Archive for October, 2010

The Sykes’ Canterbury Tales! Part Two

Friday, October 22nd, 2010
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To read part one of this blog, please click here. Don’t forget, we currently have two holiday cottages near Canterbury: 1) The Old Dairy (ref. 3975) and 2) Dimity Cottage (ref 2349). If you would like to see some of the sights we mention in this two-part blog, why not take a look at these properties?

Part Two

Beyond Canterbury itself, there are plenty of great places for days out. The beaches at Herne Bay and Whitstable are within a short drive. Whitstable and neighbouring Tankerton have excellent sandy beaches; Tankerton’s is a Blue Flag beach. Whitstable, with its pretty harbour filled with gently bobbing fishing boats, is famous for its oysters, and there are plenty of places to try them, especially during the annual Oyster Festival, which provides a riot of  pomp, pageantry and family fun towards the end of July each year. There’s a vibrant arts scene here if you like a bit of culture, and also some good shops that lend themselves to browsing. Herne Bay too is a great coastal spot on your South of England cottage holiday for a spot of quintessentially British seaside fun. Brightly coloured beach huts dot the sand, against a backdrop of neatly planted gardens and the promenade, complete with traditional bandstand. For those holidaying with children, there are plenty of visitor attractions to keep little ones of all ages entertained. Discover the enchanting woodland trails and farm of Druidstone Park at Blean or take a themed boat trip courtesy of Baby Blast Marine at Herne Bay or Whitstable. Seal spotting, the Kentish flats and a Forts Tour are just some of the options on this boat trip with a purpose. Enjoy the natural world with a trip to the lakes, wetlands and woodlands of the Environmental Education Centre at Broad Oak, with pond dipping, bird hides and a comfortable Visitor Centre. For animals of the wilder variety, a trip to Howletts Wild Animal Park at Bekesbourne has gorillas, elephants and close encounters with tigers amongst ninety acres of Wildlife Park. Further afield, Richborough Castle near Sandwich has great views and Roman ruins, whilst Dover Castle, Museum and the White Cliffs Experience make for a rewarding day trip from Canterbury.

For the great outdoors, the Kent countryside offers some lovely walks and cycles. Inland, discover the deep country scattered with picturesque villages and hamlets and most English of English villages, or the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Cyclists can enjoy the relatively flat terrain on a marked ride linking Dover, Deal, Sandwich, Whitstable and Canterbury. The Crab and Winkle Way is a largely traffic-free route covering the seven or so miles between Canterbury and seaside Whitstable, passing through the ancient woodland of Blean Woods, making it a great ride or walk to do with the family, with plenty of suitable picnic stops en route. There are many varied bike rides and themed walking routes, such as the Saxon Shore Way or the Stour Valley Walk, available from the regional tourist offices.

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The Sykes’ Canterbury Tales! Part One

Thursday, October 21st, 2010
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If you’re wondering where to book your next holiday cottage, the cathedral city of Canterbury is filled with history and heritage, and enjoys an enviable location in the heart of the rolling Kent countryside. Its proximity to miles of splendid coastline and beaches, such as Herne Bay and Whitstable, the fertile, rolling hills and valley of the Kent countryside, dotted with ancient Oast Houses, and the sights, sounds and historic attractions of London just an hour or so away, makes the area an ideal choice for a South of England cottage holiday.

An ancient and historic city, Canterbury is rich in heritage visitor attractions and the jewel in the city’s sparkling crown is undoubtedly its magnificent cathedral. A site of pilgrimage since the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Becket, so vividly recounted in Chaucer’s famous Canterbury Tales, there are treasures enough here to easily consume a half-day’s visit. Guided tours are the best way to take in all the stories, tall tales and historical facts that have made the cathedral what it is today. See the ancient mediaeval crypt, the oldest in existence in the country, view the spot where Becket was murdered, climb the bell tower for panoramic views over the Kent countryside and marvel at the sheer beauty of the ancient, stained glass windows. Visit the vaulting cloisters and enjoy the abundant beauty of the cathedral’s Precinct Gardens, including a recreated herbarium, a tranquil space filled with plants grown for their healing and restorative properties. The cathedral is one of a trio of World Heritage Sites in the city; St. Martin’s Church and St. Augustine’s Abbey being the other two. The latter stands just beyond the city walls, an impressive ruin created as a final resting place for the Anglo-Saxon kings of Kent, whilst in the town there are a number of interesting museums. Of these, the Roman Museum is the most fascinating, constructed underground around the remains of a Roman villa. A large section of mosaic flooring discovered during site clearing after the destruction of the Second World War forms a centrepiece, but there are artefacts, reconstructions and recreations to give a real sense of how life would have been in ancient times. Other museums include the Canterbury Heritage Museum, the West Gate Towers Museum, in the ancient towers that have ushered visitors in and out of the city for over six centuries, and the Royal Museum and Art Gallery. A guided walk takes in the major sights of the town; visit by night and enjoy a popular Ghost Tour around the Old Town. A punt trip on the river Stour is a pleasant and relaxing way to experience the beauty of Canterbury, by day or in the evening.  Follow the city wall trail and take in the remains of Canterbury’s Norman Castle, before enjoying a little retail therapy in the varied shops of the old town. There’s everything from major high street stores to plenty of independent and specialist shops, together with a good choice of venues for eating and drinking.

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The Sykes Cottages Guide To Cowes On The Isle Of Wight

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
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As anyone who has ever stayed in one of our holiday cottages there will know, Cowes, at the northern tip of the Isle of Wight, is probably the most well known of the island’s towns, largely thanks to its important annual yachting festival – the prestigious “Cowes Week.” Taking place in late July/early August each year, this internationally important regatta draws crowds from around the world, and whether you’re a fully paid up member of the sailing fraternity or a confirmed landlubber, there is much to be enjoyed by everyone at this annual event. Yachting is key to the town, and there’s always a jaw-dropping collection of crafts to marvel at in the harbour.In town, trendy shops, boutiques, cafes and delicatessens, together with some excellent seafood restaurants, cater for the constant swell of offshore visitors. For those not arriving on their own yacht, then a regular high-speed ferry service links Cowes with Southampton on the mainland.

Aside from people watching, shopping and relaxing in town and around the harbour, there are a number of places to visit around Cowes. At East Cowes, linked to Cowes by way of an old-fashioned chain ferry, crowds flock to stunning Osborne House. Built in the mid nineteenth century, this beautiful mansion became the summer residence of Queen Victoria, who favoured holidaying on the island. It is now one of the Isle of Wight’s biggest attractions, and makes a great day out for all the family. In Cowes, visit the Maritime Museum, and nearby Isle of Wight Military Museum. Northwood Park is the place for a game or tennis or putting, overlooking the waters of the Solent, whilst the Isle of Wight Model Railway has something for children and railway enthusiasts alike. Nearby, the attractions of sister town, East Cowes, can be easily if unusually reached, by means of one of the few remaining chain ferry floating bridges in the country, which link the two towns across the river Medina.

To see our selection of self-catering holiday cottages in Cowes, please click here.

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Have You Ever Been To Hayle?

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
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Nestled on the opposite side of St. Ives bay, Hayle’s main attraction for those holidaying in a cottage in the area is as the access point for a number of superb beaches, the first of which is the wide, three-mile sweep of Hayle Sands. The estuary which heralds the start of this lovely family beach is recognised as a haven for many unusual species of bird which nest there, including various breeds of wader, avocets and osprey. Hayle Towans beach is relatively sheltered, offering a two-mile sweep of fine sand, while next along Gwithian is a stunning, open expanse of sandy beach, but less protected, and as such is popular with surfers who will find a reasonable swell. The Godrevy lighthouse is a local landmark standing out to sea off Godrevy Point, which marks the end of the Hayle beach area; on a fine day there are lovely views out across St Ives bay from here. Fine views also form part of any visit to Godolphin House & Gardens, at Helston, a short drive from Hayle. This ancient estate with a historic house and gardens is run by the National Trust, and is considered a site of significant archaeological importance for the unique features and mine ruins that have been unearthed here over the years.

Convinced? Why not take a look at our holiday cottages in Hayle?

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The Sykes Cottages Guide To Hereford

Friday, October 15th, 2010
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The Cathedral city of Hereford stands on the meandering river Wye; rent one of our Herefordshire holiday cottages in the surrounding countryside and explore all that this lively agricultural town has to offer, including the traditional Wednesday livestock market, sure to be something of an eye-opener for confirmed urbanites! Visit the Norman cathedral with its two unique mediaeval treasures housed in adjoining cloisters; the Mappa Mundi – a mediaeval map of the world dating from the thirteenth century – and the ancient Chained Library.

The town’s incongruous Old House is a veritable treasure trove of seventeenth century history; an ancient ‘black and white house’, beautifully preserved, and standing at the heart of the pedestrianised shopping centre. The town’s Museum and Art Gallery are also worth a visit, while Bishop’s Palace is one of the country’s oldest timber halls; inside you can almost touch the history in its ancient wooden beams. Enjoy a stroll along the riverbank, or take a guided tour of the city, before sampling the fresh, local produce with a bite to eat.

No visit to Hereford would be complete without sampling the town’s most famous export – cider. Learn the secrets of production over the centuries, then tickle your taste buds with a dram of apple aperitif, a sparkling perry or a drop of cider liqueur at the Cider Museum and King Offa Distillery. Just outside Hereford, those of a green-fingered disposition will appreciate quirky Shipley Gardens, a tranquil home for wildlife and insects, as well as some beautiful and rare plant species.

We have a good selection of self catering holiday cottages in the Hereford area – why not take a look at them?

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