Sykes’ UK Filming Locations – Harry Potter

May 19th, 2015
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Calling all wizards and witches, muggles and squibs! Today, the Sykes Cottages blog is getting a bit magical as we delve into the wonderful world of witchcraft and wizardry with a Harry Potter themed tour of the United Kingdom. Sadly, despite our best efforts, we weren’t able to track down Hogwarts itself so we’ve had to make do with the next best thing. That’s right, we’re going to be taking a look at the places that were used as sets in the Potter films, finding out a little bit about them and what you can do there, so read on and see what you think.

Alnwick Castle

Remember all the way back in the very first film when Harry first tried his hand at a broomstick during Madame Hooch’s flying lesson? Well this, amongst many other scenes, was filmed at the glorious Alnwick Castle in Northumberland! One of the true treasures of the North East, the castle has resplendent gardens that are opened to the public during the summer months and offer a true Potter extravaganza. Not only can the little ones put themselves at the helm of a broomstick during a flying lesson, they can also meet many famous face from the series, from Dumbledore to Hagrid and even Harry himself!

Lacock Abbey

The glorious cloisters and corridors of Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire are featured several times throughout the Potter series. Perhaps the most recognisable section of the Abbey is the Sacristy, which hosted the Potions lessons in the dungeons with Professor Snape.  The Abbey’s warming room doubled in the films as Professor Quirrell’s Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom and the particularly keen-eyed of you might also recognise the Chapter House as the hiding place of the Mirror of Erised in the Philosopher’s Stone.

Bodleian Library

Then it’s down to Oxford and the stunning Bodleian Library in particular. Established way back in 1602, it’s the second largest library in the country and the main research library for the University of Oxford, housing treasures such as four copies of the Magna Carta and Shakespeare’s first folio. However the Bodleian is also quite an important spot for the Hogwarts students! Duke Humfrey’s Library doubled as the Hogwarts library in the films, whilst the Divinity School was the setting for the infirmary!

Warner Bros Studios

Or if you want to get the full Hogwarts experience, head down to the Warner Bros studios in Leavesden! Featuring countless props, sets and costumes that were used by the cast and crew during the filming of the series, the studio tour is a paradise for all Potter fans. Whether it’s trying out a tankard of Butterbeer, exploring the Hogwarts Express and platform 9¾ or even having nose around Professor Dumbledore’s office!

So there you go, the Sykes wizarding tour of the United Kingdom, hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading but do let us know if there are any spots that we’ve missed out! You can get in touch either over Twitter or Facebook and we’ll be sure to include them in our next blog!

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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.

Book a romantic getaway with our new Flexible Breaks

May 18th, 2015
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We all love a romantic getaway. Whether you’ve been with your partner for 4 months or 40 years, they’re a nice way to spend some quality time together away from everyday distractions. That’s why at Sykes Cottages, we think you take advantage of our new Flexible Breaks to treat your loved one to a romantic short break; you can earn some major brownie points and get a great value holiday in the process! Here are just some of the romantic holiday cottages which are taking part in our Flexible Breaks offer:

The White House, Yorkshire

Fancy getting away to a romantic holiday cottage with a hot tub? Look no further than The White House in East Riding of Yorkshire. This pretty, whitewashed cottage is nestled in a picturesque village, perfectly placed for exploring all that this part of Yorkshire has to offer. With characterful features including traditional beams and an exposed brick fireplace, this holiday cottage is ideal for a cosy couples getaway. Outside, there’s a sheltered patio for alfresco dining and a bubbling hot tub to while the evening away in.

Trevenna Cabin, Cornwall

For a coastal short break, Trevenna Cabin is the perfect choice. This Cornwall log cabin is located in almost an acre of gardens and woodland, guaranteeing couples total privacy and a relaxing, peaceful holiday. The south coast of Cornwall is within easy reach with its beautiful beaches and charming seaside villages- St Austell Bay is just 3 miles away. Trevenna Cabin is also just a 5 minute walk from an award-winning pub which serves delicious food and boasts an impressive selection of local ales.

Berwyn Cottage, Powys

A weekend away in the Welsh countryside is a wonderful way to spend some quality time with your partner. From Berwyn Cottage, you’re well placed to explore the beautiful Powys countryside with plenty of cycle trails and walking routes right from the doorstep, including the Offa’s Dyke path. This holiday home makes the most of its stunning location with a balcony offering spectacular views across the valley- the perfect place to relax and enjoy the evening sun after a long day exploring the landscape. If you fancy a nice cold drink then you won’t have to walk far either as the owner’s lovely pub is just next door!

Beechlands Cottage, Cheshire

Beechlands Cottage is a unique holiday rental combining the best of both worlds. Set in the historic Cheshire market town of Frodsham, this cosy cottage is perfect for getting away from it all with many rural walking opportunities nearby including the Sandstone Trail and North Cheshire Way. The property is just a short walk away from the town’s restaurants, bakeries and pubs, as well as the popular weekly market which is held on a Thursday. However, if you fancy heading out for the day, there are plenty of lively cities within easy reach including Chester, Liverpool and Manchester.

Book a 2 night cottage break with Sykes Cottages

If we’ve inspired you to take advantage of our Flexible Breaks to book a romantic two night getaway with your loved one, then please click to see the full list of cottages that offer Flexible Breaks. If you need any help in finding the perfect property for you, our reservations specialists are on hand to help 7 days a week. We’re open from 9am until 9.30pm- you can get in touch by giving us a call on 01244 356 695 or by sending us an email.

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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.

Sykes’ Guide to South East Beaches

May 16th, 2015
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With hundreds of award winning UK beaches to choose from, picking the right destination for your next coastal getaway can be rather difficult. Whether you decide to visit Gruinard beach in the Scottish Highlands or the iconic Land’s End in Cornwall all depends on your holiday preferences; who you’re travelling with, the length of your stay and of course what you plan on getting up to during your beach break. To help make things a little easier for you, Sykes Cottages have decided to take a look at each section of the UK individually and give you a run down on the best beaches in that area.

On today’s blog we’re going to be taking a look at the South East of England and its classic coastline; with numerous beaches to choose from, compiling a list of the best was certainly not easy! After hours of deliberation, we have chosen our top four beaches, one to fit into each of our star categories. Keep reading to discover our winners and see if your favourite South East beach gets a mention.

Margate Main Sands, Kent

Best Beach for Families

If you’re looking for a traditional, family friendly holiday then Margate Main Sands is for you; with its tidal pool, children’s rides and amusement arcades, it provides hours of fun along the sea shore. The beach’s golden sands are ideal for building sandcastles, even during high tide and with a lifeguard patrolling the beach from May to September, your children are free to splash around in the surf all summer long.

Hastings, Sussex

Best Beach for Couples 

Full of history and maritime charm, Hastings is the perfect destination for a romantic getaway. Dwindle the day away by relaxing along the coast or getting lost amongst the town’s many winding streets and narrow passageways, before spending the evening at a candlelit meal for two in one of the many restaurants. For some quality quiet time with your other half, we would highly suggest a romantic stroll along the coastline, walking hand in hand as you admire the spectacular ocean views.

Reculver, Kent

Best Beach for dogs

The beach at Reculver in Kent is great for both dog and owner, with your four-legged friend welcome all year round. As well as playing amongst the surf and scurrying over the rocks, this area also allows your dog plenty of open space to explore with a country park close by. Offering both coastal paths and circular walking routes, this area has everything you need for a dog friendly day out!

Camber Sands, Sussex

Best Beach for Water Sports

Camber Sands offers an exciting array of water sports with something to suit all ages, from kitesurfing and windsurfing to paddle boarding and dinghy sailing. If you’re a water sporting regular then make your way down to the coast and straight into the water or if you’re a beginner why not try a few lessons from the local experts at Rye Watersports? Whatever your skill set, Camber Sands is the ideal beach to practice your skills.

Rent a Cottage in the South East with Sykes Cottages

Now you’ve seen exactly what the South East coast has to offer, why not experience it for yourself? Our selection of cottages on the South coast are perfectly located for a beach getaway with many properties just a short walk from the coast! So whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, family holiday or just some time away from the everyday, we’re sure to have something to suit your needs!

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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 Cottages in South East England

May 14th, 2015
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This week on the Sykes Cottages blog, we’ve been focusing on South East England- a fantastic place for a memorable family holiday with plenty of stunning beaches and exciting days out! Whether you fancy a break in the glorious ‘Garden of England’, a getaway in the rolling countryside of Sussex or a holiday by the sea on the picturesque South East coastline, Sykes Cottages will have a holiday home to suit you. To get you feeling inspired, here are just a few of the wonderful cottages in South East England that we have to offer:

The Barn, East Farleigh, Kent

Holiday cottage in Kent

The Barn, East Farleigh, Kent. Ref 920096

This spectacular holiday home is a child’s paradise with its own heated outdoor swimming pool, children’s play area, trampoline and bouncy castle, which is available through prior arrangement with the owner. The property itself is a picturesque barn conversion which dates back to Cromwell’s times. Full of character and original features, with a lovely pub just 5 minutes’ walk, The Barn is an excellent choice for both adults and children. East Farleigh is a great base to explore all the Kent has to offer with family days out close by such as Go Ape Leeds Castle and The Hop Farm Family Park.

Flushing House, Rye, East Sussex

Holiday cottage in East Sussex

Flushing House, Rye, East Sussex. Ref. 21914

Flushing House is a unique Tudor cottage built around 1520 and is now a Grade II listed building. The cottage itself is beautiful with a weather-boarded exterior and original features including exposed beams and a bread oven. Tucked into the heart of Rye’s historic Citadel, this lovely cottage is just a minute’s walk from everything that the town has to offer and there are plenty of family attractions nearby including Rye Castle Museum, Blue Reef Aquarium Hastings and Smuggler’s Adventure.

90 Regent Street, Whitstable, Kent

Holiday cottage in Kent

90 Regent Street, Whitstable, Kent, Ref. 920619

This charming Victorian fisherman’s cottage in the lively seaside town of Whitstable is ideal for a coastal getaway. Bright, airy and spacious, 90 Regent Street comfortably sleeps a family of 6 in 3 bedrooms and has its own lovely garden for playing and dining alfresco. The town’s pretty harbour and many restaurants and pubs are less than 5 minutes’ walk, and the shoreline surrounding Whitstable is perfect for swimming, sunbathing and making sandcastles! Nearby family-friendly attractions include Wildwood and The Canterbury Tales.

Bixley, Beckley, East Sussex

Holiday cottage in East Sussex

Bixley, Beckley, East Sussex. Ref. 904938

Nestled at the heart of Beckley Woods, this former woodman’s home will take the whole family back to nature. Beckley Woods is a Forestry Commission conservation site and guests at Bixley will benefit from fantastic woodland walks from the doorstep, as well as birdwatching opportunities and half an acre of mature gardens to explore. If you feel the need to head out for the day, Rye with its cobbled streets, tea rooms and castle is just a short drive away. For fun-filled family days out, you could try the Shipwreck Museum or the Rare Breeds Centre.

You can see our full collection of holiday cottages in South East England here. If you need any help in picking the perfect property for you then please give us a call on 01244 356 695 and one of our reservations specialists will be more than happy to help!

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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.

Day Out Guide: A Short Break in Canterbury

May 13th, 2015
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In Canterbury for the weekend or booked a short mid-week getaway? If you’re looking to create your own Canterbury Tales, you’re in the right place! We’ve come up with a short guide including some ideas and inspiration of what you can get up to on a short break in this wonderful city. So whether you fancy discovering all of the history that this UNESCO World Heritage site has to offer – or if you just want to relax – read on to see some ideas of how you can spend your time in Canterbury.

What To See

Not only is the Canterbury skyline dominated by the cathedral, but the streets are framed with stunning buildings so wherever you are in the city, there is plenty to see. A great way to see any new place, particularly one with as much history as Canterbury, is by going on a guided tour. Tour the city by foot on one of Canterbury Guided Tours’ 90 minute tours that take groups on a walk to the Cathedral precincts and through the historic streets. For a different view of the city, head to the river with Canterbury Punting; where you can take in the sights from the river at a leisurely pace – the perfect way to spend a romantic afternoon with your loved one! Like with any city, Canterbury has its fair share of ghost stories and ghoulish goings-on, which you can find out all about on a Canterbury Ghost Tour. The ghost tours are ran by John Hippisley, a local historian and ghost hunter who makes the tours as educational and entertaining as he does eerie, which makes this a tour not to miss when in Canterbury.

Where To Eat

Whether you’ve had a heavy night and need a full English breakfast, are just peckish for a quick snack or you’re having a three course celebratory meal, there will definitely be something that suits in Canterbury. Why not treat yourself to afternoon tea in one of the many tea rooms in the city such as Number 12 Tearoom, Susan’s Café or The Moat Tea Rooms. For something with a few more courses, Canterbury is home to some fantastic pubs and restaurants with impressive menus that are suitable whether you’re celebrating or just treating yourselves. Why not try The Foundry, The Old Coach & Horses or The Lady Luck. If you have dietary requirements then you are also well catered for in Canterbury with places like The Veg Box Café which, whilst catering for both vegetarian and vegan diets, also has menu items suitable for other dietary requirements such as gluten intolerance.

What to Do

Canterbury isn’t just about eating, drinking and touring the beautiful city (although that wouldn’t be so bad!) There are also a whole lot of activities and things to do. If you want to learn more about the history and heritage of the city, a visit to Canterbury Heritage Museum is essential. Housed inside a surviving medieval building, the museum allows visitors to learn all about the story of Canterbury; including an exhibit on Bagpuss and Rupert The Bear, whose respective creators have links with the city. If you’re feeling a touch spendy, or just want to do a bit of window shopping, Canterbury is the place to do it. With shopping centres such as Whitefriars Shopping Centre and The King’s Mile playing host to a number of local and chain shops, you’ll be spoilt for choice on a shopping trip in Canterbury!

Book Your Stay in Canterbury

Whether you want to stay within the city or a little outside, we have a number of self catering holiday cottages available to book throughout Kent that are in great locations for you to be able to explore the city. Whether it’s a family break, a romantic getaway or just a relaxing weekend, we’re sure to have a holiday cottage that will suit you! Head over to our website to see our selection of holiday properties to book in Kent.

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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.