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My End of Year Review: 17 Highlights From 2017

 

Having no regrets is all that she really wants 🌟

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OHMYGOD I literally cannot believe I am writing this. Like how did this year go by so quick? What the hell have I done over the past 12 months? Why does it only seem like 5 minutes since I wrote my 2016 end of year review? I cannot cope with how quick time is flying and how much life is passing me by. I didn’t think I could top 2016, I had the best year of my life to date when I quit my career to travel and become a full time freelancer. Surprisingly though, I think 2017 has been even bigger, ever better and even more amazing than I could ever have imagined. I’ve taken 17 flights, travelled to 11 countries and 14 cities and made memories that will last a lifetime. My blog has grown to the biggest it’s ever been and I’m enjoying countless new opportunities that I could only ever have dreamed of.

Although I’ve had an amazing year, sadly I’m ending it on a low as my beautiful dog Cassie went to sleep and left us just a few weeks ago. She had been poorly for a few months and just couldn’t go on anymore so we had to do what was best and let her go. We are all devastated and are struggling to come to terms with her loss; she has left a huge hole in our home, and in our hearts, and we miss her more than we ever thought possible. My heart physically hurts and I cry every single day, but I know with time it will get easier and I have amazing friends and family to support me. Love you princess, sleep tight my little snow angel. Despite ending on a low note, January – October gave me an incredible 10 months and I’ve found it so hard to narrow down just 17 highlights from my 2017 but I’m going to try and pick my stand out memories… Here goes…

 

I started the new year down in Cornwall – JANUARY

 

Bit late to the party after being on holiday but so pleased to have ended 2016 and brought in the new year down in Cornwall with my beautiful, crazy family. 2016 was my best year to date; I took my biggest leap of faith by quitting my job, travelling solo to LA and launching my freelance business. I road tripped across America, ticking off 30 cities & 23 states (making 52 new friends along the way) and inter-railed around Italy with my sister, visiting three of the most famous cities in the world. My blog turned 2, it underwent a major rebrand and it was nominated for an award. I've been bridesmaid for my best friend, celebrated my cousins wedding and my sisters 21st and have been to V Fest, the theatre and the races. I've made hundreds of new memories with my amazing friends and family and am entering 2017 feeling the happiest I've ever been! Here's to an even better year with many new adventures ahead as I take on Europe during my next 12 months of travel! Happy belated new year everyone, wishing you every happiness for 2017 πŸŒŽβœˆοΈπŸ’–

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After a quiet Christmas at home we couldn’t wait to get away for a break in Cornwall, our favourite UK county, for five days of beach walking, sea fishing and new year festivities. We stayed in a little apartment at the heart of St Ives and enjoyed ice cream on the beach, walks high in the hills and fancy dress and fireworks over the harbour on New Years Eve. We had an amazing few days away and it really started off our new year with a bang.

 

I became a freelancer and worked part time too – JANUARY

 

This is how I feel right now. Today I calculated that I've earnt *almost* as much each month as I was earning in my old 9-5 job! I knew I could do it!!! I've started with nothing and built up my little business all by myself. At times I felt like giving up, like I wasn't good enough, and like I had no right to make a career for myself, but today I've felt so inspired and so pleased that my hard work seems to be paying off. Any doubts that may have been in my mind have now been dismissed and I am SO excited to continue my journey in my new career and see where this takes me! Here's to future success and many more adventures πŸ“πŸ’»βœˆοΈπŸŒ #MondayMotivation #freelancer #bloglife #virtualassistant

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At the end of 2016 I decided to go freelance with my blog and I also set myself up as a social media manager too. I had a handful of clients with steady work each month and I was really enjoying working from home and being my own boss. After a few months though I realised that I missed working alongside people and started to feel incredibly lonely. On my birthday I landed myself a part time job at New Look and this actually turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to me. I started to get into a routine, earned extra money and made so many friends after thriving off that social interaction again. My part time contract meant that I could work as little or as much as I wanted to, which came in super handy for the months ahead when IΒ  wanted to travel as much as I could.

 

I celebrated my sisters 18th birthday – JANUARY

 

 

My little baby sis turned 18 at the end of Jan and we had a wonderful weekend celebrating with our closest family members up in Liverpool. We booked a large table at the gorgeous Titanic Restaurant in the city and then spent the night partying until the early hours. Soph had an amazing birthday and it was so lovely to spent some quality time with our nearest and dearest.

 

I took a winter city break to Copenhagen – FEBRUARY

 

 

My first overseas adventure of 2017 came in February when my sister and I hopped over to Copenhagen for a long weekend. We had wanted to do a winter city break for a while, as it had been two years since our February break to Prague, and the Danish capital seemed to be the perfect place to go. We had an amazing few days wandering around the beautiful Nyhavn Harbour, climbing the Round Tower and finding The Little Mermaid and even popped over to Malmo in Sweden for a day trip too!

 

I wandered around Bratislava and Vienna for 5 days – MARCH

 

 

March saw me take two more trips, and tick off two more countries, as I flew over to explore Bratislava and Vienna with my friend and fellow blogger Lucy. We had an epic 48 hours discovering Bratislava’s Old Town and it’s stunning castle complex before catching the train to Vienna to indulge in its musical history. We then spent two nights in the best hotel I have ever stayed in and were able to visit some of Vienna’s many palaces and impressive buildings along the way – what an adventure we had!

 

I went to my second Traverse conference – APRIL

 

 

After attending my first Traverse conference in Cardiff in 2016, I knew I just had to go back to the 2017 one when details were announced. This time the blogging extravaganza was held in London, right next to The 02 arena, and was even better than the year before. I caught up with Lucy, Seanna, Steve and some of my other bloggy friends and also met the lovely Rachel for the first time, who I have now become firm friends with! Highlights of the conference included the Jet2 opening party at Millbank Tower, a CityCruises boat party along the Thames and the closing party in Canary Wharf with Visit Spain. Oh and the workshops were pretty good too, obvs I didn’t go there just to party πŸ˜‰ I really interacted with all the brands and speakers this time round after being a little nervous during my first Traverse in 2016 and was lucky enough to be selected for two press trips after meeting sponsors in London. I’ve already bought my ticket for Traverse 2018 in Rotterdam and cant wait to go next May!

 

I went on a spontaneous city break to Sofia – MAY

 

 

After spotting Β£30 return flights with Ryanair, my lovely friend Toni and I decided to jet over to Bulgaria for a long weekend in Sofia. For both of us, this was the furthest we had gone in Eastern Europe and we absolutely loved exploring a new city, and a new country. We only had two nights there but spent it eating traditional Bulgarian food, taking a free walking tour, hiking up the Vitosha Mountain and admiring the stunning Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Sofia is a really quirky place and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an alternative city break in Europe.

 

I went on my first group press trip to Menorca – MAY

 

 

After my successful weekend at Traverse, I was lucky enough to be selected for my first ever group press trip, Must See Menorca. Traverse teamed up with both the Spain and Menorca tourism boards to put together a fantastic week of conferencing, workshops and excursions. Highlights included kayaking in the crystal clear waters, strolling around the capital of Ciutedella and going to a party in a cave at the fabulous Cova d’en Xoroi. I made so many friends and had the most amazing week getting to know everyone, learning tonnes of new blogging tips and getting to explore new parts of Menorca that I didn’t know existed.

 

I had a girly week with my sisters in Tenerife – JUNE

 

 

After a hectic couple of months of back to back trips I couldn’t wait for a chilled week in the Spanish sun in Tenerife with my sisters by the time June came around. We booked a package holiday with Jet2 and couldn’t have had better service the whole time we were there. We’ve been to Spain fifteen times but had never visited Tenerife and it’s safe to say we will definitely be returning soon. We had an amazing week relaxing on the beach, swimming in the sea and even hiking up an active volcano! Seeing dolphins and whales swimming in the sea was a real highlight, as was being right in the heart of the action on the Las Americas strip and I already can’t wait to go back next summer.

 

I took another group press trip to Switzerland – JULY

 

 

After a relaxing break in Tenerife it was time to get back to my hectic schedule as I headed over to Switzerland for the first time on another press trip, this time with the Nendaz tourism board and with villa rental company Travelopo. Along with four other bloggers I had the chance to stay in a luxurious chalet in the heart of Swiss ski resort Nendaz. I’m pretty sure that a ski resort isn’t an obvious choice when looking for a summer holiday, but we were delighted to showcase this amazing place to a whole new audience. Both Travelopo and the Nendaz tourism board were amazing and put together a fantastic itinerary for us during our week there. We did plenty of mountain hiking (and biking), had a spa day at a 5* hotel, went cheese making in the Alps and climbed 3300m up to one of the highest mountains in the country at Verbier’s Mont Fort. I also spent a couple of days in Geneva at the beginning and end of the week and really pushed myself out of my comfort zone on this trip so it turned out to be one of the best weeks I’ve ever had!

 

I became an ambassador for The Pituitary Foundation – AUGUST

 

 

On a personal level, this is something I am hugely proud of and definitely one of my biggest achievements from 2017. If you’ve followed my blog from the beginning you’ll know that I suffer with a rare condition called a prolactinoma, which is a small, benign tumor in my brain. I’m on medication for life and have regular blood tests, eye tests and check ups with my hospital consultant to monitor my condition, but generally my health is good and I never let anything hold me back! The Pituitary Foundation are a fantastic charity who have helped me enormously since my diagnosis back in 2011 and so I was absolutely delighted when they asked me to be an ambassador for them in August. I said yes right away and couldn’t wait to get involved with fundraising and spreading awareness. My first job was sharing my story online, and I couldn’t believe it when The Daily Mail, The Mirror and The Sun all featured my story and reached millions of readers. Since then I have shared my story with other outlets and even organised a ‘turn your town orange’ day for Pituitary Awareness Month in October. I’m so proud to be ambassador for such an amazing charity and I can’t wait to work on new projects throughout 2018.

 

I hopped over to Hamburg for the weekend – AUGUSTΒ 

 

 

I got invited to another press trip after making great contacts at this year’s Traverse conference and was super excited to be heading to Hamburg with the Visit Hamburg team back in August. I spent two nights exploring the quirky and alternative sights of the city, including taking a street art tour, paddle boarding down the Alster river and attending the annual Vogelball music festival. We also went to an all you can eat ice cream festival which was INCREDIBLE and I spent some time wandering around the shipping port and exploring the old town with its famous Rathaus building too. Although it wasn’t my favourite city, I did really enjoy my first visit to Germany and had a lovely weekend making new friends and creating new memories.

 

I became a real life fairy godmother – SEPTEMBER

 

 

Ahh one of the best things to ever happen to me, I became fairy godmother to one of my best friend’s baby and we had such a lovely day! I’ve known my friend Kath for years, we even moved in together for a few months a couple of years ago, and I was sooo excited when she asked me to be godmother to her beautiful little girl Halle. We had a lovely day at the Church and Halle looked so cute in her little dress. I promise to love you and to look after you forever baby girl <3

 

I took on so many new blog opportunities – ALL YEAR ROUND

 

 

This year was my best year yet for new blogging opportunities and I’m delighted to say that I’ve had them in abundance over the past 12 months. From complimentary flights and week/weekend long trips in Spain, Switzerland and Germany to overnight hotel stays in The Cotswolds and boat tours along the Thames, it’s been an epic year of press trips. I really wanted to challenge myself this year and work on new collaborations with lots of new brands. As well as taking trips I’ve also worked with companies on sponsored blog posts, Instagram takeovers and competition giveaways. I’ve worked really hard to get to where I’ve wanted to be though, and I haven’t just waited for things to land in my lap. I’ve emailed brands, taken part in Twitter chats, created a media kit, networked, attended conferences and really got myself out there in order to be selected for some incredible opportunities that have really helped to grow my blog and make it the best it can be.

 

I inter-railed around Europe – SEPTEMBER

 

 

By mid September I hadn’t been on a trip away since Hamburg at the start of August and was desperate to travel again! When my friend Toni said she wanted to do the same, we knew we had to go on a real stand out trip and inter-railing around Europe seemed to fit the bill nicely! I’ve always wanted to go inter-railing, especially after my rail trip to Italy last year, so couldn’t wait to get planning our trip. After weeks of deliberation, flight/train searching and trying to find decent hotels at a decent price, we decided to do four countries and four cities within nine days. We started in the Polish capital of Warsaw then headed to Prague and Salzburg before ending up in lovely Ljubljana. We had an amazing two nights visiting each city and saw as much as we physically could during our time there. I’d visited Prague before but still loved it and I had a great time in Warsaw and Salzburg, but Ljubljana really stole my heart and I’m so glad we saved the best til last!

 

I got a new car &Β a new job – OCTOBER

 

 

When my beloved Vauxhall Corsa went to the big car heaven in the sky I found myself needing a new mode of transport and a new salary to support myself. After a year of freelancing and 9 months of part time work I landed on my feet when I got offered a brand new job that I’d had no intention of getting! I was starting to get fed up of unstable freelance income and I knew I definitely didn’t want to be in retail coming up to Christmas, so in September when I emailed my CV along with a generic cover letter to a local travel firm in Cheltenham I had no idea that I’d even get an interview, let alone get offered a job! I picked up my new car at the end of September and a few days later I started my new job as an operations co-ordinator at luxury travel firm Abercrombie and Kent. I work in the villas sector of the business and spend my days writing descriptions and editing photos for our luxurious villas, as well as contacting owners for availability requests and assisting the sales team with their holiday enquiries. My experience of property management from my estate agent days, coupled with my passion for travel through my blog, have helped to land my dream job and I’ve not looked back since I started! I believe that everything happens for a reason, and although having a full time job means I haven’t been able to blog as much, I’ve learnt to appreciate my weekends, use my annual leave wisely and have started saving a lot of money which will be used for future trips and treats for my nearest and dearest… Here’s to being a full-timer again!

 

I saw the most snow we’ve had in years – DECEMBER

 

Six weeks ago we were told the devastating news that our darling Cassie had a tumor in her tummy and she didn't have long left to live. We hoped and prayed that she would get better, that she would get back to her normal self, or that she would at least make it til Christmas. Sadly we don't think our prayers have been answered, as our little girl has been getting worse day by day. We didn't think she would ever see snow again, but this morning when she got up from her bed and walked out into the garden it looked like her last wishes had come true. Cass has always loved the snow and we feel so blessed that she was able to enjoy it for one last time. Soon we will have to make a decision that no pet owner wants to make and our hearts are breaking, but for now we are treasuring every second with our little snow angel and are loving her as much as we have done every day for the past 12 years. We just don't ever want to let you go baby πŸ’”

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Although I am devastated to be writing this because we lost our precious Cassie, I am so grateful that in December it snowed for the first time since 2009 and our darling girl got to play in the snow one last time. Pulling back the curtains and waking up to so much snow was truly magical and, if I closed my eyes for a few seconds, it really felt like I was a child again. My sisters and I were supposed to be going to Capital FM’s Jingle Bell Ball that day, but the snow had meant all trains/coaches from Oxford were cancelled so we had no way of getting there. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we spent the day with our little Cassie giving her so many cuddles, watching Christmas films and telling her we loved her. Although it was her last day with us, and we spent the next few weeks crying uncontrollably every single day, I will always be grateful that it snowed and that she spent her last day being surrounded by love. We miss you so much baby and our hearts are hurting without you. We wish that you could still be here with us, that we could stroke your head or play with your ears or snuggle you tight, but we know that you were in pain and we couldn’t bear for you to carry on. We know now that you are at peace and are looking down on us each and every day, and whenever it snows we will know that it’s you showing us that you love us. Forever in our hearts, princess <3

 

When I take a step back and look at everything I’ve done this year I can’t help but feel immensely proud of myself. I’ve overcome a lot and I’ve made so many life changes in just one year, all of which have made me happier and a better person. Oh and remember those New Years Resolutions I made back in January? I’ve nailed them all. Travel to 10 new countries – tick, I even did 11! Stop looking for love – tick, goodbye tinder! Spend more time with family and friends – tick, I’ve removed toxic people from my life and put my loved ones first! Stop buying scratchcards – semi tick, I buy one every few months but I’m nowhere near as bad as I used to be! I’m quite impressed that I’ve managed to successfully complete the challenges I set myself this year and it just reinforces my belief that, if you want something badly enough, you’ve gotta go out there and get it!

As for 2018, I have no idea what the coming year will hold, but that’s what makes it so exciting. I really love January, I know it’s my birthday month so I’m biased but I love the challenge of starting a new year, totally afresh, and I set myself goals and plans that I aim to accomplish. It really gives me a sense of perspective and helps to get what I really want out of life. Thanks to all of you lovely lot for supporting Journeys with Jessica for yet another year – this little blog will be celebrating its fourth birthday in 2018 and I can’t believe how far we have come! I’ve love every second of being a travel blogger and can’t wait to take you on more adventures with me next year.

Happy new year everyone!

Love Jess X

 

 

 

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September Newsletter

Happy 1st October!

One of my favourite months of the year is now upon us, and I can’t quite believe that we have just three months left of 2017! How the HELL did that happen?! I’ve had a whirlwind of a summer and been fortunate enough to travel to some amazing places, but now I’m looking forward to winding down a little bit, swapping sunny days for cosy nights in and embracing all things autumnal before our long cold winter inevitably hits. September has been another crazy month for me, I went on my interrailing adventure visiting 4 countries and 4 cities, and have also bought myself a brand new car and started a brand new job! Here’s what’s been happening over the past 30 days…

 

I became a god mother for the first time

 

 

I’m sooo proud to announce that I am now (fairy) godmother to beautiful little Halle, daughter of one of my best friends! The christening took place a few weeks ago now but it was so lovely and Halle looked so adorable. I was so honoured to be asked to be her godmother, it’s something I’ve never had the privilege of doing before and I cried as soon as I was asked! I promise to love you and look after you forever little Halle bean <3 xx

 

I went interrailing around Europe for ten days

 

 

Last weekend I got back from one of my biggest trips of 2017; I interrailed around Europe for 10 days with another of my best friends and we had SUCH an amazing trip! We flew to Warsaw to start off our adventure, enjoying walking tours, traditional Polish food and learning about its war history along the way, before heading over to Prague for our second stop. It was my second visit to the city and I fell in love with it even more than I did the first time. We partied until the early hours, wandered around the biggest castle complex in Europe, and spent time gazing in awe at the beautiful Old Town Square.

 

 

Our third stop was the stunning city of Salzburg, home to strudel, sacher-torte and of course, the Sound of Music film set. We took the funicular up to the top of the castle complex where we were treated to incredible panoramic views over the entire city below, and then sang our hearts out on the wonderful Sound of Music Official Tour. The fourth and final stop of our interrailing adventure was the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, somewhere that had been on my bucket list for such a long time. Again, we took a funicular up to the top of the castle to watch the sun set, then spent time wandering around the cobbled streets and meandering along the river. Our last full day was spent at the nearby Lake Bled, which seems to be top of everyone’s go-to lists at the moment! We had the most amazing trip and I wish we could go back and do it allll over again!

 

I treated myself to a new car

 

 

Last month my lovely little corsa gave up the ghost after 5 short years of us being together and I was totally gutted!! Sadly a bust head gasket meant that we had to part ways, so to cheer myself up I treated myself to a brand new, 67 plate Vauxhall Adam and it has definitely put the smile back on my face! After a month of having no car I’m fully embracing being back behind the wheel and am loving whizzing around in my new purchase.

 

I started a brand new full-time job

 

 

Most people think getting a new car is a big enough event for one month, but not me, I only went and got myself a brand new job too! After 18 months of travel, 12 months of freelancing and 9 months of part time work, I felt the time was right for me to have a new challenge and ease myself into a career in the travel industry. As much as I’ve loved blogging and travelling almost full time over the past year and a half, I realised that I needed to catch my breath, slow down and build a career in the industry I am hugely passionate in. I’m by no means settling down, and I’ll still be making the most of my weekends and annual leave by traveling as much as possible, but for now I’m really excited to have a new challenge and am looking forward to becoming a Villa’s Coordinator at a luxury travel firm in Cheltenham… Wish me luck!

So that’s how my September went… How did yours go? I’m hoping to have a quiet October where I can save some money, spend some time with my friends and family and just enjoy being at home for the next few weeks. Weirdly, I don’t actually have any new trips coming up which is kind of a strange concept for me, but I just want to settle in to my new life and see how things go. You know me though, I’m pretty sure I’ll book some kind of spontaneous getaway before 2017 comes to an end πŸ˜‰

Love Jess x

 

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Why it’s ok not to be ok

 

I’ve had a tough week, a really tough week, and some things have happened in my personal life which have made me quite upset. Things happen every now and then which upset me, and what do I do when I’m upset? I write. I write and write until I’ve got everything off my chest, and until I start to feel better.

Some of you may think it’s odd to put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard in my case, but writing is therapeutic for me and does wonders for helping me feel better about myself. This week I’ve realised that I haven’t felt truly happy for a long time, but I’ve realised that it’s ok not be be ok. Here’s something I wrote a few weeks back that might explain how I’ve been feeling lately…

Why it’s ok not to be ok

I’m writing this from my bed. I’m in bed on a Saturday afternoon. It’s almost 4pm, and I’ve achieved nothing today. I woke up in a bad mood; if I’m honest I went to sleep in a bad mood too, but I have no idea why. I went to do the food shop, had an argument with my mum, felt even worse than I did before, came home and got into bed. Got out my phone and started scrolling through social media, looking at everyone’s seemingly perfect lives. Wondering how that girl I went to school with was lucky enough to find a guy that dotes on her, gives her the world. Wondering how she was lucky enough to have a beautiful little boy. Wondering what I did wrong because I don’t have those things. Or wondering how couples that have been together seven years are still together and still just as loved up now than they were back then.

 

Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Being alone, it’s what I’m good at

 

Everyone around me is settling down; they’re all in long term relationships, or they’re married. They’re having kids or buying houses. They’ve got their own dogs or cats or they’ve got jobs which they’ve been in for years and have built successful careers. Then I look at what I’ve got, and what I’ve not got, and I feel this overwhelming sense of not belonging. I don’t fit in with that life; I’m not married or going to be married any time soon. I don’t have a baby, as much as that’s all I’ve ever wanted. I don’t have a successful career or dress smart to go to work or wear heels whilst making the commute. I don’t have all of those things, but I’m starting to realise that that’s ok. It’s ok not to have your life figured out, it’s ok that I don’t have all those things my friends have. What I do have is opportunities, opportunities for things to change, and memories, lots of wonderful memories, lots which I’ve created all by myself, without the need for anyone else.

 

Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Β  Being oh so reflective

 

I’ve travelled to 19 countries, many of them on my own. I’ve quit a secure, well paid job for a life of uncertainty and excitement, all because those are the things I thrive off. Future me is worried about things financially, wondering how I’m going to buy a house when the average property price in my local area is Β£300,000 and I’ve barely scraped together Β£5000 in savings. Future me is worried I’ll get to the age of 30 without finding love, and without finding love how can I have all those things I’ve dreamed about? Like becoming a mum, or buying my own place. Having a garden and playing with the dog. Future me is worried about all of those things, and sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball to peer into my life in 5 years time and see what it’s like, how things are going, and if I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve.

But then present me tells me to stop it. Tells me to stop thinking so far ahead, and to stop worrying that I’m not doing all the things my friends are doing. While they’re sat at home during the weekend I’m off gallivanting across the globe. I’m on one of my many European city breaks having the time of my life. Or if I’m home for a while and want to go on a spontaneous night out, I can do that too. I don’t have to arrange a babysitter or worry about money, I’m doing whatever I want and can enjoy myself as much as possible. Present me tells me it’s all going to be okay. She tells me to stop crying when I’m feeling down – I know I can’t help it sometimes, I do suffer with mild bouts of depression and when those days come, they’re so hard to get over. It’s like I can’t push past the darkness that consumes me, despite knowing that people all over the world are suffering with illnesses or dealing with tragedies, and then I try to get my life into perspective and realise that it’s not really that bad. Despite sometimes being far from happy, I’ve realised that it is ok not to be ok.

 

Β  Β  Β  Looking at what I have done, not what I Β  Β  Β  Β haven’t done, gives me my greatest sense of achievement

 

Before I started writing this post I was in bed at 4 o clock on a Saturday afternoon, as you know, and I’d just fallen asleep. I’m not sure why I fell asleep, although I have been exhausted lately. I’m working 2 jobs, 3 if you count my blog as a job (which it totally is). I’m doing long days, random shifts, and I go at a million miles an hour. Before I fell asleep I was bawling my eyes out, crying like a baby, sobbing into my mums arms while she lay on the bed next to me stroking my hair. And you know what the stupid thing is? I don’t even know WHY I WAS CRYING. I have nothing to be sad about, I couldn’t even give my mum an answer as to why I was upset. But she knows me, she knows I have my down days and she knows how to help me get through them. I love you mum, I don’t know what I would do without you, and I’m sorry I take things out on you.

Maybe I was upset because I’m wondering what the hell I should do with my life. I quit my job to travel and become a full time blogger. I set up my freelance business because I wanted to work from home, and because I wanted the flexibility to go on trips, travel more without being restricted to annual leave, and to take on new experiences that a 9-5 job wouldn’t allow me to have. It’s been just over a year since I made that choice, and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I’ve had an amazing year, travelling to 10 new countries, exploring new cities and new destinations, something I would never have done if I had been at my old job. I’ve taken a helicopter over the Grand Canyon, hopped on a gondola ride in Venice, got to the top of one of the highest mountains in the Swiss Alps, and spent 4th July partying in NYC. I’ve done all of these bucket list items, and it’s given me some incredible memories that will last a lifetime.

 

Sometimes I don’t realise how lucky I’ve been

 

I’ve done some amazing things, and visited some amazing places

 

Six months ago I got a part time job at a retail store to give me more money, and to meet new people, as well as to stop the loneliness that I was enduring after going freelance. That job has helped me so much, both financially and mentally, but I’ve got to a point where I’m now wondering what on earth I’m doing there. Why am I working night shifts, early shifts, doing overtime, moving boxes, piling bags onto shelves that I can’t reach, and for what? A measly Β£7 an hour. It’s minimum wage. I’m surely worth more than that? I thought by the age of 24 I’d have my whole life figured out…

But then I remember that it’s not going to be forever, that I’ll figure out what it is that I want to do. Whether that’s to get a new full time job, or to really make a go of turning my blog into an income. I don’t know what the future will hold. Looking back, I’ve come such a long way over the past year, even the past 2 years. Things have changed so much for me, and it’s a good thing, it really is. Most of the time I’m happy, and I really am happy, but sometimes I’m genuinely not ok. But that’s fine, I accept and understand that now. Today I am not ok, but tomorrow I will be, and suddenly I stop and realise that, every now and again. I truly believe that everything in our lives happens for a reason, and that’s how I know that, sometimes, it’s ok not to be ok.

Love Jess X

 

Having the summer of my life road tripping across the States

 

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August Newsletter

 

Hi guys,

Hope you’ve had an amazing summer, although it feels like it’s pretty much over now and Autumn is well and truly on its way! August has been yet another busy month with new trips, blog collabs and plenty of things happening in my personal life too. I’m a little sad that summer seems to be over now, but looking back I’ve had the most amazing few months and have been lucky enough to travel to lots of different places across Europe. as well as creating new opportunities for the blog a little closer to home too! If you follow me on social media you’ll know I’ve been here there and everywhere lately, so here’s how my August went…

 

I hopped over to Hamburg for the weekend

 

 

This was my big trip for the month, my first time in Germany and my third press trip of the year so far! After meeting the amazing Visit Hamburg team at Traverse this year – I told you it was the best travel conference on the planet- I was lucky enough to be invited to experience Germany’s second biggest city for myself. I flew out for a weekend of paddle boarding, sight seeing, festival going and ice cream tasting and had the most amazing few days with some fantastic fellow travel and lifestyle bloggers. My guide to Hamburg will be live on the blog soon and I’m so excited to share it with all of you! Big thanks to Jessi for organizing our trip – see you at WTM!

 

I made the national news & I’ve become an ambassador too

 

 

On a personal note, I achieved something rather amazing this month. For those of you that know me, or have been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I suffer with quite a serious medical condition that has affected me for the past six years. I don’t often write about it, but this month I became an ambassador for The Pituitary Foundation, the charity who have supported me with my prolactinoma diagnosis since I was 18. My story was noticed by the Press Association and was then shared on national newspapers such as The Daily Mail, The Mirror and The Sun, being shared over 1300 times and seen by a collective audience of over 5 million readers! A women’s health magazine has also asked to feature it, and there’s a chance my story may be aired on a US talk show in the coming weeks too! I’m enormously proud to have become ambassador for such an amazing charity, and I’m aiming to do everything I can to raise as much money and awareness as possible for this little known condition and organisation. I have some big plans coming up and am looking forward to sharing them on social soon… watch this space!

 

I had a day at the races

 

Race Days πŸŽπŸŽ‰πŸ‘―β˜€οΈ

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

You know me, I LOVE an excuse to get dressed up and have my hair and make up done, so when my sisters and best friend suggested a day out at Newbury Races it wasn’t hard for me to say yes. Oh and Olly Murs was performing the same day too, no biggy, I was completely sold; I LOVE HIM SO MUCH! We had the best time at the races that day, despite not winning an awful lot and queuing for what felt likeΒ foreverΒ for the portaloos. But the sun was shining, the Pimms was flowing and Olly was looking and sounding fineeeee. Can he just dance with me tonight please? Thanks babes.

 

I worked on numerous blog collaborations

 

 

August was probably the busiest month for me in terms of new blog collabs, and I felt so lucky to have so many new opportunities for my little space on the internet! The projects I worked on were also really interesting and varied, so offered something different for all of you lovely lot. From sandwich shop and boat trip reviews to a day out in my home city, I really threw myself into these new projects and couldn’t have been happier to work with some new clients. I also took part in a collab with my favourite brand on the planet – Β WALT DISNEY WORLD! :O As the world’s biggest Disney fan I jumped at the chance to team up with Netflights to bring you the ultimate guide to dining at Disney, and here’s the finished project! Big thanks to all the companies I worked with on my collabs this month: The Hollybush, City Cruises, Oxford Castle, Netflights.

 

 

 

I spent the bank holiday weekend in Liverpool

 

One of the most famous places in the music world – the iconic Cavern Club 🎀🎀 #Liverpool #BeatlesWeek

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

I bloody love a bank holiday weekend, and even more so when I know I’m going away and get to spend it with my amazing family! I headed back up to Liverpool for the first time since January (it had been far too long) for a weekend of dinner and drinks with my nearest and dearest. Something very exciting happened too… We only went and booked a CRUISE!! My first ever cruise!! I’m excited/nervous about sea sickness but can’t wait to sail around the Med with 13 of my wonderful family members for my mums 50th and my granddads 80th next August! We’ll be flying from Dubrovnik then making our way to Valletta, Sicily, Kefalonia and Kotor before heading back to Dubrovnik for our final destination – any tips for these places or general advice for first time cruisers like me will be greatly received! We had a big dinner in Liverpool on the Saturday night before hitting the town for celebratory drinks too. On the Sunday we headed down to the Pier Head and the Albert Dock and took a wander round the summer stalls on the water front before heading over to Mathew Street and the famous Cavern Club as it was Beatles Week and I felt that love was all we needed to round off an amazing weekend in my second home city. <3

 

And then wandered around Gloucester on bank holiday Monday

 

 

We came back a little early from Liverpool so decided to make the most of the bank holiday sunshine and have a day out in nearby Gloucester, which is just an hours drive from our home in Oxfordshire. We were sooo lucky with the weather and spent the day wandering around the city, watching a charity rugby game and exploring the historic dockyards. We also admired the beautiful Gloucester Cathedral, one of the Harry Potter film locations, which looked even more stunning in the August sunshine. Sadly we couldn’t go inside as film crews were on site filming the new Mary Queen of Scots blockbuster (I might have attempted to spot Margot Robbie and David Tennant through the stained glass windows) but I will definitely return soon to try and catch a glimpse of the inside of this beautiful building!

 

Pheeeeewww I told you I’d had a busy month! I’ve loved every minute and have had so much fun over the past few weeks but, I’m not gonna lie, I’m feeling exhausted lately and really want to just chill out over the next couple of weeks! I don’t have long until I’m off on my next trip though – I’m inter-railing around part of Europe for 10 days and I am SO EXCITED. I’ll be heading to Warsaw, Prague (again), Salzburg and Ljubljana so please send any blogs/recommendations/city guides my way – I need lots of tips for some last minute planning!

Love Jess x

 

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July Newsletter

 

 

Hey everyone,

We’re at the end of yet another busy month which means it’s NEWSLETTER TIME! July has been a bit crazy for me, and I’ve fitted so much in to the past few weeks that I’m feeling slightly frazzled, but in a really good way. I’ve been on a couple of press trips, I’ve been working my bum off at my part time job and I’ve been spending time with people who mean the most to me. I’ve also thrown my heart and soul into my blog this month; it’s had a complete revamp and is now totally self hosted, and I’ve also landed a couple of new freelance writing jobs – yay!! It’s been a busy few weeks, so here’s how my July went…

 

I spent a week in Switzerland

 

 

Let’s kick this off with the most exciting news from this month… I’ve just got back from spending a week in Switzerland and it was honestly one of the most incredible places I’ve ever visited! I, along with four other bloggers, (Hannah, Hayley, Elaisha and Allison) flew to Geneva to explore for a day before hopping on a train to Sion and then ending up in the ski resort of Nendaz where our accommodation was waiting for us. We stayed in a luxurious chalet with gorgeous mountain views and spent seven days mountain hiking, spa indulging and cheese making whilst discovering everything else that Nendaz had to offer. I would never have thought to go to a ski resort for a summer holiday, but this trip changed all my perceptions and I genuinely had the most wonderful time exploring a brand new country with four brand new friends. I’ll be posting content of my trip over the coming weeks, but, in the meantime, you can catch up with my photos by checking out my Instagram page. A big thank you to Travelopo and Nendaz Tourisme for sponsoring our fantastic trip!

 

My blog has had a makeover

 

My blog has had a makeover – come check it out!

 

I’m sooo pleased to be able to tell you that my blog is now totally self hosted! I have wanted to make the transition for so long, but have never really known where to start or how to go about it. Luckily, one of my old school friends (thanks George!!) was able to help me so I’ve finally made that move and am really happy with the results! The site looks virtually the same, there’s just been a few menu/theme/layout changes and I’ve neatened the footers and sidebars up a little. I’ve still got a few changes I want to make, but I have so much new content I want to share with you and I want to get that live first before I focus on niggly site things. I’m super pleased with the new site and hope you like it – please do let me know what you think as I would LOVE to hear your feedback!

 

I wrote a little life update

 

 

Given that we are now more than halfway through 2017 (how did THAT happen?!) I thought I’d use July as a midway point for my personal life and start reflecting on how my year has gone so far. You might remember that I wrote my New Years Resolutions post back in January, and in my newest update I discussed how I was getting on with those resolutions… Most of them are going really well, but some of them aren’t and I realised that that’s okay. It’s okay that I’m not smashing every goal I’ve set myself because it’s normal not to achieve every expectation, and it’s good to have more goals to aim for, and other things to tick off in future. How are you getting on with your 2017 resolutions, if you even made them in the first place? Would love to know how you’re doing!

 

I went speed-boating across the Thames

 

 

At the start of the month I was invited by the wonderful team at Thames Rockets to hop on a speedboat across the Thames for a whirlwind tour of London. I was lucky enough to choose one of the hottest days of the month and took my sister with me along for the ride. We both had a brilliant time seeing the sights and hitting top speeds as we jetted across the river, so I’d recommend the Thames Rockets speed boating tours to anyone looking for a fun filled day out in our gorgeous capital city. I’m also running a giveaway and am offering you the chance to WINΒ 2x ticketsΒ to hop on board with the Thames Rockets team – all you have to do is follow me and Thames Rockets on Twitter, and RT my pinned tweet, it couldn’t be simpler… Good luck!

 

I explored the best of London on foot

 

 

After jetting across the Thames, my sister and I fancied a stroll along the river to see all the London landmarks from a different angle, and so we decided to walk from Westminster to Tower Bridge. It took us a good few hours to complete the walk, and we saw so many famous landmarks including the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard to name but a few. I’ve walked this route many times before, but it was so lovely in the sunshine and we really took our time, marvelling at the sights and taking hundreds photos along the way!

I think that’s everything for July, I feel as if I don’t know whether I’m coming or going lately, but its because I have so much on over the next few weeks and have already had a busy month! August looks set to be just as crazy, with some new collabs lined up as well as another press trip, this time to Germany with the wonderful team at Visit Hamburg – I fly on Friday morning from Heathrow and I am SO excited! Have you got any Hamburg tips for me? Send them over!

Love Jess x