Archive for December, 2013

Looking Back at 2013 in the UK

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013
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2013 was a year to remember. We’ve had a fantastic year here at Sykes Cottages; we were rated ‘Excellent’ by Trip Advisor for the third year running, we surpassed our target of making 100,000 bookings and we won a prestigious British Travel Award. To celebrate such an exciting year, we’ve taken a trip down memory lane and taken a look back at Britain’s highlights of 2013.

Sports Success in 2013

Andy Murray at Wimbledon

Via Flickr

Exactly a year ago today, we were reminiscing about the sporting prowess of 2012. After our success at the Olympics and Paralympics, and Bradley Wiggins becoming the first ever Brit to win the Tour de France, who would have thought that 2013 would have been able to compete? However, it held its own. In July, Andy Murray became the first British male to win Wimbledon in 77 years and in September, Justin Rose was the first Englishman to win the US Open. The England football team qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and love him or loathe him, Sir Alex Ferguson retired as manager of Manchester United after 26 years. Britain also had its second successive victory in the Tour de France as Chris Froome won the 100th edition of the tournament in July.

 

An Addition to the Royal Family

Royal palace

Via Flickr

On 22nd July 2013, amidst much excitement and anticipation, we welcomed Prince George Alexander Louis into the world as the future heir to the British throne. Prince George stands third in line to the throne, after his grandfather, Prince Charles and father, Prince William. Only once prior to the birth of Prince George has the reigning monarch been able to stand in a room with three future monarchs; the only previous monarch to have done this was Queen Victoria in 1894 and so Prince George’s arrival was a fascinating moment in history as well as an exciting event for everyone here in the UK. In 2013 it was also announced that Zara Phillips, the second eldest grandchild of Queen Elizabeth and godmother of Prince George, was expecting a baby in early next year.

 

50th Anniversary of Doctor Who

Doctor Who

Via Flickr

2013 marked the 50th anniversary of one of the UK’s most popular and long-running TV shows, Doctor Who.  Over 10 million people in the UK tuned in to see the special 50th anniversary episode which was aired in November. The episode was aired simultaneously in 94 countries, breaking the Guinness World Record for “the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama”. Everywhere from Russia to Ethiopia, Doctor Who fans enjoyed the episode, named ‘The Day of the Doctor’ which was also shown across 1,500 cinemas in 3D.

 

200th Anniversary of Pride and Prejudice

Chatsworth House, Pride and Prejudice

Via Flickr

2013 was also the anniversary of a story which has captured the hearts and minds of the nation for 200 years. First published in 1813, Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is one of Britain’s most famous and well-loved novels and the anniversary was enthusiastically celebrated across the country. Events included a ‘readathon’, a period costume ‘Netherfield Ball’, various exhibitions and workshops, and special Pride and Prejudice tours of both the locations that inspired Jane Austen and the locations used in the 1995 BBC TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, which starred Colin Firth as Mr Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet. As a novel, Pride and Prejudice has withstood the test of time, appealing to readers of all ages and backgrounds and hopefully will continue to do so for the next 200 years!

From everyone here at Sykes Cottages, we hope you have also had a brilliant 2013 and would like to wish you all the very best for the New Year. If you’re looking to get away in 2014 then please take the time to visit our website, www.sykescottages.co.uk where you will find over 4000 fantastic holiday cottages across the UK and Ireland for you to choose from.

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.

Essential Apps for UK Travel

Monday, December 30th, 2013
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If you’re reading this blog post on a fresh-out-the-box Christmas gadget such as a smartphone or tablet, then chances are you’re in search of cool things to do with your shiny new gizmo. But instead of waging feathery war in Angry Birds or rattling off another selfie in Snapchat, why not use your new device to get the most from your weekend daytrip or UK cottage getaway? There’s a plethora of travel and leisure related apps out there that can add a whole new dimension to your holiday if used properly, so put your feet up and enjoy our guide to some of the best apps that you should have with you on your next cottage holiday.

Wonderful Apps for Walkers

Walking

Via Flickr

If there’s one thing our customers are passionate about, it’s walking. Yet in these modern times, even the best walk can be made all the more rewarding if you’ve got the right kit with you. But with so many apps catered for ramblers out there, which one do you choose? Well, it really depends on the individual. If you see yourself as a bit of an innovator, then MapMyWalk may be the app for you. This nifty bit of software shows you not only where you’re going, but also records where you’ve been, so you can retrace your favourite steps and share them with others. Alternatively, if you’re more concerned with calories burned than how pretty the scenery is, Runtastic offers a wealth of great features including current speed, time and distance covered, so you’ll know exactly when you’ve burnt off the last of the mince pies!

Perfect Apps for Peddlers

Cyclist

Via Flickr

And no we don’t mean wheeler dealers! It’s no secret that cycling has undergone a renaissance over the past few years to regain the mantel of Britain’s best loved past time; but even the most perfect route can be enhanced by the use of a brilliant, and often free, mobile app. Two cycling apps that we think are essential for any two wheel enthusiast are Bike Doctor 2 and Bike Hub, which are available for iPhone and Android. Bike Doctor offers a comprehensive guide on bicycle maintenance, giving you the peace of mind you need to take a lengthier trip into the wilderness, whilst Bike Hub’s comprehensive GPS tracking and maps system is there for when you need to get home fast.

Find your perfect holiday cottage with the Sykes App

From the facts and figures of the Heritage App, to the uber-useful AA Parking Planner, there are thousands of apps out there that can help you enjoy a hitch-free holiday. And now you can now plan your dream holiday in the UK with the help of the Sykes Cottages app, ‘The Cottage Finder’- Give it a go today!

Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

Sunday Snapshots: Whitby Abbey

Sunday, December 29th, 2013
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As part of our post-Christmas plot to get the UK out and about in the coming year, we’re dedicating today’s Sunday Snapshots to one of the best visitor attractions in North East England: Whitby Abbey. Perched atop the East Cliff overlooking the popular heritage town of Whitby, this imposing structure has been keeping an eye on the comings and goings of the town for over 1,000 years. An occupied monastery for nine centuries, the Abbey was disestablished by the pesky Henry VIII in the 16th century, and left to waste away beside the North Sea.

Now, this ruined site is cloaked in mystery and folklore, providing visitors with a striking backdrop for a winter wander along the beautiful North Sea cliffs- but be on your guard, as the Abbey’s most famous fanged resident (Count Dracula, so I’m told) is still said to haunt the grounds when the sun goes down.

If you’d like to book a holiday in Whitby, click here. Or if you’re just here for a nosey, take a look at our Whitby Abbey snaps below.

Whitby Abbey

Via Flickr

Whitby Abbey

Via Flickr

Whitby Abbey

Via Flickr

Whitby Abbey

Via Flickr

Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

Last Minute Breaks for New Year

Friday, December 27th, 2013
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With another wonderful Christmas safely wrapped up, everyone at Sykes Cottages are putting on the glad rags and laying out yet more food and drink to bring in the New Year with some style. New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to host a party, gather the family together and celebrate on a grand scale. If you are struggling for party ideas, or even looking for something different to do with the family this year why not rent a Sykes holiday Cottage?  We have a wonderful selection of properties still available which will allow you to wave goodbye to 2013 and bring in 2014 with joy and laughter.

Party Properties

Ingleside, Royal Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire: Ref. 4310

When organising a good party there are 5 elements to consider: food, drink, music, people and space! If you have decided to go all out this year with a grand party where you can celebrate the year’s triumphs and look forward to the glowing New Year ahead, do it in style with one of our large holiday cottages. These cottages regularly come with two sitting rooms which is perfect for keeping the children and adults separate; the adults can enjoy each other’s company over a glass of sparkling Champagne and the children can enjoy an adult free evening in front of the TV with good movies and electronic video games.

Couples Retreat

Gamekeeper’s Cottage, Hale, Cumbria & The Lake District: Ref. 8275

If the only person you want to see in the New Year with is your beloved other half then why not escape the hustle and bustle of the big towns and head off into the county for a romantic retreat at a cosy cottage for two. Get away from the loud atmosphere and just relax with your partner and look forward to the coming year together. We have a number of adorable cottages for you to choose from, many with the added bonus of an open fire or a hot tub, those little extra touches can really make the difference and provide you with New Year memories that will last a lifetime.

Family Friendly

Craster Reach, Craster, Northumberland: Ref. 10782

For many of us our main joy in life comes from our children, that’s why we have a specially selected range of family friendly holiday cottages. These cottages make the perfect setting for your family’s New Year, warm and cosy with plenty of space to play board games, watch movies and just enjoy your time together. The children will soon be heading back to school for the January term and we understand that you want to spend as much time with them as possible, so we can think of nothing better than taking them away for a last minute holiday over the New Year week.

New Year’s holidays are extremely popular here at Sykes Cottages and our properties can book up over a year in advance! But luckily, we still have a few fabulous holiday homes left for this festive season. We have a dedicated team on hand 7 days a week to help you find a special cottage for your last minute getaway, so go online or give us a call today and celebrate this new year in style.

nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Christmas Leftover Recipes with Sykes Cottages

Thursday, December 26th, 2013
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From everyone here at Sykes Cottages, we hope you had a very Merry Christmas and that you were able to spend the day with your loved ones. We also hope that you indulged in lots of delicious food and ate one too many mince pies! If you’re now wondering what to do with all the leftovers from your Christmas dinner then why not take a look at some of our favourite Christmas leftover recipes!

Mini Turkey and Cranberry Pies

Mini Turkey and Cranberry Pies

Recipe via BBC Good Food

Ingredients (makes 8 mini pies):

  • 250g leftover turkey
  • 8 tsp cranberry sauce
  • 500g pack shortcrust pastry
  • 8 tbsp double cream
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method:

  1. Roll out the pastry onto a floured surface, making sure it is just thinner than a £1 coin. Using a cutter or small saucer, cut out 8 x 10cm circles then 8 x 9cm circles for the lids.
  2. Place the larger circles into 8 holes of a muffin tin, making sure to push it right to the edges of the hole. Divide the turkey, cranberry and cream between them. Brush the edges with egg.
  3. Place the smaller circles on top and push the sides of both pastry circles together.
  4. Leave in the fridge to chill for 15- 20 minutes.
  5. Set oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Brush the tops of the pies with egg and put in the oven for 25 minutes or until crispy and golden. Can be served warm or cold.

 

Turkey and Parsnip Curry

Turkey and Parsnip Curry

Recipe via BBC Good Food

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 500g leftover turkey, boneless, cooked, cut into chunks
  • 500g parsnips, peeled, cut into chunks
  • 2 onions, cut into thin slices
  • 5 tbsp Madras curry paste
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 150g natural yoghurt
  • Cooked basmati rice
  • 2tbsp vegetable oil

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan, add onions and fry until softened. Add parsnips and stir well.
  2. Stir in curry paste and tomatoes with a pinch of salt. Add 1 ½ canfuls of water and bring to boil. Cover and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes on a reduced heat.
  3. Stir in turkey, cover and simmer for a further 5 minutes or until turkey is heated through.
  4. Swirl in yoghurt and serve with basmati rice.

 

Boxing Day Fridge Cake

Ingredients (makes 16-20 squares):

  • 500g chocolate (leftover Christmas tree chocolate/selection box chocolate)
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 250fg leftover Christmas cake, chopped into small pieces
  • 200g leftover Christmas biscuits (eg. biscotti, lebkuchen, amaretti), broken into small pieces
  • 150g leftover nuts, dried fruit or nougat

Method:

  1. Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
  2. Once melted, mix in Christmas biscuits, Christmas cake and any leftover nuts, dried fruit or nougat.
  3. Pour mixture into a greased 20cm square brownie tin. Leave to chill in the fridge until set.
  4. Cut into squares and serve.

We hope you enjoy making these delicious Christmas leftover dishes and that you continue to enjoy the rest of the festive season. If you’re feeling a little sad that the big day is over and you’re already looking forward to next Christmas, why not consider booking one of our UK holiday cottages for next year. We have cottages across the UK and Ireland so if you fancy doing something a little different for Christmas next year, call one of our dedicated holiday advisors today on 01244 356 695.

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.