Archive for the ‘United Kingdom’ Category

Sykes’ Filming Locations

Monday, February 8th, 2016
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Today on the Sykes Cottages blog, we’re taking a trip to Hollywood as we explore some of the biggest films, either just released or set to hit the screens in 2016. But it’s not just any random collection of blockbusters; instead they’re all films that showcase the UK at it’s finest, whether it’s through using the Gloucestershire countryside as the scene of alien planets or bringing a touch of magic to Merseyside. So if  you like to think of yourself as a bit of a film buff, why don’t you take a look and see what you think?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Where else is there to start than with the highest grossing film of all time? Yes that’s right, sections of the latest instalment in the ever popular Star Wars series were filmed in our very own Forest of Dean. Now Puzzlewood is no stranger to the limelight, having served as locations in both Doctor Who and the BBC’s Merlin, as well as inspiring both Tolkien and J.K Rowling’s famous works. However this is its biggest stage yet. This time round, the forest plays the role of the planet Takodana in one of the film’s most important sequences. As well as the Forest of Dean, you might be able to catch glimpses of Skellig Michael off the West Coast of Ireland and RAF Greenham Common.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Next up, we’ve got Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the latest foray into J.K Rowling’s world of Harry Potter. Based on the 2001 book written in aid of Comic Relief, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them follows the adventures of Newt Scamander around 70 years before Harry et al studied his books at Hogwarts. Nearly all of the filming took place in the Leavesden Studios, the site of the Harry Potter studio tour, however the film did see St George’s Hall in Liverpool transformed into a snow covered New York city for the visit of the renowned “Magizoologist” amongst plenty of others.

Dad’s Army

Of course we’ve got to include the reboot of the British institute that is Dad’s Army. The remake for the big screen follows the mishaps of everyone’s famous bungling Home Guard platoon and features an array of household names from Sir Michael Gambon to Bill Nighy and Cathering Zeta-Jones. It might be set in the fictional Walmington-on-Sea on the south coast but the filming actually took place in the delightful seaside settlement of Bridlington, as well as the nearby spots of Beverley and Flamborough.


And finally we’ve got the upcoming re-imagining of Roald Dahl’s famous novel, The BFG. The collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Disney will see snozzcumbers and frobscottles all-round north of the border, with some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery serving as the settings for Giant Country. From The Quiraing to Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye, as well as spots in the Outer Hebrides and Orkney, they’ll all be used as the home of the BFG and the other giants.

So there you go, a short highlights reel of the various starring roles that the UK is playing in some of the biggest films of the moment. I’m sure that you’ll get to see them at some point on the big screen but you could still visit them and experience it all in person! We’ve got a wide choice of cottages in Scotland, on the Yorkshire Coast and around the Forest of Dean that are perfect for a trip, so why don’t you have a look?

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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.

Sykes’ Spotlight on 2016

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016
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How the time flies eh? It might seem like only yesterday that we were ushering in 2015 with great excitement, and what a year it was for the UK! From new princesses to big birthdays for the W.I and, of course, the Rugby World Cup, we had it all – you can see the Sykes Cottages roundup of 2015 here – but what about the year ahead? Well we’ve picked out just a few of the things that we’re looking forward to over the next twelve months, why don’t you take a look and see what you think?

Famous Dates in 2016

Where else could we start but with Her Majesty’s birthday? That’s right, 2016 will see Queen Elizabeth II turn 90 years old amidst a whole host of celebrations, including a party at Windsor Castle featuring more than 1500 participants. But it doesn’t stop there for 2016, it will also be the 400th anniversary of the death of one of the nation’s most famous literary figures, William Shakespeare, not to mention landmark anniversaries of Roald Dahl’s, Beatrix Potter’s and Charlotte Bronte’s births. And for all of the history buffs out there, this year will also see the anniversaries of two of the country’s major historical events: The Great Fire of London and The Battle of Hastings, so keep your eyes peeled for the events being planned to celebrate these iconic moments!

2016 In Sport

I think it’s safe to say that 2016 promises to be a massive year in the world of sport with the undeniable highlight of the calendar being the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. It might seem only yesterday that Greg, Jessica and Mo inspired all of us on that amazing Super Saturday but they’re all ready to defend their medals come August, and who knows, maybe some up and coming stars such as Max Whitlock and Adam Peaty will be able join them in taking gold for Team GB. And then there’s of course Euro 2016 in Paris, where the home nations will be well represented with Wales, England , Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland all making their way across the channel to compete.

Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design

Or if you’re North of the Border, you might want to get involved in the Scottish Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. Aimed at celebrating the work of celebrated Scottish inventors, architects and designers, from John Logie Baird to Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Alexander Fleming to John Boyd Dunlop and of course, Alexander Graham Bell. 2016 will see a plethora of events taking place all around Scotland from the 2016 Festival of Architecture through to Hinterland, an amazing light and sound show in the ruins of St Peter’s Seminary.

So there you go, just some of the fantastic events that we’re looking forward to here at Sykes HQ! It was a struggle cutting the list down to fit it in to just the one post, so do let us know if we’ve missed anything out, but most importantly here’s to another great year!

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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.

Sykes’ Look Back at 2015

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015
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As the year comes to a close, many of us will be looking ahead to the New Year with high hopes and expectations. Here at Sykes Cottages however, we would like to take the opportunity to look back at 2015 and celebrate all the events that have made this year great. From the birth of Princesses Charlotte to Andy Murray’s unbelievable Davis Cup performance, join us as we remember some of 2015’s best moments.

The Women’s Institute Celebrated Its 100th Anniversary

This year saw the Women’s Institute celebrate its centenary with a packed schedule of events and celebrations. Even the Royal family, who have a long history with the organisation, joined in the celebrations by hosting a very special garden party for the WI members at Buckingham Palace.

A Princess Was Born

Princess Charlotte. Photo: Duchess of  Cambridge

Princess Charlotte. Photo: Duchess of Cambridge

On May 2nd of this year, the nation celebrated as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their beautiful baby girl, Princess Charlotte, into the world. Since her birth, the Princess and young Prince George have been making our hearts melt as they feature in family photos.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Reached Its 150th Anniversary

Lewis Carroll’s famous story, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, celebrated its 150 anniversary this year with special events held across the UK. Some of the year’s top Alice related events included Alice Day in Oxford, Wonderland Week at Homerton College and Llandudno’s Alice Day.

Britain Showcased Its Assets On The Big Screen

2015 was a fantastic year for films, with two of the year’s biggest hits being filmed right here in the UK.  James Bond made a tour of London in the film Spectre, visiting numerous locations within the city including Notting Hill, Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden, and Puzzlewood Forest makes an appearance in the highly anticipated Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens!

We Hosted The 2015 Rugby World Cup

2015 was another great year for sport here in the UK, and who could forget the excitement that came with hosting the 2015 Rugby World Cup? People from all across the world arrived to cheer on their team and although we didn’t get the result we were hoping for, it was a truly fantastic championship!

Queen Elizabeth II Became The Longest Serving Royal In 1,000 Years

This year the Queen added yet another milestone to her 63 year reign, as on September 9th she become the longest reigning British monarch in 1,000 years. Not one for a fuss, the Queen went about her business as normal by opening the new 3294m Scottish Borders Railway and taking a trip from Edinburgh to Tweedbank by steam train.

The Lake District Announced Intention To Be A World Heritage Site

In May of this year, the Lake District started its quest to gain World Heritage status. If the Lake District is successful in its bid, not only will it increase tourism to the area but their farming community will receive more recognition, the location’s profile will gain a massive international boost and the government will provide extra resources to protect the park.

We Watched The Last Episode Of Downton Abbey

On Christmas Day we bid an emotional farewell to Downton Abbey, a wonderful TV drama which has had the nation hooked for the last 5 years. The final episode provided us with love, loss, happiness and heartbreak, a mixture of emotions that has always kept us coming back for more!

It Was A Fantastic Year For British Artists

2015 was an amazing year for British artists with many famous Brits picking up a number of awards! We were especially proud of Eddie Redmayne who this year picked up the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, and Adele, who smashed the record books with the release of her album “25”.

Britain Won The Davis Cup For The First Time In Over 79 Years

All eyes were on Andy Murray this year as he battled it out with David Goffin to win Great Britain’s 10th Davis Cup title, a title we have been waiting on for 79 years! Murray finally led the team to victory by defeating Goffin in a spectacular match that’s not soon to be forgotten.

These are just 10 of the many highlights 2015 had to offer. What was your favourite moment of 2015? Make sure to share your memories with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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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.

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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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.

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.