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Sykes’ Look Back at 2014

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014
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Who can believe that 2014 is drawing to a close? It seems like only yesterday that we were putting together our blog looking back at 2013, how time flies eh? Well we’ve decided to try and make this a Sykes tradition so we put our heads together to think up some of the best moments of 2014 and let me tell you, it was hard to narrow them down. We’ve had sporting highs (and lows), astonishing attractions and even an eye-wateringly hot summer. So have a look and see what you think of the Sykes look back at 2014.

Sport in 2014

via Flickr

via Flickr

It would be a bit of an understatement to say that 2014 was a good year for sport in Britain. First of all we had the Tour de France’s grand depart which was held in Yorkshire this year. Then of course there was the Football World Cup in Brazil, but I think the less said about that the better… However it was a different story north of the border! What with Gleneagles hosting yet another European victory in the Ryder Cup and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games proving to be a hit it was quite the year for Scottish sport! And who could forget the Winter Olympics? It turned out to be the most successful campaign for Team GB with Lizzy Yarnold winning gold in the Skeleton and Jenny Jones winning Britain’s first ever medal on the snow!

Historic Moments

via Flickr

via Flickr

Of course the only place to start here would be the countless events scheduled to honour of the 100 year anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1. The exhibit put on at the Tower of London proved to be one of the most poignant and powerful memorials to all those who lost their lives in the war with 888,246 ceramic poppies being placed in the castle’s moat, each honouring a fallen member of the British Armed Forces. More than 5 million people visited the Tower to pay their respects which made it the most popular attraction in the UK and the sixth most popular in the whole world.

2014 also saw a couple of major milestones in the cultural calendar. It was 450 years since the birth of arguably Britain’s biggest literary figure, William Shakespeare, and it would also have been the 100th birthday of the famous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, the writer of many pieces of seminal twentieth century poetry and prose.

The Hottest Year on Record?

via Flickr

via Flickr

I’m sure that we can all remember reading about how this summer was due to be unusually warm, but unless this December finishes up being an abnormally cold one 2014 will become the hottest year on record! This means that since the average temperatures started to be collected (back in 1772 in case you were wondering) it’s never been warmer. And didn’t we all make the most of it? Barbecues, ice creams and of course trips to the seaside, 2014 really taught us how good a British summer can be!

 So that’s that, another year gone. But what a year it was! Hopefully you’ll agree with our choices for the highlights of 2014 but if you have any suggestions then let us know. You can get in touch either over Twitter or Facebook, and remember to keep your eyes peeled as every month in 2015 we’ll be taking a look at some of the best bits coming up!

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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.

Bonkers Boxing Day Events

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014
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I don’t know about the rest of you but for me, Boxing Day tends to be a bit of an anti-climax following the Christmas festivities. Normally it’s just a case of recovering from the over-indulgence of the day before and then recommencing the eating. But little did I know that there’s a whole raft of events that take place on Boxing Day that might help you burn off a few of those Christmas calories, something that is definitely required in my case! So I’ve had a look through them and picked out some of my favourites, not only do they look like great fun but they all represent what is best about Britain! Wacky, zany, call them what you will, they all look brilliant. So take a look and see if you fancy giving any of them a go!

The Grantchester Barrel Race

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

We’re starting off in Grantchester in Cambridge. You might recognise the name from the recent ITV detective drama but we’re looking at it for a whole different reason, the annual barrel race! In a tradition dating back to the 60’s, every Boxing Day sees the sleepy town hold an inter-village barrel rolling race. With thousands flocking in from all over the area it’s definitely worth paying it a visit to have a look, and you’ll even have the chance to tuck into a hog roast for lunch!

The Swimbridge Wheelbarrow Race

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Next up we’ve got another corker of a Boxing Day event with the Swimbridge Wheelbarrow Race. Fancy dress is most definitely encouraged and all the proceeds go to charity so it’s absolutely worth a visit. The course for the race is set around the Jack Russell Inn where there will be plenty of opportunities to top up along the way! Then there’s the obligatory tug of war over the nearby stream – you certainly don’t want to be on the losing side there – and the evening karaoke which cap off a fantastic day for all!

The Tenby Boxing Day Swim

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via. Flickr

Finally we’re heading down to the Pembrokeshire coast for one of the more daring of our bizarre Boxing Day events, the Tenby Swim. If turning up in fancy dress and plunging yourself into the icy sea is your idea of fun then this will be right up your street! For years now hundreds of people have descended upon Tenby either to take part in the swim themselves or lend their voices in support of the hardy souls who take on the challenge. Add to this the beach bonfire, raft races and the chance to raise some money for local charities, what more could you want from a Boxing Day event?

So there you go, wheelbarrows, barrel rolling and icy seas, what more could you want to help you get over that Christmas hangover? We’d love to know if any of you have ever taken part in any of these brilliantly barmy events, just get in touch over Facebook or Twitter, or equally if you have any bonkers Boxing Day traditions of your own then do let us know!

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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.

Book Now for the February Half Term

Friday, December 19th, 2014
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Believe it or not Christmas is just around the corner, in fact it’s less than a week away – where did all that time go? But get the festivities out of the way and the time will start to fly by yet again; before you know it it will be February and the schools will have broken up once more. The February half term always seemed like a bit of an anti-climax for me when I was growing up, with it being wedged in between Christmas and Easter it always seemed to be a bit overshadowed, but book yourself holiday cottage for the break and you’ll never find this to be the case!

Why book in December?

It may seem strange to be talking about booking yourself a February break during the Christmas holidays, but there’s no better time. It tends to get a touch hectic here at Sykes HQ just before the schools break up with people trying to snap something up at the last minute, and sadly a lot of our properties have already been booked by that point. So why don’t you beat the crowds and get in there early? Also, if you book in December you can take advantage of the time off from work and get the family together to make sure that you pick the right cottage for everybody!

Where to go?

Well it’s entirely up to you! We’ve got cottages throughout Britain and Ireland, from the Scottish Highlands right the way down to the Cornish Coast, so it all depends on what you’re after. Lovers of the great outdoors will be right at home in places like the Lake District with stunning scenery and bracing walks. Or alternatively you might fancy a city break where the culture vultures will be able to get their fill, not to mention the option to sneak in a touch of retail therapy!

What to get up to on your cottage break

You’ll never be short of something to do when you go away to your holiday cottage. From rustling up warming winter meals in the kitchen to settling down in front of the fire to watch a film. And then there’s all of the fantastic days out and activities that you can try out whilst you’re away! Websites like the National Trust and Day Out With the Kids are usually very good for finding out what’s on in the area, and many of our owners will leave various leaflets and information packs in the cottage listing some of the local attractions.

So there we have it, just a few of the reasons that you should book yourself a cottage break for the February Half Term this Christmas time. It’ll be less hassle, you’ll have a wider choice and there’ll be no mad rush come February; what more could you want?

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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.

Walk of the Month: The Tolkien Trail

Saturday, December 13th, 2014
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Today sees another instalment of our Walk of the Month series, and for December we’re going to head to the Ribble Valley in Lancashire and follow in the footsteps of one of the country’s literary greats, J.R.R. Tolkien. His son attended Stonyhurst College, one of the main sights to see on the walk, and Tolkien used to visit him often. In fact he wrote sections of the Lord of the Rings whilst staying at the school and drew plenty inspiration for Middle Earth from the surrounding countryside, with places like Hurst Green, Jumbles Farm and Cromwell’s Bridge all coming together in his head to form parts of the Shire.

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

You can expect to see plenty of stunning scenery whilst making your way around the Tolkien Trail, from the lush woodlands to the commanding presence of Pendle Hill in the distance and of course the lazy meanderings of the Rivers Hodder and Ribble that frame the route.

The Walk

The Tolkien Trail follows a circular route with plenty of flat terrain and easy pathways so that it should be easy enough for all, although at just under six miles long it will take around 3 hours to complete.

The Route

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Starting off in the village of Hurst Green, head over towards Stonyhurst College, the domed turrets on the roof of the school will guide you along.

Once you pass the College Observatory you’ll want to head right down the path towards Hall Barn Farm. Then take a left just before the gate of the farm and follow the line of the buildings. Here you’ll find a couple of outstanding views, to the left you’ll be able to see the College in all it’s glory and in the opposite direction there’s the profile of Pendle Hill and also Clitheroe Castle.

Now follow the path all the way until you reach Woodfields, once you’re there cross the road and head down the lane between the rows of houses. Soon after this lane veers to the left you’ll want to take the right hand turning and follow the edge of the field alongside Over Hacking Wood.

Then head down to the River Hodder and follow the pathway all the way along to Cromwell’s Bridge. From here take a right and follow the road for a short while. Once you reach the first junction head over the stile to the left and cross the field.

From here you’ll want to head on to Winckley Hall Farm where you’ll rejoin the Hodder as it converges with the River Ribble. Then continue following the river for quite a distance passing Hacking Hall, Jumbles Farm and the aqueduct.

Not long after the aqueduct youll come to a small wood and at this point you should leave the riverside path. Cross the small wooden bridge and head up the stepped pathway, climb the stile and keep walking with the fence on your left.

When this fence takes a sharp left keep walking straight on, after crossing a couple of bridges and another stile cross the stream on your right. Now all you need to do is follow the field boundary and you’ll find yourself back in the village of Hurst Green.

Download the comprehensive route and map for this walk here.

Rent a Lancashire Cottage with Sykes Cottages

If you’re struggling to think of a location for a winter break then Lancashire is right up there! With it’s rolling hills and lush forests the scenery is spectacular. Add to this the great transport links with the Lake District, and Western Dales, not to mention the bustling cities of Liverpool and Manchester, should you need to get in that last bit of Christmas shopping, and you’ll never find yourself short of something to do. So if you fancy taking a break in the Lancashire countryside why not take a look at our wide array of cottages there, from romantic boltholes to properties big enough for the whole family we’ve got them all!

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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.

Give the Gift of a Sykes Voucher this Christmas

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
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Well it’s that time of year again! Believe it or not, Christmas is well and truly bearing down on us, and that means that for many people the perennial panic about Christmas presents will be starting to come into effect. I learnt my lesson last year after it ended up as a mad dash around the shops on Christmas Eve – not an enjoyable experience – and I’m sure that a few of you reading this ended up in a similar situation! Whilst I made myself promise that I wouldn’t let it happen again this year I’m still struggling to think of ideas of what to get everyone, but luckily here at Sykes we may well have something that might help out in these situations – the Sykes Cottages Holiday Gift Voucher!

Why pick a Sykes Gift Voucher?

Sykes’ Gift Vouchers are perfect for everybody, whether it’s that lucky person who already seems to have everything or a certain someone who you think deserves a special treat. And what’s even better is that you can’t make a wrong choice! There’s no need to worry about picking up the wrong size or choosing a colour that they don’t like as it’s up to the lucky recipient to make all of the decisions! Maybe there’s somewhere in the UK that they’ve always wanted to visit, or they might have talked about going back to where they used to spend their childhood holidays. Well with over 5000 cottages across the UK and Ireland I’m sure that we’d be able to help make that wish come true!

How to buy a Sykes Gift Voucher

It really couldn’t be easier! All you have to do is give us a quick ring and a member of the Sykes Cottages team will happily guide you through the process. The vouchers are available in denominations of £25 which gives you all the flexibility that you could want in terms of how much you’re looking to pay and they can be used as part or full payment against any Sykes Cottage holiday booked within two years of the voucher being purchased. So you can help treat your nearest and dearest to one of our cottages, from summery beachhouses in Cornwall to cosy boltholes up in the Scottish Highlands!

So if you think that a Sykes Cottages Christmas voucher could be the answer to your Christmas shopping woes then do give us a call on 01244 356695. Or maybe you’d just like a little bit more information about it all? If so then do have a look at our website where you’ll be able to find out all you need to know!

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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.