Archive for January, 2013

Great British Recipes: Beef Wellington

Thursday, January 31st, 2013
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Beef Wellington has been a British dinner party classic for many years and one of the most delicious ways to serve a fillet of beef. But where does the name Beef Wellington come from and is it really as British as we think it is?

Some say it was thought up as the British answer to the French ‘filet de boeuf en croûte’. Other theories focus on the look of the pastry as it comes out of the oven and say it gets its name because it looks like a Wellington boot! The most popular  and perhaps most likely story is that Beef Wellington is was after the First Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley after the battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Beef Wellington

Wherever the dish comes from, Beef Wellington makes a superb meal for a special occasion or a treat whilst on holiday. It is also a fabulous dish to spoil your loved one with at Valentine’s Day! So why not give it a go this weekend?

Beef Wellington


25g butter

1 onion, finely chopped

150g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

100g smooth pate

750g fillet of beef

salt and black pepper

500g ready-made puff pastry

1 egg, beaten


  • Pre heat the oven to 200°C
  • In a large frying pan, melt the butter and add the onion. Soften for about five minutes before adding the mushrooms and cooking for a further five minutes. Stir in the garlic and parsley and season with a salt and pepper. Set aside to cool
  • On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry so that it is large enough to completely cover the beef
  • Stir the pate into the mushroom mix and put to one side
  • Spread the pate mixture onto the pastry and place the beef on top then brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg
  • Fold the pastry over the beef so that it is fully enclosed and the edges are well sealed
  • Place onto a baking sheet and brush with the rest of the beaten egg
  • Chill for ten minutes before baking for approximately forty minutes or until the pastry is golden brown
  • Leave to rest for ten minutes before serving with steamed vegetables. Simply spectacular!
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Spotlight on New Sykes Cottages – Pet Friendly Cottages

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
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All of the new cottages that we’re presenting to you today are happy to accept pets, making them the perfect accommodation if you just can’t stand leaving Fido behind when you go on a family holiday. We have many more pet-friendly holiday cottages available as well, all accepting anywhere from one to three dogs, and some even accepting other animals, like cats and rabbits. With so many options there is no reason to spend the extra money on kenneling, or face the stress of organizing someone to come and feed and walk your pets, they can come right along with you!

Samphire House – Mundesley Near North Walsham – Norfolk

Not all of our cottages are located out in the country, some are wonderfully located in small towns and hamlets, just like Samphire House, an Edwardian townhouse which is situated in the coastal village of Mundesley, Norfolk. Samphire House has been tastefully furnished to a high standard within and offers a blend of period features and modern conveniences. The central location makes it the perfect location for exploring the beautiful Norfolk coast, and with a number of sandy and pebble beaches within east reach you’ll always have a wonderful place to take your pet for a walk.

Stable Cottage – Lincombe Near Ilfracombe – Devon

Look no further than Stable Cottage in Devon if you’re looking for a relaxed family holiday in the beautiful English countryside. This converted stable cottage is furnished with modern decor and features everything a family could need, from a wonderfully comfortable sitting room, to a games room which features a pool table, table tennis, table football and darts. A mere 10 minutes walk away is the village pub, and you’re also within easy reach of sandy beaches and exhilarating coastal walks with stunning views towards Lundy Island – perfect for a family walk with Fido.

Keeper’s Cottage – Beachamwell Near Swaffham – Norfolk

Hidden within Norfolk’s tranquil rural countryside is the hamlet of Shingham, a picturesque rural village, and home to Keeper’s Cottage – a delightful country cottage. You’ll find the cottage well-equipped, with a cosy sitting room with a wood burning fire, as well as the perfect kitchen for a keen cook. Keeper’s Cottage is happy to accept two well-behaved dogs and has a large enough back garden to accommodate their needs.

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UK Days Out Without A Car

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
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If you don’t have a car or would prefer not to go everywhere by road it can be difficult to get out of town and into the Great British countryside. A car is by no means essential if you want to see some of the best of the UK, here are some ideas to get you started…

Walking in the Peak District


Conveniently situated on the Manchester to Sheffield railway line, there are some fantastic walks in the beautiful Peak District countryside that start and end the local train stations. One of the best walks takes you from the railway station in Edale, through Castleton Ridge, Mam Tor and ends at the train station in Hope where you can get catch a train back. The route is 8.5miles in total and there are plenty of opportunities to stop in a lovely country pub at the end of your walk.

142 Pacer - Edale

Fun at Delamere Forest


Delamere Forest

Delamere Forest is a story of two halves. On one hand it is a wonderful haven of calm and tranquilly and on the other, a centre of activities like mountain biking, horse riding and even a Go Ape high ropes challenge. And the best news? It has its very own train station on the popular Chester to Manchester line. The old station house has been converted into a lovely cafe and ice cream parlour making it a great place to stop for lunch or a quick snack.

Delamere Forest

Statues on Crosby Beach

Another Place

Crosby Beach in Merseyside is the home to Antony Gormley’s ‘‘Another Place’, one hundred cast-iron, life-size figures that stretch out along the beach and almost 1km into the sea. It really does have to be seen to be believed!

Antony Gormley @ Crosby Beach

‘Another Place’ is an easy walk from Blundellsands and Crosby railway station which is on the Liverpool to Southport line, with trains passing by every fifteen minutes. After your visit to Crosby, hop back on the train to nearby Formby – a beautiful beach and wildlife area. You might even spot a red squirrel while you’re there!

Iron man at sunset

No car? No problem!

Carrog Station

You may be surprised to hear that you don’t need a car to enjoy a holiday in one of our fantastic cottages. We have some fantastic cottages that are within easy reach of train stations or just a short taxi ride away. So what’s stopping you? Search for a fantastic cottage today!

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Happy 200th Birthday to Pride and Prejudice!

Monday, January 28th, 2013
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‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife’. So begins ‘Pride and Prejudice’, regularly voted the nation’s favourite book, which celebrates its 200th birthday today. Jane Austen’s most famous work was first published on 28th January 1813 and tells the story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy. Whether you’ve read the book from cover to cover and want to bring the characters to life or are simply looking for a holiday in some of the most picturesque places in the UK, why not find a holiday cottage with Sykes?

Pride and Prejudice

The Peak District

Austen said of Derbyshire that there was “no finer county in England” and it’s little surprise given the miles of unspoilt rolling countryside dotted with picturesque towns.  Chatsworth House is often referred to in the novel and is thought to have inspired Mr Darcy’s house, Pemberley.  Why not find a cottage nearby and recreate life in Regency England or visit Bakewell and Matlock Bath, also mentioned in the novel?  Who knows, maybe you’ll find your very own Mr Darcy while you’re on holiday!

Chatsworth House, Bakewell, Derbyshire


Hampshire should be high on the list for any Austen pilgrimage as this is where the author was born and died and the county also features in Pride and Prejudice.  The Jane Austen House Museum is in Chawton, where she spent her final years, and will celebrate the anniversary with writing workshops and dramatic re-enactments of key scenes from the novel.  True ‘Janeites’ will enjoy a tour through Hampshire from her birthplace in Steventon to her final resting place at Winchester Cathedral as well as other important places in her life.  Choose one of our lovely Hampshire cottages and enjoy exploring the New Forest and the south coast.


One of our lovely Hampshire cottages.

One of our lovely Hampshire cottages.



Austen moved to Bath in 1801 and lived there for five years and even set Northanger Abbey and Persuasion in the famous Georgian city.  Visit the West Country today and you’ll find the Jane Austen Centre which is holding plenty of celebrations in honour of the bicentenary.  Join in with the Readathon which takes place today or dress up in your finest and attend the Regency Ball in June.  The Centre itself is well worth a visit while you’re on holiday in Bath which is home to a permanent exhibition of her life in Bath as well as a Regency tearoom and costumed staff.  The Jane Austen festival held every September is hugely popular and a great excuse to don a corset and gown!

Jane Austen plaque

If this has got you thinking about a short break in the UK, why not visit our website or give us a call until 9.30pm, seven days a week and start planning your next holiday?

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Sunday Snapshots: Ayr, South West Scotland

Sunday, January 27th, 2013
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Proud Scots in Scotland and abroad celebrated Burns’ Night on January 25th. Robert Burns, the national poet, is held in high regard in Scotland with a night of bagpipe music, a traditional meal of cock-a-leekie soup, Haggis and a Clootie dumplings with renditions of his famous poems. Burns was born in Alloway just outside Ayr where this week’s snapshot comes from.

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