Archive for the ‘Half term holidays’ Category

Child Friendly Cottages for February Half Term

Friday, December 13th, 2013
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We are currently filled with excitement and anticipation for this Christmas and all thoughts are heavily focused on the brightly coloured gifts that are waiting patiently under the tree for us to tear into on Christmas Day. Yet, here at Sykes Cottages we know all too well the last minute stress that is associated with forgetting the up and coming February half term, so with that in mind we would like to remind you of the benefits of renting a self-catering holiday cottage this February and that booking early could help you relax into the festive spirit a little more.

Space and Comfort

Troopers Barn, Westhope, Shropshire: Ref. 26471

Arguably the biggest benefit of a self-catering holiday cottage this February is the extra space it allows you and your family; the children can have run of the house with plenty of sofa space for video games, a wealth of new and exciting hiding places for a game of hide and seek and an ample number of bedrooms so everyone can sleep soundly without Dad’s snoring keeping you up. The February half term gives you the chance to see family members that you might have missed during the festive season, with large properties sleeping up to 32 people there is plenty of space for the whole family and with a number of pet friendly cottages no one needs to be left behind.


Ewelands House, Sleight, North York Moors & Coast: Ref. 7315

No one wants to be dragged out of their beds whilst on holiday, so one of the main advantages of a holiday cottage is the flexibility it gives you. There are no cleaners knocking at your door to disturb your lie-in and no set meal times so you can wake up at your leisure. There is no need to select your dinner from a prearranged menu; with conveniently located shops you have the choice of what to eat, which can be a life saver for those families who have a few fussy eaters. Variety is the spice of life, so mix things up on your holiday, have a day exploring the local attractions or have an evening at the theatre with the family, you don’t have to fret about getting up early or arriving home late as you have the house to yourself and won’t be disturbing anyone!

Parents free time

The Hay Barn, Gilling Wes, Yorkshire Dales: Ref. 2286

“When the children are asleep we sit and dream” Rodgers and Hammerstein had the right idea here, after the children have gone to bed and are safely in the land of nod it gives the adults some much needed free time. Now this time can be spent in a number of ways and doesn’t have to focus on tidying up after the kids. We have an ample supply of cosy cottages which are perfect for relaxing on the sofa and watching your favourite films; you could also unwind in front of a beautiful open fire and catch up with the latest bestselling novel. Or if you’re feeling romantic you could always rent a cottage with a hot tub, treating your other half with the calming bubbly waters and allowing all their stress to just melt away.

We hope this list of benefits has left you feeling excited for the February half term, we know that Christmas is the main priority for families right now but please keep in mind that these properties are booking up fast! For a present with a difference why not get the family a Sykes Gift Voucher this year? Just imagine the joy on your loved ones face when they realise that they can get away with the children this half term and have some of if not all of the cost covered for them, priceless!

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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.

Freaky Family Fun this Autumn!

Thursday, October 24th, 2013
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Spine-chilling winds, misty streets and the orange glow from the jack-o-lanterns; that’s right, Halloween is almost upon us and here at Sykes Cottages we are ready to release our inner child, hit the streets and fill up on sweet treats! Halloween is an occasion that the whole family can get involved in, from your old zombie dad to your witchy mum; even cousin Itt will be joining in on the festive fun! To celebrate this hair-raising holiday we’ve come up with a spectacular selection of family attractions to visit this October half term.

Pennywell Farms Jollyween

Windmill + scare crow

Via. Flickr

Take the trick out of Halloween this year and enjoy the treat with Pennywell Farm. During this October half-term your family can enjoy all the fun of Halloween in a carefree and furry environment! Pennywell Farm are offering a vast selection of activities to keep the kids entertained, from fancy dress competitions to craft activities; there’s even a flying-pig race! The week’s main attraction can be found at the Pennywell Theatre on October 31st when Batty Bat and her friends take part in an all singing all dancing production, which is sure to delight young children who may find the late night antics a little too scary.

Twinlakes Family Scream Park

Halloween Pumpkin Patch 2012

Via. Flickr

Twinlakes in Leicestershire offers a fantastic Halloween experience that was voted the UK’s best Daytime Halloween Attraction at the Scare Awards in 2011. You can join in the Halloween happenings at Twinlakes from the 19th of October until the 1st of November and be dazzled by the scary treats that they have on offer. There is a straw bale maze, a ‘not-so-scary’ tale in the farmhouse of fear and creepy creatures that are sure to make Mum’s skin crawl! The park has grown 20,000 free pumpkins which are waiting to be carved up or painted into ghosts and ghouls, making this scream park a frightfully fun day out for the whole family!

The Crocky Horror show

Candy corn in a jar

Via. Flickr

The Crocky trail in Chester has come up with some ghastly activities sure to scare your socks off this Halloween! Dare to be brave and make your way through the Crocky dungeon where professional actors will shock and excite you. When you’ve fled the dungeons, you’ll be amazed by the wall of Death, a sensational motorbike stunt show with gravity-defying tricks. The horrific evening comes to a dramatic conclusion with a fantastic Fireworks display! The Fireworks will light up the sky on the last two days of the event, scaring the monsters away for another year!

Whether you’re looking for a horrifying evening full of all the things that go bump in the night or just want to barricade yourself in the house away from the onslaught of trick or treaters, we’ve a fabulous selection of holiday cottages for the October Half-term that will suit everyone’s needs. So go online or call our reservations team today and make this a half term the children will never forget.

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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.

Be Inspired to Draw on a Sykes Cottage Holiday

Monday, October 7th, 2013
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Now that it’s October, put down the kitchen knife, step away from the football and swap the camera for some stationery, because October means Big Draw; a month long international festival dedicated to the dwindling hobby of drawing. If like me, you miss those nonchalant childhood days where you’d sprawl on the carpet with a fist of coloured pencils and doodle to your heart’s content for hours on end, take this month as your cue to put pencil to paper and get lost in your imagination once more.

Big Draw is organised by the Campaign for Drawing, an independent charity attempting to raise the profile of drawing as a tool for thought and creativity. They’ll be putting on over 1,000 events across the country throughout October, aimed at helping people of all ages reconnect with this artistic past-time. Take a look at their website to find out what sketchy events are taking place in your area, or, read Sykes Cottages guide to the best landmarks to draw in the UK, and why they’d make the perfect spot for an arty cottage holiday!

Sketch the stunning Stone Henge

Stone Henge

Via Flickr

In this day and age, it’s all too easy to capture the majesty of Stone Henge with a single press of the shutter. So this October, why not take a little longer to take in England’s most treasured landmark by whipping out the sketchpads and having a good old scribble. The kids will love the challenge of trying to capture the plethora of perspectives and textures of these Neolithic structures, and we’re sure your Bronze Age ancestors will appreciate the extra effort you’ve put in admiring their ancient works of art! For your chance to get creative by the stones, see our Wiltshire holiday cottages page.

Etch out Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

Via Flickr

Pitch a spot on the banks of Loch Duich and you’ll be rummaging for a pencil long before you’ve thought to raise the camera. Splashed across Scottish souvenirs for decades, this inspiring panorama features the majestic Eilean Donan, arguably Scotland’s most famous castle, set against the astounding backdrop of the Applecross peninsula. Bring a flask of Hot Toddy and hunker down for an afternoon of rustic creation, before taking the scenic route back to your Scottish cottage to admire one another’s handy work; can you think of a more stimulating way to spend the day on your cottage holiday in Scotland?

Make like an artist at Menai Bridge

Menai Suspension Bridge

Via Flickr

If you’ve got an eye for architecture and a good straight edge, consider travelling to the town of Menai Bridge in Anglesey on your October drawing odyssey. Overlooking the Menai Strait with its eminent suspension bridge, budding artists can capture their own version of this imposing Welsh vista just as engineer Thomas Telford did in 1826. Choose your preferred perspective of the bridge by taking a quiet walk along the Anglesey Coastal path, before settling down with pencil, pad and picnic for an afternoon spent bringing this celebrated structure to life.

So go on, make the most of the Big Draw on a cottage holiday! It’s a rewarding way to spend some quality time with the family; plus, with the October half-term fast approaching, there’s never been a better time to book a cottage holiday and get creative amid the rolling hills and inspiring architecture of dear old blighty.

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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.

October Half Term Holidays- Start Planning Now!

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
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September is racing by and it seems like no sooner than have we packed our kids off to school with a new lunch box and pencil case, than October half term rolls around and we’re left wondering how on earth we’ll keep them entertained for a week. Here at Sykes Cottages, we have the answer.

October half term is the perfect opportunity to make the most of what’s left of the dwindling day light and pack your family off on a UK cottage break before the chill of winter really sets in. As it’s not peak holiday season, there are bargains to be had and a change of scenery is a great way to prevent hearing the dreaded “I’m bored!” In aid of this, we’ve put together a few of our top picks for fun-filled family days out this half term.

The Roald Dahl Museum, Buckinghamshire

Roald Dahl books

Via Flickr

Roald Dahl Day took place earlier this month and what better way to celebrate one of the UK’s best loved authors than to visit the museum commemorating his genius. The Roald Dahl Museum aims to inspire a love of stories and creative writing in all its visitors. There is whizzbanging fun to be had as you dive into the world of the author who penned James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr Fox and Matilda to name just a few. This is a family day out that will be just as magical for grown up fans of the books as it is for children.


Dinosaur Adventure, Norfolk

Dinosaur Adventure

Via Flickr

Dinosaur Adventure is located in the picturesque county of Norfolk and is a fantastic day out for all the family. With life-size dinosaurs and a mission to help the park ranger count how many T-rex are on his land, it succeeds in capturing the imagination of children and they’ll love using the lookout towers and radios to report their findings. Play a round of crazy golf in Jurassic Putt, unearth dinosaur fossils and get lost in the ‘Lost Maze’. There’s even the chance to meet donkeys, wallabies and creepy crawlies in the Victorian walled gardens. Children are given passports and throughout the day they must collect stamps from stations across the park. For their efforts, they will receive a medal to take home and treasure.


 Roundhay Park and Tropical World, Leeds

Roundhay Park

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One of Yorkshire’s most popular tourist attractions, Roundhay Park covers over 700 acres of woodland, lakes and gardens. With beautiful scenery and wide open spaces, this is the perfect place to take the kids to use up some of their excess energy. It’s completely free to visit Roundhay and facilities include tennis courts, children’s play area, sports arena and café. There are different themed gardens such as the National Plant Collection, Monet Garden and a scented garden specifically designed for the blind. Children will also love Tropical World which is the UK’s largest collection of tropical plants outside of Kew Gardens. There is a small admission charge for Tropical World but it’s more than worth it as visitors can enjoy an exciting array of exotic plants and animals including baby meerkats, morelet crocodiles, snakes, butterflies and tortoises.

If you’re looking to get away this half term, Sykes Cottages have over 4000 properties across the UK and a dedicated team of holiday cottage advisors waiting for your call. Why not start by taking a look at our cottages available during October half term.

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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.

Harmonious Half Term Holidays

Friday, May 24th, 2013
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The May half term has crept up on us once more, and I for one have only just started to make plans. A day out, if not a couple of days away, makes for a harmonious and restful half term, so I thought I’d share some ideas to keep the whole family entertained. Booking a house or apartment means you can enjoy a break away, embracing an area and all it has to offer without breaking the bank!

Theatre Trips

I love taking my boys up to London: they, in their youthful naivety, even find the underground a joyful experience! Charlie and the Chocolate factory is a favourite story of mine, taking me back to my childhood when I’d lose myself for hours in a book. I love to see the characters from my childhood come alive on the stage, and for my boys it’s no different. Showing at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane with matinee and evening performances, why don’t you take a dip into China town afterwards and enjoy an early oriental supper? Chop sticks at the ready!

Drury Lane Theatreland Theatre Breaks London

Free Fun for All

Our capital city is fabulous with its many museums which offer free entry. Why not take a picnic and head for the Natural History Museum, so you can wander up the road to Hyde Park for a late lunch afterwards? After an educational morning, you’re all sure to have worked up an appetite.


Bank holiday Monday this year brings the Symphony Orchestra to Trafalgar Square, and its big screens mean that you can enjoy the visual effects as the music fills the air. This event is free and tickets are not required.

Blow Off Some Steam

There are many steam railways around the U.K, so how about a trip to Suffolk with its many market towns and pretty villages, beautiful walks and great coastline? Mid-Suffolk Light Railway is the only operational steam railway in Suffolk, and from the 26-27 May you can see its event “Steam Models and Miniatures” taking place.

Mid- Suffolk Light Railway Steam Gala 2012

The ancient market town of Stowmarket would make an excellent base for this trip, as the railway is within easy travelling distance. Stowmarket has many shops to peruse, a range of restaurants and pubs to enjoy, and a cinema and leisure centre.

By the Sea

The New Forest is always a pleasure to visit. One of our family favourites is Lepe Country Park: with its long stretch of beach, cliff-top paths, large open green areas where you can kick a ball around and children’s adventure playground; it’s a fabulous spot to visit. There is also a café and shop with a take-away kiosk, and most importantly, a resident ice cream van!


Close by is Beaulieu and its famed motor museum. Home to Bond in Motion, which features 50 of the original vehicles from the Bond films, the museum also has a display called the World of Top Gear. Of course, it’s not all about cars: take some time to visit Palace House and admire treasures collected by the Montagu family. Still in residence, the family allow visitors to meander around the beautiful gardens and take in views of the Beaulieu River.

To Battle we go

A nine day Wicked Whitsun event hosted in apt venue medieval Warwick Castle, this day features battle re-enactments and falconry alongside workshops by Horrible Histories author Terry Deary. Aiming to bring Viking and Tudor times alive for your little warriors, it’s sure to raise swords and smiles simultaneously!

Stratford-Upon-Avon is only a short distance to travel to from Warwick, and is well worth exploring. Visit the birthplace of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway’s house, and if time allows take in a performance by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Breaks for Budding Scientists

INTECH Science Centre and Planetarium in Winchester makes learning fun: it’s absolutely packed with interactive activities, and houses the largest Planetarium in the United Kingdom. Having experienced it many times (I still have to drag my boys away!), I’m pretty confident it’s a place where the whole family will be enthralled.

Whilst in Winchester, why not take some time to visit the magnificent Cathedral? Its historic architecture is amazing and there are many works of art and treasures to discover.
Winchester Cathedral
Hopefully these six firm family favourites will inspire a few late ideas for the fast-approaching May bank holiday and half term. With many different types of accommodation available, spanning all budgets and suitable for all broods, enjoying a few days away is sure to make this half term a happy one!

Written by Kirsti Banyard, a travel writer for

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