Archive for February, 2013

Free half term activities

Monday, February 18th, 2013
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It doesn’t seem like two minutes ago that the children were going back to school after the Christmas holidays, but with most schools celebrating half term this week, we thought we’d give you some ideas for how to keep the kids entertained over the next few days. Best of all, they’re free or nearly free! So what are you waiting for, make the most of the half term holiday with one of these great activities.


Enjoy some family time this half term.

Enjoy some family time this half term.

Jorvik Viking Festival

York was once a Viking stronghold and every year the Viking Festival attracts as many as 40,000 tourists eager to take part in the festival.  There are many events which are completely free throughout the festival from storytelling at Coppergate Camp, historical arts and crafts and a strongman competition to enjoy.  For a small charge you can also take part in sword fighting, walking tours and musical workshops for an extra taste of life in Viking York.  The full festival programme is available here.
Jorvik Viking Festival 2012

Go Geocaching

If you’ve not heard of Geocaching before, it’s basically a huge and never-ending treasure hunt across the country.  All you need to take part is a GPS-enabled device, like a smartphone, which you use to navigate from cache to cache and a free membership which you can get at the official Geocaching website.  Discover hidden treasure and leave something for the next treasure hunters to find before you move on to the next clue.  If you’re spending half term in one of our holiday cottages, Geocaching is one of the best ways to explore a brand new area as well as getting the whole family out and about.
The Cache That Time Forgot

Go Green

With spring just around the corner, the February half term is a great time to get the kids interested in nature.  The Dorset Wildlife Trust are offering free Green Fayre and Nest Box Events where families can build their own bird box and have ago at free outdoor games and wildlife activities.  Located in Verwood, on the edge of the Ringwood Forest, it’s the perfect spot for a woodland walk or cycle afterwards.  For more information visit the Wildlife Trust website.
Colourful Bird Nesting Box

London’s Science Museum

If you’re planning a visit to the capital this half term, the range of exciting museums on offer are a great way to save a few pennies.  My personal favourite is the Science Museum in Kensington as it’s great for big kids of all ages.  From attempting keyhole surgery to mapping your family history and understanding how we feel pain, there’s more than enough to do to keep everyone entertained.  The museum is also home to special exhibitions documenting climate change and the history of music, well worth the small charge to enter.
Science museum poster
With half term just starting, now is the perfect time to book a few days away with the whole family.  We have great offers on cottages for February half term with some of our most popular cottages reducing their weekly rental by as much as 25%; what could be better?

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Sunday Snapshots: Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

Sunday, February 17th, 2013
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Today’s Sunday Snapshot comes from the National Trust property, Fountains Abbey, near Ripon in North Yorkshire. Pictures like this coupled with the milder temperatures really make me feel like spring is on its way! If you’re looking for inspiration for half term activities, why not stick on your wellies and spot some snowdrops on a woodland walk with the whole family. Check out the National Trust page for the best places to see snowdrops in full bloom across the UK.



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Adventure Activities In The UK

Friday, February 15th, 2013
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Adventure seekers watch out! The UK is a fantastic place for getting adventurous in the great outdoors. Whether it’s rolling down a hill in a giant inflatable ball, travelling downstream in a big rubber ring or descending downhill at speed, there are countless opportunities to raise your adrenaline levels and try something new. Here are some ideas to get you excited…

Zorbing in Dorset

Originally from New Zealand, this zorbing is now taking the UK by storm. So what actually is zorbing? Zorbing is basically rolling down a hill side in a giant inflatable ball. Choose from dry or wet zorbing and enjoy rolling and bouncing downhill. Fancy it? Visit for more information about zorbing at their centre in Dorset.

White water tubing in North Wales

White water rafting is old hat, white water tubing is the new thing! So what exactly is it? White water tubing is basically travelling down a river sitting in your very own rubber ring. You are provided with all of the safety equipment including a wet suit helmet and webbed gloves so that you can paddle down the river.  Visit for more information about white water tubing in the River Dee.

Mountain biking at Llandegla Forest

Mountain biking has taken the UK by storm in recent years with mountain biking centres springing up all over the UK. Coed Llandegla Forest in North Wales is one of such centres, a bike only zone with routes for all abilities from short family routes right up to the black route, with leg aching uphill sections and hair raising steep downhill descents. Plus you can indulge in a delicious burger or hot chocolate in their fantastic cafe to refuel at the end.

Go Ape all over the UK

Fancy swinging through the forest? Go Ape is a high ropes challenge of rope bridges, zip lines, rope swings and nets that is sure to get your heart racing! There are twenty eight Go Ape centres in the UK, including as far north as Aberdeen in Scotland, two in the Lake District and one in Devon. Visit for more information.

Fancy an adventurous holiday? Why make your next holiday in the UK one to really remember by getting active whilst you are away. We have holiday cottages that are perfectly positioned for thrill seekers! Search our website and plan your next white knuckle adventure now!

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Spotlight on New Sykes Cottages – Cumbria and the Lake District

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
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The Lake District is one of the top tourist destinations in the UK, and with good reason. The glistening lakes and soaring mountains combined to create some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, offering an oasis of calm in a busy world. Whether you are a person who fancies getting out and about in nature on your holiday, or if you are one who prefers to stick close to the creature comforts of home and hearth, there is the perfect holiday cottage on our website just waiting for you to discover.

Here are a few of our newer Lake District holiday cottages for you to consider – sit back and start planning an unforgettable spring holiday.

Sandbed – Ravenstonedale Near Kirkby Stephen – Cumbria & The Lake District

This outstanding, stone-built, semi-detached barn conversion is beautifully situated in the Rawthey Valley,only 3 miles from historic Ravenstonedale. Sandbed Cottage makes an ideal location for those wishing to get away from it all and enjoy the famous Howgill Fells and all of the other delights that Cumbria and the Lake District offer.


22 Thirlmere – White Cross Bay Near Troutbeck Bridge – Cumbria & The Lake District

22 Thirlmere is an immaculately presented detached lodge located on a superbly maintained park on the shores of Lake Windermere in the beautiful Lake District. This Lake District holiday park is the perfect holiday location for families, with plenty of space for picnics and lots of ducks to feed. The sunsets from this idyllic lakeside location are unspoilt and look out across the lake to the mountains beyond – can you think of a better way to spend your holiday evenings?

Fox Barn – Staveley Near Windermere – Cumbria & The Lake District

If you’re looking for Lake District accommodation located right in the heart of it all, look no further than Fox Barn, located in the charming Lakeland village of Staveley in the Lake District National Park. This 17th century ground floor cottage is nestled into the hillside on a quiet country lane opposite the weir, with the fells beckoning right from the doorstep, and is but a five minute riverside stroll from the centre of Staveley.

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Sykes’ Spotlight on Bournemouth

Monday, February 11th, 2013
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Following in the footsteps of Kim Kardashian, Arnold Schwarznegger and David Beckham, the Bournemouth Tourism Marketing Group have produced a hilarious spoof of the Visit California advert. Featuring famous local residents like football manager Harry Redknapp, Blur musician Alex James and comedienne Debra Stephenson, the advert attempts to challenge the misconception that Bournemouth is a retirement community, just like the Californian original.


If you haven’t seen the advert yet, here it is!



If you’re anything like me, you’ll be dreaming of a holiday in Bournemouth so here’s the Sykes’ guide to making the very best of this south coast gem.


Brilliant Bournemouth

Bournemouth may have a reputation as being the retirement destination of choice but with great shopping, beaches and attractions if I had days of free time to fill, Dorset would be top of my list.  With seven miles of golden sand, Bournemouth’s beach is a great choice for families with lifeguards 365 days a year, a pier packed with amusements and a land train to take you to pretty Boscombe.  The fabulous seaside tradition of hiring beach hut is said to have originated in Bournemouth so why not hire your very own hut while you’re on holiday?  Away from the beach, the area’s award-winning parks and gardens are the perfect spot for some quiet reflection while the city centre arcades are ideal for a spot of retail therapy.  As the sun sets, Bournemouth is the place to be with a fantastic year-round schedule of entertainment and events at the Pavilion Theatre and International Centre.  The bustling university town guarantees a great night-time vibe in the many bars and restaurants located in The Triangle.


Gorgeous Beaches

Dorset’s Jurassic coastline is a huge draw for those visiting the south coast with stunning beaches at Bournemouth, Poole and Swanage to name a few.  England’s first natural World Heritage Site stretches for almost 100 miles and offers keen geologists a glimpse of dramatic rock formations at Old Harry Rocks and Durdle Door.  The average California temperature may beat the warmest of Bournemouth days by almost 10 degrees but on a warm day you’ll find the beaches packed with sun worshippers.  Nearby Poole is a haven for watersports enthusiasts with windsurfers and sailors flocking to the harbour.  There’s plenty to keep you entertained at the beach aside from sunbathing; stroll or cycle along the prom from Bournemouth to Poole for wonderful coastal views and enjoy an ice cream at one of the beachside huts.

Durdle Door

Delicious Food

So Dorset may not be able to cater to those with a Californian macrobiotic diet, but the south coast does boast seriously good food.  Often overlooked in favour of foodie Cornwall, Dorset is well worth exploring from a culinary point of view.  The mantra ‘the local the better’ is evident in most of the region’s restaurants with Poole Bay sea bass, Portland crab and oysters regularly featuring on menus across Dorset.  While the cream tea may be more familiar further south, Dorset is no stranger to delicious clotted cream and it’s best enjoyed with the local apple cake.  With the wealth of great produce on offer, it’s little wonder that a growing number of celebrity chefs are queuing up to open restaurants in Dorset meaning you’ll be spoilt for choice when choosing where to eat.

Bridport 2011: Dorset-shur Apple cake was consumed

So what are you waiting for?  Why not view our great holiday cottages in Dorset and start planning your trip to Bournemouth today?

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