Archive for November, 2010

Today’s Destination? Well, It’s Next To The Sea …

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
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Something of a misnomer, lying a mile or so inland from the coast, Wells-next-the Sea is nonetheless a delightful Norfolk holiday spot and an ideal base for a holiday cottage stay. In centuries past the town lay closer to the sea and as such was an important port, and it is still a working port today. A pretty, traditional town of narrow streets and historic buildings, whose population swells with summer visitors, the focal point is the town’s Quayside, where children can fish for crabs and adults while away lazy summer afternoons just watching the centuries-old practise of colourful fishing boats coming and going with their daily catch. From the Quay, the short journey down to the lovely wide, open, sandy, beach may be made by the steam trains that run on the miniature railway. Collect shells on the beach, or discover the pinewoods that back the long, flat sweep of coast and hide picturesque Abraham’s Bosom, a large boating lake and leisure area, where canoes and boats can be hired.

The ancient pilgrimage site of Walsingham lies just five miles from Wells; take the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway from the town for a visit to the shrine. The railway itself is the longest of its type and takes in some lovely countryside and pretty villages before arriving at the holy site dubbed ‘England’s Nazareth’. Also close to Wells is the superb Cley Marshes Nature Reserve which is acknowledged as one of the finest bird watching sites in the country, offering both stunning views and excellent observational facilities for enthusiasts and novices alike. Here you will see a wide variety of species at close hand in the reedbeds, wetlands and marshes that proliferate. Closer to Wells, Blakeney is another such reserve; a spit of land just fifteen minutes away from the town and from where you can head out by boat to view the famous colonies of grey and common seals to be found basking on nearby sandbanks.

If you would like to visit Wells-next-the Sea, this self catering holiday cottage is only a short drive away.

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Cheese Gromit? Try The Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival!

Monday, November 15th, 2010
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Standing at a ford in the river Stour, between Sherbourne and Blandford Forum, Sturminster Newton is a pleasant rural town with some good independent shops and lovely holiday cottages displaying traditional thatched roofs and bow windows. The town’s bridge, spanning the river, is of medieval origin and an impressive sight with its six seventeenth century arches. As with the surrounding rural towns, the primary economy here is agriculture and Monday is still an important market day in the town; the market is held by the eighteenth century market cross in the main square.

The town boasts two famous literary names of note; the poet William Barnes was born and educated here, while Thomas Hardy penned The Return of the Native during a couple of years spent here. There are several significant buildings to visit; the parish church dates from the fifteenth century, although much of what is visible today is much later in origin; the restored working water mill, now converted into a small museum an ancient castle are on the river’s south side, whilst quaint buildings from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are in evidence in some of the coaching inns and shops along the main streets.

The town has been hosting a very popular Cheese festival in recent years; indeed 2011 brings the 12th anniversary of this two-day event, which is held each September. More than fifty cheeses are available for tasting, together with a variety of other locally produced food and non-food products, from painted glass to jewellery to pottery. The festival is a family occasion, with music, falconry displays and a host of other entertainment. Equally, the town’s annual Carnival is a popular event; the current date for the 2011 event is August 20th. A variety of stalls, shows and traditional sports and games take place in this annual town festival.

If you would like to see Sturminster Newton for yourself, why not book one of our holiday cottages there?

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Time To Visit Warwick?

Friday, November 12th, 2010
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Warwick is a genteel town whose main draw for visitors is one of the country’s finest surviving mediaeval castles. If you’re staying at a Warwick holiday cottage, there is much to see and do. The castle is owned by Madame Tussauds and as such resembles something of a theme park, with special events, concerts and themed days taking place on a regular basis. Inside, the private apartments are filled with waxworks in a recreation of scenes from history. Don’t be surprised to bump into the Prince of Wales, or a young Churchill, as you walk around the Kingmaker exhibition, which showcases a mediaeval household in full swing, whilst there are Kingmaker feasts and Highwayman suppers to allow you taste the full experience. Don’t miss, too, the world’s largest siege machine, a unique reconstruction of a massive mediaeval Trebuchet, which is fired twice daily during the summer season.

Other popular Warwick attractions include the Collegiate Church of St. Mary, with its famous Beauchamp Tower, mediaeval tombs and the ducking stool in the crypt, once used to soak loose-tongued wives… For museums, the Warwickshire Museum is located in the market building dating back to the seventeenth century and has displays on archaeology and natural history, whilst St. John’s House is a lovely Jacobean manor house set in fine gardens, detailing life in Victorian times, and with a play area for young children. See also the Royal Warwickshire Regimental Museum. Other Military museums in town include the Queen’s Hussars and all the pageantry of Warwickshire Yeoman Museum.

The Lord Leycester Hospital is a beautiful former almshouse with lovely gardens, and fine architecture, including a guildhall and chapel dating from the fourteenth century. Just a stone’s throw from the castle, St. Nicholas Park is a good spot for those holidaying with children – there’s an extensive range of sports on offer here, such as a BMX track, boules rink and crazy golf as well as a summer paddling pool and pony rides, tennis courts, and traditional play areas. From pony rides to horse racing, Warwick Racecourse is close the to castle – check your dates and book early for flat racing or steeple chasing on an enjoyable day at the Races.

If you would like to see the above sights and attractions, why not take a look at our Warwick holiday cottages?

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What To Expect From A Cottage Holiday In St. Agnes

Thursday, November 11th, 2010
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A mile or so inland from the rugged section of coast that characterises this area of Cornwall, St. Agnes today shows little sign of its former life as a tin mining community. Nowadays, tourists rent holiday cottages there and flock to the beaches, to tread the coastal path or to follow the arts and crafts trail. The village itself has softened its harsh edge; pretty and flower-filled, attractive cottages meticulously kept connect the upper and lower sections of the town. Many also visit to take in the spectacular views from the town’s acclaimed vantage point, St. Agnes’ Beacon. From here, on a good day, the panorama extends across the peninsula to St. Michael’s Mount and inland as far as Bodmin Moor. From the Beacon a host of coastal path walks are available. Among the most popular is the route on to St. Agnes Head and the nearby beaches which flank this jut of land; Trevaunance Cove, with its fine sand and good surfing conditions, and Chapel Porth, all white sands and rock pools depending on tidal conditions, but with a renowned undertow and strong current. Some three miles or so along the coast, nearby Perranporth is another coastal village whose main draw is vast expanse of sandy beach, dotted with caves and natural rock archways, and a wide sweep of rollers that pull in the surfers.

Like many towns and villages in the region, St. Agnes has long since attracted artists and craftspeople, and a designated ‘arts and crafts trail’ has been established, beginning at St. Agnes Pottery and taking in a variety of galleries, studios and workshops, with creations as varied as weaving and watercolour, jewellery, pot making and much more. Away from the coast, the Blue Hills Tin Streams provides a connection with the town’s past, as the last remaining tin mining production centre in the region, and is open to enable visitors to experience at close quarters the mining, smelting and finishing processes for this highly sustainable local resource, now mainly used for jewellery. Homemade Cornish refreshments can be enjoyed in the museum’s garden café and are well worth sampling.

If you would like to experience St. Agnes for yourself, why not take a look at our self catering holiday cottages there?

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What To See And Do In Bideford (Part 2)

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
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For anyone staying in one of our Bideford holiday cottages, Hartland Abbey and Gardens (which is set in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) is another popular visitor attraction on the outskirts of Bideford. Ancestral family home of the Stucley family, who still live in the Abbey, the home and gardens date from the twelfth century and provide an old fashioned family day out. Children will enjoy roaming the paths in the woodland gardens, learning about vegetable growing in the Kitchen Garden and seeing the Black Welsh Mountain sheep, donkeys, pheasants, bantams, wild flowers and butterflies. The Abbey too is open for visitors and displays a huge collection of artwork, artefacts and architectural marvels, whilst the Atlantic coast can be gained from the grounds with a stunning ‘Walk to the sea’, a woodland walk, carpeted with bluebells in the Spring, leading to some spectacular coastal paths with panoramic sea views.

The Milky Way Adventure Theme Park provides award-winning family fun between Bideford and Clovelly, recognised as being one of the best family days out in the area. Children will enjoy the animal shows, bird of prey displays, adventure rides and roller coasters in the Space zone, Lost in Space maze, Pet’s Corner for under five’s and much more.

Docton Mill Gardens at Hartland provide a more sedate experience; these superb, award-winning flower gardens open from Spring to Autumn. A superb bog garden, river walk featuring dazzling displays of narcissi, bluebells and wild garlic, herbaceous borders, Magnolia Garden and Wildflower Garden are just some of the wonderful displays of blooms and flora on offer. The centre serves Devon cream teas as well as a variety of local produce.

The Tarka trail runs close to Bideford; a walking and cycling trail which loops some 180 miles through the beautiful and varied landscapes of North and Mid Devon, from the Atlantic coast through rural Devon to the slopes of Dartmoor, source of the river Taw. Sections coincide with the South West Coastal path route, whilst the stretch from Bideford to Torrington tracks a disused railway line, making it particularly suitable for amateur cyclists and walkers. Maps and circuits are widely available throughout the region, and holidaymakers can tackle as much or little as they please.

To read part one of our holiday cottages blog on Bideford, please click here.

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