Cork Delight

by Alex Levine for Escape Magazine

We head to Cork to find out how the best things in life are food!

“Cork offers couples and families the very best in life panoramic landscapes, crystal blue waters, endless beaches, dramatic cliffs and some of the finest dining in the world.
Here we give you all the insider knowledge you need to pick a gem of a restaurant in Cork, and best of all, some are within walking distance of your cottage!

Please visit our site to browse our wide range of holiday cottages in Cork and a huge selection of holiday cottages in Ireland.

A resurgence in Irish cuisine has meant there are some surprising and delicious creations now being served up across the country. Nowhere is this change more apparent than in Cork in the south west corner of Ireland, where a plethora of restaurants serving adventurous cuisine now spoils visitors and locals alike.

The artisan influence of European cuisine, fused with Irish innovation has been gathering pace for over a decade.
In part the gastronomic revolution has been fuelled by economic prosperity, but also by the welcome return of many of Irelands top chefs from Europe.
As the Irish dining scene evolved, so chefs who had been practicing their art abroad for many years also returned, and with them came an exciting range of new skills and ideas that helped to fuel the fire of creativity. Its not hard to see how returning chefs have been so inspired by Cork.
The lush grass nourishes all manner of flesh and fowl, seafood is richly abundant and fresh vegetables and fruit are readily available straight from the fertile land.
Deliciously fresh ingredients picked, prepared and on the plate within hours tastes fabulous, but with the ideas and the sheer skill and vision of the chefs, it becomes less a meal and more a mini revolution!

One thing is for sure, Irish dining may be changing, but the Irish love for food remains unchanged.

So all the following restaurants offer a winning combination of delicious tastes, generous portions and great value for money. Bon appetit. Continue reading

If you love your books, let them go…

Did you ever look at your bookshelf and see a book you liked (or didn’t like) that you have a spare copy of, that’s just taking up space or that you won’t read again?
Just finished a book on your holiday, knowing you probably won’t read it again, feeling it will only take up space on your journey home…?

Set it free !

You can either leave it behind for the next guest at your holiday cottage or villa and earn some “Karma” or why not follow your book around the globe using the “Bookcrossing” service?

BookCrossing tries to combine serendipity, adventure, altruism and literature in a unique mix that true bibliophiles must find irresistible.

Somehow similar to releasing messages in a bottle, or notes in helium balloons, BookCrossing hearkens back to fond childhood memories. BookCrossing aims at making the whole world a library and considers their service an ideal activity for parents and teachers to encourage children to read and share and the perfect way to encourage literacy and learning.

So how does it work?

  • You can register your book on www.bookcrossing.com. Each book registered on BookCrossing receives its very own BCID (BookCrossing ID number), which enables members to “tag and track” the book as it journeys through life.
  • The book is labeled with BCID and site information, then left somewhere (“released”) for someone else to find.
  • People who find (“catch” in BookCrossing lingo) a wild book are invited to visit the site to see where the book has been and what previous readers have thought about it.
  • They can make an entry about the book anonymously or join BookCrossing (it’s free!) and track the book’s future travels.
  • Journal entries are relayed to all previous readers by our secure messaging system so that they, too, can follow the book’s adventures.

A (bit older) video about bookcrossing:

We invite you to give this service a try and please let us know what you think.

An Irish Itinerary for August

You never have to look far to find the craic in Ireland. And in August every region is positively teeming with cultural treats for the visitor. So if you’re planning to spend a cottage holiday seeking out the spirit of theIreland Harp Emerald Isle, here’s our pick of the best from each region:

North West: Head to the O’Carolan Harp Festival in Roscommon, from August 1st-3rd, for a four day feast of Irish music, in honour of Trulough O’Carolan, the last of the Irish bards. There’s music, crafts and workshops; and a chance to take part in a traditional ceili, with plenty of friendly volunteers to teach you the moves!

South West: If you’re staying in a cottage in Kerry or the south west, then take a trip to Kilorgin from 10th–12th August for one of the oldest fairs in Europe, the Puck Fair. The 400-year old festivities have a decidedly pagan flavour, as a wild mountain goat is crowned king and elevated to a high perch to keep watch over three days of celebrations – music, dancing, street theatre and fireworks, plus a traditional horse fair and fun for the kids.

Cork: Throughout the summer in Cork, The Temple Bar in Meeting House Square plays host to a free outdoor cultural programme. By day or night you’ll find dance, film, music, visual arts and family events to enjoy. For something more spiritual, head to St Coleman’s Cathedral on Sundays at 4.30pm to hear the 49-bell carillon ring out for an hour as part of the Cobh Carillon Recital Season.

South East: In Waterford from August 1st-3rd, you’ll find a new spectacle to behold around every corner, when the Spraoi Festival takes place. The intoxicating four day event mixes live street performance and world music, to fill the quayside and city centre with a colourful array of sights and sounds – jugglers, puppets, locals and tourists come together for a huge street party!

Dublin: You’ll never be stuck for entertainment in Dublin, but from 22nd-24th August, the city raises its game and holds Dun Laoghaire, the Festival of World Cultures. This mammoth event features 800 artists, from 50 countries, performing 140 events, in 40 venues, over three days. It’s even got its own mela, an international food market and

Don’t forget – a cottage can provide the perfect base from which to enjoy any of these events. Search today for your holiday cottage in Ireland.

Active Holiday – Mountain Bike Skill Course

Nicola Weaver DMBIf you are looking to spend a few days of your holiday actively, are into mountainbiking and would like to take the opportunity to improve your skills, consider a mountainbiking skill course offered around the UK and across Europe.
You should be able to find biking centres and schools in the most stunning setting such as in Scotland, The Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, Wales as well as the continent in beautiful spots – for example in the South of Spain where centres with English instructors are available.

On a skill course you can expect to learn either the basic or more advanced level of:

  • Bike and equipment choice
  • Bike set-up
  • Gear selection
  • Body position
  • Descending and drop-offs
  • Climbing and technical climbs
  • Line choice
  • Efficient braking
  • Balance Techniques
  • Riding Technical sections
  • Cornering
  • Wheel lift, wheelies hops, jumps
  • Night riding

Dales Mountain Biking“Preparing for my short mountainbiking break in Cornwall, I have enjoyed a skill course in the beautifull Yorkshire Dales organised by Dales Mountain Biking.”

ctcFor inspiration and more information on Mountain Bike skill courses in the UK checkout for example the CTC website or check-out one of the centres in Andalusia Spain called SeasonallyUnAdjusted offering rides and skill courses.

TIP: enjoy a mountainbiking holiday in Spain during the dark and cold UK winter!

And off course you’ll be able to chill-out in your cottage, appartment or villa after an intense day. We offer a wide range of holiday villas in Andalusia Spain on our site.

Beachcombing finds; Bath toys on a journey

In January 1992, a cargo container carrying 29,000 bath toys was washed off a ship from Hong Kong bound for Washington, US. Ten months later, flotillas of plastic ducks, frogs, turtles and beavers began to appear bath duckson beaches in Sitka, Alaska. Many got caught up in the Subpolar Gyre, a current that runs from Sitka across the North Pacific to the far east of Russia and back again – a journey of 6,800 nautical miles. Over the past 16 years, the toys have continued to wash up in Alaska, but some have broken free and pitched up, faded white with exposure, in Hawaii and Maine. In 2003, a plastic frog made it all the way to the west coast of Scotland. Some of the toys are still thought to be in the water – giving oceanographers a unique way of studying the oceans’ currents.

Whatever the weather will be!

Nowhere else in the world is the weather talked about as much as it is in the British Isles. We’ve got a reputation of being the ones that ‘don’t half talk about the weather a lot’. Commenting on the weather is a quintessentially British pastime and the classic opening gambit for any human encounter. The ice breaker for any uncomfortable silence. Where would we be I wonder, if we (like so many of our foreign cousins) had ‘same old, same old’ weather patterns, day in, day out.

Some would even say our love of the weather is an obsession. Perhaps it’s more to do with the fact we’ve got one of the most changeable and unpredictable climates on the planet, perhaps it’s more to do with the essence of British culture.

Perhaps borne from this obsession, Britain has paved the way with weather forecasting. Pioneering many technologies and methodologies, often as a result of war time and aviation needs, the modern day weather forecast is the crowning glory of years of research and expertise and believe it or not, today it’s more accurate than it’s ever been.

Online weather forecasts and resources

If you’re planning a holiday in the UK, the weather is bound to be an important factor in your thoughts. At cottages4you, we’ve found the following links really helpful to us for getting the low down on our holiday destinations..

Something for the weekend?bbc radar

The BBC Weather Centre website gives you a radar image of Britain, overlaid with predicted cloud, wind and rain (or hopefully, lack of!) patterns on an hour-by-hour basis. This is ideal if it’s Friday and you’re planning a weekend away and don’t know if you should pack your sou’wester or your flip flops.

2 weeks away
Metcheck
offer a day-by-day forecast on the upcoming 2 weeks. Other features on this site include the BBQ Weather Forecast, for if you are planning the illusive fair weathered British Barbecue.

It’s better than this time last year..
WeatherOnline holds records of more than 4700 stations worldwide, so even if you don’t trust the weather forecasts you can use this site to see how the weather was this time in years gone by.

As a footnote, who can repute the enduring appeal of The Shipping Forecast. Four times a day BBC Radio 4 Longwave broadcasts this baffling roundup of the forecast from our coastal waters. This programme is deemed so important that it even gets away with interrupting another of Britain’s irrefutable conversational pastimes – the cricket.

MW

Things to do in… Cornwall; Bicycling

mountainbiking cornwallI’m slowly becoming a fanatic biker and am planning a short break in Cornwall next month staying in a Cornwall cottage booked through cottages4you.

Cornwall offers great routes varying in difficulty from easy going to thrill seeking.

I have found that the website visitcornwall.co.uk offers great information on the available routes. You’ll find PDF’s with more information on their site via the links below.