Archive for category Christmas

2013 round up

Happy New Year from all of us at Holiday Cottages! Before we start on the news and reviews for 2014, here’s a some highlights of what we covered on the blog in 2013:

We started the year with a report that we Brits are creatures of habit with our holiday choices, often returning to a previous destination and holiday cottage when we’ve had one good holiday there before. Last year was the Year of Natural Scotland, and was launched with an advert featuring Shetland ponies wearing onesies!

In February we found that 50% of Londoners prefer holidays in the sunshine, with many also stating that their holidays in the UK were some of the happiest they have had. We also gave you a run down of some of our most splendid cottages with pools, which are all still available now and could be great for a summer holiday vibe in winter!

Flybe announced flights from Manchester to Scotland in March, making for a quick and relatively cost effective way of taking a short break in Scotland. The Easter holidays were blighted by bad weather sweeping across the country. It didn’t affect Cheshire, though, as I shared my photography adventure in Tatton Park over the Easter weekend.

Our friends at Helpful Holidays swept the board at the Which? Travel magazine member survey in April. Meanwhile, in May, Blackpool was named the most popular British seaside resort at the TripAdvisor Choice Awards.

In June, research by VisitBritain found that more overseas visitors to the UK prefer visiting open green spaces such as parks and gardens than they do museums and galleries.

July started with the news that a change in the law in 2015, which means schools will decide their own term dates, will very likely drive up the prices of holidays year round. There was a rise in visits to UK attractions, helping to bolster domestic tourism.

We gave our top tips for festivals and activities over the August Bank Holiday; we also reported on the large number of UK piers under threat of coming under a state of disrepair if funding isn’t found.

September was a time for activities such as the Devon Open Studios, Frome Cheese and Agricultural Show, and pickling at Powderham.

In October, inbound tourism was on the up, and also Yorkshire was voted one of the top 10 places to visit in the world!

In November we recommended the North Devon Clovelly Herring Festival and reviewed the light fantastic Lumiere Festival, Durham. There was good news for Hull, as it was named the next UK City of Culture 2017.

Finally, in December, we found that we Brits are flavour of the month with Americans, as tourists from across the Pond have been increasing in number year on year. Christmas was also a great time for UK tourism as the number of overnight stays and short trips increased substantially over the festive period.

So, that’s it for 2013! Keep up to date with news and reviews in 2014 by following the blog, or you can like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter


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Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a very merry Christmas from all at Holiday Cottages!

Baubles by Elisa


Christmas great for domestic tourism

Christmas is proving to be a good time for domestic tourism as overnight trips this Christmas and New Year will generate £1.9bn for the UK economy. 

VisitEngland’s Trip Tracker survey reveals a whopping 20% of adult Brits (10.1m) will make an overnight trip in the UK, with 17% (8.6m) planning the trip in England, generating £1.6bn for England alone.

33.7m people will travel to see friends and family, 18.1m adults plan to go shopping in the sales after Christmas, and 7.5m will take part in other festive activities.

Minister for Tourism Helen Grant said: “The Christmas holidays provide a great economic boost for domestic tourism.”

According to VisitEngland, just 4% (2m) of Brits plan to travel abroad over the Christmas and New Year period.

If you’re looking for a last minute Christmas break and a bargain, too, look at our Christmas Cottages blog post for recommendations.

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Christmas cottages – special offers

It’s getting closer to Christmas, and with that comes some great special offers on some of Helpful Holidays’ huge array of cottages.

Q4 light and sunny apartment

Q4 light and sunny apartment

How about a whopping 50% off the Christmas and New Year weeks at this lovely cottage in Newquay. This sunny, first floor apartment sleeps 5 and has lovely views over the gardens and to the beach.

L248 stylish converted barn

L248 stylish converted barn

Save 25% on the new year week at this well presented converted barn (sleeps 4) in Aveton Gifford, South Hams. A quiet place on a gorgeous leafy estate to  just relax and get away from it all during the festive period.

L84 Hallsands perched on the clifftops

L84 Hallsands perched on the clifftops

Save 50% on Christmas week and 20% on the remaining weeks in January at Prospect House (sleeps 4), once a legendary hotel and now 16 lovely apartments in Hallsands, South Hams. Perched high on the cliffs you’ll enjoy stunning sea views across to the lighthouse at Start Point and all the way down the coast to Dartmouth.

P21 Boscastle

P21 Boscastle

Save 30% on Christmas and New Year weeks at this charming Grade II listed slate cottage (sleeps 8) in Boscastle. There are lovely woods to walk in, a low-tide beach and pony trekking nearby.

L6 Enjoy the heated indoor swimming pool

L6 Enjoy the heated indoor swimming pool

Due to a last minute cancellation, save 50% on the week commencing 3rd January for a lovely couple’s getaway at this holiday cottage in Kingsbridge, South Hams. Enjoy the use of a heated indoor swimming pool and games room to keep you entertained during your stay. A bargain at just £134 for the week!

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Yorkshire events this weekend

Doctor Who exhibition picture by Flickr User AllisonStein

Doctor Who exhibition picture by Flickr User AllisonStein

As a nod to Yorkshire being voted one of the must see regions in the world recently, here are a few of the many events going on around the county this weekend.

Starting this Saturday and for the following two Saturdays before Christmas, Grassington travels back in time for its annual Dickensian Festival. This pretty village will be filled with the traditional sights and smells (only the nice ones) from this bygone era. Lights will adorn the streets and the traditional market will abound with shopkeepers and villagers all dressed in Victorian costume. There will be street entertainers, dancers, musicians and exhibitions of traditional country crafts.

In York from this Saturday until Christmas Eve you can take a magical steam train journey to the North Yorkshire Pole to meet Santa and his elves. Families can enjoy the trip and some festive treats in the beautiful Dining Car Restaurant. A lovely day out.

On every weekend until the 2nd December is Breakfast with Santa at Stockeld Park, Wetherby, as part of its Christmas Adventure Season. Join Santa and his friends for a tasty breakfast and each child will receive a Christmas present!

The National Media Museum in Bradford is holding a special exhibition to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. One of Britain’s most popular television programmes, the exhibition will explore what it means to the many fans. Doctor Who and Me: 50 Years of Doctor Who Fans will run from 23 November 2013 – 9 February 2014.

The Headrow in Leeds will be showcasing jewellery of eight contemporary designers until 11th January. There will be beautiful collections of unique earrings, necklaces, rings, brooches and cufflinks, all perfect for Christmas gifts.

Also at the Headrow is ‘Up Front’ an exhibition showcasing 9 designers exploring colourful and characterful ceramics, glass and wood pieces.

If you’re in the mood for some theatre and you’re near Queen Street in Huddersfield this Saturday, go to see ALADDIN. Performed by the young people of Exit 25 Theatre School, watch a great production suitable for all the family.

For a list of these events and many more, go to the Welcome to Yorkshire website to help plan your visit. If you are in need of anywhere to stay, look at our range of holiday cottages in Yorkshire.



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Christmas markets

Manchester Christmas Markets picture by Flickr user fussy onion

Manchester Christmas Markets picture by Flickr user fussy onion

It’s nearing the end of November, the nights are getting bitingly cold and thoughts of Christmas are starting to creep in. So, what better way to start the festive build up than with a hot cup of mulled wine, some cheese or tasty fudge at one of the many Christmas markets setting up in towns across the country!

Manchester opened its international markets last weekend, with a two-floor bar and an enormous glowing Santa in Albert Square.

Opening this Thursday (21st November) are the West Country Christmas markets. The Cathedral Green in Exeter will be filled with over 50 local and international traders offering a variety of foods, drinks and handmade crafts, perfect for presents. Take a picturesque train journey from this semi-detached cottage (sleeps 5) situated by the waters edge with views across the bay.

This weekend on the 23rd and 24th November you’ll find a great selection of food, drink and crafts at the Food and Craft Fair in St Austell. Positioned on the site of the old china clay works at Wheal Martyn, enjoy some relaxed, hassle free shopping at this historic site. Take your treats back to the sauna at this upside down house in Talland Bay (sleeps 6).

From 27th November to 1st December Truro will host the Made in Cornwall Fair on the Lemon Quay. There will be a great range of Cornish products, from award-winning food produce to unique clothing to collectable teddy bears. Also on the Lemon Quay on 4th December will be the Primestock Show when town meets country and you can get up close to Cornwall’s finest livestock.

And finally, Santa will be arriving by boat in the picturesque, seaside town of Fowey on 29th November to lead a lantern procession through the village. After which, there will be two days of entertainment, food and drink. Stroll back to this elegant Victorian house (sleeps 7) with views across the river.



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2012 Round up

Happy new year from all at Holiday Cottages! 2012 was an eventful and special year, with a successful Olympic Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; it all came up roses for Britain. Before we start on news in 2013, here’s a round up of the main stories we covered on this blog last year.

January started positively for holiday cottage owners, as research showed that an increased number of people were planning self-catering holidays. The future of rail travel got a boost as new high speed lines got the go ahead from the government, and quicker and easier searches were made possible by and Google Maps. However, train companies did not fare very well in a customer satisfaction survey.

February started with a cold snap and the government warned that parents could be fined if they were found to be taking their children on holiday during term time.

In April we posted about some brilliantholiday properties and also gave you a list of top things to do over Easter, many of which are also applicable at other times of the year!

The Olympic torch relay began in May, as a precursor to London 2012. We also ran two great competitions, tickets to Oakwood Theme Park and to Chessington World of Adventures.

Much speculation arose regarding the impact the Olympics would have on the UK in June. Brits changed their holiday plans to fit around the Games, no one knew if the Tube would cope with the extra visitors (by and large it did), and British Airways even launched a campaign to get people to stay at home and support Team GB.

July saw record rainfall over the space of 24 hours. In August the number of ‘nightcations’ were found to be on the rise, and the Lake District got some Hollywood visitors.

Yorkshire was branded ‘not a destination’, by Visit England in September, something which has been proved otherwise after it was named best for holidays at the World Travel Awards the following month, and most recently been made the starting point for the Tour de France 2014.

A rise in demand for wi-fi in holiday cottages was revealed by a survey in December, and we gave you a list of some beautiful festive getaways, great for all year, not just for Christmas!


So, that was the year on this blog. What will 2013 bring? Bookmark us and find out! You can also keep track of us on our Facebook page.

For a rundown of travel news in and outside of the UK, see our sister site blog, Villaseek.




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Rise in demand for wi-fi in holiday cottages as more parents work while on holiday

A rise in demand for wi-fi in holiday cottages comes as over two-thirds (69%) of parents work while on holiday, according to a new survey.

Despite the demand, 82% of respondents said they would rather not work while on holiday; however 71% believed it was necessary for their business, while 14% felt under pressure from their employer , and 6% were afraid of losing their jobs.

More than 500 people responded to the Tots to Travel survey, which focused on the work/life balance of parents with young children. Astonishingly, 1.7% of parents said they would only stop work for two hours on Christmas day, with 5% stating they would only take one day off. The numbers increase on holidays aside from Christmas, with 41% claiming to work five or more hours a week while on holiday, 68% take work calls during this period, and 78% check work emails.

Holiday company founder, Wendy Shand said the results amazed and disturbed her: “We have seen a trend in our business towards families going on holiday for shorter periods and at the same time an increasing demand for wi-fi. As business owners ourselves we appreciate that many parents feel the need to keep in touch with the office while on holiday but an astonishing 40% of respondents said they worked out of habit.

“As parents of young children I believe passionately that we all need to give ourselves a break, resist the temptation of the smartphone and ensure that even if only for one week we try to forget about work and spend time with our families.”

The need for an actual holiday from work is supported in a review by the British Psychological Society, published last year. It found that holidays had a small but significant effect on people’s well being.

However, not all respondents required wi-fi purely for work (only 9%), 71% wanted it for both work and pleasure, showing that it is not all work and no play. Although, having wi-fi available in a property did increase the likelihood of  a quarter of respondents working while on holiday, perhaps showing that access is too much of a temptation.


Do you work while on holiday? Would wi-fi in a holiday cottage encourage you to book, or put you off? Please post your comments below.

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Meet Santa on the train!

Santa picture by Flickr User dryfish

Santa picture by Flickr User dryfish

A special visitor is making an appearance on the steam trains between Barnstaple and Lynton this month! Yes, Santa is coming to town! He’s looking forward to meeting and greeting children in the weeks running up to his busy night of the year, Christmas Eve.

Advance bookings are advisable as tickets are going fast for this special occasion.

Prices are as follows:

9th, 15th and 16th December – Adults £8.50, children £8.50, and children under 1 year £2.50

21st – 24th December – Adults £9.50, children £9.50, and children under 1 year £3

Trains depart from Woody Bay Station between 11am and 3.30pm. Each child will meet Santa who will give them an individually named present.

If you want an early Christmas getaway in the area, then Helpful Holidays have this wonderfully quirky, cosy cottage in Lynton. It sleeps 5 (one double, two single beds). If you have the good fortune for it to snow during your stay, then you can wrap up warm in front of the inglenook fireplace complete with woodburner, or brace the cold to play in the snow in the beautiful surroundings.

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Christmas and New Year getaways

It’s nearing the end of November, the shops are full of Christmas presents and decorations in preparation for the big day. Something you might not have thought about yet is where you would like to spend Christmas or New Year. Perhaps you would like a large family get together but can’t host the whole clan in your home. Instead, you could consider having a break away in one of these Helpful Holidays cottages!

photo of Holiday cottage in Boscastle, Cornwall, sleeps 8 photo of Holiday cottage in Boscastle, Cornwall, sleeps 8

photo of Holiday cottage in Boscastle, Cornwall, sleeps 8 photo of Holiday cottage in Boscastle, Cornwall, sleeps 8

A family of 8 can stay at this beautiful Grade II listed slate and stone cottage in Boscastle, North Cornwall (ref P21). Set near the harbour and with a short walk to a great pub and excellent restaurant, this cottage is perfect for a relaxing break away with the family. There is a 30% special Christmas and New Year reduction on the usual price, so get in quick!

photo of Holiday cottage in Padstow, Cornwall, sleeps 8 photo of Holiday cottage in Padstow, Cornwall, sleeps 8

photo of Holiday cottage in Padstow, Cornwall, sleeps 8 photo of Holiday cottage in Padstow, Cornwall, sleeps 8

Save 40% over Christmas and New Year at this Victorian semi-detached house, 350 years away from the pretty harbour in Padstow, the base for famous fish chef Rick Stein (ref P105). Sleeps 8 and spans 3 floors with large windows and generous sized rooms. Conveniently placed close to the local shops, cafes and restaurants.

photo of Holiday cottage in Yarcombe, Devon, sleeps 24 photo of Holiday cottage in Yarcombe, Devon, sleeps 24

photo of Holiday cottage in Yarcombe, Devon, sleeps 24 photo of Holiday cottage in Yarcombe, Devon, sleeps 24

Finally, for the extremely large family get together, 24 of you can stay at this wonderful Manor near Yarcombe, East Devon (ref G1) at a whopping 35% discount Christmas week commencing 21st December, that’s reduced from £5250 to just £3413 because of a cancellation. Why not make someone’s loss, your gain with this marvellous offer? The Sunday Times likened this Elizabethan Grade II listed manor house to ‘a full-sized game of Cluedo’. It has a games room, an Aga in the kitchen, a beautiful fireplace in the banqueting room, together with a tuned piano for family songs after dinner.


If these aren’t quite what you’re looking for, look for more bargains at Holiday Cottages!


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