10 Romantic Getaways For Valentine’s Day

January 26th, 2016
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Still wondering how you could treat your other half this Valentine’s Day? Why not book a romantic weekend getaway in a cosy cottage? We’ve lots of stunning cottages still available over the Valentine’s Day weekend that are sure to impress your loved one and earn you some brownie points. For inspiration and ideas on where to book, take a look at these ten romantic cottages with availability.

Carn Cottage, Yorkshire Dales

Carn Cottage is a tranquil bolthole for any couple wanting to get away from it all this Valentine’s Day. Set in the heart of the Yorkshire countryside with spectacular walks from the doorstep, two lovely pubs within walking distance and a cosy open fire to cuddle up in front of, it’s the ideal romantic retreat.

Dundonald Landing, West Highlands

Views don’t come much better than those at Dundonald Landing. This secluded wooden chalet is located on the shore of Loch Etive, offering uninterrupted views across the loch and mountains in the distance. Hole up here with your loved one and spend Valentine’s Day enjoying each other’s company amongst breath-taking surroundings.

The Fold, Warwickshire

If you want to impress your loved one this Valentine’s Day, whisk them away on a surprise getaway to Stratford upon Avon. As the birthplace of one of Britain’s most romantic men, William Shakespeare, it’s a wonderful place to make a grand gesture. While you’re in the area, The Fold will make for a lovely, cosy base with a charming balcony overlooking the 2.5 acres of grounds in which the cottage is located.

The Shippen, Lake District

This traditional Lakeland cottage makes a fantastic base for exploring the Lake District this Valentine’s weekend. Grizedale Forest is just two miles away and the shore of Lake Windermere is a mere six miles. The Shippen is attached to the owner’s 17th century farmhouse, nestled in a peaceful hamlet in the Lake District National Park. There are endless walking and cycling opportunities here and a delightful woodburner to warm up in front of after a long day exploring.

The Lilacs, Cotswolds

If your dream is to spend Valentine’s Day in a cute Cotswolds cottage with a hot tub then look no further than The Lilacs. This lovely stone cottage is perfect for a Valentine’s break with its king-size bed, luxurious furnishings and bubbling outdoor hot tub. A few minutes’ walk will take you to the beautiful village of Broadway, often known as the ‘Jewel of the Cotswolds’, where there are plenty of charming pubs, shops and restaurants to explore.

Owl Cottage, Yorkshire Dales

This cottage is perfect for romantics. Where better to spend Valentine’s Day than amongst the surroundings that inspired one of Britain’s most famous love stories, Wuthering Heights? In the centre of Haworth, Owl Cottage is a delightful terraced property with charming original features, stunning countryside views and is just a short walk from the footpaths that take you across Top Withens, the place said to have inspired Emily Brontë’s famous novel.

Rosie Cottage, Dorset

Rosie Cottage is a picturesque barn conversion in North Dorset and the perfect place for a rural romantic retreat in the South West. This cottage has been thoughtfully decorated and furnished with hand-crafted wooden furniture made by the owner. It’s dog friendly too so you can bring your furry friend along with you! There are lots of scenic walks straight from the doorstep and historic market towns such as Blandford Forum and Sherborne within driving distance.

Bloom Barn, Co. Tipperary

This charming studio barn conversion is wonderful place for a peaceful, romantic break in the Irish countryside. Bloom Barn is full of characterful features including wooden beams, charming shabby-chic décor and there are even some friendly donkeys you can visit in the field next door. The pretty village of Terryglass is just four miles away if you can tear yourself away from the cottage, offering traditional pubs and a shop for all your essentials.

At The Races, Cheshire

For a romantic city break, take a look at this luxury apartment in historic Chester.  At The Races is located in the heart of Chester city centre with its fantastic shops, restaurants and bars just a minute’s walk away. You’ll be spoilt for choice on where to try for a romantic meal! Walk the Roman walls, wander through the famous Rows or take a day trip to Chester Zoo, which is easily reachable by car or public transport.

Hafan Deg, Llyn Peninsula

Hafan Deg is a modern first floor apartment located on a 200 acre livestock farm, close to the stunning North Wales coastline. This property offers every modern convenience you could need for a weekend away and the views are breath-taking. Spend your weekend here on bracing, romantic walks along the beach before heading to a nearby pub to warm your cockles with some good pub grub and a couple of drinks!

To see all of our cottages still available for Valentine’s Day, please visit 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.

Some Healthier Comfort Foods

January 24th, 2016
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If you’re anything like me, then there’s a good chance you may well have overindulged slightly over the festive season. However, January’s never the best time to try and shift a few pounds, especially since all you really want to do is tuck into some good old fashioned comfort food. This is why we’ve tracked down some comfort food recipes with a twist, giving you all the deliciousness without the calories- so take a look!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Who doesn’t like a hearty portion of spaghetti and meatballs? Well this recipe will allow you to tuck into a proper portion without having to worry too much about the waistline. Using turkey instead of the traditional beef, it will allow you to cut down on the calories whilst still being absolutely delicious. All in all the recipe will take about 40 minutes from start to finish, making it perfect for a midweek meal, so why don’t you take a look here?

Macaroni Cheese

Or alternatively, there’s a lighter version of macaroni cheese. This recipe uses cauliflower to cut down on the carb-filled pasta, as well as some low fat sour cream to make sure that it retains that wonderful creaminess without being too overindulgent. If you feel like treating yourself, you could try out the Panko breadcrumb topping that will set it apart from your ordinary mac and cheese. Tempted you? Then find out more here!

Cottage Pie

And how about the old family favourite, a cottage pie? Well thanks to some more cunning use of cauliflower, this time to hold back on the amount of potato in the topping, and also using plenty of wholesome veg in the filling, you’ll be able to tuck in without feeling too guilty about it all! The recipe makes enough pie to feed 6-8 hungry mouths, perfect if you’ve got a few people coming over for a meal, take a look at it here!

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Now this one might surprise you but it turns out that one of the best things about a good, rich chocolate brownie is that you can replace a few ingredients with healthier alternatives and not notice the difference! This recipe from the Food Network uses both wholegrain flour and a low fat yoghurt in the mix but still tastes as delicious as ever, what more could you ask for?

So there  you have it, some healthy comfort food alternatives that are perfect for those looking to cut back a little. We hope that you find them useful in keeping to those New Year’s Resolutions but do let us know if you have any other great healthy recipes that we could share!

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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.

UK TV Shows To Look Out For In 2016

January 21st, 2016
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If you’re looking for a new TV series to watch in 2016, then why not take a look at one of these fantastic TV shows starting this year that were filmed in stunning locations across UK. From the breath-taking Cornish coastline to the brooding Northern Irish countryside, spectacular British landscapes are ready and waiting to steal the show in all of these upcoming programmes.

Victoria, ITV

This eight-part period drama follows the early life of Queen Victoria, starring Jenna Coleman as the young Queen herself. Made by the people behind Poldark, Victoria is sure to make an impression when it airs in the autumn. Filming has taken place across Yorkshire, with locations such as Whitby, Beverley, York and Knaresborough set to grace our TV screens.

The Night Manager, BBC

Based on the John le Carré novel, this six-part spy drama is based in the Cold War and follows a former British soldier who’s recruited to infiltrate the inner circle of a notorious arms dealer. Set to be shown some time before Easter, the series boasts a star-packed cast including Tim Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie and Olivia Colman. Although most of the series has been filmed in Mallorca and Switzerland, keep an eye out for the scenes filmed in beautiful Devon at Hartland village and Blackpool Mill Cottage on the Hartland Abbey Estate.

Game of Thrones, Sky Atlantic

Let’s face it, Game of Thrones needs no introduction and the dramatic return of season six is scheduled to hit our screens in April, ending the agonising wait of fans desperate to find out the real fate of Jon Snow. Many of the spectacular Northern Ireland film locations you’ve seen before will be returning for season six, including the rugged and wild Murlough Bay in County Antrim, which doubles as the Iron Islands.

Poldark, BBC

Another that needs no introduction, Poldark was one of the biggest TV shows of last year with millions of viewers tuning in each week. Yet the real shining star of Poldark was its Cornish backdrop, which amazed viewers with its raw, natural beauty and dramatically increased tourism to the area- Visit Cornwall found that 26% of visitors to the area in summer 2015 had been inspired by the Poldark series. Series two is due to air later this year and promises more heartbreak, more drama and more beautiful Cornish scenery. To see the filming locations from series one of Poldark, take a look at our Discover Cornwall hub.

Jericho, ITV

We’re a little late to the party here as Jericho started on ITV at the beginning of the month, but if you haven’t seen it yet, you can still find the episodes you’ve missed on ITV Player. Jericho has been described as the “first British Western” and is based on real life events of the building of a Victorian viaduct in Yorkshire. Expect lots of beautiful Yorkshire scenery with filming shot in Huddersfield, Heptonstall, Marsden and Meltham Moor.

Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses, BBC

In a continuation of 2012’s Hollow Crown series, Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses returns in 2016 to tie in with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Starring the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Gambon and Judi Dench, four of Shakespeare’s historical plays (Henry VI Part I, Henry VI Part II, Henry VI Part III and Richard III) will be condensed into three films for the silver screen. Look out for appearances from Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, where many of the bloody battle scenes take place.

We’re really excited to watch all of the above programmes and hope you’ll join in the discussion on our social media channels when these shows hit the silver screen later this year. To do so, you can follow our Twitter account or like our Facebook page.

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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 Plan the Perfect Valentine’s Getaway

January 19th, 2016
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With just a few days to go until Valentine’s Day many of our cottages are being booked up by couples looking for the perfect romantic getaway. If you’re planning an idyllic escape with your other half this Valentine’s Day then we suggest you keep reading as we share our hints and tips for making your getaway perfect!

Choose the Perfect Location

Britain is beautiful. From the Scottish mountains to the Cornish beaches, it’s got to be said that our little island has a lot going for it! When choosing your dream destination we suggest thinking about what you want to see. If you picture your Valentine’s Day sat under an open sky watching the stars, then consider Snowdonia National Park which was recently granted dark sky status. Or perhaps you would rather see a little more colour? If so then sunsets over Ben Venue are sure to leave you feeling inspired.

Consider Extras

Parrs Meadow Cottage, Pitchford. Ref 904464

Parrs Meadow Cottage, Pitchford. Ref 904464

With over 6,000 holiday cottages to choose from, here at Sykes Cottages you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to romantic retreats, but to help narrow down your search for the dream cottage we suggest considering those little extras which can take a cottage stay to the next level! For example, our cottages with a home cinema are great for couples who love to watch movies, or how about our cottages with an open fire, ideal for cosying up with you other half? Alternatively you could push the boat out and rent a cottage with a hot tub, a real treat for any couple looking to relax under the stars.

Arrange a Special Day Out

We can think of nothing better than a weekend locked away in a cottage with our partner, but if you do feel like venturing out and about, make sure it’s for something extra special. There is a fantastic selection of days out available in the UK, picking the right one simply depends on what you and your partner like to do. You could spend the evening at one of the UK’s Michelin starred restaurants and dine like royalty, have a high energy day soaring over the Welsh countryside at speeds on 100mph with Zip World Velocity, or simply rent a row boat and glide over the waters in one of the UK’s most romantic cities.

Don’t Forget The Gift!

Pear Tree Cottage, Great Ouseburn. Ref 17330

Pear Tree Cottage, Great Ouseburn. Ref 17330

Whether you go for the classic flowers and chocolates or splash out on expensive jewellery, no Valentine’s Day is complete without a romantic gift. Forgetting your partner’s gift can lead to disaster, so make sure you purchase yours in advance to avoid any upset on the day. To really impress your other half this year, why not treat them to a stay at one of our romantic cottages?  We even have a guide to booking a surprise holiday, so when you turn up on Valentine’s Day, your partner is sure to be left speechless.

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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.

Why Norfolk is the Destination of Choice For 2016

January 17th, 2016
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Last year we suggested Cornwall as the destination of choice for your 2015 holidays, and although Cornwall is still more than worth the trip down south, this year, we suggest packing your bags and heading to Norfolk! With its extensive waterways, fascinating history and brilliant coastline, Norfolk has something to offer everyone this year.

Whether you’ve been to Norfolk before or not, this incredible county is sure to inspire you. Located on the east coast of England, Norfolk not only has an amazing coastline but beautiful countryside and idyllic English villages to discover. Keep reading as we list some of Norfolk’s best qualities and see if we can convince you to visit this fantastic county in 2016.

Coast

Norfolk’s selection of beaches is sure to leave you breathless. From the spectacular sights of Wells’ colourful beach huts to the exciting pleasure beach at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk’s coast line provides hours of fun no matter what the season. Here at Sykes Cottages, we love a day trip to Cromer; situated on the edge of the Norfolk coast, this wonderful coastal town has a captivating fishing history and is well known for its succulent crabs! Alternatively, the picturesque beach at Hunstanton is perfect for your holiday snaps with its unique striped cliffs and breathtaking sun sets.

Country

With over 125 miles of manmade waterways to discover, the Norfolk Broads offer a truly unique experience in the heart of the Norfolk countryside. The Broads are fantastic for anyone who likes boating, nature or simply being beside the water; their rustic charm and tranquil nature are especially good for those wanting a romantic escape. As well as the peaceful waterways, the Broads also connect several towns and villages where you can find independent shops, restaurants and bars, all offering a fantastic waterside experience.

Attractions

As well as the dramatic coastline and peaceful Broads, Norfolk also has an array of great attractions to visit. Families will love spending time at BeWILDerwood, where they can explore the huge award winning forest on a fantasy adventure. Adults and older children will marvel at the incredible selection of castles and country homes which are dotted about the county, including Sandringham House, Norwich Castle and Felbrigg Hall. Alternatively, there are attractions suitable for visitors of all ages, like the Banham Zoo and Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre.

Food and Drink

You may have heard of Cromer crab, Brancaster mussels and delicious Norfolk turkey, but along with these traditional Norfolk foods, the county is now offering a wider selection of home grown produce. From game to beer, the best place to taste Norfolk is at one of the county’s many outdoor markets or by booking a ticket to the annual North Norfolk Food & Drink Festival. 2016 will be the festival’s eighth year and with stalls set to include artisan beer, bread, cakes, chocolates, game, seafood and much more, it’s an event you won’t want to miss!

Now that you’ve heard what we have to say about Norfolk, why not read about what others think? Our fantastic Visitor’s Guide To Norfolk not only features numerous quotes from previous Norfolk visitors but it’s also packed full of handy hints and tips about the destinations. Alternatively, if you just can’t wait to book your Norfolk getaway then simply click here to view our selection of self-catering cottages in Norfolk.

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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.