Archive for August, 2013

Thrills, Spills and Cookery Skills on a Sykes Cottage Holiday

Friday, August 30th, 2013
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Have you ever been on a holiday and ended up a bit bored after a couple of days? All of that relaxing and spending time with the family can seem like a good idea in theory, but in practice it can get a little tiresome after a while. Monotanous is not what you want your holiday to be so you need to find something with which to occupy yourself.

Learning a new skill, or brushing up on an old one, may be just the ticket to breaking out of the holiday humdrum. Across the country there are local schools and courses that are perfect for the holidaymaker. Fancy learning a bit about charcuterie? How about how to bake the perfect Yorkshire pudding? Maybe a bit of basket making would help you break out of your boredom? Sign yourself up and get more out of your next UK holiday.

Kate’s Country School, Abergavenny

Sheep Husbandry Course at Kate’s Country School

Have you ever harboured a secret fantasy to someday own and run your own smallholding, with little chickens running around the lawn and the sound of sheep baa-ing floating softly on the breeze? If you are one of the thousands who dream of getting back to the land then the courses at Kate’s Country School in Abergavenny will be right up your street. With one day courses on everything from lambing to cider making you’ll quickly become a dab hand at all things country.

River Cottage, Axminster

River Cottage HQ

River Cottage HQ Via. Flickr

If you have even a passing interest in local and seasonal cooking then the chances are pretty good that you have heard of River Cottage. This country enterprise has grown from one family fleeing the big city rat-race and setting up a small holding in rural Dorset in 1997, to today’s eco and ethically conscious food haven that draws gastro-pilgrims from around the world. The cookery courses at River Cottage HQ range from day long interest courses in topics such as wild food foraging, butchery and bread making, to longer two and four day courses that take you ever deeper into the River Cottage ethos. You’ll want to sign-up for your course well in advance though because places go quickly!

Humble By Nature, Wye Valley


Cider making at Humble By Nature

Looking for something to keep both you and the kids occupied while on holiday? Well, Humble By Nature has you covered on all fronts. With a great selection of courses designed just for the young ones, as well as adult courses on food, animals and rural skills, there is something to keep the whole family entertained. Leave for your holiday a city slicker and come back as a qualified bee-keeper – not everyone can claim that of their holiday!

The School of Artisan Food, Sherwood Forest

Cyrille Gives a Roulade Masterclass

Roulade Masterclass at the School of Artisan Food. Via. Flickr

There’s more to the Sherwood Forest than just men in green tights, and the School of Artisan Food is good proof of that. Here it’s all about food, glorious food, with the widest range of cooking courses that you’re likely to find in the country, and as if the amazing courses weren’t enough, they are also a registered charity and not-for-profit institution that is committed to providing the widest possible access to its facilities. The only guilt that comes from taking a course here is from the copious amount of calories that you’re likely to devour! Bread, cake, cheese, meat, chocolate and cider, oh my!

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Where to experience autumn, this autumn

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
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As we speedily approach the end of August, it isn’t just the temperature that’s dropping. En-route to Sykes Cottages HQ this morning, a little puffy-eyed, I notice that the leaves are beginning to turn orange, crinkle and fall, clear evidence, I conclude, that autumn is a-knocking. And this gets me thinking: Where‘s the best place in the UK to see the loveliest leaves?

You see, I love autumn leaves. They transform the most humdrum street or garden into an autumnal wonderland, plus, kicking through a vast mound of them is always quite good sport. Thus, I’ve come up with a shortlist of my Top 3 autumn holiday destinations where you’ll find millions of them, and included a few reasons why each would be the ideal base from which to enjoy a cosy, leafy cottage holiday this autumn. What’s more, here at Sykes Cottages, we’re currently holding our splendid autumn sale, with up to 20% off selected cottages on weeks between 30th August and 26th October 2013. Read on to find out where to experience the best bits of this most underrated of seasons!


New Forest National Park, Hampshire, England

The New Forest National Park is one of the UK’s largest forested areas. That means a lot of leaves. It also means a wonderfully tranquil autumn holiday destination boasting an array of invigorating outdoor activities such as cycling, walking and horse riding, but we’ll forget about those for the time being, we’re all about the foliage. The park plays host to a mind-boggling multitude of habitats including ancient pasture woodland, coniferous plantations and wet, dry and boggy heathland, all of which are given an enchanting burnt orange hue when autumn comes around. So if you’d like to experience the true beauty of the coming season, a holiday cottage near the New Forest may be the ideal place to do so. We’ve a number of cottages nearby such as the Merrie Thought Cottage and Swift Cottage, offering you a welcoming home-from-home when you tire of sightseeing in the golden, autumnal surroundings.


The Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

Autumn in The Forest of Dean
The Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley is a paradise for walkers, cyclists and canoeists, who gather below the forest’s leafy canopy year in, year out to enjoy the delights of this glorious woodland. And what better time to plan your trip to the Forest of Dean than in the autumn, when the Sweet Chestnut, Oak and Beech trees litter the forest floor with their beautiful russet-gold leaves. Experience it for yourself this autumn with one of our nearby self-catering cottages such as the Wye Valley Cottage in Symonds Yat, which offers a beautiful location just 200 yards from the banks of the River Wye. Or, take a look at the illustrious Ingleside Cottage, a characterful house in the charming hamlet of Adsett on the cusp of this beautiful and sprawling forest.


Grizedale Forest, Lake District

The Lake District
Grizedale Forest in the Lake District may just be the perfect place to enjoy a soothing holiday this coming autumn. Nestled in the heart of the Lake District, this tranquil woodland is sure to impress with its delicate mosaic of autumnal hues. What’s more, it’s easily accessible from the popular heritage towns of Coniston and Windermere, where you’ll find a number of our delightful Lake District holiday cottages. The forest is a favoured day-trip destination for locals, who travel there to enjoy the stimulating walking trails of Bogle Crag and Grizedale Tarn, as well as woodland cycle routes such as the Hawkshead Moor Trail and  the Silurian Way. There’s culture in the forest too in the form of a myriad of inspiring sculptures, installed as part of the Forest Art Works scheme, which can be found scattered throughout the park, making Grizedale Forest a must for those longing to absorb some local culture and get away from it all this autumn on a well-earned seasonal cottage holiday.

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Making the most of the Bank Holiday weekend!

Monday, August 26th, 2013
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Today marks the final Bank Holiday before Christmas, which is a pretty good reason in my books to enjoy a long weekend. And, with weather forecasters predicting a return to the blazing temperatures of earlier in the year, there’s no excuse not to make the most the extra day off. You’ll find plenty of events organised up and down the country whether you’re on holiday or just looking for inspiration for a day out with the family. Meet Peter Rabbit at The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windermere, visit TreeFest at Wiltshire’s Westonbirt Arboretum or take part in the Seaside Carnival in Llanelli. Or, if you’re after a relaxing day, simply lace up your walking boots and enjoy the breathtaking beauty on offer in the UK, breathe in lungfuls of fresh sea air along the South West Coastal Path or explore the rolling green hills of North Wales. The choice is yours!

Talland Bay, Cornwall

carousel on the beach

westonbirt arboretum

Fear not, we have a very dedicated team of holiday cottage advisors here at Sykes so if you’re wanting to plan a last minute break or make a booking for next summer, there’ll be one of our advisors waiting to take your call until 9.30pm tonight.

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Sunday Snapshots: Herstmonceux Castle, Sussex

Sunday, August 25th, 2013
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The majestic Herstmonceaux Castle has been watching over the East Sussex countryside for over 600 years. The castle is the oldest significant brick buildings still standing in England and today serves as an international study centre, a wedding venue, and a beautiful place to explore on a sunny afternoon.

Since 1992 Herstmonceaux Castle has held England’s Medieval Festival, the largest and most magnificant celebration of the Middle Ages in Britain. This year the festival will be held on the 24th, 25th, and 26th of August, this coming weekend, from 10am-6pm, come rain or shine! There are activities and demonstrations held for the whole family throughout the day, but the highlight has to be the twice daily battles that feature 1000 Knights, Bowmen and Men-at-Arms and full cannon support! What a spectacle to behold!

Herstmonceux Castle

Via. Flickr

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Book now for Summer 2014

Friday, August 23rd, 2013
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There’s a chilly breeze blowing through Chester and from my window here at Sykes Cottages HQ, I can see the first signs of autumn as the leaves turn to rust and begin to cover the pavement. But, although this summer is coming to an end, it’s time to start thinking about your plans for next summer! Before we know it the schools will be breaking up, you’ll be digging out the buckets and spades and keeping your fingers crossed for sunshine!


Take a look at our popular holiday cottages

Believe it or not, we’ve already taken a large number of bookings for next summer and many of these are for our most popular holiday cottages.  Some of our cottages are pretty special boasting swimming pools, hot tubs and games rooms!  We have a number of unique cottages such as The Gaolhouse, the Shepherd’s Hut or even a Converted Railway Carriage to make your summer break a memorable.



Location, location, location!

As big fans of holidays in the UK and Ireland, we know that wherever you choose for your 2014 summer holiday you’re sure to have a brilliant time.  Thinking about where you want to spend your summer holidays is a big decision but with more than 4000 holiday cottages located throughout the UK and Ireland, you won’t go far wrong.  Perhaps you’ll want to return somewhere you’ve enjoyed fantastic holidays in the past (for me, that would be Dorset), or discover somewhere new and exciting.  You could recreate the traditional British summer holiday with a week on the Norfolk coast or follow in the footsteps of royalty with a summer holiday on the Isle of Wight.

Coverack Harbour, Coverack,Cornwall,UK

Don’t delay, book today!

Although the summer holidays are almost a year away, there’s no such thing as booking too early!  Start looking for your dream cottage by visiting our website where you’ll be able to search by location, size or cottage type.  We also have a very friendly and highly trained team of holiday cottage advisors in our Chester headquarters who man the phones until 9.30pm, seven days a week!  Give us a call on 01244 356695 or get us to call you, when it’s convenient.

English Scenery

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