Archive for August, 2013

A Tipsy Tour of the UK

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
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Who doesn’t like a bit of a tipple now and again? A nice warming scotch on a cold winter’s night, a sharp cider on a sunny summer afternoon, or just a good ole’ fashion pint down the local pub. Here in the UK alcohol is part of the culture, it’s not just about getting a bit tipsy on Saturday night. In Shropshire real men drink bitter. In Scotland scotch whisky is king. And down Somerset way cider is a way of life.

The best way to learn about the history, culture and making of local tipples is straight from the horses mouth, so to speak. There are no shortage of local breweries and distilleries across the UK that offer guided tours of their working premises, most of which end with a cheeky sample. I can’t think of many better ways to spend an afternoon!

Going Native in Scotland

The Singleton Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Via. Flickr

There are few beverages that are more synonymous with their local region than Scotch whisky. Known in the Scotch language as Uisghe Beatha, The Water of Life, whisky has evolved over the past 500 years to become the world famous spirit that we have today. Making Scotch whisky is no walk in the park, it’s a highly technical and time consuming process that is now controlled by law – it can only be called Scotch whisky if it adheres to the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009.

To learn all you have ever wanted to know about the making and tasting of Scotch whisky then the Malt Whisky Trail is for you. On the whisky trail of Speyside, you’ll find more than half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries, each with its own warm welcome and an invitation to see, smell, taste and absorb the magic of whisky. If you visit in May and September you can take part in the Whisky festivals, where local distilleries, shops, pubs, bars, and villages welcome visitors with drams, special nosings, ceilidhs and other parties. Could there be a better way to experience Scotland?!

Cider I up, landlord!


Via. Flickr

Apple cider has a long history here in the UK. Apples were growing on this fair island long before the arrival of the Romans, and it is assumed that the Normans are in large part the ones to thank for the sharp and refreshing beverage we enjoy today. Over the centuries the process has been perfected, but it still adhere in large part to the same principles it always has – apples are selected, their juice pressed and collected, and then it is left to ferment into cider.

The southern counties of the UK are the heartland of cider, with Herefordshire and Somerset being two of the most renown. To get a proper feel for the passion of local cider makers, as well as the punch that the ‘real thing’ can pack, visit Ross Cider near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire. The apple and pear ciders that are made at Ross Cider feature 100% pure apple and pear juice, are pressed on the farm, and are made almost exclusively from their own homegrown fruit. Their cellar is open daily for tastings and sales from 2-6pm on weekdays, and 10-6pm on weekends. Pop in for a taste of what real cider should be.

Take Your Gin with a Twist of History in Plymouth

Plymouth Gin

Via. Flickr

While gin wasn’t invented in the UK, we have a Dutch physician to thank for that, it has well and truly been adopted by the English as their own. It was quite famously the favourite bevvy of the Queen Mother, and there are few drinks that are more refreshing than a G&T in the sun. This juniper flavoured spirit has evolved over the centuries from a herbal remedy to the most popular and widely distributed spirits range.

In Plymouth, Devon you can tour the Plymouth Gin Distillery and learn how gin has been since at the distillery since 1793. Plymouth Gin Distillery is the oldest working distillery in England and is housed in buildings which are protected as a national monument. Those with just simple interest in the gin making process can take a 40 minute tour of the distillery, which offers an overview of the history of the Distillery as well as an introduction to how Plymouth Gin is made. Those with a more serious interest can take the Gin Connoisseur’s Tour or the Master Distillers Private Tour and come away in the knowledge that they know more than anyone else they know about gin.

There are innumerable tours and tastings held along the length and breadth of Great Britain that offer insights into the history and culture of alcohol on the British Isles. Whether you are a hardcore enthusiast, or just someone with a passing interest, it’s a great way to spend a holiday afternoon.

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Great British Food: Blackberry and Apple Crumble

Monday, August 19th, 2013
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As part of our focus on Great British Food, this week we bring you a delicious recipe for blackberry and apple crumble. Serve this delicious family favourite with lashings of hot custard for the perfect warming dessert as we reach the start of autumn.

Blackberry Basket

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.


Blackberry Picking, Seamus Heaney


There’s something truly wonderful about going blackberry picking, the way that plucking the juicy purple berries from the bramble bush can instantly conjure images of childhood.  It’s a great way to introduce children to cooking and a free activity which can be enjoyed across the country.  Blackberries are in season for the next six weeks or so-legend has it that by Michaelmas, the Devil spits on them and they become inedible-although in reality it’s probably something to do with the worsening weather!  Why not treat yourselves to a few days away this autumn and look forward to everything the season has to offer from crunching through fallen leaves to blackberry picking?  Simply visit our website to browse our extensive selection of holiday cottages today!

22-08-10 We Won't Stop Until Somebody Calls The Cops

Blackberry and Apple Crumble

We’re using this recipe from The Telegraph but feel free to tweak the topping by adding some cinnamon or chopped nuts. Delicious!



750g blackberries, rinsed in cold water and drained
750g Discovery or other dessert apples, peeled, cored and sliced
4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp butter

For the crumble
120g unsalted butter
180g plain white flour
60g medium oatmeal
120g caster sugar



Put the fruit, sugar, two tablespoons of water and the butter in a pan and place over a medium heat. Cook until the apples soften and lose their sharpness and become stained with the blackberry juice. Remove from the heat and put in a shallow ovenproof dish, about 25 x 20cm. It does not matter if they are not fully cooked as they will cook further under the crumble.

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. To make the crumble, rub the butter into the flour and oatmeal until you have a breadcrumb consistency. Stir in the sugar and sprinkle the mixture all over the fruit in the dish. Bake for about 30 minutes until the crumble is golden and crisp. Serve hot with double cream, ice cream or custard.


Blackberry/Apple Crumble

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Sunday Snapshots: Herefordshire Countryside

Sunday, August 18th, 2013
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Imagine waking up to views like this every morning? We’re sure you’ll agree that this shot of the Herefordshire countryside, taken not far from the Welsh border, is simply breathtaking. It’s images like this that remind me of the numerous reasons why holidays in the UK are so popular. We have cottages located throughout the stunning Herefodshire countryside all boasting excellent walking and within easy reach of the charming market towns of Hereford and Hay-on-Wye; what more could you want?

Skyscape near White Cottage, Herefordshire (wide)

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Book Your Last Minute Bank Holiday Today!

Friday, August 16th, 2013
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No one likes to think about it, but sadly the summer is coming to and end. The nights have begun to cool and cravings for warming comfort food are setting in. Children in Scotland have already headed back to school for goodness sake, so there really is no getting away from it, summer 2013 is coming to a close.

late summer beach

There is still time to squeeze a last little bit of fun and sun out of the summer though with the final bank holiday of the season coming up from 24-26th of August. That means that starting today you can book a last minute break for the long weekend starting today for cottages with a Friday changeover day, and tomorrow for those with a Saturday changeover.

Booking a Last Minute Holiday

Never booked a last minute break before? There’s nothing to it. Just browse our selection of last minute holiday cottages, make your selection, and either call our friendly reservations team to secure the booking via our website. You’ll have to make the full payment at the time of booking, but once that is all settled you can start planning your end of summer getaway!

So what are you waiting for? Get browsing the cottages today for next weekend’s last minute getaway! The early bird catches the worm so the earlier you make the decision the greater selection of cottages you’ll have.

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Planning a hen or stag do in the UK

Thursday, August 15th, 2013
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In the run up to the big day, it seems like the current fashion is to gather up your mates and head off to an exotic destination for hen or stag weekend to remember. But, let’s face it, it’s much easier and cheaper to choose somewhere in the UK to celebrate the bride or groom’s final days of freedom. As someone who’s enjoyed three UK hen dos this year alone, I can safely say that staying closer to home doesn’t mean compromising on fun! Here are a few must dos if you’ve been charged with planning a hen or stag do…



Action-packed breaks in Devon

A hen or stag do is the perfect opportunity to try out activities to get your adrenaline levels racing.  You’ll go home with great photos, even better memories and some funny stories to tell, especially if you throw in some fancy dress too!  Head to the north Devon coast for the perfect combination of adrenaline activities, chilled atmosphere and stunning scenery.  The Ultimate Adventure Centre offer a great selection of activities ideal for hen and stag dos from surfing to an ultimate assault course (think BBC’s Total Wipeout) and high ropes course.  They can even organise a tailored package for you!  After a day of adventure, why not head back to your holiday cottage and relax with a BBQ and a few drinks, ‘Mr and Mrs’ style games and novelty straws entirely optional!

bantham surf 19-6-07

Golfing in Scotland

If the groom-to-be would rather spend his time on a green than discussing the impending nuptials, why not plan a golfing stag do?  With so many great courses throughout the UK, choosing where to plan your weekend away is the only tricky decision to make.  For a once in a lifetime experience, head to the home of golf at St Andrews in Scotland where booking a round as a guest is surprisingly easy.  After you’ve played a few rounds, the university town of St Andrews will not disappoint when it comes to nightlife; if it’s good enough for the future King…!  Choosing a holiday cottage for a golfing break means getting up for an early tee time is no problem as well as having plenty of space to store your clubs.  Why not take a look at our selection of holiday cottages near golf courses

The birthplace of golf

Pampering in York

There’s no doubt that weddings are stressful, so how about a weekend of pampering in the run up to the big day?  There’s nowhere better for a spot of pre-wedding indulgence than the home of chocolate, York?  While other northern cities made their fortunes in cotton and steel, York ventured into the world of deliciousness with a tradition which has continued to the modern day.  Take the chocolate tour which winds through the historic city centre and offers plenty of tasters along the way!  Retail therapy is another highlight of this charming city with a great mix of high street favourites and independent boutiques.  Make sure to visit The Shambles, voted the most picturesque street in Britain, and admire the 14th century buildings overhanging the street once used by butchers to display their wares but today a bustling collection of eateries.  Don’t miss afternoon tea at Bettys, a tea room so popular that it’s not uncommon to see queues forming!  Order a glass of fizz to make tea extra special!

Afternoon Tea

We know that finding accommodation for a hen or stag party can often be tricky which is why we have a selection of cottages willing to take these kinds of groups.  Why not take a look at our large properties; we’ll be happy to call the owner to see whether they are willing to accept your group!  Just give us a call on 01244 356695 or let us call you!

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