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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

December Newsletter – End of year round up!

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Hi everyone,

It’s that time of year again! I can’t believe we are now at the end of 2015… IT IS CRAAZYY! I have had a fantastic year and been to some beautiful places so am excited to start planning my 2016 over the next few months! I’ll be combining this newsletter with my end of year review but I’ll start with December and it’s been a cracker of a month.. here’s what I got up to…

I went to DISNEYLAND!

I had the most MAGICAL time at my favourite place on earth a couple of weeks ago. Me and two of my best friends booked a last minute, Christmassy trip to our happy place and we never wanted to leave! Read my trip highlights for photos, reviews and tips a plenty.. I dare you not to be filled with Disney wanderlust!

I finished my content writing internship!

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If you saw last month’s newsletter you’ll know that I recently took part in a month long internship for Freedom2Explore. I’ve now finished the internship and got a great LinkedIn Recommendation from my point of contact over at the company. I’m hoping the invaluable experience I gained whilst carrying out the internship will open other doors for me and will enable me to take my first steps into the world of travel/content writing when the time comes. A HUGE thank you to Becky & Jonathan for having me!

I had my works Christmas do!

Works Christmas parttyyyy 🎄🎅🎉👯

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For my annual works Xmas do we dressed up and headed to the beautiful Eynsham Hall for a casino night. We were treated to a slap up three course meal, disco and casino experience and danced the night away! I’ve been to Eynsham Hall many times over the years and it’s such a gorgeous place- I even had my two school proms there! Here’s me glammed up not looking like my usual, plain-Jane self at alllll!

I published my first post for ShopperLottie.com

My first post for the fantastic Shopper Lottie magazine went live a few weeks ago and I was sooo proud to have ANOTHER piece of published work! My first post was all about London at Christmas, and it’s so beautiful you just HAVE to visit! Read on for some serious city inspo

ITS CHRIIIISSTTMMASSS!

This Christmas I spent some super quality time with my nearest and dearest, and I was able to really relax and enjoy myself at home with my family. We had such a lovely day playing games, exchanging presents and eating lots of yummy food! My family mean everything to me and have been there for me every step of the way, so I was thrilled to be able to share this special time of year with those who mean most to me! Ok that’s enough soppiness now… 😉

We're the three best friends that anybody could have…Merry Christmas everybodyyyy! 💖🎄🎅👯💖 #sisters #girls #love #christmas

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Overall I’ve had a fantastic 2015, filled with lots of fun and adventure, but also some personal health traumas and heartache along the way! If you’re an avid follower of my blog (I love you, thank you! If not, why aren’t you subscribed yet?) you’ll know that I recently hit a bit of a brick wall and have been struggling to feel content with my current situation so have decided to make this year the time for change!

I’m yet to decide what to do, I’m torn between interailing round Europe or road tripping across America for a few months… HELP! What do I do?! Your response to my recent Mid Life Crisis article was AMAZING! I was so overwhelmed with all your lovely comments, some from people I know in the travel blogging world, and some from complete strangers! THANK YOU!

I’m now looking forward to 2016 and the life changes I’m going to make to ensure I see as much of this world as I possibly can and I want to meet lots of shiny new people along the way! As ever, I’ll be posting regularly and will keep you all updated. I’ve also got some new blog features planned which I’ll be sharing with you into the new year and I want to say a massive THANK YOU again to each and everyone of you who have subscribed to this blog, liked me on Facebook or followed me on Twitter.. it means the absolute world and I can’t wait to reach out to even more of you in the coming months!

All that’s left for me to say now is… HAPPY NEW YEAR PEOPLE! Wishing you love and happiness and the very best for 2016! Now where’s my glitzy party dress?!…

Love Jess x

#oxford #itsstillchristmas 👯🎄🎉🍸

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A Magical Disney Christmas

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MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!🎄🎁🎊

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful break! So if you’re an avid follower of my  Instagram account you’ll know that I’ve not long returned from an AMAZING trip to the beautiful Disneyland Resort Paris with two of my best friends, Lauren and Tiffany, where I had the most magical time! Here’s some of the highlights from our Disney trip, as well as a lo-down on the parks, hotel, restaurants and attractions.. get ready to be mesmerised!

 

The Journey

We chose to travel the most convenient way possible to Paris and hopped on the fantastic Eurostar from St Pancras in the heart of London direct to the Marne-La-Vallee station at the entrance of Disneyland itself. The journey couldn’t have been easier! All it took was a quick check in at St Pancras, a smooth 2 and a half hour train ride between England and France and before we knew it we were on Disney soil! Don’t forget to check out the GIANT Christmas tree at the station made up of hundreds of Disney toys- so beautiful!

Our booking included the Disney Express option which was fantastic and well worth adding on if you’re travelling as a family. The option enabled us to check in to our hotel on board the Eurostar; Disney cast members registered our bags and handed out our park tickets and accommodation vouchers before we arrived at Marne-La-Vallee station. We then made our way up to the Disney Express stop to drop off our luggage, safe in the knowledge they would be waiting for us at our hotel later, and were then able to head straight to the parks for our first taste of Disney magic!

The Hotel

We stayed at the cosy 3* Sequoia Lodge Disney Hotel which was perfectly located right on Lake Disney just to the rear of the fantastic Disney Village. The hotel was impressive on arrival and, after a brief check in, we were taken to the outdoor luggage store to retrieve our bags and take them straight up to our room. As we had already ‘checked in’ on the Eurostar this usually painful process was nice and easy and super speedy!

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As there were three of us we had two comfortable double beds in a good size room which was clean and tidy and boasted a fantastic view across to Lake Disney. The bathroom was spotless and there was plenty of hanging safe along with a fully working safe to store our valuables.

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The cosy bar and onsite boutique store at the Sequoia made for excellent facilities onsite and we heard great things about the swimming pool – unfortunately it was closed during our visit but we would have loved to go!

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Breakfast was included with each day of our stay and we were treated to an unlimited continental feast of cereals, croissants, breads, meats and cheeses. We were seated in the Hunters Grill or Beaver Creek areas which doubled up as buffet restaurants in the evening- both looked lovely but sadly we didnt have chance to eat in the hotel!

Top Tip! Take some rolls and fillings and make your own lunch to take with you to the parks- this will save you a fortune on daytime meals throughout your stay!

Click here to read my Trip Advisor review of the Sequoia Lodge Hotel.

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Disneyland Park

The Park is split into 5 lands all filled with fun and adventure offering something different for Disney’s guests….

Main Street USA is where most of the action happens, including the many daily parades and character appearances. The star of the show is the beautiful Sleeping Beauty’s Castle which looks even more magical lit up for Christmas!

Fantasyland best for little ones, fly with Dumbo and Peter Pan or lose yourself wandering around Alice’s maze in Wonderland. There’s also plenty of opportunity for Meet n Greets and a chance to spot Royalty outside the Princess Pavilion!

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Adventureland best for boys who’ll adore the Pirates of the Caribbean theme and the rides/attractions that are in this section. There are also plenty of restaurants and cafe’s to choose from.

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Frontierland the Wild West theme runs prominently throughout this land and is reflected in the fantastic Cowboy shops, restaurants and attractions. Yee-hah!

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Discoveryland explore the sci-fi element of Disney and find your inner geek. The scariest ride in the park is also found in this land – Space Mountain Mission 2 is not for the faint hearted!

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Walt Disney Studios

Split into two parts, Front Lot and Back Lot, the Studios offer a wealth of fun and discovery and are a fantastic way to spend the day! There’s a whole host of top rides including Crush’s Coaster (scarier than it looks!), Aerosmith Rock n Roller Coaster and the terrifying Tower of Terror.

There’s a Toy Story village for kids (yeah we definitely didn’t go on those rides… ;)) as well as animation shows and Stitch Live over on the Disney Junior stage. Although the Studios no longer hosts a daily parade, there are plenty of Meet n Greets throughout as well as restaurants, kiosks and Disney stores.

Disney Village

The Village is an additional bonus and a great way of extending the Disney magic way into the evening after a long day of exploring at the parks. The Village is home to a number of popular restaurants, bars and cafe’s as well as a large range of Disney Stores for hours of endless shopping!

We chose to go on the fantastic Panoramagique, a hot air balloon ride, which took us 100ft up in the air for the most magnificent views across the parks and the rest of Marne-La-Vallee. The cost was just 12 euros per adult and this was a great way to end our last day at Disney!

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Disney Attractions

If the parks and studios aren’t enough to keep you entertained and you’re still wanting MORE you’ll be pleased to know that Disney runs tonnes of extra shows and programs throughout the year and Christmas is no exception! We were truly mesmerised by the incredible lights show, Disney Dreams of Christmas, an illuminated musical extravaganza bringing the magic of Disney (and Christmas) to life with water fountains, glittering lasers and spectacular fireworks!

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During our stay there was also a host of other shows on offer throughout the week, including a Frozen Sing-a-long show at the brilliant Chapparel Theatre (kids will love it!), a special Frozen parade, and a Royal Christmas Wishes show on the Castle Stage featuring all your favourite Disney Princes and Princesses. We caught this show twice throughout our stay and it was beautiful. The Disney Magic On Parade runs daily through the park and is not to be missed!

We also bumped into the Princes and Princesses walking through the parks just after the shows had finished, and we caught them at the start as well just before they went on stage! Little finds like that just add to the magic and we were so pleased to have seen the shows. At the end of each day there’s also a Magical Tree Lighting Ceremony with Mickey & Friends where the giant Disney tree is spectacularly illuminated- don’t miss it!

Eating Out

Our stay was offered with a free Half Board Meal Plan which I had never used before, I’ve previously only stayed Bed and Breakfast but the Meal Plan worked surprisingly well! Our standard option entitled us to breakfast and dinner as well as an afternoon Tea Time Treat (soft drink and sweet snack) on each night of our stay. The Meal Plan limits the restaurants you can eat out in for dinner, so booking ahead is strongly recommended. Don’t do what we did and leave it til the day otherwise you’ll miss out!

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We ate in the Silver Steakhouse in the Disney Park, the Empire State Lounge in Hotel New York and the superb Cafe Mickey in the Disney Village. For lunches/afternoon snacks we ate in the parks outlets including Bella Notte, Toad Hall and Casey’s Corner as well as Annette’s Diner in the village. The food was expensive when we weren’t using our vouchers so money wise it’s a great option to have the meal vouchers included!

Disney Characters

We were on the lookout for plenty of characters throughout our stay and we certainly weren’t disappointed- we saw LOADS! Christmas was a great time to see extra characters in additional parades and there were lots of Meet n Greet locations set up between the two parks. My friend Lauren brought an autograph book and we were like little children running around chasing all the characters for their signatures!

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We queued for over an hour to meet Winnie the Pooh, Marie from Aristocats and, the stars of the show, Mickey & Minnie themselves. We also met Pluto, Goofy, Chip n Dale, Gepetto from Pinocchio and Rafiki & Timon from The Lion King as well as glimpsing the Princes and Princesses and lots of other characters in the fantastic parades.

For us, character interaction was a massive part of our trip and the highlight was the incredible Cafe Mickey, an amazing dining experience for adults and children alike. Located in the Disney Village, the menu is pricey but it is worth it to have the interaction with the characters!

The likes of Mickey, Minnie, Tigger, Eeyore, Goofy, Pluto and many more come round to each table to spend time and have photos with each guest making you feel truly special whilst enjoying your meal. I’ve been three times throughout my life at different ages and I have just ADORED every single visit, I’ve had wonderful experiences which will always stay with me!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my amazing Disney trip.. I can’t wait to go back to my happy place in the not too distant future! Have you been to Disneyland before? Or have you been to Walt Disney World in Florida? How do the two compare? I’d love to find out!

Hope you’ve had a magical Christmas!

Love Jess x

'Twas the night before Disney..

‘Twas the night before Disney, and all through the house, not a thing was stirring, not even a Mickey mouse…

OHMYGOSHIMSOEXCITED!!!!!

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Putting Tinks on top of our beautiful Disney tree!

Hey everyone,

So as you can tell I’m just a TAD excited about going to my happy place tomorrow.. I’m travelling to Disneyland Paris for my third visit, and my fourth and final trip of 2015, and I can’t wait to return to the most magical place on earth to see everything all lit up and Christmassy!

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On my most recent trip to DLP in 2013…

 

As many of you lovely readers will now know, I am a huuuuuge Disney fan- I love it all! Ever since I was a baby I’ve just loved it so much, Bambi was the first ever Disney film that I watched.. don’t believe me? The proof is below…

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Watching my first ever Disney movie…

 

I’m all packed and ready to board the Disney Express Eurostar from St Pancras direct to Marne La Vallee station tomorrow morning with my Minnie Mouse ears firmly attached to my head!

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A set of ears for each of my friends!

 

I’ll also be taking loads of Disney tops and my Disney pj’s to keep in line with the evident theme! I’m hoping to meet lots of princesses and popular characters just like I’ve done for my last two visits!

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Meeting Sleeping Beauty in 2013…

 

I can’t wait to check out the giant Disney Christmas tree at St Pancras station and will of course write up my magical adventure when I return from my trip at the end of next week.

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Photo courtesy of Google Images

 

To keep up to date with all the Disney magic don’t forget to follow me over on Instagram!

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See you when I get back.. With faith, trust and pixie dust!

Love Jess x

Sleeping Beauty Castle pays tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks.

Source: Sleeping Beauty Castle pays tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks.

Image credit: @DisneylandBerry

I, along with the rest of the world, am currently still in a state of shock following the horrific events that occurred this weekend in Paris, the City of Light. The callousness of the terrorism that was inflicted on Paris is utterly unforgivable, and I am sure that it will take a long time for any sort of ‘normality’ to be restored. But we must stand united. We must stick together during times like this, and the world’s response to these attacks and France’s mourning is that, we too, are all grieving for this horrific act of pure violence and terror.

I’ve changed my Facebook profile picture in support of the stance against terrorism, and in memory of the Paris victims.. Have you changed yours?

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Me and two friends are due to visit Disneyland Paris in a few weeks time and have been seriously debating whether or not we should go ahead with our trip. After a lot of thought and heavy discussion we have decided that we are going to continue with our trip to the most magical place on earth. We are understandably nervous about going but are determined not to let the evil in this world rule how we live our lives! We will look after each other and be as safe as we can be. My thoughts have and always will be with the victims of Fridays ‪#‎parisattacks‬.

🗼💖🗼💖  Rest in peace, you are all in a better place now. ‪#‎prayforparis‬ 🗼💖🗼💖

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