5 of the best Easter events for families

April 3rd, 2015
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Here at Sykes Cottages, we’ve scoured all the events taking place over Easter weekend and come up with five fun-filled days out that the whole family will enjoy. From Easter egg hunts to pirate treasure trails, these family events will help you to invest in some real quality time with your family this Easter.

English Heritage Adventure Quest

English Heritage are piling on the fun this Easter with their adventure quests located at historical places all across the country. Children will need to crack clues with the help of historical characters from the past in order to complete the quest and receive their chocolate reward! Prices and locations can be found at the English Heritage website: english-heritage.co.uk.

National Trust Cadbury Easter Egg Trails

For the eighth year in a row, the National Trust and National Trust Scotland have partnered with Cadbury to give families the ultimate Easter day out. Across the UK, there are over 300 locations hosting adventure Easter egg trails. Children will receive a Trail Journal with plenty of clues to help them on their way and on completing the trail, they’ll receive a Cadbury’s Egghead as a reward. You can see more information on the National Trust website here or to find the nearest trail to you, visit eastereggtrail.com

Easter Bonnet Parade at Claremont Landscape Garden

A traditional Easter Bonnet Parade at Surrey’s Claremont Landscape Garden is being held on Saturday 4th April from 3pm. Put on your best bonnet and head down to the garden for a fun afternoon; there are even prizes for the best entries! Normal admission charges apply- £7.25 for adults and £3.60 for children. For more information see nationaltrust.org.uk.

Chester Food and Drink Festival

One Easter event that many of us here at Sykes HQ are planning to indulge in this weekend is the Chester Food and Drink Festival. Taking place from 4th-6th April at Chester Racecourse, the Food and Drink Festival promises to be a fun event for all the family. As well as delicious foodie exhibitors, there are demonstrations from top chefs including Gregg Wallace and free kids’ cooking workshops! On the door prices are charged at £8 for adults and children 12 go free. For more information see chesterfoodanddrink.co.uk.

Pirate’s Quest Easter Treasure Trail

Kids are bound to love this swash-buckling visitor attraction in Newquay where you can travel back in time to eighteenth century Cornwall. Using real actors, intricate sets and incredible special effects, visitors can experience the Golden Age of Piracy in an hour-long tour packed full of legends, adventure and story-telling. This Easter, you can also take part in their Easter Treasure Trail- pick up a treasure map on your way in and follow the clues to help find your prize! Prices are £9.95 for adults, £6.95 for children and those under 3 go free! For more information see piratesquest.co.uk.

Will you be attending any of these events over the Easter holidays? Let us know how much fun you had via our Facebook or Twitter- we always love to hear about our customers’ days out and holidays!

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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.

Britain’s Best Gardens

April 2nd, 2015
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The Easter weekend is finally here and with an impressive four days of sunshine to fill, we’ve decided it’s time for our first garden visit of the year. With numerous botanic gardens located throughout the UK, choosing one to visit has been rather difficult but we’ve managed to narrow the search down to four outstanding attractions. Keep reading to discover which gardens have made it onto our list of Britain’s best gardens and see if you can help us decided which garden is best for our Easter visit.

National Botanic Gardens of Wales

As the most visited gardens in Wales, it is no wonder that this spectacular garden has made it to the top of our list. Opened in May 2000, the National Botanic Gardens of Wales takes up 568 acres of Carmarthenshire countryside and was the first botanic garden to be created in the new millennium. The gardens are now home to over 8,000 plant varieties with the staff working hard to conserve and protect some of the world’s rarest plants.

Ness Botanic Gardens

Situated on the Wirral Peninsula and boasting spectacular views over the Dee Estuary, visitors to Ness Botanic Gardens are rewarded with 64 acres of beautiful gardens to explore. Ness is known for its 120 metre herbaceous border, stunning wisteria tunnel and award-winning show gardens, making it the ideal stop for an Easter picnic or a light lunch in The Garden Kitchen. If you’d rather have a guided tour of the garden then don’t worry as staff provide regular walks to see the garden’s seasonal delights!

Cambridge University Botanic Gardens

With a collection of over 8,000 plants gathered from all over the world the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens is a horticulturist’s dream. As well as providing a peaceful space for visitors to relax in, the gardens pride themselves on offering fantastic teaching and research opportunities. Both lectures and research workers flock to the gardens to make use of the staff’s horticultural expertise and study the plant materials on offer.

Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh | by Nicole

Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh | by Nicole Westley

With a rich history dating back to the 17th century, the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh have made their home in Scotland’s capital, offering visitors a green oasis in the heart of the city. Renowned for their plant science and education, the garden offers a number of daily tours specialising in seasonal plants. The garden also has numerous glasshouses on site which are used to create the tropical climate that over 80% of the world’s flora requires to grow.

And there you have it, our choice of Britain’s best gardens. Which is your favourite garden to visit? Get in touch with us via Twitter or Facebook and let us know!

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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.

Britain’s Best Safari Parks

March 31st, 2015
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One of the best things about the arrival of spring is that there are so many opportunities for fun days out! If you’re looking for ideas for family days out this Easter then a safari park is a brilliant option. The kids will love seeing all the animals up close, especially if you can bring yourself to drive through the monkey enclosure- this was always my favourite part as a child! To help you out, we’ve done a bit of research and come up with three of the best safari parks in the UK to visit this Easter:

Knowsley Safari Park, Merseyside

If you’re after a bargain this Easter then the fantastic Knowsley Safari Park in Prescot, Merseyside is offering 20% off tickets when you book online! Voted the UK’s number one safari park on TripAdvisor, Knowsley has over 700 exotic animals including all the usual favourites and some more unusual, including Iberian wolves, Californian sea lions and white rhinos. There’s no need to stay in the car all day either as the park offers a walkabout area where you can take a stroll through Bat Forest, take part in the High Ropes Challenge and watch a birds of prey display!

Longleat Safari Park, Wiltshire

Longleat was the first safari park of its kind outside Africa and at the time, was considered ground-breaking for the way in which it let its animals roam free. Today, it’s one of the biggest family-friendly attractions in the UK, spanning over 9,000 acres and boasting over 500 animals. With animals including gorillas, lions, elephants, cheetahs and tigers, you’re in for a fantastic experience when you visit Longleat. Aside from the safari there are also plenty of other fun-filled attractions to keep the whole family entertained; get lost in the incredible hedge maze, get wet at Splashpad and journey into the world of Postman Pat at Postman Pat Village!

Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park, Stirling

Did you know that Blair Drummond is the only place in Scotland where you can see elephants and giraffes? As well as these two African giants, this family-friendly safari park offers a fantastic array of other animals for visitors to get up close to in their cars, including rhinos, tigers, chimpanzees and penguins. There’s also an optional monkey drive through for those who aren’t too precious about their car! After driving through the animal reserves, families can park up and take part in other activities including feeding animals at the petting zoo, watching demonstrations from keepers, taking a boat safari out to Chimp Island and enjoying the rides at the funfair.

Where’s your favourite safari park? We’d love to have your input so please let us know via our Facebook or Twitter page if there are any incredible safari parks that you think we’ve missed out!

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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.

Why Choose A UK Short Break

March 30th, 2015
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I think I speak for most of us here when I say that we’re busy. Whether we’re at work or at home there always seems like there’s something we need to do and sometimes the fun things in life get put on the back burner. This is where short breaks come in. Whether it’s a weekend of rest and relaxation you need, or you just fancy checking out a new destination; a short break is the perfect excuse to get away from the day-to-day. Read on to see just a few of the reasons we think three night short breaks are brilliant!

Utilise Your Weekend

Seaview Apartment

Image from Seaview Apartment, Northumbria

In an ideal world we would work for two days and have a five day weekend but unfortunately, that isn’t the case! Short breaks allow you to use up just one or two days holiday and use your weekend days to enjoy a getaway. You could head away on Friday after work and use a day’s holiday allowance on the Monday; meaning you can enjoy the whole weekend away whilst using just one day of your annual leave, allowing you to head back to work on the Tuesday feeling refreshed and ready to take on a four day week!

Explore Your Own Doorstep

Image taken from The Abbey

Image taken from The Abbey

If you’re heading away for just a few nights, the chances are you won’t want to travel too far, particularly if you’ll be travelling after a day at work. This in itself will allow you to visit a destination a little closer to home that you might not usually think of visiting and who knows, you might discover you absolutely love it!

Meet up with Friends and Family

A huge number of enquiries that we received here at Sykes Cottages are from groups of families or friends who, due to time restraints and opposing schedules, may not be able to spend time together as frequently as they would like to. A three night short break is much more likely to be able to fit into a number of busy schedules than a week-long break would. If you’re struggling to fit in a week-long holiday with your friends or extended family this year, why not try a shorter weekend break?

Quality over Quantity

Image from Telford House in Bangor.

Image from Telford House in Bangor.

The only downside to a shorter break is that it’s, well, it’s shorter. Whilst you may spread out activities over a week-long holiday, a three night break means you need to pack in the things you do a little more tightly to make the most of your weekend. This is definitely not a bad thing as it means you can choose to do those things you really want to do and see what you really want to see.

Book a Short Break at a Holiday Cottage

Image from Meadow View in Cornwall

Image from Meadow View in Cornwall

At Sykes Cottages, we have three night short breaks available throughout the year as long as they fit within our properties standard changeover days (usually a Friday or Saturday). Whether you want a city break, weekend by the coast or a romantic getaway we have a huge selection of holiday cottages available in fabulous locations across the UK and Ireland. Send us an email or give us a call on 01244 356695 and we will be happy to help you choose your perfect property for a UK short break!

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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.

5 places to stay in Poldark Country

March 29th, 2015
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Historical BBC drama Poldark has arrived on the small screen for the first time since 1977, with a string of eight, hour long episodes. The drama follows the ill-fated tale of Ross Poldark, a British officer who returns to his beloved Cornwall after fighting in the American War of Independence. Starring Aidan Turner, Eleanour Tomlinson and Heida Reed, Poldark tells a story of love, loss and redemption amid the stunning backdrop of the Cornish Coast.

Aside from Turner’s portrayal of Poldark, Cornwall has grabbed much of the limelight, with many wondering if the show’s astonishing backdrop is real or computer generated. To prove Poldark’s backdrop is indeed real, we took to the airwaves to find the places behind the programme. So without further ado, here’s a shortlist of the ten best places to stay in Poldark Country.

Bodmin Moor

Image by Neil Howard is licensed under CC 2.0

Image by Neil Howard is licensed under CC 2.0

With its brooding good looks, Bodmin Moor is a fitting setting for Poldark’s cottage, Nampara. Many of the exterior shots were filmed amid this vast moorland; its ruggedness providing a wild, ruminating backdrop to convey Poldark’s passion and menace. In the Bodmin Moor of today, visitors can enjoy a range of outdoor pursuits, including horse riding, mountain biking and walking.

Find out more about our cottage breaks in Bodmin Moor.

Padstow & the Camel Estuary

Sunset & Sea by Andreas Overland is licensed under CC 2.0

Sunset & Sea by Andreas Overland is licensed under CC 2.0

For lovers of North Cornwall, the appearance of beauty spots like the Camel Estuary in Poldark will have left them weak at the knee and raring for a return to this wild, untamed coast. The Padstow area features some of Cornwall’s most beautiful pockets of coastline, much of which is battered by stirring Atlantic swells. The area proves perfect for Poldark’s clifftop shots, with some of the region’s best loved landscapes on display, including Porthcothan and Tregirls Beach. For windswept, sea air strolls, there’s no better place.

Find out more about our cottage breaks in Padstow.

Porthgwarra

Porthgwarra by Joan Sol is licensed under CC 2.0

Porthgwarra by Joan Sol is licensed under CC 2.0

Azure waters and tropical flora make Porthgwarra look more like a pirate cove on the Spanish Main than a Cornish fishing village. This undisturbed cove was a hotspot for fisherman during the 17th and 18th century, and now offers a charming place for a private sunbathe or quick dip. Lying on Cornwall’s romantic west coast, Porthgwarra is accessed the South West Coast Path, which links the cove with some of the region’s other top beaches, including Porthcurno.

Find out more about our cottage breaks near Porthgwarra.

Charlestown

Charlestown by Gary Tanner is licensed under CC 2.0

Charlestown by Gary Tanner is licensed under CC 2.0

The historic town of Charlestown near St Austell is renowned for its collection of tall, aged ships and olde worlde appearance, making it the perfect location to film parts of Poldark supposedly set in the Cornish capital of Truro. Charlestown’s grade II listed harbour features in the drama on a number of occasions, and perfectly captures the spirit of the age. At Sykes, we offer a number of cottages to rent in and around Charlestown, so you can take a walk in Poldark’s shoes.

Find out more about our cottage breaks in Charlestown.

Botallack and Levant

Levant Mine by Miranda Wood is licensed under CC 2.0

Levant Mine by Miranda Wood is licensed under CC 2.0

As a Cornish tin miner by trade, it was important for Poldark’s location team to come up with a location that echoes the county’s evocative mining heritage. Enter Botallack and Levant, an area quite literally strewn with the carcasses of several historic tin mines. From coast to country, this wild region is peppered with disused Wheals, making it the perfect place to highlight the Poldark family’s failing trade. Take a walk near the Levant Mine in West Cornwall, and be transported to the show’s fictional Tressiders Rolling Mill.

Find out more about our cottage breaks in West Cornwall.

Book a self-catering cottage break in Poldark Country

Become a passionate Poldark fan overnight? You’re not alone. Poldark fever is sweeping the nation, with many in awe of the show’s striking cast and inspiring locations. Book a cottage break in Cornwall with Sykes Cottages this summer, and you can trace the steps of the drama’s brooding protagonist – what are you waiting for?

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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.