Author Archive

Why London has a lot in common with the rest of the UK

Friday, November 27th, 2015
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Great Britain is home to both remarkable countryside, and invigorating cities – but what happens when you pair the two? We’ve taken some of our treasured cottage locations and paired them with what we think could be their London twin!

Whether they’re twinned because we think they share the same buzz, are keen on the same activities or own similar landmarks, we’ve tried to summarise the quirks of these places to show that, really, the big smoke and the countryside aren’t so far apart after all…

Shoreditch and Hastings


With Hastings having been described as the “Shoreditch of Essex” in the past, we’ve paired these two areas for their love of art and the keen creative scene.

Notting Hill and Hay-on-Wye


Thanks to the movie of the same name, there’s no disassociating Notting Hill from bookshops – and the small town of Hay-on-Wye in Wales is renowned for its high number of them, too. A match made in a book lover’s heaven!

The East End and Whitstable


Seafood is the common denominator in these two places. East London is the perfect spot to try some jellied eel, but head to Whitstable, and you’ll surely find some Whitstable Oysters to sample.

Ham and Kirtlington


Both Ham (located on the outskirts of London) and Kirtlington (just north of Oxford) are home to respected polo clubs. As well as being a centre for the game, both bring a tremendous sense of community to their respective homes!

Westminster and Dulverton


Believe it or not, both Westminster and Dulverton are home to keen stargazing communities. Regent’s Park in Westminster is home to the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers who aim to make the most of the poor darkness levels and in Dulverton, there is Exmoor National Park which was the first International Dark Sky Reserve in Europe.

Sutton and Cheltenham


Perfect for parents and their kids, both Sutton and Cheltenham have been singled out as family-friendly areas! Thanks to the beautiful parks and community facilities of Sutton, it’s known as one of London’s friendliest areas, and Cheltenham has been ranked as the top place in the UK to raise a family.

Putney and Cambridge


The relationship between Putney and Cambridge is a watery one – in the strongest sense of the term! Each year, Putney hosts the Oxbridge boat race but Cambridge is also home to its own water sport activity – the annual Dragon Boat Festival.

Hampstead and Buttermere


Open-water swimming fans in London may have already experienced taking a dip at Hampstead Heath, but how about a trip to the Lake District? Buttermere is one of the best places for those who like swimming al fresco – but be sure to don a wetsuit outside of the summer months!

Clapham and Skipwith


Both Clapham and Skipwith are home to large commons, making them perfect destinations for those with families and furry friends. Skipwith Common is also Natural England’s newest Natural Nature Reserve.

Richmond and Harrogate


In 2009, Richmond was declared as London’s “happiest borough” and recently, it was announced that Harrogate is home to the happiest people in Britain – a happy twinning indeed!

Dulwich and St Ives


Art appreciators, assemble! While Dulwich is known for the Dulwich Picture Gallery, head to the Cornish coast and you’ll find the Tate St Ives, as well as many other boutique galleries.

Tom Lowes at Sykes Cottages, adds: “We’re incredibly lucky here in the UK. We’ve got large cities and vast countryside on our doorsteps – but we want to highlight that you don’t have to head into London to experience something a little different. In short, the essence of city life can be found further afield – you just have to know where to look for it!”

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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.

Itinerary For The Ring Of Kerry

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015
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If you’re looking to discover Ireland then you can’t go wrong with a trip around the Ring of Kerry. This iconic section of the Wild Atlantic Way is simply breath-taking; with beautiful scenery and historic attractions, it allows visitors to experience the real Ireland first hand. If you feel like exploring the Ring of Kerry on your next Irish vacation then keep reading as we suggest a variety of attractions to include in your itinerary.

Visit the Kerry Bog Village

Visit the Kerry Bog Village and travel back in time to experience what life was like for the people who lived and worked in the area between the 18th and 19th century. This fantastic experience is the only one of its kind in Europe and currently, County Kerry’s leading tourist attraction. The village not only contains historic artefacts, furniture and machinery but it is also home to the Kerry Bog Ponies and Ireland’s most iconic large dogs, the Irish Wolf Hound.

Explore Ross Castle

Ross Castle is an excellent example of an Irish stronghold from the Middle Ages and provides visitors with a wonderful insight into Ireland’s past. The castle is thought to date back to the 15th century when it would have been built by one of the O’Donoghue Ross chieftains. Visit the castle today and you will find an exciting display of furniture from the 16th and 17th century, spectacular views of the countryside and Lough Leane, as well as plenty of picturesque locations for a family picnic.

Journey through the Gap of Dunloe

The Gap of Dunloe is a narrow mountain pass located between MacGillycuddy’s Peek and Purple Mountain. This beautiful area of Ireland has proven extremely popular with tourists and because of this, now has a number of tours dedicated to taking visitors through the gap. The Gap of Dunloe Tours is one of the best providers in the area and offer a tour that not only takes visitors on a pony trek through the gap, but also includes a trip to Kate’s Cottage and a traditional boat tour of the three lakes of Killarney in the same package!

Walk from Glencar to Glenbeigh

It’s easy to drive around the Ring of Kerry but why not take some time to explore the area by foot? The route between Glencar and Glenbeigh is just 11 miles long and one of the shortest sections of the original 137 mile route. The walk is pretty straight forward, simply start at The Climbers Inn and follow the marked route to Glenbeigh. On your way you’ll pass through amazing mixed forestry, moorland and the famous windy gap.

Eat at Tom Crean Fish and Wine

Tom Crean Fish and Wine offer a truly unique dining experience and is the only restaurant in the world where your dinner is cooked by Tom Crean’s own granddaughter. The restaurant’s delicious menu features some of the area’s best locally sourced organic produce and their succulent mussels have become something of a local legend! As well as the unbeatable food, visitors to Tom Crean Fish and Wine will also find rooms full of pictures and information about Ireland’s most famous Antarctic explorer.

Now that you’ve seen exactly what the Ring of Kerry has to offer, why not book a cottage and explore the area for yourself? We have a fantastic selection of Kerry cottages to choose from so whether you’re travelling as part of a group or just as a couple, we’re sure to have a cottage to suit your style and budget.

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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.

Small Cottages Perfect For One

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015
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Not everyone likes to travel as part of a large group, in fact many of us would prefer to holiday alone and treat ourselves to the finer things in life whilst enjoying a little peace and quiet. If you’re a solo traveller in search of a cottage for one, keep reading as we list four of our favourite small cottages which are sure to inspire your next getaway.

Westwick Edge Cottage

Bishop Monkton, Yorkshire Dales

Westwick Edge Cottages | Reference 921446

Westwick Edge Cottages | Reference 921446

Westwick Edge Cottage provides a wonderful holiday hideaway in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, just a short drive from the charming city of Ripon. This comfortable cottage is perfect for individuals who are looking for a little down time. Here you can spend your afternoons exploring Ripon and the Yorkshire Dales at a leisurely pace, before heading back to the cosy Westwick Edge Cottage to curl up on the sofa with a glass of wine and a good book.

The Cider Mill

Westhope, Heart of England

The Cider Mill | Reference 11799

The Cider Mill | Reference 11799

Providing fantastic Grade II listed accommodation, The Cider Mill can be found nestled amongst the apple orchards of Westhope village in the Heart of England. This character cottage comes with luxury décor, exposed beams and an inviting woodburning stove, making this snug property almost too good to leave. If you do decide to venture outside, then you’ll be rewarded with numerous walks and birdwatching opportunities as well as a warm welcome from villagers at the local pub.

Charcoal Nook

Nibthwaite, Lake District

Charcoal Nook | Reference 5253

Charcoal Nook | Reference 5253

Situated in the picturesque Lake District, just one mile from the beautiful Coniston Water, Charcoal Nook offers high class accommodation for those individuals wishing to connect with nature. From this wonderful cottage you can explore the east shore of the lake by following one of the many foot or bike paths which can be found on your door step. Once you’ve finished exploring, make your way back to Charcoal Nook and retire to the comfort of your super king size bed for a good night’s sleep.

Monks Cottage

Threshfield, Yorkshire Dales

Monks Cottage | Reference  21352

Monks Cottage | Reference 21352

Offering a warm and inviting escape from everyday life, Monks Cottage can be found in the stunning Yorkshire Dales National Park. Great for individuals travelling with their pets, this lovely cottage allows up to two well behaved dogs and provides a spacious lawned garden for them to play in. When you’re not having fun in the garden, venture a little further on and you’ll discover a fantastic walk along the river which leads to Linton Falls, a wonderful spot of a solo picnic!

To see our full selection of small holiday cottages please click here.

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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.

The Great British Brew: The UK’s Love Affair with Tea

Friday, November 6th, 2015
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Here in Britain we love a good cup of tea, in fact the team here at Sykes Cottages HQ alone manage to put away 131,000 cups a year! But just how much do you really know about the humble brew? As a part of our campaign to explore the nation’s love affair with the cuppa we’ve created the following tea themed infographic, illustrating our favourite ways to drink it, to what we call it and its role in our culture. So if you’re a fan of the great British brew, then keep reading to find out more about our favourite beverage and give yourself something to ponder over the next time you boil the kettle.



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The Great British Brew

The great British Brew

It’s no secret that we’re a nation of tea lovers, in fact we can trace our infatuation with the humble brew right back to the early 17th century.  So whether we’re at home cuddled up with a cuppa or enjoying an afternoon tea in the country, this very special love affair between Britain and the tea leaf is showing no signs of stopping.

“Where there’s tea there’s hope” – Arthur Wing Pimero

We asked our Facebook fans what they call a cup of tea, here are some of our favourite responses:

Common pet names for tea

  • Cuppa
  • Brew
  • Rosy Lea
  • Panad
  • Cuppa Char
  • Cup of Tea

Unusual pet names for tea

  • Cuppa Scad
  • Cup of Snargul
  • Wet
  • Cwpan
  • Tuptea
  • Monkey

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me” – C.S. Lewis

Tea within British culture

  • “Polly put the kettle on, Polly put the kettle on, Polly put the kettle on, We’ll all have tea.” – An 18th century nursery rhyme based on children’s playtime.
  • “Storm in a tea cup” – Everyday phrase meaning a lot of drama for a trivial matter
  • “Not my cup of tea” – Common saying meaning not to your liking
  • “Not for all the tea in China” – British phrase meaning nothing could persuade you otherwise, not even tea!
  • Our love for tea starts at a young age as we read famous children’s books which reference tea and tea parties, such as ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’

 “A cup of tea will restore my normality” – Douglas Adams

Did you know…

  • The UK imports and consumes 140 thousand tonnes of tea per year
  • The UK consumes 165 million cups of tea a day
  • 95% of tea is consumed is made from tea bags
  • Over 25% of all milk consumption in the UK is used in tea
  • Half of all Brits take tea bags on holiday with them
  • British tanks come equipped with tea-making facilities
  • Tea was partly responsible for the Suffragette movement as tea rooms gave women somewhere respectable to go alone and meet up

“Come along inside… we’ll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place” – Kenneth Grahame, ‘The Wind in the Willows’

What we’ve discovered…

We asked 2,000 Brits to tell us about their tea-drinking habits and we found that…

  • 84% of us drink at least one cup of tea per day
  • The older we get, the more tea we drink with 33% of over 55’s drinking five or more cups of tea a day, compared to just 11% of 18-24 year olds
  • Over half of British people take their tea white with no sugar
  • Not only do we love tea but apparently we’re quite fussy about how it’s made, with 59% preferring to make their own cup of tea

“Tea is one of the main stays of civilisation in this country” – George Orwell



So there you have Sykes’ Great British Brew Infographic but don’t forget that it’s just one part of our cuppa based content! We’ve also created a series of tea based illustrations that contain our favourite quotes and some of the best findings from our survey, not to mention our advice on why you might want to hold back on the tea round at work!

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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.

Alternative Days Out

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
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The UK is packed full of fantastic days out and attractions to visit but once you’ve explored each castle, climbed every mountain and investigated all the historic landmarks, what’s left to do? In today’s blog we take a look at some of the UK’s alternative days out, days out with activities that you have yet to try, that offer new and exciting experiences.  These days out are sure to offer something different on your next holiday and provide you with plenty of inspiration for long weekends away.


Falconry is an ancient and exciting activity that many people have heard of but have not yet tried. On a recent day out, the team here at Sykes HQ experienced falconry first hand and I have to say it was one of the best days out I’ve ever had! Watching these incredible birds in flight is truly inspiring and being able to handle and work with them is a real treat. If you fancy trying this exciting activity then you couldn’t ask for a better provider than Hawkins Falconry. Visit Nigel Hawkins and you can see Goshawks and Harris Hawks in action as they work alongside German Short Haired Pointers, you can take a hawk walk across the country or even give ‘parahawking’ a go, an exciting experience that combines both paragliding and falconry.

Hawkins Falconry is based in South Staffordshire but they also have venues in Shropshire and South Wales. Your falconry experience is guaranteed to be unique so for more information on what’s available or to book, please email

White Water Rafting

A wonderful activity for the whole family, white water rafting is an exercise sure to get your blood pumping. You can go white water rafting at any time of year making it perfect for the British weather because let’s face it, you’re going to get wet anyway! The River Tay in Scotland and Nae Limits offer the ideal combination for white water rafting; Nae Limits provide the guidance and expertise and the River Tay provides the waves. The professionals at Nae Limits will brief you on all things rafting and initiate games before letting the river take over. Visit during summer for a slower pace suitable for families and beginners, or wrap up warm and take on the winter waters for a faster session ideal for the adrenaline junkies amongst us.

White water rafting along the River Tay with Nae Limits will cost your group £45.00 per person. The activity lasts three hours and covers a 6 mile stretch of the river between Aberfeldy and Grandtully. For more information and bookings please email

Climb the O2

Thousands of people walk past the O2 every day and as one of the UK’s most iconic buildings, its appearance is easily recognised, but did you know that you can climb to the very top of the building with Up at The O2? With a top height of 52 metres, this experience is not for the faint-hearted. However if you have a head for heights and a thirst for adventure, this could be the perfect activity for you. The O2’s incredible height provides a phenomenal 360 degree view of London and some of its most popular areas including the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Canary Wharf.

Up at the O2 is suitable for those aged 10 years or older and participants must be at least 1.2 metres tall. Prices start from as little as £28 per person and the climb lasts around 90 minutes. For more information or to make a booking, please visit the Up at The O2 website.

These are just a few of the different days out available to you in the UK, if you have an idea for an alternative day out then feel free to share it with us by commenting on our Facebook page or tweeting us.

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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.