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Museums Commemorating The World War One Centenary

Monday, July 14th, 2014
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This year marks the beginning of the Centenary of World War One that began in 1914 and continued until 1918. It will come as no surprise that across the UK there are a number of events and exhibitions commemorating not only those who fought in the war but also those who helped the war effort at home and of course, for remembering those who gave their lives. We’re taking a look at just a small number of the upcoming exhibitions taking place in museums where curators have brought together both new items and ones from existing collections to create interesting, emotive and also educational exhibitions to commemorate the centenary of World War One.

Bath Fashion Museum

The Great War in Costume: Family & Fashion on the Home Front

Running from Saturday the 19th July until the 31st August 2014, The Great War in Costume, will show how women’s lives changed on the home front during World War One and the effect that this had on women’s fashion. As women were now required to do jobs that traditionally men would have, women’s fashion altered; corsets were loosened and some women wore working trousers for the first time. As well as following the changing lives of women and their clothing during the war, the exhibition will feature costumes from Downton Abbey, propaganda, memorabilia and examples of uniforms and civilian dress.

York Castle Museum

1914: When The World Changed

Marking the centenary of the First World War at York Castle Museum is the new exhibition 1914: When The World Changed Forever. The exhibition takes visitors on a journey from pre-war Britain, full of peWW1_1Loan (1)ace and prosperity, to the frontline during the war. Once at the frontline, visitors will see the horrors that soldiers would have faced such as rats, shell shock and gas warfare. The exhibition will combine new research and technology with the museum’s extensive social history, military and costume collections to tell visitors the story of the Yorkshire people who lived and died during the war.

Bank of England Museum

The First World War and the Bank of England
Marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War is this new exhibition which opens at the Bank of England Museum on the 21st July 2014 and will run until spring 2015. The exhibition will show how the Bank of England helped to maintain the flow of funds during the war. The display will follow stories of some of the male and female Bank of England staff throughout the war – both those who worked at the Bank and those who served in the armed forces. The exhibition ends by showing how the bank commemorated the 71 bank staff that lost their lives during the war, and how it remembers them today.

People’s History Museum

A Land Fit For Heroes: War and the Working Class 1914-1918
Already open in Manchester’s People’s History Museum and marking the centenary of World War One is their newest exhibition, A Land Fit For Heroes. The exhibition looks at tWW1_Poster (1)he people who supported the war at home and how home life radically changed throughout. A Land Fit for Heroes looks to examine how the war changed society by altering the social, cultural, economic and political outlook of Britons. Whilst the horrors of war are not ignored, this exhibition shows how from those horrors a new social and political confidence was created amongst the working classes that helped to define Britain in the lat
e 20th century.

Other Ways to Commemorate

We have focused here on a few of the museum exhibitions taking place in the near future however these are just some of the many upcoming events that will be taking place to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. There will be local, regional and national events as well as television and radio broadcasts taking place to remember those who risked their lives, those who lost their lives and also those  who worked hard on the home front. For more information and to keep up to date on events take a look at

Images for this blog post were found on the Library of Congress website.

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.

A Literary Tour of Britain

Thursday, July 10th, 2014
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Of all British exports, our authors are some of the best known; JK Rowling, Beatrix Potter, J.R.R Tolkien and C.S Lewis are amongst some of our most famous, whose stories are enjoyed across the world. As a fan of an author’s work, there is nothing better than visiting the places that inspired them to write and in the UK, you will never be too far away from a piece of literary history.

The Lake District

The World of Beatrix Potter, Windermere

image via Flickr

Being full of rolling hills, amazing views and of course beautiful lakes, it’s no surprise that The Lake District would inspire an author. Beatrix Potter, creator of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle Duck and Tom Kitten amongst others, was enamoured by The Lake District after spending many of her holidays there, so much so that she bought a traditional farm in 1905 called Hill Top. Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top with the money she made from her first book, the Tale of Peter Rabbit, the farmhouse and surrounding countryside subsequently inspired her future books. Fans of Beatrix Potter can visit Hill Top which is now operated by The National Trust or visit The World of Beatrix Potter; a fascinating museum where visitors really experience the world that Potter created within her books.


The Elephant House Edinburgh

image via Flickr

Harry Potter is a global phenomenon. The Boy Who Lived and He Who Must Not Be Named are known the world over by children and adults alike, so it’s no surprise that Potter fans flock to the places that inspired the story or featured in the big screen adaptations. No UK literary tour would be complete without visiting Edinburgh, the place where JK Rowling wrote much of the Harry Potter series. You can visit locations that inspired Rowling on a walking tour before replenishing yourself with a good cup of coffee at The Elephant House, where JK Rowling spent much of her time writing her early novels. Perhaps an odd suggestion, but it’s certainly worth checking out the toilets in The Elephant House, where the walls are filled with messages from avid fans of Harry who have wanted to put their mark on ‘The Birthplace of Harry Potter’.


A birds eye view of beautiful Oxford

image via Flickr

Being home to one of the most famous and prestigious universities in the world as well as one of the world’s first libraries, it’s no surprise that the beautiful city of Oxford would be on our itinerary for literary lovers. Whether you’re a fan of The Lord of The Rings, Alice in Wonderland, His Dark Materials or Harry Potter, you will be in your element in Oxford. There are official guided walking tours around Oxford that would suit any reader, no matter your genre of choice. There is a Children’s Stories Tour that adults and children alike will love which takes visitors to the places that inspired Philip Pullman, C.S Lewis and Lewis Carroll amongst others. Both wizards and muggles will love the Harry Potter tour, which takes a look at the filming locations of the films. There is also a C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien Tour, where guides will show you the Oxford that these two friends will have experienced; where they studied, lived and where they spent their leisure time!

Stay in a Piece of Literary History

The Retreat Self Catering Holiday Cottage in Cornwall

The Retreat in Cornwall property reference: 1678

Once you’ve had enough of touring the length and width of the UK for literary marvels, why not stay in a piece of literary history? At Sykes Cottages we have a few properties that have literary connections. How about Penlan in North Wales which was home to Albert Bestall, writer of Rupert The Bear. Stable Cottage in Shropshire was home to the family of author Malcolm Saville and his Lone Pine books were inspired by the lovely Shropshire backdrop. The Retreat in Cornwall also featured in Daphne Du Maurier’s novel The King’s General. So even if you plan on staying in one place for your UK holiday, you can still enjoy a literary connection!

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.

5 Easy London Escapes

Sunday, July 6th, 2014
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With a diverse culture, lots to do and plenty of opportunities, it is no surprise that London is bursting at the seams with tourists and locals alike. But every now and again it’s nice to escape the crowds, leave your oyster card at home and head a little further afield for some fresh air and a different scene.

If a London Escape is something you are thinking about, then you’ve come to the right place! We’ve created a nifty little guide pinpointing some of the fantastic places that you can head to when you want a little break away from the capital.

Whether you consider yourself a bit of a culture vulture, fancy a romantic break or just want to head away with the family, we have a few ideas for you. The best thing about these escapes is that they are each roughly two hours or less from The City of London and we’ve picked out a few things that you can get up to in each area. We’ve even given you an interesting fact about each of the destinations, so that you can impress your travelling companions with your knowledge!


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Five Easy London Escapes

London is a great place, but there comes a time when we all need to escape the daily grind. Travel just a few hours, and you can find a spot that’s perfect for beach lovers, foodies, romantics, culture vultures or families…

Oxford for culture vultures

59.8 miles from London with a 1 hour & 17 minute drive or a 58 minute train journey

See: The impressive Bodleian Library, which is one of the oldest in the world

Do: Wander the cobbled streets and marvel at the 38 colleges that make up one of the world’s most famous universities

Don’t miss: Christ Church College, the largest and grandest building in the university complex and location for the Harry Potter films

Did you know? The oldest form of graffiti on record can be spotted at the bottom of the stairs in the Great Hall at Christ Church, it says ‘no peel’ and there are different stories as to what it refers to

Whitstable for beach lovers

61.2 miles from London with a 1 hour & 16 minute drive or train journey

See: The Tankerton Slopes with their rolling hills and colourful beach huts provide a great vantage point overlooking the coast

Do: Take in the town by foot so you don’t miss the quirky cafes and independent shops dotted around the old high street

Don’t miss: The nautical artefacts and art of The Whitstable Museum and Gallery, which also hosts special exhibitions 6 times a year

Did you know? Oysters are synonymous with Whitstable and have been harvested in the town since Roman times

Brighton for foodies

53.7 miles from London with a 1 hour 30 drive or a 1 hour train journey

See: The Lanes, a maze of quaint cobbled streets littered with traditional pubs, independent cafes and top notch eateries

Do: Eat at Riddle and Finns- classic seafood dishes are brought to life at this Brighton culinary institution

Don’t miss: The Royal Pavilion, an incredibly ornate structure that looks as if it would be more at home in India

Did you know? Brighton and Hove’s food and drink festival occurs twice a year and is one of the largest of its kind in the UK

Bath for romantic breaks

115 miles from London with a 2 hour 6 minute drive or a 1 hour 27 minute train journey

See: A panoramic view of the city from atop Bath Abbey’s 160 foot tower, a Grade I listed building featuring no less than 212 steps

Do: Take in the architecture of Bath’s iconic Roman bathhouse and treat yourself to a dip in the natural hot spring water of the Thermae Bath Spa

Don’t miss: Jane Austen’s house and visitor centre, a charming memorial to the late novelist who set two of her novels in the city

Did you know?  Bath is the only whole UK city to be designated a world heritage site by UNESCO.

Stratford Upon Avon for families

109 miles from London with a 1 hour 46 minute drive or a 1 hour 59 minute train journey

See: The sciencey MAD Museum is brimming with odd contraptions, giving kids the chance to unleash their inner inventor

Do: Take the kids on the Stratford Treasure Trail; not only is it a great way to explore the city and get some exercise, but there’s also prizes to be won!

Don’t miss: A fun family workshop at the Royal Shakespeare Company; little ones can learn some of the bard’s famous lines before settling down to enjoy a show

Did you know? Shakespeare wrote 37 plays in his lifetime- an average of 1.5 a year!

Book your Escape

So if you’re looking for a short break from London, then what are you waiting for? Head over to the Sykes Cottages main page to browse our properties and book your 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.

Sykes’ Spotlight On: Quirky Properties

Saturday, July 5th, 2014
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If you’ve ever wanted to sleep in a railway carriage, stay over in a chapel or snooze in a signal box then you’ve come to the right place. One of the biggest benefits about staying in a holiday cottage rather than a hotel is the huge amount of choice when it comes to the style of accommodation and at Sykes Cottages, we’re proud of our large variety of accommodation types. Whether you want a traditional cottage, a modern apartment or something a little out of the ordinary, we are bound to have something to suit you! Today we’re taking a look at some of our most unique and quirky properties that will make you think twice about staying in a standard double on the third floor again.

The Old Baptist Chapel

South Wales & Pembrokeshire

The Old Baptist Chapel, South Wales & Pembrokeshire

property reference 22484

Satisfying both modern tastes and those who like things a little more traditional is The Old Baptist Chapel in South Wales. The modern décor and furnishings of this property work well with its original features to provide both attractive and comfortable accommodation.

Brookbank Folly

Royal Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

Brookbank Folly, hand built cottage Royal Forest of Dean

property reference 6733

Not only is Brookbank Folly located just on the edge of the Royal Forest of Dean, but it was also hand built using timber from the forest itself! Blending seamlessly into its surroundings and being full of character with exposed beams, wooden floors and stained glass windows, you would be forgiven for thinking that you were staying right in the thick of the forest.

Converted Railway Carriage

North York Moors & Coast

Converted Railway Carriage Self Catering Accommodation Near Whitby

property reference 3877

Forget the Orient Express! Perhaps one of the quirkiest and most unique properties in the Sykes family is the Converted Railway Carriage in Hawsker. Whilst the carriage has been refurbished to make comfortable accommodation for six, many of its original features have been left including first class seats, sliding windows and the shape of the carriage. The carriage is now static, but when sitting on one of these train seats and looking out of the window onto the beautiful countryside, you can almost imagine yourself going on a great adventure.

The Laggan Drey

Northern Highlands & Cairngorms National Park

The Laggan Drey, Self Catering Accommodation in Northern Highlands

property reference 1525

If you still have those childhood dreams of living in a treehouse then The Laggan Drey could be your answer. This timber cottage is located on the outskirts of Laggan and is built on stilts to give guests a stunning view of Ben Alder and Creag Meagaidh. The exposed beams and open plan living space give this property plenty of character and the outside space makes it feel as though you are secluded in your own treehouse world!

See More Quirky Cottages

Quirky Pinterest Board Sykes Cottages

head to our Quirky Cottages Pinterest board for more fantastically unique properties

We have far too many quirky and unusual properties to share them all in one blog post, so take a look at our quirky cottages pinterest board where you can see many more unique holiday cottages that are just a little out of the ordinary!

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 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

Image via Flickr

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

Image via Flickr

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

Image via Flickr

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.