Archive for the ‘Holiday Ideas’ Category

Some of Sykes’ Best Kitchens

Saturday, April 12th, 2014
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Here at Sykes Cottages, there’s a fair few of us who firmly believe that the kitchen is the heart of the home and it’s always one of the first things that we notice about a property. The kitchen plays such an important role in self-catering accommodation and there are so many different styles and sizes to choose from! Last month, we had a look at some of the best bedrooms that Sykes has to offer so this month we thought we’d celebrate our love of a good kitchen and show you some of our favourites from our cottages. Enjoy!

Stable Cottage, Norfolk

Holiday cottage in Norfolk

Stable Cottage, Norfolk, Ref 3505

If you’re looking for a traditional farmhouse-style kitchen then look no further than this delightful kitchen at Stable Cottage. Converted from a former stable block, this stunning cottage combines country living with modern conveniences and the result is spectacular. The kitchen is bright, airy and spacious, offering vaulted, beamed ceilings, an electric range-style oven and hob, and a cheerful dining area to accommodate all the family. To add to the country feel, the cottage also benefits from horse paddocks and has chickens and ducks that roam freely around the grounds.

The Paddock, Cumbria

Holiday cottage in Cumbria

The Paddock, Cumbria, Ref 11219

If you prefer your kitchens to be slightly more modern, then this outstanding open-plan kitchen at The Paddock is sure to impress. With a centre island and generous dining area, this cottage is perfect if you’re planning to do a lot of cooking on your holiday. If you’re holidaying with children then there’s also more than enough space for them to sit in the kitchen while you’re cooking without getting underfoot; ideal for smaller children who need someone to keep an eye on them at all times! With fantastic walks straight from your door and the Lake District within driving distance, the stunning location of this cottage ensures that there will be plenty of activities to keep all the family occupied.

Crab Cottage, Lincolnshire

Holiday cottage in Lincolnshire

Crab Cottage, Lincolnshire, Ref 25169

Boasting one of Sykes’ cutest kitchens, this traditional seaside cottage has a fashionable vintage style throughout. The kitchen’s stripped floorboards, beamed ceilings, Belfast sink and rustic country style create a bright and airy space for you to cook; whilst the charming dining table and chairs add a sociable aspect so the whole group can congregate together in this beautiful kitchen. Located just a short walk from the beach in the quaint village of Chapel St Leonards, this characterful cottage is a fantastic choice whether you’re holidaying with family or friends.

If you have a favourite kitchen from the Sykes portfolio then we’d love to know! We’re really interested to hear your suggestions so please feel free to either comment on our Facebook page or tweet us with your choice. If you still haven’t made up your mind then you can browse our fantastic range of holiday cottages for some inspiration!

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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.

Upcoming Events in the Lake District & Cumbria

Friday, April 11th, 2014
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The stunning natural landscape of the Lake District and Cumbria makes this part of the country one of our most popular holiday destinations year on year. However, if you thought there wasn’t much more to this picturesque corner of England than natural beauty then let us persuade you otherwise!  There are fantastic events happening up and down the region every day. Whether you’re looking for something to keep the children entertained or just something a little different to do on your holiday, we’ve brought you our top picks of upcoming events in the Lakes and Cumbria over the next couple of months.

Keswick Mountain Festival

Derwentwater, Lake District

Via Flickr

This four day festival in the pretty Cumbrian market town of Keswick is an action-packed event that all the family are sure to enjoy. Taking place from 15th-18th May, this fantastic festival boasts a huge variety of activities, sporting competitions and speakers. In the evenings, there will also be a host of live music entertainment from local Cumbrian bands as well as some more well-known names; festival-goers will be able to enjoy the music as the sun sets against the stunning backdrop of Catbells, Skiddaw and the Borrowdale Valley. Some of the activities on offer include canoeing in Derwentwater, moonlight swimming, ghyll scrambling and treasure trails. For more information on the Keswick Mountain Festival, head to the Visit Cumbria website.

Easter Adventure Quest at Carlisle Castle

Carlisle Castle, Cumbria

Via Flickr

This Easter, adventurous children will love the events taking place at Carlisle Castle. From 18th- 21st April, this medieval castle is hosting a challenge that involves exploring hidden areas of the castle and finding and cracking clues to help you move forward with your quest. Along the way, expect to meet characters and Kings from the past with fascinating stories to tell, who will need your help. The brave volunteers that succeed in this quest will be rewarded with a delicious chocolatey prize at the end.

Family Cartooning at the Pencil Museum

The Pencil Museum, Keswick

Via Flickr

From 15th -17th April, The Pencil Museum is holding a family cartooning session with YouTube phenomenon and children’s author and illustrator, Shoo Raynor, which is certain to be an inspiring and creative day out at one of the Lake District’s most popular family attractions. Shoo has over 35,000 subscribers to his YouTube account and has illustrated over 250 children’s books. Visitors will be able to watch as he demonstrates how to draw step-by-step cartoons in this free family-friendly workshop. The event is suitable for children under the age of 10 and accompanying family members will be able to relax in the coffee shop while the kids get creative.

For more fun-filled events happening in the Lake District and Cumbria, take a look at the Visit Cumbria website where you will find an overview of all festivals, workshops and activities happening in the area over the next few months. If you’ve been inspired to head to the Lakes and visit these attractions, why not book one of our superb holiday cottages in the Lake District for the occasion; we’ve over 500 cottages of all shapes and sizes for you to choose from.

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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.

English Tourism Week 2014

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014
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It will come as no surprise that here at Sykes Cottages, we think England is great. From rugged coastlines, beautiful countryside and fabulous cities, England is a fantastic holiday destination for everyone! This week is English Tourism Week, a week long celebration dedicated to all that makes England an excellent holiday destination. Businesses and attractions across the country will be showcasing what makes them great by putting on events and exclusive offers this week. So if you’re in England and you’re looking for something new to try, why not see if one of your local museums is hosting an English Tourism Week event? Read on to find out what we think you must do when on holiday in England.

Enjoy the Local Cuisine

Image via Flickr

We all know that England has a bit of a reputation about its food being bland and unexciting, but we think that couldn’t be further from the truth! England has a wealth of fishmongers, farmers and vegetable marketplaces selling local, fresh produce that are great for when you’re self catering and want to treat yourself to a lovely home cooked meal. Wherever you are in England there is bound to be a regional speciality that no holiday would be complete without trying! When in Cornwall it would be rude not to try an authentic Cornish pasty or a traditional cream tea, a trip to Norfolk wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Cromer to try some delicious crab and if you fancy something sweet whilst you’re in Derbyshire, nothing beats a homemade bakewell tart!

Enjoy England’s Natural Beauty

Image via Flickr

It may be true that England’s weather is not the best, but it’s the frequent downpours that keep our greenery so green and our landscapes so beautiful. When it isn’t raining, the often mild temperatures and cool breezes make heading outside so very tempting. Even in our busy city centres, wherever you are in England you won’t be far from green space. Whether you’re hoping for a few leisurely strolls in the great outdoors on your holiday, or if you’d prefer something a little more adventurous, you won’t be stuck for outdoor activities in England.

Immerse Yourself in English History

Image via Flickr

As it is believed that England has been inhabited by humans for over 800,000 years, it is a country with a wealth of history. Whether your interest is in history, science, nature or even British brands, there is bound to be a museum that will cater to your needs and provide a fantastic day out. From museums with a broad range of exhibitions such as Liverpool’s World Museum or more specific museums like The Pencil Museum in Keswick, England is rife with entertaining and educational days out!

Experience it yourself

The Boat in Tregony, Cornwall.
Property reference: 999

If we have inspired you this English Tourism Week to experience all that England has to offer as a tourist destination, why not book a self catering holiday cottage in England? At Sykes Cottages we have over 2700 holiday cottages across England that are perfect for exploring this wonderful country.

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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.

What to do with that extra hour of daylight?

Monday, March 31st, 2014
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With daylight savings time adding an extra hour of sunlight onto our evenings, you’ll want to make the most of it. That’s why, we’ve come up with a few ideas for what you can do with that precious extra hour of daylight. From picnics in the park to wildlife watching in your own back garden, we offer some advice on the best ways to make use of  that sought-after sunshine.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

1. Get out and about on your bike

With the gloomy nights and chilly easterly winds now behind us (touch wood), you’ve no excuse but to climb in the saddle and do some pedalling- even if you don’t have any lights! We recently featured a blog about Britain’s Best Bike Rides, so check them out or visit the Sustrans website for more two-wheel inspiration.

2. Get out and about in the car

If it’s raining cats and dogs, hit the open road and take in some of the UK’s breathtaking scenery by car. There’s so much to see in every corner of the country, and luckily for us Brits, all of it is within driving distance. Why veg in front of a mediocre drama when there’s so much drama to be had right before your very eyes?

3. Or get out and about on your two feet

Walking isn’t just good exercise; it’s a way to get off the beaten track and see things like never before. With spring on our doorstep and summer waiting in the wings, there’s never been a better time to strap on the walking boots. And just think what you might discover before the sun goes down: beautiful landscapes, invigorating coastlines and trees, wildlife and foliage in full bloom- what could be a better way to use those remaining moments of daylight?

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

4. Dine alfresco

Whether on holiday or not, I’ve always considered eating outdoors to be one of life’s little pleasures. Whether you’re packing a picnic and heading to the park or setting up camp on a sunlit terrace, dining alfresco is bound to brighten even the toughest of days.

5. Head to a sunbaked beer garden

If you’ve been put off the pub by the dim, wet nights, now’s your chance to revisit your local and make the most of that disused beer garden. There’s nothing better than spending an evening in the company of friends enjoying a tipple or three, so don the shades and make for the nearest watering hole. If you fancy a change of scene, take a look at our guide to Britain’s Best Pubs today.

6. Feast like a King at a food festival

That extra hour of daylight means more events and attractions will be willing to stay open longer to bring in any sun seeking punters. One of our favourite types of event here at Sykes is the food festival (not sure what that says about us), a celebration of British Food in all its delicious forms. There’s a plethora of these delightful fodder fests taking place across the UK this spring; find one in your area by clicking here.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

7. Take up a new hobby

Everyone needs a hobby, so if you haven’t got one or would like another, now’s the perfect time to get one. Whether it’s golf, archery, clay-pigeon shooting, tennis, birdwatching or landscape painting, that extra hour of sunshine means there’ll be a greater choice of activities out there for you to enjoy at a time that’s right for you.

8. Go wildlife watching

It’s not just us humans that relish the arrival of spring’s lengthier days; all manner of British wildlife are waking after the long winter to make the most of the extra daylight and warmer temperatures. On your own turf, you’re likely to find an increase in bird activity and if you head further afield, you might spot a new-born calve or lamb frolicking in the dying sunlight- bliss!

9. Spruce up the garden

The arrival of spring indicates that mother nature is ready and waiting to get things moving, so help her out by taking some time to prepare your garden for the growing season. If you want your yard to be bursting with colourful blooms this summer, now’s the time to plant your bulbs. This tip might be useful for our cottage owners too!

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

10. Sit back and enjoy the sunset

After months of missing out on the sunset whilst being stuck in the office, now’s the time to enjoy the sun’s parting gift in all its glory. Whether you’re sipping on a glass of wine in a beer garden, relaxing in the park with a picnic, summiting a hill on your bike or making the most of the final day of your cottage holiday, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the day’s end.

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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.

Travel Trumps: Cornwall Vs Norfolk

Saturday, March 29th, 2014
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You’ve probably noticed that we’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Cornwall and Norfolk, what with our constant blog badgering and our unhealthy obsession with Cornish pasties and Cromer Crab. We even went as far as launching two campaigns in homage to these remarkable counties, including our lovely Hidden Cornwall video and our rather useful Norfolk Visitor Guide. Yep, it’s safe to say we’re besotted with these two English gems, but which is best? There’s only one way to find out…

Travel Trumps!

In our first ever edition of Travel Trumps, we’ll be pitting Cornwall against Norfolk in a battle of facts and figures to try work out which is best. Of course, they’ll both always be winners to us, but we thought it would be interesting to compare the two anyway! So pick a side, sit back and see which of our favourite counties merits the mantel of England’s best summer holiday destination.

Coast Vs Coast

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Speaking of coastlines, which has the longest?

Norfolk’s coastline is 93 miles long and is famed for its safe, clean beaches and traditional seaside resorts like Great Yarmouth, Cromer and Sheringham.

Cornwall trumps Norfolk here. Its coast is 422 miles long, making it the longest coastline in the UK. Overall, 80% of Cornwall is enveloped by the sea, making it one of the most water-locked regions in Great Britain.

Ok, so which has the most Blue Flag Beaches?

(The Blue Flag is awarded to beaches which offer the highest levels of water cleanliness and safety- you can read more about Blue Flag by clicking here)

Well actually, this one’s a draw. As of 2014, both counties have five Blue Flag beaches, which is impressive considering there are only 55 in England. Cornwall’s Blue Flag beaches include Porthmeor, Polzeath, Porthtowan, Gyllngvase and Porthminster, whilst Norfolk’s include Cromer, Sheringham, Sea Palling, Mundesley and Hunstanton- keep these in mind when planning your next family holiday by the sea!

Food Vs Food

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

We’ve all heard of the infamous Cornish Pasty, but what does Norfolk bring to the table?

Norfolk’s most famous foodie export is perhaps the Black Turkey, a rare breed that was imported from Mexico in the 16th century. It’s said that Black Turkeys were so popular when they were first introduced, they were walked all the way to London in time for Christmas- a journey that could take 3 months!

Another Norfolk delicacy is the Cromer Crab, a brown crab with a sweet taste which thrives in great numbers on Norfolk’s chalk reef. Fishermen have been catching Cromer Crab for centuries, making it as distinctive to Norfolk as the pasty is to Cornwall.

But just how popular is the Cornish pasty?

Very. Sales of the Cornish Pasty are worth £150 million a year to the Cornish economy and on average, 5 million are eaten annually- that’s over 13,500 a day!

History Vs History

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

From the historic city of Norwich to the mill-strewn wetlands of the Broads, there’s lots of history to discover in Norfolk- let’s nerd out and learn about some…

History buffs will love Norfolk. The county is home to 659 medieval churches- more than anywhere else in the world- and the Domesday Day book cites Norfolk as the most heavily populated county in England. For centuries, Norwich was the second largest city in the country and it’s now thought that the world-famous Broads aren’t actually a natural feature at all, but were manmade by medieval farmers over 700 years ago.

We’ve heard all about the beauty of the Cornish Coast, but what’s the story of inland Cornwall?

For over 2,000 years, Cornwall was a major player in the tin mining industry. It’s thought that Cornish tin has been exported throughout Europe since the birth of Christ, with a vast quantity going to the Roman Empire. Due to the subterranean nature of the county’s main trade, Cornwall soon grew a reputation for being mysterious and strange. Cornish folk were thought of as outlandish hill dwellers, and its folklore is still rife with tales of mine-dwelling imps and spriggans to this day.

And the winner is…

Norfolk & Cornwall

Cley Windmill, Via Flickr

Oh we can’t decide! They’re both brilliant in their own unique way. And that’s the beauty of England; wherever you are and whatever you’re up to, there’s always more to see and more to discover. So what are you waiting for? Rent a self-catering holiday home in England, and get set for an invigorating getaway to this remarkable country.

One more thing before you go: don’t forget to check out our Norfolk Visitor Guide and Hidden Cornwall short film. We’re also giving away three family memberships to the National Trust as part of our Hidden Cornwall competition, so tune in and watch the video today.

Disclaimer- Of course, we’ve got plenty of other favourite destinations in England- the Lake District for example, or the Cotswolds, Northumberland, Yorkshire & the West Country. But as it’s nearly summer, we wanted to focus on two places that are famed for their respective coastlines- and where better than Cornwall & Norfolk?

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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.