The Christmas decorations are up in the café. The tree is up and Christmas songs are playing. We may not do Christmas until December 1, but we do get into the spirit pretty quickly.

The bakery becomes a mince pie factory and we’ve been busy making Christmas puds, festive biscuits and a whole range of different preserves and chutneys. Our stollen will be released at the weekend. I love the marzipan in it as well as the whisky-soaked fruit. It’s hugely popular and tells us that Christmas really has arrived.

Of course, this weekend it’s the Taste Cumbria Christmas Market in Cockermouth – all the fun of Taste Cumbria plus Christmas too. Looking forward to seeing what’s going to be there. I always look forward to the Quince and Medlar stand. They work so hard and produce some beautiful food items for the market. It’s such a good opportunity to have a walk around town and see what other shops have on offer, not just the ones with a stall in the marquees. I’m sure our town butchers will have a great display on that day. They normally do. Have a good mooch around. You can always find some great Christmas gifts, both luxurious and practical.

I think I’ve mentioned before my unbeatable formula for buying Christmas gifts for the one you love. It’s a three-stage method. Something to eat or drink. Something to read or listen to. Something to wear. I’ve lent this formula to other people who find it invaluable too. Of course, it’s how you package your gifts too. I do the full curly ribbons and bows. I’m quite good at it. Stick of cinnamon? Why not?

The bakery gets busier and busier as we close in on Christmas Day itself. Christmas Eve is a huge bake. We line all the shelves in the bakery with bags containing Christmas orders. It’s a great day to be working, with a lovely atmosphere. It’s nice to see our customers one last time before they settle down for their Christmas holiday. The café too is buzzing on Christmas Eve. Given all that, the best thing is turning the key in the lock, wishing our staff a merry Christmas, and heading home for a few days off. It can’t be beaten. Still loads to do before then so I can’t switch off quite yet.

Enjoy the Christmas Market.