Archive for the ‘Autumn Holidays’ Category

The Very Best Bits of Autumn

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014
Pin It

If you follow Sykes Cottages on any of our social media channels, you may have noticed that for the past two months we have been running a competition for bloggers regarding what they think is the best bit of the autumn season. Now, we love a nice image here at Sykes, so we turned it into a photography competition. We asked those entering to share a picture of what they think is the best bit of autumn and accompany it with a blog post telling us why this is the best bit.

We had a really tough time choosing the winners as there were so many fantastic entries, but after a full afternoon (and morning) of deciding, we finally had our first place winner, second place winner and five runners up. Read on to see the wonderful pictures from our seven winners and see what they like best about autumn!

First Place: Autumn’s Natural Treasures

Autumn's Best Bit Snowing Indoors

The first place winner of the competition was this stunning photograph from Em at Snowing Indoors. As Em says in her post, “there is something so magical about opening a prickly conker shell and finding a shiny brown conker nestled inside, whether you’re 2 or 34!” We certainly agree and this photograph encapsulates that magic perfectly.

Second Place: Getting Ready for Halloween

My Family Ties

The second place winner of the competition was Caroline from My Family Ties. In the My Family Ties household, Halloween excitement and preparation gets under way in early October. This picture shows both the fun and spooky elements of Halloween and we just love it! See Caroline’s full post here.

The Runners Up

Autumns Best Bits Runners Up

One thing apparent from all of the competition entries was that autumn means so many different things to everyone. Lucinda from Bakes, Books & My Boys says that her favourite bit of her favourite season is just being outside! She shared with us this wonderful picture of her son enjoying the empty autumnal beach. Claire from Ninja Killer Cat shared with us some incredible pictures of the leaves and colours of autumn. Similarly, at Dragons and Fairy Dust,the best bit of autumn is the glorious colours of the sky, including a stunning picture of the sunrise. Jenn from Photo-Jenn-Ic shared with us how since having her son she has come to embrace autumn and just loves heading outside for autumnal wanders. Susan at Mess in The ‘Ness shared this incredible photo of pumpkins from a recent trip to the US – her favourite part of autumn is the emergence of pumpkins!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered this competition, we really were blown away! To see all of the entries, take a look at our pinterest board.

 

Follow Sykes Cottages’s board Autumn’s Best Bits on Pinterest.

Pin It
Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Where to Celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK

Sunday, November 16th, 2014
Pin It

For most of us in Britain, November 27nd will be just another day; a day spent either at work or Christmas shopping. However for the thousands of American expats living, working and studying in the UK, Thanksgiving is a day for Celebration. Living away from home in a country that doesn’t celebrate one of your favourite holidays can be hard, but not to worry as here at Sykes Cottages we know there are many places across the UK offering special Thanksgiving celebration. If you’re an American living in the UK or a Brit looking to join in the celebrations, keep reading as we highlight our favourite places to celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK.

Visit the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth

Image from Flickr.

Image from Flickr.

In 1620, the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth Barbican, carrying 102 passengers and 30 crew members across the Atlantic Ocean on a 66 day voyage to America. These pilgrims eventually settled in Plymouth Massachusetts, an area of America famous for being the birth place of Thanksgiving. Plymouth still maintains strong ties with America and every Thanksgiving hosts a special service and wreath lying on the Mayflower steps. With local pubs and restaurants offering traditional Thanksgiving dishes, it’s the ideal location to spend Thanksgiving weekend.

Enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner

Image from Flickr.

Image from Flickr.

Thanksgiving dinner is one of the highlights of the day, where families come together and share a fantastic meal which includes turkey, mashed potato, squash soup, green bean casserole and a variety of pies! There are a number of restaurants and pubs located throughout the UK taking part in the Thanksgiving celebrations by putting on special menus filled with all our favourite American dishes, so get yourself online and find your nearest participating eatery.

Attend the Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul’s Cathedral

Image from Flickr.

Image from Flickr.

London is home to a large number of American expats, so it should come as no surprise to find a number of events taking place in the capital on Thanksgiving. One of the longest running traditions in London is the Thanksgiving service hosted at St. Paul’s Cathedral every year. At the service the American Ambassador to the UK will make a speech before reading out a message from President Obama himself. It’s a wonderful event to be part of and a great way to meet new friends.

Rent a family cottage

Tan Llan in LLanelltyd, Wales. Reference 917340.

Tan Llan in LLanelltyd, Wales. Reference 917340.

Thanksgiving is all about family and being thankful for all that we have, so what better way to celebrate the holidays than to treat the family to a week or weekend away? Here at Sykes Cottages we have a number of large group properties that are perfect for a celebration at this time of year; with beautiful open fires, large dining rooms, and plenty of space in the fridge for all your Thanksgiving treats. For more information on our large cottages simply visit this page.

And there you have it, our guide to Thanksgiving in the UK. We would love to know what you’ll be getting up to this Thanksgiving so be sure to send us a tweet or comment on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Pin It
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.

Favourite Films for Halloween

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
Pin It

Here at Sykes Cottages, we love Halloween. When the wind is rattling at your door and the rain is pounding against your window, we know there is no better feeling then snuggling up on the sofa with a warm blanket and a cauldron of sweets. If you’re planning to stay home this Halloween, the team here at Sykes HQ have some great suggestions for your viewing pleasure; from family friendly movies to horror films, our selection is sure to offer plenty of inspiration this Halloween.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Image provided by Leanne

A heart-warming story with a loveable protagonist may not be your first thought when it comes to Halloween, but it’s exactly what you get with The Nightmare Before Christmas. The film follows the Pumpkin King Jack Skellington and his dog Zero as they try to spread Christmas cheer across Halloweentown with disastrous consequences. The spectacular storyline and characterisation combined with the incredible soundtrack and stunning visuals of the film is what makes it not only my favourite Halloween watch, but also a favourite to watch throughout the year! – Leanne

Labyrinth

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

As one of my favourite fantasy films, Labyrinth takes top spot on my Halloween movie playlist. Not only is the film filled with fantasy creatures, magic and adventure, but with the added bonus of musical numbers – many involving the legendary David Bowie – there really is something for the whole family to enjoy.  The film follows Sarah’s adventures in an otherworldly maze as she overcomes the Goblin King’s challenges to save her baby brother Toby. This is a classic film and one you won’t regret watching even if you’re stuck singing the tunes until next Halloween. – Nicole

Casper

Image taken from IMDb.

Image taken from IMDb.

If I’m honest, I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to watching horror films! This meant picking my favourite Halloween film was always going to be a struggle, but after some thought I picked Casper. It tells the tale of a young ghost who – along with his three ghoulish uncles Fatso, Stretch and Stinkie – lives in a rickety mansion called Whipstaff Manor. The film is about Casper moving on to “the other side” whilst dealing with a greedy heiress, the affections of a young girl, and even attempted exorcisms – not to mention all sorts of mischief from his uncles. All in all, Casper makes the perfect alternative to the usual Halloween fare, and is definitely a film that the whole family will enjoy over the Halloween period! – Jamie

Hocus Pocus

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

For me, it’s not Halloween unless I’ve watched the early 90’s gem that is Hocus Pocus. The obsession started as a kid, when my sister and I would sit down and watch it on Disney Channel every year; it’s a tradition that I’ve never quite grown out of. You can put my love affair with this film largely down to Winifred, Sarah and Mary Sanderson who are evil witches raised from the dead. They are comedy genius and I’ll never get tired of their hilarious catchphrases, withering glares and of course, their rendition of ‘I Put a Spell on You’. Throw in a talking cat, a zombie who constantly loses his head and a trio of unlikely heroes, and you have everything you could ever want from a Halloween cult classic. – Lousie

Sleepy Hollow

Image via IMDb.

Image via IMDb.

The tagline ‘Heads will roll’ tells you all you need to know about Sleepy Hollow, a 1999 horror film directed by Tim Burton. Sleepy Hollow was the first film that frightened me; I spent weeks – nay, months – after watching it scurrying down the stairs, afraid that a headless, axe-wielding Hessian was hot on my tail. Though damn-scary, the eccentricity of Johnny Depp’s character, Ichabod Crane, adds some comic relief, whilst Tim Burton’s enchanting creations will feel familiar to anyone who’s seen The Nightmare Before Christmas. In short, Sleepy Hollow is a great introduction to horror for younger viewers – just be sure to have hide-cushions at hand! – Jonathan.

So what do you think? Will you be adding our frightful list of movies to your Halloween night viewing, or do you have your own ‘must watch’ movie for All Hallows Eve? Either way, we would love to know which films you’ll be watching this weekend, so make sure to let us know via our Facebook or Twitter page.

Pin It
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.

The UK’s Best Halloween Attractions for 2014

Monday, October 27th, 2014
Pin It

Throughout the UK people are getting ready for the scariest day of the year. That’s right, Halloween is almost upon us and whether you love it or hate it, there is no escaping the things that go bump in the night! Here at Sykes HQ, we love a good scare and can’t wait for the arrival of All Hallows’ Eve when we’ll be visiting some of Britain’s scariest attractions. To help inspire you on a frightful outing this Halloween, we’ve put together a selection of the five best attractions to visit on Friday 31st.

The York Dungeon

Picture provided by Leanne

Picture provided by Leanne

With dark corridors, sinister characters and a severely creepy atmosphere, York Dungeon is the place to be this Halloween. As well as the usual villains and suspicious personalities, the dungeons are introducing an all new menace: The Master of Tricks himself, who – armed with his Wheel of Misfortune – will be baffling guests with his despicable deceptions and dares.

Tulleys Pumpkin Patch and Scare Fest

Image from Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Tulleys Farm has catered for everyone this Halloween by putting on an eerie but not-so-scary show for children during the day before going all out with their adult scare fest. Voted the UK’s number one attraction at the Scream Awards, Schocktober Fest at Tulleys Farm is sure to scare your pants off with no less than seven haunted attractions!

Edinburgh Ghost Walks

Image from Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

With victims of the plague roaming the streets of old town and the Mackenzie Poltergeist terrorizing Greyfriars Kirkyard, it’s no wonder Edinburgh is known as the world’s most haunted city. Book your ghost walk with City of the Dead, who not only provide world class story tellers, but are the only tour in town with access to Edinburgh’s Covenanter’s Prison.

The Big Sheep Halloween Festival

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

By offering children a haunted hay ride and daylight haunted house, The Big Sheep in north Devon is really pulling out all the stops for kiddies this Halloween. Not content with tricking little witches and wizards, The Big Sheep also offers an evening party where adults are invited to join in a live haunt in their zombie zone before heading into the most haunted house in Devon.

Alton Towers

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Known for its intense white knuckle rides, Alton Towers is the ultimate UK destination for thrill seekers. Combining their world famous rides with late night openings and terrifying scare mazes, Alton Towers is reaching out with cold icy fingers hoping to draw in lost souls for a spine-tingling family day out.

We hope this list of British attractions has encouraged you to take your ghoulish family on a scary day out this Halloween. We would love to hear all about your scary adventures so be sure to keep us up-to-date through Facebook or Twitter.

Pin It
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’ Autumnal Best Bits

Friday, October 17th, 2014
Pin It

We’re having a bit of an autumnal moment here at Sykes Cottages. Perhaps it’s the chill in the air, the view from our window or our Autumn’s Best Bits competition, but we’ve been talking constantly about the best things of the season. Not ones to be left out of the fun, we thought we’d share what our favourite bits of autumn right here on the blog.

Jacket Potatoes

A picture of Jonathan's delicious jackets; made with potatoes straight from his father's farm - yum!

A picture of Jonathan’s delicious jackets; made with potatoes straight from his father’s farm – yum!

Spuds: aren’t they good. Fried, mashed, boiled – even sautéed – the humble tatie’ is our most versatile veg. At this time of year, there’s only one way to serve this starchy superfood: jackets. As a farmer’s son, I spent many an autumn day picking spuds, and learnt a thing or two about them in the process. For the perfect jacket potato, opt for a King Edward. When cooked, this variety develop a fluffy middle, making them the ideal candidate for a jacket. On a nippy night, nothing will warm you faster than a steaming spud loaded with your favourite filling – and don’t skimp on the cheddar, it’s autumn after all. – Jonathan

 Autumn Picnics

Autumn Trees

A picture of the view from Nicole’s favourite autumnal picnic spot.

You may think I’m mad but one of my favourite things to do in autumn is to go on a picnic. I wrap up warm, make some sandwiches, a flask of tea and head off into the Cheshire countryside. I love the slight chill in the air, the animals preparing for hibernation or migration, and of course the amazing array of autumn colours. This time of year really inspires me, so with a steaming hot tea and a pen in hand I get a lot of writing done and tons of ideas for my upcoming wedding. – Nicole

Seasonal Drinks

Autumnal Drinks

Leanne’s favourite way to enjoy a seasonal drink… with a side of biscuits!

Perhaps it stems from spending my university days working at a certain well-known coffee house, but my favourite thing about the autumn season is warming up with a sweet, seasonal drink. Adding cinnamon and pumpkin spice syrup to a coffee may not ring in the bells of autumn to everyone, but to me the season doesn’t truly begin until I have sipped my first pumpkin spiced latte. Plus there is nothing quite like stopping to pick up a takeaway coffee in the middle of a chilly dog walk! – Leanne

Wrapping up Warm

Wrapping Up Warm at Autumn

A picture of Louise getting all snug in her autumn scarf.

There are so many things to love about autumn but my personal favourite is the clothes. There’s a lot of excitement surrounding rooting out the cold-weather clothing from the depths of my wardrobe! It’s fun to re-discover the old favourites that I’ve not worn since last winter and for me, there’s no greater comfort than wrapping up warm. Think winter coats, cosy jumpers, huge scarves, ankle boots and bobble hats! – Louise

Homemade Soup

A bowl of warming soup is Jamie's best bit of autumn.

A bowl of warming soup is Jamie’s best bit of autumn.

I’d have to say, my favourite thing about autumn is soup. Think about it: the nights are drawing in ever earlier and the temperature is starting to drop, so what more could you want than a piping hot bowl of soup? I absolutely love the stuff, from leek and potato through to Scotch broth, there’s nothing better. And there’s the best type in the world: my Grandma’s homemade chicken soup, you just can’t beat it! – Jamie

So, there we have some of our favourite bits of autumn as inspired by our latest competition. Unfortunately we can’t enter, but you can, so if you’re a fan of autumn, have a camera and write a blog, take a look at all the details on the competition page.

Pin It
Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.