Late Summer Savings in France

A  selection of savings on lovely holiday properties over the Channel – with availability from this weekend! Enjoy villas with private pools on the Côte d’Azur, traditional holiday homes in Normandy and much more.

Find links to the properties with more pricing and availability info on each picture caption. Check out more French savings on our website.

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.

The UK’s Best Ice Cream Parlours

Three ice cream cones

Maybe you’d prefer Cotton Candy and Bubblegum flavours…

We’d eat ice cream every day of the year if we could, but July gives us the best excuse to – it’s National Ice Cream Month! The tradition was started in 1984 in the United States by the President at the time, Ronald Reagan. With temperatures soaring across the UK, what better time to take advantage of some of the incredible ice cream on offer? The UK is home to some of the world’s best ice cream, and here are five places to sample the best…

The Pudding House, Lancashire.

Wallings Farm is located in Cockerham, just outside Lancaster. The ice cream parlour is extremely popular with the locals, so be prepared to queue – especially if it’s a nice day. It’s positioned in beautiful countryside, with alpacas grazing in the adjoining fields. The perfect location for enjoying your ice cream! The parlour is situated at the front of the Pudding House café, and stocks a huge range of around 40 flavours. Traditional flavours are available, but what really sets Pudding House apart as one of the best is their incredible range of unique, innovative ice creams. The Lemon Meringue Pie flavour is a popular choice, with real meringue pieces nestled between delicious lemon ice cream and ripples of lemon curd. Alternatively, if you’re feeling festive, why not try their Christmas pudding flavour? With delicious ice cream, generous serving sizes and an idyllic setting, you won’t be left disappointed after a visit to Lancashire’s most loved ice cream parlour and farm.

Billy Bob’s Parlour, North Yorkshire.

Finding an ice cream parlour in the Yorkshire Dales can be a difficult task, as there are so many to choose from. Billy Bob’s parlour, situated just outside the beautiful town of Skipton, is a popular choice with locals and tourists alike. The parlour boasts a fantastic 30 flavours, with something on offer for everybody. Traditional flavours, such as Vanilla and Strawberry, compete against some more extravagant choices, like the Cotton Candy and Bubblegum flavours. As well as the tasty ice cream, Billy Bob also serves a full range of delicious fast food, from burgers and hot dogs, to pancakes and waffles. An excellent choice if you’re travelling with children, the parlour also boasts an outdoor play area as well as an indoor play barn. No matter what the weather, Billy Bob’s ice cream parlour is a fun day out for the entire family. Plus, when you’re finished, you can continue your adventures in the Yorkshire Dales.

Aplin’s Farm, Devon.

Otter Valley Dairy in Devon have won numerous awards, and it’s not hard to see why. The small, family-run business has been around for four generations, refining their range of ice cream to create new, mouthwatering flavours. There are 21 flavours to choose from, including Rhubarb and Ginger, Cream Tea, and Devon Rice Pudding with Raspberry Jam, as well as four varieties of sorbet for those looking for something a little different. The ice creams are made in house, using milk from their own herd of cows, and the recipe is based upon Italian Gelato. Off the beaten track, Otter Valley Dairy can be difficult to find but a visit is worth the trip. Tucked into the breath-taking valley, the summerhouse offers fantastic views of the Devon countryside. If the weather permits, you can enjoy your ice cream outdoors in the designated picnic area, beside the very same cows that helped to create the wonderful ice cream.

Broughty Ferry, Scotland

Visocchi’s Café, in Broughty Ferry, has recently been awarded the title of the best ice cream in Scotland. Located just outside Dundee, the café specialises in two Italian delights: pizza and ice cream. All handmade at the premises, their ice creams attract huge crowds during the summer. Exceptionally creamy, and with inventive flavours, you get luxury ice cream at affordable prices. Broughty Ferry itself is located on the Firth of Tay. It’s a historic river town, with plenty to see and do, including Sandy Beach and its Esplanade, Barnhill Rock Gardens, and Broughty Ferry Castle.

Blaze Farm, Peak District.

Blaze Farm boasts the best ice cream in the Peak District. The ice cream is well known, having won several awards, and is all made on site using milk from its own herd of dairy cows. With an impressive range of flavours, you can choose from traditional varieties or the more inventive, such as the Turkish Delight with White Chocolate Chip. In addition to the amazing ice cream on offer, Blaze Farm has nature trails that can be enjoyed by the whole family. With plenty of wildlife and incredible countryside views, it’s not to be missed! If you visit in the springtime, you may even get to watch the lambing take place on the farm. There’s lots of interactive fun for the children, too, with cows milked daily in the parlour. There’s no admission fee for the farm, so it’s the perfect family day out for those on a tight budget.

The UK’s best TV filming locations

ted village

Ted on set of ‘The Village’

With so many great dramas, comedies and adaptations hitting our screens over the last few years, the UK is now awash with interesting and beautiful TV filming locations for us all to visit. Although not all of them are available to tour directly, they still make great holiday locations where you can soak in the atmosphere, feel and aesthetics of your favourite TV programmes. But with so many to choose from, and each with their own visitation limitations and restriction, how will you ever decide on which ones to visit? Well don’t worry, we’ve picked out some of the most famous, beautiful and interesting TV filming location in the UK to help you make up your mind. So here you are, five of the best TV filming locations to visit in the UK:

Downton Abbey – Highclere Castle

First on the list is probably the most famous. Downton Abbey has been a revelation not only in the UK, but also in America where its popularity has exceeded expectations. The show is revered for its accurate historical costume and setting, and critically acclaimed for its realistic representation of social relations in the Edwardian era, and now you can visit the abbey itself. Whilst many of the indoor scenes are filmed in specially constructed studio sets, the outdoor shots of the Abbey are filmed at Highclere Castle in Berkshire, the seat of the Earl of Carnarvon. You can visit the castle most days of the year, and since the show has attracted considerable tourist attention.

If Highclere Castle isn’t enough for you, you can also visit the village of Bampton in Oxfordshire, which is the setting for Downton Village. There is a scheduled tour of the village, or if you prefer you can walk around at your leisure and experience the setting for some of the major plot developments in the show. You can also get access to some of the closed off filming locations and see the Crawley House, Downton Hospital and St Mary’s Church.

Sherlock: The Hound of the Baskervilles – Hound Tor and Dewer’s Hollow

Hound Tor is the site of a deserted Medieval village on Bodmin Moor, and was the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s story The Hound of the Baskervilles. It’s fitting, then, that when the BBC came to adapt the story for the new series of Sherlock that they decided to film some of it there. The location has a history of being used as a TV location, being featured in Doctor Who in the 1970s and The Sontaran Experiment. This historical and archaeological landmark lies within the rugged woodland of Bodmin Moor, and offers beautiful views across its expanse.

Scenes for this episode were also filmed in Three Bears Cave in Forest Fawr Country Park near Cardiff, which was used to represent Dewer’s Hollow. Again a rugged and traditionally British woodland, this provided the dark eerie backdrop for the sighting of the hound, and has also been used in various other BBC TV programmes, such as Torchwood and Merlin. The woodland expanse of the country park is a beautiful walking holiday destination, which also allows you to take in some TV history whilst you’re at it!

Jamaica Inn – Cornwall

iStock_000013502099Smallbodmin

The BBC remake of Jamaica Inn divided opinion, but whatever you think of the shows recent foray onto our screens, Jamaica Inn remains one of the defining novels in history. Although the TV programme itself was filmed on a number of locations, including Cornwall and Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria, fans of the show, book or film adaptations can still visit the famous Jamaica Inn itself, from Daphne Du Maurier took the name of her novel – in fact, the Inn is now so famous it has been given Grade II listing status by English Heritage. Located in the middle of Bodmin Moor, the inn has been on the site since the 18th century, when it was used a resting house for smugglers and pirates in the area. Because of this interesting history, it has also been named one of the most haunted places in the UK.

Regardless of this connection with the novel and various TV and film adaptations, the Inn as a beautiful and historic site in its own right, and the nearby village of Bolventor and the surrounding moorland are typical of the rugged and sublime north Cornish landscape.

Doc Martin – Port Isaac

Nestled on the north coast of Cornwall, the small fishing village of Port Isaac has found fame in the last ten years as the filming location of Doc Martin. Called Port Wenn in the show, all the exterior scenes are filmed in the village, and can be visited all year round. Many of the interior scenes were also shot in the village, but in a converted barn on a local farm, which you can also visit. The village has a history as a TV filming location, having previously been the location of Poldark in 1970s, which is due to make a comeback on our screens next year. As well as a must for fans of the show, this picturesque fishing village is a great holiday spot regardless of its TV associations.

Broadchurch – Dorset

iStock_000010512607Smalldorsetbeach

Slightly less cheerful coastal comings and goings took place in ITV’s drama series Broadchurch. The serial made good use of Dorset’s stunning coastline to tell a gripping tale of the dark secrets underlying a seemingly idyllic community. Thankfully, while the script (and the titular location) was a work of fiction, the beautiful landscape on England’s south coast is far from, with breath-taking landscapes, stunning scenic vistas and warm welcomes aplenty.

The success of Broadchurch has already prompted an increase in screen tourism to the area, but thanks to the abundance of tranquil beauty in Dorset we’re fairly sure that you won’t notice the increased numbers. Of course that may chance when they screen series 2!

Doctor Who – Cardiff

Doctor Who is known for inspiring serious levels of fandom, and its filming locations around Cardiff have become the stuff of legend. Although you can’t get access to any of the sets, you can take an unofficial tour or use the tour app to discover and visit the filming locations of the show. Cardiff is a great city, with fantastic scenery, architecture and museums, and is a great holiday destination even if you’re not a fan of the Doctor.

Aside from the location featured here, there are a whole host other beautiful, history and rugged TV filming locations which make great holiday destinations. It’s the perfect way to fulfil your TV fandom whilst having a great holiday at the same time. With cottages4You you can do both, staying in self-catering accommodation whilst visiting the famous locations of your favourite TV shows.

Gearing up for the Cycling!

To say that people are getting a little bit excited about the cycling in ‘God’s Own County’ would be something of an understatement! We’ve added a few shots of preparations in this album, along with some properties that still have availability if you fancy going along and enjoying the spectacle!

Views from t’Saddle – the entries so far!

We’ve had some great photos entered into our scenic cycling photo competition. We’ve added a brief selection below. If you’d like to add yours – and possibly win a £100 Evans Cycles voucher and a cycling jersey signed Sir Bradley Wiggins – then email your ‘views from t’saddle’ or enter via Twitter, Facebook or Google+.