Archive for category East England

Cornwall most family-friendly destination in the world

Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall picture by Flickr user Fraser Reid

Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall picture by Flickr user Fraser Reid

That’s right, our beloved Cornwall has been voted the most child-friendly holiday destination in the whole world, with Devon, Somerset, Dorset and the Isle of Wight also appearing in the top ten.

The results are from a recent poll of 2,000 parents by an international lettings agency, with Cornwall recommended as the best place for family-friendly holidays. The news comes shortly after Cornwall was granted national minority status within the UK, officially recognising it’s distinct culture and heritage.

Top priorities to ensure the best child-friendly holiday included nearby play areas, a good choice of food to cater for fussy eaters, and a shallow sea. Half of the parents polled said the ideal holiday destination must have nice beaches, and 28% said kids’ swimming pools are essential.

Cornwall pipped Orlando in Florida to the top spot because even though Orlando boasts vast theme parks and near-perfect sunny weather, it was marked down for the long flying time of around nine hours.

The study also found that the ideal length of time for a family holiday would be around 10 days, and travelling time to the destination would be under five hours.

Other UK destinations to feature in the top 50 include West Wales, the Yorkshire Dales, Peak District and the Scottish Highlands.

The results are unsurprising to us at Holiday Cottages, where we have holiday accommodation at all of the high-ranking areas voted on in the poll.


Top Ten Child-Friendly Holiday Destinations

1. Cornwall, UK

2. Orlando, USA

3. Devon, UK

4. Majorca

5. Costa Del Sol, Spain

6. Isle of Wight

7. Menorca

8. Dorset, UK

9. Somerset, UK

10. Tenerife


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‘Sounds’ of Britain to encourage visitors

Big Ben picture by Flickr user tjuel

Big Ben picture by Flickr user tjuel

Sounds can evoke strong memories or associations, and VisitBritain is hoping to harness this power with it’s new sound-based ad campaign.

The £2.5 million TV and online ad campaign features the ‘sounds’ of Britain. These will include the pouring of a cup of tea, a black cap beeping and, of course, the chimes of Big Ben.

It’s been launched across key tourism markets: USA, Brazil, China, India, Gulf states, and throughout Europe.

The digital version will allow users to customise their own advert and itinerary set to the ‘sounds’ of Britain, and Rudimental’s song ‘Feel the Love’. They can also share the result with friends via Facebook and Twitter.

Joss Croft, marketing director at VisitBritain said: “We want to involve people in creating their own British experience – first online where they can become the director of their own bespoke tourism ad, and then in reality following their individual journey across Britain according to their own interests and inspirations.

“This ad is something a little bit different and we hope it conveys the humour and character of a modern, confident Britain.”

If you’re visiting the UK, make sure to include Holiday Cottages in your Great British holiday plan!

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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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Lumiere Durham 14th-17th November

Deadgood Studio 'Rainbow'

Deadgood Studio ‘Rainbow’ Lumiere 2011

Starting tonight and running each evening until Sunday is the incredible Lumiere Festival in Durham. One of the UK’s largest and most spectacular light festivals of the year, Lumiere promises to be every bit as exciting as previous years, and what’s more, it’s free to attend!

There will be some of the most innovative uses of lighting technology, from the most complex 3D projections in the form of a huge Elephant walking through the urban environment; and Crown of Light, video-mapping at its best on the cathedral; to simple technologies such as Litre of Light, which uses old plastic bottles and refracted sunlight to create a solar bulb bright enough to light up a home.

There will also be all manner of neon delights, stained glass cars, ghostly lit up dresses and musical tents. Perhaps one of the most impressive installations of the festival will be Solar Equation, an impressive simulation of the sun hung over the Durham University Science Site which will feature projections generated by live mathematical equations that simulate the turbulence, flares and sunspots that can be seen on the surface of the sun.

This year there are free tickets to the central part of the festival up until 7.30pm. This is to ensure that it does not get too crowded in the most popular areas at the busiest visiting time. Unfortunately all tickets have been reserved, however there are plenty of artworks outside of the central zone to visit before being allowed in without a ticket after 7.30pm.

I went along in 2011 and had a brilliant time. I wrote up my experience and pictures on my personal blog, which you can view here. I intend to go again this year and will report back for those of you unable to make it! However, if you are able to get to Durham this weekend, I certainly recommend you go.

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Seaside piers under threat

Blackpool Pier, picture by Elisa Artesero

Blackpool Pier, picture by Elisa Artesero

Seaside piers should be taken into community ownership to stop them from disappearing from our coastlines, according to the People’s Piers report published by the trade association, Co-operatives UK. 

The author of the report, Jess Steele, believes that too many of the privately owned piers are trapped in a cycle of neglectful ownership with only periodic attempts at conservation. Owners who do not make provisions for high maintenance costs and insurance bills are just as much of a threat to the pier as the corrosive seawater. The report suggests 57 piers are under threat and the saviour should come in the form of co-operatively owned assets for the benefit of the community.

Piers are proving popular as ever, with six million people a year visiting them. However, they have endured some unfortunate press in recent years as several of the UK’s most loved piers have been damaged or destroyed by fires. Hastings Pier was nearly destroyed by an arson attack in October 2010, leaving 95% of the structure left burn-out. It has since been returned to local ownership by a compulsory purchase order from the registered owners who failed to do anything to the structure after the fire.

The pier is now owned by the Hastings Pier Charity ahead of a £14 million project to revive the Victorian structure. The majority of the money has been raised by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), with help from Hastings Borough and East Sussex County Councils, the Coastal Communities Fund, and the Community Assets Fund. Restoration on the Grade II-listed pier will start this month to be completed in spring 2015, transforming it into the “People’s Pier”, according to officials.

Presently, 56% of piers are privately owned, 39% by the local authority and 5% in community ownership. The report calls for a fast-track compulsory transfer process in order to save these important community and heritage assets. It suggests local communities to take ownership.

“More people live by the seaside than live in Wales and 10 per cent of our national heritage assets are within a mile of the sea,” said Ms. Steele.

“Seaside piers make us smile. But too many piers are trapped in a cycle of neglectful ownership with only periodic attempts at conservation. We believe that there is a new option, now being pioneered for Hastings Pier, which is to take piers into local community ownership.”

John Penrose, Coalition Minister for Tourism and Heritage until 2012, said: “For piers across the country, exposed at all times to sea and weather, there is a real challenge in meeting the high financial costs of upkeep and insurance.

“I applaud the search for new solutions to our national assets that can harness the passion and commitment that comes with co-operative and community models.”

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Severe weekend weather warning

Just when we were getting used to some of the best summer weather we’ve had in years, the Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for the next three days. It predicts an end to the sunshine and a start to days of intense rain and thunderstorms.

Today Scotland and the Highlands are expected to experience the brunt of the unsettled weather, while the east of England, London and the south east of England could see thunderstorms and heavy rain for the rest of the weekend.

The Met Office has issued yellow rain warnings, which indicate that the public should be aware of the risk of localised disruption to travel due to surface water flooding.

The end of the heatwave will be disappointing for the UK, but will probably be good news to the two million British holidaymakers jetting off to warmer climates this weekend as they’ve had the best of the weather.


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Blackpool named most popular seaside resort

Blackpool picture by Flickr user Ingy The Wingy

Blackpool picture by Flickr user Ingy The Wingy

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside! And the most popular British seaside resort we like to spend our time on has been named as Blackpool!

The resort beat off stiff competition from other favoured destinations, such as Brighton, Croyde in Devon, and Southwold in Suffolk, in the latest TripAdvisor Choice Awards.

On the world scale, London was voted third most popular city, beaten by Paris and New York and followed by Rome, Barcelona and Venice.

Within the UK, the capital was the leading destination, closely followed by Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Belfast and Blackpool.

For more holiday cottages within the UK, go to our main site, or for villas abroad, try our sister site Villaseek.


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Easter events 2013

Easter Eggs picture by Flickr user phil41dean

Easter Eggs picture by Flickr user phil41dean

Easter is nearly upon us! As the flowers start to bloom and the sun begins to shine for that little bit longer each day, it is time to start planning those Easter holiday activities!

1. Tarmar Valley Spring Trail Festival – With over 30 guided walks and activities to suit all ages and abilities, this Cornish Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty runs the festival from 28th March – 7th April with many events available for free or a small donation. Events include Exploring Nature, a walk looking at Lutyens’ buildings in Milton Abbot, a Woodland Family Activity Day and Uncovering the Past exhibition continues its tour of the Tamar Valley.

2. Trereife Easter Food & Craft Fair  (Easter weekend) – Also in Cornwall, this is a perfect day out for the foodies amongst you. The beautiful grounds of this Queen Anne manor house will play host to cooking demonstrations from gourmet chefs, and marquees with a wide range of producers from Worthy Farm Cheeses and Fish sales from ‘Cornish Smokies’, to locally produced beer, cider and wine. Perfect produce to fill up your picnic basket!

3. Annual Oyster Gathering, Falmouth (Easter weekend) – Go on boat trips to watch the fishermen do their thing at the Flushing Quay on the last weekend of the season. Taste the bounty at the seafood market with some of the catch cooked up by local chefs.

4. York’s CHOCOLATE Story – It wouldn’t be Easter without chocolate! Find out about chocolate’s history, how to make it, and more importantly, taste it, on this tour of York’s most famous chocolate-making families!

5. The Great Studfold Easter Egg Hunt, North Yorkshire (30th March – 14th April) – Gather up the brightly coloured eggs from wicker baskets on this Easter egg hunt. Also look out for craft days and the chance to make an Easter card.

6. Easter Eggspress at Kirklees Light Railway (Easter Weekend) – A great family day out with bouncy castles, face painting, tram rides, donkey rides, egg hunt and egg and spoon races for both children and adults alike!

7. ‘All About Me’ at Eureka (from 29th March) – A new exhibition to encourage learning through interaction and play at the UK’s National Children’s Museum.

8. Lake Windermere Watersports (29th March – 14th April) – Get active in the water on one of the Lake District‘s most famous lakes. For £10 per person there are family-orientated activity sessions, including canoeing, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing and raft building.

9. The Great Peter Rabbit Easter Egg Hunt, Windermere and Bowness (from 4th April) – It’s the North’s largest egg hunt, with 50 limited edition ceramic eggs to be found across the Lakes. It’s a mammoth task, and one which is probably best spent on a weekend away.

10. Abbot Hall Easter Sculpting Workshops, Kendal (8th – 12th April) – Add to the large willow sculptures, or make a smaller one to take away with you at these workshops over the Easter holidays.

If there are any other Easter activities taking place across the country these holidays, please comment below, or tweet us @holcottagescc 

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Bonfire Night 2012

Fireworks photo by Flickr User Bayasaa

Fireworks photo by Flickr User Bayasaa


It’s getting closer to Bonfire Night, so here are a few events going on around the country:

Chatsworth – Enjoy a large firework display, bonfire in the garden and lots of live entertainment. 3rd & 4th November, Adults £12, Children £8. Check out some of our holiday cottages near by and make a break of it.

Lewes Bonfire Night – with processions and many bonfires at different sites around the town, Lewes looks to be putting on a spectacular evening on 5th November. Ticket prices vary. There is also a mobile phone app you can download here. Here are some holiday cottages nearby too!

The Station Inn, Oxenholme near Kendal – Wrap up warm for the firework display, bonfire and burgers and pies from 6pm, 2nd November. There are also lots of Lake District holiday cottages to choose from!

Kendal Castle firework display – 7.30pm, 5th November. No charge for this one, but all donations go towards hosting next year’s event!

Leeds Roundhay Park – enjoy a huge bonfire with 70,000 other visitors, 7.30pm, 5th November, free admission.

Museum of East Anglican Life – enjoy a bonfire, firework display and refreshments, all alongside the sights and smells of traction engines in steam. Family ticket £12 or Adults £4.50 and children £3.50 available from the Tourist Information Centre in Stowmarket. 6.30pm, 3rd November.

Gulliver’s World Theme Park – If you book for the Mystical Mayhem Show you can get access to the rides, fireworks and dinner! 3rd November Adults £19.95, Children £17.95


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Halloween 2012 spooktacular activities!

Carved pumpkins picture by Flickr User khrawlings

Carved pumpkins picture by Flickr User khrawlings


So, it’s half term for many, the clocks have gone back, the nights are getting darker, and this Wednesday is Halloween! If you haven’t planned anything just yet, then never fear! Here are a few activity ideas for at home:

1. Pumpkin carving – an oldie but a goody. Gather together some pumpkins of different sizes, hollow them out and carve in some scary faces. Don’t forget to put a tea light inside for added effect and to chase off those spooks and ghouls!

2. Trick or treat – dress up the children as a ghost in a sheet, a witch with a wart-ridden nose, or a zombie and take them to play trick or treat with the neighbours!

3. Apple bobbing – prizes for each apple caught. No cheating, hands must stay behind backs at all times!

4. Mask making – gather together lots of paper, crayons, cotton wool and thread to make your own spooky Halloween masks.

5. Eye-popping food – make scary eyeballs out of peeled grapes with a dot of food colouring for the pupils are sure to scare and delight children!


Now here are some activities happening around the UK:

1. Fright Fantastic Half Term Horror at Adventure Island, Southend-on-sea. Special scare zones and a new fright attraction all take place this week!

2. Halloween Trails at Croft Castle and Parkland Herefordshire 10am-4.30pm Normal admission charges plus £2 per trail. Follow the clues to hunt down the ghosts and get your goody bag!

3. Lanhydrock Spooky Trail, Cornwall

4. Snaglefang’s Spooky Spectacular, Bewilderwood, Hoveton, Norfolk. Lantern and mask-making together with a parade at 5.45pm all this week.

5. Halloween Festival at Marwell, Owslebury, Winchester. Carve pumpkins at the Pumpkin Emporium and hear stories from Marwell’s resident witch!



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