Cottage of the Week – Phil’s House, Lairg

Perfect for pets and people, Phil’s House (ref SUUR) is an architect designed, eco-friendly, single-storey house on an elevated position with panoramic views over the village of Lairg in the Highlands, waters of the Loch Shin and towards the hills beyond. Sleeps 6 and 3 pets. Check out customer comments and find more info on the property listing.

6 tips for Travelling with your Dog

 

Make the perfect pet-friendly break.

Make the perfect pet-friendly break

Nothing beats the feeling of finishing work for a well deserved holiday. However, often that feeling is tarnished by the realisation that you will be leaving your beloved pooch behind. Putting up with two weeks away from your fluffy companion for the sake of a relaxing holiday doesn’t have to be the case! It doesn’t matter whether your break is in the UK or a little further afield, there’s always the option to take your pet away with you. There are a number of things that you must consider, however, so that your dog remains safe, comfortable and, in some cases, legal! Here are our top tips for a happy trip away with your pet dog.

1. Crate your dog to ensure safety and comfort in the car

Some dog owners feel bad about keeping their dog in a crate, especially on long journeys. The truth is, the majority of dogs are quite happy inside their crate – it’s their happy place. Placing your dog inside a crate for car journeys is essential – it keeps them safe, prevents them from distracting the driver, and ensures a comfortable journey for all members of the family.

If your dog already has a crate, and is used to being locked inside it, fantastic! You don’t need to do much other than moving the crate into the car and following your usual commands to get the dog inside. However, if your dog isn’t used to being inside a crate, it’s a good idea to start preparing them for the trip a few weeks in advance. Allow the dog to spend some time in there, with the door closed, and build a positive association. Speak to your canine friend with a happy, positive voice – they need to understand that it’s a safe, comfortable environment for them to spend time in. Most dogs adapt well to crate training, but there are plenty of detailed guides online if you encounter any difficulties.

2. Go for a long walk before embarking on your journey

If your dog is well exercised before you set off, it’s likely they’ll be tired enough to just curl up and go to sleep for much of the journey. It’s important to do this, as a restless dog is more likely to feel stressed and agitated throughout the journey. It also provides them with the opportunity to use the toilet before the trip – just as we do – particularly important if you’re embarking on a long journey without many stops!

3. Keep your dog relaxed and comfortable

There are many things you can do to keep your dog comfortable whilst in the car. Firstly, don’t feed them immediately before you depart. Whilst this can be tempting, especially if they’re not going to eat for a while, many dogs are prone to motion sickness and eating straight before you leave will only make the problem worse. It’s also a good idea to take any dog blankets or toys in the car with you. If they have a favourite toy, place it in the crate to comfort them. However, ensure that there’s no risk of strangulation or injury to the dog first – some toys aren’t suitable. If it’s warm in the car, use the air conditioning. Remember that it might not be as cool in the dog’s crate, particularly if they’re in the boot, so you might need to pack an extra jumper for yourself!

4. Take regular breaks

If you’re making a long journey, take regular breaks to allow your dog to stretch their legs, have a drink, and get some attention. Never leave your dog unattended in the car, particularly during summer. The temperature inside the car can increase rapidly, and is extremely dangerous.

5. Maintain a normal routine

Dogs are used to their routine, so it’s important not to disrupt it too much while you’re away. Try to stick to their regular meal times – they know when they’re due to be fed, and will be hungry! Also make sure that you take your dog for regular walks and give them lots of attention. Being away from home can be strange and confusing for dogs, particularly during the first couple of days, so make it your priority to ensure they’re feeling happy and comfortable.

6. Be prepared

Before you go, be prepared and get to know the local area. Find out the nearest vets to your accommodation, and write down their address and phone number. That way, if anything were to happen whilst you’re away, you’ll be able to get there straight away. If you intend on eating out, research dog friendly pubs and restaurants before you leave to avoid disappointment.

Following these tips will ensure a memorable and fun trip for the entire family!

Take a look at our Pets Page for more info and to search our special range of pet-friendly properties.

British Travel Awards Nominations 2014

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We’ve been nominated for ‘Best UK Holiday Cottage/ Self Catering Booking Company’ at the British Travel Awards 2014.

This is a huge honour for us but we need your support to win it! If you’ve enjoyed a break with cottages4you in the past then please vote for us on the British Travel Awards website.

Once you cast your vote you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win a host of prizes – including holidays and more!

Cottage of the Week – Little Thatchings, Oxfordshire

Our new featured property is located in the pretty little village of Warborough in Oxford, perhaps better known to TV viewers as the filming location for Midsomer Murders. Thankfully, real life in Warborough is far more relaxing (and safer!) than its portrayal on screen, which should allow you plenty of opportunity to explore and enjoy one of the UK’s most stunningly scenic regions.

The property itself isn’t short of beauty and tranquility. Nestled in its own garden just off the village green with secret seating areas and a small orchard, it has been delightfully furnished in ‘Arts and Crafts’ style with original beams (some originating from ships of the Spanish Armada which were broken up at The Wharf just down the road) and many more attractive features.

You’re also perfectly located to enjoy a range of quintessentially English locations and activities including Oxford, Blenheim Palace, Henley, Windsor, Stratford, The Cotswolds and London with numerous gastro pubs, restaurants, markets and antique shops in the surrounding area.

Take a look at the latest pricing, availability and make a booking on the property’s listing on cottages4you.

cottages4you’s Summer Entertainment Guide

Whether you’re on a proper holiday, or perhaps planning a few days away before the kids go back to school, there is so much to enjoy right across the country this summer. But summer activities don’t have to mean long queues in the scorching sun (or pouring rain!) there are a host of fun activities for the family that are off the beaten track, or not as well known as some. Take a look at out guide below for inspiration.

Life’s a beach!

The only crowds on the Farne Islands

The only crowds on the Farne Islands

The busiest beaches are thriving with noise but perhaps lacking a bit in space to enjoy yourself. However, there are many terrific and quieter places to enjoy sand and sea. How about Northumberland? Starting with the sweep of Bamburgh and its stunning castle, through Seahouses where you can take a boat trip out to the Farne Islands, right down to the busier end of Whitley Bay and Tynemouth, there are beaches to be enjoyed and space to do your own thing.

At the other side of the country, you’ll discover Britain’s first area of outstanding natural beauty on the Gower Peninsula. Starting just outside Swansea, you can immerse yourself in so many activities, from kite flying to pony trekking, kayaking to wind surfing. Add a wealth of caves and castles, stunning beaches and clambery walks, and you’ll return each night to your handy self-catering accommodation in a state of pleasant exhaustion!

Fun with a theme

The top theme parks, such as Alton Towers, Legoland, Chessington World of Adventures and Blackpool Pleasure Beach, are so well known. There are many others to enjoy as well. At Malton in North Yorkshire you’ll enter the amazing world of Flamingo Land. Established as both a zoo and theme park more than forty years ago, it offers a wealth of fun experiences such as Being a Zookeeper or Animal Trainer, intimate encounters with everything from sea lions to giraffes (not forgetting meerkats) as well as adventure rides from Cable Car to Cliff Hanger.

Another great choice would be Drayton Manor in Staffordshire (near Tamworth). There you’ll find almost three hundred acres of fun packed activities with extremely damp and thoroughly scary rides, including a highly unusual stand-up roller coaster. There’s a brand new 4D cinema (it’s 3D with added water and wind!) and the chance for the littler ones to enjoy Thomas Land – named after a tank engine you may just have heard of.

A celebration of festivals

Fun at the festival in Edinburgh

Fun at the festival in Edinburgh

If there’s one thing we do know how to do here in the UK it’s how to enjoy a good festival. The music circuit is well-established by now, with annual events such as the Cambridge Folk or Reading and Leeds Festivals. Of course, each August Edinburgh offers thousands of cultural treats and many more not-so-highbrow events.

Away from music, there are also so many other festivals to enjoy across the rest of the summer. Food-wise for example, on August Bank Holiday the largest fish festival in the UK is held at Newlyn in Cornwall. Apart from great fresh tastes, you can enjoy the unique sight of teams in the Lugger Rowing Championships – a serious row while competing for the legendary Gold Pilchard Award. At the end of that week Jamie Oliver and Alex James get together again to present The Big Feastival held on Alex’s own farm deep in The Cotswolds. Add music, demonstrations and a vintage funfair and you have a feast of fun!

The call of nature

Kids and nature seem to have an affinity. Whether they are splashing around in rock pools, getting cuddly with tame specimens in petting zoos, or looking out for unusual wildlife in woodlands, their interest is always infectious. Our country offers some great opportunities to commune with nature. Imagine watching the soaring glory of sea eagles on the Isle of Mull, swooping red kites in Grizedale Forest in Cumbria, or looking for a close encounter with rare red squirrels in parts of Northern England.

In Scotland, you can look for a friendly bottlenose dolphin encounter during a boat trip on the Moray Firth, before spending a fun day at nearby Aviemore or in the stunning Cairngorms National Park.

Trusted entertainment

If we’re proud of our history, we can also make sure we have some fun with it too. The National Trust run a terrific series of events throughout the summer at many of their properties. Think how the kids would enjoy watching bats emerge at dusk on the Penrose estate, a Nature Night Walk at Godolphin House, or the chance to build a family den at Trengwainton – all in Cornwall.

At Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire – home of Sir Isaac Newton – you could be part of a glorious bug hunt in his orchard (he probably won’t turn up in person though). Fab Friday (8th August) is Archery Day at Rockingham Forest at Lyveden in Northamptonshire.

There’s so much more!

Cromer. seaside town in Norfolk, England

Lovely Cromer

Of course all of these terrific ideas do no more than scratch the surface of the huge number of events and locations spread across the United Kingdom in the next few weeks. We offer so many family-friendly self-catering choices from Cornwall in the south west to Wick in the far north of Scotland; Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons in Wales to Cromer in Norfolk. This means that, no matter how you want to spend your precious family time, you can site yourself close and convenient for wherever you wish to be. If history is your thing it might be Warwick or Leeds Castle, or stately homes from Chatsworth to Cragside (first home of hydro-electric power in the UK).

You might fancy lunch in a genuine treehouse during a visit to Alnwick Castle (part of a certain wizard’s adventures were filmed there). How about a glorious day watching the penguins strut their stuff at Edinburgh Zoo? Or perhaps a family cycle on the Olympic road race route over Box Hill would be an unforgettable piece of family bonding with views (and inclines!) that may leave you breathless.

Whatever excites your family, wherever you’d like to be throughout the rest of our British summer, don’t forget to register for our Big Kid Bingo competition. Not only can you enjoy a host of fun family activities but if you complete your card you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win £1,000 cottages4you voucher. Start playing now on our Facebook page.

Fabulous flavours from a shoebox!

Cooking on holiday with the family is great fun and doesn’t need to cost a fortune either! We’ve joined forces with some of the UK’s favourite gastro pubs and restaurants to create a collection of simple, yet scrumptious recipes to inspire you whilst enjoying a self-catering stay, whether cooking at a home-from-home or visiting popular local haunts.

Partnering with local eateries and head chefs Phil Kent from The Bull & Swan in Lincolnshire, The Old School Bar and Kitchen in Cornwall, Paul Peters from The Black Swan in Yorkshire and Sian Rees and Ian Wood from The Sosban restaurant in Wales, we’re bringing you a collection of simple recipes ideal for some delicious holiday cooking.

These gastronomic geniuses have created recipes using the same five ingredients as a base plus one locally sourced regional speciality and seasonings, showing how versatile just a few basics can be.

The five staple ingredients include potatoes, tinned tomatoes, onions, peppers and bread and are all storable in something the size of a shoebox, making them easily transportable for any hungry holidaymakers, or easy to pick up from local shops on the way back from a day out!

So grab a shoebox, get to the local shop, and treat your taste buds to one of these mouth-watering meals created by Britain’s best chefs. We hope you enjoy them!

Recipe – The Bull Swan Stamford

Recipe – Sosban Restaurant Wales

Recipe – Old School Bar and Kitchen Cornwall

Recipe – Black Swan Helmsley

Cottage of the Week – Tilbury Cottage, Somerset

Tilbury Cottage is set above the village of West Bagborough on the southern slopes of the Quantock Hills. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this area is famous for the poets Coleridge and Wordsworth who once lived and wrote here. Set within the grounds of the owner’s farm, this is an ideal holiday location for walkers, bird watchers or for some peace and quiet.

Find more info and make a booking on the property listing on cottages4you.