Archive for the ‘United Kingdom’ Category

Popping the cork on Britain’s wine industry

Thursday, October 15th, 2015
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Red, white, rose or sparkling, wine is the drink of choice for many up and down the country – but have you ever considered the great contribution to the wine industry the UK is making? An area that’s been steadily growing, the UK is producing much more than your average glass of plonk.


Bottles in context

Over 6.3 million bottles of wine are produced right here in England and Wales every year, and interestingly, two thirds of the English and Welsh market for wine (66%) is made up of sparkling wine – so it appears a glass of fizz every now and again is very well catered for! Still, white wine accounts for just under a quarter, (24%) leaving red wine and rose making up the final 10% of the English and Welsh wine market.

Where are we making it?

As you may have guessed, vineyards are a little more popular towards the south due to the better weather, although we do have 135 wineries and 470 vineyards across the UK in total! The majority are in the south east (160 of them), with 140 in the south west. It’s the soil of these areas that attracts the vineyards, as it has a likeness to that in the Champagne region of France.

There are a few vineyards up north too – there are just four in Scotland, four in the Channel Islands and 95 across the north of England and the midlands.

A growing industry

British wine is already being exported – you can find our native produce across the globe, from Scandinavia to Australia! So, next time you’re looking for the perfect accompaniment to your meal, why not opt for something local?


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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.

Britain vs. the World: Choose Britain for your next break

Friday, January 23rd, 2015
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Oi you! Yes, you! Where are you heading for your 2015 summer holiday? Spain?! France?! Italy?! Well what if I told you you’re making a bad decision? What if I said you should be staying right here, on the shores of dear old Blighty?

Think about it: we’ve got more beaches than the Bahamas; a longer history than Hungary; prettier countryside than Croatia; and some of the best bars, restaurants and cafes this side of the Atlantic.

To prove Britain ought to be 2015’s most popular holiday destination in, I’ve pitted it against some of its closest rivals to see how it fairs in a battle of facts and figures. So let’s get down to business.

Coast, coast and more coast

Jurassic Coast, Dorset - Via Flickr

Jurassic Coast, Dorset – Via Flickr

Plenty of folk are lured to the Mediterranean by the promise of sun kissed beaches and turquoise waters, but is the coastline of the Costa del Sol and the South of France really all that better than the beaches of Britain?

Coastline lengths certainly suggest otherwise. The UK’s coast is approximately 12,429km, whilst the French and Spanish coasts are considerably smaller, at 3,470km and 4,964km respectively.

Yes, the UK may have fewer Blue Flag beaches than France and Spain, but it makes up for it in its sheer number of secluded coves, windswept bays, and vertigo-inducing seacliffs. There’s literally thousands of miles of coastal walks available in the UK too, where you, the sand and the sea can be almost completely alone – beat that, Espagne.

History aplenty

Stonehenge, Wiltshire - Via Flickr

Stonehenge, Wiltshire – Via Flickr

Whether sightseeing in an ancient city or exploring a dusty old museum, historic attractions play a huge part in most people’s summer getaways. Visit any country in the world, and you’ll likely find yourself drawn to the discovery of its ancient treasures. Here in the UK, we’re swamped in relics dating back thousands of years, and our history is one of the most diverse in Europe.

From the Vikings to the Victorians, hundreds of cultures have shaped the history of Britain, and there’s a stack load of evidence to prove it. Visit any of the historic attractions of England, Scotland or Wales and you’ll uncover the country’s glorious, turbulent and often violent past.

Sure, most European countries have a long and interesting history, but wouldn’t you prefer to discover your own?

Towns and cities? That’s covered, too

Castle Combe, Cotswolds - Via Flickr

Castle Combe, Cotswolds – Via Flickr

There’s an annoying assumption among those visiting the UK from overseas that London’s the be-all-and-end-all of this fair isle. How wrong they are. Yes, the capital’s a delightful place to visit for a day or two, but escape the M25 and there’s so much more to see. We’ve got an uncountable selection of top cities – Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, York, Chester – to name but a few. Then of course, there’s the towns and villages: Straford-Upon-Avon, with its ties to Shakespeare; Harrogate, with its charming storefronts; Haworth, which gave us the Bronte sisters; and Whitby, whose ancient cobbles hark back to yesteryear – need I say more?

Book a break in Britain in 2015

Brits do it best, so if you’re looking for an easy and affordable escape this summer, why not book a cottage break in the UK? There’s never been a better time to enjoy a home-away-from-home holiday, with thousands of self-catering holiday homes to choose from in coast and country destinations throughout Britain. Click here to view our complete range of British holiday accommodation.

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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.

Five Favourite British Beaches

Saturday, August 30th, 2014
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With 11,075 miles of coastline, it’s no wonder that we have a number of incredible beaches here in Britain. Whether you fancy a long walk, a lounge or to try your hand at water sports you are spoilt for choice on our fair isles. After our last blog post listing ten of the top beaches in the UK we turned to social media and asked you to tell us what your favourite beach was, and we weren’t short of responses! It’s true, us Brits love to be beside the seaside and below are five British beaches as chosen by our Facebook fans.

Woolacombe, North Devon

Devon Beach

Image from property 19669

Stretching for three miles, it is no wonder that this golden sanded beach in North Devon made it into our top five. Woolacombe village has a number of pubs, restaurants and places to stay so even when you’re not on the beach there is plenty to keep you entertained! Woolacombe beach is clean, has a high level of water quality, fantastic facilities and holds the accolades to prove it; including a gold award for best family resort, the Blue Flag award and Premier Seaside Beach award.

Llangennith Beach, Swansea

South Welsh Coast at Sunset

Image via Flickr

Llangennith Beach, located on the Gower Peninsula is great for water sports, families and is also dog-friendly. The beach is a short distance away from parking and refreshments, so is often almost isolated; so perfect for a day of relaxation or to get some serious surfing done!

Fistral Beach, Cornwall

Fistral Beach in Cornwall

Image from property reference 903500

One of the best surfing beaches in Europe is Fistral Beach, located in Newquay. This beach is one of the busiest in the country and for good reason; it has a number of places to eat, a state of the art lifeguard station and adequate car parking, which makes it ideal for families! As you would expect from one of Europe’s best surfing beaches, Fistral beach also offers keen surfers and amateurs alike the chance to ride the waves with equipment hire and lessons available.

Seaburn Beach (Whitburn North), Sunderland

Image from property reference 30438

Image from property reference 30438

The sandy Seaburn Beach is ideally located near the city of Sunderland, and is perfect for a family day out. Not only does the beach hold a Quality Coast Award but it also has a large choice of facilities and activities, so there is bound to be something for everyone to enjoy! Whether you fancy wind surfing, kayaking or just lazing about on the sand, you are spoilt for choice at Seaburn Beach.

Aberdour Silver Sands Beach, Fife Coast

Silver Sands Beach Fife

Image from property reference 911872

Silver Sands is not just a Blue Flag beach but has also been awarded the Green Coast Award and is a popular choice for families and water sports fanatics alike. There is a lot to do including fishing, canoeing, sailing and surfing. If you’d prefer to keep your feet on dry land then never fear as Silver Sands is connected to the Fife Coastal Path which offers some stunning views and a very pleasant walk.

Book a British Beach Break

If this short list of some fantastic British beaches has got you dreaming of being beside the seaside, why not book a stay in one of our beach cottages? Have a browse on our website or give us a call on 01244 356695 where  our friendly advisers are on hand from 9am until 9.30pm daily to help you book your perfect self catering holiday!

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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.

Fit for a Queen: The Homes of Queen Victoria

Sunday, July 13th, 2014
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Today marks a rather prestigious day in the history of the British monarchy, as on this day in 1837, Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace, where she would live until her death in 1901. Victoria was the first British monarch to rule from the Palace, and after her marriage to Prince Albert in 1841, this palatial home became a place of entertainment, balls and official state business.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

But Buckingham Palace wasn’t the only regal residence where Queen Vic spent her time. In total, the royal family had three other, equally as magnificent stately homes throughout the UK, two of which are still in use by Elizabeth II today. Thankfully, all of Victoria’s previous abodes are now, to some degree, open to the public, and make a great place to visit this summer.

Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Tucked deep in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, Balmoral Castle must have been a welcome escape from the hum of London, a sentiment reinforced by the Queen herself who referred to Balmoral as a “dear paradise in the Highlands”. It’s believed there’s been a royal residence here since the 14th century, when King Robert II of Scotland erected a hunting lodge in the area. The grounds, and part of the castle itself, are open daily to the public from 10am to 5pm until July 31st, but after this, public access will be restricted due to Queen Elizabeth’s annual visit.

Windsor Castle, Berkshire

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Originally built as a key defensive structure in the years after the Norman Conquest of 1066, Windsor Castle became one of the royal family’s most magnificent and imposing abodes. Although Queen Victoria wasn’t particularly fond of the castle, it was her principal royal residence and a centre for diplomatic and state business. During the Queen’s reign, Windsor embodied the power and might of the British Empire, and still evokes a strong sense of national pride to this day. The castle is open to the public daily between 9.45am and 4.15pm, and it typically takes around 2-3 hours to see all aspects of the site.

Osborne House, Isle of Wight

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Comprising charming landscaped gardens, a private beach and fascinating Italian Renaissance style architecture, it’s little wonder Queen Victoria considered Osborne House to be her preferred holiday and weekend residence. She, her husband Albert and their 9 children spent many summer’s at Osborne, no doubt enjoying the island’s warm temperatures and segregation from the rest of the country. The house is open to the public daily from 10am to 6pm and features plenty of space to enjoy a picnic on a balmy summer’s day. If you’re interested in visiting Osborne whilst being perfectly placed for exploring the rest of the island, why not check out our cottages to rent near Osborne House.

Find accommodation that’s fit for a queen

Our cottages may not be linked to royalty, but many still offer a regal welcome that’ll have you feeling like a queen in no time. To browse our collection of luxury, historic or listed holiday cottages, visit our website today.

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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.

Sykes’ UK Film Locations – James Bond

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014
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You’re probably not aware that today marks the birthday of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond. Now this might seem a slightly strange thing for us to celebrate, but when you think about it, there aren’t many things more quintessentially British than 007; he’s right up there with red telephone boxes and orderly queuing. So to commemorate this day, we thought we’d try to find some of the most iconic British spots that feature throughout the series; take a look and see if you recognise them.

Glen Coe

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Now there’s no prizes for guessing this one, it was the most recent Bond film after all! That’s right, Glen Coe features as the dapper agent’s childhood home in Skyfall and provides some of the most stunning scenery from the whole of the series. What’s more, apparently this would not have come about had Fleming not been so enamoured with Sean Connery’s portrayal of the super spy in the early films, causing him to write in a Scottish back story.

Stoke Park

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

OK, this one is a bit more challenging. Remember that famous round of golf between Bond and his early nemesis Auric Goldfinger? Well it was filmed entirely at the beautiful Stoke Park Country Club in Buckinghamshire. This means that it was also the scene for one of the most iconic moments in the early Bond film, when Goldfinger’s trusty bodyguard, Oddjob, decapitates a statue with one throw of his razor edged bowler hat. In fact, Stoke Park also featured in one of the more recent films, Tomorrow Never Dies, when Pierce Brosnan’s Bond faces off with the assassin Dr Kaufman.

The Eden Project

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Again this is from one of the most recent Bond films, in fact Pierce Brosnan’s last outing as the suave secret agent, Die Another Day. Remember bad-guy billionaire Gustav Graves and his Icelandic Diamond Mine/Ice Palace? Did the interior remind you of anything? That’s right, filming for that section of the 2002 blockbuster took place inside Cornwall’s very own Eden Project. You might actually remember Halle Berry’s character, Jinx Johnson, rappelling down into the evil genius’ lair, well that was actually filmed on site in our very own Cornwall!

Hopefully you’ll have found this interesting but if you think we’ve missed out any important locations then do let us know on Twitter or Facebook. But in the meantime, why don’t you have a quick look at our collection of stylish cottages that would be enough to make even Bond himself feel at home!

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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.