Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

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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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.

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.

Sunday Snapshots: Christmas Sights in the UK

Sunday, December 21st, 2014
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We’re revisiting our former Sunday Snapshots feature this weekend to jivvy up some festive cheer in the countdown to Christmas. From the Scottish Highlands to the Cornish seaboard, we’re blessed with some of the world’s most magical landscapes, towns and villages, and we want to share some of those with you in the hope that’ll raise some festive cheer this Christmas. So without further ado: stoke the fire, reach for the hot chocolate, pull on your slippers and take a look at this selection of wonderful Christmas scenes.

Christmas at Canterbury Cathedral – Via Flickr

Christmas at Canterbury Cathedral – Via Flickr

Sunday Snapshots 2

Christmas Robin – Via Flickr

Covent Garden Christmas Tree – Via Flickr

Covent Garden Christmas Tree – Via Flickr

Christmas snow in York – Via Flickr

Christmas snow in York – Via Flickr

Flaming Christmas Pudding – Via Flickr

Flaming Christmas Pudding – Via Flickr

Scottish cottage in the snow – Via Flickr

Scottish cottage in the snow – Via Flickr

Reindeer in Scotland – Via Flickr

Reindeer in Scotland – Via Flickr

Manchester Christmas Markets – Via Flickr

Manchester Christmas Markets – Via Flickr

Snowman – Via Flickr

Snowman – Via Flickr

Christmas hearth – Via Flickr

Christmas hearth – Via Flickr

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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.

Britain’s Best Christmas Trees

Thursday, December 18th, 2014
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We’re probably all a little biased but when it comes to Christmas trees, I think everyone is inclined to think that their own is by far the best. We all spend hours choosing our decorations, decorating our trees and of course, uploading the obligatory pictures to social media. However, there are some trees in the UK that are slightly more distinguished than others. Read on to find out about some of Britain’s best Christmas trees!

Europe’s Largest Walk in Tree – Cheshire Oaks, Cheshire

Cheshire Oaks Christmas Tree

Via Flickr

Cheshire Oaks is a favourite haunt of many of us here at Sykes Cottages as it’s just a short drive from our offices. However, the McArthur Glen designer outlet is also home to the Europe’s largest walk-in tree, which stands at over 90 foot high and 32 foot wide. The tree itself has over 5 miles of fairy lights, weighs 18 tons and boasts 100,000 baubles. Visitors to Cheshire Oaks this Christmas can pay an optional donation to step inside this one-of-a-kind twinkling tree for a look around and a fantastic photo opportunity!

UK’s Oldest Christmas Tree – Wrest Park, Bedfordshire

Wrest Park Christmas Tree

Via Flickr

This year, for the first time in a century, the UK’s oldest Christmas tree will be decorated for the festive season. The Wellingtonia stands at around 98 foot and dates back to 1856, when it was planted by Thomas de Grey in Wrest Park, which is now an English Heritage country estate and gardens. When it was first planted, the tree was brought into the property every year, decorated for Christmas, and then re-planted once the festivities were over. During this period, Christmas trees were all the rage as the Royal Family had recently embraced them as part of their own Christmas celebrations – the tree at Wrest Park is believed to be ones of the earliest examples of a Christmas tree grown in the UK.

UK’s Tallest Christmas Tree- Ballatar, Aberdeenshire

Ballatar Christmas Tree

Via Flickr

The title of the UK’s tallest Christmas tree is believed to be held by a 125 foot tall tree in Ballatar, Aberdeenshire. The tree is located at the Hilton Grand Vacations Club in the Victorian village of Ballatar, and has been decorated with 2,100 lights and a 5 foot star at the top. Previously, the claim for the UK’s tallest Christmas tree lay with a redwood tree at Wakehurst Place in West Sussex, which stood at 118 foot.

Think you know of a better Christmas tree? We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions – you can let us know by leaving a message on our Facebook page or by sending us a tweet.

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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.