The 12 days of (a Cornish) Christmas | Simply Marcia

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The 12 days of (a Cornish) Christmas

We’re loving life here in south-east Cornwall and so excited for our first official Christmas here! We have some serious exploring to do though as there’s loads going on and the kids want to join in with everything … budget limitations mean nothing to kids ha! So, anyway, I thought I’d jot down 12 fabulously festive fun days out and activities to help you celebrate a Cornish Christmas:

1. Eden Project – for a full on day out – think amazing botanical domes, lots of exploration and hands-on activities, ice-skating and Father Christmas and, if you go after 5pm, the stunning Festival of Light and Sound.

2. National Trust – If you have good old National Trust membership there are some fab places for festive fun this year: The ‘Time for Bed’ nature trail through the woods at Cotehele or Fairy tales from Father Christmas and reindeer feeding at Trelissick look brilliant for littlies.

3. Christmas Tree picking – if a real Christmas tree is a must for your family head to Cedar Croft nurseries, Bodmin. Turn up, walk the family-friendly trail chose your tree and reserve it with a ribbon for cutting down and taking home!

4. Christmas Markets – where do I start? We’re so lucky in Cornwall to have a choice of so many brilliant Christmas Markets but for us, whilst it’s going to be crazy busy, the Padstow Christmas Market is our must-do. It runs from 7th – 10th December and is the perfect place for foodie and artisan, locally-produced lovers.

5. Callington Santa Dash – great for all the family, a dress-as-Santa, money-raising fun run, is great for burning off loads of energy (and mince pies ha!).

6. Truro Reindeer & Father Christmas Procession on 29th November will certainly get you in to the festive spirit! My kids love reindeer so this is on our to-do list!

7. Christmas Panto – the festive season has to involve a good, old fashioned panto! And a local village panto is always the best as far as I’m concerned – I love. We’re supporting our local Calstock panto this year: ‘Dwain and Mildred’s Big Adventure’- a traditional one then!

8. Santa steams in – my kids love trains so we’ll be heading to the Bodmin and Wenford Railway for Santa by Steam! This looks like a real treat for all the family – carol singers, mince pies, mulled wine, gifts for the kids and a festive, scenic, sit-back-and-relax trip to boot!

9. Christmas Lights – one of the joys of living near the coast is the beautifully Christmassy lit harbours dotted all around the coastline. Even better, bar having to shell out for a bag of chips, it’s free to wander around the warming glow of Christmas lights – we’ll be heading to Looe for the annual Christmas Lights switch on and to meet Santa – he turns up by train! More importantly, and perfect for grown ups, a new rum distillery, Sims Distillery, should be open just before Christmas – yay!

10. Christmas Carols – I LOVE Christmas Carols so the Big Sing at Truro Cathedral on 15th December is definitely my kind of thing. I’ll be dragging the kids for a sing off (there may be bribery in the form of burgers at Sams Diner).

11. Pre-Christmas Beach Clean – Cornwall is all about the seaside – the amazing coastline, beaches and sea. A brilliant way of giving back and helping to protect our beaches and the ocean is to help out with one of the many beach cleans. I’m planning on getting us to the Watergate Bay beach clean on 9th December followed by hot chocolate at the Watergate Bay Hotel – perfect!

12. Cornish Christmas produce – ok, so this isn’t strictly a) a day out or b) for the kids, but, buying delicious Cornish food and drink based gifts for family and friends is on the list because, quite frankly, I could make a day out of it. We’re so lucky to have so many small, independent producers in this part of the world. However, the brilliant The Cornish Food Box Company have done all the leg work for me! It’s the go-to website for all things local, scrummylicious and Cornish. So sit back, grab a cuppa / mulled wine / mince pie and get browsing …

What do you love most about Christmas in Cornwall? Is there a must-do to add to this list? Let me know!

Benefits of using freelancers

I’ve been freelancing for a good few years now. It works for me and I love it! I’m very grateful I can work in a flexible way, on a variety of projects and can pick and choose the hours and days I want to work. I quite like being the ‘boss of me’! Obviously freelancing has it’s moments and sometimes it can feel like a bit of a roller-coaster ride in terms of continual guaranteed work. But, there are so many benefits of freelancing from both the perspective of the freelancer and the organisation they’re freelancing for, so I thought I’d put a little list together of why hiring a freelancer is a good thing:

Almost every freelancer I know, works in this way so that they can set their own working hours. It means they can pick up different projects and set the pace for their work load. Freelancers are also used to working irregular hours so therefore much more likely to log in and work after normal working hours, potentially helping to keep your business ticking over ‘out of hours’.

Whilst the daily rate for freelancers can sometimes seem costly, the reality is that actually, as a client, you really are only paying for specific work completed. If you’re a small business, using an agency would be incredibly costly but using a good freelancer means you can get the expertise you need at a greatly reduced cost (and usually means your project will be completed within a shorter time frame than using a big agency). Also, a freelancer doesn’t come with all the overheads that employees come with and hiring a good freelancer means you are freed up financially to focus spend in specific areas and can really keep track of project costs.

Timings and turnarounds
Freelancers recognise the importance of deadlines when set a task or project to complete. We may have other projects lined up or on the go for other clients, so time-management is key to a successful work flow – freelancers want to get on with the job, get it done and clear the path for new work. We’re much more motivated to complete the task to timings and within budget and in turn, give a project the sense of urgency and importance it deserves. Freelancers are motivated by their own desire to give the very best and get the job done and the fact that a freelancer works (usually) on their own, means distractions, corporate red tape, chains of command and office-politics are avoided – they can just get on with what needs to be done.

Working for different clients and on different projects means freelancers pick up lots of different skills and experience in their field. They’re constantly building and challenging their knowledge and most effective or new ways of doing things. Each project for a freelancer will be a learning curve and will help them expand their knowledge. Freelancers are also independent workers: no need to train them up. Once they’re up to speed on the requirements of your project and have access to all the assets they need, they can get cracking. For a client all of this can only be a good thing – plus, you’re paying only for the specific skills and experience a freelancer offers.

Working on your own and for yourself means freelancers not only become skilled self-motivators but also gain an arsenal of really good communication skills. Freelancers meet, and work with, a variety of different personality types and management levels. They have to be good at communicating with all sorts of people and as a client, you will have a direct line of communication with a freelancer (as opposed to using an agency). Freelancers are also able to speak more openly, though delicately and thoughtfully, than employees, which can be really refreshing – and is so important in terms of new and different perspectives.

Whilst freelancers do tend to work alone, from home, most will belong to some great networks. They will know people who may be able to help in other aspects of your business. Belonging to networks means freelancers are continuing to develop their profession – learn new skills, tips, resources. I belong to different networks that help in different, but always supportive and positive ways and means I’ve built up a great network of contacts (it also helps me feel like I’m part of a team!).

Ultimately, finding a good freelancer that you can use for projects on an as-and-when basis means you can build up a strong, reliable and trustworthy source of support for your existing team. A good freelancer can step in and help out when needed and also bring a fresh pair of eyes and a new perspective to your project – always a good thing, surely?!

Was this list helpful? Do you freelance? Are there other benefits I need to add to my list?

Find me over at LinkedIn to see what freelance work I’m up to …

Christmas is coming. And I’m trying not to … PANIC! My tips for a thrifty-ish Christmas!

I love the sparkly season. Christmas is the best. I love it. And so does my 10 year old daughter who’s inherited this love for the festive season and has already decorated her bedroom in a more-is-more fashion. Her stocking is already up, ready-and-waiting. Basically her bedroom has been transformed in to Santa’s Grotto (ho, ho, ho!).

Whilst my natural tendency is to nosedive head first in to all things Christmassy, glittery and mulled-winey, a spot of overspending in October and hence a slight budget issue means I’m having to resist going completely wild in the aisles this Christmas. Bah! humbug! But instead of panicking (and hitting the credit card) I’ve got creative and come up with some (untested and not-yet-tried) ideas for a thrify’ish Christmas:

Christmas Cards – this year, I’m thinking virtual Christmas Cards (Blue Mountain have some cute, free ones) and hand crafted ones (more specifically, hand made by the kids) for grandparents/family. It’s also time to dig out last year’s Christmas cards to transform them in to this year’s gift tags (et voila!).

Budget – not one of my strong points (see above) but a necessary task … Money Saving expert is a great site for tips and common sense advice to help avoid a potential financial nightmare-before-Christmas – this is where my Christmas budgeting plans will start their existence. And having spent some time trawling through the never-ending Christmas wishlists my kids have written, I think a good compromise is possible though when it comes to everyone else, some corners have to be cut this year… So one thing we’ve agreed as an extended family this year, is to run a secret santa! So this year, each family is ony buying for one adult and one child from another family et cetera, et cetera, et cetera (there are literally loads of us). Brilliant! Money and time saving.

Christmas Food – I love getting in the kitchen creating Christmassy goodies (usually just for us) but this year, I’m going a step further thanks to my well-thumbed Nigella’s Christmas book and have already made a start on some fab chutneys and freezer-friendly foody gifts. And when it comes to Christmas food-food, this year it’s an Aldi and Lidl Christmas for us – I think Kevin the Carrot would approve.

Christmas stockings – so in the past the kids’ Christmas stockings have been full of loads of little bits and pieces which, whilst cute, the kids have kind of overlooked and abandoned (especially my boys who are now teens) – time to rethink. I’ve decided to only buy stuff that’s actually useful (or edible!) in their stockings – so it’s in with shin pads and deodorants and out with novelty mini-football games and the like. Considered purchases are the way forward this year. Careful, online browsing and research using comparison websites is my plan. Which brings me on to …

Lists – I’m a bit of a list freak so this bit feels pretty natural. For me, if I’ve written something down in list format it won’t get forgotten. For Christmas, I have lists for food, recipes to try (and ingredients to buy), presents and events to take the kids to (think Santa’s Grotto, Christmas Markets and Lights switch ons (Candutu is a brilliant site for finding Chrsitmassy events near you!).

Recycleables – some of our Chrsitmassy items are perfectly good enough so it’s ‘in with the old’ for us – that means no new Christmas decorations, party dresses (whaaaat!) or jumpers … that kind of thing. The one thing we will be getting is a real tee – there can be no compromise as far as I’m concerned. We’ll be heading to Cedar Croft nurseries in Cornwall for ours!

Happy Christmassy plotting & planning!