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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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May Newsletter!

Hi everyone,

For the first time in agggeeesss I’m finally writing this newsletter before the month has even ended – normally I post my monthly newsletter way in to the next month just because I’m always so busy! However, now that I’ve quit my job, I’ve magically found the time to put this newsletter together for you. I have had a RIDICULOUS month; I’ve been busy every weekend and now don’t have a free weekend til 9th July but I am absolutely loving life! Here’s how my May turned out…

I’m now officially a full time traveller

 

So that's it, I have finished working at Martin and Co, never thought this day would come! It has been such a big part of my life for the past five years and has brought me so much happiness! I've met so many wonderful people, made the most amazing friends and have memories to last a lifetime. When I was 18 everyone told me to go to uni and enjoy being young instead of getting a full time job but, you know what, working has been the best thing for me and has made me into the person I am today. I'm strong and independent and have worked hard day in day out to make a better future for myself. Now that I'm able to support myself financially I'm finally able to achieve my dream and travel the world, something that wouldn't have been possible had I not been working. I will miss everyone so much and the memories will last a lifetime. I've been a blubbering mess ALL DAY but I know in my heart the time is right for me to leave. Time now to enjoy the bank holiday weekend and celebrate my long awaited freedom… Happy Friday y'alll 🎉💐🎊

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I can’t believe this has finally happened… I have now officially left my admin job after five years to travel the world! I was incredibly sad to say goodbye to my wonderful friends and colleagues, but I knew I was doing the right thing by leaving. I now feel an overwhelming sense of freedom and cannot wait for my future travel adventures! First stop, LA baby!

I dealt with my first ever piece of criticism

 

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This was something totally new for me; in my two years of blogging I have never once received a piece of negative feedback about my writing until a few weeks ago, when my latest post for Yahoo Style UK was published. I had put together my pick of Britain’s Best Cities and received some pretty nasty comments within just a few hours of the post being published. A lot of the commenters were just trolls, or spammers, with nothing better to do, but it still hurt and made me doubt my credibility as a writer. I have however turned a negative into a positive, saw the attention as a backhanded compliment, and will use the criticism constructively when writing my future posts. Have a look for yourself by reading the article, and the comments, and  don’t be afraid to tell me what you really think!

I enjoyed a fantastic spa weekend

 

#throwback to last weekend's home from home 📷🏡 @cotswoldwaterpark

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My beautiful sister Hannah celebrated her 21st birthday a couple of weeks ago and it was certainly one to remember! We spent the day shopping and having cocktails at a rooftop bar in Oxford before enjoying a posh meal out in the evening as a family. We then booked a surprise trip to  the wonderful Cotswold Water Park Four Pillars hotel for a girly spa weekend away and we had the best time!

I finally downloaded Snapchat

 

Finally caved and got #snapchat.. go add me on there! @jessica16_x 🙋🙋

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So I’ve FINALLY caved and downloaded the phenomenon that is Snapchat after years of saying I’d never do it! I kinda couldn’t be bothered for yet another social media account but I realised that Snapchat is a really fun way of showcasing my travels and allowing my followers, friends and family to see what I’m doing and where I’m travelling to, especially as I’m going to be in America for a month. Don’t forget to add my username jessica16_x to keep up to date with all my latest adventures!

I went to Bournemouth for my best friends hen do

 

Last night in #Bournemouth with my girly, the beautiful bride to be! 👰👸💖 @kirstymichelle11 #prinnys #bride #bridesmaid #besties

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Ahh Bournemouth, I hadn’t seen you in so long! A couple of weeks ago my best friend and beautiful bride to be, Kirsty, and eight of us other girls headed down to the coast to celebrate the hen do. The sun was shining and particular highlights of the weekend included outdoor fun at Go Ape and watching The Dreamboys show at Halo Nightclub. In between the partying, jumping off trees and staring at hot guys on stage we found the time to sunbathe on the beach, eat ice cream and go shopping! The big day itself is tomorrow and I’m so honoured to be Kirsty’s bridesmaid! <3

I met the Prime Minister

 

 

So this isn’t blog related AT ALL but, yeah, I met the Prime Minister of Great Britain last week and I just thought I should share that with you! Basically in my old job (sounds so weird saying that) our office was opposite David Cameron’s office and we knew he was in town so we got him to pose with us to support our team Twin Town Challenge, a charity event we had taken part in. I don’t think many people can say they’ve met one of the biggest political leaders I the world, so this HAD to make the cut on my May newsletter! 😉

I’ve been reviewing like crazy

 

 

For some reason May has turned into a month long review-fest right here on the blog! I’ve been reviewing everything from hotels and restaurants to afternoon teas and lunch menus. I have thoroughly enjoyed reviewing some of the most beautiful places in and around the Cotswolds over the past few weeks, including Ellenborough Park and Villandry Bicester Village, and have loved sharing them all with you. If you are a brand or PR company and would like me to provide a review for your product, client or company then please do get in touch as I am looking to take on new, relevant projects all the time!

I celebrated my two year blogiversary!

 

So today marks two whole years since my first ever blog post and the day that Journeys with Jessica began! I look back to the day when my little blog was started and I can't believe how far I've come! My journeys have taken me to so many places, from Reykjavik and Prague to Disneyland, Budapest and Barcelona and I've even been nominated for an award!! It only seems fitting that, now, two years on, I'm about to embark on my biggest adventure yet and travel across America for a whole month! I couldn't be more excited for my future and cannot wait to focus on my blog and try to acheive my dream of becoming a full time travel writer! Thank you to EVERYONE who has followed my blog since 2014 and to all my readers who continue to support me – I wouldn't be where I am today without you! Here's to the next two years and many more in the blogosphere! Love Jess x

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Can you believe that my little blog has been going for TWO WHOLE YEARS already?! Where the heck has that time gone?! For something that started as a small hobby for me I feel it’s really taken off; who’d have thought I’d still be doing this all these months later and even be nominated for an AWARD for it?! The time has absolutely flown by and I have been so proud to watch my blog grow. Thank you to YOU, you beautiful readers, for your continued support and endless love. <3

So there you have it, told you I’ve been busy! I won’t be doing a June newsletter next month as I’m going to be travelling across America for 27 days on my epic Contiki adventure! I am so so excited and will be having way too much fun to be blogging BUT you can come along for the ride too by following my journey on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook AND Snapchat now that I finally have it!

Hope you all have an amazing few weeks and I’ll be back in the UK from mid July with soooo much news for you. Until next time!

Love Jess x

 

New hairrrrrr 💇 #selfie

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Winter city break to Reykjavik, Iceland!

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Hey everyone,

So as most of you probably know, I’ve not long got back from a brilliant trip away to the beautiful city of Reykjavik in Iceland and I had a truly amazing time so wanted to share my write up with you all! I’ve reviewed quite a few aspects from the holiday on my separate Trip Advisor account so I will post links to those where appropriate. And as if by magic you can now BOOK the exact same trip I planned in one easy step – scroll down and read the last paragraph for details! In the meantime though, here’s what we got up to in Reykjavik…

THE HOTEL

When booking with Easyjet Holidays we opted to stay at the 4* Reykjavik Lights hotel, which only opened in June 2013, and it turned out to be the perfect choice for us! The hotel was immaculate, with modern features including a brilliant power shower, flatscreen LCD TV and free wifi throughout.

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Breakfast was included in the deal and was plentiful with lots of pastries, cereals, breads, cheeses, hams and fresh fruit available along with hot drinks, milk and fresh juices to choose from. The bar area was located alongside the reception and the breakfast was served at the bottom of this room too, so everything was together which see it easy and very accessible considering the lift was 50metres away!

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Our twin room was bright, airy and spacious with large windows letting lots of light in and the beds were so comfy! I just wish we had a view from our room as front facing rooms looked out across to the snow topped mountains which would have been incredible, but unfortunately we weren’t lucky enough to be allocated a room with a view.  A word of advice though; email the hotel directly before you travel and if you ask for a mountain view room you should be able to get one!

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My only slight criticism about the hotel was its location from the city centre as it was a good 40 minute walk away and was too far away for us to travel to day and night. We did however benefit from the mini strip which ran along side our hotel and was home to a number of restaurants, shops, a bank and  a pharmacy which came in useful. Had we not been on the mini strip we would have got taxis into the city each night to go out for dinner, but we wanted to save our money for tours and the sights that we were going to see!

You can view my Trip Advisor review for the Reykjavik Lights Hotel here.

LOCAL ATTRACTIONS

Our hotel was located just outside of Reykjavik city centre, around a 40 min walk or a 10 min taxi ride away. We were a five minute walk away from Laugardalur, Reykjavik’s well known recreation centre, which was home to the botanical gardens, family zoo and park, the sports hall, ice skating rink and the famous outdoor thermal pool. We visited nearly all of these attractions as they were so close to our accommodation and also booked a number of tours through Reykjavik Excursions who operated a pick up and drop off service directly to the hotel which was brilliant.

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The outdoor swimming pool and the family zoo were our favourite attractions; we loved the water slide (big kids!) and the pool was a lovely 30 degree temperature which we didn’t want to get out of! Just a warning though, in Iceland and other parts of Europe you are required to shower naked before you enter the pool area. There are communal showers but there are also a few private showers allocated so don’t worry if you panicked like us about stripping in front of strangers! There were hot tubs around the pool area which was very relaxing; we visit around 7pm and stayed for a couple of hours before heading back to the hotel area for dinner.

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The zoo was very small and low key, more of a farm park than a zoo but it was very cute and we did enjoy ourselves! There were daily shows where the keepers fed the reindeer and seals and there was a mini aquarium and farm area with pigs, cows and sheep. I wouldn’t recommend it for a day out as you can only spend around 2hours max at the park but for kids it’s great or you can go there to kill some time if you have a late flight.

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THE EXCURSIONS

We booked a couple of tours through Reykjavik Excursions, one of Iceland’s biggest tour operators and we certainly weren’t disappointed with the service we received! We booked two trips whilst during our stay; The Blue Lagoon Tour and The Golden Circle Tour both of which were incredible! We only had three full days to fit everything in and also wanted to spend some time exploring the city centre so choosing these two tours gave us enough flexibility to do this.

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The Blue Lagoon is a large geo thermal spa which is set on a large power station in South West Iceland and is one of the country’s most famous attractions, listed as ‘One of the 25 Wonders of the World’ according to National Geographic! We booked to go in the evening so we could see it all lit up and it looked absolutely stunning. We were picked up by Reykjavik Excursions from our hotel and taken to the site via a comfortable 1hour coach journey with a few more hotel stops along the way.

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On arrival we made our way straight to the lagoon to make the most of our time there. The water was a sweltering 40degrees but it was amazing and as soon as we got in we knew we didn’t want to leave! There were jets of natural steam surrounding the lagoon which added to the atmosphere and there were wooden boxes around the pool areas which contained the famous silica mud face masks, designed to leave your skin feeling incredible. We then stood under a powerful waterfall which gave a rejuvenating head, back, neck and shoulder massage as you stayed under it for as long as you could manage; it genuinely felt as if there were human hands massaging my body it was incredible!

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There was a bar located in the lagoon itself which served drinks and refreshments- you could purchase these items using wristbands which were allocated to you on arrival, and could then pay at the end before your departure. On site there was a cafe serving drinks and snacks as well as the well regarded Lava restaurant which was fully booked during our visit. The Blue Lagoon shop stocked all the natural skin products on offer in the spa as well as the usual tourist souvenirs, and there was also a viewing platform where you could see the lagoon lit up in all it’s glory.  The coach collected us at 9.30pm as the last trip of the night and we were dropped safely back to our hotel by around 10.30pm. ! The tour was brilliant and we were so glad we booked – I would definitely go back if I were to visit Iceland again.

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The Golden Circle Tour was a shortened version of the full eight hour day trip organised through Reykjavik Excursions and is probably the most popular tourist destination in the whole of a Iceland. Visiting the same attractions but with shorter stops at each one, we were on the road for six hours. Firstly we visited the UNESCO World Heritage site, Pingvellir National Park, which gave some stunning views over the mountains, rivers and hills surrounding the area. This park was historically important for many famous events in Iceland and is renowned for its geological significance.

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Next up was the geothermal field of Haukadalur, home to the spectacular phenomenon that is the ‘Great Geyser’. The area is a natural wonder of hot springs and boiling mud pools, with the Strokkur Geyser erupting every 5-10 minutes shooting up a column of hot water and steam into the air. We were lucky enough to see the Geyser erupt three times and I caught one on film which was brilliant, the memories will stay with me for a long time and I showed my family and friends when I got home and they were amazed! The souvenir shop on site was excellent with lots of lovely gifts and there was also an informative museum detailing why the Geyser’s erupt as they do.. We had a wonderful time at the Geyser’s and I managed to take some brilliant photos!

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Our third and final stop was Gullfoss, or the Golden Waterfall as it is also known. Gullfoss is apparently more powerful than the Niagra Falls and we walked down the 110 steps to get there before we were able to take in the sight ahead of us; it truly was breathtaking! After admiring the waterfall and learning about the history of it, we made our way back up the steep steps and headed for yet another souvenir gift shop! Afterwards we made our coach journey back to the hotel and then headed out to dinner after a long day out on the road.

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On our last full day we headed straight to Reykjavik city centre to explore the local shops, restaurants and landmarks. I particularly liked the famous Hallgrimskirkja cathedral which was definitely worth visiting, as well as the eye catching Harpa building which is home to popular Icelandic concerts and shows. We spent the day shopping for souvenirs and had lunch in a lovely restaurant located near the city’s popular club scene which supposedly comes alive at night!

Unfortunately we weren’t also able to catch a glimpse of the famous Northern Lights as the weather was pretty cloudy during our stay and we had booked ourselves up with the other tours we had already committed to!! I would love to go in search of the Aurora Borealis again though, whether that be via a return trip to Iceland, or somewhere different like Finland or Norway – watch this space!

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On Friday 7th November we headed back to Iceland via Keflavik airport, and their excellent duty free section! Overall we had a brilliant trip full of fun, adventure and memories which will stay with me forever! I would highly recommend Reykjavik as an exciting city break or weekend away with friends, family or partners and would love to return to catch a glimpse of the famous Northern Lights which we unfortunately weren’t able to see!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my post about everything that Iceland has to offer, please contact me if you have any questions or would like to know more on certain areas of the country! As mentioned above, you can now book the EXACT trip I did in one easy step – just click on the link below for more details and to request a quote!

Get a quote for this trip

Love Jess x