Archive for March, 2013

Sunday Snapshots: Portknockie, Moray Firth

Sunday, March 31st, 2013
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With spring finally in the air, what better picture for today’s Sunday Snapshots than this delightful coastal scene from Portknockie, a seaside village on the Moray Firth. I can’t think of a better way to burn off the calories from all those delicious Easter eggs than with a walk along the Aberdeenshire Coastal Path. Stroll from Portknockie to Cullen, home of the famous Cullen Skink soup, and keep an eye out for the bottlenose dolphins which call the Moray Firth home.

Happy Easter from everyone at Sykes Cottages! We hope you have an enjoyable weekend with friends and family.

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Get Inspired to Visit Ireland with James Nesbitt

Friday, March 29th, 2013
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Have you ever dreamed about visiting Ireland but just not known where to start with the planning? Though the island may be relatively small as countries go, each Irish county has such unique attributes and interests it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed by what area to visit and what to see and do while you’re there. Well, a new ITV television programme presented by actor James Nesbitt may be just the thing to get the planning ball rolling and finally get you on the shores of the Emerald Isle.

The Irish Coast near Dingle, Ireland - Via. Flickr

The Irish Coast near Dingle, Ireland – Via. Flickr

James Nesbitt’s Ireland

“You come to Ireland for the scenery, you come for the culture, you come for the food and the drink, but the biggest draw of all has to be the craic. It’s a struggle to define, but it’s so good for the soul.” — James Nesbitt

Dingle Harbour

Dingle Harbour – Via. Flickr

In this eight part series James Nesbitt takes viewers on a tour of his native land, showing off all the best things that the country has to offer. From the staggering beauty of the landscape, the fascinating ancient history, delicious local food and drink, and culture that’s hard to rival, Ireland has something for everyone and Nesbitt is keen to show off all that he believes makes Ireland truly special.

Castle by the cliffs of Moher in Ireland

Castle by the cliffs of Moher in Ireland – Via. Flickr

This isn’t a show which simply revisits all of the tourist hot-spots of Ireland, Nesbitt takes us on a tour that only a local could, showing off the hidden nooks and crannies that are normally overlooked by guidebooks.

So, where does James Nesbitt, award winning actor of stage and screen, think are some of the best places in Ireland? Read on to learn more about some places that may have already been on your ‘must-see’ list, and maybe also discover some new ones to add.

Dolphins, Ice Cream and Beaches in the South West of Ireland

Dingle, Ireland

Colourful shop fronts in Dingle, Ireland – Via. Flickr

In the first few episodes of the series Nesbitt explores the South West of Ireland, from the natural beauty of the coast of the Dingle Peninsula, to the iconic Blarney Castle. The South West of Ireland  may be one of the best known areas of the country, with the magnificent Ring of Kerry attracting millions of tourists every year, and it’s easy to see why. This area of Ireland is absolutely beautiful, with sweeping vistas across the sea, delightful towns to explore, and some of the tasty food that the earth can produce, there really is little to not love about the South West of Ireland.

The best of South West Ireland includes:

  • Meeting Funghi the dolphin in Dingle
  • Being blessed with the gift of the gab at Blarney Castle
  • Learning to surf in the chilly waters of Cork
  • Sample locally made ice cream in Dingle
  • Touring the Ring of Kerry
  • Going fly fishing in the Blackwater River in County Cork

Find the perfect holiday cottage from which to explore the South West of Ireland in either County Cork or County Kerry.

Later in the series James Nesbitt will head north up the coast of Ireland to learn more about delicious oysters in Galway, view the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher, meet an old-fashioned match maker in County Clare, and discover the magic of traditional music with professional Irish musicians.

This coming Monday, April 1st, sees the third episode of the series air, but worry not if you’ve missed the first two, you can catch up on Nesbitt’s Irish adventures on the ITV website. Tune in to ITV on Monday from 8-8:30pm GMT to follow James on his journey through the land of his childhood and be inspired to start planning your own trip to enchanting Ireland.

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Win a Cottage Holiday with Sykes Cottages!

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
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Sykes Cottages have teamed up with award winning author Carole Matthews and her new book
‘A Cottage by the Sea’, to offer readers a chance to win £750 towards their very own cottage holiday in the UK or Ireland. Just think, you could be enjoying a relaxing holiday by the sea later this year.

A Cottage by the Sea by Carole Matthews

A Cottage by the Sea by Carole Matthews

‘A Cottage by the Sea’ is the new book from bestselling author Carole Mathews, who has previously been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy RoNA for 2012 and inducted into the Reader Hall of Fame by the inaugural Festival of Romance. Carole’s twenty two novels are enjoyed by people all over the world and are published in over thirty countries. For more information and the latest news from Carole, visit, like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Beautiful Coastal Views

Beautiful Coastal Views

A Cottage by the Sea’ is a story about friendship, love, tears and laughter on one life-changing holiday.  The story follows Grace, Ella and Flick, who have been best friends forever. Through thick and thin, their late-night chats, shared heartaches and good times they have created a friendship that has stood the test of time. When Ella invites her friends to stay for a week in her cottage in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, Grace jumps at the chance to see her old friends. She also hopes that the change of scenery will help her reconnect with her distant husband. Then Flick arrives, accompanied by the handsome and charming Noah. This is going to be one week which will change all their lives forever…

Visit the Tesco Books Blog to enter this fantastic competition!

To celebrate the launch of ‘A Cottage by the Sea’, Sykes Cottages are offering you the chance to win £750 of Sykes Cottages Vouchers so that you can book your very own holiday cottage. For more information and how to enter, visit the Tesco books blog. Or, if you have been inspired to book your own holiday cottage by the sea, search for your perfect coastal cottage with Sykes Cottages.

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Sykes’ Spotlight on Anglesey

Monday, March 25th, 2013
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At just 276 square miles, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Isle of Anglesey which lies just off the tip of North Wales was simply an extension of the mainland. But, as soon as you cross the impressive Menai Bridge which links Anglesey to North Wales, you’ll truly feel like you’ve entered a new country. I was lucky enough to enjoy a cottage holiday on Anglesey last week and here is my pick of how to make the most of your time on this wonderful island.
Oh No!  Not Another Menai Bridge Photograph

Discover Beaumaris

Beaumaris is one of the most popular places on Anglesey and it’s no surprise given the wealth of attractions in easy walking distance of the car park.  The 1295 castle built by King Edward I dominates the town and combined with the castles of Harlech, Conwy and Caernarfon are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  A stroll down the recently restored Victorian pier gives great views across the Menai Straits to north Wales even when we visited on the coldest of days!  Imagine life as a nineteenth century prisoner in Beaumaris Gaol where you can descend into the darkness of the punishment cell.  Elsewhere in Beaumaris, there are a great range of eateries and shops selling traditional Welsh fare to keep everyone entertained.
Beaumaris Castle 01

Visit Newborough Forest

Newborough Forest has to be one of my favourite places on the island.  The forest is located in the far south west of Anglesey not too far from Aberffraw, home of the legendary scallop-shaped biscuits.  Colour-marked routes, suitable for bikes and buggies, wind through the forest of seemingly sky high Corsican pines over gentle sand dunes.  Once you emerge from the forest you’re presented with a huge expanse of golden sand and gently rolling waves.  Llanddwyn beach is completely unspoilt and boasts staggering views of Snowdonia even on a wintry day.  Nearby is the church of Dwynwen, the patron saint of lovers, who lived here in the fifth century.  If you’re looking to get away from it all on holiday, this is the place to do it.  Later in the year when the weather improves I can imagine spending hours sunbathing and paddling here and on the other Blue Flag beaches like Trearddur Bay that Anglesey has to offer.

Explore on two wheels

My favourite way to explore a new place is by bike; the feeling of the wind in your hair and the fantastic views just can’t be beaten.  Families and those new to cycling should try the Lôn Las Cefni for 13 miles of virtually flat tracks which connects the two national cycle routes which cross Anglesey.  For more experienced cyclists looking for a challenge, the 34 mile Copper Trail on the northern coast is ideal.  It’s best to start this circular route at Llynnon Mill or Llanerchymedd where you’ll find ample car parking.  The trail promises (and delivers) breathtaking coastal views and centuries of Anglesey history in just a few hours.  Discover the only remaining 17th century thatched cottage at the Swtan Heritage Museum in Church Bay and visit the only working windmill in Wales at Llynnon where you can purchase a bag of freshly ground flour, all from the comfort of your bike.  Explore the red and orange landscape of Amlwch and Parys Mountain, widely known as the Copper Kingdom as this area was one of the world’s most important mining centres in the 18th century.  More information about cycling on Anglesey can be found by clicking here.

From a coastal path with dramatic views at every turn to excellent family attractions, there’s even more on Anglesey for a fantastic holiday.  Why not take a look at our Anglesey and North Wales cottages or call our friendly holiday cottage advisors, until 9.30pm seven days a week to start planning your own holiday to beautiful Anglesey.

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Sunday Snapshots: Fistral Beach, Cornwall

Sunday, March 24th, 2013
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The UK may not be the most obvious of locations for surfing but recent decades have seen surfing become one of the most exciting water sports on English shores. Cornwall is undoubtedly the place to be for surfing in the UK, with more top surf beaches than you can shake a stick (or surf board) at. Here the Atlantic Ocean rolls onto golden beaches creating some of the best surfing conditions in Europe. So, slip on your wet suit, grab a board, and head to Cornwall to splash in the waves!

Surfing on Fistral Beach, Cornwall

Via. Flickr

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