Boswells Blog

19th September 2017

Designing a Living Room for the Whole Family

Designing a Living Room for the Whole Family

The living room, along with the kitchen, is at the epicentre of family life - a place to sit with friends, relatives and loved ones and enjoy relaxing in comfort. However, with conflicting opinions at home and a vast range of styles out there, it can be difficult to design a living room that caters to everyone’s tastes. With that in mind, in today’s article from our friends at Tiles Direct, we’ll be providing you with our essential living room ideas - so you can get inspired and excited about designing a space for the whole family.

Use a neutral base palette with colourful accents

Choosing the ‘right’ colours is perhaps the most difficult aspect of any living room renovation, given that every individual will have their own preference. Whether you opt for subdued and minimal or bold and bright, your colour choices are key to making the room look great and will provide the backdrop for colourful features and accessories.

Rolling out a softer palette can allow you to lay a neutral foundation which you can build upon with accents. Try starting with classic neutral colours like whites, greys and wooden browns to add aesthetic appeal and complement other tones. Keep these colours in mind when choosing your furniture, and opt for lighter or wood-effect wall and floor tiles to set the scene - before introducing other colours for a splash of personality

Finesse your furniture

Undoubtedly the most important feature of any family living room, the sofa is the place to relax and unwind, so it’s important you hit the nail on the head when you pick one for your family living room. Size will matter, as you’ll need a sofa that’s practical for your family’s needs - but you should also consider the size of your living room. You’ll want to avoid overcrowding the space you have and make sure your sofa fits in with other items of furniture. Once you’ve locked down the ideal size, select a style that reflects your room’s overall aesthetic and top it off with comfortable cushions and soft throws to add appeal.

Champion functionality


Whether you’re storing away important files or hanging up unused utensils, storage is a key part of any functioning family home - and your living room is no exception. Living room storage is a necessity when you’re dealing with an array of gaming controllers, TV remotes and DVDs - so avoid the headache of unnecessary clutter by using effective storage. Using multi-functional furniture could be one way forward, with foot stools and pouffes doubling up as storage spaces for unsightly items.

Coffee tables are also exceptionally handy for hosting a stack of shared magazines and keeping your drinks at hand. If you have the space, use a bookcase to store away books and DVDs so they’re at hand when you want to indulge. They can also be used as shelves if you want to show off a family photo or decorate with plants and other accessories.

Make it homely

Personal touches in your living room

Injecting a sense of personality is the final step in designing a lovable living room - so bring out your individuality and make the space feel like your own. Add family photo frames or prop up a much-loved piece of art to make the area feel inviting, rather than giving off a showroom aesthetic. Bring your family memories close with home accessories like trinkets that highlight your lives and personalities to round off the design, and make the room a warm, inviting and recognisable place for all of the family to relax in.

Whether your family style swings towards rustic or ultra-modern, striking the perfect balance is never an easy task in a house full of opinions. But making the space functional and appealing for all of the family doesn’t have to be a chore, so follow our straightforward tips and design a living room that will be loved by family and guests alike.

5th August 2017

5 Top Tips for Caring for Your Floors

5 Top Tips for Caring for Your Floors

Our friends over at Posh the online arm of Flooring Republic know everything there is to know about flooring and are sharing their top tips to keep your new floor in tiptop shape.

From rustic wooden floor to luxurious cream carpets, the style of flooring you choose will set off the overall design of an interior, so it’s worth exploring your options first. A high-quality floor will contribute to the first-class aesthetic of your home, but while many of us dream of creating a pristine show home finish in our home, ensuring that the floor remains in its original state can often prove to be a challenge.

With high levels of footfall and inevitable spills and stains wearing away the appearance of your floors, maintaining its original shine won’t be the easiest of tasks - and with so many products and methods to choose between, it can be hard to know what’s the best way to care for your flooring. That’s why today, we’ll be bringing you a handful of ways in which you can show your floors some TLC. So, whether it’s carpet, laminate or solid hardwood flooring, with our helpful guide, you’ll be able to ensure that your floor remains in first-class for as long as possible.

1. Protect the polish on your wooden floors 

Floor with rugWhether you’ve recently moved into rented accommodation or you’re looking for ways to ensure that your home’s wooden floors retain their shine, using furnishings to prevent damage to your floors is one of the simplest ways to extend the lifetime of your wooden flooring. Laying down a thick rug in busy spaces will not only add to the aesthetic of the interior, but it will also help to protect your engineered wooden floors from spills and stains - and with high levels of footfall leading the varnish to wear away over time, reducing the need for refinishing the floors with this simple step could be worthwhile in the long-term.

2. Adopt a ‘no shoes indoors’ policy

From carpet to solid hardwood, there’s nothing more annoying than treading dirt onto your floor, and with research revealing that the average pair of outdoor shoes carry approximately 421,000 bacteria, it’s easy to see why so many of us are employing a ‘no shoes’ policy for indoor spaces. The residue that remains on the bottoms of shoes will mean that, upon entering the house, you and your guests are likely to end up carrying dirt and debris into your home too, which could potentially result in everything from mud-stained carpets to scratched wooden floors. So, if you’re keen to save cleaning time and money, it’s worth considering asking guests to leave their shoes at the door.

3. Show your pets some TLC

Pets & Floors

As any animal lover will tell you, pets are just as much part of the family as anyone else, but four-legged friends come with their own challenges when it comes to cleaning your home. From molting and bringing in dirt to scratches and accidents, protecting your floors from long-term damage will unsurprisingly be more difficult in pet-friendly homes. However, by drying off wet and dirty paws by placing doormats at every entrance - as well as regularly brushing your pet’s coat - you can minimise the amount of time that you’ll need to spend cleaning up. Trimming your dog’s nails on a regular basis is likely to reduce the risk of them scratching any wooden floors too, so you can enjoy the long-lasting gleam that comes with these floors for significantly longer.

4. Choose the best cleaning products

Whether it’s a carpet or solid wood floor, it’s crucial that you choose the most suitable cleaning products for the job – and if your flooring is varnished, you’ll want to choose a product that can protect this too. Making smart choices when it comes to choosing your household cleaners is more likely to save you money in the long run – and by opting for the best solutions for your floors, you can ensure they stay clean and protected for many years to come.

5. Cover the bottom of furniture

While tracking toxins and debris into your floors is likely to damage the overall finish, the regular movement of sharp table legs and chairs in a domestic home could also mean that you end up with some unsightly dents and marks underfoot. So, whether you’ve opted for tiles or engineered wood, make sure that you minimise the likelihood of scratching the surface of your floors by applying felt pads to the underside of your furniture.

From minimising wear by incorporating rugs and mats into your interior design to opting for natural alternatives in your cleaning routine, there’s no shortage of ways in which you can extend the lifetime of your floors - and by following our top 5 tips for floor care, you could enjoy that freshly laid finish for years to come.

7th July 2017

10 Amazing Things to See and Do in Oxford This Summer

10 Amazing Things to See and Do in Oxford This Summer

Summer is most definitely here! Whether you’re visiting Oxford for the first time, or looking for ideas to keep your guests entertained this Summer, here are a few of the top things to see and do in Oxford.

Live Music and Theatre                                                  Punting

Quirky Oxford                                                                 Literary Oxford

Pubs, Glorious Pubs                                                      Historic Oxford

Dreaming Spires and Side Streets                                 Museums

Parks and Meadows                                                       The University of Oxford

10. Live Music and Theatre

Holywell Music Room ImageHolywell Music Room, Holywell Street

There’s always something great going on in Oxford, whatever kind of entertainment you’re into. The city has a wide variety of brilliant live music to keep you happy, whether it’s classical music at Holywell Music Room or rock at the O2 Academy. You can usually find fantastic live music at The Town Hall, The Bullingdon on Cowley Road and The Half Moon on St Clements Street too.

There are also some fantastic plays and musicals to get stuck into at The New Theatre and Oxford Playhouse, all year round. Be sure to catch a little Shakespeare as well, with outdoor plays at the Castle, Twelfth Night at Oxford Playhouse and a very special part Shakespeare/part Crystal Maze rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream being put on especially by The Creation Theatre this Summer.

Keep your eyes peeled for performances held by The University of Oxford, too, as it can be a brilliant way to see some great talent and a few extra colleges at the same time!

9. Quirky Oxford

The Headington Shark ImageThe Headington Shark

While the museums and spires are must-see attractions, with good reason, no visit to Oxford would be quite complete without experiencing a few of our fair city’s little idiosyncrasies.

Those with an interest in appreciating the slightly odd would do well venture up to Headington Shops, where, if you’re paying close attention, you may just spot a gigantic shark tail poking out from the roof of someone’s home, fin and all. What can we say, it’s something of an Oxford icon. 

Cowley Road Carnival Image

   Cowley Road Carnival, 2017

Amongst the fabulous, boutiquey shops of The Covered Market you may discover an unusual tourist attraction dangling in the window of M. Feller, Son & Daughter…none other than the world’s oldest ham. This year the ham will celebrate its 115th year, having spent its younger days touring North America. You may, understandably, think we’re pulling your leg, so why not go and see for yourself!

And finally, Oxford has many weird and wonderful traditions and events, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for what’s on. May Morning, Cowley Road Carnival and St Giles Fair are just a few of our favourites. We also recommend keeping your eyes peeled for the occasional unicyclist or Morris dancer jingling about town, and, from time to time, students covered in confetti and cream.

8. Pubs, Glorious Pubs

The Turf Tavern ImageThe Turf Tavern

There’s a reason why Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse spent much of his time sampling the pubs in this part of the world—it’s that we have so many fantastic ones to choose from. In fact, many of Oxford’s pubs are so iconic, and so historic, that they've have become tourist attractions in their own right.

If you can find it, tucked down its little passageway, a trip to The Turf Tavern is a must. The pub dates back to the 14th century, and has welcomed many a famous face through its doors over its long history, including Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Bill Clinton and Stephen Hawking. Fans of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien will find happy refuge in The Eagle and Child on St Giles, where these authors would regularly meet to discuss their writing. We also recommend popping into The Chequers on The High Street, which operated as both an inn and a zoo during the 18th Century.

7. Dreaming Spires and Pretty Side Streets

Elephant Gargoyle Holywell Street ImageOxford Martin School

As a city that’s famed for its dreaming spires, impressive sandstone buildings and little winding back streets, it’s fair to say that Oxford’s overall architecture and layout is massively appealing to visitors from far and wide. While there are so many things to see here, it can often be worth just having a wander, and seeing where your feet take you—you may well discover something interesting that you never knew was there!

A stroll down Magpie Lane, for example, will take you to sleepy Merton Street, just slightly away from the usual bustle of the city. On Merton Street, you’ll discover one of Oxford’s most picturesque, cobbled streets, and more than likely find it hard to resist taking a few photos.

Merton Street Image

Merton Street

If you’ve been off enjoying the wonderful Hertford Bridge (Bridge of Sighs), why not duck under the bridge and along New College Passage, just behind it? The street meanders between the colleges, eventually leading you out to St Edmund Hall and onto The High Street.

We also recommend ambling down Holywell Street, which still features picturesque gas style lampposts and some truly gorgeous old buildings on either side of the street. If it’s dreaming spires you crave, though, these are best enjoyed from the top of South Park, where you can get the perfect view of the entire city while sitting in the sun.

6. Parks and Meadows

Christ Church Meadow ImageView of Christ Church College from Christ Church Meadow

As famous as Oxford is for its colleges and spires, it’s also an incredibly leafy city, with parks and meadows never far from reach. Christ Church Meadow and University Parks prove popular choices with visitors and locals alike, and who can blame them? These green spots boast gorgeous river walks and the kind of tranquillity you find yourself dreaming of when trying to squeeze down busy Cornmarket Street on a Summer’s day. 

South Park Image
    South Park

To get away from the crowds for a bit, we suggest taking a trip to Port Meadow. This wide-open expanse is both beautiful and quiet, and if you wander as far as Wolvercote, you may just discover a couple of Oxford’s finest pubs—The Perch and The Trout.

If you’re right in the city centre and just looking for somewhere lovely to stop and eat a sandwich or read a book, though, you’ll find the perfect spot in the tiny, but well hidden, Wellington Square, just off Little Clarendon Street. Accross town, East Oxford's South Park boasts some of the most scenic views in the city. 

5. PuntingPunting Magdalen Bridge ImagePunts at Magdalen Bridge Boat House

There’s nothing quite like drifting down river on a gorgeous Summer's day. If the weather is feeling kind, hiring a punt can be a fantastic way to lazily while-away some of the day while taking in Oxford’s beauty.

For those who are worried about going in circles, punting into other objects, or falling off, you can hire someone to steer you along. And, for those not fond of being on the water, there’s no need to miss out. Simply find a nice spot along the river and enjoy the view…which may or may not include other punters toppling into the water.

For maximum punting fun, pack a picnic, or punt along to The Victoria Arms in Old Marston, which sits along on the River Cherwell and features one of Oxford’s finest beer gardens.

4. Literary Oxford

 Alice's Shop ImageAlice's Shop, St Giles

Book-lovers flock to Oxford each year to get a peek at some of the places that are linked to the great authors and works of literature that have come out of this part of the world (as well as the many filming locations used in adaptations).

For fans of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, a trip to the tiny, but very special, Alice’s Shop on St Aldates will make your day. The shop itself appeared in Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, and was once the favourite sweet shop of the Alice that Carroll based his character on.

There are also plenty of Tolkien and Lewis treats to sink your teeth into, such as the colleges where the two men studied and taught (Exeter, Pembroke, Merton, University, Magdalen) and an Ent-like tree in the Botanic Gardens that was apparently Tolkien’s favourite.

The Kilns

C.S Lewis's House, The Kilns

Both authors are buried in Oxford, and for those wanting to take a literary pilgrimage, you’ll find Tolkien resting in Wolvercote cemetery, and Lewis at Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry, just around the corner from his former home.

You can also indulge in Inspector Morse’s Oxford, or see some of the places that were used in the filming of the Harry Potter films—most notably Christ Church College. If you’re lucky, you might just spot the crew for ITV’s Endeavour out and about filming in town.

If you just really love to read, though, you won’t regret taking a trip into Blackwell’s on Broad Street. The shop’s famous Norrington Room, alone, houses more than 160,000 books, and holds a Guinness World Record!

3. Historic Oxford

Martyrs Memorial ImageThe Martyr's Memorial, St Giles

As an Anglo-Saxon settlement, Oxford dates back to at least the 9th century AD, later becoming an important Norman town. In around 1176, The University of Oxford was founded, sealing the city’s fate as a place of interest for the centuries to come. It’s hardly surprising, then, that people flock here from all over the world to discover a piece of old Oxford, and the city really doesn’t disappoint. Around every corner lies some historical treasure, whether it’s a truly old building or a gripping tale.

Oxford Wall Image

Remaining piece of Oxford city walls

To make the most of Oxford’s vast history be sure to take a peek at St Michael’s at the North Gate on Cornmarket Street. This impressive Saxon tower has stood on the spot since 1040, and is the oldest building in the city. A trip to Oxford Castle is also highly recommended. Here, you can climb the original Norman motte, where the wooden castle first stood, and take a tour around the castle and prison with the Oxford Castle Unlocked experience.

The image on the right shows a remaining piece of what we think might be the mediaeval city walls, which is tucked away, out of sight, behind Boswells. As you'd never normally get the chance to see it, we thought we'd give you a little sneak peek!

And finally, connoisseurs of Oxford’s history won’t want to leave the city without having first visited the infamous spot where the Oxford Martyrs were burned as heretics in 1555. A small, cobbled, cross is set into the pavement on Broad Street, just a stones-throw from Boswells, to mark the spot where the execution took place. The memorial to the Martyrs, built in 1843, proudly stands just around the corner, on St Giles.

2. Museums

Museum of Natural History ImageThe Museum of Natural History, Parks Road

As home to Britain’s first public museum, The Ashmolean, it’s little surprise that Oxford has so many fantastic museums. The Ashmolean now sits grandly on Beaumont Street, and houses a vast collection of impressive artefacts and paintings. For something a little extra special though, take a trip along to one of the Ashmolean’s Live Friday evening events. 

Ashmolean Museum Image
The Ashmolean Museum

For the bold and adventurous, a trip to the Pitt Rivers anthropological museum, on Parks Road, is a must. Here you’ll discover more wonderful knick-knacks and artefacts from all over the world than you can imagine…as well as some very impressive shrunken heads! The Museum of Natural History is right next door to the Pitt Rivers, and is home to Oxfordshire’s dinosaurs, amongst other things. Why not pop in and say hi to the T-Rex?

We also highly recommend dropping into The Museum of the History of Science, The Museum of Oxford and the permanent exhibit at The Town Hall (the inside of the building is pretty stunning, it has to be said). And yes, entrance is absolutely free to all of these amazing places, except for some special exhibitions.

1. The University of Oxford

Radcliffe Camera ImageThe Radcliffe Camera and St Mary's Church, Radcliffe Square

It’s probably fair to say that Oxford is most famous for The University, and people come from quite literally all over the world to see it.

The University of Oxford is made up of 38 colleges and 6 permanent private halls, which means that seeing absolutely all of it is no easy task. To make the most of your time here we suggest picking a handful of varied colleges to visit. Not all of the colleges are open to the public, and those that are can vary in terms of times and days that you can wander in, so it’s always a good idea to check ahead. 

Christ Church College Image
   Christ Church College

Here are a few Oxford Colleges that you might want to investigate, to start your quest. Christ Church College proves a popular choice. The college is well known for having been used in the Harry Potter films, and it was Charles I’s home and parliament during the English Civil War. If you’re keen to see colleges with grounds, though, Magdalen College has an impressive 100 acres to explore, including a deer park. While Worcester College’s grounds are perhaps some of the most beautiful around. If you’re keen to see one of the very old colleges, New College is a very good option, with its original cloisters dating back to 1379. And, if you’re looking for something altogether different, Keble college features an impressive Victorian Gothic, red brick design, which is unlike any other college.

But The University of Oxford isn’t just colleges. The Bodleian Library, the Sheldonian Theatre and The Radcliffe Camera are some of the best, and most recognisable sights that Oxford has to offer, and so we highly suggest taking a trip down Broad Street to discover these absolute gems—you’ll definitely need a camera!

And Finally...

Tourist DepartmentAfter all of that exhausting and rewarding sightseeing, why not pop into Boswells on Broad Street for a little souvenir shopping to finish up your day?

As Oxford’s oldest department store, which turns 279 this year, we’ve got lots of history of our own to offer, and plenty of goodies and gifts to choose from to spoil the folks back home with too.

And, if you’re feeling especially worn out, we highly recommend treating yourself to a cup of tea and piece of cake in our 1738 Tea Room!

All Oxford Images: Elena Woolley

15th June 2017

Fun Ways for Babies and Toddlers to Learn and Play

Fun Ways for Babies and Toddlers to Learn and Play

When we think of play, learning isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. Yet, your baby or toddler is actually constantly learning and developing skills through play. Yes, luckily, play is great for your child’s development, and since they will naturally want to play, it simply becomes a question of finding the best toys and types of play to suit your child’s age and development. To that end, we’ve put together a few suggestions to get you started.

Remember that children can develop and learn at different speeds, so don’t worry if your child’s learning doesn’t exactly fit the below timeline, it is intended as a guide only. Every child is different, and that’s the beauty of watching them grow!

Children of this age range will require adult supervision for play. We also advise always checking the age recommendation and any safety information on toys before giving them to your child.

0-1 Months                     4-6 Months                     10-12 Months                  2-3 Years

2-3 Months                     7-9 Months                     1-2 Years

0-1 Months

Baby Image

In the first few months of life your baby is constantly learning, after all, everything is new. As it turns out, your face is the best entertainment out there for an infant! At first, she can only see a few inches (around 9-15”), but filling her vision with the faces of those around her (and pulling some funny faces) is a great way to keep her amused.

Best Years Zebra Rattle

In fact, research shows that your baby can make sense of your face even before she can make out simpler shapes.

Your new arrival is also very good at registering high contrast colours, so try to choose toys that feature strong contrasts. She will also be good at grabbing (this is called the Palmer Grasp Reflex), and so easily grabbable toys will come in handy.

2-3 Months

Family Image

Your child will slowly start to hone his fine motor skills, and begin to develop his muscles. A great way to help your baby with this process is to give him lots of opportunities to interact with objects, such as things that can be dangled above for him to swipe at. 

My First Puppet Image

Mobiles are great for swiping at, but make sure these are removed once he can pull himself up! Repetitive motions will also be especially fun for him at this point.

You could try encouraging your baby to follow a soft toy with his eyes by moving it slowly back and forth above him. These kinds of early play experiences are a great way for your child to develop and practice hand-eye coordination. Colourful, interactive and noise making toys, such as puppets, can also encourage your baby to interact and move in ways that help those all-important muscles along.

4-6 Months

Lamaze Mini Teether Image

As your child gets that little bit older you’ll find she’s also getting all the more curious. Her world is a big place full of new, exciting things to discover and explore. As a result, your baby will use all of her senses to find out about her surroundings, so toys that are textured or that make noises are bound to be all the rage. A textured cloth book is a fun way for her to explore via touch and sight.

Her curiosity will mean that she will want to put everything in her mouth, so try to provide her with lots of nice, safe teethers and other suitable toys that won’t present a choking hazard.

Halilit Cage Bell Image

It’s around this age, also, that your baby will begin to develop an awareness of cause and effect (which is important for communication), and certain types of playing will help her to realise that she has an impact on the world around her. Musical instruments are a fantastic way to introduce her to cause and effect, as she hits and shakes things to create a sound. Encourage her to use both arms for these activities to help her develop her muscles and coordination. 


7-9 Months

Baby's First Book Image

Around this stage your child will become mobile, crawling around and, more than likely, getting into everything. At about this age you may also notice that your baby begins to be able to pick things up with his index finger and thumb (the pincer grasp), making his expeditions around the house all the more exciting (and more than likely messy). 

Crawling Baby Image

As your little adventurer boldly wreaks havoc around your home, you might want to consider creating a baby-safe space for him to explore, filled with things to safely drop and bang on.

Your baby may also begin to understand a few basic words, and so now is a good time to introduce simple books and toys featuring animals to help develop his early language skills (which is important even before he starts to talk). Speaking to him in full sentences whenever possible will also help along those language skills.

10-12 Months

Fisher Price Storybook Rhymes Image

Somewhere around this stage you’ll be wondering where your baby’s first year has gone, hasn’t it just flown by? But while it may seem like no time at all to you, your child will have learned and developed a huge number of skills by this point, preparing her for all the years ahead.

In the last couple of months of her first year your baby will be starting to fine tune her sense of balance and her fine motor skills. 

V-Tech Toy Phone

 She will be learning and gathering information at an incredible rate, and so lots of new and interesting stimulus is a definite must.

Singing songs like The Wheels on the Bus and nursery rhymes with her will help along those fundamental language skills that are so important early on. Playing simple games where an object is momentarily hidden behind something or in a box will teach her that objects are still there, even when she can no longer see them (object permanence), and is sure to cause some giggles of joy when she rediscovers something that was hidden.

Around the 1 year mark she’ll have fun imitating the things she sees around her (especially you), and so toy phones and keys may become a popular choice for your child, as she begins to learn about the mysterious adult world.

1-2 Years

Playing with Sand ImageAs your baby becomes a toddler, his curiosity will continue to fuel a lot of his play. During this stage, lots of nice (slightly messy) play with sand and water and simple painting activities is a fantastic way to nurture your child’s creativity, while also helping to develop his fine motor skills. Building blocks, such as Mega Blocks, offer similar benefits (and are great for encouraging concentration), with much less mess, and so they’re perfect for a rainy day indoors. Toys that boost perceptual skills, such as stacking rings, can also offer your child a new challenge to get stuck into.

Bigjigs Shape Sorter ImageTentative first steps will slowly transform into a more confident walk, so pull along and push along toys are a fun way for your child to play while showing off his impressive new skill.

Around the 18-month mark, try introducing him to some simple puzzles, such as shape sorters and jigsaws with just a few, large pieces. This will help to develop problem solving skills as well as hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

Your little learner will be taking in as much of the world around him as possible. Simple activities like jumping in puddles (don’t forget the wellies!!!), or kicking up leaves is a fantastic way for him to explore and learn.

2-3 Years

Peppa Pig Soft Toy ImageHer imagination is the limit! At this age, your child will likely enjoy imaginative play, which can include anything from a tea party to role play and dressing up. It can also include her creating stories and a world around her toys (a puppet show with a story can be a good example of this). Character toys, animal toys and toys based on her favourite TV shows will also offer lots of imaginative opportunities.

Imaginative play has been linked to nurturing the development of empathy—as children become aware of different view-points than their own—as well as communication and problem-solving skills. It’s also tons of fun.Duplo Number Train Image

Around this age you could start to introduce her to letters and some basic counting, ready for when she starts school. Begin with something simple, like the letters in her name, or counting the number of buttons when you’re getting her dressed, you could even make a game of it. This type of learning play is more about making letters and numbers familiar to her, rather than perfecting her English and maths skills before school even begins, so don’t worry if your toddler isn’t exactly a savant yet.

Keep it Fun!

Finally, keep it fun! As much as anything else, tailoring play activities to your child’s likes and developing interests is an important aspect of keeping them engaged in what they’re doing, and so also a part of their learning.

If you’re looking for lots of fun ideas to help your little ones’ learning and development along, why not pop into our Toy Department, or take a peek at our baby and toddler toys online for a little play inspiration? 

11th May 2017

Get Inspired to Travel with These 10 Most Visited Cities

Get Inspired to Travel with These 10 Most Visited Cities

Our Luggage Department’s Mid-May Madness discount promotion has got us thinking about all the amazing places to visit out there! If you’re looking for exciting travel ideas or if you’ve ever wondered what the most popular travel destinations are, with a little help from the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index report, these are the top 10 cities visited last year! They’re certainly a great start if you’re looking for a little inspiration for this year’s holiday…

10. Seoul

Seoul Gyeonbok Palace Image

With its impressive palaces, large museums and vibrant shopping areas, it’s not surprising that 10.2 million of us flocked to Seoul last year. This lively South Korean city has the perfect mixture of amazing food, traditional culture and its own quirky way of doing things.

Visitors to Seoul will discover that its world-class subway comes with a range of catchy jingles, that kimchi (cabbage fermented in chilli) is much nicer than it sounds and that, on an average day, you can quite easily witness “six impossible things before breakfast.” Boasting a very low crime rate, and a very welcoming approach to visitors, it’s really very hard not to love Seoul.

You can fly direct to Seoul's Incheon Airport from London, with a journey time of around 10-11 hours. If you've got the energy when you land, Incheon Airport has both an ice rink and a cinema...


9. Tokyo

Imperial Palace Tokyo Image

Image Courtesy of E. A. Woolley

Famous for its bustling atmosphere and neon lit skyscrapers, Tokyo is the 9th most popular travel destination in the world, with 11.7 million visitors. This sprawling city is in fact the largest in the world, and for those who want more than just towering buildings to make their holiday memorable, Tokyo won’t disappoint.

If you fancy a taste of the local culture, there’s the Imperial Palace, not to mention plenty of temples and shrines to visit. If you long to see some real, Japanese cherry blossom, a trip to Ueno Park in the spring is a must. Or, if you fancy a taste of Tokyo’s history, why not take a look at the old buildings in Kawagoe? We’ve no doubt you’ll find more than enough to keep you occupied in Tokyo!

A direct flight from London to Tokyo will take around 12 hours of your time, which should be just enough time to watch a few films, have a good snooze and excitedly flip through your travel guide. 

8. Istanbul

Istanbul Image

This amazing city is the perfect meeting point between East and West, which is probably why Istanbul drew 11.95 million visitors last year. As a European city, also heavily influenced by Asian culture and history, this city is a bit of a gem.

Istanbul’s famous skyline of domes and minarets in the Old Quarter is really stunning, towering over the old cobbled streets below. If you enjoy a bit of haggling, take a trip to a Turkish bazaar and see if you can snag yourself a bargain, or maybe just soak up some of the city’s incredible history, it has oodles of it to share. Sounds pretty great to us!

Istanbul is a mere 4 hour flight from Gatwick and Stanstead. You'll be enjoying the sights in no time at all!

7. Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Towers Kuala Lumpur Image

If you love the tropics, then Kuala Lumpur may be just the city for you. Last year KL attracted 12.02 million visitors, who all no doubt discovered the charms of Malaysia’s sweltering heat and roaming monkeys. This modern, high-rise city is surrounded by leafy palm plantations, and is full of wondrous things to see. If you aren't a fan of the heat you don't have to miss out, why not have a read of our blog on ways to keep cool?

The city is chock full of temples and wildlife, as well as the ultra-modern shopping delights of KL City Centre. Kuala Lumpur is diverse and multi-cultural, modern and traditional, and wherever you are, air conditioning is always mercifully close by. A must see for anyone not daunted by the heat (or the monkeys)!

You can fly to Kuala Lumpur direct in 13-14 hours from Heathrow. If that sounds like a very long time, there are plenty of options for taking a layover enroute, which could be a fantastic way to see another great city. 


6. Singapore

Gardens By The Bay Singapore Image

With 12.11 million visitors in 2016, Singapore has proven to be a very popular holiday destination. This ultra-modern city has sprung up over the last century or so, and just oozes cool.

With its boutique shopping districts, must-try restaurants and impressive theme parks, Singapore makes a fantastic city break for couples, groups and families. It’s also a wonderfully green city with its Botanical Gardens and award-winning Gardens by the Bay. And, if all of that isn’t tempting enough, well, Singapore also has its very own Night Safari. Yes, we did say Night Safari…it doesn’t get much better than that!

Singapore is roughly 13 hours flying time from London's major airports, and not too far from Kuala Lumpur, if you have your heart set on seeing both.


5. New York City

New York Taxi Image

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that New York is one of the most visited cities in the world. In fact, NYC is the most visited city in North America, with 12.75 million visitors last year alone. This sleepless city has so much to do that its popularity is pretty hard to argue with.

Visitors to New York are spoilt with a selection of arts and culture, amazing sight-seeing and sooo much food! To get the most out of your time in New York, New York, we suggest a walk through Central Park, a trip down the Hudson River and perhaps a little bargain shopping on Canal Street. Be sure, also, to try a gigantic pretzel from a street vendor before you leave!

You'll find yourself in New York about 7-8 hours after taking off from one of London's airports, which should give you a little extra time to get excited about all the things you're going to see! 

4. Dubai

Dubai Image

 Dubai has become very a very popular holiday spot in recent years, last year attracting 15.27 million of us to its sandy shores. As home to the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and some of the world’s finest shopping, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise to see Dubai so high up on this list.

To make the most of your time in the United Arab Emirates, a little desert safari (complete with barbeque and belly dancing performance) is a real treat. You can also swim with dolphins at Dolphin Bay or even give shark diving a go at the Aquarium! There’s lots of exciting things to sink your teeth into in this desert city by the sea.

Dubai is about the same length flight from London as New York is, around 7-8 hours away, although ideally flying in the opposite direction, or you're probably terribly lost. 

3. Paris

The Louvre Paris Image

Ah, the city of light! Last year 18.03 million of us wandered along the banks of the Seine, strolled down the Champs Elysees and climbed the steps of the Eiffel Tower. Paris has been a favourite with travellers for hundreds of years, and its seems its old appeal has never faded.

This is probably because the city oozes romance and culture, and boasts a history that attracts visitors from all over the world. It also can’t hurt that Paris is only an hour’s train Journey away from Disneyland… For those who love long leisurely meals, art, architecture and…um, Mickey Mouse, you really can’t get much better than a trip to Paris.

Paris is blissfully close, with a flight time from London of about 1 hour. If you prefer the Eurostar, you can be there in roughly an 2 and a half hours. Parfait!


2. London

London from Waterloo Bridge Image

Yup. Our very own capital city is the second most popular travel destination in the world, with an impressive 19.88 million overnight visitors last year. We’re hardly going to argue, after all, London really does have a little bit of everything to offer.

Samuel Pepys once wrote that “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” and we think this must be London’s secret to success. It really is very hard to get tired of such an energetic, cosmopolitan city, after all. With tourist favourites such as Tower Bridge, Big Ben and Buckingham palace, not to mention free museums and the buzz of the West End, London has something for everyone!

So close to Oxford, there's no reason to miss out on a little time in London. England's capital city is roughly 60 miles away, which is only about 1 hour 45 minutes driving time (if the traffic is friendly), or an hour by train!

1. Bangkok

Bangkok Image

Ta-daaa! The top spot for most visited city in the world is currently held by Bangkok. Last year Bangkok had a jaw dropping 21.47 million visitors, we must say we’re pretty impressed.

As a diverse city with something different around every corner, and packed full of amazing things to see, it’s not surprising that Bangkok has become such a popular place to visit. With stunning sights such as The Grand Palace, Taling Chan floating market and The Temple of the Emerald Buddah, Bangkok is the sort of city that’s bound to keep your camera very very busy!

To get a real taste of Thailand, trying Bangkok’s famous street food is a must. If you’re feeling especially daring, you can even give fried worms or grass hoppers a try! And, if the South East Asian humidity starts to get too much, a trip on the Skytrain will give you a chance to see some of the city in the cool. As a city with so much to offer its visitors, what’s not to love?!

A direct flight from London to Bangkok takes around 11-12 hours. We reckon half a day in the air is probably more than worth it for a little time in this amazing city.

Get Travelling!

Jim and Madge Angkor Wat

This selection of amazing cities really shows that the global tourist trade is booming, and that we’re off exploring new and far flung destinations in ever increasing numbers. While travel to (and within) Europe still accounts for about 51% of all international travel, we’re far from missing out on all the other amazing places out there! 

In fact, the UN World Tourism Organization reported that in 2015 about 50 million more people were travelling than the year before, accounting for around $1.5 trillion in global exports! That’s a lot of amazing adventures and memories that we’ve all been out there making. Even Jim and Madge, our Playmobil couple, have been off having some incredible holiday adventures!

Samsonite Lite-Shock Suitcase Image

If you’re planning a special trip this year, you might want to take a look at some of the fantastic discounts currently on offer in our Luggage Department, which include Samsonite suitcases and all sorts of travel goodies by Eastpak and Go Travel. If you need a little extra help on which suitcase to pick, read our handy guide, or pop into our Luggage Department for an extra helping hand. 

For some more fantastic ideas for places to visit, why not check out Trip Advisor’s Traveller’s Choice Top 25 Destinations, which includes Bali, Siem Reap, Crete and Prague?

If these top travel destinations have whet your appetite for the holiday of a lifetime, what are you waiting for? Grab your suitcase and go explore!

13th April 2017

Simple Ways to Care for Your Skin

Simple Ways to Care for Your Skin

The skin is the largest organ in our bodies—a protective sheath primed to endure a variety of types of daily wear, even in the face of harsh elements and the onslaught of common household chemicals. And yet, despite all that our skin does for us, sometimes it seems remarkably easy to forget to give it a little of the TLC it deserves. The key to beautiful looking skin is, after all, healthy, happy skin, and so we’ve put together a few tips to help you keep your skin in great, gorgeous shape.

Looking After Your Skin

Your skin’s needs, rather unsurprisingly, are very much tied to factors that inform your wider health. If you eat well, keep hydrated and get plenty of rest, you’re already well on your way to having nice, healthy skin.

Here Comes the Sun

Sunscreen Spray Image

Taking excellent care to protect yourself from the sun’s damaging effects is also an absolute must, as exposure to the sun’s rays can prematurely age your skin, provoke existing skin conditions and, most dangerously, put you at risk of melanoma.

In addition to applying a UVA and UVB sunblock that’s spf 30 or higher, when the sun is out in-force, you might want to consider getting your hands on some lower spf products for daily wear on those less obviously sunny days. If this sounds like a lot of extra hassle, worry not. There are actually a significant number of fantastic, skin-friendly products available on the market, from make-up to moisturisers, that offer you daily sun protection, and make it that little bit easier to incorporate into your morning routine. We suggest taking as look at what Natio, Avene, Caudalie and La Roche Posay have to offer in this respect, as well as a general sunscreen for those brighter days.

Give Your Skin Some Air

Sunshine Image

Whenever possible, give your skin a little air. It can be easy to get carried away with applying every product going, but letting your pores breathe overnight and not going too overboard with lots of heavy foundation and creams during the day can give your skin’s health a real boost. Instead of a night cream, why not try the Dr. Hauschka Night Serum, which promotes your skin’s renewal while you sleep. Keep an eye out, also, for products that boast the word noncomedogenic, as these won’t clog your pores.

Washing Image

Happy skin will also welcome a little extra, topical hydration, such as a daily moisturiser or a misting spray (or both), as well as a good washing/cleansing regimen, which should be determined by your skin type.

Things to Consider Avoiding

Smoking ImageThere are also a couple of things to think about avoiding in order to keep your skin looking and feeling fantastic. Smoking, for example, diminishes the flow of oxygen to the skin and reduces its moisture level, leaving the skin dry, tired and ultimately less youthful looking (our Pharmacy offers Stop Smoking Support if you need a helping hand). Similarly, we suggest avoiding products that are bogged down with lots of synthetic ingredients, such as parabens. Products that contain alcohol can also have a drying effect, which is worth taking into consideration when picking out what to put on your skin.

Caring for Your Skin Type

There are four categories that are commonly used to describe the condition of your skin: normal, dry, oily and combination. You may also have sensitive skin in addition to any of these skin types.


Rose Day Cream Light Image

If your skin's condition is normal it basically means that your skin’s natural balance is pretty good—not too oily, not too dry—and it should be relatively easy to care for. We suggest finding a good cleanser, toner and moisturiser that you’re comfortable with to keep your skin in top condition. Dr Hauschka's Facial Toner and the Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream Light are both great for normal condition skin. 

Avene Akerat 10 Image


Dry skin can often feel tight and uncomfortable from lack of moisture, and is prone to showing up fine lines. Although it may seem logical to treat dry skin with lots of oily products, this can actually exacerbate the problem, as the skin can become fooled into thinking that it's over-producing oil, and subsequently produce even less. Try a nourishing moisturiser such as Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream. If you find that tap water is too harsh for your skin, a good cleansing milk can help, such as Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Milk (which is great for all skin types), and exfoliate gently just once a week. There are also some great body creams availble for dry and rough skin. We suggest having a look at Avene Akerat 10 Body Cream and La Roche Posay's ISO UREA range


Effaclar Micellar ImageSkin Blemishes ImageIf you have oily skin you may find that you’re quite prone to acne and other blemishes (as enlarged pores can easily become clogged with dirt and make-up), as well as a shiny complexion. Your skin is incredibly smart, and if it detects that it's too dry it will actually increase its oil production, so avoiding products that will dry the skin (such as oil-free or alcohol based products) is generally wise with this skin type. 

A regular cleansing routine and twice weekly exfoliation will help to keep your pores as clear and healthy as possible. We recommend Dr. Hauschka's Clarifying Toner, La Roche Posay Serozinc Spray and the La Roche Posay Effaclar range, all designed especially with your skin type in mind.

Dr. Hauschka Melissa Cream Image


If you have combination skin you more than likely have all of the issues of both dry and oily skin. Combination skin usually entails an oily forehead, nose and around the cheeks, and tightness elsewhere on your face. As a result, you may need to care for different parts of your face in different ways. A regular cleansing routine and a light moisturiser are a good starting point. Why not try Dr. Hauschka's Melissa Day Cream, which will calm and hydrate oily and dry areas of skin, respectively.

Sensitive Skin

A-Derma Exomega Emollient ImageEczema ImageSensitive skin can include skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea and psoriasis as well as allergic reactions to beauty products and a general sensitivity to harsh weather conditions. Sensitive skin may need plenty of extra care, especially when it comes to choosing skin care products that are going to be kind to it. We suggest trying fragrance free, hypoallergenic products, as well as products that are an emollient, as this will have been designed with soothing your delicate skin in mind.

Bear in mind that products that might trigger a sensitive skin reaction will vary from person to person, and from time to time even those skin care products designed for delicate skin may even be the culprit. If you're at all unsure, why not pop into our Pharmacy for a little guidance?

Rosaliac CC Cream

There are, however, some ranges and products designed especially for sensitive skin that you might want to consider. A-Derma's Exogena range is emollient, and so may soothe eczema, while La Roche Posay's Lipikar range is designed to decrease the frequency of eczema flare ups. Avene's Akerat 10 and La Roche Posay's ISO UREA are designed with aiding dry and psoriasis-prone skin in mind. La Roche Posay also have a specialised range for those with rosacea, called Rosaliac.

Skin Friendly Products at Boswells

Dr Hauschka Image

Our Cosmetics Department is choc-full of great skin care ranges to suit every skin type, which can be found on the ground floor of the store and on our website. Our Cosmetics staff are primed and ready to help you find the right products to suit your needs, so if you need a little extra guidance, please do come in for a chat.

27th March 2017

Boswells' Guide to Travelling Safely and Securely

Boswells' Guide to Travelling Safely and Securely

Visiting new places can make for some truly amazing memories, but it can also be a really good idea to give a little thought to keeping yourself and your belongings as safe as possible while you’re off seeing new things. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few tips to help you to be as prepared as possible.

Keep reading, or click on one of the below links to skip to a specific section.

     Staying Safe                                                                            Packing Securely

     Staying Healthy                                                                       Thwarting the Thieves

     Looking After Your Belongings                                                Avoiding Contactless Identity Theft

Staying Safe

Tonle Sap ImageWherever you’re planning on visiting, it really pays to do your homework before you even book. We suggest having a look before you go to see what the current security issues in the area might be so that you can plan ahead accordingly. These might be minor, but at least you’ll know what to expect when you arrive, leaving you with one fewer thing to worry about! Things to think about can include acquainting yourself with the political situation in the area, or simply familiarising yourself with any common tourist traps that might crop up while you’re away. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office website is a good place to start doing a little research:

Image Credit: Elena Woolley

It’s also useful to look up some of the the local laws, customs and expectations too, so that you don’t unwittingly offend anyone or unexpectedly end up in trouble with the local law enforcement while you’re away. 

Tokyo Image

While there’s no need to make yourself an expert on the culture you’re visiting, a little prior knowledge does go a long way and frees you up to concentrate on enjoying yourself.

Find out where the embassy or consulate is in any countries that you’re visiting, and make sure that you have a copy of these details in case they’re needed. If you do find yourself in trouble, or even just without your passport, the embassy details might just come in handy.

Passport ImageAnd, of course, before you go, make copies of all of your important documents (travel insurance, card numbers, visas, your itinerary, hotel and flight details etc.), so that you have these to hand should any problems arise. Make a photocopy/scan of your passport as well, and keep this separate from the passport itself. It’s always wise to make sure someone back home has a copy of these details and documents too, that way someone knows how to get in touch if you do run into any problems during your trip.

Staying Healthy

Angkot Thom Bayon ImageWhether you’re travelling somewhere especially exotic or not, it’s important to ensure that you’re going to stay as healthy as possible on your travels!

To do this, we recommend making a travel clinic appointment with your GP or popping into our pharmacy for a Travel Requirements Consultation about 8-12 weeks before you travel. A doctor, nurse or pharmacist can help advise you on any necessary (and recommended) vaccinations, anti-malarials and any other health-precautions you ought to be taking while you’re away, based on where you’re headed.  

Image Credit: Elena Woolley

Jungle Formula ImageYou may also want to get your hands on a travel first-aid kit. If you’re going somewhere with lots of mosquitos, we suggest investing in some good insect repellent to keep you as bite free as possible, as well as something to soothe the bites if you do get chomped! Read our blog on ways to protect yourself against contracting malaria here

The climate can make a big impact on your general health and well-being while you're away too. If you're off somewhere hot, we suggest taking a peek at our guide to looking after yourself in the heat, here.

Looking After Your Belongings

Photographer Image

Travelling to new and exciting places can be one of life’s real treats, but still, from time to time your belongings can unfortunately go for a wander, never to be seen again. This is true, of course, whether you’re halfway round the globe, or just strolling around Oxford city centre, and so it generally pays to be a little cautious regardless of where you are.

Nevertheless, there are a few extra things to think about when you’re travelling, since you’re often carrying more about than usual, staying in unfamiliar surroundings, and are more likely to be distracted by all the amazing sights you're off seeing.

Packing Securely

TSA LockIn many respects, the key to looking after your things while you’re away comes down to how you go about your packing. The more expensive bits and pieces you take with you, the more things there are to lose along the way, so it usually isn’t a good idea to take more valuable items than are necessary to your trip.

Of course you’ll probably still want to take a few valuable bits and pieces—your phone, camera or tablet, for example—so when you’re flying try to pack anything that really matters to you in your carry on luggage. 

At least if all of your valuables are close to hand, you’ll have a little extra peace of mind, knowing that everything is safe and still with you!

Cleveland Image

If you’re travelling to the USA a TSA lock will secure your hold luggage, and still allow customs officials to check inside your suitcase, if necessary, without damaging your lock. This means that once customs have completed their security check on your suitcase it can be safely secured again, so you hopefully won’t find your belongings strewn across the baggage claim area, or that anything is altogether missing on arrival. Some other countries (such as Canada, Japan, Israel, Finland, Austria and South Korea) do support TSA locks. If you’re still trying to decide on the best suitcase for your trip have a read of our luggage guide here or pop into our Luggage Department, on the ground floor of the store, for some extra help from our staff.

Image Credit: Elena Woolley 

Thwarting the Thieves

RFID Passport Pouch ImageIt’s always handy to have some of the local currency on you when you’re out and about, but try to carry it in different pockets and pouches (and to not carry too much money in cash) so that if you are unlucky enough to fall foul of a pickpocket, chances are they won’t be able to take everything. If you can also keep cards and traveller’s cheques in different places, with any luck you’ll be able to keep those safe also.

To help you with this, you might want to consider getting hold of a money belt or pouch to fit securely and inconspicuously under your clothing, and you can even get ones to accommodate your passport too. There are also bags available on the market that offer various security and anti-theft features, designed specifically with travellers in mind, which can mean one fewer thing to worry about while you’re off exploring new places.

We spoke to Peter in our Luggage department about some of our newest travel safety bags. Here's what he told us: 

"We have introduced Pacsafe, a range of bags to thwart potential thieves. These products come with puncture resistant zips, so no worrying about someone placing items in or removing items from your bags without your knowledge, as well as RFID blocking capabilities and Dyneema® webbing and straps, which are lightweight and hard to cut through. They also come with Carrysafe slash guards and eXomesh® slash guards, which feature a stainless steel wire, integrated into the fabric panels of the bag and straps, and is very effective at stopping bag slashers."

Pacsafe Travelsafe Image

Opinions tend to be fairly split as to whether it’s better to carry your passport with you at all times, or to leave it in the hotel safe. This may depend on where you’re visiting, as some countries require you to keep identification on you at all times, in which case finding a secure way to keep your passport to hand is definitely advisable. You also never know exactly how secure the hotel safe may or may not be, and who might be able to access it, so you might want to invest in your own portable safe, such as the Pacsafe Travelsafe. This is effectively a portable safe-bag with a slash-proof wire mesh frame, which can be secured to a fixture in your hotel room, safely storing any valuables such as your tablet, keys and passport. Sounds like a pretty ingenious solution to us!

Avoiding Contactless Identity Theft

Pacsafe RFID Wallet ImageRadio-Frequency Identification (or RFID) has become increasingly common in recent years, and is the technology behind contactless cards and the biometric chip in your passport. While these features can be really handy, it can also leave you vulnerable to contactless identity theft. Unfortunately, it's possible for data stored using RFID to be scanned and copied by identity thieves from as far away as 10 feet, and so a few extra precautions to protect your information and your money can be very useful indeed. Luckily, there are a wide range of RFID blocking wallets, money belts, and even bags available on the market, which can help keep your data safe and put your mind at ease. 

Fisherman's Bastion Image

These products block scanners, meaning that your information is much more secure and that anyone trying to scan your data will come up empty handed.

And finally, while its important to plan ahead to make sure that both you and your belongings are as secure as possible during your trip, it’s also important that you make the most of your travels and thoroughly enjoy yourself! Giving some thought to the things that could go wrong should hopefully mean that you’ve got everything covered well in advance, freeing you up to just make the most of the time you have while you’re away! So from all of us at Boswells, bon voyage!

Image Credit: Elena Woolley 

7th March 2017

Introducing Boswells Pharmacy's New Online Services

Introducing Boswells Pharmacy's New Online Services

Pharmacy Green CrossFind out how we can save you time and money!

What is

Our pharmacy became a legally incorporated part of Boswells Department Store in 1890, and has been dispensing advice and medicine to the good people of Oxford ever since. Yet, while Boswells Pharmacy has been here, taking great care of us all for generations, the pharmaceutical world has, of course, moved on a little over the course of the past 137 years…and continues to do so…and so have we.

The addition of our brand-new Boswells Pharmacy website offers you the ability to combine Boswell’s traditional great service, and all important human touch, with a little extra help from the internet. You can now manage your relationship with Boswells Pharmacy, keep track of your prescription requests and access an A-Z health advice database from anywhere with an internet connection, and on a range of different devices. If you’re not too confident with technology, however, then worry not, our pharmacy will also continue to offer all of the same services and excellent face-to-face support that it always has, in store.

What Services Does Provide?

Here are a few of the key things you can now do through our new pharmacy website:

Shop Online

Online Shopping ImageYou can now shop online, for a wide variety of over 15,000 different over the counter healthcare products through our new pharmacy website, even if we don’t currently stock it in store! We’ve teamed up with Weldricks Pharmacy to give you even more products to choose from and at fantastic supermarket matching prices, for delivery right to your doorstep. You can pay securely through the checkout, either by credit card or by PayPal, whichever you prefer. You can also choose your preferred delivery speed during the checkout, and voila, your order will be with you in no time.

Each product page includes full information on any active ingredients, directions on use, a full list of ingredients and any necessary warnings, as well as a product description. 

Electronic Prescription Service

EPS LeafletThe Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) is an NHS funded service, which allows you to electronically manage your repeat prescriptions, and have these sent to a specified pharmacy, ready for you to collect. If you would like to nominate Boswells Pharmacy to receive your prescriptions from your GP you will need to fill in, and sign, an Electronic Prescription Service Consent Form, which you can pick up from us in store or access via the website itself.

You’ll also need to register with us online so that you can update your Doctor’s Surgery details, and put in any prescription requests. Through the website, you can set up reminders, so that you’ll be prompted to send your next prescription request before your current medication runs out, which hopefully means no more last-minute panics to get your medicine on time! Once you’ve placed your request, you can track the status of your request online, and we’ll even let you know when your prescription is ready for you to come and collect from us. Alternitively you can have it delivered free within the Oxford Ring Road, and at competive delivery charges for elsewhere in the UK.

Health Advice

Pharmacy Desk has an A-Z database of medical conditions provided by MedicineChest Ltd. This helpful resource offers a lot of useful information on a wide number of medical conditions, with a little more information on symptoms and living with various conditions. Of course, if you have concerns about your heath you should always consult a doctor for diagnosis, or speak to a pharmacist for advice. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a condition, though, this database can be a fantastic supplementary resource to complement the information your GP has already given you.

In some cases, the database even includes testimonies from other patients, talking about their experiences and the help that they’ve received with managing long-term medical conditions, which can be a huge help if you’re feeling daunted by your diagnosis. For those who register with, you even have the option of assessing your health risk for a range of medical conditions, and to store details such as chronic conditions, family history and the dates of any vaccinations you’ve received.

Other Services

Boswells Pharmacy Image

You can now use the new Boswells Pharmacy website to find out about services the pharmacy provides in store, such as blood pressure testing, stop smoking support, and travel requirement consultations. We're also one of the few pharmacies in the area to offer truss and hoisery fittings. 

You can access the opening times and contact details for our pharmacy via the website too, so that you can easily get in touch with a member of our friendly pharmacy team for help with any of the services that the pharmacy offers.

How Does the New Website Help You?

Pharmacy Mobile Site Image

Our new pharmacy website makes it easy for you to gain access to Boswells Pharmacy, even when it isn’t convenient for you to pop in to see us that day, and allows you to request repeat prescriptions and buy other health-related products with ease. If you’re interested in signing up for EPS, for example, you’ll no longer need to visit your Doctor’s Surgery every time you need a repeat prescription, you can simply put in a request via

Adil Our Superintendent PharmacistWe spoke to Mr Adil Cowan, our Superintendent Pharmacist (photo right), and asked him what he thought the main benefits of this latest addition to our pharmacy services were for our Boswells Pharmacy customers. He told us that “We’ll deliver prescriptions within the ring road free of charge,” and for those that live further away, EPS gives the option for you to continue to use our pharmacy, as we can deliver to your home.

Customers can now “Order what they want, when they want,” without having to pop out to the shops. This means that, if you’re unable to get in to store, for whatever reason, you can still gain access to prescription medication, a wide range of healthcare products, and, as always, the help and advice of our pharmacy staff. 

Pharmacy Staff Image

Adil was very proud to say that Boswells Pharmacy will continue to also offer the same great advice and services that it always has, and that if you’ve “Got queries with your medicine, we’re more than willing to help.” offers you additional options for handling your relationship with Boswells Pharmacy, and gives you access to a range of new resources to utilise, if they suit your needs. For more information on any of the services provided in store or by, you can visit the new website here, or pop in and speak to our friendly Pharmacy staff.

2nd March 2017

Top Tips for Making your Children's Party a Success

Top Tips for Making your Children's Party a Success

To celebrate the opening of our new Party Shop that is starting to fill up on our first floor we’ve put together a few top tips to help you get started with planning your child’s party.

Practical things to Consider

Happy Birthday Balloon

As wonderful as a party can be, it often requires a lot of planning and preparation, which is hardly the most fun part of the process. We suggest starting the planning a little early to give yourself time to get things sorted without unnecessary stress, and don’t fret if there are a few hiccups along the way, you’ll figure it out!

Set a Budget

Happy Birthday Confetti Image

Regardless of what kind of party you’re planning, a good starting point is to work out a budget. Having a clear idea of how much money you have available to spend on the party can be a really helpful way of figuring out factors like the size of the party and where it’s going to be held. If money is tight, don’t worry, there are always affordable ways of making a children’s party a hit—so long as everyone enjoys themselves, no one will care how much it cost you.


Balloons Image

If you’re keeping things as affordable as possible, with only a handful of guests, then throwing the party at home, or if the weather is nice, in the garden, can actually give you a little more freedom with the decorations and the catering options. On the other hand, this will mean that you will also get stuck with the clearing up at the end of the day!

If you’re aiming for a larger guest list, then you might want to think about hiring a space to hold the party, such as a local hall/community centre.

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Hiring a venue is an especially good option if you can’t quite bear the thought of small children running amok in your home (except for your own of course!) If you opt to take this route, it’s always good to find out as much as you can about the venue well in advance to make sure that it’s a good fit for the type of party you’re throwing. Find out about how easy it will be for your guests to get there and whether it's going to actually suit your needs, and remember to book early to avoid disappointment.


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There can be a lot of vital factors to take into consideration when planning a children's party, especially when making sure that everything is as safe as you can make it, and that you've thought of everything well in advance. Making sure you've taken care of all the various safety aspects that can crop up during a children's party means that everything will run a lot more smoothly on the day, and that everyone will be as secure as possible. Click here to read our 1 page, printable guide to planning a safe and successful children's party.

Who to Invite?

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The guest list can be a bit of a tricky issue. Whether it’s better to invite the whole class or just a handful of close friends can depend on various factors, and so it’s usually wise to figure out how many children you can afford to invite before you get any further, and of course ask the birthday child who they would like at their party.

Bear in mind that some guests may come along with siblings, and if the children are still very young you may need to take into account that parents will likely be there too, so you may need a little extra space/food just in case. The more parents on hand, however, the more help you will hopefully have on the day (see our safety guide for more information on this).

My Little Pony Party Bag

Once you’ve worked out the numbers, it’s just a case of getting the invitations out there nice and early to avoid any scheduling clashes and disappointments. Remember to put as much information as possible on the invitation, including the address and the start and end times, along with any other important details.  

Then wait for those all-important RSVPs to start rolling in.

Decide on a Theme

Princess CupsOnce the practicalities such as who, where and how much are taken care of, you can start to have a little more fun with the planning…it is a party after all! Having a party theme can be fantastic fun for everyone involved. It’s a great opportunity to incorporate something the birthday child is interested in into the celebrations, particularly if they’re still quite young, and can also be a great way for you to get creative with the rest of the planning.

Jungle BalloonA theme can be something relatively broad such as pirates, princesses, dinosaurs or animals, or perhaps even something from a TV show or film that your child loves. The important thing is that the party is something that that the birthday child will really enjoy on the day, so discussing some ideas for themes and what kind of party they would like with your child can help you to settle on something that will make it a happy birthday them, and hopefully fit within your budget too. Once you’ve settled on a theme you can tailor the decorations, the games and even the food around it, and things will really start to come together.

Keeping the Kids Entertained

Dinosaur Game

For some, the idea of keeping a room full of children entertained for a couple of hours can sound pretty daunting, but again this can also be a fantastic opportunity for you to have some fun thinking up ideas for things to do.

You could try, for example, making up your own themed game, set a craft activity such as a cake decorating contest, or maybe even create a treasure hunt or your own puppet show! And, of course, there are always the classic party games such as pass the parcel, pin the tail on the donkey and musical chairs etc., which are, let’s face it, classics for a reason.

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Many of these games can also be tweaked and tailored to fit with your theme (pin the eye patch on the pirate anyone?) We suggest taking a peek at some of the goodies in our new Party Shop to see what inspires you…we have to admit that we’re very tempted to have a go at the Pirate Piñata ourselves…

You might also want to consider hiring an entertainer to dazzle the little ones for an hour or two (depending on what your budget looks like), or booking a venue with a built-in activity such as a soft play centre. If your kids are a bit older, there’s always activities such as bowling or the cinema to mull over.

Finishing Touches

Pinkie Pie Airwalker Balloon

Every party needs a few little flourishes and finishing touches. This can include anything from balloons and banners to finger-food, party bags, and, of course, the all-important cake! Quite often you can get decorations that will fit with your theme, and you can usually find banners, balloons and plates that will match (check out our selection here).

You can also try tying the food into the theme as well, with shaped sandwiches or specially decorated cupcakes. If you feel confident, you could have a go at doing this yourself (although have a trial run first!) The same can be said for the cake itself, which you can tailor to your theme. If you fancy trying your hand at baking, why not visit the baking section in our Cookshop to get you started?

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And, finally, as your guests go on their way, don’t forget the party bag! This doesn’t need to be anything too elaborate or expensive, just a nice keepsake for the guests, and a lovely way of saying thank you for attending. You can even buy themed kits to make this more straight forward for you.

So, if you’ve got a special party coming up or if, like us, you simply can’t think of an occasion that wouldn’t be made more enjoyable with the addition of a monkey piñata or a massive Pinkie Pie balloon, then why not pop in to the brand new Party Shop in our Toy Department when you’re next in town, or take a peek at our new party products online!

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

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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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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