How to Make Your Garden More Eco-Friendly

June 24th, 2015
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Well I think that it’s safe to say that summer is well and truly here! The temperatures are on the rise, there’s been some glorious weather of late and we’ve even indulged in a couple of ice creams over lunchtime here at Sykes HQ! But for me, one of the best things about summer is spending some time out in the garden, whether it’s soaking up some sun, tucking into an alfresco meal or even doing a spot of gardening. One thing that I’m hoping to get done this year is looking into how I can make the garden a little bit more eco-friendly, so I’ve been doing a bit of research and found some hints that might be of use. So if you’re a cottage owner looking to reduce your property’s footprint, or you’re just after a few tips, take a look below and see what you think.

Harvesting Rainwater

One thing that surprised me was how much water we use in our gardens. For most of the year, we’re ok to rely on the rainfall to get the job done but there’s usually a short period between July and September where nature needs a hand. But rather than just taking water out of the mains, you could try investing in a rainwater harvesting system. These can range from a simple butt collecting water from a drainpipe, all the way through to a complex system that can feed water back into the plumbing in your house, but they all get the job done! You can easily get your hands on a butt from your local council or a garden centre and fitting is a simple task, but the best thing – you don’t need to follow any hosepipe bans!

Attracting Wildlife

One of the easiest and most successful ways that you can make your garden more eco-friendly is by encouraging more wildlife to move in. Whether it’s choosing the right kind of plants, providing food or creating a shelter, every little thing helps and your garden will soon start to reap the rewards! Here at Sykes Cottages we worked alongside the North Wales Wildlife Trust to create a resource that shows you how to turn your garden into a bird’s paradise which you can see here, or you can take a look at the RSPB’s latest initiative Make a Home for Wildlife which features loads of information on the subject.

Going Native

One further change that can be made is to really put the emphasis on native plants when your doing your gardening. Not only do these plants provide a plentiful food source for the local wildlife, but using them also reduces the risk of invasive exotic alternatives from gaining a foothold in your garden. If you need any more convincing, the native plants are more accustomed to the climate here meaning that you have to put in far less work to look after them!

So hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading and have managed to pick up a couple of hints and tips that will help you make your garden a little greener! Maybe you’d like a little more inspiration? If so then you should have a look at some of our cottage gardens for some ideas or if you have any hints or tips then get in touch over Twitter or Facebook and we’ll help to spread the word!

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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.

Britain’s Best Eco-Friendly Restaurants

June 22nd, 2015
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We all like to do our bit to help the environment- whether it’s recycling, using energy-efficient appliances or buying organic food to cook at home- but have you ever wondered about how you can be more eco-friendly when you’re eating out? Here in the UK, we have a large number of fantastic eco-friendly restaurants; we’ve done some research and come up with our favourite eco-friendly restaurants in the UK, for the next time you want to enjoy a meal out, safe in the knowledge that the food you’re eating is as environmentally friendly as possible.

Blas Burgerworks, St Ives, Cornwall

As someone who will always choose the burger on the menu, Blas Burgerworks is right up my street. This restaurant prides itself on being eco-friendly and still providing delicious food. All of their furniture is made from reclaimed timber or sustainable sources, they use 100% green electricity, recycle as much as they possibly can and use recycled boxes and napkins in the restaurant itself. Their burgers are made using Cornish meat which is free range, and their other produce is fresh and locally sourced where possible. Described on Trip Advisor as “a real hidden gem”, you don’t want to miss it!

Contact info: 01736 797272; www.blasburgerworks.co.uk

ODE dining, Shaldon, Devon

If you’re looking for a dining experience with ethics, ODE dining is ideal. ODE dining provide high quality regional food, with their seasonal menu currently offering dishes such as ‘Torched Lyme bay mackeral’ and ‘Duckaller farm pork fillet’. They have a strong sustainability policy supporting local farms that have high standards of animal welfare; they will never use factory-farmed fish or poultry in their menu, or use GMO products. However it’s not just the food that’s eco-friendly, the kitchen uses low energy equipment, organic napkins and soya candles.

Contact info: 01626 873977; www.odetruefood.com/ode-dining

Bordeaux Quay, Bristol, Somerset

This sophisticated converted warehouse on Bristol’s beautiful waterfront is one of the UK’s most acclaimed sustainable restaurants. In 2011, it was recognised as a Three Star Sustainability Champion by the Sustainable Restaurant Association- the highest possible national award for general sustainability. Bordeaux Quay have a broad recycling and composting system, use sustainably sourced resources and also boast their own rainwater harvesting system. With the Restaurant, the Brasserie and even a Cooking School to choose from, Bordeaux Quay is the perfect place to head to whatever the occasion.

Contact info:  0117 943 1200; www.bordeaux-quay.co.uk

The Traddock, Austwick, Yorkshire

This family-run restaurant near Settle has two AA Rosette chefs, who make some of the finest food around using Yorkshire Dales produce, usually from within a 50 mile radius of the restaurant. The Traddock uses organic, seasonal produce where possible and is totally upfront about where it gets its ingredients, with a whole page on their website dedicated to their food provenance. The menu itself is enough to make anyone’s mouth water, featuring the likes of ‘Roast rack of Mansergh Hall lamb’, ‘Yorkshire smoked rainbow trout’ and ‘Traddock summer pudding’.

Contact info: 01524 251224; www.thetraddock.co.uk/restaurant-menus

If you do get the chance to visit any of these fantastic restaurants then do let us know what you think! You can do so via our Facebook or Twitter pages. If you’re planning an eco-friendly holiday then you can check out our eco-friendly holiday cottages on our website.

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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.

The Best Ways to Explore a UK City

June 20th, 2015
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Sometimes cities can be a little overwhelming, especially when you’ve never visited before. The crowds and tall buildings, mixed with everything else going on, can often leave you feeling confused and not sure where to start. Today we’re taking a look at some of the ways that you can explore a city, whether you’re a first time visitor or not!

Enjoy a Cruise Along The River

If you’re staying in one of the UK’s fabulous cities that are located beside a river, why not spend an afternoon on the water and see your chosen city from a new angle? River tours are available in cities across the UK and they are a great way to see the sights away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds on dry land. You could even go on a river tour that includes a meal and dine as you travel along the river, taking in the sights as you go.

Hop on a City Bus Tour

Sightseeing bus tours are a personal favourite of mine. Not only do they offer you an overview of the place you’re visiting and allow you to hear historic information and anecdotes from the on board tour guide but you can also ‘hop on, hop off’ at any of the designated stops along the route. This is ideal if you are short on time, as you can multi-task by travelling to your next attraction whilst also learning more about the history of the city you are visiting.

Take a Helicopter Tour

Rise above the crowds of your chosen city by booking onto a helicopter tour. This may not be the cheapest option for seeing a city, but if you have the cash to splash it is certainly worth it for the bird’s eye view you will get! Flights are usually around 15-45 minutes and as helicopters only seat 2-3 passengers, you can be sure that your helicopter experience will be a personal one.

Just Walk

One of the greatest ways to discover the hidden gems of a city is to explore it by foot. Wear comfortable shoes and utilise street maps or follow brown signs to discover the nearest attraction. Alternatively, why not forget the regular tourist trails and make your own route through the city? As long as you stay safe there’s no reason why you can’t divert from the guidebooks and the tour groups.

Book a City Break with Sykes Cottages

If you’re now inspired to go ahead and book a weekend (or longer) stay in one of the UK’s fantastic cities, why not book a self catering holiday cottage or apartment with us at Sykes? We have a range of properties available to book in York, Chester, Lincoln and beyond! Just take a look at our holiday properties in a city on our website.

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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.

Spotlight on: Bike Friendly Cottages

June 19th, 2015
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The popularity of cycling in the UK has soared over the past decade and it’s now estimated to be one of our favourite sports, alongside the likes of football, cricket and rugby. The National Cycle Network now passes within a mile of half of all UK homes and covers around 14,000 miles across the UK. Here at Sykes, we want to celebrate our love of cycling and we encourage you to do so too! So today, we’re shining our spotlight on some of our most bike-friendly cottages that are perfect for cycling holidays.

Alpine Cottages No. 4, Yorkshire Dales

This charming 4* self-catering apartment sleeps 5 in Reeth, at the very heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Alpine Cottages No. 4 boasts luxury features including a claw-footed slipper bath and cosy woodburner, as well as delightful views across the surrounding heather and grouse moors. This property has its own secure bike storage area and also facilities to wash your bike. There’s also a wood-fired hot tub, perfect for cyclists to soothe tired limbs in after a long day cycling! There are plenty of challenging cycling opportunities nearby including the Swaledale Circular and Yorkshire Dales Cycleway. You can see more information here.

Wroxton House, Oxfordshire

Oxford is one of the UK’s few ‘Cycling Cities’ and is an absolute joy to cycle in. There are cycle lanes aplenty, designated cycle parking throughout the city and the council are in the midst of trying to make Oxford even more cycle friendly. The surrounding countryside is perfect for cycling too with beautiful scenery, softly undulating countryside and a network of traffic-free bridle and cycle paths. Wroxton House is the perfect base from which to explore Oxfordshire’s cycling possibilities. Sleeping 6, this unique 1930’s cottage boasts lots of charming features including beams from the original Wroxton Abbey Estate and interior furnishings from a typical 1930’s house. The property also offers secure bike storage for cyclists. For cycle routes in the area, please visit this website.

Browside, Lake District

If you’re planning a group cycling holiday then Browside, just 2 miles from Coniston, is perfect. This spectacular holiday cottage sleeps 12 guests with 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms, ensuring that everyone has plenty of space to enjoy their stay! Mountain biking opportunities in the area are excellent, with Coniston Old Man, Grizedale Forest and Walna Scar nearby, with shorter routes for beginners and longer, more challenging routes for the more experienced. Browside has its own bike storage available, as well as wash facilities to get rid of any mud your bike has accumulated. The outdoor hot tub is sure to go down a treat too! You’ll find some cycle route ideas to start you off here.

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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.

Choose a Holiday Cottage for your next Sporting Event

June 18th, 2015
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If you participate in sports, you’ll probably be used to travelling the length and breadth of the country for various events and tournaments. Frequently, these can be far from home and finding somewhere to stay can be a bit of a nightmare! Well, we at Sykes Cottages may be able to help; read on to discover five reasons why booking a self catering holiday cottage is perfect when you’re taking part in a sporting event.

Have a Bath to Soothe those Muscles

Bathroom The Malthouse

The Malthouse in Cromford, The Peak District

Be sure that there is a bath where you can relax after your event by booking a holiday cottage with a bath. Showers are great for quick fixes before heading out, but if there’s one thing you deserve after your event it’s a relaxing bath to help soothe your muscles. Why not really treat yourself by booking one of our cottages with a spa bath?

Have Space for Your Equipment

If your sport of choice means you must carry a selection of equipment with you, then a holiday cottage is ideal. Being much larger than a standard hotel room, where space is often at a premium, there will be plenty of space for your equipment and you can rest assured that it will be safe.

Cook your Own Meals

East Gable

East Gable located in Gatehouse of Fleet, Scotland

You don’t want to ruin all that training by falling at the last hurdle on your diet. Every one of our self catering holiday cottages have a kitchen and dining space including all of the utensils and pots you could need, so you can whip up a recovery meal post-workout and keep to that regime whilst you’re away!

Enjoy your Holiday Right Away

23 Clock Tower Court

23 Clock Tower Court in Charlestown, Cornwall

You’ve been training for months; you deserve to spend some time away getting a bit of rest and relaxation! By booking a holiday cottage, you can begin your holiday straight after the sporting event without having to travel elsewhere.

Bring the Whole Family Along

Bring all the family

Beechcroft in North Molton, Devon

Every sports star needs their cheerleaders but sometimes, if an event is quite far away, it can be difficult for everyone to be able to come along due to costs and space! Luckily, when booking a holiday cottage, everyone will have somewhere to stay and be able to cheer you on. Get that for support!

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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.