Boswells Blog - 2015

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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13th April 2015

Introducing Headway Oxfordshire Our Charity for 2015

Introducing Headway Oxfordshire Our Charity for 2015

Boswells chooses a charity each year via a staff vote and are visited by several charities so we can understand what they do and what support we can give. Naturally the choice is always difficult and this year we were very impressed by Headway Oxfordshire and voted for this worthy cause for April 2015 to April 2016 as our charity. We will be sharing any events or fundraising opportunities with you throughout the year but donation boxes are on all our tills now.

To those of us who do not know anyone with a brain injury or who aren't living with this ourselves Headway Oxfordshire is probably a bit of a mysterious name. To those that have suffered a brain trauma Headway Oxfordshire is hopefully both familiar and a vital lifeline to recovery and adapting to a new life and challenges. So here is some information about their amazing work. Read more about them and find out how you can help at their website www.headwayoxford.org.uk


What is a Brain Injury?

Brain injury strikes people of all ages, from all walks of life and in a variety of situations. Damage may be caused through trauma – road, domestic, industrial, sporting accidents, or assaults - or through stroke, tumour, haemorrhage, infections, such as meningitis or encephalitis, or other conditions.

Although it seems obvious, the brain controls everything about us, from breathing to the smallest personality trait … it makes us who and what we are. The consequences of a brain injury are as individual and varied as we are as people.

Brain Injury Diagram

Any combination of the affects (as in the diagram above) can have a profound impact on the lives of the individual, their family and carers. With early intervention and rehabilitation it is possible for individuals to maximise their recovery. However, many will live with the consequences of their injuries for the rest of their lives.

So how does Headway Oxfordshire help?

Headway Oxfordshire provides support to those with Brain Injuries to help both the physical and psychological recovery. Support is provided both immediately after the injury and long term. Long term care often falls to to those closest to the injured party and Headway Oxfordshire also provides support and guidance to carers and vital relief via a Breaks for Carers.

Information

“…92% of all hospitals in the UK fail to provide adequate information following minor head injury. Just 21 of 254 A&E departments across the UK provide the key information as recommended by both the NICE1 and SIGN2 guidelines.” The Health Sciences Research Institute, University of Warwick

Headway Oxfordshire's Community Workers work closely with the JR Hospitals Trust Neuro Science and Neuro ICU wards and the Oxford Centre for Enablement. Visiting injured persons and their family in hospital and in their homes afterwards. Providing clear information and allowing those affected to frame their expectations and hanle sometimes enormous life changes.

“You can’t comprehend how confused and traumatised you are after such a terrible thing happens to your family, and how relieved you are that someone is there to offer you support, hold your hand and guide you through the difficult bits.” 

Rehabilitation

Headway Oxfordshire provides an Activity and Rehabilitation Centre at Kennington Oxford, under the guidance of professional staff and therapists. Regular activities are aimed at reskilling and up-skilling, improving memory, mobility, co-ordination and social skills. Physio suite

Therapies and activities may include:
• Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy
• Brain gym and memory workshops
• IT
• Art and craft therapy
• Music workshops
• Games and quizzes
• Tai chi and Yoga
• Gardening and basic cooking
• Other Practical Tasks 

Support

“The doctors and surgeons saved me but Headway has made me who I am today and I am happy with the person I am now because I am lovely"

The Headway Oxfordshire Community Workers provide advise and support about all areas of adjustment to a sometimes radically altered life or personality. 

• Support to engage with community and leisure activities
• Advice and direct support to engage with other organisations around complex issues (eg housing, money management, lifestyle etc).
• Advice and direct support to utilise transport options to reduce isolation and increase community integration.
• Advice and direct support to prepare for, and engage with, vocational opportunities.
• Ongoing information to assist in adjusting to change, accessing services and opportunities that improve levels of independence and reduce isolation
• The Vocational Community Support Worker provides help and support, at the appropriate time, for individuals wishing to return to work.

Carers Support

“Every time the Headway woman was at the hospital she would come and see me. At that point I was in denial; why is this woman coming to see me – he’s going to go home and everything is going to be alright. Reality doesn’t come into your head, not in that place. Headway really kicked in when he came home and I realised things were not alright at all’

Carers Trip To London 2012The Carers Support Group was set up in 2010 within the Oxford centre, providing peer support, practical information and advice. Community Workers provide outreach support to the whole family: helping the carer access other support and benefits, and helping the family understand the affects of brain injury and come to terms with the changes in their lives.

Through Headway Oxfordshire’s Activity and Rehabilitation Centre, carers are provided with regular breaks throughout the week. In addition, one day a week is specifically for those with a higher level of dependency/profound disability. The “Breaks for Carers” service provides respite opportunities, including day excursions and short holidays for Carers with or without their dependant.

This image shows a group of carers on a trip to London.


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30th March 2015

Things to do around Oxford this Easter

Things to do around Oxford this Easter

With Easter just around the corner, the kids will have a couple of weeks off school, so we’ve put together this post of great things to do in Oxfordshire to help make sure you make the most of the holiday.

Boswells Easter Rabbit Hunt

Boswells Easter Hunt

This Easter come in store and take part in our Easter Rabbit Hunt! Pick up an entry form from one of the tills and then search the store high and low to find the mischievous rabbits that are hiding. Once you’ve found them all head back to the till to collect your prize.

http://www.boswells.co.uk/competition/10-easter-rabbit-hunt

Bitten Street

The brilliant Bitten Street from Bitten Oxford returns to the Oxford Castle Quarter on the 4th of April. The castle is taken over by street food traders from across the country serving their delicious food to the people of Oxford. From Happy Cakes to Mac and Cheese Pizzas, there will be something there for the whole family to enjoy!

Their March event was immensely popular and having already announced a few of the traders who will be at the April event, we’re sure this will be even better. Just remember to follow their advice and arrive hungry! If you are thinking lunchtime we recommend arriving early as it is popular and queues can be long after noon.

https://www.facebook.com/events/831308026929608/

Ice Rink

The Oxford ice rink has been a favourite for many years, and if you’re looking to get active this Easter and burn off all those chocolate eggs, a few laps of the ice rink is one of the most enjoyable ways. Open 7 days a week.

https://www.fusion-lifestyle.com/centres/Oxford_Ice_Rink 

Earth Trust Easter Outdoor Fun

Wittenham Clumps

Get outside this half term and take part in the great activities that the Earth Trust have got planned at Wittenham Clumps. From egg rolling to an Easter Bunny hunt, there are lots of events to keep the family entertained!

http://www.earthtrust.org.uk/Explore/WhatsOn/14-12-02/Easter_Outdoor_Fun.aspx

Oxford Playhouse

Michael Morpurgo’s I Don’t Believe in Unicorns has been adapted for stage and will be coming to the Oxford Playhouse over the Easter holidays. The story follows Tomas’s discovery of the magic of books and his mission to protect everything that matters to him. As well as the performances there is also a great workshop that kids can take part in.

http://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/show/?eventid=3295

(Image Credits)

Orienteering at Shotover Park

Get active this Easter and take part in a great orienteering event at Shotover Park in Oxford. With different courses for all abilities and age groups it promises hours of fun and adventure. There is coaching available for beginners, so you don’t get too lost.
This event is part of a series of four arranged across Oxford.

http://www.tvoc.org.uk/application/views/events/saturdayseries_view.php

Caldecotte Miniature Railway

Easter Sunday is the opening day of the year for the Caldecotte Miniature Railway. A great day out for kids and adults, you can see the country side from one of their locomotives for just £1 for two trips around! Open every Sunday and bank holiday from April – October.

http://mkmes.org.uk/

Hinksey Pool

Just outside the city centre, Hinksey Pool has been an Oxford favourtie favourite since 1934. Opening on April 3rd for the start of the summer season, this large outdoor pool offers a place for families to come and enjoy a day of fun, or an area where more serious swimmers can swim laps.
There is also a great splash park for younger children.

https://www.fusion-lifestyle.com/centres/Hinksey_Outdoor_Pool

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19th March 2015

Easter Recipe: Sachertorte

Easter Recipe: Sachertorte

For her second guest post on the Life's a Journey blog Julia at Happy Cakes has chosen one of her Easter favourites - the Sachertorte. Famously created for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in Vienna in 1832 by 16 year old apprentice chef Franz Sacher this dark, dense, chocolatey cake is definitely a favourite of the Happy Cakes team and is a real treat for Easter.

This cake keeps well so will last the whole Easter weekend – if you can resist it! To make it you'll need...

Equipment

  • A 10” cake tin, greased and lined with baking parchment
  • Two large, clean mixing bowls
  • Kitchen scales
  • Whisk (an electric whisk will make life easy, if not then a metal balloon whisk)
  • Large metal spoon (electric mixer optional for creaming the butter and sugar)
  • Teaspoon
  • Desert spoon
  • Sharp knife or metal skewer
  • Wire rack or roasting rack (to rest the cake on)
  • Sieve

Ingredients

For the torte

  • 7 eggs, separated in to yolks and whites
  • 220g softened butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 270g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids is best)
  • 140g self raising flour, sieved
  • 3.5 tablespoons cocoa powder, sieved
  • 3 tablespoons brandy or orange juice
For the glaze
  • 150g granulated sugar
  •  250g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • 7 tablespoons of water
  • Apricot jam

Method

Make the Sachertorte

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 C
  2. Whisk the egg whites in a clean grease free bowl to form soft peaks. You should whisk plenty of air into the egg whites but don’t make them too stiff or it will be too hard to fold them into the cake batter later on. When soft peaks have formed set the bowl aside
  3. Melt the chocolate slowly in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water (We sometimes do this in a plastic bowl in the microwave but you have to do it in short bursts and keep stirring)
  4. While the chocolate is melting cream together the softened butter and caster sugar in another clean large bowl, until pale and fluffy
  5. Stir the egg yolks into the creamed butter and sugar
  6. Add the melted chocolate and brandy or orange juice and stir well
  7. Carefully fold in the flour and cocoa powder using a large metal spoon in a figure-of-eight motion
  8. Finally, fold in the egg whites. Make sure they are evenly mixed but try not to overwork the mixture as you'll knock all the air out of the egg whites, meaning your Sachertorte will not rise
  9. Spoon your mix into your prepared tin making sure it’s level
  10. Bake for 40-45 minutes until springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean
  11. Leave in the tin to cool completely
  12. When your torte is cool cut a thin layer off the top cake to make it level
  13. With a plate on top, flip your torte over onto a wire cooling rack ready for glazing
Glazing the Sachertorte
  1. Put all the glaze ingredients in a pan and melt on a low heat
  2. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring and making sure it doesn’t start to burn
  3. Leave to stand for 15 minutes to cool and thicken slightly
  4. Warm a couple of tablespoons of apricot jam, sieve it and brush a thin layer over your cake
  5. Very quickly pour your glaze over your cake, smoothing with a palette knife
  6. Using a slice, transfer your cake to your serving plate
  7. Once the icing is set, melt a little more dark chocolate or some milk chocolate and pipe the word "Sacher" with a flourish over your cake
You should store your Sachertorte at room temperature.

Slice of Sachertorte
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2nd March 2015

Everyday Essentials for the Commuter

Everyday Essentials for the Commuter

Most of us have some sort of commute to work by bus, train, car or bicycle and there are a number of everyday essentials that make our lives easier and able to handle problems that arise. So here's our suggesions for a comfortable life in todays hustle & bustle.

A Good Office Bag

Office BagMale or female we need to carry a number of electronic gadgets these days as well as those handy essentials below. We have often taken a great deal of care in our appearance to look neat & professional so don't let your office bag let you down. A carrier bag or party girl/boy bag is probably not the look you are going for.

An efficient bag that can contain your work & personal essentials shouldn't be too cumbersome to carry every day. There are many smart shoulder bags & backpacks. It needs to provide security, particularly if you use crowded public transport, but still allow you to access key compartments without fuss. A comfortable handle or shoulder strap is also important. Always try a bag out by walking around & adding a weight to simulate weight. Don't be afraid to adjust the straps!

Tablet CaseA Tablet Case

For business or pleasure many of us carry a tablet around and even though a good office bag will have a compartment for a laptop or tablet protecting the tablet as we carry it around (which is the point of them after all) is essential. Anyone who has cracked a screen will recommend one.

notebookPen and Paper

pen and pencilYes we are all gadgeted up but having good old pen & paper to hand can be a lifesaver when you can't make a note and be on the phone at the same time or the charge has run out on those marvellous pieces of kit. It's also easy to pass on a note or scribble a thought. A smart looking notebook and pen will still look professional and rather classic. If you prefer pencil then an automatic pencil will protect the lead whilst being carried around better than a manual & look smart too.

 An Umbrella

umbrellaWhether using public transport or a car you are likely to be exposed to the elements at some point or just want to pop out at lunchtime. Having a bag sized umbrella for emergencies that can withstand the more extreme winds etc that we encounter these days will keep you dry and presentable. You can even be the saviour of a less prepared colleague... 

A Multi-Tool

multi-toolOnly recommended to contain blades for those who can control access to their bag (we don't want any little hands getting hold of even a small blade), but very useful to have for clothing, biking or other mechnical emergencies or even a lunch time picnic. As well as the famous Victorinox brand with all the handy variations of the tools you might want to consider a small torch multi-tool.  

Earphones

If you travel by some form of public transport or you walk you may enjoy listening to music or an audiobook as you go. If you are a sensory mult-tasker you may even be a reader & listener at the same time. So a pair of earphones are essential for your listening pleasure and to keep your fellow commuters happy.

bicycle repair kitFor bicycle commuters

You will have a whole other set of essentials including waterproofs that you like to carry but if we can recommend; 

If you travel in your business clothes then a smart set of bicycle clips are a must and be ready for mechanical emergencies with a bicycle repair kit and if we can suggest a Travel First Aid kit for bumps and scrapes.

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3rd February 2015

Valentines Day Recipe: Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes

Valentines Day Recipe: Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes


We are delighted to introduce our first guest post from Julia at Happy Cakes. They make gorgeous cupcakes and cakes in Oxford for all sorts of people, from the cast of local TV institution Lewis to birthday party-goers. This is a nicely romantic treat that's simple enough for just about anybody to try - a combination of chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with some lovely fondant decoration. You'll need...

Equipment

Ingredients

Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes 15-18 cupcakes

  • 250g softened butter or margarine
  • 250g sugar
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla essence

Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 15-18 cupcakes

  • 250g softened butter or margarine
  • 250g sugar
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla essence

Vanilla Icing

  • 125g softened butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • Milk

Chocolate Icing

  • 125g softened butter
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 100g cocoa powder
  • Milk
Icing Toppers
  • Fondant icing in pink or red (we're letting you cheat for this bit - making your own fondant is rather difficult!)

Method

For The Vanilla Cupcakes

Pre-heat your oven to 180C and put a cupcake case into the cake tin

  1. Cream the butter, vanilla & sugar in a mixing bowl until pale & fluffy. You can use a metal or plastic spoon to do this, but we'd recommend an electric mixer to save your arm muscles
  2. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each into the mixture before adding the next. Make sure to mix them thoroughly or your mixture might split
  3. Fold in the flour. Don't overmix or you'll lose the air you've beaten in.
  4. Using the desert spoon fill each cupcake case around 2 thirds full (you want space for the cakes to rise)
  5. Bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes & remove from the oven
  6. Leave to cool on a wire rack before icing

For The Chocolate Cakes

Pre-heat your oven to 180C

Use the same method as for the vanilla cupcakes above, adding the flour and cocoa powder together in stage 3.

For The Vanilla Icing

  1.  Mix the butter in a clean mixing bowl for around one minute, until pale (if you beat it for long enough it will almost turn white)
  2. Add the icing sugar a little at a time, passing it thorugh a sieve to get rid of any lumps, and mix into the butter (you can do all the icing sugar at once, but you may end up in a small personal snowstorm)
  3. Add a teaspoon of milk and beat in. 
  4. Your icing should now be the perfect consistency for piping. To test, dip your spoon or mixer a little into the icing and pull back up; stiff peaks should form
  5. If you're using a nozzle, put it into the bag
  6. Use the desert spoon to add your icing to the piping bag (support it in a jug to make this easier)
  7. Snip the end off the bag, near the end of the nozzle if you're using one or around an inch from the end if you're not
  8.  Pipe each cake, in one movement starting from the outside and spiraling inward

For The Chocolate Icing

Use the same method as for the vanilla icing above, adding the icing sugar and cocoa powder together in stage 2.

For The Romantic Toppers

  1. Roll out your coloured fondant until it is around the same thickness as a 2p piece
  2. Cut out enough hearts and kisses to put decorate each cake and leave, flat, to dry for around half an hour
  3. Put a decoration on each cake, serve, and woo appropriately 
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23rd January 2015

Romantic Oxford

Romantic Oxford

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought we’d help find the most romantic place in Oxford for you and your loved one. Be it your 15th year together or your first date, we’ve got you covered.

Above Image Credit: Colin Smith

Blenheim Palace

Just a short distance outside of Oxford you’ll find the birthplace of Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace. This beautiful Palace is set in 2,000 acres of countryside which you are free to explore on a romantic walk, or maybe you want to find out more about the history and architecture with a tour of the Palace itself.Blenheim Palace

One of the most romantic areas of Blenheim Palace are the formal gardens, with hundreds of varieties of flowers and a beautiful waterfall, you would struggle to find a more romantic place. And if after all of your exploring you need a break, why not settle down for lunch in one of the restaurants, or treat yourself in the Champagne bar.
 
 
 

University Church of St Mary the Virgin

What’s more romantic than looking out above the city of dreaming spires? Take a trip up the 124 steps inside the church spire and emerge on the balcony for the best views in Oxford. Looking south you can see the spires of Christ Church up above many of Oxford’s other famous buildings. From the north side you have the best view of Radcliffe Square and the Bodliean Library, All Souls College, the Sheldonian Theatre and of course the Radcliffe Camera. Having had a bit of exercise you will deserve the coffee & cake in the Vaults cafe located underneath the church in one of Oxford's oldest meeting places!

www.university-church.ox.ac.uk/                                     http://www.thevaultsandgarden.com/

Ashmolean Rooftop Restaurant

After a morning exploring the Ashmolean why not head upstairs and grab some lunch at the Rooftop Restaurant. With delicious food from local Oxford suppliers and a view of the Oxford spires from the terrace, this hidden gem is one of the most romantic places in Oxford. And if you’re not ready to commit to a full lunch or dinner, why not try their afternoon tea, served from 3pm daily.

http://www.benugo.com/restaurants/ashmolean-dining-room

Oxford University Parks

A favourite for Oxford locals to relax in during the summer, the University Parks also make a great place for a romantic walk in winter. If the weather is on your side, a picnic on the banks of the River Cherwell can make the perfect date. Gather up some delicious picnic food from a local Oxford deli and you have a great recipe for success.

http://www.parks.ox.ac.uk/

Oxford Castle

This might sound like an odd suggestion if the mention of the Oxford Castle conjures up images of the dungeon, but trust us on this one. The old prison is now home to some of Oxford’s finest restaurants, most stylish bars and fanciest hotels. So why not take a romantic stroll up the 64ft tall grass mound, enjoy the panoramic views of Oxford, and then wander back down and enjoy a delicious meal.

http://www.oxfordcastlequarter.com/

Magdalen Bridge Punting

Magdalene BridgeThis might not be the most suitable option for a Valentine’s Day date, but during the summer months, hiring a punt and taking a trip down the River Cherwell is one of the most romantic things we can think of. Take along a picnic to enjoy as you cruise through the University parks and onto Christchurch Meadow. And if you’re feeling lazy, you can hire a punt chauffeur; but we think it’s more romantic to do it yourself. 

Image Credit: Colin Smith

http://www.oxfordpunting.co.uk/

Botanic Gardens

This might be one to save for a sunny day, but the wait will be worth it. Full of thousands of different plants in many different collections, you can spend hours walking around admiring the rainbow of colours and the beauty of the plants. With no restaurants or cafes on site, the Botanic Gardens are a perfect place for a romantic picnic.

http://www.botanic-garden.ox.ac.uk/

 

Boars Hill Oxford

Boars Hill

A less well known part of Oxfordshire, the small hamlet of Boars Hill is an ideal place for a romantic walk and picnic. It may only be 3 miles southwest of Oxford, but apart from the beautiful views over the city, Boars Hill feels like true English countryside. There are many spots to sit down and enjoy your lunch, in peace and quiet.

Image Credit Derek Harper

Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

It might be a bit of a mouthful, but Le Manoir is one of the most luxurious places to stay in Oxfordshire and arguably the country. Based in Great Milton, Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin star restaurant and Hotel is the perfect place for a very romantic getaway.

You can spend your time at Le Manoir relaxing and enjoying the beautiful gardens, food and drink or you can get more involved and take part in a cookery class run by world class chefs. The hotel is only a short drive away from the centre of Oxford,

www.belmond.com/le-manoir-aux-quat-saisons-oxfordshire/

Pierre Victoire

Just down Little Clarendon Street in the centre of Oxford you will find “Oxford's busiest and best-loved independent French restaurant”. Pierre Victoire serves simple French food, and is a well-known Oxford favourite, and for this reason booking is always a good idea.

The prices for the great French food that is served are very reasonable and if you go for lunch, a 3 course meal is only £11.90 – an extremely good price for amazing food. The whole restaurant has a rustic, cosy feel which makes it the perfect place for a romantic date.

www.pierrevictoire.co.uk

The Nut Tree

The Nut Tree may appear to be your usual village pub, but this is a bit different. The restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star 7 years in a row and has featured in a long list of restaurant guides. But don’t think that this cosy pub is trying to be a big city restaurant. It’s still a lovely pub with a great range of beer and wine that just so happens to serve wonderful food. The perfect place to take someone you really want to impress.

http://www.nuttreeinn.co.uk/home.html

The Feathers

If after a long day of exploring Blenheim Palace you need somewhere to stay the night and relax, The Feathers is the ideal place. Located in Woodstock, just outside the Palace gates this hotel has a great selection of rooms, and an even better selection of gins. With over 200 behind the bar, this is the ideal place to bring a gin lover for a romantic weekend. And it’s not all about the drink; they have a great menu to refuel you after a day exploring.

http://www.feathers.co.uk/

If you think we’ve missed any romantic Oxford places off the list, let us know!

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21st January 2015

How a Haberdashery Window Comes to Life

How a Haberdashery Window Comes to Life

To celebrate our rather wonderful Haberdashery section we've created a magical window, but how to create a window out of the rather small buttons, ribbons, scissors, wool, needles and zips etc that make up every good sewers or knitters kit bag? Chrissie our visual merchandiser has the answer. Make rather bigger and even more fun examples!

Cotton reel So we started off with same rather outsize cotton reels bought from an helpful Christmas elf, well not really but one does seem to have helped drop it off - see picture.



Haberdashery Preparation

Then Chrissie got busy with polystyrene and printed designs to create some fabulous buttons and used bottles to create the impressions of thousands of buttons. Then combine with some balls of wool...




What's any good dress maker without their trusty mannequin and scissors?

Don't go looking for any giant scissors in store though, as these are a flimsy plastic, useless to cut with but good for health and safety purposes. We have some rather more helpful real scissors.


Then to put them all together in our window, which is where the designer's eye comes in. Add a "dash" of hearts on the window, and there you go. We hope you love, sewing, knitting and habby as much as we do and don't forget we have new fabric ranges and a cutting table too.

Completed Haberdashery windowClose up Haberdashery window

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8th January 2015

5 Top Tips for Dealing with Dry Skin after Winter

5 Top Tips for Dealing with Dry Skin after Winter

After the awful English winter weather comes the problem of dry skin. Too much wind, having the heating on all day, and not enough sun means your skin can feel uncomfortable and lacking in moisture. With nicer weather on the way as spring approaches, here are 5 tips on how to get your skin healthy again and ready for summer.

MoisturiseA Derma Moisturiser

You should moisturise all year round, but it’s especially important after the harshness of winter. Continue to exfoliate and moisturize your body through the winter months to give your skin a boost. A-Derma’s Exomega Emollient Balm is an ideal post-winter moisturiser; it’s been designed for dry skin and it’s fragrance and paraben free.

Reduce length of hot showers and baths

Prolonged hot showers and baths remove the natural oils from your body, reducing the moisture levels in your skin. Taking shorter, cooler baths and showers will help to prevent too much moisture loss. Always remember to moisturise after baths and showers as well, to replace the water your skin will have lost.

Turn the heating down – or even off

It’s understandable that the heating is on during winter, but reducing the humidity of a room reduces the moisture in your skin. When the temperatures outside increases a bit, try to reduce the heat in your home and layer up instead. This is also a good way to save money on your household bills.

Take vitamins regularly

Vitamins are essential to having a healthy body, especially for keeping skin in good condition. Ensure that you take vitamins regularly; also ensure that you eat more foods containing vitamin C, such as oranges, as vitamin C helps keep skin moisturised. Jason Organic Vit E Cream also contains vitamin E, topping your levels up even as you moisturise.Jason Vitamin E

Reduce Dehydration

Lack of moisture in the skin is caused by dehydration. Turning the heating down and taking shorter showers will reduce the amount of moisture your skin loses during the winter, but you also need to increase the amount of water you take in. Drink regularly throughout the day to make sure you’re consuming enough.

You should also consider eating more fish, especially oily fish like salmon and mackerel. The Omega 3 fatty acids in these fish help your body to absorb water, making you more efficient at replacing the moisture you lose.

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