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Cottages for a Family Holiday this Half Term

Monday, October 20th, 2014
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It may seem like yesterday the kids went back to school but, believe it or not, the October half term is creeping up on us – and there’s no better time to take a break! You get to see the UK in all its autumnal glory with long country walks and warming comfort foods being the order of the day. We’ve tracked down some of the cottages that are still available to book for the school holidays, so that you can have a look and start planning your autumn escape.

Berian Cross, Pembrokeshire

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Berian Cross, ref. 14417

First up  is Berian Cross in the sleepy hamlet of Brynberian, around five miles from Newport in south Wales. A chocolate box cottage, Berian Cross features three bedrooms which sleep up to seven people between them. This property is perfect for a lover of the outdoors; situated in the heart of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, it gives easy access to walks, bike rides and even boat trips. And what’s better, back at the cottage there’s a luxury kitchen waiting for you to rustle up a nice warming meal at the end of the day!

The Granary, Norfolk

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The Granary, ref. 14213

Or there’s The Granary, a grade II listed cottage in the town of Downham Market, not too far from King’s Lynn in Norfolk. A cosy property with an open fire in the living room, a wonderful country kitchen, and a bay window looking out over the cottage garden, you’ll never want to set foot outside! Should you venture out, you’ll be spoilt for choice with spots like the RSPB reserves at both Snettisham and Titchwell Marsh, as well as a range of stately homes a short way away, including Sandringham Estate and Holkham Hall.

Bwthyn Awel, Anglesey

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Bwythyn Awyl, ref. 913963

Finally there’s Bwythyn Awyl on Anglesey; a delightful property that can sleep up to ten people throughout its five bedrooms, two of which come with their own en-suites! There’s a luxury NEFF kitchen too, which leads to a raised deck where you’ll find stunning views over the sea. And that’s not all; within a few miles, you’ll be able to find the palatial Plas Newydd Country House, as well as the South Stack Lighthouse, one of the most iconic sights of Anglesey.

But don’t forget those properties are just a few examples of the fantastic cottages that are still available over the half term period! We’ve got everything from cosy cottages in the countryside to houses big enough for the whole family, so if you fancy taking a break then have a look at the full selection or call us on 01244 356695 and we’ll help find your dream holiday cottage!

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.

Autumnal Recipes for National Apple Day

Saturday, October 18th, 2014
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Can you think of a more autumnal flavour than the humble apple? From crumbles to pies, sauces to chutneys, apples and autumn go hand in hand. This explains why National Apple Day always falls around this time of year. In honour of this year’s apple day, we’ve tracked down some recipes for our favourite apple dishes that you can try at home!

Mini Apple Crumbles

via Flickr

via Flickr

Ingredients

  • 125g of flour
  • 75g of unsalted butter
  • 75g of caster sugar
  • 50g of oats
  • 750g of apples
  • 2 tsp of caster sugar
  • 2 tsp of unsalted butter

Method

  1. First up preheat your oven to around 200°c.
  2. Place your flour in a large bowl and add the butter. Rub the butter and flour together until the texture resembles breadcrumbs and then mix in the 75g of caster sugar and the oats.
  3. Next take your apples, peel them and chop them before mixing in with the rest of the sugar.
  4. Divide the mixture between the jars and top with the crumble mixture.
  5. Place in the oven and cook until the crumble topping is golden brown and crisp.

Toffee Apples

toffe apples

via Flickr

Ingredients

  • 8 apples (preferably Granny Smith)
  • 4 tsp of golden syrup
  • 1 tsp of vinegar
  • 400g of caster sugar

Method

  1. First, put the apples in a bowl and cover with boiling water. This will remove the natural waxy cover and will make the toffee stick. After they have soaked, dry them and push a skewer through the core of the apples.
  2. Place your sugar into a pan with 100ml of water and cook over a medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  3. Add the vinegar and golden syrup and turn up the heat. Using a thermometer, wait until the mixture has reached 140°c.
  4. Once that temperature has been reached, take each of the apples and dip into the toffee mixture. Place them on a sheet of baking paper and leave to cool.

Classic Apple Pie

Ingredients

Pastry

via Flickr

via Flickr

  • 250g of plain flour
  • 75g of caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 125g of plain flour
  • A pinch of salt.

Filling

  • 1 kg of Cox Apples
  • 250g Granny Smith Apples
  • 250g Bramley Apples
  • 200g of caster sugar.

Method

  1. Start by making the pastry. Put your butter, sugar, flour and salt in a food processor and blend until it looks like breadcrumbs. Then, add in your egg yolks and gently pulse the mixture until it is dough like.
  2. Knead this mixture on a floured surface until it is smooth and then wrap in cling film and refrigerate.
  3. Next peel and core all of your apples and slice them up. Add them to a saucepan with the sugar and gently heat the mixture until the apples begin to break down.
  4. Next take your pastry, split one third away from the mixture and roll out both pieces until they are a few millimetres wide. Take the bigger portion and use it to line a pie tin before blind baking it for 20 minutes at 200°c.
  5. Spoon your apple mixture into the pie dish and cover with the remaining third of the pastry. Return to to oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.

Well there you go, some simple recipes for our favourite autumnal apple dishes. Next time you’ve got family or friends coming round to dinner why don’t you give them a go. They’re easy enough to do and I’m sure they’ll bring out a few smiles around the table!

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 Whirlwind Tour of the Irish Coast

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
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Today we’ll be taking you on a whistle-stop tour of the Irish Coast, from Donegal in the north down to County Cork in the south, stopping off in some of our favourite places along the way.  We’ve taken it upon ourselves to list some of the best spots of the Irish coastline with awards going to our favourite beach, seaside town and, of course, the best spot to soak up some scenery. As you can imagine, this was no mean feat; after all, the Irish coast is one of the most spectacular going.

Best Beach

via Flickr

via Flickr

We decided to jump in at the deep end and pick our favourite beach first. Now you should know there’s over 1,000 miles of Irish coastline and a whopping 76 blue flag beaches, so this was never going to be an easy choice. However, we decided on a beautiful spot on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. Dingle itself was once labelled as the most beautiful place on Earth by National Geographic, so it must have something going for it. This becomes apparent when you head to Inch Beach, a three mile stretch of golden sand perfect for a stroll in the sun, some surfing or even a touch of sunbathing. A worthy winner of Ireland’s best beach!

Best Scenery

via Flickr

via Flickr

For the best spot to enjoy scenery on the Irish coast, we’re heading towards the northernmost tip of Ireland. Up there you’ll find the cliffs of Sliabh Liag, some of the highest accessible sea cliffs in Europe. They tower 600 meters above the sea making them almost twice the height of the Eiffel Tower and around three times that of their famous rival, the Cliffs of Moher. With picnic areas at the summit, walking paths all around and of course the various companies running boat trips around the base of cliffs, there’s so much to do, although you’ll probably prefer to just sit and enjoy the view!

Best Coastal Town

via Flickr

via Flickr

Now this really was a tough one. There are so many delightful seaside towns dotted around the Irish coast, but in the end, we plumbed for Kinsale in County Cork as our favourite. One of the jewels of the southern Irish coastline, well known for its winding streets, colourful shops and countless little cafés, you can see why Kinsale is popular with tourists. There’s a multitude of things to do there with an annual Gourmet festival, numerous art galleries and of course the marina where you can hire a boat for the day.

Well hopefully you agree with our choices, but if you’ve got any suggestions of other spots that deserve a mention let us know, either on Facebook or on Twitter! And hopefully reading this blog has got you in the mood for a trip over to Ireland. If so, we’ve got just the thing for you: a page full of Irish coastal cottages, so have a look and see if you can find your dream holiday home.

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.

Sykes’ Food Tour of Britain

Thursday, October 9th, 2014
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If you’ve tuned into the Sykes’ blog this week you might have noticed there’s been a foodie theme going on. Well today isn’t any different as we’re heading out on a tour around the UK looking at some of the best regional foods going, from the classic Cornish Pasty through to the Welsh favourite, Bara Brith.

Melton Mowbray Pork Pie

pork pie

via Flickr

Where else could we start but with the classic picnic food, the pork pie. We’re not talking about any old pie, instead we’re going to be looking at the king of the range, the Melton Mowbray. These pies are one of a handful of foods protected by Protected Geographical Indication, meaning they can only be called Melton Mowbrays if they’re made within a specific area using traditional techniques. One key difference between a Melton and your standard pie is that they use fresh rather than cured meat, giving them their distinctive flavour.

Cornish Pasty

cornish pasty

via Flickr

Next we’re going to be taking a trip down to the south-west for the old favourite, the Cornish Pasty. Originally a luxury meal for the rich, the pasty became a staple food amongst Cornish tin miners during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and has since become one of the nation’s favourites. A good pasty should be full to the brim with a mix of beef mince, swede, carrot and onion and should have a peppery kick to finish.

Cheddar Cheese

via. Flickr

via Flickr

We’re sticking in the south west for this one too as we look at Britain’s most loved cheese. Apparently, over half the cheese produced in this country is a variation of cheddar, but can only be called West Country Farmhouse Cheddar if it’s produced in one of the four West Country counties using locally produced milk. One of the reasons cheddar is so popular is its versatility; no matter how you serve it up, whether it’s part of a classic ploughman’s lunch, melted on toast or simply with a couple of crackers, it’s absolutely delicious!

Bara Brith

bara brith

via Flickr

Next up is a Welsh classic, Bara Brith. Translated into English, Bara Brith means Speckled Bread, however there’s some dispute as to whether it’s actually a cake – no matter what it is, we think it’s delicious! Traditionally it would have been a hodge podge mix made from left over bread dough with some fruit and cooked in the embers of the weekly bake. Nowadays, it’s flavoured with tea and basted generously with honey giving it it’s lovely flavour.

Shortbread

via Flickr

via Flickr

Finally, we’re heading north of the border and to the home of shortbread. A traditional Scottish biscuit made with just flour, sugar and butter, shortbread is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea. The Scots have been making this tasty treat since the 12th century, but it’s Mary Queen of Scots who is credited with refining the recipe to one we all know and love today. A good shortbread should have a light buttery flavour and be crisp yet crumbly when you bite into it.

So there we go, Sykes’ food tour of Britain. Hopefully you enjoyed having a read of it and like our choices, but if there’s anything you think should have been included then let us know, either over Facebook or on Twitter, and we’ll do our best to get it in next time!

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.

Easy Egg Recipes for British Egg Week

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
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Believe it or not, today is the start of British Egg Week. That’s right, the humble egg now has its own week, and who could deny it that? It’s an absolute staple no matter what meal you’re looking at; breakfast, lunch, dinner, if you’re stuck for an idea the egg will always come to the rescue. But forget about a simple boiled or fried egg! In celebration of Egg Week, we’ve had a look and found some fantastic eggy recipes for you to try out!

Eggs Benedict

Where else to start but with the classic brunch, Eggs Benedict? You just can’t beat it when it comes to a special occasion! The following recipe should be enough for two people and will take around fifteen minutes, though you can save time by using pre-made hollandaise sauce if you’re pushed for time.

via Flickr

via Flickr

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

  • 3 tbsp of white wine vinegar
  • 75 oz of melted butter
  • 2 large egg yolks

For the dish:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 slices of ham
  • 2 breakfast muffins

Method:

  1. Start by making the sauce. Simmer the vinegar over a medium heat until it has reduced by half. Then, place it in a heatproof bowl along with the egg yolks over a pan of simmering water. Whisk these two together until the mixture starts to thicken up, then whilst whisking, gradually add in the melted butter. Once that is done set the sauce aside.
  2. Half and toast your muffins.
  3. Fill up a deep pan with water and bring to the boil. Stir the water briskly so that it is swirling around the pan and add in the eggs, the movement of the water should keep them held together nicely.
  4. Place your ham on top of the muffins along with some of the sauce.
  5. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon after they’ve been poaching for three minutes and place on the ham. Top with the remaining sauce and serve.

Scotch Eggs

Next is the classic picnic treat, although it will be just at home tucked away in a lunch box for an indulgent snack. The recipe shouldn’t take any more than 45 minutes to make and will leave you with 4 beautiful scotch eggs to work your way through.

via Flickr

via Flickr

Ingredients:

  • 5 eggs
  • 400g of sausage meat
  • 75g of breadcrumbs
  • a handful of flour
  • 2 litres of vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbspn of English mustard

Method:

  1. Place four of the eggs into a pan of water, bring to the boil and cook for three and a half minutes. Once they are cooked immediately move them to a bowl of cold water and peel.
  2. Season the sausage meat, add in the mustard and split the mixture into four equal sized balls.
  3. Prepare three separate bowls, one with the breadcrumbs, one with the flour and one with the remaining egg cracked into it and beaten.
  4. Take one of the cooked and peeled eggs and a ball of sausage meat. Dust the egg with a bit of flour, flatten the meat into a pattie and wrap it around the egg. Repeat this for all four of the eggs.
  5. Dust the ball with flour, dip into the beaten egg and roll in the breadcrumbs.
  6. Heat all of the the oil in a deep pan. You can check the temperature by dropping in a breadcrumb and seeing if it starts to fry. Once it is hot enough, place each of the scotch eggs in and then cook for four minutes, giving them a turn every now and then.
  7. Using a slotted spoon remove the eggs and pat them down with some kitchen roll to remove any excess oil.

Bacon and Leek Quiche

Finally we’ve got one of my personal favourites, a good old bacon and leek quiche. You can serve it up either fresh out of the oven, or leave it to cool down for a lunchtime treat. This recipe uses a pre-made pastry case to save time, although if you’d rather make your own you can find a great recipe here, just don’t forget you’ll need to blind bake the case before you add in the mixture.

via Flickr

via Flickr

Ingredients:

  • 150g of bacon lardons
  • 3 large leeks
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 large eggs
  • 200ml of double cream
  • 50g of cheddar cheese
  • 1 pre-made pastry case

Method:

  1. Fry the bacon lardons in oil for 5-7 minutes until they have started to brown.
  2. Peel and wash the leeks then finely slice them, also peel the garlic clove and finely chop it. Add the leeks and garlic to the pan with the lardons and turn the heat down. Gently fry the mixture until the leeks being to caramelise, this should take around 10-15 minutes.
  3. Once the leeks are done, spoon the mixture out into the pastry case and spread evenly.
  4. Mix the eggs and cream together with some seasoning, then pour over the bacon and leek mixture. Top with the grated cheese and place in an oven at 160°c for 25 to 30 minutes until.
  5. Cut into slices and serve.

So there you go, some of our favourite egg recipes to get you through British Egg Week. If you have any suggestions for other recipes be sure to let us know, either by tweeting us or telling us on Facebook!

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.