Days Out With Toddlers

September 6th, 2014
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Now that the older children have gone back to school and the chaos of the summer holidays is at an end, it’s time to start planning days out with the younger children. The weather may be slightly chillier but there is still plenty of fun to be had for parents and toddlers this season but if you’re struggling to find suitable activities for your energetic preschoolers then keep reading as we suggest some of our favourite places to visit when on a day out with a toddler.

Aquariums

Beautiful stained glass windows at Anglesey Sea Zoo

Beautiful stained glass windows at Anglesey Sea Zoo

There are a number of aquariums located throughout the UK and Ireland each offering a unique view of life under the sea. Your little ones will love strolling around the exhibits, discovering new creatures and even learning a thing or two about the wonders of the deep blue.

Indoor Play Centres

Monster Mania in Falkirck

Monster Mania in Falkirck

With the chilly weather setting in and the regular showers determined to dampen our days out, why not head inside to a warm and dry indoor play centre? Children love running around these imaginative centres and it’s a great way to keep your toddlers active and well exercised!

Public Library

For a day out with a difference we would suggest a visit to your local library. The relaxing atmosphere at the public library is ideal for a little down time where your little one can have hours of fun flicking through the picture books and you could even get a little reading done too.

Petting Zoo

One of the best things about petting zoos is that children can get really stuck in! Spend the afternoon petting the sheep and rabbits as well as learning all about the different animals on the farm and of course the noises they make- oink oink!

Gardens and Parks

Children love to be outside and come rain or shine an afternoon spent exploring the outside world is one of their favourite pass times.  We love a relaxing walk to the local park and if we’re feeling a little more adventurous then a visit to the local botanic garden is a real treat.

I hope this blog post has offered some inspiration to you and your little one. We would love to know what days out you are planning with your toddler this year so please don’t hesitate to get in-touch and let us know via our Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus account.

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.

Cottage Owners: How to maximise off-peak bookings

September 5th, 2014
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After a busy summer of bookings, some holiday home owners may be breathing a sigh of relief now that the kids have gone back to school, whilst others could still be booked up for the foreseeable. However busy you are, it’s helpful to note that the off-peak season is approaching, a time when bookings slow and gaps in your reservation calendar are likely to appear. There are number of things you can do to prevent a lull in income through the off-peak period, and we’ve listed these below.

Be flexible with your changeovers

During summer, you can afford to be less flexible because your property is likely to be booked for weeks at a time. However, with fewer potential bookings knocking around during off-peak, it pays to be as flexible as you can with changeover days. If a customer wants to stay in your property on a particular date- even if it doesn’t fall on your normal changeover- you should endeavour to meet their needs; after all, any booking is better than no booking at all.

Sign up to the Sykes Sale

Throughout the year, we run sales to encourage customers to book off-peak holidays. These prove popular, with the majority of properties achieving high booking rates. Although owners can choose whether their property is included in the sale, we’d encourage those whose bookings are low to do so, as this can improve booking numbers. The amount of discount offered is variable, and although you’ll make less per booking, the quantity of reservations ensures that your income remains high.

Offer short break discounts

The majority of Sykes’ property owners offer short break discounts, including winter, last minute and off-season. If you’re tinkering with the idea of offering short break discounts yourself, our advice would be to do so. A slight reduction in cost can mean the difference between getting a booking and not, and short breaks also mean that customers can be more flexible with when they wish to stay at your property.

Make the most of downtime

For some, a week with no bookings can be a godsend, not least after a frantic summer. If your property is in need of some TLC, the off-peak season is a great time to tend to your abode. Whether you have big DIY plans or just need to get in there with a mop and bucket, make the most of your downtime and get your cottage ship-shape for when things get hectic once more. If you do make any changes, be sure to send us some pictures so that we can showcase the improvements on your property page- you never know, a lick of paint may just earn you an extra booking or two!

A final note to say…

…hang in there! We know it’s disheartening when your down on bookings, but take it from us, we’ll do all we can to help boost bookings during the slower months, including promoting your property on our social media channels, and on this little old blog. To find out more about how to increase bookings, or for more information on letting your property with Sykes Cottages, please visit our let your cottage page today.

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.

Summer’s Over: Ten Things to Look Forward to This Autumn

September 4th, 2014
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Back to school, post-holiday blues, dark nights, cold mornings, and who could forget the freight train that is, Christmas. That’s right, summer’s over. But before you sink into an autumnal abyss, try look on the bright side, because believe it or not, there’s still plenty to look forward to in the remnants of 2014, not to mention in the New Year (twenty FIFTEEN). Here’s a list of what we think you should focus on during a Tuesday school run or a gloomy five thirty commute.

Halloween, Bonfire Night & Christmas form a festive sandwich

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

I’d go as far as saying that the period between September and December is one of my favourite times of year, not least because it’s home to three of the UK’s most popular holidays; Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas. Buy sparklers, carve veg and be merry!

Autumn is by far the sexiest season

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Just look around, even the trees are getting their kit off. I jest, but truly, autumn is our prettiest season. Head to any national park, cemetery or leafy suburb from Devon to Dumfries and you’ll get what I’m on about. Alternatively, check out our blog on where to see the best autumn colour.

Comfort food, comfort food, and MORE comfort food

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Sod rainy barbecues; winter fodder is reliable, hearty and downright AMAZING. We’re thinking warm broths brimming with seasonal veg. Steaming soup and crusty bread. Stew and dumplings, jacket potatoes, and who could forget, festive sarnies chock-a-block with turkey, cranberry and all manner of other mouth-watering fare- spot on!

Hot baths (or hot tubs)

Forget speedy summer showers and sink into a steamy hot bath instead. When the mercury drops below ten, it’s time to turn up the heat and soak your worries away. Of course, for those that don’t own a tub, you’ll need to get creative with your bath time; or, you could rent one of our cottages with a hot tub and make your soaking session a proper spectacle?

Blustery, blow-out-the-cobwebs walks

Sewerby Cliffs

Sewerby Cliffs

The sweating days are over, and now it’s time to layer up, lace up and enjoy a bracing walk in your favourite pocket of countryside. Since I was little, I’ve always preferred walking in the colder months- no doubt in a thousand jumpers at my mum’s request- and still love to head out whatever the temperature- will you be joining me?

The joy of a roaring fire

Sitting, reading, watching tele, having a pint, hell, even knitting, are just some of the activities made better by the presence of a roaring fire. If you haven’t got one, a gas one can do the trick, but you can forget about it if yours is electric. If your fire’s pitiful, rent one of our cottages with a roaring log burner instead, and get set for a cosy weekend beside the flames.

Layers of lovely clobber

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Winter clothes are just better. Enough said.

The arrival of the German Christmas market

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

We’re big fans of the German Christmas market here at Sykes HQ, and it seems we’re not alone. Over the past decade, this festive import has cropped up in towns and cities across the UK, bringing hot booze and tasty Bratwursts to us Christmas-ready Brits. To find a Christmas market in your area, visit christmasmarkets.com.

Mums get some me time

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Sure it’s sad that the kids are back at school, but after a couple of days, we’re sure you’ll get over it, especially when the peace and serenity sets in. The autumn term means more time to do the things you love whilst your little terrors are out of the house, unless of course you work full time. Either way, once that school bell tolls, it’ll be a welcome reprieve after a hectic summer.

If none of the above appeal, book a holiday!

In hindsight, I could have saved us both time and effort by just telling you to book a holiday. Yes, autumn and winter have their downsides, but they’re also a great time to enjoy a break. Why not take advantage of our wonderful autumn sale and book yourself a UK holiday today.

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.

Holiday Planning: When Should I Book My Next Holiday?

September 3rd, 2014
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I personally think that there are two types of holiday makers; those who like the adrenaline of leaving everything until the last minute, and those who like to meticulously plan and have something to be excited for. Whatever your holiday planning style, it is always worth keeping potential dates in mind, particularly if you need to book time off work or gather a large group. To help you out and give you some ideas, we have put together a short list of some upcoming dates that you might want to keep in mind for your holiday!

Families

Hoath House

Hoath House is large enough for the whole family!

With everyone having the same time off and people taking the opportunity to spend quality time with their loved ones, it is no surprise that school holidays are a popular time to head away. This popularity, however, means that the demand for properties during school holiday time is high. If you have a large family, a specific location in mind or a list of specific requirements it is certainly advisable to book early. It is not uncommon that our large coastal properties are booked for summer over a year in advance! Here are some dates you might want to keep in mind for upcoming school holidays:

October half term: 25th October – 3rd November 2014
Christmas and New Year holiday: 20th December – 4th January 2015
February half term: 7th – 22nd February 2015
Easter holiday: 28th March – 19th April 2015

Couples

Coachman's in Tintagel

Coachman’s in Tintagel looks like the ideal romantic retreat.

When it’s just the two of you, there is nothing better than deciding last minute to book a few nights somewhere romantic. Luckily, unless you’re a fan of crowds, you have the pick of the year to head away on a getaway! Like with family holidays, if you have particular needs then it is best to book in advance, but if your only requirement is to spend some quality time with your significant other then a last minute break can be a good idea. At Sykes Cottages, a large number of our properties provide last minute breaks, and they are bookable up to a week in advance of your check-in date. Perfect if you want to surprise your loved one but don’t think you can keep the secret for too long!

Friends

A large living space like this in Domecilia is perfect for friends.

A large living space like this in Domecilia is perfect for friends.

Whether it’s a birthday, a hen party, a stag do or just an excuse to get everyone together, sometimes there is nothing better than getting together with your friends. Particularly if you don’t get to see them often! Likewise with large properties for family holidays, it can be a good idea to book far in advance as they do tend to book up quickly. It can also be difficult to get everyone together, particularly considering work and other commitments, so it is best to figure out a date that is suitable for everyone sooner rather than later. For more choice when booking as a large group, staying clear of school holiday dates is a great idea and unless being beside the coast is a must, looking for properties more inland can really open up your options.

Whatever your holiday plans and whoever you are going with, at Sykes Cottages we’re sure to have something that suits you. So take a look at our wide range of cottages across the UK and Ireland and book today!

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.

Give My Dog a Break Competition

September 2nd, 2014
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It’s hard work being a dog. All that sleeping, eating, being petted, going on walks and sniffing everything in sight can really take its toll! With over half of our properties being pet friendly, we’d like to think that pooches who are looking for a bit of rest and relaxation are spoilt for choice at Sykes Cottages. We’ve teamed up with our friends at Pure Pet Food to give your dog the chance to win a month’s supply of delicious food as well as £250 of Sykes Cottages vouchers for you to spend on treating your hard working pup to a relaxing getaway!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bastique/2599310868/sizes/m/

Image via Flickr. Your dog will look like this happy chap after their holiday and their month of delicious dinners.

All you have to do to enter this competition is to head over to the competition page and upload a picture of your dog hard at work with a caption to tell us why they deserve a break! Below are a few dogs who could really do with a relaxing getaway to a holiday cottage…

Changing the bed is a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/fazen/427962176/sizes/m/

Image via Flickr.

This cute puppy is already taking a break behind a bed of flowers. A self catering holiday cottage might be a little more suitable.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/leisergu/2873249326/sizes/m/

Image via Flickr.

These two are taking a short break from gardening, but they’d sure love a little longer.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/115300617@N08/12107889505/sizes/m/

Image via Flickr.

 Worked hard or hardly working? This cheeky chap is taking a long break from watering those plants.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/20348469@N06/4568801772/sizes/m/

Image via Flickr.

Being a tree surgeon sure is tiring. This chap looks like he could do with a break!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/justinandelise/4572928053/sizes/m/

Image via Flickr.

After giving birth to these beautiful puppies, we’re sure that this new mum would love a relaxing getaway.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/boboroshi/7896279/sizes/m/

Image via Flickr.

This sweetheart with a guilty face might need a relaxing break after tidying up this mess.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/boboroshi/7896279/sizes/m/

Image via Flickr.

Being this cute has got to be tiring…

Fluffy

Image via Flickr.

This guy must be tuckered out and in need of some rest after all the fetch he’s been playing!

Sticks

Image via Flickr.

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.