Archive for the ‘Cottage Owners’ Category

How to research the history of your holiday home

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
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A few weeks ago I noticed a plaque thirty feet up the rear wall of my building with the numbers ‘1836’ inscribed on it. With nerdy hastiness, I did some research into said date-plate and- shock horror- it turns out the building was indeed built way back in 1836.

Amazing, right? Well I certainly think so. Thanks to the power of the internet, it’s now easy to turn Tony Robinson for the day and research the history of your home-amazing!

But Jonathan, pray tell: how do you go about researching the history of your abode? Well loyal reader, I’m glad you asked. Below you’ll find some useful hints and tips on how to get the bits and pieces that make up your home’s history; so let’s get down to business.

First Steps

So, you’ve got your house, but how do you start unearthing its dirty secrets? The first thing you should do is try determine roughly when your property was built.

Look for obvious clues that may ascertain the age of the property. Like mine, your home may have a plaque detailing its erection date. These are often located on the exterior, although in some properties they may appear indoors.

If your holiday home’s really old, there’s a chance it might be a listed building, in which case you should have a look at the National Heritage List for England, an online database listing all of the country’s designated heritage assets. If it’s on there, that’s good news, as there should be plenty of information to boot, including when it was built. If not, don’t get down; there’s another angle of attack.

If you’re struggling to determine when your property was built, it might be a good idea to speak to neighbours or other members of the community to see if they can shed light on when your home was originally constructed. You never know, some nebby-neighbour might be able to point you in the right direction, or at least provide some gossip on its previous occupants.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Unlocking your home’s history

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Now that you’ve got a general idea of when your house was raised from its foundations, it’s time to start going through the history books to delve deeper into its past. Who lived there? What were their livelihoods? Was it stricken by tragedy, or at the centre of a community-wide dispute? Thanks to the internet, there are hundreds of free-resources you can use to unlock the secrets of your home’s past.

If you’d like to find out who lived in your house, the best place to start is at your local records office. Here, thousands of public archives are available to view, including electoral registers, census catalogues and Ordnance Survey Maps, all of which can be used to unearth the history of your home.

For instance, electoral registers will list every resident who was registered at your address, since records began. Just think of all the interesting folk who may have passed through the front door of your property!

Put that research to use

When you’ve completed your research and exhausted your home’s history, it’s time to share what you’ve learnt with the world. As a holiday home owner, your guests are likely to be just as interested in the history of your home as you are, so create an information pack for your property that details the ins and outs of its history.

People are always interested to hear about the history and heritage of where they’re choosing to stay, so an illustrated guide to your home, as well as the local area, would go down a treat.

To find out more about researching the history of your home, visit the English Heritage website.

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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.

Cottage Owners: How to maximise off-peak bookings

Friday, September 5th, 2014
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After a busy summer of bookings, some holiday home owners may be breathing a sigh of relief now that the kids have gone back to school, whilst others could still be booked up for the foreseeable. However busy you are, it’s helpful to note that the off-peak season is approaching, a time when bookings slow and gaps in your reservation calendar are likely to appear. There are number of things you can do to prevent a lull in income through the off-peak period, and we’ve listed these below.

Be flexible with your changeovers

During summer, you can afford to be less flexible because your property is likely to be booked for weeks at a time. However, with fewer potential bookings knocking around during off-peak, it pays to be as flexible as you can with changeover days. If a customer wants to stay in your property on a particular date- even if it doesn’t fall on your normal changeover- you should endeavour to meet their needs; after all, any booking is better than no booking at all.

Sign up to the Sykes Sale

Throughout the year, we run sales to encourage customers to book off-peak holidays. These prove popular, with the majority of properties achieving high booking rates. Although owners can choose whether their property is included in the sale, we’d encourage those whose bookings are low to do so, as this can improve booking numbers. The amount of discount offered is variable, and although you’ll make less per booking, the quantity of reservations ensures that your income remains high.

Offer short break discounts

The majority of Sykes’ property owners offer short break discounts, including winter, last minute and off-season. If you’re tinkering with the idea of offering short break discounts yourself, our advice would be to do so. A slight reduction in cost can mean the difference between getting a booking and not, and short breaks also mean that customers can be more flexible with when they wish to stay at your property.

Make the most of downtime

For some, a week with no bookings can be a godsend, not least after a frantic summer. If your property is in need of some TLC, the off-peak season is a great time to tend to your abode. Whether you have big DIY plans or just need to get in there with a mop and bucket, make the most of your downtime and get your cottage ship-shape for when things get hectic once more. If you do make any changes, be sure to send us some pictures so that we can showcase the improvements on your property page- you never know, a lick of paint may just earn you an extra booking or two!

A final note to say…

…hang in there! We know it’s disheartening when your down on bookings, but take it from us, we’ll do all we can to help boost bookings during the slower months, including promoting your property on our social media channels, and on this little old blog. To find out more about how to increase bookings, or for more information on letting your property with Sykes Cottages, please visit our let your cottage page today.

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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.

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.

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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.

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

via. Flickr

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.

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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.

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!


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!

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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.