Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Sykes’ UK Filming Locations – Harry Potter

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015
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Calling all wizards and witches, muggles and squibs! Today, the Sykes Cottages blog is getting a bit magical as we delve into the wonderful world of witchcraft and wizardry with a Harry Potter themed tour of the United Kingdom. Sadly, despite our best efforts, we weren’t able to track down Hogwarts itself so we’ve had to make do with the next best thing. That’s right, we’re going to be taking a look at the places that were used as sets in the Potter films, finding out a little bit about them and what you can do there, so read on and see what you think.

Alnwick Castle

Remember all the way back in the very first film when Harry first tried his hand at a broomstick during Madame Hooch’s flying lesson? Well this, amongst many other scenes, was filmed at the glorious Alnwick Castle in Northumberland! One of the true treasures of the North East, the castle has resplendent gardens that are opened to the public during the summer months and offer a true Potter extravaganza. Not only can the little ones put themselves at the helm of a broomstick during a flying lesson, they can also meet many famous face from the series, from Dumbledore to Hagrid and even Harry himself!

Lacock Abbey

The glorious cloisters and corridors of Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire are featured several times throughout the Potter series. Perhaps the most recognisable section of the Abbey is the Sacristy, which hosted the Potions lessons in the dungeons with Professor Snape.  The Abbey’s warming room doubled in the films as Professor Quirrell’s Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom and the particularly keen-eyed of you might also recognise the Chapter House as the hiding place of the Mirror of Erised in the Philosopher’s Stone.

Bodleian Library

Then it’s down to Oxford and the stunning Bodleian Library in particular. Established way back in 1602, it’s the second largest library in the country and the main research library for the University of Oxford, housing treasures such as four copies of the Magna Carta and Shakespeare’s first folio. However the Bodleian is also quite an important spot for the Hogwarts students! Duke Humfrey’s Library doubled as the Hogwarts library in the films, whilst the Divinity School was the setting for the infirmary!

Warner Bros Studios

Or if you want to get the full Hogwarts experience, head down to the Warner Bros studios in Leavesden! Featuring countless props, sets and costumes that were used by the cast and crew during the filming of the series, the studio tour is a paradise for all Potter fans. Whether it’s trying out a tankard of Butterbeer, exploring the Hogwarts Express and platform 9¾ or even having nose around Professor Dumbledore’s office!

So there you go, the Sykes wizarding tour of the United Kingdom, hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading but do let us know if there are any spots that we’ve missed out! You can get in touch either over Twitter or Facebook and we’ll be sure to include them in our next blog!

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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.

Flexible Short Breaks with Sykes Cottages

Thursday, April 30th, 2015
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Here at Sykes Cottages, we’re always trying to find different ways in which we can make it easier for our customers to book themselves a holiday cottage break. One problem that we noticed was that people were finding it difficult to get the dates that they wanted, and so we’re delighted to announce our new short break scheme that is aimed at solving just that: our Flexible Short Breaks!

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Spend a weekend in luxury in the Corwen Old Police Station

Flexible Short Breaks offer you more choice than ever before when it comes to booking your holiday! Unusual arrival date? Only wanting to stay a few nights? Not a problem, all of these issues can be solved through the scheme! There is a minimum stay of just two nights so they’re perfect for that weekend away that you’ve been lining up. There’s no need to stick to the classic changeover days meaning you can escape it all with a midweek break if you want; after all, breakfast in bed followed by a long countryside walk definitely sounds better than the 9-5 doesn’t it?

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Escape to the Seaside for a couple of days at Berlin House

There is a wide variety of properties that offer Flexible Short Breaks, from the North of Scotland right the way down to the Cornish coast, and they come in all shapes and sizes. So whether you’re looking for the perfect spot for a romantic break or you’re planning a get together with friends, you’re bound to find something for you.

Our Flexible Short Breaks are bookable from now onwards, on breaks taking place at any time between the 30th of May and the 18th of June, offering more versatility than ever before and at a discounted price! If you want any more information on the scheme you’ll want to have a look at this page, or alternatively you can give us a call on 01244 356695 and speak to one of our holiday advisers who will be able to explain it all to you.

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Find some peace and quiet at Tan Y Graig Hall

So if you’re considering treating yourself to a cottage holiday using the Flexible Short Break, make sure you take a look at the full selection of cottages that are available to book and see which one takes your fancy.

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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.

Britain’s Best Bridges

Sunday, April 5th, 2015
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You may well have noticed over the last few weeks that Royal Mail have been celebrating some of Britain’s finest bridges through a limited edition of stamps. All in all, there are ten bridges from all around the country that were selected to be commemorated. They came in all shapes and sizes, from footbridges in the Cumbrian countryside to record-breaking structures big enough to carry thousands of people everyday. Here at Sykes, we thought we’d do our bit to celebrate the best bridges in the land and so we’ve taken a look at each of the chosen few to try and learn a bit about them; take a look and see if you learn anything new.

Pulteney Bridge

Pulteney Bridge in Bath was built in the second half of the eighteenth century in order to connect the city to Bathwick, just on the over side of the River Avon. It is one of just four bridges in the whole world that has a row of shops running down each side of it, something that the designers first saw in their trips to Venice and Florence with the world famous Rialto and Ponte Vecchio.

Craigellachie Bridge

Designed by the renowned engineer and architect, Thomas Telford over two hundred years ago, the Craigellachie Bridge is one of the most famous spots throughout the whole of Moray. Found just outside of the famous whisky producing village in Abelour, Craigellachie is the oldest remaining cast iron bridge in the whole of Scotland.

Menai Suspension Bridge

We’ve got another of Telford’s bridges for the next in the list!  The Menai Suspension Bridge was the first fixed crossing of the fast flowing waters of the Menai Straits and it provided a much needed lifeline to the inhabitants of Anglesey. It was later joined by the Britannia Bridge and together they form two of the most photographed spots of the island.

Tees Transporter Bridge

The fourth bridge to have been commemorated was the Tees Transporter. It’s the furthest downstream crossing of the River Tees and connects Middlesbrough to Port Clarence. It carries a gondola large enough to fit around 200 people or nine cars.

Humber Bridge

We’re staying in the North East for the next of the bridges. At its point of completion, the Humber Bridge was the longest of its kind in the whole world, although since then it has slipped down to 7th in the list. It’s estimated that over 100,000 cars cross the bridge every single week, thereby opening up a previously remote area of the country both socially and economically.

Peace Bridge

Crossing the River Foyle, Peace Bridge forms part of the regeneration programme of Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland. It crosses from the city centre through to Ebrington Square, and brings together communities that were traditionally seen as being on different sides of the Northern Irish conflicts.

Tarr Steps

Tucked away in the Exmoor National Park is Tarr Steps. A traditional clapper bridge, Tarr Steps is made up of 17 stone slabs, each weighing between one and two tonnes. It had previously been suggested that Tarr Steps was a few thousand years old however more recent studies date it to sometime in the 15th or 16th centuries.

Row Bridge

It might not match up to some of the other bridges in the list in terms of its size but Row Bridge certainly makes up for it in scenery. Situated not too far from the Wasdale Head Inn in Gosforth, the bridge is one of the most scenic spots in the area. A traditionally made packhorse bridge, constructed from local slate and rocks in the mid 18th century, to cross the babbling Mosedale Beck Row Bridge now forms a part of one of the most popular Fell Walking spots in the area.

High Level Bridge

For the next bridge we’re going to be heading back up to the North East and Newcastle in particular this time. The High Level Bridge was built by Robert Stephenson to connect the main city to Gateshead, just on the other side of the Tyne. The bridge’s main claim to fame lies in it being the first in the world to combine both road and rail traffic.

Royal Border Bridge

For the final bridge we’ve got another Stephenson creation. Spanning the River Tweed in Northumberland, the Royal Borders Bridge was built for the York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway in the middle of the 19th century. As part of the bridge’s 160th birthday celebrations back in 2010, it saw a bit of a makeover and, as you can see above is now illuminated each evening by multi-coloured lights.

So there you have it, the Sykes Cottages round-up of the most iconic bridges in the country and I think you’ll agree that they’re all worthy of celebrating! Maybe you have a favourite, or have been to see one of them? If that’s the case we’d love to know! Or maybe you’re interested in getting the stamps yourself? If you are make sure that you head over to the Royal Mail website where you’ll be able to find some more information.

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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.

Sykes One of 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
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Here at Sykes Cottages we’re absolutely delighted to announce that we’ve recently been identified as one of the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain by the London Stock Exchange! The 1000 companies report is all about celebrating the UK’s fastest growing and most dynamic small and medium sized businesses, so you can see why we’re excited to have been included in the list.

The 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain Report

In order to have qualified for selection as one of the 1000 Companies, we had to show a regular growth in revenue over the past few years and significantly outperform our industry peers. If you want to find out more about the report and its criteria then more information is available on their website – www.1000companies.com

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The Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange Group, Xavier Rolet, described the 1000 Companies report as “a significant part of London Stock Exchange’s broader campaign to support UK high growth companies in their journeys from Start-up to Stardom and to create an entrepreneurship revolution”, and also said “I’m delighted that a strong alliance between UK Government, financial market participants, investors, entrepreneurs and companies has been created to support these inspiring businesses”.

What a Year for Sykes Cottages!

Tan Llan near Dolgellau in Wales, one of Sykes' own cottages

Tan Llan near Dolgellau in Wales, one of Sykes’ own cottages!

All in all, being named in the report has capped off what has been a fantastic few months for everyone here at Sykes. Not only did we take home the British Travel Award for being the Best Large UK Holiday Cottage Booking Company (for the second year running!) but we also recently won the Travolution Award for the Best Use of Search Engine Marketing. And then there were the milestones of going past 5000 cottages in the Sykes portfolio and of course, smashing our 2013 record of 100,000 bookings!

Obviously we’re absolutely delighted with all of these achievements and they’re just a few signs of the improvements that we’ve been making as a company. However what’s important here is to remember that we couldn’t have done any of it without the help of our fantastic owners and customers, so we’d just like to say a massive thanks to all of you!

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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.

Where to see the Solar Eclipse

Thursday, March 19th, 2015
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I’m sure that by now you will have heard all about it but tomorrow is a momentous occasion in the British calendar. That’s because we’re due to experience our first substantial solar eclipse in over 15 years. Sure there have been a couple take place since that date, however here in the UK we’ve been right on the periphery of them and haven’t been able to get the full experience. But all of this is due to change tomorrow! According to the experts, it won’t be until 2090 that we have another eclipse on these shores to match what we’re due to experience tomorrow, so here at Sykes, we’ve decided to try and give you the lowdown on the best places and ways to make the most out of the event.

The eclipse is due to start somewhere out over the Atlantic Ocean and will hit the British Isles not too long after 8am. It will be at its fullest point at around half past nine onwards depending on where in the country you are. Because of the path that the sun is due to take, the eclipse will be at its fullest the further north and west that you are, but don’t worry! Even in the least affected areas there should be at least 85% coverage of the sun, making it a fantastic spectacle no matter where you are!

Scotland

As I said before the further to the North you are the better the eclipse will be, making Scotland the prime viewing location. According to the experts, the Torry Battery in Aberdeen will be one of the best spots going to catch a glimpse of the eclipse. Normally it’s the ideal spot for people hoping to see the dolphins that call the North East Coast of Scotland home, however its Easterly aspect and uninterrupted views out over the harbour and North Sea will make it perfect for viewing the solar eclipse.

Cornwall

As seems to always be the way, it sadly looks like the Great British weather will play a part. Experts have forecast that much of the UK will be experiencing some cloud cover during the eclipse and of course this will obstruct the spectacle. Happily however, the forecast in the South West is a good deal clearer than other areas which may well make it the best spot in the country. Add to this the fact that Cornwall is due to experience the eclipse before anywhere else in the UK with it reaching its zenith over Penzance just after 20 past nine.

Obsevatory

Or there’s also the option of heading over to one of the many observatories dotted around the UK countryside. After all, it’s at times like the solar eclipse that they really come into their own! We’ve been seeing more and more of these installations opening up with the Kielder Observatory in Northumberland being the prime example.

So there you go, hopefully you’ll enjoy experiencing this rare event, but remember to do so carefully! Experts recommend that you use a device along the lines of a pinhole projector which will allow you to see the eclipse without risking any damage to your eyes. Fingers crossed that that weather holds off for long enough for us all to catch a good glimpse of it!

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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.