Author Archive

Top Ten Reasons To Visit Romantic Scotland

Sunday, August 24th, 2014
Pin It

Despite frequently appearing in ‘top romantic places’ polls, we were surprised when our recent survey returned results that only 5% of respondents would head to Scotland for a romantic getaway. Assuming that we weren’t the only ones surprised by these results, we created our Romantic Scotland competition to get some back up from knowledgeable bloggers who were more than happy to share their stories on why the home of Nessie is ideal for love birds. Read on to discover some of their reasons why they think Scotland is a perfect romantic destination, and take a look at their blogs to see their full stories of Scottish romance!

Image of Ben Lomond Done Gallivanting

Photo credit to Sarah at Done Gallivanting

Ten Reasons Scotland is Perfect For a Romantic Getaway

  1. Sarah from Done Gallivanting agrees that 95% of survey respondents are missing out by not visiting Scotland for a romantic break. Herself and her fiancé have travelled the length and breadth of Scotland and she suggests that you ‘write your own map of memories’ just like herself and her fiancé have.
  2. Alison of Dragons and Fairy Dust agrees that Scotland is the perfect place for a romantic stay or a wedding due to the stunning houses, gorgeous food, fabulous tradition and scenery.
  3. Susan from Mess in The ‘Ness thinks that Scotland is ideal for any and all couples, due to the variety of things to see and do across the country. Whether you fancy tackling the crowds in a city or heading to a remote location where you can feel like you are the only people on earth.
  4. Emily from Under The Scottish Rain tells us about why she thinks Aberdeen is ideal for romance and suggests walks through the sparkling city centre whilst the sun shines or along the golden sands of the beach.
  5. There is a list over on I Heart Travel about what makes Scotland an ideal romantic destination in each season. Head for a city break in spring, have lazy days on the beach in summer, head to country parks on crisp autumn days and snuggle in front of a log fire in the winter.
  6. Hooey from Cornish Life shares why she is happy to travel for ten hours to visit Scotland from her home in Cornwall and says that it is the ideal location for getting away from it all and spending quality time together.
  7. Hannah from Hannah’s Helping Hand says what she loves about Scotland is how she feels she is being drawn into her very own novel and the perfect setting for her own mini-break version of Pride and Prejudice.
  8. Bel from Journeys Are My Diary says that the beautiful scenery of lochs, forests and glens made her fall in love with Scotland itself.
  9. Angeline from Daft Mamma tells us about her most romantic getaway in Achiltibuie, in which she loved her cosy cottage accommodation and closeness to the beautiful beach.
  10. Rachel from Tea & Tales shares her top five reasons why she thinks that Scotland is perfect for romance: the beautiful city of Edinburgh that is steeped in history, the private beaches, the stunning scenery, the wildlife and the chance to stay cosy.

Here are just some of the reasons why these bloggers think that Scotland is romantic, but why not book a romantic holiday cottage and find out for yourself? Whether you want a late summer getaway or a cosy winter retreat, there is still time to discover all that Scotland has to offer in 2014 and beyond!

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.

Family Friendly Homemade Ice Lolly Recipes

Thursday, August 14th, 2014
Pin It

The good old British summer has arrived, and we are being absolutely spoilt this year. With temperatures in the twenties and more sun than you can shake a bucket and spade at, it’s fair to say that it’s been a scorcher! Now, the best thing to quell the summer heat is an ice lolly or other sweet treat, but these can be full of sugars, e-numbers and other nasties. We wanted to bring you a selection of fantastic homemade, family friendly summer ice lolly recipes that you can rustle up in no time. We brought in a crack team of creative family bloggers who took on our challenge to create unique, family friendly, ice lollies and the results were pretty delicious.


Making Healthy Ice Lollies

Whilst all of these fantastic homemade recipes are far healthier than the pre-packaged ones you would find in the freezer aisle of your local supermarket, a few of our entrants really did put health first, with some delicious results! Hannah from Mums’ Days got a little sneaky with her recipe, by creating a ‘Hidden Veg’ ice lolly, which is an ingenious way of getting a few more veggies into your children’s diet. Clara and Kirsty over at My Two Mums made a deliciously healthy Summer Berry Lolly which contains blueberries, raspberries and strawberries – yum! Lynsey and her daughter from Mum, That’s Me created incredibly refreshing Strawberry and Watermelon ice lollies whilst Ethan and Niki from Play & Learn Everyday created both Strawberry Purée and Apple Juice Ice Lollies as well as Blueberry and Vanilla Yoghurt lollies.

Family Favourites

Homemade Family Favourite Ice Lollies

Our team of bloggers came up with some fantastic ice lolly recipes that were reminiscent of family favourites, new and old. The family over at Clearly Bex created a delightful version of Fabs, complete with chocolate and sprinkles! Nikki from Stressy Mummy kept her recipe simple, but in no way plain, with a deliciously refreshing Raspberry and Lemonade ice lolly; perfect for those hot sunny days we’ve been having! Michelle from Mummy 2 Monkeys got really creative and turned the challenge into a guessing game; filling each of the moulds with a different flavour (including Pepsi, Lucozade and strawberry water as well as wine and beer for the grown-ups) so that everyone could have a guess at which was which! Jodie and her little ones over at Life with Pink Princesses created something that reminded me of one of my favourite childhood treats; mini milks! Milkshake powder and milk is mixed together and frozen to create an ideal calcium-filled treat that everyone will love.


Indulgent Homemade Ice Lollies

As our super blogging team know, for the purpose of a balanced diet, we all need a bit of a naughty treat every now and again. As such, we received a couple of entries that will give you your chocolate fix whilst being absolutely delicious! It was a family effort over at Actually Mummy, where these Crunchie Banana Cream Ice Lollies were created. Laura from Chez Mummy made some utterly delicious sounding chocolate and caramel lollies that featured as the perfect dessert, before settling on a simply refreshing cloudy lemonade ice lolly.

… The Winners Are

Homemade Ice Lollies

As you can see, choosing the winners for this competition was a really tough choice. Each entrant had fun and showed creativity in creating their ice lollies. In the end, there were two winners. First place going to Hannah from Mums’ Days for her ingenious way of getting little ones to eat more veggies, and second place to Laura from ChezMummy! Despite some mishaps in the kitchen, Laura really got into the spirit of the competition by getting her kids fully involved in creating and making some delicious creations.

A huge thank you to our super ice lolly making team for taking part in the competition and for really getting involved! If you want to have a go at any of these ice lollies then take a look at each bloggers post for the full recipes.

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.

Lake Vs. Beach

Sunday, August 10th, 2014
Pin It

Whether you want a rural countryside getaway or a more traditional time beside the seaside, we are lucky enough to be spoilt for choice here in the UK. From rolling countryside in the Peak District to the sandy shores of Cornwall, everyone has their favourite holiday destination. Today we’re mediating the ultimate battle between what makes Lake and Beach locations; which will win?



image from property 913260

Just imagine you’re stepping out of your lovely holiday cottage in the morning, brew of choice in hand, there is still dew on the grass and a beautiful view of hills ahead of you. You’re thinking about the day you’re about to spend beside the lake, surrounded by stunning trees and nature. Blissful, isn’t it? Now imagine yourself stepping out of a similarly lovely holiday cottage, you can see imposing cliffs and perhaps you can make out some fairground rides in the distance. Looking towards the coast you can see the almost empty beach with stunning sand and blue sea across the horizon. Both equally as stunning and whether you’re by a lake or the beach, the surrounding views will be vastly different despite both having incredible natural beauty. At beach locations you will of course see sand, cliffs and potentially a boat or two along the horizon. At lakes you will be surrounded by lush countryside, hills and stunning forests.



image from property 911868

During summer, the UK coastline is full to the brim with sun seekers trying to catch the rays as well as being a popular choice for family holidays. This mixed with potential fairground rides and other activities can make the beach quite a loud location! If a bit of a quieter getaway is what you’re after then perhaps a lake location is the way to go. With holidaymakers much more spread out in comparison to how they would be on a beach, lakes are noticeably quieter but if you like a little hustle and bustle the beach may be more your scene.

Things To Do


image from property 906039

The glory of beach and lake locations is that both play host to a variety of things to do! If you’re feeling adventurous on the beach then you could try out coasteering or surfing. For a less wild day, you could build a sandcastle or search for fossils. If you fancy a chilled out day beside a lake you could go fishing or for a walk in the countryside. Alternatively, when feeling adventurous on a lake holiday you could head for the trees to partake in a Go Ape course or have a go at climbing or abseiling. The possibilities really are endless for both locations and whichever way you feel like spending your day you will be stuck for choice!

You really could go on comparing lakes and beaches forever and never come to a conclusion on which is the best place to take a holiday. Both are popular destinations due to their beautiful scenery, choices of things to do and of course their locations!

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.

Our Favourite Holiday Reads

Friday, August 8th, 2014
Pin It

There is no better way to spend a relaxing holiday afternoon than getting fully engrossed in a good book. Whether you’re a fan of crime, non-fiction or a romantic tale, any and all genres are perfect for the beach! With the Sykes blog writers being a team of book lovers, we thought that we would share some of our favourite beach reads with you.

The Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThebigsleep


When it comes to ‘beach reads’, for me, it has to be crime fiction. In the space of a week, I can get through any number of these pacey page-turners, but one that stands out as particularly brilliant is Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep. Short, sharp and home to one the coolest narrators ever penned (Phillip Marlowe), this complex yet hugely entertaining book is about as unputdownable as any beach read can be- enjoy!

warbreakerWarbreaker by Brandon Sanderson


Brandon Sanderson is a world class fantasy novelist, he is not only able to create complicated characters but also fully immerse you in that character’s world. He has a number of books which I love to read but Warbreaker makes the ideal beach read as it is a standalone novel. Warbreaker tells the story of two Idrian princesses, Vivenna and Siri. Vivenna is contracted to marry the God King of Hallandren and has been trained her whole life to be the perfect queen, however at the last moment her farther decided that Siri is to marry the God King in her place. The book follows both princesses as Siri is transported to Hallandren to marry the God King and Vivenna follows in hopes of saving her sister from her awful fate!

One Day by David Nichollsoneday


With a storyline that pulls you in and characters that you can’t help but like, One Day is an ideal beach read. The book has a unique style, with one chapter covering the same day of each year in the protagonists’ lives (the 15th July, which was the date that they met in 1988) for twenty years. Whether the characters are together or apart, successful or failing, there is at least one chapter of this novel that you can relate to. The style of the chapters is what makes it the ideal beach read, totally engrossing yet easy to put down and pick up if you fancy building a sandcastle!

TWHLBThe Woman He Loved Before by Dorothy Koomson

Being my favourite author for her fantastic characters, well thought out stories and fantastic writing, my number one choice for a beach read is anything by Dorothy Koomson. I could happily re-read all of her books at any time of year, right from The Cupid Effect to The Flavours of Love. The Woman He Loved Before is an ideal beach read. It follows the story of Libby whom, unsure of whether her husband Jack has ever loved her, comes across diaries written by Jacks late first-wife Eve. Whilst she reads the diaries she uncovers some startling truths. The story is tense, moving and a real page turner.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de BerniéresCaptain Corelli's Mandolin


A mixture of history and romance, and comedy and tragedy, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is my idea of a perfect beach read. The story is set on the Greek island of Cephalonia (Kefalonia) and follows the story of the locals as Italian officers, including the charming Captain Antonio Corelli, are posted on the island as part of occupying forces. It offers a little bit of everything and is beautifully written, which makes it very hard to put down. I think that this is the most important quality for a good beach read as there are so many distractions to contend with when you’re on holiday!

Starter For Ten by David NichollsStarter For Ten by David Nicholls


In my eyes an ideal beach read is one that is quite easy-going and therefore makes it easy to while away a couple of hours in the sun, and that’s why I’ve chosen David Nicholls’ Starter for Ten! Set back in the mid-eighties it tells the tale of Brian Jackson, a working class Essex boy, as he struggles his way through his first year at one of the country’s most prestigious universities. It’s an entertaining coming-of-age story full to the brim with laughs, as well as the odd cringe-worthy mishap that will leave you wanting to read page after page!


These are just some of our favourite beach reads, we’d love to know yours! Send us a tweet or leave us a note on facebook telling us what you’ll be reading on your summer holiday this year. For more inspiration of what book to pack when you head away, take a look at our holiday reads Pinterest board

All images for this blog post were taken from the Waterstones 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.

Best Apps for Your Family Holiday

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014
Pin It

If you’re heading off on holiday soon and you want to fill up your smartphone or tablet with useful apps as well as the fun ones then you’re in the right place! Whilst many people consider family holidays to be a smartphone and tablet free zone, with a few carefully selected applications downloaded, your handheld device needn’t be a holiday hindrance, it can in fact be a holiday helper!

Best Apps for Local Information

Tripadvisor Application

Image via Flickr

If your family holiday involves days in the great outdoors then stay three steps ahead of the weather by keeping up to date with the forecast by downloading the Met Office weather app. Along with keeping up to date with the weather forecast, when going to a new place it is always a good idea to keep some kind of navigation to hand, to ease the stresses of journeys around unknown roads. Now a few years back we would have suggested a compass but times have changed and these days the Google Maps application is a far more popular choice! Tripadvisor is another useful application, as not only can you see what’s nearby but you can also read what other customers thought!

Best Apps for Entertainment


Image via Flickr

We go on holiday for fun and whilst we often have a full itinerary planned ahead it is always a good idea to have some back-up entertainment handy, should the occasion arise! This is where apps such as Netflix, Spotify and ITV Player come in; catch up on your favourite TV shows whilst waiting to head out and put on a fun family friendly Spotify playlist when you are out and about.

Best Apps for Keeping The Kids Entertained

Educational Yet Fun Games to Keep Children Entertained

Image via Flickr

If you’re on a long journey and all of our tips for keeping children entertained aren’t working out, it might be time to bring out the big guns; yes, I’m talking about child friendly applications. Apps that your little ones will love don’t have to be wasted time, either – download a couple of educational yet fun games and your children will be happy and so will you! Games such as How to Draw, Cbeebies Playtime and Lego Juniors Create & Cruise are just some of the educational games that your children will absolutely love!

Best Apps for Things to Do


Image via Flickr

Your holiday cottage is (of course) fantastic, the weather is great and you know that you need to head out to explore but if you’re not too sure of the area or what there is to do then deciding can be a bit of a pickle! Apps such as the National Trust, AA Days Out Guide and Garmin’s OpenCaching can come in handy when you’re stuck for inspiration of what to do or where to go!

Best Apps for Recipes

Image via Flickr

When you’re heading on a self catering holiday you probably don’t want to be spending hours cooped up in the kitchen, (although there are some lovely ones about), but it would be a shame to miss out on creating something delicious with the local produce. Apps such as Jamie’s 20 Minute Meals, Philadelphia Recipes and Change 4 Life Smart Recipes each contain a number of healthy, family friendly recipes that everyone will enjoy – and the bonus, is that they’re all pretty easy to make! Now that you have some ideas of the best apps around, why not book yourself a self catering holiday with Sykes Cottages? You could even book using the Sykes Cottages smartphone app!

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.