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Whisky Days Out in Scotland

Monday, November 24th, 2014
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As we near the end of November, we’re all reaching out for our favourite drinks. Those liquids that, from the first sip, you feel yourself warming from the inside, your taste buds soar and your cheeks begin to flush. I’m talking of course about whisky. What better way to kick off Scotland week here on the Sykes Cottages blog than with an ode to the country’s national drink? Read on to find out some of the whisky related activities and days out you can enjoy in Scotland..

Go to a Whisky Festival

Islay Festival

Image via Flickr

Annual whisky festivals such as The Spirit of Speyside, The Spirit of Stirling and The Islay Festival of Music & Malt are certainly worth a visit for any whisky fans. They allow local and national distilleries to share their produce with festival goers who may find a new favourite. However, those who don’t fancy a dram needn’t worry as the festivals have much more to do and see than just whisky.

Gain a Scotch Whisky Certificate

Whisky Course

Image via Flickr

If you’re a whisky aficionado then why not spend a day honing your craft at The Scotch Whisky Training School? At a cost of £175, this day course at The Scotch Whisky Experience teaches you all you need to know about the history, production and blending of whisky. Promising to be hands on and fun as well as educational, students of the training school will leave with a whole host of knowledge and also a certificate. Fancy having that on your CV!

Follow the Malt Whisky Trail

Whisky Barrels

Image via Flickr

It will come as no surprise that the world’s only malt whisky trail is in Speyside, also known as ‘Whisky Country’. With over 50 whisky distilleries – more than any other whisky producing areas of Scotland – Speyside is a whisky lover’s dream. Following the trail will lead you to seven working distilleries, each with unique characteristics, where you can join a tour and sample the finished product.

Try a Whisky Cocktail

Whisky Cocktail

Image via Flickr

Whilst many would argue that whisky should be enjoyed simply, on its own – or perhaps with a splash of water to bring out its flavour – it also works incredibly well in cocktails. If you fancy mixing up a whisky cocktail, why not try one of these recipes from the Scotch Whisky Experience website? I personally think the Grand Smash sounds amazing!

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

The Very Best Bits of Autumn

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014
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If you follow Sykes Cottages on any of our social media channels, you may have noticed that for the past two months we have been running a competition for bloggers regarding what they think is the best bit of the autumn season. Now, we love a nice image here at Sykes, so we turned it into a photography competition. We asked those entering to share a picture of what they think is the best bit of autumn and accompany it with a blog post telling us why this is the best bit.

We had a really tough time choosing the winners as there were so many fantastic entries, but after a full afternoon (and morning) of deciding, we finally had our first place winner, second place winner and five runners up. Read on to see the wonderful pictures from our seven winners and see what they like best about autumn!

First Place: Autumn’s Natural Treasures

Autumn's Best Bit Snowing Indoors

The first place winner of the competition was this stunning photograph from Em at Snowing Indoors. As Em says in her post, “there is something so magical about opening a prickly conker shell and finding a shiny brown conker nestled inside, whether you’re 2 or 34!” We certainly agree and this photograph encapsulates that magic perfectly.

Second Place: Getting Ready for Halloween

My Family Ties

The second place winner of the competition was Caroline from My Family Ties. In the My Family Ties household, Halloween excitement and preparation gets under way in early October. This picture shows both the fun and spooky elements of Halloween and we just love it! See Caroline’s full post here.

The Runners Up

Autumns Best Bits Runners Up

One thing apparent from all of the competition entries was that autumn means so many different things to everyone. Lucinda from Bakes, Books & My Boys says that her favourite bit of her favourite season is just being outside! She shared with us this wonderful picture of her son enjoying the empty autumnal beach. Claire from Ninja Killer Cat shared with us some incredible pictures of the leaves and colours of autumn. Similarly, at Dragons and Fairy Dust,the best bit of autumn is the glorious colours of the sky, including a stunning picture of the sunrise. Jenn from Photo-Jenn-Ic shared with us how since having her son she has come to embrace autumn and just loves heading outside for autumnal wanders. Susan at Mess in The ‘Ness shared this incredible photo of pumpkins from a recent trip to the US – her favourite part of autumn is the emergence of pumpkins!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered this competition, we really were blown away! To see all of the entries, take a look at our pinterest board.


Follow Sykes Cottages’s board Autumn’s Best Bits on Pinterest.

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Holiday Properties With Delightful Views

Thursday, November 13th, 2014
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One of the best parts of holidaying in the UK or Ireland is the beautiful views that are visible from your doorstep. Whether you’re staying along the coast or in the countryside, you’ll never be far from a delightful view. What’s better, though, is having a wonderful view from your holiday home’s living room, bedroom or even bathroom! If this is your idea of a perfect property perk then you’re in the right place, as we have a stack of properties that benefit from stunning views without needing to head outside. Read on for ten fine examples of the properties that have stunning views right from the bedside.

Wisteria Cottage, Devon

Reference 905075

Property reference 905075

Take in some of the delightful Devon scenery without even leaving your conservatory in the lovely Wisteria Cottage.

Porth House, Wales

Reference 761

Property reference 761

Its position overlooking Porth Diana beach on Trearddur Bay makes this stunning, architect-designed property as stunning to look out of as it is to look into.

Blue Barn Cottage, Wales

Property reference 22797

Property reference 22797

The delightful, far reaching views from the bedroom in this lovely property are a wonder to wake up to.

Old Rectory Cottage, Wales

Reference 903548

Property reference 903548

This upside-down property was designed so guests can enjoy the stunning, far-reaching views that surround it.

House On The Hill, Peak District

Reference 916619

Property reference 916619

The wonderful House On The Hill in the Peak District stunning rural views from each window but the star of the show really is this view from the dining area.

Reardon’s House, County Kerry

Reference 903994

Property reference 903994

Reardon’s House is the perfect base for exploring all that County Kerry has to offer before heading back to enjoy the wonderful, coastal views.

Sandy Shore, North York Moors and Coast

Reference 906727

Property reference 906727

Take in beautiful views of the sand and sea in the aptly named Sandy Shore, located in the delightful seaside town of Bridlington.

Solway Cottage, The Lake District

Reference 911744

Property reference 911744

Solway Cottage is the perfect property for a family getaway and provides the perfect view across the seafront from the decking area; perfect for an al fresco meal!

The Barn at Glanoer, Wales

Reference 22968

Property reference 22968

As if indulging in a claw foot bath tub with a glass of bubbly in hand wasn’t relaxing enough, imagine doing so whilst overlooking the view.

Telford House, Wales

Property reference 14628

Property reference 14628

This stunning Bangor property allows its guests to admire not only the Menai Straits but also the Menai Bridge.

Have you taken a photograph of a stunning view you encountered whilst at a Sykes Holiday Cottage? We’d love to see – please share it with us via Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. To see more lovely views, take a look at our Pinterest board.

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Enjoy the Isle of Wight this Winter

Saturday, November 8th, 2014
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With its milder climate and stunning coastline, it’s no surprise the Isle of Wight is such a popular summertime holiday destination – but what about the rest of the year? Well, with many of its attractions staying open year-round, the isle certainly doesn’t shut up shop during the chillier months and is as fantastic a winter getaway destination as it is for a summer holiday. Read on to find out just a few of the Isle of Wight’s fantastic attractions that you can enjoy year-round!

Dinosaur Isle

Dinosaur Isle

Image via Flickr

Featuring real fossils as well as animatronic dinosaurs, Dinosaur Isle aims to be as fun as it is educational. The introductory exhibition gallery takes visitors from the Ice Age through to the Cretaceous period whilst the displays combine lighting, smells, sound and artwork to create an enjoyable experience for all visitors. If you’re planning a visit to Dinosaur Isle this winter, don’t forget to book a space on one of their fantastic fossil walks.

Wiggle Wight Winter Sportive


Image via Flickr

Created to give entrants a further reason to delay the hectic Christmas shopping and to keep cycling during the winter is the Wiggle Wight Winter Sportive. If the name alone isn’t enough to make you want to enter, this cycling event has two shorter routes to reflect the time of year, stunning views and also two feed stations along the route providing participants with festive mince pies and hot drinks (but no mulled wine – safety first!) This year’s Wight Winter Sportive takes place on Sunday the 30th November. For more information and to sign up take a look at the official website.

JR Zone

Ball Pit

Image via Flickr

For a place where children can let off steam whilst mum and dad relax, nothing beats JR Zone; an indoor playground where both the young and young at heart can enjoy themselves or relax in a safe environment. The best part of course is that JR Zone is indoors, so the whole family can enjoy themselves whatever the weather!

Enjoy a scenic coastal walk

Isle of Wight Coast

Image via Flickr

The Isle of Wight’s beautiful coastline never closes, and any time of year is as good as any to go for a wander! Wrap up warm, grab a flask of tea and get into the great outdoors of the island. The colder weather can really make the coast come alive and you can enjoy the natural beauty without the need to dodge the summer crowds.

Book yourself a winter getaway on the Isle of Wight

The Coach House

The Coach House | Property reference 20405

To visit these attractions as well as many more that are open year round on the Isle of Wight, why not book yourself a winter getaway? At Sykes Cottages we have a number of stunning properties on the island that are still available for stays during the winter months. Take a look at our website or give us a call on 01244 356695 to book your winter getaway today!

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

How To Turn Your Holiday Cottage into a Cosy Winter Bolthole

Thursday, November 6th, 2014
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Brrr! It’s getting a little chilly outside and no matter how much we try to resist, the pull of the warm indoors is calling for us to head inside and cosy up. As humans, we’re not really a species known for our methods of hibernation, but sometimes we all just need to spend time wrapped up warm. A holiday cottage, away from the distractions of the everyday, is the perfect place to partake in a bit of human-style hibernation. There are a few simple additions that you can make to your holiday cottage to make it the perfect hideaway for guests this winter. Read on to find out how you can turn your property into the perfect winter bolthole: hibernation optional but very much advised.

Cosy Kitchen Additions

Warming Drinks

photo taken by Leanne

The cold weather calls for soups, hot drinks, warming stews and casseroles. Include large pots and casserole dishes in your kitchen so that guests can indulge in these delicious winter warmers! Also, don’t forget to include large mugs for the all-important hot drinks that your guests will be drinking. It could also be a nice touch to include some hot chocolate powder in the cupboard so guests can warm up when arriving after their journey.

See some of our favourite yummy hot chocolate recipes here.

Turn The Heat Up

Tan Llan

Image from Tan Llan property reference 917340

There is nothing better during the colder months than heading in from the cold into the warmth, but there is often little need to heat up the entire property. Fitting a log burner in the living area can add both heat and a cosy atmosphere, whilst a heated towel rail in the bathroom will heat both the room and towels. Electronic heaters are also a great idea and your guests are sure to appreciate being able to heat up a room before heading in to it!

See our properties with open fires here.

Extra Blankets to Wrap Up Warm


image via Flickr

No winter bolthole would be complete without cosy blankets and fleecy throws. Include a hamper full of extra blankets, throws and pillows for your guests to wrap up in when the weather is a little chilly. Also, whilst wooden and stone flooring can really give your property character, it really doesn’t add much heat, so it is a good idea to invest in a rug or two to put down during the colder months.

See our Cosy Cottages Pinterest board for more inspiration on making your cottage the cosiest it can be.

There is still time to book a cosy winter getaway, just take a look at the properties still available during the chillier seasons over on our website and book your cosy getaway today.

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.