Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Interview with Gorgs Geikie – Part 1

Helpful Holidays has been sponsoring the British number one Lady Pistol Shooter Georgina ‘Gorgs’ Geikie for the past year – and what a year it has been. Gorgs was part of an extremely successful shooting team at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, bringing home a coveted bronze medal – the second of her career. We caught up with Gorgs last week to get an insight into the life of a young Olympic hopeful.

“India was a great experience, the conditions and facilities were much better than had been reported before the Games. The opening ceremony was very special – the Indians put on an amazing show, with lots of fantastic colours everywhere. We sneaked a big St George’s flag into the stadium, and ended up on the cover of the next day’s Hindu Times!”

The 22 strong English Shooting Team were extremely successful in Delhi, bringing back 19 medals between them. “Team spirit was fantastic, thanks to our team manager Peter Underhill, who held regular team meetings with us to keep morale high. Conditions were very hot and humid, but there was an area with air conditioning to cool down. In any case we had already held a test event in Delhi in February so we knew what to expect.”

Georgina’s bronze medal in Delhi was won in the women’s 25m sport pistol pairs alongside her partner Julia Lydall – who was the first to congratulate her: “I had fired my last shot, and put my gun down, still in the zone. Next thing, Julia runs up to me, and points above my head – I didn’t know what she was pointing at! She shouted ‘look, look, England bronze!’ and showed me the scoreboard. I was so excited and we both jumped up and down for several minutes!”

We’ll post some more from Gorgs later this week, including some insights into her training regime and her plans for the future.

Find out more about Gorgs by visiting her website: http://www.gorgs4gold.com. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

New Year cottages with indoor pools...

Looking for something a little different this New Year? How about going for the life aquatic with a cottage with an indoor pool?

The 16th century Merryfield Farmhouse in St Cleer, in the foothills of Bodmin Moor, has been restored with much enthusiasm and flair. It is now an extremely comfortable, spacious home with - in a barn across the yard - its very own indoor heated swimming pool. To have this on your doorstep is very special, and there’s also a sauna and shower-room to boot. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a big games room with table tennis, pool table and darts. Inside, the farmhouse is well furnished, with an oak-beamed living room with enormous, granite inglenook lintelled fireplace and original bread oven, and an enormous, well-equipped fitted kitchen/dining room – plenty of room for everyone, but with a cosy feel. Sleeps 7.

This collection of four thatched cottages, brilliantly and individually converted from barns, are nestled in 30 acres of farmland in East Devon. There’s plenty to keep the kids occupied here - as well as a large games room with table tennis, a pool table and table football, there’s also an indoor heated swimming pool with changing room and showers. Cider Cottage is beautifully decorated, and very luxurious – two of the bedrooms have magnificent four poster beds. Sleeps 6.

These four much praised, attractive cottages in Dartmoor, all share an indoor heated swimming pool and an absolutely huge games room with table tennis, a half-sized snooker table, a pool table, football game and children’s games – so everyone can get competitive with an inter-family tournament or two. In addition, you are welcome on the owners’ 35 acre farm which includes moorland with Dartmoor ponies, sheep, and chickens (egg collecting by arrangement). Tor Field Cottage is elegantly but simply decorated, with a large kitchen and living room in which to comfortably see in the New Year. Sleeps 6.

And don’t forget, there’s a 10% discount on all our holiday cottages over Christmas and New Year. This offer is for a minimum 3 night stay and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.

We’ve lots of holiday homes in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset for you to choose from. We’ve visited and star rated them all and can tell you about each one in detail. To find just the right holiday cottage, use our advanced search or call us on 01647 433593.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Relax and shop on a pre-Christmas cottage ‘value’ break…

Take advantage of the lower cottage holiday prices during December with a relaxing pre-Christmas break and do your pressie shopping at the same time.

Sleeping six plus your pet, King Harry’s Cottage in Feock, south west Cornwall, is available at £195 (£32.50pp) for a short three or four night break from now until 17th December. 

Set in one of the most beautiful spots in Cornwall, this former ferryman’s cottage has great views of the River Fal; it’s also within an easy drive of both Falmouth and the cathedral city of Truro for Christmas gift shopping.

Find out more about short breaks and take a look at some of our other special offers in the run up to the festive season.

Monday, 22 November 2010

10% off New Year cottages – Devon…

All our holiday cottages are available with 10% discount* over New Year – here are two more to tempt you, this time in Devon…

This truly excellent and very greatly appreciated development of 29 high quality apartments, of which we let 15, is situated just 20 yards from Bigbury-on-Sea's big and splendid sandy beach. The views over the sea to the south and west, and at low tide of a huge expanse of smooth washed yellow sand reaching to Burgh Island, are outstanding. Apartment 8, the best-sited ground floor corner apartment, has a large terrace and is decorated in peaceful, neutral colours. Blow away the cobwebs with a bracing stroll along the beach or the island's jolly pub, The Pilchard, is fun to visit (long-legged sea tractor at high tide). Best for maximum of 4 adults.

This charming house is situated in the thatched village of Bickleigh in Devon’s River Country. Hidden in its own deep, beautiful and unspoilt valley, the house is perfect for a big group looking to see in the New Year in style and comfort. There’s an enormous kitchen/dining room seating 16 and, once the cooking and eating are done, there’s a games room with 10’ home-cinema/TV screen, a baby grand piano, half-sized snooker table and five comfy sofas. Or perhaps retreat to the living room to catch forty winks in front of the open fire? With six bedrooms and four bathrooms, this homely property sleeps 16.

We’ve lots of holiday homes in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset for you to choose from. We’ve visited and star rated them all and can tell you about each one in detail. To find just the right festive cottage, use our advanced search or call us on 01647 433593.

* This offer is for a minimum 3 night stay and cannot be used in conjunction with another special offer.

Friday, 19 November 2010

10% off New Year cottages – Cornwall…

Here are two beautiful Cornish holiday cottages available over New Year with a 10% discount*…

This 300 year old cottage in St Veep, south Cornwall, has been beautifully renovated and completely refurbished with flair and style, with lovely long rural views. Inside, lots of ceiling beams, exposed stone-work, slate, mahogany and oak floors, are smartly coupled with Laura Ashley furniture and fabrics. A spacious yet cosy living room boasts an inglenook fireplace with woodburner, and there’s also a lovely French oak kitchen with electric four-oven Aga. For the perfect New Year’s Day walk, there’s a footpath going prettily down to the River Fowey and along to Lerryn (about 4 mile round trip). Sleeps 9. 

This splendid detached house is a rebuild of an old mill near the village of St Kew, north Cornwall. The all new interior is smart and of excellent quality - family-friendly and beautifully thought through with fine, historical botanical and wildlife prints. There’s a large open-plan living/dining/fitted kitchen with all-important double oven gas range and a cosy woodburner. There’s also a games room with half-size snooker table and a snug/children’s play den with TV/DVD. Upstairs there’s five bedrooms which sleep up to 9.

We’ve lots of holiday homes in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset for you to choose from. We’ve visited and star rated them all and can tell you about each one in detail. To find just the right holiday cottage for your festive break, use our advanced search or call us on 01647 433593.

* This offer is for a minimum 3 night stay and cannot be used in conjunction with another special offer.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Bird watch on the Exe estuary...

We know winter is on its way when the first avocets arrive to take up temporary residence on the Exe estuary in Devon.

The RSPB launched its new season of wildlife cruises this month which run through to March 2011, giving people the chance to see these striking black and white birds up close.

The Exe estuary is renowned as an over-wintering site for an estimated 20,000 wading birds. More than forty bird species have been spotted, including black-tailed godwits from Iceland, dark-bellied brent geese from Siberia and waders from Scandinavia.

So why not enjoy a break at one of our holiday cottages along the Exe estuary in Topsham, Lympstone or Exmouth?

Winter is a serene time to explore the West Country and don't forget, 2, 3 and 4 night short breaks are available at many of our cottages at this time of year.

Monday, 15 November 2010

10% off Christmas cottage breaks…

Here are some more ideas for special places to celebrate Christmas in the wonderful West Country - and we’re now offering a 10% discount!*

This beachfront property in Kingsand, south Cornwall, has fantastic sea views from every floor. A semi-detached Georgian house, it has been recently renovated and is smart, stylish and excellent quality. It has a bright nautical style with three sea-facing terraces. There’s a brilliant basement den for youngsters, complete with pool table. A large kitchen with dining table makes this an ideal base for a Christmas with a difference. Sleeps 8.

In the heart of the popular village of Boscastle, north Cornwall, this Grade II listed, stone and slate cottage has bags of character for a cosy Christmas. A very homely living room with inglenook and woodburner makes for the perfect place to eat mince pies and watch Morecambe & Wise. The cottage also has a lovely big kitchen with dining table but if you prefer someone else to do the cooking, there’s a good pub and an excellent restaurant just a short walk away. Sleeps 8.

A half-case of wine is being given away with this beautiful south Devon waterside house in Newton Ferrers to kick start your Christmas party. Friendly good food pubs are a short stroll away or you can walk the coast path to work off lunch. Otherwise, just relax and enjoy the wonderful watery views from the cosy drawing room while you sip another glass of wine! Sleeps 10.

We’ve lots of holiday homes in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset for you to choose from. We’ve visited and star rated them all and can tell you about each one in detail. To find just the right holiday cottage for your festive break, use our advanced search or call us on 01647 433593.

P.S. We’ve 10% off New Year breaks too*

* This offer is for a minimum 3 night stay and cannot be used in conjunction with another special offer.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Choice cottages for Christmas breaks...

Are you tempted to get away to a cottage in the wonderful West Country to celebrate Christmas? If you’re a crowd, club together for a grand house to enjoy the special atmosphere and some additional elbow room. Or if it’s peace and quiet you’re after, there are plenty of hideaways.

Here are a couple of examples to tempt you...
This award-winning contemporary detached house in southernmost Devon is simply stunning. It is architect-designed to form part of the sea wall on the Salcombe bank of the Kingsbridge Estuary, with spectacular panoramic views to East Portlemouth and the sandy beaches and bays on the opposite bank. Enormous windows along three sides and a glass-floored area give a unique ‘on-the-water’ feel. There's a large dining table - perfect for celebrating with friends and family. Sleeps 10.

There's lots to do in Salcombe - plenty of restaurants, galleries, shops and some very pleasant waterfront pubs. You can find more information on Salcombe on the official website for the South Devon Tourist Board.

In East Devon, this gorgeous thatched, detached Grade II listed cottage with 17th Century origins is a great place for celebrating - it has its own piano! There's a very spacious kitchen with dining table for family meals together. It's cosy too - the living room has a huge inglenook fireplace with woodburner. The cottage is located in Branscombe, one of the prettiest villages on the south coast. Lyme Regis is just 10 miles away. Sleeps 6.

We'll post a couple more soon...

We’ve lots of holiday homes in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset for you to choose from. We’ve visited and star rated them all and can tell you about each one in detail. To find just the right holiday cottage for your festive break, use our advanced search or call us on 01647 433593.

Festive sparkle…

We've picked out some of the best Christmas events coming up:

28th Nov: Padstow Christmas Lights (pictured) will illuminate this beautiful harbour town and the voices of the Padstow Carollers will fill the air with traditional hymns. From 3rd to 5th December there’ll be lots of seasonal treats, entertainment and a Christmas market during the magical Padstow Christmas Festival.

3rd to 5th Dec: Candlelit Dartmouth will get you into the spirit of Christmas and provide lots of ideas for stylish and unusual gifts. Enjoy the processions of beautiful handmade paper lanterns winding through the narrow streets, the street stalls, the carol singing, Father Christmas' arrival by boat, the hot chestnuts and much more.
5th Dec: Soak up the festive magic during Dulverton by Starlight when this unique Exmoor town is transformed into a twinkling delight. Explore a wealth of independent shops to find those special gifts, watch Father Christmas arrive with his reindeer and enjoy the carol singing and firework finale.
18th Dec: The famous Mousehole Harbour Lights (pictured) will be switched on with an open air carol service adding to the festive atmosphere. The tiny fishing village has retained its original character and charm and is a special place to visit, especially at Christmas.

Check our special offers for last minute deals on holiday cottages in the West Country or give us a call on 01647 433593.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Stay in an Exmoor cottage and celebrate Dunster by Candlelight from Fri 3rd to Sat 4th December

Celebrate the imminent arrival of Christmas at the magical Dunster by Candlelight weekend of 3rd and 4th December when the medieval Exmoor village lights its streets with candles. 

There’s also live entertainment and shops stay open late. On Friday, watch the Lantern Lighting Procession with pipe and drum music and tall stilt walkers who light the lanterns. 

Helpful Holidays has two holiday cottages at nearby Timberscombe, Burrow Cottage (F270) sleeping three and Jubilee House (F27) (pictured) sleeping six, available from Friday 3rd December priced from £210 for a week’s stay.

If you need any help, visit www.helpfulholidays.co.uk or call our friendly booking team on 01647 433593.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

2010 photo competition winner...

Our congratulations to Greg Dennis for his photo "Water Rainbow".

A crystal clear, truly magical action shot of his dog Bunty playing in the river Teign. For us, it captures the essence of a happy holiday – fun, freedom and adventure in the great outdoors. A £400 Helpful Holidays voucher is on its way.

Moody moors, stunning coastlines, happy children, creatures of land, sea and air! Thanks to all for your contributions - we had more than 70 wonderful entries. Click here to see a selection.

Bunty was made very welcome at Sandsgate in Chagford - just one of our many dog-friendly holiday cottages.

Our 2011 competition is to write a poem inspired by a holiday at a Helpful Holidays property. It’s open to all ages, young and young at heart, and entries need to be in by the end of September 2011. Good luck if you decide to take part!

Monday, 1 November 2010

West Country bonfire night events...

In 1605, Guy Fawkes planned a rather special fireworks display. How will you commemorate him this year? Here are some suggestions if you find yourself in the West Country on 5th November...

Bridgwater, Somerset: This Guy Fawkes Carnival is a real feast for the eyes as over 80 techni-coloured floats - some containing over 30,000 light bulbs - illuminate the streets of Bridgwater. Be sure to stay until the end to witness the traditional firework spectacle of ‘Squibbing’. Unique to Bridgwater, the squibbers line up and simultaneously light their squibs (fireworks secured on poles) filling the whole high street with fountains of golden fire. Carnival starts at 7pm. (The Grand Firework Display is at 7pm the night before on 4th November).

Sticklepath, Devon: Sticklepath Fireshow is one of the largest community arts event in the South West – the famous bonfire night with a difference. Gates open at 6pm for a 7.30pm start.

Ottery St. Mary, Devon: The famous Flaming Tar Barrels is a 17th-century tradition revived every year to rid the streets of evil spirits as fearless men, women and children run through the town carrying blazing tar barrels. Children's barrels at 4.30pm, then women, then men at about 9pm.

Abbotsham, Devon: There'll be plenty of fun at the Guy Fawkes' Fireworks Party at The Big Sheep. Make your own Guy and take part in the competition - the winner will help to light the enormous bonfire! Starts at 6.30pm and ends at 9.30pm.

Poole, Dorset: Bigger and brighter than ever, Poole's famous Fireworks on the Quay is set to light the skies above the iconic harbour. Entertainment from 4.30pm with a spectacular fireworks display at 8pm.

Cornwall: Here's a really comprehensive list of the many fireworks displays in Cornwall. You're sure to find an event close by.

Check our special offers for last minute deals on places to stay or give us a call on 01647 433593.