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How to make the perfect Pimm’s this summer

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
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By jove! It’s that time of year again when housewives, posh folk and picnickers turn their attention to everyone’s favourite summer tipple, Pimm’s! With the arrival of Wimbledon, the Henley Royal Regatta and the Chelsea Flower Show, this delightful beverage is disappearing off the shelves faster than Federer’s forehand, so grab your bottle soon. Not sure if you like it? Well good news, there’s more than one way to prepare and serve this tasty liqueur- check out some of our favourite Pimm’s recipes below.

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Via Flickr

Crafting the classic Pimm’s

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Via Flickr

‘Ahhh’ is exactly the sort of sound you’ll be making after you’ve taken a sip of a classic Pimm’s on a balmy summer’s eve. This is the simplest way to serve this fruity delight, and it’s so quintessentially English it’ll have you reaching for the cricket whites. Here’s how to make a classic Pimm’s.

Ingredients

  • 50ml of Pimm’s per glass or 200ml if you’re making a jug
  • Lemonade
  • Mint leaves
  • Fruit- including strawberries and an orange
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Ice

Method

  1. Blend 1 part Pimm’s with 3 parts lemonade over ice.
  2. Add the fruit (don’t be shy!) and cucumber before garnishing with mint leaves.

Spice things up with a Pimm’s Ginger

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Add some pizzazz to your party with a Pimm’s Ginger; the zesty alternative to a classic. Here’s how to put some spice in your life.

Ingredients

  • 50ml of Pimm’s per glass or 200ml if you’re making a jug
  • Ginger Ale
  • Sliced Lemon
  • Mint Leaves
  • Ice

Method

  1. Blend 1 part Pimm’s with 3 parts Ginger Ale over ice.
  2. Add a slice of lemon per glass and garnish with mint leaves.

Feeling fruity? Try a PimPom cocktail!

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Via Flickr

What do Pimm’s and a pomegranate have in common? They’re the key ingredients in a PimPom cocktail of course. From its cheeky name to its delicious fruity finish, this beverage is bound to put a smile on your face- here’s how to be the bringer of joy at your next summer soiree.

Ingredients

  • 50ml of Pimm’s per glass or 200ml if you’re making a jug
  • Pomegranate Juice
  • A handful of basil leaves, ripped
  • Orange

Method

  1. Blend 1 part Pimm’s with 3 parts pomegranate juice over ice.
  2. Add a slice of orange to each glass and garnish with ripped basil leaves.

Game of tennis old boy? Not before a Pimm’s Deuce

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Watching the tennis can be thirsty work, so before you raise that remote, why not consider making one of the game’s finest alcoholic accompaniments, the Pimm’s Deuce. Featuring two fruit juices, this refreshing tipple ought to spur you on during the match- here’s how it’s made.

Ingredients

  • 50ml of Pimm’s per glass or 200ml if you’re making a jug
  • 75ml of orange juice per glass or 300ml for a jug
  • 75ml of cranberry juice per glass or 300ml for a jug
  • Sliced orange
  • Strawberries

Method

  1. Mix the Pimm’s with the orange and cranberry juice over ice
  2. Add sliced orange, strawberries and serve!

Pimm’s Royale: The pièce de résistance

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Via Flickr

Need something to help wow your guests? Plumb for this: the Pimm’s Royale, a cocktail so magnificent it’ll leave your snooty neighbours bamboozled with envy. Create this cocktail, and you’ll be the life and soul of the party- here’s how it’s done.

Ingredients

  • 25ml of Pimm’s per glass
  • Champagne or cava
  • 1 strawberry

Method

  1. Add Pimm’s and a strawberry to a glass of Champagne or cava
  2. Sit back, relax and survey your kingdom!
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.

Vote for Sykes Cottages at the British Travel Awards 2014

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
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Do you love Sykes Cottages? Then vote for us in this year’s British Travel Awards, the UK’s most prestigious travel awards ceremony. Last year, we scooped the award for Best Large UK Cottages/ Self Catering Booking Company at the awards and we’d love to do it two years on the trot!

Since winning the award back in November 2013, we’ve worked tirelessly to continue delivering the award-winning service that people have come to expect from us. Whether responding to a customer enquiry on Facebook, planning someone’s holiday over the phone or consulting with a potential new owner, we take pride in our award-winning customer service which has seen us receive an ‘Excellent’ rating from Tripadvisor for four years running.

We need your vote!

Voting for this year’s BTA is now open and there are prizes up for grabs for those that vote- including £500 worth of Sykes Cottages holiday vouchers! To enter the prize draw, simply register and vote for Sykes Cottages on the British Travel Awards website before the closing date on September 30th 2014.

British Travel Awards 2013.

Sykes Cottages’ founder, Clive Sykes, with the 2013 award for ‘Best Large UK Cottages/ Self Catering Booking Company’

We’re thankful to everyone who takes the time to vote for us and will keep you updated on all of the BTA news via Facebook and 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.

Sykes’ UK Festival Guide 2014

Monday, June 30th, 2014
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Summer’s here, and that means one thing: the festival season has begun. From now until September, thousands will head to the countryside to indulge in a weekend of fun and frolics. But with so many festivals and events taking place, how do you pick your favourite from the bunch? Well, that’s where we come in, with our handy guide to the UK’s best festivals (in our humble opinion of course). So grab your glowsticks, dust down your wellies and start planning your summer festival getaway today.

Our Favourite Music Festivals

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Via Flickr

Green Man Festival

When: 14-17 August

Where: Glanusk, Wales

Why we love it:

Situated in the shadow of the Black Mountain, arguably the Brecon Beacons prettiest peak, Green Man Festival offers an appealing blend of contemporary artists and stunning surroundings. The festival is renowned for its not-for-profit ethics and intimate feel, plus their website’s pretty swish.

Wilderness Festival

When: 7-11 August

Where: Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire

Why we love it:

Boasting a lake side spa, trapeze show and nightly woodland parties, Wilderness Festival isn’t your ordinary music festival. The event has a remarkably relaxed vibe making it ideal for those swapping their usual summer holiday for a music festival- and the line-up’s rather good too!

Beacons Festival

When: 7-10 August

Where: Skipton, North Yorkshire

Why we love it:

Set amid one of England’s best loved landscapes, the Yorkshire Dales, Beacons Festival offers big acts without the big price tag. The Times named Beacons the best festival in the UK for its atmosphere; couple that with its diverse line-up, and Beacons should certainly be on your festival hitlist.

Our Favourite Food & Drink Festivals

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Via Flickr

Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival

When: 12-13 July

Where: Weymouth Harbour, Dorset

The Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival gives visitors the chance to sample some of our nation’s favourite seafood whilst sipping on a flute or two of French fizz. Spread around Weymouth’s picturesque harbour, the event is free to enter and is a great way to spend a summer’s day.

Richmond Food and Ale Festival

When: 23-25 August

Where: Richmond, North Yorkshire

Why we love it:

If you’re into fine food and quality real ale, you’ll be well catered for at the Richmond Food and Ale Festival, which features a line-up of top chefs, exciting street food and over 100 cask ales. There’s also Morris dancing, rides and face painting, making the event a great day out for all the family.

Loch Lomond Food and Drink Festival

When: 6-7 September

Where: Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire

Why we love it:

Set on the serene shores of Loch Lomond, the Loch Lomond Food and Drink Festival features a wealth of top Scotch nosh and plenty of tasty real ales. There’s live music too, as well as falconry, dancers and a continental farmer’s market, so why not get yourself down there this September.

Alternatives to try

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Via Flickr

Port Eliot Festival

When: 24-27 July

Where: St Germans, Cornwall

Why we love it:

Nestled in the grounds of a stunning 12th century house from which it takes its name, the Port Eliot Festival offers a creative experience like no other. From music and dance, to yoga, craft, cookery and comedy, you won’t forget this unique summer festival in a hurry.

Whitby Folk Week

When: 16-22August

Where: Whitby, North Yorkshire

Why we love it:

For sea shanty sing-alongs and cosy, candlelit performances, make Whitby Folk Week your festival of choice this summer. Featuring a huge range of popular and lesser known artists, as well as a host of fascinating venues, the Whitby Folk Festival should be top of your list if you’re a fan of the coast.

Just So Festival

When: 15-17-August

Where: Scholar Green, Cheshire

Why we love it:

Marketed as a family arts festival, you and the kids will love the imaginative Just So Festival, which takes place in the leafy Cheshire village of Scholar Green. From enchanting adaptations of popular children’s stories, to an Alice in Wonderland-esque tea party, this is one festival that the whole family are sure to enjoy.

Rent a self-catering cottage near your favourite festival

If you like the idea of a festival but don’t fancy getting down and dirty with the campers, don’t worry, as our self-catering holiday cottages provide the ideal base for a comfortable and smell-free festival experience. After a day of alfresco fun, what could be better than decamping in a lovely, comfy holiday home or yurt to enjoy a good night’s sleep. To find a holiday cottage near your chosen festival, visit our homepage and use the search facility on the left to find properties that are available, or, give us a call! Our dedicated call centre team will be happy to help find accommodation for you.

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.

London Vs Everywhere Else

Friday, June 27th, 2014
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Recently, the chief executive of Visit England announced that London is overshadowing the rest of the country in terms of its popularity. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m as partial to a city break in the capital as the next man, but I couldn’t help but make a mental list of all the things that people are missing by not exploring other parts of England. So without further ado, here’s five reasons why you’d be mad to hang around in London when there’s a whole country to uncover!

What about the beaches?

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Via Flickr

From Dorset to Northumberland, the English coastline is a magnificent spectacle. For centuries, people have flocked to our shores in search of inspiration, adventure and above all, fun. Though London is situated on a pretty impressive river, it lacks the timeless quality of the coast. Overseas travellers will find a handful of glorious beaches within a couple of hours of the Big Smoke, including Brighton, Aldeburgh and Southend-on-Sea, but there are many more if you plan on travelling further afield.

Urban sprawl or serene countryside?

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Via Flickr

Is there anything more charming than the English countryside? A place where cows graze in grassy paddocks, country lanes connect time forgotten villages and timber clad taverns provide a welcome pit stop for the weary traveller. Here in England, we’re blessed with some of the world’s most beautiful pockets of countryside, including the Lake District, the Cotswolds and the Peak District- and these are just the heavy hitters. Go off the beaten track in areas like the Yorkshire Dales, the Norfolk Broads, Northumberland and Dorset, and you can find a piece of a countryside that’ll leave you longing to quit the city for good.

Regional Food

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Via Flickr

Although London has one of the most varied gastronomic palates in the world, it can be difficult to find regional English cuisine in the capital, especially if you’re not looking to pay through the nose to sample some. England is home to an endless supply of top nosh, the majority of which being exclusive to one region or another. In the south west, there’s the Cornish pasty, the Cream Tea and extra creamy ice cream; whilst in East Anglia, seafood reigns supreme. In the north east, Parmo, Pikelets, Stottie Cake and Yorkshire pudding provide plenty of sustenance; whilst in the north west, the Cumberland Sausage, Eccles Cake and Lancashire Hotpot are sure to fill you up.

Expense

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Via Flickr

It’s no secret, London is expensive. Hotels, food, drink, entertainment; it’s all considerably pricier in the capital- between 20%-50% dearer, to be exact. The cost of accommodation is particularly eye-watering, with the average price for a two night break in the city coming in at well over £200; compare that to a two night break in any other English city, and you might find yourself asking if it’s really worth it.

Peace and Quiet

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Via Flickr

One thing you certainly won’t find in London is peace and quiet. As one of the world’s biggest and busiest cities, it can be difficult to find a quiet corner amid the hub-bub, though they do exist. If you value your quiet time, opt for a daytrip or two to the capital instead of staying there. Kent, Essex and Cambridgeshire are on the city’s doorstep, and all have plenty of countryside for when you need to relax. Alternatively, if you’re looking for complete seclusion, try Northumberland, a large county in North East England whose population of 315,000 is but a pin drop compared to London’s 8.3 million.

London Vs Everywhere Else

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So there you have it, five reasons why you’d be barking mad to spend all of your time in London on a visit to the UK. Of course, London is a spectacular city, and certainly shouldn’t be missed, but if you’re planning a visit to England, be sure to spread your wings and embark on a road, train or bus trip to the nether regions of this fine country.

Alternatively, if you think I’m spouting nonsense and would prefer to stay firmly in the capital, check out our guide to things to see and do in London.

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.

Summer Solstice: Where to See the Sunrise & Sunset

Friday, June 20th, 2014
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Would you believe it? It’s nearly summer solstice, and here at Sykes Cottages HQ, we’re relishing these lengthy, sunlit days. If you’re equally as fond of Britain’s longest day and are searching for ways to make the most of those extra hours of daylight, stick with us as we take you on a tour of the best places to see the sunrise and set in the British Isles.

Britain’s Best Sunrises

Snowdonia, North Wales

Snowdonia Sunrise

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There’s no greater sight than the sun as it appears behind the mighty Mount Snowdon in the Snowdonia National Park.  Hikers have been summiting this Welsh mountain for decades to catch a glimpse of its stunning 360 degree panorama; put a sunrise behind it, and you really are in paradise.

Saltwick Bay, North Yorkshire

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Via Flickr

If you time it right, you can witness the sunrise and set from the slate shores of Saltwick Bay near Whitby, North Yorkshire. This fossil strewn stretch of North Sea coast is perfect for a stroll on a hazy summer’s morning, provided you check the high-tide times before you go.

Rydal Water, The Lake District

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Via Flickr

Deciding which of the Lake District’s spellbinding vistas is the best for seeing the sunrise was tough, but we eventually plumbed for Rydal Water in the Rothay Valley. Just downstream from Grasmere, this small body of water boasts a big backdrop and is renowned for inspiring the poetry of William Wordsworth.

Glastonbury Tor, Somerset

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Via Flickr

Rising steeply out of the pastoral Somerset landscape, Glastonbury Tor is famed for its mythology, particularly its ties to King Arthur. For history lovers or those interested in spirituality, this is an excellent spot to watch the sun as it makes its daily commute to the heavens.

Glencoe, Scottish Highlands

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Via Flickr

Breathe in buckets of clean, Scottish air with a dawn-hike in the Highlands and see the sun rise in the shadow of Glencoe, Scotland’s most evocative peak. During the summer months, Glencoe’s snowy cap melts, revealing a mountainside that seems to will you to climb it- so why not give it a go?

Britain’s Best Sunsets

Rockland Broad, Norfolk Broads

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Via Flickr

As one of Norfolk’s lesser known Broads, Rockland Broad is about as peaceful as it gets. Brimming with bird and plant life, whilst also being within walking distance of the nearest country pub, Rockland is sure to be a hit with nature lovers out to see the sunset- as well as a few herons, of course.

Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

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Via Flickr

Festooned with archaeological sites and thought to be the birth place of Yorkshire’s county anthem, Ilkley Moor is a fascinating place to enjoy a vigorous, summer stride. When the sun begins to set above the heath, choose a good spot for a picnic, relax and enjoy the spectacle.

Humber Bridge, Kingston Upon Hull

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Via Flickr

As a near Hullite, I can testify to the beauty of the sunsets over the Humber Estuary. Silhouetted against the amber sky, the river’s world famous bridge- aptly named the Humber Bridge- is a majestic sight on a summer’s evening. There’s plenty of places to sit beside the river, so start planning your visit today.

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

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Via Flickr

As UK cityscapes go, Edinburgh is hard to beat. From atop the curiously named Arthur’s Seat, you can see much of the Scottish capital in all of its historic glory. When the sun goes down, dozens take to this grassy ridge to feast their eyes on Edinburgh’s magnificent panorama- why not join them?

Lakes of Killarney, County Kerry

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Via Flickr

Just one of the many highlights along the Ring of Kerry, the Lakes of Killarney offer uninterrupted mountain views and all of the peace and quiet you could ever need. As the sun sets behind the imposing Purple Mountain, you’ll be glad you came across this serene corner of the Emerald Isle.

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.