Archive for category Nottinghamshire

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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A month’s worth of rain to fall in 24 hours

There are flood alerts for many areas of the UK, particularly the North West of England over the next 24 hours as a month’s worth of rain is predicted to fall in the time period, potentially causing flooding.

Around 99 communities have been given the alerts by the Environment Agency, while River Spodden at Whitworth, and Darwen in Lancashire, Uttoxeter in Staffordshire and Old Basford and Lowdham in Nottinghamshire have been given flood warnings, which mean that flooding is expected and immediate action should be taken, according to the BBC.

Many events will be affected, so far MFest in Leeds and Racing in Warwick have been cancelled. Festival-goers heading to T in the Park in Scotland this weekend have been warned to come prepared for rain and muddy conditions.

Between 20mm and 40mm of rain are expected to fall in central and northern areas of England today while the worst-hit places could see 60mm of rain, the average amount of rainfall for all of July.

To get regular updates about the situation, you can follow the Environment Agency on Twitter @EnvAgency or the Met Office @metoffice

If you are travelling to a holiday cottage this weekend, make sure to check your route before setting off for any potential problems, delays, or diversions.

Build a better bookshelf

One of the great pleasures of getting away on a cottage holiday is the chance to relax with a good book. Another is getting out and about, seeing and doing things that make a real change from everyday life.

So having a well chosen selection of books (as well as DVDs and games) in a holiday property can contribute a lot to a holiday. Bookshelves tend to acquire a life of their own, with visitors donating books they’ve brought and read. That can lead to a wonderfully mixed selection of books reflecting all sorts of tastes and interests. Even so, it still helps a lot if at the heart of the collection is a core of books appropriate to the property. Books about the area, of course, whether guide books, local history or fiction. But also books that can help visitors appreciate aspects of country life they might otherwise miss.

For instance, a couple of new books from Britain’s Wildlife Trusts do this in quite different ways. The first is a guide designed to help you get closer to nature, called 152 Wild Things to Do. Divided into four seasonal sections, it lists places to visit (mostly wildlife reserves owned by the Trusts), activities for both adults and children, and skills you can acquire.

In spring, if you’re in Wales you could visit Silent Valley nature reserve. Or you could cook nettle soup. “Healthy, delicious and found absolutely everywhere, nettles are a wonderful leaf that can be cooked up into a wholesome soup. Food that’s free and full of goodness – perfect! You’ll need to pick the tender tops of young nettles in the spring.” It goes on to a full Nigella-style listing of ingredients (including optional wild garlic leaves), cooking instructions and a final flourish: “You could stir in some crème fraîche or serve with a swirl of cream and some crusty bread.”

In summer, you could go wild swimming or glow-worm spotting; in autumn, you could go blackberrying (and make jam), discover Tolkien’s inspiration or see Britain’s largest butterfly. And in winter… well, buy the book and give it as a present, or just for yourself to spur inspiration and booking another cottage holiday.

In all there are – as you would expect – 152 recommendations, so there’s plenty to keep you busy. The book is probably aimed mostly at parents hoping to occupy children and stir an interest in nature and the countryside, but there’s plenty for everyone. It serves as an introduction to a number of small, lesser-known nature reserves and the colour photography is beautiful. It’s a book that deserves a place on every holiday cottage bookshelf.

Rather more traditional is Nature Tales, from  the same source. It’s a compilation of nature writing spanning the last three hundred years, with a forward by Sir David Attenborough. “This wonderful collection of some of the greatest nature writers in Britain’s history is a pleasure to read from start to finish and a valuable addition to any naturalist’s library,” says Sir David. Quite so, but don’t let that reference to a naturalist’s library make you think this is some learned, stuffy book. Quite the reverse, because it’s the ideal accompaniment to a cup of tea and a digestive, with most of the items no more than two or three pages long.

The book is organised in themed sections – By river and sea, From my window, Nature trails, and so on – each with items from across the 300 years. So an entertaining piece by Bill Oddie – one of the longest items at nine pages – is preceded by the 19th century novelist Richard Jefferies and followed by Nan Shepherd, a wonderful descriptive writer who died in 1981 at the age of 88. There are brief notes on each contributor, which might well lead you to follow up on their other writings.

Even more than in a naturalist’s library, this book belongs in every holiday cottage. And it, too, would make an excellent birthday or Christmas present for any nature-minded reader.

152 Wild Things to Do, published by Elliott and Thompson Ltd, £12.99,
Nature Tales, published byElliott and Thompson Ltd, £18.99

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Egg Hunts and Easter Treasure Trails!

Large Divine Milk Chocolate Easter Egg With Marc De Champange Truffles Disrobed by Chocolate Reviews.

Easter Egg picture by Flickr User Chocolate Reviews

The Easter weekend is here! Some of you may already have plans but for those of you who have woken up with the spirit of adventure but no idea what to do then below are some eggselent suggestions:

Chastleton (Oxfordshire) 3rd April 1-5pm – Indoor egg hunt

A good one for if the weather isn’t too good. Visit the National Trust website for full details, normal entry fees apply plus £1.50 to enter into the egg hunt.

Scotney Castle (Kent) 2nd – 5th April 11am-4pm – Easter Trail

Not one, but two houses where Elizabethan and Medieval styles meet. There’s a moat, some beautiful gardens and wonderful countryside to explore. Normal charges apply plus £2 to join the trail, visit the National Trust website as above for full details.

Upton House and Gardens (Warwickshire) – 2nd-5th April 12-4pm – Easter Trail

Walk around the 1930s styled gardens with lush lawns, terraces and water gardens. Normal charges apply but there is no additional charge for the trail. Again, got to the National Trust website for full details.

Burghley (Lincolnshire) – 4th April – Easter Egg Hunt

Hunt for chocolate eggs in the Sculpture Garden and Garden of Surprises and in the afternoon treat yourself to lunch at the Orangery Restaurant. Visit the website for full details. Easter Egg hunt included in the ticket price.

Clumber Park (Nottinghamshire) – 2nd-5th April 11am-2pm – Easter Egg Trail

Sniff out some chocolate eggs aroundthe beautiful grounds. But if you aren’t quite lucky enough to find any then each entrant gets a Cadburys Easter Egg prize. Normal admission charges apply plus £2 for the trail. Visit the National Trust website for full details.

I hope this has inspired some of you and you all have a wonderful Easter!

George Stubbs Exhibition

The eighteenth century English painter, George Stubbs – famous for his landscapes and paintings of horses – used to love visiting the Nottinghamshire estate of one of his wealthy patrons, the Duke of Portland.      He especially liked to paint the local beauty spot, Creswell Crags and set many of his famous works there, including Horse Devoured by a Lion (1763), and A Grey Horse with a Groom & Greyhound (c1762-4). Now, for the first time, the artist’s Nottinghamshire paintings will be on display in the county, at a gallery on what used to be the Duke’s estate, now the Welbeck estate.                                                                              Among the paintings on show at the Harley Gallery will be two huge early horse portraits from 1630, on public display for the first time,  from a group of twelve commissioned by William Cavendish (later, 1st Duke of Newcastle). A total of thirteen Stubbs paintings will be on show, including Marquess of Rockingham’s Stallion (oil), Grey Horse & Groom (oil), Brown Horse Mask (print), Sweet William (print) and Creswell Crags and Hunters (a series of four prints).     

The exhibition is from 6 September-21 December at the Harley Gallery, Welbeck Estate.

*The Creswell Heritage Trust has received heritage funding and a new museum and education centre is in the process of being built there. It’s expected to be finished by next March – we will be bringing you a feature about the area soon.