Archive for the ‘Holiday Ideas’ Category

St Patrick’s Day Events In 2016

Friday, March 11th, 2016
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St Patrick’s Day is always a big event in the social calendar, not only in Ireland but across Britain as well. Every 17th March, there are parades, events and festivals to get involved in and to make sure you don’t miss out, we’ve picked out some of the best St Patrick’s Day events taking place in 2016 for you to take a look at.

St Patrick’s Festival, Dublin

Ireland’s biggest St Patrick’s Day events take place in Dublin with the city centre turning into a bustling sea of green. Events over the three day period include a parade, street theatre, walking tour, Irish craft beer and whiskey village, as well as ‘Greening the City’, which takes place at 6pm on 17th March and sees some of Dublin’s most iconic buildings ‘go green’.

Date: 17th– 20th March 2016

More information:


Manchester Irish Festival

Manchester Irish Festival is one of the UK’s biggest St Patrick’s Day events, running from 4th– 20th March across Manchester city centre. The St Patrick’s Day Parade will take place this Sunday 13th March but other event highlights include Irish dancing classes, live traditional Irish music, fiddle workshops and the 20th National Irish Studies conference. The festival was established back in 1996 and celebrates Manchester’s Irish community and their talents in arts, music, film and dance.

Date: 4th– 20th March 2016

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Galway St Patrick’s Day Parade

The Galway St Patrick’s Day Parade is always a fantastic spectacle. Now in its 113th year, the parade celebrates the diverse nature of the city and the huge amount of talent showcased by local artists and community groups. Highlights this year include Galway Arts Centre, St Patrick’s Brass Band, Salsa Latin Dancers Community Group and Galway Community Circus.

Date: 17th March 2016

Time: Starts at 11am and ends around 1pm

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Leprechaun Hunt at Hezlett House, Coleraine

Hezlett House’s Leprechaun Hunt is the perfect fun-filled event for families with young children this St Patrick’s Day. Leprechauns have escaped from the trees in Downhill forest and hidden themselves around the house- the National Trust needs your family’s help to find them all again! Join in with the hunt and uncover the fascinating story behind Hezlett House at this delightful family event.

Date: 17th March 2016

Time: Open from 10am-4pm

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St Patrick’s Parade, London

If you’re in London this weekend then make sure you head to Trafalgar Square for the annual St Patrick’s Parade. The parade leaves Piccadilly around midday, making its way through the streets to Trafalgar Square where a festival will be taking place. The parade features music, floats, marching bands and dance schools, and if you get a bit peckish, there’s a food market offering Irish beef stew and other Ireland-inspired dishes from acclaimed Irish chefs.

Date: 13th March 2016

Time: 12pm- 6pm

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Dingle Fife and Drum Band Early Morning Parade

What better way to start off the festivities than with an early morning music march. This is a long-standing tradition in Dingle, where residents wake up to the sounds of the Dingle Fife and Drum Band marching through the streets every St Patrick’s Day morning. They are followed by hundreds of Dingle residents around the town with a 6.30am pit-stop at a church to provide background music for the mass. The parade finishes around 7.30am with the national anthem.

Date: 17th March 2016

Time: 6am-7.30am

More information:


If you’re thinking of booking a last-minute break in Ireland over St Patrick’s Day, don’t forget to take a look at our wide range of holiday cottages in Ireland. With over 800 cottages to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect property for your getaway.

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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.

Capability Brown’s Best Gardens

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016
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Did you know that 2016 is officially the Year of the English Garden? Ok we haven’t really had the weather to make the most of it so far but hopefully that will all change as we get closer and closer to the summer months. The Year of the English Garden was thought up by the good folk over at Visit England in order to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot “Capability” Brown, England’s best ever gardener.

Back in the 18th century, Brown ushered in a whole new era for the English garden. Rather than following the accepted methods of the time, he decided to go in a completely different direction with his designs. This meant that gone were the days of the continental inspired formal gardens with neat rows of flower beds and complicated geometric shapes, instead Brown tried to replicate the feel of the surrounding countryside in his works, using wide open parklands, rolling hills and picturesque lakes – all of which had to be constructed by hand!

To do our bit in commemorating one of Britain’s best ever artistic minds, we’ve tracked down some of the best places that you can visit to see his work with your own eyes, so take a look and see what you think.

Blenheim Palace

The birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is one of the finest country houses going. Capability Brown was commissioned to work on the grounds by the 4th Duke of Marlborough in 1763 and over the course of an 11 year project, he oversaw the landscaping of around 200 acres of parkland. This involved the creation of a massive man-made lake and the uprooting and re-location of thousands of mature trees – some feat without any heavy machinery!

Much of this work survives to this day meaning that Blenheim remains one of the best places to witness Brown’s designs at their finest, and there’s even a Capability Brown Trail through the estate that shows off the best bits!

Chatsworth House

It is at Chatsworth House in the Peak District that you can arguably see the best example of the sweeping changes that Brown brought to the estates that he worked on. Before his arrival, Chatsworth was the site of classical formal gardens made up of straight lines and organised flower beds, however he soon changed this! They ended being swept under his trademark rolling parkland designs that at one point even required altering the natural course of the River Derwent!

Highclere Castle

And finally we’ve also picked Highclere Castle. Now there’s a good chance that these sweeping parklands will ring a bell to all the Downton Abbey fans out there as the scene of hunts, garden parties and gentle strolls through the grounds. This is because Highclere landed one of the leading roles in the program, playing the seat of the Grantham family. Whilst this might have catapulted Highclere back into the spotlight, it’s not its only claim to fame – it’s also the site of some of Capability Brown’s finest work. He was commissioned by the 1st Earl of Carnarvon in 1774 and drew up the plans for what would eventually develop into one of England’s finest gardens which are well worth a visit!

So there you go, three of the finest surviving example of Capability Brown’s works to commemorate the tercentenary of his birth. We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about them, and who knows maybe you even fancy paying them a visit? If that’s the case then make sure you take a look at our holiday cottages so that you’ve got somewhere to put up your feet after a long day exploring!

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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.

Cottages with Literary Connections

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016
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If you didn’t already know, tomorrow is World Book Day, so to celebrate, we’re taking a look through our cottage portfolio and bringing you the best of our holiday cottages with literary connections. From family homes of famous authors to properties that have been featured in novels, here’s our pick of Sykes Cottages’ top literary holiday homes.

Penlan (ref 6909), Snowdonia National Park

Penlan is a charming woodland cottage in the picturesque Snowdonia village of Beddgelert, famed for its historical monument to Gelert, the faithful dog of a medieval prince. According to the legend, the prince killed his dog thinking it had attacked his son, only to later discover that the dog had actually been defending his son from a violent wolf attack. The cottage itself is charismatic and traditional with exposed wooden beams and a lovely pub just 5 minutes’ walk away. It’s also affectionately known as ‘Rupert Bear’s Cottage’ in memory of Albert Bestall, the author and illustrator of the Rupert Bear stories. He lived in the cottage from 1956 to 1986 and gained inspiration from the surrounding countryside, writing his Rupert Bear stories here for many years.

Stable Cottage (ref 14117), Shropshire

This attractive stone-built cottage is situated in the rural hamlet of Cwm Head in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Perfect for a romantic getaway, Stable Cottage offers cute and cosy accommodation for two people. Children’s author, Malcom Saville, who wrote the well-known Lone Pine series, sent his family to this delightful cottage during World War Two. He was inspired to write his Lone Pine series, which were set in Shropshire, using the peaceful local countryside as his backdrop. This part of Shropshire is particularly beautiful so it’s not hard to see why he felt inspired, with lots of hill-walking and wildlife on your doorstep.

The Retreat (ref 1678), Cornwall

The Retreat is a cosy, stone-built cottage adjoining a mill house in the heart of the Cornish countryside. The tranquil village of St Keyne, where this cottage is nestled, and the surrounding areas are renowned for their rolling meadows and wooded valleys, perfect for a getaway away from the hustle and bustle of the Cornish coast yet still within easy reach. The Retreat offers open plan living for two people with its own private patio and BBQ. Pets are also allowed at this property so there’s no need to put your furry friends in the kennels! This historic cottage featured in the Daphne Du Maurier novel, The King’s General, which was published in 1946.

Church View (ref 915793), Yorkshire

Haworth needs no introduction as a literary break and this luxury self-catering apartment in the heart of Haworth is the perfect place to stay. It’s situated within a stunning period property on Haworth’s Main Street, which would have existed during the Brontë’s lifetime. Church View is less than a minute’s walk from the famous Black Bull pub where Branwell Brontë used to drink and 2 minutes’ walk from the Brontë Parsonage where the family lived. The bedrooms afford views of Haworth’s church where they are all, except Anne, buried.

Or alternatively, if you’re feeling inspired by World Book Day, why not take a look at some of the best literary destinations in the UK; wander around the Lakeland fells that inspired Wordsworth or roam through the wild moorland featured in Charlotte Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.

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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.

Last Minute Cottages for Mother’s Day

Monday, February 29th, 2016
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Mother’s Day is just around the corner and here at Sykes Cottages, we can think of no better treat for our mums than spending some quality time together. After all, isn’t that what Mother’s Day is really about? To make sure you give your mum the time and attention she deserves, we suggest booking a Mother’s Day break in one of our cottages. With under a week to go until the big day, we’ve listed a selection of stylish holiday cottages which would be perfect for your Mother’s Day celebrations, so keep reading and see if we can convince you to take your mum away this March.

Engine Room Cottage

Dinning table and chairs, set up ready for a meal with daffodils on the table.

The dinning area at Engine Room Cottage, set up ready for Mother’s Day lunch

Located in charming village of Sledmere, this idyllic cottage once acted as the fire station for the Yorkshire Wolds. The cottage has since been lovingly converted to offer stylish accommodation for up to six people and one well behaved dog. The property’s fantastic views over the Yorkshire countryside and spacious dining area create the ideal atmosphere for a Mother’s Day lunch.

Nethergill Farm Byre

Open living area with exposed beams, brick work, comfortable furnishings and an openfire

The cosy living area at Nethergill Farm Byre

Dating back to 1871, Nethergill Farm Byre can be found nestled into the Yorkshire countryside in the hamlet of Oughtershaw. This property accommodates a party of four with one dog, so it’s great for older families who enjoy walking and wildlife spotting. In the evenings, you’ll find the property’s cosy living area with wood burning stove a wonderful place to relax and enjoy a glass of red wine.

The Dairy

Hot tub view looking out over the country at sun set

The spectacular view from the hot tub at The Dairy

If you’re thinking of bringing the whole family together this Mother’s Day, then The Dairy in Llandysul will accommodate a group of eight and up to six well behaved dogs. This stylish property comes with plenty of outdoor space as well as sole use of an eight seater hot tub! This cottage is perfect for any dog lover, so if your mum refuses to holiday without her pooch then The Dairy is the cottage for you.

Croft Cottage

Open plan living area with wood burning stove and character features including exposed beams

The fantastic open plan living area at Croft Cottage

Does your mum have a stressful job, or perhaps a hectic social schedule? If so a trip to the peaceful Croft Cottage in Embleton is sure to provide her with plenty of rest and relaxation this Mother’s Day. Quietly situated in the Northumbria countryside, this property’s stylish décor and plush furnishings create a wonderfully tranquil atmosphere, but be careful your mum may never want to leave.

The Farmhouse

White country cottage surrounded by trees, greenery and a blue sky

The Farm House in Coverack, perfect for a beach getaway!

Located on the Lizard Peninsula, The Farmhouse is the perfect Mother’s Day escape for beach lovers. Just a short drive from this Coverack cottage, you’ll find a handful of amazing beaches to explore including Coverack Beach, Porthbeer Cove and Kynance Cove. When you return from your day on the sands, The Farmhouse provides a warm welcome for up to six people, with a spacious kitchen and inviting living area.

Bank House Mews

Open plan living area complete with modern kitchen, farmhouse dinning and comfy living area

The stylish décor at Bank House Mews

If your mum is a fan of the finer things in life then she’ll love Bank House Mews. Converted from a stone barn and workshop mews, this property now has everything your mum will need for a luxury getaway. Accommodating up to eight people, this property boasts three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a gorgeous open plan living area with wood burning stove and plenty of character features.

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Nicole Jones-Gerrard

By Nicole Jones-Gerrard

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 husband.

10 Best Events For Kids This Half Term

Monday, February 15th, 2016
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If you’re looking for some inspiration for things to do with the kids this half term, why not take a look at the hundreds of fantastic activities and events taking place at National Trust properties across England and Wales? Many of the events are free and are sure to be great fun for children of all ages. To help, we’ve listed 10 of the best National Trust events this February half term.

Splash about on ‘Winter Welly Walks’ at Clent Hills, Worcestershire

The Winter Welly Walk at Clent Hills is a fantastic way to spend a blustery February day, squelching and splashing your way through the Worcestershire countryside. At the end of the walk, gather round a campfire to warm up and enjoy some delicious toasted marshmallows. No booking needed but please make sure you bring wellies or walking boots.

Dates: 17th February, 11am-3pm

Prices: The event costs £2 per child.

More information: ; 01562 712822


Paint wooden decorations at Barrington Court, Somerset

Get a little creative at Barrington Court’s family art workshop where you and your children can paint hand-made wooden decorations to take home. There’s a wide range of animal shapes to choose from and no booking necessary!

Dates: 13th-21st February, 11am-3.30pm

Prices: The event costs £3 per person. Normal admission charges to the property also apply. Adults £8.30, children £4.10 or family tickets available for £20.60.

More information: ; 07742 030879


Get crafty at ‘Art In The Stables’ at Dunham Massey, Cheshire

This free family event will give children the opportunity to make some fun horse-related crafts in Dunham Massey’s new stables. Encouraging lots of creativity and laughter, this is a lovely indoor day out for families with animal-mad youngsters!

Dates: 15th-17th February, 12pm-4pm

Prices: The event is free although a ‘garden only’ admission ticket is needed. Adults £8, children £4 or family tickets available for £20.

More information: ; 0161 9411025


Go green at the ‘Snowdrop Days’ at Bodnant Garden, Conwy

Do something a little different this half term and take part in Bodnant Garden’s snowdrop planting days. They’ve got lots of snowdrops that need planting and they need your family’s help to get it done in time. Bring your gardening gloves if you have them and join in with the fun! This is a really special experience and you’ll be able to come back next year to visit ‘your’ snowdrops.

Dates: 13th-21st February, 1pm-3pm

Prices: The event is free although normal admission charges to the property apply. Adults £11.25, children £5.63.

More information: ; 01492 650460


Follow the ‘Early Spring Trail’ at Arlington Court, Devon

Spring is one of the best times of year to get out and see nature so make the most of it with Arlington Court’s Early Spring Trail. Roam the grounds discovering the incredible plants and wildlife that live here as they begin to awaken from the winter. Dogs are welcome to come along but make sure you wear sensible shoes as the paths may be muddy.

Dates: 13th-21st February, 11am-4pm

Prices: The trail is free although normal admission charges to the property apply. Adults £10, children £5 or family tickets available for £25.

More information: ; 01271 850296


Learn bushcraft skills at Cotehele, Cornwall

This event is suitable for children aged between 7 and 15 and run by an outdoor expert. Learn how to build your own shelter and how to light a controlled fire, as well as other essential outdoor survival skills in the wild. Perfect for any budding Bear Grylls’ in the family!

Dates: 16th-18th February, 10am-12pm or 1.30pm-3.30pm

Prices: Event costs £6 per child. Booking essential.

More information: ; 01822 259249


Solve the mystery of the cat burglar at Scotney Castle, Kent

Get your detective hat on because there’s been a burglary at Scotney Castle! The castle need your family’s help in solving this mystery and in finding out exactly how much has gone missing. Follow a map around the castle to recover all the valuable items that have been stolen, including the cats, ticking them off on the inventory as you go.

Dates: 13th-21st February, 11am-4pm

Prices: The event costs £1 per person. Normal admission charges to the property also apply. Adults £13, children £6.50 or family tickets available for £32.50.

More information: ; 01892 893868


Drop in for story time at Beningbrough Hall, North Yorkshire

Get ready to be captivated as the history of Beningbrough Hall comes alive through a professional storyteller. Using characters and events, Eden from Stories Alive will paint a vivid picture of life at Beningbrough and the portraits that reside there with his words.

Dates: 19th February, 11.45am-3.15pm

Prices: The event is free although normal winter admission charges to the property apply. Adults £6.30, children £3.15 or family tickets available for £15.75.

More information: ; 01904 472027


Make bird boxes at Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire

This is a very popular event so make sure you book early! The gang at Fountains Abbey will be showing you how to make bird boxes for all of your feathery friends that frequent your garden. Birds will be looking for somewhere to make a nest come spring so now’s a great time to think about helping them.

Dates: 16th-18th February, 1 hour sessions at 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm.

Prices: £5 per birdbox. Normal admission charges to the property also apply. Adults £11.80, children £5.90 or family tickets available for £29.50.

More information: ; 01765 643189


February Family Fun at Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire

Get out and about in the Nostell Priory gardens this half term where you’ll find plenty of fun things to do with the kids. From building dens to bike riding and spotting wildlife to decorating a giant rhubarb, there’s so many fantastic activities for the whole family to get involved in.

Dates: 14th-21st February, 10am-4pm

Prices: The event is free although normal admission charges to the property apply. Adults £10.50, children £5.25 or family tickets available for £26.25.

More information: ; 01924 863892

If you need some more ideas of things to do with the kids this half term, why not take a look at our Half Term Hit List, full of fantastic ideas for days out and activities to entertain your children while they’re off school. Or if you’re worried about the weather, take a look at our blog post on the best indoor activities to do this February 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.