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Four Seasons of Scotland

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
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It may only be October but here at Sykes Cottages we are already taking a large number of bookings for 2015. In a former post, my colleague Louise explained why it’s important to book your 2015 summer holiday early, and she wasn’t wrong; booking in advance allows you more choice, more time to save and of course something to look forward to.

If you’re thinking of planning your 2015 holiday early and you’re having difficulties finding the ideal destination then we suggest a trip to bonnie Scotland. Scotland is beautiful all year round and offers a number of fantastic activities in every season.

To help you discover Scotland and what it can offer you throughout the year take a look at the following infographic which highlights some of our favourite Scottish activities.

Scotland_Infographic_Final

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Four Seasons of Scotland

Most people wouldn’t think of Scotland as a year-round holiday destination but here at Sykes Cottages, we want to show you that it’s possible to enjoy a fantastic holiday in this beautiful country, whatever the season! Here’s our handy guide on what to do in Scotland, come rain or shine.

Summer 21C

During the summer, make the most of the warm weather and head to one of Scotland’s unspoilt white sand beaches such as Luskentyre, with its turquoise waters and mountain views. Scotland
has more than double the length of coastline than England and Wales combined so you’ll never run out of picture-perfect beaches to explore!

Spring 18C

At the beginning of May, the Highland Games are kicked off with a bang at Gourock Park in Inverclyde. The Gourock Highland Games are the first games to take place after the winter and are a
great opportunity to experience the essence of Scottish culture with bagpipes, highland dancing, caber tossing, the Scottish hammer throw and even children’s entertainment!

Autumn 10C

Beat the autumn chill and put a fire in your belly with a trip to the Isle of Islay, which is home to no fewer than 8 whisky distilleries. The island is said to offer some of the most distinctive and flavourful whiskies in the world and competition between the distilleries is fierce. They’re always striving to produce the best dram on the island, ensuring that they are all sensational!

Winter 3C

Over New Year, there’s no better place to be than Edinburgh for its legendary Hogmanay celebrations. Take part in the torchlight procession down the Royal Mile, gaze in awe at the famous firework displays, dance the night away at the official street party and sing your heart out at the Concert in the Gardens beneath Edinburgh Castle.

Book your 2015 holiday

If you’ve decided that Scotland is the perfect location for your 2015 holiday then why not check out our Scottish cottages page? With over 600 properties located throughout Scotland we are sure to have the ideal cottage to suit your needs. For more information on our Scottish cottages and booking a holiday up North contact our reservations team today!

nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

UK Michelin Starred Restaurants – Where to Indulge this Autumn

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
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Of the four seasons, autumn is my favourite. Warm woollen jumpers, colourful forest walks and early nights all add to this season’s charm, but possibly its best feature is the abundance of seasonal produce on offer. For me autumn is all about food and for a real treat during these chilly months I like nothing better than indulging in a luxury meal cooked by some of the UK’s finest chefs.

To help whet your appetite for autumn we’ve put together a selection of four Michelin starred restaurants offering a delectable selection of seasonal produce.

Mr Underhill’s Restaurant, Ludlow

Image taken from Mr Underhill's website.

Image taken from Mr Underhill’s website.

Mr Underhill’s has been serving award-winning food for over 32 years and with courses like ‘White fish veloute, marmalade ice cream and shellfish wafer’ it’s no wonder people keep coming back to this delightful venue. Set at the foot of Ludlow castle, overlooking a beautiful courtyard garden with views of the River Teme beyond, this really is a magical spot.

Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

The Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud is the only two star Michelin restaurant in Ireland and has been at the centre of Dublin’s fine dining scene for 33 years. Reading through this venue’s menu is sure to make your mouth water with courses like ‘Mellow Spiced Wicklow Lamb with Avacado Mousseline, Piquillos Pepper, Olive Crumble and Pearle Jus’.

The Bath Priory, Bath

Image taken from The Bath Priory website.

Image taken from The Bath Priory website.

From Michelin starred dining to award winning gardens, The Bath Priory offers an outstanding dining experience. Their executive chef, Sam Moody, has created a fantastic reputation for flavour and their current menu doesn’t disappoint with an indulgent selection of autumnal flavours available in their mid-week lunch menu.

Castle Terrace, Edinburgh

Image provided by Castle Terrace.

Image provided by Castle Terrace.

The Castle Terrace Restaurant in Edinburgh specialises in using the finest produce Scotland has to offer and delivering it in a neat and tasty package to their customers. Their ‘Celebration of The Season’ menu is a must and for me it’s all about the fish! Freshly caught from the North Sea there is a choice of Squid, Skate and a selection of shellfish.

We hope this tantalising selection of restaurants hasn’t left you feeling too hungry but that it has inspired you to get out there and taste all the delights autumn has to offer. If you come across some scrumptious autumn food then be sure to let us know either by Facebook or on Twitter.

nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

2014 Chester Duck Race

Monday, September 22nd, 2014
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Laughter filled the streets of Chester this Saturday as the 2014 Chester Duck Race kicked off on the River Dee. Hundreds of people turned up in support of the Babygrow Appeal ready to watch the 5,000 rubber ducks and 70 corporate ducks take to the water!

The Sykes team turned out in force to cheer on our star racer, Nigel the Duck. Although Nigel didn’t win he was really pleased with his performance saying that all his hard work and training had definitely paid off. The winner of this year’s corporate duck race was Frank the Boiler Repair Man, a fantastic duck who had the lead on his competition right from the off.

Along with the corporate duck race there was also 5,000 mini ducks released to race down the river, a number of baked goods, knitted crafts on sale and some wonderful choir performances by  the children of St Werburgh and St Columba’s who really sang their hearts out.

The day was a big success and a lot of fun. The team here at Sykes Cottages would like to say a huge thank you and congratulations to Lesley, Janet, Angie and all the volunteers involved in making the event happen; they have worked really hard and raised almost £20,000 for the Babygrow Appeal.

We’ve attached some of our favourite pictures from Saturday below for you to browse through and remember, you can make a donation to the Babygrow Appeal at any time by simply visiting their just giving page.

The corporate ducks on display before the big race.

The corporate ducks on display before the big race.

Some of the fantastic volunteers who gave up their Saturday for a great cause.

Some of the fantastic volunteers who gave up their Saturday to help out with the event

The corporate ducks getting ready to make a splash

The corporate ducks getting ready to make a splash

Corporate ducks making their way down the river. Can you spot Nigel?

Corporate ducks making their way down the river. Can you spot Nigel?

There he is, giving us a wave as he heads towards the finish line

There he is, giving us a wave as he heads towards the finish line

This little guy needed a little extra help

This little guy needed a little extra help

Mini ducks getting ready to dive in!

Mini ducks getting ready to dive in!

Sink or swim time for the mini ducks.

Sink or swim time for the mini ducks.

There they go, 5,000 mini ducks take the plunge

There they go, 5,000 mini ducks take the plunge

Riding the wave; mini ducks make their way towards the finish line.

Riding the wave; mini ducks make their way towards the finish line.

nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Why You Need to Attend the Egremont Crab Fair

Saturday, September 20th, 2014
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The Egremont Crab Fair was established way back in 1267 and is still the most highly anticipated event in Cumbria’s calendar; with impressive cart racing and disturbing gurning, this fair is a true British delight, one that shouldn’t be missed! In honour of this year’s fair we’ve thrown together the top five reasons why you need to attend this entertaining event.

1. The raising of the greasy pole

raising of the pole

At dawn on the fist day of Egremont Crab Fair, the greasy pole is raised at the Market Cross; the pole is nearly 30ft tall and greased to make it harder to climb. Youngsters from the town will climb the pole tearing off ribbons at the lower levels to exchange for prizes in the town. The person who reaches the top of the pole first will win the grand prize!

2. It’s all about the gurning…

Egremont Crab Fiar winner

… and here is the current World Champion, Tommy Mattinson, showing us how it’s done! As the highlight of the fair, gurning is a highly competitive sport in Egremont where competitors are challenged  to pull a grotesque face whilst placing their face through a horse collar.

3. Fancy an apple?

1962's Parade of the Apple cart

Traditionally known as the ‘Scattering of Apples’, the Parade of the Apple Cart is one of the fair’s longest running traditions. Originally started when the Lord of Egremont would scatter crab apples amongst the children in the town. A sweeter apple is now used in the Parade with men, women and the Crab Fair Queen throwing them out to the crowd.

4. How about a spot of wrestling?

cumberland wrestling

Cumberland wrestling that is! A great spectator sport, well unless you fancy falling flat on your back in the middle of a field. Cumberland wrestling is when you lock hands behind your opponents back and try to throw them to the ground, the wrestler that lands face up on the ground loses.

5. Smoking the pipe

smoking

During this competition each adult is given a pipe which has been filled with black twist tobacco, the winner of the competition is the competitor who smokes his tobacco in the quickest time.

There are many more reasons to visit the fair including children’s races, live music and local ale. For more information on this event, the location and its history, be sure to visit the Egremont Crab fair website. They also have a Facebook and Twitter page where you can send in your best gurning pictures using the hashtag #tweetyourGurn!

All of the images for this blog were taken from the Egremont Crab Fair Facebook account. 

nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Top 10 Historic Sites Outside of London

Friday, September 12th, 2014
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The UK is home to many historic sites which showcase Britain’s rich and diverse history, a history that attracts thousands of visitors to our island each year! Living in the UK, it is easy to forget that historical sites can be found almost everywhere you look and that they aren’t just limited to the country’s capital, London. Here at Sykes Cottages we have scoured the UK in search of its best historic sites and below you will find our choice of the ten must see sites outside of London.

Whitby Abbey – North Yorkshire

Image provided by Charlotte Stamper.

Image provided by Charlotte Stamper.

Overlooking the popular coastal town of Whitby, the abbey dominates the horizon with its gothic demeanour. As one of the most atmospheric visitor attractions in Yorkshire, Whitby Abbey is a must at any time of year.

Caernarfon Castle – Gwynedd

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Built by Edward I, the intimidating keep of Caernarfon Castle makes it one of Wales’ most impressive structures.  With its unusual polygonal towers and colour coded stones, this castle is sure to capture the imagination of children and adults alike.

Iron Bridge and Tollhouse – Shropshire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

The Iron bridge and Tollhouse in Telford, Shropshire is seen as one of the iconic symbols of the industrial revolution. Become part of the story as you walk over and marvel at the world’s first cast-iron bridge, an activity tourists have been partaking in since 1779!

Stonehenge – Wiltshire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

As one of the wonders of the world, you would be crazy not to plan a trip to Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Archaeologists believe that the structure was erected around 3,100 BC and took some 300 years to build.

Bayham Old Abbey – East Sussex

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Located on the Kent/ Sussex border, Bayham Old Abbey is a fascinating collection of ruins which include most of the 13th to 15th century church. The ideal location for a picnic, this historic site is a favourite amongst visitors to the area.

Birdoswald Roman Fort – Cumbria

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Birdoswald Roman Fort is located alongside the longest remaining continuous stretch of Hadrian’s Wall. Not just famed for its historic remnants but also for the abundance of wildlife, this area is the ideal stop off for visitors making their way along Hadrian’s Wall.

Chatsworth House – Derbyshire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

With its regal appearance and impressive surroundings Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is a favourite among tourists. Steeped in history, this regal building also plays a part in popular culture as the setting of Mr Darcy’s Home in the 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Roman Baths – Somerset

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

As one of the largest tourist attractions in the South West, the Roman baths in Bath make for a captivating day out. Below modern street level, the baths have four exciting features to explore; the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House, the Sacred Spring and finds from Roman Bath.

Edinburgh Castle – Edinburgh

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Dominating the skyline of Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh castle sits proudly on top of its great rock. Used for centuries as an ancient stronghold, home to royalty and then as army headquarters, Edinburgh castle provides something for everyone on a family day out.

Chester City – Cheshire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

The historic city of Chester is a fantastic destination for a weekend away, with so much history to discover you’ll want to squeeze in as much as possible! We would highly suggest trips to the Roman Amphitheatre, Chester Cathedral and of course a spot of light exercise walking the city walls.

We hope this selection of ten historic sites to visit outside of London has left you feeling inspired. If we’ve missed out your favourite historic attraction then let us know! We would love to hear from you and can be reached on Facebook, Twitter or over Google Plus.

nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.