Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Remembrance Day 2014

Sunday, November 9th, 2014
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Today we remember those who gave their lives to protect the UK and its people, and those still affected by conflict. Take a moment to reflect on the brave servicemen and women who showed courage in the face of adversity to defend our beautiful country.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

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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.

Fun Facts for Bonfire Night

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
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Remember, remember the fifth of November; gunpowder, treason and plot. That’s right it’s bonfire night and that means fireworks, sparklers and toffee apples! We all know the story about a certain Guy Fawkes being caught red handed in the basement of the Houses of Parliament with a large quantity of gunpowder. But what else do you know about the big night? For me the answer was not a lot, so I scoured the web to find out more about it all. So why don’t you take a look at my findings and see how many of these facts you know.

1. To this day, before the state opening, the Yeomen of the Guard search the Houses of Parliament just in case anybody tries to take a leaf out of Guy Fawkes’ book.

yeoman of the guard

Image via Flickr

2. The first time fireworks are recorded in this country was the wedding of King Henry VII back in 1486.

fireworks

Image via Flickr

3. Up until 1959 it was considered illegal to not celebrate Bonfire Night. However there is one place in the UK that has refused to take part in the festivities nonetheless. St Peter’s School in York has always abstained as a mark of respect to Guy Fawkes who was a pupil there in his youth.

bonfire

Image via Flickr

4. It’s still possible to see the lantern that Guy Fawkes was carrying when he was caught in the Houses of Parliament. Nowadays it’s housed in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

guy fawkes lantern

Image via Flickr

5. Queen Elizabeth I loved fireworks so much that she created a title for the best firework maker in the country. The lucky person was known as the “Fire Master of England,” how about that for an accolade? 

fireworks no.2

Image via Flickr

6. The village of Ottery St. Mary in East Devon sees a time honoured tradition where the locals take turns to carry large barrels of burning tar on their shoulders in celebration of Bonfire Night – maybe not one to try at home.

ottery st mary

Image via Flickr

7. Your average sparkler burns at between 1000-1500°c which means 3 of them burning together can reach the same temperature as a blowtorch. So make sure you put them out in a bucket of water to avoid any accidents!

sparklers

Image via Flickr

8. Lewes in Sussex may be your usual sleepy town for most of the year, but come November the 5th it sees a complete transformation! Tens of thousands of people travel there to take part in the famous celebrations making it the biggest Bonfire Night event in the country.  

lewes bonfire night

Image via Flickr

9. He may have been part of plot to commit high treason and destroy one of the most iconic buildings in the UK, but it seems people rather like Guy Fawkes. Back in 2002 the BBC ran a poll to find the greatest Briton in history and he came in at no. 30!

guy fawkes 2

Image via Flickr

10. In official firework lingo, different designs tend to be named after flowers. For example there are peonies, dahlias and chrysanthemums!  

fireworks 3

Image via Flickr

So there you go, 10 facts about Bonfire Night I know I certainly wasn’t aware of, but how many of them did you know about? Let us know over Twitter or Facebook, or if you know of any other interesting facts do get in touch!

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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 Bonfire Night Celebrations

Monday, November 3rd, 2014
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Are you bored of the same-old, average, local bonfire night?  For something a bit special this firework season, check out our pick of the best bonfire night celebrations happening around the UK; we’ve got displays in zoos, castles, theme parks and even on the beach!

Roundhay Park, Yorkshire

Fireworks

Via Flickr

The delightful Roundhay Park is one of the biggest city parks in Europe and is also home to Leeds’ biggest bonfire and fireworks display. Tens of thousands of people turn up to the event every year and this year, it’ll be taking place on Wednesday 5th November. The bonfire is scheduled to be lit at 7.30pm on the Soldiers Field and the fireworks will be starting at 8pm so make sure you get there early to get a good space!

Alton Towers, Staffordshire

Fireworks

Via Flickr

Alton Towers combine their bonfire night celebrations with their end of season festivities and the result is an event not to be missed! Thrill-seekers can spend the day riding the many fantastic attractions at the theme park before enjoying the spectacular fireworks display after dark. The displays take place on the 7th, 8th and 9th November and promise to tell a unique story with breath-taking fireworks, music, lasers and special effects.

Lyme Regis, Dorset

Fireworks

Via Flickr

Fancy watching fireworks on the beach? That’s exactly what you can do at Lyme Regis’ annual firework display taking place at The Harbour. This event is completely free and taking place on Saturday 8th November at 6.30pm. Head down to the beach to enjoy the incredible array of fireworks and warm yourself by the bonfire.

Leeds Castle, Kent

Fireworks

Via Flickr

If you’re in Kent this bonfire night, then head to Leeds Castle to see one of the best fireworks extravaganzas in the country. This year’s theme is ‘Go Wild’ with events inspired by animals from around the world. During the day, there’s entertainment, food and drinks on offer and after dark, the fireworks will light up the sky! This fabulous display will take place on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th November, although tickets for Saturday night have already sold out so book quickly to avoid missing out.

Bristol Zoo, Somerset

Fireworks

Via Flickr

Every year, Bristol Zoo holds a spectacular fireworks event that promises to be a great night out for all the family. This fantastic event uses specially designed low-noise fireworks that are both toddler and animal friendly, meaning the loud bangs and whizzes that would normally scare young children are a thing of the past! This family-friendly session is set to take place on 4th, 5th and 6th November.

If you know of any other magical bonfire night celebrations in the UK that we’ve missed out, please get in touch and let us know! You can do this by either leaving a comment on our Facebook page or by sending us a tweet.

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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.

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.

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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.

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!

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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.