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Sick of stressful airport travel? Ride in style with National Express!

 

So your alarm is set, your suitcase is packed and your trip is booked. Every final detail is confirmed, from your flights and transfers to your tour itineraries and restaurant reservations. Going on holiday can be pretty stressful, and it is often made worse by the hassle of getting to and from the airport. Flying is lots of fun, but let’s face it, who really wants to get there 3 hours before a flight and spend ages queuing at the check in desk?! Not me, that’s for sure! One of the things I find most stressful about travelling is actually the hassle of getting to and from the airport. I can drive but I prefer not to travel long distances in my car and would rather not leave it at the airport car park for a week.

Living in Oxford, I am lucky that I have several airports to choose from when considering booking flights, but the hassle of getting to and from each airport has often put me off in the past. However, as an avid fan of public transport, I would always try and catch a bus, coach or train to an airport wherever possible, and that’s where National Express comes in. I’ve been using National Express services for years and have always had fantastic journeys, so I was delighted to be asked to team up with them for the purpose of this blog review, and when I realised I needed transport for my upcoming European city break it was hard to refuse such a fantastic offer. Lets find out what I got up to on my recent trip with National Express…

 

An early start

 

My coach from Oxford to London Gatwick

 

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person in the world who will happily get up at 2am, after zero sleep and at the most awkward time possible, just to jump on a cheap flight to anywhere if it means I can get better value on my travel deals! Luckily, National Express is the largest operator of scheduled coach services in the UK operating high frequency services linking more than 900 destinations. National Express know that there are lots of people out there who, like me, need to get to an airport at ridiculous o’clock in the morning, and they operate coach services direct to the terminal for all major UK airports, 24 hours a day with 1,100 airport services running every day. They also offer generous luggage allowance of two medium sized suitcases and a small piece of hand luggage as well as driver assistance – pretty amazing if you ask me! My 2am wake up call didn’t seem so bad when I hopped on board my perfectly timed coach ready to start my next adventure.

 

A comfortable outwards journey

 

Image courtesy of National Express

 

One of the benefits of getting on an early morning coach usually means that it’s not too busy, although surprisingly my coach was pretty full by the time I left Oxford to head to London! The coaches are also usually very quiet during the early morning times, which means I can catch up on some much needed sleep before arriving at the airport and being in holiday mode. National Express coaches are modern and comfortable with a variety of facilities and features including a free wifi and entertainment system which consists of a complimentary on-board app offering TV, films and magazines to passengers. On board the coach you’ll also find smart leather seats, convenient power sockets for charging your mobile devices, comfortable leg room for business class passengers, welcome air-conditioning on a warm day and clean toilets on every journey. My outwards journey from Oxford to London Gatwick took just under 2 hours and it was smooth, comfortable and extremely easy.

 

A relaxing homeward journey

 

Image courtesy of National Express

 

After my whirlwind weekend abroad, it was time to come home and I actually looked forward to my return journey back home given that my first coach journey on the way out was so comfortable. I wasn’t sure if I would actually make my return journey on time as my flight was delayed by almost an hour! But luckily we made up some time and I had booked the coach an hour later than I had actually needed to just allow for some additional time, so this really helped. If your flight is delayed though, I’m aware that you can hop on the next coach (up to 180 mins after your booked coach time) providing that the driver of the next available coach has room for you. My journey home was just as good as my journey out and I felt fully relaxed by the time I got back to Oxford – there’s nothing worse than a stressful drive home to dampen your holiday mood!

 

So as you can see I had a really pleasant journey to and from Oxford and London Gatwick during my recent trip and it definitely made my holiday both stress free and hassle free. Turning up and being able to get to and from the airport safely and swiftly really makes me relax before a holiday and, for me, is a great alternative to driving. The drivers were friendly, the seats were comfy, I felt safe at all times and even got a couple of hours kip before my flight… Oh and the free on board WIFI worked a treat too – bonus! Overall I had a fantastic return journey with National Express and I would highly recommend their services to anyone looking for a hassle free start and end to their airport trips. You can also benefit from a Coachcard if you’re a young person (aged 16- 26), a senior (aged 60+), or if you’re registered as disabled. For the price of just £12.50 a year you’ll get up to a third off standard and fully flexible fares, as well as benefiting from discounted travel to and from nationwide festivals, and 20% off Pizza Hut too!

Have you ever travelled with National Express before? What did you think of their services? As I mentioned, I have used them for many years and never had a problem so am already looking forward to booking up next time I need airport transport. The question is, where will I travel to next? Answers on a postcard please!…

Love Jess x

NB. I was a guest of National Express and was gifted tickets to come on board for the purpose of this review but all thoughts and comments are of course my own.

For more information and to find the best value fares visit www.nationalexpress.com or call 0871 7818181

 

Image courtesy of National Express

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An Evening on the Thames with CityCruises London Sundowner

 

 

 

Starting as we mean to go on…

 

A few weeks ago my sister and I had the pleasure of hopping on board The Sundowner, London’s number one evening cruise, hosted by the wonderful City Cruises team. This 2 and a half hour cruise showcases iconic London landmarks that line up along the Thames and can be seen from every angle, both in light and in the dark too. Canapes and sparkling wine greet you on arrival, whilst a local musician or jazz band play on board as you sail down the river. Sound too good to be true? It really was something special…

The cruise departs Westminster Pier at 6.30pm and lasts for approximately two hours. Once on board you’ll be treated to a complimentary glass of fizz before a delightful selection of canapes are passed round. The cruise is named The Sundowner in summer and Riverlights in winter which I think is super cool as everything is completely lit up after dark during the colder months! The boats’ downstairs has a large seating area with panoramic windows and a fully stocked bar, whilst upstairs holds plenty of uncovered seating and offers amazing views.

 

The upper deck of the Sundowner

 

As the Sundowner starts at Westminster Pier, it’s only right that the first landmarks you’ll spot are the iconic Big Ben and Houses of Parliament. You’ll get an amazing view of both as you pass them by, and you’ll see them again on the return journey too. The cruise then passes under several bridges before turning around and taking in some of the most famous sights in the city, such as The London Eye, The Globe Theatre, The Shard and HMS Belfast before going underneath the glorious Tower Bridge.

Tower Bridge is undoubtedly the highlight of the cruise, and passing underneath it is definitely one of those ‘bucket list’ moments! You’ll get photo opportunities aplenty as the boat goes quite slowly and there’s plenty of time to take pictures from every angle you can think of whilst gazing in awe at one of London’s most iconic symbols.

 

The mighty Tower Bridge

 

 

There was a really nice atmosphere on board, everyone was super friendly and the jazz musician who entertained us for the duration did a fantastic job. He played an eclectic range of golden oldies and recent chart hits, offering something to suit everyone. There were couples, solo travellers, families and groups of friends on board showing that this type of cruise really is perfect for all.

I really enjoyed my time on board The Sundowner and would recommend it to anyone looking to see the sights of the city from the comfort of the River Thames. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a warm summers evening in the heart of our capital city, and unwinding with bubbly and canapes was the perfect way to end a lovely day in London.

 

The Shard – the tallest building in the UK

 

The Sundowner cruise runs Wednesday-Sunday and departs Westminster Pier at 6.30pm, returning at around 8.30pm. Tickets are priced at £32pp. Children under 13 years of age are sadly not allowed on board. CityCruises are currently offering a fantastic FLASH DEAL on all Sundowner cruises – book before 18th September to receive a 20% discount! Travel must be taken Sunday-Friday before 31st October.

What are you waiting for?! Treat yourself or your loved ones to a delightful cruise along the Thames – you can thank me later!

Love Jess x

NB. I was invited by CityCruises as a guest for the purpose of this review, but all words, thoughts and photos are of course my own. A big thank you t

 

 

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August Newsletter

 

Hi guys,

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

 

I hopped over to Hamburg for the weekend

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

I had a day at the races

 

Race Days 🐎🎉👯☀️

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

 

I worked on numerous blog collaborations

 

 

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

 

 

 

I spent the bank holiday weekend in Liverpool

 

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

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

 

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

 

And then wandered around Gloucester on bank holiday Monday

 

 

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

 

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

Love Jess x

 

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*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

 

tour guide london 1

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! 🚀🚀

June Newsletter

 

I think I'm a little bit in love with #Tenerife 😍🌊

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

 

Hi everyone,

How did your month go? Mine was super crazy busy with a big holiday and little days out but I’ve had a brilliant few weeks and don’t have long to go until my next big trip! I got back from Tenerife mid way through the month and just before that I had back to back trips to Sofia and Menorca. Since my return I’ve been working non-stop, both at my part time job, and for my freelance clients, so have barely had a minute to myself. I feel as if I have neglected my blog a little lately as I’ve been away so much, but normal service will resume shortly and I’ve got SO MUCH new content planned for you! Here’s how my June went…

 

I went on holiday to Tenerife

 

Just one more 📸 of the amazing mount teide cos I just love it 🗻 #teide #teidelover #tenerife #canaries #traveltuesday

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Literally the highlight of my entire month… my first proper beach holiday/package holiday/relax and chill holiday for THREE WHOLE YEARS! Yep, it’s been a long time since I’ve actually been away and laid by the pool, or fell asleep on a sunlounger on the beach, without being on a crazy busy trip and feeling like my feet haven’t touched the ground. This holiday was so needed, and I enjoyed every second! I went with my sisters and we spent the whole week in the gorgeous Spanish sunshine devouring Tapas, drinking cocktails and taking day trips too. Tenerife totally stole my heart, the island was absolutely gorgeous with tonnes of exciting things on offer to see and do; my favourite day trips were to Mount Teide, where we climbed an active volcano, and to Puerto Colon where we saw whales and dolphins swimming freely out in the sea whilst on a boat trip from the port. I had the most amazing time and will definitely be returning soon… full blog post to follow!

 

It’s been a whole year since my America trip

 

 

I can’t believe it’s been an ENTIRE YEAR since I quit my job to go on the trip of a lifetime across the States. The time has gone by so so quickly, yet at the same time it feels like ages ago since I boarded that flight to LA to start my new adventure. I’ve been reminiscing and posting a few photos on my Instagram page, whilst trying not to get too emosh about everything too :'( This trip totally changed my life, and I just wish I could go back and do it all over again!

 

I was featured by Mail Travel

 

 

So this was totally unexpected but I came home from a shift at my part time job to find that my recent Bratislava blog post had been shared by the wonderful team at Mail Travel – yay! I don’t very often get my posts re-shared, other than from some of my lovely blogger friends lending support, so it felt amazing to have this one recognized from such a well established travel site, and one I’m an avid reader of myself!

 

I popped into London to reunite with my #MustSeeMenorca buddies

 

 

Last week I had the pleasure of being reunited with all my #MustSeeMenorca buddies, but this time in rainy London instead! We headed to super trendy pop up bar Neverland over in Fulham, complete with its very own beach and cocktails served in giant gold swans. It was so lovely to catch up with all my friends, discussing what we had been up to since Menorca, and finding out everyone’s plans for the summer ahead. Can’t wait to see everyone again at the next one! Thank you to Michael and Paul at Traverse for putting on such a fantastic night for us all <3

 

One of my tweets got a lot of attention

 

 

So I casually sent this tweet one afternoon not really thinking about what I was saying, and after checking back shortly after, I’d had an overwhelming response and it had been liked, re-tweeted and replied to countless times. I think there’s been a lot of negative energy surrounding the blogosphere lately, particularly with the rise of bots, fake followers and sponsored ads, so I’m really passionate about making sure smaller bloggers like me get the same opportunities out there as established bloggers too. I know I can’t compete with the bloggers that have been doing this for the past 8 years, or those with 100,000 followers and a DA of 50, but what I CAN offer is quality content, an engaged readership and an authentic, genuine following. I’d love to see more brands working with smaller scale bloggers to allow them the same opportunities as all the rest, so hopefully we start seeing some changes to this industry soon! Thank you to all of those who responded to this tweet, I know so many of you feel the same as me on this one too.

 

May & June were the best 2 months on Twitter to date!

 

So I've just had a look at my Twitter stats for May and June and I'm delighted to say that I've had the best two months…

Posted by Journeys with Jessica on Thursday, June 29, 2017

 

I’ll end this month’s newsletter on a positive note, and something I’m really proud of! I’m a huge Twitter advocate and absolutely love using it for my blog – it’s my favourite platform and I’m constantly updating my profile. I monitor my stats regularly, and was completely taken aback when I saw my analytics for the past two months were the best they’ve ever been! Despite having only 3500 followers, my tweets reached over 212,000 people in May and over 185,000 in June, and I’ve seen a massive increase in profile visitors and followers too. If you’re looking to get your tweets seen by more people, and would like help increasing your following, get in touch for some bespoke social media help – I have capacity to take on TWO new freelance clients over the next couple of months, and am also helping fellow bloggers by offering 1-2-1 advice too. Visit my Work With Me page for more info, or just contact me with any queries at all as I would LOVE to help!

Another busy month for me, and I think July will be much the same, although I now have a full month at home before my next adventure – a press trip to Switzerland! I’m super excited about this one and can’t wait to share all my photos with you when I’m over there – I’ve got an action packed itinerary with so much to see and do! How did your June go?

Love Jess x