Archive for February, 2014

How to make your holiday cottage family friendly

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014
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Here at Sykes we’re proud to be able to offer a wide array of family friendly accommodation all around the UK and Ireland, however this isn’t just a token label that we apply to all of our cottages. In order for a property to be listed as child friendly our cottage owners have to show a genuine level of dedication in making their properties suitable for younger visitors. However we realise that it is difficult to think of every little thing that parents might need on a cottage break and that’s why we have put our heads together in order to come up with a few helpful pointers in making your cottage more suitable for the whole family. So take a look and see if we’ve managed to think of anything that you might have missed.

Babies and toddlers


via. Flickr

When it comes to travelling with babies one of the hardest things is figuring out how you’re going to squeeze all the necessaries into the car. That’s why it is always helpful for cottage owners to try and keep a few of the bulkier items in the property for guests to use if and when they need them. Examples of these items include things like cots and high chairs, whilst a stair gate is always welcome in cottages with more than one floor. Then there are other little things, which may not be quite as obvious but will show the guests that you have really put some thought into it. Investing in some plug socket covers and removable corner guards for any sharp edges to keep in the cottage for when they are needed will always be popular with parents.


Millstone, Yorkshire Dales, ref - 897

Millstone, Yorkshire Dales, ref – 897

Let’s be honest when younger kids are around accidents can happen, so why not make sure that there are some plastic plates and cups in the cupboards to prevent any unwanted breakages. Aside from that parents tend to be the most thankful for the things that keep the little ones occupied. A selection of toys, jigsaws and board games are always popular and if there is a decent sized garden at the property you could look at getting in some things for outdoor activities such as racquets and balls for some fun in the warmer months, or if you’re thinking of pushing the boat out you could consider creating an outdoor play area for the kids.


Rushmore Lodge, Kent, ref - 16229

Rushmore Lodge, Kent, ref – 16229

Teenagers are probably the hardest group to cater for. Having said this one thing that is bound to go down well is to make sure that there is a working DVD player at the property along with a selection of films although they can always bring a few favourites from home to watch. A little collection of books also helps, especially if it contains some of the more popular series going around, or you could always think about trying to convert a room into a designated games room as they always prove to be extremely popular with the teenagers.

Hopefully you’ll now have a better idea of what you can do to make your cottage truly family friendly but if you want any help or advice feel free to ring up and we’ll happily answer any questions that you might have.

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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.

Walk of the month: Aysgarth, Yorkshire Dales

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014
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In this addition of Walk of the Month, we’re donning the waterproofs for a winter walk in the Yorkshire Dales, or more accurately, in and around the charming village of Aysgarth in the Wensleydale Valley. Made famous by its cheesy export, Wensleydale is an exemplary walking destination, offering undulating hills, postcard views and a sprinkling of slate-clad heritage villages. Aysgarth is just one of the settlements that offer excellent opportunities for walking in the valley, but its situation on the banks of the River Ure make it the ideal location for an invigorating country walk at any time of year.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Enjoy the rumble of the Aysgarth Falls as you take a contemplative stroll through the ever peaceful St Joseph Wood, keeping your eyes peeled for treecreepers, warblers and roe deer. Then, emerge from the canopy of trees and loiter awhile in the wild-grass meadow, enjoying fine views across Wensleydale toward the imposing keep of Castle Bolton- what could be a better place for a peaceful walk on a Saturday afternoon?

The Walk

This 1.5 mile route may sound a breeze, but the rugged terrain and plethora of scenic distractions mean that it will take a minimum of 45 minutes to complete. Muddy sections of the route can be slippery, as can the man-made viewpoints overlooking the falls, so wear sturdy shoes or walking boots to ensure that you feel confident on the trail.

The Route

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The walk starts on the banks of the River Ure in the car park to the north of the village. Follow the well-marked path until you reach the steps down to the Middle Falls, and spend a minute or two watching the surging rapids. Continue along the path, passing through a kissing gate until you reach the Lower Falls. You’ll want to snap a photo or two here; it really is a sight to behold.

Turn on to the grassy path signposted Castle Bolton and continue along the trail until you come to another gate. Take the footpath on the right and continue until you see a sign for Freeholder’s Wood. Here, lay down your picnic blanket for peaceful spot of lunch, or continue en-route to enjoy fine views of the majestic Castle Bolton.

Across the field, turn right and take the footpath signposted Aysgarth. Go straight ahead until you reach another path, where you’ll need to turn left and walk underneath the arch of an old railway bridge. From here, follow the path to your right as it meanders through the trees of St Joseph’s Wood, taking care not to disrupt the habitat of the wood’s inhabitants. Continue through the wood until you re-join the road, and rest your feet and recuperate at the National Park centre and café.

Download the comprehensive route and map for this walk here.

Rent a cottage in Wensleydale with Sykes Cottages


Topsy-Turvy Cottage, Yorkshire Dales. Cottage Ref.: 23264

For the opportunity to enjoy this or any other walking route in the valley, why not rent a cottage in Wensleydale from Sykes Cottages? We’ve over 200 cottages dotted throughout the vale, providing you with the perfect base for a walking holiday in the Yorkshire Dales.


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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.

Why Pick a WiFi Cottage?

Friday, February 21st, 2014
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It must be a sign of the times that one of the most common questions that our customers ask is ‘does the cottage have WiFi?’ Wireless internet has become such an integral part of everyday life that some of us struggle to get by for one week without it although I’m sure that there are many of you out there who can’t think of anything better than escaping to an email and notification free zone. However we think that there are many benefits that come with staying in a WiFi cottage, so take a look and see if we can convince you to try it.

Stay in touch

The Granary, South Wales, ref - 15022

The Granary, South Wales, ref – 15022

In this increasingly digital age communication has become key, and as such we have become used to talking with far away friends 24/7. So why should this change just because you’re on holiday? A WiFi cottage gives you easy access to services like Skype allowing you to video-call your relatives back home, or Facebook where you can show off your holiday snaps to all of your friends.

Look up some local activities

stoneycroft barn - 6188

Stoneycroft Barn, the Peak District, ref – 6188

Another benefit that comes with staying in a cottage that has WiFi fitted is that you will never be stuck for something to do. No that doesn’t mean that you can while away the holiday watching videos on YouTube, but rather that with sites like Trip Advisor you’re never more than a couple of clicks away from the ultimate itinerary for a great day out. Just remember to leave a good review if you find somewhere that you like so others can enjoy it too.

Get some work done

lodge on the lake - 31127

Lodge on the Lake, the Lake District, ref – 31127

Let’s be honest, if you’re looking at going away it’s probably to get a bit of respite from work, however have you considered going away solely for the purpose of getting some done? We often get requests from people who are specifically after a cottage with WiFi equipped so that they have somewhere to go and do some work, whether it is writers, poets or even the odd student. After all, a cottage can be the perfect thing for when you’re struggling with a bit of work that needs doing providing you with all of the necessary peace and quiet, not to mention the occasional burst of inspiration!

Keep the kids happy

coach house - 17449

The Coach House, Co. Cork, ref – 17449

Although you parents may enjoy a lull in the incessant tapping of keyboards and touch screens there will be times that you will wish you had picked a cottage with WiFi. Say it’s pouring with rain, you’ve worked your way through all of the boardgames and jigsaws that you could get your hands on and the kids are starting to get restless – what would you give to be able to stream the odd episode of their favourite TV programs? Well it’s easier than ever in a WiFi cottage, all you need is to use a service like the BBC’s iPlayer or Netflix and they’re bound to calm down, and more often than not happy kids mean happy parents.

Hopefully if you were sceptical of our WiFi cottages reading this blog may have swayed you. if so don’t forget to check out our full range of cottages that have WiFi installed so you can reap the rewards yourself.

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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.

Travel Back in Time in the UK

Thursday, February 20th, 2014
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Across the UK we are spoilt for things to do. Whether we fancy going for a walk, visiting a museum, art gallery, theme park, a play centre or travel back in time we can do it all. Hang on; did I just say travel back in time? Yes, I did and in the UK there are plenty of museums and days out that allow us to do just that; travel back and experience what life would have been like in times gone by. Today on the Sykes blog we’re taking a look at those museums and activities that not only educate visitors about the past, but also allow them to experience it.

Dewa Roman Experience in Chester

Image via Flickr.

The Dewa Roman Experience in Chester is just that, an experience, and one that doesn’t disappoint! Not only does The Dewa Roman Experience have the usual museum like qualities; featuring artefacts and snippets from Roman history in Chester but it also allows visitors a more hands on approach. Children can try on Roman armour and uniforms, before heading out with a fully costumed tour guide to march around the city streets of Chester. A must visit for a family day out in Chester!

Why not take a look at our self catering cottages in Chester?

Jorvik Viking Centre in York

Image via Flickr.

With authentic scents and sounds whilst you travel through the reconstructed Viking streets, Jorvik Viking Centre really does allow you to travel back in time and experience what it would have been like to be a Viking. Not only are there life-like Viking figures in the displays, but around the exhibition space you will find actors dressed in full Viking kit willing to answer any questions you may have about the museum!

Why not book a self catering holiday in York?

Flambards in Cornwall

Image via Flickr.

Flambards in Cornwall is a must visit for any Victorian enthusiasts, history buffs or just anyone who wants to know what it was like in the Victorian age. Visitors to the Victorian village can take a wander through shops and businesses that were necessary to Victorian life and experience first-hand what it would have been like shopping in the Victorian era. A visit to the Britain in the Blitz takes visitors (safely) back in time to the World War Two home front to experience the struggle experienced by families during the Blitz.

Take a look at our selection of self catering holiday cottages in Cornwall.

The Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff

Image via Flickr.

A must-visit for any fans of the Time Lord, The Doctor Who Experience takes visitors on an interactive journey through time.  The experience allows Doctor Who fans to appear in their very own time-travelling Doctor Who adventure. Not only does The Doctor Who Experience allow fans of the Doctor this fun experience, but it is also home to the world’s most extensive collection of Doctor Who props and costumes, spanning back to the very first series in 1963.

Book a self catering holiday cottage in South Wales for your visit.

We hope that some of our ideas for days out in the past have inspired you to head out and get historical on your next day trip in the UK! Don’t forget to tweet us and let us know what your favourite place is in the UK to head back in time.

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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.

The UK and Ireland’s Best Indoor Play Centres

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
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During the February half term we should be outside enjoying the fresh air with our children, but with the constant wind, chilly temperatures and pouring rain it’s hard to imagine a day out in the country! As an alternative to splashing in puddles and sliding down muddy banks we suggest keeping the children dry and active at an indoor soft play centre. There’s a wide selection of these centres scattered across the UK and Ireland so keep reading for our choice of the best play centres to visit this February half term

Aztec Soft Play

Aztec Soft Play in Carlisle

Aztec Soft Play in Carlisle

Our Cumbria cottages are extremely popular and it’s not hard to see why; with fantastic walks, lakeside views and an array of outdoor activities, families are queuing up for their chance to book. But let’s not overlook the fantastic indoor facilities that Cumbria has to offer. Your children will get hours of fun from a day spent at the Aztec Soft Play Centre in Carlisle. Not only can they enjoy the soft play area but with the chance to be an Aztec raider in a laser gun party or make a friend for life with the build a bear programme you’ll have plenty of time to relax in the fully-licensed café!

Bonkerz Fun Centre

Bonkerz in Llandudno

Bonkerz Fun Centre in Llandudno

Here at Sykes we love visiting our North Wales holiday cottages; the scenery is fantastic, and there are plenty of walks and fantastic activities available all year round. During this rather wet half-term we would advise a visit to Bonkerz Fun Centre in Llandudno. This medieval themed play centre opened in September 2011 and is already beating the local competition with some fantastic reviews on trip advisor; and with its stylish café and brilliant soft play equipment, it’s not hard to see why!

Monster Mania

Monster Mania in Falkirk

Monster Mania in Falkirk

Central Scotland isn’t known for its sunny weather so it should come as no surprise that the Scott’s offer a wealth of exciting indoor play areas. If you’re dreaming of a relaxing afternoon watching your little monster run wild then we would suggest a visit to Monster Mania soft play in Falkirk. Whilst you enjoy a nice cup of coffee at the café, your little ones can run themselves ragged with the soft play equipment and go-karts- they can even show off their skills on the football pitch!


Chuckies Play Zone in County Cork

Chuckies Play Zone in County Cork

If you’re lucky enough to be in Ireland during the half-term then why not allocate a day to Chuckies Play Zone in county Cork? This family run soft play centre is sure to give the kids a good workout with its three tiered play structure, giant Lego, rodeo bull and disco. The play centre even has a wide variety of coffee mornings and parent-toddler activities so you can meet new people and enjoy a chat over a cup of tea whilst the children make new friends in the ball pit.

No matter what you decide to do this half-term, whether it’s jumping in puddles or climbing to new heights in a soft play centre, we know that you’ll be making the most of your time with the kids. Keep an eye on the Sykes blog for our “Walk of the Month” which will be posted later this week, as it’s sure to provide another great day out for the kids this half-term.

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Nicole Jones-Gerrard

By Nicole Jones-Gerrard

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 husband.