Archive for November, 2012

Holiday gift vouchers – the perfect present this Christmas

Friday, November 30th, 2012
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Have you started your Christmas Shopping yet? With exactly twenty five days to go until the big day many people are well under way with their Christmas gift buying. Others, myself included, are yet to brave the shops in pursuit of the perfect gifts for their nearest and dearest. But there is still time to grab a unique and unusual gift for your friends and family, a Christmas Gift Voucher from Sykes Cottages.

Imagine booking a stunning holiday cottage with your holiday gift voucher

Imagine booking a stunning holiday cottage with your holiday gift voucher

Why not give a Holiday Gift Voucher this Christmas?

If the thought of Christmas shopping, complete with queues, screaming children and packed out shops is putting you off then purchasing a holiday gift voucher from Sykes Cottages is the answer! From the comfort of your own home you can buy a really lovely present, all in one simple and quick phone call.

Rent a stunning holiday cottage with a gift voucher from Sykes Cottages

Rent a stunning holiday cottage with a gift voucher from Sykes Cottages

An ideal gift for the person who has everything!

Our gift vouchers make the perfect present for the person who has everything. Treating them to a Sykes Cottages gift voucher mean that you can help your loved one to book a fantastic holiday in the UK or Ireland. With more than 3500 holiday cottages to choose from they will be spoilt for choice, whether they want to use the vouchers for a romantic weekend for two or a family holiday. Maybe they have a favourite place in the UK that they like to return to time and time again or they have mentioned a place that they would love to visit. Giving them a holiday gift voucher for Christmas means that they can book the holiday of their dreams in 2013.

Relax in a holiday cottage from Sykes Cottages

Relax in a holiday cottage from Sykes Cottages

Our gift vouchers are sold in denominations of £25 and can be used for full or part payment of a holiday with Sykes Cottages. The recipient has two years to use the vouchers from the date of issue so they can treat themselves to a stunning in holiday during 2013 or even plan ahead for a wonderful trip in 2014.

Treat your loved ones with a holiday gift voucher

Treat your loved ones with a holiday gift voucher

If you would like to buy a holiday gift voucher from Sykes Cottages or would like any further information about our Gift Vouchers then give us a call or send us an email and we will be more than happy to help. Our gift vouchers can be purchased in one easy phone call and are posted out to you, ready to give to your loved one on Christmas Day. For a gift with a difference give a Sykes Cottages gift voucher this Christmas!

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Take a Winter Holiday in Wales – an unspolit gem

Thursday, November 29th, 2012
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If you are planning a winter holiday in the UK, Wales is probably not right at the top of your list. With a bit of a reputation for unpredictable weather, and somewhat out of the way for those travelling from the London area, one could be forgiven for not thinking of Wales as the perfect place for a winter getaway. If you are one of those who have been overlooking this tucked away little piece of the UK, you have been missing out! Wales is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt areas of the country, and with so much to see and do, even in the winter months, you’ll finish your holiday wondering why you have waited so long to discover all that this country in a country has to offer.

Explore the rugged beauty of Wales

Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Penycwm

Via. Flickr

Wales is one of the least populated areas of the UK, leaving lots of untouched wilderness to explore. Take to the Wales Coast Path to explore the majestic Welsh coastline, breathing in the fresh sea air and thinking about nothing but the beauty that is all around you. Wales is actually the first country in the world to provide a dedicated footpath along its entire coastline, which travels through 11 National Nature Reserves, as well as several dedicated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are few better ways to clear your mind than taking a long watch in the brisk weather, and there’s nowhere better to do that than in Wales. Browse Sykes’ selection of holiday cottages in Wales to find the perfect accommodation from which to explore the Welsh countryside.

Learn a traditional Welsh craft

Inigo Jones Slate Works

Via. Flickr

Wales is full of fascinating traditions, skills, and crafts and learning one for yourself is the perfect way to spend a chilly winter’s day.In Caernerfon, Gwynedd you can visit Inigo Jones Slate works, a local company that has been around since 1861. Slate has been quarried in Wales since Roman times, and by 1898 more than half a tonne of slate was produced in the country. The Inigo Jones Slate Works are keeping this tradition alive, offering visitors the opportunity to the secrets of Welsh slate. Here you can take a self-guided tour which includes a DVD presentation, MP3 audio commentary and exhibitions on geology, history, calligraphy and letter cutting. Have a go at calligraphy yourself, or try your own hand at engraving on a piece of slate to keep as a souvenir. If you’re travelling with children, there is a children’s quiz with a slate prize as well. If you turn out to not be a dab hand at engraving you can always visit the slate craft showroom at the find Welsh and Celtic gift items and a display of slate garden products. Inigo Jones Slate Works are open all year including weekends from 9am-5pm. Visit the website at

Take a bite out of Wales

Welsh Cakes

Via. Flickr

If there is one thing that you don’t want to miss out on when visiting Wales, it’s the food! From cheese to cider, and lamb to seafood – the opportunities to fill your belly are all but endless. Traditional Welsh food is hearty fare, of the ‘stick to your ribs’ variety, and after a long day spent outside in the fresh Welsh weather this is exactly what you’ll want. If you’re staying in your own holiday cottage you can head to one of the great farm shops found throughout the country to collect the ingredients to whip up your own Welsh delicacy. The Visit Wales website is a great place to find some traditional recipes like Welsh rarebit and Welsh cakes (my personal favourite)!

Do you still need convincing? Well here’s a little bit more. Wales is home to three National parks, three World Heritage sites, Britain’s smallest city (St. Davids), the smallest house in Great Britain (in Conwy), over 100 castles, and more sheep than you can shake a stick at. Considering it’s diminutive size, that’s an awful lot of claims to fame.

Add Wales to your next holiday wishlist, I’m sure you won’t regret it.

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Celebrate St Andrew’s Day in a Scottish cottage

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012
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Friday 30th November 2012. Another wintery Friday in November for most but those in Scotland or of Scottish descent will be donning their kilts to celebrate St Andrew’s Day. For the uninitiated, a traditional St Andrew’s Day celebrates the nation’s patron saint who was chosen for his strength and protection.  St Andrew’s cross or Saltire is today the national flag of Scotland and is part of the Union Jack.  People throughout the country indulge in lengthy celebrations of traditional food, dancing and music.  With big celebrations planned in Glasgow and Edinburgh, St Andrew’s Day is without a doubt a great time to visit Scotland!

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Choose a self-catering cottage in Scotland and cook up a traditional St Andrew’s Day meal in your well-equipped kitchen.  Start with Cullen Skink, a traditional smoked fish soup originating from the town of Cullen on the Moray Firth.  Choose a piece of Scottish beef or herrings for a nod to St Andrew’s fisherman roots and then end your meal with Crannachan or a Clootie dumpling with a dram or two of whisky!

Or if cooking such an elaborate meal seems like just too much effort when you’re on holiday, join one of the many local parties and celebrations in honour of the Scottish patron saint.  After you’ve eaten, a vigorous evening of Scottish dancing is in order with many ceilidhs being held throughout the country.  Choose a partner who looks like they know what to do and dance the night away!

Make the most of your time in Scotland and enjoy some of the UK’s finest scenery.  Walkers should head to Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands for a bracing walk or a more gentle stroll depending on your energy levels!  How better to spend a clear winter’s day than walking in the Scottish Highlands?  Film lovers may also recognise the scenery as Glencoe provided the backdrop to the most recent James Bond film, Skyfall.  Choose a cottage with a cosy log fire ideal for a lazy day inside or the perfect place to relax after a day’s walking.

For those after a dose of culture, where better to go on your St Andrew’s weekend than the city of St Andrews where the patron saint’s bones now rest.  Wander the medieval town and admire St Andrews Cathedral and climb St Rule’s Tower for wonderful views across the city and the surrounding Fife countryside.  There’s a week-long festival to celebrate the patron saint and where better to pay tribute than in the city which bears his name?  Sports fans will also not want to miss the chance to play a round at the famous St Andrews course, known as the home of golf.

If this has got you thinking about a last minute trip to Scotland, why not view cottages available this weekend?  All you need to do now is get packing!  Have a great time!

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A Local’s Guide to Bath

Friday, November 23rd, 2012
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As a newcomer to the North West, I often hanker after my old stomping ground of Bath.  This Roman City attracts tourists in their droves throughout the year but venture just a little bit off the beaten track and you’ll experience a different Bath; the Bath enjoyed by its locals every single day.

Now is the perfect time for a getaway to Bath when the late autumn sunshine somehow makes the city look even more beautiful.  Find a wonderful cottage in Somerset and explore the county at your leisure.  Cheer on Bath Rugby or enjoy a pint in a traditional pub or follow our guide for an insider guide to Bath.

Sydney Gardens

As soon as the sun makes an appearance, the vast majority of visitors to Bath make a beeline to the gardens just in front of the Royal Crescent.  Who can blame them; the architecture is simply stunning.  But, if you’re looking for a quieter spot to spread out your picnic rug, why not try Sydney Gardens.  Just a five minute stroll along Great Pulteney Street and you’re in the heart of 12 acres of lawns, trees and flower beds.  Wide pathways make this an ideal spot for an autumn stroll and the feeling that you’re miles away from the city.  The recently refurbished Holburne Museum on the outskirts of Sydney Gardens is well worth a visit if you fancy something to do.  Try their cafe for a lazy lunch with spectacular views over the Garden of Lights as the sun goes down.
Kennet & Avon Canal At Sydney Gardens, Bath


The Little Theatre

Hidden away behind the popular Thermae Spa, you’ll find one of Bath’s treasures; the Little Theatre.  Showing a range of films from blockbusters to foreign offerings with subtitles, enjoy a film in comfortable and intimate surroundings with a locally-sourced treat.  Much nicer than the nearby multiplex, the Little, as referred to by the locals, is the place to head for an afternoon of entertainment or if the skies cloud over.
popcorn and movie

Follow the Mayor’s Guides

Approaching Bath Abbey, you can’t fail to notice the hordes of tourist queuing to enter the Roman Baths Museum and the Pump Rooms.  Usually hidden behind security guards you’ll find a small plaque advertising guided walking tours run by the Mayor’s guides.  This free, two hour tour of Bath is well worth your time and you’ll leave with many new and interesting facts; for example, where does the expression ‘you can’t see the wood for the trees’ come from?  You’ll have to take the tour to find out! Even as a local, this is a must-do on my returns to Bath.
Mendips from Mark Moor, Somerset
Choosing a self-catering cottage for your trip to the West Country is the best way to explore Bath.  Eat wherever takes your fancy at one of the city’s many great bars and restaurants.  Once you’ve explored Bath, venture into the West Country and enjoy leisurely walks across the Mendips or a stroll along the beaches of Watchet and Brean.  Discover the region’s other historic cities like Wells or Glastonbury for an enjoyable cultural mini-break.  Start planning you next short break with Sykes and have a wonderful time in beautiful Bath.

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Get Inspired by the English Countryside

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012
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Oh, the great British countryside. It’s a thing of fairy tales and children’s stories, with it’s patchwork of farmers fields, lush green forests, and cuddly little animals inspiring artists and writers the world over. The brilliantly yellow daffodils of the Lake District served as the inspiration for Wordsworth most famous poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, while the countryside surrounding the Suffolk home of John Constable is today simple known as ‘Constable Country’, a testament to the love that the artist had for his home.

Though the landscapes may have changed since the times of Wordsworth and Constable, you are still sure to find some of this same inspiration when you spend time in the beautiful English countryside. So pack up your writing pad and pencil, and watercolour paints and easel and set about creating a masterpiece of your own.

Wander Lonely as a Cloud with Wordsworth


There is no end to the artists and writers who have loved and been inspired by the great British countryside, both in days gone by and today. Learn more about what made William Wordsworth fall in love with the Lake District with a visit to Dove Cottage, the place that Wordsworth called home from 1799-1808 and where he wrote some of his best known and best loved poems. Take a guided tour of the cottage and hear all about Wordsworth, his friends and family, and take part in the regular events held on site.

Step into a Constable Masterpiece

Constable Country

In the beautiful Dedham Vale you’ll find the town of Flatford, Suffolk which served as the site for some of John Constable’s most famous paintings. Constable called Bridge Cottage home during his younger years while his father was the owner of Flatford Mill. It was the countryside surrounding his home that inspired young Constable, using the local working landscape as inspiration for some of his most famous paintings, including ‘The Hay-Wain’, ‘Boat Building’ and ‘View on the River Stour’. Find yourself a quiet little country cottage to rent in this beautiful part of the UK and discover for yourself why John Constable was so enamoured of the area.

Walk in the Footsteps of Greatness with Dickens

English Country Path

Charles Dickens may be famous for his gritty portraits of Victorian urban life, but the man himself loved the outdoors, and often spent his days walking more than twenty miles through London and its suburbs, before taking to the countryside. Dickens was almost a compulsive walker, and barely a day went by that he didn’t take to the streets of London or the country lanes of Higham, Kent, home to the author’s country home. Dickens used his long walks as inspiration for his novels, recording things that he saw along the way to build his elaborate stories. Maybe you have a masterpiece inside you that is just waiting to be released by a long distance walk through the UK countryside.

Spend your next UK holiday enjoying all of the creative pursuits that you never have the time for during your busy schedule. Browse through our selection of country cottages to rent in the UK and find the perfect little creative haven for a holiday filled with writing, painting, and just generally being inspired by the beautiful country landscapes of the UK.

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