Archive for the ‘Holiday Ideas’ Category

Top 10 Historic Sites Outside of London

Friday, September 12th, 2014
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The UK is home to many historic sites which showcase Britain’s rich and diverse history, a history that attracts thousands of visitors to our island each year! Living in the UK, it is easy to forget that historical sites can be found almost everywhere you look and that they aren’t just limited to the country’s capital, London. Here at Sykes Cottages we have scoured the UK in search of its best historic sites and below you will find our choice of the ten must see sites outside of London.

Whitby Abbey – North Yorkshire

Image provided by Charlotte Stamper.

Image provided by Charlotte Stamper.

Overlooking the popular coastal town of Whitby, the abbey dominates the horizon with its gothic demeanour. As one of the most atmospheric visitor attractions in Yorkshire, Whitby Abbey is a must at any time of year.

Caernarfon Castle – Gwynedd

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Built by Edward I, the intimidating keep of Caernarfon Castle makes it one of Wales’ most impressive structures.  With its unusual polygonal towers and colour coded stones, this castle is sure to capture the imagination of children and adults alike.

Iron Bridge and Tollhouse – Shropshire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

The Iron bridge and Tollhouse in Telford, Shropshire is seen as one of the iconic symbols of the industrial revolution. Become part of the story as you walk over and marvel at the world’s first cast-iron bridge, an activity tourists have been partaking in since 1779!

Stonehenge – Wiltshire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

As one of the wonders of the world, you would be crazy not to plan a trip to Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Archaeologists believe that the structure was erected around 3,100 BC and took some 300 years to build.

Bayham Old Abbey – East Sussex

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Located on the Kent/ Sussex border, Bayham Old Abbey is a fascinating collection of ruins which include most of the 13th to 15th century church. The ideal location for a picnic, this historic site is a favourite amongst visitors to the area.

Birdoswald Roman Fort – Cumbria

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Birdoswald Roman Fort is located alongside the longest remaining continuous stretch of Hadrian’s Wall. Not just famed for its historic remnants but also for the abundance of wildlife, this area is the ideal stop off for visitors making their way along Hadrian’s Wall.

Chatsworth House – Derbyshire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

With its regal appearance and impressive surroundings Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is a favourite among tourists. Steeped in history, this regal building also plays a part in popular culture as the setting of Mr Darcy’s Home in the 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Roman Baths – Somerset

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

As one of the largest tourist attractions in the South West, the Roman baths in Bath make for a captivating day out. Below modern street level, the baths have four exciting features to explore; the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House, the Sacred Spring and finds from Roman Bath.

Edinburgh Castle – Edinburgh

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

Dominating the skyline of Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh castle sits proudly on top of its great rock. Used for centuries as an ancient stronghold, home to royalty and then as army headquarters, Edinburgh castle provides something for everyone on a family day out.

Chester City – Cheshire

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

The historic city of Chester is a fantastic destination for a weekend away, with so much history to discover you’ll want to squeeze in as much as possible! We would highly suggest trips to the Roman Amphitheatre, Chester Cathedral and of course a spot of light exercise walking the city walls.

We hope this selection of ten historic sites to visit outside of London has left you feeling inspired. If we’ve missed out your favourite historic attraction then let us know! We would love to hear from you and can be reached on Facebook, Twitter or over Google Plus.

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.

Ten Reasons to Love Vintage Festivals

Thursday, September 11th, 2014
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From cars, clothing, music and the lifestyle, we’re a nation of vintage lovers. More and more vintage shops are appearing on our high street, more vintage cars can be seen touring country roads on a weekend, and vintage festivals are quickly becoming as popular as our summer music festivals. With this in mind, and our love of a good bit of bunting here at Sykes HQ, we thought we’d take a look at some of the reasons why vintage festivals are becoming so popular in the UK.

1. The Music

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Take your ears back in time and listen to the songs, styles and genres that helped shape the music that we listen to today.

2. Everyone Dresses Up…

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Festivals celebrating all things vintage are always the perfect excuse to get dolled up in your finery. Whether you fancy channelling the fifties with a feather headdress and pearls or epitomise the style of the swinging sixties with a bold mini dress, anything goes!

3. .. Including The Guys!

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

This dressing up malarkey isn’t just for the ladies. In bygone decades, men would always put their best fashion-focused foot forward and made sure they were looking dapper and dandy at all times.

4. Food and Drink

Pimms

Image via Flickr

Say goodbye to dodgy burger vans, hot dog stands and overpriced drinks. Vintage festivals are full of freshly baked goods, picnics and Pimms. Yum!

5. Meet Like-Minded People

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Unfortunately, not everyone likes vintage. Some people just like things to be modern and it can be difficult to find other fanatics to discuss all things vintage. At vintage festivals you can strike up a sixties conversation with absolutely anyone!

6. Classic Cars

Vintage Car

Image via Flickr

It’s not just dancing, music and food at vintage festivals. At many you will see a selection of classic cars that, even if you’re not a motoring fan, you’re sure to appreciate!

7. Dancing

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

With such incredible music it would be difficult not to get a bit of a swing in your step and getting involved in the care-free atmosphere is where the most fun is!

8. Vintage Markets

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

For collectable items, one of a kind pieces or even just an excuse to pick up a little treat, vintage markets and boot sales are a regular occurrence at vintage fairs!

9. Poodle Parades

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Dog lovers unite at Atomic Festival’s Poodle Parade, where you can see a number of these beautiful dogs permed to fifties perfection.

 10. The Chap Olympiad

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Umbrella jousting, iron-board surfing and a pipeathlon all whilst wearing your dandiest clothing; The Chap Olympiad sounds pretty perfect to me!

There we are, ten reasons to love vintage themed festivals. Are you a seasoned vintage festival go-er? If so, we’d love to know what your favourite thing about these wonderful events are. Drop us a line on Twitter or Facebook and let us know.

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.

Sykes’ Spotlight on Farm Cottages

Sunday, September 7th, 2014
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Well it seems as though the summer holidays have flown past in a flash and the kids are already back in school. It might seem as though from now on evenings will consist of washing uniforms, helping out with homework and the like but as it happens there’s no better time for booking a holiday, and here at Sykes we have just the thing to keep the kids happy; our holiday cottages on farms. With all the space to play in and animals to see, never mind the fact that a lot of our owners will be more than happy to take people with them on the rounds, farm cottages are perfect for keeping the kids occupied when on holiday. Because of this, we’ve decided to have a closer look at a few of our favourites to see what they offer.

The Milking Parlour

The Milking Parlour

The Milking Parlour, ref. 12658

The Milking Parlour is tucked away on the owner’s 250 acre working farm together with the four other cottages that make up the Westhope Country Retreats. There’s plenty to do around the Milking Parlour with the Severn Valley Railway, Stokesay Castle and the Roman City of Wroxeter all within reach, not to mention the Acton Scott Working Farm which you might recognize from the BBC’s Victorian Farm. Or if you would rather just hang around the cottage itself then there are plenty of options with a private hot tub, a shared games room and even a gym!

Emma’s Dairy

Emma's Dairy

Emma’s Dairy, ref. 14922

Then there’s Emma’s Dairy, part of the Alkington Grange Barns group just a few miles from Whitchurch. All of these properties share access to an indoor heated swimming pool,a multi-use games area for football, tennis or badminton, a toddler’s play area and even a fishing pond, what more could you ask for? Or if you fancy a day out then there’s the Cheshire Ice Cream Farm, RAF Cosford, Ironbridge, Chester Zoo, all just a short drive from the property, not to mention the pub just 1 mile away!

Turnip House

Turnip House

Turnip House, ref. 1020

Or there’s Turnip House, one of the Grade II listed barn conversions that make up the Plaish Park Farm Cottages which sleep 31 people! The cottage shares access to a full sized tennis court, children’s play area and even go-karts! If that’s not enough, the owners will happily take you along to feed the chickens or even have a ride on the donkeys! Then there’s also stabling for any horse riders with hacks and cross country jumps; Turnip House really has it all!

So that’s that, our spotlight on some of our favourite farm cottages. But remember we do have others and you can browse the full selection on our Farm Cottages page where you’re sure to find one that is just right for you!

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.

Days Out With Toddlers

Saturday, September 6th, 2014
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Now that the older children have gone back to school and the chaos of the summer holidays is at an end, it’s time to start planning days out with the younger children. The weather may be slightly chillier but there is still plenty of fun to be had for parents and toddlers this season but if you’re struggling to find suitable activities for your energetic preschoolers then keep reading as we suggest some of our favourite places to visit when on a day out with a toddler.

Aquariums

Beautiful stained glass windows at Anglesey Sea Zoo

Beautiful stained glass windows at Anglesey Sea Zoo

There are a number of aquariums located throughout the UK and Ireland each offering a unique view of life under the sea. Your little ones will love strolling around the exhibits, discovering new creatures and even learning a thing or two about the wonders of the deep blue.

Indoor Play Centres

Monster Mania in Falkirck

Monster Mania in Falkirck

With the chilly weather setting in and the regular showers determined to dampen our days out, why not head inside to a warm and dry indoor play centre? Children love running around these imaginative centres and it’s a great way to keep your toddlers active and well exercised!

Public Library

For a day out with a difference we would suggest a visit to your local library. The relaxing atmosphere at the public library is ideal for a little down time where your little one can have hours of fun flicking through the picture books and you could even get a little reading done too.

Petting Zoo

One of the best things about petting zoos is that children can get really stuck in! Spend the afternoon petting the sheep and rabbits as well as learning all about the different animals on the farm and of course the noises they make- oink oink!

Gardens and Parks

Children love to be outside and come rain or shine an afternoon spent exploring the outside world is one of their favourite pass times.  We love a relaxing walk to the local park and if we’re feeling a little more adventurous then a visit to the local botanic garden is a real treat.

I hope this blog post has offered some inspiration to you and your little one. We would love to know what days out you are planning with your toddler this year so please don’t hesitate to get in-touch and let us know via our Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus account.

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.

Wild Swimming: Top Spots For An Alfresco Dip

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014
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Swimming pools, who needs ‘em. Chilly, chlorine clogged water. Screaming kids, stealthily ‘bombing’ the deep end. The old chap, who spends his towelling off time in the nud. Not to mention the price, which seems to go up year on year (I’m sure it used to cost 50p?)

Sadly, if you’re into your swimming, there’s no other option but to use the public baths. Or is there?

During my time as a writer in the world of UK holidays, I’ve come to realise that us Brits are pretty wild when it comes to swimming. What with the plucky few who race in the waters of Windermere, to the Irish who spend Boxing Day paddling in the Atlantic, it seems we’re a nation who aren’t afraid to get wet, however cold it may be.

With this in mind, we’ve come up with five places around Britain that are perfect for wild swimming. Naturally, this ‘sport’ isn’t for everyone, and we’d advise those who aren’t fans of getting wet and cold to remain firmly on dry land.

River Trent, Derbyshire

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

A river may not sound the safest place to take an alfresco dip, and rightly so. But choose your spot wisely and there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a leisurely swim. The River Trent in Derbyshire is famed for its safe ‘lagoons’, which offer a tranquil place to plunge- even for little’uns. Sure, the water will be cold, but it’ll be fresh too. Plus, it’ll be quiet, so quiet in fact that 6th century hermits and saints used to inhabit the nearby rocky grottoes to avoid being seen by unsavoury types, perfect if you forgot your swimwear…

Kailpot Crag, Lake District

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Ullswater may be one of the most popular lakes in the Lake District, but stay clear of the tourist haunts and undiscovered corners remain, including Kailpot Crag. Characterised by its ancient, gnarly foliage, this west-facing outcrop has the makings of a great swimming spot, including a small cliff for fright-free diving. There’s a petite shingle beach too that’s ideal for drying off, and that westerly aspect means you can enjoy the sunset if you wish. The easiest way to access the crag is via a ferry which docks at Howton.

Loch Caoldair, Western Cairngorms

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Bring a wetsuit and thermals if you plan on swimming wild in Scotland because take it from us, it’ll be pretty chilly. Don’t let that put you off though as, thanks to Scotland’s liberal open access laws, you’re allowed to swim in pretty much all of the country’s thousands of lochs. One of our favourites is Loch Caoldair, a tree lined waterway tucked in the western Cairngorms. Home to deep, black water and a lovely wee beach, Caoldair is ideal for an invigorating swim. What’s more, the loch is only a mile from the road, so you won’t have to hike far to enjoy a quick dip.

Lower Ddwli Falls, Brecon Beacons

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Hidden in the south-west hills of the Brecon Beacons lies Waterfall Woods, an enchanting blend of natural pools and ancient woodland; prime territory for open-air swimming enthusiasts. Whilst photographers flock to the Sgws Gwladys- aka Lady Falls- intrepid bathers should make for the Ddwli Falls, where a huge, deep pool and powerful waterfall await. Revitalise in the spray, keeping your eye on the treeline for fleeting rainbows, or head downstream to horseshoe falls to make use of the jump and rope swing.

River Stour, Kent

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Those that have visited Kent’s River Stour may consider this an odd addition, but bear with me. Setting out from the town of Fordwich-reputed to be England’s smallest town- will bring you to an exposed stretch of the Stour, but keep going, and things soon become more secluded. Awash with wildlife and containing a relatively weak current, this river is ideal for a relaxing paddle on a sunny afternoon. The calmest stretch of the river is located beyond the reeds of Stodmarsh nature reserve, easily accessible by canoe.

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.