Autumnal Recipes for National Apple Day

October 18th, 2014
Pin It

Can you think of a more autumnal flavour than the humble apple? From crumbles to pies, sauces to chutneys, apples and autumn go hand in hand. This explains why National Apple Day always falls around this time of year. In honour of this year’s apple day, we’ve tracked down some recipes for our favourite apple dishes that you can try at home!

Mini Apple Crumbles

via Flickr

via Flickr

Ingredients

  • 125g of flour
  • 75g of unsalted butter
  • 75g of caster sugar
  • 50g of oats
  • 750g of apples
  • 2 tsp of caster sugar
  • 2 tsp of unsalted butter

Method

  1. First up preheat your oven to around 200°c.
  2. Place your flour in a large bowl and add the butter. Rub the butter and flour together until the texture resembles breadcrumbs and then mix in the 75g of caster sugar and the oats.
  3. Next take your apples, peel them and chop them before mixing in with the rest of the sugar.
  4. Divide the mixture between the jars and top with the crumble mixture.
  5. Place in the oven and cook until the crumble topping is golden brown and crisp.

Toffee Apples

toffe apples

via Flickr

Ingredients

  • 8 apples (preferably Granny Smith)
  • 4 tsp of golden syrup
  • 1 tsp of vinegar
  • 400g of caster sugar

Method

  1. First, put the apples in a bowl and cover with boiling water. This will remove the natural waxy cover and will make the toffee stick. After they have soaked, dry them and push a skewer through the core of the apples.
  2. Place your sugar into a pan with 100ml of water and cook over a medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  3. Add the vinegar and golden syrup and turn up the heat. Using a thermometer, wait until the mixture has reached 140°c.
  4. Once that temperature has been reached, take each of the apples and dip into the toffee mixture. Place them on a sheet of baking paper and leave to cool.

Classic Apple Pie

Ingredients

Pastry

via Flickr

via Flickr

  • 250g of plain flour
  • 75g of caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 125g of plain flour
  • A pinch of salt.

Filling

  • 1 kg of Cox Apples
  • 250g Granny Smith Apples
  • 250g Bramley Apples
  • 200g of caster sugar.

Method

  1. Start by making the pastry. Put your butter, sugar, flour and salt in a food processor and blend until it looks like breadcrumbs. Then, add in your egg yolks and gently pulse the mixture until it is dough like.
  2. Knead this mixture on a floured surface until it is smooth and then wrap in cling film and refrigerate.
  3. Next peel and core all of your apples and slice them up. Add them to a saucepan with the sugar and gently heat the mixture until the apples begin to break down.
  4. Next take your pastry, split one third away from the mixture and roll out both pieces until they are a few millimetres wide. Take the bigger portion and use it to line a pie tin before blind baking it for 20 minutes at 200°c.
  5. Spoon your apple mixture into the pie dish and cover with the remaining third of the pastry. Return to to oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.

Well there you go, some simple recipes for our favourite autumnal apple dishes. Next time you’ve got family or friends coming round to dinner why don’t you give them a go. They’re easy enough to do and I’m sure they’ll bring out a few smiles around the table!

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.

Sykes’ Autumnal Best Bits

October 17th, 2014
Pin It

We’re having a bit of an autumnal moment here at Sykes Cottages. Perhaps it’s the chill in the air, the view from our window or our Autumn’s Best Bits competition, but we’ve been talking constantly about the best things of the season. Not ones to be left out of the fun, we thought we’d share what our favourite bits of autumn right here on the blog.

Jacket Potatoes

A picture of Jonathan's delicious jackets; made with potatoes straight from his father's farm - yum!

A picture of Jonathan’s delicious jackets; made with potatoes straight from his father’s farm – yum!

Spuds: aren’t they good. Fried, mashed, boiled – even sautéed – the humble tatie’ is our most versatile veg. At this time of year, there’s only one way to serve this starchy superfood: jackets. As a farmer’s son, I spent many an autumn day picking spuds, and learnt a thing or two about them in the process. For the perfect jacket potato, opt for a King Edward. When cooked, this variety develop a fluffy middle, making them the ideal candidate for a jacket. On a nippy night, nothing will warm you faster than a steaming spud loaded with your favourite filling – and don’t skimp on the cheddar, it’s autumn after all. – Jonathan

 Autumn Picnics

Autumn Trees

A picture of the view from Nicole’s favourite autumnal picnic spot.

You may think I’m mad but one of my favourite things to do in autumn is to go on a picnic. I wrap up warm, make some sandwiches, a flask of tea and head off into the Cheshire countryside. I love the slight chill in the air, the animals preparing for hibernation or migration, and of course the amazing array of autumn colours. This time of year really inspires me, so with a steaming hot tea and a pen in hand I get a lot of writing done and tons of ideas for my upcoming wedding. - Nicole

Seasonal Drinks

Autumnal Drinks

Leanne’s favourite way to enjoy a seasonal drink… with a side of biscuits!

Perhaps it stems from spending my university days working at a certain well-known coffee house, but my favourite thing about the autumn season is warming up with a sweet, seasonal drink. Adding cinnamon and pumpkin spice syrup to a coffee may not ring in the bells of autumn to everyone, but to me the season doesn’t truly begin until I have sipped my first pumpkin spiced latte. Plus there is nothing quite like stopping to pick up a takeaway coffee in the middle of a chilly dog walk! - Leanne

Wrapping up Warm

Wrapping Up Warm at Autumn

A picture of Louise getting all snug in her autumn scarf.

There are so many things to love about autumn but my personal favourite is the clothes. There’s a lot of excitement surrounding rooting out the cold-weather clothing from the depths of my wardrobe! It’s fun to re-discover the old favourites that I’ve not worn since last winter and for me, there’s no greater comfort than wrapping up warm. Think winter coats, cosy jumpers, huge scarves, ankle boots and bobble hats! – Louise

Homemade Soup

A bowl of warming soup is Jamie's best bit of autumn.

A bowl of warming soup is Jamie’s best bit of autumn.

I’d have to say, my favourite thing about autumn is soup. Think about it: the nights are drawing in ever earlier and the temperature is starting to drop, so what more could you want than a piping hot bowl of soup? I absolutely love the stuff, from leek and potato through to Scotch broth, there’s nothing better. And there’s the best type in the world: my Grandma’s homemade chicken soup, you just can’t beat it! – Jamie

So, there we have some of our favourite bits of autumn as inspired by our latest competition. Unfortunately we can’t enter, but you can, so if you’re a fan of autumn, have a camera and write a blog, take a look at all the details on the competition page.

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.

Top 10 Taverns You Must Visit in Ireland

October 16th, 2014
Pin It

The Irish like their drink. They wouldn’t contest this. Since humans could lift a glass and pour a pint, the Irish have done just that. And where do they do this drinking? Down the pub of course.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Like the UK, Irish pubs are in peril. Over the past twenty-or-so years, 1,000s of boozers have closed their doors, lay slain by the cheap liquor on sale in offies and supermarkets across the Emerald Isle. To top it off – and contrary to belief – the beer served in Irish pubs is crap, steering many-a-thirsty Paddy into the alcohol aisle of the nearest convenience store.

Thanks to a surge in microbreweries supplying pubs with better beer, the future of Ireland’s taverns looks bright. But where should you go to sample the craic on a trip across the Irish Sea? Here’s a shortlist of taverns you should – nay, must – visit during your holiday in Ireland.

Matt Malloys, Westport, Co. Mayo

Matt Malloy's – Via Flickr

Matt Malloy’s – Via Flickr

Owned by Chieftain flutist Matt Malloy, this intimate Westport boozer hosts traditional live music seven nights a week. The ale poured in this Mayo inn are as authentic as the tunes, and the welcome as a warm as the punters squeezing in to listen to them. Visit as soon as possible.

O’Loclainn’s, Ballyvaughn, Co. Clare

Image courtesy of The Irish Whiskey Trail

Image courtesy of The Irish Whiskey Trail

Down an unassuming alley in Ballyvaughn is O’Loclainn’s, perhaps the best pub in Ireland. With the feel of someone’s stove-lit front room and an overwhelming whisky selection, this tavern will warm your cockles on a bracing winter’s night. Musicians often set up shop within, so it can be a pleasantly tight squeeze.

Geoff’s, Waterford, Co. Waterford

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Whoever Geoff is, he’s the proprietor of a bloomin’ good pub. Reading reviews of the place, you’d think it was a classy joint; all speak of the atmosphere, the delicious food, the tasty stout and the good-natured cliental, but in reality, Geoff’s is a down-to-earth pub that’s the perfect place to while away a Saturday afternoon.

Sin é, Cork City, Co. Cork

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Sin é, Irish for “That’s it”, refers to the funeral parlour next door. As macabre as this sounds, there’s nothing otherworldly about this Cork public house. Candlelit and convivial, Sin e’ is the home of traditional Irish music in Cork city, and has kept dry patrons in drink for over 50 years.

The Corner House, Ardara, Co. Donegal

Via Google Images – Labelled for reuse

Via Google Images – Labelled for reuse

There are several reasons you should endure the long drive to Co. Donegal, and The Corner House is one of them. Tiny, cosy, and family run, The Corner House features an open fire that’s stoked during the winter months. Plus there’s regular live music. See you there.

Hargadon Bros, Sligo, Co. Sligo

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Old pub, modern grub. That about sums up Hargadon Bros, a gem of a boozer in Sligo town. Did I mention their wine cellar, packed to the rafters with speciality vinos? Or their excellent range of local and international ales? Or their staff, who are described as “friendly” more times than I can count on Tripadvisor? No? Must have missed those bits.

The Dame Tavern, Dublin, Co. Dublin

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Fancy a sing-along in a proper pub with proper pints? Get yourself down to The Dame Tavern, a Dublin watering hole whose clientele are welcoming to tourists. Located on a historic byway where Google Street View couldn’t tread, you’ll feel at the heart of the Irish capital in this atmospheric wee pub.

Morrisey’s Pub, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois

Morrisey’s Pub is essentially a museum. From the ancient bric-a-brac to the aged clientele, you feel you owe an admission fee before entering the saloon. For the cost of a pint, you can sit and drink amid years of Irish heritage and tradition – what could be better than that?

The Crane Bar, Galway, Co. Galway

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The Crane Bar: a foot-stomping, violin thrashing, joy of an establishment. From the moment you set foot in this rustic alehouse, you’re encouraged to join in the craic. With top beer, two floors and a good local to tourist ratio, it won’t take long to get in the swing of things.

The Mutton Lane Inn, Cork City, Co. Cork

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Sheep used to sleep in this pub. And, JFK and Johnny Cash drank here. Now that’s out of the way, let’s discuss this admired Cork public house. Candles stuffed in wine necks, torn upholstery, and dire loos add to the charm of this lovable dive. Ask for Sky Sports and you’ll likely find yourself on the pavement.

Has this list left you thirsty or muttering “you feckin’ idiots”? Which pubs would you choose? Let us know your favourite Irish boozer on Twitter or Facebook.

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.

A Whirlwind Tour of the Irish Coast

October 15th, 2014
Pin It

Today we’ll be taking you on a whistle-stop tour of the Irish Coast, from Donegal in the north down to County Cork in the south, stopping off in some of our favourite places along the way.  We’ve taken it upon ourselves to list some of the best spots of the Irish coastline with awards going to our favourite beach, seaside town and, of course, the best spot to soak up some scenery. As you can imagine, this was no mean feat; after all, the Irish coast is one of the most spectacular going.

Best Beach

via Flickr

via Flickr

We decided to jump in at the deep end and pick our favourite beach first. Now you should know there’s over 1,000 miles of Irish coastline and a whopping 76 blue flag beaches, so this was never going to be an easy choice. However, we decided on a beautiful spot on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. Dingle itself was once labelled as the most beautiful place on Earth by National Geographic, so it must have something going for it. This becomes apparent when you head to Inch Beach, a three mile stretch of golden sand perfect for a stroll in the sun, some surfing or even a touch of sunbathing. A worthy winner of Ireland’s best beach!

Best Scenery

via Flickr

via Flickr

For the best spot to enjoy scenery on the Irish coast, we’re heading towards the northernmost tip of Ireland. Up there you’ll find the cliffs of Sliabh Liag, some of the highest accessible sea cliffs in Europe. They tower 600 meters above the sea making them almost twice the height of the Eiffel Tower and around three times that of their famous rival, the Cliffs of Moher. With picnic areas at the summit, walking paths all around and of course the various companies running boat trips around the base of cliffs, there’s so much to do, although you’ll probably prefer to just sit and enjoy the view!

Best Coastal Town

via Flickr

via Flickr

Now this really was a tough one. There are so many delightful seaside towns dotted around the Irish coast, but in the end, we plumbed for Kinsale in County Cork as our favourite. One of the jewels of the southern Irish coastline, well known for its winding streets, colourful shops and countless little cafés, you can see why Kinsale is popular with tourists. There’s a multitude of things to do there with an annual Gourmet festival, numerous art galleries and of course the marina where you can hire a boat for the day.

Well hopefully you agree with our choices, but if you’ve got any suggestions of other spots that deserve a mention let us know, either on Facebook or on Twitter! And hopefully reading this blog has got you in the mood for a trip over to Ireland. If so, we’ve got just the thing for you: a page full of Irish coastal cottages, so have a look and see if you can find your dream holiday home.

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.

Sykes’ Spotlight on New Irish Cottages

October 14th, 2014
Pin It

Our portfolio of properties is constantly expanding not only here in the UK but across the sea in Ireland too. As we frequently blog about our recently acquired UK cottages, we thought it’s about time we highlighted some of our new Irish holiday homes. From stylish modern properties to cottages filled with character, and idyllic coastal getaways to cosy country retreats, our new cottages offer something to suit all tastes.

Cherrymount Farm

Cherrymount Farm | Youghal, County Cork | Ref:  914203

Cherrymount Farm | Youghal, County Cork | Ref: 914203

Cherrymount Farm is the perfect example of a modern Irish cottage, offering WiFi, underfloor central heating and solar panels. This immaculately presented five bedroom property is located on the border between Waterford and Cork so it’s ideal for exploring both counties and making the most of your holiday.

Coachman’s House

Coachman's House | Lorrha, County Tipperary | Ref: 915464

Coachman’s House | Lorrha, County Tipperary | Ref: 915464

Packed full of character, Coachman’s House in County Tipperary provides everything you need for a traditional Irish break. This stunning stone cottage offers homely accommodation which is ideal for a cosy family holiday or a romantic getaway with an open fire, large grounds and convenient local amenities all adding to its charm.

Watch House Cottage

Watch House Cottage | Valentia Island, County Kerry | Ref: 915397

Watch House Cottage | Valentia Island, County Kerry | Ref: 915397

If you’re looking to explore the Irish coastline in style then this adorable coastal cottage on Valentia Island is the property for you. Step out the front door of Watch House Cottage to find the vibrant Knightstown harbour with its pier and a range of water activities perfect for children or a family dog who just loves the water!

Ard Boula

Ard Boula | Tulla, County Clare | Ref: 912160

Ard Boula | Tulla, County Clare | Ref: 912160

Nestled in the Irish countryside, Ard Boula’s tranquil surroundings and rural setting is sure to encourage lots of rest and relaxation on your next Irish getaway. This property offers plenty of space to accommodate eight people and two well-behaved pets with four bedrooms, two sitting areas and large gardens one of which includes a plot where seasonal produce is grown.

This is just a small selection of the fabulous Irish Cottages we have on offer. If you’re planning a holiday to Ireland then please visit our Irish Cottages page or contact our team for more information.

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.