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Last Minute Breaks for July 2014

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
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With the England team safely back in the UK and our hopes of World Cup victory long gone, our social calendar has been left wide open. Luckily the sun has decided to put in an appearance and help distract us from the remainder of the tournament, so why not make the most of the beautiful weather and book yourself a last minute holiday with Sykes Cottages? There are a number of spectacular events taking place throughout the UK over the next week which are sure to offer a distraction from the beautiful game. If you’re still not convinced then take a look at this selection of upcoming events and see if we can persuade you to pack your bags and book a last minute break in the UK.

Tour de France – Yorkshire

Holme Moss; Picture via Flickr.

Holme Moss; Picture via Flickr.

The worlds’ premier cycling competition is coming to Yorkshire this weekend and just like the World Cup, it will be impossible to miss. Passing through a number of towns including Leeds, Harrogate, York and Sheffield, the Tour de France promises to be a memorable event for all those involved. With a number of Yorkshire cottages still available within driving distance of the route, a trip to Yorkshire this weekend is a must for all cycling enthusiasts.

Bruce Festival – Dunfermline

Dunfermline Abbey: Via Flickr

Dunfermline Abbey: Picture via Flickr.

Take a step back in time at the 2014 Bruce Festival in Dunfermline, Scotland. This historic event will take place on July 12th and 13th as part of Scotland’s Homecoming celebrations and is expected to be one of the highlights in Scotland’s calendar. The 2014 programme is set to include jousting, medieval battles, falconry displays, medieval music and a historic puppet show. Suitable for the whole family, we would highly suggest a trip to Dunfermline next weekend.

Open Air Theatre – Chester

Historic City of Chester picture via Flickr.

Historic City of Chester picture via Flickr.

The Chester Grosvenor Park is setting itself up for one of the finest theatre performances this side of London. The only other theatre of its kind outside of the capital, the Grosvenor Park Theatre has gained a fantastic reputation for performance, display and fun. With a capacity of 400, the actors are always greeted with rapturous applause and a standing ovation from the crowd. If you’re visiting Chester this season then you’re in for a treat as the plays on offer are Macbeth, The Secret Garden and The Comedy of Errors.

Wakestock Festival – Abersoch

Abersoch Beach: Picture via Flickr.

Abersoch Beach: Picture via Flickr.

Wakestock festival began way back in the year 2000 with a wakeboarding contest during the day followed by an evening party in a car park with 500 people. Today Wakestock is a major music and wakeboarding festival which attracts over 20,000 people each year! Held in the beautiful surroundings of Cardigan Bay in North Wales this year’s festival takes places between July 11th and 13th. An excellent excuse to hit the beach, watch world class water sports and listen to some of Britain’s top artists Wakestock is a must for all UK party goers.

We hope this small selection of events has helped convince you to take a short break over the upcoming weeks and with over 500 cottages still available for last minute breaks we are sure to have a property to suite your needs. For more information on our last minute breaks please visit our cottage page or call our holiday specialists on 01244 356695.

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.

Walk of the Month: Porthaethwy, Menai Bridge

Saturday, June 28th, 2014
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In this addition of Walk of the Month, we will be taking you on an urban walk through the historic town of Menai Bridge, known by locals as Porthaethwy. From the iconic Menai Suspension Bridge to the endearing promenades and eerily beautiful Church Island, Menai Bridge is the ideal location for walkers on a lazy summer’s afternoon.

Picture via Fickr.

Picture via Fickr.

Growing up in Menai Bridge, this route is very familiar to me and one which I hold close to my heart. Throughout the walk you will be greeted by wonderful views over the Menai Straits, fascinating character properties and an impressive line-up of local wildlife. As you walk this captivating route you will spot a number of fantastic restaurants and charming local pubs; I would definitely suggest a stop off in one of these establishments to meet the locals and try the regional produce – you won’t regret it!

The Walk

This is a very accessible 2 mile walk which should take just over an hour to complete. Not too strenuous, this walk would be great for families with older children. My advice would be to wear comfortable footwear and take bottled water with you (additional water can be purchased from Menai Bridge stores).

The Route

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Park at the ‘Pay and display’ adjacent to the Jade Village Cantonese Restaurant, follow the road back towards the Menai Bridge baring right at the Anglesey arms onto Beach Road. Follow the road down. When you reach the bottom you will see a sign post with two walking paths; take the one to the right and walk down along the promenade until you reach Church Island. Cross over to the island and explore this historic sight; make sure to visit the war memorial at the top of the island where you can capture a great picture of the Menai Bridge and St Tysilio’s Church which sits on the left hand side of the island.

Once you have explored Church Island cross back over to the main land and head right, back in the direction you came. This time, when you come to the cross road with the two walking signs, continue left towards the Menai Bridge. Just before you pass under the Menai Bridge, there is a small opening on the right where you will find a historic stone circle and another tempting photo opportunity. Continue under the bridge and along Beach Road through a collection of beautiful houses until you reach Chapel Street.

Turn Left onto Chapel Street and continue up the hill until you reach the main road (A545). Turn left again back towards the Menai Bridge. When you reach the Menai Bridge, cross over to the other side (if it’s a windy day be sure to take your time). The views from the bridge are incredible so make sure you have your camera at the ready. Once you reach the other end of the bridge, cross over and come back on the opposite side. From this side of the bridge you will be able to see the captivating Britannia bridge. From here follow the road back to the car park.

Rent a cottage on Anglesey with Sykes Cottages

View of the Menai Bridge from Telford House Ref 14628.

View of the Menai Bridge from Telford House Ref 14628.

Menai Bridge is the gateway to Anglesey and although this charming town has a lot to offer it is only a small section of this magnificent island. With over 160 properties dotted about the Island we have something to suit everyone. For more information on Anglesey or to browse our selection of holiday cottages, simply visit our Anglesey Cottages page.

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.

Sykes’ Spotlight on Suffolk

Saturday, June 21st, 2014
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The historic county of Suffolk is the ideal destination for a short break or family holiday; with spectacular views over the North Sea and beautiful agricultural land stretching far over the horizon, it’s impossible not to be enchanted by this traditional English county. With two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a number of fascinating attractions, Suffolk is sure to impress you and your family this season. If you’re thinking of visiting the area this year and would like some inspiration, keep reading for our guide on what to see and do whilst in Suffolk.

Out and about in Brandon

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Brandon is a small market town located in the North West of Suffolk. Commonly referred to as a town of two halves, Brandon is not only known for its historic market but also the wonderful wildlife and forests in the surrounding area. Brandon’s market is held every Thursday and Sunday so we would advise reserving your visit until one of these days. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a keen cyclist or just enjoy a pleasant walk in beautiful surroundings then a trip to Thetford Forest is a must! With over 300 square miles of forest and lowland heaths to explore, the area is perfect for a family bike ride.

Family Fun at Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

If you’re looking for a fast paced family day out where you can experience thrilling roller coasters, crazy kids activities and the scariest ride in Britain, then we would encourage you to visit the Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park. Surrounded by over 50 acres of woodland, this idyllic theme park is suitable for all ages and prides its self on offering a fantastic experience for the whole family! As well as the rapid rides and colourful characters, this theme park also presents an array of exciting live attractions; from a multi-coloured parrot show and slippery sea lion display, to a daring high dive show, these attractions are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat!

Step back in time at Kentwell Hall

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Kentwell Hall is a family run home where visitors are welcomed as guests; free to explore the house, gardens and rare breed farm at their leisure. Reliving the houses rich history, this moated mansion hosts a number of Tudor days throughout the year where visitors can fully immerse themselves in the Tudor way of life. Kentwell Hall is transformed into a 16th century manor with 250 inhabitants all going about their daily tasks like they would in Tudor times. A fantastic experience for both children and adults, Kentwell Hall not only teaches you history but lets you live it!

Relax at a Suffolk cottage

Cosy character setting at Bay View Barn in Suffolk, Ref: 28161

Cosy character setting at Bay View Barn in Suffolk, Ref: 28161

If you were to simply drive through Suffolk, you would miss many of these top attractions not to mention the stunning scenery, friendly locals and charming atmosphere that Suffolk has to offer. To make the most of your time in this beautiful county, why not rent a self-catering cottage? Our selection of Suffolk cottages are ideal for all holiday types and budgets, so whether you’re looking for a romantic escape, family vacation or group getaway, make sure to check out our cottage page or call our reservations team for more information.

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.

Simple Picnic Recipes

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
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As we advance into the peak summer months the weather is slowly but surely improving and in no time at all we will find ourselves digging out the plastic cutlery, wicker basket and picnic blanket ready to enjoy a light summer lunch at the park or along the coast. The humble British picnic is a summer icon and with sandwiches, cocktail sausages and salad easy to get your hands on this effortless lunch is easily thrown together, however if you’re looking to liven up your picnic blanket this year then why not take a look at our simple picnic recipes? Easy to make and delicious to taste these straightforward recipes are sure to impress your friends and family this summer!

Potato Salad

A favourite here in the UK, potato salad is delightful on its own or as an accompaniment to a larger meal. Ideal for a summer’s picnic it can be taken from the fridge and served at room temperature later during the day. The following recipe serves four and will take around 30 minutes to prepare.

Simple Potato Salad

Picture via Flickr.

Ingredients:

450g Jersey Royal potatoes

50ml Chicken stock (hot)

3 tbsp. Mayonnaise

2 tbsp. Crème fraiche

4 Spring onions

2 tbsp. Chopped parsley (flat-leaf)

Method:

  1. Cook the potatoes in lightly salter water until tender; this takes around 20 minutes.
  2. Drain the potatoes and slice into rounds, chunks or quarters; whichever you feel will look best.
  3. Place the cooked and sliced potatoes into a bowl with the hot chicken stock. Stir together and then leave to cool until lukewarm.
  4. Finally chop the spring onions, add to the potatoes along with the mayonnaise, crème fraiche, parsley and a light seasoning of salt and pepper.
  5. Gently mix together and leave to cool.

Quiche Lorraine

A quiche Lorraine offers a wonderful alternative to the usually sandwich and is very impressive when made from scratch. This appetizing recipe will cut nicely into eight slices and will take around an hour to prepare.

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Ingredients:

500g Ready to roll shortcrust pastry

3 eggs (lightly beaten)

85g medium cheddar (cut into small cubes)

200g Smokes streaky bacon (chopped)

285ml double cream

Flour for dusting

Method:

  1. Dust your work surface with flour and Roll out the pastry until it is about as thick as a £1 coin. Lift the rolled pastry into your tin, press pastry into the sides and trim the excess from the edges. Tip: if you leave the pastry to soften at room temperature in will not crack when rolling.
  2. Chill the pasty in the fridge for 30 minutes. Whilst the pastry case is cooling you can chop the cheese and bacon and lightly beat the eggs.
  3. Preheat your over to 200C/gas mark 6. Cover the pastry case with backing paper and weigh down with backing beans to stop the pasty rising. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the sides are crisp.  Remove from the over and take away the baking paper and beans before returning the pastry case to the over for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Heat a pan and fry the bacon until golden, scatter over the pastry case along with the cheese cubes.
  5. Mix the beaten eggs and cream together before carefully pouring into the pastry case. Return to the over for a further 30 minutes until set.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.

 

Chicken Drumsticks

Chicken drumsticks are an easy dish to make and can be eaten hot or cold making them ideal for a family picnic. Children of all ages love grabbing the chicken legs with their hands and not having to worry about a knife or fork and with a packet of wet wipes on hand there is no need to worry about sticky figures! The following recipe cooks 12 drumsticks and takes an hour to prepare.

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Ingredients:

12 Chicken drumsticks

3 cloves of garlic

2 lemons

4 tbsp. Mixed herbs

Black pepper

Method:

  1. Place the 12 chicken drumsticks into an oven proof dish and squeeze the juice of 2 lemons over them.
  2. Crush 2 garlic cloves and add to the chicken along with the black pepper and mixed herbs. Tip: if you are making your drumsticks in advance we would advise marinating the chicken in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and cool the chicken through; this should take around 40 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

I hope you find these three simple recipes useful on your next family picnic. If you have any special picnic ideas you would like to share with us and the Sykes Cottages community then please feel free to connect with us via Facebook or 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.

Best Waterfalls in Britain

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
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When I was asked to write a post on Britain’s best waterfalls, I jumped at the opportunity, though it wasn’t until after I accepted the challenge that I realised the sheer abundance of beautiful waterfalls the UK has to offer and just how difficult my task was going to be. On its own, the flowing water is dazzling but there is much more to consider when you are looking for the best in Britain; the height and width of each fall, the surrounding environment and the history of the site all need to be taken into consideration. The five waterfalls listed below really stood out in these categories making them perfect candidates for Britain’s best, but impossible to choose between for the title. So take a look at our top five and see if you can help us narrow down the search for Britain’s best waterfall.

Ingleton Falls, North Yorkshire

Picture via Flickr

Picture via Flickr.

Surrounded by ancient woodland, the glorious Ingleton Falls is a famous trail that takes you through an enchanted forest and past a selection of breath-taking waterfalls. The area surrounding the falls is filled with a rich array of plants and wildlife making it a photographers dream location. Open to the public seven days a week the whole year round (closed only at Christmas), this pet friendly trail is a must for anyone in the area.

High Force, Durham

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

The water flowing through High Force in County Durham faces a terrifying drop of 70 feet before reaching the plunge pool at the bottom, making it the highest uninterrupted drop of water in England! This extravagant waterfall captures your attention with both its beauty and power, making it impossible not to add it to the list of Britain’s best waterfalls. On the site, you will find a gift shop, parking and picnic area so it’s ideal for a family day out.

Falls of Bruar, Scotland

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

The falls of Bruar are a series of waterfalls in Scotland made famous by Robert Burns in his poem titled “The Humble Petition of Bruar Water to the noble Duke of Athole”.  This inspiring selection of waterfalls has been a key tourist attraction in Scotland since the 18th century and shows no sign of losing its popularity any time soon. With both a low energy and high energy walk available through the falls, this attraction is perfect for people of all ages.

Aber Falls, Gwynedd

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Surrounded by history, Aber Falls is one of the most beautiful natural attractions Gwynedd has to offer. The tallest of our list, Aber Falls plunges a staggering 120 feet over igneous rock and can be heard from far and wide as the water crashes to the ground. The Aber Valley is a National Trust reserve and an import historic area with several small bronze age settlements lining the path up to the falls; because of this, you will often find small groups of school children investigating the area.

Aysgarth Falls, Yorkshire

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

If you’re a fan of Robin Hood then the picture above may look familiar to you; featured in the film “Robin Hood – Price of thieves”, Aysgarth Falls has become synonymous with the film for hosting the fight scene between Robin and Little John. The Aysgarth Falls made our list not only because of their movie appearance, but for the beautiful stepping stone appearance which is created when the River Ure tumbles over several sandstone drops.

And there you have it, our selection of Britain’s best waterfalls! If you think you can narrow down the selection and pick one of these stunning waterfalls to be crowned Britain’s best then let us know, we would love to hear your opinion so please feel free to connect with us via Facebook or 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.