Last Minute Breaks for August Bank Holiday

August 16th, 2014
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Can we tempt you with a last minute getaway? We still have some lovely cottages with availability over the August Bank Holiday so if you’re in the mood for taking a break over the long weekend, we have just the ticket! Take a look at some of our available cottages below. To view the full list of August bank holiday cottages then please visit our website.

Robin’s Nest, Shropshire

Holiday cottage in Shropshire

Robin’s Nest, Ref. 24739

This charming first-floor apartment is located in a picturesque location at the foot of Wenlock Edge, on a large working farm in the Shropshire countryside. Robin’s Nest boasts a plethora of original features including exposed stone walls, beams and trusses. With the market town of Craven Arms close by, Robin’s Nest is ideally situated for a couple who want a getaway with plenty of character and things to do in the surrounding area. There are also plenty of walking trails on the doorstep and many National Trust properties close by.

The Log Cabin, Argyll and Bute

Holiday cottage in Scotland

The Log Cabin, Ref. 12682

If you want to take advantage of the long weekend to book a romantic break away with your loved one, take a look at The Log Cabin. This secluded lodge is nestled amongst stunning scenery, offering fantastic views across the surrounding countryside and mountains. Guests can take advantage of these views on the peaceful decked area where you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the views, making it a truly unique experience. This charming log cabin is the perfect romantic bolthole, where you’ll be able to relax and enjoy each other’s company. If you fancy venturing out, the bustling town of Oban is just a short drive away, along with the Oban Distillery and the Scottish Sea Life Centre.

Fairy Bank Cottage, Peak District

Holiday cottage in Peak District

Fairy Bank Cottage, Ref. 30062

For a summer getaway in the Peak District, Fairy Bank Cottage is the perfect place to lay your head. This delightful cottage is nestled in the High Peak village of Hayfield and boasts stunning views across the surrounding countryside and hills. Nearby, you’ll find traditional country pubs, walking routes such as Lantern Pike, as well as the start of the Pennine Trail and of course, the Peak District National Park. Fairy Bank Cottage sleeps 4 guests and is ideal for those looking for a last minute getaway in the countryside this August Bank Holiday.

Last Minute Short Breaks

Holiday cottage in Shropshire

Oakeley Mynd Lodge, Ref. 20308

From today, you can also take advantage of our last minute short break discount, with 35% off short breaks at selected cottages this bank holiday. These short breaks are bookable from one week before your arrival date so head over to our last minute cottages page and get booking!

If you are tempted to book a last minute holiday then please either give us an email or call us on 01244 356 695. Our reservations team are on hand 7 days a week, from 9am until 9.30pm and will be able to help you find your perfect cottage for your last minute bank holiday getaway.

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.

Summer Fruits Recipes

August 15th, 2014
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With summer now in full swing, our gardens, fields and supermarket shelves are packed full of delicious summer berries. These delightful fruits are of course extremely tasty when eaten alone but really release their summer flavour when teamed with one of our summer fruits recipes. If you have an abundance of summer fruit that you need to use up this season, then keep ready as we share with you three of our favourite summer fruit recipes.

Summer Pudding

Packed full of summer berries, this recipe looks impressive but is deceivingly easy to make; ideal for large party gatherings, summer pudding is sure to wet your appetite this summer. The recipe below will serve eight people and takes around 30 minutes to prepare before at least six hours of chilling in the fridge.

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.


  • 500g Raspberries
  • 300g Strawberries
  • 250g Blackberries
  • 100g Redcurrants
  • 175g Caster sugar
  • 7 Slices of bread (Works best with day-old bread from a square, medium thick loaf)


  1. Wash and then gently dry all fruit. In a pan, gently heat sugar and 3 tbsp of water until the sugar is dissolved. Stir and then bring to the boil for 1 minute before adding in the raspberries, blackberries and redcurrants. Cook on a low heat for 3 minutes stirring occasionally, you want the fruit to be soft but mostly intact. Put a sieve over a clean bowl and pour in content of pan.
  2. Line a 1.25 litre bowl with cling film, leaving an overhang at the edges (this will make it easier to turn out the pudding at the end). Cut the crusts off the bread and then cut all but 1 slice in half at a slight angle.
  3. Dip the pieces of bread into the fruit juices one at a time, and line the inside of the bowl with the bread (place the whole slice of bread at the bottom), take your time with this step making sure everything fits together nicely. If there are gaps you can’t fill simply cut the bread again until it fits. Make sure to leave a few slices for the top!
  4. Spoon in the fruit adding a few strawberries every now and then. Once the pudding is full, dip the last few pieces of bread in juice and place on top, trim any overhang with scissors. Bring the cling film up and loosely seal. Put a side plate on top of the pudding and weigh it down with cans. Chill overnight or for a minimum of 6 hours.
  5. To serve the pudding, take off the cans and plate, then open up the cling film. Place a plate upside down on top of the pudding and flip over. Remove the cling film and serve with left over fruit juice and cream.

Elderflower Cordial

Bring a touch of class to your summer party this year by adding a dash of homemade elderflower cordial to your guests’ soda water or sparkling wine. This easy recipe will make around four litres of cordial and takes 30 minutes to prepare along with a 24 hour picking process.

Picture via Flickr

Picture via Flickr.


  • 20 Fresh elderflower heads, stalks trimmed
  • 2 Unwaxed lemons
  • 2½kg White sugar
  • 85g Citric Acid (This can be bought from the chemists)


  1. Place the sugar and 1.5 litres (2¾ pints) of water into a large saucepan. Gently heat until the sugar has dissolved (don’t boil) stirring occasionally.  Whilst the sugar is dissolving, peal the zest from the lemons using a peeler, then cut the lemon into round slices.
  2. Once all the sugar has dissolved bring the pan to the boil before turning off the heat. Wash the flowers by filling a basin with cold water and swishing them from side to side.
  3. Lift the flowers out and add them to the syrup along with the lemons, zest and citric acid. Stir well and leave to infuse for a minimum of 24 hours.
  4. Line a colander with a fresh, clean tea towel before sitting it over a large bowl or pan. Ladle in the syrup mixture letting it naturally and slowly drip through the tea towel. Then use a funnel to fill sterilised bottles.
  5. The cordial will be ready to drink straight away and will keep for up to six weeks in a fridge. You could also freeze the liquid in plastic containers if you wanted to keep it longer.

Strawberry Ice Cream

What better way to cool down this summer than with a nice refreshing scoop of strawberry ice cream? Our simple three step recipe will make a litre of ice cream and takes around 30 minutes to prepare, plus a minimum of six hours of freezing before it’s ready to serve.

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.


  • 400g Strawberries
  • 200g Condensed milk (Half of a 397g can)
  • 250g Mascarpone


  1. Pull the green hulls out of the strawberries (if they are hard, cut into halves or quarters) and place in a flat bottom dish. Use a potato masher to squash the strawberries down as much as possible.
  2. Place the mashed strawberries into a bowl along with the mascarpone and combine the two together by mashing. Add the condensed milk and stir everything together (don’t worry if the mixture is lumpy or streaky!)
  3. Put the mixture into a plastic tub and leave in the freezer for a minimum of 6 hours (overnight preferred). To serve, simply scoop the ice cream out into bowls or cones.

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.

Uncovering the UK’s Hidden Gems

August 15th, 2014
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When considering UK attractions, our thoughts are instantly turned to well known tourist traps such as The Tower of London, Hadrian’s Wall and Stonehenge, but throughout Britain there are a number of overshadowed attractions tucked into reclusive corners and quietly delighted visitors who have stumbled off the beaten track to find them.

To help you discover these hidden gems which are dotted around the UK, Sykes Cottages have put together the following infographic which highlights a number of alternative attractions for you to visit this year. Sykes-Hidden-Gems-final


Uncovering the UK’s Hidden Gems

Forget the usual tourist traps and delve a little deeper to discover some of the UK’s lesser-known treasures. Some are hidden away, while others can easily be missed, so here’s a handy guide to help you uncover these secret attractions.

The Crannog Centre Perthshire

Located on the shores of Loch Tay, the Crannog Centre offers visitors the chance to step inside an authentic replica of a Crannog, an Iron Age loch dwelling dating back to 2,500BC.

Discover the story of Scotland’s ancient tribes, and experience first-hand how they would have lived at this unique visitor centre in the midst of the stunning Scottish Highlands.

Barter Books Northumberland

More than just a bookshop, this magical spot occupies a magnificent Victorian railway station in the heart of Northumberland.

As well as being one of Europe’s largest secondhand bookshops and a focal point for artists and literary enthusiasts, it’s also where the now world famous ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster first emerged.

Rievaulx Abbey Yorkshire

What was once the wealthiest abbey in England is now a majestic ruin in a secluded spot within the North York Moors National Park.

If you’re after peace and tranquillity, then this is a wonderful place to escape the crowds whilst learning about the Abbey’s past.

Port Sunlight Merseyside

Built by British industrialist William Hesketh Lever in 1888, Port Sunlight was originally used to house Hesketh’s workers, who produced the popular soap, Sunlight.

Now thought of as an attractive model village, this charming Merseyside suburb became a conservation area in 1978 and is home to over 900 grade II listed buildings. Explore the village on foot, stopping by the Lady Lever Art Gallery and museum on the way, and if you’re visiting in summer, be sure to enjoy a picnic on the village green.

Canterbury Tales Kent

Get under the skin of the city’s most famous literary export, Geoffrey Chaucer, with a visit to Canterbury Tales, a unique recreation of medieval life.

Experience the sights, sounds and smells of Chaucer’s timeless tales as you journey back to the 14th century, before enjoying an enchanting adaptation at the centre’s open-air theatre.

Bounce Below Gwynedd

Tucked away underground, Bounce Below is well worth discovering if jumping around on huge trampolines in a 200 x 60 foot cavern is your idea of fun.

This thrilling attraction also features giant walkways, slides, and a technicolour light display which illuminates a space twice the size of St Paul’s Cathedral.


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.

Family Friendly Homemade Ice Lolly Recipes

August 14th, 2014
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The good old British summer has arrived, and we are being absolutely spoilt this year. With temperatures in the twenties and more sun than you can shake a bucket and spade at, it’s fair to say that it’s been a scorcher! Now, the best thing to quell the summer heat is an ice lolly or other sweet treat, but these can be full of sugars, e-numbers and other nasties. We wanted to bring you a selection of fantastic homemade, family friendly summer ice lolly recipes that you can rustle up in no time. We brought in a crack team of creative family bloggers who took on our challenge to create unique, family friendly, ice lollies and the results were pretty delicious.


Making Healthy Ice Lollies

Whilst all of these fantastic homemade recipes are far healthier than the pre-packaged ones you would find in the freezer aisle of your local supermarket, a few of our entrants really did put health first, with some delicious results! Hannah from Mums’ Days got a little sneaky with her recipe, by creating a ‘Hidden Veg’ ice lolly, which is an ingenious way of getting a few more veggies into your children’s diet. Clara and Kirsty over at My Two Mums made a deliciously healthy Summer Berry Lolly which contains blueberries, raspberries and strawberries – yum! Lynsey and her daughter from Mum, That’s Me created incredibly refreshing Strawberry and Watermelon ice lollies whilst Ethan and Niki from Play & Learn Everyday created both Strawberry Purée and Apple Juice Ice Lollies as well as Blueberry and Vanilla Yoghurt lollies.

Family Favourites

Homemade Family Favourite Ice Lollies

Our team of bloggers came up with some fantastic ice lolly recipes that were reminiscent of family favourites, new and old. The family over at Clearly Bex created a delightful version of Fabs, complete with chocolate and sprinkles! Nikki from Stressy Mummy kept her recipe simple, but in no way plain, with a deliciously refreshing Raspberry and Lemonade ice lolly; perfect for those hot sunny days we’ve been having! Michelle from Mummy 2 Monkeys got really creative and turned the challenge into a guessing game; filling each of the moulds with a different flavour (including Pepsi, Lucozade and strawberry water as well as wine and beer for the grown-ups) so that everyone could have a guess at which was which! Jodie and her little ones over at Life with Pink Princesses created something that reminded me of one of my favourite childhood treats; mini milks! Milkshake powder and milk is mixed together and frozen to create an ideal calcium-filled treat that everyone will love.


Indulgent Homemade Ice Lollies

As our super blogging team know, for the purpose of a balanced diet, we all need a bit of a naughty treat every now and again. As such, we received a couple of entries that will give you your chocolate fix whilst being absolutely delicious! It was a family effort over at Actually Mummy, where these Crunchie Banana Cream Ice Lollies were created. Laura from Chez Mummy made some utterly delicious sounding chocolate and caramel lollies that featured as the perfect dessert, before settling on a simply refreshing cloudy lemonade ice lolly.

… The Winners Are

Homemade Ice Lollies

As you can see, choosing the winners for this competition was a really tough choice. Each entrant had fun and showed creativity in creating their ice lollies. In the end, there were two winners. First place going to Hannah from Mums’ Days for her ingenious way of getting little ones to eat more veggies, and second place to Laura from ChezMummy! Despite some mishaps in the kitchen, Laura really got into the spirit of the competition by getting her kids fully involved in creating and making some delicious creations.

A huge thank you to our super ice lolly making team for taking part in the competition and for really getting involved! If you want to have a go at any of these ice lollies then take a look at each bloggers post for the full recipes.

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.

A Local’s Guide to the Delights of Hidden Suffolk

August 13th, 2014
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Born and bred in the sleepy agricultural county of Suffolk – where a spillage of onions leaves the county in turmoil – I, like many more before me, spent most of my youth dreaming of escape to the bright lights of a big city.

Since departing from my home town, I find myself with a woeful bout of the ‘grass ain’t always greener’ syndrome; pining after those lazy summer days in my beloved county, Suffolk.

This coveted corner of the country offers more opportunity to explore its low-lying heathlands and award winning coastline due to it being in one of the driest areas of the UK (you don’t know you got it good ‘til it’s gone!). With an array of quaint villages steeped in history, there is plenty to explore coastal or country, and of course an abundance of pubs stocking the many famed county brews and bitters. The native Suffolk folk, proud of their heritage, are busy building the foundations of their county town Ipswich, as a cultural hub for all things local and Independent.

So heed my advice as a cynical child of Suffolk, on the top haunts in the county, the crème de la crème of East Anglia, as there’s truly no place like home…

Did I hear ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’?


Image via Flickr

As a glass-half-empty kind of girl, I don’t coin the phrase ‘outstanding’ very often but when it comes to British coastal lines, there are some secret spots in Suffolk that are deserving of this accolade. One great example is the village of Walberswick, previously home to the annual British Open Crabbing Championships; it hosts one of the best beaches in Suffolk. On a warm summer’s day you could be forgiven for believing you are in the South of France, as you soak up the sun amongst billowing reeds and sand dunes. For a quintessentially British seaside town, you don’t get much better than Aldeburgh. Enjoy the best fish and chips in Suffolk whilst strolling along the pebbled shoreline, or explore the many independent boutiques and eateries.

Daytime activities

Image via Flikr

Image via Flickr

Thorpeness is a wacky little village characterized by mock-Tudor buildings, a Peter-Pan inspired boating lake and a house in the sky. The boating lake has an array of rowing boats and other craft available to rent, so visitors can moor and explore the little islands dotted around the lake. Other great family days out in the area can be found at Jimmy’s Farm, home to many rare breeds of animals, with a restaurant, farm shop and kids petting zoo with activities on offer such as den-building and fishing.

Top eats in Suffolk

Image via Flikr

Image via Flickr

As a self-confessed foodie, I have been fortunate enough to eat my way around most of the restaurants in Ipswich and the surrounding areas. So for fine dining and cocktails, I suggest you head to Neptune Marina in central Ipswich. Benefiting from extensive refurbishments, the Marina provides an array of cuisines and fabulous independent restaurants. Try the mid-week set menu at The Waterfront, or head to Aurora (the infamous tented building) for sumptuous cocktails, fine dining and panoramic views.

For refuelling after a romp around the countryside, head to The British Larder on the outskirts of Woodbridge; dedicated to serving great-tasting locally sourced food. Dog-lovers rejoice, as not only is it surrounded by top dog walking spots, your furry friend is welcome inside too!

Events to look out for

Suffolk offers a plethora of different events and festivals through-out the year, including regular events such as farmers markets and dog shows. During the summer months there are events on nearly every weekend, here are a few of the best events, with an idea of when you can catch them…

  • The Suffolk Show (May)
  • The Maritime Festival (August)
  • Aldeburgh Carnival (August)
  • Framlingham Sausage Fest (October)
  • Christmas Tree Festival (November)

Visit Suffolk with Sykes Cottages


Image from property 28158

Image from property 28158

Sykes Cottages have a great selection of properties in Suffolk, many of them located within close proximity to top attractions. This fabulous self-catering cottage is located close to Aldeburgh and Thorpeness, making an ideal base for exploring the surrounding areas. Many more like this can be found under Suffolk Holiday Cottages page, so take a look and book your escape to Suffolk today!

Lucy Butchart

By Lucy Butchart

Self-confessed ‘foodie’ Lucy, loves nothing more than spending her time trying out restaurants, cooking up a storm in the Kitchen and sampling cocktails. From growing up in Suffolk, Lucy has a great knowledge of East Anglia and is starting to grasp the North East from her recent move to Newcastle