this simple rule: add lights first, then garlands and tinsel and, finally, your tree decorations. Just remember to take a step back every once in a while, so you can get a better perspective and see your progress. And now your Christmas tree is almost done: all there is left to do is to decorate the tip with a Christmas tree topper and the base with Santa’s gifts! Have fun!

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1st January 2017

New Year's Resolutions and How to Keep Them

New Year's Resolutions and How to Keep Them

New Year ImageThe New Year is upon us, and doubtless many will be wanting to start their year with a blank page and finally commit to banishing a bad habit, or perhaps to taking up a good one, with a New Year’s resolution. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few suggestions to help you on your way with some of the most common resolutions out there.

6. Learn to Cook

Vegetables Image

So you might not quite be Mary Berry in the kitchen, but that certainly shouldn’t put you off trying. It is, after all, never too late to learn a new skill, and especially one so useful as cooking. If you’ve set your sights on perfecting your culinary skills in 2017, chances are you’re going to need a few kitchen supplies to help you get started.

Pyrex Roaster Image

Thankfully, our Cookshop Department (in our basement) is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of cookware and cooking accessories, so there really is nothing standing in the way of you becoming a chef extraordinaire in no time. We recommend starting with setting your sights small at first, with some easily achievable dishes, and working your way up to more complicated cuisine!

5. Get Organised

Ben Sherman Watch Image

If you’re forever struggling to keep on top of your schedule, getting organised can be a great resolution to make, and one that can be fairly straightforward to keep with just a few simple tricks. You might want to start by making lots of notes and reminders for yourself, whether that means writing all of your plans down on sticky memo notesusing fridge magnets to turn your fridge into a notice board, or writing to-do-lists to keep on top of things, you might want to have a look at an Assorted Notes Set. If timekeeping proves a perennial problem, though, we have a great selection of watches and alarm clocks to help you to work on your punctuality. And, if your personal brand of disorganisation tends towards the messy side of things, you might want to try a Kikkerland Desk Tidy to help keep everything in order.

4. See More of the World

Sicily ImageIt’s no coincidence that around a third of holidays get booked in January. After all it’s cold, a little drab, and after the excitement of Christmas has passed we all need a little something special to look forward to. But this can be the perfect motivation if your New Year’s resolution is to get out there and travel this year!

Samsonite Liteshock ImageOf course, achieving this goal can require a little bit of money management and budgeting to get you started (see resolution No.1), but luckily there are lots of amazing deals out there to help you to make your travel-dreams come true. Once you’ve figured out where you most want to visit, and placed those all-important bookings, it simply becomes a question of making sure you have everything you need for your trip. This might be anything from a suitcase and other handy travel accessories, such as a money belt or a travel adaptor, to getting your travel vaccinations sorted. Pop into our Luggage Department for help and advice to get you kitted out for the trip of a lifetime (we also reccomend reading our luggage guide here), and for advice on staying healthy while you’re away, we suggest having a chat with our friendly Pharmacist to figure out your specific requirements. You’ll also need to stock up on the local currency before you go, so you could also visit the Change Group counter on our ground floor while you’re here. Before you know it you’ll be off on your adventures!

3. Say Goodbye to Stress

Living in the 21st Century can be a stressful business, and sometimes managing that stress can seem like an overwhelming task…but don’t worry, there are lots of simple things that you can try to help keep the stress at bay this year.

Kneipp Lavender Bath SaltsThere are few things quite like a little time in the tub to help you to unwind and forget about those everyday pressures. All you need to do is find a few minutes to set aside for jumping into a warm bath, and to choose what to put in it to help soothe away the day’s cares. The good news is there are lots of wonderful bath products to help you achieve this from Kneipp's Balancing Lavender Mineral Bath Salts, to Heathcote & Ivory’s wonderful Braids & Blooms Soap Flowers. You could also give one of Bomb Cosmetics’ terrific Bath Blasters or Bath Mallows a go, as they all come in an array of gorgeous and relaxing scents—perfect for saying goodbye to your stress for a little while.

Ravensburger Jigsaw ImageIt’s that little bit more difficult for you to focus on your worries if your brain has an activity to focus on, so why not try a solo game or activity to concentrate on instead? Sitting down to a jigsaw puzzle or a colouring book are popular choices, but you could also have a go at solving a Rubiks Cube or a Ridley's Metal Puzzle. Why not also try a game of Peg Solitaire, which is great for concentration, or even sit down with a pack of cards, which can offer up a number of great de-stressing challenges such as a good game of Patience?

Belledorm Brushed Cotton Duvet ImageThe impact of a good night’s sleep on your overall mood and ability to handle stress can be significant, and yet getting enough sleep is sometimes easier said than done. Of course a nice relaxing bath with lavender can help, as can avoiding bright and distracting screens before bed, but there might be one or two other things that you can try to help get a better night’s sleep, such as a sleep mask or ear plugs if you’re a light sleeper (we especially recommend the latter if you have a snorer in the family). Exercise is also said to be a great way to improve sleep, which brings us to our next resolution…

2. Get in Shape

Oxford Running ImageYou probably won’t be surprised to hear that some of the most common New Year’s resolutions made every year revolve around getting healthier in one form or another, whether it’s eating healthier or getting more exercise. These can also be some of the most challenging resolutions because the temptation is often to make a drastic change, which is harder to keep up in the long term. But making small, realistic changes to your lifestyle over the course of the year can be a fantastic way to get healthier. The key is set goals that are achievable, and set another every time you do achieve one!

Thermos Water Bottle Image

If your resolution is to get more exercise then what better way than to find an active hobby or a sport that you enjoy to help you to achieve your goals? If you’re a fan of tennis, or kicking around a football, then you might want to take a peek at our outdoor toys for something to get you active, or if you fancy going for a run then a sports water bottle is a must to keep you hydrated, in which case we recommend having a look at what our Cookshop has to offer.

1. Save Money or Stick to a Budget

Money Bank ImageMoney management can be tough, and if we’re honest it can sound pretty dull, but keeping on top of your finances doesn’t necessarily mean missing out. In fact, keeping to a budget can mean that you can save for something you really want, or even give you a better idea how much money you have free to treat yourself with each month.

Money Image

As with any New Year goals, you may want to start small with your savings, putting spare change into a money bank as you go and letting it accumulate, or regularly putting a small amount of money into a savings account. In terms of keeping track of your spending, it can really help to jot down what you spend (and how much you have left) as you go, so that there are no nasty surprises at the end of the month, in which case a notebook can come in really handy! And finally, to help you to stretch your money just a little further (even while you treat yourself) if you received one of our money off vouchers in the run up to Christmas, you can save 20% in store or online at Boswells until the 8th January 2017 (terms and conditions apply).

But whatever you strive to achieve this year, we hope that 2017 brings wonderful things your way. Happy New Year (and good luck with those resolutions)!

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7th December 2016

Gifts To Get Excited About This Christmas

Gifts To Get Excited About This Christmas

Making someone’s eyes light up on Christmas day, as they tear back the paper to reveal the perfect gift, can be one of the most rewarding parts of this time of year. Sadly though, most of us don’t have a workshop full of elves at our disposal, and so tracking down that perfect present can take a little bit of work. But worry not, the Boswells elves are here to help! We’ve scoured our departments and put together a list of some of the products we’re most excited about this Christmas to help you on your way!

Read on or click one of the links below:

Christmas Fun                        Wining and Dining

Stylish Gifts                            Something to Snuggle Up With

Perfect for Pampering

Christmas Fun

Halilit Xylophone ImageIf it’s “the most wonderful time of the year” for many of us, then that generally goes doubly for the youngest among us. Here are a few toys that caught our eye that might help to make their day very merry and bright indeed.

The Halilit Xylophone is a great way to introduce the youngest member of the family to the fun of making a little music. Suitable from 12 months onwards, this instrument is both colourful and capable of producing magical sounding notes, and sure to be a "hit" (yes, pun intended).

Bubble Science Kit Image

In addition to all the tinsel and twinkley lights, we think that Christmas would definitely benefit from a few festive bubbles here and there. Luckily there’s an easy way to see to this, with the Kidz Labs Bubble Science Kit. It’s a box full of fun bubble experiments and even a recipe to make your own bubble mix. It really is the perfect gift for enquiring minds and bubble-fans across the land!

Live Pets Butterfly ImageLittle Live Pets are generally a fantastic idea, giving your kids a chance to learn about looking after pets while playing, and with (mercifully) less mess than a real pet. We especially recommend the Flutter Wings Butterflies, which flap playfully in your hand and respond to your attention…plus they come in such beautiful designs and colours!

Hexbug Spider Image


The Hexbug Spider, Scarab or Fire Ant are also great fun, as you get to make these colourful remote control creatures scurry around your home. There are also Hexbugs that you can put in water, such as the Aquabot Jellyfish, Seahorse or Angel Fish, which are all a bit of splashy fun.

Big Ben Image

For those that love to build and create, it doesn’t get much better than building your own LEGO® Architecture Big Ben! The finished thing is 19.6cm tall, so while it’s pretty detailed it's not such a gargantuan task that it’s likely to devour the whole of Christmas day. Alternatively, for some truly imaginative building fun, you could give a tub of LEGO Classic Creative Bricks a go, they are a classic for a reason, after all.

Strongarm Image

If you’re feeling bold enough, then we recommend the Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm, which fires foam darts and can hold up to 6 darts at any given time. A foam dart dual could be just the thing to liven things up while you wait for the turkey to be done, or to settle any of this year’s board game controversies, but they’re also great fun for throughout the year.

Stylish Gifts

Organiser Purse ImageIf you’ve been searching for the perfect gift for someone super-stylish we’ve got good news: we have two excellent new gift ranges by Ted Baker that are sure to make someone’s Christmas that bit brighter. The “You’ve Been Gifted” range features a variety of goodies, from notebooks and colouring pencils to a really handy looking organiser purse, all of which are covered in a gorgeous porcelain rose design. The “Gift That Keeps on Giving” range includes everything from a pen set to a glasses case, in a very nice leather brogue, as well as some very cool jungle print flasks. Both ranges manage to tick the useful box, but with that little bit of added class.

Van Gogh Umbrella

For all those art-lovers out there we have something a little extra special, and wonderfully practical, with an incredible range of art themed umbrellas. Yes, Fulton Umbrellas have teamed up with The National Gallery to bring you the masterpieces of Renoir, Monet, Turner and Van Gogh to brighten up those drab and drizzly Winter days. These umbrellas look fantastic, and fold up nice and small to fit in a bag…sounds good to us!

 

Wining and Dining

Spiralizer Image

If you know someone who loves to spend their time creating masterpieces in the kitchen we’ve got a great selection of gifts to help them to artfully slice and dice away. We highly recommend the La Vida Verde Spiralizer as a fantastic gift idea. This handy kitchen gadget can cut fruit and veg into noodles, ribbons and spirals for a variety of different types of dishes.

Global Knife Set

We also have some excellent knife sets this year—an ever-popular gift choice. The Taylor’s Eye Witness knives, for example, have anti-bacterial, carbon coated blades that make them very swish indeed. The carving set is a particularly apt Christmas present, which will no doubt prove useful on the day itself. We also currently have a very special 7 piece set of Global Knives on a particularly good offer, which we think is definitely worth taking a gander at.

Brandy Glass Image

If you're considering giving someone the gift of some excellent drinkware this Christmas, then we can't recommend the Dartington Wine and Bar glassware range highly enough. This fantastic collection includes some wonderful specialist glasses, such as those for brandy, port and sherry.

Grunwerg 5 Piece Wine Set Image


Speaking of drinkware, we have to say that we’re pretty impressed with the Grunwerg 5 Piece Wine Set, which includes a wine pourer, a bottle stopper, a corkscrew and a wine collar, as well as a beautifully crafted bamboo box for storing a bottle in—just the thing for any wine connoisseurs out there!

Kilner Barrel Dispenser Image

For those of you who are planning a Christmas or New Year party or gathering this year, you might want to consider getting your hands on a Kilner 1 litre Glass Barrel Drink Dispenser, which is both really useful and looks truly great. Simply fill it with your drink of choice, and you’re away!

Bodum Cafetiere Image

And for anyone who's serious about their coffee, it doesn’t get much better than a Bodum Cafetiere! The 3 cup and the 8 cup cafetieres both come in a stunning range of colours, which make tailoring the gift to the person nice and easy!

 

 

Something to Snuggle Up With

Thermosoft Throw Image ReindeerWe all know that one person who can never quite get warm enough this time of year, and so we thought it was worth spending a little time looking at some perfect gifts for warming anything from hearts to toes.

Snuggle Touch Throw Lagoon ImageFor those that love to snuggle up under a bundle of layers to stay warm, what could be better than a super-soft throw? We have lots of amazing throws to luxuriate in getting comfy under, and that look fantastic draped over furniture. The Theromosoft Throw range comes in several different print designs, including woodland animals and two superbly-festive Christmas designs—reindeer and snowflakes. These throws are perfect for adding a little something extra to the home décor, or for wrapping up warm. The Snuggle Touch Throw comes in an array of rich and vibrant colours and is sumptuously soft, and nice and warming too—a trusty friend on a cold, Wintry night.

Intelex Microwavable Dragon Image


There are also other, soft and cuddly ways to keep warm though, which also make fantastic gifts. These soft toys by Intelex each contain a wheat pouch that can be removed, heated in the microwave, and popped back in to the pouch for some super-warm hugs. The collection includes familiar characters such as Boofle, Gromit, Bagpuss and Shaun the Sheep, as well as adorable dinosaurs, elephants, monkeys and dragons. They also come in a plain corduroy or tartan wheat bag option.

Top This Hat Kit Image

If you fancy getting a little creative then why not have a go at one of these terrific Top This Hat Knitting Sets, which make a great gift with a personal touch. The set comes with a hat topper and all the wool you’ll need to create a cosy children’s Winter hat. There are lots of Christmas and animal themed kits to choose from, and each kit comes with instructions.

Perfect for Pampering

Roger and Gallet gift Set ImageIt’s always nice to get to pamper someone with something extra special at Christmas. Luckily we’ve got some cosmetics gift sets this year that are just the ticket!

Orange Blossom Travel Gift Set Image

The Roger & Gallet hand care range, for example, has some fantastic gift sets that are a great way to keep those hands soft and supple during the harshest of the cold weather. Or, if you know someone who’s always on the move, one of The Somerset Toiletry Company’s gorgeous scented travel kits could make the perfect gift. They come in 5 different scents, from Jasmine to Orange Blossom, and fit nicely in a bag for a trip away.


Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh Gift SetFor something just a little extra festive for the occasion, though, we have to say we’re really excited about Heyland & Whittle’s Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh range, which includes a fabulous selection of candles, soaps and diffusers. This range seems like a pretty great way to put a smile on someone’s face, and make their home smell a little like the nativity at the same time, what's not to love?

Santa Image

These are just a few of the great gifts that we have available in store and online this Christmas, so why not click here and get inspired, or pop in and see us for lots more Christmas goodies? We hope that you have a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic New Year. Merry Christmas, from all of us here at Boswells!

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15th October 2016

Boswells Gets Ghoulish for Halloween

Boswells Gets Ghoulish for Halloween

As the nights grow longer and darker and the eerie Autumn mist begins to settle and shroud the city it can mean only one thing: Halloween is nearly here!

Pumpkins Image

To help get you in the mood for all things gruesome and ghastly we’ve been digging up some chilling local ghost stories, and some of them are really quite brilliant.

Founded over 1000 years ago, it figures that the city’s history is full of grisly tales of horrific deeds and suffering spectres. It seems that most, if not all, of the older colleges have at least one spooky story to boast, and spirits supposedly abound in other key spots around the city as well! Here are a few of our favourite Oxford ghost stories, but the feint of heart should beware, severed heads abound…

Ty Beanie Ghost

The Playhouse Theatre

The Playhouse Theatre is apparently haunted by a white veiled lady, who lingers in its stairways. Who the veiled ghost might be is unknown, but some say she’s a manifestation of a ruined nunnery/friary that stood on the spot until about 500 years ago. Whoever she is though, she’s no doubt seen some incredible performances over the years! Keep an eye out for her on your next visit.

Magdalen College

Spooky ImageOne particularly spooky Oxford tale is an account of a mysterious spectre spotted on the lawns of Magdalen College. When the story initially dates from is slightly murky, but the story goes that a student was walking across the College grounds early one morning when they spotted a figure dressed entirely in black. As it drew closer the student noticed that not only was the figure gliding, rather than walking, its face (or its head, depending on who’s telling the story) was altogether missing. As it approached the light, the apparition vanished. There have been alleged sightings ever since.

Charles I Execution Painting

Christ Church College

Christ Church College lays claim to a famous, in fact a royal, ghost, amongst its many other accolades. The spirit of King Charles I supposedly lurks in the College grounds, at times appearing with his head, and at others reportedly without. During the height of the English Civil War Oxford was a Royalist stronghold, and Charles made the Christ Church College Deanery his palace, and held Parliament in its Great Hall, perhaps explaining why many have claimed to have seen him there. Alternatively, he might just have developed a posthumous interest in Harry Potter, you never know…

(Image Credit).

Banbury Road

Skull ImageOne of the grisliest Oxford ghost stories features a headless wanderer on the Banbury Road, the late George Napier. Napier was hanged, drawn and quartered for being a Catholic priest at a time when a fervently Protestant England was still very fearful of Catholicism in the wake of the failed gunpowder plot, only 5 years before. Following his gruesome execution Napier’s quarters were separated and a piece was sent to each of the four city gates, while his head was apparently set on Tom Tower. The story goes that Napier’s ghost assembled the various pieces of his body, but could not find his head. He’s said to roam up and down the Banbury Road in an endless, and ultimately fruitless, search for his missing head.

Spider Web Image

St John's College

St John’s College Library is apparently host to the ghost of Archbishop William Laud, who was the Chancellor of the College from 1629-1633. He was rather unfortunately beheaded for treason in 1645, after spending several years locked in the Tower of London. Students have reported being disturbed by Laud while studying late in the Library. His ghost apparently wanders the library passageways a couple of centimetres above the ground, a candle in one hand as he kicks his ghostly severed head along the corridor before him. Some accounts have him removing his own head from his neck and aiming it at those unfortunate enough to cross his path. Incidentally, the library itself was supposedly built, in part, with the leftover bricks from the ruined friary where The Playhouse Theatre now stands—a somewhat eerie coincidence?

Boswells

Cartoon Ghost ImageThat’s right, as a not-so-new establishment ourselves, Boswells of course has a few spooky tales of its own, and although (as far as we’re aware) no one has ever seen our resident ghost, George, he can from time to time be heard clattering about. There are numerous stories about who George was and how he died, but he’s believed to have worked as a pharmacist at Boswells in the 1920s or 30s. Some say he committed suicide, others that he fell down the lift shaft. Either way, whenever anything mysterious happens here at Boswells, poor George tends to get the blame. Of course he also gets the blame for little things like knocking stock off shelves and the frequent disappearance of people’s pens…couldn’t possibly be any other explanation…

But whether you believe in George or not, the staff have some great stories to tell, and so here are a couple just for you!


Stockroom ImageLaura from our Accessories department told us that she’d heard George wandering about a few times. On two occasions she was in a stockroom, in one of the older, creakier parts of the building, when she heard footsteps on the old wooden floorboards. When she looked there was no one else to be found on the entire floor. Laura said she’d also heard similar mysterious footsteps in the basement, and again there was no one around.

Ghost Bag Image

Anne in our Toy Department also had a particularly chilling story to share. She said that one day she got chatting to a customer who was staying in rooms adjoining Boswells. The customer told her “how noisy our night security guard was, banging about, walking noisily, and this happened over several nights.” The customer was somewhat alarmed when Anne told her that there was no night security guard. No one at all had been in the building overnight.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Display Image

If all of this talk of ghosts has sufficiently whetted your appetite for some ghoulish Halloween fun then you’ll be delighted to hear that we’ve got a great new selection of costumes, make-up and decorations in store and online to help make your Halloween a hit. And why not pop in and say hi to George over the coming weeks, we’re sure he’d love to meet you...

Pumpkin Carving Image

Our special thanks to the Boswells staff for generously sharing their ghost stories with us, some of which we sadly didn’t get a chance to use. If you’ve got any great Oxford ghost stories of your own that you’d like to share with us we’d love to hear them!

Happy Halloween from all of us at Boswells!

Image Credit: Jake Bevan

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25th September 2016

Our Guide to Finding the Right Umbrella For You

Our Guide to Finding the Right Umbrella For You

Ah, the British weather, predictably unpredictable, whatever the time of year, and often just determined to get you soaked for the fun of it. As we head towards Autumn it seems quite likely that we’ll see a fair amount of rain, and chances are it will start and stop whenever it feels like it, with very little warning…which is where our trusty friend the umbrella comes into the equation. A good umbrella is an ally against the weather, one that will do its best to keep you dry at a moment’s notice, whether the weather likes it or not.

Rain Image

But not all umbrellas are good umbrellas, in fact not all umbrellas on the market are even water-resistant (don’t worry, we only stock ones that are)! And so trying to find the right rainproof companion to shield you when the weather gets a little rocky can be a little puzzling, and there are so many different types of umbrellas out there to choose from! The trick, really, is matching the umbrella to your needs, so we’ve put together a guide to help you find the ideal one.


Keep reading, or click one of the links below.

Finding the Right Size...                                      Is It Easy to Hold?

Automatic Vs Manual?                                        How Strong is It?

What's It Made From?                                         Do You Like the Design?

Finding the Right Size...

The starting point with any umbrella buying quest is usually size, and there are a lot of factors to take into account when sizing up your new umbrella.

Golf Umbrellas

Cyclone ImageThe bigger the canopy, the more shelter from the rain your umbrella can potentially offer. Large golf size umbrellas are often very sturdy, many of them are even able to withstand high wind-speeds without giving up at the crucial moment. We particularly recommend the impressive Fulton Cyclone, as both the largest and strongest umbrella that we stock, and it comes with a shoulder strap to make carrying it a bit easier.

But while there are definite advantages to carrying around a huge golf umbrella, it may not always be the most practical option. Trying to navigate around the often busy, and sometimes narrow, streets of Oxford, for example, with your own portable roof over your head could be really rather tricky, and getting snagged on other passing umbrellas seems all the more likely. The very large golf umbrellas also tend to have a long handle shaft, which can make them somewhat cumbersome to drag around with you all day, and so are perhaps better suited for rainy jaunts into more open areas. If you’re often on foot in urban areas then a smaller and more easily portable option may suit your needs better.

Walking Umbrellas

Knightsbridge ImageA walking umbrella is a popular option, as these full length umbrellas offer a sizeable canopy for coverage, and are a bit more practical to carry around than a golf umbrella. It’s also worth noting that the fewer moving parts an umbrella has then the stronger it probably is, and the longer its life expectancy. Walking umbrellas then, are a good investment, as they have few folding parts that can break, and the handle shaft is generally very sturdy, since it's one continuous piece. They also look great, and are a smart solution to staying dry. Why not check out the Fulton Govenor, Knightsbridge or the iconic Birdcage design.

The walking umbrella, however, can’t fit inside a bag for easy storage, and may not be the lightest option for carrying with you all day—especially if you only need an umbrella just in case it does rain.

Folding Umbrellas

Tiny 2 Umbrella ImageThis common problem is, of course, where the folding umbrella comes in handy, and these come in a range of sizes and weights. While most folding umbrellas don’t offer a huge amount of coverage (and there are some exceptions), they do usually give enough to keep you dry if you get caught unexpectedly out in the rain, and they’re fantastic for storing in your bag, which means you can always have your umbrella to hand when you need it most. It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that because they can fold up conveniently small, folding umbrellas do tend to be that little bit more vulnerable to wind damage than some of their larger counterparts.

The Fulton Superslim is our smallest and lightest umbrella when folded, closely followed by the Tiny 2. Both are fantastic for carrying with you at all times in case it rains, and they come in a range of colourful designs. For a folding umbrella with a larger canvas, though, take a look at the Minilite or the Stowaway, which give that little bit more coverage, or the Jumbo and the Tornado, which fold up to a length of 37cm, but open out to an amazing 120cm canopy!

Some Things to Think About...

Aside from the physical size of the umbrella, there are other factors that are worth thinking about in order to find an umbrella that suits your needs.

Automatic vs. Manual?

Open & Close Umbrella ImageIf you’re constantly finding yourself struggling to put your umbrella up while you get drenched then you might want to consider an automatic umbrella. These work so that your umbrella will spring open at the touch of a button, saving you the struggle and keeping you dry that little bit quicker. An automatic umbrella can be a great idea if you’re prone to catching your fingers in the mechanism, or generally if you’re popping in and out of the rain and want an easier, quicker way of putting your umbrella up and down. If you’re looking for a good automatic umbrella, we suggest a Fulton Open & Close folding umbrella, or the Knightsbridge walking umbrella.

Birdcage Umbrella ImageBut of course, as with any feature, there are also certain drawbacks to an automatic umbrella. Because the automatic function relies on a mechanism and a button it slightly increases the number of possible ways in which the umbrella might break, which can reduce its lifespan. The automatic mechanism may also mean the umbrella weighs a little more (although light ones are also available), which is especially worth thinking about if you’re looking for something convenient to pop in a bag and carry everywhere.

If a manual umbrella is your preference, you’ll be pleased to hear that many umbrellas now have safety catches and easy to use buttons, so you’re less likely to pinch your fingers trying to get out of the rain. Some umbrellas, such as the Fulton Birdcage umbrella, simply glide open, no need to fiddle with buttons.

What's It Made From?

Umbrella Spokes Image

Not all umbrellas are made out of the same stuff, and believe us, the materials used can have a big impact on the strength and weight of your umbrella. A fibreglass frame, for example, will be very strong, and often non-conductive (ideal for storms, as with the Cyclone). Aluminium, while not quite as strong as fibreglass, is nice and light, and so great for storing in your bag. Some smaller umbrellas use a combination of the two, so you get the best of both.

Handle Image

Is It Easy to Hold?

The last thing you want is an umbrella that’s uncomfortable to hold in the wind and the rain, so we can’t stress enough the importance of picking an umbrella with a handle that’s comfortable and easy to hold. This largely comes down to preference, and factors such as the size of your hands. It's often really a case of trying out different ones to see what feels comfortable—and bear in mind that you might need to be able to hold it in either hand.

If a walking umbrella or a golf umbrella are your preference then bear in mind the length of the umbrella when folded relative to your own height. If the umbrella is too long for you to comfortably carry, then it probably isn’t a good choice.

How Strong is It?

If you’re looking for something sturdy then we recommend taking a peek under the canopy, as not all umbrellas are held up in the same way. The rule of thumb generally is: the more spokes from the handle shaft holding things up, the better supported the canopy is likely to be (and better suited it is to enduring weather). For a small umbrella 6 spokes is fairly standard, but with larger umbrellas we recommend something with 8 or more spokes supporting the canopy against the weather.

Check, also, if the spokes themselves have other supports coming off them, as this can mean the difference between keeping dry or ending up wet, with an umbrella in the bin… Some umbrellas come with a little added reinforcement, such as polycarbonate joints that give it the extra strength sometimes needed against the volatile British weather. 

Cyclone Polycarbonate Spokes Image

If that sounds good then we suggest taking a look at the Fulton performance range, which comes in three different sizes: the Hurricane, the Tornado and the Cyclone (the latter of which is wind tested up to an impressive 78mph!).

It's worth bearing in mind that no umbrella is completely wind-proof (every umbrella has its limits, and this will vary), but many do offer wind-resistant features, such as a wind vent or the ability to turn inside out with the wind rather than immediately breaking as soon as a slight breeze comes along. We suggest finding out what kind of wind resistance your umbrella offers before you buy.

Do You Like The Design?

Umbrella Wall ImageAn umbrella with a colourful design can help brighten up those rainy spells, while allowing you to add your own personal touch to staying dry. Black remains a popular option, but there are umbrellas of all colours and patterns available on the market, as well as transparent ones. As well as Fulton’s wonderful, colourful designs we also stock designer umbrellas from Orla Kiely and William Morris, which feature sturdy Fulton frames. Take a peek also at our very own exclusive Oxford Skyline umbrellas, made especially for Boswells by Royal Warrant Holders, Fulton Umbrellas...they’re something really rather special, if we do say so ourselves.Oxford Skyline Miniflat



So if your current umbrella has suffered a recent injury, gone for a wander, never to return, or if you’re simply looking for something new, we’re well stocked with a huge variety of umbrellas...at least one of which is bound to suit your needs. Our entire umbrella range is available online, or why not pop in to our Accessories department for a little extra advice before you buy?

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