Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Best Cottages for a Relaxing Pre-Christmas Break

Saturday, December 5th, 2015
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With shops promoting their stocking fillers, radio stations playing Christmas songs and the smell of festive market food filling the streets, it’s fair to say that the holiday season has well and truly begun. It’s an exciting but tiring time and with so much to do, many of us find ourselves in need of a break. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up this Christmas then keep reading as we suggest a wonderful collection of properties that are perfect for a pre-Christmas break.


Portknockie, Scotland

Failte - Reference 921533

Failte – Reference 921533

Located in the picturesque fishing village of Portknockie, Failte is the ideal location for those looking to escape the crowded atmosphere of the larger cities. The area’s fantastic food and drink is sure to help revitalise you and if you still need a little kick, it’s worth noting that the famous Malt Whisky Trail is also located close by. The cottage itself provides a welcoming escape from the harsh winter weather with a soothing wood burning stove and comfortable bedrooms that will see you catching up on your sleep in no time.

The Wagtail

Mundford, East Anglia 

The Wagtail - Reference 923232

The Wagtail – Reference 923232

If your perfect winter escape involves ‘walking in a winter wonderland’ then we would suggest a trip to The Wagtail in East Anglia. This charming cottage boasts wonderful woodland walks straight from the doorstep where you can follow one of the numerous trails to discover the local wildlife and birds. Alternatively, Thetford Forest is also located close by where you can enjoy a quiet walk or one of the many other activities they have on offer. After your refreshing walk, you can head back to The Wagtail and enjoy a festive film whilst cuddled up on the sofa with a large cup of hot chocolate.


Graythwaite, Cumbria

Crabtree - Reference 914055

Crabtree – Reference 914055

You’ll find Crabtree located on a spectacular 5,000 acre private country estate alongside a lake, forest, woodland and meadow. The landscape here is truly amazing and as Crabtree welcomes two-well behaved pets, this could be the ideal location for giving your pooch some well needed winter exercise. If you fancy a pre-Christmas workout yourself, then also available at Crabtree is an indoor heated swimming pool, table tennis room and fitness suite all great for working up a sweat and forgetting all about your Christmas troubles.

Easter Urray

Muir of Ord, Scotland

Easter Urray - Reference 16491

Easter Urray – Reference 16491

If you’re planning a pre-Christmas break for the whole family then you’re going to need a large property; a property with plenty of space that still feels cosy, a property just like Easter Urray. This character property is thought to be over 300 years old and with two welcoming sitting rooms, each with a wood burning fire, this cottage’s comfortable atmosphere is excellent for family groups. As well as two sitting rooms, the property also has five stylish bedrooms, a large kitchen with dining area and a separate dining room that seats ten, creating a wonderful environment for a slap up family meal.

Rushmoor Lodge

Knockholt, South of England

Rushmore Lodge - Reference 16229

Rushmore Lodge – Reference 16229

Rushmoor Lodge offers a modern and very stylish retreat this festive season with three luxury bedrooms, a gorgeous open plan living area and games area complete with pool table and table football. This is definitely the place to be if you’re a group of friends looking for a last minute getaway this Christmas. The open plan living area is a great space for socialising with plenty of seating for eight and a large TV with cinema surround sound. You could spend hours catching up and sharing fond Christmas memories.


Ravenstonedale, Cumbria

Sandbed - Reference 21309

Sandbed – Reference 21309

The character features and beautiful wood burning fire at Sandbed just scream winter getaway. Quietly situated in the beautiful Rawthey Velley between Harter and Wild Boar Fell, this cottage not only has a wonderfully cosy atmosphere inside but a glorious winter landscape outside. We would recommend this cottage to couples looking at spending some quality time together before the family arrive to celebrate Christmas. The open fire, spacious living area and beautiful views are perfect for a romantic getaway; all that’s missing is a couple of glasses of mulled wine!

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Nicole Jones-Gerrard

By Nicole Jones-Gerrard

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 husband.

A Guide to the Best Christmas Events this December

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015
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It’s the first day of December which means it’s officially time to get festive! All across the country, people are starting to get into the Christmas spirit. If you’re in search of fun days out to put you in a festive mood then look no further, as we’ve listed five of the best Christmas events taking place this December.

Christmas at Chatsworth with Mr Toad

Chatsworth House at Christmas

Image provided by Chatsworth House Trust

Every year, Chatsworth transforms into a magical winter wonderland and this year, the theme is Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. Journey around the rooms beautifully decked out for Christmas and share in the adventures of Mr Toad, Mole, Ratty and Badger as they celebrate the festive season at Toad Hall.

Festive Theatre at Belsay Hall

Head down to Belsay Hall in Northumberland where they’re taking on Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol. Gather in the library to see Scrooge confronted by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet To Come. The performances are taking place on the 5th and 6th December, with several productions running throughout the day. It’s sure to be a wonderful, festive day out for the whole family but just remember to wrap up warm as the hall is unheated!

Christmas Elf Trail at Emmetts Garden

The Christmas Elf Trail at Emmetts Garden is a fantastic Christmas event to get the whole family involved in. Running until 3rd January, the trails are £1 each, as well as the normal admission price for the garden. Help the elves find the lost reindeer tags that are somewhere within the garden before Father Christmas sets off on his sleigh to deliver his presents! There are lots of friendly characters to help you along the way, as well as puzzles and challenges to overcome. Fancy trying it out? Then you’ll want to take a look at our Ide Hill holiday cottages so that you have a cosy retreat to head back to with the family!

Illuminated Gardens at Powis Castle

Powis Castle is beautiful at any time of year but it really does come into its own on the run up to Christmas. Visit the castle on one of the six dates throughout December to stroll around the stunning illuminated gardens, courtyard and terraces. You don’t need to book and normal admission charges apply. To see the dates the illuminations are taking place, please visit the National Trust website.

Christmas Festivities at Arlington Court

This beautiful country house in Devon is a magical place to visit this Christmas with lots of festive events taking place throughout December. Browse the spectacular 100 trees display which is part of this year’s theme, 100 different ways to decorate Christmas trees. Take part in a wreath-making workshop or pay a visit to Santa’s Grotto to meet a traditional, green Father Christmas.

For more Christmas-themed events and activities, make sure you keep an eye on our blog where we have a whole category dedicated to Christmas! We’ll be looking at everything from advent crafts for children, to Christmas baking and the best cottages for a relaxing pre-Christmas break.

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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.

5 Family Cottages Still Available for Christmas

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015
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Now we’re not looking to scare you but today marks just one month until Christmas Day. It’s ok if you haven’t bought all your Christmas presents yet and it’s definitely ok if you’ve not yet written your Christmas cards, but if you’re hoping to go away in a cottage over Christmas then you need to act fast! Our holiday cottages do book up in advance for the Christmas period so if you’re considering a Christmas getaway or if you need accommodation while you visit family, then now is the time to get planning. For a bit of inspiration, here are five wonderful family-friendly cottages that are still available.

White Moss, Wood Close, Lake District

White Moss, Wood Close is a delightful ground floor apartment on the outskirts of Grasmere- one of the jewels of the Lakes and the former home of William Wordsworth. The property overlooks Grasmere Lake with wonderful views from the living room window, making it a magical setting in which to spend Christmas; see if you can spot the resident red squirrels, badgers and deer! White Moss is pet friendly too, so you won’t have to leave any furry members of the family at home.

Woodstone Barn, Devon

This cosy barn conversion on a Devon farm is the perfect place for a family Christmas in the countryside. Sleeping up to 8 guests, Woodstone Barn is large enough to bring the grandparents too and if you need even more space for aunts, uncles and cousins, there’s an additional cottage sleeping 4 next door (Owl Barn) which is also still available for Christmas week. Take in the spectacular views across Dartmoor National Park, cosy up in front of the woodburner and spend your Christmas holiday enjoying the company of your family amongst beautiful surroundings.

The Mount, North Yorkshire

The Mount is a charming terraced cottage tucked away in the small Yorkshire village of Swinton. If your idea of the perfect Christmas is a characterful bolthole away from the crowds then The Mount is for you. There’s a roaring fire in a cast-iron Victorian fireplace to curl up in front of, a Rayburn nestled in a brick alcove to cook Christmas dinner on, and a children’s playground to the rear of the property to keep the kids entertained. Swinton’s lovely local shops and pubs are also within 5 minutes’ walk.

Westgate Retreat, Norfolk

Westgate Retreat is a bright first floor apartment in the coastal town of Hunstanton, just a few minutes’ walk from the beach- the perfect place to wrap up warm and walk off all those mince pies on Boxing Day! This lovely holiday rental would make the ideal home-from-home in which to spend Christmas if you’re visiting family in Norfolk and there’s plenty of room for everyone to congregate in the spacious living area to open presents.

Eglwys St Cynfil, Llyn Peninsula

If you’re looking for somewhere a bit quirky, how about this beautiful converted church in Penrhos?  With a double height beamed ceiling, mullioned church windows and original features including a pulpit, Eglwys St Cynfil would make for a characterful Christmas getaway. The cottage sleeps 6 and is ideally situated in a tranquil location, yet within easy reach of the Llyn Peninsula’s stunning beaches and coastline.

Book a family cottage this Christmas

To browse our full range of holiday cottages still available over the Christmas period, visit our website.

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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.

Large Cottages for Christmas

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015
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Everyone knows that Christmas is a time for the whole family to come together and have a good time, but what if there isn’t enough space? You don’t want to be bunched around a tiny table with no room, or left with too few seats for everyone! So why don’t you book yourself a Christmas break in one of our larger cottages instead? With bedrooms aplenty and more than enough space for all of the family, our larger properties are perfect for hosting a Christmas get-together, so we’ve picked out a few for you to take a look at.

Dome House, Lake District

The eagle-eyed amongst you might recognise Dome House from Channel 4’s Grand Designs a few years ago in which it featured as a luxury home in the Lakes. These days however, it takes the shape of an opulent holiday cottage and luckily for you there’s still some availability over the festive season. Dome House is situated just at the edge of the quaint town of Bowness-on-Windermere and enjoys stunning views out over the Lake District’s most famous lake. With six bedrooms, it can comfortably sleep up to 14 people and there’s the added luxury of an indoor swimming pool, a hot tub and a sauna for you to make the most of in your stay.

Brookwood Cottage, Co. Mayo

Or if you’re planning on spending Christmas over on the Emerald Isle, you’ll want to take a look at Brookwood Cottage. Tucked away in the countryside by Lough Corrib in County Mayo, the property is an idyllic traditional cottage complete with a thatched roof, country kitchen and wood burning stove. With five bedrooms, two of which are super king-size doubles, there’s enough room to comfortably house 12 people, and with three of the bedrooms and a bathroom all on the ground floor, Brookwood Cottage is suitable for all members of the family.

Eden Lodge, Cumbria

But what if there’s a particularly large group of you wanting to spend Christmas together? Then Eden Lodge is just the place for you! Sleeping 25 people in 13 bedrooms, two of which are situated in their own self-contained apartment, Eden Lodge is more than big enough for a few generations to come together and celebrate. Add to this a hot tub and a sauna where you can kick back and relax and the countless scenic walks right on the doorstep, you’re sure to enjoy a festive stay at Eden Lodge.

So there you go, a small selection of our larger properties that are still available to book over the festive period, but they aren’t the only ones! If you click here you can browse all of our Christmas cottages – all shapes and sizes and all around the UK and Ireland. If there’s something in particular that you’re looking for, you can always call in on 01244 356695 and we’ll happily help out any way that we can.

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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.

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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Nicole Jones-Gerrard

By Nicole Jones-Gerrard

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 husband.