Make the Most of the Late Summer Sun

September 2nd, 2015
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Summer is almost at a close, the children are back at school, the nights are getting longer and the weather is growing colder. Here at Sykes Cottages we can’t bear to say goodbye to summer just yet so in order to make the most of the late summer sunshine, we suggest packing your bags and heading off on a UK short break. We’ve listed some of our favourite short break destinations below which are perfect for late summer getaways to see if we can convince you to make the most of the late summer sun this year.


The beautiful harbour town and traditional seaside resort of Tenby offers a picturesque escape from everyday living. The town’s cobbled streets are full of cafes, shops, pubs and restaurants, making the area ideal for a romantic getaway. The Mooring Restaurant is particularly good and after a day of exploring Tenby’s streets we can think of nothing better than a healthy helping of their summer vegetable risotto.


Commonly referred to as Shakespeare Country, Stratford-upon-Avon is an ancient market town with over 800 years of history. Those interested in Shakespeare can visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace, a restored 16th century house which was once home to the man himself, before catching one of his plays at the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre. The theatre is located in a Grade II listed building alongside the River Avon with shows being performed all year round .


The Isle of Wight is a fantastic destination for short breaks with the family and there is no better island base than Shanklin. This wonderful seaside village is perfect for long days spent at the beach, relaxing in the traditional beach huts, building sandcastles and enjoying an ice-cream or two. It’s also a great spot for exploring the Isle of Wight’s other attractions like the zoo, model village, petting zoos and steam railway.


With a variety of stores and independent boutiques, Truro is the retail capital of Cornwall and the county’s only city. Walking through the streets of Truro, you can’t help but be impressed by the beautiful Georgian architecture, numerous museums and galleries and of course the spectacular cathedral. We would suggest a trip to Truro for anyone who is looking for a city break with a difference.

We hope this list of locations has given you some inspiration for a last minute getaway in the sun. If you do fancy a short break then make sure to check out our flexible cottage breaks page – bookable from now until October 23rd, these cottages are offering short stays for two nights or more starting on any day of the week!

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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.

Book your October Half Term Holiday now!

September 1st, 2015
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Now the kids are heading back to school and you have a spare minute to relax, why not turn your thoughts to October Half Term? October is a great time for families to get away and spend some time in the outdoors before the full onset of winter takes hold with its chilly weather and dark evenings. Our cottages do get booked up quickly for half term week so to inspire you to get organised and book your family holiday today, here are a few cottages that still have availability!

Upper Greenhills Farm, Staffordshire

This charming barn conversion with its idyllic setting in the Staffordshire countryside is perfect for a family break this October. Upper Greenhills Farm is spacious enough for all the family with bright, open plan living space and three large bedrooms, as well as a lovely outdoor area from which you can admire the surrounding views. There are numerous walking and cycling trails nearby for bracing autumn jaunts in the Peak District and the pretty market towns of Leek and Ashbourne are both close by. Other nearby family-friendly attractions include Alton Towers and Chatsworth House.

Handbridge Cottage, Cheshire

One of our newest properties, this delightful cottage is just a short stroll from the centre of Chester and is a brilliant choice for a holiday with children this half term. From Handbridge Cottage, you are perfectly placed to explore all that Chester has to offer for families including parks, family-friendly restaurants and shops. The fantastic Chester Zoo is easily reachable by car or bus, as is the Welsh coast and Go Ape at Delamere Forest. The cottage itself blends contemporary furnishing with period features to create a light and airy holiday home where you can relax in comfort after a long day exploring.

Lake View Cottage, Lake District

You couldn’t ask for a better location than this lovely ground floor cottage on the edge of Lake Windermere; with stunning lake views and access to the lake via a private lane, Lake View Cottage is a truly special holiday home. The cottage sleeps up to four guests in two bedrooms and so is ideal for a small family looking for a Lake District holiday this half term. Take advantage of the setting and pack a picnic to eat on the shoreline or if you fancy heading further afield, the Lake District’s many attractions are all within easy reach.

Badger’s Lodge, Cotswolds

With plenty of activities and facilities on offer, Badger’s Lodge in the Cotswold Water Park is fantastic for families who want to make sure that they can keep their kids entertained. Located in a picturesque gated village on a 450 acre nature reserve, this charming cottage is perfect for a relaxing family break in a beautiful setting. Badger’s Lodge also offers free, unrestricted use of the on-site facilities include a tennis court, children’s play area, sailing lake, sauna and steam room, as well as the opportunity to undertake further watersports for an additional cost.

To see our full collection of family holiday cottages still available for October Half Term, please visit our website. We’ve a fantastic team of reservations specialists who’d be happy to help find you the perfect self-catering cottage for your getaway; to get in touch please give us a call on 01244 356 695 or email us by clicking here.

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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.

Essential Items for Your Cottage Kitchen

August 30th, 2015
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Today the Sykes Cottages blog sees a post specifically for cottage owners as we take a look at one of the most important rooms in a holiday let, the kitchen. We’ll be considering which items you should make sure your cottage is well stocked with so that your guests won’t be left wanting for anything. Take a look and see what you think!

Cutlery and Crockery

Let’s start off with the obvious one shall we? All of the kitchens in our holiday cottages need to have enough cutlery to match their maximum occupancy, however we’d suggest having a few more sets of each item just to make sure. We’d also suggest that our family friendly properties come prepared for visits from the little ones with some smaller plastic sets, just in case the parents forget to bring them along.

With regards to crockery, sets of plates both big and small, should be provided, as should bowls. Then you’ll want to stock up on wine glasses, ordinary glasses and mugs as you’re bound to have a few breakages here and there. Again if your cottage is advertised as family friendly, we’d suggest getting in some plastic beakers and plates just in case.


Then there’s the utensils. The easiest way to think about these is to consider what you use in your own home in day to day life. So for example tongs, graters, sieves and tin openers etc should all be a given. Then you’ve got things like pizza wheels and garlic crushers that you might not think of at first but will certainly come in handy. One good way to make sure that you have everything that you’d need is to spend a few nights in the cottage yourself and see if you miss anything whilst you’re there. Make sure you leave a good set of kitchen knives and a sharpener in the property so that they don’t get too blunt.


With regards to the cookware, a good set of saucepans (and lids) in various sizes will always go down well, as will set of frying pans. You should also make sure that there are a few baking trays ready for your guests to use and a casserole dish will certainly be well received during the colder months.

Hopefully you’ll find this to be useful when you’re kitting out your holiday cottage’s kitchen, but let us know if you think of any items that are regularly forgotten about. Or alternatively if you would be interested in finding out a little bit more about joining Sykes as an owner, take a look at the Let Your Cottage section of our website and request a free information pack or call up our Owners Department on 01244 356666

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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.

Discover: Best Restaurants in Chester

August 29th, 2015
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If you’re visiting the beautiful Roman city of Chester then you’re in for a treat as it’s home to some of the best restaurants around; there’s an abundance of independent eateries, quirky coffee shops and delicious delis for you to explore. The blog-writing team here at Sykes Cottages are big fans of eating out and need no excuse to peruse a menu, so take advantage of our expertise and discover some of the best places to eat in Chester, as voted for by locals.

Best for… a romantic meal

A firm favourite with us, La Fattoria on Lower Bridge Street is the place to go in Chester for an authentic Italian experience. Everything is freshly made and the pizzas (which we thoroughly recommend) are cooked in a proper pizza oven. La Fattoria has a welcoming, lively atmosphere and the food is mouth-wateringly good. If you’re looking for somewhere a little more intimate, try Sticky Walnut which is tucked away in the Chester suburb of Hoole and is another great option. This award-winning bistro has a strong reputation and offers ambitious, imaginative and downright delicious dishes.

Best if… you’re on a budget

Siam Thai on City Road is a delightful Thai restaurant in a lovely setting overlooking the canal. If you’re on a budget, you need to try their Early Sitting Menu, which offers tasty, traditional Thai food at excellent value. Eat from 5pm-6.45pm on weekdays, or 3.30pm-6.30pm on weekends and you can enjoy two courses for just £12.50 per person. Unlike many early bird menus, Siam Thai also offers plenty of choice with a wide range of dishes available including curries, Pad Thai and stir fried meals.

Best for… celebrations

If you want to book somewhere special for a celebration, American BBQ restaurant, Hickory’s is a fantastic choice. In an idyllic location on the banks of the River Dee, Hickory’s offers a mouthwatering menu full of slow-cooked ribs, burgers, steaks and skewers and you’ll also get free popcorn on your table- you’ll need to bring your appetite for this one! The drinks menu is another highlight with a wide range of cocktails, milkshakes and sodas; try the Cherry Cream Soda for a real treat!

Best for… families

For something a little different that the kids are bound to love, head to Hanky Panky on Commonhall Street. This specialist pancake café offers an impressive choice of both sweet and savoury pancakes with example menu items including Fisherman’s Friend (smoked salmon, crème fraiche with rocket, topped with chives) and The Sticky Toffee (sticky toffee fudge ice cream topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce).

Best for… lunch

There’s no shortage of fantastic cafes, pubs and delis around Chester which serve fabulous lunch options. If you want a recommendation however, we suggest you take a look at Watergate Deli on the lower Rows of Watergate Street. Watergate Deli is a charming and characterful, family-run coffee shop and deli which serves delicious home-made cakes, sandwiches, salads, pies and soups, all made using locally sourced produce.

If you’re planning a trip to Chester then don’t forget to take a look at our fabulous holiday cottages in Chester; we have some great properties in the area for you to choose from! If you do indulge in a meal out while you’re here, let us know what you thought on Twitter or Facebook.

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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.

Five Traditional Foods You Must Eat In Wales

August 26th, 2015
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With half of the country backing onto the coast and the other half full of beautiful countryside, it’s no wonder Wales produces some of the UK’s best produce. But along with its fantastic produce, Wales is also home to a number of fantastic traditional recipes. On today’s blog we’ve decided to celebrate Welsh food by listing several traditional foods you must try on your next visit to Wales!

Welsh Rarebit

What it is: Welsh rarebit is often compared to cheese on toast but it’s so much more than that! A true comfort food Welsh rarebit combines cheese, mustard, beer and flour to make a tasty topping for thick-cut, rustic Welsh bread. Easy to make and easily found in many Welsh eateries, this dish is a must for anyone looking for a hearty Welsh breakfast.
Where to find it: Caffi Florence in Loggerheads Country Park serves a fantastic Welsh rarebit with home cooked ham for just £6.95. Perfect for a late breakfast or brunch, this Welsh rarebit is a real treat for anyone in the area.
Make it yourself: Visit BBC Food for a fantastic Welsh rarebit recipe that serves four people and takes less than 30 minutes to make.


What it is: Welshcakes are delicate little cakes which can be eaten at any time of day. Traditionally cooked over a bakestone, they are now more commonly cooked on a griddle for just two to three minutes each side. Welshcakes are filled with dried fruit and a mixture of spices which normally include nutmeg, sugar and ginger.
Where to find it: Cwmni Cacen Gri in Betws y Coed is famous for its traditional Welshcakes served fresh from the griddle. We would highly suggest stopping by and treating yourself to a hot Welshcake and tasty traditional Welsh tea.
Make it yourself: Good Food have put together this tasty recipe for Welshcakes which is sure to impress your friends and family. The recipe makes 16 Welsh cakes and takes around 20 minutes from start to finish.


What it is: Cawl is a traditional Welsh stew made with lamb, leeks and root vegetables, usually potatoes, carrots and swede. Each region in Wales has its own take on cawl so although the core ingredients stay the same, you should see the addition of other seasonal veg and possibly even bacon as you travel around the country.
Where to find it: The Plash Inn in Whitland is part of Discover Carmarthenshire’s Cawl Crawl and serves up a truly tasty cawl full of flavour!
Make it yourself: This fantastic recipe from Loved Earthy Locally is sure to warm you up on a cold day. Packed full of goodness this recipe will serve six people and takes around three hours to cook.

Bara Brith

What it is: Translated, bara brith means ‘speckled bread’ although the issue of whether bara brith is a bread or a cake is wildly debated across Wales. As bara brith is traditionally made with yeast, packed full of dried fruit and spice, and served with salted Welsh Butter, we’re going to say it’s most definitely a bread!
Where to find it: Treat yourself to a Welsh afternoon tea at Caffi Gwynant and along with an array of other delicious treats, you’ll also receive a slice of their mouth-watering bara brith with Welsh butter.
Make it yourself: For a tasty bara brith loaf that will cut into 10 slices, we would suggest this recipe from Good Food. Ready in just one hour and 40 minutes, this bara brith is best served with traditional Welsh salted butter.

Glamorgan Sausage

What it is: A favourite amongst vegetarians, Glamorgan sausage is a cheese and leek mixture coated in breadcrumbs. Traditionally made with Caerphilly cheese, Glamorgan sausages can actually be made with any crumbly white cheese and are fantastic when served with pickle.
Where to find it: The Hayloft Restaurant at the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre serves a fantastic Glamorgan sausage as part of their lunch time menu. Stuffed with wholegrain mustard and Aberwen cheese, the sausages are a favourite for many customers.
Make it yourself: The Guardian have put together a fantastic recipe for homemade Glamorgan sausages. This recipe will make six and should be ready in about 45 minutes.

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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.