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A Little Life Update: Why I Took a Break from Blogging

Hi everyone,

I hope you’re all keeping safe and well in these strange and uncertain times. I started writing this blog post back in mid-March, but never got round to finishing it. It’s been a while since I last posted, and a lot in my life/the world has changed since then. I took an unintentional break from blogging at the start of the year, with my last blog post being published back in January, when I talked about my 2020 New Years Resolutions and travel plans for the year ahead. That seems like a lifetime ago now, and I can’t believe how much has happened in the past few months.

I took a break from blogging because, if I’m honest, I felt as though I had lost my way a little bit. After my last trip to Riga in December I hadn’t made any firm travel plans for 2020 apart from a weekend to Scotland in May to attempt to climb Ben Nevis (again!) and an overseas hen do for one of my best friends in June. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love to travel, and how much I thrive off planning trips, booking weekends away and maximising my annual leave, but this year I felt really different. Even before Coronavirus became a global pandemic and started impacting the world, I wasn’t excited about travel this year, and I have no idea why. Last year was my biggest year of travel yet; I spent 6 weeks in Australia, visited Italy three times, spent a week in both Spain and Portugal and took weekend breaks to Scotland and Latvia. I had some of the best travel experiences of my life in 2019, yet when it came to planning my 2020 travels, I just couldn’t seem to get excited about booking any trips. I did get invited on a last minute press trip to Montenegro, which I was super excited about, but this understandably got cancelled due to Coronavirus and so my excitement was short lived!

 

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🚨 CORONAVIRUS 1 – my travel plans 0 🚨 Feeling very sad today guys… I was soooo excited to let you all know that, a few weeks ago, I got invited on my first press trip of 2020 which was amazing news at the time, but is now sadly not 😭 I was due to go to beautiful #Montenegro at the end of April with their amazing tourism board for 5 days of mountain hiking, cave walking and lake swimming around Perast, Budva, Kotor & Podgorica with a group of other bloggers, but unfortunately the trip has been delayed until further notice given the current global crisis we are all facing for the foreseeable future 🌎 In what is sad and scary times for all of us right now I'm trying to be positive and look forward to planning future trips when all of this is finally over, whether that be in 2020 or 2021 ✨ Luckily the trip has been postponed and not cancelled – a great way to help protect all of us in the travel industry at the moment – so I know I'll be in Montenegro sometime soon, I just have no idea when 😩 For now, here's a sunny picture of me exploring #Kotor on my last visit to this beautiful country back in 2018 🇲🇪 Stay safe everyone, let's get through this horrible time together ❤️ #wanderlustwednesday #visitmontenegro #montenegrowildbeauty #gomontenegro #imisstravelling

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I guess without any major travel plans to look forward to, and no other trips to write about, I didn’t really have anything to say on my little corner of the internet, so I took a blogging break which I thought would only last a few weeks, but instead has lasted nearly four months. This is mainly due to me still not having any travel related content to write about, but also of course due to Coronavirus itself. One of the main reasons I haven’t continued to write blog posts is because it doesn’t feel like the right time to be sharing travel content at the moment. How am I supposed to inspire my readers to get excited about travel when we can’t even leave the country?! I feel it would be insensitive for me to write about/encourage travel whilst we are in lockdown but, having said that, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing old photos/posts and allowing people to day dream about future trips or reminisce about old ones. I’ve not done that myself yet as I’m still not even thinking about travel, but at some stage I may do.

At a time where Covid-19 is spreading across the world, killing thousands of people, dominating the news headlines and ruling almost every part of people’s lives, I knew it would eventually end up affecting my life too, but I didn’t realise just how much. For my day job, I work at a luxury travel firm in Oxfordshire and Coronavirus first had an impact on my daily life when we were asked to start working from home on 18th March. Adjusting to my new daily work from home life involved walking downstairs instead of driving for my morning commute, wearing a tracksuit instead of office wear and having daily lunchtime walks with my dog instead of with my colleagues!

 

 

On 1st April though I was officially furloughed from work and unable to continue my role at the company, a job which I love so much. I was initially quite sad, but after lots of support from HR, my wonderful manager and my fellow colleagues who had also been furloughed, I started to think differently. I am extremely lucky to be in a position to be furloughed; I will receive 80% of my wages despite not carrying out any work for the company at all, and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to return to my role when all of this is over.

A couple of weeks down the line and I’m slowly adjusting to furlough life and everything that comes with it. I’ve read three books, started baking cakes, enjoyed my daily dog walks, started doing gym workouts from home 4 times a week and am trying to fill my days so I keep busy. I’m extremely thankful to have a lovely garden at home which I can enjoy every day, and I’m grateful for this lovely sunny weather we’ve been blessed with recently too! Mentally though I am finding things quite hard. Some days I’m totally fine and can keep busy, but other days I just don’t know what to do with myself. I’m not sleeping very well, I cry at everything (even more so than usual!), I’m really snappy and short tempered and am finding some days hard to keep positive. I guess it’s natural to feel this way with so much uncertainty in the world, I’m just scared that Covid-19 will affect me or my family physically, and I think that’s what I’m feeling anxious about.

 

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I hope you've had a lovely Easter weekend staying at home 🏡 Every time I walk past this gorgeous cottage I want to live there! Haven't been to this little village in #Oxfordshire since we went into lockdown 3 weeks ago, and I can't wait for the day when we are able to drive 10 mins to the next village/town to enjoy a long walk or a pub lunch rather than being confined to our back gardens for the foreseeable future ✨ This easter has been a little different – last year I had just got back from being in Australia – but when all of this is over, I'll look back and be so grateful that I have my family, my health, a lovely home & 2 pretty gardens to enjoy in the sunshine ☀️ Whatever happens over the next few weeks, we must continue to #stayhome ❤️ The world will be waiting for you to visit when we are able to, and the #Cotswolds certainly isn't going anywhere 🌎 . . . #happyeaster #uklockdown #minsterlovell #littleminster #lovethecotswolds #cotswoldstyle #thecotswolds #loveoxfordshire #weloveengland #visitbritain #instatravel #lovegreatbritain #capturingbritain #photosofbritain #loveengland #photosofengland #visitengland #thisisengland #igersengland #igersuk #igersoxfordshire #cotswoldslife #oxford #experienceoxfordshire #oxfordshire #countryside #oxfordshirelife #travelblogger

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I am trying to fill my days though and have things to do so that I can constantly keep busy during the daytime. Last week I enrolled on a course to get my TEFL certificate which will allow me to teach English as a foreign language online to children living abroad, something I can start doing once I’m qualified, and I can fit it around my job when I eventually go back to work too. I’ve always loved English and had been thinking about it for a while, but now I’ve finally got the course it’s given me something to focus on and I actually feel like I have some structure to my day now. I’ve also signed up to be an NHS Volunteer Responder, which I’m really excited about starting next week. I’m hoping to deliver shopping and prescriptions to people who are self isolating and to offer a friendly telephone service to those who are feeling a bit lonely and who want someone to chat to. I was recently in the Daily Mail after a whopping 750,000 people signed up to be an NHS Volunteer Responder too, and I’m proud to be a part of this wonderful community who are ready to help others during these difficult times.

I guess you could say that I’m feeling a bit more positive now. I haven’t really got my travel motivation back, and I don’t think I will until all of this is over and we are able to travel freely again. I think this will take at least 6 months or possibly even longer as I really can’t see us being able to travel again until autumn at the earliest. Eventually I will look forward to planning new trips but, honestly, the first thing I want to do when the UK lockdown ends is spend time exploring my own country. I want to go to Suffolk to visit my nan and cousins, aunties and uncles who I haven’t seen in ages. I want to go to Liverpool to see my cousin Amy who was supposed to get married in May and I want to go and spend time with my nan, grandad, other cousins, aunties and uncles up there too.

 

 

I want to go to Cornwall, the place I have holidayed almost every year since I was born, so that I can be by the sea. I want to go to York to see my friend Rachel who I was supposed to stay with in Scarborough during the May bank holiday. I want to go to Brighton to see my best friend Emily who I was supposed to be seeing this weekend. I also want to just be able to pop into Oxford and go shopping or eat dinner with my friends from home. I miss all of those things, and all of those people, so very much. So before I can even think about leaving the country and planning things abroad, I want to stay right here first!

I’m hopeful that, when all of this is over, I’ll look back and say I didn’t spend 3 months off work moping about and not achieving anything. I’d like to complete my TEFL course, do lots of volunteering for the NHS, continue my new exercise regime and stay healthy. I guess the reason I am writing this blog post now is to have a sort of diary entry to look back on in a few weeks/months time. None of us know what the future holds, but I’m going to try and be grateful for each day and to remember how fortunate I am to be in this position.

So, why am I writing a blog post now I hear you ask? After all this time? Well, the date has something to do with it too. This time last year I had just flown back from Australia, where I had the biggest and best adventure of my life so far. Fast forward 12 months and, not only has my life changed significantly, the world around me has too. That’s a lot to take in, and a lot to think about, so my way of dealing with it is to reflect and look back at all the amazing things I have done, and tp start looking forward to future, happier times too, when all of this is over.

Look after yourselves, and remember, we WILL meet again.

Love Jess x

 

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My 2020 New Year’s Resolutions & Travel Plans

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you had a wonderful time celebrating on new years eve? I spent my night with friends in Cheltenham, dressed in 1920s themed fancy dress and welcoming 2020 in style! I have to say, I have been reflecting a lot on the past year lately, and even the last ten years as we say goodbye to the 2010s and welcome in a brand new decade. I’ve grown a lot in the past ten years, from a shy sixteen year old to a confident, outgoing 26 year old who is grateful for many things in my life. I am grateful to have such wonderful family and friends around me, grateful to this blog for allowing me to have a hobby which I absolutely love, and grateful for the fantastic travel opportunities I’ve had in more recent years.

 

 

As I get older I definitely think you start to appreciate things more, and also start to feel more content with life, rather than constantly wanting more or pushing for things to be better. Don’t get me wrong, I am hugely ambitious and will always want to achieve more things, travel to more places and make more memories, but I don’t feel the need to set myself 10-20 resolutions that are unrealistic and will make me feel like a bad person if I don’t achieve them. With that in mind, I thought I would write down just 5 things I want from 2020, and hope that, by the end of the year, I can achieve all of them and feel content after what I’m sure will be another crazy 12 months for me! Here they are…

 

 

I want to buy a house

 

 

A pretty big ask, but something I finally feel I am now ready to do. I have saved up a house deposit for a number of years now, but kept putting it off to go travelling instead – oops! In 2016 I had just short of £8000, which would have been my share of a deposit, but decided to travel around America instead. A couple of years later in 2018 I had £10,000 but decided to blow half it on the trip of a lifetime to Australia. Do I regret my decisions to travel? Not for one second! But I do wish I’d have kept a bit more money back so I could have started building my savings back up a little quicker! I am however now in a place where I have comfortably saved a deposit and am more than ready to put down some roots here in Oxfordshire and have a little place to call my own. I’m actually going to look at buying with my sister, when the time comes, as we are both in the same boat and it means we can actually afford to buy a house instead of a flat. I’m confident that 2020 will be the year that I finally get on the property ladder, and am excited to help make my dreams a reality before 2020 is over!

 

 

I want to focus on my new job

 

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Working hard or hardly working?! 🌴 I actually took a couple of hours out of my holiday to go and do a site visit at this gorgeous hotel in Vilamoura whilst I was away recently… but it's not a hardship to work when your job is as good as this! 🌎 TBT to wearing a blue dress against a blue sky next to a blue pool 💧 . . . #throwbackthursday #hotelviews #portugal #vilamoura #algarve #europe #holiday #septembersunshine #loveportugal #lovethealgarve #visitportugal #visitvilamoura #visitalgarve #algarveportugal #algarvealive #algarvetourism #algarvecoast #vilamouramarina #vilamouraalgarve #vilamouralife #portugaltravel #portugal_lovers #portugal_places #portugal_photos #europetravel #travelgram #darlingescapes #instatravel #mytinyatlas #anantara

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During a time when everyone seems to be quitting their jobs to blog full time, I’m actually doing the opposite and taking a step back from my blog to focus on my day job. Don’t worry, I will still be blogging regularly and sharing relevant content, travel guides and life updates with you along the way, but I’m not going to be constantly pitching to brands and looking for sponsored posts this year as I really want to focus on my job instead. This is my second full time job in the travel industry and, now that I’ve finally found out what it is I want to do with my career, I really want to put all my energy into making it a success. Working at a luxury travel firm means I am lucky enough to learn all about new product and get to experience some amazing 5* hotels and resorts first hand too, so I can combine my love of travel and content creation and apply it to almost every aspect of my job role. I feel like I’ve finally found what I am meant to be doing with my life and am excited to continue my career in the travel industry over the next 12 months and beyond.

 

I want to travel to 5 countries

 

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🚨My 2019 Year in Review is here!! 🚨 ((Link in bio)) My #topnine photos from 2019, a year which has seen me quit my job, do a travel writing internship at the Sunday Times, have my work published in a magazine, celebrate 5 years of blogging and get myself a brand new job in the travel industry which I absolutely love! 🌎 Not to mention seeing my all time faves Westlife and Spice Girls in concert, as well as watching Robbie Williams and Celine Dion along with 70,000 others in Hyde Park! 💃 2019 has also been my best ever year of travel, after I spent 6 weeks traveling around Australia and a further 6 weeks having holidays and taking work trips around Europe. Highlights include skydiving over Uluru, driving the Great Ocean Road, snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, inter-railing round Spain, riding a gondola in Venice and doing Christmas markets in Riga. 🌟 8 trips abroad, 19 flights and 12 weeks travelling out of 52 weeks of the year, not bad huh ✈️ 2019, I think you might just have been my best year yet! Feeling so full of love and happiness for the past year, and the past decade, and I'm so grateful to have my amazing friends and family around me. I hope 2020 is even better ❤️ It took me 4 hours to put this blog post together – I hope you enjoy reading it! ✨

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I travelled to 7 countries in 2019 and 9 countries in 2018, so have done really well over the past couple of years, but I think that aiming to tick off 5 countries this year is definitely doable. I’m going to be really busy with work and saving up for a house this year, so I think some of my travel plans might have to take a back seat, but that’s not to say that I won’t be going on plenty of little mini trips throughout the year, so am confident I will still visit at least 5 countries! In terms of travel plans, the only thing I have set in stone at the moment is a trip back to Scotland to have a second atempt at climbing Ben Nevis! I am also bridesmaid for two weddings next year, for one of my best friends and one of my cousins, so I have 2 hen do’s to attend which will be lots of fun. I’d like to do a few European mini breaks and I am also hoping to squeeze in a Christmas markets interrailing trip around Poland in December with my sisters. Work sent me on two trips last year and I have only been here for six months, so I am hoping that in 2020 I may get to take a couple more work trips which would be amazing! I’d also really like to explore more of the UK this year, and am planning on heading back to Cornwall for the first time in 3 years which is seriously overdue! I’d also like to go back to York, and head over to Edinburgh and Cambridge for the first time if I can squeeze them in, so I’m hoping for another fun filled year of travel, but don’t think I’ll end up as far afield as Australia this year!

 

I want to start working out three times a week

 

 

I started this towards the end of last year, but then it was December which meant Christmas was coming and I just wanted to spend the entire month eating food and not worrying about exercise! However, I do think January is a great time to start new hobbies/make new promises, so I do really want to start working out three times a week to add some proper exercise into my life. I am not a gym person at all and can’t think of anything worse than running on a treadmill or doing spinning classes, but I experimented with some power walking and dance fitness videos last year and found a couple that I really liked, so I think I’m going to give them another go and try to stick to them this time! I am so unconfident with my looks at the moment, I definitely feel I have put on weight on my hips and stomach and on my face too, which I hate, so I really want to start incorporating exercise into my weekly routine this year so I feel fitter and stronger and look better. Fingers crossed I find a workout routine that works well for me – I also need to get my fitness up for Ben Nevis in May – wish me luck!

 

I want to start dating again

 

 

I’ve definitely lost confidence with dating recently. In fact, my last date was back in January 2019 which is a whole year ago! It feels a bit ridiculous that I’m writing this on my resolutions list to be honest, as I think sometimes things like this happen without thinking, and if something’s meant to be its meant to be, but I also think that you only get out of life what you put in, and I can’t sit around all year waiting for someone to just walk into my life! So I think in 2020 I am going to make a conscious effort to try and get out into the dating world again. I really really hate online dating, but it seems to be the only way that people meet at the moment, as I don’t go out in the evenings that much anymore and I’m always going away/making plans so I think I’m going to find it harder to meet guys if I’m not looking online as well. I don’t want to make promises and say that I’m definitely going to go looking for love and am going to start attending speed dating events or singles nights (as much as my mother would want me to!) but I’m just going to put myself out there a bit more and try to boost my confidence. Let’s see how this one turns out and, who knows, by the end of the year there may or may not be someone new in my life! If anyone knows any decent looking guys who love to travel, please send them my way?!

 

 

No matter what happens in 2020 I am going to try and be more present and content with life rather than getting bogged down with feeling like I constantly have to better myself, or comparing myself to others. I’m going to try not to worry about what everyone else is doing because everyone is different and life should be taken day by day, at your own pace rather than being determined by others actions. I get so upset sometimes worrying that I’ve not got a house or a husband or have had a baby like some of my friends and cousins have. I get upset that it hasn’t happened to me yet, that I’ve been single for nearly six years, that I’m so far away from all of those things happening to me when, really, it’s all I’ve ever wanted in life.

 

Everyone’s ‘decade challenges’ on social media have been filled with people saying that they went to uni, graduated with a degree, met the love of their life, got engaged, got married, bought a house, had three kids, got two dogs and a cat and had countless holidays to Disneyworld over the past ten years, but my decade has been very different to that. I didn’t go to uni, or get married and have kids, but I passed my A Levels, I’ve spent the past 8 years working full time, I’ve bought two cars, I’ve been diagnosed with a serious health condition and become a charity ambassador, I’ve saved up for a house deposit, I’ve travelled to 30 countries and I’ve ran a successful travel blog. My decade looks very different to lots of girls my age, but I’ve learnt that it doesn’t matter, because this is what I’ve achieved in my life, and what I am hugely proud of.

 

 

By the end of the next decade I will be 36 years old (OH MY GOD I WANT TO CRY AT THE THOUGHT OF APPROACHING 40!!!!) and I really hope that, by then, I will have achieved the other things I wanted to achieve this decade. I hope I’m happily married with a couple of kids, a dog, and a nice house and that I still love travel as much as I do now. I hope that I’m still super close with my family and friends, that I’ve still got a great job that will allow me to support my family but, most importantly, I hope that I am happy. Money doesn’t matter to me, only health and happiness. I hope my grandparents are still alive, I hope that my parents are still loving life, I hope that my future kids are healthy. I seem to have gone off on a tangent, and I guess this post has turned into more of a ‘hope for the next decade’ post rather than a 2020 resolutions one, but I’m just excited to see what the next ten years holds for me and everyone in my life. Whatever it holds for you, I hope it brings you happiness.

Happy new year (and new decade everyone!)

Love Jess x

PS. I wonder if I’ll still be blogging in ten years’ time, or if blogs will be a distant memory by then with social media taking over completely?! I bloody hope not!