A cottage stay amid cosy pubs

My husband and I plan to travel to Britain for eight weeks visiting England, Scotland and Ireland, probably in May and June, hiring a cottage each week then exploring the surrounding area by car. Are we choosing a suitable time of year (by endeavouring to avoid peak holiday time), are cottages the best accommodation for this plan and should we hire a car before leaving Australia? Could you suggest "must see" locations from which we could base our explorations? I'd also be grateful for advice regarding reputable cottage hire online sites (or other options).

- D. Smith, Hamilton, NSW

May and June are lovely months in Britain. You'll be wading through daffodils, lapping up strawberries and cream and might even feel inclined to take off your woolly jumper while wandering through Bourton-on-the-Water.

And, yes, you will avoid the crowds. Cottage stays might be cute and cosy and it will help you to save on meal costs, assuming you are happy to shop for provisions, cook and wash up. Worse yet, you might miss out on the social interaction that comes with dining in restaurants and pubs. Exchanging banter with Cornish fishermen over a pint of Theakston's Old Peculier or a night listening to fiddlers in an Irish pub is the stuff of sweet memories.

Definitely you should arrange car hire before you leave. As for "must-see" locations, it depends on your own interests - whether it's castles, gardens, walks or ghosts.

However, driving distances are not usually lengthy and you could find much to please in the Cotswolds, Cornwall, the Lake District, the Scottish Highlands, the Snowdonia Mountains in North Wales and, in Ireland, see Donegal, Connemara and Kerry. Try Owners Direct (ownersdirect.co.uk), Cottages.co.uk (cottages.co.uk) and Cottages UK Directory (cottagesuk.com) for cottages.