Author Archive

Best Summer Destinations for Couples

Thursday, February 26th, 2015
Pin It

For many childless couples, booking a summer holiday during peak season is a big no no; the overcrowded beaches piled high with sandcastles and packed country parks littered with picnic blankets can be extremely off putting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of sandcastles and family picnics but too much of a good thing can be bad for you! So if like me and my other half you’d prefer to spend your summer vacation in a peaceful, stress-free location then keep reading as we suggest some secluded destinations perfect for couples looking to escape the crowds.

Ennerdale Water

The Lake District is one of the UK’s most popular summer escapes but instead of heading to the tourist hot spots of Windermere and Coniston Water head west to the parks most isolated lake, Ennerdale Water. This picturesque lake has crystal clear waters, spectacular scenery and best of all an undisturbed, tranquil atmosphere! As the only lake not to have a road running alongside it the journey to Ennerdale Water can deter families with young children from visiting making it the ideal spot for a romantic picnic.


Located on the south west tip of Ireland, Barleycove is a hidden gem nestled between two headlands in West Cork. Made up of an extensive dune system, this idyllic beach offers breath-taking scenery and plenty of space to relax along the sandy shore. When you’re not relaxing on the shore why not try a spot of surfing? Barleycove is a great spot for beginners and with a surf school located in the area and a lifeguard on hand it’s a wonderful opportunity to try something new with your partner.

Loch Enoch

Camping out under the stars is on everyone’s to-do list this summer and as a Dark Skies Park, Galway Forest Park in Scotland maybe one of the most popular spots for star gazers. If you would rather watch the skies in peace this year then journey to the centre of the park and visit its most secluded Loch, Loch Enoch. This beautiful loch is located in a granite basin and as well as the clear skies above you’ll be treated with glistening waters below, dazzling views and an extremely romantic atmosphere.


Snowdonia’s towering peaks, vast open countryside and extensive coast make it the perfect summer getaway and just about everyone knows it! But quietly fringing the mouth of the Mawddach Estuary with its inviting golden sands and steep bank of pebbles is the little known village of Fairbourne. This charming village and its beach boast excellent water sports, fascinating history, quaint cafes and the charming narrow-gauge Fairboune Railway – a real treat for any couple this summer.

I hope this post has encouraged you to make the most of your summer holidays this year and discover some of the UK’s hidden destinations. If you fancy teaming your adventures with a cosy cottage stay then make sure to visit our ‘Romantic Cottages For Couples’ page.

Pin It

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’ Spotlight on Pet Friendly Cottages for More Than One Pet

Thursday, February 19th, 2015
Pin It

When I was a child I hated having to wave goodbye to the family dogs as we left on our annual holiday so now that I’m older I take every opportunity I can to pack them into the car with me and head off on an adventure together. It turns out I’m not the only one who hates to leave my loyal companions behind as thousands of people book up our pet friendly cottages each year.

Booking a cottage when you have just one pooch can be hard enough but what happens if you have a pack? Well here at Sykes Cottages we have the answer: hundreds of pet-friendly cottages that will accept two or more pets! Keep reading to see a selection of our favourite pet friendly cottages for more than one pet or head on over to our pet friendly cottages page and start searching for your next holiday today!

The Stables, Horton-in-Ribblesdale


The Stables (Ref. 912240)

Located on the outskirts of a picturesque country village, The Stables are ideal for dog owners who like to stretch their legs. This gorgeous two bedroom property offers visitors and their four legged friends various walks straight from the doorstep so you can head out and explore famous areas such as the Pennine Way and the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Driftwood Cottage, Baycliff


Driftwood Cottage (Ref. 26010)

Driftwood Cottage offers everything you need on a dog friendly holiday; there is a comfortable enclosed patio with spectacular views over Morecambe Bay and direct access to the beach as well as a cosy woodburner in the sitting area. Days can be filled playing amongst the surf whilst cosy evenings are spent reading by firelight – something for both dogs and owner!

Loo Bridge Railway Station, Killarney

Low Bridge Railway Station (Ref. 17893)

Low Bridge Railway Station (Ref. 17893)

Ideally situated between the two popular towns of Kenmare and Killarney, Low Bridge Railway Station not only benefits from fantastic amenities but also easy access to the National Park which is home to some of Ireland’s best scenery. When you’re done exploring the local area simply sit back and relax in the large lawned garden or one of the four stylishly decorated bedrooms.

Hillbrook House, Nolton Haven

Hillbrook House (Ref. 30296)

Hillbrook House (Ref. 30296)

This charming seaside cottage is perfect for a family or a group of friends wanting to explore the Welsh coastline with a wonderful sheltered beach just 30 strides from the front door. Once you’ve had your fill of the beach (if that’s possible!) visit the enclosed natural grass garden and unwind in the summerhouse or host a delicious BBQ as the sun sets over the Welsh countryside.

The Barn, Saham Hills

The Barn (Ref. 26593)

The Barn (Ref. 26593)

Nestled in the Norfolk countryside, The Barn has been finished to a high standard making it a welcome retreat for the whole family. This property accommodates four dogs and the owners even offer a dog sitting service by prior arrangement should you need it. At The Barn you’ll have your own private enclosed garden as well as use of the paddock so plenty of room to exercise the dogs!

Pin It

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.

Where to Celebrate Chinese New Year in the UK

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
Pin It

Tomorrow marks the beginning of a New Year on the Chinese calendar, a year that promises peace and tranquillity according to the Chinese zodiac. 2015 is the Year of the Ram, also known as the Year of the Sheep or the Goat, and during the coming week the UK will play host to a number of special events dedicated to welcoming in the New Year.  If you would like to attend one of these spectacular events then keep reading as we suggest the best places to celebrate Chinese New Year in the UK!


Liverpool’s China Town was the first established in Europe and is home to the largest Chinese arch in the world outside of China, so it should come as no surprise that this lively destination makes it to the top of our list. Visit Liverpool’s China Town this Sunday (February 22nd) and you will be treated to a Chinese New Year Market, Dragon and Lion Street Parades and an incredible Fireworks display.


Not one to be outdone, England’s capital city holds the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of Asia. From tomorrow until Saturday, the streets of London will be brought to life as Chinese dragons make their way through the streets and lanterns are hung from shop windows and trees. The best locations to see the displays are Trafalgar Square, China Town & Shaftsbury Avenue.


This year is the 10th anniversary of the University of Nottingham’s China campus in Ningbo, and to celebrate the occasion they’ve planned an extra special programme of events. Visit the university this year on Sunday 22nd and you’ll find Chinese crafts and workshops, brush painting, ribbon and fan dances, traditional story telling from China and much more! The day’s celebrations will end with a highly anticipated fireworks display at Highfields Park.


The Chinese Association of Southampton will be putting on a fantastic display to celebrate Chinese New Year on Sunday 22nd in the West Quay Shopping Centre. Their expertly put together programme includes a lion dance, traditional Chinese dancing, Chinese folk songs, ancient art of face changing, Chinese music recitals, Kung Fu display, and a historical costume show. The whole thing kicks off at 11 a.m. so make sure you get there early and beat the crowds!

If you know of any Chinese celebrations happening near you then be sure to let us know! You can share your images from the day with us on Facebook & Twitter.

Pin It

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’ Half Term Hit List

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
Pin It

We are now half way through February and that can only mean one thing; it’s time for the February half term! This school holiday has certainly snuck up on us as it seems like just yesterday that we were celebrating the New Year. If this half term has surprised you too and you’re struggling to come up with ways to entertain the kids next week, then keep reading as we suggest ten fantastic ideas that will get the whole family involved.

1. Explore the coast

One of the many benefits of living on an island is that we are surrounded by coastline, with beautiful golden sands, magnificent cliffs and welcoming pebble beaches all on our doorstep. This half term take the time to explore the coast; visit a new beach, take a walk along one of the many coastal paths or simply relax on the shore as the children run around with the dog at their heels. It’s a great way to use up their excess energy and get some fresh air!

2. Get to know your city

City tours are offered almost everywhere, in fact here in Chester we regularly see crowds of people following a Roman centurion round the city walls and learning all about Chester’s rich history. No matter how long you’ve lived in an area there is always something new to discover, so seek out an individual tour guide or join a group this half term and pick up some new and interesting facts that you can share with your friends and family on their next visit!

3. Try a new craft

Learning a new craft is not only a fun activity but it teaches children something new and if they really enjoy it the crafts can make wonderful birthday and Christmas presents for family members. If you’re new to crafts and are having trouble getting started then check out our recent craft guide. This guide is perfect for beginners and has some wonderful crafts for children including a penguin finger puppet and a cool upcycled phone cosy.

 4. Child friendly baking

Sticking with the “homemade” theme, another great activity for the kids is baking. They love to get involved and when properly supervised, the results of a long day baking are simply delicious! Try not to over complicate your baking-keeping things simple is always the best way to go because everyone loves a good rice crispy cake. We would highly suggest a visit to BBC Good Food for inspiration and child-friendly recipes.

5. Day trip to the zoo

Asking a child if they want to go to the zoo is like asking a chocoholic if they want to visit Cadbury World, the answer will always be yes! The zoo is a fantastic place for children, not only will they discover new animals but they’ll also learn about critical conservation work. To make the most of your time at the zoo make sure to visit their website before you go, it will have lots of useful information regarding special half term events and feeding/display times.

6. Historic day out

The kids don’t have to be in school to learn something new; this half term hundreds of National Trust properties throughout the UK are open and hosting special events. These attractions will help inspire your children as they discover hidden passages in an ancient fort, walk the footsteps of royalty in a historic house or even discover a secret garden in the grounds of a castle. For more information on half term events visit the National Trust website.

7. Nature safari

Visit your local park or garden and take time to appreciate nature as it works its way from winter to spring. Look out for the first budding snowdrops and keep your eyes open for squirrels, birds and bugs. If you haven’t got a park nearby why not invite nature into your own back yard by putting up a bird box or feeder? We recently put together a fabulous graphic which will allow you to “Give a Bird a Home”, so make sure to check it out for ideas.

8. See a movie

This half term there are a number of fantastic films coming to your local cinema like Big Hero 6 and Into The Woods. If your cinema’s a little too difficult to get to then why not have a home cinema day? Draw the curtains, grab a bowl of popcorn and some snacks and watch all your favourite films from the comfort of the sofa. If you want to make things extra special then why not serve up the tasty dishes made in your child-friendly baking session?

9. Get active

It’s incredibly important to keep your kids active and the half term gives you the perfect opportunity to do this. To encourage the little ones why not try something new like canoeing or rock climbing? You never know, this new activity could turn into a hobby for life! Alternatively, pack the kids into the car and venture off on a family walk; we have lots of great walking ideas here at Sykes so make sure to check out our ‘Walk of the Month’ blog posts for inspiration.

10. Spend time with the family

Sandy Harbour (Ref. 7510)

Sandy Harbour (Ref. 7510)

For me, spending time with the family is the best part of half term; you get some quality time with the kids and the more family members involved the better! So invite Nan round and arrange a play date with the cousins, or better yet book a Sykes Cottage to bring everyone together. We have a great selection of cottages still available for the February half term so take a look and make this a holiday the kids will never forget.

Pin It

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.

Where to See Snowdrops in the UK

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
Pin It

We love a bracing winter walk at Sykes Cottages but after a few cold months of icy breath and numb toes it’s a welcome relief when, out of the corner of your eye, a bunch of soft white snowdrops catch your attention. Flowering at the end of winter, these petite plants signal the start of spring and the warmer weather that follows. If like me you can’t wait to see your first snowdrop of the year, keep reading as we suggest five of the best locations to spot snowdrops in the UK.

Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire

Visit the Anglesey Abbey gardens during the Snowdrop Festival (January 26th – March 1st) and you’ll be able to explore 144 acres of grounds and view 270 different varieties of snowdrop. It’s a lot to take in on your own so why not join the Snowdrop collection tour lead by a member of the garden team every weekday at 2pm? If you’d rather head out on a solo mission then you’re in luck as the gardens are opening an hour earlier during the festival so you’ll be able to make the most of the winter light.

Kingston Lacy, Dorset

If you fancy a leisurely afternoon stroll where the snowdrops are in abundance then we would suggest a visit to Kingston Lacy. This stunning National Trust property was built to resemble an Italian palace and is only made more beautiful when the snowdrops start to appear. Well known for their white carpets of snowdrops, the gardeners at Kingston Lacy have predicted the flowers will be at their best around the third week of February.

Dunham Massey, Cheshire

It’s common to see one or two patches of snowdrops at this time of year but if you’re after something bigger then head to Dunham Massey where their gardeners promise a sea of white, made up of a quarter of a million snowdrops! Their seven acre winter garden is sure to leave you feeling inspired with 700 plant species, 1,600 winter shrubs and plenty of planting ideas which will help keep your garden bright during the move into spring.

Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

At Fountains Abbey families can experience fascinating history, wonderful walks and stunning Georgian water gardens all in one afternoon. The Abbey ruins are picture perfect when surrounded by early morning fog and delicate white snowdrops, but make sure to wrap up as the best images are captured when there is a clear blue sky overhead. To help warm you up after your chilly walk around the grounds stop off at the Abbey restaurant and sample the seasonal specials.

Scottish Snowdrop Festival

Scotland loves snowdrops so much that they’ve dedicated a whole festival to the pretty flower! The festival started on Saturday and has over 60 venues taking part; even those that are normally closed for the winter have opened their doors in celebration. The festival will end on March 15th giving you plenty of time to visit one or two of the venues. Our suggestions for this year are Logan Botanic Gardens, Black Spout Wood and Dryburgh Abbey.

Are you venturing out to see the snowdrops this winter? If so let us know where you’re heading – you can reach us through Facebook or Twitter.

Pin It

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.