Author Archive

Sykes’ Summer of British Sport 2014

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
Pin It

Ok, so far 2014′s great summer of sport hasn’t exactly gone to plan. Roy’s boys bombed out of the group stages of the World Cup, the cricketers got beaten by Sri Lanka, and the rugby team were on the receiving end of a whitewash by the All Blacks. But fear not, there’s plenty of other sporting events taking place around the country to help take your mind off it.

Commonwealth Games

Mo Farah

via. Flickr

There’s now less than a month to go until the Commonwealth Games finally get underway. That’s right, for 10 days from the 23rd of July onwards, Glasgow will be home to some of the greatest athletes in the world. So, will Mo Farah be able to carry on with his Olympic form? Will Usain Bolt be fit enough in time to race, and if so, how fast will he run the 100 metres this time round? All will be answered come the 3rd of August!

Henley Regatta

Henley

via. Flickr

Alternatively, if you prefer a slightly more laidback sporting experience then the Henley Regatta may well be the thing for you! A true mix of sport and social occasion, Henley has been running ever since 1839 and had around 200,000 visitors show up last year. You can expect over 200 races throughout the five day long regatta with some famous faces from the London Olympics and many future stars of the sport.

The British Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton

via. Flickr

Then there’s always the British Grand Prix as Silverstone plays host to one of the biggest events of the Motorsport calendar. In terms of the home interest, Lewis Hamilton has sadly slipped into second place, 29 points behind his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, despite winning four races on the bounce earlier on in the season, so make sure you tune in to see if he can close the gap this time around!

Tour de France

Tour de France Logo

via. Flickr

Finally, there’s the Tour de France, which this year starts off in our very own Yorkshire! This means that you’ll be able to see the world’s greatest cyclists from Chris Froome to Mark Cavendish and many, many more as they vie for the famous coloured jerseys. With stages running between Leeds and Harrogate, York and Sheffield  and also Cambridge and London you’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch some of the action before the tour heads back over the channel to its spiritual home!

So there we have it, a brief guide from Sykes to some of this summer’s great sport but don’t forget there are plenty of other options, from Wimbledon to the British Open, and of course the final of the World Cup, provided that you’ve managed to get over England’s performance! Hopefully you’ll all have enjoyed reading it and are now planning your schedules, but make sure to let us know if we’ve missed anything out, either over Twitter or 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.

Sykes’ Summer Strawberry Recipes

Thursday, June 26th, 2014
Pin It

I think it’s fair to say that summer is well and truly here. There’s been a bit of sunshine, it seems like everybody’s had a couple of BBQs and Wimbledon has not long started. Now for me one of the best things about a good British summer is the strawberries; you just can’t beat them, and whilst many people choose to stick to the classic combination of strawberries and cream, it doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to get a bit more creative. That’s why, we’ve come up with some of our favourite summer strawberry recipes, so take a look and see if there’s anything that you fancy having a crack at.

Strawberry Jam

There’s nothing quite like a good batch of strawberry jam, whether it’s to go on top of a couple of slices of toast, finish off a home-made Victoria Sponge or crown off a scone as part of the perfect cream tea.  This easy recipe should take you less than an hour to make and you’ll end up with enough jam to fill up 4 or 5 400ml jars.

strawberry jam

via. Flickr

Ingredients

  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 kg of strawberries
  • 500g of jam sugar (high in pectin)

Method

  1. First of all sterilize your jam jars. To do this you can either immerse them in boiling water or put them in the oven for ten minutes at 100°c.
  2. Cut your vanilla pod in half lengthways and then scrape out the seeds.
  3. Add the vanilla seeds, sugar and strawberries to a large pan and crush them together using a potato masher.
  4. Put the pan on to a medium-high heat and bring the mixture to the boil.
  5. Simmer it for 5 minutes before turning the heat off.
  6. Skim any foam off the top of the jam and then leave it to cool before decanting into the jam jars.
  7. Seal them and put them in the fridge.

Strawberry Cheesecake

If you’re after a hassle free, yet decadent dessert then this strawberry cheesecake is just the thing for you; after all, it only takes just over an hour to make! The strawberries contrast delightfully with the creamy topping of the cake, and if you want you can always add a touch of the home-made jam from the above recipe as a coulis topping!

strawberry cheesecake

via. Flickr

Ingredients

  • 250g of digestive biscuits
  • 100g of melted butter
  • 600g of cream cheese
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 100g of icing sugar
  • 1 medium sized pot of double cream (around 300 ml)
  • Punnet of fresh strawberries

Method

  1. Crush the digestive biscuits until they are crumbs and then add the melted butter. Mix them together and then use the mixture to line the bottom of your tin. Put in the fridge for an hour to set.
  2. Cut your vanilla pod in half lengthways and then scrape out the seeds.
  3. Beat the vanilla seeds, cream cheese and icing sugar together until smooth. Then mix in the double cream.
  4. Spoon the cream mixture onto the biscuit base and smooth out.
  5. Leave in the fridge overnight and top with the fresh strawberries before serving.

Eton Mess

If you’re after a proper British dessert to make the most of the strawberry season then you really can’t beat Eton Mess! After all, it’s traditionally served during an annual match of cricket between Eton and Harrow; you can’t get more quintessentially British than that! What’s even better, the recipe shouldn’t take you more than twenty minutes!

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Ingredients

  • 400 ml of double cream
  • 500g of fresh strawberries
  • 3 ready made meringue nests
  • A few sprigs of mint

Method

  1. Take half of the strawberries and blend them until they form a smooth purée.
  2. Set aside a couple of strawberries and roughly chop the remaining ones.
  3. Crush the meringue nests into rough chunks.
  4. Whip the double cream until peaks start to form, then stir in the strawberry purée and pieces of meringue.
  5. Serve the mixture up in bowls and garnish with a sprig of mint and the remaining strawberries.

So there we have it, some great summer recipes to make the most of beautiful British strawberries, and remember to make the most of them as before you know it the season will be over. Also, be sure to let us know if any of you have a crack at one of the recipes, either via Twitter or Facebook- we’d love to know how you get on!

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’ Guide to Great Pub Walks

Friday, June 13th, 2014
Pin It

As I’m sure you’re aware Father’s Day is fast approaching and here at Sykes we appreciate that it can be a bit hard to think of what to do for the big day. Do you head out for a day trip or maybe have a lazy day at home? Well one alternative which is sure to go down a treat with dad is a country walk followed by a trip to the local for a couple of pints and some quality grub. That’s why we’ve put together a few ideas to do just that! So if you’re a fan of stunning scenery, rambles in the countryside and even the odd little tipple then read on as I’m sure you’ll find something to your liking.

Anglesey

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

­­If you’re on Anglesey then I think it’s safe to say that you’ll never be stuck for somewhere to go for a lovely walk, after all, with the fantastic sea vistas and some of the country’s best beaches the island is a bit of a walker’s paradise. However there is one route that epitomises this. If you head over to Anglesey’s Holy Island, you’ll be able to try out this route right the way around to the other side of the Rhoscolyn headland where you can enjoy stunning views over the nearby Trearddur Bay and Holyhead Mountain. What’s more, when you’ve finished the walk, you can pop into the White Eagle  which is reputed to be Prince William’s local of choice during his posting on the island!

Glencoe

via. Flickr

If it’s good enough for Bond then I’m sure it will be good enough for Dad. That’s right, if you’re north of the border you could always head up to Glencoe, the setting for 007’s childhood home. Mainly thanks to the beautiful panoramas of the nearby Munros, this stunning highland glen is considered a bit of a Mecca for walkers; just ask the 200,000 who turn up there every year. It has to be said that some of the local walks are probably left to the experts, especially in more adverse conditions, but don’t let that put you off! You could always take a look here at some of the less taxing routes in the area, and happily they all start on the doorstep of the award winning Clachaig Inn!

Northumberland

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Or there’s also this walk along the rugged Northumberland coast. Back in 2010, the National Trust voted it one of the top 10 walks in the country and the best for wildlife watching with seals, birdlife and many others all making themselves known along the way. So if you fancy seeing it for yourself, take a look the route which starts at the quaint fishing village of Craster, goes up past the brooding ruins of Dunstanburgh castle before reaching the delightful little Ship Inn in Low Newton where you’ll be able to choose from one of the twenty craft beers all brewed on site.

So hopefully if you were a bit stuck for ideas you’re now planning your own little pub walk, but if you’re thinking of something a bit grander you could always check out our Last Minute Cottages and treat Dad to a weekend away!

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.

Top Things To Do In East Anglia

Monday, June 9th, 2014
Pin It

Here at Sykes we don’t think that East Anglia gets the recognition that it deserves as a holiday destination, after all it’s one of our favourite areas of the country. So in order to try and rectify this we’ve decided to have a look at some of the best days out that you can find there. To showcase the variety of options, we’ve included something for everyone, from the adventure seekers right the way through to the nature lovers. So take a look and see if you can find something for you.

Extreeme Adventure

Extreeme Adventure

 Photo Courtesy of Extreeme Adventure

If you’ve got a bit of the adrenaline junkie about you then you could always give a trip to Extreeme Adventure a go. With custom built courses within the beautiful surroundings of Weasenham Woods, you’ll find yourself swinging through the trees in no time. But don’t worry if you’ve not got a head for heights, there is plenty to keep you occupied. For the younger ones there is a great little outdoor play area that should keep them happy, or if you want to try your hand at something a bit different you could always try getting to grips with an off-road segway with the SegRally experience on offer.

The Norwich 12

Norwich Cathedral

via. Flickr

Alternatively if you fancy getting to grips with a bit of the region’s history then the Norwich 12 is just the thing for you! A collection of the finest buildings from one of Britain’s most beautiful cities all brought together under one umbrella to give visitors the perfect chance to get a little taster of each. A tour of the Norwich 12 takes participants through the ages with some of the best surviving examples of Norman, Medieval, Georgian, Victorian and modern architecture that you could wish for

RSPB Minsmere

RSPB Minsmere

via. Flickr

One other option open to you is getting a little taste of East Anglia’s fantastic wildlife and countryside. RSPB Minsmere is tucked away within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Natural Beauty and often referenced as one of the UK’s top birdwatching spots, so much so that the reserve is currently home to Springwatch! However, Minsmere doesn’t just cater for the birders out there. Guided walks around the reserve are run all year round, where you can take in some of the stunning scenery or you can pay a visit to the RSPB shop and café to tuck into the best local produce that Suffolk has to offer.

Hopefully you’ll have found that interesting and now can’t wait to book yourself a break in East Anglia. If that’s the case then make sure you have a look at our East Anglia Cottages page so that you can find yourself the perfect 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’ Guide to British Butterflies

Saturday, June 7th, 2014
Pin It

You might not know it but today sees the national Butterfly Education and Awareness Day (BEAD). Now it might be one of the lesser known events in the national wildlife calendar, but that doesn’t make it any less important, after all a 2011 report run by Butterfly Conservation found that just under three quarters of the UK’s butterfly species have “decreased in abundance” and that butterflies remain one of the UK’s most threatened wildlife groups. So in order to do our bit for BEAD we’ve decided to put together some information on butterflies in the UK, with some great places to go to find them and even some pointers on what you can do to lend a hand to the cause.

Where to see some Butterflies

Pearl Bordered Fritillary butterflies

via. Flickr

Sadly, thanks to their recent decline, butterflies are a bit harder to come by out in the great outdoors. However, there are still a few areas where you can go to catch a glimpse of them. You could pay a visit to Arnside Knott in Cumbria, known for hosting to some of the UK’s best species such as the Scotch Argus and Grayling, or there’s also the Caedari Butterfly Reserve in Herefordshire which is the perfect spot to catch a glimpse of the beautiful pearl-bordered Fritillary.

Stratford Butterfly Farm

via. Flickr

Alternatively you could plan a trip to somewhere like the Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm. With hundreds of the world’s most beautiful species of butterflies as well as countless types of creepy crawlies, not to mention some great educational activities for the little ones, it’s definitely worth a visit. Or there’s also Pili Palas, Anglesey’s top family attraction. With one of the UK’s premier butterfly collections, plenty of cute animals (including John, Paul, George and Ringo the meerkats), and even an adventure playground for the kids to burn off a little bit of excess energy, you’re sure to have a good time. Just remember to check out our Stratford-upon-Avon and Anglesey holiday cottages for a home away from home on these trips!

What you can do to help out

Monarch Butterfly

via. Flickr

Luckily there are still plenty of things that everybody can to help out Britain’s butterflies. One of the major contributors to their decline is the disappearance of their natural habitat, so why don’t you give them a little hand? It’s a lot easier than you would think to make a butterfly haven in your own garden, all you need to remember is to get plenty of flowers for the nectar. A good variety of suitable plants that flower throughout the butterfly season (from March until October-November time) would be perfect, and you can also leave out any over-ripe fruit that you might have lying around the house for the Red Admirals and Painted Ladies to tuck into; they’re particularly keen on pears, plums and apples. Or, if you fancy you could always try breeding your own butterflies, it’s relatively straightforward and when they’re fully grown you can release them into the wild to help bolster the dwindling population.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading this and you might even be doing something in honour of BEAD. If that’s case, or even if you have any suggestions on what others can do to help, we’d love to hear from you. Or maybe you’ve got some great snaps of butterflies lying around the house, if so feel free to send them in over Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to see them!

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.