Archive for the ‘Cottage Owners’ Category

Grow your own for National Allotment Week!

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014
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What makes a great garden? Swathes of bright, fragrant flowers? A tranquil water feature, perhaps? Or an emerald lawn that stretches as far as the eye can see? Whatever your opinion on horticulture, we think that any great garden just isn’t complete without a good old veggie patch.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Since humankind began, we’ve been blooming good at growing stuff- just ask Titchmarsh. But in recent times, vegetable patch numbers have dwindled, replaced by convenient, cheap produce from the supermarket. A real shame, no doubt about it, but all is not lost.

This week is National Allotments Week, an event which encourages allotment sites across the country to open their gates to allow the public to witness the benefits of growing their own fresh produce. Throughout the week, plot holders will be putting on a range of fun events, including garden parties, barbecues and food markets, with plenty of fresh produce to sample! To find out more about the National Allotment Week events taking place in your area, click here.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

In honour of NAW 2014, we wanted to champion the veggie patch by letting our green-fingered property owners know just how easy it is to grow and maintain a vegetable patch. Many of our cottages already have a plot of earth dedicated to growing wholesome, home grown produce, but to those that don’t, here’s a brief guide on how to get started.

How to grow your own vegetable patch

Step 1: Choosing the perfect spot for your patch

Choose a spot in your garden that receives at least five hours of sunlight a day. Veggies hate the dark, so it’s crucial that you keep them out of the shade.

Top tip: Dig your patch well away from other foliage such as trees and shrubs. This will prevent pesky slugs snacking on your hard-fought crop.

Step 2: Put your back into some serious digging

Bust up your patch by digging down at least a spade’s depth. This will give your plants a better chance of forming a good foothold, as well as oust any weeds which could attack the roots of your veg.

Top tip: Don’t go crazy. If your patch is too big, weeds will soon advance, rendering your patch useless. Plan what you want to plant and where before you start digging.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Step 3: Create your very own super soil

Now you’ve got your hole in the ground, you need to create the perfect environment for your veg. Dug earth is all well and good, but you’ll need to add compost to make it a haven for growth.

Top tip: Don’t be shy- adding manure can be a game changer for your patch. The nutritious value of cultivated poop far outweighs your opinion of this smelly substance, so get your hands dirty.

Step 4: It’s all about space

Like us, plants need their personal space. If your patch is lacking in room, your veg will grow to be weak and small rather than hearty and tall. Try to leave 20cm to 70 cm around each plant to make sure it has enough room to spread its wings.

Top tip: If you’re growing lanky plants like beans, don’t forget to give them a trellis or stake to climb so that they can reach for the stars.

Step 5: You don’t need a garden to grow your own patch

Think you need to be lord of the manor to grow a successful veggie patch? Think again. Some of the best produce plots can be found in green houses, balconies, terraces and, believe it or not, window sills. As a matter of fact, some plants, particularly those native to warmer climates, prefer growing indoors. So before you start sulking about the size of your garden, size up your sill, grab a few pots and start growing your own little patch today.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Here at Sykes Cottages, our owner care department is here to help with any and all queries you might have about managing your holiday home, whether it be advise about what to do in emergencies or, growing your own veggie patch! Whether you already advertise your property with us or not, our owner department are here to help, so give us a call today on 01244 356695 or visit our designated owner page for more information.

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.

How To Make Your Cottage Bike Friendly

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
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With influences including British success in the Olympics, a British winner of the Tour de France 2012 and Yorkshire’s very own Le Tour Grand Depart having taken place this weekend just gone, the popularity of cycling in the UK has increased dramatically in the past few years. Cycling holidays are becoming more and more popular and we’re seeing a large number of people booking holiday cottages with the intent of exploring the surrounding areas by bike. Ensuring that your holiday cottage is cycle friendly can be a brilliant way of attracting more bookings and so Sykes Cottages have put together a handy guide to a few, inexpensive suggestions to help you make sure your cottage is as bike friendly as possible.

Make sure you have some form of bike storage

Bike storage

Via Flickr

One of the most obvious ways to make your holiday cottage cycle friendly is to provide a secure storage area for your guests’ bikes. Whether this is in the form of a cycle rack in a secure garage, a space-saving storage device in the cottage itself, or even just a bike lock, having some form of bike storage is essential if you want to attract cyclists to your property. There are many inexpensive storage devices on the market, so it doesn’t have to cost and arm and a leg and will certainly impress potential guests. It goes without saying but it’s also essential to make sure that you have enough storage to correspond with the maximum occupancy of guests permitted at your cottage.

Provide washing and drying facilities

Bike friendly holiday cottage in Haworth

The Old Forge, Haworth, Ref. 14036

When out on a bike, the likelihood is that you’re going to get a bit muddy; the last thing your guests will want to do is leave dirty clothes on your furniture or put their muddy cycling gear back into their suitcase. Cottage owners can easily solve this problem and cater to their guests’ needs by installing a washing machine and providing a specific drying area or a clothes airer. It’s also nice to create a space for muddy trainers; making life easier for your guests and limiting the amount of cleaning you’ll have to do on your changeover. If you have outside space at your property, an added bonus for cyclists is to have a hose-pipe available to wash down their bike after a particularly muddy ride; once again, making life easier for your guests when they have to transport their bike home and also preventing your cottage needing extra cleaning.

Stock up on information about cycling routes in the area

Bike route

Via Flickr

Something that will be particularly helpful to cyclists staying at your property is information on cycle routes in the area. You could provide leaflets from your local tourist information centre, print off information from the internet, or if you’re a keen cyclist yourself, provide your own information and suggestions on what to do in the area. A nice touch would be to leave a visitors book specifically for cyclists, so your guests can leave feedback and comments on the routes that they’ve tried with recommendations, hints and tips for the next guests.

Make your holiday cottage cycle friendly with Sykes Cottages

Bike friendly holiday cottage in Ironbridge

Courtyard Cottage, Ironbridge, Ref. 11346

There are many changes you can make to your property to help it appeal more to cyclists, some big and some small. This is not an exhaustive list of suggestions and if you already have a cycle-friendly property, or if you’re a keen cyclist and think that there’s something important that we’ve missed out then we’d love to know about it! You can get in touch with suggestions via our Facebook or Twitter pages.

If you have a holiday cottage of your own and you’re interested in learning more about how to make your holiday cottage bike friendly, or you’re interested in learning more about working with Sykes Cottages, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our dedicated owner’s department who will be more than happy to help. You can give them a call on 01244 356 695 or visit the owner’s page on our website. For more inspiration on how to make your holiday cottage bike friendly, you can check out the selection of cycle friendly holiday cottages already on our website.

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.

Going Green: A Guide for Cottage Owners

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
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“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints”

Here at Sykes Cottages, we’ve found that this saying has started to hold more and more meaning for our customers; customers who are now actively seeking eco-friendly accommodation. There are a number of fantastic cottages advertised with Sykes as eco-friendly, but we would like to do more and I’m sure you would too! In this guide, you’ll find a number of suggestions that will start you on the path to greener accommodation, not only attracting more customers but saving yourself a few pounds along the way.

Saving Energy

There are a number of ways a cottage owner can save on the energy they are putting into their property or convert their existing energy supplies into a greener alternative. Solar panels are the obvious choice for green accommodation and many of our owners with this facility have already seen the benefit on their electricity bill; but there are other energy saving options available to you. Did you know that underfloor heating was first introduced by the Romans? This alternative heating option is a great way of warming both your holiday cottage’s rooms and hot water. It works by pumping warm water through plastic tubing embedded in the floor, not only saving on your heating bill but also increasing your usable floor space by eliminating bulky radiators.

If you’re looking at saving energy on a smaller scale then we would suggest introducing low-energy light bulbs. Usually the most expensive bulbs on the shelf, these energy-saving alternatives will definitely save you money in the long run, up to £45 a year! Where ever possible, you should make sure your windows are fitted with double glazing to help prevent heat loss. For older cottages that are not able to fit double glazing, make sure you hang heavy curtains to keep in the warmth and supply a draft excluder for the doors.

Water Usage

Here in the UK, there’s an increasing pressure being placed on our water supply, with the average Brit using around 150 litres of water a day! As an individual cottage owner you may think that there’s not much you can do to lessen the strain on the water supply, but by making just a few minor adjustments you could really help our environment.

Did you know that you could save 60 litres of water per week by simply fixing a dripping tap? This can be easily done by replacing the washer and takes no more than five minutes of your time; keeping your existing equipment well maintained is the easiest and probably the cheapest way to save water. You’ll find that many of our owners here at Sykes Cottages harvest their rainwater. By collecting the fallen rain, they are able to water the plants, wash down the paving and even fill up the bird bath – it’s a simple adjustment which makes a big difference in the long run. Another simple yet effective method of saving water is to collect all your bedding, towels and blankets to have them all washed together. Making sure you do all your washing at once rather than in several small loads will help lower your water usage and save you money on both the water and electricity bills!

Recycling

With the government introducing an array of colourful bins to cope with every kind of waste, from left over food to glass and clothing, it has never been easier to recycle. There are many simply changes you can make to your everyday life that will aid you on your quest to greener accommodation, for example stopping your unwanted mail. We all get unwanted mail and within two minutes of opening it, it’s put straight in the bin. This mail can of course be put into your paper recycling bin, but wouldn’t it be better to save a tree and not receive the unwanted mail in the first place? By contacting the Mailing Preference Service and Royal Mail you’ll stop receiving unsolicited advertising and by being more aware when giving out your name and address, you can usually indicate that you do not want your details passed on for further promotion.

We have all heard the phrase “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and with a number of charity shops up and down our high streets, this phrase is extremely relevant in today’s society.  When owning a self-catering holiday cottage, it’s important to have comfortable furnishing for your guests; but what happens when this furniture is no longer needed? We would suggest contacting a second hand furniture store; they would be glad to take your old furniture off your hands and can even suggest a range of second hand furniture which you could use instead of buying new.

I hope this guide has helped you see that making the change to eco-friendly accommodation is very simple and that in the long run, it could save you a lot of money as well as increasing your bookings. For more inspiration, make sure to check out our existing eco-friendly cottages or give our owners department a call for further advise on converting your property!

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.

How can Sykes Cottages Help Cater Your Property to Families?

Friday, May 30th, 2014
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For many of us, our busy lives mean that we don’t spend as much quality time with our family as we would like to. School, work and social events seem to be trying to keep us apart from our loved ones and any time we get to spend together is often rushed. This is why family holidays are so important; they are a time to switch off, forget the day-to-day and just spend quality time with the family. If you have a holiday cottage with enough space, it can be a great idea to make sure that it caters for families and at Sykes Cottages we’re happy to help our cottage owners do just that! 

We’re here to help

Rushmore Lodge in Kent. Reference: 16229

If you’re unsure of anything or want suggestions of how to make your property a little more family friendly, then don’t hesitate to ask your area manager or give us a call and speak to a member of our owner care department. We know what appeals to families and we’re more than happy to share that knowledge with you! Why not make life a little easier for new parents by having a cot, high chair and maybe even a baby monitor available? And if you want your property to attract families with toddlers then installing stair gates, rounding any sharp corners with cushions and not having anything dangerous within reach of curious hands will be really appreciated by parents. Parents of older children and young teenagers will really appreciate things that will keep them entertained such as trampolines or slides in the back garden or DVDs and books to provide entertainment no matter what the weather decides to do!

We categorise your property

Category

Baby friendly, toddler friendly, child friendly and just all round family friendly; we have them as pages on our website. These are the first places that potential guests will look and your property will be included on all the pages that are relevant, making sure that your property is seen by those most likely to book it! Can you provide a cot? Then you’ll be on the baby friendly page; if you have stairs and provide a stair gate, then you’ll fit in just fine on the toddler friendly page; and if you have added little extras such as books, DVDs or other fun things to do then the child friendly page is where your property belongs.

Extended Family

Wonderful dining table perfect for a large family at The Hall in Middleton
Property reference: 903958

We understand that family does not just involve those living under the same roof, and often families who live in different parts of the UK like to holiday together. If you have the space and your property is in a convenient location that would appeal to multiple-household-holidaymakers, we will be more than happy to advise you of anything you may be unsure of when catering for these guests. Things such as how bedrooms would best be configured, how many guests can comfortably stay in the property and if there is enough parking for multiple cars are all things to think about to ensure that larger families have a brilliant time on holiday!

Don’t Forget Those Furry Family Members

Image via Flickr

To those of us who share our lives and homes with a four-legged friend, they really are members of the family who deserve a holiday just as much as us humans do. Whilst it is not possible for every property to be pet friendly, if you have the facilities where a dog will be safe it can be a fantastic idea to open up your cottage to furry family members. This will not only increase your bookings but will also ensure that your guests have a fantastic time, as they will not be worrying so much about their pooches being left behind in a kennel. We are more than happy to suggest ways for our owners to make their property appealing for pet owners, or you can take a look at our tips to making your holiday cottage pet friendly for a few important things to keep in mind!

We’d love you to join us

These are just some of the ways that Sykes Cottages can help you cater to the family holiday market and get those all-important bookings. If you have a property that you feel is family friendly and you want to join an award winning self catering booking agency, then take a look at our owners page or give us a call for more information.

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.

How to Make a Holiday Cottage Pet Friendly

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
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Are you trying to think of a way to get your bookings up? Why not consider making your holiday cottage pet friendly? After all we do live in a pet mad country! Back in 2012 TravelSupermarket.com ran a survey and found that 39% of pet owners like to take their animals away with them, and when you consider that around one quarter of households in the UK own a dog you can see how big the market we’re talking about is.  This is why here at Sykes we’ve produced a little list of things that you should consider when trying to pet proof your cottage, so take a look.

In the House

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Firstly, make sure that any potentially toxic items are kept well out of reach. Things such as cleaning products are the main concern here so it might be best to keep them in a high cupboard well away from any overly curious canines or if they can’t be kept high enough it might be worthwhile putting some sort of lock on the door. Then there is also the issue of cables, to stop these from getting chewed you should tuck them away behind the appliances or even invest in some cable protectors that should deter even the most persistent of pets. Finally there is the issue of hair. This tends to be one of the biggest reservations about making a cottage available to people bringing their pets, however when dealt with properly it isn’t that much of a problem. Having said that it is definitely worth investing in a powerful vacuum to make sure you get it all up between stays, and if you make the vacuum available to them many pet owners will have a quick run around with the hoover.

Outside

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

The main concern with a garden at a holiday cottage is whether or not it is escape proof. Believe me, as the owner of a dog with Houdini-esque capabilities it is definitely worth your while to make sure that the garden is properly secure. The fencing should be high enough to prevent any larger animals from clearing it and you might even consider sinking it below ground level to deter any digs for freedom. You should also be careful about products that you use in the garden, things like weed killers and slug pellets often pose a risk to dogs and so should be avoided. One other thing to consider is the dog mess, guests will be especially grateful if you leave behind some waste bags and a little shovel for them to use to clear up after their pooches.

Little Touches

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Then there are the little things that you can do which might make all the difference to the holiday goers. Some people invest in things like a food and water bowl for the cottage just in case the guests forget theirs. You could also leave some old towels in the property for drying off the pooch after those long walks, as it will help preserve the carpet and will cut down on the cleaning on changeover day. Or if you want to go the whole hog then you could even consider leaving a little canine welcome pack with some biscuits and maybe a couple of tennis balls which would definitely go down a treat.

Hopefully we’ve thought of a few things that might have slipped your mind but if you have any suggestions then we would love to hear them. Or if you want you can always take a look at our other pet friendly cottages to see if you can get a bit of inspiration there.

 

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.