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!


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!


Christmas-ready?

Whilst this time of year is mostly super lovely and sparkly and full of Christmas cheer (which I love – Christmas starts in our house on 1st Dec), it can also be pretty stressful at times – the list of things your kids need, must make, must wear, must attend for school related stuff goes on and on; finances can be a worry (£64 for just one PS4 game W.T.F!!!) and simply trying to keep on top of everything and being super-organised can be a trial in itself – arghhhh! It’s at this point that ideally, someone would hand me a massive bucket of sand for me to stick my head in, so I can opt out for a bit … Sadly, this has never happened so it’s a case of taking a deep breath in, grabbing a pen and paper and (in my case) writing a BIG to-do list.

With not long now until the BIG DAY, a slight feeling of panic is always lurking close by and a serious amount of ridiculous questions: have I got enough pressies for the kids? what about stocking fillers? have I bought pressies for everyone else? what shall I get for this year’s secret santa (who ever thought this was a great idea?)? what if I run out of wrapping paper? when do I buy the turkey? how do I best cook the turkey (Nigella’s recipe or Jamie?)? where’s the best deal on big tubs of chocolates? how much weight will I put on (do I care? how will I get rid of it in the New Year if (who am I kidding!) – when I do?)? What about prosecco (thank goodness for proseccowatch.com !) … it can be tooooooo much!

Back to the list. For me, this is the best way of getting some kind of control.

Actually, the list becomes a list of lists. For me it’s the only way. I divide my lists in to 3 🙂

1. A list for myself, my partner and all three kids with dates and times: where is everyone, any playdates, parties or meet-ups with friends and family, and what each needs to take, wear or bring. This list is all about the logistics!

2. Then it’s on to the still-outsanding-presents list – what’s still to be bought and for whom (and even which shop – bit too much?). Wrapping paper and similar stuff goes on the list – as does a date for the actual wrapping – if it’s on the list it will get done … eventually.

3. Finally, it’s the food and booze list – what do we still need for the big day? At this point I have to remind myself that basically Christmas Day food is simply the usual roast dinner but on a bigger scale and with prosecco, (too many) chocolates and a yummy pudding thrown in for good measure – it’s about persepctive and all that. Of course there are little treats and yummy extra’s but to be honest, as long as the usual suspects (turkey, crackers …) are on the list, the rest can be grabbed once on a trolley-dash around the supermarket? Winging-it style right?

Once the lists have been completed, I do feel better, for sure – it’s a case of getting on with stuff and getting through those lists and the satisfaction of crossing through those to-do’s! Hooray 🙂

Fianlly, a word of ‘warning’ – if you’re anything like me and have crazy port-induced ideas about home-baking EVERYTHING a la Jamie and Nigella in order to create the perfect Christmas, can I suggest that, yes, enjoy the indulgence of reading and watching all the Christmassy cook books and TV shows but rather than try to recreate new stuff, instead simply stick to only what you already know and can do best – maybe it’s fab roast potatoes or gravy, or amazing mince pies but don’t even think about creating brand new recipes or new cocktail creations on Christmas Eve – keep it simple I say!

By the way, my go-to no-bake but homemade recipe that I make all-of-the-time is Nigella’s rocky roads – everyone loves them and a simple dusting of icing sugar, edible glitter and some carefully placed mini-reindeer (totally kitsch) turns these easy-makes in to Christmas-ready scrummylicious sweet-treats!

Happy pre-Christmas!

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Wardrobe stagnation saviours

I’m definitely no fashion expert and have certainly suffered from my fair share of FFP’s (fashion faux pas), in fact there are too many to give credit to individually (although one did comprise a neon pink jumpsuit, a snow-washed denim jacket, blue eyeliner and a perm – there are no words – thankfully no photographic evidence survives …). Having had my fingers burnt when it comes to all things style-related, I try to stick to keep-it-simple ‘classics’, steer clear of high fashion mini-trends and super-implusive shopping is now (along with said neon pink jumpsuit), a thing of the past. However, even I recognise when items in my wardrobe have been hanging around for so long that they’re in danger of ‘celebrating’ their decade anniversary with me.

So, whilst I might not be in the position right now to fork out on a brand new dreses for every occasion the sparkly party season throws at me, I can induldge in a teensy bit of wardrobe accessory updating 🙂 which makes me super-happy as accessories can totally change an outfit and give you a bit of current ‘on trend’ kudos without having to spend like a crazy woman – yay! Think: finishing touches, pops of colour and mixing up those textures.

My current top 4 easy-and-budget-friendly Christmas-ready wardrobe updates (my wardrobe stagnation saviours!) are:

1. New Look velvet boots – if I can’t have the dress in a luxurious fabric then by god, it will be the shoes – and these sexy ones are super on trend, dance-floor friendly and will go perfectly with your existing LBD 🙂

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2. Clutch bag – I love, love, love a clutch bag – they make me feel a little bit grown up and help me pretend I could actually be a bit sophisticated … My fave are by Boden – they have a brilliant ‘party clutch’ in a mix of velvet and metallic – perfect party pairings for your LBD (again!). Look out for Boden offers – there will be loads in the lead up to Christmas!

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3. Statement earings or necklace – I’m a massive fan of big old Bet Lynch style chandelier earings – sometimes, bigger is better. H&M have LOADS to choose from and they’re all super-affordable – I mean, you could go crazy and buy more than one pair? They also stock some fab party-perfect necklaces including velvet (yup, more velvet) chokers as sported by the younger Kardashians – just saying.

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And finally,

4. A cosy, sexy, shaggy jacket – sometimes sensible outerwear is a no-no and glamour must rule instead – especially at this time of year. There are actually loads of on-trend super-sleek, silky bomber jackets out there right now, but having done that look back in the early 90’s and not being sure it worked back then, I’m just not sure it’s a look I can pull off this time around either … (it’s a no from me). Stick with what works for you I say, and for me, that means a shaggy, fake-furry jacket as my wintry wardrobe update – hooray for H&M – they have this fab grey one – it’s on my Christmas wish list 🙂

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So my advice, forget a new dress and instead, hit those shops (literally or online) and treat youself to a wardrobe update – because obvs, you’re definitely worth it!