Archive for September, 2013

What to do on the Northumberland Coast

Thursday, September 19th, 2013
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The Northumberland Coastline really is one of the treasures of this country. Sweeping beaches, dramatic seas and glorious views are just some of the reasons that led to the area being designated one of Outstanding Natural Beauty way back in 1958. Here at Sykes we feel that it is only fitting that the region gets the credit that it deserves, so we’ve decided to list some of the best things to do in the area, and with a wide selection of cosy cottages on the Northumberland coast what more could you ask for?

Take a Trip to Lindisfarne 

Lindisfarne Castle HDR

Via Flickr

A trip to Lindisfarne, or Holy Island as it’s also known, should be high on the agenda for any visitor to the North East coastline, mainly thanks to the picturesque castle and the presence of one of the most important religious sites in the country. Lindisfarne Priory is known throughout the world as the site of a notorious Viking raid back in 793 and also as the place of origin of the beautiful Lindisfarne gospels. However if history isn’t your thing there are plenty of other attractions on Holy Island with an abundance of local wildlife and numerous cafes and shops. Having said this a stop off at the Barn at Beal just over the causeway from the island comes highly recommended with a wide variety of home-baked cakes and treats, stunning panoramas from Goswick sands to Lindisfarne itself and all the way down to the magnificent Bamburgh castle, not to mention a children’s play park and a gift shop to keep every member of the family occupied.

Visit the town of Alnwick 

Alnwick Castle & Garden

Via Flickr

If you’re looking to take a trip slightly inland, then Alnwick is the place to go. This lovely market town is full of things to do and sights to see.  You can lose yourself in the magic of Alnwick Castle, one of the locations for the shooting of the Harry Potter films, or while away an afternoon in the beautiful castle gardens. There is also Barter Books, one of Europe’s largest second hand book shops. Opened in the town’s old railway station, this charming shop is the perfect place spot to enjoy a good book with your feet up in front of a roaring fire.

Explore the Coastline

Dunstanburgh Castle

Via Flickr

It may sound like the obvious option, but there is so much choice in this part of the world that it suddenly becomes a lot more complicated. The Northumberland Coast path runs all the way from Creswell up to Berwick-upon-Tweed offering some of the best coastal walks in England. However the stretch running between Craster and Newton-by-the-Sea is one of the more popular, and with views like above it comes as no surprise. The walk lets you take in the stunning vistas, including the glorious backdrop of Dunstanburgh Castle, and what’s more at the end you can enjoy a home-brewed pint and some locally produced Kippers at the Ship Inn. So what’s keeping you? Book your perfect Northumberland holiday with Sykes Cottages today!

Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

October Half Term Holidays- Start Planning Now!

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
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September is racing by and it seems like no sooner than have we packed our kids off to school with a new lunch box and pencil case, than October half term rolls around and we’re left wondering how on earth we’ll keep them entertained for a week. Here at Sykes Cottages, we have the answer.

October half term is the perfect opportunity to make the most of what’s left of the dwindling day light and pack your family off on a UK cottage break before the chill of winter really sets in. As it’s not peak holiday season, there are bargains to be had and a change of scenery is a great way to prevent hearing the dreaded “I’m bored!” In aid of this, we’ve put together a few of our top picks for fun-filled family days out this half term.

The Roald Dahl Museum, Buckinghamshire

Roald Dahl books

Via Flickr

Roald Dahl Day took place earlier this month and what better way to celebrate one of the UK’s best loved authors than to visit the museum commemorating his genius. The Roald Dahl Museum aims to inspire a love of stories and creative writing in all its visitors. There is whizzbanging fun to be had as you dive into the world of the author who penned James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr Fox and Matilda to name just a few. This is a family day out that will be just as magical for grown up fans of the books as it is for children.

 

Dinosaur Adventure, Norfolk

Dinosaur Adventure

Via Flickr

Dinosaur Adventure is located in the picturesque county of Norfolk and is a fantastic day out for all the family. With life-size dinosaurs and a mission to help the park ranger count how many T-rex are on his land, it succeeds in capturing the imagination of children and they’ll love using the lookout towers and radios to report their findings. Play a round of crazy golf in Jurassic Putt, unearth dinosaur fossils and get lost in the ‘Lost Maze’. There’s even the chance to meet donkeys, wallabies and creepy crawlies in the Victorian walled gardens. Children are given passports and throughout the day they must collect stamps from stations across the park. For their efforts, they will receive a medal to take home and treasure.

 

 Roundhay Park and Tropical World, Leeds

Roundhay Park

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One of Yorkshire’s most popular tourist attractions, Roundhay Park covers over 700 acres of woodland, lakes and gardens. With beautiful scenery and wide open spaces, this is the perfect place to take the kids to use up some of their excess energy. It’s completely free to visit Roundhay and facilities include tennis courts, children’s play area, sports arena and café. There are different themed gardens such as the National Plant Collection, Monet Garden and a scented garden specifically designed for the blind. Children will also love Tropical World which is the UK’s largest collection of tropical plants outside of Kew Gardens. There is a small admission charge for Tropical World but it’s more than worth it as visitors can enjoy an exciting array of exotic plants and animals including baby meerkats, morelet crocodiles, snakes, butterflies and tortoises.

If you’re looking to get away this half term, Sykes Cottages have over 4000 properties across the UK and a dedicated team of holiday cottage advisors waiting for your call. Why not start by taking a look at our cottages available during October half term.

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

UK Food Festivals This Autumn

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013
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Here in the UK we’re a nation of food lovers. From the humble fry up to the time consuming roast dinner, we love our food. In recent years this love of food has manifested itself into the regular occurrence of food festivals around the regions. Often allowing festival goers the chance to taste the food on offer and attend cooking workshops, food festivals are a great day out for the whole family.The best part of a food festival is just that; the food, and if anything tickles your taste buds whilst you’re there you can make a purchase – perfect for enjoying at your holiday cottage.

Here at Sykes Cottages, we love our food and have compiled a list of some of the yummiest festivals coming up over the next few weeks.

Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival

Cornish Oysters

Photo via Flickr

26th-29th September

Definitely one for the fish fans! Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival, which takes place on the last weekend of September, is the world’s longest running Oyster festival. The festival plays host to a variety of events for everyone to enjoy, from foodie talks and tasting events to the Oyster ‘Olympics’ and the ‘Hot Oyster Awards’ cooking challenge amongst other activities, there really is something for everyone to enjoy.

Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival

27th September – 13th October

crepes de nutella

Photo via Flickr

Starting in 2006 to celebrate the abundance of local produce in the area, Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival plays host to a wide range of exhibitors. From breweries and granola stalls to creperies and meat companies, even the fussiest of eaters will be spoilt for choice when browsing the exhibition. Those wanting to learn a thing or two can head to the Marquee Stage for live demos from local chefs, or book a place on one of the many workshops taking place over the festival for a more hands-on approach.

Hamper 2013, The Llangollen Food Festival

19th – 20th October

Forest Berry Pie

Photo via Flickr

The Llangollen Food Festival, named as one of the Top Ten Food Festivals by The Independent, takes place in the Llangollen Pavilion in October and is a great place for foodies to explore. Spend your time at the festival discovering new food favourites by wandering around the local producers market, take part in the fun workshops on offer or learn an exciting new recipe by heading to one of the live cooking classes on offer at the festival.

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Sykes’ Spotlight on the South Wales Valleys

Monday, September 16th, 2013
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With the white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters of Anglesey, bustling city of Cardiff and the stunning Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, there are numerous reasons why Wales is such a popular holiday destination. Add in the fantastic food, friendly locals and real sense of history and it’s easy to see why our holiday cottages in Wales attract holidaymakers throughout the year.  Often overlooked are the South Welsh Valleys, communities which grew up around the coal mining industry and today painted as grey towns and villages where unemployment is high, a stereotype not helped by a recent TV show.  So while the Valleys may not automatically spring to mind as a holiday destination, I guarantee that you’ll find stunning scenery to rival that anywhere else in Wales, a wealth of attractions and the friendliest welcome you could ever hope to have. Here’s what not to miss on your holiday to South Wales…

 
Rhondda Valley, Wales
 

History and heritage

For a community so dependent on mining, it’s obvious that the industry has left an enduring legacy within the valleys.  The Rhondda Heritage Park is a great place to start exploring the area’s mining history with an underground tour to give you a taste of life as a miner; you’ll even get to ride the cage to the bottom of the pit.  Back above ground, you’ll find a reconstruction of a village street which shows domestic life during the industry’s peak.  As if you needed convincing of the spirit in these parts, a further example of the strong community vibe is in the area’s music.  Home to Tom Jones, this area’s contribution to the music scene has long been sealed but for a more authentic experience, be sure to make a date with a Male Voice Choir.  Choirs have been popular in the Valleys for more than 150 years and you’ll see why as soon as the first few lines of Cwm Rhondda are sung; this is spine-tingling stuff.

 
Drams at Lewis Merthyr
 

Action-packed holidays in South Wales

It’s a given that the Valleys are a natural playground for sporting enthusiasts.  From cycling to hill walking and even paragliding, the breathtaking landscape only serves to heighten any activity you undertake here.  The view from above is really the best way to appreciate just how beautiful the valleys are.  Marvel at the intensely green valleys, multicoloured rows of terraced houses and the scars the coal industry has left behind as you soar above.  I was initially surprised to find out that paragliding is just one of the activities on offer here but you’ll find that the Valleys will surprise you again and again.  If you’d rather keep two feet on the ground at all times, how about taking part in the annual Wales Valleys Walking Festival.  The ninth festival is on now and runs until 22nd September promising something for walkers of all abilities from challenging all day treks to gentle strolls and special interest walks.

 
Ogmore Castle
 

Plan a holiday to the South Wales Valleys

Has this got you thinking about a holiday to the South Wales Valleys?  If so, why not take a look at our fantastic selection of holiday cottages throughout South Wales?  You can browse online or call one of our holiday cottage advisors on 01244 356695; we’re open until 9.30pm seven days a week!

Sunday Snapshots: A room with a view

Sunday, September 15th, 2013
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It will come as no surprise that here at Sykes Cottages, we’re big fans of a UK break. And with more than 4,500 self-catering cottages to choose from located in gorgeous towns, villages and countryside up and down the country, it’s fair to say that we’re pretty spoilt for choice. So, for this week’s Sunday Snapshot, we thought we’d give you the inside track on some of our holiday cottages with staggering views. It’s at these cottages that you realise just how many beautiful spots we have in our own back garden. And, with views like these, there’s no need to head abroad for the holidays, so for your next break, why not leave the passport at home and choose a self-catering holiday with Sykes Cottages.

So put the kettle on, sit back and enjoy this week’s selection of photographs, this is what Sundays were made for…