Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Our latest bumper colour supplement increases our portfolio to nearly 700 West Country properties

This year’s second colour supplement is our largest ever featuring 57 self-catering properties across Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset increasing our portfolio to 690 special places to stay.

Sleeping two to thirteen guests most are new to our collection. Many have stunning coast or country views and over half welcome pets.

Highlights include two new additions to our growing collection of green cottages in North Bovey and Dunsford on Dartmoor; a large house for eight with brilliant views out to sea in far West Cornwall and a 17th century beamed farmhouse sleeping nine in Exmoor National Park. Smaller new places include a barn conversion with stylish interiors for four in North Cornwall and a quirky former water tower for two in East Devon.    

Everyone taking a break with us will also receive a free ‘What shall we do today?’ booklet containing 84 money saving vouchers for use at a huge range of leading visitor attractions throughout the West Country. It also gives information on local farmers’ markets plus recommendations for the best beaches, coast and country walks, places to eat and quirky events.

For a copy of the new supplement and the main brochure call us on 01647 434063; or search, check availability and book online at www.helpfulholidays.com.

Pick of the Best
Set on the hillside above South Sands beach, Lazylands has stunning views through the trees to the Salcombe estuary. Sleeping 10 the spacious, modern detached family house is built on three levels to take advantage of its elevated position. Inside both the large living room, which has an open fire, and dining room have sliding doors opening out to the sun terrace to admire that view. See page 21 of the colour supplement or visit www.helpfulholidays.com and search for ref L275.

Around 2.5 miles from North Bovey in Dartmoor National Park, Puddaven is among the latest properties to be added to our green cottages collection, which are assessed against strict criteria to make a lesser impact on the environment. Sleeping four, the cottage has been beautifully converted from a barn on three levels with beams, natural colours and good fabrics. A free standing bath in the window recess of the ground floor bedroom has long views to Easdon Tor, while the second ensuite bedroom is under the eaves on the top floor. A camp fire is available between July and October when guests can sleep out under the stars; there’s also 32 acres of farmland to explore. Pets welcome. For details, see page 23 of the colour supplement or visit www.helpfulholidays.com and search for ref A205.

Set on the hillside above Rinsey Cove in far west Cornwall is Welloe Rock, a 19th century detached farmhouse for eight with outstanding uninterrupted sea views from the house and gardens to Penzance and beyond.  The cove and South West Coast Path are a short walk away and there’s a games room in a separate, small barn with storage for wetsuits and other watersports gear. Inside the spacious kitchen/dining room has a big granite open fireplace; there also a second fireplace with a woodburner in the living room. Professional catering and cookery classes available by arrangement. For details, see page 37 of the colour supplement or visit www.helpfulholidays.com and search for ref T14.

Set back from a quiet country lane, near the hamlet of Waterrow on Exmoor is Grade II listed, 17th century Surridge Farmhouse, which sleeps nine. The house is surrounded by 80 acres of pasture and woodlands for guests to enjoy including an Iron Age Fort, south-facing patio, pagoda and an illuminated six-person hot tub.  Inside its full of character with ancient oak beams, some wonky floors and window seats; there’s an Aga in the large farmhouse kitchen/breakfast room and woodburners in the dining and living rooms, plus a games room. Pets welcome. For details, see page 11 of the colour supplement or visit www.helpfulholidays.com and search for ref F75.

Four miles from Ottery St Maryand 5½ from Sidmouth, in the tiny hamlet of Southerton is a converted 19th century water tower now a romantic holiday home for two. Rambling over three storeys, quirky Southerton Tower is entered via stable doors to an open-plan living/dining/kitchen with gas ‘living flame’ fire, steep stairs lead up to the bathroom with its free-standing roll-top bath then more stairs up to the top of the tower and the splendid double bedroom with views across the valley. There’s also a small, enclosed courtyard for sitting out. For details, see page 18 of the colour supplement or visit www.helpfulholidays.com and search for ref G67.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Where To Go Easter Egg Hunting This April

With mid-March approaching, it won't be long before you have to start thinking about entertaining the kids during the Easter break.

One of the best ways to do that is book a holiday cottage stay in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset or Somerset, where there are hundreds of attractions and events taking place to keep them entertained, including numerous Easter egg hunts.

To help you plan your Easter holiday getaway, we've rounded-up the South West's top egg-based activities for you, with a few ideas on making sure you have fun too thrown into the mix:

Trereife's Grand Easter Egg Hunt

A key component of the fourth Easter Bank Holiday Food and Craft Fair, taking place from April 18th to 21st at Trereife House in Cornwall, will be its 'Grand Easter Egg Hunt'.

Hundreds of children will be following the clues left in the woods and the walled garden in the hopes of getting their mitts on some chocolatey treats, while their parents sample the alcoholic goodies on sale at the fair.

Youngsters also have the chance to get involved with 'Funky Food' and craft workshops, once they've exhausted the egg hunt.

Admission costs £3.50 for adults and £2 for children, with no charge for under-fives. Family tickets for two adults and three children are priced at £11.

Escot Easter Egg Hunt

While Trereife's egg hunt lasts for just one weekend, Escot in Devon will be entertaining kids for the whole of the school break, with its own search running from April 5th to 21st.

A chocolate prize and certificate is awarded for every completed clue sheet, but during the Easter weekend itself there will be a 'Golden Easter Egg Hunt' taking place, featuring special eggs with prizes hidden inside dotted around the park.

Each clue sheet costs £1, while entry to Escot is priced at £9.50 for adults, £8.00 for children and £33 for families (two adults and two children).

Easter Egg Hunt at Forde Abbey

Spectacular Forde Abbey in Dorset is hosting an Easter egg hunt on April 20th and 21st, giving kids the chance to work off some energy foraging for treats in the grounds.

If you're only there for the chocolate, adults can enter the gardens for £9.00, while children under 15 go free, but if you'd also like to see the stunning interior of the house, including the State Rooms, you'll need to stump up an extra £2 per adult.

Brean Down's Easter Egg Eggstravaganza 

On the spectacular promontory of Brean Down in Somerset on April 20th, between 11am and 2pm, an 'Easter Egg Eggstravaganza' will be taking place. It costs £2 per trail, including a chocolate treat.

While you're there, make sure to savour the sensational views from the 97m-high summit of the Down, which extend over the Somerset Levels and out across the Bristol Channel towards South Wales.

There is also a beach to enjoy and Palmerston Fort to explore during your visit, so you can make a real day of it.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, 14 March 2014

Green Holiday Homes in the West Country

The beauty of the West Country comes from nature: the countryside, the blue seas, early morning songbirds and surfers splashing about at sunset. We know it is imperative to protect what we have and we are happy to note our visitors are getting more discerning about our green credentials.

We have created a Green Cottages label to identify holiday homes with features that help them make a lesser impact on the environment. Our green checklist runs from low energy bulbs to clear instructions for recycling, from phosphate-free detergent to providing a seven-day itinerary of things for holidaymakers to do with minimal use of their car.

By encouraging our owners to think sustainably, we eliminate that horrible feeling that all your hard work being green at home has gone out the window when you are away. We ask owners to keep homes warm and comfortable - we’re not into a ‘hair shirt’ approach - but make sure they are not wasteful when it comes to energy. We look at the impact on the environment of each cottage with regard to energy, pollution, information, water supply, wildlife and landscape, and promote beneficial features, such as solar and wind power or a spring or borehole water supply.

We assess each cottage in detail, looking at things like energy providers, insulation, heating and hot water timers, appliances, recycling, and the provision of information about local facilities and car-free days out, and give practical advice to holiday homeowners on how to make improvements. To see our complete list of criteria, click here.

All these measures are designed to help you appreciate our beautiful West Country environment even more, and to protect it for generations to come. Take a look at this, the newest of our Green Cottages, at Mardon in Dunsford. It is one of two granite-walled barn conversions next to the owner’s farmhouse. If you had any doubt that a green holiday could be glamorous, how about a stay in this fitting-yet-contemporary barn conversion in North Bovey.

Calstock has a green retreat for two, perfect for wildlife enthusiasts as it is surrounded by five acres of mature garden and meadow, close to nature walks and is reputedly where Joseph Turner found inspiration for his painting ‘Sunshine on the Tamar’. Dart View Cottage in Staverton is perfect for a bigger getaway of family or friends, who can extend their low-carbon holiday to riverside walks and trips to the sea.

For more information go to the eco and ethical page on Helpful Holidays website, where you can see details of all our Green Cottages, or call 01647 433593, and speak to our staff members who have visited our cottages personally.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The South West's Best Pirate-themed Experiences

With the longest coastline of any of the nine regions of the UK, the South West is, unsurprisingly, a place with a strong maritime heritage.

Although the fishing industry forms a major part of that history, there were many other folk who made their living in less legitimate ways. Huge quantities of goods would make their way into Cornwall and Devon under the cover of darkness, dragged ashore into moonlit coves by smugglers. Pirate ships also roamed the waters off the coast, waiting to attack other vessels laden with cargo.

Today, those romantic times before rules and regulations were enforced are not only remembered through the arts ('The Pirates of Penzance'), sport (The Cornish Pirates rugby team) and pubs (The Pirate Inn), they are also commemorated by tourist activities across the South West.

To help you channel your inner pirate, here's a selection of the West Country's best pirate-themed days out:

Brixham Pirate Festival

Anyone looking for an excuse to dress up like Captain Jack from 'Pirates of the Caribbean' should book a Devon holiday cottage for the May bank holiday, when Brixham will be celebrating its annual Pirate Festival.

With armed thespians reenacting pirate battles, street entertainers lining the harbour and plenty of live music, it's a real hoot for the whole family. There will be fancy dress competitions for all ages, from those who have yet to develop their sea legs to salty sea dogs weathered by the years.

Buccaneer Bay

Transport yourself back in time at this Newquay live theatre attraction, where authentic-looking pirates, bossed by Captain Calico Jack, will lead you through Ne'er Do Well Passage to the Sunken Village of the Damned during a 35-minute tour filled with legendary tales and mystical creatures.

Buccaneer Bay is open from the end of March to the beginning of November and tickets cost £8.50 for adults and £5 for children, while under-fives go free.

Pirate Adventure Mini Golf

The link between pirates and golf is a tenuous one, but historical accuracy matters little at Pirate Adventure Mini Golf at the Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park. Kids and adults alike can test their accuracy trying to negotiate the galleons, treasure chests and gunpowder barrels blocking the way to hole-in-one, while learning more about real life pirates during the round.

Tickets cost £6.50 per person, reduced to £5.50 for family groups with a child under 14.

Prussia Cove

Walk in the footsteps of real-life smugglers at this spectacular inlet near Praa Sands in Cornwall. The cove is named after the notorious 18th century gang leader, John Carter, who went by the nickname 'the King of Prussia'.

Standing on the clifftop, you can picture the smugglers' boats landing on the beach under the cover of darkness all those years ago.

Prussia Cove is one of dozens dotted around the coastline that were used by smugglers. Smuggling.co.uk is a great resource for finding historic locations near to your holiday cottage, boasting interactive maps and detailed text explaining what went on. ADNFCR-1734-ID-801697413-ADNFCR