Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Visit Heritage Open Days this Weekend!

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
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From 11th- 14th September, Heritage Open Days are offering culture lovers the opportunity to visit interesting sites which are normally not accessible to the public, or that normally charge for admission, for free! This annual event, which is funded by the English Heritage, aims to celebrate the wealth of architecture and culture on offer in England and encourage us to discover what’s on our doorstep.

Young Explorers Heritage Fun Trail, Yorkshire

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Via Flickr

Taking place at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield, the Young Explorers Heritage Fun Trail is a great way to spend an afternoon with the kids! The whole family will enjoy this self-guided trail around the park, taking in the wildlife, lakes and woodlands and learning more about the history surrounding them. The event is totally free and there’s no need to book, just grab a leaflet from the YSP Centre to take part and there’s also a chance to win a Young Explorer’s Goody Bag. This event is taking place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th September, from 10am until 4pm. For more information, see the Heritage Open Days website for more information.

Guided Tour of Three Tuns Brewery, Shropshire

Pints of beer

Via Flickr

This weekend, you can take a tour of England’s oldest licensed brewery for free! Established in 1642, the Three Tuns Brewery in Bishops Castle is offering free guided tours on Saturday 13th September as part of Heritage Open Days 2014. This brewery offers a unique tour experience as it’s housed in a building steeped with history, including a miniature Victorian tower which was built around 1890. Tours take around an hour and a half and afterwards, why not visit the brewery’s own pub for a couple of pints and a bite to eat? Visit the Heritage Open Days website.

Four Castles Guided Walk, Northumberland

Chillingham Castle, Northumberland

Via Flickr

On Friday 12th September, you can take part in a guided walk with David Barker around four of Northumberland’s most impressive structures. This 7.5 mile route will take all day and covers Chillingham Castle, Ros Castle, Hepburn Bastle and Hepburn Fort. This walk is not suitable for children and attendees are advised that it can be hilly and muddy in places. For more information about the event, click here.

Heritage Tours of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Warwickshire

Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company

Via Flickr

This Sunday 14th September, Shakespeare fans can explore over 150 years of theatre heritage in Stratford-upon-Avon for free! Visitors to this event can learn more about the theatre techniques introduced to the RSC over 100 years ago, that are still used today; they can also discover more about the people behind the project and theatre architecture, from the local Georgian theatre to the Victorian Gothic Shakespeare Memorial theatre. Tours must be pre-booked, please see here for more information.

To find out more about all of the events taking place as part of Heritage Open Days, you can visit their website here. If you’re planning to travel to visit one of the Heritage Open Days then why not check out our cottages near English Heritage properties for a cosy, comfortable place to stay while you explore England’s impressive architecture and culture.

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.

Sykes’ Horrible Histories: The Romans

Monday, September 8th, 2014
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So the kids are back in school and the learning will have begun. Back in the day my favourite lesson was always history but far too often the classes seemed to be made up of reading boring passages from old textbooks, and there’s no reason why learning about history should be anything like this! Here in the UK we’re lucky enough to have easy access to some brilliant and interesting attractions and museums. And so we’re going to be having a look at some of the most exciting periods in British History and where you can go to get a taste of it, starting with the Romans!

Veni, Vidi, Vici

4123999205_20b7fccda8_z

via Flickr

To start with we’re going to have to go all the way back to 55 BC when the most famous Roman of all, Julius Caesar decided he fancied adding Britain to his long list of conquests. However things didn’t quite go to plan and two invasions later he headed back to Rome. However around a hundred years later, in 43 AD to be precise, the Romans finally managed to seize the islands. They were in charge for the next 350 years, until in 410 AD they officially left the Britons to fend for themselves in a period known as the Dark Ages.

What Have the Romans Ever Done for us?

hadrians wall

Hadrian’s Wall, via Flickr

Quite a lot as it turns out! It might have been over 1500 years since the Romans left Britain but you can still see many of the things that they left behind them. You might not know it but every city with ‘chester’ in its name was founded by the Romans, from Manchester through to Colchester and even the home of Sykes Cottages – Chester! They also built the first roads in the country, many of which form the base for the ones that we use today. And then there’s the small manner of a wall built all the way from one side of the country to the other, all to keep the pesky Picts up and out of the way!

Where Can You Go?

chester amphitheatre

Chester Amphitheatre’s Mural, via Flickr

There are still plenty of spots in the UK where you can get a glimpse of some Roman handiwork. Hadrian’s wall is the obvious one, many sections of the wall are still standing so you can walk in the footsteps of soldiers from almost 2000 years ago. Whilst you’re there make sure that you pop into Vindolanda, one of the old forts along the wall that is now home to a fantastic museum filled to the rafters with fascinating exhibits. Or you could always swing by Chester where you’ll find the biggest amphitheatre in the country and will have the chance to be given a tour of the city by a Roman soldier!

Hopefully you’ll have enjoyed our whistle stop tour of the Romans in Britain, if so make sure that you keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment and if you have any ideas for something that would make a good blog then please let us know, either over Facebook or Twitter and we’ll do our best!

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.

Summer’s Over: Ten Things to Look Forward to This Autumn

Thursday, September 4th, 2014
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Back to school, post-holiday blues, dark nights, cold mornings, and who could forget the freight train that is, Christmas. That’s right, summer’s over. But before you sink into an autumnal abyss, try look on the bright side, because believe it or not, there’s still plenty to look forward to in the remnants of 2014, not to mention in the New Year (twenty FIFTEEN). Here’s a list of what we think you should focus on during a Tuesday school run or a gloomy five thirty commute.

Halloween, Bonfire Night & Christmas form a festive sandwich

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

I’d go as far as saying that the period between September and December is one of my favourite times of year, not least because it’s home to three of the UK’s most popular holidays; Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas. Buy sparklers, carve veg and be merry!

Autumn is by far the sexiest season

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Just look around, even the trees are getting their kit off. I jest, but truly, autumn is our prettiest season. Head to any national park, cemetery or leafy suburb from Devon to Dumfries and you’ll get what I’m on about. Alternatively, check out our blog on where to see the best autumn colour.

Comfort food, comfort food, and MORE comfort food

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Sod rainy barbecues; winter fodder is reliable, hearty and downright AMAZING. We’re thinking warm broths brimming with seasonal veg. Steaming soup and crusty bread. Stew and dumplings, jacket potatoes, and who could forget, festive sarnies chock-a-block with turkey, cranberry and all manner of other mouth-watering fare- spot on!

Hot baths (or hot tubs)

Forget speedy summer showers and sink into a steamy hot bath instead. When the mercury drops below ten, it’s time to turn up the heat and soak your worries away. Of course, for those that don’t own a tub, you’ll need to get creative with your bath time; or, you could rent one of our cottages with a hot tub and make your soaking session a proper spectacle?

Blustery, blow-out-the-cobwebs walks

Sewerby Cliffs

Sewerby Cliffs

The sweating days are over, and now it’s time to layer up, lace up and enjoy a bracing walk in your favourite pocket of countryside. Since I was little, I’ve always preferred walking in the colder months- no doubt in a thousand jumpers at my mum’s request- and still love to head out whatever the temperature- will you be joining me?

The joy of a roaring fire

Sitting, reading, watching tele, having a pint, hell, even knitting, are just some of the activities made better by the presence of a roaring fire. If you haven’t got one, a gas one can do the trick, but you can forget about it if yours is electric. If your fire’s pitiful, rent one of our cottages with a roaring log burner instead, and get set for a cosy weekend beside the flames.

Layers of lovely clobber

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Winter clothes are just better. Enough said.

The arrival of the German Christmas market

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

We’re big fans of the German Christmas market here at Sykes HQ, and it seems we’re not alone. Over the past decade, this festive import has cropped up in towns and cities across the UK, bringing hot booze and tasty Bratwursts to us Christmas-ready Brits. To find a Christmas market in your area, visit christmasmarkets.com.

Mums get some me time

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Sure it’s sad that the kids are back at school, but after a couple of days, we’re sure you’ll get over it, especially when the peace and serenity sets in. The autumn term means more time to do the things you love whilst your little terrors are out of the house, unless of course you work full time. Either way, once that school bell tolls, it’ll be a welcome reprieve after a hectic summer.

If none of the above appeal, book a holiday!

In hindsight, I could have saved us both time and effort by just telling you to book a holiday. Yes, autumn and winter have their downsides, but they’re also a great time to enjoy a break. Why not take advantage of our wonderful autumn sale and book yourself a UK holiday today.

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.

A Look Back at the Highlights of Summer 2014

Monday, September 1st, 2014
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On the first day of September, here at Sykes Cottages, we’d just like to take the time to appreciate what a wonderful summer Britain has had this year. We’ve had our downs (Roy Hodgson and co, I’m looking at you) but all in all, the summer of 2014 has been fantastic; full of sporting success, cultural events and good weather! In celebration of this, we’ve put together a few of our top highlights of the summer.

Le Tour de France: Yorkshire Grand Départ

Le Tour de France Grand Depart

Via Flickr

One of the summer’s most anticipated events was the Tour de France’s visit to Yorkshire. The atmosphere across the country was electric as world-famous cyclists took to the roads of the Yorkshire Dales with thousands turning out to cheer them on along the route.

WW1 Centenary Events

World War One Memorial

Via Flickr

This year also marks 100 years since the beginning of World War One. Up and down the nation, there have been spectacular events, memorials and activities taking place to commemorate the anniversary and remember those who died in the war.

Glasgow Commonwealth Games

Glasgow Commonwealth Games

Via Flickr

The Glasgow Commonwealth Games have been one of our favourite events over the summer, not least because all of the home nations did so well! From the dancing tea cakes at the opening ceremony to Erraid Davies becoming the youngest ever Commonwealth medallist, we enjoyed every moment!

Hottest July on Record

Beach

Via Flickr

Although the weather hasn’t always been perfect this summer, we have had some beautiful weather and July was even declared to be one of the hottest months of July on record! Here at Sykes Cottages, we’ve also got our fingers crossed for  an Indian Summer!

The Open Championship

Rory McIlroy

Via Flickr

This year’s Open Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake was a huge success and even resulted in a British winner! With his win at the Open, Rory McIlroy joined the likes of Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as one of the only golfers to win three majors by the age of 25.

UK Festivals

UK festival

Via Flickr

They may happen every year but the summer of 2014 has been a great time for festivals with some particularly memorable performances! From Dolly Parton at Glastonbury to Justin Timberlake at V Festival, there was a wide variety of artists showcasing their talents on the British festival scene this summer.

Summer 2014 has been full of highlights and if you can think of any that we’ve missed then we’d love to hear them! Get in touch and let us know via our Facebook page or via our Twitter.

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.

Teenage Survival Guide: Keep the kids entertained in the UK

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014
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Teens, we’ve all been there. The social awkwardness, the weird haircuts, the endless backchat- or perhaps that was just me. Without making too many sweeping generalisations, I’d say your teenage years are some of the weirdest, and nothing was weirder as a teen than having to holiday with your parents.

If you’ve got a sullen youngster in your brood that won’t put down the smartphone, why not coerce them with a cottage holiday in the UK? Britain offers plenty to occupy the grumpy adolescent, and there’s no chance of getting stung with a nasty phone bill should they refuse to log out of Facebook.

Not convinced? Then check out our shortlist of teen friendly attractions below.

Scare them senseless in York

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Do your teens love horror flicks? Then treat them to a city break in York, reputably Europe’s most haunted city. Here, amongst the ancient, gabled streets, over 500 restless spirits are said to wander. For predetermined terror, make for the York Dungeon, a blood curdling house of horrors complete with a resident plague doctor and murderous Viking bloke. Alternatively, if you’re feeling really brave, head to 35 Stonegate, a 700 year old haunted house where a ghastly ghoul is said to have put Derek Acorah in a strangle hold.

Surf’s up in the South West

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Even if they’re useless at it, we guarantee that surfing will put a smile on their face. One of the best places to try this invigorating water sport is in the south west, where the wave battered beaches of Cornwall and Devon await. If they’re wave riding newbies, we’d recommend enrolling them in a surf school at least for a day. The South West is home to loads of affordable surf training centres, so they could be hanging ten before you know it! To find out more about surfing in the UK, check out our blog on the UK’s best surf spots.

Treat them to a day of retail therapy in Chester

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

One thing that’s certain to rouse the attention of your teen is the prospect of a shopping trip and where better to spend some dollar than in the fabulous city of Chester. Home to a dazzling array of historic architecture, this picturesque city is the perfect place to treat the kids to some new threads. One of the city’s most interesting features is its Rows, a series of medieval walkways which effectively create an upper and lower level to the High Street, doubling the amount of space for all those lovely shops and eateries.

Scare them senseless in Snowdonia

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The Snowdonia National Park is home to a plethora of teen friendly attractions including a massive mountain, lots of extreme sports and of course, plenty of good looking Welsh folk. And, as of 2013, it’s also home to the longest zip line in the northern hemisphere- cool, they will mutter. Stretching for over a mile, this record breaking zip will carry riders over the dizzying heights of Penrhyn Quarry at speeds of over 100mph, providing a bird’s eye view of the spectacular North Wales coastline. To find out more about Snowdonia’s Zip World, click here.

Rent a teen friendly holiday home

Here at Sykes Cottages, we’re convinced that we’ve got a holiday cottage to suit everyone, including cantankerous teenagers. If you’re planning a UK holiday with your young adults, why not take a look at our cottages with a games room, which feature a pool, snooker or foosball table? Or, try our cottages with swimming pools or hot tubs; they’re sure to keep the kids content for hours!

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.