Category Archives: Things to do

Ideas for October Half Term Holidays

If you have kids, your little ones may be counting down to the October Half Term Holidays.  Lots of parents take time off too, whether staying at home or planning a break away, so they can spend time with their children during the Autumn holidays.  Exact holiday dates may vary but the Autumn half term break is usually in late October.  School holiday dates even in England can vary from region to region and school to school.  One thing in common though for most parents is the need to think about what to do to keep your kids occupied over October Half Term.  Taking the family away for a cottage break can be ideal for those keen to discover a new area and enjoy activities altogether.

Norfolk has Lots to Offer for Holidays with the Kids

Enjoy the great outdoors on holiday with the kids this Autumn

Enjoy the great outdoors on holiday with the kids this Autumn

Open from mid to late October, Bewilderwood near Hoveton in Norfolk with its treehouses, boat rides, woodland walks and children’s play areas offer plenty of family fun in a largely naturally beautiful environment.  Encourage your kids to enjoy spending time in the great outdoors with a trip to this family-friendly Norfolk attraction.

There are also lots of farm parks to take the kids to, to see the animals, dotted around Norfolk, as well as a zoo at Banham.  There are also plenty of soft play centres, indoor play centres, bowling alleys and cinemas, so no matter how old your children are, there should be plenty of options when it comes to places for fun times in Norfolk.

Staffordshire for Theme Parks

Roller coaster

Thrills and Spills on Offer at the UK’s Theme Parks

Staffordshire is home to Alton Towers, one of the UK’s best known theme parks.  With rides and attractions to entertain all ages, from rollercoasters that will thrill teenagers to gentler rides and CBeebies land for toddlers, a holiday in Staffordshire close to Alton Towers could be a real hit with the kids.Also within an hour’s drive of Alton Towers is Drayton Manor Theme Park and zoo, where there is a Thomas the Tank Engine Land, lots of different rides, an indoor play area, shows and a Dinosaur trail.

Discover Dinosaur Related Attractions along the Jurassic Coast.


Discover Dinosaur-related attractions in Dorset

Lots of children, including both boys and girls, are fascinated by dinosaurs.  Where better to take them then to feed this interest and help them learn more than Dorset’s Jurassic coast?

Enjoy fossil hunting along the Dorset coast and visit the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre where you can see a range of fascinating fossils.  Seaton Jurassic is particularly family-friendly and aims to tell the story of the Jurassic coastline, taking you back in time.  Also not to be missing is the Dinosaur Museum in Dorchester when your kids can learn more about these fascinating creatures that once walked the earth.
Find Holiday Cottages for October Half Term holidays on Country Cottages Online and look forward to a break away with the kids this Autumn.






Our Guide to the Best Locations for Wildlife Watching Holidays in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland

Do you love wildlife watching at home and when away on holiday in the UK? Why not book a cottage holiday with opportunities to discover some of the best flora and fauna nearby on days out? Let us inspire you with our ideas on some of the best places to enjoy getting back to nature and spot fascinating animals and bird life when enjoying a self-catering break in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Wildlife to Watch on Holiday in England: Deer, Wild Ponies, Butterflies and Dragonflies

Beautiful English butterfly

England’s stunning butterfly

England is a wonderful country for a cottage holiday and with a wealth of rural areas and stunning coastline is also wonderful for spotting Britain’s beautiful animals and creatures. Many areas in England have resident deer; Ashridge Forest with its wonderful leafy canopies is home to a large population of beautiful deer which can be spotted on early morning woodland walks and the New Forest is also a fantastic area to spot deer. The New Forest National Park is also a great area for seeing wild ponies. These charming ponies happily trot through the wonderful landscapes of the forest and through the many picturesque villages dotted around; in and around Beaulieu seems to be one of the best places for seeing ponies.

In summer time and in Autumn England is a great place for spotting butterflies and stunning iridescent dragonflies. The Norfolk Broads with their watery wonderland are a wonderful place for seeing dragonflies and birds. Gardens rich with flowers and ponds are also brilliant for catching sight of dragonflies, bees and butterflies, National Trust and Historic Houses’ gardens with a mix of flowers and water features can be some of the very best places to visit to discover delightful insect life.


Binoculars at the Ready for Brilliant Bird-Watching and Ample Whale Watching on Holiday in Scotland

As you may expect, some of the best wildlife watching opportunities when holidaying in Scotland are to be found in the country’s most remote places. Spot sea eagles on the Isle of Skye and take a whale watching trip (although sightings are not guaranteed) whilst enjoying a self-catering break. For even better whale watching opportunities the Orkney and Shetland Isles are said to be the best and with a wealth of unspoilt landscapes are wonderful places to get away from it all and enjoy getting back to nature.

The Cairngorms National Park is said to be a good area to spot wildcat and capercaillie, but these are very shy creatures so if you want more of a sure thing then Orkney, Shetland or the Isle of Skye with their fantastic whale watching and bird watching opportunities may be better bets.


Wales for Glimpsing Puffins, Seals, Dolphins and Birdlife Galore on a Self-Catering Holiday

Can you spot the basking shark?

Can you spot the basking shark?

With over 200 nature reserves, 11 RSPB reserves and extensive National Parkland, Wales is a wonderful cottage holiday destination for escaping and getting back to nature.
Cardigan Bay near Cardigan is said to be one of Wales’ very best places for spotting dolphins and you may even be lucky enough to see whales or basking sharks whilst holidaying there. With a resident population of dolphins, said to be Britain’s largest, for those who love these fascinating creatures, this is a wonderful place to visit.

Who doesn’t love a Puffin? These colourful birds have to be one of the most beautiful in Britain and Skomer in Pembrokeshire is one of the best places to catch sight of them. Well worth the boat trip, head to Skomer equipped with binoculars and you shouldn’t be disappointed. There is also an array of other fascinating birdlife to be spotted on Skomer. What’s more Skomer is said to be one of Wales and Britain’s very best places for seal watching making this an absolutely brilliant place to visit for nature lovers.


Ireland for Bountiful Marine-Life and Bird-Life Watching on a Cottage Break

Although not as well known for its wildlife watching opportunities, the Emerald Isle offers tranquillity and a remoteness which only enhances a cottage holiday as well as the opportunities for bird-watching and catching glimpses of fascinating animals. The South West of Ireland is said to be a good area for dolphin watching and it’s even possible to spot minke whales in the summer months if you’re lucky. The coasts off Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Limerick, Clare and Tipperary are said to be one of Europe’s top spots for whale watching. Also well worth a visit for keen ‘twitchers’ is Puffin Island bird reserve off the south west coast of Kerry.

Overall when it comes to wildlife watching holidays, staying in farm-stay accommodation can be a good starting point. Surrounded by countryside and in tranquil locations, farms tend to be good locations when it comes to spotting wildlife. Ask cottage owners which kinds of animals or birds visit their farm. From resident owls to foxes and deer, staying on a farm can delight animal lovers and keen twitchers. Oh and our top tip is don’t forget your camera! Capture those stunning images to treasure, look back on and enjoy fond holiday memories.

Top Things to do on Countryside Holidays or Farm-stays in England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland

1.      Wildlife Watching

Pheasant on haystack

Spot wonderful wildlife on a country break

One of the best benefits of staying in a farm or in a countryside location is the wealth of wildlife opportunities available to you from the doorstep.

Whether you love to watch birds or larger animals, keep your eyes peeled and watch out at the right time and your persistence should pay off.

Avid wildlife watchers know that sightings can never be guaranteed but are usually more likely when there is peace and quiet. The early hours of the morning and evening just before sunset offer the best opportunities. From deer to badgers and awe inspiring birds such as owls and pheasants, Britain’s green and tranquil countryside is teeming with fascinating wildlife.

If you are someone who likes to watch animals but wants more of a sure thing or have children who want guaranteed sightings, why not book a stay at a farm where you can feast your eyes on and meet farm animals?

On some farms there are ample opportunities to meet animals. Some places offer opportunities to meet and pet goats or cute friendly animals like ponies, which are sure to bring a smile to yours and your child’s face.

2.      Walking

When holidaying in the country or in a rural location, there is usually ample opportunity to discover walks on site or footpaths that criss-cross across the countryside nearby.
To make walks more interesting why not enjoy some wildlife watching en-route or take snapshots of your favourite scenes?

3.      Photography

Stunning sunset

Some of the best sunsets can be enjoyed in the countryside

When staying in a scenic green place why not capture some scenes to look back on and enjoy fond memories of in the future? Whether you love to take snapshots of family, friends, farm animals, wildlife or sunsets, there are plenty of scenes and fantastic photography opportunities to inspire you in the Great British countryside.

4.      Relax

When enjoying a rural treat break it may sound obvious but a great thing to do is relax whilst on holiday and just enjoy some quiet downtime. Whilst sightseeing and getting out can be great fun, spending time making the most of your countryside location is highly recommended and can often help you feel relaxed.

Whether there is a garden where you can laze around and may be read a book, grounds where you can enjoy a picnic with family or friends or jut an outdoor dining space where you can enjoy eating al-fresco, spending time outdoors in the countryside can really help you reconnect with nature and discover that inner calm.

Outdoor pool set in countryside

Outdoor pool in countryside

Large country houses or complexes of farm cottages also sometimes offer excellent leisure facilities to help you fully relax. Facilities on offer can include swimming pools, hot tubs, games rooms and even tennis courts. With opportunities to relax as good as this, you may not be able to bring yourself to leave your rural idyll at all.

5.      Cycling or Horse Riding

When it comes to exploring the great outdoors, taking to 2 wheels and biking around the farm or country lanes can be great fun. Feel the wind blowing through your hair and enjoy the exhilaration of a bike ride. For those who haven’t cycled for a long time, it really is something that you never forget to do and once on a bike again it won’t be long until you are re-experiencing the long forgotten thrill of riding.

Another great way to discover some of the best of Britain’s countryside is on horseback. Whether you have in mind a gentle pony ride in the local area or a trek around tree-lined bridleways, taking to a horse can help you feel at one with nature again and offer a new perspective on your surroundings.


Find out more about rural retreat breaks and farm-stay holidays on our Countryside Holidays page.

Getting back to nature

Whatever the time of year, it can be great to get back to nature and spend time enjoying woodland walks or for the more energetic, some hill walking.  Immersing yourself in greenery can be good for the senses.  Take a look at these rural country cottages if you want a break somewhere rural.  Peace and tranquillity can also be good for the soul.

Visit the Chiltern Hills

The Chiltern hills are a beautiful hilly area covering parts of Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire.  There are walks galore within the Chiltern hills.  The Chilterns also a stunning place to spot wildlife such as red kites and deer.  Stunning highlights in this country landscape include Ivinghoe Beacon and the Dunstable downs.  If you live near the Chilterns why not pop by and discover the beauty of this area or if you live further afield why not visit for a cottage break in the country?

The UK, simply the best place to be this week.

With the forecast of sunshine and good weather, taking a short break in the UK could be simply perfect this weekend.   Temperatures are predicted to reach around 29 degrees in some parts of Britain this week.  With such sunshine to hopefully look forward to, could there be any better place to holiday but at home in the UK?  Whatever you are doing, make the most of it and have a great time.  If your budget is limited and you can’t afford to go away, remember that many of the best things in life are free.  Go to your local park and immerse yourself in the greenery or enjoy a walk with loved ones.