Posts

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Restaurant Review : The Perch, Oxford

 

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a local PR company asking me to review a fantastic local Oxfordshire restaurant, of which I was only too happy to oblige! I was asked to head to The Perch just off the Botley Road in Oxford and we’d booked a table on a busy Sunday evening on one of the hottest September days on record!

The Perch is one of the oldest pubs in Oxford, located just outside the busy city centre in Botley, and just a few minutes walk from the River Isis and pretty Port Meadow. Despite it’s central location, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled upon a country pub with it’s quaint riverside setting and stunning gardens. The interior décor of the pub is rustic but with a modern feel and the outside bar, patio area and secret garden, with walk-through arches and fairy lights, adds to the beauty of the site.

 

Can I have some of these fairy lights in my garden please? ✨✨

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Upon arrival we were greeted by Maddie and Ben who looked after us for the rest of the evening. The menu’s presented to us were varied and offered something for every taste bud. Between the five of us we were served bread and oils to start and opted for Blythburg free-range pork belly (£15.95), ale battered Cornish fish and chips (£13.75) and the chargrilled 8oz burger (£13.75) for mains.

menu-the-perch

 

The food was served promptly and was truly delicious; every mouthful of my burger was tender and perfectly complemented by the bacon, tomato relish and  farmhouse cheddar cheese with triple cooked chips just the way I like them! The pork belly and fish and chips received excellent feedback too – all were cooked to perfection and served with the perfect accompaniments; scrumpy braised carrots with crackling and pear mustard for the pork, and tartare sauce and minted peas for the fish.

The dessert menu was full of summery options including sorbet’s and posset’s; we chose the frozen raspberry ripple parfait (£6.25) and were pleasantly surprised! The white chocolate cream and hazelnut praline was a lovely pairing and the whole dessert tasted fantastic.

dessert-menu-the-perch

 

Overall we had a wonderful evening out at The Perch and will certainly be returning in the winter months! I’m looking forward to sitting by the roaring fire and soaking up the cosy Cotswolds atmosphere!

A big thanks again to Maddie and Ben for looking after us – we will be back! To book an evening, weekend, dinner or lunchtime meal at The Perch please contact the pub directly.

NB. Thank you to Crimson PR & The Perch for sponsoring my visit. All views and opinions are my own.

 

Family selfie for mums pre birthday meal! Beautiful evening out at a beautiful place 🍴💖

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August Newsletter!

Hi everyone,

So August seems to have come and gone already and it’s passed us by oh so quickly! I’ve been busy for the most part of this month and have had plenty to keep me occupied; I’ve been  on a couple of little trips and have become a brand ambassador for an exciting new company! I’ve also totally rebranded my website and am working round the clock to launch my freelance social media consultancy business… Here’s how my August turned out…

I rebranded my website

 

I am sooo pleased that my brand new website is now LIVE! I’ve been working round the clock to improve my site, create proper menus and a new layout and am so pleased with the result. I feel that it looks much more professional and I’ve been receiving lots of compliments already – I’d love to know what you all think, and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE!!

 

I spent a week in Liverpool

This is #Liverpool 🏙🇬🇧 #GB #UK #visitgreatbritain #traveltuesday

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I recently took a week out to spend some quality time with my family in Liverpool and I had the best week! I’d gone to the V Festival in Staffordshire and then spent the rest of the week staying with family and exploring my second home. Liverpool is such an amazing city with so much to see and do! We took a ferry ‘cross the Mersey, went inside the Town Hall and walked along the Pier Head past the iconic Liver Building. I had a lovely week off just relaxing and enjoying myself – big thanks to my lovely grandparents for having me to stay! <3

 

I’ve become a brand ambassador

**NEW BLOG POST!!** Read all about my special announcement!! Link in bio ⬆️⬆️ Go check it out! @transfertravel

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So my big August news was the announcement of my new role as a Brand Ambassador for Transfer Travel – I’ve been working with the guys there for a few weeks now and am LOVING every second! I’ve been creating video blogs (something totally new for me) and am sending over written content for the site too. Here’s to many more months as a brand ambassador!

 

I’m launching my brand new business

Now that I’m back from my American adventure I’m throwing myself into my blog whilst launching my freelance business at the same time. I’ve set myself up as a freelance writer and social media consultant and am absolutely loving working for myself! I have two social media clients and one writing client so far and I’ve only been freelancing for three weeks! I’m hoping to build on my portfolio and add more clients to my database which will enable me to take on more projects and keep up this job on a full time basis. If you’re looking for a freelance writer or social media consultant, or you’d like to hire me for a sponsored post or press trip, then please get in touch today to see how we could work together!

 

I collaborated with Cheerz.com

**NEW BLOG POST!** Collaboration with @cheerz – product review and discount code for you! #cheerz #Wordpress #blog #post #newpost

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August also saw me collaborate with fab photo printing website Cheerz – I was asked to review some of their products and I absolutely LOVED them! I now have some fancy fridge magnets and cute polaroid prints from my American adventure and I will 100% be using Cheerz again. If you want to place an order for yourself don’t forget to use the promo code JESS75 to receive a £4 discount!

So that’s pretty much it for August – September is coming up and looks set to be super busy with my Italian escape taking up the best part of two weeks and I am SO excited! How did your August go?

Love Jess x

 

👯👯🎉🎉 #bankholiday

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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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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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A Charming Cotswolds Retreat: Royal Afternoon Tea at Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham Spa

ellenborough park hotel

Image courtesy of www.ellenboroughpark.com

 

Last Monday I was invited to the beautiful Ellenborough Park, a five star Cotswold manor house hotel located on the outskirts of Cheltenham Spa, to review their Royal Afternoon Tea. The promotion is running until 30th June 2016 in honour of Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday celebrations and offers guests a fantastic dining experience amongst stunning settings on the original Cheltenham Racecourse estate. I attended with my sister, Hannah, who absolutely LOVES afternoon tea. I thought she would be the perfect plus one to help me with my review and, I was right, she definitely didn’t take much persuading! 😉 We had a fantastic afternoon in the most beautiful of surroundings and were suitably stuffed by the time we had finished! Here’s how we got on…

Upon arrival we were greeted by the lovely Jonathan, one of the waiters who looked after us for most of the day. We were shown to our table, or in this case, an exclusive lounge on the first floor of the dining room where we were made to feel like true VIP’s for the day. With quirky antique tables and chairs and large windows as well as a balcony overlooking the rest of the dining room, our executive lounge made the perfect place from which to enjoy our Royal Afternoon Tea.

 

Exclusive lounge for our #royalafternoontea @ellenboroughpk yesterday! 🍰☕️#Cotswolds #cheltenham #review #traveltuesday

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Shortly after we were seated, and had finished gazing in awe at our new surroundings, we were shown the menus by Jonathan and were able to select our teas. There was a wide range of teas from traditional English breakfast to raspberry, rooibos and even chocolate flavoured. We both chose the strawberry and mango infused tea which was brought to our table in a cute little teapot with cups and saucers. We then ordered the Royal Afternoon Tea for two which was brought to us promptly.

 

 

Hannah and I couldn’t believe our eyes when the afternoon tea arrived, there was literally SO. MUCH. FOOD! The menu, by executive head chef David Kelman, boasted three tiers of sumptuous goodies including sandwiches, scones, cakes and sweet treats. The bottom tier comprised of a range of sandwiches including honey roast ham with Tewkesbury mustard, smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise with cress and cucumber with tomato and spicy relish. We actually swapped the smoked salmon sandwiches for cheese and pickle ones as we aren’t huge fans of salmon but we both love our cheese! The sandwiches were perfectly cut, neatly filled and incredibly tasty.

 

The middle tier was home to freshly baked Ellenborough Park fruit scones with jam and clotted cream. The scones were fresh out the oven and were still warm so the jam and cream set on the top just nicely and were mouth-wateringly good! Finally, the top tier showcased some of the most fantastic dessert pieces I have ever seen. We were treated to meringue swans filled with fresh strawberries (they were GENIUS!) and Her Majesty’s  favourite chocolate cake with white chocolate flag which was truly scrumptious. There was also a salted caramel Tudor rose chocolate which was incredibly rich as well as Her Majesty’s passionfruit hat, a passionfruit mousse set on a biscuit base with passionfruit glaze and edible sugar flowers which was a delight!

 

Hannah and I devoured almost everything on each tier and were fit to burst by the time we had finished! We thoroughly enjoyed each and every aspect of the afternoon tea and there was no item on the menu which wasn’t expertly made or presented. The 5 star surroundings added to the luxurious atmosphere and it was certainly a dining experience to remember.

 

Can I eat all of these again please?! ☕️🍰 @ellenboroughpk #cotswolds #cheltenham #review #afternoontea

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Ellenborough Park’s Royal Afternoon Tea prides itself on reflecting “the Queen’s love of horses, decades of fashionable hats for royal engagements and guardianship of the nation’s swans.” Executive head chef David Kelman’s “celebratory afternoon tea adds a touch of regal splendour to this quintessentially British delight, served on china fit for a queen.”

With its stunning buildings and sprawling grounds, Ellenborough Park prides itself on “providing guests with the finest hotel accommodation and service in the Cotswolds.” You’ll find 60 large bedrooms and suites as well as two on-site restaurants lead by award winning executive head chef David Kelman. Facilities include an impressive Indian-themed spa and a 15m heated outdoor swimming pool  whilst other leisure activities within the hotel grounds can also be arranged.

 

Beautiful day, beautiful hotel! Thanks so much for having me @ellenboroughpk ☀️🏨 #Cotswolds #visitgreatbritain #cheltenham

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To celebrate all things British and enjoy a quintessentially English dining experience book your table at Ellenborough Park today! Royal Afternoon Tea is priced at £22pp Monday – Thursday or £25pp Friday-Sunday. An optional glass of Champagne Billecart-Salmon can be added for an extra £12pp. To book, please call the hotel directly on 01242 545454 or email info@ellenboroughpark.com. Thank you to all at Ellenborough Park for looking after us and for giving us such a wonderful afternoon – I cannot recommend the hotel highly enough and I will certainly be back!

Love Jess x

NB. I dined with Ellenborough Park as a guest for the purpose of this review but all views are my own.