Boswells Blog

3rd July 2015

Our visit to Headway Oxfordshire

Our visit to Headway Oxfordshire

In June myself and a colleague had a morning out to visit our 2015 charity Headway Oxfordshire. Although we had a lovely time the main reason was to find out for ourselves what Headway Oxfordshire do and meeet some of the staff and most importantly the users of their services. As a reminder Headway Oxfordshire specialises in providing support and rehabilitation services for those recovering from brain injury and to their helpers. You can read more about this previous blog.

Outside Headway officeWhen we arrived at Headway Oxfordshire's office we were slightly surprised because it is actually a Church part of the Diocese of Portsmouth. Turns out that they are in the process of buying the building from the Diocese with church services to continue as before. This initiative is just part of Headway Oxfordshire's expansion plans, more of which later. So after Victoria on the left of the picture greeted us we went straight into the building for a tour.

"My Favourite Day"

There were already service users inside havng a chat and a catch up in preparation for the first of the day's activities, a chair yoga session with a cooking session in the afternoon. Yesterday there had been a picnic at the Botanical Gardens and quizzes, games and trips to the cinema are also favourites. As we discovered when speaking to Sheila and her husband Harry who had a stroke 3 years ago, the interaction with other carers and those in recovery is absolutely vital to them. Harry said it was "my favourite day" and said that it until starting at Headway Oxfordshire 18 months ago he had "felt very isolated". He went on to say that "seeing the improvement of others was vital to me to understand was was possble and inspire me to continue my own hard work". Sheila who is caring for Harry spoke of the ability to have a little time off during the activities in a "perfectly safe" environment and how much that break is needed. Having been married for 31 years the devotion to each other was very clear, but they acknowledged the challenge of dealing with Harry's changed circumstances. His impressive wheelchair had to be privately bought and Headway Oxfordshire was their ONLY opportunity for support after leaving hospital.

Activity BoardLeaving the users to their yoga we chatted to some of the volunteers. Jill has been an unpaid volunteer from its beginnings in 1982. At the time her own son had suffered a traumatic brain injury falling down stairs at home when he was 16 and has needed 24 hours a day supervision ever since. That is a huge adjustment and although her son now lives in a community in Cornwall where he is looked after Jill spent the first 10 years completely on her own looking after her son without a break. So it's not a surprising that she is a warm and passionate advocate of the charity.

 "Can Never Go Back To What They Were Before"

We were particularly taken by Jill's points that the impact of brain injury can be hidden by a superficial glance. Her own son being " a fine figure of a man in his forties and you don't know until you start speaking to him that this is someone who needs special help". Also that Jill has seen "more lives being saved by advances in surgery, resulting in people living for normal lifespans but no plan to help them do so". Which is of course where Headway Oxfordshire and their fund-raisers come in!

Patrick is a long term staff member who apart from arranging the extremely popular quizzes (Harry is a fan) visits a specific person twice a week. He noted that both volunteers and carers have to handle the frustration and even anger of people affected by brain injury who "can never go back to what they were before". There are sometimes actual changes of personality or missing memory as well as the understandable emotional rollercoaster of surviving, but being changed. Naturally this is nearly as traumatic for the carer often a partner or child who knew the person before. As a professional visitor this isn't an issue, but handling emotional outbursts is still very much part of the job. In the case of his client he can work with them on building skills that they just can't do unsupervised, but did every day for 40 years before their injury, helping their self-worth and confidence in the process.  

Headway Oxfordshire are careful to involve carers as much in activities as they want to be involved. The carers weekends away are a blessing for many but a complicated arrangement for the charity as some wouldn't enjoy it without those they care for, whilst others really need a complete break. So the staff are always "trying to find a balance" and "get feedback each time and act on it". They've just had their annual weekend break away, this time in Winchester.

"Headway Oxfordshire Is A Small Charity That Always Needs More Funding"

Physio areaWe moved on to see some of the permanent facilities available to users including some quite sophisticated physiotherapy equipment in a divided area from the main room. This area is naturally always supervised, but is used particularly intensively on Wednesdays when the high dependancy users visit.  Whilst we were there some users were making use of the co-ordination therapy items and having a chat at the same time.

The facility also has a quiet room for private conversations and some offices. In the first office we met Charlotte, Claire and Jamie the CEO of Headway Oxfordshire. So we were able to get a real look at the challenges facing them as well as the opportunities. Jamie noted that "Headway Oxfordshire is a small charity that always needs more funding" and also that "the longer term funding streams tend to come with very specific rules on how they can be spent. This makes the funding raised by companies like Boswells and individual contributions hughly valuable as the money can go as and where needed at that time. Which is why every donation is particularly appreciated."

outreach works in cabinA dependency on grants means that plans can only be made for the length of a grant and often there is a tendering process which can be time consuming. Jamie says "The increased tendering and subsequent monitoring processes have changed charities a lot in recent years. Now charities are more professional, with increased plan quality, but you have to ensure that you stick to the original ethos and provide the needed services rather than be all about meeting funding rules". That rang a bell with us as at Boswells we try to keep close to our customers and keep our identity whilst keeping pace with the modern world.

Part of the challenge to the original Headway Oxfordshire ethos is that although they provide their services for free the number of people who have a brain injury receiving funding has decreased a lot. This is because only those who undergo an assessment and are classified as having a critical or substantial need will now get funding. Many people don't even know about the assessment.

"More Lives Being Saved By Advances In Surgery, Resulting In People Living For Normal Lifespans But No Plan To Help Them Do So". 

Jamie and ambulenceAnother challenge is transport. Most users can't drive and require transport to Headway Oxfordshire. Thus their own ambulance, but this will soon need replacing. However the biggest need is drivers and co-ordinating the journeys across the whole of Oxfordshire to get to Kennington. If you are interested in helping, volunteering as a driver is definitely a good solution. They can even pay your transport costs if you are using your own car.

Another way they have reacted is to open satellite groups around Oxfordhire where users, volunteers and outreach workers can meet. Although the physiotherapy kit is missing at least that vital social interaction, confidence building and peer support can continue.

Even with the funding challenges this is an exciting time for Headway Oxfordshire. The aim of buying the building is the first stage to expand the building and its facilities, including a fully functioning kitchen. At the moment only cold preparation can be done and this isn't just about feeding users, but kitchen re-training for users to look after themselves. The outreach workers who currently share a portakabin may even get room to swing their arms when they walk around the office! The planning permission is already done.

My colleague and I were very moved by our visit and we are delighted that Boswells and its customers can help improve people's lives in this way. It is a sobering thought that accidents that result in brain injury as well as illness can strike anyone at any time. Although Headway Oxfordshire currently supports around 400 people there are actually over 3000 registered people suffering from traumatic brain injury in Oxfordshire. That is a lot of people potentially isolated and with overworked carers who more money can help reach.

If you are interested in helping Headway Oxfordshire then you can donate via Boswells in store or at http://www.headwayoxford.org.uk/ or by text HWOX01 plus your amount to 70070. Or contact Headway Oxfordshire to become a driver, volunteer for the centre, be a handyman or help with the admin. See what a difference you can make and you won't regret it.



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23rd June 2015

How the right pillow can help you get a good night's sleep

How the right pillow can help you get a good night's sleep

Tunde from our linens department is an expert on pillows and an advocate of the right fit for you. We hope her advice will be useful here, but don't forget you can come and see our Linens team if you want some face to face advice. 

Something to bear in mind is that we spend approximately one third of our lives in bed! So in life you deserve a good pair of shoes, a good mattress and an excellent pillow. A poor night’s sleep can ruin your day. So let's avoid that and find the best pillow for a comfortable nights sleep.

You have plenty of options to choose from in our store. We also have plenty of samples for you to try from our range, so don't be shy and test some out.

We are all very different and so are  pillows so which one is the best for you?

It depends on the following:

Your mattress hardness

If you are keen to spend a bit on a good mattress, it will only be worth it if you will buy the right pillow to match it. The mattress hardness has an effect on the pillow’s thickness. If you have a softer mattress your shoulder may sink into it and therefor a thinner pillow may suffice. If you have a harder mattress the opposite is true.

How broad your shoulders are

A person with broad shoulders and a wide neck will probably need a firm pillow to get the right support. 

Your sleeping position

Sleep positionsWhat is the best sleeping posture? We don't think there is a definitive answer for that but flat on your back is a winner according to most experts. It reduces pressure on your muscles and joints and even prevents your face from wrinkling since it is not being pressed into the pillow. The only disadvantage is that a person sleeping on their back is more likely to snore! 

The danger of sleeping on your side is that if your pillow is too far down, your head ’falls’ causing your upper neck muscles to constantly stretch.

Either way, an important thing to remember is to keep your spine straight. An incorrect thickness or a poorly designed pillow will lead to a bad and restless night’s sleep and over time can create problems for the spine and muscle tension. A small trick I’ve been using for many years is to place a small pillow between your knees, especially when you sleep on our side. It keeps your knees comfortable, your pelvis aligned and  your spine supported. Try it out!

  • A medium hard pillow is the best option when you sleep on your back or side. It has to be large enough to hold up the head and neck but not so large that the head is tilted too far forward.
  • If you prefer to sleep on your front (you are a tummy sleeper) the best option is a soft, thin pillow (like a goose down one).

 For more information on sleeping positions in regards to health and even what it says about you read more here.

Filling of the pillow

A pillows filling provides support and comfort for the user. It can be natural (feather and/or down – goose or duck – and wool) or synthetic (hollowfibre or microfiber made of polyester). The filling is extremely important to anyone with allergies as natural fillings are likely to cause an allergic reaction.

Non-allergenic – the material itself will not cause an allergic reaction but triggers such as dust mites can still be present over time. This is also what hypoallergenic means.

Anti-allergy – the material is not only non-allergenic, but is actively preventing or minimizing an allergic reaction.

For synthetics the base fibres don't not give off any dust unlike natural fibres and this in itself make it non-allergenic.

The one pillow to mention here comes from Dunlopillo – it has 100% breathable latex for extra comfort.

Natural fillings such as feather or down do give off dust particles and aren't recommended for those with allergies but are absolutely fine for those without.

The wool pillow  is also non-allergenic - there is a rare allergy to lanolin a natural oil in wool, but when people think they have a wool allergy it is more commonly a sensitivity to to the texture rather than the lanolin allergy. If you think you may be allergic to wool it is worth getting this checked by your doctor. With a pillow case on top and a smooth finish to the pllow this sensitivity to texture can be non-existant. The main benefit to wool is that it has thermoregulation properties which means it keeps your face warm in winter and cool in summer. Pretty useful.

Memory Foam

If you like a firm pillow you may like the memory foam pillow (normal shape or V-Shaped). The memory foam keeps its shape through the night to ensure you get a good nights sleep and helps to provide a comfortable temperature during sleep. 

V shape pillowA V-Shape is excellent for reading and listening to music. If you like reading in bed, the best support would be a memory foam pillow which you can put behind your back in bed.

Whatever the shape, when you buy the pillow in the box it will have been pressed so you should depress your pillow before you use it, by taking it out of the box and plumping it, then just leaving it. It takes 4-5 hours to reform properly. Psst - we have a half price deal on the Dreamtime Deluxe Memory Foam Sensation Pillow with Bamboo and Satin Cover right now!

Price

Dreamstime pillow

We have pillows ranging from £9 up to around £65. Pillows have a minimum life expectancy of around 5 years. But I would suggest changing your pillow every year for hygiene reasons. If that seems a bit much at the higher priced end of the pillows, think of it as 15p a night for a goods night sleep as opposed to £2 a day for that coffee gone in 5 minutes.

While I was writing this article I had a chance to serve a customer from the US. He moved to Oxford 2 months ago and was looking for a good pillow. I let him try many different ones and was able to answer a lot of questions that he had. I come from Hungary and I’m aware that my English is not perfect. Fortunately, the pillows speak for themselves! He bought a wool pillow.

See all the pillows on our website here

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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 ruskinplatforms@ruskin.ac.uk

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

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14th June 2015

Make Dad A Hero This Father's Day

Make Dad A Hero This Father's Day

Jen in our Gift's department has observed a few years of Father's Days and is making a special plea this year on behalf of our family heros. 

Father's day CardsI think our Dad's are rather unsung heros. After many years of deserverdly raising the profile of Mothering Sunday we have rather reached the stage that it has swung the other way and poor old Dad normally get's forgotten. However if you are anything like me as an adult in particular it is Dad you turn to when you need help. As a teenager it was Dad sitting outside the night club at three in the morning waiting to take us home. Dad we call to stop the bath tap from dripping in our first home away from home. Or who thinks of providing a set of tools when we leave home with some advice too.

So the very least we can do is buy a Father's Day card, there are many different types to reflect what Dad means to you personally and writing a heartfelt personal message inside can make all the difference.

Or try a gift that reflect's Dad's interests. We have a fantastic range of models and modelling kits for those fascinated by the world of rail, aircraft, ships and cars. There's the traditional Airfix, Revell, Corgi route or try something unusual with our wooden or metal kits.

Decanter SetMany Dad's have developed a refined taste in drinking over the years (to which we may have contributed) so make it an elegant experience with our ranges of glasses, decanters or flasks for being out and about.

Finally Dad's are by definition men and often strangely fond of their shed's and manly gadgets we have many tongue in cheek, but also actually quite useful ways of showing them we understand the need for time communiing with the bits and bobs box.

Man TinSo I wrote recently about standing up and buying "A Gift For You" so let's come together on June 21st and "Make Dad Our Hero"! See our Father's Day Gift Ideas here.

 

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8th June 2015

When the journey gets rough this technology is tough

When the journey gets rough this technology is tough

Boswells humble beginnings back in 1738 were selling luggage to Oxfordians. Mainly academics, but some of our luggage is rumoured to have been included on voyages with Captain Cook in the 18th century. We have always continued that tradition and we pride ourselves not just on good ranges of luggage, but great advice too.

So Peter from our luggage team being a long term admirer of Samsonite is happy to pass on some of his experience here.

"If it the going gets rough, no problem this technology is tough. In fact I liked it so much I bought 13 cases!"

firelight in racing greenThese were for myself and other family and so far those cases have been to Japan 3 times, Germany twice, Centre Parcs and the less exotic, Malmaison Oxford. They have all returned unscathed and the 4 wheels make them dream to drive even over Oxford cobblestones.

Samsonite Curv technology is used on a variety of their cases including the Firelite, and the brand new Lite-Shock ranges that we keep in stock. The smart Racing Green Firelite is shown here.

The technological bit consists of the way the Polypropylene granules are melted together & then literally weaved like fabric to produce a lightweight case that can withstand even the roughest baggage handling at the airport or being dragged around the world's great sites and cities. This also makes them the lightest hardshell you can buy.

Samsonite have produced this 2 minute video which shows both the creation and testing processes which is as they say "quite interesting".

And if you fancy seing just how much punishment a Curv technology case can take then here you go:

Last but defnitely not least especially for those who travel to the USA is the fact that they all come with a T.S A (travel Sentry Approved) lock. This means you can travel with a locked case and all the security that provides whilst smoothly negotiating customs. The US customs staff have special keys that allow them to open T.S.A approved locks whilst leaving your number code alone. Without an approved lock they have been known to cut cases open or cut locks off!

OK, now the hard bit. These cases do cost that little bit extra and that may be over the top for a single weekend away to Brighton, but if you travel annually or more or for long distances then a 10 year warrenty and the peace of mind that these superb cases provide is well worth it.

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4th June 2015

Dinosaurs are back in Oxford!

Dinosaurs are back in Oxford!

3.5 tons, around 10 metres long. Large, narrow head with a massive toothless beak. Could move on two or four legs, but was faster on two – up to 15 mph. This is Iguanodon, frequent inhabitant of what is now Oxfordshire, around 125 millions years ago. Thanks to the Oxford Univeristy Museum of Natural History you can admire the reconstruction of it’s skull in our display window on Broad Street!

 “If you ask most people to name a dinosaur, the chances are they would give a North American example such as Tyrannosaurus rex, but the term ‘dinosaur’ was actually invented by a British palaeontologist for fossils found in the UK. Oxford was at the very forefront of these early dinosaur discoveries, and exciting dinosaur research is still going on within the museum collections today.” says Eliza Howlett, Earth Collections Manager of the Museum.

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History collections include over 1,200 dinosaur specimens. Many of them are of great scientific importance. Highlights include the world’s first named dinosaur, Megalosaurus bucklandii, and the world’s first sauropod dinosaur, Cetiosaurus oxoniensis. The collection also includes more recent acquisitions such as Juratyrant langhami, a relative of Tyrannosaurus rex from Dorset, which was purchased in 1992.

A very close relative of Iguanodon is Cumnoria, as both are from the same group of dinosaurs called ornithopods. The Oxford Univeristy Museum of Natural History has its almost complete skeleton, found in Chawley Brick Pits in Cumnor Hurst in 1879. Definitely worth seeing!


Dinosaurs in Oxford

During the Middle Jurassic period England was a very warm part of the world. Warmth and humidity created perfect conditions for vegetation, which was ideal for the existing species of dinosaurs. Oxfordshire was covered by shallow tidal sea with a vast network of small islands and lagoons, which definitely helped in preserving a large number of fossils.

In 19-th century a number of brick pits in and around the city in conjunction with growing scientific interests created a great opportunity for many discoveries to come to light, although many of them took place even earlier. The first known illustration of a dinosaur bone was published in Robert Plot’s book The Natural History of Oxfordshire in 1677.

The bone was found in a limestne quarry near Chipping Norton, and was thought by Plot to be the bone of a giant. Sadly, the specimen itself has never been discovered in the Oxford University collections, but palaeontologists have been able to identify it from the original drawing as part of the thighbone of the carnivorous dinosaur Megalosaurus.

Megalosaurus is in fact the first dinosaur to be scientifically described. The bones were found over a number of years in underground mines at Stonesfield. The most famous specimen, part of a lower jaw, was in the collections of the Oxford Anatomy School at Christchurch in 1797, and was purchased for ten shillings and six pence. Click here to read more.

Also on display in the Museum of Natural History is the skeleton of Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis. The skeleton comes from a young animal, and is the most complete example of Middle Jurassic theropod (carnivorous dinosaur) from anywhere in Europe. The bones were found at Webb’s Brick Pit in Summertown in 1870.

 


Dinosaurs at Boswells

If you are in the mood for more dinosaurs have a look at our great selection of dinosaur themed toys. Also, don't forget to have a look at our amazing display window with the Iguanadon head from the Natural History Museum. Why did the dinosaur cross the road? Why to get to Boswells of course!


Visit the Museum

Oxford University Museum of Natural History is open daily, 10am - 5 pm, and admission is free. This year, the Museum has been chosen as one of six finalists in the prestigious Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2015. The annual prize, which is widely regarded as the most prestigious award for UK museums, surveys galleries and museums across the UK and selects those which have demonstrated exceptional creativity and ambition over the past twelve months. The winning museum will be announced on 1 July. Good luck! Take a walk through Oxford University Museum of Natural History - watch the video:

 

 

main image © Julius Csotonyi

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25th May 2015

Buy a gift for you!

Buy a gift for you!

I work in the Gifts Department here at Boswells and I hear the same thing said time and again. " I'm buying this for myself but I shouldn't really" or " I wish I could buy this for myself" when getting that birthday, anniversary, leaving present for someone else. So why is it we feel like that?

Most of us spend more time working than we do in our own homes. So I think it's only right that we use our hard earned money to treat ourselves!


Handmade chocolatesWho says that a box of scrummy handmade chocolates has to be a gift for someone else and not just something to make us smile? Not saying that should be an everyday treat mind. 


Treat yourself to a nice pen for letter writing to family and friends. Then it is a gift  that encourages a very personal form of communication too.

See our Shaeffer pens here

 

cufflinks display

Looking smart on a night out is also a real confidence boost so a gift to yourself of a nice pair of cufflinks for you men out there or for women earings or a brooch.

See our cufflinks here

See our Espree Jewellery here





lanternsWe find that homewares are already products that people generally feel more comfortable buying things for themselves because it is for "the home", but try buying something purely decorative that acts as a reminder that you deserve pretty or stylish things. Or if buying something practical like lanterns for the garden then choose something that shouts you!


Buying yourself a gift doesn't have to cost a lot of course. Sometimes just a decorative pack of tissues for your handbag rather than boring old white can be a nice reminder even when that's blowing your nose or wiping a child's face.


I think that anything that makes us smile, no matter what we have bought ourselves is money well spent. Yes it is a pleasure when others think of us on those special occasions or as a surprise but we can (and should) think of ourselves too. So come on Oxford. Stand up and be counted and "Buy a Gift For You"!


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20th May 2015

Everyday Essentials For Every Young Lady

Everyday Essentials For Every Young Lady

Whether you’re a busy professional or studying, here’s what we think you need.

Notepad

You never know when your best idea is going to come to you, so it’s always worth having a notepad with you and this Japanese Lacquer Box Shidare Ultra Notebook is a little bit special. Lacquered using the Maki-e tradition in tree sap, this is far more stylish than tapping notes on your phone.

http://www.boswells.co.uk/japanese-lacquer-box-shidare-ultra-notebook/p17217

Umbrella

Despite the fact summer isn’t far away, living in the UK means that there is always the chance of rain so it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. we’ve got a huge selection of different umbrellas, from compact to golf neon pink to black, we’re sure that you will find an umbrella you love. One of our favourites is this Minilight 2 Poppy Bloom Umbrella from Fulton with its great pattern and the ability to easily fit in in a handbag.

http://www.boswells.co.uk/fulton-minilight-2-poppy-bloom-umbrella/p21280

Hand Cream

Sometimes we forget about caring for our hands, but considering how much we use them every day it’s important to give them some love. This Dead Sea Magik hand cream will effectively soften and re-hydrate dry, sore or chapped hands.

http://www.boswells.co.uk/hand-cream/p586

Water Bottle

We’ve highlighted the importance of keeping in our Everyday Essentials for Young Men blog post and in our Winter Skin Care post, and we’re going to tell you again here. Drinking water throughout the day has many benefits from keeping skin healthy to keeping your energy levels up. Your body is 70% water, so help it stay like that with the bobble bottles. With a built-in filter system these really are an everyday essential and they look great too.

http://www.boswells.co.uk/fillgo-bottle-green/p1471

Sunglasses

The sun is shining, the weather is getting warm, and your summer wardrobe is sorted. All you need now is the perfect practical accessories, and this year we’ve got you covered with our great range of stylish sunglasses. Whether you have enjoy the look of the classic aviators, or you’re a fan of the more modern syles like these wooden arm glasses, we’ve got you covered.

http://www.boswells.co.uk/sunglasses/c1073

BagHealthy Bag

Now you’ve got your essentials you’re going to need a way to carry them all in style and in comfort. You could go for a Healthy Bags which is designed to to help your spine by spreading the weight across your body. We also have a great range of fashionable handbags and bigger holdalls if you’re going away for a few days.

http://www.boswells.co.uk/bags/c815

Conclusion

Armed with your new bag full of Everyday Essentials, you’re now ready to face the world. Don’t forget to check out our Everyday Essentials for the Commuter blog post too.

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27th April 2015

What's On Around Oxford This May Bank Holiday

What's On Around Oxford This May Bank Holiday

Let's hope the marvellous April weather lasts through the May Bank Holiday weekend, but there's lots of fun to have indoors and out. Let us give you a guide. We just have to start the Bank Holiday a little early with...


The Famous May Day Morning

Mrris Dancers on May Morning 2007This is an experience every Oxfordian should have at least once even with bleary eyes. As the City Council states "May Morning in Oxford is a traditional celebration of the coming of Spring and brings together Oxford's communities to enjoy dancing, singing and revelry from around the city."

You could make a claim that the party starts the night before as some just don't go to bed, but the traditional start is the Magdalen College choir singing Hymnus Eucharisticus from the Great Tower at day break. This year that is a 6am.  Then see a morris dance, hear a concert or have a fry up breakfast.

We recommend the following websites for up to date information and what to do where and when.

http://www.oxford.gov.uk/maymorning

http://www.dailyinfo.co.uk/mayday

The official social media hashtag is #maymorning. 

 

The Dorchester-on-Thames Festival 

The biennial Dorchester-on-Thames Festival is one of Oxfordshire’s leading Festivals based in the stunning location of Dorchester Abbey. Fun for all the family. It starts on on Friday 1st and ends on Sunday May 10th.

Find out more at http://dorchesterfestival.com/

 

British St Food LogoThe British Street Food Festival

From Friday 1st to Monday 4th the Oxford Castle quarter is hosting the British Street Food Awards Regional Final. That means food of the quality we are used to at the Bitten Oxford Events but for 4 days rather than just one PLUS music and all round fun. Performances are ticketed.

Find out more at http://britishstreetfood.co.uk/

 

Oxford Artweeks

Oxford Artweeks starts on Saturday! The opportunity for Oxford's artists to show off and hopefull get some sales. A great chance for us to meet the artist, get inspired or buy a piece of art we will always remember. Last but not least a good way to tour the county.

Artweeks 2015 runs for three weeks in May, each with a different regional focus: North Oxfordshire 2nd-10th May, Oxford City 9th-17th May, and South Oxfordshire 16th-25th May. 

Find out more and including a handy interactive map at http://www.artweeks.org/festival

 

The Oxford May Music Festival

Music, Science and the Arts meet in creative harmony - April 29th to May 4th 2015. An extraordnary opportunity to delve into science with the experts and be transported by beautiful music at the same festival. Events are ticketed.

 Find out more at http://www.oxfordmaymusic.co.uk/2015-festival-programme/ 

 

Love Oxford Banner

Love Oxford

This Sunday sees an outdoor Christian service on Broad St at 11am. Previous years have seen over 2000 people gather from over 30 churches. So if you are looking for a spiritual way to spend this Sunday this seems like a prime opportunity. After the service drop into Boswells and by showing your programme get a one off 20% discount in the store!  

As the organisers at St Aldates church say "We will be coming together on Sunday 3rd May at 11am for an outdoor church service. This is an amazing opportunity for the churches of Oxford to come together and for their witness of worship and prayer to be seen in the very centre of Oxford. We are praying that this would be a valuable time of unity between Christians but more than this we pray that there will be fruit and ‘great joy in the city’ (Acts 8:8)."

Find out more at https://www.facebook.com/events/1545119742417049/ or watch a video at https://vimeo.com/121494063


Outdoors with the kids and nature

This isn't meant to be a complete list of everything around Oxford but the following are great activities for a good weather day if you are prepared to venture into the countryside and are looking for some creature interaction.

Millets Falconry Centre

Near Abingdon - Millets Farm Falconry Centre is home to over 80 birds of prey from tiny Owls to huge Eagles. It is the largest attraction of its kind in Oxfordshire. There is something for everyone, here you will not only be able to admire a wide and deserve range of birds of prey but also see what they are capable of and learn how they live in the wild.

This is a ticketed attraction. Find out more at http://milletsfarmfalconry.co.uk/

CrocodileCrocodiles of The World

Near Witney - We've listed this before on guides, because, well its crocodiles silly!  A conservation and education centre that can provide a safe sometimes even hands up experience with these ancient and remarkable creatures.

This is a ticketed attraction. Find out more at http://www.crocodilesoftheworld.co.uk/

Cogges Manor Farm 

Near Witney - A working farm now run as a heritage centre there are pigs, goats, shetland ponies, chickens and smaller animals like rabbits & guinea pigs for supervised handling. Also has a popular cafe and child friendly climbing frames.

This is a ticketed attraction. Find out more at http://www.cogges.org.uk/

 

What's on at the Museums?

We have a great range of museums and exhibition spaces in Oxford nearly all free so we've gathered up what on this weekend in one place.

The Weston library (formally the New Bodleian) 

Marks Of Genius LogoThis magnificent building on Broad St re-opened with a smashing exhibition called The Marks of Genius showcasing the treasures of the Bodleian Library. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see original works by famous writers such as Shakespeare alongside scientists such as Copernicus, music by Mendelssohn, massively important documents such as the Magna Carta and more. Certainly too many to list here. The exhibition last until September 20th this year, but why wait?

Find out more at http://genius.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

The Museum of the History of Science

Staying on Broad St, as well as the normal exhibition on Alchemy and the Laboratory a collection of painting, prints and manuscripts illuminating the history of science in art there is a special event this weekend called My Memories of Science. Starts Saturday and finishes Sunday.

Come to the museum to learn about amateur science in the past, and to listen to fond memories of science in our everyday lives. Bring along your favourite scientific object, and share your memories with us as we attempt to give life to the long history of amateur science. Led by students from the University of Oxford’s MSc in History of Science, Technology and Medicine.

Find out more at http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/events/

The Ashmolean Museum

Ashmolean MuseumJust north of Boswells on Beaumont St. Nothing special planned for the Bank Holiday weekend but we can highly recommend the regular Live Friday evening event. This is when the doors are opened between 7pm to 10.30pm for a after hours view of the exhibits with interactive events, workshops and talks. The dining room and cafe are also open.

Find out more at http://www.ashmolean.org/livefriday/

The current exhibition is Great British Drawings as the Ashmolan says "See the very best of British drawings and watercolours exhibited together for the first time. Great British Drawings showcases more than one hundred works by some of Britain's greatest artists." As the Times says "A treaure chest of gorgeous surprises".

This exhibition finishes on August 31st 2015 and is a ticketed exhibit, standard price £10. http://www.ashmolean.org/exhibitions/greatbritishdrawings/

Oxford University Museum of Natural History & The Pitt Rivers Museum

Boyle & HobbesAlso just round the corner from us on Parks Road are the double whammy of amazing and odd items at these complimentary museums. Both provide great entertainment for all ages. The Natural History Museum has a special event admittedly aimed at the adults called Leviathan and the Air-Pump: thirty years on on Friday May 1st 5pm, about the clash of two 17th century intellectual giants, Robert Boyle who was investigating the vacuum and Thomas Hobbes who had some concerns about the whole thing. The event consists of a lecture, discussion and drinks reception. The event is free but registration is recommended.

Find out more at http://torch.ox.ac.uk/airpump

Not technically on over the Bank Holiday, but of interest to young & old is the Lets' go fly a kite event on Thursday morning & afternoon. Make your own fish kite and test it out on the Museum lawn. No news about whether singing the song from Mary poppins is compulsory. For under 5s, drop-in.

Thursday 7 May, 10.30am-12.30pm and 2-4pm Find out more at http://www.oum.ox.ac.uk/visiting/whatson.htm

Like the Ashmolean the Pitt Rivers does After Hours Tours on some Fridays, although these are ticketed standard ticket £10. The next tour is this Friday the 1st and the 22nd of May.

Find out more at http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/specialevents.html

Museum of Oxford

In the Town Hall building on St Aldates the museum is working with Artweeks to show with Poseytude Gallery an exhibition of emerging artists and finalists of “Change the World” art competition displaying original contemporary art. Original paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture and mixed media art will be available to view and buy.

Find out More at http://www.oxford.gov.uk/museumofoxford

The Story Museum

Part of the May Morning celebrations May Morning Munchies is a chance to sample celebrity chef Sophie Grigson's breakfast treats. This is a ticketed event. Standard Price £4.

Find out more at http://www.storymuseum.org.uk/whats-on/may-morning-munchies/

Although the museum does have the Pheonix Children's Comic Festival 2015 on for the weekend General Entry Tickets are now sold out, just in case you were wondering. Standard exhibits are closed for the weekend too!

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17th April 2015

Everyday Essentials for The Young Gent

Everyday Essentials for The Young Gent

Whether you’re a young professional who’s just started his first proper job or you’re still living the student life at university, we think there are some essential every young gent needs. Check them out:

Shaving Cream and Brush

Kent Shaving Brush

There’s no denying that a good razor is key to a close shave, but a proper shaving brush and a high quality shaving cream are in a close second and third place. Using a shaving brush and cream gently exfoliates the skin while getting the cream underneath the hairs for the smoothest possible shave. Some of our favourite cream and brushes come from Kent and Truefitt & Hill, two brands that are very well known and respected in male skin care.

Aftershave

Once you’ve put the effort into looking good it’s time to smell good. Aftershave is a very personal purchase - only you know which smells the best for you - so we’ve got a different ranges in store for you to try, from the fruity scent of the West Indian Limes to the more hearty scents of Sandalwood aftershave balm.

Tablet Case

You’ve finished all of your personal grooming so now it’s time to pack your bags ready for a busy day.

Lots of people take a tablet wherever they go. If you’re one of these people you’ll know how important it is to protect it: a smashed screen can come with a hefty price tag. A case or sleeve will not only protect your tablet but make it a stylish accessory as well. One of our favourites is this Ted Baker Canoe sleeve because of its fashionable tartan design and superb protection.Teb Baker Tablet Case

Shirt Case

If you’re heading away for a few days there’s nothing worse than having to use a tiny hotel iron to get the creases out of your shirt. Skip the hassle and put up to three of your shirts in this stylish shirt case from Gentlemen’s Hardware, the perfect way to transport shirts, crease free.

Wallet

So you’re ready to leave the house, but don’t forget your wallet, - you probably won’t get far without it! There are many things you need to consider when buying a wallet apart from style: how many card slots does it have? Has it got a change pocket? Is there space for anything else you may need? We think a good all-round wallet is this nice simple Samsonite Attack Billfold Wallet, or if you need lots of internal space the Secrid Twinwallet wallet has plenty of room but is half the size of a normal wallet on the outside.

Water Bottle

Our final item is one that is often forgotten but should never be over looked: the humble water bottle. For a busy young gent, keeping hydrated can help keep skin clear (we’ve talked about the importance of skin hydration in one of our previous blog posts) , can help you stay focused, and can allow you to exercise for longer. Far more environmentally friendly - and cheaper - than regularly buying bottled water, this Wild and Wolf water bottle should always be at your side.Wild and Wolf Bottle

Conclusion

You’re now ready to face the world and you’re looking dapper as you do it! If you want enjoyed this, be sure to check out our Everyday Essentials for the Commuter post, which will give you ideas for making your commute more comfortable.

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