Archive for September, 2010

Cottage Holidays In The Peak District: Buxton

Thursday, September 30th, 2010
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To see our self catering holiday cottages in Buxton, please click here.

Buxton is an elegant Georgian spa town established in the eighteenth century by the Dukes of Devonshire on the edge of the Peak District National Park. Intended as a genteel health resort to provide an antidote to the grime and disease of the mill towns and industry of the larger conurbations of the region, Buxton is imbued with a rich sense of history, some fine architecture and is enjoying an increasingly fashionable reputation. This is thanks in no small part to the renaissance of the town’s Opera House, built at the turn of the twentieth century and revived in every last sumptuous detail to its former glory following a recent refurbishment programme. Displaying exquisite gold leaf detail, the auditorium now once again plays host to a wide variety of musical and performance arts events, and together with the art gallery and museum, the Opera House has succeeded in establishing itself as one of the country’s leading festival venues. The Buxton Festival and the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festivals are opera festivals held that are held in the town each year, while the Buxton Festival Fringe is a thriving spin-off arts festival held each summer.

The town has much to offer the visitor, and a good place to start is by following the Heritage Tour that showcases the town’s spectacular architecture and provides a history of how it became to be the ‘cultural capital’ of the Peak District. The Romans recognised the importance of the town’s mineral waters, and the Spa enjoyed a heyday in the Edwardian era, when wealthy visitors flocked to take the waters. It is also ideally placed for the visitor to take to the hills and dales either on foot or two wheels. Many of the disused railway lines that criss-cross the region have been converted into marked trails, such as the Tissington Trail, which follows low-level former tracks through the Peak District countryside making them particularly good for cyclists who can tackle as much or as little as they please.

Pool’s Cavern and Grin Low Country Park lie just a mile or so from the centre of Buxton and are a must for visitors to the area. The stalactite and stalagmite-filled caves are two million year old caverns that have attracted visitors since Neolithic tribes first used the chambers for shelter; indeed legend has it that Mary of Queen of Scots visited during a trip to take Buxton’s waters whilst imprisoned in nearby Chatsworth House. Today children will love discovering the illuminated caves, working their way through the ‘Wonderground’ tour in the new exhibition centre and visiting the gift shop, restaurant and café. The country park surrounding the caves extends a trip, with the opportunity to play, picnic, orienteer and walk in the mature woodland which was once a sprawling limestone quarry. A ramble to the top of Grin Low will reveal Solomon’s Temple, a gritstone folly built in the eighteenth century which now provides a splendid vantage point above Buxton.

Close to Buxton, just outside the National Park boundary, is Lyme Hall and Park. The  Hall has become a place of pilgrimage for Jane Austen fans the world over, since it was used as the setting for Pemberley in the successful BBC adaptation of Austen’s famous novel, Pride and Prejudice. They flock to see the very spot where a dashing Mr Darcy threw himself into the lake to cool his ardour. The Hall, which legend has it is haunted by a ghost that roams its long gallery, is open for guided tours, whilst the seventeen acre Victorian gardens feature an orangery, a sunken garden, superb blooms and a spectacular avenue of lime trees which are over 300 years old. The surrounding parkland features an eighteenth century hunting tower and offers some lovely walks in both woodland and open moor land, with beautiful views over the Peak district and the Cheshire plain.

Also near Buxton, at Chapel-en-le-Frith, the Chestnut Centre is highly recommended for those with young children staying in a holiday cottage in the Peak District. A fascinating wildlife and conservation park set in a fifty acre estate on the slopes beneath the Kinder Scout plateau, children will love taking the nature trails and spotting various species of otter, a huge number of breeds of owl at the owl sanctuary together with deer, Scottish wild cats, foxes and birds. An enjoyable and educational day out, children can learn about habitats and the environment through a variety of interactive displays and activities. The Visitor Centre has a tearoom, picnic area and a souvenir shop.

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Cottage Holidays In Cornwall: St. Ives

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
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Clear blue waters, four golden sand beaches, fine food, galleries and art have made St. Ives one of the most popular of Cornwall’s seaside towns and a most rewarding location for a holiday cottage stay. From here, not only the delights of this picturesque seaside village but the wider attractions of the Penwith peninsula, on Cornwall’s west coast, open up to the visitor whatever the time of year. The town’s main street is thronged with holidaymakers in the summer season, but the relative mildness of the climate and the presence of the Gulf Stream combine to make this area a superb holiday location all year round.

St. Ives spreads out over the hillside, tumbling down to the coast where it offers four lovely sandy beaches. The centre is a maze of pretty narrow streets lined with fishermen’s cottages, picturesque nooks and crannies affording enticing glimpses of the sea in unexpected places. Restaurants, bars, craft shops and galleries all jostle for position along the main street leading up from the harbour. The local catch is landed daily on Smeaton’s Pier, in time-honoured fashion, ready to serve some of the freshest fish available at the region’s tables, all of which will delight in offering the visitor an irresistible ‘taste of the west’.

St. Ives enjoys a strong artistic heritage, with painters and sculptors attracted to the area since the early 1900’s, and one of its principal cultural attractions today is the Tate Modern St. Ives. More compact than it’s counterpart in the capital, the Tate St. Ives nonetheless houses an international-standard collection by over three hundred artists, including amongst many others Ben Nicholson, Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron – whose striking stained glass work dominates the exterior of the building – and Terry Frost. The superbly designed building stands high above Porthmeor beach, and offers sweeping views of the bay from its lovely rooftop café. Also under the auspices of Tate St. Ives comes the neighbouring Barbara Hepworth museum. The sculptress’ former studio at Trewyn has been converted into a gallery exhibiting her work, where the beautiful tranquil gardens are as much a feature as the gallery itself. Though they remain popular, these gardens are a lovely spot in which to escape the crowds in the height of the summer. There are many galleries, small and large, to be enjoyed in St. Ives, whose celebration of its artistic heritage culminates in the town’s annual Music and Arts Festival, which takes place during the middle two weeks of September each year.

The Wayside Folk Museum is the oldest private museum in the region, chronicling the life and times of the inhabitants of the St Ives and Zennor regions of Cornwall, with displays, reconstructions and snapshots of daily life in times past. Children will enjoy following the quiz trail and uncovering how their forbears fished, mined, worked the land and generally lived life. Children will also be well entertained during a trip to Paradise Park, near Hayle, billed as Cornwall’s top wildlife park, with a ‘Junglebarn’ indoor play centre for wet weather days which is ideal for younger children. The park is set around a Victorian walled garden and features a collection of rare and endangered tropical birds and plants, both of which thrive in the mild climate, as well as beautiful gardens.

To see our selection of self catering holiday cottages near St. Ives, please click here.

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What is 960 divided by 23 divided by 7?

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
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Are there some friends who you haven’t seen in a long time? Are there relatives or members of the family who you don’t spend enough time with? If there is, catch up with your friends and family in a different way!

By booking one of our large properties, you can get everyone together under one roof for a great value cottage break. No matter how big your family is or how many close friends you have, we have a cottage big enough to accommodate everyone. Our largest holiday cottage – Shepherds Villa (ref 1591) in The Lake District – can sleep 23 people in 9 bedrooms. And when you’re splitting the cost of a cottage getaway between 23 people, things can get very cheap, indeed. For example, a 7 night Winter break in Shepherds Villa is £960. Divide that by 23 (the number of people) and then divide it by 7 (the number of nights) and it works out at only £5.96 per person per night.

If you’re going away with friends, you could organise a Facebook Event to invite a carefully selected list of long-lost acquaintances. For the boys, you could book a cottage with a games room or a swimming pool. For the girls, you could get some serious pampering at a cottage with spa facilities.

For those who are thinking about getting a number of families together for a cottage getaway, call us for multiple cottages in the same location. This means that each family can enjoy an outing in the day and their own cottage/privacy in the evening.

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Cottage Spotlight: The Dairy (ref 4285) in Llandysul, South Wales

Thursday, September 16th, 2010
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This holiday cottage has been awarded our maximum rating (5 ticks) and it’s not hard to see why. Complete with a 50 inch flat screen TV, a four poster bed, a BBQ, 8-seater hot tubs, a gym and a sauna, The Dairy also boasts high quality garden furniture and panoramic views of green rolling countryside.

After reading this blog, pop in reference number 4285 in the top right hand corner of your screen and click on the ‘View Supersize Image’ tab under the photos of the cottage. You will then see a slide show of The Dairy’s immaculate furnishings, such as the breakfast bar in the kitchen and the charming exposed beams.  Image 12 of 12 is a great shot of the green rolling countryside I mentioned. If, like me, you spend 99% of your time surrounded by drab grey concrete, then imagine waking up each morning and opening the curtains to that view.

In the coming months, The Dairy offers fantastic value for money as well. A 3 night winter short break is only £359. This cottage sleeps 11 so split £359 by 11 and divide it by 3 (the number of nights) and it works out at just £10.88 per person per night. What kind of hotel could £10.88 a night buy you? Would it have a 50 inch big screen TV, a BBQ, a hot tub, a gym, a sauna and all the rest?

Tempted? As you choose 11 people who you might like to get away with, why not click here and take a closer look at The Dairy?

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Off Season Cottage Breaks – No Extra Charge For The Peace And Quiet!

Monday, September 13th, 2010
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It goes without saying that July and August is a busy time for the travel industry. With the kids off school and the summer sun shining, the majority of resorts and venues are fit to burst as the masses flock there. There are many who like the hustle ‘n’ bustle and the lively atmosphere of a popular tourist destination during the school holidays.

This said, there are many who would rather wait until the kids are back at school before booking themselves a little getaway. For example, a lot of people prefer to visit attractions and holiday hot spots in the off season when things are a little quieter (and a little cheaper!). Even I would begrudgingly admit that when lounging on a beach or by the pool with a good book, it’s hard to relax with little rascals running riot nearby, hitting you with a football and splashing you as they dive bomb into water!

If tranquil settings and an abundance of peace and quiet appeals to you, too, then why not take a look at some of the great value off season breaks in our recent newsletter? They start from only £148 for 7 nights.

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