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100 Days of UK Lockdown: How Coronavirus Has Changed My Life

Day 100 of UK lockdown. Can you believe we have been officially locked down for 100 days now? I can. It feels like day 1000 though, not day 100. Everyone has either made TikTok videos, baked banana breads or played virtual Zoom quizzes. Remember that Houseparty app right at the start? Nope, me niether! In some ways it’s gone quickly, but when I think back to the 23rd of March, the day Boris Johnson announced the country was to go into immediate lockdown, it feels like a lifetime ago. So much has changed since then. In the world, in the country, in my life. Coronavirus has turned our planet upside down, and I didn’t realise how much of an impact it would have upon me personally too. Although it’s been a tough three months, there have been some happy times too. I wanted to show the good, the bad and the ugly on this blog post so I can look back in a year’s time and remind myself of how I coped during lockdown. Here’s what I’ve been up to over the past 100 days of UK lockdown, and how Coronavirus has totally changed my life…

 

The Positives:

I’ve bought a house

 

 

 

Ok let’s start with some good news because something very exciting happened to me during these 100 days of UK lockdown… I only went and bought a HOUSE!! After saving up a deposit for the past 5 years, I have finally decided to put down some roots here in beautiful Oxfordshire and have bought a 2 bed house with my sister Hannah. After our offer got accepted at the end of November, little over 6 months later, on 1st May 2020, we completed our purchase and collected our keys from the estate agents (socially distanced, of course!) Over the past 8 weeks we have completely transformed what was once a run down, neglected property in to a pretty little semi detached house that is now our cosy home! Huge thanks to our mum, dad and our sister Sophie for all their help with painting/cleaning/gardening over the past 2 months – we absolutely could not have done it without you!

 

I’ve gained a qualification (almost!)

 

 

I’ve had to put almost because the qualification isn’t quite mine yet, but in April I enrolled on a course with to become an online English teacher and I am so so close to finishing it! I’m currently on unit 9 of 10 and have completed 2 assignments out of 3, so I just have 1 unit and 1 assignment to go before the course is finished and I am qualified to teach English online as a foreign language. I have thought about being an online English teacher for a while now but have never really had the time to dedicate to an intensive course before, so spending 100 days of UK lockdown putting my energy into something new has been really fulfilling and I am hopeful that I can start teaching online as soon as I am qualified! The course I am taking is the Level 5 168 hour one with the TEFL Academy, which is the UK’s leading level 5 course and is the most recognised in terms of quality. I was inspired by my friend and fellow blogger Gabbi to take up the course this year after seeing her become an online English teacher with mobile company Palfish, and her fab blog post exactly explains how she did it – it’s well worth a read if you are thinking of becoming an online English teacher too.

 

I’ve become a volunteer

 

 

As soon as the government announced they needed 250,000 volunteers for their nationwide NHS Volunteer Responder programme, I signed up right away. I knew I wanted to try and help people during this pandemic, and really wanted to do something useful and worthwhile during my time on furlough. After a whopping 750,000 people signed up (!!) I was chosen to be a Check in & Chat volunteer through the NHS /Royal Voluntary Service and I was even featured in this news story by the Daily Mail. I have spent the past 12 weeks taking calls from people who are isolating and just want a friendly chat with someone to brighten up their day, which I have enjoyed so much! As well as being an NHS volunteer, I am now a volunteer within my local community and have been collecting and delivering shopping and prescriptions to local people in my town who are shielding/vulnerable. Finally, I have also been doing some remote work and fundraising for The Pituitary Foundation, the charity I am an ambassador for, and it has been an honour to help them through these tough times. Being a volunteer for these 3 organisations has been extremely rewarding during the past 100 days of UK lockdown and I hope I can continue to help them even after Coronavirus is over.

 

I’ve spent quality time with my family

 

 

Despite moving house and leaving my family home, I have been able to spend sooo much time with my mum, dad and sisters during these 100 days of UK lockdown and it has been an absolute blessing. We are a very close family anyway, but this has just brought us even closer together. We’ve watched film after film, enjoyed many a countryside dog walk here in our beautiful county of Oxfordshire and have done more after dinner quizzes than we care to remember! A particular highlight of ours was celebrating VE Day sharing afternoon tea and prosecco in our garden with our lovely neighbour across the wall! The sun was shining, We’ll Meet Again was playing on the radio and it was such a beautiful day. It has been really fun to spend more time at home during lockdown and it definitely gave us more quality time to enjoy together before Hannah and I moved into our new home last weekend.

 

 

The Negatives:

I’ve lost my confidence

 

 

Although there have been a lot of positives from the past 100 days of UK lockdown, there have undoubtedly been some low points too. I’m not sure why, but I just feel like I have totally lost my confidence with certain aspects of my life, including the way I look, how my low moods make me feel and how I have not exactly been successful with finding a new relationship lately. This pandemic caught us completely unawares, and I was at a point in my life where I was really happy with how my work and personal life were going, but now it feels as though all of that has been taken away and it has definitely knocked me for six. Here’s hoping things improve once Coronavirus is over. One thing that has helped massively though is walking, I have been enjoying so many walks in the countryside and it’s definitely helped to improve my state of mind (and my fitness!)

 

I’m possibly being made redundant 

 

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New week, new month, new JOB! 😬 Eeeek been keeping this under wraps for a little while, but today's the day I start my brand new job at a luxury travel company in Witney. 🌎 I'm so excited to have swapped a 2hr daily commute for a drive that takes me just 8 minutes to get to my new office 🙈 Instead of finishing at 5:30 and not getting home til nearly 7 I'll actually be home before 5:30 which means I can actually have a social life in the evenings and can fit it around working part time on my blog too ❤️ So excited for my new chapter to begin, after 4 months of travelling and spending way too much money I can't wait to get into a proper routine again and start settling down (kind of 😉) Operation 'Jess is saving up for a house' has been resumed! 🏡 #MondayMotivation #NewJob #NewChapter #WishMeLuck

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Another reason for me feeling so weird lately is because tomorrow I will find out whether or not I have been made redundant from my job. On the day that would have been my 1 year work anniversary, I will be told whether or not I will be staying or going, and I am just completely gutted! I absolutely adore my job at a local luxury travel company in Oxfordshire and the thought of losing it is filling me with dread. I have no idea what the outcome will be tomorrow, but whatever happens I just have to remember that everything happens for a reason. As one door closes, another one opens, so I will be keeping that mindset tomorrow and crossing fingers that things will turn out okay.

 

I’ve missed my old life

 

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Another Monday, another week of lockdown! I think we are on day 89 of lockdown now but it definitely feels more like day 889 😳 As the weeks go on, I start to get abit restless and miss life being 'normal'. I miss going on day trips and weekends away and holidays. I am however feeling really anxious about the idea of travelling again, and I'm pretty sure I won't be setting foot on a plane until at least next summer! ✈️ But in order to get my wanderlust fix I'm planning on taking a few UK staycations right here, whenever we are able to travel safely around the country again 🚘 There are so many places in Britain I haven't been to yet, so I've put together my ultimate UK travel wishlist which you can read right now on the blog! (Link in bio) 💻 Where's your favourite place in the UK? I can't wait to explore more of our home shores. In the meantime, here's a throwback of me loving life and running around the beautiful Lake District last summer 🇬🇧 . . . #lakedistrict #thelakes #lakedistrictlife #lakedistrictnationalpark #lakedistrictuk #lakedistrictwalks #lakedistrictcumbria #igerslakedistrict #cumbria #cumbrialife #visitcumbria #igerscumbria #cumbrianfells #england #weloveengland #visitengland #englandtravel #england_insta #englandtourism #englishlakes #englishtravel #lovegreatbritain #visitbritain #instabritain #bbcbritain #greatbritain #capturingbritain #beautifulbritain #uktravel #ukshots

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When I feel a bit down I start to reminisce and think about my past, and sometimes it’s nice to sit back and reflect but other times it really does get me down. I think about things I did in the past which I really took for granted, like going out for a meal with my friends or popping to the pub for a few drinks on a Friday night. I also miss travelling a LOT. Last year I spent 13 weeks abroad visiting Australia, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Latvia. Not leaving the country since December has kind of got to me this week, and I really miss going on holiday! I have decided, however, that I definitely don’t want to venture abroad until 2021, but I am looking forward to planning plenty of UK staycations to satisfy my wanderlust until I can travel properly again. There are sooo many places that I haven’t explored in this country yet, so I’m going to try and tick as many places off my British bucketlist as I can during the rest of 2020 (if I am able to!)

 

I’m worried about my future

 

 

I think my biggest worry at the moment is the thought of losing my job. Without my job, and my regular income, I cannot pay my mortgage, my bills or my car finance which is something that is making me super stressed. It is such bad timing having just bought a house, but I do have some savings which should tide me over for a couple of months. If the inevitable happens and I do get made redundant I know I’ll have to get another job asap, whether it’s working in a supermarket, taking temp jobs or working in retail until something more permanent comes along, although there are not many jobs in my area at all at the moment. I just feel a bit in limbo and don’t really know what to do so I will probably make a decision about what type of work I want to apply for next week. Times are strange at the moment, aren’t they! Fingers crossed it’ll all work out in the end.

 

It’s been a whirlwind, hasn’t it? The past 100 days of UK lockdown has been a huge challenge for me, and it has affected me much more than I thought it would. Some days I wake up totally fine and feel grateful to have my health and my family. Other days I feel so low I don’t even want to get out of bed. I try to remind myself that it’s okay to feel that way. We’re still in the midst of a global pandemic. We’ve never experienced anything like this before. However, with no end in sight, and no vaccine, I have to admit I am finding it increasingly difficult to stay positive. I know these feelings will pass, but right now I am struggling. I am not ashamed to admit that. If you’re feeling the same as me, please remember that it’s okay not to be okay.

Here’s to a more positive few weeks in the hope that Coronavirus will leave us all alone very soon! Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe and well and that you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post!

Love Jess x

 

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Looking back on 6 YEARS OF TRAVEL BLOGGING!! I can't believe Journeys with Jessica turns 6 today! 🎈 Seeing as we can't travel anywhere anytime soon I've been looking back at some of my adventures and reminiscing about my favourite trips from the past 6 years ✈️ I'm lucky enough to have explored 30 countries, spent 5 weeks road tripping across America, 6 weeks roaming around Australia and countless weeks inter-railing all over Europe during the past 6 years and I wouldn't change a single thing ❤️ When I started my blog I just wanted somewhere to write down my thoughts and to share my trips with friends and family. Little did I know that it would soon be read by almost 7,000 people a month and I'd clock up nearly 10,000 followers on social media, and that I would meet so many amazing people along the way because of it! ✨ Starting my blog was the best thing I ever did and, although I'm missing travel and am excited to explore new places again one day, right now I just want to focus on planning some U.K. adventures that I can enjoy once all of this is over! My favourite place in our beautiful country is Cornwall, and I'm just itching to get back there to enjoy the sea when it is safe to be able to do so! 🌎 But for now I'll stay at home and reminisce about my past trips, like I've done in my recent blog post, which you can read right now! (Link in bio) 💻 Thankyou SO much for everyone who's ever read my blog, it means the absolute world to me. Here's to the next six years! 🌎

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6 of my Top Travel Highlights from 6 Years of Travel Blogging

Hi everyone,

I hope you are all keeping safe and well during this global pandemic! We’re on day 479800605 of lockdown here in the UK and I’m writing this on the eve of my blogging anniversary. Tomorrow marks six years since Journeys with Jessica was launched, and I still pinch myself every year when the date of 27th May comes around! If you’ve been with me since the start, you’ll know how much I adore travel. I have been lucky enough to explore some amazing places in the world; from 5-6 week stints in America and Australia to inter-railing adventures across Europe and long weekends in the UK. As I’m approaching six years of travel blogging, and as I’m not going to be travelling anywhere for the foreseeable future due to Coronavirus (!!!), I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane and share six of my top travel highlights for each year my blog has been running. Here goes!…

 

Bank Holiday in Barcelona, 2014

 

 

Back where it all began, the first holiday I ever blogged about, and the reason I started my blog in the first place! A long weekend away in Barcelona with two of my best friends was exactly what I needed back in May 2014, and I have such fond memories of this Spanish city. La Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter, the beach – I loved it all! Granted, I spent most of the three days throwing up and recovering from an almighty hangover/alcohol poisoning/sickness bug so I didn’t get to see too much of the city, but I eventually returned five years later in May 2019 with my sister and got to do it all over again (minus the horrendous hangover because I am old now hehe). Pic from my most recent visit because I didn’t have Instagram back in 2014!

 

A Week in Cornwall, 2015

 

 

I spent a week in Cornwall with my family back in July 2015 and it was one of the best family holidays we have ever been on. My mum and dad have taken me and my sisters to St Ives almost every year since we were babies, and for that reason it remains one of my favourite places in the world. We hadn’t been to St Ives for a few years until we spent a week there in 2015, and it made me fall in love with it all over again. The weather was amazing, the beach was bliss and the scenery was stunning. The cobbled streets, long sandy beaches and gorgeous blue sea makes St Ives the perfect place for a UK summer beach break, and I am itching to get down there again when lockdown is over as my last visit was for New Years celebrations back in 2017!

 

An American Road Trip, 2016

 

 

The holiday that really kick-started my love for solo travel was this American road trip back in 2016. I quit my job and flew to Los Angeles on my own then travelled with Contiki from LA to NYC on an epic 28 day adventure across 23 states and had the absolute time of my life! I made life long friends on this group trip and it was the best way for me to dive into a totally new style of travel which would soon become one of my favourite ways to explore the world. Highlights included helicoptering over the Grand Canyon, parasailing over Daytona Beach, running around Walt Disney World, partying in Las Vegas and sightseeing in New York. I would love to go back to America one day to explore the other side of the country and I would also like to visit Canada too!

 

Must See Menorca, 2017

 

 

This was my first press trip with my blog and I remember having to pinch myself on the way to the airport because I could not believe that I was about to embark on a group trip with 50 other travel bloggers in beautiful Menorca! I was selected to attend by the team at Traverse Events and the Spanish Tourism Board when I attended Traverse 18 in London and was so excited but also super nervous! I needn’t have worried though, everyone was so friendly and welcoming and I made amazing friends on that trip who I still talk to now most days. We spent two full days conferencing and then the other five days seeing all that Menorca had to offer. As a child I had been to Menorca 3 times between the ages of 8 and 12 (it was the first place I ever went abroad!) but re-visiting it as an adult made it even more special and I would love to return again some day.

 

My Mediterranean Cruise, 2018

 

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Doing the Titanic pose all by myself cos this Rose doesn't need a Jack in her life 😎 I've been home for just 24 hours and I'm already missing being at sea 🌊 Words can't describe the amazing experience I had on my first ever cruise 🚢 I was so nervous before going as I suffer so much with travel sickness (ironic as I'm a travel blogger) but luckily I was absolutely fine and kept well the entire time! It's only now that I'm home I'm suffering with motion sickness despite being back on land! What is THAT all about?! 😩I think it means I need to book another cruise asap, I'm a total convert now and loved waking up in a new place each day, but my favourite thing was spending hours looking out at the blue waters, with nothing but the ocean staring back at me 🐬 Can I go be a mermaid again please? #cruiselife #titanicpose #takemeback #marellacruises

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I had always been curious about cruising and a bit weary of booking one, but when my family suggested a big get together for my mum’s 50th and my grandad’s 80th birthdays how could I refuse?! 12 of us decided to book together and we chose a Mediterranean voyage with TUI’s Marella Cruises which was the perfect choice for a first time cruiser like me. We sailed on a round trip from Dubrovnik to Dubrovnik, passing Kotor, Kefalonia, Messina and Valletta along the way, and we had the most amazing time. It totally opened my eyes to a new way of travel and I loved waking up in a new destination every single day. I would really love to do another cruise some day soon, but maybe in a few years time once Covid has well and truly passed – the thought of being stuck in the middle of the ocean on a ship gives me so much anxiety!

 

An Australian Adventure, 2019

 

 

Probably my most favourite trip of the last 6 years, and definitely the most memorable, is my 6 week Australian adventure that I embarked on last year. Starting in Melbourne and ending in Sydney, I explored Adelaide, Alice Springs, the Outback, Cairns, the Whitsundays, Brisbane and Bondi Beach in between and had the most amazing time! I did a mixture of group and solo travel, as well as reuniting with friends I had met on my Contiki around America back in 2016. Highlights included snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, sleeping under the stars in the Outback, driving the Great Ocean Road and admiring Sydney’s Harbour Bridge. This trip felt totally life changing for me and it came at the perfect time – it gave me my confidence back, it helped me fall in love with travel again and it opened my eyes to just how amazing our world can be! Australia, you have my heart. <3

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed going back in time with me and reliving some of my travel adventures from the past six years, it’s certainly made me realise how lucky I am to have visited some of these amazing places. With everything going on in the world right now though, I’m more than happy to take a bit of a travel break and can’t really see me wanting to go abroad until all of this is over, which makes me think 2021 will perhaps be the next time I venture overseas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m missing that feeling of packing for my next trip and getting excited to tick new destinations off my bucket list, but if this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s to appreciate what is right in front of us.

I have spent the past ten weeks enjoying long countryside walks in my local area here in Oxfordshire, reading book after book in my garden, and just trying to take things back to basics by appreciating the little things in life. I am so grateful that my family and friends are all happy and healthy, and I can’t wait to visit them when we are allowed to travel round the country again. For that reason I want to focus my energy on planning UK adventures for the rest of 2020, if we are able to, and I’m eyeing up a trip to Cornwall in the autumn and perhaps an Edinburgh Christmas market getaway too, but who knows what will happen between now and then?! In my six years of travel blogging, this has definitely been the weirdest one yet, but Journeys with Jessica is still going strong, and that’s all thanks to YOU, my lovely readers. Here’s to the next six years!

Love Jess x

 

 

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Travel Guide to Warsaw: 48 hours in the Polish capital

 

 

Last month I had the pleasure of visiting Warsaw for the first time, and it was my first ever visit to Poland too! Warsaw was the first stop on my recent inter-railing adventure with one of my best friends, and it was the perfect city from which to kick start our time in Europe. Warsaw is brimming with colourful buildings, cobbled streets and tonnes of history, and with so much to see and do it was impossible to get round everything in just 48 hours, but here’s my tips on making the most of your short time in this amazing city…

 

Take a FREE walking tour

 

 

I really love free walking tours and feel they are the best way to discover a new city for the first time, especially if you only have a couple of days and want to squeeze in as much as possible! The free Old Town Walking Tour in Warsaw begins right underneath Sigismund’s Column and departs every day at 10.30am. Our tour guide was so friendly and really gave us an insight into the history behind Warsaw, going into particular detail about the horrendous destruction of the city during world war two. The two hour tour passed by a number of points of interest and within that time we saw pretty much every important landmark there was to see in the historic Old Town, and got to make some brilliant photo stops along the way too.

 

Wander round the Old Town

 

 

If, like me, you only have a couple of nights in Warsaw I would definitely recommend basing yourself in the old town as I think this is the most popular area of the entire city. With its historic cobbled streets, vibrant market square and a vast array of colourful buildings, old town Warsaw is a UNESCO world heritage site and is best explored on foot meaning everything can be seen within a day or two. I really enjoy visiting cities that have a small historic centre, particularly if I’m pressed for time, as it means I can really immerse myself in the atmosphere and soak up the culture at the same time too. Don’t forget to climb the clock tower just opposite Sigismund’s column for spectacular panoramic views of the castle square below, and a visit to the famous mermaid statue is a MUST too!

 

Walk along the Vistula River

 

 

After a busy day of sightseeing I love nothing better than venturing a little out of the city and just taking a gentle stroll along the river. Warsaw’s old town is so compact that it was nice to explore a little further afield and see other parts of the city that were completely new to us, and the views from across the river were pretty stunning too! A wander along the Vistula will take you to Warsaw Zoo, Park Praski and the quirky neighborhood of Praga, which was the location for the award winning film The Pianist.

 

Visit one of the many museums

 

Warsaw is full of interesting museums to visit, containing everything from war and jewish history to music, science and modern art. I do think it’s difficult to find the time to visit museums if I’m on a super short city break though, so I don’t tend to put them at the top of my list, but there are so many in Warsaw that I just HAD to include them in my guide! We actually wandered around the Museum of Warsaw, which is located in the archway/city gate just behind the iconic market square, and found the history so interesting. Another must-do is the Uprising of the Jews and the Palace of Culture which is somewhere I really wanted to head to but sadly we ran out of time!

 

Where to eat/drink

 

 

There are a variety of restaurants in the old town, most of which serve a mix of traditional Polish food and popular European dishes too. We chose to eat at a local restaurant called Zapiecek on our first night as it was just a few doors down from our hostel and served amazing pierogi (dumplings) which are a traditional Polish dish. Serving a variety of mains including everything from pork and chicken to salmon and sausage, Zapiecek restaurants can be found dotted across Warsaw and are a must visit when looking for somewhere to eat in the city. Other restaurant recommendations I received, but sadly didn’t dine at, were Magda Polka in the Castle Square, and Michelin starred U Fukeria which can be found in the market square, just opposite the famous mermaid statue.

 

Where to stay

 

 

During our time in the city we chose to stay at the super cool Oki Doki Hostel, one of the only original pre war buildings left in the city. The location couldn’t have been more perfect for us as we were right in the middle of the old town with a number of shops, bars cafes and restaurants within a few minutes walk. We were staying in a private double room on the third floor with our own en suite bathroom. The beauty of staying in a private room is that you pay hostel prices for hotel standards and this couldn’t have been more true for our stay at Oki Doki. The communal areas including the kitchen, garden and breakfast place were kept very clean and tidy but were also great places to hang out and meet fellow travellers. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Oki Doki Hostel to anyone looking for a comfortable stay at a fantastic price right in the heart of Warsaw’s old town. Special thanks must go to Agata for making our stay so wonderful!

I could have spent at least another two days exploring everything that Warsaw has to offer, and even then I still don’t think I’d have scratched the surface! Considering Warsaw lost pretty much everything during World War Two, the defiant spirit of this city is incredibly powerful and shines through its core. Have you ever visited Warsaw before? I’d love to hear what you thought of it!

Love Jess x

 

 

June Newsletter

 

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

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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!

 

 

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

 

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Highlights from #MustSeeMenorca: My Favourite Spanish Island

So #Menorca's harbours look pretty special in the sunshine ⛴⛴ #mustseemenorca #spain #visitspain #igersmenorca

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

 

Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to be selected to go on my first ever group press trip and I had the most amazing time! Along with the brilliant teams at Jet2, Traverse Events, Turismo Menorca and Spain I headed off with 59 other bloggers, Youtubers and Instagrammers to explore the beautiful island of Menorca. Although this place is the smallest of the Balearic islands (excluding Formentera), it’s right up there with its sisters Majorca and Ibiza and is brimming with gorgeous white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters and so many things to see and do. This was my fourth visit to the island but my first as an adult and it made me appreciate it’s beauty, culture and charm so much more! Here are my highlights from my trip and why I think you #MustSeeMenorca too…

Watching the sunset from Illa Lazareto

 

 

On our first night in Menorca we took a short boat ride from the pretty port of Es Castell over to Illa Lazaretto, an old quarantined island which has remained largely untouched since it was used to house terminally ill patients of various diseases. We wandered around the former grounds of the hospital wings, the communal gardens and the old chapel and the whole island felt very eerie, almost haunted, and I could just sense the history that was there. We had the privilege of watching the most glorious sunset over the harbour and across Es Castell, but it was a sight in itself to see 60 bloggers snapping away furiously with their Go-Pro’s, iPhone’s and DSLR cameras all trying to get the perfect Instagram shot!

 

Partying in Cova D’en Xoroi

 

 

This was probably my favourite part of the entire trip; partying in a bar in a cave on the sea – could it get any better than that?! Our closing party took us to the amazing Cova D’en Xoroi, a place I went to when I was 7 years old but could barely remember, so I was super excited to be attending again, and this time I could have a drink or three 😉 We had a wonderful time dancing to music, drinking cava, and watching the most glorious sunset over the Mediterranean sea. This place is an absolute MUST when visiting Menorca and it’s not hard to see why!

 

Exploring the white washed village of Binibeca

 

 

Another part of Menorca I had visited when I was a little girl, but didn’t realise until I got home and showed my mum this photo! Binibeca was a real hidden gem, and probably the most beautiful village I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. With its black lampposts, tall trees and white washed buildings, Binibeca makes the most picture perfect shots. You’ll also find a couple of small shops, restaurants and a doctors surgery on site whilst it’s location at the edge of the sea offers the most stunning views of the turquoise waters below.

 

Walking around the old capital, Ciutadella

 

 

The capital of the island  until 1722, the gothic city of Ciutadella is definitely worth a visit during your time in Menorca. The city is home to cobbled streets, local markets, a pretty harbour and the most stunning cathedral. Ciutadella is considered the most religious capital of the island, compared to Mahon, the new capital, and is visited by large numbers of tourists year after year. Why not taste some of the Spanish delicacies at one of the many food markets before wandering around the harbour or people watching along the side streets? There’s so much to see in Ciutadella – we spent our last day there and it was the perfect ending to a wonderful week!

 

And exploring the new capital, Mahon

 

 

Known for it’s striking architecture, it’s bustling streets and it’s busy port, Mahon is the proud capital of Menorca and boasts that it’s the birthplace of Mayonnaise, or ‘Ma-hon-aise’ as it’s supposedly pronounced! Mahon also has the one of the largest natural harbours in the world, stretching 900m wide with gorgeous clear waters. Getting around on foot is definitely the best way to see the city, and exploring the little side streets, with their wonderful array of restaurants, bars, cafes and shops, makes for the most delightful afternoon. My favourite part was walking along the harbour and taking a boat trip from the port, but don’t miss the stunning Church of Santa Maria too, with history dating back to the 1200s!

 

Kayaking in Cala Galdana

 

 

I was super nervous about kayaking for the first time… water sports are not my strong point despite having jet-skied, boat-tripped and para-sailed in the past! Let me tell you now though that kayaking was one of the hardest physical things I have ever done, but definitely one of the most rewarding. Luckily, I partnered up with the lovely Paco from the Spanish Tourist Board and he was amazing, doing most of the work whilst my poor arms couldn’t cope with the tremendous amount of rowing that was required. Sorry Paco – I’m useless and have no upper body strength! Our time on the water saw us speeding across the open sea, entering dark caves, cruising into little coves and we even stopped for a swim and a snorkel whilst enjoying crisps and drinks on the rocks. Kayaking definitely isn’t for the faint-hearted, but it was hands down one of the best things I’ve ever done and I’m so glad I got to do it with all of my wonderful Menorca buddies!

 

Visiting the highest point of the island, El Toro

 

 

El Toro is an absolute must see when visiting Menorca, and for very good reason. Drive (or hike, if you’re feeling brave enough) up to the top of the highest point of the island for the most spectacular panoramic views below. You’ll get to see the rest of the island from every angle, and you’ll also get to visit the Sanctuary of the Virgin of El Toro, a stunning 15th century baroque-style church. To the front of the site you’ll see the iconic statue of Jesus of the Sacred Heart with his arms stretched wide, said to be blessing the Menorcans who died in the Spanish Moroccan wars of the 20th century. This place felt truly special, and the views were completely stunning.

 

Tapas eating in every kind of Menorcan restaurant

 

 

We all know that food is a big part of any trip abroad, but even more so when you’re visiting Spain; the home of Tapas, Paella, Gazpacho and many more iconic dishes. As you’d expect, meal times were one of the focus points of our press trip and I think we were all desperate to enjoy a true taste of Spain during our time in Menorca. My favourite restaurant was La Minerva in Mahon, a floating restaurant in the middle of the harbour that served up the most amazing Tapas, seafood and more. I’m not the most adventurous person when it comes to food, I try as many new things as I can, but I’m happy just to stick to plain foods as 9 times out of 10 I get sick when I start eating things that are rich, or that my stomach isn’t used to! Luckily I pushed myself a little on this trip and managed to try new things that I never would have picked if I was travelling alone – cuttlefish and squid being two of my new feats, although Tapas will always remain a firm favourite of mine!

 

Other important parts of our trip

During our time in Menorca we stayed in the stunning Hotel San Luis PortBlue in the peaceful resort of S’Algar, just a few minutes walk from the waterfront where you’ll find a small selection of restaurants and shops. The resort itself was super quiet and I normally prefer staying somewhere more lively with more places to go and more things to see and do, but as we had jam packed itineraries for the entire week, it made a nice change to have a sleepy resort to be based from! We each had spacious and modern double rooms with en-suites, desks, LCD TVs and the most amazing sea views across S’Algar… I’m definitely missing waking up to those every morning!

 

 

Obviously, the main reason we were all visiting Menorca in the first place was to attend the two day conference held at the luxurious Barcelo Hamilton Hotel in Mahon. Our hosts put on a fantastic event with inspiring talks from speakers, enjoyable group challenges and plenty of time for everyone to get to know each other a little better. We were also treated to a fantastic display of foodie treats throughout the two days and admired the gorgeous sea views from our central location. My favourite part was our mini closing party on site, where we spent time drinking cava from the rooftop terrace complete with bar, hot tubs and the most amazing views across the harbour below!

 

Rooftop views and cava to end day 2 of the #mustseemenorca conference at the beautiful @barcelohamilton 🍾🍾 #menorca #Spain

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

 

So there we are, the highlights from my #MustSeeMenorca trip – an unforgettable week with so many memories, and there were so many more I could have picked! I posted tonnes of photos on my Instagram  whilst I was away and received so many comments from lots of you saying that you wanted to hop on a plane and join me out in Menorca! I hope you all get to visit one day, and I just want to say a huge thank you again to the fantastic teams at Jet2, Traverse, Turismo Menorca and Spain for hosting our trip and making it so wonderful – our week in the sun definitely felt like a holiday and not a press trip! Have you ever been to Menorca? What were your favourite parts? I’d love to hear your Spanish stories!

Love Jess x