Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Ice rinks galore in the West Country...

Do you know your Russian Split from your triple Salchow? Do you have a soft spot for Ravel's Bolero? As Christmas approaches, many towns and cities across the country offer the opportunity for budding Torvills and Deans to work their magic on the ice. The West Country is no exception, with a number of temporary ice rinks opening to add to the festive cheer - so, get your skates on!

Plymouth city centre has been transformed into a magical winter wonderland, with a 15x30 metre open air rink on the Piazza, remaining open until Sunday 24th February 2013. As well as regular skating sessions from 9am to 8.15pm Monday to Saturday and 9am to 6.15pm on Sundays, the outdoor rink will be hosting a range of special events, including schools sessions during term time, ice skating lessons, private hire, parties, shows and breakfast with Santa. Make tracks back to L151.

In Truro, a Christmas ice rink is helping to fund a revamp of Truro Cathedral School. The rink on Cathedral Green, run by a company set up by Olympic skater Robin Cousins, will open every day from 28th November until 6th January, with the exception of Christmas Day. The school, which is next to the cathedral, closed in 1982, with plans to refurbish it and create a major cultural centre for Cornwall. Hang up your boots at S235.

Bournemouth town centre will host an outdoor Christmas ice rink this year, set in the the beautiful grade II listed Lower Central Gardens, between the famous Bournemouth balloon and the Square. The rink will be open all day and there will also be special late night sessions for those who prefer skating under a starlit sky. The rink will accommodate around 100 skaters at any one time and be open from 4th December until 6th January. Relax by the fireside at H73.

One of the most unique settings you'll find for ice skating is the Eden Project, which has a stunning rink now open until 3rd March 2013. Young novices might like to try out the penguin skating aids, ideal for helping gain confidence on the ice. The rink also offers parent and toddler ice-play sessions for the under 6s, with plenty of toys to play with, as well as Chilly Juniors sessions for 6-12 yr olds with various races and games. Each person skating will also need to have a valid admission ticket to the Eden Project. Take a look at a video (from 2011) of Eden's rink below:

Use the Advanced Search facility on our website to help you find just the right place to stay, or give our expert telephone team a call on 01647 433593.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Foodie spots for New Year revelry in the West Country

Party time at Fifteen Cornwall

Each year, millions of people around the globe gather together to reflect on the past twelve months and share their plans and dreams for the year ahead. What better way to do it than with friends, family and good food?

Castle Bistro at Bovey Castle

In the West Country, New Year's Eve celebrations are perhaps best known for fancy dress. That's certainly true at Jamie Oliver's restaurant Fifteen Cornwall, which is holding a superhero-themed fancy dress party with cocktails, a four course menu and dancing through to the early hours. Tickets cost £100 (children welcome). Become human again at Q29.

A four-course dinner is also central to the New Year’s Eve party at Bovey Castle, which begins with a champagne reception, followed by dinner in the Castle Bistro, dancing in the Cathedral Room, rounded off by a fireworks display over the hotel’s Dartmoor estate. Tickets cost £99 per person (children aged 5 to 14 years old, £49, and children aged 2 to 4 years old, £20). Sing Auld Lang Syne at A87.

Grilled scallops with hazelnut and coriander butter, followed by roast monkfish with crushed new potatoes, olive oil and watercress. Yes, you've guessed it - that's the New Year's Eve menu at Rick Stein's Cafe in Padstow. This tasty menu can be enjoyed in a relaxed and informal atmosphere for just £39 per person. Stroll to the harbour from P51.

For something completely different, Kitley House Restaurant near Plymouth offers a New Year's Eve Murder Mystery and Gala Dinner. A five-course meal will help you work your way through the clues and apprehend the culprit! The event costs £89.95 per person. Continue your sleuthing at R378.

Of course, you can always just hunker down in your holiday cottage and show off your culinary skills in a delicious home-cooked meal using the freshest local produce, then toast the New Year and share stories and memories in front of an open fire.

Use the Advanced Search facility on our website to help you find just the right place to enjoy New Year's Eve in the West Country, or give our expert telephone team a call on 01647 433593. Whether you stay near the coast or on the moors, you're sure to find a pretty spot nearby for an exhilarating walk on New Year's Day to blow away the cobwebs and walk off the indulgences of the night before!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Christmas sparkle in the West Country...

Just 40 days until you’re allowed to unwrap those presents under the tree. Are you starting to think about what to buy your loved ones this year? Need some inspiration? Towns and villages across the West Country are gearing up to spread some festive cheer and dazzle you with gift ideas...

In Barnstaple, Devon, soul singer Beverley Knight will switch on the Christmas lights on Thursday 22nd November in order to coincide with the first of Barnstaple’s late night Christmas shopping nights. Get wrapping at F6.

Real reindeer will be visiting Newquay, Cornwall, on Friday 30th November – perhaps to snap up some unique presents at Newquay’s first Christmas food and craft festival. There’s also a magical children’s lantern parade, late night shopping and of course Christmas lights to be switched on at 7pm. See the reindeer at The Hotel Victoria from 3pm to 6.30pm. Play reindeer games back at Q4.

Q30, St Agnes
St Agnes tucks into a Feast of Lanterns on Sunday 2nd December, with a lantern procession through the village before Giant Bolster switches on the Christmas lights including those illuminating a huge Christmas tree in the village centre. It all takes place to seasonal tunes played by the St Agnes Silver Band – and mulled wine is available to keep you warm. Tuck into a feast of your own back at Q30.

Gather around the bandstand to watch the Padstow Carolers perform a selection of traditional Christmas hymns at the Padstow Christmas Lights Switch-on on Sunday 2nd December from about 6pm. Enjoy more festivities at the Padstow Christmas Festival from 7th to 9th December. Carry on singing at P51.

K33, Clovelly
Also on 2nd December, the Torridge Male Voice Choir will be singing along to a local brass band on a procession down to Clovelly harbour. At about 5pm the switch is thrown and the entire village and harbour are lit up. Fireworks, a hog roast, punch and mince pies follow and Father Christmas is rumoured to be planning a surprise visit. Ho, ho, ho back to K33.

Use the Advanced Search facility on our website to help you pick just the right place to enjoy the Christmas season in the West Country.

Top picture credit: Ashley Coombs

Friday, 9 November 2012

Large Holiday Homes for Christmas & New Year...

For those of you who can count your family members on more than two hands, we've still a few big houses available for Christmas and New Year this year - each with great features and facilities to ensure your family celebrations are remembered for many years to come.

In the stunningly beautiful, romantic area of Porlock Vale with some of the best and most varied landscape of the Exmoor National Park you'll find this magnificent house dating from the 19th century. The curving drive brings you to the heavy oak front door, behind which you'll find everything you need for a family break with a difference: a heavily beamed living room with comfy leather chairs and handsome original mantelpiece (with open fire); a dining room with big bay window and brilliant views; a large well-equipped kitchen.

Explore further and you'll find two more living rooms, one ideal for youngsters with TV/DVD, games, half-sized snooker table and subbuteo table, and the other, an elegant room with French windows to the terrace and terrific views - just right for evening drinks. Sleeps 30; pets welcome. 

In the heart of Noss Mayo, at the end of the tidal inlet opposite the Ship Inn, is this fabulous detached, riverside houseUltra-modern and stylish, the inside is cleverly laid out with river-facing balconies for the mesmerising viewsSpread over three levels are two light and spacious living/dining/kitchens with oak floors, six bathrooms and seven/eight bedrooms. 
This is an absolutely smashing property with river, boating, pubs and walks all nearby. Sleeps 15; pets welcome (in garage only).

In the pretty village of Chideock, a mile from the sea, is this large, detached, Grade II listed farmhouse. The whole family will enjoy the indoor heated swimming pool and games room (with table tennis and table football). 

The house is smart and well-renovated with characterful exposed stone and old beams and is light and surprisingly spacious. The dining room has a table seating 16 and the smart fitted kitchen has everything you need: dishwasher, microwave, gas Rangemaster with two ovens, plus another breakfast table seating 6.

Five yards from the back door is a pretty little detached converted creamery with two additional bedrooms. Sleeps 17 in total; pets welcome.

This is just a small selection so we recommend you take a look at all our big houses for Christmas 2012 and for New Year 2012.

Use our Advanced Search facility on our website for a more personalised search for a holiday home for you and yours this holiday season - and don't forget you can chat with one of our friendly telephone team (01647 433593), all visitors to our properties, if you have queries about a specific house or need help finding just the right place.

Many of our big houses get booked up around a year in advance, so it's not too early to plan ahead for Christmas and New Year 2013!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Helpful Holidays wins Silver at British Travel Awards for two consecutive years...

We've scooped second place and a Silver Award for the second year in a row against strong national competition at the British Travel Awards in the Best UK cottage/self catering booking company category.
The 2012 results were announced last night at a glittering ceremony at the Battersea Evolution in London where four long-serving members of our team (Rikki, Natalie, Sasha and James) collected the award.
The British Travel Awards are acknowledged as the most definitive and largest monitor of public opinion on the performance of travel and tourism providers. Travel companies and tourism organisations were invited to register for listing in the various categories; a shortlist was then drawn up by a panel of respected individuals from both in and outside of the travel industry, but it is the leisure holidaymakers whose votes finally determine the winners.
Delighted with the accolade, our General Manager, Moray Bowater, said, “We’re honoured to have won this prestigious award and immensely grateful to all those who took the trouble to vote for us. It’s a great credit to our team and our home owners, as well as a testament to the level of service and quality of properties offered by Helpful Holidays overall.
Helpful Holidays has always stood for reliable, un-hyped and outstanding service to its customers. This award recognises that in the best possible way – via the votes of those we serve and those who know us. Ultimately, trust is the currency that really counts and we're happy that earning that of our customers through our straightforward and frank approach has been the touchstone of our business since we started over 30 years ago”, concluded Moray.
Our Rikki, Sasha, Natalie and James
It was also a great night for Cornwall which won Best UK Holiday County or Region and Best UK Coastal Town or Resort for St Ives, as well as awards for Eden Project, Fal River Cornwall and Minack Theatre.

The British Travel Awards' Chief Executive, Lorraine Barnes Burton, said, “It’s the largest consumer voted awards programme in the UK, designed to reward the best companies in travel. The winning accolade is the benchmark for excellence when it comes to finding out who really is the best in the business of travel for the UK consumer.”
This award follows on from our earlier success in 2012 when we came top in the Which? Travel magazine members’ survey of holiday cottage and villa booking companies, achieving a very high score of 92% and getting five out of five stars in all but one category.
Visit our website to browse our holiday cottages in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset or give our telephone team a call on 01647 433593 for some human help to find just the right place for a happy holiday in 2013.