Archive for the ‘Half term holidays’ Category

Sykes’ Half Term Hit List

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
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We are now half way through February and that can only mean one thing; it’s time for the February half term! This school holiday has certainly snuck up on us as it seems like just yesterday that we were celebrating the New Year. If this half term has surprised you too and you’re struggling to come up with ways to entertain the kids next week, then keep reading as we suggest ten fantastic ideas that will get the whole family involved.

1. Explore the coast

One of the many benefits of living on an island is that we are surrounded by coastline, with beautiful golden sands, magnificent cliffs and welcoming pebble beaches all on our doorstep. This half term take the time to explore the coast; visit a new beach, take a walk along one of the many coastal paths or simply relax on the shore as the children run around with the dog at their heels. It’s a great way to use up their excess energy and get some fresh air!

2. Get to know your city

City tours are offered almost everywhere, in fact here in Chester we regularly see crowds of people following a Roman centurion round the city walls and learning all about Chester’s rich history. No matter how long you’ve lived in an area there is always something new to discover, so seek out an individual tour guide or join a group this half term and pick up some new and interesting facts that you can share with your friends and family on their next visit!

3. Try a new craft

Learning a new craft is not only a fun activity but it teaches children something new and if they really enjoy it the crafts can make wonderful birthday and Christmas presents for family members. If you’re new to crafts and are having trouble getting started then check out our recent craft guide. This guide is perfect for beginners and has some wonderful crafts for children including a penguin finger puppet and a cool upcycled phone cosy.

 4. Child friendly baking

Sticking with the “homemade” theme, another great activity for the kids is baking. They love to get involved and when properly supervised, the results of a long day baking are simply delicious! Try not to over complicate your baking-keeping things simple is always the best way to go because everyone loves a good rice crispy cake. We would highly suggest a visit to BBC Good Food for inspiration and child-friendly recipes.

5. Day trip to the zoo

Asking a child if they want to go to the zoo is like asking a chocoholic if they want to visit Cadbury World, the answer will always be yes! The zoo is a fantastic place for children, not only will they discover new animals but they’ll also learn about critical conservation work. To make the most of your time at the zoo make sure to visit their website before you go, it will have lots of useful information regarding special half term events and feeding/display times.

6. Historic day out

The kids don’t have to be in school to learn something new; this half term hundreds of National Trust properties throughout the UK are open and hosting special events. These attractions will help inspire your children as they discover hidden passages in an ancient fort, walk the footsteps of royalty in a historic house or even discover a secret garden in the grounds of a castle. For more information on half term events visit the National Trust website.

7. Nature safari

Visit your local park or garden and take time to appreciate nature as it works its way from winter to spring. Look out for the first budding snowdrops and keep your eyes open for squirrels, birds and bugs. If you haven’t got a park nearby why not invite nature into your own back yard by putting up a bird box or feeder? We recently put together a fabulous graphic which will allow you to “Give a Bird a Home”, so make sure to check it out for ideas.

8. See a movie

This half term there are a number of fantastic films coming to your local cinema like Big Hero 6 and Into The Woods. If your cinema’s a little too difficult to get to then why not have a home cinema day? Draw the curtains, grab a bowl of popcorn and some snacks and watch all your favourite films from the comfort of the sofa. If you want to make things extra special then why not serve up the tasty dishes made in your child-friendly baking session?

9. Get active

It’s incredibly important to keep your kids active and the half term gives you the perfect opportunity to do this. To encourage the little ones why not try something new like canoeing or rock climbing? You never know, this new activity could turn into a hobby for life! Alternatively, pack the kids into the car and venture off on a family walk; we have lots of great walking ideas here at Sykes so make sure to check out our ‘Walk of the Month’ blog posts for inspiration.

10. Spend time with the family

Sandy Harbour (Ref. 7510)

Sandy Harbour (Ref. 7510)

For me, spending time with the family is the best part of half term; you get some quality time with the kids and the more family members involved the better! So invite Nan round and arrange a play date with the cousins, or better yet book a Sykes Cottage to bring everyone together. We have a great selection of cottages still available for the February half term so take a look and make this a holiday the kids will never forget.

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nicole.westley

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.

Book Now for the February Half Term

Friday, December 19th, 2014
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Believe it or not Christmas is just around the corner, in fact it’s less than a week away – where did all that time go? But get the festivities out of the way and the time will start to fly by yet again; before you know it it will be February and the schools will have broken up once more. The February half term always seemed like a bit of an anti-climax for me when I was growing up, with it being wedged in between Christmas and Easter it always seemed to be a bit overshadowed, but book yourself holiday cottage for the break and you’ll never find this to be the case!

Why book in December?

It may seem strange to be talking about booking yourself a February break during the Christmas holidays, but there’s no better time. It tends to get a touch hectic here at Sykes HQ just before the schools break up with people trying to snap something up at the last minute, and sadly a lot of our properties have already been booked by that point. So why don’t you beat the crowds and get in there early? Also, if you book in December you can take advantage of the time off from work and get the family together to make sure that you pick the right cottage for everybody!

Where to go?

Well it’s entirely up to you! We’ve got cottages throughout Britain and Ireland, from the Scottish Highlands right the way down to the Cornish Coast, so it all depends on what you’re after. Lovers of the great outdoors will be right at home in places like the Lake District with stunning scenery and bracing walks. Or alternatively you might fancy a city break where the culture vultures will be able to get their fill, not to mention the option to sneak in a touch of retail therapy!

What to get up to on your cottage break

You’ll never be short of something to do when you go away to your holiday cottage. From rustling up warming winter meals in the kitchen to settling down in front of the fire to watch a film. And then there’s all of the fantastic days out and activities that you can try out whilst you’re away! Websites like the National Trust and Day Out With the Kids are usually very good for finding out what’s on in the area, and many of our owners will leave various leaflets and information packs in the cottage listing some of the local attractions.

So there we have it, just a few of the reasons that you should book yourself a cottage break for the February Half Term this Christmas time. It’ll be less hassle, you’ll have a wider choice and there’ll be no mad rush come February; what more could you want?

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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.

Reasons to Visit the Republic Of Ireland This Half Term

Saturday, May 24th, 2014
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Known as the Emerald Isle, Ireland is a land soaked in culture, rich with history and loved by people worldwide. As an international treasure it’s not hard to see why people fall in love with this enchanting island; from its towering mountains and charming coastline to the memorable cities and picturesque villages there is something for everyone to enjoy! With the children now ready to begin their May half term holiday, why not take the time to explore all that Ireland has to offer? To help convince you that a trip across the water is the right thing to do, here are our top reasons to visit the Republic of Ireland this year!

Impressive travel time

Via Flickr.

Via Flickr.

Whether you make the journey by air or by sea, reaching the Emerald Isle couldn’t be easier. Far enough away to feel like a foreign adventure but close enough for everyone to enjoy a peaceful stress-free journey, transportation to Ireland is both quick and easy. On the Sykes website you’ll find a number of handy tools to help plan your travel to Ireland. We can assist you with all aspects of the journey including ferries, flights and car hire; we even have special package holidays available where you can book both cottage and ferry together making a great saving on your ferry crossing! For more information simply call us on 01244 356695.

Golden sandy beaches

Lahinch Beach

Lahinch Beach

As an island, Ireland has a number of amazing beaches which are ideal for a family break. For active families we would suggest a trip to Lahinch in County Clare where you can try your hand at surfing; with a number of longboard competitions taking place annually, this is one of Ireland’s top surf locations. If you’re looking for a more relaxing location where mum can rest with a good book whilst the kids build sandcastles and run through the surf then make sure to visit Ballymastocker Bay in County Donegal. This is a stunning blue flag beach with beautiful sandy beaches and breath taking views towards the Inishowen Peninsula.

Family Friendly Attractions

Via Flickr.

Via Flickr.

If you manage to pull yourself away from the gorgeous beaches on offer then you’ll want to treat the children, and yourself, with a visit to one of Ireland’s many family friendly attractions. Ireland is packed with an array of attractions suitable for the whole family from go-kart racing to petting zoos- the island even boasts a travelling circus! For a memorable day out, make sure to visit Galway Aquarium where you’ll get the chance to get up close and personal with some of the ocean’s most mysterious creatures! The aquarium has a staggering collection of fish including rays, sharks, crabs, eels and even cute little starfish.

Stylish Holiday Homes

The Humble Daisy in Woodford, County Galway, Ref 30577.

The Humble Daisy in Woodford, County Galway, Ref 30577.

There are a number of fantastic holiday homes located throughout Ireland, from cosy cottages on the sea front to spectacular town houses in the heart of big cities. What better way to immerse yourself in a culture then to stay right in the thick of it, where you can make the most of your Irish experience by eating locally sourced produce, hitting the town’s favourite pub and taking part in traditional Irish games! For a full list of our Irish cottages please click here.

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nicole.westley

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.

The UK and Ireland’s Best Indoor Play Centres

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
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During the February half term we should be outside enjoying the fresh air with our children, but with the constant wind, chilly temperatures and pouring rain it’s hard to imagine a day out in the country! As an alternative to splashing in puddles and sliding down muddy banks we suggest keeping the children dry and active at an indoor soft play centre. There’s a wide selection of these centres scattered across the UK and Ireland so keep reading for our choice of the best play centres to visit this February half term

Aztec Soft Play

Aztec Soft Play in Carlisle

Aztec Soft Play in Carlisle

Our Cumbria cottages are extremely popular and it’s not hard to see why; with fantastic walks, lakeside views and an array of outdoor activities, families are queuing up for their chance to book. But let’s not overlook the fantastic indoor facilities that Cumbria has to offer. Your children will get hours of fun from a day spent at the Aztec Soft Play Centre in Carlisle. Not only can they enjoy the soft play area but with the chance to be an Aztec raider in a laser gun party or make a friend for life with the build a bear programme you’ll have plenty of time to relax in the fully-licensed café!

Bonkerz Fun Centre

Bonkerz in Llandudno

Bonkerz Fun Centre in Llandudno

Here at Sykes we love visiting our North Wales holiday cottages; the scenery is fantastic, and there are plenty of walks and fantastic activities available all year round. During this rather wet half-term we would advise a visit to Bonkerz Fun Centre in Llandudno. This medieval themed play centre opened in September 2011 and is already beating the local competition with some fantastic reviews on trip advisor; and with its stylish café and brilliant soft play equipment, it’s not hard to see why!

Monster Mania

Monster Mania in Falkirk

Monster Mania in Falkirk

Central Scotland isn’t known for its sunny weather so it should come as no surprise that the Scott’s offer a wealth of exciting indoor play areas. If you’re dreaming of a relaxing afternoon watching your little monster run wild then we would suggest a visit to Monster Mania soft play in Falkirk. Whilst you enjoy a nice cup of coffee at the café, your little ones can run themselves ragged with the soft play equipment and go-karts- they can even show off their skills on the football pitch!

Chuckies

Chuckies Play Zone in County Cork

Chuckies Play Zone in County Cork

If you’re lucky enough to be in Ireland during the half-term then why not allocate a day to Chuckies Play Zone in county Cork? This family run soft play centre is sure to give the kids a good workout with its three tiered play structure, giant Lego, rodeo bull and disco. The play centre even has a wide variety of coffee mornings and parent-toddler activities so you can meet new people and enjoy a chat over a cup of tea whilst the children make new friends in the ball pit.

No matter what you decide to do this half-term, whether it’s jumping in puddles or climbing to new heights in a soft play centre, we know that you’ll be making the most of your time with the kids. Keep an eye on the Sykes blog for our “Walk of the Month” which will be posted later this week, as it’s sure to provide another great day out for the kids this half-term.

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nicole.westley

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.

Indoor Activities for February Half Term

Monday, February 17th, 2014
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The UK has been having some awful weather of late and with February half term upon us, you could be forgiven for panicking a little about how to keep the kids entertained without subjecting them to the outdoors. That’s why here at Sykes Cottages, we’ve come up with a handy list of suggestions for indoor activities to try this half term.

Discover life under the sea at an aquarium

Aquarium

Via Flickr

Aquariums make fantastic days out for inquisitive children and are a great rainy day alternative to the zoo. Your children will jump at the chance to see the hundreds of brightly coloured fish, rays and crabs and with all of the educational and interactive exhibitions on offer, they’ll be kept occupied for hours. Try the Blue Planet Aquarium near Chester to experience one of the longest underwater tunnels in the world, where you’ll find one of Europe’s biggest collections of large sharks. Or how about The Deep in Hull, which is the world’s only submarium and home to over 3,500 fish. Here, children can take part in touchpool sessions where they will be able to see guides handle some of the smaller creatures on offer including starfish, crabs and sea urchins.

Learn through play at a children’s museum

Eureka! Museum, Halifax, Yorkshire

Via Flickr

Museums can often be dismissed as boring for children but did you know that there is a museum in Yorkshire dedicated to providing an entertaining, educational and interesting experience, just for children? Eureka! in Halifax, is an interactive children’s museum with a focus on learning through play. At Eureka! children will have the opportunity to explore hundreds of exhibits including ‘All About Me’, where kids can learn about how their bodies work and how to look after them; ‘Living and Working Together’, where they can play in a miniature town square and role-play the world of work in the square’s bank, post office and garage; and ‘SoundSpace’, a gallery dedicated to discovering the science of sound and music. Currently, Eureka! is also offering a free annual pass with the standard admission fee , which means that you can visit as many times as you want over the next 12 months for free!

Keep active with indoor sports activities

Climbing wall

Via Flickr

For more energetic kids, bad weather is the ultimate downer during half term; visions of playing football in fields and running about outside slowly slide down the drain, along with the rain water. But there are plenty of ways in which you can keep your kids active without braving the weather; how about taking them down to your local swimming pool? Or indoor play centres? Another great idea is to let your children loose on indoor climbing walls. There are hundreds of indoor climbing centres across the UK and many will be offering special sessions over half term, allowing children get a taster for climbing in a fun and safe environment.

Book a holiday cottage for February half term

5188_03

Shepherd’s Hut, Dorset, Ref 5188

We still have some fantastic holiday cottages available for February half term so if you’re looking to get away with the kids then why not consider our range of affordable cottages. We have a dedicated team of holiday advisors on hand 7 days a week, waiting to help you plan your perfect half term holiday, so why not give them a call?

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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.