Do More with Your Weekend Away

May 7th, 2015
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Our two night breaks are proving extremely popular and it’s not hard to see why; with last minute family escapes and romantic weekend getaways, these convenient breaks work around you and your family’s schedule. If you’re still to be convinced by our two night short breaks then keep reading as we suggest three great reasons to book a weekend getaway!

Visit numerous destinations

When on a week-long holiday, you are usually limited to one cottage in a single set location, using up seven days’ worth of holidays touring just one region of the UK! If you want to discover more of the UK and learn what makes our culture so diverse, then we would suggest using the same seven days’ holiday on three weekend getaways. Imagine chowing down on Cromer crab in Norfolk one weekend before climbing to the summit of Mount Snowdon the next; two night stays not only allow you to see more but do more too.

Less packing

Packing for a weekend escape is far less stressful and time-consuming than filling the suitcase for a week away, all you need is a small bag of essentials. These small bags allow you more space in the car so you can either take more people or treat the family pooch to a special holiday in one of our dog friendly cottages! Travelling light also gives you the opportunity to take advantage of public transport, meaning you can leave the car at home and save on petrol.

Attending special occasions

Weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and get-togethers are most commonly held at the weekend making our new two night breaks perfect for celebrations. Travel to your cottage on Friday night after work, attend the event on Saturday and return home feeling refreshed on Sunday ready for work again Monday morning; it’s that simple! With our new two night short breaks you’ll never have to miss out on special occasions again.

For more information on our two night breaks please see our previous blog post here. Alternatively, to view our selection of cottages offering two night breaks simply click here.

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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.

Far From the Madding Crowd: Thomas Hardy’s Dorset

May 6th, 2015
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As the newest re-make of Thomas Hardy’s ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ hit the cinemas this Bank Holiday weekend, audiences across the country have been captivated by its tragedy, its romance- the novel was described by the Guardian as one of the greatest love stories of all time- and its evocative account of rural life in nineteenth century England.

Far From the Madding Crowd was Thomas Hardy’s first major literary success and like many of his novels, it’s set within one of the most picturesque (but often also one of the most overlooked) parts of the UK- West Dorset. Hardy used Dorset’s ancient Saxon name, Wessex, in his work and described it as a “partly real, partly dream country”. For a long time, Dorset has been in the shadow of its honeypot neighbours but thanks to the likes of the new film release of Far From the Madding Crowd and ITV’s Broadchurch, Dorset is deservedly taking its place in the limelight. Much of rural Dorset has remained unspoilt and unchanged over the years, making it the perfect place to step back in time and visit some of the places that inspired Hardy’s masterpiece.


The pretty Dorset village of Puddletown, just 5 miles from Dorchester, was Hardy’s inspiration for Far From the Madding Crowd’s setting, Weatherbury. Many of Hardy’s family came from this village, including his grandfather and great-grandfather. St Mary’s Church in Puddletown is where his grandfather played cello in the gallery and where his uncle is buried. The church features regularly in Far From the Madding Crowd; Fanny Robin was buried in St Mary’s churchyard and Troy sleeps in the church porch overlooking her grave.


The county town of Dorchester is the centre of Hardy’s Wessex and it features in many of his novels, though throughout he refers to it as Casterbridge. Many of the town’s buildings are associated with Thomas Hardy’s characters including the Corn Exchange, (pictured above) where Bathsheba shocks everyone by selling her own wheat and where she meets William Boldwood. There are also plenty of buildings here that are associated with Hardy himself such as Max Gate, a house that he designed and his brother built, where he lived from 1885 onwards. The Dorset County Museum also holds a fantastic collection of Hardy memorabilia including the original furnishings of the study in which he wrote Jude the Obscure and Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

Higher Bockhampton

Although not featured in Far From the Madding Crowd itself, it was in Higher Bockhampton that Hardy was born and lived for the first 22 years of his life. The cottage in which he lived was built by his great grandfather; now owned by the National Trust, it remains largely unchanged since the family left. It was at this cottage that he wrote his first five novels, including Far From the Madding Crowd, in his bedroom. You can still visit the cottage today and look out of the right hand dormer window of his bedroom to see Hardy’s view while he wrote his first literary masterpiece.

You can read more about locations in Dorset associated with Thomas Hardy and his other novels in the Hardy Trail guide created by Visit Dorset. If you’re visiting on holiday then make sure you also check out our fantastic collection of holiday cottages in Dorset. Sykes Cottages have a dedicated team of reservations specialists that are on hand to help seven days a week, from 9am until 9.30pm.

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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.

Simple Crafts Competition

May 5th, 2015
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Are you a crochet connoisseur? Have a penchant for papercraft? Go all silly over sewing? If any of this sounds like you you’re in the right place, as we’re holding a crafty competition right here on the Sykes Cottages blog.

You may remember last year when we worked with six incredibly talented craft bloggers to create our Simple Crafts: A Guide for Beginners which includes six simple craft tutorials that are ideal for beginner crafters to make whether at home or away.

Enter to win a £100 craft bundle

To get things a bit crafty again, we’re hosting a crafting competition right here on the Sykes Cottages blog – where you can be in with the chance of winning one of six prize bundles! All you have to do to enter is share with us a photo of a craft you have recently made using the competition form below. The six winners of this competition will each be chosen by our six very talented craft bloggers.

You can enter with a craft you made last year, or a craft you made last week – it’s entirely up to you! If you want a bit of inspiration, however, why not head over to the craft guide for some ideas.

How to enter:

Use the form below to upload a photo of a craft you have created and think our judges will love!

Don’t forget your email address so that we can get in touch with you if you win.

Good luck! 

Terms and conditions for this competition can be found here.

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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.

10 Reasons to Stay in the UK this Summer

May 4th, 2015
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We may be a little biased, but here at Sykes Cottages, we’re of the opinion that nothing beats a summer holiday in the UK. I personally spent many a happy childhood holiday playing on the beaches of Cornwall and South Wales. Now, I know that not everyone shares this positive view of British holidays so, to change your mind, here are our top ten reasons why you should stay in the UK this summer.

1. Save money. Plain and simple, choosing a staycation instead of heading abroad will save you money on everything from airport transfers to roaming charges on your mobile.


2. You won’t waste time waiting in long queues to change your currency, and there’s no risk your card will be swallowed because you haven’t informed your bank that you’re heading abroad!


3. There’s no need to fly so you’re safe from jet lag ruining the first couple of days of your holiday.


4. No passport needed! Passports can be expensive, especially when you’re travelling as a family.


5. Holidaying in the UK means that you have the choice to take your pets on holiday with you.


6. We may moan about the weather sometimes but we’ve actually had 4 years in a row of glorious, British summer heatwaves.


7. Aside from all the practical reasons, the UK is actually also a really beautiful place to holiday.


8. There’s some spectacular scenery that you won’t see anywhere else.


9. Our traditional seaside towns are like nowhere else in the world.


10. Finally, when you beaches like this, why would you want to be anywhere else?

If you’re planning a summer holiday in the UK this year then make sure you take a look at our fantastic collection of holiday cottages. With over 5,500 cottages to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect holiday home for your summer getaway!

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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.

How to: Revive your Holiday Home Exterior

May 3rd, 2015
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For holiday home owners, summer is both a busy and exciting time with back-to-back bookings and lots of guests to look after. Once you get into the peak summer season, it can be hard to get the time to do odd jobs on your property as well as the basic maintenance needed to turn it around for your next guest. That’s why here at Sykes, we’ve come up with a checklist of things for cottage owners to do before the summer to revive and refresh the exterior of your holiday cottage in order to make a great first impression for your guests and help ensure that their stay runs smoothly!

Ways to spring-clean your cottage exterior

Holiday cottage in Shropshire

The Old Schoolhouse, Shropshire, Ref. 903636

  • Give the windows a good clean. Obvious maybe, but a great way to help make a good first impression.
  • Don’t forget to give window sills a clean too. Cleaning your window sills gives you the chance to check that they’re still in good nick- you’ll be able to see if any need repairing or replacing. If your window sills are painted and aren’t in good condition, you may also need to re-paint them after cleaning.
  • Wash any other exterior paintwork on your property. This will instantly brighten up your cottage and again, help create a good first impression for your guests.
  • Polish any house numbers, name plates, or any brass on the door.

How to revive your holiday cottage’s garden

Holiday cottage in Yorkshire

Monks Cottage, Yorkshire Dales, Ref. 21352

  • Start by clearing any leaves or plant debris that has collected over the colder months from any lawns, flower beds and ponds. You’ll want to pull up any weeds that have appeared- don’t forget that this isn’t just limited to the garden. Make sure to check your patios and driveways for any strays!
  • Prune back any shrubs and bushes that are starting to look a little overgrown, particularly those that may slightly obscure the windows. If your property boasts nice views then you certainly don’t want a plant getting in the way of them!
  • Buy some season-appropriate bedding plants for your garden to brighten it up a little. Plant pots and hanging baskets can also be nice ideas if you have the space.
  • Outdoor lighting can really add to the ambience in a garden, especially when the weather’s warm and your guests fancy sitting out of an evening. Why not invest in some pretty solar lights- they’re very affordable and look really pretty when the sun’s gone down.
  • Give your patio furniture a wipe down and if you have toys or a BBQ in the garden then make sure you give them a clean too and check that they’re all in good condition.

Other things to remember:

Holiday cottage in Yorkshire

Blacksmith’s Cottage, Yorkshire Dales, Ref. 29398

  • Make sure that you check everything is working. Test out any outdoor lighting, doorbells, intercoms, key safes etc.
  • If you have access to one, a pressure-washer is great for cleaning driveways, patios and decks.

Whether you’re one of our holiday cottage owners or even a potential guest looking for some tips for your own home, we really hope that you found these tips useful. If you have any tips of your own that you’d like to share with us then we’d love to hear them! You can do so via our Facebook or Twitter pages.

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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.