We’ve done it again: Sykes Scoop BTA for Second Successive Year

November 27th, 2014
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Sykes Cottages have won ‘Best Large UK Holiday Cottage Company’ at the British Travel Awards, for the second year running.

Our British Travel Awards

Our British Travel Awards

Despite tough competition from industry rivals, Sykes has retained its crown as Britain’s best self-catering holiday cottage provider, winning the coveted award for the second time at this year’s BTA finals.

The British Travel Awards is the most prestigious event on the tourism industry calendar, with hundreds of travel companies hoping to go away with one of the sought-after accolades.

The awards offer a chance for the public to vote for the holiday and travel companies they think provide outstanding products and services in their field, with millions of holidaymakers participating in the vote.

For the companies who win, the award goes further than just a trophy. The BTA winner’s emblem highlights the company’s excellence, and shows they’ve delivered consistently high levels of care and service for many happy customers.

It goes without saying that everyone at Sykes Cottages is immensely proud of our achievement. After a year in which we received another ‘excellent’ rating by TripAdvisor, and smashed our previous bookings record, the British Travel Awards win really is the cherry on top.

And we owe it all to you – our customers! Without your help and support, we might never have achieved our second BTA award. So, from everyone at Sykes Cottages, we’d like to say a huge thank you to you, and promise that we’ll strive to live up to our title of Britain’s best large self-catering cottage provider for many years to come.

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.

Scotland’s Top Ten Film Locations

November 26th, 2014
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With its rugged coastline, vast glens and imposing mountain ranges, Scotland is a film maker’s dream; imagine historic battles re-enacted at the foot of Ben Nevis; sci-fi thrillers shot amongst the mountainous landscape; and romantic scenes set in front of a castle’s roaring fire. With a number of movie blockbusters and popular TV shows using Scotland as its backdrop the scenery here is instantly recognisable. Why not test your memory and see if you recognise our top ten film locations in Scotland.

The Wicker Man (1973)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

A true cult classic, The Wicker Man saw the film crew using several locations in Dumfries and Galloway for their movie, including the iconic St. Ninian’s Cave. Fans of this film will recognise the cave from the scene where Howie finally tracks down the elusive Rowan.

Braveheart (1995)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Braveheart is the story of legendary Scottish hero, William Wallace, and his battle for freedom. Along with Mel Gibson’s terrible Scottish accent, the film is most memorable for the stunning scenery, like that around Loch Leven in Perth and Kinross.

Trainspotting (1996)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Following the story of Mark Renton, Trainspotting is a film famed for launching the career of Ewan McGregor. With several film locations throughout Scotland, we’ve chosen to focus on Princes Street in Edinburgh; you catch a quick glimpse of the city in the film’s opening scene as Mark races through the centre.

Entrapment (1999)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

This award winning action film features not one but two Hollywood legends; the beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones and the ever popular Sean Connery. Duart Castle masquerades as the home of Sean Connery as he puts Catherine through some intense burglar training.

Harry Potter (2002)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets sees our heroes Harry and Ron unable to access Platform 9 and ¾ so, in a race to reach Hogwarts in time for the new school year, they steal Mr Weasley’s flying car. Whilst following the Hogwarts Express, the duo ends up on the picturesque Glenfinnan Viaduct, famous for its many appearances in the Harry Potter franchise.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Ever taken a flight over the Scottish highlands? To see what you’re missing out on we suggest watching The Dark Knight Rises; you get a wonderful view of the Highlands from above as Bane and his crew make quick work of escaping one aircraft and getting into another mid-flight!

Prometheus (2012)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

If Sci-fi, mystery and adventure are your thing then I’m sure you’re familiar with 2012’s award winning film, Prometheus. Not only used in the film, but also in the trailer is the Old Man of Storr and the gorgeous scenery from the Isle of Skye.

Skyfall (2012)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Making his third appearance as the legendary James Bond, Daniel Craig looks completely at home surrounded by the peaks at Buachaille Etive Mor in the award winning film, Skyfall. The impressive surroundings make the perfect backdrop for the final fight scene between Bond and the bad guys.

Brave (2012)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

In 2012, Merida took her place amongst Disney royalty as the newest Disney princess. Yes, Brave is an animated film, but the San Francisco based creators travelled a long way to gather inspiration for their mystical stones. They made the lengthy journey to the Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis, and the resemblance between the two sets is uncanny.

Outlander (2014)

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

The hit TV show Outlander has taken the country by storm and Americans just love it; but who could blame them with the devilishly handsome Sam Heughan taking the role of Jamie Fraser. The series is set entirely in Scotland and famous landmarks like Doune Castle play a pivotal part in production.

And there you have it, our top ten film locations in Scotland. Is your favourite Scottish set mentioned above or have we missed it? Let us know via our Facebook and Twitter page, we would love to hear from you.

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.

Scottish Wildlife Watch

November 25th, 2014
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From its sandy shores and rocky cliffs to its deep green glens and towering mountains, Scotland is home to a vast array of wildlife. As the cold weather sets in and the nights draws in you would expect Scotland’s wildlife to retreat into hibernation or migrate to warmer shores; but no, these hardy species are in for a long winter and autumn is just the warm up. From playful seals to soaring eagles, here’s what you can expect to find in Scotland this autumn.

Seals

Seal

Image via Flickr.

There are two types of seal found in Scotland: the common harbour seal and the grey seal. Although seals spend most of their lives out at sea, grey seals will come ashore between September and December in order to give birth. That means, throughout the autumn, you will find dozens of gorgeous baby seals dotted about the coast. For the best seal watching experience, head to the Orkney islands which is home to the second largest breeding colony of grey seals in the world.

Deer

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Autumn is the most exciting time to view deer in Scotland as this is when the male deer enter their rut and compete for the female’s affections. During the rut you will see the younger males challenge the dominate stag for the attention of the hinds (females); this involves head-to-head battles between the males until one is crowned victor. For a tour that is safe for both you and the deer, take a ranger-led tour by Scottish Natural Heritage.

Birds of prey

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Scotland is home to a number of magnificent birds of prey; soaring high across the Scottish skyline, these majestic creatures are a real treat for bird watchers. Throughout autumn you will be able to see an array of birds taking flight including ospreys, red kites and the glorious golden eagle, which has a wing span of over two meters! This deadly hunter usually feeds on hare and rabbits but they have also been known to scoop up foxes, large birds or even young deer so keep your eyes peeled for their aerial acrobatics.

Gorse

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

It’s not all about the animals in Scotland; the country also has an incredible selection of plants on offer. Perhaps not a golfers favourite, but still beautiful to behold is Gorse (Ulex europaeus) also known as Furze or Whin in Scotland. This pretty plant covers Scotland and is especially fond of sandy, coastal and upland soil. Although the bright yellow flowers are extremely handsome, Gorse is also thorny and tough in nature, so when your golf ball gets lost in the thick of it you may have a hard time getting it out.

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.

Whisky Days Out in Scotland

November 24th, 2014
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As we near the end of November, we’re all reaching out for our favourite drinks. Those liquids that, from the first sip, you feel yourself warming from the inside, your taste buds soar and your cheeks begin to flush. I’m talking of course about whisky. What better way to kick off Scotland week here on the Sykes Cottages blog than with an ode to the country’s national drink? Read on to find out some of the whisky related activities and days out you can enjoy in Scotland..

Go to a Whisky Festival

Islay Festival

Image via Flickr

Annual whisky festivals such as The Spirit of Speyside, The Spirit of Stirling and The Islay Festival of Music & Malt are certainly worth a visit for any whisky fans. They allow local and national distilleries to share their produce with festival goers who may find a new favourite. However, those who don’t fancy a dram needn’t worry as the festivals have much more to do and see than just whisky.

Gain a Scotch Whisky Certificate

Whisky Course

Image via Flickr

If you’re a whisky aficionado then why not spend a day honing your craft at The Scotch Whisky Training School? At a cost of £175, this day course at The Scotch Whisky Experience teaches you all you need to know about the history, production and blending of whisky. Promising to be hands on and fun as well as educational, students of the training school will leave with a whole host of knowledge and also a certificate. Fancy having that on your CV!

Follow the Malt Whisky Trail

Whisky Barrels

Image via Flickr

It will come as no surprise that the world’s only malt whisky trail is in Speyside, also known as ‘Whisky Country’. With over 50 whisky distilleries – more than any other whisky producing areas of Scotland – Speyside is a whisky lover’s dream. Following the trail will lead you to seven working distilleries, each with unique characteristics, where you can join a tour and sample the finished product.

Try a Whisky Cocktail

Whisky Cocktail

Image via Flickr

Whilst many would argue that whisky should be enjoyed simply, on its own – or perhaps with a splash of water to bring out its flavour – it also works incredibly well in cocktails. If you fancy mixing up a whisky cocktail, why not try one of these recipes from the Scotch Whisky Experience website? I personally think the Grand Smash sounds amazing!

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

The Very Best Bits of Autumn

November 23rd, 2014
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If you follow Sykes Cottages on any of our social media channels, you may have noticed that for the past two months we have been running a competition for bloggers regarding what they think is the best bit of the autumn season. Now, we love a nice image here at Sykes, so we turned it into a photography competition. We asked those entering to share a picture of what they think is the best bit of autumn and accompany it with a blog post telling us why this is the best bit.

We had a really tough time choosing the winners as there were so many fantastic entries, but after a full afternoon (and morning) of deciding, we finally had our first place winner, second place winner and five runners up. Read on to see the wonderful pictures from our seven winners and see what they like best about autumn!

First Place: Autumn’s Natural Treasures

Autumn's Best Bit Snowing Indoors

The first place winner of the competition was this stunning photograph from Em at Snowing Indoors. As Em says in her post, “there is something so magical about opening a prickly conker shell and finding a shiny brown conker nestled inside, whether you’re 2 or 34!” We certainly agree and this photograph encapsulates that magic perfectly.

Second Place: Getting Ready for Halloween

My Family Ties

The second place winner of the competition was Caroline from My Family Ties. In the My Family Ties household, Halloween excitement and preparation gets under way in early October. This picture shows both the fun and spooky elements of Halloween and we just love it! See Caroline’s full post here.

The Runners Up

Autumns Best Bits Runners Up

One thing apparent from all of the competition entries was that autumn means so many different things to everyone. Lucinda from Bakes, Books & My Boys says that her favourite bit of her favourite season is just being outside! She shared with us this wonderful picture of her son enjoying the empty autumnal beach. Claire from Ninja Killer Cat shared with us some incredible pictures of the leaves and colours of autumn. Similarly, at Dragons and Fairy Dust,the best bit of autumn is the glorious colours of the sky, including a stunning picture of the sunrise. Jenn from Photo-Jenn-Ic shared with us how since having her son she has come to embrace autumn and just loves heading outside for autumnal wanders. Susan at Mess in The ‘Ness shared this incredible photo of pumpkins from a recent trip to the US – her favourite part of autumn is the emergence of pumpkins!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered this competition, we really were blown away! To see all of the entries, take a look at our pinterest board.

 

Follow Sykes Cottages’s board Autumn’s Best Bits on Pinterest.

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.