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Robson Green’s Tales From Northumberland

Monday, February 23rd, 2015
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If you tuned into ITV last Monday night you’ll probably have noticed that Robson Green’s Tales From Northumberland returned to the small screen for a second series. The first season went down a storm here at Sykes HQ, and I think that success was mirrored all around the UK. Millions tuned in every week to see the ever enthusiastic Robson explore some of the most beautiful and interesting spots in Northumberland; from the Kielder Observatory through to Alnwick Castle and Hexham Abbey, and it seems to have had a lasting effect. The Northumberland County Council ran a survey off the back of the program and 91% of respondents were of the opinion that the county is a great place to visit whilst 85% of people had been encouraged to learn more about the area. Little wonder Robson’s back!

This series will see Robson visit some more of Northumberland’s treasures; from beautiful stately homes to hidden hermitages and as you’d expect, he’ll be finding himself waylaid by some of the fantastic activities on offer like scuba diving with rare white beaked dolphins through to Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling. One thing for sure is that the series will be well worth a watch, so make sure you tune in!

Cragside Manor

If you did watch last week’s program, you’ll be well aware of Cragside Manor in Cartington. For years it served as the home of the renowned Victorian engineer William Armstrong and although it may have started off as a relatively humble country lodge it ended up being transformed into a towering Tudor style mansion by the architect Richard Norman Shaw. As you would expect from the home of one of the most eminent engineers of the Victorian period Cragside was well ahead of its time, in fact it was the first building in the world to boast a lighting system completely powered by hydroelectricity – quite the claim!

Corbridge Roman Town

Another of the spots that Robson will pay a visit to over the course of the series is the Roman Town at Corbridge. Found just a couple of miles south of Hadrian’s wall Corbridge was actually the most northerly town in an empire that, at it’s height, stretched from Spain through to Asia and covered over 5 million square kilometres! As a garrison town it served to support the troops stationed on the wall and you can still see echoes of this from the high street that survives to this day through to the Corbridge Hoard, a veritable treasure trove of Roman artefacts that includes the most complete set of armour ever found, not bad for a sleepy Northumberland town!

The Cheviot Hills

Finally we’ve got the Cheviot Hills. Nestled right on the border between England and Scotland the Cheviots are one of Northumberland’s hidden treasures. They constitute the northern section of the Northumberland National Park, a stunning area of countryside that somehow manages to remain free of the crowds who visit the Lake District and the Peaks every year. The Cheviot Hills were the scene of many a battle between the English and Scottish raiders over the years but nowadays it’s a fair bit sleepier there, making it the perfect spot for a quiet afternoon stroll.

Well there you go, the Sykes spotlight on this newest series of Robson Green’s Tales From Northumberland, hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading, if so make sure that you turn over to ITV at 8pm where you’ll find the second episode of the series. Or maybe you know of some of Northumberland’s hidden treasures yourself? If you do we’d love to hear them, you can get in touch with us over Facebook or Twitter and we’ll be sure to pass it on! And remember it’s easy enough to visit Northumberland if the program inspires you into it – just take a look here and see which cottages catch your eye!

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Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

Scotland’s Best Pet Friendly Pubs

Saturday, February 21st, 2015
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Here at Sykes we know how much people love to take their dogs away on holiday with them; after all, we’ve got over two and a half thousand cottages that welcome pooches with open arms! And our four legged friends love it! Instead of being left back in the kennels they’re living it up in the fresh surroundings, with plenty of new people to meet and smells to sniff. And then there’s the walks! Rather than a march around the block or a trip down to the park they get long wanders through the Great British countryside and, as it turns out, just like us they’re rather partial to a stop off in a quaint country pub – especially if there’s the chance of a bit of grub. But believe it or not, there are some pubs that don’t welcome our pups! So we’ve taken a look at some of the best pet friendly pubs north of the border so you know where to take your pooch when you’re away!

Clachaig Inn, Glencoe

Tucked away in the heart of beautiful Glen Coe is the Clachaig Inn. Ever popular with the numerous tourists who pay a visit to Glen Coe each year, the Clachaig Inn makes the perfect spot for you and your pooch to kick back and relax after a long day exploring the glen. Both of the bars in the inn are dog friendly meaning that you’ll have the run of the place and with an incredible variety of locally sourced foods – from a full Scottish breakfast through to venison pastrami – it might be a hard job forcing yourself to leave!

 The Drover’s Inn, Inverarnan

Second on our list is The Drover’s Inn, just off the West Highland Way at the top of Loch Lomond. Originally forming a stop off point for the cattle drovers moving their herds southwards down from the highlands it now plays host to the countless walkers making their way through the beautiful countryside. Rumour has it that the Inn is haunted by the ghost of one such drover who was killed by a rival gang over three hundred years ago, but you and your four legged friend needn’t worry about that! Instead you can just put your paws up and maybe even test yourselves against the Braveheart Burger.

The Stein Inn, Waternish

Next up we’ve got the oldest pub on the whole of the Isle of Skye, the Stein Inn. Situated on the Waternish peninsula on the North Western tip of the island, the Stein Inn was founded back in the 18th century and still retains much of its original charm. Featuring a traditional highland bar complete with over 100 different varieties of malt whisky and the Stein Inn’s very own ale the “Reeling Deck”, a smouldering peat fire and stunning views out over the Hebrides it’s the perfect place to sink a pint in the company of your pooch.

So there you go, hopefully you and Fido will have found this useful and who knows, your furry friend might even be planning his next trip north of the Border. Or maybe you know of some other great pet friendly pubs in Scotland? If so let us know and we’ll help spread the word!

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Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

Turn your Garden in to a Bird’s Haven

Saturday, February 14th, 2015
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Today marks a very special day in the British wildlife calendar as it sees the start of National Nest Box Week! Thought up by the good folks over at the British Trust for Ornithology back in 2007 it encourages everybody to head out in to their garden and do their bit for Britain’s bird-life. After all our garden birds are struggling! As we neaten up our gardens, renovate old buildings and generally cut back the green spaces we’re inadvertently destroying many of the spots that birds would have traditionally used to build their nests, so it’s only fair that we give a little back. To take part all you have to do is put a nest box up in your garden and in doing so you’ll be helping to safeguard some of the country’s favourite birds for generations to come.

Here at Sykes Cottages we recently put together a guide that details how you should site your nest box, something that will hopefully be useful in the coming days. But there are plenty of other things that you can to make your garden into a bird’s haven ranging from just putting out a bit of bird food through to growing a wildlife garden that will have birds flocking from all over.

Feeding

Of course it would be absolutely fantastic if our garden birds could get all of the nutrition that they need from natural food sources however the fact of the matter is that they sometimes need a bit of a hand – especially when they have a young family to feed! And this is where we come in! There is a huge variety of different foods and feeders for you to pick from but just make sure that you don’t put any up too close to any nest boxes that might be in your garden – after all you don’t want the residents to be disturbed!

Water

Just like pretty much every other animal garden birds need access to plenty of fresh water, whether it’s for drinking or to give their feathers a good clean. A regular supply of clean water will ensure that you get plenty of visitors into your garden, just remember to keep it well topped up – the chances are that this could end up being a daily job if the local birds take to it!

Get Planting

You can also lend the local birds a hand by planting a few native plants around their garden. They’ll provide some shelter, the option of a natural nesting site and food all year round – something that becomes doubly important during the winter months. Gardener’s World put together a useful list of ten of the best plants you can use to create your very own wildlife garden, click here to take a look.

So there you go, hopefully you’ll have gained a few handy tips for National Nest Box Week, and in doing so you’ll probably also gain a few visitors into your garden. We’d love to know if you do! Drop us a tweet or a Facebook post and we’ll take a look!

 

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Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

Postcards to the Past

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015
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There are few things like a holiday for making happy memories. Trips to the seaside, long walks through the countryside; we love to try and remember them in any way we can, and what better way is there than to take a photograph. You need only leaf through any treasured family photo album to find countless holiday snaps that all seem to have the ability to transport you right back to the moment they were taken.

Now with Sykes Cottages’ Postcards to the Past, you and your loved ones can revisit those happy times together. All you have to do is upload your chosen photograph, complete the accompanying form and before you know it you’ll have your very own personalised digital postcard complete with a note from yourself, whether it’s a letter to someone in the picture or just why you remember that moment with such fondness. You can share this postcard with your friends and family, and who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of it on the Sykes Cottages website.

Make your own Postcard to the Past today!

Postcards to the Past

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Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

A guide to the Norfolk Broads

Monday, February 2nd, 2015
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Did you know that today is World Wetlands Day? Since 1997, the second of February has been used to showcase the importance and beauty of wetlands all around the world. We might be a bit biased, but here at Sykes we think one of the best wetlands can be found right here in the United Kingdom. The Norfolk Broads is Britain’s largest wetland and since 1988 has been given a similar protected status as the National Parks, which highlights its value. Not only is it home to some of the UK’s rarer animals and plantlife, it just so happens to be a truly beautiful spot that is well worth a visit. So we’ve put together a little guide on some of the things you could get up to on the Broads – have a look and see if it tempts you.

Go on a Boat Trip

Let’s be honest, there’s only one place to start! If you want to get a true taste of what the broads are all about, you’ll have to get yourself aboard a boat! There are numerous companies that will rent out boats for day trips around the broads, providing you with the utmost in flexibility. And there’s no need to worry if you’ve never found yourself at the helm of a boat before; the day boats are easily manoeuvrable and you can even book yourself in for a short lesson to help you get to grips with it all!

Walk the Broads

Alternatively, you could lace up your walking boots and enjoy the broads from one of the many walking routes that snake their way around the area. Arguably the most famous is the Wherryman’s Way, a long distance route running all the way from Norwich through to Great Yarmouth. The vast majority of the Wherryman’s Way follows the course of the picturesque River Yare, one of the principal waterways of the broads, but you can also expect to catch a glimpse of the River Chet and Breydon Water along its 35 mile long course.

Go Fishing

If you consider yourself to be a bit of an angler then the broads are just the place for you! The broads are home to a wide variety of fresh water fish such as bream, perch and pike, and if you head closer to the sea you might even come across the odd sea bass or trout. There are countless free angling spots and platforms scattered around the broads, or if you prefer there is also the opportunity to rent out privately owned sections of the broads where you can cast off without disturbance.

There you have it, a quick look at some of the things that you could get up to on a visit to Britain’s finest wetlands. But if you want a bit more choice make sure you have a look at our very own Norfolk Visitor Guide which details Norfolk’s best bits and must sees. So if you fancy paying them a visit, have a look here where you’ll be able to find all of our holiday cottages on the Norfolk Broads, from cosy boltholes to properties right on the waterways themselves!

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Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.