Great kids’ Easter recipes


One of the great things about our holiday cottages is that many of them have a fully equipped kitchen for you to use while you’re staying there. That means you can enjoy all the comforts of home and have a little baking fun with the kids if you feel like it.

It’s raining here today and that made us think about how to keep the kids amused if you were in a holiday cottage right now. There are usually TV, DVDs, board games and books, but we wanted to come up with something a little more interactive. That’s when we thought of cooking.

We all cook with our kids and there’s no reason why you can’t so that while you’re on holiday, so here we are. Here are a couple of good tried and tested Easter recipes you can enjoy while in one of our holiday lets!

Easter Chick Marshmallow Lollies


  • 6-8 Marshmallows
  • 65g Yellow Wilton Candy Melts
  • 65g White frosting
  • Yellow food colouring
  • 3-4 Fruit gum sweets
  • 85g Desiccated coconut
  • Large plastic food bag
  • Brown M&M's or Smarties
  • 6-8 lollipop sticks


  1. Heat the candy melts until melted.
  2. Insert the lollipop stick in each marshmallow and dip and roll marshmallows in the melted chocolate. Cover the marshmallow completely and allow to cool.
  3. Mix the white frosting with 1-2 drops of yellow food colouring and mix well. Set aside.
  4. Add the coconut to the freezer bag and add 1-2 drops of yellow food colouring. Close the bag and shake until the coconut is yellow. Set aside.
  5. Cut the fruit gum sweets into small triangles for the beak.
  6. Use a small spatula and coat each marshmallow with frosting. Place two small brown M&M's or Smarties for the eyes and 1 gum triangle for the beak. Then, dip into the coconut and cover completely.
  7. Repeat the process with the other marshmallows!

Hot cross buns


  • 300ml full-fat milk, plus 2 tbsp more
  • 50g butter
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 75g sultanas
  • 50g mixed peel
  • zest 1 orange
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the cross

  • 75g plain flour

For the glaze

  • 3 tbsp apricot jam


  1. Bring the milk to the boil, remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches room temperature.
  2. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, then add the egg. Mix well until you have a sticky dough.
  3. Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for and hour or until doubled in size.
  4. Tip fruit and cinnamon into the bowl with the dough and knead until everything is well distributed. Cover and leave to rise again for an hour or until doubled in size.
  5. Divide the dough into 15 pieces and mould each one into a smooth ball with your hands. Arrange the buns on one or two baking trays lined with baking parchment leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside to prove for a final hour.
  6. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.
  7. Mix the cross flour with about 5 tbsp water to make a paste. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Gently heat the apricot jam until melted and sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.

The best time of year to visit Ireland

With spring almost upon us we are slowly throwing off the sluggishness of winter and looking forward to sunshine, flowers and new life. It’s also a good time to begin thinking about your holidays and about what kind of holiday cottage you’re going to choose and where in the world you’re going to stay.

Ireland is a fantastic place to visit. Both Northern Ireland and the Republic have some of the most beautiful green spaces anywhere in the world. It’s also calm, friendly and very, very welcoming. Add in plenty of things to do, some excellent holiday lets and lots of things to see and do and you have a recipe for a truly unforgettable break.

When to visit Ireland

Ireland’s climate is influenced hugely by the Atlantic Ocean. As an island, we are surrounded by water but none is more powerful than the Atlantic. We usually get mild moist air all the way from the Caribbean which keeps the temperature under control but can bring unpredictability with it.

The weather is a constant topic of conversation here as we never really know what to expect from one minute to the next. But we love it that way!

Typically, spring runs from late February to April. Temperatures slowly climb from their winter lows during February and become very mild during April. Summer runs from end of May to July, where temperatures continue to rise until the highs of July and sometimes into August.

From there, August to October is autumn and November until January/February is Winter. July and August can get anything up to 18 hours a day of sunshine, so is often when most people visit Ireland and stay in one of our holiday cottages. While those summer months are great, there is a lot more to our beautiful island than that.

The rain brings a freshness to the air you can’t get anywhere else. Well, we think so anyway. It makes the fields shine, the birds sing and it makes everything look fantastic. Those early days of a new spring offer a feeling of hope and optimism that we love to share. Even the days of autumn have something to offer. Golden leaves in the woods and forests, early sunsets overs newly harvested fields and lots of opportunities to see wildlife prepare for winter.

Winter in Ireland is lovely too. The winter landscape offers a character all of its own. The air is crisp, the landscape quiet and eerily lovely. That feeling of getting home to a log fire after a bracing walk in the chill simply cannot be bettered.

Essentially, I think what we’re trying to say here is that anytime is a good time to stay in Ireland. The range of holiday cottages we have offer a huge variety of surroundings, locations, amenities and opportunities. There’s bound to be something here that will really make your stay!

Top five reasons why a holiday cottage is better than a hotel

Anyone who has already stayed in a holiday cottage with will know why their experience was so much better than a hotel break. For those of you who have yet to try it or are on the fence, here are five great reasons why a holiday cottage is better than a hotel.

Fantastic value

It’s hard to beat value as a reason for choosing a holiday cottage over a hotel. While headline prices may look very similar, the pricing structure is very different. For example, a hotel room costing £120 per night will usually be for two people. A holiday cottage costing £120 per night could be for anything up to eight or ten.

Add to that the fact that you have an entire property at your disposal with multiple rooms and often a garden or some kind of outdoor space, it’s really hard to compare the two.


Hotels can be fantastic to stay in but you’re always conscious you’re one of potentially hundreds of people all within a small space sharing many facilities. Walls are thin, you can hear what next door are talking about, or worse and people walk up and down the corridor at all hours.

A holiday cottage can offer the privacy of your own property, your own garden and are often detached too. That counts for a lot if you value your privacy.


If you love city life, a hotel is hard to beat. However, if you love the countryside and some exclusive locations, a holiday cottage is king. There aren’t many affordable hotels next to rivers, inside or next to National Parks, on the beach, in a forest or beside a lake. Yet we have hundreds of holiday cottages that offer just that.

We also have holiday cottages in towns, cities, quaint villages and just about everywhere you’re likely to want to visit.

Home away from home

Some people are happy leaving everything at home and experiencing a completely new environment without any reference to the old. Many people are not. For those, a holiday cottage is a perfect opportunity to have a holiday and explore somewhere new while also having familiar surroundings.

You can bring what you like to make you feel comfortable. There’s usually room for everything.

Bring the dog

There are a few hotels in the UK and Ireland that allow dogs but there are usually strict rules about where they can go and when. There are no such rules in your own holiday cottage. As long as you leave the cottage the same way you found it, your well-behaved dog is welcome at hundreds of locations across the country.

Our dogs are part of the family and deserve a holiday as much as we do. After all, they will love exploring their new surroundings, running through woods or along the beach so it would be a shame to leave them behind!

What to do with the kids this Easter

Easter 2015 runs from 3rd April until 6th April and that’s really not far away. Taking a family break in a holiday cottage over Easter is a great way to enjoy time away from home and quality time with the family. There’s no better way to reconnect than getting away from it all.

If you’re staying in one of our lovely holiday cottages this Easter, you might be interested in these family activities running across the country. They are just five of hundreds of activities, but we like the look of them a lot.

National Trust Easter Egg Trails

National Trust Easter Egg Trails are an annual thing jointly organised by the National Trust and Cadbury. Held at a variety of locations, these Easter egg trails are great fun while also offering exercise and a challenging trail to follow using clues and puzzles they have to solve.

These are great fun and are happening at 300 National Trust locations across the UK. Check out the website here to find a location near your holiday cottage.

The John Muir Way and festival

The John Muir Way and festival in Scotland is going to be a good way to spend Easter this year. If you’re in one of our many Scottish holiday cottages, you should try it. John Muir was a famous naturalist who was responsible for creating many national parks in the US, including Yosemite. To celebrate his life, a 134 mile trail has been created from his birthplace in Dunbar to Helensburg.

During 17th and 26th April, a festival will be held with a range of events from fireworks, readings, music, theatre and a range of outdoor events.

Easter hatchings at the Bristol Science Centre

Easter eggs aren’t always made of chocolate as the Bristol Science Centre would like to demonstrate. To that end, they are running Easter hatchings at the At-Bristol Live Lab hatchery. Kids will be able to watch new chicks hatch, dissect daffodils and other plants, design their own mini garden and all the usual things that are going on at the centre.

The Bristol Science Centre is one of an increasing number of venues that aim to make science fun. We can imagine watching new life enter the world has to be something nobody wants to miss!

Chester food festival

The Chester food festival is an annual event that runs from 19th to 21st April and offers a little more variety for the taste buds after all that chocolate. With over 150 exhibitors offering talks, demonstrations, classes and chances to taste, there’s no reason we can think of not to go.

There is also a culinary school especially for children which makes this a fun and education way to entertain the little ones this Easter.

Willy Wonka at Kew Gardens

Finally, we think Willy Wonka at Kew Gardens will be a big draw for families this Easter. To celebrate 50 years of the character, Kew Gardens and the Roald Dhal Museum and Story Centre have partnered up to hold this special event. Kids will get to design their own eggs, taste different chocolates from through the ages and lots of other activities.

We think this will be a sure fire hit!

Enjoy Wales this spring!

Wales is a fantastic part of the country that always has something going on. With a rich culture, vibrant energy and the kind of environment that just begs you to explore, it’s no wonder our Welsh holiday cottages are some of our busiest. There’s more to Wales than just walking though and this list of spring highlights proves that.

If you’re planning a spring break in one of our fabulous holiday cottages in Wales this year, here are just a few things you can do.

Crickhowell Walking Festival

The Crickhowell Walking Festival is nine days of guided walks around the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons. It’s an ideal way to explore the local geography and trails through the eyes of an expert. It’s a great introduction and the perfect way to scout out the region while being able to call on the advice of an experienced guide.

The Crickhowell Walking Festival runs from 28th February until 8th March.

FOCUS Wales 2015

FOCUS Wales 2015 is a four day event that happens in Wrexham each April. It’s a showcase of music from beginning to end and provides an excellent opportunity for local performers to reach an audience they wouldn’t normally get the chance to play to. It also gives a diverse audience and opportunity to listen to music they might not usually listen to. A packed itinerary lasts all day long for the entire period of the festival.

FOCUS Wales 2015 runs from 22nd until 25th April 2015.

RHS Flower Show Cardiff

The RHS Flower Show Cardiff is something to enjoy every year. It draws thousands of visitors every year and for very good reasons. If your holiday cottage is within driving distance of Cardiff, we recommend this show wholeheartedly!

The RHS Flower Show Cardiff is one of the largest and finest of its kind anywhere in the world. It’s an opportunity to wonder at fantastic plants and flowers and take inspiration for your own garden.

The RHS Flower Show Cardiff runs from 17th to 19th April 2015.

The Machynlleth Comedy Festival

The Machynlleth Comedy Festival is about much more than just stand up. It’s a festival of all things Welsh, including local food, culture, performers and more. The festival features lots of top comedians, but also theatre productions, music, food, drink, art and plenty of stuff for the kids. It’s a great day out for all the family!

The The Machynlleth Comedy Festival runs from 1st to 3rd May 2015.

Bangor Music Festival

The Bangor Music Festival this year celebrates the life and work of the very original Frank Zappa. While there will be a definite air of Zappa about the place, there will also be a huge range of contemporary music, jazz and all sorts of genres represented here. If you want to discover a new sound and are in Wales, this is the place to be.

The Bangor Music Festival runs from March 4th until 8th 2015.

Top spring food festivals in the UK

It’s easy to work up an appetite when you’re staying in one of our holiday cottages. With lots to see and do, hundreds of miles of walks, forests and cities to explore, activities to enjoy and books to read, a great lunch is the perfect antidote. That’s why we have put together this quick guide to the top spring food festivals in the UK.

Food festivals and artisan producers are enjoying more popularity than ever before. Never in recent history have we been more interested in local produce, small producers and small scale food manufacturing. Artisan bakers, speciality brewers, famer-butchers and the like have never been so popular!

So here are some great food festivals for you to explore this spring.

Kendal Festival Of Food

The Kendal Festival Of Food is a weekend full of food. Set over two days in the picturesque town of Kendal in the Lake District, this festival has everything from chef demonstrations, food tastings, talks, stalls and more. Local and national chefs, farmers and producers will all be showcasing their wares and you can try and buy to your hearts content.

The Kendal Festival Of Food runs over 7th/8th of March 2015.

Ludlow Spring Festival

The Ludlow Spring Festival is one of the longest running festivals we know of. It’s one of the largest too, with over 60 exhibitors offering talks, demonstrations, new products and of course, the opportunity to try the best of what they offer. The festival also has its own pub, live music, a classic car show and much more.

The Ludlow Spring Festival is held in Ludlow, Shropshire on 9th and 10th May 2015. We have a few holiday cottages close by here…

Budleigh Buy Local Food and Drink Festival

The Budleigh Buy Local Food & Drink Festival is held in Budleigh Salterton in Devon. It’s a well-established festival with top chefs, local brewers, farmers and producers all congregating for three days of food fun. There are the usual stalls, demonstrations, talks, displays and a local version of Ready Steady Cook. It’s a good day out for all the family.

The Budleigh Buy Local Food & Drink Festival runs over 13th, 14th and 15th March 2015.

The Chocolate Festival

The Chocolate Festival should need no introduction and no convincing for lovers of the brown stuff to visit. Held in Islington, London, The Chocolate Festival is fast becoming the largest of its kind. Held in the huge business design centre, the festival includes The Cocoa Spa, Taste Zone, Chocolate Market, Chocolate Café, lots of stalls from chocolatiers, live music and everything you would expect from a festival dedicated to our favourite sweet treat.

The Chocolate Festival is held in Islington on the 27th to 29th March.

Great Britain’s best spring walks part 2

Today we are continuing our posts featuring Great Britain’s best spring walks. We are making a slight departure though as a couple of guests suggested a couple of fantastic walks in Ireland, so they are getting some love too. As we feature holiday cottages in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, we’re only happy to oblige.

So without further ado, here are what guests think are Great Britain’s best spring walks.

Aughinish Alumina Nature Trail – County Limerick

The Aughinish Alumina Nature Trail can be found west of Limerick running along the banks of the river Shannon. It features miles of trails, a butterfly sanctuary, lots of woodland, meadowland and heath and is one of Ireland’s top walking destinations.

Dromana Wood – Waterford

Dromana Wood near Villierstown in the Republic of Ireland is another favourite from across the water. Woodland trails crisscross hundreds of acres of woodland that comes alive in the spring. Some offer unforgettable views of the River Blackwater and the Knockmealdown mountains which are worth the trip alone!

Knoydart Peninsula – Mallaig

The Knoydart Peninsula in the Highlands has some spectacular and desolate scenery. It’s an amazing place to visit and to walk. The region is regarded as Britain’s last true wilderness and once you get here, you’ll quickly realise why. It’s an isolated area with a wide range of walks for all abilities.

Coquet Valley – Northumberland

The Coquet Valley near Rothbury, Northumberland is a fantastic region that borders the Northumberland National Park and the Cheviot Hills. It’s a varied terrain that takes in hills, moor, woods, rivers, valleys and everything the county has to offer. The guided walks by Jon Monks are also worth a try.

Deacon Hill – Hertfordshire

Deacon Hill is a firm favourite with walkers because if offers an excellent circular route that takes in Pirton and the surrounding countryside. The hills can be a bit of a challenge, but the views of Hertfordshire from the top make the effort very worthwhile. There are plenty of little villages around for a cream tea reward too!

South Downs – Sussex

The South Downs in Sussex is one of the south coast’s best walking areas. The region has hundreds of miles of ancient paths, lots of villages, fantastic scenery and some very picturesque destinations. Highlights for us were Chanctonbury Ring and the village of Washington.

These complete our tour of the UK and Ireland looking for the best spring walks we could find. Thanks to all those guests who responded and offered their opinions. If you like walking and are booking a holiday cottage through us, we hope you try one of these fantastic walks!

Some of Great Britain’s best spring walks part 1

With spring just around the corner, it’s time to throw off winter and look forward to flowers, lambs and a little bit of sunshine. Now is a great time to book a spring break with your family and we have just the holiday cottage for you. Check out the interactive map, we have thousands of holiday rentals to choose from.

Once you’re all booked up, you’re going to want to plan things to do while you’re away. Because we’re nice people, we have asked a wide range of previous guests where they like to walk this time of year. We have dedicated the next two blog posts to listing the best of them.

The Cotswold Way – Gloucestershire

The Cotswold Way is a walk that crosses over 100 miles of glorious countryside, through Bath, Chipping Campden, Stanton, Broadway, Winchcombe and Hailes. The Way is huge and features multiple offshoots, so you really are spoilt for choice with this walk.

Bow Wood – Derbyshire

Bow Wood is a Woodland Trust property near Matlock in Derbyshire. It is 27 acres of glorious woodland with parking, fantastic views, lots of colour and wildlife. Dogs are welcome, as are hikers and walkers. The wood overlooks the Derwent Valley and has a range of trails for people of all abilities.

Norfolk Coast Path – Norfolk

The Norfolk Coast Path is a well-kept secret known only to seasoned walkers. It’s a fascinating trail that is well service by a local bus, the Coasthopper. The path takes in much of the Norfolk coastline including Burnham, Deepdale and Holkham. This path comes alive in spring when migrating birds begin returning and the woods begin turning green.

Machno Valley – Conwy

The Machno Valley is contained within the Snowdonia National Park and enjoys all the benefits of that. It’s a quieter area that features lakes, woodland and lovely countryside. It’s great all year round but is especially lively during spring. Rains feed waterfalls, the woods begin turning green and life returns to the Welsh countryside. It’s a lovely place to visit this time of year.

Sutton Park – Birmingham

We think city parks are massively underrated. Sutton Park in Birmingham is one such park that doesn’t receive the credit it deserves. It’s 2,400 acres of green and pleasant land close to Sutton Coldfield that has parking, a café and toilets as well as mile and miles of trails, woodland, wetland, marshes and seven lakes. If you’re anywhere near here in one of our holiday cottages, we definitely suggest visiting!

Join us next time for another batch of Great Britain’s best spring walks!