My 2017 round up – some of what I’ve learnt! | Simply Marcia


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My 2017 round up – some of what I’ve learnt!

As 2017 draws to a close, I find myself making final Christmassy plans, catching up with family and friends, and pondering a little on what this last year as brought me. So I thought a little round up to remind myself of some of the positive things that have made 2017, for me:

Moving to Cornwall

The biggest decision made this year. My partner and I have five children between us: he has two older boys, I have three younger ones who live with us. Uprooting my three and moving us all 2 1/2 hours drive from Bath to south-east Cornwall might have seemed a little crazy but you know, sometimes, when the opportunity strikes, you have to grab it and just do it. There was a lot of soul-searching, head-scratching, umm-ing and ahh-ing of course – the biggest worry I had was how this move would affect my children. But kids are resilient; there have been tough times of course, but, they’ve started new schools and made new friends. They still see and stay with their dad once a fortnight in Bath so those ties are still strong – and thanks to social media, they now have the best of both worlds with friends both here in Cornwall and back in Bath.

What I’ve learnt: The move has highlighted the fact that I’m a hoarder- I had too much ‘stuff’. Thankfully, the move meant scaling back and giving back to charities. I’ve also learnt that I really, really like to be away from the crazy rat-race. And that this part of Cornwall is not that far from Bath (hooray!). The novelty of doing up a new (but very old) house wears off once the Cornish sun shines and the beach calls – it’s a tough call – beach or DIY? That kids are hard work no matter where you live. And that I really, really, really love living in Cornwall – but equally, being so close to Dartmoor (my spiritual home I think).

Freelancing

I wasn’t sure how the big move would affect my freelance marketing. All my strong, client links and networks were back in Bath and Bristol. This is where most of my freelance work came from until our move. Thankfully, proving true that location is (mostly!) irrelevant when it comes to working as a freelancer I’ve a) managed to keep hold of projects and clients I was working on back in Bath and b) I’ve built up some lovely, new contacts here in Cornwall and have new clients and exciting projects taking me in to 2018.

What I’ve learnt: Communication is key. Whether that’s keeping conversations running with existing clients or networking and meeting new potential ones. And that you can’t rush or force these things – I’m all for natural chemistry! Oh, and sometimes heading to the beach to clear the cobwebs away and work stuff out! Keeping my LinkedIn profile updated and fresh has helped too.

Health

I’m very lucky; I’m not someone who thankfully suffers from illness very often. However, this move has made me recognise that as I get older, I want to become stronger and do what I can to live a happy and healthy life for as long as possible – it must be the sea air! This year I’ve upped my exercise game. Not quite a runner, I would class myself as someone on the cusp of super-fast walking/jogging – is that a thing? Point is, come rain or shine, uphill and down dell, I’ve been out there – my heart rate has been seriously pumping and working hard this year, and as a result I’m more toned and without a shadow of a doubt, so much fitter. I’m also a fan of kayaking – it’s perfect for all the family, it brings you so much closer to nature, it’s great for your core muscles and it’s easy! It’s also been a year of ‘in with the veg’ and ‘out with the meat’. I’m not quite ready to go full vegetarian (pescatarian is more likely!) but we’ve certainly had far more meat-free days than carnivorous ones. If you fancy joining me, Meat Free Mondays have some brilliant advice and recipes.

What I’ve learnt:
I’m really, really not a naturally sporty kind of person and didn’t think I could move as fast as I can – but with support and encouragement (and gentle nagging from other half when all I really want to do is slouch on the sofa with a bar of galaxy and a good box set, rather than head out in the torrential rain and fast walk up that bloody hill again) – I’ve made massive progress . I’ve also discovered a genuine love of lentils and legumes – my meat free substitutes.

Environment

Coming from a family of small holders and grow-your-own’ers, nature and the environment is a massive part of my life. Living in this part of the world, close to both the glorious beaches and breathtaking moors has brought us even closer to nature. Being able to spend so much time this summer literally touring the Cornish coastline, swimming, rock pooling and kayaking has been wonderful. And which is why, watching the recent Blue Planet 2 series has had a massive impact on me. We’re a family of re-users and recycle’ers but had no idea the scale of the plastics pollution of our oceans. It’s such a huge and dreadful problem but there are loads of brilliant initiatives we can all be a part of such as Surfers Against Sewage and One Less Bottle. Also this year we acquired a new allotment which a) I love, b) don’t quite know where to start with, but c) am determined to fill with edible plants for us, a wildlife haven for insects and small creatures and a penned off space for our lovely rescue hens!

What I’ve learnt
Ok, this is blindingly obvious I know, but we really do only have one planet. One environment. If a species becomes extinct, that’s it – game over for that species. It’s surely our duty to look after all creatures and all environments on this amazing planet. More than anything, it’s left me feeling passionate about doing my bit. That means buying locally, massively reducing our plastic consumption in this family, joining petitions and lobby’s, joining in with local beach cleans. That also means looking after and nurturing our small patch of land to help preserve it and the insects and creatures that visit it for future generations.

Food (and more importantly, gin!)

I’ve always loved ‘growing my own’ and having grown up in the era of ‘The Good Life’ and with parents who ran a small holding, it can come as no surprise to learn that food is a genuine source of joy for me. From keeping bees and hens to growing window sill herbs or hours spent on my allotment, I’m still a massive fan of the GYO movement. Life though, has been pretty hectic since our move to Cornwall – so we’ve kid of cheated and our GYO produce has come in the guise of Tamar Valley Grow Local whose philosophy is ‘Grow, Share, Cook’- if you can’t grow your own then buy and support local businesses who do! We like think we’re also doing our bit for local gin distilleries here in Cornwall too! It’s my tipple of choice and thankfully we’re lucky that there are some brilliant independent distilleries here which we’re gradually working our way around …

What I’ve learnt
Beside the fact that gin is my thing (nothing new!), supporting local farmers, small holders and independent producers via local schemes such as Tamar Grow Local is the next best thing to growing your own. It’s also great for the local economy and the environment. My intention next year is to combine a bit of home growing with local produce purchasing … first things first though – I need to get my house (allotment!) in order …


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!