Remember!

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Just a quick reminder to say that the clocks go back an hour this weekend, so on Saturday night we’ll all get an extra hour in bed – hooray!  Then again if you’re lucky enough to be on holiday for half term week you might not notice.

If you are going away next week just be aware that the roads will probably be busier – which could be more of a problem with less daylight. But hopefully you’ll get some good weather when the sun comes out. We’ll keep our fingers crossed!

If you fancy taking a break next week, why not check the availability on some of our fantastic holiday cottages? And if you’re not going away then enjoy your extra hour and have a fantastic weekend.

Ghostly goings on

Tower of London - drama

We recently received what appeared to be complaint from a customer saying that the property they were staying in was haunted. Customer satisfaction is very important to us so we took their word that the mysterious owl-like noises they heard were not in fact from an owl but from a ghost…possibly doing an impression of an owl.

But it turned out that the customer wasn’t complaining, they were actually delighted to be sharing their holiday cottage with owls ghosts.  So with Halloween fast approaching we thought there might be more of you who’d like to explore the ghoulish side of UK history on a Halloween break.

So sit tight and keep a light on as we explore some of the UK’s most haunted regions….

Chillingham Castle, Alnwick, Northumberland

Some might say Sir Humphry Wakefield was asking for trouble by naming his castle ‘Chillingham’, he might as well have called it ‘Ghostville’ or ‘Polterhouse’. And if attracting ghosts was his plan, it seemed to work. As well as the ghost of Lady Berkely, who walks the corridors looking for wayward lover, there are stories of a spook that leaps out of a painting at night. Unfortunately, for those of a nervous disposition, the picture is not of a group of dogs playing snooker.

The castle’s library allegedly houses a pair of ghosts who talk loudly, making the position of librarian at Chillingham Castle one of the least satisfying jobs in the UK. And if you’re thinking of escaping the ghouls outside the castle…think again! Even the lake in the castle’s grounds is said to be haunted, presumably by the ghosts of spurned goldfish…

The Tower of London

With the ghosts of Sir Walter Raleigh, Queen Ann Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey allegedly roaming its corridors late at night, the Tower of London is not only one of the most haunted places in the UK but also like a supernatural version of Hello magazine.

But it’s not just notable historic figures who are rumoured to haunt its darkened corridors late at night; in 1816, one sentry stationed outside the jewel room, reported seeing a bear advancing towards him. The lack of physical evidence (such as an actual giant bear) caused some cynics to question the story’s legitimacy, so in return the sentry offered that it must have been the ghost of bear. Although it’s entirely possible he may have been exposed to other kinds of spirits at the time.

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The Red Lion Inn, Avebury, Wiltshire

And speaking of spirits of one kind and another, The Red Lion Inn seems to have both in abundance. One of the most famous ghosts is that of Florrie, a 17th century lady who is rumoured to appear from the well in the bar area. Unfortunately for the owners of the pub, Florrie seems to be a bit of a troublemaker and there have been reports of items being mysteriously thrown around the bar area – though we can’t confirm that this only happens at last orders.

Guests staying at The Red Lion are rumoured to have left in the middle of the night and there are reports of rooms feeling freezing, even in summer. And when you consider that one of the ghosts has a ‘thing’ for men with beards, those of a nervous disposition or an excess of facial hair might prefer to stay in a holiday cottage nearby and leave The Red Lion well before closing time!

Okehampton, Devonshire

Okehampton seems to be a commuter town for spirits, a bit like Ipswich but for the supernatural. One of the most impressive tales is that of Lady Howard, who lived in the town’s castle and reportedly married wealthy men before murdering them for their fortune.

Lady Howard’s ghostly penance is to visit the castle every night to pick one blade of grass before returning to her family home. And when you consider the fact that she supposedly does this in a carriage made of bones pulled by a black dog with flaming eyes, even the most unobservant ghost hunter should be able to spot this spook!

Bodelwyddan Castle, Rhyl, Wales

Bodelwyddan Castle is now home to the National Portrait Gallery, so even if you’d rather not be on the lookout for spooks, you can still see some beautiful works of art. But you may not be alone when you do! The castle used to be used as a hospital for soldiers from the First World War and visitors have reported seeing the ghostly figure of a soldier admiring the pieces of art hanging throughout the galleries.

If paintings and ghosts of soldiers aren’t really your thing, then you can always pay a visit to Sculpture Gallery, which is rumoured to be haunted by the spectral shape of a lady. And if you decide to escape the art, you may still find yourself sat with the ghost of a lady in blue in the tearoom! So if your interests are both art and ghosts, you could do worse than pay a visit to Bodelwyddan Castle.

Have you had any spooky experiences on your travels around the UK that you’d care to share? Leave a comment below and have a great halloween!

Share your holiday highlights!

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We all love holidays, the excitement and the opportunity to explore somewhere new or rediscover a favourite place in the UK. And the beauty of a cottage holiday is that it gives you the complete freedom to seek out and sample the very best local cuisine and attractions.

We want to hear about your finds and that’s why we’re launching our search for the nation’s favourite hidden holiday gems. We want to know about that perfect independent supplier or local attraction that made your holiday truly memorable.

It could be a local bakery that made the best Cornish pasties, or the village corner cafe that served the tastiest morning bacon sandwiches. Or what about that great local brew you tried in the fantastic pub with beer garden. It doesn’t have to be food and drink that made your holiday memorable, it could be somewhere you visited or something you saw that was the highlight of your holiday, for example that stunning view or working farm the kids loved.

Martin Dunford, publisher of the Rough Guide to Britain and co-founder of Rough Guides said:

Britain has so much to offer, with a wealth of undiscovered places and hidden gems. This is a great opportunity for the British public to get involved by exploring their own back yard and championing the best that the country has to offer.

Whatever it is we want to hear about it and share with others. To recommend your holiday gems please click here and complete the short form. We’ll be collecting all your nominations throughout summer and publish the findings in September, so keep those memories alive and get voting!

For further information on Rough Guides, travel guides, gift-books, maps, phrasebooks, bespoke custom publishing guides and digital products, visit www.roughguides.com. Rough Guide is also offering all cottages4you visitors 20% off the latest Rough Guide to Britain. To redeem your discount, simply enter the code ‘rough’ in the coupon code box when you go to buy the product online.

take-part

Great Holiday Park Accommodation in Europe – from Landal

Landal Green parksLandal GreenParks is the leader in chalet-park management and rental, with 62 fantastic holiday parks and a total of approximately 11,000 chalets. Visit their site at www.landal.co.uk to browse beautiful holiday park resorts in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

Your guide to Beach Cricket – the unofficial rules

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With play just about to start on The Second Test of the summer 09 Ashes Series at Lords, our thoughts turn to cricket. If you haven’t already heard it’s an Ashes Summer! And if you’ve been inspired by the heroics of “Freddie”, “KP” and “Monty” to name but a few, why not re-enact or re-write some great test matches with a spot of beach cricket! It’s the perfect game to involve the whole family, meet new friends, and, as the equipment needed is minimal (a bat, a ball and 4 piece of wood) any spot on the beach can be your Cardiff, Lords, Edgbaston, Headingley or Oval!

He's in

He's in

To help get you started we’ve compiled the cottages4you unofficial guide to beach cricket with some basic rules, hints and tips to make the game more enjoyable! Please feel free to download it and take it with you on your next holiday. (tip – if possible, ‘beach proof’ it by laminating it).

Once you’ve had a game we’d love to hear how you got on. Have you compiled a mammoth innings (if so how much), hit the biggest six (if so, how far?), taken a great catch or got a brilliant “5-for”?  If so, tell us about it! Share any funny stories with us -  did a dog steal the ball, did Dad get out first ball or a Seagull stop play? We want to hear all your stories throughout this Ashes summer, add a comment to this post!

In the meantime, enjoy your cricket, enjoy the summer and as the Umpire would say “play”!…..

Download your free guide here : PDF 1.2MB

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Two great new features – launched today

We’ve added two great new features to the cottages4you website today.

Search with Maps

Search using a map

Search using a map

Using the ever popular Google Maps we’ve added map searching onto the site. Pick a spot that you’re interested in on the map and get results for properties within a 10 to 100 mile radius. You can also search by a place or town name. For example, tap in something like  ‘The Lake District’ or ‘Whitby’ to retrieve all the available properties that match your requirements in or nearby your desired location. What’s more, if you select ‘see results on a map’ you’ll be presented with a  map with ‘pushpins’ indicating where relevant properties are. Give it a go! Search with maps>>

Extras

extras page

Extras page

To make sure you enjoy your holiday as much as possible we have developed some great additional benefits including access to a wide range of offers including theatre tickets, restaurants, local attractions from lastminute.com and commission free home delivered  foreign currency for your trips abroad from the International Currency Exchange. Visit the extras page>>

MW

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.

Just how many pairs of shoes do you need for a cottage holiday?

A womans feed amongst lots of shoes

Shoe Crisis!

There’s no better way to feel instantly at home at your cosy holiday cottage than to pop on your slippers the moment you arrive so make sure you pack your favourites.

Depending on your plans during your stay will determine the type of footwear you need but whether you’re planning to climb Mount Snowdon or you’re simply content with taking a stroll along the beach each morning a pair of sturdy walking shoes or boots will always come in handy!

Wellies are also a great footwear option and a great opportunity for the children to splash through puddles or for adults to simply show off their Kate Moss inspired fashion wellies or hunters!

And for that afternoon in the local pub comfy cosy is the key and a pair of Timberlands or UGG boots will never be out of place!

CS


Don’t forget to put your clocks back…

the clocks go back on 26th October this year

Don't forget - the clocks go back on 26th October this year

In the UK this year clocks go back by one hour at 1am on Sunday 26th October 2008. Love it or hate it, it’s an immutable event. The immediate upside is that you get an extra hour in bed, the immediate downside is that it’s dark earlier.

Daylight Saving Time

A survey recently conducted in London found that 60% of people didn’t want the clocks to go back – so why do we do it? The only people that seem to gain from it are farmers and people who work outside in the morning.   Some would argue that it’s good for the health – like the chap who initially championed the idea – William Willett when he suggested that we add 20 minutes to each Sunday in April as it would improve the nation’s health. (However, the nation’s patience would have been stretched to the limit had this been introduced)

It really came into effect in 1916 when we introduced Daylight Saving Time in the summer as it felt “prudent to economise, to promote greater efficiency in using daylight hours, and in the use of artificial lighting.”

cosy up by an open fire

Cosy up by an open fire this Autumn

So what to do about it all…?
Why not make the most out of the long nights drawing in? Pimms on the patio at 10pm is probably out, but a full bodied red (wine!!) by the crackle of an open fire is most defiantly in and this activity has got to be one of the finest ‘simple pleasures’ of life. Get the kids in bed, grab a good book and snuggle up by the fire after a walk on a crisp late Autumn afternoon. Have a search at cottages4you.co.uk, where you’ll find hundreds of fabulous cosy cottages with open fires.

Click here to search for cottages with open fires or woodburners>>

MW

Geocaching; Modern treasure hunt for the whole family

Are you:

  • looking for a fun thing to do around your cottage with the whole family
  • ready to discover unexpected and beautiful places
  • in need of for a reason to go on a short or longer walk
  • a bit adventurous
  • a bit of a ‘geek’….. ?

Try the modern days treasure hunt called ‘geocaching’

“Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.”

There are 647,562 active geocaches around the world and there is a big chance that there is one hidden near you or your holiday cottage. All caches are published on geocaching.com where they also offer a google map search. There are for example more than 400 geocaches hidden around Windermere in the Lake District.

Find out how to get started and then we hope to find you out there.

Let us know if you have any questions about or experiences with geocaching! We have some fanatical players here at cottages4you who would be happy to answer your questions!