Forget the tea round- only 1% of tea-loving Brits say colleagues make the best tea!

November 4th, 2015
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Recently, we commissioned a YouGov survey into British tea drinking habits. It revealed that the majority of British people who like tea, think that they make the best cup of tea from a list of people including their colleagues.

In total, 2,026 British adults took part and only 1% of those who liked tea rated their colleagues as making the best cup of tea. So if you make tea rounds at work to boost your popularity or get ahead, you may as well hang up your teaspoon now!

Over half (59%) of all the participants who liked tea, said that they make the best cups of tea, with their partner coming in second (14%) and their mum third (9%) from a list.

Even marriage doesn’t much improve your chances, as only 25% of married people who liked tea said their partner made the best cup, whilst 60% still claimed their own tea making skills were the best. Clearly for the British, even committing yourself to someone for life doesn’t mean that you’ll admit they make a better cuppa than you do!

Cup of tea

Image by Leanne Dempsey

Interestingly, the percentages of people who think they make the best tea also rises with age (41% of 18-24s who liked tea claimed to make the best tea, in comparison to 68% of those aged 55+), suggesting that we perfect our technique over time and become more confident in our method the older we get.

Findings from the survey also showed that 84% of Brits said they liked tea, and a further 84% of those who liked tea said they drink at least one cup per day. The most popular way to take English Breakfast tea was white with milk and no sugar (48%).

You can find out more of our survey results, as well as some other titbits of information around the British love affair with the brew by taking a look at our tea based infographic.

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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.

Alternative Days Out

November 3rd, 2015
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The UK is packed full of fantastic days out and attractions to visit but once you’ve explored each castle, climbed every mountain and investigated all the historic landmarks, what’s left to do? In today’s blog we take a look at some of the UK’s alternative days out, days out with activities that you have yet to try, that offer new and exciting experiences.  These days out are sure to offer something different on your next holiday and provide you with plenty of inspiration for long weekends away.


Falconry is an ancient and exciting activity that many people have heard of but have not yet tried. On a recent day out, the team here at Sykes HQ experienced falconry first hand and I have to say it was one of the best days out I’ve ever had! Watching these incredible birds in flight is truly inspiring and being able to handle and work with them is a real treat. If you fancy trying this exciting activity then you couldn’t ask for a better provider than Hawkins Falconry. Visit Nigel Hawkins and you can see Goshawks and Harris Hawks in action as they work alongside German Short Haired Pointers, you can take a hawk walk across the country or even give ‘parahawking’ a go, an exciting experience that combines both paragliding and falconry.

Hawkins Falconry is based in South Staffordshire but they also have venues in Shropshire and South Wales. Your falconry experience is guaranteed to be unique so for more information on what’s available or to book, please email

White Water Rafting

A wonderful activity for the whole family, white water rafting is an exercise sure to get your blood pumping. You can go white water rafting at any time of year making it perfect for the British weather because let’s face it, you’re going to get wet anyway! The River Tay in Scotland and Nae Limits offer the ideal combination for white water rafting; Nae Limits provide the guidance and expertise and the River Tay provides the waves. The professionals at Nae Limits will brief you on all things rafting and initiate games before letting the river take over. Visit during summer for a slower pace suitable for families and beginners, or wrap up warm and take on the winter waters for a faster session ideal for the adrenaline junkies amongst us.

White water rafting along the River Tay with Nae Limits will cost your group £45.00 per person. The activity lasts three hours and covers a 6 mile stretch of the river between Aberfeldy and Grandtully. For more information and bookings please email

Climb the O2

Thousands of people walk past the O2 every day and as one of the UK’s most iconic buildings, its appearance is easily recognised, but did you know that you can climb to the very top of the building with Up at The O2? With a top height of 52 metres, this experience is not for the faint-hearted. However if you have a head for heights and a thirst for adventure, this could be the perfect activity for you. The O2’s incredible height provides a phenomenal 360 degree view of London and some of its most popular areas including the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Canary Wharf.

Up at the O2 is suitable for those aged 10 years or older and participants must be at least 1.2 metres tall. Prices start from as little as £28 per person and the climb lasts around 90 minutes. For more information or to make a booking, please visit the Up at The O2 website.

These are just a few of the different days out available to you in the UK, if you have an idea for an alternative day out then feel free to share it with us by commenting on our Facebook page or tweeting us.

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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.

Spotlight On: Dracula’s Whitby

October 31st, 2015
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Happy Halloween from everyone at Sykes Cottages! As it’s Halloween, we thought we’d take the opportunity to celebrate Whitby, where Bram Stoker was inspired to write Dracula. Bram stayed here in 1890 whilst trying to decide if it was a good place to bring his family for a holiday. However, he became particularly taken with the Gothic charm of the town and was moved to write what has become one of most well-known Gothic novels in the world. So today, we’re looking at some of the best Dracula-related attractions you can visit in this picturesque Yorkshire town.

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey, in all its Gothic grandeur, was instrumental in helping inspire Stoker to write Dracula. He loved the atmosphere that the imposing, ruined abbey created, perched on top of the hill overlooking the town. Though the abbey is in ruins, it’s still enchantingly beautiful and you can still visit it today. Take the 199 steps up from the town (the same steps that the shadowy animal ran up in Dracula, after it came ashore from the deserted ship) and soak up the same majestic landscape that inspired one of the best Gothic novels of all time.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula Experience

This family-friendly tour is a lovely way to spend an afternoon in Whitby. Bram Stoker’s Dracula Experience tells the tale of Dracula and his connections to Whitby. Using special effects, live actors and animated scenes, this tour is guaranteed to send a chill down your spine and at just £9.00 for a family of four, you can’t go wrong. If you really feel like scaring yourself, why not book yourself onto one of their Paranormal Investigations Nights which are available on the first Saturday of each month. The building in which the experience is located is often said to be haunted, with a rich and eclectic history dating back hundreds of years- even the staff are said to have witnesses bizarre goings on. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

In Search of Dracula Walk

To learn even more about how Whitby inspired Stoker to write Dracula, try the In Search of Dracula walk. Run by ‘The Man in Black’, Harry Collett, these tours come well recommended on TripAdvisor where they’re described as creepy, entertaining and informative. Harry will guide you through the back streets of Whitby, telling stories of the local folklore and myths that inspired Stoker to write his masterpiece, and walking you through the streets that Dracula stalked in the novel.

To browse our full collection of cottages in Whitby, please visit our website! Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway with your loved one or a fun-filled family holiday on the Yorkshire coast, we’ve holiday homes to suit everyone.

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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.

Spooky Spots in the UK

October 29th, 2015
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Well it’s that time of year again with the trick or treaters getting their costumes sorted, pumpkins being carved and everyone seems up for a fright. Of course most people would just put on a scary film and enjoy a halloween night in, but what if you want to get out and experience some real terror? Well we’ve tracked down some of the creepiest spots in the United Kingdom for you to visit, if you think you’re brave enough!

The Tower of London

Over the years the Tower of London has been the site of many a nefarious incident. Built way back in the 11th Century by William the Conqueror it has been the site of some of the most high profile executions in English history, including those of Anne Boleyn, Lady jade Grey and Catherine Howard not to mention the mysterious disappearance of the two princes in the 15th Century. And, as you’d expect, there are many reports of the supernatural taking place ranging from the ghost of Anne Boleyn all the way through to a phantom bear!

Pendle Hill, Lancashire

Easily one of the more famous of the UK’s paranormal places, Pendle Hill has gone down in folklore thanks to the events of the early 17th century. In 1612 twelve residents of the Pendle area were arrested on suspicion of witchcraft, apparently following the deaths of ten other locals. In all eleven were found guilty and executed and it is thought that their spirits still roam the hill. Add to this the recently discovered remains of a cottage thought to have been the home of one of the Pendle Witches, complete with a cat skeleton mysteriously bricked up in one of the walls and you’ve got somewhere that’s definitely not for the faint of heart!

Chillingham Castle

With a strong claim to be one of the most haunted buildings in the United Kingdom, Northumberland’s Chillingham Castle was a shoe in for this list. There are many gruesome tales of murder and intrigue from the years of the English-Scottish wars, including those of the notorious torture master John Sage. His old torture chamber still exists with many of his evil instruments still there for you to examine if you dare, but that’s not it! Chillingham is also home to a number of spooky supernatural beings including the famous Blue Boy and the ghost of Lady Mary Berkeley.

The Glasgow Necropolis

Between being the final resting place of over 50,000 people and having a name that means the City of the Dead, it was impossible to leave the Necropolis out of our list of the creepiest spots in the United Kingdom. Already it might seem eerie enough but then add in the seven foot tall, iron toothed Gorbals Vampire notorious for preying on the local children and a White Lady who is regularly seen floating through the cemetery and you’ve got a seriously spooky place!

So there you go, a handful of the United Kingdom’s more frightening places for you to visit this Halloween, and if you are brave enough we’d love to hear about your scary adventures – just let us know, either over Facebook or Twitter!

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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.

The UK’s Best Ghost Walks

October 26th, 2015
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From our abandoned graveyards and creepy woods, to our medieval buildings and eerie city streets, Britain is quite easily one of the world’s most haunted destinations. On our seemingly quiet island, you’ll find a whole manner of ghosts, ghouls and creatures that go bump in the night so if you’re looking for a spooky adventure this Halloween, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to discover a few of our favourite UK ghost walks – but be warned, walking in the footsteps of ghosts is not for the faint-hearted!

Hangman’s Hill, Essex Ghost Walk

With tales of headless horsemen, drowned ghost girls and a séance held deep in Epping Wood, this is possibly the scariest walk on our list. Not suited for those under 18, your evening starts with a trip into the chilly Epping Wood where an experienced Medium will attempt to connect with spirits of the past. Once you’re well and truly spooked the walk will begin; huddled together in the dark, you’ll hear a number of haunted tails before making your way to an area notoriously known as Hangman’s Hill.

When: This frightful walk is booking up fast and because of this there are only two dates left; October 28th from 8.30pm to 11pm and October 29th from 11.15pm to 1.45am.

Where: Meet outside The Kinds Oak in High Beach, Essex.

Cost: £14.00 per person.

Oxford Castle, Unlocked

Built in 1071, the intimidating appearance of Oxford Castle is enough to give anyone the willies, but venture inside this Halloween and you’ll experience a Spooky Tour like no other. The castle’s 900 year dark history is only made more terrifying when you learn that its main role, after the Civil War of 1642, was as the town’s prison, housing a host of vermin, prisoners and corrupt guards. Suitable for those aged 12 and older, this scary tour takes you into some of the most haunted areas of the castle, including a trip to the dark underground crypt.

When: Every Thursday throughout October and November. 50 minute tours start at 6pm, 6.30pm, 7pm and 7.30pm.

Where: Oxford Castle, Oxford.

Cost: £12.00 per person.

The Real Mary King’s Close

Hidden under the busy city of Edinburgh, you’ll find the echoey streets of The Real Mary King’s Close. This once thriving area of Scotland’s capital has long been forgotten by all but the lonely spirits who still inhabit it. As your guide leads you through this cold, underground maze of uneven walkways and dimly lit rooms, you’ll not only hear spine-tingling tales of phantom shadows but also learn about Scotland’s intriguing history. This tour is suitable for children aged five and over, making it a perfectly ghastly activity for families this Halloween.

When: Open all year, except for Christmas Day and tours are every 15 minutes from 10am, until the last tour at 9pm. It is advised that you arrive 15 minutes prior to your tour so that you can leave on time.

Where: Entrance doors are located on The Royal Mile, directly opposite St Giles Cathedral.

Cost: Adults £13.95, seniors and students £12.50, children (5-15 years) £8.25 and family tickets (two adults and two children) £37.75.

Ghost Walk of The Lanes

A popular seaside resort or an ancient town packed with murderous tails, gruesome history and frightful spirits? Ghost Walk of The Lanes will let you see the hidden side of Brighton’s most celebrated quarter by taking you on a supernatural journey of discovery; be prepared to hear grisly tales of apparitions, poltergeists, wandering nuns and more about the city’s infamous links with Jack the Ripper. This tour is suitable for children and those brave enough to attend will receive a treat from the guides.

When: The walk takes place every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday, it lasts around 70 minutes and starts at 7.30pm. On Halloween night there will be an extra two walks, one at 6pm and one at 9pm.

Where: Meeting point is The Druids Head, Brighton Place.

Cost: Adults £8.00, seniors and students £5.00, children £4.00 and family tickets (two adults and two children) £20.00.

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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.