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Make the Most of the Late Summer Sun

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015
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Summer is almost at a close, the children are back at school, the nights are getting longer and the weather is growing colder. Here at Sykes Cottages we can’t bear to say goodbye to summer just yet so in order to make the most of the late summer sunshine, we suggest packing your bags and heading off on a UK short break. We’ve listed some of our favourite short break destinations below which are perfect for late summer getaways to see if we can convince you to make the most of the late summer sun this year.


The beautiful harbour town and traditional seaside resort of Tenby offers a picturesque escape from everyday living. The town’s cobbled streets are full of cafes, shops, pubs and restaurants, making the area ideal for a romantic getaway. The Mooring Restaurant is particularly good and after a day of exploring Tenby’s streets we can think of nothing better than a healthy helping of their summer vegetable risotto.


Commonly referred to as Shakespeare Country, Stratford-upon-Avon is an ancient market town with over 800 years of history. Those interested in Shakespeare can visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace, a restored 16th century house which was once home to the man himself, before catching one of his plays at the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre. The theatre is located in a Grade II listed building alongside the River Avon with shows being performed all year round .


The Isle of Wight is a fantastic destination for short breaks with the family and there is no better island base than Shanklin. This wonderful seaside village is perfect for long days spent at the beach, relaxing in the traditional beach huts, building sandcastles and enjoying an ice-cream or two. It’s also a great spot for exploring the Isle of Wight’s other attractions like the zoo, model village, petting zoos and steam railway.


With a variety of stores and independent boutiques, Truro is the retail capital of Cornwall and the county’s only city. Walking through the streets of Truro, you can’t help but be impressed by the beautiful Georgian architecture, numerous museums and galleries and of course the spectacular cathedral. We would suggest a trip to Truro for anyone who is looking for a city break with a difference.

We hope this list of locations has given you some inspiration for a last minute getaway in the sun. If you do fancy a short break then make sure to check out our flexible cottage breaks page – bookable from now until October 23rd, these cottages are offering short stays for two nights or more starting on any day of the week!

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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.

Five Traditional Foods You Must Eat In Wales

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015
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With half of the country backing onto the coast and the other half full of beautiful countryside, it’s no wonder Wales produces some of the UK’s best produce. But along with its fantastic produce, Wales is also home to a number of fantastic traditional recipes. On today’s blog we’ve decided to celebrate Welsh food by listing several traditional foods you must try on your next visit to Wales!

Welsh Rarebit

What it is: Welsh rarebit is often compared to cheese on toast but it’s so much more than that! A true comfort food Welsh rarebit combines cheese, mustard, beer and flour to make a tasty topping for thick-cut, rustic Welsh bread. Easy to make and easily found in many Welsh eateries, this dish is a must for anyone looking for a hearty Welsh breakfast.
Where to find it: Caffi Florence in Loggerheads Country Park serves a fantastic Welsh rarebit with home cooked ham for just £6.95. Perfect for a late breakfast or brunch, this Welsh rarebit is a real treat for anyone in the area.
Make it yourself: Visit BBC Food for a fantastic Welsh rarebit recipe that serves four people and takes less than 30 minutes to make.


What it is: Welshcakes are delicate little cakes which can be eaten at any time of day. Traditionally cooked over a bakestone, they are now more commonly cooked on a griddle for just two to three minutes each side. Welshcakes are filled with dried fruit and a mixture of spices which normally include nutmeg, sugar and ginger.
Where to find it: Cwmni Cacen Gri in Betws y Coed is famous for its traditional Welshcakes served fresh from the griddle. We would highly suggest stopping by and treating yourself to a hot Welshcake and tasty traditional Welsh tea.
Make it yourself: Good Food have put together this tasty recipe for Welshcakes which is sure to impress your friends and family. The recipe makes 16 Welsh cakes and takes around 20 minutes from start to finish.


What it is: Cawl is a traditional Welsh stew made with lamb, leeks and root vegetables, usually potatoes, carrots and swede. Each region in Wales has its own take on cawl so although the core ingredients stay the same, you should see the addition of other seasonal veg and possibly even bacon as you travel around the country.
Where to find it: The Plash Inn in Whitland is part of Discover Carmarthenshire’s Cawl Crawl and serves up a truly tasty cawl full of flavour!
Make it yourself: This fantastic recipe from Loved Earthy Locally is sure to warm you up on a cold day. Packed full of goodness this recipe will serve six people and takes around three hours to cook.

Bara Brith

What it is: Translated, bara brith means ‘speckled bread’ although the issue of whether bara brith is a bread or a cake is wildly debated across Wales. As bara brith is traditionally made with yeast, packed full of dried fruit and spice, and served with salted Welsh Butter, we’re going to say it’s most definitely a bread!
Where to find it: Treat yourself to a Welsh afternoon tea at Caffi Gwynant and along with an array of other delicious treats, you’ll also receive a slice of their mouth-watering bara brith with Welsh butter.
Make it yourself: For a tasty bara brith loaf that will cut into 10 slices, we would suggest this recipe from Good Food. Ready in just one hour and 40 minutes, this bara brith is best served with traditional Welsh salted butter.

Glamorgan Sausage

What it is: A favourite amongst vegetarians, Glamorgan sausage is a cheese and leek mixture coated in breadcrumbs. Traditionally made with Caerphilly cheese, Glamorgan sausages can actually be made with any crumbly white cheese and are fantastic when served with pickle.
Where to find it: The Hayloft Restaurant at the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre serves a fantastic Glamorgan sausage as part of their lunch time menu. Stuffed with wholegrain mustard and Aberwen cheese, the sausages are a favourite for many customers.
Make it yourself: The Guardian have put together a fantastic recipe for homemade Glamorgan sausages. This recipe will make six and should be ready in about 45 minutes.

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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.

Five of Yorkshire’s Prettiest Towns

Monday, August 17th, 2015
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Often referred to as God’s own country, Yorkshire is packed full of picturesque market towns, charming villages and rural country hamlets, all of which help make it one of the nation’s favourite holiday spots. If you’ve yet to be convinced by Yorkshire’s scenic landscapes then keep reading as we list five of the prettiest towns in Yorkshire that are sure to see you packing a bag for a northern adventure in no time.


Recently voted the happiest place to live in the UK for the third year in a row, it’s easy to see why Harrogate has made it onto our list of Yorkshire’s prettiest towns. From the cosy country pubs to beautiful historic buildings and luxury spas, Harrogate is the destination of choice for couples who are looking for a romantic getaway.


Dominated by its beautiful mediaeval Abbey, the historic town of Selby is truly one of Yorkshire’s hidden gems and a must for history lovers. Step back in time as you explore the impressive Abbey and marvel at the 15th century gatehouse before indulging in a bite to eat at one of Selby’s numerous fine restaurants.


The historic market town of Huddersfield is ideal for culture seekers; with numerous festivals and markets held throughout the year, you’re never short of something to do. Visit Huddersfield and you can’t help but be impressed by the award-winning Victorian architecture, historic monuments, stunning art work, international market and delicious eateries.

Hebden Bridge

Hebden Bridge is ideal for anyone looking for some creative inspiration. Journey down the town’s cobbled lanes and you’ll find artists and musicians hard at work in their studios, or visit during the annual Arts and Music festival and let your creativity run wild as you get stuck into the exhibitions, poetry performances and workshops.


Another of Yorkshire’s traditional market towns, Thirsk exhibits all the traditional characteristics you would expect from a Yorkshire town including a cobbled market square and historic coaching inns. For a truly memorable day out in Thirsk, why not visit the races or explore the family home of James Herriot, famous vet and author?

And there you have it, our selection of Yorkshire’s prettiest towns. If this list has you itching for a break up north then why not take a look at our Yorkshire cottages? With over 600 properties to choose from you’re sure to find a cosy little town to call your own for the week.

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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 Dining Experiences

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015
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The UK is known for its fantastic selection of restaurants, from The Fat Duck in Berkshire to 34 The Kitchen in Edinburgh, we are not short of wonderful dining experiences, but what if we fancy something new, something a bit different? If you’re looking for an alternative dining experience, one that will really impress your friends and family, then keep reading as we suggest three odd yet wonderful restaurants to discover this year.

Dans le Noir, London

Dans le Noir

Image from Dans Le Noir

A truly unique dining experience has come to London, one that sees guests embark on a sensory journey as they are guided to their table and served by blind people whilst in complete darkness. The idea behind Dans Le Noir is that when you dull the dominant sense of sight, your other senses become heightened allowing you to taste and smell food like never before. Not only does the darkness enhance your senses but it is also said to kill shyness, making even the quietest guest come out of their shell. The restaurant chefs cook surprise meals every evening and a lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Guests have the choice between four different menus including a fish and seafood option and a vegetarian option.

Price: Two course meal from £44, three course meal from £52. Drinks not included.

Contact:;; 02072 531100

The Bridge Inn at Ratho, Midlothian

The Bridge Inn restaurant barge has been a regular site along the Union Canal for the past 30 years, offering guests a unique dining experience as they gently tour the canal. Whilst on their cruise, guests can indulge in a three course meal, specially prepared by a team of professional chefs. The barge can also be rented out for private functions for up to 36 people at a time, making this the perfect spot for a special birthday celebration or wedding anniversary. Cruises are run most weekends but please check with The Bridge Inn before arriving whether they are offering an evening or lunch cruise on the day you plan to visit. If there are no cruises running that day then don’t fret as The Bridge Inn restaurant opens daily and offers a fantastic menu.

Price: Lunch from £29.95 (£18.95 for under 12’s), dinner from £34.95. Drinks not included.

Contact:;; 01313 331320

Dungeons after Dark, Warwick Castle

Travel back though time with Dungeons After Dark at Warwick Castle, where guests can experience a truly unique tour of the Warwick Castle dungeons, meet some of the castle’s more horrifying residents and enjoy a tasty three course banquet. An evening in the dungeons is sure to impress your friends and family, with the frightful entertainment and themed menu sure to see you coming back for more. For guests with a nervous disposition, Warwick Castle offer an array of other themed evenings including The Highwayman’s Supper, The Kingmaker’s Medieval Banquet, and a Dine Through Time Banquet. Please be aware that themed evenings at Warwick Castle are for over 18’s only.

Price: From £60.00 per person, cash bar available on arrival.

Contact:; 01926 406660

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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.

Sykes’ Guide to Irish Beaches

Thursday, August 6th, 2015
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With over 3,000 kilometres of coastline, Ireland is a fantastic location for a beach holiday but with many of us opting to visit the Cornish coast or Welsh beaches instead, Ireland can often be overlooked. To help convince you to try something new this year, we have put together a guide filled with fabulous Irish beaches, so take a look and start planning your Irish adventure today!

Curracloe Bay, Co. Wexford

Best Beach for Families

Famed for its use in the iconic movie, Saving Private Ryan, Curracloe Bay is also a well-known family friendly beach with beautiful scenery, extensive sand dunes and safe waters. As well as the extensive system of walking trails through the dunes, visitors to Curracloe can also visit Wexford’s first and only surf school, where both children and adults can learn to surf on both sand and wave.

Rossbeigh Beach, Co. Kerry

Best Beach for Couples

Located along the Ring of Kerry, the beautiful sandy shores and spectacular scenery at Rossbeigh Beach make this stretch of coast perfect for a romantic weekend away. For a truly unforgettable date, we suggest treating your other half to a sunset stroll along the beach where they can marvel at Ireland’s natural beauty before visiting one of the many local restaurants for a candlelit meal for two.

Brittas Bay, Co. Wicklow

Best Beach for Dogs

It’s no secret that dogs love the beach; running along the shore, feeling the sand under their paws and the cold spray of the ocean is all the holiday your pooch requires. If you’re thinking of taking your four-legged friend to an Irish beach then we would highly suggest Brittas Bay, with 5 kilometres of white sands there is plenty of room for your dog to explore.

Bundoran, Co. Donegal

Best Beach for Water Sports

Bundoran Beach is known as the home of Irish surfing and with its beautiful golden sands, fantastic amenities and killer waves, it’s not hard to see why. If you’re new to surfing we would suggest taking a few lessons at one of the area’s many surf schools, where they’re not only surf experts but also provide classes on other sports including sand surfing, body boarding and canoeing.

Rent a Cottage in Ireland with Sykes Cottages

Now that you’ve seen just what Ireland has to offer, why not hop on a ferry and visit for yourself? Whether you’re looking for a seaside retreat with views across the ocean or a character cottage along the harbour, with over 850 Irish Cottages to choose from we’re sure to find a property to suit your personality 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.