Give us a Giggle winner

The weather may have let us down recently but here’s something to cheer you up! This is Zack, the well-deserved winner of our recent Give us a Giggle video competition.

If you want to updates on the latest competitions, offers and news from cottages4you then make sure you like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or add us on Google+.

Now, over to Zack…

Did you hear the one about the…?

To celebrate Manchester Comedy Festival — and put a smile on everyone’s face now the nights are drawing in — we asked our friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook to submit their funniest jokes.

Here are the results…

  • What cheese can you disguise a horse with? Mascarpone
  • What do you call a Frenchman wearing Sandals? Philiipe Flop
  • My husband left me for my obsession with touching pasta. I’m feeling canneloni right now….
  • I went on a once in a lifetime holiday last year…Phew, never again!
  • What do you call a man with a shovel on his head? DOUG
  • what do you a man with out a shovel on his head DOUGLASS
  • what do you call a man with a seagull on his head? CLIFF
  • What do you call a Gorilla with a machine gun? … Sir.
  • Did you hear Greece has stopped production of tatsziki and taramasalata? They fear a double dip recession !
  • 2 parrots sitting on a perch, one smells fish.
  • Some guy just poured a pint of milk over me…how dairy
  • What time does Sean Connery get to Wimbledon…? Tennish
  • There’s been an explosion in a pie factory…Approx 3.142 dead
  • A cop pulls over a car and finds boot full of penguins. “Take them straight to the zoo” says the cop. Next day the same: cop pulls the same car over for speeding and finds a boot full of penguins wearing sunglasses. The cop says … “I thought I told you took take these to the zoo?” The man says “I did, they loved it so I’m taking them to the seaside today!” Ba-dum-tssssh.

Can you do better? Post your best joke in the comment section below!

A guide to 2011′s best film locations

Fancy a cinematic tour of the UK? We’re looking at seven upcoming cinema releases and sharing their UK filming locations. So if you fancy donning your superhero costume and paying a visit to the X-Men mansion, or taking your broomstick to Shell Cottage from the new Harry Potter film, all you need to do is click on the tickets below.     

A poetic tour of the UK

To celebrate World Poetry Day, we’re going to look at some of the UK’s finest poets and the beautiful locations that inspired them.

Tennyson – The Isle of Wight

Alfred Tennyson often wrote of the natural world. In fact, the longest serving Poet Laureate’s most famous quote describes nature as being “red in tooth and claw.” A visit to the poet’s home on the Isle of Wight, however,  reveals a more beautiful side to nature.

It’s easy to see how Tennyson could find so much inspiration in the local geography. There are the sandy cliffs of Alum Bay; the iconic Needles that rise dramatically out of the sea and Tennyson Down, a grassy ridge with spectacular views of Freshwater Bay.

Wordsworth – The Lake District

William Wordsworth was equally inspired by his natural surroundings. In this case it was the evocative landscapes of the Lake District that allowed his equally vivid poetry to flow. And while the Lakes itself is a fitting testament to Wordsworth, there are plenty of places to pay homage to Tennyson’s predecessor as poet laureate.

Dove Cottage in Grasmere is widely considered to be the place where Wordsworth produced his most inspired work. Pay a visit today and you can not only take a tour of the house, but also visit a museum which houses a variety of artefacts linked to the poet.

Robert Burns – Scotland

Burns’ poetry was influenced by – and subsequently influenced – a whole nation. Now internationally celebrated, the ‘Scottish Bard’ is a cultural icon whose life is well worth exploring. Of course it helps that an exploration takes in some of Scotland’s most beautiful locations.

Burns Night is probably one of the best times to visit Scotland if you’re looking for a true measure of the poet’s legacy. The Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh, however, is perhaps better suited for a more personal exploration. There you’ll see a collection of Burns artefacts, including his writing chair.

Lewis Carroll – Oxfordshire

Though better known for Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll was also a renowned poet, specialising in such whimsical ‘nonsense poems’ as Jabberwocky and The Hunting of the Snark. And even though these works have little obvious bearing on reality, the writer’s home of Oxford provided a huge inspiration.

An Oxford boat ride down the Thames allows you to recreate the journey Carroll took when creating Wonderland. Similarly, Christ Church College in Oxford played an equally large part in the author’s life, with many of the subjects he captured in his works still there to see. So if you fancy hunting the snark yourself, you know where to begin!

Do you have your own favourite UK poet? Leave a comment below! If you’d like to continue your tour of the UK’s literary locations then check out our Magical Literary Tour on www.cottages4you.co.uk.

Banana and lemon tea loaf recipe

Kath P sent us this delicious recipe for banana and lemon tea loaf, which we thought we’d share with you on the blog.

You’re probably all fed up with pancakes today, so this should make a welcome change!

Got a delicious recipe to share? Send us an email with ‘Recipe’ as the subject and we’ll put it on the blog!

Ingredients:

115g (4oz) sunflower margarine

115g (4oz) light soft brown sugar

2 medium eggs

225g (8oz) self-raising flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3 medium bananas

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

175g (6oz) sultanas

Cooking instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin.

2. Put margarine, sugar, eggs, flour and baking powder in a bowl. Beat together using an electric mixer until thoroughly mixed.

3. Peel and mash bananas. Add to cake mixture with lemon zest and beat until well mixed. Stir in sultanas, mixing well.

4. Spoon mixture into tin and level the surface. Bake in oven for 1-11/4 hours, until risen, golden brown and just firm to the touch. Turn out onto a wire rack and cool.

Honeymoons in the UK

Inspired by the news that Prince William and Kate Middleton are planning on celebrating their nuptials on the Scilly Isles, we recently asked our friends, followers and fans on Facebook and Twitter, where they would choose to spend a romantic honeymoon in the UK. Maybe it was the release of news, or perhaps because we asked the question around Valentine’s Day, but we got lots of great responses.

So where are the UK’s honeymoon hotspots? Well, since all the responses involved being surrounded by beautiful landscapes, it would seem that, like the young royals, we want nothing more than to spend our romantic breaks in stunning remote surroundings.

The Lake District

It’s hard to fault this choice, as the Lakes offers a uniquely appealing mix of cultural history and eye-watering vistas. Whether you take to the waters of Coniston, enjoy a relaxed amble over the hills, or explore the life of local romantic, Wordsworth, this is one location that never ceases to inspire.

We think Melanie K sums up the appeal of the Lake District best: “It’s beautiful and romantic all year round.” We couldn’t agree more!

The Yorkshire Dales

The wild beauty of the Dales has had an equal influence on romantic literature. After all, where else could the turbulent romance of Wuthering Heights take place? Your own romantic tale in the Yorkshire Dales can also include a few activities that didn’t make the final draft of Emily Bronte’s novel, including mountain biking and ballooning!

Emma H sums up the appeal of the Dales: “I’d love to stay in a cosy little cottage in the Yorkshire Dales. Spend all day walking around the Dales, and exploring a nice little pub or 2.” Sounds lovely!

Cornwall

For many, the romantic ideal can only be realised with leisurely walks across golden sands and enjoying romantic meals by candlelight. We’re fairly sure that Cornwall fits the bill, after all it offers a wealth of beautiful beaches and isn’t exactly short of fine dining experiences either!

Tracy S agrees: “I’d love a cosy cottage too but on the coast of Cornwall (any coast, it’s all too beautiful).”

Scotland

Rolling highlands, dense pine forests, soaring mountains, deep lochs, rivers and historic cities, there’s genuinely something for everyone to enjoy on a romantic break in Scotland. We just hope that such a wealth of choice doesn’t lead to disagreements between happy honeymooners!

Andy H says: “I’d love a quaint little cottage in rural Scotland, plenty of wildlife, privacy and a place to stay. Although I’d be tempted to look for one with an outdoor jacuzzi!”

Where would you like to spend a UK honeymoon? Leave your suggestions below!

If you’d like to book your own romantic retreat, have a look at our featured romantic cottages in the UK.

Cornwall on film

The Eden Project: A home fit for a supervillain

Films versions of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Robin Hood’ have all recently taken advantage of the UK’s stunning natural landscapes while also increasing visits to their respective filming locations. So with screen tourism in mind, we’re starting a new feature on the cottages4you blog, looking at the most beautiful regions in the UK and the film locations you can visit there.

Our first stop is Cornwall, a beautiful and popular filming location in its own right, and one of the UK’s premier sites for screen tourism…

Tim Burton’s re-imagining of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ received a mixed response when it was released earlier this year – though most critics agreed that it provided a feast of stunning imagery. And even though you can’t visit Wonderland for real, its real world locations are no less striking.

Anthony House & Gardens in Torpoint provided the backdrop for Alice’s adventures before she descended down the rabbit hole. A stunning 18th-century mansion, Anthony House is nestled in equally beautiful surroundings. Now operated by the National Trust, visitors can explore the house and gardens for themselves. Please do look out for large holes in the ground though.

Another Johnny Depp starrer, the forthcoming ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’, recently filmed in the popular seaside town of St Ives. Since it’s not released until 2011, we have no idea what they filmed but we imagine it probably took advantage of the fantastic harbour and beautiful beaches…and probably involved pirates. Just a guess.

James Bond casts a fairly large shadow across British cinema and no discussion on the topic is complete without a reference to at least one of 007’s many adventures. Similarly, no discussion on British filming locations is complete without mentioning at least one location that provided the backdrop to his adventures.

‘Die Another Day’ (aka the one with the invisible car), Pierce Brosnan’s final Bond film, used the beautiful Holywell Bay to double for North Korea in the thrilling opening sequence. Thankfully, the reality of Holywell is far more relaxing – and far less dangerous! Likewise, the Eden Project in St Austell was a natural fit for a villain’s base but in reality offers a stunning array of eye-catching flora and a whole host of fun family activities.

Castletown’s scenic village and small harbour perfectly encapsulates the Cornish experience, so it comes as no surprise that it’s also one of the most captured on film. Hitchcock’s adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ filmed there (see also the ‘Jamaica Inn’, another Cornish visitor attraction), as did ‘The Eagle Has Landed’, the 1976 Michael Caine starrer. More recently 1999’s ‘Mansfield Park’, 2004’s ‘The New World’ and even parts of Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ were captured there.

If you’d like to search our featured range of self-catering holiday accommodation in Cornwall then please use the search function on cottages4you.

Posted by Ben Webster, cottages4you.

Escape to … the Ochre Cliffs of Roussillon

One of the joys of travelling is being taken by surprise. In my case, it was the ochre cliffs of Roussillon that bowled me over. We packed a lot in on our trip around the Luberon in Provence, going to gardens, nature reserves, organic vineyards, and one of our stops was to be the Conservatory of Natural Ochre and Pigments. It’s not that I was sceptical, but I wasn’t expecting much. Yet I found this particular part of our trip to be one of the most memorable.

Ochre is a natural pigment found in the Luberon region of Provence – this is where the orangey-pink wash on Provençal houses comes from. Although today most of these pigments are chemically made, up until the 1960s it was extracted from quarries, leaving behind great canyons of reds, oranges and yellows. And while that explanation might not be the most inspiring, the canyons definitely are.

The vibrancy of the ochres are set against the deep blue of the sky and the bright green of the vegetation, making them almost too difficult to look at – the colours really do dazzle the eyes. There are trails all through the quarries and the sun and the shadows animate the landscape as you walk along, making it seem as if the ground is undulating. Although this is a popular tourist attraction, there are places where you can stand quietly and feel just how small you are …

To see more pictures of the Ochre Cliffs, go to cottages4you Facebook page.

Kathi Hall is the editor of Escape magazine for cottages4you. She loves travelling and being surprised by what she finds, she’s a fluent French speaker in her head but strangely mute when confronted with an opportunity to speak it out loud and she firmly believes in trying all local specialities – except for snails.