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Teenage Survival Guide: Keep the kids entertained in the UK

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014
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Teens, we’ve all been there. The social awkwardness, the weird haircuts, the endless backchat- or perhaps that was just me. Without making too many sweeping generalisations, I’d say your teenage years are some of the weirdest, and nothing was weirder as a teen than having to holiday with your parents.

If you’ve got a sullen youngster in your brood that won’t put down the smartphone, why not coerce them with a cottage holiday in the UK? Britain offers plenty to occupy the grumpy adolescent, and there’s no chance of getting stung with a nasty phone bill should they refuse to log out of Facebook.

Not convinced? Then check out our shortlist of teen friendly attractions below.

Scare them senseless in York

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Do your teens love horror flicks? Then treat them to a city break in York, reputably Europe’s most haunted city. Here, amongst the ancient, gabled streets, over 500 restless spirits are said to wander. For predetermined terror, make for the York Dungeon, a blood curdling house of horrors complete with a resident plague doctor and murderous Viking bloke. Alternatively, if you’re feeling really brave, head to 35 Stonegate, a 700 year old haunted house where a ghastly ghoul is said to have put Derek Acorah in a strangle hold.

Surf’s up in the South West

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Even if they’re useless at it, we guarantee that surfing will put a smile on their face. One of the best places to try this invigorating water sport is in the south west, where the wave battered beaches of Cornwall and Devon await. If they’re wave riding newbies, we’d recommend enrolling them in a surf school at least for a day. The South West is home to loads of affordable surf training centres, so they could be hanging ten before you know it! To find out more about surfing in the UK, check out our blog on the UK’s best surf spots.

Treat them to a day of retail therapy in Chester

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

One thing that’s certain to rouse the attention of your teen is the prospect of a shopping trip and where better to spend some dollar than in the fabulous city of Chester. Home to a dazzling array of historic architecture, this picturesque city is the perfect place to treat the kids to some new threads. One of the city’s most interesting features is its Rows, a series of medieval walkways which effectively create an upper and lower level to the High Street, doubling the amount of space for all those lovely shops and eateries.

Scare them senseless in Snowdonia

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The Snowdonia National Park is home to a plethora of teen friendly attractions including a massive mountain, lots of extreme sports and of course, plenty of good looking Welsh folk. And, as of 2013, it’s also home to the longest zip line in the northern hemisphere- cool, they will mutter. Stretching for over a mile, this record breaking zip will carry riders over the dizzying heights of Penrhyn Quarry at speeds of over 100mph, providing a bird’s eye view of the spectacular North Wales coastline. To find out more about Snowdonia’s Zip World, click here.

Rent a teen friendly holiday home

Here at Sykes Cottages, we’re convinced that we’ve got a holiday cottage to suit everyone, including cantankerous teenagers. If you’re planning a UK holiday with your young adults, why not take a look at our cottages with a games room, which feature a pool, snooker or foosball table? Or, try our cottages with swimming pools or hot tubs; they’re sure to keep the kids content for hours!

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.

Fun in the sun: Britain’s safest beaches

Thursday, August 7th, 2014
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Safe isn’t a word you’d normally associate with beauty, but when it comes to the coast, thankfully, the two go hand in hand. Clean water, litter free sand and pristine natural surroundings are just some of the things which make a beach ‘safe’, and naturally, these factors make them beautiful too.

With the school summer holidays in full swing, a time when parents must face the task of finding child friendly places to take the kids, we thought it prudent to highlight some of the UK’s safest and prettiest beaches. So grab the frisbee, blather on the sun cream and make for one of these safe, stunning, and hopefully sunny, UK beaches.

Scarborough North Bay, North Yorkshire

Scarborough North Bay- Via Flickr

Scarborough North Bay- Via Flickr

If you want to enjoy the nostalgia of a seaside resort without having to put up with mounds of litter, head to Scarborough’s North Bay. This large beach offers a good stretch of sand that’s ideal for a father and son kick-about, plus its patrolled by the RNLI during the summer months- spot on!

Colwell Bay, Isle of Wight

Colwell Bay- Via Flickr

Colwell Bay- Via Flickr

Situated on the Isle of Wight’s quieter west coast is Colwell Bay, a sand and shingle beach offering panoramic views over the turquoise waters of the Solent. The sands at Colwell remain totally unspoilt, making it the perfect place to spend a tranquil summer’s afternoon.

Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire

Saundersfoot- Via Flickr

Saundersfoot- Via Flickr

Located in the UK’s only marine national park, Saundersfoot is one of the country’s best loved beaches. This swathe of Welsh coast is perfect for young bathers thanks to its remarkably shallow waters and softer than soft sand.

Kilkee Beach, County Clare, Ireland

Kilkee- Via Flickr

Kilkee- Via Flickr

Shelving gently towards the Atlantic, the crescent shaped beach of Kilkee is one of the Emerald Isle’s true wonders. Patrolled by a lifeguard during the summer months, this pretty beach is extremely safe, despite its location on Ireland’s wave battered Atlantic seaboard.

Salcombe South Sands, Devon

Salcombe South Sands- Via Flickr

Salcombe South Sands- Via Flickr

Science, nature and wonder await at Salcombe South Sands. This pretty cove on Devon’s coveted southern shore is right next to a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a nature reserve, so you’ll have somewhere to cool off when the kids have had a little too much sun.

Aberdour Silver Sand, Fife Coast

Aberdour Silver Sand- Via Flickr

Aberdour Silver Sand- Via Flickr

Scotland’s beaches are renowned for their big swells, making the country very popular with surfers. If you’re looking something more serene and safe however, opt for Aberdour Silver Sand on the Fife coast. Boasting a blue flag and patrolled by lifeguards, there’s no safer sand in bonnie wee Scotland.

Sheringham, Norfolk

Sheringham Beach- Via Flickr

Sheringham Beach- Via Flickr

The Norfolk coast has long been one of the UK’s best loved destinations for family holidays, and for good reason. One of our favourite beaches in the county is Sheringham, which offers plenty of sand as well as a picturesque promenade leading to the town.

Poppit Sands, Pembrokeshire

Poppit Sands- Via Flickr

Poppit Sands- Via Flickr

Don’t let its cutesy name fool you; Poppit Sands means business. With its extensive dunes and clean, shallow waters, this is the perfect beach for little adventurers who will love paddling about amongst the beaches many rock pools. There’s seals, dolphins and porpoises aplenty here too, so keep your eyes peeled!

Carbis Bay, Cornwall

Carbis Bay- Via Flickr

Carbis Bay- Via Flickr

One mile of wonderfully white sand awaits at Carbis Bay on Cornwall’s north coast. This family friendly beach is famed for its turquoise waters and lack of surf, making it the ideal choice for weary young swimmers looking to take their debut dip in the Atlantic Ocean.

Curracloe Beach, County Wexford, Ireland

Curracloe- Via Flickr

Curracloe- Via Flickr

Ireland is teeming with beautiful, safe beaches, so choosing from the bunch was particularly difficult. One of the most accessible beaches on the Emerald Isle is Curracloe, a wide sandy beach in Ireland’s popular sunny south east region, just an hour’s drive from Dublin.

Rent a coastal holiday home with Sykes Cottages

So there you have it, our shortlist of the UK’s safest and most beautiful beaches. If you think your family deserves a seaside holiday this summer, why not treat them to a 7 night break in one of our wonderful coastal holiday rentals? We offer affordable cottages to rent along much of the British coastline, so you can enjoy a seaside holiday for a lot less than you might think. Click here 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.

Grow your own for National Allotment Week!

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014
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What makes a great garden? Swathes of bright, fragrant flowers? A tranquil water feature, perhaps? Or an emerald lawn that stretches as far as the eye can see? Whatever your opinion on horticulture, we think that any great garden just isn’t complete without a good old veggie patch.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Since humankind began, we’ve been blooming good at growing stuff- just ask Titchmarsh. But in recent times, vegetable patch numbers have dwindled, replaced by convenient, cheap produce from the supermarket. A real shame, no doubt about it, but all is not lost.

This week is National Allotments Week, an event which encourages allotment sites across the country to open their gates to allow the public to witness the benefits of growing their own fresh produce. Throughout the week, plot holders will be putting on a range of fun events, including garden parties, barbecues and food markets, with plenty of fresh produce to sample! To find out more about the National Allotment Week events taking place in your area, click here.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

In honour of NAW 2014, we wanted to champion the veggie patch by letting our green-fingered property owners know just how easy it is to grow and maintain a vegetable patch. Many of our cottages already have a plot of earth dedicated to growing wholesome, home grown produce, but to those that don’t, here’s a brief guide on how to get started.

How to grow your own vegetable patch

Step 1: Choosing the perfect spot for your patch

Choose a spot in your garden that receives at least five hours of sunlight a day. Veggies hate the dark, so it’s crucial that you keep them out of the shade.

Top tip: Dig your patch well away from other foliage such as trees and shrubs. This will prevent pesky slugs snacking on your hard-fought crop.

Step 2: Put your back into some serious digging

Bust up your patch by digging down at least a spade’s depth. This will give your plants a better chance of forming a good foothold, as well as oust any weeds which could attack the roots of your veg.

Top tip: Don’t go crazy. If your patch is too big, weeds will soon advance, rendering your patch useless. Plan what you want to plant and where before you start digging.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Step 3: Create your very own super soil

Now you’ve got your hole in the ground, you need to create the perfect environment for your veg. Dug earth is all well and good, but you’ll need to add compost to make it a haven for growth.

Top tip: Don’t be shy- adding manure can be a game changer for your patch. The nutritious value of cultivated poop far outweighs your opinion of this smelly substance, so get your hands dirty.

Step 4: It’s all about space

Like us, plants need their personal space. If your patch is lacking in room, your veg will grow to be weak and small rather than hearty and tall. Try to leave 20cm to 70 cm around each plant to make sure it has enough room to spread its wings.

Top tip: If you’re growing lanky plants like beans, don’t forget to give them a trellis or stake to climb so that they can reach for the stars.

Step 5: You don’t need a garden to grow your own patch

Think you need to be lord of the manor to grow a successful veggie patch? Think again. Some of the best produce plots can be found in green houses, balconies, terraces and, believe it or not, window sills. As a matter of fact, some plants, particularly those native to warmer climates, prefer growing indoors. So before you start sulking about the size of your garden, size up your sill, grab a few pots and start growing your own little patch today.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Here at Sykes Cottages, our owner care department is here to help with any and all queries you might have about managing your holiday home, whether it be advise about what to do in emergencies or, growing your own veggie patch! Whether you already advertise your property with us or not, our owner department are here to help, so give us a call today on 01244 356695 or visit our designated owner page for more information.

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.

Celebrate Yorkshire Day 2014

Friday, August 1st, 2014
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If one county deserves its very own day, it’s Yorkshire. On 1st August each year, the UK’s biggest county comes together to celebrate all that’s brilliant about the region. In honour of Yorkshire Day 2014, we set about finding some dazzling facts and truths about God’s Own County, to demonstrate exactly why Yorkshire merits its own diary date. So let’s get to it.

Top 10 amazing facts about Yorkshire

Ilkley Moor- Via Flickr

Ilkley Moor- Via Flickr

Yorkshire’s unofficial anthem is On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at, which to non-Yorkshire folks translates as On Ilkley Moor without a hat. There are worse places to be hatless I suppose…

Yorkshire contains two national parks, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. Between them, the parks cover a land area of 3,203 square kilometres and comprise 1,049 scheduled ancient monuments and 79 conservation areas.

The UK experienced its largest recorded earthquake at Dogger Bank in 1931. The quake measured 6.1 on the Richter scale and caused widespread damage to Yorkshire coastal towns like Filey and Bridlington.

Yorkshire Coast- Via Flickr

Yorkshire Coast- Via Flickr

If Yorkshire was an independent country, it would have finished an impressive 12th in the league table at the 2012 Olympics. The county’s sportsmen and women racked up 7 Gold, 2 Silver and 3 Bronze medals over the course of the games.

Did you know, Guy Fawkes, instigator of the 1605 gunpowder plot, was born in the city of York in 1570?

The popular coastal town of Scarborough in North Yorkshire became Britain’s first seaside resort in 1626, after a damsel discovered a spring in the town which supposedly had health-giving properties. Mystical water or not, the tourists have returned ever since.

The Shambles- Via Flickr

The Shambles- Via Flickr

Roman Emperor, Septimus Severus, ruled his entire empire from York for two years before his death in 211AD. His body is said to be buried beneath the old city- who needs Rome eh?

England’s tallest bloke, William Bradley, was born in the East Yorkshire town of Market Weighton in 1787. By 20, he was well over seven feet tall and was known throughout the country as the Yorkshire Giant.

Brompton, North Yorkshire, has a spot reserved in the history books thanks to Sir George Cayley, an aviation pioneer and all round aerodynamics guru. In 1853, this Yorkshire-born genius invented the world’s first glider. Other inventions conceived in Yorkshire include stainless steel, road cat’s eyes and the steam locomotive.

William Wilberforce, a key figure in the abolition of slavery in the UK, was born in the city of Hull in 1759. Today, his legacy can be seen across the globe, with universities and schools from the USA to Africa named after the Yorkshireman.

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 take better holiday photographs

Thursday, July 31st, 2014
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Holidays mean different things to different people. For some, they’re about discovering new cultures, unearthing ancient history and indulging in fine local cuisine; whilst for others, they’re a chance to lounge on the beach, read a few chapters from a book, and do very little. But whatever you get up to on holiday, one thing’s for sure: you’re bound to take at least a few holiday photographs.

Whether you’re a snap-happy amateur or a kitted-out professional, capturing your holiday is important. To help you rookies take holiday pictures you’ll be proud of, we’ve created a handy guide on how to take better holiday photographs- check it out below.

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How to take better holiday photographs

So you’ve shepherded your loved ones into a neat cluster on the banks of Windermere and are poised to capture the moment on your camera or smartphone; but how can you ensure that you’ll be proud of the end result? Here at Sykes Cottages, we know how important it is to capture your holiday, so here’s our guide to taking the perfect holiday photograph.

Lighting

Before raising your camera, try to work out where the light is coming from. Usually you’ll want the light to hit the front of your subject, not the back.

Follow the Rule of Thirds

For more visually pleasing photographs, use the rule of thirds; divide the frame into three horizontally and vertically (your camera should have a setting to do this for you), then position your subject at or near the intersection of any two lines.

Move Around

Think a picture of your pooch will look good from your angle? Of course it will, but you can improve your snaps by moving around to ensure that you’re always at the best angle for capturing your subject.

Capture the Moment

The best moments aren’t choreographed, so have your camera on hand at all times when you’re out and about to ensure that you capture the moments that matter.

If you love taking pictures, have a play with your camera’s settings. Adjusting ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed can transform samey snaps into genuinely great photos that you’ll be proud to show to your friends and family. Here’s a quick guide to get you started.

ISO

If your subject is still and there’s plenty of light, lower your ISO.

If your subject is moving, it’s dark or you don’t have a tripod, use a higher ISO.

Aperture

The larger the opening of the lens, the more light gets in, the blurrier the background.

The smaller the opening of the lens, the less light gets in, the sharper the background.

Shutter Speed

Slow shutter speed: Use a slow shutter speed to give a sense of movement, like capturing the flow of water

Fast shutter speed: Use a fast shutter speed to freeze movement, to make a moving object appear still.

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.