Boswells Blog

3rd November 2015

Celebrating Guy Fawkes Night In and Around Oxford

Celebrating Guy Fawkes Night In and Around Oxford

Gunpowder Plotters Image

Remember, remember the 5th of November, or so the saying traditionally goes. It was, of course, on this infamous date in 1605 that a group of 13 gunpowder plotters attempted to bring both King and parliament to an explosive end with 36 barrels of hidden gunpowder. Guy Fawkes, the most remembered of the plotters—not, in fact, the leader of the conspirators but rather the man caught holding the lantern in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament—will be burned in effigy up and down the country in the coming days to mark the anniversary of the thwarting of the plot, as has become the custom. And, as well as bonfires aplenty there will be fireworks, hot dogs, burgers, and even funfairs to accompany the burning of "the Guy." Yup, 410 years on from Guy Fawkes’ arrest the act of remembering gunpowder, treason and plot is far from being “forgot,” and has grown into a full scale annual tradition.

To mark this occasion, and to help you make the most of Guy Fawkes Night, we’ve gathered up a list of upcoming bonfire and firework events in and around Oxford.

Fireworks Image5th November

For traditionalists that like to celebrate on the day itself:

Bonfire Night at the Plough—OX2 8BD (Fireworks and BBQ, 6pm).

Fireworks Night & Bonfire, St Michael’s Primary School—Marston, OX3 0EJ (5:30pm).

Dorchester on Thames Village Firework Display—Recreation Ground, Dorchester on Thames (5:30pm).

Kidlington Fireworks Display—Stratfield Brake Recreation Ground, Kidlington (fireworks to music, 6pm).

Stadhampton Fireworks Display—Stadhampton Village Green (Bonfire at 5:30, Fireworks 7pm).

6th November

Botley School Fireworks—OX2 9JZ (Fireworks and refreshments, 6pm).

22nd Oxford Sea Scouts Firework Display—OX4 4BJ (Fundraising firework display, BBQ, 6:45pm).

7th November

Oxford Round Table Fireworks Display—South Park (48th annual charity fireworks display, live music, refreshments and funfair, gates open 4:30pm, fireworks 6:45 followed by bonfire).

Night Lights Event—Barracks Lane Community Garden, OX4 2AP (Music, bonfires, stories, fire whirling and fairy gardens, 3:30-6:30pm).

Hanborough Musical Fireworks—The Pavillion, OX29 8JQ (Fireworks to music, BBQ, refreshments and funfair, 6:00).

Marsh Baldon Green Fireworks Display—The Green, Marsh Baldon (Bonfire, fireworks, funfair, refreshments, 6:30pm).

Didcot Charity Fireworks, Bonfire and Funfair—Lloyd Recreation Ground, OX11 7BN (Fireworks, funfair, refreshments, proceeds go to charity, gates open 5:30pm).

Bonfire Image

Standlake Cokethorpe Sea Scouts Annual Firework Spectacular—Standlake Village Hall (Fireworks, BBQ, Tombola, 6pm).

Bicester Round Table Firework Display and Bonfire—Pingle Field (Fireworks, fairground, bonfire, refreshments and music, 6pm).

Old Swan and Minster Mill Bonfire and Fun Weekend—Witney, OX29 0RN (Bonfire, fireworks and refreshments, 6:00pm).

Image copyright of Leonora Enking.

8th November

Witney RFC Bonfire and Fireworks Spectacular—Witney Rugby Club (Fireworks and bonfire)

Lantern Image

We recommend taking a November trip to The Ashmolean Museum where, in the basement, you will find the lantern purported to be the very one Guy Fawkes had with him in the cellars of Parliament on November 5th 1605.

If you know of any other firework or bonfire events taking place nearby we’d love to hear from you. You can email us at or contact us via facebook or twitter.

Image copyright of Ben Sutherland.

We also sell a range of KimBolton fireworks in store—now available for the first time through the click and collect option on our website—so if you’re planning your own display, big or small, we can help you to make this bonfire night something a bit special. If you’re not sure what kind of fireworks you need you can always pop in to store to talk to one of the members of staff on our fireworks desk, near the Broad Street entrance, who will be happy to help.

So wrap up warm, get to a display nice and early for the perfect view, and remember, remember the 5th of November in sparkly, spectacular style!

30th September 2015

How To Outrun Athlete's Foot

How To Outrun Athlete's Foot

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

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

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


Feet Image

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

Treating Athlete's Foot

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

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

Breaking the Athlete's Foot Cycle

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

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

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

8th September 2015

Lego® Minifigures are Turning Monstrous

Lego® Minifigures are Turning Monstrous

With the exciting release of Lego®'s latest Minifigures Series 14 Monsters, James in our toy department has put together this handy guide to all of the monstrous lego new arrivals. 

With the summer holidays now behind us and Halloween on the horizon, Lego® has released its next wave in the minifigures series—series 14—named ‘Monsters’. Sold individually, in blind bags, there are 16 to collect with each of the figures being more detailed than those in previous series due to not only a selection of brand new pieces exclusive to this set, (such as the Fly monster head piece) but also the new dual colour moulding present on most of the figures, which can create the effect of shirts, shorts and shoes


Werewolf Minifigure

The first minifigure of the series is the Werewolf. As mentioned earlier this figure features dual colour moulding on the legs to create the ripped trousers effect, and has side printing—a fairly new method of detailing, not found on many of the older minifigures. The head mould is a brand new piece which displays a snarling wolf head. A tail piece and bone accessory finishes off the figure.

Zombie Pirate

Zombie Pirate Minifigure

This figure is very striking due to the peg leg, hook, beard and cutlass, all attributes of a classic pirate. The twist for this figure is that he's a zombie, as shown by the grey head and the amusing variation of the skull and cross bones on his hat.

Crazy Scientist Minifigure

Crazy scientist

This figure takes full advantage of the new dual moulding technique to create a striking black and white suit, but not as striking as the new elongated head piece with goggles. The accessory he holds is a purple conical flask with a fly that may be in reference to the fly monster later in the series…

Fly Monster

Fly Monster MinifigureThe fly monster is fairly simple but effective and its defining feature is the huge head made exclusively for this figure. The inclusion of the red claw and translucent wings really set the figure off, resulting in possibly the most striking minifigure in the series.

Wacky Witch

Wacky With Minifigure

This figure truly captures the definitive witch with a broom, black cat and brand new hat. The sewn patches printed all around the torso and arms and the black and white striped leggings hidden under the fabric skirt ice touches.


Plant Monster

Plant Monster MinifigureMy favourite figure of the series, the plant monster, is reminiscent of the plant from the film and musical: Little Shop of Horrors. The unique plant-head mould is placed over the comical head of a scared minifigure which the plant has devoured. The figure is completed by the two vine pieces that the figure holds, and the torso and legs, which are covered with spikey vines.


Spectre Minifigure

Utilizing the new leg mould recently found in the new Ninjago sets to great effect, this friendly ghost is similar to Casper. The grey hood, tattered cloak and chain all work nicely but the standout element of the figure has to be the head that glows in the dark!

Zombie Cheerleader

Zombie CheerleaderAlthough zombies aren’t known for spreading cheer, Lego has gone ahead and made the zombie cheerleader, which comes with two green and white pom-poms and an outfit to match. The hair is also new and exclusive to this figure with a small hole on the top to add accessories found in the Lego friends collection, such as bows or tiaras.

Tiger Woman

Tiger Woman Minifigure

This figure is highly detailed with printing on almost all surfaces. The ears poking from the new hairpiece are a nice touch and the figure is finished with a black whip. The figure resembles the DC comic’s villainess Cheetah, an enemy to Wonder Woman, and would make a great addition to your DC sets.This figure is highly detailed with printing on almost all surfaces. The figure comes with a unique tail which is not obvious from promotional images.


Gargoyle Minifigure

The only short legged minifigure of the series, the gargoyle is made with two new pieces. The first is the helmet which gives the figure large ears and horns. The second is the pair of wings attached at the neck. This figure brings to mind the many gargoyles found on the edges of buildings in Oxford and would make a great gift for those teaching in or visiting Oxford.


Skeleton Guy

Skeleton Guy Minifigures
Although this figure resembles a skeleton you can see it is a normal yellow minifigure in costume, out trick or treating with a pumpkin basket in hand as indicated by the string running round the head and the yellow visible through the eye holes. The figure has printing on all surfaces, as the pattern is also printed on the back.

Monster Rocker 

Monster Rocker MinifigureA fun variation of Frankenstein’s monster, this figure is equipped with a guitar and a shirt with the slogan ‘Shock and Roll’ on the back. The arms feature the new dual printing to create the impression of a t-shirt and the head is enlarged by a special piece which is placed on top of a normal figure's head.

Zombie Businessman

With a tattered suit and broken glasses the zombie business man looks more interested in eating than working, and his diet is hinted at by a uniquely printed newspaper: the zombie Zombie Business Mantimes. The suitcase opens and the hair piece is exclusive to this figure, making it a fun and valuable acquisition.


Banshee Minifigure

The banshee is an amazing figure as thanks to the translucent hair piece and leg piece she is truly ghostly. The expression on her face is perfect and the tattered dress on the torso is fitting, creating a highly unique character.

Square Foot

Square Foot Minifigure

Square foot, known as big foot to us, has a huge headpiece that goes all the way down to his torso. The grooves give the impression of heaped hair which makes him taller than normal figures, and the printed toes add to the scale of the figure. The camera is a nice nod to people trying to photograph big foot.

Spider Lady 

Spider Lady MinifigureThe final minifigure of the series is the spider lady, who is the only figure to be wearing a dress covered in spiders, as represented by the sloping tile. She also comes equipped with a spider to continue the theme, and two capes, which have web printing. Lastly, her hair features a spider’s web printed on the side, completing the spider theme.


Where to Find These Mini-Monsters

The Lego minifigures monsters have also been released at the same time as the Scooby Doo sets which feature their own ghosts and ghouls. This gives you the opportunity to add more fiendish foes for Scooby and the gang to investigate.

So try your luck in store or online with one of the blind bags, or if you ask a member of staff we may be able to feel for the minifigures you want.

Lego minifigure bags are available in store and online and cost £2.49 each

1st September 2015

The Ultimate Guide To Student Offers in Oxford

The Ultimate Guide To Student Offers in Oxford

All around Oxford there are shops, cafes and restaurants that want to help you save money by offering a student discount. With good discounts being offered by a variety of both local and high street stores you’ll find yourself going home with money to spare. Most places accept a valid student card as ID but other deals are through NUS Extra, UNiDAYS or Student Beans , all of which are worth every student signing up to!


Aspire style (21 High Street) - This small chain of beautifully styled boutiques has an unusual offer of ‘Teatime Tuesday’ where, you guessed it, you get complimentary tea whilst shopping.

Indigo (62 Cowley Road) - A fair trade boutique with a variety of products from clothes and accessories to candles and furniture, it offers Oxford students a 10% discount as well as offering discounts with the available newsletter and free delivery around Oxford.

Shepherd & WoodwardShepherd and Woodward (109-113 High Street) - As the largest supplier of Academic gowns and robes to Oxford University and selling classic & contemporary menswear you’ll be sure to be making a trip here. They don’t offer a student discount but do offer different package offers throughout the year.

Ede and Ravencroft (119 High Street) - Providing ceremonial robes, menswear, womenswear and graduation gowns this specialist shop offers a 10% discount to students.

Topshop/Topman (22 Queen Street) - Offers students a 10% discount with a valid student card.

Accessorize (28 Queen Street) - Offers students a 10% discount with a valid student card.

French Connection (Clarendon Centre, 39 Queen Street) - Offers students a 15% discount with a valid student card or UNiDAYS code.

Clarendon CentreGAP (Clarendon Centre, 39 Queen Street) - Offers students a 15% discount with a valid student card.

Karen Millen (136 High Street) - Offers students a 10% discount with a valid student card.

New Look (Unit 1, Queen Street) - Offers students a 20% discount with a UNiDAYS code.

Moss Bros (61 Cornmarket Street) - Offers students a 15% discount with a UNiDAYS code.

Miss Selfridge (Debenhams, 1 Magdalen Street) - Offers students a 20% discount with a UNiDAYS code, valid student card or student beans code.

Oasis (37 St Ebbes Street) - Offers students a 10/15% discount with a valid student card or UNiDAYS code.

Office (Clarendon Centre, 39 Queen Street) - Offers students a 10% discount with a valid student card.

Schuh (1 Magdalen Street) - Offers students a 10% discount with a valid student card.

Jack wills (6-7 High Street) - Offers students a 15% discount with a UNiDAYS code.

Cafés & Chocolate

CombibosCombibos (93 Gloucester Green) - This family owned and run coffee shop in the centre of Oxford gives students a 10% discount as well as free Wi-Fi and outdoor seating.

Java & Co (35 New Inn Hall Street) - Fantastic coffee and cakes and by signing up as a VIP you can get a free drink, exclusive offers and discounts as well as free cake on your birthday.

Tick Tok Café (3-5 Cowley Road) - Although this café does not do specific student discounts its cheap prices and English classics attract many students.

Jimbob’s Baguettes (19 Magdalen Street) - This sandwich shop has a huge variety of breads and fillings and gives students a 10% discount.

Costa (30 Queen Street) - Offers a Costa Coffee Club card to collect points and get free food and drink.

Hotel Chocolat (132 High Street) - Perfect for gifts, Hotel Chocolat offers students a 10% discount with Student Beans.

Department Stores

Boswells Department Store ExteriorBoswells (1-4 Broad Street) - We couldn't very well leave ourselves out, could we? Sign up to our Student Club and you'll get 20% off everything online and in store between August and October 18th, and we'll provide other offers throughout the year too! Or just show your student ID in store to get 10% off, again until October 18th.

Boswells Student ClubWe have everything for your new home from pots and pans, bed and bath linens to a desk lamp for late night studying and tea & coffee sets to keep you awake. Look after yourself with our Beauty and Pharmacy departments and be kind to others with our Gifts and Toys.

Health and beauty

Mahogony (5 Market Street, 30 Little Clarendon, 5 Turl Street) - This award winning international hairdressers gives students with a valid student card a 25% discount.

Anne Veck (33 St Clement’s Street) - This award winning hairdressers gives students with a valid student card a 25% discount on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Superdrug (11 Market Street) - Offers a 10% discount with a NUS Extra card.

Specsavers opticians (33 Queen Street) - Offers 25% off with a NUS Extra card.

Books & Stationary

Blackwells Norrington RoomBlackwell’s (48-51 Broad Street) - One of the UK's biggest bookstores Blackwells loves students and offers a number of deals including up to 50% off text books, second hand books at a cheaper price and special course bundles. Pictured is the famous Norrington Room in the basement.

Waterstones (William Baker House, Broad Street) - Our next door neighbour offers students a 10% discount with a UNiDAYS code and a comprehensive bookstore too.

Ryman (38 Queen Street) - The famous stationer brand offers students a 10% discount with a UNiDAYS code.

Paperchase (36-37 Queen Street) - Offers students a 10% discount with a UNiDAYS code or valid student card.


You don’t have to stop eating out when you’re a student thanks to these great deals from local and national restaurants.

The Big Society (95 Cowley Road) - A popular student bar offering American style fast food, a ping pong and foosball table as well as events throughout the week and live DJ’s.

KazbarKazbar (25-27 Cowley Road) - promotional offers such as half price tapas and happy hours on cocktails. At well as a great atmosphere. Pictured to the right.

ASK Italian (5 George Street) - With a NUS Extra card you can get 25% off the bill.

Bella Italia (6 George Street) - Offers a student menu with pizzas and pasta and 2 for 1 cocktails for only £5. They offer 20% off with a valid student card as well as having student nights with 50% off the bill.

Café Rouge (11 Little Clarendon Street) - Offers 20% off your food bill.

Dominos (18-19 Park End Street) - Deals include 25% off when you spend over £25 with an NUS Extra card and £5 off when you spend over £20 with valid student card.

Macdonalds (57 Cornmarket Street) - With a valid student card you can get a free hamburger, cheeseburger or McFlurry when you buy a meal.

Yo Sushi (73-75 George Street) - Eating sushi doesn’t have to be expensive with 25% off with a valid student card.

Giraffe (71 George Street) - Offers a 25% discount with an NUS Extra card.

Noodle NationGourmet Burger Kitchen (29-31 George Street) - Offers a 30% discount when you download their free app.

Krispy Kreme (Clarendon Centre, 39 Queen Street) - Offers a 20% discount with an NUS Extra card.

Pizza Express (8 Cornmarket Street and 33 Castle Street) - Offers up to 40% discount with an NUS Extra card.

Zizzi (59 George Street) - Offers a 25% discount with an NUS Extra card.

Las Iguanas (40-41 Park End Street) - Offers a 20% discount with a Student beans code.

Noodle nation (100-101 Gloucester Street) - Offers a 15% discount with a valid student card.

Nando’s (80 Cowley Road and 77-79 George Street) - Offers 20% off until 6pm with a valid student card.


The Co-Operative - Offers students a 10% discount with a valid student card. Based in several locations around Oxford.


You don’t have to leave the house to have access to these great discounts. A huge number of online stores offer student discounts too.

Adobe - Offer up to 80% off software with a valid student card.

ASOS - Offers students a 10% discount with a valid student card.

Apple store for education - Up to 15% off Mac’s and 3% off Ipad’s with a UNiDAYS code.

Boohoo - Offers students a 10% discount with a valid student card I Want One Of Those - Offers students a 10% discount with a UNiDAYS code Lipsy - Offers students a 10% discount with a valid student card Missguided - Offers students a 10% discount with a valid student card.

Spotify - Offers students 50% off premium with a valid student card.

GHD - Offers students £20 off certain products with a UNiDAYS code.

HP - Offers students up to 35% discount with a UNiDAYS code.

I Love Fancy Dress - Offers students a 15% discount with the code: STUDENT15.

Pretty little Thing - Offers students a 15% discount with a UNiDAYS code.

UniBulkBuy - Offers students a 25% discount with a NUS Extra card.

Oxford Union logoTreasurer’s Treats

Treasurer’s treats is a card exclusive to Oxford University students. Bought from The Oxford Union, this card gives deals and discounts in a range of businesses around the city. The treats available change termly and students receive information about it in their fresher’s guide.

25th August 2015

We're Going Colouring Crazy

We're Going Colouring Crazy

Traditionally speaking colouring in has tended to be considered a children’s activity—a way to encourage the little ones to express their creative freedoms through their colour choices, and to engage the imagination through brilliant and fanciful scenes. And yet, colouring books have recently experienced a surge in popularity with an older audience. In fact thousands, no, millions of grown adults worldwide have given up stealthily colouring in their children’s books while they snooze, and taken, instead, to colouring in any number of books designed especially to be decorated and doodled in by adults.

Animorphia Designs

Needless to say the current craze for adult colouring books looks to be far from exhausted, with colouring books currently ranking amongst multiple best-selling book lists and more and more releases increasingly on the horizon. In America the 2nd of August 2015 was even declared National Coloring Book day! So what exactly is the appeal of colouring books for adults?


So Why Colour?

There are almost as many perspectives on how to answer this question as there currently are adults with colouring utensils in-hand. For many, colouring has proven to hold the key to a relaxed mind. The act of colouring allows the brain to focus on the task at hand—the shapes, the swirl of colours, the pattern as a whole—which in turn is thought to help shift attention away from everyday responsibilities and worries and onto a single creative task. Essentially, colouring is thought to soothe the mind through concentration and creative distraction. In this way colouring reduces your greatest worry to which colour to choose next, and whether to doodle or to shade—or at least momentarily. While experts are torn as to how therapeutic colouring in someone else’s design my may be, research does show that the activity does lessen activity in the amygdala—the fear centre of the brain—leading to a relaxed feeling.

Some enthusiasts claim that part of the release (and joy) of colouring lies in the fact that it’s an “analogue” activity—an escape from the daily barrage of notifications and messages that has, for many of us, become the norm. And others suggest that the trend is all about personal expression—in fact those same creative freedoms we encourage children to indulge in, through which we each commit something unique to the page. And, for those who worry that colouring itself may not be creative enough, books such as Colour Therapy: An Anti-Stress Colouring Book have gloriously blank spaces, as well as complex designs, for you to fill to your hearts content with anything you wish! 

The one thing that everyone does seem to be agreed on though is perhaps the most important: colouring is fun! Rather simple really, but fun in and of itself is good for you. So don’t let the kids have all of the fun, pick up some pencils, pens or paints and get stuck in!

Getting Started

Colouring in Progress

There really are great ranges of books available, and finding the right book for you is important. For serene floral patterns you could try Fabulous Flowers: The Gift of Colouring for Grown-Ups, to settle your mind ready for a great night's sleep The Can't Sleep Colouring Book might be just what you need, and for budding surrealists there's always Animorphia: An Extreme Colouring and Search Challenge. Or why not visit the Colouring Books For Adults section of our website to get started, or take a trip into our gifts department in store, where you can find a fantastic variety of publications that are sure to get you scribbling away in no time!

28th July 2015

Keeping The Kids Entertained This Summer

Keeping The Kids Entertained This Summer

It’s week 2 of the summer holidays (or 1 if you only broke up last week) and the weather has been somewhat changeable so far. How to entertain the kids for the rest of the summer as it stretches ahead of us? Well although we would always encourage kids to use their imagination with a good book or playing outside making up their own games, and we have a plethora of toys to help that along,  we also know that organised activities, particularly those that are for the whole family are very welcome. So here’s a bit of a guide to what is happening around Oxford that you might find useful.

Art & Craft Activities

You probably have a range of art & craft materials at home but sometimes there's nothing like being taught a new skill or playing with others to spark inspiration.

Unique Creations

Based on Banbury Road Unique Creations are a pottery company that allows you and your family to hand paint their ceramics and you get to keep them too. They also have a craft area for those more interested in fabric and sewing or decopatch. Open 7 days a week 10am - 5.30pm.

Read more here

Modern Art Oxford entrance

Modern Art Oxford

Although the exhibitions and Modern Art Oxford are aimed at adults they always provide activities for children, often related to the exhibits making it a great stop in Oxford for the whole family. Parents need stimulation too you know. Yet again our insatiable need for caffiene is covered with a family friendly cafe.

Read more here


Reading & Story Activities

Books aren't just for when it's raining, although admittedly they are a great way to get outside at least in our imagination. We have great bookshops and Museums in Oxford catering for our literary needs at whatever age.


Our venerable neighbour up the road has a whole season of activities this summer from theme days, story telling & games.

Read more here 

Barefoot Books

Barefoot Books in Summertown are running a lot of activity events that would fit as neatly into our other categories as here. Particularly arts & music. In addition they are running a Summer Reading Program. As they say "According to research, reading just 6 books with your child over the summer can help prevent Summer “Brain Drain” and preserve learning from the preceding year."

Read more here

The Story Museum

As you would expect the Story Museum keeps up its aleady healthy events schedule during the summer. We particularly like the emphasis on creative writing. The Thursday book club about teenage fiction is open to adults as well as children.

Read more here

Oxford Central Library

Every Wednesday & Thursday at 10.30am the library runs Rhymtime a fun session for the under 5s singing & rhyming away.

Read more here


Science & Nature Activities

The Pitt Rivers Museum & Natural History Museum. 

On the itinery for many a family over the summer, especially if you have visitors. Two of Oxford's must see attractions in the same place, with the marvels of nature and mankind on display in engaging & fascinatiing ways. There are always child activity sheets available & this summer there is a Summer Holiday trail to follow.


Museum of The History of Science

With a focus on communication technology the kids and parents can have lots of fun in the Signals & Semaphores workshops and learn a new life skill with morse code.

Read more here 

Science OxfordScience Oxford

Creative science workshops, summer spy & science schools! What's not too like. Well perhaps the kids learning how to bug the living room....but sounds like a lot of fun.

Read more here



Performance & Music Activities

Oxford’s Creation Theatre & Inspiring Drama courses

For anyone looking for a longer term activitiy for the whole family (and admittedly a bit of money to spend) try the;

"Put On A Play Workshop" by Oxford's Creation Theatre Hurry though as it is on next week. Workshops run 10am - 4.30pm, drop off anytime 9am - 10am and pick up 4.30 - 5pm. The play is performed for family & friends at the end of the course.

Read More Here

Or the "Summer Comedy Course" by Inspiring Drama based in Summertown. For ages 10-16 years. Students form production teams and can be in front or behind the camera for this short film course by professional crew.

Read more here

Room on the BroomThe Oxford Playhouse

Each summer the Playhouse ensure they have a child friendly play on & this year's is the magical, musical adaptation of Room on the Broom, based on the bestselling book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Olivier Award-nominated, it has songs, laughs and scary fun for young children and their grown-ups – the perfect summer holiday treat!

Read more here 

Nick Cope's Early Years Music Sessions 

Based in different Oxford locations on different days of the week Nick provides entertaining music sessions singing his own songs that are as much fun for adults as the kids and importantly original. We all know how difficult the 1000th rendition of the "Wheels on the bus" can be...

Read more here

Physical Activities

Running around in the park or garden is all very well but an organised activity can be educational, have the proper equipment and let the adults join in too.

The Ice Rink

Oxford's ice rink deliberately run their "Skate Basics Course"  over the summer so you can start from scratch and be more than competent after a few sessions. Particular good if the weather heats up again. Suitable for ages 5 to 16. The fees include skate hire.

Read more here      

Youth Zone

This is Oxford City Council's website timetable listing of sports activities in Oxford. Including information on the Bungee app which gices up to date information right to your phone. The site covers all our leisure centres, swimming pools including the free swimming lessons.

Read more here

Lasergaming & High Ropes

Based in Culham Adventure park you can get 2 adventures in one with Summer Adventure Days. The full day combines the Lasergaming Battlefield Live experience with the Tree Top, High Ropes Tarzan Assault course. Suitable for 10 years old and up with a height requirement.

Read more here

Build a bikeTrax

Trax is a charity that helps young people develop skills and improve education where the youngsters have struggled in the standard school environment. As a result they run a great range of practical and adventure activities that are also suitable for younger children. We think the bike maintenance and restoration is particularly useful!

Read more here


Exploring Oxford

Oxford is a great city to walk around but the younger audience may need something more than the nice buildings to keep them engaged so here goes.

Oxford Castle Unlocked

Kids go free until September 2nd so this summer is the perfect time to discover more about what used to be a prison and somewhat less recently was at the heart of England's medieval civil war. Let the actors in historical dress enchant the younger ones and inform everyone.

Read more here

The Oxford Visitor Information Centre

Not just for tourists! This is where many of the various walking tours in the city start & end as well as a great way to get up to date information on attactions in one place. The family walking tour which includes a free activity sheet can be booked here.

Read more here

Treasure Trails logoTreasure Trails

If you'd prefer a walk around Oxford without the guide then the Treasure trails company provides trails of various lengths & themed on Spies, Murder Mystery & Treasure Hunt. The trails are charged for but once you have them can be used multiple times and double as a map.

Read more here

Science Bubble Set


Not Going Out

Whether it's a rainy day and you can't face it or everyone is tired from having such a good time it can be great to have time at home. We have plenty of great gizmo's, puzzles, art and experiments that you can do indoors. 

20th July 2015

Tunde's Hungarian Recipes For You

Tunde's Hungarian Recipes For You

Looking for some new cooking inspiration? Here are two delicious and easy recipes by Tunde from our Linens team. Tunde is a published cookbook author in her native Hungary with a couple of editions under her belt. So bring some Hungarian style to your cooking with our own expert cook!


Feta-stuffed Peppers

  • 10 small and long peppers - green, red, orange and yellow,Ingredients:
  • 300 g feta cheese,
  • 2 garlic cloves,
  • 200 - 250 ml good quality olive oil,
  • sea salt,
  • pepper,
  • fresh basil,
  • fresh oregano,
  • olives.

Crush 1 garlic clove and mix it with feta cheese. Cut the top of the peppers, use a small spoon to fill them up with the garlic feta. Pack them tight in a glass or plastic dish with a lid.

Mix the olive oil with salt and freshly ground pepper, and some basil, oregano and remaining garlic. Cover the peppers with the oil and put in the fridge for few hours.

Slice the peppers and enjoy with fresh bread or banquette. Remember to make a use of the infused olive oil!

Traditional Apple Cake

For the pastry:

  • 400 grams of flour,
  • 200 grams of cold butter,
  • 1.5 teaspoon of baking powder,
  • pinch of salt.
  • 2.5 tsp. of brown sugar,
  • 1 egg,
  • 1 egg yolk,
  • lemon juice from 1/2 lemon,
  • lemon zest from 2 lemons,
  • 1 tbsp crème-fraiche.

For the filling:

  • 2 kg of apples,
  • lemon juice from 3 lemons,
  • vanilla sugar,
  • cinnamon,
  • sultanas (optional),
  • 1 tbsp. apricot jam,
  • 2 tbsp. breadcrumbs.

For the pastry sieve the flour in a deep bowl. Mix it with the baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add all the remaining ingredients and quickly knead the dough until everything is combined. Wrap it in a foil and put in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.

For the filling: peel and core the apples and cut them in 4 pieces. Put them in a heavy pot to avoid burning. Add the lemon juice, vanilla sugar and cinnamon. Add the sultanas if you're using them. Cover with the lid and simmer for a while. The time really depends on the type of apples. Cool the apples down

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Roll the pastry and put in the cake pan making an edge. Prick the pastry with fork and drizzle the breadcrumbs on top.

Spread with the apricot jam and add the apples. If they weren't sweet, you can sprinkle some brown sugar on top.

Bake for 35-45 minutes and enjoy with fresh whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

14th July 2015

How To protect Against Malaria When Travelling Abroad

How To protect Against Malaria When Travelling Abroad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3rd July 2015

Our visit to Headway Oxfordshire

Our visit to Headway Oxfordshire

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

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

"My Favourite Day"

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

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

 "Can Never Go Back To What They Were Before"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

23rd June 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

It depends on the following:

Your mattress hardness

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

How broad your shoulders are

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

Your sleeping position

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

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

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

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

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

Filling of the pillow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Memory Foam

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

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

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


Dreamstime pillow

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

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

See all the pillows on our website here

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