Visitors Guide to The Edinburgh Festival Fringe

July 19th, 2014
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From August 1st until August 25th the city of Edinburgh will play host to the largest arts festival in the world, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This three week festival showcases thousands of performers over hundreds of stages across Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh. With so much to see, the show’s organisers have issued over 1.8 million tickets for this year’s event and expect to see visitor numbers soar in the Scottish capital. Attending this large event can seem a little daunting at first but don’t worry because we’re here to help! Below you will find a short visitors guide to The Edinburgh Festival filled with money saving tips and transport advice.

What to expect at The Festival Fringe

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

The origins of The Festival Fringe date back to 1947, when a group of performers turned up at the Edinburgh International Festival uninvited and began to perform. Instead of stopping their performance, the shows organisers let them stage their show on the fringe of the festival. As the years ticked by, more and more performers turned up at the festival to showcase their talents and in 1985 the Festival Fringe Society (now a registered charity) was born.

From the eight performers that turned up in 1947, the show has now grown to host thousands of performers specialising in a number of talents. This year’s performances are set to include hundreds of acts in the following disciplines:

  • Cabaret
  • Children’s Shows
  • Comedy
  • Dance, Physical Theatre and Circus
  • Events
  • Exhibitions
  • Music
  • Musicals and Opera
  • Spoken Word
  • Theatre

For more information on the individual acts please download the official programme.

Getting around Edinburgh

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

The Festival Fringe will be hosted at a number of different venues throughout Edinburgh so finding the right style of transport for you is essential. To help find your way around Scotland’s Capital here are just a few of the transport links you may want to consider:


Walking may be one of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel but it definitely requires the most energy; we would suggest this method of transportation to visitors who are used to walking long distances as some of the venues are located 45 minutes apart.


Edinburgh is a fantastic city for cyclists but just remember it’s quite hilly! There are a number of bike racks located throughout the city and even designated cycle paths – for a cycling map of Edinburgh please click here.


There is an excellent network of buses throughout Edinburgh which will be able to transport you quickly from one venue to another. Single fares coast around £1.50, but if you’re planning on taking the bus more than twice it would be wise to purchase a Day & Night ticket.


Please be aware that if you are thinking of bringing your car to Edinburgh there is very limited parking available in the city. If you wish to travel by road and not bring a car then you are in luck as Edinburgh has a variety of taxi ranks throughout the city, but for a truly unique travel experience we suggest a rickshaw ride. Rickshaws can be picked up throughout the city as the driver’s cycle round (We would advise agreeing a price before you start your journey in a rickshaw).

For more information on the location of each Fringe venue please use this interactive map.

Festival Tips

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

To help you make the most of your time at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe we have come up with some handy hints and tips that will be of use to both first time festival goers and those who have had a little more practise.

Save money

Did you know that there are a number of free shows taking place during the festival, or that there are tons of discounted and 2for1 tickets available? We would highly suggest making the most of these money saving offers. For more information on discounted tickets and free shows simply visit this page and filter your results for ‘special pricing’.


Although the festival is held during August we would suggest coming prepared for all weather conditions; bring a hat and suntan lotion for hotter weather and a rain coat and boots for colder weather. The more prepared you are the better your festival experience will be.

Try something new

At the Edinburgh Festival Fringe you will find a variety of art forms; some you will have experienced before and some that will be completely new to you. We suggest visiting numerous shows and trying a little of everything; you’ll never know if you like something unless you try!

Take it easy

There is a reason that this special festival is spread out over a three week period, if it wasn’t then there wouldn’t be enough time to take everything in! Our advice would be to wake up early and get the tickets you really want rather than rushing about and missing your favourite acts.

If you’re attending this year’s Festival Fringe we hope that you have an amazing time and get to experience all the wonders of Scotland’s capital city.  For up to date information on the festival make sure to visit the official website.


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.

Where should you stay in the British Isles?

July 18th, 2014
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For overseas travellers or Brits taking their first holiday in the British Isles, choosing where to stay can cause quite a headache. For a relatively small series of islands, the British Isles have a rich array of different cultures, traditions and attractions, so where you choose really does depend on your personality and taste.

To make your decision easier, we’ve come up with a whistle-stop guide to the UK to give you a better sense of the type of holiday you can enjoy in specific countries, so let’s get to it!


Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Best for: Beach holidays, sightseeing tours and historic daytrips

Best bits: Overseas travellers will love exploring England’s world-renowned historic cities, which include London, Liverpool, York and Chester. Sun seekers should head south during the summer, where the golden sands of Cornwall, Dorset and the Isle of Wight await.

Don’t miss: A visit to the holy island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland, North East England. Since the 6th century, this imposing tidal island has been at the centre of Celtic Christianity, and truly is a sight to behold.


Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Best for: Outdoor sport and historic daytrips

Best bits: Although Scotland has some wonderful cities, including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, the real charm of the country comes from its dramatic scenery, which lends itself perfectly to the pursuit of outdoor sport including mountain biking, climbing and surfing.

Don’t miss: A hike in the Cairngorms. This famous mountain range is home to some of Scotland’s most beloved wildlife, including the Red Deer and the Golden Eagle, as well as Caledonian Forest, one of the UK’s oldest woodlands.


Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Best for: Beach holidays and outdoor sport

Best bits: Boasting 33 Blue Flag beaches, the Welsh coastline is one of the cleanest and safest in the British Isles, with highlights including Tenby and Newport in Pembrokeshire and Caswell Bay on the Gower Peninsula.

Don’t miss: A ride on Europe’s longest zip line, which stretches for over a mile across Penrhyn Quarry in North Wales. Riders will reach speeds of up to 100mph as they hurtle 500m metres above the ground, so it’s certainly not one for the fainthearted.


Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Best for: Beach holidays and scenic walking

Best bits: Home to the world’s longest coastal touring route, the Wild Atlantic Way, the west coast of Ireland features a wonderful blend of golden sand and dramatic seacliffs, making it a must for both beachcombing adventurers and committed sun worshippers.

Don’t miss: A blustery walk atop the Slieve League Cliffs in County Donegal. At 601m, these are some of the tallest coastal cliffs in Europe, and three times larger than the much more famou Cliffs of Moher.

Here endeth our whirlwind tour of the British Isles. If you’d like more information on where to travel in the British Isles, please visit the Sykes Cottages website, where you’ll find lots of information on the UK’s favourite holiday destinations.

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.

Sykes’ Shortlist of Bizarre British Sayings

July 17th, 2014
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For a small series of islands, Britain contains some ludicrous lingo. From Yorkshire to the West Country, Southend to Saltney, our weird and wonderful language takes many unusual forms. Us Brits often struggle to understand our native tongue when it’s uttered in a different dialect, so just imagine how difficult it must be for overseas travellers to get to grips with.

To help put things into perspective for us Brits and our friends over the sea, we’ve compiled a shortlist of some of the stranger sayings that you may come across when travelling in the UK and Ireland.

Yorkshire Sayings

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

As a Yorkshireman, I’ll be the first to admit that the accent of my native county can be quite baffling. Here are a few nuggets of brilliance that you may hear should you pay a visit to God’s own county.

‘Daft as a brush’

Meaning: Foolish, stupid or silly.

Example: ‘That lad’s as daft as a brush!’

‘Put wood int’ ‘ole’

Meaning: Close the door.

Example: ‘Ee by gum, it’s parky in here. Put wood int’ ole’

‘I’ll go to’t  foot of’t stairs’

Meaning: Expression of utter disbelief and amazement

Example: ‘Well, I’ll go to’t foot oft’t stairs!’

‘Lowence time’

Meaning: It’s time for a snack (Usually whilst working)

Example: ‘Ey up, it’s lowence time’

‘Monk on’

Meaning: To be grumpy or sulky

Example: ‘They’ve got a right monk on’

Norfolk Sayings

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Brimming with some serious linguistic oddities, the Norfolk accent is about as unusual as the English dialect gets. Here’s five of our favourite phrases from this lovable East Anglian county.

‘Bishy Barney Bee’

Meaning: A ladybird

Example: ‘We’ve bin’ invaded by Bishy Barney Bees’

‘Hold yew hard’

Meaning: Wait a minute

Example: ‘Oi, hold yew hard!’


Meaning: Seesaw

Example: ‘The kids want to go on the Tittermatorter’


Meaning: Fun and games

Example: ‘Join us for the jollificearshuns’


Meaning: In a bad temper

Example: ‘They’re in a right old puckaterry’

Scottish Sayings

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Personally, the Scottish accent is one I’ve struggled to understand in the past, so researching these Scottish sayings was a real eye opener. Here’s our choice of phrases from north of the border.

‘Yer bum’s oot the windae!’

Meaning: You’re not making any sense

Example: Erm…

‘Lang may yer lum reek’

Meaning: Long may your chimney smoke, which implies, long may you live

Example: ‘Lang may yer lum reek!’ (A Hogmanay festive greeting)

‘Many a mickle makes a muckle’

Meaning: A lot of small amounts become a large amount

Example: Again, erm…

‘It’s a dreich day’

Meaning: The weather is cold, wet and miserable

Example: ‘Ach, it’s a dreich day’

‘We’re a’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns’

Meaning: We’re all equal

Example: ‘Just yew remember, we’re a’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns’

Welsh Sayings

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The Welsh certainly come out with some magnificent turns of phrase in their native tongue, but what about in English? Let’s investigate.

‘Under the doctor’

Meaning: To feel unwell

Example: ‘I’m feeling under the doctor’

‘Tidy darts’

Meaning: Good

Example: ‘That’s tidy darts!’


Meaning: Of low quality

Example: ‘Oh, that’s shonky that is’


Meaning: Arguing

Example: ‘They’ve been chopsing’


Meaning: Nasty or unpleasant

Example: ’That’s gomping!’

So there you have it, a shortlist of some of the weird, wonderful and downright peculiar phrases from across the British Isles. If you have any regional sayings that you’d like to share with us, we’d love to hear from you on Facebook or Twitter.

For now: ta-ra, cheerio the nou and take ‘er ‘andy!

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.

Romantic Scotland: A Blogger Competition

July 16th, 2014
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We recently conducted a survey to find out people’s opinion of Scotland as a holiday destination. We were shocked to find that only 5% of the 2,390 people asked would consider taking a romantic holiday or honeymoon in Scotland! We know from personal experience that Scotland is a fantastic destination for lovers and even wrote a romantic guide to Edinburgh but now it’s your turn!

Picture via Flickr

Picture via Flickr.

To help convince our readers to take a romantic break in Scotland, and for your chance to win £350.00 worth of Sykes Cottages vouchers, we’re asking you to write a blog post all about Scotland telling us why you think this northern destination is romantic. All you need to do to enter our fabulous competition is follow this five step guide…

How to enter

  1. Write a blog post telling us why you think Scotland is romantic. This can include information on Scotland’s history, attractions, landscape or even your personal experiences in the country.
  2. Include instructions on how to enter the competition at the end of your post so your readers can join in too. These instructions can be in your own words or you could include a link back to this post.
  3. Nominate three blogs to take part in our Romantic Scotland competition either at the end of your blog or through twitter (if nominating through twitter please use the hashtag #RomanticScotland).
  4. Follow @SykesCottages on twitter and tweet us using the hashtag #RomanticScotland to inform us of your entry. Eg “Hi @SykesCottages I have just entered your #RomanticScotland competition”
  5. You will receive an acknowledgement tweet within one working day of your submission.

The competition closes on August 10th so make sure to get your entry in before this date! We will be announcing the winners on August 15th and will be in contact with them shortly after regarding their prize.

Bellow you will find terms and conditions for the Romantic Scotland competition and we ask that you read them carefully before entering. Once you have read the terms and conditions you’ll be ready to start writing so good luck, we can’t wait to hear all about your romantic Scotland!

Terms & Conditions

Read the rest of this entry »


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.

UK Travel Guide for Overseas Visitors

July 15th, 2014
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Are you planning on visiting the UK this summer but have no idea where to start when it comes to finalising the details of your trip? Well don’t worry as Sykes Cottages have put together a short travel guide to Britain aimed at visitors from abroad. Read on for our hints, tips and suggestions on how to make the most of your time in the UK.

When to visit

British countryside

Via Flickr

Unlike other countries, the UK is a great tourist destination all year round. However, July and August, at the height of the British summer, are undoubtedly the most popular times to visit and as this coincides with the UK school holidays, this is when places are at their busiest. If you want to visit during the summer, it’s a good idea to plan your visit during June or September when the weather is still good but attractions are quieter. Other busy periods include Christmas, New Year, Easter and bank holidays. You can find a comprehensive list of bank holidays across the UK here.

The weather and what to pack


Via Flickr

The UK is well known for its unpredictable weather and you should try to pack for every eventuality. The weather is generally quite mild and so there’s no need to go to extremes, but travellers should definitely consider packing everything from an umbrella and waterproof jacket, to sunglasses and sunscreen.

Public transport and ways to get around

British Train

Via Flickr

Public transport in the UK is relatively good and trains in particular are a great way to travel around; you can get a train to almost anywhere in the UK. For more information about trains in Britain, head to the National Rail website. Another thing that you may want to consider looking into is a BritRail pass. These passes are available to anyone who is not a UK resident and once bought, provide you with unlimited travel on trains across Britain. You can find more information on the BritRail website. If you’re just travelling around London, you should look at buying at Visitor’s Oyster Card, which is a plastic smartcard that works on a pay as you go system and is by far one of the cheapest and quickest ways to travel around London.  If you’re not keen on public transport and are planning on renting a car in the UK, it’s worth noting that you will usually be given a manual car unless you request an automatic, which are generally more expensive.

Things we do differently:

Road signs

Via Flickr

  • Plugs. We Brits have our very own plugs that differ from the rest of Europe. Our plugs have three pins that are shaped like a triangle and so visitors from abroad will need to remember to buy a plug adaptor for their electrical items.
  • We drive on the left hand side of the road. This is obviously extremely important to remember if you’re planning on driving whilst you’re in the UK but it’s also of the upmost importance to pedestrians, who may be used to checking the opposite direction before they cross the road.
  • We calculate speed in miles per hour and our speed limits may be different to that of other countries. You can check out the speed limits here and you will able to see the speed limit for each road when you’re driving by looking at signposts.

Where to stay

Holiday cottage in Yorkshire

Croft View, Yorkshire, Ref. 6735

We may be biased but we think that there’s no better way to experience the UK than by staying in a self-catering cottage amongst locals. If you’re planning a trip to the UK and you’d like to see how we can help, you can visit our website or give our dedicated reservations specialists a call on +441244 356 695. If you’re worried about your phone bill, avoid charges and let us call you by entering your details here.

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.