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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 💻 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! 🗞 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 😭 Until next time, London, I won't be back for a while! 👋 Ps. Omg forgot I'm there Tuesday to fly to Australia 😂✈️ #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! 🏡 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 😩 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 ✨ 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! 🙈 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 ⛰

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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! 😬 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. 🌎 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 🙈 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 ❤️ 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 😉) Operation 'Jess is saving up for a house' has been resumed! 🏡 #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.

 

 

August 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 & December 

 

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 – 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 – 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 🇮🇹 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! 🌎 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 😍 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 ✨ . . . #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 – SUCCESS – 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 – 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 – 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 – FAIL – 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 ⛰ 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 ❤️ 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!! 😂 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 🙈 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 🇬🇧 Do you have a silly travel story? I'd love to hear them on this chilled Sunday evening! ✨

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My 2018 Year in Review

 

 

I’m pretty sure I say this every single year and you’re probably going to be bored of hearing it by now, but let me just say it anyway… How the HELL are we at the end of 2018? Like seriously, HOW? I feel like I blinked in January and then when I opened my eyes we had skipped straight to December. It is beyond crazy how fast this year has gone! I always like to take some time at the end of each year to reflect on how the past 12 months have gone, so I’m going to do a little round up for you. 2018 has not been a particularly good year for me to be honest, I have found it really tough and, at times, I have really struggled. In the past 12 months my dog has passed away, my grandad has died, my nan went into hospital and we very nearly lost her, my best friend has been in and out of hospital battling a serious health condition, and I was told I was being made redundant from my current role at work. On top of all of that, I found myself in hospital twice after becoming quite seriously ill, and just last week my dad was rushed into hospital after doctors found a blood clot on his lung. Yep, it’s safe to say that this year has been pretty damn awful, so it comes as no surprise that I’m not feeling particularly enthusiastic about putting together my end of year review. There were some good times though, don’t worry, I will try not to be a Negative Nancy for this entire post 😉 I had some incredible highs and I’ve managed to travel to some more brilliant places, but sadly most of these have been overshadowed by the rubbish lows that have happened this year. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that 2017 was such a fantastic year for me, and I put together a ‘highlights’ type post for my end of year review, but this year I just didn’t feel like I had ’18 highlights from 2018’ so thought I would just do a generic round up instead. I’ll also be discussing how I got on with my 2018 New Year’s Resolutions, so here’s everything laid out bare for you, including the good, the bad and everything else in between!…

 

January & February

 

 

The first part of the year was probably the worst for me. Just before Christmas we said goodbye to our beloved Westie Cassie, who had been our family pet from a pup, and we were still finding it really difficult to come to terms with losing her as 2019 started. I did celebrate my 25th birthday in January though, and this kind of felt like a turning point for me, and a bit of a milestone in my little life. To be honest I was really apprehensive about turning 25, I always thought I’d have my life figured out by the time I reached this age. I thought I’d have a house and kids and a husband, just like my mum and my nans did, and the fact I didn’t have any of these things made me reaallly sad, so I felt like a bit of a failure. I got over it though, and made myself realise that things are so different nowadays, and that I should be proud of the things I HAVE got, not what I haven’t got. February was a pretty quiet month, I spent most of it at home seeing friends and training for Mount Snowdon, which I was due to climb in June. I also spent a weekend in Essex seeing my nan which was really lovely, especially as she became poorly in March.

 

March & April

 

 

 

The start of March wasn’t too exciting, but I had a great end to the month as my sister and I went on a European inter-railing trip together and had a brilliant week away. We spent the Easter weekend in Paris before heading on to Luxembourg and Bruges where we had a really lovely time exploring new cities and enjoying allllll the French/Belgian food and drink. Sadly a week after we returned from our trip we received the devastating news that our grandad had passed away after a long battle with Dementia. It didn’t necessarily come as a shock to us as he had been unwell for some time, but that still didn’t prepare us for the grief that we would feel in the days and weeks to come. 2 days later, my nan was taken to hospital after she had heart problems. Fortunately my dad was with her and paramedics were on the scene quick enough to help her, but I was convinced that we were going to lose both my nan and my grandad within a matter of days. It was horrendous but my family were amazing and we got through it together. It’s still hard even now, 9 months on, and I think about my grandad all the time, but I know he is at peace, and I hope he would be proud of who I have become. At the end of April I took my little sister on her first city break as we went to Pisa and Florence for a long weekend. I was lucky enough to win a raffle prize at work and got to stay in one of our amazing villas which was a fantastic experience, and this little break away after a tough few weeks was sooo needed. We had a great time visiting the famous Leaning Tower and enjoying all that Florence had to offer, so it definitely took our minds off the sadness that had been happening at home.

 

 

May & June

 

 

 

May saw the date for my grandad’s funeral, which was a really difficult day, but we remembered his life in our own special way and made it a celebration. The sun shone and it was a really hot day – he would have loved that, he absolutely lived for the heat and warm weather! I wrote a poem which I read out at the service; at one point I didn’t think I would be able to do it but I found the strength from somewhere and was able to deliver. We cried a lot, but we got through it, it was the perfect send off for an incredible man. Unfortunately a week later I ended up in hospital myself as I had an unexpected haemorrhage and suffered from some external bleeding. It was really scary and I had no idea what was happening, but the doctors who looked after me were brilliant and I was back home later on that evening. A week later I was back to my usual self and spent the bank holiday weekend running around Amsterdam and Rotterdam whilst exploring Holland for the first time. I was in the country to attend my 3rd annual Traverse conference in Rotterdam but was glad I tagged on a day in Amsterdam at the start too – I was reunited with one of my fave travel buddy’s Rachel and we had a blast! At the end of June I took on my biggest challenge yet as I set out to climb Mount Snowdon with 55 others as part of a fundraising event for The Pituitary Foundation, the charity I am extremely proud to be an ambassador for. We had the most incredible day and ended up raising over £25,000 collectively which is an absolutely AMAZING achievement. The climb was one of the highlights of my year and I’ve already signed up to do Ben Nevis next May… wish me luck!

 

 

July & August

 

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#HappyBirthdayNHS – Thankyou for being a constant source of support and comfort to me over the past 25 years with my many illnesses and ailments from a baby to an adult. 🏥 Thankyou also for looking after me these past few days when I was found passed out in the disabled toilet at work (so classy) and taken into A&E on the back of an ambulance 🚑 A nasty bout of gastroenteritis made me extremely ill after a 39degree temperature, an abnormally high heart rate and 8 hours of vomiting left me dangerously dehydrated 😩 Couldn't be more thankful to be out of hospital and back in my own bed! Lots of rest and fluids have been prescribed, I've just eaten my first meal since Monday, and the anti sickness meds are working a treat – massive thanks to all my work friends who were there for me when it mattered most, and my mum n dad for coming to stay with me 💖Hoping to be on the mend so I can watch the big game tomorrow 🙏 #NHS70 #SoGrateful #GetMeBetter

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Doing the Titanic pose all by myself cos this Rose doesn't need a Jack in her life 😎 I've been home for just 24 hours and I'm already missing being at sea 🌊 Words can't describe the amazing experience I had on my first ever cruise 🚢 I was so nervous before going as I suffer so much with travel sickness (ironic as I'm a travel blogger) but luckily I was absolutely fine and kept well the entire time! It's only now that I'm home I'm suffering with motion sickness despite being back on land! What is THAT all about?! 😩I think it means I need to book another cruise asap, I'm a total convert now and loved waking up in a new place each day, but my favourite thing was spending hours looking out at the blue waters, with nothing but the ocean staring back at me 🐬 Can I go be a mermaid again please? #cruiselife #titanicpose #takemeback #marellacruises

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July brought us a heatwave AND the World Cup which was the best combination for us Brits! What a rollercoaster us footy fans had as we watched our team get to the semi-finals of the biggest sporting competition on the planet. My summer evenings were spent watching the games on big screens down the pub and dancing on tables when we scored! July also so me heading to London with my mum to watch Michael Buble in concert (our fave) and my lovely nan came down to visit for the first time since my grandad passed away so it was great to spend some quality time with her. Unfortunately a few weeks later I became unwell again after I passed out at work and was taken to hospital on the back of an ambulance – I had suffered from a nasty bout of gastroenteritis and had no idea what was happening to my body, but again the NHS staff at my local hospital were amazing and I was back to normal a few days later. I also went on a blind date that was set up by Heart Radio a couple of weeks later, and that was certainly an experience!! August was the month I was most looking forward to this year, as I was due to set sail on my first ever cruise with 12 of my family members and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited for a holiday! We had an absolute blast exploring 5 countries and 7 cities over 7 days as we visited Croatia, Montenegro, Greece, Italy and Malta. I totally fell in love with cruising – it has definitely opened my eyes to a new way of travel and I already can’t wait to book my next one!

 

 

September & October

 

 

 

My mum celebrated her 50th birthday in September and we had an amazing day out in London, taking her to Kensington Palace to see the Princess Diana Exhibition (her  idol) before heading over to the Sky Garden with incredible panoramic views over the city below – she had a brilliant day out and it was so nice to spend some quality time together as a family. At the end of September my best friend and I took a spontaneous road trip to Bournemouth to celebrate the last weekend of summer. We were so lucky with the weather and spent 2 days enjoying the beach, the pier, the arcades and everything else in between. It felt so nice to have one last ‘holiday’ before autumn came and it made me realise how beautiful some parts of the UK really are when you get the right weather! After leaving Bournemouth we headed over to Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door for a day of hiking between the two and I was sooo sad to leave this pretty part of the world so am already planning to return next summer. October brought colder weather and some family time as I spent a weekend in Liverpool at my cousins baby shower, it was my last chance to see her and bump before she was due to pop in December, and we had a really lovely weekend. I also had lots of fun over the Halloween weekend as I fulfilled my life-long dream of becoming a mermaid (well a fancy dress one) as I hosted a spooky themed party at my house. By the end of the month I was ready for allllll the fireworks show as I looked forward to saying goodbye to October and hello to November.

 

 

November & December

 

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So today, after four long years of blogging, I had a career highlight when Journeys with Jessica was given its very own stand at WTM – the biggest travel conference in the entire world! 🌍 I was selected as one of 120 travel bloggers to come and showcase what it is that I do and how my blog works. I had brands approaching ME, not the other way round, and I met and spoke to tonnes of people who had a genuine interest in my blog and wanted to know more about me as a person too. 🎉 I ended up staying an hour longer than I was supposed to because I was talking way too much to too many people and having way too much fun! I've learnt so much today and I've never felt prouder of my little blog 💖 Here's to the next 4 years of blogging, adventures and even more fun! Thanks @wtmlondon for an amazing day ✨#WTMLDN #travelblogger #London

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I was fairly busy in November, with fireworks events and lots of autumnal fun with friends. I headed to London to watch Ed Sheeran and Olly Murs in concert – they were amazing – and stopped off at Westfield for some shopping. I did grown up things like submit my annual tax return and move some money around in my savings – I’m putting away a decent amount of money from my wages each month so that I can look to buy a house in the next few years, which is overwhelming, stressful and exciting all at the same time! Probably the single biggest thing I did in November was attend WTM London, where Journeys with Jessica was given its very own stand for the first time ever! I had such an amazing time at the biggest travel conference in the world and learnt so much, as well as getting my blogging mojo back after a few months of feeling like I didn’t really belong in this industry. I was invited along to the VIP press launch of Christmas at Blenheim at the end of the month and took my mum with me for a wonderful evening of festive fun. December isn’t over yet but so far I’ve done work parties, theatre evenings, nights out and Christmas  markets. We are off to Somerset for a new year’s break with the family next week so, although we are having a quiet Christmas at home, I’m really looking forward to ending 2018 and starting 2019 on a high.

 

 

My 2018 New Year’s Resolutions: How I Got On

 

Visit at least 5 countries SUCCESS – I managed to get myself to a whopping NINE countries this year, which is almost double what I set as a target so I am really pleased that I’ve done so well on this one. My cruise made it super easy as I actually visited 5 countries in just 1 week, and whilst I was out there I hit my 25th country as well which was an incredible feeling! Roll on the next 25!

 

Reach 10,000 followers on social media – FAIL – Sadly I didn’t reach the big 10k this year, but on my last count I was up to approx. 8700 followers across all platforms, so I am so close yet so far! This is a goal I will try to re-aim for next year, but I’m not going to put pressure on myself to reach it by a certain time frame; what will be will be!

 

 

Spend less time on social media – SUCCESS – I feel like I’ve done quite well at this one this year. I obviously do still spend a lot of time online in order to promote my blog, but I wanted to cut down on scrolling and wasting time being unproductive, and I definitely think I’ve done that. Turning off all my notifications have helped, and I’ve set a time limit of 25mins per day on each app which has made an improvement too, so it’s small steps but I’m definitely going in the right direction!

 

Work on new projects for The Pituitary Foundation – SUCCESS – I am so proud to be an ambassador for this fantastic charity, and 2018 was the year I really challenged myself and put more effort into this. Climbing Mount Snowdon with Team Pituitary was one of the biggest achievements of my life, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a pituitary patient! Roll on Ben Nevis next May!

 

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🏃‍♀️WE DID IT! 🏃‍♀️ What an amazing day!!! 33000 steps, 4000 calories burnt, 18 kilometres walked and 7 hours long! One of the best things I've ever done, and definitely the hardest thing I've ever done, both physically and mentally. 🏔 Didn't think I would make it up to the top at one point but these amazing people got me through!! Couldn't have wished for a better group of people to climb #Snowdon with, and am hoping we've almost smashed our fundraising target! You can still donate if you want to 😘 Collectively our group have raised over £22000 so far for @pituitaryfoundation which is INCREDIBLE!! My illness gets me down sometimes, but when events like this bring people together I wouldn't change it for the world 🌍 https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jessica-bucks-team

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Start saving at least £500 a month – SUCCESS – I’ve been super strict with my finances this year, so much so that I’ve now got over £10,000 in savings to my name which is something I am immensely proud of! The main reason I am saving is because I want to buy a house in the next couple of years, but I also plan to use some of that for travelling and taking some more trips throughout 2019 because you only live once and mortgages are boring 😉

 

Incorporate exercise into my weekly routine – SUCCESS – I have got better at this as the year has progressed, and am proud that I am now working out three times a week compared to doing virtually nothing (other than walking for an hour each day) at the start of 2018. Don’t get me wrong, I still HATE the gym but I do my workouts from home so that I can overcome this, and I don’t work out to lose weight, I just do it to feel good about myself.

 

Grow my blog as much as possible whilst working full time – FAIL – I kinda feel I haven’t done this very well this year. Yes my followers have grown and I have taken on new opportunities etc, but I haven’t been on a single press trip this year and, in my eyes, that makes me feel like a failure. I see bloggers left right and centre being paid to go on trips and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous, but I guess nothing right has come up for me this year. WTM felt like a turning point as I got my blogging mojo back and definitely felt more inspired after making new contacts, so I’m looking forward to seeing how things go in 2019 for me.

 

What I want from 2019

 

 

Not sure where to start with this one, but what I do know is that I want 2019 to be my biggest and best year yet. I want to travel more, learn more, and be more spontaneous. I kinda played it safe this year as I struggled to come to terms with feelings of grief and uncertainty, but I really want to start next year differently and I want to push myself out of my comfort zone. I’m not sure where life will take me next year, but I’m currently setting some plans in motion ready to make 2019 really special. I’ll probably write a separate post in January with regard to my 2019 New Year’s Resolutions, but I am trying not to make too many promises to myself as I get older and as I learn to be more content with life. I’ll see what happens over the coming months, but watch this space for lots of new things coming soon to my little life, and to Journeys with Jessica!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year – thanks, as always, for continuing to share this little square of the internet with me – your support has been invaluable this year!

Love Jess x

 

 

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! Top 15 InstaTravel Moments of 2015!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

I hope you all had fun partying last night.. I know I did! I thought I’d kick-start the day/year/month with a round up of my Top 15 InstaTravel Moments of 2015! This has been my first EVER year of using Instagram and it has fast become my favourite social media platform! So here are my top moments of the past 12 months…

JANUARY

Spending my birthday in London with an epic walking tour across the city with one of my best friends! We walked from Kensington to Tower Bridge and took in all the major landmarks- what a way to start the year!

FEBRUARY/MARCH

Taking in the beautiful sights of Prague by climbing to the top of the Old Astronomy Tower! This was my first city break of the year with my sister and what a trip we had!

APRIL

Myself and my sisters purchased season tickets for our family to the beautiful Blenheim Palace which is just down the road from us! We’ve had so many lovely days out at this place!

MAY

For my nans 80th birthday celebrations we headed for a family weekend away in the nearby Cotswolds. We had a wonderful weekend and the weather was just perfect!

JUNE

I had a fantastic day out to Royal Ascot this month along with my sisters, cousin, mum and aunty. We got all dressed up, bet on lots of horses and even saw the Queen!

I also headed to London at the end of June for a fantastic day out at Hyde Park’s annual British Summertime Festival. Myself and my close friend had great fun watching Kylie in concert who was incredible live!

We have had the besstttt dayyy!! Roll on next year wooo 😁🎉🐴👑 #ascot #races #family #love #girls #dayout #weloveascot #wesawqueenie

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JULY

This month brought our annual family holiday and we headed down to Cornwall to spend a week in our own holiday cottage right in the heart of lively St Ives. The weather was fantastic ALL WEEK and we had the best time with each other making lots of memories and revisiting places from our childhood!

AUGUST

August Bank Holiday weekend brought a fantastic day out filled with music, fun and laughter! I took my sisters to their first ever festival, Fusion Festival near Birmingham, and we had a brilliant day out seeing lots of top artists perform- the highlight was McBusted who were amazing!

SEPTEMBER

This month it was time for my second city break of the year so my sister and I flew to Budapest for a long weekend of sightseeing. We both fell in love with the city; it was beautiful and we had the best time away!

OCTOBER

This month was super busy for me but my highlight was a personal achievement which saw me run a 5k charity fun run for The Pituitary Foundation. I raised over £300 on my Just Giving page and beat my personal best! I had a fantastic day and was so proud of myself. A big THANK YOU to everyone who has donated to this fantastic charity who have supported my since my prolactinoma diagnosis in 2011.

NOVEMBER

I had a jam-packed November but my highlight was getting my first EVER paid job as a freelance travel writer! I was absolutely over the moon and it still hasn’t quite sunk in yet- hopefully I’ll take on more roles which will allow me to become a freelance writer full time!

DECEMBER

The last month of the year was kick-started with a magical trip to the beautiful Disneyland Paris! I went with two of my closest friends for a pre-Christmas treat and we had the most amazing time, it really was beautiful and certainly got us in the festive mood!

Hope you’ve enjoyed my whistle-stop recap of my InstaTravel highlights from 2015! I’d love to hear what your favourite was? I just can’t pick one!

Wishing you every happiness for 2016!

Love Jess x