How to Create the Perfect Driving Playlist

August 19th, 2014
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Have you got a long journey ahead of you this summer; perhaps a lengthy drive to your holiday destination or a long commute to your summer job? If so then you’ll need a driving playlist to help pass the time whilst winding down country roads or held up in motorway traffic. If you have yet to create the perfect playlist then keep reading as we offer up a few guidelines on how to make the ultimate personalised playlist!

Picture Via Flickr.

Picture Via Flickr.

Party in The USA - Miley CyrusConsider your audience

When putting together your driving playlist, it’s important to consider the people that will be traveling with you. For example if you have children on board, a song with abusive langue or sexual references might not be appropriate, instead, we would opt for family friendly songs like “Party In The USA” by Miley Cyrus.

Keeping alert

Being alert whilst driving is very important but on long mundane car journeys this isn’t always possible. By carefully selecting your playlist and avoiding high energy songs and soft tones, you can keep your mind active whilst driving. Songs like “We Built This City” by Starship offer just the right balance of energy and tone for long distance driving.

Include the classics

Don't Stop Believin' - JourneyWhen considering songs for your playlist, you’ll of course want to include your personal favourites to sing along to but unfortunately not everyone will share the same killer taste in music as you and so it’s best to add in a few classics that everyone will know. The legendary “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey is a great song that people of all ages are sure to know!

Guilt Pleasure

We all have them, those catchy songs that we know word for word but are too embarrassed to ever play in public - that’s right no playlist is complete without a few guilty pleasures! Here at Sykes Cottages HQ there were a few song choices that came to mind but we finally decided on “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift as our true guilty pleasure.

We hope these guidelines have left you feeling inspired and eager to start work on your own driving playlist. If you’re curious to see what we would include on a driving playlist then head over to Spotify and search for “Sykes’ Driving Playlist” to find out what songs made it on to our top ten list!


Unless otherwise stated the images for this blog post were taken from the HMV Digital website.

nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Spotlight on Our New Coastal Cottages

August 18th, 2014
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As summer gets into full swing, here at Sykes Cottages, we’re spending our days dreaming of lying on the beach in Cornwall, eating ice cream by the tonne on the North Yorkshire Coast and making sandcastles in Suffolk. To aid us in our British seaside daydreams, we’re taking a look at some of the fantastic new coastal cottages that have come on board with us recently; but we must warn you, it might make you want to grab your bucket and spade and book a holiday as soon as possible!

4 Croft House, Tenby, Pembrokeshire

Holiday cottage in Tenby

4 Croft House, Tenby, Ref. 913260

This delightful property in the South Wales seaside town of Tenby is just one minutes’ walk from the beach.  4 Croft House is a spacious self-catering apartment in a Georgian terrace, offering two bedrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows and WiFi. However, the real jewel in the crown of this property is the shared terraced garden located just across the road. This picturesque terrace is the perfect place to watch the sun go down and boasts one of the best views in the UK. The garden offers unrivalled views of Tenby Harbour, North Beach and Harbour Beach, which was recently voted the best beach in Europe.

Seashell Cottage, Amble-by-the-Sea, Northumberland

Holiday cottage in Amble-on-the-Sea

Seashell Cottage, Amble-by-the-Sea, Ref. 31213

Seashell Cottage is located in the picturesque fishing port of Amble, just 400 yards from the shore. This cute cottage has a quirky style and sleeps 4 people in 2 bedrooms. It boasts all the modern conveniences you could need as well as more traditional features such as an open fire and rear yard with alfresco dining area. The surrounding area is home to some wonderful beaches, restaurants and pubs where you can while away the hours on your Northumberland holiday.

The View of the Atlantic, Knightstown, County Kerry

Holiday cottage in Knightstown

The View Of The Atlantic, Knightstown, Ref. 912674

How about The View of the Atlantic for a holiday home with a view? The views from the balcony at this property look across the Atlantic towards Cahersiveen and are truly incredible. If you can tear yourself away from the balcony for long enough, then this duplex apartment is the perfect base for those who want to explore Valentia Island. The island is considered to be one of the most beautiful places in Ireland and a real hidden gem with plenty of walking opportunities and the awe-inspiring Fogher Cliffs.

If you’d like to take a look at more of the latest editions to the Sykes Cottages portfolio then you can visit the new cottages page on our website; or visit our coastal cottages page to find more holiday cottages by the sea.

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Britain’s Top 10 Scenic Drives

August 17th, 2014
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Here in Britain, we’re a nation of motorists. Our roads are some of the busiest in Europe, and overall, there’s almost a quarter of a million miles of roadway in the UK. Impressive though this is, it doesn’t change the fact that for many, driving in Britain is a tiresome task, reminiscent of long delays, pesky speed cameras and dull scenery.

If you’re heading on a UK holiday this year, I’d wager that you’re dreading the drive. But fear not fellow motorist, for all is not lost. Should you choose to bypass the motorway and opt for a minor A or B road, you’ll often be met with charming views, sweeping bends and an endless supply of fascinating villages, hamlets and towns that you wouldn’t know existed from the comfort of the fast lane.

So if you love driving and want to escape the tedium of the motorway, take a look at our shortlist of the best scenic drives in the UK below.

Kendal to Keswick, the Lake District

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The A591 is one of England’s favourite scenic routes, and can be busy at times; after all, it does link Keswick and Kendal, two of the Lake District’s most popular towns. Don’t let that put you off though, because this isn’t a drive you’ll want to rush. Must sees along the route include Grasmere, Ullswater and Glenridding.

Black Mountain Road, Powys

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Meandering through the Brecon Beacons, the Black Mountain road has long been popular amongst motorists, and featured on an episode of the popular motoring show, Top Gear. Here, amid the timeless beauty of the Beacons, this glorious 27 mile road offers exhilarating bends, fast straights and plenty of scenic eye candy for both driver and passenger.

Alnwick to Kielder Water, Northumberland

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Northumberland is home to one of England’s most dramatic coastlines, and thankfully, much of it is discoverable by car. By far the best route to take along the coast is the B-road between Alnwick and Kielder Water, which features evocative views over the coast, as well as a series of brilliant twists and turns through the Cheviot and Simonside Hills.

Ribblehead Viaduct, North Yorkshire

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Thanks to its undulating terrain, North Yorkshire is a dream for motorists. Consequently, all that rolling countryside caused a real headache for Victorian railway builders, who were forced to tunnel and bridge their way across the county. Their most iconic construction is easily the Ribblehead Viaduct, a 400m bridge featuring no less than 24 stone arches; have your passenger snap a shot or two as you speed on by.

St Ives to Land’s End, Cornwall

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The coast road from the cultural hub of St Ives to the striking spit of Land’s End is an evocative and dramatic route, taking in much of Cornwall’s untouched western territory. This is a place where deserted tin mines rise from rugged heathlands and craggy sea cliffs stand tall above the powerful Atlantic Ocean.

Cat and Fiddle, Peak District

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The Cat and Fiddle scenic drive, aka, Buxton to Macclesfield, takes its name from a rustic country pub that just happens to be the second highest public house in the UK. This famously bendy route is hotspot for motorcyclists, but drivers will be in their element too thanks to the routes stunning views over Greater Manchester, the Cheshire Plain and the Peak District National Park.

Chedder Gorge, Somerset

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Chiselling through the Mendip Hills, Cheddar Gorge is widely considered to be one of the Britain’s greatest natural wonders. By far the best way to see this majestic limestone pass is via the meandering stretch of tarmac that runs through its centre; just watch out for slow lorries when you’re heading uphill.

Buttertubs Pass, Yorkshire Dales

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Featured in the Grand Depárt of the Tour De France 2014, Buttertubs Pass is a very popular scenic road winding through the beloved Yorkshire Dales. This picturesque carriageway takes its name from the neighbouring potholes where dairy farmers would rest on their way to market, and features some superb sweeping bends.

Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

At 1,500 miles, the Wild Atlantic Way is the longest touring route on our shortlist, but can easily be divided into shorter drives. For a dramatic snapshot of the Atlantic Seaboard, head for Donegal, whose coast features a mix of towering sea cliffs and sweeping beaches. Alternatively, take to the asphalt in Galway, where the mountainous landscapes of Connemara await.

Glasgow to Fort William, Scotland

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Leave the city lights of Glasgow behind you and make for the wonderfully scenic Scottish Highlands, home to some of Britain’s favourite roads. The A82 from Glasgow to Fort William passes through the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, so expect sensational views and plenty of windy tarmac. To extend the route, make for Inverness, passing the iconic Loch Ness along the way.

Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

Last Minute Breaks for August Bank Holiday

August 16th, 2014
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Can we tempt you with a last minute getaway? We still have some lovely cottages with availability over the August Bank Holiday so if you’re in the mood for taking a break over the long weekend, we have just the ticket! Take a look at some of our available cottages below. To view the full list of August bank holiday cottages then please visit our website.

Robin’s Nest, Shropshire

Holiday cottage in Shropshire

Robin’s Nest, Ref. 24739

This charming first-floor apartment is located in a picturesque location at the foot of Wenlock Edge, on a large working farm in the Shropshire countryside. Robin’s Nest boasts a plethora of original features including exposed stone walls, beams and trusses. With the market town of Craven Arms close by, Robin’s Nest is ideally situated for a couple who want a getaway with plenty of character and things to do in the surrounding area. There are also plenty of walking trails on the doorstep and many National Trust properties close by.

The Log Cabin, Argyll and Bute

Holiday cottage in Scotland

The Log Cabin, Ref. 12682

If you want to take advantage of the long weekend to book a romantic break away with your loved one, take a look at The Log Cabin. This secluded lodge is nestled amongst stunning scenery, offering fantastic views across the surrounding countryside and mountains. Guests can take advantage of these views on the peaceful decked area where you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the views, making it a truly unique experience. This charming log cabin is the perfect romantic bolthole, where you’ll be able to relax and enjoy each other’s company. If you fancy venturing out, the bustling town of Oban is just a short drive away, along with the Oban Distillery and the Scottish Sea Life Centre.

Fairy Bank Cottage, Peak District

Holiday cottage in Peak District

Fairy Bank Cottage, Ref. 30062

For a summer getaway in the Peak District, Fairy Bank Cottage is the perfect place to lay your head. This delightful cottage is nestled in the High Peak village of Hayfield and boasts stunning views across the surrounding countryside and hills. Nearby, you’ll find traditional country pubs, walking routes such as Lantern Pike, as well as the start of the Pennine Trail and of course, the Peak District National Park. Fairy Bank Cottage sleeps 4 guests and is ideal for those looking for a last minute getaway in the countryside this August Bank Holiday.

Last Minute Short Breaks

Holiday cottage in Shropshire

Oakeley Mynd Lodge, Ref. 20308

From today, you can also take advantage of our last minute short break discount, with 35% off short breaks at selected cottages this bank holiday. These short breaks are bookable from one week before your arrival date so head over to our last minute cottages page and get booking!

If you are tempted to book a last minute holiday then please either give us an email or call us on 01244 356 695. Our reservations team are on hand 7 days a week, from 9am until 9.30pm and will be able to help you find your perfect cottage for your last minute bank holiday getaway.

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Summer Fruits Recipes

August 15th, 2014
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With summer now in full swing, our gardens, fields and supermarket shelves are packed full of delicious summer berries. These delightful fruits are of course extremely tasty when eaten alone but really release their summer flavour when teamed with one of our summer fruits recipes. If you have an abundance of summer fruit that you need to use up this season, then keep ready as we share with you three of our favourite summer fruit recipes.

Summer Pudding

Packed full of summer berries, this recipe looks impressive but is deceivingly easy to make; ideal for large party gatherings, summer pudding is sure to wet your appetite this summer. The recipe below will serve eight people and takes around 30 minutes to prepare before at least six hours of chilling in the fridge.

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Ingredients

  • 500g Raspberries
  • 300g Strawberries
  • 250g Blackberries
  • 100g Redcurrants
  • 175g Caster sugar
  • 7 Slices of bread (Works best with day-old bread from a square, medium thick loaf)

Method

  1. Wash and then gently dry all fruit. In a pan, gently heat sugar and 3 tbsp of water until the sugar is dissolved. Stir and then bring to the boil for 1 minute before adding in the raspberries, blackberries and redcurrants. Cook on a low heat for 3 minutes stirring occasionally, you want the fruit to be soft but mostly intact. Put a sieve over a clean bowl and pour in content of pan.
  2. Line a 1.25 litre bowl with cling film, leaving an overhang at the edges (this will make it easier to turn out the pudding at the end). Cut the crusts off the bread and then cut all but 1 slice in half at a slight angle.
  3. Dip the pieces of bread into the fruit juices one at a time, and line the inside of the bowl with the bread (place the whole slice of bread at the bottom), take your time with this step making sure everything fits together nicely. If there are gaps you can’t fill simply cut the bread again until it fits. Make sure to leave a few slices for the top!
  4. Spoon in the fruit adding a few strawberries every now and then. Once the pudding is full, dip the last few pieces of bread in juice and place on top, trim any overhang with scissors. Bring the cling film up and loosely seal. Put a side plate on top of the pudding and weigh it down with cans. Chill overnight or for a minimum of 6 hours.
  5. To serve the pudding, take off the cans and plate, then open up the cling film. Place a plate upside down on top of the pudding and flip over. Remove the cling film and serve with left over fruit juice and cream.

Elderflower Cordial

Bring a touch of class to your summer party this year by adding a dash of homemade elderflower cordial to your guests’ soda water or sparkling wine. This easy recipe will make around four litres of cordial and takes 30 minutes to prepare along with a 24 hour picking process.

Picture via Flickr

Picture via Flickr.

Ingredients

  • 20 Fresh elderflower heads, stalks trimmed
  • 2 Unwaxed lemons
  • 2½kg White sugar
  • 85g Citric Acid (This can be bought from the chemists)

Method

  1. Place the sugar and 1.5 litres (2¾ pints) of water into a large saucepan. Gently heat until the sugar has dissolved (don’t boil) stirring occasionally.  Whilst the sugar is dissolving, peal the zest from the lemons using a peeler, then cut the lemon into round slices.
  2. Once all the sugar has dissolved bring the pan to the boil before turning off the heat. Wash the flowers by filling a basin with cold water and swishing them from side to side.
  3. Lift the flowers out and add them to the syrup along with the lemons, zest and citric acid. Stir well and leave to infuse for a minimum of 24 hours.
  4. Line a colander with a fresh, clean tea towel before sitting it over a large bowl or pan. Ladle in the syrup mixture letting it naturally and slowly drip through the tea towel. Then use a funnel to fill sterilised bottles.
  5. The cordial will be ready to drink straight away and will keep for up to six weeks in a fridge. You could also freeze the liquid in plastic containers if you wanted to keep it longer.

Strawberry Ice Cream

What better way to cool down this summer than with a nice refreshing scoop of strawberry ice cream? Our simple three step recipe will make a litre of ice cream and takes around 30 minutes to prepare, plus a minimum of six hours of freezing before it’s ready to serve.

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Ingredients

  • 400g Strawberries
  • 200g Condensed milk (Half of a 397g can)
  • 250g Mascarpone

Method

  1. Pull the green hulls out of the strawberries (if they are hard, cut into halves or quarters) and place in a flat bottom dish. Use a potato masher to squash the strawberries down as much as possible.
  2. Place the mashed strawberries into a bowl along with the mascarpone and combine the two together by mashing. Add the condensed milk and stir everything together (don’t worry if the mixture is lumpy or streaky!)
  3. Put the mixture into a plastic tub and leave in the freezer for a minimum of 6 hours (overnight preferred). To serve, simply scoop the ice cream out into bowls or cones.
nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.