Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

The Best New Year’s Eve Games

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014
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Now that the joy of Christmas Day has been and gone, it’s time to start looking forward to the New Year and celebrating the arrival of 2015 in style. Whether you’re planning a quiet night in with family or a large get together with friends, there is one thing that no New Year’s Eve gathering should be without – games! We love party games here at Sykes Cottages HQ so to help make your party a big success, we’ve included instructions for three of our favourite party games below.

Marble Races

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

If you’re looking for a fun and easy game that will keep the children entertained without costing an arm and a leg then Marble racing is for you. All you need for this game is a bag of marbles, paper towel rolls (cut in half to make trenches) and 3+ eager participants. The aim of Marble racing is to get your marble from one end of the trenches to the other in the fastest time possible (without dropping it). Have two plus children line up and hold the trenches sloping down, then appoint one child as the general to instruct the others, each child should have a turn at being general and the general that gets the marble from A to B in the fastest time wins.


Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Charades is a family favourite in my house; a game that is played religiously every Christmas and New Year. The real appeal of this game is that everyone can join in, from the grandchildren to grandparents, whatever you’re acting out can simply be adapted to fit your audience. All that’s required for charades is a minimum of two players and lots of imagination. If you’re struggling to think of ideas to act out then have a look on-line or save the suggestions that come with your Christmas cracker. You can then place the ideas into a bowl and take it in turns to pick them out – you could even use a separate bowl for the adults’ and children’s suggestions.

Newspaper Dancing

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

This is another great money saving game, all you’ll need to get the party going is a newspaper and plenty of willing dancers. The aim of this game is to be the last couple standing, a challenge which gets tougher the more you have to drink. Start the game by giving each couple a sheet of newspaper to stand on, once the music starts the couple dance on top of the newspaper until the music stops; if a couple steps off the newspaper they are eliminated from the game. Each time the music stops fold the newspaper in half, the longer the game goes on the smaller the dance space gets and the more inventive your dance moves become. The couple left standing on their newspaper at the end is crowned the winner.

This is just a small selection of games that can be played on New Years Eve, what games will you be playing this year? If you have any suggestions that our customers could try then please feel free to share them with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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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.

Delicious Recipes Using Christmas Leftovers

Friday, December 26th, 2014
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From everyone here at Sykes Cottages, we hope you had a very Merry Christmas! If like us, you spent the day indulging in lots of delicious food but STILL have some left over, then today’s blog post is for you. We’ve compiled three of our favourite recipes that you can make using the leftovers from your Christmas dinner – and they sound tasty! If you want some more ideas, you can also check out our leftover recipes blog from last year, which features mini turkey and cranberry pies, turkey and parsnip curry, and Boxing Day fridge cake.

Leftover Turkey Casserole (serves 4)


Recipe via BBC Good Food

Ingredients:Turkey Casserole

  • 400g-500g leftover turkey
  • 350g leftover roasted vegetables eg. parsnips, carrots, roast potatoes
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, sliced
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 300ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 tbsp runny honey


  1. Fry onion and apple in deep pan until soft. Stir in sage for 1 minute, then stir in flour.
  2. Slowly stir in stock followed by honey and mustard.
  3. Bring to a simmer and stir in turkey and roast vegetables.
  4. Cover and gently simmer for 15 mins until turkey is piping hot.
  5. Season and serve with mashed or baked potato.


Christmas Pudding Crumble (serves 6)

Recipe via

Ingredients:Christmas pudding crumble

  • 150g-200g leftover Christmas Pudding
  • 60g butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 cooking apple, peeled, cored, sliced
  • 2 pears, peeled, cored, sliced
  • 2 tbsp cranberry sauce
  • 2 tbsp Demerara sugar
  • Cream or custard to serve


  1. Set oven to Gas 4 or 180C. To make the topping, rub butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs, then crumble in Christmas Pudding.
  2. To make the filling, add half fruit and 1 tbsp cranberry sauce into a dish. Then add the rest of the fruit and cranberry sauce, along with 1 tbsp sugar.
  3. Pour the topping over the fruit and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve hot or cold, with custard or cream.


Boxing Day Risotto (serves 4)

Recipe via

Ingredients:Boxing Day Risotto

  • 250g leftover turkey and ham
  • 100g chesnuts, cooked, peeled, halved
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 30g butter
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 300g Arborio rice
  • 1 litre turkey/chicken stock
  • 4 tbsp fresh pesto
  • 30g Parmesan cheese to serve


  1. Fry onion in half the butter until soft. Add the rest of the butter along with garlic cloves and cook for a minute.
  2. Stir in rice, then after a minute, add a quarter of the stock and stir until absorbed.
  3. Keep adding stock and stirring in this way until half is used up. Then add meat and chestnuts.
  4. Continue adding stock until rice is tender.
  5. Take pan off heat. Stir in pesto and season. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese.

While you’re waiting for your delicious meal to cook, why not take a look at our fantastic range of holiday cottages. We are open today from 10am until 6pm; with a dedicated team of reservations specialists who are waiting to help plan your holiday for next year!

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Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Merry Christmas from Sykes Cottages

Thursday, December 25th, 2014
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From everyone here at Sykes Cottages we would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

We hope your day has been filled with festive cheer, friends, family and of course excess amounts of food and drink. Keep an eye on the blog for exciting posts coming up this week which include Christmas leftover recipes and last minute cottages for New Year.

Staff Christmas jumper Picture

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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.

5 festive tales to tell this Christmas Eve

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014
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Whether you’re staying in a Sykes holiday home or tucked up in your own bed, these Christmas tales are sure to bring some magic and enchantment to your Christmas Eve.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Immortalised by Jim Carey in the 2000 feature film, the tale of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is one of the world’s most popular Christmas stories. Documenting the cantankerous, self-centred life of “the Grinch” in the run up to Christmas, Dr Seuss’ attack on the commercialism of Christmas is as important today as it was when it was first published.

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

Yes yes, there are no words in this book; but show this to your nipper and they’ll quickly be immersed in the tale. The Snowman tells the story of a little boy who builds a snowman which later comes alive. Because there’s no words, the story is open to interpretation, making it a magical tale to tell on Christmas Eve.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Via Google Images – Labelled for reuse

Via Google Images – Labelled for reuse

It’s probably not realistic to read the original version of A Christmas Carol in a single night. Luckily a shorter version is now available, complete with wonderful illustrations and far fewer words! A Christmas Carol follows the comings-and-goings of the miserly Mr Scrooge as he is haunted by three spirits on Christmas Eve. Without question: a classic.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Christmas Tales - The Polar Express

Via Google Images – Labelled for reuse

From the first to last page, this magical story captures the spirit and joy of Christmas. Late one Christmas Eve, a boy boards the Polar Express, an enchanted steam engine bound for the North Pole. After a calamitous journey, the passengers arrive, and the boy receives the first present of the year from the big man himself.

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

“Twas’ the night before Christmas, and all through the house…” so begins this much loved Christmas poem, penned nearly two-hundred years ago in 1822. Since, the poem has become a festive classic, with millions reading it aloud to their little’uns on Christmas Eve. The poem is available in numerous picture books, but if you haven’t got time to buy one, it’s free to read online.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Xmas Image

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Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

Bonkers Boxing Day Events

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014
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I don’t know about the rest of you but for me, Boxing Day tends to be a bit of an anti-climax following the Christmas festivities. Normally it’s just a case of recovering from the over-indulgence of the day before and then recommencing the eating. But little did I know that there’s a whole raft of events that take place on Boxing Day that might help you burn off a few of those Christmas calories, something that is definitely required in my case! So I’ve had a look through them and picked out some of my favourites, not only do they look like great fun but they all represent what is best about Britain! Wacky, zany, call them what you will, they all look brilliant. So take a look and see if you fancy giving any of them a go!

The Grantchester Barrel Race

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

We’re starting off in Grantchester in Cambridge. You might recognise the name from the recent ITV detective drama but we’re looking at it for a whole different reason, the annual barrel race! In a tradition dating back to the 60’s, every Boxing Day sees the sleepy town hold an inter-village barrel rolling race. With thousands flocking in from all over the area it’s definitely worth paying it a visit to have a look, and you’ll even have the chance to tuck into a hog roast for lunch!

The Swimbridge Wheelbarrow Race

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Next up we’ve got another corker of a Boxing Day event with the Swimbridge Wheelbarrow Race. Fancy dress is most definitely encouraged and all the proceeds go to charity so it’s absolutely worth a visit. The course for the race is set around the Jack Russell Inn where there will be plenty of opportunities to top up along the way! Then there’s the obligatory tug of war over the nearby stream – you certainly don’t want to be on the losing side there – and the evening karaoke which cap off a fantastic day for all!

The Tenby Boxing Day Swim

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Finally we’re heading down to the Pembrokeshire coast for one of the more daring of our bizarre Boxing Day events, the Tenby Swim. If turning up in fancy dress and plunging yourself into the icy sea is your idea of fun then this will be right up your street! For years now hundreds of people have descended upon Tenby either to take part in the swim themselves or lend their voices in support of the hardy souls who take on the challenge. Add to this the beach bonfire, raft races and the chance to raise some money for local charities, what more could you want from a Boxing Day event?

So there you go, wheelbarrows, barrel rolling and icy seas, what more could you want to help you get over that Christmas hangover? We’d love to know if any of you have ever taken part in any of these brilliantly barmy events, just get in touch over Facebook or Twitter, or equally if you have any bonkers Boxing Day traditions of your own then do let us know!

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Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.