Author Archive

Happy Halloween from an Oddly Orange Sykes Cottages!

Friday, October 31st, 2014
Pin It

MWA HA HA HA HA! Happy Halloween from Sykes Cottages! We hope your day’s been as zombie-filled, cobweb laden and jack o’ lantern lit as ours. Over the past week, the staff at Sykes HQ have carved their way through a veritable pile of pumpkins as part of Chester’s Zoo latest Act for Wildlife campaign, Go Orange for Orangutans.

Halloween Blog - Orangutan

Via Flickr

Go Orange for Orangutans is a project raising money for the heavily endangered Sumatran and Bornean Orangutans, whose numbers are decreasing at an alarming rate. The drop in orangutan numbers is a result of habitat loss, with over 80% of the animal’s rainforest home destroyed.

It’s thought there are no more than 7,300 orangutans remaining in the wild, and they could become extinct within our lifetime. Along with its partners, Chester Zoo aims to raise awareness and funds for these majestic creatures before it’s too late. Here at Sykes, we were more than happy to do our bit for this worthy cause, and thought the theme ‘Go Orange’ could tie quite nicely into this year’s Halloween celebrations.

Whether its clothing, face paint or pumpkins, the ‘Go Orange’ campaign asked businesses and organisations to pick one day in October to get their orange-on and raise some cash for orangutans. And what better way to do so than with a pumpkin carving championship! Over fifty staff members signed-up to take part in the event, each donating £2 to enter their sculpted squash in the competition. Here’s a handful of some of the petrifying pumpkins we came up with.

Pumpkins

Pumpkins 2

Alas, like all contests, there could only be one winner and after much deliberation from our independent adjudicator, this wondrous pumpkin – carved by Claire Davies – was declared winner:

DSCN0842

We’re yet to tot-up the money raised for the zoo’s campaign, but we’ll be sure to let you know just how much was raised by our orange-antics on Facebook & Twitter.

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.

Let it glow: Britain’s Best Illuminations

Sunday, October 26th, 2014
Pin It

Since the invention of electric lighting in the 19th century, we’ve pushed bulbs to the brink. LEDs, spotlights, halogens, fluorescents – you name it, we’ve made it. And artificial incandescence doesn’t stop there. Since the early noughties, the city of York has been transformed, once a year, by an assortment of uber-fancy digital lightshows, an event dubbed Illuminating York.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Visit York between 29th October and the 1st November and it’ll be hard to miss this dazzling spectacle. The illuminations twinkle from Clifford’s Tower to the Minster, and over 50,000 visitors take to the city’s historic streets to marvel at the iridescent brilliance. The theme of this year’s Illuminating York is ‘Leading Lights’, which sets out to capture York’s rich history, as well as its innovative future.

If you can’t make it to York during the event, fear not, as there are plenty of other illuminations to enjoy during the festive season and beyond. Here’s a pick of our favourites.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace Lightshow, Warwickshire

Courtesy of CMT Events

Courtesy of CMT Events

Shakespeare, god love him, is still providing us with entertainment to this day – albeit, not directly. Head to his hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon from the 27th November, and you’ll find a wonderful lightshow cast on to the timber-frame of the bard’s former home. 2014’s display will feature an all new 3D lightshow depicting some of the bard’s finest works; a must for literary fans and those in need of a little festive cheer.

Winter Light at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Brought to you by Bruce Munro, an esteemed lighting designer, Winter Light offers an immersive experience in the grounds of the charming Waddesdon Manor. The event features six imaginative illuminations, spaced around the grounds for eager families to find. The works are switched on from 3pm when the light begins to fade, but the house is open from 10am, and is the perfect place to have a warming cup of tea.

Mousehole Christmas Lights, Cornwall

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

For a more traditional yet equally enchanting festive experience, make for the village of Mousehole on the Cornish Coast. For over fifty years, this unassuming village has celebrated Christmas more than most, by adorning its harbour in a mass of festive illuminations; even the boats bobbing on the water are draped in coloured bulbs. Tradition tells that you should eat Stargazey Pie after seeing the lights, but if you don’t fancy that, chow down on a pasty instead.

Book a winter short break with Sykes Cottages

Dark, cold nights getting you down? Get in the festive spirit with a self-catering winter short break from Sykes! We’ve got some real bargains on offer between November and December, so it’s the perfect time to book. From bracing coastal holidays to cosy city breaks, you can get away for less this winter. Visit our website to find out more!

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.

Big Gang? Book a Group of Holiday Cottages!

Saturday, October 25th, 2014
Pin It

Families feud. So do friends. That’s why a large cottage doesn’t always cut the mustard. Sometimes, you need space, freedom; a chance to cool-off and get out of one another’s hair.group

That’s where our ‘group’ properties come in. Unlike large holiday cottages where the party is stuck under the same roof, our group properties offer two or more cottages close to each other that can be booked simultaneously.

Not only is this great for those that don’t get on with their Great Aunt Muriel, group properties have lots of other advantages. First and foremost, you get more loos – music to the ears for some. Secondly, they offer flexible accommodation for up to eighty-two guests, so you can bring everyman and his dog. Speaking of pups, you can bring more of those too. Unlike a single cottage which accepts two to three dogs, with a group of properties, you’re free to bring as many pooches as each cottage permits – good eh?

With over 400 group properties across the UK and Ireland, we’re convinced whatever your party size, you’ll find a cluster of cottages to suit you. Here’s a pick of our most popular group properties from across the UK.

Dunvegan Castle Cottages, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Cross the Skye Bridge and encounter Scotland’s most dramatic scenery. The Isle of Skye is a mystical, affecting place, where mountains dominate the horizon. Now, thanks to our Dunvegan Castle cottages, you can share an invigorating cottage break on the Isle of Skye with your friends and family. Located in the grounds of the imposing Dunvegan Castle, Gardens Cottage and Rose Valley Cottage can accommodate up to ten guests when booked together. Each cottage features a range of self-catering amenities, and both are set within the picturesque grounds of the castle – the perfect place for an Isle of Skye cottage break.

Find out more about the Dunvegan Castle Cottages, here.

Iken Barns, Snape, Suffolk

Located in the depths of Suffolk’s Heritage Coast, Iken Barns are a series of eight barn conversions which, when booked together, can accommodate up to 32 guests, making them ideal for large families. Each barn has been sympathetically restored and decorated, with rustic furnishings blending with contemporary amenities to offer a timeless base for a Suffolk cottage break. All of the cottages are dog friendly and in total, sixteen dogs could be brought to Iken Barns should the party wish it. With lavish features such as underfloor heating and open fires, these Suffolk cottages offer a luxurious base for a family holiday.

Find out more about the Iken Barns, here.

Glan Morfa Lodges, Newborough, Wales

Nestled in the Welsh countryside near Newborough Forest, the Glan Morfa Lodges are a superb development of six holiday cottages that can accommodate up to 23 guests. Each cottage features a wealth of self-catering amenities, and there are also several communal areas including an indoor games room, library and shared laundry room. Each of the Glan Morfa cottages is partially eco-powered, and the owners, who are members of Green Tourism, are striving to obtain zero carbon emission status. The cottages benefit from direct access to two nature lakes, making them perfect for birdwatchers and those interested in spotting local wildlife.

Find out more about the Glan Morfa Lodges, here.

Graythwaite Estate, Hawkshead, The Lake District and Cumbria

The crème de la crème of group cottages can be found in the magnificent Graythwaite Estate, a 5,000 acre country estate on the banks of Windermere in the Lake District. Dotted throughout the site, all thirteen of our Graythwaite Estate cottages can be booked together to accommodate up to 82 guests in a range of luxury holiday homes. With picturesque surroundings and a communal swimming pool, fitness suite, table tennis room and children’s play area, you and your guests will feel right at home in the heart of this idyllic Cumbrian estate.

Find out more about the Graythwaite Estate cottages, here.

Book a holiday in one of our flexible group cottages today!

If you’re interested in renting our group cottages for a getaway with friends or family, please contact us via phone or e-mail to find out which group properties are available in the area of your choice. Currently, we don’t have a page on our website which displays group properties, but our helpful reservations team, who are on hand until 9.30pm daily, will be able to find the perfect group property for you and your party.

 

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.

Top 10 Taverns You Must Visit in Ireland

Thursday, October 16th, 2014
Pin It

The Irish like their drink. They wouldn’t contest this. Since humans could lift a glass and pour a pint, the Irish have done just that. And where do they do this drinking? Down the pub of course.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Like the UK, Irish pubs are in peril. Over the past twenty-or-so years, 1,000s of boozers have closed their doors, lay slain by the cheap liquor on sale in offies and supermarkets across the Emerald Isle. To top it off – and contrary to belief – the beer served in Irish pubs is crap, steering many-a-thirsty Paddy into the alcohol aisle of the nearest convenience store.

Thanks to a surge in microbreweries supplying pubs with better beer, the future of Ireland’s taverns looks bright. But where should you go to sample the craic on a trip across the Irish Sea? Here’s a shortlist of taverns you should – nay, must – visit during your holiday in Ireland.

Matt Malloys, Westport, Co. Mayo

Matt Malloy's – Via Flickr

Matt Malloy’s – Via Flickr

Owned by Chieftain flutist Matt Malloy, this intimate Westport boozer hosts traditional live music seven nights a week. The ale poured in this Mayo inn are as authentic as the tunes, and the welcome as a warm as the punters squeezing in to listen to them. Visit as soon as possible.

O’Loclainn’s, Ballyvaughn, Co. Clare

Image courtesy of The Irish Whiskey Trail

Image courtesy of The Irish Whiskey Trail

Down an unassuming alley in Ballyvaughn is O’Loclainn’s, perhaps the best pub in Ireland. With the feel of someone’s stove-lit front room and an overwhelming whisky selection, this tavern will warm your cockles on a bracing winter’s night. Musicians often set up shop within, so it can be a pleasantly tight squeeze.

Geoff’s, Waterford, Co. Waterford

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Whoever Geoff is, he’s the proprietor of a bloomin’ good pub. Reading reviews of the place, you’d think it was a classy joint; all speak of the atmosphere, the delicious food, the tasty stout and the good-natured cliental, but in reality, Geoff’s is a down-to-earth pub that’s the perfect place to while away a Saturday afternoon.

Sin é, Cork City, Co. Cork

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Sin é, Irish for “That’s it”, refers to the funeral parlour next door. As macabre as this sounds, there’s nothing otherworldly about this Cork public house. Candlelit and convivial, Sin e’ is the home of traditional Irish music in Cork city, and has kept dry patrons in drink for over 50 years.

The Corner House, Ardara, Co. Donegal

Via Google Images – Labelled for reuse

Via Google Images – Labelled for reuse

There are several reasons you should endure the long drive to Co. Donegal, and The Corner House is one of them. Tiny, cosy, and family run, The Corner House features an open fire that’s stoked during the winter months. Plus there’s regular live music. See you there.

Hargadon Bros, Sligo, Co. Sligo

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Old pub, modern grub. That about sums up Hargadon Bros, a gem of a boozer in Sligo town. Did I mention their wine cellar, packed to the rafters with speciality vinos? Or their excellent range of local and international ales? Or their staff, who are described as “friendly” more times than I can count on Tripadvisor? No? Must have missed those bits.

The Dame Tavern, Dublin, Co. Dublin

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Fancy a sing-along in a proper pub with proper pints? Get yourself down to The Dame Tavern, a Dublin watering hole whose clientele are welcoming to tourists. Located on a historic byway where Google Street View couldn’t tread, you’ll feel at the heart of the Irish capital in this atmospheric wee pub.

Morrisey’s Pub, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois

Morrisey’s Pub is essentially a museum. From the ancient bric-a-brac to the aged clientele, you feel you owe an admission fee before entering the saloon. For the cost of a pint, you can sit and drink amid years of Irish heritage and tradition – what could be better than that?

The Crane Bar, Galway, Co. Galway

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The Crane Bar: a foot-stomping, violin thrashing, joy of an establishment. From the moment you set foot in this rustic alehouse, you’re encouraged to join in the craic. With top beer, two floors and a good local to tourist ratio, it won’t take long to get in the swing of things.

The Mutton Lane Inn, Cork City, Co. Cork

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Sheep used to sleep in this pub. And, JFK and Johnny Cash drank here. Now that’s out of the way, let’s discuss this admired Cork public house. Candles stuffed in wine necks, torn upholstery, and dire loos add to the charm of this lovable dive. Ask for Sky Sports and you’ll likely find yourself on the pavement.

Has this list left you thirsty or muttering “you feckin’ idiots”? Which pubs would you choose? Let us know your favourite Irish boozer on Twitter or Facebook.

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.

Walk of the Month: Doonbeg Loop, Co. Clare

Monday, October 13th, 2014
Pin It

The village of Doonbeg in West County Clare lies on Ireland’s Atlantic Seaboard, just metres from the steely waters of the ocean. Dramatic though this sounds, the village is one of Ireland’s most peaceful spots, perfect for a romantic retreat or – as we’re about to demonstrate – an invigorating walking break.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Beautiful bogs beckon on the Doonbeg Loop, an 8km circuit traversing the emerald wetlands that flank the village. The loop is a great way to get to grips with the local area, and showcases the village’s key landmarks including Doonbeg Bridge and Castle. You’ll need the route map on hand before starting the walk so you know where to begin, which you can download here.

The Walk

Though moderately long, this 8km walk features easy terrain with minimum ascents. Trekking shoes or hiking boots are advisable as bog roadways can be slippery. Raingear is also advised – after all, this is the Emerald Isle!

The Route

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Beginning at Doonbeg’s unusual church of ascension, walk west, passing the pastel coloured houses typical of West Ireland. On this street are two pubs; store these in your memory for liquid refreshment on your return to the village.

At the junction with a minor roadway, turn left. On the map, the way is highlighted by a green line, so pay close attention to this when approaching junctions to ensure you’re still on track. Follow this minor road for 1km until you’re deep in the emerald grasslands which envelop the village. Here you will come to a T-junction where you should turn left and then immediately right.

Follow the bog road for over 1km until you come to a sharp bend. After another three quarters of a kilometre, you’ll reach another T-junction, where you should turn left. Continue along this road, crossing Doonbeg River on your way back to the village.

Turn left into the village and continue on this street until you reach Doonbeg Bridge, a picturesque stone bridge at the mouth of Doonbeg Lough. From here, you can see Doonbeg Castle, a 16th century structure with a bloody history. The village is said to have ‘grown up’ around this imposing castle, though not much remains today. Continue on this street until you’re back at the church; oh and don’t forget those pubs, where a roaring fire and a pint of Irish stout are sure to warm your extremities.

Download the comprehensive map and route for this walk here.

Rent a cottage in Doonbeg for a walking holiday

If you’re interested in an Irish walking break, take a look at our self-catering cottages to rent in and around Doonbeg. This picturesque village on Ireland’s dramatic west coast offers the best of coast and country, so why not take a peek at our Doonbeg cottages today.

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.