Archive for the ‘Holiday Ideas’ Category

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.

Relaxing Spa Cottages for Mother’s Day

Monday, March 24th, 2014
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Mother’s Day is fast approaching and here in the UK we can’t wait to shower our fabulous mums with love and affection. If you’ve been struggling to find the perfect Mother’s Day gift this year then why not take a look at our relaxing spa cottages and treat your dear old mum to a leisurely weekend away? We have a number of these dreamy cottages available but to help convince you here are just a few of our favourites…

Rushmore Lodge, Kent


Rushmore Lodge in Kent, Ref 16229.

A mother’s greatest joy in life is to be surrounded by her family so as an extra special gift this year we would suggest a visit to Rushmore Lodge. This luxury cottage offers everything you will need for a fun packed family weekend, including swimming pool, table football and cinema surround sound.  To make the holiday truly memorable why not treat mum with an indulgent beauty treatment, organised by the property’s owner? Whichever activity you decide to partake in your mother is sure to have the time of her life at this extravagant lodge.

Ty Rhosyn, Cornwall


Ty Rhosyn in Cornwall, Ref 1831.

If you’re searching for an unforgettable spa break which is sure to leave your mother fully relaxed from head to toe then look no further than Ty Rhosyn. This delightful chalet is located in the heart of a peaceful holiday park which offers a wide selection of spa treatments your mother is sure to love; from facials to body massages- even algae wraps available for the more adventurous! Along with the spa, this stylish park offers delectable restaurants and a tempting health club all sure to leave mum feeling completely rejuvenated.

1 Lazy Swan, Lincolnshire


1 Lazy Swan in Lincolnshire, Ref 22199.

If your mother’s idea of a perfect weekend is relaxing in a steamy hot tub whilst the sun sets over a glorious lake then you need to book her a stay at 1 Lazy Swan! This glamorous lodge is set in the heart of Tattershall Lakes Country Park and as well as her own private hot tub your mum could be spoilt with an extensive selection of on-site facilities. So whether she spends the weekend soaking in the hot tub of relaxing in the spa with a lava shells massage she is sure to thank you for this wonderfully thoughtful gift.

We hope this selection of spa cottages has left you feeling inspired for Mother’s Day this Sunday. To view our full range of holiday cottages with spa facilities, click here.

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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.

Britain’s Best Bike Rides

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014
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After Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Laura Trott cemented cycling in British hearts at the London 2012 Olympics, pedalling fever has swept the nation. Now more than ever, us Brits are taking to two wheels to commute, exercise or get out into the countryside with our kids- which is great news for both the health of ourselves and the environment. If like us you love your cycling, take a look at our guide to the best bike rides in Britain. We’ve scoured the internet to bring you three of the most rewarding routes on offer in the UK, all of which have received Sustrans ‘safe cycling’ seal of approval. Take a look at our short list below, or leave your cycling route recommendations on our Facebook or Twitter page.

Celtic Trail West

Carmarthenshire- Via Flickr

Carmarthenshire- Via Flickr

Careering a long coastal paths and quiet country lanes, the Celtic Trail gives cyclists of all levels of experience and fitness the opportunity to take in one of the UK’s most beautiful coastlines: Pembrokeshire. At 143 miles, the route is a little lengthy for a day’s ride, but would make for an excellent multi-day tour. The ride dips into some of Pembrokeshire’s most popular seaside towns-Saundersfoot and Tenby- before winding down traffic-tree coastal paths such as the Brunel Trail and onwards towards the charming towns of Laugharne and Kidwelly on the Carmarthenshire coast. All in all, the Celtic Trail is an invigorating ride and one that would be ideal for a sunny weekend this spring.

For more information about the Celtic Trail, or to download a map of the route, click here.

Devon Coast to Coast

Meldon Viaduct- Via Flickr

Meldon Viaduct- Via Flickr

Combining exquisite coast, charming Victorian bridges and untamed countryside, Devon Coast to Coast is a fascinating bike ride which gives cyclists a taster of some of the South West’s most attention-grabbing scenery. The overall length of the route is 99 miles- a challenging day’s ride for the keen cyclist- but can easily be broken up into bitesize family friendly sections. Much of the ride uses disused railway lines where inexperienced cyclists can enjoy some easy going, whilst other sections of the route pose a decent challenge for veterans. Sights to look out for a long the route include Ilfracombe Quay, Gem Bridge and the Plym Valley’s Ham Green Viaduct, where cyclists can stop and enjoy excellent views over Dartmoor.

For more information about Devon Coast to Coast, or to download a map of the route, click here.

Lochs & Glens North

Drumochter Pass- Via Flickr

Drumochter Pass- Via Flickr

Traversing two stunning National Parks, the Lochs & Glens ride is perhaps the most challenging and rewarding route on our shortlist. Stretching for 214 miles from Inverness to Glasgow, the route transports riders through much of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery, including the Cairngorms National Park and the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park. Here, ancient pine forests cover mountainous slopes, heather pecked moorlands stretch to the horizon and vibrant townships offer a warm welcome to the weary traveller. The route also descends onto the rolling plains of Perthshire and Stirling, where courageous highlanders saw off the invading English in the 13th century. Lochs & Glens North is a joy of a route, and one that riders of all ages will never forget.

For more information about Lochs & Glens North, or to download a map of the route, click here.

Enjoy a cycling holiday with Sykes Cottages

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

So there you have it, three great cycle routes that are sure to get you back in the saddle now that the weather is improving and the days are getting longer. But don’t forget, the UK is awash with superb cycle routes that offer safe cycling for all ages which can all be found on the Sustrans website, so choose your favourite and get pedalling!

If you like the sound of any of the above routes then why not rent a cottage for cyclists from us? Our holiday homes for cyclists feature excellent cyclist-friendly amenities such as secure bike storage and outdoor ‘clean-off’ facilities, giving you a great base for your next two-wheel adventure.

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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.