Archive for the ‘Holiday Ideas’ Category

3 Thatched Roof Holiday Homes You’ll Love

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
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If you were asked to draw a typical English cottage, your sketch wouldn’t be complete without a characterful thatched roof. This timeless roofing technique has been used in the UK for centuries, yet its popularity has never wavered. Today, thatch is experiencing a sort of resurgence, with many choosing it for its aesthetic and ecological value. Thatched roof cottages are limited at Sykes Cottages, but we’re proud of the handful we do have; so proud in fact, that we’ve dedicated a whole blog to them. So without further ado, here’s three charming, chocolate-box thatches that’ll you’ll absolutely love.

Little Thatch

Cerne Abbas, Dorset

Feast your eyes on Little Thatch, an uber quaint and ever-so-cosy thatched roof cottage in Dorset. Built in 1813, Little Thatch is Grade II listed, with an assortment of original features harking back to days gone by; think oak beams, exposed brickwork and ludicrously low ceilings. Despite its age, the cottage contains plenty of home comforts, and has space enough for up to three guests. The village of Cerne Abbas was once voted Britain’s most desirable village, so it’s the perfect setting for this irrefutably charming holiday home.

Manor Farmhouse

Milstead, South of England

Our thatched roof cottages don’t come much more luxurious than Manor Farmhouse. First built in the 15th century, this impressive Tudor house features an original oak frame and white washed façade, all topped off with a good helping of thatch. The house is part of a complex of three individual holiday homes set around a courtyard, and together they accommodate up to eighteen guests. With a myriad of original features including inglenooks, log burners and an authentic country kitchen, this is one characterful country cottage you can’t afford to miss.

Vineyard Cottage

Winkleigh, Devon

Vineyard Cottage forms part of what is arguably the prettiest row of terrace houses in the country, tucked away in the leafy Devonshire countryside, just a few miles from the romantic heaths of Dartmoor. The cottage offers a cosy, pastoral bolthole for up to five guests and is postcard handsome; from its whitewashed walls to its toffee hued thatch, it begs to be photographed. Indoors, things are just as charming. The tall will need to mind their heads as they navigate the cottage’s tastefully furnished rooms, each of which reveals a glimmer of the property’s past.

Rent a thatched roof holiday cottage with Sykes

Our choice of thatched roof cottages may be small, but it’s perfectly formed – much like the properties themselves. In fact, their exclusivity makes them all the more special. If you’d like this year’s holiday accommodation to be a little out of the ordinary, browse our range of thatched roof holiday rentals today.

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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.

Where to Celebrate Chinese New Year in the UK

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
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Tomorrow marks the beginning of a New Year on the Chinese calendar, a year that promises peace and tranquillity according to the Chinese zodiac. 2015 is the Year of the Ram, also known as the Year of the Sheep or the Goat, and during the coming week the UK will play host to a number of special events dedicated to welcoming in the New Year.  If you would like to attend one of these spectacular events then keep reading as we suggest the best places to celebrate Chinese New Year in the UK!


Liverpool’s China Town was the first established in Europe and is home to the largest Chinese arch in the world outside of China, so it should come as no surprise that this lively destination makes it to the top of our list. Visit Liverpool’s China Town this Sunday (February 22nd) and you will be treated to a Chinese New Year Market, Dragon and Lion Street Parades and an incredible Fireworks display.


Not one to be outdone, England’s capital city holds the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of Asia. From tomorrow until Saturday, the streets of London will be brought to life as Chinese dragons make their way through the streets and lanterns are hung from shop windows and trees. The best locations to see the displays are Trafalgar Square, China Town & Shaftsbury Avenue.


This year is the 10th anniversary of the University of Nottingham’s China campus in Ningbo, and to celebrate the occasion they’ve planned an extra special programme of events. Visit the university this year on Sunday 22nd and you’ll find Chinese crafts and workshops, brush painting, ribbon and fan dances, traditional story telling from China and much more! The day’s celebrations will end with a highly anticipated fireworks display at Highfields Park.


The Chinese Association of Southampton will be putting on a fantastic display to celebrate Chinese New Year on Sunday 22nd in the West Quay Shopping Centre. Their expertly put together programme includes a lion dance, traditional Chinese dancing, Chinese folk songs, ancient art of face changing, Chinese music recitals, Kung Fu display, and a historical costume show. The whole thing kicks off at 11 a.m. so make sure you get there early and beat the crowds!

If you know of any Chinese celebrations happening near you then be sure to let us know! You can share your images from the day with us on Facebook & Twitter.

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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.

What Does the Beach Mean to You?

Sunday, February 15th, 2015
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What does the beach mean to you? It’s a simple question but one that requires a bit of thought. The beach means many things to many people and different things to each person during different periods of their life. This is the question that manonabeach tries to answer.

Beach in Suffolk

Walberswick, Suffolk. Image via

What is manonabeach?

Manonabeach is a website dedicated to exploring and celebrating the beaches of the UK, and the significance of them to the people that visit them. It began in December 2011, starting with just Cornwall and has now gone national, covering many other areas of the UK including Devon, Norfolk, Aberdeenshire and Pembrokeshire. Manonabeach’s objective is to bring the beach to you; whether you’re 1 mile or 100 miles from the coast, you can bring the beach to life on your screen and enjoy the emotions of being there, even when you can’t be. He does this by conducting short interviews with beach-goers, filming short clips and taking pictures of the scene. Every season, he attempts to return to each region to film and take photographs so that visitors to the site can build a picture of beach life throughout the year, not just in the summer months.  What makes manonabeach interesting is his anonymity, which makes it feel like the beach-goers are talking directly to you as a viewer. There are now over 2,000 films on the website and over 988 interviews in which beach-goers are asked the question, ‘What does the beach mean to you?’

Beach in Dorset

Durdle Door, Dorset. Image via

What are his findings?

Manonabeach has had hundreds of different responses during his interviews, with the top 5 recurring themes as follows:

  1. Childhood
  2. Beauty
  3. Dog walking
  4. Family
  5. Livelihood
Beach in Angus

Lunan Bay, Angus. Image via

It’s clear from his findings that the beach has many different effects on its visitors. Many people felt an emotional connection to the beach and could recall happy memories and days spent there with friends and family, while others just enjoyed being near the sea. Interestingly, over 26% of the site’s visitors are from London suggesting that many see the website as an escape from the busy city and an opportunity to enjoy a flavour of the beach every now and then. Some respondents felt that to them, the beach meant freedom – the wide, open spaces and peaceful nature appeals to them when they want some calm or tranquillity. In contrast to this, lots of the people he asked saw the beach as a place for activities; dog-walking, swimming, fishing and walking were some of the most common answers. For others, the beach was their livelihood and connoted routine and economic benefit.

Beach in East Sussex

Birling Gap, East Sussex. Image via

What does the beach mean to Sykes Cottages’ customers?

So what we want to know, is what does the beach mean to Sykes Cottages’ customers? You can let us know either by sending us a tweet or by leaving a comment on our Facebook page. We’re conducting our own mini manonabeach project and will be compiling some of the answers into a blog post next week so keep your eyes peeled!

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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.

Enjoy an Eco-Friendly Holiday in the UK

Monday, February 9th, 2015
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Being environmentally conscious is something we all try to do at home, but why should it stop on holiday? Sure, we still recycle and may do a little more walking and less driving, but most of the time being eco-friendly is not at the front of our minds when going on holiday. You may be surprised at how easy it is to continue to be environmentally conscious when you’re away and today we’re giving a couple of hints and tips of things you can do to help this planet of ours whilst you’re away from home.

Eat Local Food

Eating local does not only make your holiday food taste so much better, it is also friendlier for the environment. Did you know that on average food travels 1,500 miles to get from farm to plate? That’s a lot of mileage! But by eating locally produced fare you can reduce your food’s carbon footprint, help local farmers and support sustainable growing.

Travel by Bike… or Foot

When you’re in a new location, sometimes there is no better way to explore than by foot or by bike. This way you can get off the beaten track, move away from the motorway and explore the true beauty of an area! Not only will it do our planet some good, the fresh air and exercise will do you some good, too! Plus, then you can make a stop off at the local watering hole for a pint or two of local ale.

Visit a Nature Reserve

We’re going a little cuckoo over our native wildlife at the moment, and for good reason; the UK is full of fantastic wildlife and we think it is something that we should all enjoy whilst helping to preserve. The Wildlife Trust has sites across the UK and hosts a variety of events, so wherever you’re holidaying, you won’t be too far from being able to learn more about how to help British wildlife!

Fun Eco-Friendly Days Out

You may not even realise, but the UK is home to a huge number of eco-friendly days out that the whole family can enjoy. Here are our top three:

The Eden Project

There is a whole lot of environmentally friendly fun beneath those biomes in Cornwall. Not only is The Eden Project a brilliant day out but they run a number of social and environmental projects, host music festivals and other live events and continually conduct research into plans and the environment. All whilst running their operations as green as they possibly can. Plus, dogs are welcome at Eden, too!


Not only does this Norfolk based theme park have more activities than you can shake a stick at, they also take their environmental impact very seriously. The food that you eat at BeWILDerwood will be locally sourced where possible, 70% of their waste is recycled and they work hard in protecting the local area as well as their own; they have planted more than 14,000 trees and helped to upgrade local footpaths, making it easier for visitors to travel by bike or foot to the park. Brilliant!

Finlay’s Cream o’ Galloway Farm

Whether you visit Cream o’ Galloway for the flying fox, to try boinging or for a scoop of delicious ice cream, you can enjoy your day knowing that you are in an environmentally conscious environment. The team at Finlay’s Farm have begun a farming revolution that has been simplified and has a focus on waste reduction. In fact, at Finlay’s they have an anaerobic digester – no, I’m not too sure what that is either – but it takes waste from the farm and turns it into electricity, which is pretty nifty if you ask me!

Stay in an Eco Friendly Holiday Cottage

Our love of all things environmental extends throughout the Sykes Cottages family and as such we have a number of eco-friendly properties so that you can enjoy your holiday whilst doing your bit for the environment.

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Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

England’s Most Picturesque Places – Volume II

Thursday, February 5th, 2015
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Last week on the Sykes blog, we featured a shortlist of the top 10 most picturesque places in England. As you’d expect, all the usual suspects were there – Cornwall, Yorkshire, Cumbria, Devon, Kent, Derbyshire, Northumberland, Dorset, Isle of Wight and Gloucestershire – but there are some obvious omissions; where for instance is Somerset? Norfolk? Lancashire? Lincolnshire? Suffolk? Oxfordshire? Shropshire? And so on and so on…

Sadly, these places missed out on a place in the top ten, but that’s not to say they aren’t perfectly picturesque in their own right.

Today, we want to pay homage to the lesser known counties that we think are as pretty as the Cumbrias and Cornwalls of this world – so let’s get down to it.


With two AONBs (the Quantocks and Mendips) and one National Park (Exmoor) Somerset packs a picturesque punch. This small yet perfectly formed county offers the very best of coast and country; from the seaside resorts of Minehead and Weston-super-Mare to the rural charm of Taunton, Wells and Cheddar. Don’t miss a hike in the Blackdown Hills, a ride on the West Somerset Steam Railway and a drive through the stunning Cheddar Gorge.


Despite being one of England’s flattest counties, Norfolk proves you don’t need peaks to be picturesque. This beloved county is home to a handful of England’s – nay, Britain’s – most beautiful beaches, including Hunstanton, Sheringham and Holkham. Then there’s the Broads, whose canals, windmills and thatched roof cottages are irrevocably English. Head into Norwich, the county capital, and you’ll be delighted with the prettiness of the place. Norwich is one of England’s oldest cities, and was once the second largest city in the country after London.


Lancashire is all too often overlooked as a holiday destination, and we haven’t the foggiest why. Go beyond the metropolis of Greater Manchester and you’ll be greeted with some of the prettiest and quietest countryside in England. From the Ribblehead Valley and the Forest of Bowland to the Arnside and Silverdale AONB, Lancashire offers rugged beauty without the usual gaggle of tourists. The county is home to several historic towns too including Lancaster, Ormskirk and Clitheroe, all of which offer a pleasant place to stay on your trip to this picturesque English county.


Landlocked on the border of Wales, Shropshire is a surprisingly rugged and attractive English county. In the south, the Shropshire Hills Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty has peaks and valleys that North Wales would be proud of; and to the north, the medieval town of Shrewsbury offers the same level of historic eye-candy as York, Chester and Norwich. Speaking of history; pay a visit to the picturesque Severn Valley, where you’ll find all manner of fascinating museums, as well as the World Heritage Site of Ironbridge – thought to be the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.


Did you know that Oxfordshire is home to the Cotswolds, one of England’s most beloved and picturesque regions? Well, it is, which makes it – in our opinion – one of England’s prettiest counties. The Cotswolds are renowned for their postcard blend of rolling hills and chocolate box towns and villages, including Burford, Chipping Norton and Bampton. Of course, no visit to Oxfordshire would be complete without a daytrip to the “City of Dreaming Spires” – aka Oxford – whose historic architecture will have you reaching for the camera.

Think we’ve missed a particularly picturesque corner of England? Disagree with our choices? Let us know your favourite English county on Facebook or Twitter!

Don’t forget to check out our Top 10 most picturesque places in England for even more holiday inspiration.

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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.