Archive for category Romantic breaks

e-Luminate Festival Cambridge

'Colour Shift' at e-Luminate. Picture by Elisa Artesero

‘Colour Shift’ at e-Luminate. Picture by Elisa Artesero

I had the pleasure of visiting Cambridge for the annual e-Luminate Festival of light art and technology this weekend (the festival continues until 23rd February).

It was my first time in the pretty city and it was a flying visit, quite literally at times, as it was windy! We started with a Trail of Light, a walking tour of the Cambridge College Chapels. All participants were given an LED flashing light to create a line of light as we walked across from chapel to chapel. Once inside, we were given a performance by either a choir, or my personal favourite, organ music, which echoed through the candlelit chapels and their high vaulted ceilings.

There were quite a few light installations and projections throughout the city, the most impressive was Colour Shift by Susie Olczak, a wash of changing colours across the facade of King’s College. It really highlighted the architecture, creating harsh shadows to emphasise the detailed cuts of the stone.

Saturday was a bright and sunny day, and really gave us the chance to explore and get a feel for the place. There was a market selling local produce, second-hand LPs, clothes and jewellery. The city is famous for its literature festival and in keeping with this, there were plenty of bookshops to be discovered down tiny side streets and in hidden courtyards, many selling rare books of antiquity.

We had a lovely lunch of fish and chips at The Eagle pub. Dating back to 1667, the pub is most famous as the place where James Watson and Francis Crick first announced they had ‘discovered the secret of life’ – DNA. Regardless of that, it was popular yet cosy once you found a seat. We were quite lucky to get one, and would advise getting there just after midday if you’re to find a table also, as many visitors who arrived after 12.30pm were disappointed.

All in all my visit to Cambridge was a success, and anyone interested in interesting architecture, particularly religious buildings, would do well to visit. I think it would work well as part of a longer visit to the area, so it would be a good idea to rent a holiday cottage outside of the centre to allow for visits to the surrounding countryside. 

Orchard Cottage (sleeps up to 7) is a beautifully restored and tastefully furnished 18th Century cottage with half an acre of garden of mainly trees and lawn where you can, if you wish, play croquet, badminton and quoits. It is in a rural situation with a farm opposite and fields around, but is close to travel to Cambridge, Rutland Water and Stamford.

The cottage has three double bedrooms (master bedroom has en suite shower room), study, sitting room with inglenook fireplace and well-concealed television; large kitchen with Rayburn, microwave oven, dishwasher, washer/drier etc, and conservatory. The furniture is antique even the bathroom has Victorian fittings.

Orchard Cottage

Orchard Cottage

Beautifully presented bedroom

Beautifully presented bedroom

 

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Wonderful for Weddings

Bouquet picture by Flickr user Skakerman

Bouquet picture by Flickr user Skakerman

If you’re planning a wedding, you might like to consider this beautiful detached house surrounded by a quarter of an acre of enclosed garden in Bratton Fleming.

Oaklea (F173) is in the village of Bratton Fleming on the south-west edge of Exmoor. With views over meadows and woodland, it makes for a lovely, peaceful setting for special occasions such as baby-naming and wedding ceremonies.

It’s a modern and stylish home, with a crisp but muted colour palette for a calming atmosphere. Sleeps 18, with 4 bedrooms on the ground floor (two double and two twin, three of which have an en suite), and three bedrooms on the first floor (double with en suite, twin, and one room with four singles, an en suite loo and two extra truckle beds on request).

The height-of-the-house hallway allows for lots of natural light and leads to a large living room with lots of large windows, and French windows leading to the garden with a patio and garden table, chairs, and gas barbecue. The modern kitchen/dining room and utility room has all the expected amenities to help cater for large groups. Children can also enjoy the playroom with toys and table football, and upstairs the adults can enjoy the second living room.

Nearby you can visit the large town of Barnstaple, and a short drive away at Saunton there are also lovely sandy beaches with great waves for keen surfers and golf courses for enthusiasts of the sport.

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Homecoming Scotland 2014

Fort William photo by Flickr user Hotfield

Fort William photo by Flickr user Hotfield

Scotland is marketing itself to itself in a new £500,000 campaign, ‘Homecoming Scotland 2014’.

The campaign will encourage fellow Scots, northerners and the Northern Irish to visit the various events happening throughout the year, right on their doorsteps. There will be a 30-second TV advert, radio, digital, press and other promotional activity to highlight the 430 family-friendly Homecoming events. These include the Islay Festival of Music and Malt, Lochearnhead Highland Games, and the Wickerman Festival in Dumfries and Galloway.

Tourism minister Fergus Ewing said: “This year, Scotland will also play host to the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games and the MTV Europe Awards – which will broadcast to nearly 700 million households through MTV’s global network of channels.

“2014 will be an extraordinary year for Scotland and this advert, alongside the Homecoming app and enhanced information on the wider events programme which are also now available, will help us to share it with as many people as possible.”

So with all these brilliant events going on, what better time than to highlight the Scotland section of our Holiday Cottages!

We have lots to choose from, but to start, how about The Logs, a detached Norwegian-style log house (sleeps up to 10) 3 miles north of Fort William. It has panoramic views of Ben Nevis and the ski slopes of Aonach Mor.

The comfortable accommodation includes a spacious lounge with gallery sitting room, dining room, well-equipped breakfast kitchen, 6 bedrooms (2 en suite) and a bathroom. There is a wood-burning stove in the lounge, gas central heating, 2 TVs, DVD, video and CD player. The large garden and patio area is bordered by the remnants of the old Caledonian pine forest. Plus, there are over 70 events and activities listed on the Homecoming Scotland 2014 website including tours, cycling, fishing and lots more!

The Logs outside

The Logs outside

Cosy living room

Cosy living room

 

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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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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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October/November offers

Half term needn’t be dominated by the family market. Here are a some lovely cottages great for couples/small families with availability and special offers from our friends at Helpful Holidays.

Crowan cottage T6

Crowan cottage T6

Explore the West of Cornwall at one of these two little detached thatched stone cottages, thoughtfully converted from old barns. Each sleeps 3 and makes for a peaceful getaway with 10 acres of grounds and bluebell copse to enjoy with footpaths from your door. There is a special 20% reduction if booked the week commencing 25th October, a snip at £263 for the week.

 

L249 Aveton Gifford

L249 Aveton Gifford

If you’re after a couple’s break away then you have a choice of either a beautifully converted barn or the remarkable Grade II listed former Music Room within what was once a small family estate in Aveton Gifford, South Hams. There is a courtyard with fountain, flowers and shrubs, a lawned walled garden with camellias, fig and walnut trees, then another garden with pond, benches and large trees to sit under. The Music Room is impressive with open-plan living/dining/kitchen, vaulted stucco ceiling, huge arched windows, woodburner and a stunning 5′ four-poster bed in the bedroom. A romantic and relaxing getaway and with 25% off for five night holidays booked for the 25th October or 3rd November.

P70 Altarnun

P70 Altarnun

If you’re willing to wait until November, then there is this Grade II listed, granite-built cottage (sleeps 5) in the riverside village of Altarnun, on the north-eastern edge of Bodmin Moor. It has a cosy beamed living/dining room with a big inglenook fireplace, comfy sofas and window seats. A smartly fitted kitchen with all expected amenities. There are two bedrooms, one double and one with a double and an additional single bed. The property is perfectly placed for exploring the moors and dramatic coastline and there is a choice of good food pubs after a hearty day’s walk. There is also a 20% discount on all remaining weeks in November.

 

For these cottages and many more, go to our main site.

 

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Easter availability 2013

Easter may only be one week away, but it isn’t too late to book a holiday cottage!

Below are just some of the last minute breaks away that can be booked right now via our website.

Cottage in Blamphayne, East Devon

Cottage in Blamphayne, East Devon

Try this sweet cottage for two, perfect for a romantic long weekend away. Settled in the tiny hamlet of Blamphayne, just 4 miles from Honiton and 6 miles from the sea at Beer and Seaton; this cleverly converted and well-presented former cider press sits close to a small trickling stream with views across the valley. A perfect base for relaxing, going for walks, or cycling.

Cottage in St Tudy, North Cornwall

Cottage in St Tudy, North Cornwall

If there is a group of you (6 adults) , or a large family (4 adults, 4 children), then this bright and spacious single-storey holiday let just 2 miles from the little village of St Tudy, could be just what you’re looking for. With west-facing views of the wooded meadows, a fenced lawn and just along the lane 100 acres of private woodland to walk and cycle through, this makes for a peaceful retreat.

Cottage near Looe, South Cornwall

Cottage near Looe, South Cornwall

4 miles inland from the river-mouth fishing village of Looe in South Cornwall, is Brambles (sleeps 4), one of two attached stone cottages converted from barns. A single-storey cottage that combines modern and traditional furnishings, it contains all the amenities one would expect from a holiday cottage. It also has original beams and high-vaulted ceilings, and in the living/dining room there is a woodburner to cosy up in front of. Close by is the owners’ farmhouse and surrounding fields where they keep sheep, pigs and chickens. A rural location, great for walks and watching wildlife. If you’re quick, there is also a special offer on this property!

For more Easter availability, check here or go to the main site and select the dates and area you want in the advanced search option.

 

 

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Flights to Scotland

Flybe is adding flights from Manchester to both Glasgow and Edinburgh this April. The two new Saturday return services will operate from 6th April, with one-way flights from £39.99 including taxes and airport charges.

The airline is also increasing the frequency of its weekday flights from East Midlands Airport to Edinburgh and Glasgow to four flights a day from 1st April.

 

These new services could make flying to Scotland a more feasible option when looking for a quick holiday getaway, cutting down journey times and allowing you to spend more time at your destination.

How about one of these three superb cottages (below) on a 3,000-acre sheep farm set in the spectacular Pentland Hills Regional Park? It might feel like a complete hideaway, but you will only be 10 minutes drive from the city of Edinburgh and 10 miles from the airport. Each cottage caters for a different number of guests, from the Stable which is a wonderful space for two, to Steading which is entered via a stone archway to the open-plan kitchen/dining room at one end and cosy sitting room at the other. Upstairs there are two bedrooms, one double and one twin. Byre has charming exposed beams and an upstairs sitting room. There is a twin and a double bedroom, with the possibility of accommodating two more people on a comfortable double sofa bed. All three cottages have wood-burning stoves to cosy up in front of at night, and stunning views Scotland is famed for.

 

 

Another option would be these three cottages on Cloag Farm, seven miles west of Perth, just north of Methven village. Each cottage sleeps 4 with one double and one twin room. They are set away from the road and have panoramic southerly views. Ideal for exploring Perthshire, or as a base for visiting Edinburgh, Stirling, Glasgow, St Andrews and beyond. Bookings run from “any day” to “any day” and there are discounts available for couples all year. They also benefit from 3 stars from VisitScotland.

 

For these cottages and many more, visit our main site.

 

 

 

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Holiday cottages with pools

This sun is shining and spring is well on its way! However, a dip in the sea might still be a little chilly for some, so why not rent a holiday cottage with its own pool? Perhaps pools aren’t something you would think about when looking for a holiday let, but this little luxury is increasing in popularity and affordability in the cottage market, so don’t overlook the prospect of one for your next holiday!

Hicks Farm Holidays Rose Cottage in Boresford, Herefordshire, is set on a quiet livestock farm. This pretty cottage caters for many activities – you can explore the farm and help feed the animals, badger watch at sunset, play pool in the games room, and of course, swim in the indoor luxury pool.  Sleeps 7 + 2 cots, prices start at £710

Indoor pool

Indoor pool

Rose Cottage

Rose Cottage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If beautiful South Hams is the area for you, why not try one of these three barn conversions, or two cottages positioned on a mixed working farm a mile from Halwell. These Helpful Holidays properties all share an indoor swimming pool with a toddler’s splash area. There is also a children’s play area with swings, climbing frame, slide and trampoline. If that isn’t enough, there is also a games room complete with WiFi. Sleeps 10 and prices start at £725.

View to the kitchen

View to the kitchen

Helpful Holidays South Hams

Helpful Holidays South Hams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Wales this former Victorian gatehouse in Carmarthenshire and Laugharne has access to free leisure facilities – heated indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi and Sauna, fitness suite, tennis courts, table tennis and pool/games room at the exclusive Pantglas Leisure Club, just a short walk away from North Lodge.  Set in a quiet valley, this cottage is positioned for sunshine and has a charming woodburning stove in the kitchen/breakfast room. Sleeps 6 and prices start at £440.

Fantastic leisure facilities

Fantastic leisure facilities

Former Victorian gatehouse

Former Victorian gatehouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last but not least in this list of suggestions, is Maenporth Estate in Cornwall’s Med. A classic modern development with large indoor heated swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi, table tennis, pool table and two tennis courts in 30 acres of landscaped gardens. There is also a large barbecue area, children’’s play area and plenty of woodland walks, all for your enjoyment and use while on holiday. Sleeps 4 and starts at a very reasonable £395.

Tennis anyone?

Tennis anyone?

Maenporth, Cornwall's Med

Maenporth, Cornwall’s Med

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are plenty more properties with pools on the Holiday Cottages website, just type ‘swimming pool‘ into the keywords search tool for an extensive list across the country to suit all tastes and budgets.

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Ponies in onesies, a film festival, and lodges with a private beach

Fivla and Vitamin picture by Rob McDougall, courtesy of VisitScotland

Fivla and Vitamin picture by Rob McDougall, courtesy of VisitScotland

Visit Scotland have jumped on the ‘onesie’ craze, but with a difference – they have chosen Shetland ponies, Fivla and Vitamin to model their specially made onesies made from Shetland wool.

These pretty little models are representing The Year of Natural Scotland, which aims to educate people on the country’s range of biodiversity and to inspire holidaymakers with its beautiful landscapes.

Visit Scotland said: “With Shetland wool and knitwear being so in demand, it seemed like a fun way to celebrate Shetland’s natural landscapes, products and heritage.”

Next month would be an ideal time to visit and combine outdoor walks in the countryside with a trip into the city of Glasgow for its Film Festival 14th-24th February. It includes themed screenings and many tie-in events across the city, to provide plenty to do over a day out or weekend away.

Why not try one of these lovely lodges right on the loch side of Loch Lomond and with a private sandy beach, and only a 50 minute drive to Glasgow. The lodges are perfect family holiday accommodation, with verandah’s complete with lockable gates, perfect if you are visiting with small children or animals.

The lodges sleep six each and are double glazed with a fully fitted kitchen, pay-phone, flat screen TV with freeview, DVD player and hi-fi with iPod functionality.

Beautiful Lodges near Loch Lomond

Beautiful Lodges near Loch Lomond

View from the private sandy beach

View from the private sandy beach

Warm and cosy inside

Warm and cosy inside

 

 

 

 

 

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