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The day I became a tourist in my home city: Oxford!

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Hi everyone,

So last weekend I was in my beautiful home city of Oxford doing a bit of Saturday shopping and had a few spare hours to kill whilst waiting for a friend. I wondered whether I should wander aimlessly round the shops trying on dresses that I couldn’t afford, or whether I should do something more useful and get some cool photos for a brand new blog post and so, naturally, I chose the latter option! Firstly I headed in search of the famous Radcliffe Camera which is one of the must-see sights if you are visiting Oxford. After a short stroll off the high street and past Trinity College I came to the Bodleian Library and was in awe of the incredible architecture of this beautiful building.

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The Bodleian Library was home to The Hogwarts Infirmary in the blockbuster Harry Potter film series, and there were Harry Potter tours being carried out while I was there that I was trying to ear wig on! The surroundings really are stunning, so it’s hard not to see why it was chosen as a location for one of the country’s biggest films. IMG_30579857334588IMG_30572826134741 IMG_30618858017206

Next I found myself on Magdalen Street walking past the famous five star Randolph Hotel; what I would give to spend a night of luxury there! Directly opposite The Randolph is the beautiful Ashmolean Museum which is one of my favourite attractions in Oxford. Having been on plenty of school trips here when I was younger I know they it’s home to some of the best historical artefacts in the world . Entry is free so make the most of it and while away a few hours in this incredible building when your visiting.

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Finally I strolled back up towards the high street and past the Carfax Tower before catching up with my friend and going for dinner on the way home. We headed to Jacobs Inn, Wolvercote which I’d heard great things about and couldn’t wait to try for myself! I had the chicken pie and my friend opted for a burger – the food was great and the atmosphere was lovely, a spacious nut warm and welcoming pub right on the river Thames. We couldn’t have picked a better spot to enjoy some early evening dinner! You can read my review on Jacobs Inn here: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g186361-d4606454-r253493733-Jacobs_Inn-Oxford_Oxfordshire_England.html#REVIEWS

I had a wonderful day being a tourist in my home city and can honestly say it’s been one of the most refreshing things I’ve done in a long time. It just goes to show that sometimes you don’t need to travel far to have a great day out.. things can be on your doorstep and, of course, life is what you make it! So next time your on your daily commute or are visiting somewhere you’ve been 100 times before just stop and spend a few minutes pretending that this is your first visit and see where your travel instinct takes you!

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Love Jess x

End of the month round up!

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Happy Sunday everyone!

So as its the start of a new month today I thought I’d bring you a round up of everything that’s happened throughout my January and also give you an insight as to what’s coming up for me in February.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, I saw in the new year with all my lovely family up in Liverpool. We spent a good few days with everyone and even had time to go into the city centre to rediscover some places that I hadn’t been to since the early part of last year. You can see my write up of my Liverpool trip here: https://journeyswithjessica.wordpress.com/2015/01/04/welcome-to-2015-happy-new-year/

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The following week I headed to Essex to see the other side of my family as we had a big family party to go to. My aunty was turning 50 so she threw a big get together in the local village pub complete with a band and some scrummy food. Unfortunately as we were only down for the night we didn’t have time to head into Essex itself so didn’t see anything whilst there, but we had a brilliant time and loved seeing everyone!

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The week after was my 22nd birthday weekend and I had a few days of celebrations to make the most of it! I went into Oxford on the day itself and then for a family meal in the evening at a gorgeous restaurant called The Blue Boar in Witney. You can read my Trip Advisor review of the restaurant here: http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g504093-d2437859-r250158750-The_Blue_Boar-Witney_Oxfordshire_England.html#REVIEWS

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The next day I headed into London with my best friend to do some major sightseeing and we had such an amazing day! The sun was shining brightly across the Thames and, although it was cold, we made the most of the sunshine and walked everywhere rather than catching the tube which certainly made a difference. We strolled on foot from Westminster to Tower Bridge taking in all the famous landmarks along the way, including St Paul’s cathedral, The Shard, Big Ben and The London Eye. View my write up of my London day out here: https://journeyswithjessica.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/london-day-trip-from-kensington-to-westminster-to-tower-bridge/

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Finally, this weekend I went into Oxford on the Friday night to see a theatre production of The Woman in Black at The Oxford Playhouse which was amazing! The next day I went back into the city centre again for the day to do some shopping but also found myself with a spare few hours to kill whilst waiting for a friend so I decided to turn into a tourist for the day even though I was in my home city! As I’ve grown up around Oxford I’ve never really had chance to do the sightseeing stuff but I really enjoyed myself and got truly immersed in the tourist spirit! I took a wander round the famous university colleges, stumbled across the stunning Radcliffe Camera and took a tour round the incredible Bodleian Library. My blog post on my Oxford day out will be posted in the coming days!

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As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve also been busy collaborating with a couple of fellow travel bloggers this month so I’ll be posting updates of those once they’ve been published! Find out more here:

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So as you can see I’ve had an incredibly busy January but I’ve loved every second! February is also going to be jam packed for me as I have exciting news.. I’m moving out of home for the first time! I’ll only be moving out for three months but I’m excited at the prospect of having some freedom although I know I won’t want to return home afterwards! We have family coming down in the middle of the month and then I’m off to Prague for a weekend city break on the 27th, so I’ve got plenty to be blogging about!

Speak soon!

Love Jess x

Exciting collab posts.. pending projects!

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Hi everyone,

Just a short post from me this afternoon, I’m excited to tell you all that I’ve been working on a few collaboration articles with some fellow travel bloggers and they are due to be published shortly!

I’ll be taking part in an Ask A Local feature run by Marissa Dookeran and her blog Mad Travel Diaries http://www.madtraveldiaries.com/ As I’m from Oxford this article will obviously be about my home city and will share my local knowledge as well as giving an insight into what it’s like to live in the area. I’ll also write about famous attractions that are must sees and give tips on how to spend your time whilst visiting the city. I was delighted to have been asked to write a collab post so can’t wait to see the finished article!

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I was also asked by Hayley Swinson of http://www.savvygirltravel.com/  to put together a write up for my recommendation of a good winter holiday destination. I decided to choose Reykjavik, Iceland as I had a brilliant time away there recently and there was so much to see and do! I also opted for a cold city break destination rather than a warm sunny holiday place as I thought I’d write about something different and show people that you don’t have to go somewhere hot and exotic to have a good holiday! Remember you can view my full Reykjavik write-up here:  https://journeyswithjessica.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/holiday-to-reykjavik-iceland-november-14/

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I’ll be posting links to both my collab posts in the next few days… enjoy the rest of your week!

Love Jess x

N.B. all photos except the Reykjavik one are courtesy of Google images

NEW YEAR NEWS!

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Hey everyone,

As it’s a new year I thought I would change a few things on my blog but also bring you a round up of stats that I’ve collected over the past 8 months. Since my blog began back in May 2014 I’ve gained new followers, enjoyed a large social media presence and have continued to build it as much as I can in order to share my adventures with you all.

As a breakdown, my followers on each of my social media sites are as follows:

WordPress – 62 followers/ over 2000 hits

Facebook – 68 Likes

Twitter – 816 followers

Instagram – 161 followers (not bad considering I’ve only had it for two weeks!)

LinkedIn – 222 connections

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As you can see, I have quite a large social media following across the board which I am very grateful for but am keen to grow as much as possible in order to increase my audience. Some interesting stats and information on hits to my blog were detailed in my WordPress Review of 2014 which you can of course read separately!

On the more visual side of things I’ve been wanting to get to grips with changing the layout and design on my blog for a while now as I feel this is quite limited and doesn’t allow as much freedom as I’d like. I’ve opted to edit the theme, homepage and navigation tabs on my site and, although I’ve only made a few basic changes, I’m hoping this will make my blog look a little more appealing and will read better on screen whether it be via a standard desktop computer, or a sleek mobile site.

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The main alteration I’ve made is to have a front page section with a navigation panel on the left hand side so my readers can choose which posts they want to read, rather than scroll through them all from the most recent to the oldest. I’m hoping this presents my blog much more clearly and allows room for my About page to be viewed first before any other posts are read. I’ve also included my contact details on the front page which makes it even easier to get in touch so if you have any questions, comments or feedback to pass on to me then I’d love to hear from you!

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The great debate on my mind at the moment is whether I should continue using my current WordPress blog that provides me with a service free of charge, or whether I should take the plunge and switch to a self hosted site with more flexibility to create exactly what I want without any limitations. I’ve seen a few other travel bloggers ask the same question and also followed the thread closely to see what the general response is. As far as my initial research goes, most of my fellow bloggers advise paying for a self hosted website to allow the degree of flexibility to heighten as much as I want, but I am unsure of taking this step for a number of reasons…

Firstly, as much as I love my blog, I am yet to start making money from it as a business and very much think of it still as just a hobby as I’m only in the early stages of it’s creation. As I’m not generating any income from my blog I therefore don’t have any expenditure, so am reluctant to spend money on websites and themes if I’m not getting anything back other than a pretty display. Obviously appearance and professionalism is important to me, but my writing style is where my skills lie and is unique to my blog so therefore I can write in whatever format I like as long as people are continuing to read that’s the most important factor! Secondly, I’ve built up quite a large number of hits/followers/likes on my WordPress account and really don’t want to lose these if i switch over to a different site! I love interacting with fellow WordPress bloggers and enjoy the ease of the site, along with the basic features that an IT novice like me can deal with!

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If you have any comments on any aspect of this post or would like to pass on any feedback please please do get in touch. I’d also love to hear any suggestions or opinions on the debate that’s at the forefront of my mind at the moment, so whether you vote WordPress or self hosted I’d love to hear your thoughts!

In another news, it’s actually my 22nd birthday on Friday so I’ve got lots planned for the weekend and I’ll be sure to bring you an update on my adventures soon!

Love Jess x

NB. All images other than my profile photo & screenshots of edits to my blog are courtesy of Google images.

Welcome to 2015: Happy New Year!

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Happy new year everyone, and welcome to 2015!

I had a brilliant time up in Liverpool celebrating the new year with all my closest family. We stayed for three days and managed to squeeze in a bit of shopping in the city centre to make the most of the time we had up there!

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I know I’ve said this before, but Liverpool truly is one of the best cities in the world. There is so much to see and do and the whole atmosphere is just incredible. I fit in as many trips up there during the year as I can so that time can be spent with the family, but I also try to visit the city centre as much as possible.

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Rather than heading back to the city for a night out to celebrate new years eve we decided to have a big family house party instead which was amazing! I love having everyone together, and singing Auld Lang Syne whilst watching the local fireworks was truly magical. 12 months ago I went to London’s embankment to see in 2013 which was amazing and an experience I will never forget, but this time I really wanted to spend it with the whole family instead.

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I had a magical end to the year, and I hope you did too! What did you all get up to? Please tell me your new year stories I’d love to know how and  where you all celebrated!

2015 has some big things in store for me, and I can’t wait to share all my new adventures with you! First of all I’m planning a European city break in February but need to figure out the best destination to go to; I’ve heard places like Budapest, Vienna and Krakow are incredible but I’m veering towards Prague at the moment. If you would like to share any suggestions with me for my city break please get in touch!

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Happy new year everyone, see you on my next post!

Love Jess x