Author Archive

Sykes Spotlight on Ireland’s Islands

Sunday, June 29th, 2014
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Stunning countryside, amazing coast and a huge variety of things to do make The Emerald Isle a perfect holiday destination however, what about those islands located just off the mainland’s coast? Well, they make fantastic destinations for a day out or even for a longer stay! Read on to find out why we love Ireland’s islands.

Achill Island

Achill Island, County Mayo

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Located in County Mayo on the west coast, Achill Island is the largest of all the islands off the coast of Ireland and is an incredible tourist destination of its own. Its Atlantic location and five Blue Flag beaches make it perfect for fans of water sports and those who like to relax on the beach. The waters around Achill Island are home to a large variety of sea life and fish, making it perfect for fans of angling who are hoping for a fresh catch!

Valentia Island

Valentia Island, South West County Kerry Ireland

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On the south west coast of County Kerry is Valentia Island; a popular tourist destination due to its stunning sea views, proximity to the Ring of Kerry and wealth of history. Those with an interest in the history of Valentia Island should take a trip to the Valentia Island Heritage Centre which houses a number of displays about natural history and life on the island. If you’re a little sea-sick but still want to experience the Skellig Islands, why not head to The Skellig Experience, where you can learn all about each of the four islands whilst staying on dry land? Families or animal fantastic will love Valentia Pet Farm, where you can get up close to the animals and perhaps even feed them. With so much to explore on Valentia Island, it is recommended that you stay for a little longer, however if you only have one day then doing a whistle stop tour of the island by car is the best option for a taste of all this island has to offer!

Arranmore Island

Arranmore Island, County Donegal Ireland

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The largest inhabited island of County Donegal, and the second largest in all of Ireland is Arranmore Island. The island is easily reached by a ferry operating daily and regularly throughout the year; making it the ideal destination for a day trip or longer stay. With a pitch and putt course, fantastic walks and a number of resident birds who make bird watching quite the fruitful activity, visitors to Arranmore Island will be stuck for things to do! Fans of rugged nature will be delighted with the stunning cliffs that line the west and north coast of the island and those with an interest in history will want to take a look at the Beaver Island Memorial that was constructed to commemorate the history between Arranmore and Beaver Island.

Clare Island

Clare Island, West Coast County Mayo Ireland

Image via Flickr

Located on the west coast of County Mayo is Clare Island, the largest island off the coast of Mayo. Getting to Clare Island is easy, as ferries run regularly from the mainland and you can be on the island in just twenty five minutes. Often ferries will be welcomed to the island by a school of dolphins or herd of seals, who tend to chaperone the ferry whilst delighting passengers on board. Once you arrive on the island, walkers and hikers will be in their element with its varied terrain of hills, cliffs and woodland, whilst those who want to explore the island more leisurely can enjoy the stunning views from the comfort of a minibus. Once you’ve taken in the island’s beauty, don’t worry because there are so many other things to do on Clare Island that you can never get bored. From boat trips, events and festivals taking place throughout the year, there is always something to do!

We hope that we have inspired you to hop on a ferry and visit one of these fantastic islands, although they are just a small example of the many islands surrounding Ireland. If you have ever visited one of these islands we’d love to hear about it! Let us know on twitter or facebook.

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.

Sykes’ Guide to London: What to do, what to eat & how to get around

Monday, June 23rd, 2014
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If you’re heading to Wimbledon over the next fortnight, you’ll probably want to explore the rest of our capital city. But with so much to do in London, where do you begin? Well, no need to worry as we’ve written up a short guide on where to eat, how to get around and a few things that you can get up to during your time in The Big Smoke.

Travelling around London

London Barclays Hire Scheme Bikes

Image via Flickr

Whether you plan on riding the underground, grabbing a cab, hiring a bike or just using your feet and walking, one of the fantastic things about London is how easy it is to travel via public transport. The tube is probably the fastest way to get around, although this means missing out on seeing all that London has to offer! Alternatively, if you want the full tourist experience of London, why not hop on one of those famous red buses or hail down a black taxi cab? This way you can travel through the city whilst also taking in some of the views.

Tourist tip: Buy a visitors Oyster card before you arrive to save time and money. Also, remember to stand to the right of escalators to allow people to get past on the left!

For an eco-friendly way to travel, why not make use of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme and rent a bike? With bike docking stations located throughout the city and charges from just £2 per day, it’s an affordable way to travel around London! If you don’t have a destination in mind, you could even follow one of Transport for London’s leisurely cycle routes. Even more inexpensive and eco-friendly is just giving your legs a stretch and walking. London is one of the best cities for those travelling by foot due to its wide footpaths and frequent pedestrian crossings.

Did you know: The blue bicycles of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme are referred to as ‘Boris Bikes’ after London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Things to Do in London

With over 240 museums, over 100 theatres (around 40 on the West End) and a host of iconic attractions, you’ll never be short of things to do in London! If you only have a short amount of time to explore but want to take in a few museums then head to South Kensington where you’ll find the Science Museum, the V&A and the Natural History Museum just a short distance from each other. If you’re a fan of checking out all of the typical tourist attractions that a city has to offer then you will be in your element in London. Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, The London Eye, The Shard, The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are just some of the many iconic buildings that call London home.

Tower Bridge in London

Image via Flickr

Tourist tip: Whilst most museums are free, it’s worth taking a look at any temporary exhibitions. They will most likely have a charge but if you’re interested in the subject it will definitely be worth it.  

It goes without saying that London doesn’t stop when it gets dark and there is no need to retire to bed once the museums are closed as there is as much to do in the evening as there is in the day! London’s West End is the place to go if you want to experience a fantastic musical or performance. From classic shows such as Wicked and The Lion King to new favourites like Shrek The Musical and the fantastic The Book of Mormon, there’s bound to be a show that everyone can enjoy!

Did you know: Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is the longest running of any play in history. The show premièred on the 6th October 1952.

Where to Eat in London

In a city as culturally diverse as London, it’s no surprise that you can find any cuisine that your rumbling stomach desires. Whether you want a sit down meal somewhere luxurious, a family friendly meal in a chain restaurant or you just want to grab something quick, you will be spoilt for choice in London. The city is also home to a range of innovative restaurants that offer diners something a little different alongside their meal. If you’d like to be in full control of ordering your food, Inamo in Soho has an interactive system where diners can peruse the menu and order from a projection on their table. For a fun family meal, Rainforest Cafe in Piccadilly Circus will delight the children with its rainforest décor and sounds. Boasting amazing views of London and a luxuriously indulgent menu, why not treat yourself to a meal at Duck & Waffle, which is located on the 40th floor of Heron Tower.

A box of Laduree Macroons

Image via Flickr

Tourist Tip: Dining out in London can be expensive, particularly in the evening. Look out for set menus or other dining offers that can reduce the cost.

It’s not only in its array of savoury dining experiences that London excels at; it also has an impressive number of places to grab a quick dessert or a box of something sweet to take away. If you’re a fan of macaroons then popping into Ladurée in Covent Garden is a must for a box to take home. On a hot day, nothing is better than heading into one of London’s many frozen yoghurt shops and leaving with a cold, sweet treat!  Popular shops include Snog and Pinkberry.

Did you know: London’s oldest fish and chip shop, Rock and Sole Plaice, has been open since 1871.

Although this guide barely touches the surface of all that London has to offer, we hope that you have found it useful. We’d love to know your favourite things to get up to in London so tell us on twitter or facebook!

 

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.

Perfect Picnic Spots in the UK

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014
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There really isn’t anything better when it’s warm than packing up a picnic and heading outside to dine alfresco. The blog writing team here at the Sykes office love it so much that we head outside to eat our lunch whenever possible! Now, whilst the park we head to is lovely for our alfresco lunching needs, it isn’t quite like the following places, and now we can’t stop thinking about packing up our blankets and some tasty picnic food and heading to one of these destinations.

Top Withens – Haworth

Top Withens in Haworth

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One for the literature lovers is Top Withens (or Withins) in Haworth, West Yorkshire. Whilst its appearance doesn’t match the description of the house in the book, many believe that the abandoned farm at Top Withens was the inspiration for the farmhouse in Wuthering Heights. The derelict ruins of the farmhouse and the rolling countryside views created by the high position of Top Withens make it the perfect place to roll out your picnic blanket and dine alfresco. Who knows, it may even inspire you to write a future classic piece of literature, too!

Devil’s Dyke – Suffolk

Devils Dyke in Suffolk

Image via Flickr

Devil’s Dyke located in the South Downs National Park is not only the UK’s longest, deepest and widest dry valley, it is also a glorious location for a spot of outside dining from a picnic basket. Owned by the National Trust, Devil’s Dyke is not only a stunning location but it also plays host to a variety of events throughout the year; from guided walks to heritage open days, so you can really make a day of it!

Glenkiln Sculpture Park – Dumfries

Glenkiln Sculpture Park in Dumfries

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If you’re looking to really get away from it all on your picnic, then Glenkiln Sculpture Park is certainly the place to do so. Despite many of the sculptures being removed for safe-keeping, there are still some stunning things to see due to the walking route running alongside Glenkiln Reservoir; giving you a beautiful waterside view that is just perfect when enjoying your picnic.

Barafundle Beach – Pembrokeshire

Barafundle Beach in Pembrokeshire, Wales

Image via Flickr

Often, the idea of having sandy sandwiches and trying to fend off hungry seagulls somewhat dulls the appeal of picnicking on the beach. However, with a stunning beach like the one located at Barafundle Bay in Pembrokeshire, the chances are that you won’t want to leave to get food elsewhere, so a picnic may be a necessity. Looking at photographs of this beach with its almost white sand and stunning blue water, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was on the coast of an exotic island and in fact has been voted many times as one of the best beaches in both Britain and the world!

Feeling inspired?

Teddy Bears Picnic

Image via Flickr

If you’ve been inspired to pack up a picnic this picnic week then we’d love to hear about it! Let us know via twitter or facebook where your favourite place is to lay out a blanket and indulge in some snacking in the great outdoors!

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 Watch The World Cup When on Holiday

Thursday, June 12th, 2014
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If you’re heading to Bournemouth rather than Brazil for your holiday this year and are worried how you’ll manage to squeeze in all of the upcoming World Cup matches, don’t fret; we have a few ideas to ensure that you can enjoy the best of both worlds when holidaying here in the UK.

Book a Holiday Cottage with a TV

Holiday Property with Television in North Wales

Y Stabal in Trawsfynydd in North Wales
Property reference: 4120

Nothing is more exciting than being in a football stadium. From the moment the teams first appear to the wail of the final whistle, football matches are full of excitement. But never fear, as this feeling is certainly one that you can replicate on holiday. Get some snacks, your favourite drink and put your team’s shirt on then settle down in front of the television for ninety minutes of football fun! Most of our holiday cottages have televisions, so you can play manager and shout at the players from the comfort of the cottage’s couch.

Watch the World Cup Outside

Secret Cinema in London Fields

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As much as we would like it to, it’s doubtful that our weather will rival that of Sao Paulo, but that shouldn’t put you off heading outside and watching a game on one of the large outdoor screens dotted about the UK! You can soak up the atmosphere of the game whilst feeling the refreshing breeze of the Great British weather and if you’re really lucky the sun may even make an appearance. Outdoor screens such as Millennium Square in Leeds and Brighton’s Big Screen are screening various World Cup Matches where you can head along and show your support for the England team!

Book a Holiday Cottage Near a Pub

Inside of a pub screening sports scores

Image via Flickr

Football and beer go together like bread and butter, so what better place to watch a football match than at the pub! Not only will the atmosphere be electric, the banter will be terrific and it’s a fantastic excuse to sample some local ale. To fit this in with your holiday plan, why not book a holiday cottage located near a pub? We have over 2,000 properties within walking distance of the nearest watering hole so you won’t need to travel far to support your team along with fellow fans. And it’s much closer than Brazil!

Book a Last Minute Holiday Cottage

The World Cup may begin tonight but it’s still not late to book a last minute cottage so that you can watch the World Cup whilst also enjoying a family holiday. Take a look at our last minute property page or call our team on 01244 356695 who will be more than happy to find a suitable property for you that will combine your love of football with your love of holidays!

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.

Photographs you need to take when holidaying in the UK

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
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There are those photos that just belong in your holiday photo album depending on the destination; holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, kissing the Sphinx in Egypt or a picture of your reflection in The Bean in Chicago. These images are synonymous with the destination and can be a real fun reminder of your holiday however they are certainly not limited to holidays abroad! There are a huge number of fun and iconic photo opportunities here in the UK and Ireland and today we’re looking at ten that belong in your staycation photo album.

Spread your wings with the Angel of The North

Angel of The North in Gateshead

Image via Flickr

Say cheese whilst Big Ben chimes

Big Ben in London

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Snap yourself gazing in awe at York Minster’s Gothic architecture

York Minster

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Take a breather and get photographic evidence of you walking Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrians Wall

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Pose with Another Place in Crosby

 Another Place by Antony Gormley, Crosby Beach

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Take a photo from the top of Snowdon, Ben Nevis or any other Mountain you happen to find yourself conquering!

Photo from the top of Snowdon

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Pretend that you’ve holidayed back in time by taking a photo in the stunning Portmeirion.

Image of Portmeirion in Wales

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Photograph your companion having the gift of eloquence bestowed upon them whilst they kiss The Blarney Stone

Balrney Castle, home to The Blarney Stone

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Strike a pose under the lights of Brighton Pier

Entry sign to Brighton Pier

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 Capture yourself in front of the Royal Crescent in Bath

The Royal Crescent in Bath

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Have you taken any snaps at these places?  Feel free to send us a tweet or leave us a comment on facebook, we’d love to see! Or if you’re feeling inspired to make additions to your travelling photo collection, why not book a UK cottage holiday with Sykes Cottages? We have almost 5000 holiday properties across the UK and Ireland in fantastic locations for you to get those creative juices flowing and take some fun holiday snaps!

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.