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*GIVEAWAY* A day out in London with Thames Rockets – and how you can win tickets! 🚀🚀

 

 

Last week I was lucky enough to hop aboard a speedboat on the Thames for a collaboration with a very special company. How cool is that?! Part of my job was to review a speedboat, and not just any old speedboat, a Thames Rocket if you please. Formerly known as London Rib Voyages, Thames Rockets has been renamed and rebranded since it was first launched in 2006, and has previously been awarded the #1 thing to do in London by TripAdvisor, the best tourist attraction by Visit London and, most recently, Family Friendly Attraction of the Year by Visit England. Fresh after their latest award win, the team at Thames Rockets seem to be getting bigger and better, with their awesome speed adventures offering quite possibly the best way to see London. Here’s how my trip went, and how you can WIN a pair of tickets for yourself too…

 

Boarding

 

thames rockets

Hopping on board 🚀🚀

 

Boarding for any Thames Rocket trip takes place on the London Eye Pier, at the heart of Westminster, right underneath the London Eye. Guests are advised to arrive 15 mins ahead of their allocated booking time and are given life jackets and a safety briefing before stepping on board the speedboat. The boats seat up to 12 people and no matter where you sit, you’ll get an amazing view of the sights from every angle! I took my little sister along for the ride and we were booked on to the Ultimate London Adventure, a 50 minute part guided tour/part speed experience showcasing the best that London has to offer.

 

The Tour

 

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Our tour guide, Rory, showing us the sights!

 

Our speed boat experience gave us the best of both worlds; an informative tour and history of all the famous landmarks along the river for 25 minutes, and then 25 minutes of full frontal speed as we broke through the Thames barrier, and the speed restrictions, and whizzed from one side of the riverbank to the other for as long we could. Our guide, Rory, was so much fun – he told us fun facts about each of the iconic sights whilst not making it sound like a history lesson! I’ve walked and toured London many times before, but I still found out things I hadn’t known about purely from Rory’s fantastic knowledge.

 

The Sights

 

 

Starting at The London Eye, the tour took us backwards to catch a glimpse of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament before heading up river all the way towards Tower Bridge. We passed 22 iconic landmarks along the way including St Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard, The Gherkin, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, HMS Belfast and The Tower of London. Although I’ve seen them all before, gazing at all these amazing monuments from the river gave me a totally new perspective and made me fall in love with them all over again. We also rode under all the famous bridges, from Blackfriars and the Millennium to Waterloo and London Bridge. If I had to pick just one though, it would be the mighty Tower Bridge; it’s somewhere that has a really special place in my heart and I can never ever tire of looking at it – it’s my favourite place in the world!

 

The Speed

 

speedboat tour london

Hanging on for dear life… We went SO fast but it was SO much fun! 🚀🚀

 

Ok so I know I was on a speedboat tour, but I did NOT expect us to go so frikkin fast! Once we’d got past the barrier and the speed restrictions had lifted, our wonderful driver Nick went full throttle on the acceleration and we were blasting past Tower Bridge quicker than we could have ever imagined. We rode up and down the river, side to side and round and round whilst the speakers were blaring loud music and giving us a party experience to remember. It was literally so much fun, just like being on a fast roller-coaster at a theme park, but even better as the sights of London were all around us. We had to grab on to our seats but we were in no danger at all of falling out as our crew kept us safe the whole time – just make sure you hold on to anything loose as they can’t be held responsible for flying hats or scarves!

My sister and I absolutely adored our time spent with the Thames Rockets team; the tour, the speed and the music were amazing, we just wish we could have had longer on board! The Ultimate London adventure was perfect for us, but you can choose from a variety of other experiences to suit your needs. Why not hop on board the Thames Lates cruise to see the city sights lit up in all their glory? Or if your need for speed outweighs your need for sightseeing, the Break The Barrier tour is the one for you! Whatever tour you choose, Thames Rockets will not disappoint! Summer is a great time to visit whilst the sun is shining and the landmarks look even more glorious, but this experience can be taken at any time of year, weather permitting of course.

 

 

As part of this review, I’m delighted to announce that I also have a pair of tickets for you to WIN so that you can experience The Ultimate London adventure too! All you have to do to win is:

  • Follow me on Twitter – @jessica16_x
  • Follow Thames Rockets on Twitter – @thamesrockets
  • Retweet my competition tweet (pinned tweet on my Twitter page)

**Competition opens 12/07/17 and closes 31/07/17 – entrants must do all three of the above to qualify. Quoted tweets will not count. Winners to be announced on my Twitter page 03/08/17 and will be sent a pair of Thames Rockets tickets via email.**

 

thames rockets 2

What an amazing adventure we had with the Thames Rockets crew 

 

Wishing you all the best of luck with the competition – this really is an amazing prize and I know whoever wins will have the most amazing day out in our beautiful capital city! I’m rather jealous that I won’t get to do The Ultimate London Adventure all over again, but I will most definitely be back on board with Thames Rockets again soon and can’t wait to try another one of their tours.

GOOD LUCK!

Love Jess x

NB. I was invited as a guest of Thames Rockets for the purpose of this review and giveaway but, as always, all thoughts, opinions and photos are my own. A big thank you to Rory, Kai, Nick, Greg and the rest of the Thames Rockets team for looking after us, and for making our day so special.

 

thames rockets 1

Thanks for having me guys – had a blast! 🚀🚀

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Traverse17 round up – still the best travel blogging conference on the planet!

 

This building is one of my favourites in the whole of #London 🇬🇧 #TheO2 #VisitLondon #Traverse17

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Hi everyone,

So if you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I spent the whole of the May bank holiday weekend down in London for Traverse 17, the second conference I’ve been to which has been held by the fantastic Traverse Events. I went to my first one in Cardiff last year and had an incredible day, but this year it was bigger and better than ever before and was held in London for the first time. With two days of conferences instead of one, and more parties, workshops and social events to attend I had the most amazing weekend meeting new blogging friends, catching up with old ones and networking my bum off! If you’re yet to attend Traverse, here’s why I think you really should, and why I think it’s the best travel blogging conference on the planet…

You’ll meet so many like minded people

 

 

One of my favourite things about Traverse is that you get to catch up with so many blogger friends and get chatting to so many new ones too. Everyone’s in the same boat, we’re all there to mingle, and make contacts with new brands, as well as reconnect with fellow bloggers and old friends too. Here’s me with some of my faves, Lucy, Rach and Matt! Miss you guys! X

 

You’ll get opportunities you won’t find anywhere else

 

 

Where else can you take part in a competition with Topdeck Travel, play a crystal maze style game with Affilinet and come home with a cuddly toy from Cathay Pacific? Only at Traverse, that’s where! The brands and sponsors at the event are all there to speak to bloggers, work with influencers, and run fantastic giveaways and competitions, and the more you network, the more you’ll be remembered by the brands and the more chance you have of working on new projects with your new contacts. I’d highly recommend speaking to every single one of the brands just to say hi and to introduce yourself; hand out those business cards, give a friendly smile and show genuine interest, even if you’re not sure if the brand is a right fit for your blog. Make sure you send a follow up email to say hello and to thank people for their time if you’ve engaged in meaningful conversation too – I love staying in touch with new contacts as it really helps to forge longer lasting, working relationships.

 

You’ll learn so much from the workshops and talks

 

 

With two full days of workshops and lectures to attend at this years conference, I went into full ‘back to school’ mode and had my pen and paper to hand ready to take copious notes at every opportunity. I really love learning and try to improve my knowledge and my blogging skills as much as I can so I am a huge fan of the workshops and try to get to almost all of them! During my time at Traverse this year I attended lectures given by fellow bloggers, PR companies and SEO experts and I learnt so frikkin much! Each and every one of them were insightful, informative and super interesting so I can’t wait to put my new found skills into practice and grow my little blog even more!

 

You’ll get tonnes of freebies

 

 

This is definitely one of the perks of Traverse, and the goodies seem to get better and better after each event! Last year I came away with a beach towel, beach ball, sturdy bag and much more, but this year I was given a selfie stick (yay), baseball hat, phone charger, piggy bank, pens, keyrings and notepads too. A big thanks to all the sponsors for being so generous with their fantastic freebies this year!

 

You’ll grow in confidence

 

 

This is probably the single biggest reason you should go to Traverse. I can’t tell you how much my confidence has sky rocketed since attending my first couple of conferences this past year. I’ve always been bubbly and outgoing, but in the past found it difficult to approach people I didn’t know for fear of not making a good first impression, or of not sounding intelligent enough! Now though, after two conferences and countless events, I can happily walk into a room full of strangers and introduce myself to all the people and brands there without feeling nervous one bit. My confidence is at an all time high and that’s 100% down to the experiences I’ve had with Traverse over the past year!

 

You’ll attend some epic parties

 

 

Like this one – the opening night at Altitude London hosted by Jet2 – we had canapés, champagne and incredible 360 degree views over London… what’s not to love?!

 

 

… and this one! The closing party was hosted by Visit Spain and was held at the stunning Iberica Restaurant in Canary Wharf. The tapas was delicious, the cava was flowing and everyone was having a fiesta and celebrating the end of a fantastic weekend.

 

 

.. but the highlight was this one – a boat party on the Thames hosted by Cheapflights and CityCruises. Watching the sunset over The O2 and then seeing Tower Bridge lit up after dark was truly special and something I will remember forever!

 

And you’ll network every second of the day!

 

 

This word used to scare me shitless. The thought of ‘networking’ or making small talk with complete strangers used to really make me feel nervous. I didn’t want to put myself out there for fear of looking like an idiot, or for sounding stupid, but I’ve found my networking mojo over the past year and, for me, that’s something that is a great achievement. Being pushed out of my comfort zone has been so rewarding, so I now absolutely LOVE networking. I just try to be myself, be engaging, bubbly and friendly, and people seem to remember me so I must be doing something right!

 

These are just some of the many reasons to attend the wonderful Traverse conference, which will be held outside of the UK for the first time next year in the Dutch city of Rotterdam! Whether you’re a total newbie or you’re a blogging pro, every attendee comes together and is made to feel completely equal, which is why Traverse is so fantastic. No matter how small or large your blog is, you’re all treated the exact same and the parties are so good for mingling with new people you would never have met otherwise!

Michael, Paul and the whole of the Traverse team go above and beyond to make sure every single attendee gets the most out of the conference, and it wouldn’t be what it is today without them! Thanks for another amazing weekend guys – see you in Rotterdam for #Traverse18! Have I sold it to you yet, and are you thinking of attending the conference next year? Register your interest for tickets and hopefully I’ll see you there! 😀

Love Jess x

 

That sky tho 😍 #VisitLondon #London #Traverse17 @citycruises

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Press Visit: 24 Hours in Bath Spa

 

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited on my first ever press trip to the beautiful city of Bath Spa and I had the most AMAZING overnight stay! Working in conjunction with Visit Bath and the stunning Francis Hotel, I was able to obtain a press pass which granted me access to some of the city’s top attractions. Located in the pretty county of Somerset, the city of Bath is one of the most visited in England, attracting over 3.8 million visitors each year.

Bath became a Spa in 60 AD with the Latin name Aquæ Sulis when the Romans built the baths in the valley of the River Avon, and remains the only place in the UK where you can bathe in thermal waters from the natural hot springs underneath the city. The whole city was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, and is still the only place in the UK to have this title. The centre of Bath is pretty small, and everything can be seen in a day or two so, without further ado, here is my ultimate guide to this gorgeous city!

 

How to get there

Bath is perfectly positioned just off the M4 and M5 motorways, just 19 miles from Bristol Airport and a 90 minute train ride away from London Paddington station, meaning it can be accessed by bus, car, coach, train or plane. However, as it’s a fairly small city, the roads are often congested with heavy traffic and parking can be a little tricky as it is often so busy. The whole of Bath can be explored on foot, and walking is the best way to truly discover the city, so ditch the car and arrive by train instead! Bath Spa station is just a 5 minute walk from the city centre and offers fantastic frequent services that run smoothly, allowing you to visit from many different UK rail stations.

1024px-bath_spa_railway_station_from_beechen_cliff

Photo credit: By Rwendland – Own work. Source: Commons Wikimedia

 

 

Where to stay

There’s a vast array of different hotels and B&B’s in Bath, many of which are luxury spa hotels given the city’s thermal water heritage, but there are properties to suit every need and budget. For a luxurious stay in a beautiful setting at the heart of the city, I’d highly recommend the Francis Hotel, located on Queens Square. With it’s original Georgian architecture still in tact, the hotel was converted from a row of terraced houses and now boasts 98 individually designed modern bedrooms with a distinct historic feel.

 

There’s also a delightful tearoom where afternoon tea is served daily, snug lounge and bar areas, an underground dining/breakfast room and famous chef Raymond Blanc’s signature restaurant, Brasserie Blanc. Onsite parking and free WIFI is available at the hotel, and the friendly staff are on hand to help whatever your query might be. For a 4* stay at the heart of Bath you really can’t go wrong with the Francis Hotel – my full review will be posted on the blog soon!

 

What to see

There are a number of impressive landmarks in Bath which are not to be missed on your visit to the city – here are my Top 5:

 bathabbey Bath Abbey – one of the oldest Church buildings in the UK, with striking Perpendicular Gothic architecture and history dating back to the 7th century. The Abbey runs frequent tours allowing visitors t0 climb the 212 steps up to the top of the tower for spectacular panoramic views across the city.

 

 

The Roman Baths – follow in the footsteps of the Romans and explore the site where they bathed in thermal plunge pools over 2000 years ago. With a fantastic museumromanbaths and original architecture dating back to 70AD, the Baths are a natural wonder and perhaps the city’s most popular tourist attraction.

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The Royal Crescent & The Circus – a row of 30 terraced houses laid out in the shape of a sweeping crescent overlooking the gardens of the Royal Victoria Park. Both the Crescent and the Circus are some of the country’s best examples of fine Georgian architecture.

pulteneybridgePulteney Bridge – one of only 4 historic bridges left in the world with shops built into it on either side. Completed back in 1774, the bridge was designed to connect the city with the Georgian town of Bathwick. Cross the River Avon in style & gaze down to the striking crescent weir below.

 

Thermae Bath Spa – award-winning natural spa allowing visitors to bathe in the UK’s only naturally warm mineral waters, just as the Romans did over 2000 years ago! Immerse yourself in the spa’s different chambers; a lazy river with Jacuzzi, a range of aromatic steam rooms and a thermal rooftop pool with spectacular views of the city skyline.

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Photo credit: Rob Slade Photography

Where to eat & drink

Bath is known for its high end eateries and its iconic Pump Room is a stunning restaurant at the heart of the city, located just next to Bath Abbey & The Roman Baths. There are also a number of popular chain restaurants, such as Pizza Express, Nandos, Prezzo, Wagamama & Browns which offer visitors an eclectic choice when it comes to dining. As Bath is also a uni city, there are plenty of bars, pubs and even a couple of clubs for those looking for some adventurous nightlife.

 

For a quintessentially English treat, Sally Lunn’s Tea Rooms are not to be missed! With history dating back to the 1400s, Sally Lunn’s is one of the oldest eateries in England. Guests flock from all corners of the globe to get a taste of the world famous sweet and savoury buns, served with different flavoured toppings and fillings to suit every palette. The buns are so large that they’re served in half and traditionally eaten with a knife and fork. Today the restaurant serves up a menu based on the buns that were first created by Sally Lunn herself back in 1680 when she arrived in England as a French refugee. There is a museum and small gift shop underneath the restaurant which houses the original kitchens that Sally used to bake her world famous buns. The museum is free for diners to enter and you can even buy your own buns to take home!

 

What not to miss

Discover a hidden gem at the heart of the city and indulge in a private spa session at The Cross Bath. Located next to the Thermae Spa and part of the same building, although it is not attached, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the steaming thermal waters and enjoy an intimate spa session with private changing facilities. The Cross Bath can be visited individually, or hired out by a maximum of 12 people at a time, making it a quiet alternative to the busy facilities offered at the Thermae Spa. The spa’s catering team can also provide nibbles and champagne for a luxurious treat and an occasion to remember. The Cross Bath is recognised as an official sacred site and is a hidden gem not to be missed when visiting the city!

The Cross Bath- a hidden gem at the heart of #bath! 🇬🇧 #visitbath #visitengland #visitbritain #lovegreatbritain #UK #GB #igersbath

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When to visit

Bath is beautiful at any time of year, but I particularly love it during the autumn/winter months, when the countdown to Christmas is well and truly on! In the lead up to the big day, there are a number of popular events in the city, such as The Great Bath Feast, The Bath Film Festival, Bath Rotary Club Fireworks Display, and The Bath Christmas Markets, making autumn/winter one of the busiest times of the year.

Ladies and gents, The Roman Baths! 🇬🇧 #bath #visitbath #UK #GB #visitbritain #lovegreatbritain

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Visiting in spring or summer is just as lovely too though, with the better weather Bath comes alive and the blue skies and green grass really shows off the city in all its glory. Bath Literature Festival, Vitality Bath Half Marathon and the Bath Comedy and Bath Digital Festivals are all fun, family friendly events on the spring/summer calendar making it a great time to visit.

How beautiful is the #royalcrescent looking in the sunshine today?! #bath #visitbath #GB #UK @visitbath #visitbritain #lovegreatbritain

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Why visit Bath?

In summary, Bath is one of those really gorgeous cities that should definitely not be missed when planning a trip to the UK! It’s super easy to visit by either rail, road or air and is in a prime location in the west of the country, perfect if breaking up your journey to London and surrounding areas. Offering a whole host of things to see and do, the history and charm of Bath will leave you wanting to return time and time again.

Oh Bath Abbey how I've missed you! 😍🇬🇧 #bath #wanderlustwednesday #UK #GB @visitbath

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So there we have it, my full guide to visiting the city of Bath – you can now plan your trip and go enjoy a fabulous stay there whenever you choose to visit! Have you ever been to Bath before, or are you planning on going anytime soon? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Love Jess x

NB. For this press visit I was lucky enough to be a guest with Visit Bath and with the Francis Hotel, but all opinions are of course my own.

Restaurant Review: The Fox, Great Barrington

Had the pleasure of #reviewing yet another gorgeous #Cotswolds pub last night – #blog #post coming soon! #burford #oxfordshire

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A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a local PR company, the same one that asked me to review The Perch at Oxford, asking me to review yet another local Oxfordshire restaurant. I said yes (obviously) and headed over to The Fox Inn, located in the sleepy little Cotswolds village of Great Barrington, just past Burford, on a sunny Tuesday evening with one of my best friends.

The Fox Inn has been serving ale drinkers and food lovers for many, many years and it’s gorgeous riverside setting with large garden attracts tourists and locals alike. The pub is particularly popular with dog walkers, due to it’s fantastic location near the River Windrush and some of Oxfordshire best footpaths and bridleways, making it the perfect place to stop off and relax whilst enjoying a drink or a bite to eat in the most comfortable of surroundings. The Fox even caters for your canine friends with a unique Dining with your Dog Menu so your pooch will be just as satisfied as you are whilst you’re devouring your Sunday lunches!

 

the-fox-inn-dog-menu

Image courtesy of The Fox Inn

 

The Fox Inn.png

Image courtesy of The Fox Inn

Upon arrival we were greeted by bar manager Summer who looked after us during the course of the evening too. Summer was brilliant, she was super smiley, friendly and helpful and was attentive when asking our orders. The menu was eclectic with a number of options to suit every taste bud; diners could choose from hearty pub grub dishes including beef stroganoff, chicken curry, fish and chips or homemade pie. The starter menu was plentiful, as was the ploughman’s lunch menu which we will definitely return to try one day!

the-fox-inn-menu

We both skipped starters but opted for the crispy duck and bacon salad (£16.50) and the mega knuckle of Cotswold lamb (£22.95) for our mains. Both dishes were served promptly and both were truly delicious! The sticky balsamic dressing and hot pitta bread really complemented my crispy duck and bacon salad, whilst my friend said her slow cooked, melt in the mouth lamb went perfectly with the rosemary sautéed potatoes and fresh vegetables that came with the dish.

 

The dessert menu was varied and offered a number of different delights for adults and a smaller ice cream menu for the kids too. We chose the waffle with maple syrup and ice cream and the sticky toffee pudding and toffee sauce; both puds were A-MA-ZING and I could’ve devoured both of them all in one go!

the-fox-inn-dessert-menu

Overall we had a fantastic evening out at The Fox and will look to return with my little westie dog in the winter months.. I’m sure the Dog Menu will be a hit with her, and with us! The roaring fire will make this Cotswolds gem even more cosy and I’m looking forward to seeing what yummy dishes the winter menu promises!

A big thanks again to Summer for looking after us – we will be back! To book an evening, weekend, dinner or lunchtime meal at The Fox Inn please contact the pub directly.

NB. Thank you to Crimson PR & The Fox for sponsoring my visit. All views and opinions are my own.