Archive for the ‘Devon’ Category

Sykes’ Spotlight on the English Riviera

Monday, September 15th, 2014
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Yesterday marked the beginning of Agatha Christie Week and the International Agatha Christie Festival. Agatha Christie, or the Queen of Crime as she’s often known, wrote 80 books during her lifetime and sold over 2 billion copies worldwide, outsold only by the Bible and William Shakespeare. Born in Torquay in 1890, Christie spent some of the most important chapters of her life in the English Riviera, so here at Sykes Cottages, we’re taking a look at this picturesque corner of the country, which influenced and inspired her writing for 85 years.

Agatha Christie’s Torquay

Torquay, English Riviera

Via Flickr

No fan of Agatha Christie can head to the English Riviera without paying a visit to Torquay, the pretty seaside town where Christie grew up. Torquay has long been considered one of the jewels of the south coast with its rows of palm trees, bustling marina and vibrant promenade. However, one of the reasons it’s most well-known is as the setting and inspiration for many of Christie’s novels; over 20 of her novels were set in and around Torquay. Christie also bought a holiday home here, which you can still visit today. Now owned by the National Trust, Greenway is open to visitors, who can experience it as it would have been in 1950s when Christie holidayed there.

Relaxed Coastal Towns & Café Culture

Brixham, English Riviera

Via Flickr

With its clear blue seas, palm trees and mild climate, you might be forgiven for thinking that you were abroad when holidaying in the English Riviera. The quaint harbours, cosmopolitan cafés and stunning beaches give this part of Devon an almost Mediterranean feel. Head to Torquay for fabulous Victorian architecture and waterside restaurants, whilst Brixham is ideal for lovers of all things marine-related; this bustling fishing town has been described as the “home of British fishing”, boasting a traditional harbour and many outstanding sea-food restaurants. If you’re looking for somewhere with a vibrant nightlife, then Paignton is a must-visit, with plenty of bars, restaurants and pubs for you to enjoy.

Days Out for Kids

Dartmouth Steam Railway

Via Flickr

It’s not just adults that will enjoy a holiday in the English Riviera as there are plenty of fantastic activities and events to keep the kids entertained too! Paignton Zoo is one of the south-west’s best days out and children will love discovering all of the animals they have to offer which include crocodiles, gorillas, elephants, lions and tigers. Another idea that’s sure to be popular with the kids is a trip on the Dartmouth Steam Railway, which runs for seven miles from Paignton along the coastline to Kingswear; the journey can also be combined with a boat trip. Adults will enjoy the spectacular views and the old-fashioned steam train is sure to fascinate younger visitors.

Book a holiday cottage in the English Riviera

Holiday cottage in English Riviera

Bay View, Paignton, Ref. 30926

If you’re looking to holiday in this wonderful part of the country, or you’re visiting for the International Agatha Christie Festival, then make sure you take a look at our selection of self-catering cottages in the English Riviera. We have something to suit every budget so please get in touch by sending us an email or giving us a call on 01244 356 695.

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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.

Get Creative this Autumn!

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
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With magical colours, crisp air and crunchy leaves underfoot, autumn is one of the most attractive times of year but as the hours of sunshine dwindle, there’s a gaping hole left in our evenings that was once dedicated to summer sports, gardening and barbecues. If you don’t want to spend every evening of autumn watching TV then a great idea is to get creative. Autumn is the ideal time to let your inner artist out and with so many beautiful colours surrounding you, if autumn doesn’t inspire you to get creative then nothing will!

Whether you’re looking to dabble in some arts and crafts yourself or whether you’d prefer to admire what others have already done, Sykes Cottages have put together a few of our top picks for arts and crafts days out this autumn.

Walford Mill Crafts, Wimborne Minster

Photos of Walford Mill Crafts, Wimborne
This photo of Walford Mill Crafts is courtesy of TripAdvisor

This contemporary arts and crafts centre is situated in a beautiful listed mill building on the outskirts of the Dorset market town. Here you can enjoy a stunning display of both local and national artists and a regularly changing programme of exhibitions. The current exhibition runs until October 27th and is a collection of work exploring of the concept of ‘mending’. The collection aims to influence attitudes towards repair and show that mended items can be just as attractive as new ones. Walford Mill also has its own bistro and delivers crafts workshops for both adults and children.

Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, Manchester

Craft Fair

Via Flickr

The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair is being held in Spinningfields, Manchester for the sixth year in a row this weekend, running from 10th– 13th October. Widely recognised as a leading retail event in the craft calendar, this fair is a brilliant idea for those who are wondering what to do this weekend. There are over 150 designers exhibiting at the fair and visitors will be able to browse jewellery, textiles, ceramics and much more. If you’re organised, you could even pick up a few of your Christmas presents! The atmosphere is very relaxed and the makers are more than happy to have a chat about their work and offer tips. If you can’t make this weekend, don’t worry, there is a mini version of the event, with around 40 designers, taking place on 8th December at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, so you won’t miss out.

St Ives Society of Artists, St Ives

St. Ives, Cornwall

Via Flickr

The St Ives Society of Artists was founded in 1927 and is one of the oldest of its kind in Cornwall. The society works tirelessly to promote the work of artists in the St Ives area and has two large public galleries situated in the former Mariners Church. The Main Gallery houses the society’s annual exhibition of local artists and is open from the beginning of March until early January. The second gallery is located in the former crypt of the church and is available to rent by artists who want to showcase their work.  The Crypt Gallery is currently showcasing its Members Festival Show until 26th November and is well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

The Donkey Sanctuary’s Autumn Craft Fair, Sidmouth

Donkey Sanctuary

Via Flickr

This Sunday, The Donkey Sanctuary is hosting an Autumn Craft Fair starting from 10am in Sidmouth, Devon. Costing just £2.00 for adults and with under 12s going free, this event will make a great day out for all the family with a wide range of crafts on sale and the added bonus of meeting some very cute donkeys! The Donkey Sanctuary has helped over 14,000 donkeys since its opening its gates and is a very worthy cause.

If you’re travelling to visit a craft fair or planning to visit any of the attractions and galleries mentioned, why not consider making a long weekend of it and book a holiday cottage? Our dedicated holiday advisers are on hand to help until 9.30pm tonight!

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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.

A German Love Affair with England

Monday, September 9th, 2013
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“Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

If you’ve been a recent visitor to Devon or Cornwall you might have heard this phrase uttered rather more than expected. Recent figures released by VistBritain indicate that the number of German visitors heading to the South of England has risen by 14% over the past year, with Germans now making up more around 40 per cent of the region’s overseas visitors. What has caused this sudden surge in German visitors? Would you be surprised to hear that it’s all the work of an 88 year-old author?

Pilcher Mania Sweeps South West England

Since the 1980s the stories of Rosamund Pilcher, an author native to the South of England, have been adapted for German television, and they have proven to be rather popular. Although the primetime television movies star German actors and are shot by German crews, they are shot in the beautiful landscapes of Devon and Cornwall, enticing our European neighbours to come and explore the area for themselves. Some have even called the adaptations the Downton Abbey of Germany, often drawing over seven million viewers on a Sunday night. Not bad for a series of books that began their life in 1949!

So where should you visit to get a taste of Pilcher Mania?

The Day of the Storm at Land’s End and Penzance

Via. Flickr

Via. Flickr

The Day of the Storm, or Stürmische Begegnung as it’s known in German, was the first of the Pilcher novels to be adapted for German TV and it was shot in one of Britain’s most atmospheric areas, Land’s End and Penzance. A visit to the most westerly point in England is filled with sweeping coastal vistas of dramatic cliffs and glistening sea, as well as the glowing fields of rapeseed beautifully described in the story.

Coming Home to St. Michael’s Mount

St Michaels Mount

Via. Flickr

Don’t get caught unawares while visiting St. Michael’s Mount, the dramatic cliff top castle that features in both Coming Home and Shell Seekers. If you aren’t careful you might not be able to get there, or back, should you fail to time the tides right. Though you can take a boatride the 366 yards from the shores of Marazion, Cornwall, half the fun is making the trek along the briefly traversable man-made causeway on the bottom of the sea.

The End of Summer at Prideaux Place

Prideaux Place

Via. Flickr

If you’re looking for a bit of Olde English elegance don’t miss Prideaux Place, which features in both Winds Across the Sea and End of Summer, amongst others – many others as a matter of fact as this stately home has featured in no less than eight of the Pilcher movies. Take a guided tour of the house, indulge in a spot of afternoon tea, or just spend the afternoon enjoying the extensive gardens and grounds.

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Top Family Days Out in Devon

Friday, July 5th, 2013
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As the second part to our series of great summer days out in the UK, this week we bring you Devon. This beautiful county, which boasts some of the best weather in the country, offers endless summer fun for adults and children alike. With long sandy beaches, rugged moors, and activities galore, Devon is the place to be this summer!


Find your perfect Devon cottage!


Paignton Zoo Environmental Park

Paignton Zoo

Via. Flickr

Paignton Zoo is one of Britain’s top zoos and is home to some of the planet’s rarest and most amazing creatures. With all of your zoo favourites, like gorillas, orangutans, giraffes, lions, and tigers, and bears (oh, my!), Paignton Zoo has plenty to keep the whole family entertained all day. As a registered charity your trip to the zoo isn’t just a delight for you, but is also helping to support important conservation efforts and research, what more can you ask of a day out!?

Dartmoor National Park


Via. Flickr

For those who enjoy a more active holiday, Dartmoor National Park is the place to go. The park covers more than 900 square kilometers of South Devon moorland and has been protected by National Park status since 1951. Dartmoor is a walker and bikers paradise, with hundreds of miles or trails just waiting to be explored. Don’t worry if you aren’t an aficionado, there are walks and bike rides for all different levels. Find a Dartmoor holiday cottage.

Babbacombe Theatre

Refurbished in 2006, Babbacombe Theatre has been an integral part of the Torquay community since the 1930s and is best known for its variety shows. Today you’ll find a great selection of sh0ws and acts on offer, with everything from musical acts stage,  to spiritualist medium, children’s performers, and stage shows, like this summer’s Spellbound. The theatre boasts the longest summer season in the country, stretching for nine months, so the chances are pretty good that they’ll be a show or two on while you’re in Torquay. Rainy day? Sorted!

Hit the Beach


Via. Flickr

If you happen to be in Devon when the weather is anything like it’s predicted for this coming weekend (sun, sun, sun!), you won’t want to be anywhere but on the beach. From beach combing to fishing, surfboarding to boating, Devon has every water sport you could possibly hope for. Bantham Beach is the best option for families, with lovely sand texture and water shallow enough for the children to play in, while Mothecombe Beach is ideal for beginner windsurfers or bodyboarders. For those who fancy a watersports with a bit more excitement head to Croyde Bay on the north coast, which can produce beachbreak waves as good as anywhere in the world. Surf’s up!

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The Sykes Cottages Guide To Paignton

Friday, May 18th, 2012
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The hub of pretty Paignton is the seafront esplanade, and the town boasts some fine stretches of gently shelving sandy beach, ideal for children and families. A time-honoured seaside resort, you’ll find all the traditional attractions at Paignton, with ice cream kiosks, marinas, bars and gardens. The sea is central to the life of the town and all manner of sea-going craft can be hired by the hour or the day, from canoes, kayaks and paddlers to motorboats and yachts.


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