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My 2019 Year in Review

 

Happy belated Christmas everyone!

I hope you’ve all had a fantastic festive season with your friends and family, and that you’ve been well and truly spoilt with gifts, food and fun. I’ve had a lovely few days at home with my family, enjoying Christmas and everything that comes with it. Now that the big day is out the way, I’m looking forward to celebrating a new year, and a new decade, and can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for me! Before that though, here’s my annual round up of my highlights throughout the year – it was certainly one of my biggest and best years to date! Here’s what I’ve got up to over the past 12 months, and how I got on with my 2019 New Years Resolutions too…

 

January & February

 

I had a great start to the year, with my sister Hannah surprising me with tickets to go and see Disney’s Aladdin on the West End for my 26th birthday! I had a magical day shopping, lunching and indulging in all things Disney with my sis, and it definitely made me want to see more West End shows. I also spent time with my friends, going out for dinner and having a games night in instead of doing a clubbing night out – defo showing my age now! January was also a special month as we got our new puppy Lola, a beautiful little Cavapoo who has brought so much joy to our lives this year. It snowed a lot at the end of Jan and Lola absolutely loved running around in it, feeling the soft white powder beneath her paws – what I would give to see snow again this winter!

 

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That's a wrap! My internship at The Sunday Times Travel Magazine has come to an end ๐Ÿ’ป I've had a great couple of weeks learning about the world of journalism and I even got to write an article that got approved and will be published in the May issue of the magazine which means… MY NAME WILL BE IN PRINT! ๐Ÿ—ž It's been a great experience but I can't wait to come home – I'm not sure London life is meant for me as I've spent the majority of the time getting lost and ending up in places I didn't even know existed, and no one smiles or talks on the tube which makes it soooo lonely ๐Ÿ˜ญ Until next time, London, I won't be back for a while! ๐Ÿ‘‹ Ps. Omg forgot I'm there Tuesday to fly to Australia ๐Ÿ˜‚โœˆ๏ธ #whatislife

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February also saw me quit my job at luxury travel firm at Abercrombie & Kent (where I had been working for the past 18 months) in order to take a leap of faith and try something new. I left my job on 15th February and did a two week travel writing internship at the Sunday Times Travel Magazine, learning all about the world of journalism at the News Building in London. I really enjoyed my internship, and even got one of my articles published in the May edition of the magazine, which is probably my biggest writing achievement to date!

 

March & April

 

March and April were my favourite months of the year as I spent them both exploring the beautiful country of Australia, and what an adventure I had! I travelled alone and was away for six weeks in total, going from Melbourne – Sydney and ticking off the likes of the Great Ocean Road, Adelaide, the Outback, Cairns, the Whitsundays, Brisbane and Bondi Beach along the way. I skydived over Uluru, camped under the stars in the Outback, snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef and took a scenic flight over Fraser Island, ticking sooo much off my Aussie bucket list! I made some wonderful friends, who I still speak to now, and had the most amazing time in Australia. It was honestly the best trip I have ever done – I was so sad about leaving and wish more than anything that I could return right this second. Australia – I will be back one day!

 

 

The rest of April saw me enjoy Easter at home with my family and spending time catching up with all my wonderful friends. I headed to Bristol at the end of the month for a charity gala night to celebrate 25 years of the Pituitary Foundation, who I of course am a proud ambassador for. I went with my mum and dad, their two friends and one of my best friends – we had all climbed Mount Snowdon together the year before so it was a lovely way to reunite and celebrate such a wonderful achievement for the charity.

 

May & June

 

May was a great month of travel for me, as I headed to Spain with my sister Hannah to embark on our Spanish interrailing adventure. We were away for 8 nights/9 days and spent time in Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona. We had a brilliant trip and absolutely loved visiting some of Spain’s most iconic cities. I loved Valencia and Barcelona for their beaches, ancient cathedrals and lively atmospheres, but I think Madrid was my favourite out of all three of them as I just loved the history and the authentic Tapas. My nan and grandad and aunty and uncle also came down to stay with us just after we got back from Spain, so it was lovely to spend time with them as I hadn’t seen them since before going to Australia and we had a lot to catch up on!

May also saw me head to the Lake District and Scotland with my mum and dad – we were heading up to climb Ben Nevis for the Pituitary Foundation and had a lovely break away, although my dad sadly broke his wrist whilst we were climbing the mountain so we didn’t make it to the top which we were absolutely GUTTED about! Later on in the month I headed to Cardiff with one of my besties to go and see the Spice Girls which was absolutely amazing and brought back allll the 90s feelings from when I was a little girl growing up! I also celebrated my five year blogging anniversary at the end of the month which is absolutely CRAZY – I can’t believe I am still blogging and am thankful every day for the amazing trips I’ve taken and the wonderful people I have met through my blog, I know for sure that my life would be very different without it!

 

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Happy #TravelTuesday everyone – I'm actually not travelling at the moment (for once) and you know what, I'm actually soooo happy about it! ๐Ÿก I haven't spent more than 2 weeks at a time at home since February and have been on back to back trips since March, taking 10 flights in 3 months, and travelling thousands of miles across Australia, the UK and Europe which has made me bloody exhausted ๐Ÿ˜ฉ I know I shouldn't moan because I LOVE my life and I'm so lucky I get to travel so much, but all the constant running around from airport to airport and sleeping in different hotel beds every night has finally taken its toll and I've got so fed up with being on the road that I just want to have a base to come back to โœจ So I'm now totally ready to spend the next three months completely at home, as my next trip isn't until September, and focus on myself, my blog and something else which I haven't told you about yet but I will reveal all soon, I promise! ๐Ÿ™ˆ For now here's a pic of me loving life in sunny Italia and soaking up the stunning mountain views that were right behind me โ›ฐ

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In June my lovely nan came down to stay with us for a week and it was sooo amazing to spend some quality time with her. We enjoyed lovely days out in the Cotswolds just as the weather was getting good and had so much to catch up on as, like with my other nan and grandad, I hadn’t seen her since before I left for Australia! June also saw me head to Italy for my 4th annual Traverse conference which, as you know, I attend every year! I headed over to Verona for two nights first, ticking off all the sights such as Romeo and Juliet’s Balcony, the Castel San Pietro and the impressive Arena – I really liked Verona and would definitely like to return one day to spend a bit more time there. After Verona I travelled onwards to the city of Trento, in the Dolomites, where the Traverse conference was being held. I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the region of Trentino and it was great to discover a part of Italy I knew nothing about, all whilst attending my fave travel conference and catching up with my fave blogger friends. At the end of June I also went to see Westlife for the 4th time with one of my besties and it was amazing – I love them so much and am already planning to see them again in 2020!

 

July & August

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New week, new month, new JOB! ๐Ÿ˜ฌ Eeeek been keeping this under wraps for a little while, but today's the day I start my brand new job at a luxury travel company in Witney. ๐ŸŒŽ I'm so excited to have swapped a 2hr daily commute for a drive that takes me just 8 minutes to get to my new office ๐Ÿ™ˆ Instead of finishing at 5:30 and not getting home til nearly 7 I'll actually be home before 5:30 which means I can actually have a social life in the evenings and can fit it around working part time on my blog too โค๏ธ So excited for my new chapter to begin, after 4 months of travelling and spending way too much money I can't wait to get into a proper routine again and start settling down (kind of ๐Ÿ˜‰) Operation 'Jess is saving up for a house' has been resumed! ๐Ÿก #MondayMotivation #NewJob #NewChapter #WishMeLuck

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July and August were a little quieter for me and I didn’t leave the country once (shock horror!) but I did have some exciting news which was that I started my brand new JOB at luxury travel firm Oxford Private Travel! I was so excited to start working again after 4 months off and was keen to take the next steps of my career in the travel industry. I also swapped a 2hour daily commute for just a 20 minute round trip compared to my last job, and I feel so much happier in my new role, which is much more varied than my last one – I’ve been there six months now and still love going into work every single day. July also saw me head to London’s Hyde Park for their British Summertime Festival two weekends in a row as I saw the legend that is Robbie Williams with my sister and the absolute Queen that is Celine Dion with my mum! I’d wanted to see them both since I was a little girl, and both concerts were absolutely amazing so I will definitely remember them forever.

 

 

Augustย saw one of my friends I met in Australia come and visit me for a couple of nights which was so lovely. She’s from The Hague in the Netherlands so wanted to visit Oxford and do a Cotswolds trip – to which I was her tour guide and host for the weekend! I love the fact that travelling allows you to meet people from all walks of life who you’d never meet otherwise, and for that I will always be grateful as some of my best friends are people I met whilst I’ve been travelling! At the end of August I headed up to Liverpool for my cousins wedding and my nan’s 80th birthday which was an amazing, fun-filled, family weekend with all my nearest and dearest. During the bank holiday weekend I also went to The Big Feastival, an amazing show here in the Cotswolds which is brimming with food stalls, family entertainment and big name artists – I went with my two friends and their little girls and had such a lovely time!

 

September & October

 

September was a great month for blogging events as I headed to London for the inaugural Borderless Live event run by the Traverse team, and then up to Manchester the week after for the popular Blog at the Beach event with Ice Lolly Holiday. Normal travelling service had resumed by the time September came around, as I flew out to Sardinia for my first work trip. We stayed at the gorgeous Forte Village Resort and spent time doing site inspections and enjoying all the facilities that the resort had to offer, but what I loved most was just swimming in the sea and taking in all the beautiful surroundings. The next day after I got home I was straight back to the airport to head on a girls holiday with my friend and two sisters to Vilamoura – it was my first time in Portugal and I was so excited! Vilamoura certainly didn’t disappoint and we had a great week enjoying the glitzy marina, swimming in the sea and checking out the fantastic waterpark. The day after we got back from Vilamoura we went up to Liverpool for my cousins baby shower which was a lovely family filled day.

 

 

October saw me take my second work trip in just 2 months, and my 6th visit to Italy in less than 3 years, as I headed to Venice as part of a travel agent fam trip. I only spent two nights there but had a great time seeing lots of hotels and taking part in excursions including visiting a gondola workshop, seeing the hidden gardens in the city and taking a boat trip over to the nearby islands of Murano and Burano. Despite visiting Venice for the first time back in 2016 (and not falling in love with it as much as I thought I would) I actually really enjoyed my second time in the city and had a much better experience this time round! In October I also took a first aid course (and passed) so I’m now a fully qualified first aider which is great and I also popped into Oxford for an evening with the Pituitary Foundation to listen to Professor John Wass, the founder of the charity, give an interesting speech. I also did a couple of blog reviews at The Botanist, Cheltenham and The Ivy, Oxford which were great evenings out, saw Grease the Musical in Oxford and I went to Brighton with two of my besties for a fun girly weekend!

 

November & Decemberย 

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Last night I had the pleasure of attending the press launch of this years #ChristmasAtBlenheim ๐ŸŒฒ 2018 was A Cinderella Story, 2019 is Alice in the Palace โ„๏ธ What an amazing night wandering around the palace seeing the super cute Alice in Wonderland theme followed by a walk through the incredible illuminated lights trail โœจ My sister and I left feeling festive and happy and oh so Christmassy ๐ŸŒŸ Alice in the Palace and the Christmas Lights Trail are at Blenheim Palace from today until 1st Jan. Get your tickets quick- slots are filling up fast! โ˜ƒ๏ธ @blenheimpalace @flamingomarketing #gifted #mychristmastrails #christmasatblenheimpalace

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In November I went to WTM London for the third time, but this time with work rather than as a blogger which was totally different! I had back to back meetings all day and not much free time but still managed to catch up briefly with a few of my fave blogger pals who I hadn’t seen since Traverse in June or Borderless Live in September. November also saw me heading to our local fireworks display for Bonfire Night, and popping into Oxford for my work Christmas party which I had the task of organising and, luckily, a great night was had by all! At the end of November I took my sister Sophie to nearby Blenheim Palace in Woodstock for their annual Christmas at Blenheim event which was even better than last year’s one! The Alice in the Palace was beautiful, the illuminated lights trail was spectacular and we left feeling truly festive.

 

 

At the start of December I attended Sudeley Castle’s Spectacle of Light event in Winchcombe, near Cheltenham, with my sister and parents – we had a lovely festive evening and it was just what we needed to kick-start our December! A week later my sister Hannah and I headed to the beautiful Baltic city of Riga for a Christmas Markets break and we had the most wonderfully festive weekend. I actually won this trip in a competition I entered whilst at Traverse 19 in Trento back in June, which was sponsored by Magnetic Latvia. We had a fantastic time in Latvia and I couldn’t think of a better place to tick off my 30th country, which was a definite travel milestone for me! Of course December has also brought Christmas, a quiet one at home with family this year, and I’m excited to be heading to Cheltenham for a 1920s Great Gatsby themed party on New Years Eve so I can see in 2020 in style!

 

My 2019 New Years Resolutions

At the start of the year you might remember that I set my 2019 New Years Resolutions, and I always love to reflect and look back, so here’s how I got on…

 

Go Veggie for 1 month –ย SUCCESS – I actually kept this up for an entire SIX MONTHS instead of just for 1 month which I am really proud of myself for. Unfortunately I am still having problems with my tummy, and think that my constant bloating and stomach pains may be something to do with my ovaries instead of being food related, so I am going to investigate this further but I definitely didn’t miss meat at all during my 6 months of being veggie and have only recently started eating chicken in order to get more protein into my diet – I still avoid red meat and don’t eat fish at all so I’ve done really well with this resolution, and it was much easier than I thought!

 

Visit 7 countries – SUCCESS –ย I managed to tick off Australia, Abu Dhabi, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, Italy (x3) and Latvia during my 2019 travels so I am really glad I was successful at this one! As a travel blogger, ticking off countries is a big deal for me, so I’m going to try and visit as many as I can each year and already can’t wait to see where my 2020 travels take me!

 

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*NEW BLOG POST* ((Link in bio)) How to spend a day in #Verona ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Back in June I spent a very short time running around Italy's city of love ticking off alllll the sights as quickly as I could! ๐ŸŒŽ If, like me, you're on limited time during your flying visit to Verona, check out my travel guide to make the most of your day in this beautiful city and see some of the top sights including the Verona Arena, Ponte Pietra and Juliet's Balcony ๐Ÿ˜ This pic was taken at the top of Castel San Pietro, a hillside fortress which can be reached on foot if you're active, or by funicular if you're feeling tired (like me) and offers some of the best views of Verona โœจ . . . #traveltuesday #travelblogger #travel #travelgram #uktravelbloggers #lonelyplanet #mytinyatlas #darlingescapes #veronaitaly #veronainlove #igersverona #insta_verona #veronacity #veronapictures #italy #italia #igersitaly #italytravel #topitalyphoto #italy_vacations #europe #europetravel #europe_pics #europe_tourist #europe_greatshots #citybreak #citypics #citylife #cityscape

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Read 2-3 books a month –ย SUCCESS –ย I have been really good at this one and read a whopping 24 books this year, which is bang on 2 books a month! I am really glad I have been able to do this as I absolutely love reading and have spent more time focusing on this instead of scrolling on my phone, so that’s a definite positive!

 

Take a leap of faith – SUCCESS –ย I was really vague about this when I set this resolution at the start of the year, but it was because I already knew what it was, I just couldn’t tell you as I hadn’t given in my notice at work! This year, my leap of faith was to quit my job and travel around Australia, and I did exactly that! I’m really proud of myself for pushing myself out of my comfort zone, leaving a job I was unhappy in and travelling the other side of the world on my own. Life is too short to be unhappy, so take a leap of faith and follow your dreams before it’s too late!

 

 

Reach 10,000 social media followers –ย FAIL – I tried this one last year and failed, and sadly I didnt manage to achieve it this year either. I’m now on 9344 followers across all social media platforms, so I’m not a million miles away, but I would have loved to reach my 10,000 milestone in 2019. Ah well, maybe next year I will finally get this one!

 

Make time to meditate –ย FAIL –ย Bad news, I didn’t get this one either, but it’s because I am so flipping busy all the time I never have time to sit down and meditate! I have obviously spent more time reading books this year though, so I’m taking that as a positive and not worrying that I haven’t meditated because you can’t do everything, right?!

 

What I want from 2020

 

If I’m honest I’m really not sure what I want from 2020. This year surpassed all my wildest dreams as I travelled for 13 weeks of the year, got a new job which I absolutely love, spent time with family and friends and saw some incredible concerts which I will remember forever! I’m just grateful to have had a really wonderful 12 months after a difficult 2018. The only thing I really want to achieve is to buy a house – I’ve wanted to move out for a while and have finally got a decent deposit saved up, so I’m confident that 2020 will be the year I finally get on the property ladder! Other than that though, I just want to continue taking little trips throughout the year and hopefully I’ll get sent on some more amazing work trips too!

I will most likely write up my 2020 New Years Resolutions in January so will share them with you when I’m ready and have thought more about what I want to acheive from the year ahead. Until then though, I hope you’re all still enjoying the festive period and that you have a happy and healthy start to 2020. Happy New Year everyone – thank you as always for reading my little blog, I love that I can still share my life updates with you five years after starting Journeys with Jessica – long may it continue!

Love Jess x

 

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Lush green mountains, sunny blue skies and glorious countryside views, this is what I love most about the beautiful #LakeDistrict โ›ฐ I didn't go abroad until I was 8 years old and spent many half term holidays up here with my sisters, so Lakeland is a huge part of my childhood and I have fond memories running up and down hills, chasing sheep in fields and having fun with my family โค๏ธ One year we even ended up getting lost on a mountain when my mum thought we were following yellow arrows on stones and sticking to a proper pathway but it turned out to just be yellow MOSS that she was following and we had been going round in circles for 8 hours!! ๐Ÿ˜‚ A phone call to Mountain Rescue got 3 kids, 2 adults and 1 dog back on the straight and narrow but it took us forever to get off that bloody mountain and I never wanted to see another one for weeks after that ๐Ÿ™ˆ Luckily I started to love them again as I got older, and now they hold a special place in my heart and help me to appreciate all the natural beauty we have right here in England ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง Do you have a silly travel story? I'd love to hear them on this chilled Sunday evening! โœจ

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