Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Christmas Decor for Cottage Owners

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
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Christmas time is here and it has brought with it festive cheer, flashing lights and a mass of chocolates (just us?) We know how important those little touches to your holiday property can be to guests, particularly at Christmas time, so we thought we would write up a blog post giving you some inspiration on decorating your holiday property for those festive guests.

A Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree Decoration

Image via Flickr

So obvious that I wasn’t sure whether to include it! No Christmas is complete without a tree but they are quite bulky and not the best for travelling. Save space in your guests’ car and save them time by having a tree up and decorated when they arrive.

A Plate and Mug for Father Christmas

Father Christmas Treats

Image via Flickr

Travelling around the world giving gifts to everyone on the nice list is pretty tiring, and we have word that Father Christmas gets a little peckish! Why not provide a fun plate for children to use so that they can leave out a mince pie and milk for the big man in red. Don’t forget a carrot or two for the reindeers!

Psst! We hear that Father Christmas is quite a fan of these festive tipples, as well…


Christmas Tableware

Image via Flickr

What is Christmas lunch without a tablecloth and centre piece? Whether you go for a fun, novelty throw away table cover or something a little more traditional and plush, leave one for your guests. This will make their holiday property feel a little more like home, even more festive and also has the benefit of protecting your dining room table! Providing a matching centre piece or candles can really add to the festive feeling.

Little Touches

Little Touches at Christmas

Image via Flickr

Christmas is not all about the big things; it is the small and thoughtful things that can really make a difference. Why not leave some crackers (the edible, or the pulling kind) for your guests and add some festive sweets or biscuits to your welcome pack? If your property is dog friendly, don’t forget to put in some treats for the pooch – it’s these little things that can make a lovely festive addition that your guests are sure to love!

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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.

Last Minute Cottages for Christmas

Monday, December 15th, 2014
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Christmas is almost upon us. From here on out, ‘tis the season to be jolly. The majority will be prepped, ready and waiting for the arrival of Little St Nick. If you’re not, or if you’ve been umming and ahhing about where to host Christmas this year, there’s still time to book a cottage for Christmas with Sykes. We’ve got plenty of holiday homes with availability over the Christmas period, some of which are offering great discounts on selected dates. To give you a taste for the cottages we have on offer, take a look at these five wonderful holiday cottages.

Clove Cottage – Ref. 917424

Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria

Nestled in the beautiful Cumbrian countryside, just four miles from the ancient town of Appleby-in-Westmorland, Clove Cottage is an idyllic holiday home, with space for up to four guests to enjoy a comfortable and relaxing break. The property feature two spacious bedrooms – double and twin – a cosy lounge and fully fitted cottage kitchen. Original period features, such as exposed brick walls and oak beams, add character, whilst the property’s location makes it a great base for exploring the nearby Lake District. In short, Clove Cottage is ideal for a relaxing family Christmas.

Miller’s Lodge – Ref. 2470

St Keyne, Cornwall

Couples longing for an isolated Christmas away from everyday stress should take a closer look at Miller’s Lodge, a characterful property in St Keyne, Cornwall. This lovingly restored barn is situated in the Looe Valley, an area of outstanding beauty renowned for its peace and tranquillity. Miller’s Lodge features one double bedroom, a shower room, and open plan living area with galley-style kitchen. Couples will love the property’s tasteful front room, which is the ideal place for opening presents come Christmas morning. To top it off, you’ll receive a discount of £100 on seven night stays from the 22nd December.

Bronwydd – Ref. 996

Llanbedrog, Wales

Gather your friends and family and make for the bracing Welsh coast this Christmas with a break in Bronwydd cottage. Accommodating up to seven guests, this spacious Welsh holiday home is the perfect destination for families or a group of friends. Bronwydd is located in Llanbedrog, a coastal village three miles from the popular village of Abersoch, and has a number of superb coastal walks right from the door – perfect for walking off the Christmas dinner. The property features four bedrooms, a spacious sitting room with exposed beams, and well-equipped kitchen with everything you need to cook up a memorable Christmas feast.

Waterside Cottage – Ref. 2661

Hovingham, North Yorkshire

Enjoy a relaxing family Christmas this year and rent Waterside Cottage, a wonderfully charming holiday home in the midst of North Yorkshire’s picturesque Howardian Hills AONB. For a family of four, this Yorkshire holiday cottage proves perfect; one king-size double and one twin room can comfortably accommodate up to four guests, and the cosy sitting room – complete with real, woodburning stove – is a luxurious place to debunk after a big Christmas lunch. The rolling countryside of the nearby Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offers a playground for outdoor pursuits, and is the ideal place for little’uns to try out the toys that Santa has brought them. Book now for Christmas, and you’ll receive over £100 off the weekly rental price.

Rent a self-catering holiday cottage for Christmas

If you’re convinced by a cottage break this Christmas, now’s the time to make a booking. Many of our Christmas holiday rentals also offer last minute discounts, which are now valid on breaks booked for the 22nd December, and will give you a great reduction on the weekly rental of your chosen cottage. To find out if a property accepts last minute breaks for Christmas, scroll to the bottom of the property page and look out for the Last Minute Break icon.

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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.

Tips For Renting a Christmas or New Year Cottage

Sunday, December 14th, 2014
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Christmas and New Year getaways are extremely popular here at Sykes Cottages with some of our properties booking up over two years in advance! Most people will rent out a cottage so they are close to friends and family whilst others opt for our large properties where everyone can be together under one roof. With so many of us heading off on a festive adventure this winter we thought we’d share with you some of our top tips for renting a cottage over the holidays.

Locking up the family home

Tyddyn Tyfod, Ref: 16229.

Tyddyn Tyfod, Ref: 12162.

Even though you won’t be at home over the holidays it’s still important to protect your house and make sure it’s intact for your return. In order to keep your home safe during your time away simply follow these tips:

  • Keep wrapped presents out of sight; under the tree is the first place a burglar will look.
  • Ask a neighbour to keep an eye on the house for you and, if on the odd chance it snows, to keep the driveway clear.
  • Set the heating to low and make sure it comes on at least once a day; this will keep your pipes from freezing or bursting whilst you’re gone.

Transporting the Christmas presents

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Whether you’re travelling alone, with the children or even your other half, keeping them from discovering their presents is a top priority. When we’re travelling over the holidays we like to hide gifts in our cases, this works really well with small to medium sized presents but what about large gifts? If you’re struggling to disguise your gifts this Christmas here are a few suggestions:

  • Have the gift delivered. You can chose the delivery date then have it dropped off at the cottage once you arrive. Alternatively, many companies are happy to drop parcels off at the local post office and you can pick them up from there.
  • A number of stores now offer a click and collect service where you pay online and pick up in store; simply use your cottage’s postcode to find the nearest store. Alternatively give them a call and reserve the item until you can get there.

Stocking up on food and drink

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

When travelling over the holidays your car is filled with clothes, toiletries and presents, with hardly any room left for the family let alone food and drink. To give you more space in the car this year why not try one of the following options:

  • Have your food delivered to the cottage. Many supermarkets and online stores offer a home delivery service; you simply need to check which store is in the area and order online, they will then drop off your shopping on a day and time that’s convenient for you.
  • If you’re renting a cottage close to friends and family why not ask them to shop for you? As they are doing their own shop it would be easy to pop a few extra items in the basket which you can collect from them once you arrive.

Making your holiday cottage more festive

Image via Flickr.

Rushmore Lodge, Ref: 16229.

Here at Sykes Cottages, many of our owners will decorate their cottages over the Christmas period so there is no need to worry about the property feeling festive, however if the cottage doesn’t have their own decorations there are a few easy steps to make you feel more at home:

  • You could bring decorations with you – pack up the tinsel and baubles and use them to make your holiday cottage a little more cosy.
  • Have some family fun by making decorations at your holiday cottage. Cut out snowflakes to go on top of the table or turn paper cups into Christmas angels, there are plenty of crafty ideas out there which not only look good but keep the children entertained too!

We hope these suggestions have been useful for your holiday travels this year. If you have any handy tips which could be of use to our customers this Christmas and New Year, 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.

Festive Drinks to Enjoy this Christmas

Friday, December 12th, 2014
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Christmas: a time for giving, eating and of course, drinking. Whether nestled by the fire with a steaming mug of something delicious or sipping on a yuletide cocktail, festive beverages make Christmas. Here’s a few you can – nay, must – try this festive season.

Alcoholic Festive Drinks

Christmas Snowball

Festive Drinks – Snowball

Via Flickr

Be the bell of the festive ball with this classic Christmas cocktail. The Christmas Snowball has been a firm favourite among yuletide revellers for years, and is wonderfully simple to make, with just a handful of ingredients. Here’s how it’s done.

You will need

25ml golden caster sugar

A handful of sliced ginger

25ml advocaat

25ml ginger syrup

Babycham – to taste

How to

  1. To make ginger syrup; combine 25ml of water with the golden sugar in a pan, add the sliced ginger and bring to the boil. Strain the mixture through a sieve and set aside to cool.
  2. Fill your favourite glass with ice and, using a cocktail shaker, blend the Advocaat with the ginger syrup. Pour into the glass before topping with Babysham – enjoy!

Mulled Wine Cocktail

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Many of us will enjoy a mulled wine or three this Christmas, but only a few will sample the delights of a mulled wine cocktail. This take on the traditional festive tipple is served chilled, and features the same spices you’d find in your run-of-the-mill mulled vino. Perfect for parties!

You will need

100g of muscovado sugar

1 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

4 cloves

150ml water

1 lemon

2 clementines

150ml Cointreau

750ml light red wine

How to

  1. Add the muscovado sugar, star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves and water to a pan and bring to the boil. Stir well until all the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Simmer for 2 minutes, then decant into a jug and set aside to cool. Finely slice the lemon and clementines and add to the jug, along with the Cointreau and red wine.
  3. Chill for two or more hours and serve with a twist of orange zest. For a warm mulled cider, skip the chill and heat the mix gently, without bringing to the boil.

Mince Pie Martini

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Sound delicious? We think so too. That’s right, everyone’s favourite festive pastry can now be enjoyed as a boozy cocktail. Your guests will be delighted by this cheeky cocktail, which contains all the classic, spicy flavours you’d expect from the humble mince pie.

You will need

100g golden caster sugar

50g mincemeat

4 tbsp caster sugar

4 tsp mixed spice

4 tsp mincemeat

100ml gin

100ml sweet red vermouth

20ml dark rum

How to

  1. First, make the mincemeat syrup. Add the mincemeat and sugar to a pan and pour over 100ml water. Bring to the boil. Strain through muslin and a sieve to remove any lumps.
  2. Muddle the mixture in a cocktail shaker. Add the ginger, vermouth, syrup and ice. Shake well and strain into four martini glasses – enjoy!


Non-alcoholic Christmas beverages

Cranberry Sparkler

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

For a classy alternative to a coke on the rocks, opt for the Cranberry Sparkler. Designated drivers will love this holiday thirst-quencher, which combines cranberry, blackberry, mint and sparkling water. A great NYE tipple.

You will need

45ml of blackberry puree

60ml of white cranberry juice

75ml of sparkling water

A sprig of mint

How to

  1. Add blackberry puree and cranberry juice to a champagne flute. Top with sparkling water and garnish with mint.

Candy Cane Hot Chocolate

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

On a nippy December eve, reach for the cocoa and make yourself a delicious peppermint hot chocolate. This warming recipe, which infuses indulgent hot choc with the sweet, zing of a peppermint candy cane, is sure to warm your cockles on even the blusteriest night.

You will need

1/3 cup of cocoa

1 cup of milk

A few chocolate chips

3 peppermint candy canes; 2 crushed, 1 whole

Pinch of salt

How to

  1. Add the cocoa to a pan and gradually whisk in the milk. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and crushed candy cane and stir. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until the chocolate and peppermint has dissolved.
  2. Add salt, bring to the boil and remove from the heat. Serve in your favourite mug, and garnish with a full festive candy cane.

Apple-Pie Cider

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

With all the flavours of a spiced apple pie – cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg – and the wintry comfort of a hot mulled wine, this delicious apple-pie cider is sure to put a smile on your face come Christmas. Serve with scrumptious gingerbread for the ultimate festive combination.

You will need

200ml non-alcoholic apple cider

½ tablespoon light-brown sugar

2 whole cinnamon sticks, 1 for garnish 1 for taste

½ teaspoon allspice

A pinch of ground cloves

Grated nutmeg

A pinch of salt

How to

  1. Add the cider, sugar and spices to a saucepan and whisk together. Simmer over a medium heat, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and strain solids. Serve in a mug and garnish with the remaining cinnamon stick.
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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.

Christmas Events: National Trust and English Heritage

Thursday, December 11th, 2014
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If you’re looking for days out during December that will help you get into the Christmas spirit, then look no further as we’ve rounded up some of the best Christmas events taking place at National Trust and English Heritage properties over the festive season. From illuminated walks to ghost stories, there’s something to suit everyone!

Festive Guided Tours at Osborne House

Osborne House, Isle of Wight

Via Flickr

Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight, was once home to Queen Victoria and her family and it’s said that she thought it was “impossible to imagine a prettier spot”. This Christmas, you can take guided tours around Osborne House and see how Queen Victoria would have celebrated the festive season. Visit the principal royal ground floor rooms of Osborne House as they would have been decorated for Christmas, and you can also see Queen Victoria’s own private rooms too. Visitors to Osborne House can also enjoy the festive fare on offer in the café and indulge in a little Christmas shopping in the gift shop. These tours are taking place every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from now until 31st December, minus a few exceptions that you can see on the English Heritage website.

Illuminated Christmas Walk at Kingston Lacy

Kingston Lacy

Via Flickr

Every day from now until 21st December, Kingston Lacy in Dorset, is hosting an Illuminated Christmas Walk. This stunning country house was built to resemble an Italian palace in 1665 and is now owned by the National Trust. Its Illuminated Christmas Walk takes place from 4pm to 6pm and follows a trail based on the twelve days of Christmas. In Kingston Lacy’s rose garden, children will also have the opportunity to help decorate Christmas trees and afterwards, everyone can enjoy a warming treat from the property’s restaurant. For more information on the Illuminated Christmas Walk, please visit the National Trust website.

Ghost Stories for Christmas at Brodsworth Hall

Brodsworth Hall

Via Flickr

For something a little bit different this Christmas, why not head to Brodsworth Hall in South Yorkshire for a unique storytelling event. Brodsworth Hall itself is a spectacular sight, where time seems to have stood still since the Victorian era; almost everything inside this country house has been left as it was 130 years ago when it was a family home. The Ghost Stories event takes place here on 19th December at both 7pm and 9.30pm and guests will be treated to a series of spooky Victorian ghost stories by the Lady and Gentleman of the house. This event will take place by candlelight and is unsuitable for children under the age of 14. For more information, please see the English Heritage website.

If you’re heading to any of the National Trust or English Heritage events taking place over the festive period then we’d love to know how they were! You can tweet or message us with your thoughts on the events via our Facebook and Twitter profiles.

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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.