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November Newsletter

Hi everyone,

It’s that time of the month again, and my jam-packed newsletter is here! As November is a five week month it’s felt like ages since I wrote my last newsletter, but I have crammed so much into these past few weeks and am so excited to tell you all what I’ve been up to! Here goes…

I celebrated Bonfire Night

 

My favourite time of year 💥🎉😍🍂 #bonfirenight #fireworks #autumn

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Bonfire Night is undoubtedly my favourite time of the year, I just LOVE it! I love wrapping up warm, grabbing a sparkler and gazing towards the skies as they light up with firework after firework. The food is a winner too, who doesn’t love tucking into a  hot dog (or three) whilst watching the fireworks go off?! I was lucky enough to go to TWO local displays this year and they were both wonderful.

I watched Ghost the Musical on stage

Musicals are soooo my thing, I love everything about them and am attempting to see as many as I can over the next few years! This year I’ve already seen The Bodyguard, Chicago and Les Mis, so watching Ghost was my final show of 2016 and what a show it was. Every single element from the cast to the music to the performance was mesmerising; I cried like a baby at the end but I loved every minute of it! Congratulations to the fantastic cast, crew and production company for putting on SUCH an amazing show.

I attended WTM London for the first time

 

 

I was sooo excited to attend my first conference at WTM London this year and couldn’t wait to start rubbing shoulders with brands, tourism boards and fellow bloggers at the biggest travel trade show in the world. I met so many people and learnt so much in such a short amount of time, one day definitely wasn’t enough to take everything in. Read all about my amazing time at London’s ExCel Centre here – I already can’t wait to return in 2017!

I won FREE return flights with Jet2.com

 

 

So anyone that knows me will know that I have really BAD luck at winning things. I never win on scratch cards, on lottery tickets or at any competition at all, until this month when I was one of 20,000 lucky people who won FREE return flights with Jet2.com’s  Name It competition! I was sooo overwhelmed I couldn’t believe it! I have the choice of visiting over 58 of Jet2’s fab European destinations in summer 2017 and I need to pick my holiday destination by 16th December, so I don’t have long! At the moment I’m torn between a cheeky week in Tenerife, or a little city break to either Dubrovnik, Geneva or Warsaw – people of WordPress… HELP ME CHOOSE! I might run a Twitter poll because I genuinely can’t decide.. watch this space…

I visited London three times in space of 7 days

 

 

It’s no secret how much I love London, and I was delighted when I recently got the chance to visit the city three times in the same week. I did some sightseeing on the Southbank, some wandering around Winter Wonderland and accidentally stumbled upon the UK premier of Fantastic Beasts in the middle of Leicester Square! London is looking particularly beautiful now that all the Christmas lights are up, and I just love the city at this time of year.

I entered Accor Hotels latest competition

 

 

I found this competition after scrolling past something on Twitter but I was also emailed directly about it and was invited to enter before the deadline closed, so thought I would get my entry in nice and quickly! AccorHotels is inviting bloggers to share their top tips on how to spend 24hrs in their fave cities. Naturally, I chose to write about the Big Apple as I literally had just 24hrs there before I had to jet back to sunny London the day after Independence Day! The prize is an incredible 9 night stay in Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris which, for me, would be my total dream trip so I’m keeping everything crossed that I may have a teeny tiny chance of winning. Have a read of my entry – and GOOD LUCK to all other bloggers entering, don’t forget to use the dedicated hashtag #AccorHotels24Hrs

I spent a festive day at Winter Wonderland

 

 

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I’ve been to Winter Wonderland recently as my feed is FULL of festive images from my day out there a couple of weeks ago. London’s Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary this year, and my fourth annual visit to the wintry spectacle certainly didn’t disappoint! I had a wonderful time and already can’t wait to return next Christmas (am I really thinking about next Christmas already?! Time – Please. Stop. Going. So. FAST!!

I reviewed a lovely hotel at the heart of the Cotswolds

 

Another day, another hotel review! Wonderful stay in the heart of the #Cotswolds – full review and blog post coming soon! #Oxfordshire

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Last weekend I had the pleasure of staying in one of the cosiest Cotswolds retreats, The White Horse Inn at Duns Tew. I was reviewing the Inn on behalf of a PR company and had a wonderful time. The staff made us feel so welcome, the room was sooo nice and cosy, and the dinner and breakfasts the next morning were AMAZING! The White Horse Inn was such as lovely location to spend my last weekend in November, and I would whole-heartedly recommend it to those looking for the ultimate getaway at the heart of the Cotswolds. Full review and blog post coming soon!

So there we go, I told you I’d had a busy month! It seems like November has gone by nice and slowly, and has given me chance to catch my breath after my hectic summer and busy autumn. I can’t quite believe we are about to enter our final month of 2016 though, where the HELL has this past year gone?! I’m in full festive mode now, I’m halfway through my Christmas shopping and I’m looking forward to the big day. Have you got yourself prepared for Christmas yet? Are you spending the festive period away from home? Tell me all your plans!

Love Jess x

 

Unexpectedly #London bound… Again! ✨💃 #selfie #happytuesday #backtomyfavecity

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October Newsletter – Happy Halloween!

Hi everyone,

Happy Halloween!! Can’t quite believe that it’s that time of the month again… Newsletter time! I thought my October was going to be pretty quiet, but it ended up being unexpectedly busy! I’ve been up to all sorts of exciting things and, as always, am more than happy to share them with you all… Here goes!…

I went on my first ever press trip!

 

 

So October has been an exciting month for me, mainly because I was invited on my first ever press trip! The wonderful team at Visit Bath invited me to spend a couple of days exploring their beautiful Spa city and I was able to obtain press passes to check out some of the city’s best known attractions. I had a brilliant time stepping back in history at The Roman Baths and climbing Bath Abbey for spectacular panoramic views of the city. I also spent the morning relaxing at the beautiful Thermae Spa before staying at the luxury Francis Hotel too – check out my full hotel review if you’re visiting soon and are looking for somewhere to stay! I was well and truly spoilt and already cant wait to return to beautiful Bath!

 

I registered to attend WTM London

 

 

So I’ve signed up to attend my first ever travel trade show and I am SO excited! WTM London is probably the biggest travel show in the world, with thousands of exhibitors from all corners of the globe coming together for three days of travel showcasing. I’ve been busy booking meetings in with various exhibitors and am hoping to meet with many more tourism boards, press members and fellow bloggers at the event next week. It has come round so fast and will be the biggest conference I’ve ever attended so I am really looking forward to it!

 

I became a tourist in my home city (again!)

 

 

I treated myself to a day off last week and spent some time exploring my beautiful home city, Oxford. I never get the chance to explore it properly and am always in a rush when I’m there (Christmas shopping is so stressful, I don’t care what anyone says!), so I thought it would be fun to spend some proper time seeing all the touristy things! I actually went on a first date with someone and we had such a fun day out, it was so refreshing to do something different for a date rather than just going out for a drink! I made a little Oxford ‘bucket list’ as it was his first time visiting the city, so we climbed St Mary’s Church, saw the Radcliffe Camera, explored the Ashmolean Musem & took a selfie under the Bridge of Sighs! It was so much fun and it reminded me how much I loved Oxford! What do you guys do for first date ideas? I love the concept of putting something travel related in there, I think it’s so much more exciting than just going to a pub and it can take some of the ‘first date nerves’ out the picture too!

 

I got scared silly at Thorpe Park’s Fright Night

 

👻 F R I G H T N I G H T 👻 #WeSurvived #ThorpePark #fbf #halloween

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I had never been to Thorpe Park before so when one of my  best friends suggested we head over for one of their Fright Night events I was so keen! I love theme parks and rides and love all things spooky and Halloweeny (that’s a word, right?!) so couldn’t wait to get my freak on and be scared silly. I have to say, it was crazy busy and the wait times for rides were insanely long, but we were there really for the Fright Night so we did a few rides but then spent the majority of time in the mazes. I was expecting them to be a little tame but oh my god they were SO SCARY! I was having heart palpitations, jumping out my skin and screaming my head off the whole way through, but it was so much fun and I will definitely be going back next year – what is wrong with me?!

 

My freelancing business has really taken off

 

This is how I feel right now. Today I calculated that I've earnt *almost* as much each month as I was earning in my old 9-5 job! I knew I could do it!!! I've started with nothing and built up my little business all by myself. At times I felt like giving up, like I wasn't good enough, and like I had no right to make a career for myself, but today I've felt so inspired and so pleased that my hard work seems to be paying off. Any doubts that may have been in my mind have now been dismissed and I am SO excited to continue my journey in my new career and see where this takes me! Here's to future success and many more adventures 📝💻✈️🌍 #MondayMotivation #freelancer #bloglife #virtualassistant

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I know I said this last month, but my business has continued to grow since then and I’m now earning almost as much as I was at my old 9-5 job!! I’m so so grateful to be content with doing what I love for a living, and it’s going really well so far. I’ve grown from nothing and now have six clients and am taking on an exciting new project soon which will expand my business even further. In case you don’t know what it is that I do, I’ve set myself up as a Virtual Assistant and I’m offering a range of services from social media management and content writing to Skype sessions for fellow bloggers and ad-hoc computer admin work for some of my larger clients. I seem to be getting busier as the days go on and am so pleased with how my little freelance life is turning out. Please contact me directly to see how we can work together!

 

I’ve been LOVING the autumnal weather

 

🍂🌳 #blenheimpalace #woodstock #oxfordshire #cotswolds #oxford #GB #UK #england #visitengland #lovegreatbritain

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I was sooo sad when my amazing summer came to an end this year, but I have to say that I have been loving the autumnal weather we have been having over here in the UK throughout October. It hasn’t been overly cold, and we’ve had some beautiful blue skies and crisp autumn mornings that have seen me take the dog out on lots of walks, especially round the grounds of the beautiful Blenheim Palace! I love everything about autumn; the colours of the trees, Halloween and Bonfire Night and I love the countdown to Christmas – can’t believe how fast the end of the  year is approaching though… slow down already 2016!

So that’s how my October went! How did yours go? Were you as crazy busy as me, or did you have chance to have some down time? Let me know what you’ve been up to, or what you’ve got coming up for November – mine is going to be a busy one with trips to London and Essex already pencilled in!

Love Jess x

 

It's timeeeeee 😈🎃👻👯 #Halloween

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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.

September Newsletter

Hi everyone,

Another month has gone by and I’m reminded daily that we are in the latter part of the year now, with Christmas countdowns on and the nights drawing in it really does feel as if my amazing summer of 2016 is well and truly over! Noooooo!! I’ve had the best few months, and September has been no exception to that – here’s what I’ve been up to…

I had another announcement to make

 

 

So most of you will already know this, but this month I made ANOTHER exciting announcement and took a brand new step forwards in my travel career… I have been selected as an intern for UK Blog Awards and I couldn’t be more thrilled! As well as gaining bags of social media experience, I’ll also be expanding my blog writing and hopefully attending events and networking too, which will definitely boost my confidence. The internship is only for three months but I’m so excited to be working with such a fantastic company and I’m already hugely enjoying it!

I had the most amazing time on my Italian Escapade

 

Made it to the Collosseum! 🏟🏟 #Rome #twinnies #matchingeverythinggggg

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I literally flew back from Rome late Friday night and I had the BEST time on my Italian Escapade with my sister! We flew to Venice for 2 nights, then took the train to Florence for 3 nights before catching another train to Rome for 3 nights and then flying home on the 9th day of our adventure. We took a gondola ride in Venice, climbed the Cathedral in Florence and explored the ancient ruins of the Collosseum in Rome – more things ticked off the bucket list! We had SO MUCH FUN explore beautiful Italy and it’s left me already wanting to go back for more!

I attended the annual #bloggersfestival

 

Best backdrop ever 🌸🌸 #bloggersfestival @scarlettlondon #flowerwall

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It was my first time at the #bloggersfestival, hosted by Scarlett Dixon of Scarlett London Events, and I had such a lovely afternoon meeting new people and fellow bloggers! We were treated to goody bags galore by the sponsors and took part in competitions and fun events throughout the day. I left with tonnes of freebies and lots of new friends too – thanks for a wonderful afternoon Scarlett!

I collaborated with two local restaurants

 

 

This month I was lucky enough to be asked to review not one but TWO wonderful local restaurants, one in Oxford and one in a small village in Oxfordshire, and I was only too happy to oblige! I had two lovely evenings out tasting some fantastic food and enjoying lovely pub atmospheres; it was a pleasure to write the reviews and I know I’ll definitely be back to both places in the near future!

I continued to grow my brand new freelancing business

 

 

So my shiny new business is almost 2 months old, and I can’t quite believe it! I’ve been working my butt off to get things up and running; staying up late, having my lunch at my laptop and marketing myself on social media to gain new clients. I’m so pleased to say that it’s going really well so far and I’ve been maxed out with work for the past few weeks! I’m offering a range of services from social media management and content writing to Skype sessions for fellow bloggers and ad-hoc computer admin work for some of my larger clients. I seem to be getting busier as the days go on and am so pleased with how my little freelance life is turning out. Please contact me directly to see how we can work together!

I had a fun girly day out at Ascot Races!

 

Best day at the races with my girl 🐎🎉💖 #ascot #raceday #winners

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So today me and one of my best friends are attending a fab day out at Ascot Races, one of the most popular racecourses over here in the UK! We’re dressed up to the nines and are praying that the sun continues to shine for us and that our good fortune comes in when we pick our horses… wish us luck! 😉

Pheeeew, another month of madness over – and it’s time for October already! I’m looking forward to Halloween, especially as I’m going to Thorpe Park’s Fright Night for the first time EVER and I’m also planning a little visit to beautiful Bath in a couple of weeks too. How was your September, what did you get up to? I’d love to hear about your upcoming winter plans too!

Love Jess x

 

Arriverderci #Venice – you've been beautiful! 🇮🇹 #Italy #venizia

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July Newsletter! Back down to earth with a bump…

My little work helper! 🐶💖 #bloglife

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Hey everyone,

Well this feels rather strange.. I haven’t written a monthly newsletter since May!! MAY!! Yes you heard me right, May seems like FOREVER ago now, but I was out of the country for the whole of June and the start of July and then the rest of the month was over with in a flash! Now that we’re in August though (saywhatttt) I thought I’d summarise what I’ve been up to over these past few weeks…

I came back from my American adventure

So after 28 amazing days the time has come for me to leave the US of A and travel home from my first solo adventure! I've white water rafted in Durango, helicoptered over the Grand Canyon, parasailed on Daytona Beach, been speed boating in Miami and celebrated Independence Day in New York! I've had the time of my life with the most amazing people making 52 new friends as well as hundreds of new memories that will last a lifetime! Honestly the best thing I've ever done and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. Now it's time for me to fly home from NYC in my contiki top and cowboy boots in true tourist style! Til next time America… Mum I'm coming homeeee 🇺🇸🎉💖 #noregrets @contiki @statravel_uk @travelstarwarsjoe

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So unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month (or, ya know, you could just have been doing something else with your time other than reading my blog, it’s possible) you’ll know that I’ve just got back from the adventure of a LIFETIME! Yep, I’ve just spent the past month road tripping across America from LA to NYC on my first Contiki tour! Find out how my trip has literally changed my life, and why I think America is the best place on earth, by reading some of my previous posts.

I’m taking some time out for ME

Sometimes I just like to sit on fences and pose 📷🍃 #Cotswolds #oxfordshire #happymonday #countryside

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So, as you can imagine, I’m pretty damn gutted about being back home after my amazingly epic American adventure. Post travel blues generally suck but, this time, I’m feeling a whole other level of sadness and I don’t know why, I just can’t explain it. I’ve drafted something which kinda puts across my feelings, but I’ll post it when I’m good and ready as things are still a bit raw at the moment. Besides that I’ve been taking time out for ME and focusing on myself, which is something totally alien to me. Now that I’m not working it’s weird to adjust to not having a routine, so I’m trying to keep myself busy by enjoying long countryside dog walks, family days out and catch ups with my friends. For the first time in my adult life I don’t have to do ANYTHING I don’t want to do, and I’m just trying to embrace it!

I’m re-launching my blog

 

Yayyy, I’m so excited to be in the middle of a rebrand for my blog and I can’t wait to share the end result with you! It’s still a work in progress, but by now you should have noticed a few changes on the blog in terms of layout and theme, and I FINALLY have my own shiny new domain name – woooo! I’ve wanted to change my site for so long but work, life and America got in the way so, now that I’m back, this is my number one priority. Keep an eye out for further updates, but the finished project will be launched soon I promise!

I went to the beach (yes, it was in England!)

Beautiful day at a beautiful place 🇬🇧 #Cotswolds #wanderlustwednesday #visitgreatbritain #uk

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Okay, I know what you’re all thinking, why would you go to a beach in ENGLAND?! Wellll I’m happy to tell you that we experienced a somewhat freakishly hot heatwave last week across the UK and it was AMAZING, we haven’t felt heat like that in sooo long! What do us Brits do when we see some sun? We head for the beach of course! Instead of driving down the coast to all the tourist packed beaches though, me and my best friend drove the short 40 minutes to the beautiful Cotswold Water Park in Gloucestershire, our nearest manmade beach.

Row row row your boat ⚓️🚤 #Cotswolds #visitgreatbritain #uk #wanderlustwednesday

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It’s not quite the same, there isn’t sand that stretches for miles, or there’s not beautiful blue seas, but it’s as good as we can hope for in the Cotswolds with nothing around but hills, fields and, of course, the Great British countryside! We had a lovely day sunbathing, paddling and rowing a boat across the lake, as you do. Sun please make another appearance so I can go back to this wonderful place before the summer is over!

 

I celebrated my mum and dads Silver Wedding Anniversary <3

 

July also gave us a reason to celebrate as it was my parents Silver Wedding Anniversary – 25 WHOLE YEARS OF MARRAIGE?!?! Crazy, right?! We had a lovely day celebrating and we went out for a gorgeous Italian meal in the evening, just the five of us, before coming home to settle down in our pjs and watch my mum and dad’s wedding video! I’m so lucky to have such a close, tight knit family and occasions like this really bring it home. Love you mum and dad, thank you for always supporting me and for encouraging me to believe in my dreams! <3

I booked my next trip!

Thanks to @easyjet my next trip is now booked! Roll on a 9 day tour of #Italy in September with my sister eek!! #traveltuesday ✈️🌍

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Eeeek so probably the most exciting thing that happened in July was that I booked my next trip!! I know what you’re thinking, you’ve only just got back from America, right?! Yes, that’s right, but I also know that curing my travel blues is gonna take a lot more than pigging out on pizza and Ben & Jerry’s, so, I’ve booked my next trip! I’m off to Italy in September with my sister and we’re taking a full 9 day tour of the country visiting Venice, Florence and Rome. We are both SO EXCITED and are gonna be staying in boutique hotels, getting the train between each city and embracing the true history and culture of Italy during our time there. I’ll bring you more details once we’ve got everything fully booked, but if you have any city tips for either of the destinations we are visiting then PLEASE send them over to me- I want ALL your must sees and must dos!

So that’s pretty much it, my July wasn’t overly exciting compared to my June, but I’ve still been super busy and have had plenty to keep me going! How did your month go? Have you got much on for the rest of the summer? I’d love to hear your upcoming travel plans!

Love Jess x

☀️☀️ #happysaturday #sunshine #cotswolds #oxfordshire

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