Archive for April, 2013

Sunday Snapshots: Minehead, Somerset

Sunday, April 21st, 2013
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Who knew the North Somerset coastline was as gorgeous as this? I have to admit, as a born and bred Somerset girl, that this picture of staggering beauty came even as a surprise to me. The vibrant, heather-clad moors of the Exmoor National Park, the inspiration for this week’s Sunday Snapshot, are simply gorgeous not to mention an unbeatable spot for a walk. Numerous bridleways criss cross the National Park, where, if you’re lucky, you may well spot the largest herd of red deer in the UK. Now, when’s the next train back to Somerset?

If you, like me, have been inspired to visit North Somerset, why not take a look at our fantastic selection of holiday cottages?


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Book now for the Early May Bank Holiday Weekend!

Friday, April 19th, 2013
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With two long weekends coming up in May, there is no better excuse to book a weekend away! Bank Holidays are a fantastic time to take a break, without having to take too much time off work plus with summer weather on the way, taking a trip to a holiday cottage is a lovely way to spend the long weekend.

Take a break in the UK for the May Day Bank Holiday

Take a break in the UK for the May Day Bank Holiday

Choosing to holiday in the UK over the May Bank Holiday means that you can really make the most of the long weekend without having to waste your precious time off travelling to your destination or stuck in airports. When you book a holiday cottage in the UK you can be at your holiday home in no time, leaving more time for you to enjoy your May Bank Holiday weekend with your nearest and dearest.

Escape for a romantic break for the May Bank Holiday Weekend

Escape for a romantic break for the May Bank Holiday Weekend

Don’t spend your May Bank Holiday weekend painting, spring cleaning or slaving away doing DIY projects around the home; British Bank Holidays are there to be enjoyed! Traditionally, May Day is celebrated in towns and villages with fetes, fairs and festivals to mark the day all over the country, including events taking place in Padstow, Oxford and Hastings. In the capital city, many special events are taking place including a May Day procession from the London Docklands Museum on Monday 6th May.

Whether you want to take part in traditional May Day activities, like dancing round the Maypole and Morris dancing, or simply want to enjoy the extra time off work, with country walks, fresh air and the company of friends and family, renting a holiday cottage is a superb option. Plus with three night breaks over the Early May Bank Holiday weekend starting from £121, we are sure to have a holiday cottage to suit all tastes, budgets and holiday itineraries!

Searching for a holiday cottage during the month of May? Click here to view holiday cottages with availability during May 2013.

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Celebrating National Bread Week

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013
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Between April 16th and 22nd here is Britain we are celebrating National Bread Week – the perfect excuse to enjoy as much of this beloved British staple as possible!

National Bread Week has been celebrated during the month of April for the past twelve years and was originally set up to celebrate the ‘roll’ that bread plays in our daily diet. Bread really has gotten a bad rap over the last few years, with low-carb diets being all the rage and health concerns increasing regarding our over consumption of refined, white carbohydrates. With all this bad press, the humble loaf has been pushed aside, with far too many people still believing that this is the healthy decision.

The reality is that bread can be a healthy part of a balanced diet, and not only that, but it’s delicious to boot! There is nothing quite so comforting as warm toast slathered in butter, or thick slices of homemade bread dunked into soup. And where would Britain be without a sandwich? According to the British Sandwich Association Britain consumes nearly 11 billion sandwiches a year! That is an awful lot of bread!


via. Flickr

There’s more to bread than just toast and sandwiches though. The simple loaf is one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen, being used as everything from breadcrumbs to crisp up the top of a casserole, to adding unctuous body to a gooey and sweet summer pudding. One of my favourite ways to enjoy bread is in a delicious homemade bread pudding, and it’s also the perfect way to use up some slices that are a little past their prime.

Bread and Butter Pudding

bread & butter pudding

Bread and Butter Pudding Via. Flickr

Once you’ve mastered this simple recipe for a classic bread pudding you can start to personalize it and really make it your own. Try adding fresh berries or chocolate chips on top or sprinkle in some cinnamon for a real winter warmer.


8 slices of bread – stale bread actually works best.
30g unsalted butter
4 large eggs
600 ml milk
250 ml double cream
90g  caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sultanas
A touch of fresh nutmeg


  1. Begin by buttering each side of the slices of bread
  2. Remove the crusts from the bread if desired and cut the slices into quarter triangles
  3. Lay the triangles of bread slightly overlapping into a buttered heat proof dish.
  4. Sprinkling the sultanas on the bottom, middle and a few on top-slightly tucked under the bread to stop them burning.
  5. Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar and cream in a separate bowl before pouring over the layered bread.
  6. Make sure to push the bread down into the custard mixture and leave to soak for 20-30 minutes.
  7. Grate on a little fresh nutmeg or ground cinnamon if desired.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven gas 6/200*c/400*f for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the center is set but still soft.
  9. Serve generous portions while still warm, drizzled with extra custard or cream if desired.
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Celebrate St George’s Day

Monday, April 15th, 2013
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In just over a week’s time, it will be St George’s Day. Unlike our Celtic neighbours who take the celebration of their patron saints very seriously, the commemoration of the man who slayed a dragon to save a fair maiden largely goes under the radar. Here at Sykes Cottages, we’re proud of everything British so we’ve compiled a list of ways to celebrate St George next weekend. With the promise of warmer weather on the way this week, what could be better?
St George's Cross

Festival fun in Leicester

Head to Leicester on Saturday 20th April for a one-day festival of all things English.  The celebrations take place in the city’s Cultural Quarter and are a great day out for the whole family.  Start with a spot of maypole dancing, watch the traditional Morris dancers or take part in the folk ceilidh, suitable for those with two left feet!  If you’re taking the children, hunt hidden dragons across the city or dress up as knight or princess and take part in the festival parade.  The re-enactment of George slaying the dragon promises to be a real highlight!  The Visit Leicester website has all the information you need to plan your trip and is well worth a look before you go.  On St George’s Day itself, nearby Nottingham will commemorate the patron saint with a parade through the city led by George himself.  There’s also traditional music, food and drink to look forward to so you can really make a day of it.

Celebrations in the Capital

There’s plenty going on in the capital to mark St George’s Day this year so if you’re planning a few days in London you won’t be disappointed.  The Mayor of London is holding a feast on Saturday 20th in Trafalgar Square to mark the patron saint.  Visitors can look forward to samples of delicious food, cookery demonstrations and live music as this thirteenth century tradition is a brought up to date for the modern day.  Elsewhere in London, the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood is hosting a free event aimed at families.  There’ll be a brass band, Morris dancers and a selection of arts and crafts for children to have a go at.  Choose one of our holiday cottages within easy reach of London to enjoy a truly memorable few days away.

Feel patriotic

English Heritage is hosting a number of events across the weekend to commemorate the English patron saint.  From medieval jousting and a Victorian gymkhana at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire to medieval crafts, cookery and a horse show at Dover Castle, there will be something to keep the whole family entertained on your doorstep.  Various National Trust properties, like The Vyne in Basingstoke, are also holding special events this weekend with free entry for all of those who arrive dressed in their very best princess or knight of the realm costume.  We have holiday cottages across the country so wherever you’re planning to spend the St George’s Day weekend, we’re sure to have great holiday accommodation for you.
If this has inspired you to enjoy a few days away, take a look at our holiday cottages available this weekend and start planning a patriotic break; what’s stopping you?  We know we’re a few days early, but Happy St George’s Day from everyone at Sykes Cottages!

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Sunday Snapshots: Traditional Irish Music

Sunday, April 14th, 2013
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One experience that is not to be missed when visiting Ireland is a traditional music session down at the local pub. Here you won’t find prima donna musicians sitting up on a stage, showing off to the crowd, but immensely talented local musicians out to have a good time. Make sure to turn up to the pub early so that you can get a prime seat for the show, and then just relax with a pint in hand and enjoy the beauty of traditional Irish music.

Traditional Irish musicians playing at a 'session'

Traditional Irish musicians playing at a ‘session’. Via. Flickr

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