Archive for the ‘Travel Tips’ Category

Following the Footsteps of Fantastic Beasts

Friday, December 2nd, 2016
Pin It

A secret world lies among us muggles.

A world that goes beyond Hogwarts and into the forests of Britain, the skies of America and the mountains of Europe.

Across the world lies fantastic beasts, and with help from us we’ll tell you where to find them.


These cute creatures are native to Britain and have a penchant for anything shiny. They live underground and can be found in burrows and caves. Be careful if you’re wanting one as a pet, you may come home to chaos.

nifflers poster amazing creatures

Download High Res Version


These naturally camouflaged animals guard the trees wands are made off. Favouring forests of west England they are intensely shy… until you disturb their home. Watch out for their long, sharp fingers.

bowtruckles poster fantastic beasts

Download High Res Version


Peaceful and ape-like, the Demiguise can be found in the Far East. If threatened they quickly turn invisible and their pelt can be used to make invisibility cloaks.

demiguise poster fantastic beasts

Download High Res Version

Common Welsh Green Dragon

If you haven’t seen one yet, it may be because your memory has been wiped by the Ministry of Magic. A reservation has been set up in the welsh mountains where they feed on small mammals, so when climbing Snowdon, keep an eye out.

greendragon poster fantastic beasts

Download High Res Version


With a flap of its wings, a storm comes brewing. Closely related to the phoenix, these powerful birds favour drier climates in the US, their shimmering feathers blend in perfectly to the high clouds.

thunderbird poster fantastic beasts

Download High Res Version


Big and beastly, if you come across a giant, run in the opposite direction. Where better for them to live than the mountains of Europe, sizing themselves up against the towering peaks.

giants poster fantastic beasts

Download High Res Version


When delving into the depths of the great lake, look out for the merpeople’s strong fins and dark flowing hair. With warlike tendencies, don’t stop by too long as they may not let you return to the surface.

merpeople poster fantastic beasts

Download High Res Version

These fantastic beasts can be hard to find. But when the unexplainable happens and you catch something out the corner of your eye, think back to these creatures; you may unknowingly be following their footsteps.

Pottermore. Nifflers.
Pottermore. Thunderbirds.
Harry Potter Wiki.
Hibberd, J. (2016). ‘Fantastic Beasts’: Meet the Creatures.
Pottermore. Bowtruckles.
Pottermore. Merpeople.
Pottermore. Giants.
Harry Potter Wiki. Common Welsh Green.
Pottermore. Demiguise.

Pin It

An Illustrated Guide to Weird British Expressions

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016
Pin It

Britain is weird. If it’s not too cold, it’s too hot. If we’re not talking about the weather, we’re talking about the rain. If you asked someone what’s our most peculiar trait, they’d probably tell you it’s our odd choice of expressions. With so many strange, weird and wonderful British expressions to explore we’d thought it would be a great idea to put together a definitive list of the most unusual British expressions.

Here’s 9 of the weirdest phrases Britain has to offer.

1. You’re all bum and parsley

Scotland knows how to say it like it is, and own the “less polite” phrases in the English language. Know someone who’s a little too full of themselves? Bring them back to earth with the wit of the Scots.


What it means: A description of someone who is a loud know-it-all.
How you would use it in conversation: “You don’t know what you’re talking about; you’re all bum and parsley!”
Part of the UK typically used: Scotland

2. Happy as a pig in muck

Pigs and mud go together like a match made in heaven. So don’t take offense when a Yorkshire-person suggests you are a pig and like rolling in dirt, they’re actually being nice!


What it means: Very happy
How you would use it in conversation: “If no one bothers him, he’s happy as a pig in muck.”
Part of the UK typically used: Yorkshire

3. Were ya born in a barn

No, we’re not talking about baby Jesus’ place of birth. Yorkshire residents use this expression if someone was to enter or leave a room and forget to do that crucial thing.


What it means: Close the door
How you would use it in conversation: “I just got it warm in here, were ya born in a barn?”
Part of the UK typically used: Yorkshire

4. Not give a monkey’s

This cheeky phrase captures the mischievous nature of these creatures. There’s debate over the missing word (a monkey’s what?).


What it means: Be completely indifferent
How you would use it in conversation: “I don’t give a monkey’s about what your dream was last night Jessica.”
Part of the UK typically used: UK wide

5. It looks a bit black over Bill’s mother’s

It’s claimed that Bill refers to William Shakespeare with his mother, Mary Arden of Stratford, stuck in the rain. Perhaps she’s sat humming away to Travis, “Why does it always rain on me?”


What it means: The sky is dark with rain
How you would use it in conversation: “Ooh heck, it looks a bit black over Bill’s mother’s that way”
Part of the UK typically used: Midlands

6. That’s the badger

If you were to exclaim this when not in the West Country you should prepare yourself for a few confused explanations -“That’s not a badger Colin…”


What it means: That’s exactly the one I was looking for
How you would use it in conversation: “That’s the badger! That’s the name I couldn’t remember!”
Part of the UK typically used: West Country

7. Bob’s your uncle

A quintessentially British phrase typically used after explaining how to do something. There remains doubt however who’s Uncle Bob this was.


What it means: There you have it
How you would use it in conversation: “Just pull that handle, press the button, Bob’s your Uncle!”
Part of the UK typically used: UK wide

8. Making a right pig’s ear of something

Pigs do seem to get it hard when it comes to expressions. Despite it becoming a new fashionable food trend, if you’ve ever messed something up you’ll be sure to have heard this phrase before.


What it means: Handle something badly
How you would use it in conversation: “She made a right pig’s ear of that presentation!”
Part of the UK typically used: UK Wide

9. You’re peckin’ me ‘ead

Ever get that feeling that a bird is tapping at your head? It’s likely someone is really testing your patience. Or a bird thinks you’re a tree. Either way, get out of there fast!


What it means: You are annoying me
How you would use it in conversation: “Would you give it a rest, you’re peckin’ me ‘ead!”
Part of the UK typically used: North West England

Our Top 9 weirdly funny British sayings infographic

Illustrated Guide To Weird British Expression

Fair use

If you’re a journalist interested in covering this project, we encourage you to use any of the graphics included above. When doing so, please attribute the authors by providing a link back to this page so your readers can learn more about this project and the related research.

There you have it, 9 of Britain’s weirdest phrases. We tried not to make too much of a pig’s ear of it, but if you don’t give a monkey’s, well, you’re all bum and parsley!

If you would like to add to our collection of weird British phrases then get in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter using the #SykesBritishSayings


McAlpine, F. (2014). 25 Scottish Saying That Will Get You Through Life.
BBC. (2014). Voices.
BBC. (2014). Voices.
Rubery, J. (2016). 10 British animal idioms and expressions.
Bentley, D. (2016). The 50 top words and phrases that say you’re from Birmingham or the Black Country.
Cork, T. (2016). The BEST 23 West Country words – but how many do you use?
Martin, G. (Date unknown). The meaning and origin of the expression: Bob’s your uncle.
Rubery, J. (2016). 10 British animal idioms and expressions.
Flannagan, E. (2016). Mancunian dictionary: The 50 top words and phrases that say you’re a Manc.

Add this infographic to your website by copying and pasting the following embed code:

Pin It

Celebrate Earth Day at One of These Scenic Spots

Sunday, April 10th, 2016
Pin It

On Friday April 22nd the world will celebrate Earth Day, an event which allows people to demonstrate their support for the environment. If you feel like joining in the celebrations this year, then why not venture to one of the UK’s many beauty spots where you can admire the fantastic scenery Britain has to offer? We’ve put together a list of scenic spots with fantastic views which will help you appreciate the environment this coming Earth Day.

Richmond Park

A group on deer in long grass with trees in the distance and a blue sky overhead.

Deer in Richmond Park. Image by SLR JesterCC 2.0

Located in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Richmond Park is the largest of the capital’s eight royal parks. The park was created by Charles I in the 17th century as a deer park and is still of great importance to international wildlife conservation today. The park’s open spaces and calming atmosphere is perfect for a quite stroll this Earth Day.

Glen Nevis

Highland scener with hills, mountains and rolling clouds

View from Glen Nevis. Image by KrondolCC 2.0

This iconic Highland glen offers some of the best views in Britain, from the towering Ben Nevis to the captivating waterfalls of the River Nevis. This area is a favourite among walkers and with its inspiring views and fascinating history, it’s not hard to see why. If you fancy a family walk through Glen Nevis this Earth Day we suggest the Achriabhach Forest Walk.

Hope Valley

Rural England. Green fields, soft hills and blue sky.

A wonderful view over Hope Valley. Image by Olga PavlovskyCC 2.0

The ancient landscape of Hope Valley in the Peak District is a perfect example of rural England. With enchanting views and plenty of historic ruins to discover, you could spend days exploring the Hope Valley and never get bored. For an alternative view of the Hope Valley we suggest hang-gliding, an activity the area is rather famous for and a great way to spend Earth Day.


Clear lake with the snow capped mountains reflected in the waters

Sunrise in Snowdonia National Park. Image by Hefin OwenCC 2.0

Home to Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdonia National Park covers an area of 2,170 square kilometres and encompasses some of Wales’ best natural scenery. The park recently received the title of International Dark Sky Reserve, and because of this it is the ideal location for a little star gazing come nightfall on Earth Day.

Jurassic Coast

Golden sandy beach with unique rock formation, blue sky and turquoise sea.

The iconic Durdle Door beach. Image by Mark TowningCC 2.0

The Jurassic Coast is a world heritage site which covers 95 miles of coastline from Devon to Dorset. Along the Jurassic Coast, visitors may be surprised to discover 185 million years of history in the form of fossils, dramatic cliffs and hidden caves. The area also has a number of soft, sandy beaches which are great for families who want to get out and about this Earth Day.

Pin It
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.

Strange British Traditions

Sunday, October 18th, 2015
Pin It

Here in Britain we are extremely proud of our quirky traditions but we have to admit, to anyone visiting the UK, these traditions can seem a little strange at first. From Morris dancing in the streets to cheese rolling in the countryside, our numerous traditions are truly a sight to behold. If you feel like witnessing one or two British traditions on your next getaway, then keep reading as we list some of our favourites.

Morris Dancing

Morris dancing is a traditional form of English folk dancing, which can trace its history right back to the 13th century. With bell pads on their shins and brightly coloured handkerchiefs or sticks, Morris dancers are hard to miss when they come to town. For your best chance to catch Morris dancers in action, we suggest heading to the Cotswolds where the dancers are particularly common.

Pearly Kings and Queens

The Pearly Kings and Queens of London are fascinating to behold with their customised suits and dresses covered in pearl buttons. From the very first Pearly King, Henry Croft, to the present day Kings and Queens, these pearly families are well respected through the UK and do a great deal of charity work. To see the pearly Kings and Queens in all their glory, head to the Fields Trafalgar Square in London on the first Sunday in October or the third Sunday in May.


The Maypole was traditionally a young tree that villagers would cut down and place in the village to symbolise the arrival of summer. Nowadays, the Maypole is a tall wooden pole which is commonly erected on May Day (May 1st) and decorated with garlands and ribbons. The intricate ribbon work around the Maypole is completed by dancers who perform a special choreographed routine with ribbon in hand. May Day celebrations can be seen across England.

Cheese Rolling

There are a number of cheese rolling events held across the UK but if you’re looking for the best then we would suggest heading to Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire. This extremely steep hill is home to a number of cheese rolling events each year and offers many vantage points to watch the big race form. However if attending, do be careful as the steep gradient of the hill can be dangerous.

These are just a few of the fabulous traditions here in Britain, but if we’ve missed your favourite then be sure to let us know by contacting us via Facebook or Twitter.

Pin It
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.

Some of the Best Heritage Open Days

Sunday, September 6th, 2015
Pin It

This September sees one of the year’s biggest cultural events taking place across England with the Heritage Open Days. With 40,000 volunteers, around 1,500 organisations taking part and an expected 3 million visitors, it promises to be bigger and better than ever. So we’ve cast the Sykes spotlight around the country and picked out some of our favourite open day locations for you to have a look through.

Glendurgan Gardens, Cornwall

On the 12th of September, Glendurgan Gardens, in the heart of the Cornish countryside, will be free to visit as part of the Heritage Open Days scheme. Between the garden’s three valleys, you’ll be able to lose yourself in banks of wildflowers, thick woodlands and of course the garden’s famous maze. No booking is required to visit Glendurgan on the 12th so it’s perfect for an impromptu trip with the family, however due to the loose gravel and steep pathways, it might not be the best choice for wheelchair users.

Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire

Or if you’re up north, you could pop into Fountains Abbey near Ripon in Yorkshire. As part of the open day you can investigate what remains of the Abbey or head off the beaten track and explore the 800 acres of medieval deer parkland, water gardens and the old monastic grounds. There are also specialist tours being held throughout the day meaning that you’ll be able to get the inside track on both the majestic abbey and its stunning water gardens.

St John the Baptist Cathedral, Norfolk

Finally, we’ve got the Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist in Norwich. Constructed in the late 20th and early 21st century, it’s one of the city’s most famous buildings and a member of the celebrated Norwich 12, but you’ll get to experience it like never before through the upcoming heritage open days. From talks on the architecture and engineering of the cathedral itself through to demonstrations by a group of local stonemasons, it’s the perfect way to learn more about one of the area’s iconic buildings.

Hopefully that’s whetted your appetite to try out a Heritage Open Day this year? If so you can find the full list of them here, and don’t worry if you’ll need somewhere to stay over the weekend as our flexi-breaks are perfect for a shorter trip, have a look and see if you can find a cottage to suit you.

Pin It
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.