Archive for the ‘United Kingdom’ Category

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.

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!

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.

Britain or Abroad: How well do you really know the UK

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014
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Thought the only way to witness some wonderful views was to hop-foot it overseas? Think again! Recently, we ran a quiz christened ‘Britain or Abroad’, a fun test to see how well our readers know their Dorset from their Denmark, and the results were pretty surprising! A large majority of you mistook the UK’s views with those from overseas, proving once and for all that Britain’s panoramas can stand proudly beside some of the best views from around the globe. Want proof? Here’s an in depth look at some of the most surprising cases of mistaken identity that were revealed by our quiz, Britain or Abroad.

When asked where this was…

Take the Britain or Abroad Quiz by clicking here

Take the Britain or Abroad Quiz by clicking here

…39% of you thought it belonged abroad, when in fact, it’s Gwynedd in the Snowdonia National Park! As well as this, a significant number of people (34%) thought the Cairngorms in the Scottish Highlands were overseas- shame on you!

Another location that caused problems for our quizees was Durdle Door on Dorset’s magnificent Jurassic Coast, which around a third (34%) of you mistook for the Mediterranean. The same can be said of the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, which 26% of you thought was abroad; though admittedly, that one was a little harder!

And it’s not just Britain…

Denmark

Take the Britain or Abroad Quiz by clicking here

But it wasn’t just Blighty’s vistas being wrongly identified. Panoramas belonging to Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and the US were also misidentified as being British, with some 66% of people thinking that Hundested Harbour in Denmark was to be found on our shores.

And the geographical blunders didn’t stop there. A massive 59% of people believed Wyoming’s Lake Solitude to be British, whilst well over a third (43%) thought Kasteel Waardenburg in the Netherlands belonged in the UK.

So why the confusion? With the rapid expansion of our cities and the development of the digital age, it’s often all too easy to forget the sheer beauty that lies waiting to be discovered just a stone’s throw from your doorstep. With 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 15 National Parks and 1,000 smaller islands to its name, we think it’s about time that people rediscovered the true beauty of the United Kingdom before we lose touch of it altogether, so get out there and get exploring!

Yet to take on the Britain or Abroad challenge? Click here to have a go!

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.

Accessible Walks in The UK

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
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As great as cars are, sometimes there’s nothing better than putting on a pair of comfortable shoes and heading out into the great outdoors, particularly to a local wood or forest. Whether your chosen method of transport is walking, cycling or even horse riding we are spoilt in the UK for places to wander through for some fresh air. Unfortunately nothing can ruin a walking excursion like an unsafe pathway that is dangerous to cross, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the UKs best places to go for a walk where the paths are accessible and safe.

Plas Power Woods, Wrexham

Forest above Crafnant

Arguably one of the most popular woods in Wales with an estimated 27,000 visitors per year is the Plas Power Woods in Wrexham. Keep your eyes peeled when walking around this wood, as it boasts some magnificent scenery. If you go down to this wood on certain days, then you may very well be in for a big surprise as the wood sometimes plays host to a teddy bears picnic – making it perfect for a family day out!  Head back to your holiday cottage in North Wales to relax after your trip to Plas Power Woods.

The New Forest, Hampshire

New Forest, Near Fritham

The New Forest in Hampshire provides a variety of safe walking routes, perfectly accessible for dog walkers, cyclists and those with limited mobility. If you like to be prepared then you can print out information about these walks from The New Forest’s website before you go. The New Forest provides nature lovers with a variety of walkways, forest-led events and you can even attend a guided walk through the forest to discover more about the history, geology and wildlife that the forest is home to.  To extend your stay at The New Forest, and enjoy all that the surrounding area has to offer, take a look at our Hampshire holiday cottages.

The Strawberry Line, Somerset

The C&O Trail in Brunswick, MD
If safe and accessible paths are something you wish there was more of, then don’t worry as there has been campaigns created exactly for this. The Strawberry Line project, for example, was created to ensure that the disused railway between Clevedon and Cranmore in Somerset was converted into a network of safe pathways that were accessible to all, making it the perfect place to go for a walk on your Somerset cottage holiday.

If our choices of woodland walks to wander along has made you fancy pulling on your comfortable shoes and hitting the pathway, then why not take a look at our selection of holiday cottages perfect for walking holidays in the UK and book today!

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.

Sykes’ Spotlight on Bath

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
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With lots to do for families, couples or lone travellers alike Bath is a popular destination for a UK holiday. You can shop ‘til you drop, indulge in a spa day or take in some historical sights, making Bath the perfect destination for a holiday in the UK. Here are some of our favourite things to see and do on a trip to Bath…

Historical and Modern Spas

Roman Baths 1

No trip to Bath is complete without a trip to the Roman Baths. Just walking around the Bath is an experience itself, but pick up a free audio guide to fully immerse your-self in the experience and hear from historians how the baths would have been used in Roman times. Walk along the same floors that Romans would have walked upon whilst learning how the baths were built, how they would have looked and even the technology used when building.  Unfortunately – despite how tempting it might be – modern day visitors cannot take a dip into the Roman Bath but never fear as just a short walk away from the historic baths is the modern Thermae Bath Spa. This modern spa is host to Britain’s only naturally warm water, and visitors can experience relaxation as the Romans used to. As a bonus, the spa plays host to a rooftop pool that boasts magnificent views of Bath.

Sights of Bath

Pulteney Bridge

One of the things Bath is famous for is its striking architecture. Whilst much of the city is beautiful to look at, there are a few buildings that should be top of any Bath-tourists ‘to see’ list. The Royal Crescent is a must-see, designed by John Wood the younger and built between 1767 and 1775 it is home to thirty houses. House Number 1 is  used as a museum and is open to the public, whilst another is now used as the decadent Royal Crescent Hotel. Another must see is Pulteney Bridge which was built by Robert Adams in 1769. With the River Avon running underneath and the stunning architecture of the bridge itself, it’s not hard to see why this bridge is often considered one of the most romantic in the world.

Shopping

Bath Abbey

As with most major cities in the UK, Bath has a plethora of shopping opportunities. From independent shops to high street giants, chances are you’ll find what you want when shopping in Bath. For some inspiration, or just to get in the mood for a day of scouring the shops, those who are fashion conscious may enjoy a trip to the Fashion Museum. With an impressive number of fashion displays from the 16th century to the present day, a visit to this museum is sure to leave you inspired and ready to raid the rails!

If Bath is top of the list for your next UK holiday, why not have a look at our holiday cottages in Somerset and book today!

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.