Archive for the ‘Summer Holidays’ Category

What to Pack to Stay Safe in the Sun

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014
Pin It

How to stay safe in the sun is one of the most important things to remember when on your summer holiday. Whether you’re holidaying in the UK or abroad, the sun can be very dangerous if you haven’t taken the proper precautions, especially when this summer is predicted to be the hottest on record! As a very fair-skinned individual, I know all too well the struggles of trying to stay safe in the sun and as this week is National Sun Awareness Week, we’ve put together a handy guide to what you should pack for your summer holiday in order to protect yourself against the sun.

You can never have too much sunscreen!


Via Flickr

Without a shadow of a doubt, top of every list when packing for a summer holiday should be sunscreen. Make sure you bring plenty of it and higher factors for young children and those with fair skin. If you’re going on a beach holiday or to a holiday cottage with a swimming pool, you should also consider buying waterproof sunscreen. Think about bringing a protection spray for hard-to-reach places such as the part-line of your hair, or lip balms with SPF; both places are easy to forget but will be very uncomfortable and unsightly if burnt! If you do manage to catch the sun a little too much, you’ll also be glad of having packed a cooling after-sun cream to sooth and moisturise your burnt skin.

Think about your choice of clothes


Via Flickr

Another obvious choice is to pack light, cotton clothes that will not only keep you cool but will also help protect you from the sun, although it is still recommended that you wear sunscreen underneath. Tops that cover your shoulders and hats are great ways to help you stay safe and sunglasses are also essential for protecting your eyes.

How to protect yourself on the beach

UK beach parasol

Via Flickr

If you’re heading to the beach, you should always bring something with you to cover up with; perhaps an old t-shirt for men or a kaftan for women.  Bringing a couple of old t-shirts with you will also be ideal for children to cover up with when they’re in the sea as the water reflects sunlight, making you more susceptible to burning. A great tip is to always bring flip flops to the beach with you if you’re planning on sunbathing as they’ll prevent the soles of your feet getting burnt- ouch! It’s also nice to have access to shade when you’re on the beach so bringing a parasol or wind-breaker with you is a good idea.

Keep hydrated

Glass of water

Via Flickr

One piece of advice that is always circulated concerning staying safe in the sun is that you should drink lots of water. Rather than buying expensive bottles of water every day, bring flasks with you that will keep liquids cool. You can re-fill these as often as you need to and carry them around with you during the day, ensuring that you and your family are always kept hydrated.

If you still haven’t booked your summer holiday, why not check out Sykes Cottages’ fantastic range of self-catering holiday cottages in the UK and Ireland? If you’d like some help on deciding where to go or on picking a cottage, you can visit our website and get in touch with our dedicated reservations team, who are on hand to help from 9.00am to 9.30pm, 7 days a week.

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.

Summer 2014 predicted to be the hottest on record!

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014
Pin It

It’s the news that we’ve all been waiting for; scientists have predicted that the summer of 2014 will be one of the hottest summers on record. With last year’s heatwave still fresh in our minds, here at Sykes we’re delighted to hear that the summer of 2014 will be just as wonderful, if not better! Our daydreaming about the upcoming warm weather has led us to thinking about ways that we can make the most of this heatwave, so we’ve come up with a few summery activties to inspire us!

 Head down to the beach

British beach

Via Flickr

Like many people, my favourite sunny day activity is a trip to the beach. I love nothing more than a day filled with games of Frisbee, sandcastle competitions, sunbathing and paddling in the sea. It goes without saying that a day at the beach is best enjoyed when the weather is good, so one of the best ways to make the most of this predicted heatwave is by planning lots of outings to some of the fantastic beaches that Britain has to offer. If you don’t live within easy driving distance of a beach, then why not check out our selection of coastal holiday cottages?

Break out the BBQ

Barbecue in summer

Via Flickr

On a perfect summer’s afternoon, there’s nothing better than dusting off your barbecue and cooking up a storm. Everyone loves barbecues and they’re always one of the best social activities of the season, so why not invite all your friends and family around for the occasion. Ask them to each bring a plate of something for you to barbecue and you have yourself a fantastically fun, cheap way to spend a sunny day!

Get active

Bike ride in the countryside

Via Flickr

Gone are the warm, forgiving clothes of winter and in their place are swimwear, shorts and sandals; making summer the perfect time to start thinking about being a little more health conscious. Whether it’s a stroll in the sunshine, a bike ride or a kick about in your local park, the warm temperatures and the dry skies of summer mean that there’s no better time to get outdoors and get active.

Pay a visit to the beer garden

Beer garden

Via Flickr

Sometimes there’s nothing more relaxing than spending a summer’s afternoon sitting in the beer garden of your favourite pub, soaking up the sun and having a drink with friends. If you’re looking for a challenge this summer, then why not make your way through our guide to Britain’s Best Pubs? You’ll discover some of the best places in the country to drink and experience Britain’s beautiful scenery along the way!

Rent a holiday cottage

Holiday cottage in Isle of Wight

The Springs, Isle of Wight, Ref 2906

We may be biased, but booking a holiday cottage in the UK is surely one of the best ways to make the most of the sunshine this summer. There’s nothing worse than flying abroad for a holiday, only to hear that there’s a heatwave happening back home; so why not spend your summer holiday in good old Blighty this year and make the most of what has been predicted to be our hottest summer on record.

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.

Things to see & do in the UK this summer

Thursday, March 27th, 2014
Pin It

Good news! This summer looks set to be one of the hottest on record, making it the perfect time to pump up the lilo, blather on the sun cream and soak up some Vitamin D right here in the UK. Sceptical? You’ve every right to be. The British weather is hardly reliable, and nothing’s more likely to dampen your summer spirits than a six week downpour. Luckily, there are plenty of other reasons (aside from the promise of a bit of sunshine) why you should stay in the UK for your summer holiday this year. From the Commonwealth Games and the Tour de France, to the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare, there’s a myriad of things to see and do in the UK that’ll help you overlook the occasional shower- here’s a quick guide to what you can expect on your British summer holiday in 2014.

Celebrate sport in Scotland

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

From the 23rd July to 3rd August, the spotlight will be firmly fixed on Glasgow as it hosts the twentieth Commonwealth Games, a celebration of sport and culture that welcomes athletes and sportsman from 53 states of the Commonwealth. If you’re visiting Scotland during the games, you’re bound to get caught up in the action, with some events such as cycling and running spilling beyond Glasgow’s borders. If you’re one of the lucky few who has a ticket for the games, take some time to explore some other parts of the country during your stay. Scotland is famed for its beautiful scenery, so get out of the city and enjoy a pleasant summer’s picnic when the sun starts shining!

Get on your bike in Yorkshire

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Le Grand Départ: granted it’s not a phrase many Yorkshire folk will have heard before, but after this summer it’ll be ingrained in their memory for evermore. That’s because Yorkshire is hosting the start of the Tour de France, a prestigious cycle race covering a total distance of 3,656 kilometres. The race starts in the city of Leeds before winding its way North through the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, stopping off in Harrogate and York and meandering South over the Pennines and into the Peak District National Park. Cyclists of all ages and abilities will be able to tackle the route once the pros have ploughed through, making Yorkshire the premier cycling destination for summer 2014. If you’d like to take on the Yorkshire leg of the Tour De France for yourself, take a look at our cottages for cycling.

Enjoy a classic summer holiday in Cornwall

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

After suffering its worst winter on record, Cornwall deserves its best ever summer. Now that the floodwaters have receded and the clean-up operation has begun, Cornwall’s residents and businesses will be relying on a bumper summer to help rebuild Cornwall’s reputation as Britain’s favourite holiday destination, something we think was never in doubt. The beauty of Cornwall is the array of different holidays that are on offer here. Whether you’re looking for a family beach holiday, a surfing getaway or a sightseeing break, there really is something for everyone in this stunning corner of South West England. Try it for yourself this summer, and I think you’ll understand what we’re getting at.

Rent a self-catering holiday home this summer!

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

 With tabloids promising that summer 2014 will be the hottest on record, and the cost of overseas travel putting the pinch on the holiday saving pot, there’s never been a better time to book a holiday rental in the UK or Ireland for a balmy summer’s break. Why go anywhere else for your dose of sunshine when the predicted summer temperatures look so promising right here in the UK? From the Lake District to the Dorset Coast, everyone has their favourite places in Britain; so forget the Algarve and choose to revisit your favourite UK haunts this summer.


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.

When’s the best time to book your 2014 summer holiday?

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014
Pin It

Now that the UK has recuperated after the frivolities of New Year, many have their sights fixed firmly on the prospect of a sunny summer holiday. Whether your heart’s set on a life-changing Caribbean getaway or an action-packed family holiday in Spain, anyone in the travel industry will tell you that now is the best time to book- and it’s the same story for UK cottage holidays. Here at Sykes, we’re experiencing our busiest January to date, with hundreds of customers a day reserving their favourite holiday home for the summer. But does it really pay to book in advance? We take a look at the benefits of booking a cottage holiday for summer 2014 early.

What are the advantages of booking a cottage holiday in January?

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

It’s a common predicament: should I book now or wait for the possibility of a last minute bargain? Here at Sykes, we say play it safe and book today. Waiting for a last minute deal is always a gamble, especially if you’ve got a specific location, price bracket or property in mind. Not convinced? We’ve listed a few more benefits of booking early below:

  • Choose from the cream of the cottage crop. That’s right, book early and you stand a much better chance of finding your perfect holiday cottage before all the best ones are snapped up. From the Cornish Coast to the banks of Lake Windermere, the best cottages in the best areas almost always book up early in the year.
  • Get the dates YOU want. If you already know when you want to go away, then don’t wait around or you risk missing out. This is especially important if you’re planning to go away at peak times such as the Easter and summer school holidays. Essentially, wait for a last minute deal and you’ll be picking through the date dregs…
  • You’ll have longer to save for your holiday. Yes, with our stress-free payment plan, you’ll have until 6 weeks before your holiday to pay us the outstanding amount, which means you can reserve your perfect summer getaway without breaking the bank. Leave it late (within 6 weeks before the start date of your holiday) however, and we require the full amount at the time of booking!
  • You’ll have something driving you onward through the chilly winter months. There’s nothing more motivating than the prospect of a lovely summer’s break and booking in advance means you’ll have plenty of time to plan and research exactly what you want to do during your holiday.

How much will I have to pay now?

Book now for your 2014 summer holiday and we only require a deposit of 30% of the overall cost of the booking, as well as a booking fee of £35. That gives you plenty of time to save the pennies needed to cover the overall cost of your break, as well as a few extra paydays to help you set aside your spending money.

But what about last minute breaks?

Do you consider yourself a spontaneous individual with nerves of steel? If so, it might be worth taking a gamble and opting for a last minute break. Yes, waiting can be terrifying, but with a little luck and a whole lot of guts, you could  save up to 35% of the weekly cost of your summer holiday. Our last minute breaks are ideal for those who are completely flexible on when and where they go on holiday. Just remember, nothing is guaranteed and waiting to book can often lead to disappointment and heartache.

A top tip from our expert

Sally- Our Reservations Extraordinaire

Sally- Our Reservations Extraordinaire

To get the lowdown on booking a cottage for summer 2014, we asked our reservations expert Sally Holmes to give our readers a top tip on when’s best to book. Sally is an expert at all things reservation related, having helped thousands of people find their dream cottage during her seven year stint at Sykes; this is what she had to say:

“When you’re contacting us to plan your holiday, try to provide us with as much information as possible. This will help us match you with your dream cottage quickly and efficiently to ensure that you don’t miss out. Typically, the things we need to know include your preferred destination, party size and whether you require a pet friendly cottage.”

So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to booking your 2014 summer holiday. Whether you’re reaching for the phone as we speak or waiting ‘til June, we look forward to planning your perfect cottage holiday!

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.

Great British Recipes: Summer Pudding

Friday, August 2nd, 2013
Pin It

Though some may disagree, I for one think that Great Britain has a pretty impressive food heritage. Not only do we have a whole host of British classics like ‘Toad in the Hole’, afternoon tea and fish and chips but we’ve also embraced the traditional food of other countries with curry famously being our national dish. As we continue to showcase some of the nation’s favourite foodie treats, this week we bring you summer pudding, a summertime favourite with gourmands old and young.

Victoria & Matt's Wedding, Shaftesbury, Dorset 07-06-2008


The precise origins of summer pudding are unclear but it is thought that it was first served at health farms as an antidote to the heavy suet puddings favoured by the Victorians.  Whatever its beginnings, there’s many reasons the summer pudding remains as popular as ever, not least that it’s quick and easy to make and doesn’t require any cooking whatsoever.  In fact, we think it’s the perfect summery dessert to knock up while you’re enjoying a self-catering break in the UK.  Plus, its healthy credentials means it’s a guilt-free tasty treat to enjoy all summer long!


How to make a delicious summer pudding

There are many recipes for summer pudding but we’ve chosen to share this one from the BBC Good Food website:

Summer Berry Fruit Salad

300g raspberries, plus a few extra to serve

225g blackberries, plus a few extra to serve

100g redcurrants, plus a few extra to serve

400g strawberries, hulled and quartered

140g golden caster sugar, plus a bit extra (optional)

400g brioche loaf

clotted cream, to serve (optional)




  • Wash the fruit and place it all (except the strawberries) in a large pan with the caster sugar and 3 tbsp water. Gently heat for 3 mins until the juice from the fruit starts to seep out. Add the strawberries and cook for 2 mins more. Drain the juice from the fruit through a sieve set over a large bowl. Taste the juice and add a little more sugar if necessary.


  •   Line a 1.2-litre pudding basin with a double layer of cling film, leaving an overlap around the top. Remove the crusts from the brioche and slice the loaf into 1cm-thick slices along the length of the loaf. Cut 1 slice in half widthways and trim the corners to fit into the base of the bowl – you may need to use both squares, trimmed to fit.


  •   Trim the slices to the correct length to line the sides of the bowl. To assemble the pudding, dip the slices of brioche into the fruit juice, then use them to line the basin. Start with the bottom pieces, then lay soaked rectangles of brioche along the sides of the bowl. If you have any gaps left at the end, patch these up with any remaining brioche, but make sure you save some for the base.


  •  Tip the fruit into the lined basin. Finish the pudding with a layer of brioche to make a base, then pour over any remaining liquid. Wrap the overhanging cling film over the top.


  •  Place a small plate, which will fit snugly on top of the basin, over the cling film and weigh down with 2 x 400g cans of tomatoes or beans. Leave the pudding weighed down in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, or overnight if possible.


  • To serve, unwrap the cling film and place a serving plate over the pudding. Flip it over, remove the basin and carefully peel away the cling film. Serve in slices with clotted cream, if you like.


Happy summertime!
Zenor  Cornwall summer 2010