Archive for the ‘Summer Holidays’ Category

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

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014
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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
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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
 
Ingredients

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)

 

 

Method

  • 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

Get Away in the Summer Sun

Friday, July 19th, 2013
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The last thing that anyone wants to do is wish away the summer. Summer holidays are all about long, lazy days filled with ice cream and sunshine, and maybe a little time on the beach if you’re lucky. Here at Sykes Cottages were making the most of the recent heat with picnic lunches in the nearby park and icy treats in the office.

calippo

What better way to make the most of the remaining summer than to get away to a beautiful cottage with the family and be reminded of everything that is great about the summer. August is just around the corner, with this years August bank holiday falling on Monday the 25th, and we have lots of cottages still available throughout the month to enjoy. View our full selection of holiday cottages available in August.

A beach on the Gower - S. Wales

Via. Flickr

Since the gorgeous weather set in across the UK and Ireland we have been extremely busy here at Sykes Cottages HQ trying our best to find cottages for everyone wanting to make the most of the sun. Sometimes it can be hard to meet everyone’s requirements, but we try our best and more often than not we’re successful. That being said, we have a few tips for those of you who are looking to book a cottage last minute.

Tips for Booking a Last Minute Summer Holiday

  1. Be Flexible – the more flexible you are with your dates and areas the better chance we have of finding the perfect cottage for you.
  2. Be Patient – If the sun is shining outside and you’ve decided to get away, the chances are that thousands of others have had the same idea. We respond to emails and messages as quickly as we can, so don’t worry, we will get back to you.
  3. Plan Ahead – The further in advance that you can contact us the better. Want to go away for the coming weekend? If you call us on Monday we’ll have more options than will be available by Friday.

 

With all that being said, never hesitate to get in touch no matter how last minute your plans. We are always here to help and we there is nothing that we like better than a challenge! Give us a call on 01244 356 695 to speak to one of our friendly holiday cottage advisors, send an email to info@sykescottages.co.uk, or make a reservation completely online via www.sykescottages.co.uk.

Choose an action-packed summer holiday!

Friday, June 28th, 2013
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Adrenaline junkies of the United Kingdom rejoice! With the UK now rivalling far-flung destinations for exciting, adrenaline activities, choosing a holiday closer to home no longer means compromising on your days out! Whether you’re a water baby or prefer to stay on dry land, you’ll be spoilt for choice while you’re on holiday and here’s our pick of the best…
Cornish Microadventure

Coasteering in Cornwall

If you’re planning a holiday to Cornwall this summer, chances are you’ll be planning to make the most of the breathtaking coastline.  The best way to experience Cornwall is from the water so head to the beautiful Widemouth Bay beach in Bude where Outdoor Adventure offer both surf lessons and coasteering.  Where better to learn the ever-cool sport of surfing than in Cornwall where it really took off in the UK?  Coasteering is one of the newest action sports to hit the Cornish coast and allows you to visit some of the most picturesque spots on the coastline.  Look forward to scrambling up the cliffs, jumping into the turquoise water below as you explore completely unspoilt sections of the coast; come rain or shine this is an activity not to be missed!

Head for heights at Honister

For those with a head for heights, Honister Slate Mine in Keswick offers a challenge like no other.  There are more than 900 years of history to discover in this corner of the Lake District with slate first being mined here during Roman times.  The Via Ferrata allows visitors to trace the steps taken by miners at Honister through a combination of vertical climbs, cliff edge ladders and rope bridges.  Once you’ve clambered to the top of the mountain, heart pounding, you’ll be treated to the best views the Lake District has to offer.  Regularly topping the best attraction lists in the UK, you’ll climb seven times as high as Big Ben.
Mine entrance

Tubing in North Wales

The pretty town of Llangollen in North Wales, which forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the start of a white water tubing adventure, the latest extreme sport to arrive in Wales.  From sections which resemble the lazy river at exotic water parks to white rapid waters which leave you breathless, this adrenaline activity will certainly keep you guessing as you navigate the River Dee.  Don a wetsuit and grab a giant inflatable ring and set off down the four kilometre stretch of river rapids; fun guaranteed!
Dee Bridge.
Fancy an action-packed adventure in the UK?  Look no further than Sykes Cottages’ selection of self-catering holiday cottages across the UK and Ireland.  You’ll find cottages ideally located to get your heart racing and test your nerve this summer!  Why not visit our website or give our holiday cottage advisors a call to start planning your summer break.

Celebrating the Summer Solstice in the UK

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013
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This coming Friday, 21 June, is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Over Thursday night and into Friday morning there will be more hours of daylight than any other time of the year, and this, in my opinion, is something worth celebrating!

For millennia the peoples of the British Isles have been marking the Summer Solstice with a variety of events, from the mysterious magic of the  Druids, to the more modern festivals of today, always feeling the need to celebrate this once-annual celestial occurrence with pomp and circumstance. This year is no different from others, with events being held throughout the country to mark the occasion.

Dancing with the Druids at Stonehenge

The most famous of Solstice haunts in the UK, and probably the world, has to be Stonehenge in Somerset. This mysterious standing stone circle is believed to have been built specifically for marking the solstice, and it is only early on the summer solstice morning that the sun lines up perfectly with the surrounding stones and the first rays of sun shine through the stone archway in the centre circle.

The occasion is undoubtedly marked differently today than it was by the Druids of old, but it remains an important ancient site for those who venture to its heart to mark the summer solstice. Here you’ll find a motley crew of thousands all wanting to watch the sun rise at this most auspicious of locations and celebrate the occasion in their own way, with everything from drumming, dancing, singing, chanting, fires, and pretty much everything in between!

Get Fired up for the Solstice in Scotland

Arran
If you’re looking for something a little more low-key and involving fewer people dressed up as Druids than you might want to head to Brodick Castle, Garden & Country Park on the Isle of Arran in Scotland. At this grand red sandstone Scottish baronial-style castle they will be celebrating the solstice on Friday 21st June with wildlife walks and a giant bonfire.

Spaces are limited so make sure you book in advance, visit Brodick Castle on the National Trust for Scotland website for more information.

Step Back in Time with Megalithic Walks in Wales

Rhossili
If you already have plans for this weekend, you can still get involved in some megalith-love later this summer on a prehistoric walk in South Wales. Volunteers from the Megalithic Portal Society will be directing visitors on a number of walks around Rhossili, Gower, on Saturday 20th July and Sunday 21st July where there are many prehistoric sites to visit. The walks are of varying lengths and types and additional activities will be added, depending on the weather. No advanced booking is needed, just head to the main car park in Rhossili between 10am and 6pm ready to walk!