Enjoy oysters in Falmouth

Valentine Warner, food writer and star of BBC Two’s ‘What To Eat Now’ series will lead the Opening Ceremony of Falmouth Oyster Festival on Thursday 14th October, with a demonstration of his culinary expertise and passion for cooking with local, wild ingredients, showcasing the diversity and quality of Cornish seafood and produce.

His first television series of ‘What to Eat Now’ saw Valentine seeking out the best food and dishes that Autumn has to offer, and in the second series Valentine concentrated on Summer’s seasonal bounty. The two accompanying books have been best-sellers. Valentine will be signing books after the cookery demonstration giving festival visitors the chance to meet the chef and try out his recipes for themselves.

The event will take place from 14th to 17th October 2010 at its waterfront venue at Events Square in Falmouth. Valentine joins a long list of popular television personalities who have appeared at the festival including Rick Stein, Hugh Fernley Whittingstall, Antonio Carluccio, Aldo Zilly, John Burton Race and Clarissa Dickson Wright.

Now in its 14th year, the event has steadily grown both in size and popularity, regularly receiving in excess of 25,000 visitors, and is now considered to be one of the top food festivals in Cornwall. Falmouth Oyster Festival celebrates the start of the oyster dredging season and the diversity and quality of Cornish seafood and in particular, one of the last remaining traditional oyster fisheries, dredging by sail and oar. Ancient laws dictate that no engines may be used to dredge the oysters to conserve the stocks and protect the natural ecology of the oyster fishery, using the characteristic Falmouth Working Boats or oyster rowing punts.

The cookery theme is an integral part of the festival, packed with demonstrations by leading local chefs. Visitors can take in the festival atmosphere as they enjoy the local oysters, seafood, champagne, wine or the specially brewed oyster ale, as they listen to the shanty singing and live music on offer. Children’s shell painting, town parade and marquees brimming with Cornish produce and crafts make this event ever popular with festival goers.

With food and drink becoming one of the key attractions to Cornwall, the festival has seen an increasing number of food companies promoting their quality produce at the festival alongside Cornish craft producers, and have tempted visitors to savour the expanding range of mouth watering Cornish food and drink on offer. The event has broad appeal and is a must for all oyster, seafood and marine heritage enthusiasts – what better reason to plan a long weekend in Falmouth.

The festival truly has something for everyone – for further details see http://www.falmouthoysterfestival.co.uk or call 01326 312300.


Brixham Pirate and Shanty Festival

The Brixham Pirate and Shanty Festival promises a full weekend of fun in South Devon for pirates and landlubbers alike. The festivities begin on Friday 30 April 2010 with a Pirates of the Caribbean themed night, including limbo dancing, fire breathing, food and music.

Saturday is Pirate Fun Day, with a whole range of activities for peg-legged participants of all ages. Try your hand at archery, art, knot-tying, or watch a range of events – including a live sea battle!

Sunday’s highlight is the Guiness World Record attempt for the largest gathering of pirates (and presumably the loudest “ARGGGGHH”) so make sure you dress appropriately. Following the attempt there will be more quizzes, live music and attractions than you can shake a metal hook at.

Monday brings the event to a close, beginning with a pirate market. Expect arts and crafts, and maybe even a few pirate videos (*chortle*). Throughout the day there will also be treasure hunts, sword dancing, re-enactments, competitions and live music.

For more info on the Brixham Pirate and Shanty Festival please click here to visit the event website.

If you fancy staying on dry land then we’ve selected a few great local holiday cottages that are a short hop away.

Click here to look at Torfrey, a Grade II listed holiday cottage in Brixham that sleeps 5 (no pets).

Click here to look at Upper Cottage, in the centre of Brixham (sleeps 5-6).

Click here to look at Windjammer, a terraced cottage close to the sea that sleeps 5-6.

Click here to look at Furze Cottage, a cosy decorative property in Brixham that sleeps 7-8.

Click here to look at Rosalie, a 160-year-old holiday cottage in Brixham that sleeps 6.

Click here to look at Mulberry Cottage, an 18th-century listed stone barn set in a tranquil conservation area on the edge of Churston Ferrers (sleeps 6-7).

What to do for Father’s Day this year? A Stroll With Pops and a Refreshing Real Ale?

With Father’s Day approaching (21st June), why not ditch the traditional gift idea and treat your deserving dad or husband to something he’ll really love this year – a long weekend filled with wonderful scenic walks and real ale pubs. We’ve asked our friends at the Ramblers and CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) for some great walks and even greater pubs, and with cottages nearby you can treat him to a fantastic weekend!

Explore the North East coast and country

The Mistal

Sleep: The Mistal, Glanton, Nr.Alnwick Ref: MNO - Located between the Cheviot Hills and the Northumberland coast, this grade II listed converted granary is perfect for walking and exploring the wonderful countryside. There are also some fabulous places to visit such as Alnwick Castle, museums, pretty harbours and fishing villages as well as activities locally available including cycling, golf, riding, gliding and fishing.

(Click here to view other cottage holiday locations near to Alnwick)

Price: £378 for three nights self catering arriving on the 19th June, sleeps six.

Walk: Embleton Bay, Northumberland. Distance: 7.5 miles Time: 3 hrs 30 mins The ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle cast a melancholic spell over one of the emptiest, most beautiful stretches of the Northumberland coast. Start at the fishing harbour of Craster, where you can steel yourself for the walk ahead with a plate of locally smoked kipper, our route winds across Embleton Bay to reach Low Newton-by-the-Sea – a tiny cluster of stone fishermen’s houses overlooked by a coast-guard’s post.

Drink: King’s Arms, Deptford, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, SR4 6BU CAMRA Branch and Regional Pub of the Year for the last two years, the King’s Arms is a privately owned old-fashioned pub with an unspoilt interior. Nine handpumps offer an ever-changing range of beers from microbreweries from the North East and across the country, as well as real cider.

Mountain and Moors by foot

Sleep: Longbarn Cottage, Pumsaint, Carmarthenshire Ref: OWH – Nestled in rolling countryside, this converted stone barn is set within three acres of private land. The property adjoins one other, but benefits from its own fabulous decked area where you can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding scenery. Activities available close by include fishing, riding, mountain biking and walking. There is also the quaint town of Llandeilo with its boutiques, restaurants and tea rooms and market towns just a drive away.

Longbarn Cottage

Longbarn Cottage

(Click here to view other cottage holiday locations near to Pumsaint, Camarthenshire)

Price: £378 for three nights self catering arriving on the 19th June, sleeps four.

Walk: Pembrokeshire, Newport Distance: 9 miles Time: 4-5 hours. This West Wales walk is blessedly mud-free and magical in all seasons. Spring brings moor, meadow and woodland alive – spangled with flowers and buzzing with insects and birdsong. From the centre of the lovely seaside town of Newport climb the heathery mountain, Carn Ingli. Its rocky summit hides a tiny rabbit-nibbled lawn, the perfect spot to watch buzzards riding the wind and gaze from the Preseli mountains to the sea – a landscape marked by ancient stone circles and tombs of its first inhabitants. Then it’s a glorious stroll across open moorland, descending to the woodlands of the lonely Gwaun Valley. The walk returns to Newport via a different route over the mountain, through a network of ancient trackways sunk between stone walls and gnarled oaks. The hawthorn blazes red and the Irish sea is coloured gold in the dying sun as the lights of the town shine welcomingly below.

Drink: Tafarn John y Gwas, Drefech-Felindre, West Wales, SA44 5XG Originally a series of shops, this traditional village inn was built in the early 1800s. A locals’ pub, there is always a friendly welcome for tourists- and their pets. Two real ales are on offer in winter, three in summer. Home-cooked food is available until 9pm every day, with a roast on Sunday.

Take a ramble through the Valley of the Rocks

Honeysuckle Cottage

Honeysuckle Cottage

Sleep: Honeysuckle Cottage, Winkleigh, Devon Ref: RCHR111 Set in the heart of the Devon countryside, this pretty stone cottage is ideal for sampling the best of the region, including the Dartmoor National Park and the coast. With the villages of Dolton and Winkleigh close by, you can enjoy a gentle stroll around the shops or breathe in the countryside on one of the many walking routes.

(Click here to view other cottage holiday locations near to Winkleigh, Devon)

Price: £314.77 for three nights self catering arriving on 19th June, sleeps five.

Walk: North Devon Distance: 4.25 miles Time: 1.30hrs A circular walk from the pretty coastal town of Lynton and using the spectacular coastal path to pass through the Valley of the Rocks an area marked by rock pinnacles weathered into bizarre shape and forms. A moderately easy cliff-top and hill walk but a little steep in places.

Drink: Tom Cobley Tavern, Spreyton, Devon, EX17 5AL Still riding high on the success of winning National CAMRA Pub of the Year in 2006, the pub attracts visitors from all over the country who come to witness the remarkable turnover of up to 22 ales at any one time. This 16th-century village inn always gives a warm welcome in the homely bar and spacious dining room.

Reach the peak of Pendle Hill

Stone Cottage

Stone Cottage

Sleep: Stone Cottage, Millom, Cumbria Ref: 18345 – Situated on the southwest peninsula, just five miles from Broughton-in-Furness, this terraced stone cottage is ideal for exploring the blue flag beaches with their wonderful walking opportunities. You can venture further afield to explore the wonders of Windermere, Coniston and Wastwater or enjoy bird watching, fishing or water sports locally.

(Click here to view other cottage holiday locations near to Millom, Cumbria)

Price: Was £235.77 NOW £204.72 for three nights self catering arriving on 19th June, sleeps four.

Walk: Pendle Hill, between Burnley and Clitheroe in northeast Lancashire. Distance: 6miles Time: 3hrs–3hrs 30mins Enjoy fantastic views over the Ribble Valley, Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland, extending to the Lake District and Snowdonia in clear weather. The terrain includes good tracks, eroded moorland and field paths – some stepped in places with one strenuous ascent and descent.

Drink: Manor Arms, Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria, LA20 6HY This is a friendly, family run traditional pub overlooking the village square. Six regularly changing guest ales come from far and wide, usually from microbreweries, often from locals. The bar area is covered in numerous certificates awarded over the years, including CAMRA Regional Pub of the Year. This is another of the magnificent seven pubs of the Broughton parish taking part in the Festival of Beer in November.

North Wales and Snowdon in all its Glory

Lodge 34

Lodge 34

Sleep: Lodge 34, Graig Park, Dyserth, Nr. Prestatyn Ref: W41807 Set in a wonderful country club close to the coastal town of Prestatyn, this wooden lodge is ideal for a long weekend. With Snowdonia and the coast on your doorstep, there are plenty of walks to enjoy, as well as pubs, castles and shops all just a short drive away. There are also on site gym facilities including a large indoor pool, steam room as well as Sky and Setanta Sports.

(Click here to view other cottage holiday locations near to Dyserth and Prestatyn)

Price: £299.77 for three nights self catering arriving on 19th June, sleeps four.

Walk: Beddgelert, Snowdonia, North Wales Distance: 10miles Time: 5-6hrs Aberglasyn Pass, Llyn Dinas lake and views of Snowdon. Enjoy the ruins of a Dark Age fortress and the Welsh Highland Railway. The rhododendrons may be a perennial pest hereabouts, but they look spectacular in early summer (May–June). There are clearly defined paths along stony riversides, through woodland and over some exposed hillsides which can get boggy and muddy in places, with sections over rock that may be slippery if wet.

Drink: Blue Bell, Halkyn, North-East Wales, CH8 8DL Situated on Halkyn Mountain with spectacular views, this pub is a focal point for community activities including organised walks, games nights and Welsh classes. The house beer brewed by Facer’s is accompanied by two guest beers usually from small independent breweries.

Watch the spectacle of Cornish hurling – February 24 and March 7

St Columb, Cornwall

On the 24th February, the shout will go up “Town and country do your best. But in this parish I must rest”, marking the start of another annual game of Cornish hurling.

Most of the town’s shops and businesses will prepare for the event by boarding up their windows to protect them from the silver coated ball which is ‘hurled’ throughout the streets and local countryside.

No one knows exactly where the Cornish game came from.  There are some suggestions that it originated in Ireland and made its way to Britain in the 12th century.  Others suggest that it is linked to a fertility rite celebrated by Pagans, or that it is a derivative of a handball match which used to be played all over Cornwall.

What is sure, is that only two remaining towns now play the game – St Ives and St Columb.  Despite this, hundreds of spectators will turn up to support the event and watch as two teams “battle it out” for possession of the apple sized ball (manufactured locally from applewood coated in silver).

The merriment then continues well into the evening, with the winner touring the local pubs and consecrating gallon jugs of beer by dipping the silver ball into them.

For more info, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornish_hurling

For accommodation near the event, visit cottages4you (or click these links to see properties sleeping 2, sleeping 4, sleeping 6, sleeping 8, sleeping 10)

International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo – 15 January 2009 to 25 January 2009

15 January 2009 to 25 January 2009
International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo
Big Top, Monte Carlo, Monaco

Created in 1974 by Prince Rainier III of Monaco, the “Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo” has become the largest and most prestigious global circus event and the “Golden Clown” award is considered the highest distinction by all artists in this discipline.

The event is organized and chaired by Princess Stephanie of Monaco, and the Festival will present a selection of the best international acts, attracting many spectators from around the world.

For more information, visit http://www.montecarlofestivals.com (French language site)

For holiday accommodation in and around Monte Carlo from cottages4you, click here

Calennig – Cardiff’s New Year’s Eve celebrations – 31 Dec

31 December 2008
Calennig – Cardiff’s New Year’s Eve celebrations
Cardiff Civic Centre, Cardiff

Welsh capital welcomes in 2009 with fireworks, live music and a funfair.

For information realting to this, keep an eye on http://www.cardiff.gov.uk

For accommodation near the events, visit cottages4you – click here

Wintershall Nativity, Wintershall Estate, Bramley (Surrey)

17 December 2008 to 21 December 2008

Features live cattle, sheep and goats alongside the actors. Staged in an 18th century barn on the 1100 acre estate.


The Wintershall Nativity (source:www.wintershall-estate.com)

This wonderful production takes place both inside and around Holly Barn at Wintershall, complete with shepherds and sheep, oxen, donkeys and the three wise men on horseback… Come warmly dressed with boots or appropriate footwear. The ‘inn’ opens for tea, coffee and mince pies one hour before each 90-minute performance. (Source http://www.wintershall-estate.com)

For more information visit www.wintershall-estate.com or contact Wintershall Estate Office, Wintershall, GU5 0LR, Bramley

For cottages4you holiday accommodation near this event, click here

Irn-Bru Carnival and Funfair – 19 December 2008 to 11 January 2009

Irn Bru Carnival Website

Irn Bru Carnival Website

19 December 2008 to 11 January 2009
Irn-Bru Carnival
SECC, Glasgow

Europe’s largest indoor funfair features bingo, three amusement arcades, novelty and balloon stalls, face painting, confectionery stalls and various food outlets.

Attractions include eight major thrill rides (such as the freefall Drop Zone or the 360-degree spinning Speed Flip), myriad family rides and 10 gentle rides for kids.

For more information visit www.irn-bru-carnival.com

For holiday cottage accommodation near this event, click here

Westminster Cathedral Christmas Celebration

18 December 2008 – Westminster Cathedral, London, SW1

Seasonal Christmas music and congregational carols with readings from well known public figures.

For information visit www.westminstercathedral.org.uk

For cottages4you accommodation near this event, click here

London International Mime Festival – 10 January 2009 to 25 January 2009


You have the right to remain silent...

10 January 2009 to 25 January 2009
London International Mime Festival


There’s not much we can say about this one…(groan)

Showcase of contemporary visual theatre, staged at a range of venues across the capital including ICA, Laban, Royal Opera House and the Southbank Centre.

Features performances by several rising stars, as well as a host of established names in the fields of circus arts, puppetry, physical comedy and live art.

For information visit www.mimefest.co.uk

For accommodation in London and the Home Counties, from cottages4you – click here.