Author Archive

Avast me hearties! It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day

Friday, September 19th, 2014
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Ahoy land lubber, Blogbeard here. Today be Talk Like a Pirate Day, and to mark the occasion, the scurvy dogs at Sykes Cottages have been busy dishin’ the dirt on Blighty’s most notorious pirate haunts.

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Via Flickr

As a humble gentlemen of fortune, I don’t claim to be an expert in all things swashbuckler. But what I do know is that England was birthplace to more morally-questionable buccaneers than any other country in Europe. The question is, where did these roguish sea-goers drop anchor on their return to Britain? We’ve been finding out with a little help from our resident pirate, Blogbeard.

Bristol

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Via Flickr

With its ancient harbour and favourable location on England’s west coast, Bristol was popular with pirates. Take a walk near the city’s historic harbour, and it’s easy to imagine galleon sails blowing in the breeze. Not only was Bristol a popular port for illicit activities, it was birthplace to one of the most notorious pirates in history; Blackbeard. Murderous, evil and down-right bad-ass, Blackbeard was no Jack Sparrow, choosing to murder, steal and trade slaves rather than prance about with a bottle of rum. Although by no means a nice chap, Blackbeard’s legacy is one of the most romanticised versions of piracy that exists today – god only knows why.

London

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Via Flickr

As a rule, pirates were probably glad to see the back of London. The 18th century saw an increase in security around England’s dockyards, due in part to the huge rise in smuggling along the English coast. This made the capital, as well as other large ports, a dicey place for the seafaring scally. London in particular, was home to Execution Dock, a grizzly wharf where unfortunate buccaneers were put to death. After being publically disposed of, the corpses were coated in tar, locked into cages and hung from cranes in full view of passing sailors as a warning.

Plymouth

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Via Flickr

Birthplace to the ‘king among pirates’ Henry John Avery, Plymouth was another popular place for pirates to drop anchor and make ashore with their doubloons. Its location on the Devon coast made it accessible for voyages to the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, but also made it an easy target for foreign pirates to pillage English goods. One such plucky brigand was Jean Bart, a French pirate who made a famous escape from Plymouth in a small rowing boat, and amazingly made it to the shores of France unscathed.

Whitby

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Via Flickr

Take one look at Whitby and you’ll be daydreaming about pirates. This ancient town on the North Yorkshire coast may not have been the biggest pirate cove in England, but its residents have kept the romanticism and legacy of piracy alive to this day. Whitby and its surrounding villages were more popular with local smugglers than notorious buccaneers, but the odd one did stop by now and again to decant their exotic wares. If you’re travelling to Whitby, why not visit when the annual Pirate Festival takes place? You’ll get to dress up, eat grub, and swap a tale or two from the high seas. Plus, it’s for a good cause, so why not eh?

Avast sea-dog, here be cottages!

Abandon hope all ye who enter a Sykes holiday cottage. These beauties will have you hook, line and sinker faster than a siren from the sea. With hundreds of coastal cottages up and down ‘ar fair Isle, you’d be a bilge rat to miss out!

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.

Cornwall Scoops Destination Award

Thursday, September 18th, 2014
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Cornwall has received yet another accolade after it was named top holiday destination by Countryfile Magazine, pushing the Peak District and the Lake District into second and third place respectively. The award, given in recognition of the quality of Cornwall’s natural landscape and rural communities, highlights the public’s affection for this pristine county in the South West, with  Countryfile describing Cornwall as ‘the land of magical coves, enchanting fishing villages, sandy beaches and many myths and legends’. But with winter on its way, what – aside from its swathes of soft sand, lagoon like waters and rugged landscapes – can you discover in Cornwall? Well we’re here to let you know, with our guide to what to you can do on a cold, rainy day in Cornwall.

History & Heritage

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Via Flickr

Rain a fallin’? Don’t fret. If soaking up some history and heritage is on your Cornish holiday agenda, there’s plenty to see without having to take a literal soaking. If it’s horrible history you’re yearning for, pluck up some courage and take a stroll around the forgotten cells of Bodmin Jail, a grizzly yet fascinating 18th century lockup located amid the barren wilderness of Bodmin Moor. Or, wet your whistle, not your hair, with a tour around St Austell’s award winning brewery. Boasting traditional Victorian brewing equipment and a plethora of Cornish pints for you to sample, the St Austell Brewery is a great place to warm the cockles when the weather takes a turn. Alternatively, visit the World Heritage Site of the Heartlands Mine in West Cornwall, which offers a day’s worth of undercover and open-air activities for young and old!

Shopping & Culture

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Via Flickr

Husbands relax, I’m not talking high street shopping. Fortunately for you, Cornwall is famed more for its independent wares and the convenience of its fresh, local produce than its overfilled high streets. Whether you’re looking to stock the larder of your Cornish holiday cottage with tasty home-grown titbits or pick up a few trinkets to take home for the kids, a great place to flutter away some of your hard-earned is at the Cornish Market World in St Austell; an indoor market comprising over 300 stalls and eateries. Alternatively, part with some of your holiday spends taking in some of Cornwall’s vibrant culture. The Millenium Gallery in St Ives remains a great place to see exhibitions by both local and national artists, whilst a matinee show at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth proves perfect for a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Other things to do on a rainy day in Cornwall

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Via Flickr

With the bases now covered, I have just three more suggestions of what you can do in Cornwall should the rain fall. Escape the dark clouds with a subterranean stroll around the beautiful Carnglaze Caverns; an enormous man-made cave system featuring a striking underground lake. Hop aboard the Launceston Steam Railway, and relish a respite from the weather as you travel through the picturesque Kensey Valley. Or, take the tykes to Cornwall’s Seal Sanctury, where they’ll experience first-hand the nurture and care of Cornwall’s vulnerable marine life.

Come rain or shine, the attractions mentioned in this post are worthy of a visit whatever the weather. For your chance to make the most of a holiday in Cornwall, choose a cottage holiday in Cornwall today with Sykes Cottages.

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.

Escape the Crowds: Alternative UK Destinations

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
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Tourist trap: it’s a term that conjures images of long queues, high prices and most importantly, lots of people. Unfortunately, in a world where holidays are becoming more accessible, crowded and overvisited places are proving difficult to avoid.

If you’re not one for queues, crowds and above-average prices, you’ve come to the right place.

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Via Flickr

Like foreign countries, the UK has popular resorts which draw more people than others, particularly at peak times. Whether by word of mouth, tradition, or proximity, it’s these destinations that have become the dreaded tourist traps of Britain.

And that’s a shame, because the places I’m talking about are all wonderful destinations in their own right. But, if you’re someone who doesn’t like crowds, they can be a real drag when it comes to high season. But all is not lost. With our handy guide to alternate UK destinations, avoiding the hordes can be a breeze. So without further ado, here’s our guide to the UK’s top alternate destinations and where you can find them.

Newquay OR Polzeath

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Via Flickr

Newquay may be the mecca of UK surfing, but come the summer months, its beaches can be chocka. Although we can’t blame anyone for wanting to spend their summer holiday in Newquay – its beaches really are fantastic – there is an alternative. Head east and you’ll find Polzeath, a small resort which shares the same Atlantic swells as its busier big bro, yet with more room to spread your beach towel. The water off Polzeath is reliably squally, making for great surfing, while its sand is soft enough for little toes. There’s plenty of bars, cafés and eateries too, not to mention curious independent shops; why not give it a go?

Windermere OR Buttermere

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Via Flickr

Ever since Wordsworth penned his Lyrical Ballads in the 18th century, tourists have flocked to the Lake District in their droves, transforming this otherwise unspoilt land into one of the UK’s biggest tourist traps. In recent times, Windermere has took the brunt of the Lake District’s tourist surge, with over 12 million gracing its shores each year. For a more peaceful Lake District experience, head to Buttermere, a ‘lake’ equal in prettiness to Windermere, with much fewer tourists. The adjacent village is pleasantly quiet too, so it’s the perfect base for a holiday in the Lakes.

Bridlington OR Filey

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Via Flickr

Sure it’s not as big as Bridlington, but Filey’s stunning beach, lighthouse and sea-cliffs more than make up for it. Having grown up mere miles from Bridlington, I’ve paid witness to its summer mobbing, and although the crowds may appeal to those who prefer their seaside bustling, for others, this may be daunting. If so, head up the coast to Filey, a beautiful coastal village offering a nostalgic seaside experience. Filey’s crescent shaped beach is flanked by a string of evocative chalk cliffs, at the end of which perches an 18th century lighthouse. The beach is dog friendly too, so you can enjoy a bracing walk in the North Sea breeze with your beloved pooch by your side.

Tenby OR Newport

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Via Flickr

“Newport?!” I hear you ask. Not that one. Wales is actually home to another Newport, and one that’s quite a lot prettier than its counterpart. Situated in the northern reaches of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, this peaceful fishing village gives the popular coastal town of Tenby a run for its money thanks to its magnificent beach and charming architecture. Though I’m a huge advocate for Tenby, and doubt that baby-Newport could out-do it, this coastal village may pip its rival at the post when it comes to peace and quiet. Honestly though, go to Pembrokeshire; it’s a beautiful part of the world that’s full of beautiful places to visit.

Great Yarmouth OR Holkham

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Via Flickr

Like Bridlington, Great Yarmouth is a brilliant destination for good clean family fun. If penny arcades, donkey rides and rock shops aren’t your scene however, drive up the coast and visit Holkham instead. Located in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this serene village is home to one of the UK’s most beautiful beaches, as well as charming village complete with attractive manor house; the aptly named Holkham Hall. Dogs on leads are welcome at Holkham beach, as too are nudists, so bear this in mind if you’re travelling with youngsters.

Book an alternative UK holiday today!

Here at Sykes, we love every inch of the UK, from the gaudiness of our beachfront arcades to the peace and tranquillity of our unspoilt moorlands. If you’re interested in renting a cottage in one of the destinations mentioned in this post, visit our website now and choose from a selection of over 5,000 wonderful UK holiday homes.

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: Sizergh Estate, Cumbria

Saturday, September 13th, 2014
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Ancient history and charming countryside provide a wonderful backdrop for a walk in the grounds of Sizergh Castle. Since the 17th century, this imposing house has kept an eye over the Lake District’s neighbouring fens, and its adjoining country estate is the ideal stomping ground for an invigorating hike.

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Via Flickr

During September, the hues of autumn transform Sizergh and its grounds into a peaceful wonderland of amber, orange and gold, so be sure to pack the SLR before heading out on the trail. Because it’s a National Trust property, there’s a fee to enter the castle and its grounds, but it’s a small price to pay to experience an autumnal walk in this quiet corner of the Lake District.

The Walk

With a mix of tarmacked roads, footpaths and compressed tracks, this 2.5 walk should be accessible to all, however, care should be taken in wet conditions as surfaces can be slippery.

The Route

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Via Flickr

Start your walk in the castle’s car park and follow the path into the adjacent fields. Keeping the wall on your left, continue straight across the paddock, taking care if the terrain is wet. At the end of the field, go through the gate and immediately through another.

Once on Sizergh Fell, wander up the hill, marvelling at the wildflowers that bloom during the summer months. Keep your eye out for woodpeckers too, which can often be seen hovering above the colourful plumes, preying on ants and other insects.

Continue climbing uphill towards the wood. During the autumn and winter months, a few nesting bird species are attracted to these trees by seasonal berries, including fieldfare and redwings. Once you’ve neared the top, stop and admire the views of Morecambe Bay ahead of you, and the distant Pennines behind.

Walk past the trees, keeping them on your right hand side, before beginning your descent towards the beautiful Lake District fells. Eventually, you’ll come to a gate. Go through this and enter the wood ahead of you, before making an immediate right turn and following the wall on your right hand side. Continue downhill until you come to a gate which leads to a tarmac road.

Turn right and follow the road for around half a kilometre. After passing Lane End Farm, you’ll come to a large wooden gate. Pass this, and continue along Ashbank Lane. You will pass three gates along the lane, as well as an ancient deer park, which still contains several of these elusive mammals. Soon, you will arrive back at Sizergh Castle, where a warm brew in the castle’s café awaits.

Download the comprehensive route and map for this walk here.

Rent a cottage in Cumbria with Sykes Cottages

If a peaceful stroll in the grounds of Sizergh Castle sounds dreamy, why not rent one of our wonderful Cumbrian cottages and enjoy an invigorating holiday in the Lake District this autumn? This is the perfect season to visit the region, thanks to lower tourist numbers and the presence of autumn’s charming colours, so browse our Lake District holiday rentals 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.

How to research the history of your holiday home

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
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A few weeks ago I noticed a plaque thirty feet up the rear wall of my building with the numbers ‘1836’ inscribed on it. With nerdy hastiness, I did some research into said date-plate and- shock horror- it turns out the building was indeed built way back in 1836.

Amazing, right? Well I certainly think so. Thanks to the power of the internet, it’s now easy to turn Tony Robinson for the day and research the history of your home-amazing!

But Jonathan, pray tell: how do you go about researching the history of your abode? Well loyal reader, I’m glad you asked. Below you’ll find some useful hints and tips on how to get the bits and pieces that make up your home’s history; so let’s get down to business.

First Steps

So, you’ve got your house, but how do you start unearthing its dirty secrets? The first thing you should do is try determine roughly when your property was built.

Look for obvious clues that may ascertain the age of the property. Like mine, your home may have a plaque detailing its erection date. These are often located on the exterior, although in some properties they may appear indoors.

If your holiday home’s really old, there’s a chance it might be a listed building, in which case you should have a look at the National Heritage List for England, an online database listing all of the country’s designated heritage assets. If it’s on there, that’s good news, as there should be plenty of information to boot, including when it was built. If not, don’t get down; there’s another angle of attack.

If you’re struggling to determine when your property was built, it might be a good idea to speak to neighbours or other members of the community to see if they can shed light on when your home was originally constructed. You never know, some nebby-neighbour might be able to point you in the right direction, or at least provide some gossip on its previous occupants.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Unlocking your home’s history

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Via Flickr

Now that you’ve got a general idea of when your house was raised from its foundations, it’s time to start going through the history books to delve deeper into its past. Who lived there? What were their livelihoods? Was it stricken by tragedy, or at the centre of a community-wide dispute? Thanks to the internet, there are hundreds of free-resources you can use to unlock the secrets of your home’s past.

If you’d like to find out who lived in your house, the best place to start is at your local records office. Here, thousands of public archives are available to view, including electoral registers, census catalogues and Ordnance Survey Maps, all of which can be used to unearth the history of your home.

For instance, electoral registers will list every resident who was registered at your address, since records began. Just think of all the interesting folk who may have passed through the front door of your property!

Put that research to use

When you’ve completed your research and exhausted your home’s history, it’s time to share what you’ve learnt with the world. As a holiday home owner, your guests are likely to be just as interested in the history of your home as you are, so create an information pack for your property that details the ins and outs of its history.

People are always interested to hear about the history and heritage of where they’re choosing to stay, so an illustrated guide to your home, as well as the local area, would go down a treat.

To find out more about researching the history of your home, visit the English Heritage website.

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.