Posts Tagged ‘Travel and Tourism’

Sykes Cottages Spotlight on Stratford-upon-Avon

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013
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The picturesque town of Stratford-upon-Avon is an ancient market town in Warwickshire with over 800 years of history to explore. With its fascinating history and high theatrical pedigree, as well as the beautiful River Avon and top-class dining, Stratford-upon-Avon is without a doubt one of the most delightful places in England to visit.

Here are some of our favourite things to do and see while visiting Stratford-upon-Avon.

Get Up Close and Personal with ‘The Bard’

William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

Via. Flickr

It’s hard to think about England, and more specifically Stratford-upon-Avon, without thinking about Shakespeare. The world famous playwright has become synonymous with his birthplace and the town has well and truly embraced their famous son. It’s near on impossible to visit Stratford without taking in some history of The Bard, whether this be at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the Royal Shakespeare Company, at his final resting place, or the family home of his future bride, Anne Hathaway.

On April 20th the town will be celebrating the 449th birthday of The Bard in a manner that only his hometown could. A full day of events are planned, with everything from stage fighting and theatre movement demonstrations, to sonnet recitation on the Avon and music in the theatre, there is a way for everyone to celebrate the birthday of the famous playwright. Visit the Royal Shakespeare Company website for full details.

For the Love of Books – Stratford Literary Festival

Stratford Literary Festival

Although this literary festival is only six years old as of 2013, it is quickly becoming one of the UK’s top outings for the bookish set. This year’s festival isn’t too far away, running from Sunday, 21st April to Sunday, 5th May, 2013.
If you’ve never been to a literary festival before you might not quite know what to expect, and no it isn’t just a bunch of people wearing cardigans and reading glasses browsing through book stores. At this year’s Stratford festival you’ll find a wide selection of events, with everything from book and poetry readings, to writing workshops and social issue debates.

The full festival events calendar can be perused on the Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival website, with tickets sold through the Civic Hall box office.

Much Ado About Eating

The Garrick Inn, Stratford upon Avon

Via. Flickr

It isn’t all about literature and ancient history when visiting Stratford-upon-Avon though. The city is filled to the brim with great pubs, quaint tea-rooms, and elegant restaurants, making the choice of just where to eat dinner a welcomed dilemma.

For a quick bite for lunch or an afternoon pick-me-up we recommend heading to the Fourteas, a 1940’s themed tea room that is owned and operated by local couple Ian and Rachael, who met while stage managing shows at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Here you can choose from a wide selection of ethically sourced teas, old-fashioned sandwiches, and homemade cakes and pastries. For something a bit more substantial head to Sheep Street and choose from any one of the highly rated restaurants there, including Vintner, Lambs Restaurant, or Grants of Sheep Street.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that Stratford-upon-Avon is just a tourist town and not worth the visit. With its beautiful old architecture and picturesque location along the banks of the River Avon, never mind its historical significance and world-class cultural events, it would be a shame to miss it. There are regular trains from London Marylebone and with a travel time of only two hours there really is no excuse to not pop over for a visit.

If you fancy staying a little bit longer (and you really should) Sykes Cottages have a great selection of self-catering cottages in the Stratford-upon-Avon area, ranging from romantic cottages for two, to cottages large enough to accommodate the whole family, including the dog!

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Get Inspired to Visit Ireland with James Nesbitt

Friday, March 29th, 2013
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Have you ever dreamed about visiting Ireland but just not known where to start with the planning? Though the island may be relatively small as countries go, each Irish county has such unique attributes and interests it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed by what area to visit and what to see and do while you’re there. Well, a new ITV television programme presented by actor James Nesbitt may be just the thing to get the planning ball rolling and finally get you on the shores of the Emerald Isle.

The Irish Coast near Dingle, Ireland - Via. Flickr

The Irish Coast near Dingle, Ireland – Via. Flickr

James Nesbitt’s Ireland

“You come to Ireland for the scenery, you come for the culture, you come for the food and the drink, but the biggest draw of all has to be the craic. It’s a struggle to define, but it’s so good for the soul.” — James Nesbitt

Dingle Harbour

Dingle Harbour – Via. Flickr

In this eight part series James Nesbitt takes viewers on a tour of his native land, showing off all the best things that the country has to offer. From the staggering beauty of the landscape, the fascinating ancient history, delicious local food and drink, and culture that’s hard to rival, Ireland has something for everyone and Nesbitt is keen to show off all that he believes makes Ireland truly special.

Castle by the cliffs of Moher in Ireland

Castle by the cliffs of Moher in Ireland – Via. Flickr

This isn’t a show which simply revisits all of the tourist hot-spots of Ireland, Nesbitt takes us on a tour that only a local could, showing off the hidden nooks and crannies that are normally overlooked by guidebooks.

So, where does James Nesbitt, award winning actor of stage and screen, think are some of the best places in Ireland? Read on to learn more about some places that may have already been on your ‘must-see’ list, and maybe also discover some new ones to add.

Dolphins, Ice Cream and Beaches in the South West of Ireland

Dingle, Ireland

Colourful shop fronts in Dingle, Ireland – Via. Flickr

In the first few episodes of the series Nesbitt explores the South West of Ireland, from the natural beauty of the coast of the Dingle Peninsula, to the iconic Blarney Castle. The South West of Ireland  may be one of the best known areas of the country, with the magnificent Ring of Kerry attracting millions of tourists every year, and it’s easy to see why. This area of Ireland is absolutely beautiful, with sweeping vistas across the sea, delightful towns to explore, and some of the tasty food that the earth can produce, there really is little to not love about the South West of Ireland.

The best of South West Ireland includes:

  • Meeting Funghi the dolphin in Dingle
  • Being blessed with the gift of the gab at Blarney Castle
  • Learning to surf in the chilly waters of Cork
  • Sample locally made ice cream in Dingle
  • Touring the Ring of Kerry
  • Going fly fishing in the Blackwater River in County Cork

Find the perfect holiday cottage from which to explore the South West of Ireland in either County Cork or County Kerry.

Later in the series James Nesbitt will head north up the coast of Ireland to learn more about delicious oysters in Galway, view the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher, meet an old-fashioned match maker in County Clare, and discover the magic of traditional music with professional Irish musicians.

This coming Monday, April 1st, sees the third episode of the series air, but worry not if you’ve missed the first two, you can catch up on Nesbitt’s Irish adventures on the ITV website. Tune in to ITV on Monday from 8-8:30pm GMT to follow James on his journey through the land of his childhood and be inspired to start planning your own trip to enchanting Ireland.

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Britain’s Best Views

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013
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Britain is a land of dramatic landscapes – sweeping cliffs and crashing oceans, stately homes and patchwork fields, crystal lakes and craggy mountains. Britain may not have the world’s highest peaks or buildings, but what it may lack in size it truly makes up for in style.

Whether you are impressed by sweeping cityscapes, natural landscapes, or pastoral vistas, there is a view for you somewhere within England, Scotland, and Wales. Strap your walking boots on and set out to see what you can see from some of the most impressive views in Britain.

Lock Coruisk, Isle of Skye

Lock Coruisk Isle of Skye

Via. Flickr

If drama is what you’re looking for then the Isle of Skye is waiting for you. Loch Coruisk has been dubbed the Valley of the Waters, an apt if not obvious nickname for a spot where water reigns supreme. The Loch itself is an ancient volcanic bowl; a crater shaped by years of seismic shifts and glacier migration. Today you can reach Loch Coruisk either via a 7-8 mile hike from Sligachan, or a leisurely boatride from Elgol. Regardless of your method of transport you will end up at the same place, marveling at the view of the pristine Scottish lake bathed in the shadows of the imposing Black Cuillin mountain.

Find a holiday cottage on the Isle of Skye.

The Shard, London

The View from The Shard: Down on the Observation Deck

Via. Flickr

The view from the top of The Shard in London most certainly isn’t for the feint of heart. At over 800 feet above street level The Shard is more than twice as high as any other viewing point in London, giving locals and visitors alike a view of the capital metropolis unlike any that have come before. On a clear day you’ll be able to see more than 40 miles in every direction, though clear days in England are pretty few and far between. While the view from The Shard is undeniably impressive, the entry cost is not – an advance adult ticket will set you back £24.95, and £29.95 if you turn up on the day! Make sure you book online ahead of time to save yourself a few pennies, or take to the stairs at St. Paul’s Cathedral for a slightly lower and lower priced view.

Seven Sisters, Sussex

Seven Sisters, Sussex

Via. Flickr

Have you ever seen a movie with sweeping views of ocean waves crashing into the stark White Cliffs of Dover and thought ‘I need to go there one day’. Well, the chances are pretty good that the impressive cliffs on show were actually the Seven Sisters, lesser known but no less impressive chalk cliffs in Sussex, England. While the White Cliffs of Dover are heavily built around and increasingly intervened with to stave off natural erosion, the Seven Sisters have been left in all but their natural state, with all 280 hectares of their white cliff faces open to the sea. From the Seven Sisters Country Park you can enjoy the cliff views from both above or below, basking on the beach at the cliff foot, or walking along the tops on the South Downs Way.

Find yourself a holiday cottage in Sussex and explore the Seven Sisters.

Mount Snowdon, North Wales

The Horizon from Mount Snowdon

Via. Flickr

Seeing as we’re based in Chester it seems only right that we include something local in our list of Britain’s best views, though Mount Snowdon in North Wales deserves to be in the list all on its own merits. As the highest mountain in Wales, with an altitude of 1,085 metres above sea level, Mount Snowdon is possibly most famous for its role in the epic Three Peaks Challenge, which some of the Sykes Cottages staff undertook not long ago. If slogging your way up three mountains over the course of 24 hours isn’t your idea of a good time, worry not! The walk up Snowdon is challenging but doable for anyone who is moderately fit, or just jump on the historic Snowdon Mountain Railway and enjoy the views from the comfort of the train.

Enjoy views of Snowdonia National Park from your very own holiday cottage in Snowdonia.

Do you have a favourite view in Britain? Tell us about it via TwitterFacebook, or Google+!

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Get Out of London and Discover England!

Thursday, March 14th, 2013
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We’re always happy here at Sykes Cottages when one of our local friends gets some well deserved recognition, and that’s just what happened yesterday. Yesterday it was announced that for the second year running Chester Zoo has been named the top English large visitor attraction outside of London by the Association of Large Visitor Attractions’. We’re very proud of our local zoo here in Chester so this was very exciting to hear!

While London is obviously a wonderful city and somewhere that all visitors to the UK should make a stop in, there is so much more to the UK than just the capital. Chester Zoo is just one of the great visitors attractions outside of the Big Smoke that were honoured yesterday – the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle, the Roman Baths & Pump Room in Bath, Stonehenge, and the Museum of Liverpool have all also proven quite popular over the past year. So get yourself out of London and see all that the UK has to offer!

Visit the Chester Zoo in Cheshire

Not only in the Chester Zoo the top visitors attractions outside of London, but it’s also one of the world’s top zoos, and the UK’s number one wildlife attraction! With over 11,000 animals and 110 acres of award-winning zoological gardens to explore you better make sure you give yourself lots of time here, and wear some pretty comfy walking shoes. Information talks are held regularly if you want to learn more about some of the animal residents of the zoo, and with presentations about everything from cheetahs and elephants, to butterflies and tortoises there really is something for everyone.

Want to make a holiday of your trip to the Chester Zoo? Take a look at our holidays cottages near Chester Zoo and settle in for a weekend of exploring our natural world!

Explore the Roman Baths in Somerset

Roman Baths, Bath

Via. Flickr

Just like Chester Zoo, the Roman Baths in Bath, Somerset, has been honoured for far more than just being a popular site outside of London. The Roman Baths have recently been named one of the UK’s top three heritage sites, along with the Tower of London and Edinburgh Castle, as well as also winning a gold in the South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2012-13, amongst numerous other honours. With all this prestige behind it you can be sure that this is a site not to be missed.

So what will you see once you get to the Roman Baths? Well, a window into the past really. The first baths to be built at this site date back to 836 BC, but it’s the Roman history that the site is best known for. Don’t worry, you won’t just be looking at some old stones and water, the on-site museum teaches visitors all about the history of the site, known as Aquae Sulis by the Romans, the local people, and the development of the site over its long history. Don’t worry about bringing your swimming costume, there’s no access to the water on-site, you’ll need to go to the nearby spa for that!

Find a holiday cottage near to the Roman Baths in Bath and spend some time exploring all that this beautiful area has to offer.

Experience the Eden Project in Cornwall

Eden Project, Cornwall, April 2011

Via. Flickr

For those with an interest in all things environmental the Eden Project is the place to be. In the bottom of a disused kaolinite pit near St. Austell in Cornwall you will find a display that is a world away from the temperate UK climate sheltered beneath giant domes. Within the space-aged looking domes you’ll find the world’s largest rainforest in captivity, complete with steamy jungles and waterfalls, extensive gardens both inside and outside the domes, and ample learning resources for both children and adults.

The Eden project has won a number of awards since its opening in 2001 – the Best UK Leisure Attraction at the British Travel Awards in 2011 and 2012, the UK’s top eco visitor attraction, as well as numerous honours for their environmental work.

Filling a trip with lots of great activities around the Eden Project isn’t difficult, with the Lost Garden’s of Heligan nearby, as well as the beautiful Cornish coast. View our full selection of holiday cottages near to the Eden Project and find out what all of the fuss is all about!

 

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