Wednesday, 29 April 2020

HAD ENOUGH OF COVID19 / CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN? THIS FAMILY IN LONDON CERTAINLY HAS!

Wow, I've just seen that the last blog I posted was shockingly long ago - more than a year! There are reasons for this. My father sadly passed away and last year (i.e. 2019) felt like my annus horribilis. Not only did I lose my dad (and my mum died ten years ago so now I am really 'alone') but I also had to clear out his house which was our childhood home. The emotional exhaustion of sifting and sorting through those memories was really hard. As well selling what had been such a happy house and moving on to the next chapter of our lives. I kept writing off 2019 and saying "next year will be better". If only I'd had a crystal ball!!

It started well enough. I took my kids on an amazing adventure to Chile in December. At the time I'd justified the expensive air tickets, thinking my twins (age 17) were getting older and might not come away with me for much longer and that we should make the most of it. Thank goodness I did that. Because now we can't go anywhere because of the lockdown and it's unlikely we'll be able to do much adventurous travel this summer...though I can still live in hope!

So, how are you all dealing with lockdown?

We're now entering our 6th week here in the UK and at first it wasn't too bad. We're some of the lucky ones with a garden and because we had amazing weather we were at least able to be outside enjoying the sunshine, which really helped. Plus in the UK (unlike in Italy or Spain) we're allowed to go out once a day for exercise, as long as we keep a 2 meter distance from people. So I've gone on great 1.5 hour walks which have been a godsend in terms of not feeling too cooped up.

Because this is such a once-in-a-generation contagion (well, at least I hope it is) that we're dealing with, I thought I'd try to diarise it in video form and I made a few 'lockdown' films for my YouTube channel which show how we're dealing with being cooped up and how the kids are faring with online education and not being able to see their friends or go out and socialise.

They weren't meant to be spoofs, but my family is so crazy that each mini film is pretty funny and feels like a spoof. Take a look:

LOCKDOWN WEEK ONE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rLnS5JqQrM&t=10s

LOCKDOWN WEEK TWO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdSCcnuNJts

LOCKDOWN WEEK THREE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YqCSPvRo7o&t=2s

After this we spent a week doing our own family Come Dine with Me special (that film is also on my YouTube channel) where we all took turns cooking the family meal one night of the week and we voted for the winner. It was hotly contested and some delicious food was eaten that week and my kids proved very creative  - preparing Mexican taco feasts, homemade brioches and homemade pasta even! I promise not to do any spoiler alerts here. You'll have to watch the film to decide who is the winner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WB_X7TXs-Tc

Alas, the weather has now taken a turn for the worse and it's becoming tougher for us all. The kids aren't coping that well with an online education (some are faring better than others) and I'm not enjoying being their educator. I'm trying to fill in the gaps where I can, especially with languages, because it's hard teaching languages online.

Also, I'm used to traveling the whole time for work and  now that I'm not going anywhere - and have no idea when that might change - I'm starting to suffer a bit from cabin fever. In those moments I remind myself how lucky we are. We have a garden, we have each other, we have food to put on the table and we have so far managed to stay healthy. And I keep trying to remind myself of that whenever I get in a minor funk...

Funny things still to happen: when we struggled to buy toilet paper/pasta and eggs at the beginning of the pandemic (when everyone was stockpiling and going crazy) my husband had the idea to build a chicken coop at the back of the garden so that we could provide our own eggs. The coop is built, as is the hen house - all that we're now waiting for are the chickens to arrive. I promise to keep you posted.

For the record: I DO NOT WANT TO HAVE CHICKENS AT THE BACK OF MY LONDON GARDEN!!!

Anyway, do let me know how you are coping with any restrictions you're experiencing wherever you are in the world? And whether you're scared of catching Covid19, or whether you've already had it or know someone who has?

And in the meantime, stay safe and be well and I promise to update you all sooner rather than later.

To return to Jo's website click on the link below:
www.jokessel.com

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

ANTARCTICA - WHY AND HOW TO VISIT THE SEVENTH CONTINENT!

Back in November I went on one of the most exciting voyages I have ever been on - an expedition cruise to Antarctica. My children were so jealous I was going. Not only would I be able to see penguins in their natural habitat, I would also be visiting a continent very few people ever get to see.
Stepping foot on land in Antarctica was a surreal moment and I've documented it in many videos I've recently posted to my YouTube channel Go with Jo: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1Q28t30k-o99Ijzoiox11Q

Some of the videos are about the penguins I saw:

Other videos are about my mad attempt to try the polar plunge - yikes, that was COLD AND HURT!: 
And some videos are general about the whole expedition cruise and Antarctic experience - I travelled with a Norwegian cruise liner called Hurtigruten which was awesome and the expedition team was awesome too: 

When I came back I wrote a few articles for various worldwide publications about my trip. But I'd also written a diary whilst I was away and when I looked at the diary I realised that I had some great material which I didn't want to put to waste. And I saw a gap in the market. There are generic travel guides to Antarctica (like a Lonely Planet etc) but there isn't a guide which tells readers exactly what it's like, with top tips for what to do/what to pack/what to wear/how long to go for etc.
And so I set about writing a unique travel guide, chronicling my expedition from beginning to end, including the highs (penguins/icebergs/extreme hiking/extreme kayaking) and the lows (sea sickness!) And at the end of each chapter are top tips for people about to go to Antarctica themselves or interested in either going or in the polar regions.
I'm so proud of the book which is available from Amazon sites worldwide in kindle as well as in paperback  - here's the cover:
So, if you're interested in adventure travel or polar regions or penguins, this book is a must-read - inspired by early explorer Ernest Shackleton's diary - Shackleton attempted to cross Antarctica from one side to the other in the early 1900s.
It's available worldwide from Amazon, but here are the US and UK links:
US: amzn.to/2TfTox3
UK: amzn.to/2Y4X1K1

Happy exploring the world - at least you won't get as cold as I did in Antarctica just by looking at this book! And if you don't think you'll ever be able to make it to Antarctica yourself, you'll feel as if you have been there after you've read this...

To return to Jo's website please click on the link below:
www.jokessel.com

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

WHAT I'D SAY TO THERESA MAY

WHAT I'D SAY TO THERESA MAY

I don't like politicising my blog, but I'm so deeply incensed and embarrassed by this whole Brexit debacle that I've been thinking what I'd like to say to Theresa May if I had her in my living room over a cup of tea...and this is it...

Theresa: I don't dislike you - even though I've never voted Tory in my life - in fact, when you were elected leader of the Conservative party I was pleased for you. You felt safe; like a nice kind woman who would look after her country.
However, you have no idea how to negotiate. Like you, I never wanted to leave the EU in the first place. I still don't. And I suspect you don't either. But a word of advice. If you're going to try to get a good deal for our country, your 'softly, softly' approach was never going to work. I don't like Boris Johnson particularly, but the one thing he got right in terms of Brexit was his bulldozing attitude. "They can whistle for it," he said, regarding the billions of pounds the EU expected us to give them for nothing in return.
But look at your deal. I know you're in an impossible situation, but this deal can't possibly be good for us. It involves us as a country giving billions and billions to the EU for very little in return. How is that a good deal? How is that good negotiating? The EU must be laughing in our faces.
It's complicated, I know. As I said before, you're in an impossible situation.
The world might be laughing at you at this very moment, thinking what a poor job you're doing. I'm not laughing. I feel sorry for you. You've worked very hard and done you're very best...but whatever you do, you hit a brick wall. And I fear that's not going to change.
The world might be laughing at you now, thinking that you're a weak leader and can't control your party or country. But you can change that. You could go down in history as doing something really wonderful - and something great for your country. And this is how:
Have a press conference. Be strong. Admit something that you know, deep down, is the truth. Brexit cannot be done and it can't be done because of Ireland. And as long as we want peace in Ireland this will not change. Say this to the country and you can go down in history as somebody special, rather than a weak, but tenacious woman.
Your speech can be short and sweet and say this:
"Brexit is a bad idea, so for the sake of our country and our people I think we should stay in the EU. And if you don't want me to be the person to do this then I'll step down and hand over to somebody else who can..."

Do this, Theresa, and history might remember you as a strong woman who did what was best for her country and did what she truly believed in.

To return to Jo's website please click on the link below:
www.jokessel.com

Sunday, 28 January 2018

YOUTUBE TRAVEL HORROR STORY - HELP NEEDED!

Hello everyone and hope you're having a nice weekend wherever you are in the world.

Over the last year or so I've had great fun building my YouTube channel: Go with Jo. I've been travelling round the world for work, making and editing short videos of places I've stayed in and things I've done, and it's been a great, fun journey. Judging from the thousands of views some of my videos have had, these films have given pleasure to lots of people around the globe. Perhaps my films have helped transport them to a different, more exotic place. Or perhaps my films have furnished them with useful advice. Or perhaps I gave somebody a tip to help make their own travels safer and more enjoyable.

Adverts are currently run on these films which make me a tiny bit of money and YouTube a much bigger amount of money.

However, YouTube is soon changing it's terms of agreement. Because my channel is not one of the 'big hitters', from the end of February I will no longer be entitled to make money from advertising on my videos;  nor will YouTube be compelled to pay me the money I have earned them so far.

This is very bad news for the 'little person' with a platform on YouTube. Whilst we can continue to have our channels, we will not be able to make money from them until we have 4,000 hours worth of views in a year (which is a lot)  and at least 1k subscribers.

I am nearly there with my views, but I am short of subscribers and wondered if you could help me with both.

Please, if you can and if you have time, could you take a look at my channel, watch some of my films and subscribe? If you do, not only will you be helping the 'little person', but you may well learn some useful travel ideas/tips on the way...and I will be eternally grateful.

Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1Q28t30k-o99Ijzoiox11Q

Many thanks, see you all soon and please feel free to share. There are others in a similar position to me and perhaps, if we all stick together, we can make a difference and convince YouTube to change their mind.

Bye for now

Jo

Please click on the link below to return to Jo's website:
www.jokessel.com


  
 


Wednesday, 20 December 2017

IT'S A MIRACLE - ONLY 99CENTS/99P - PRICE REDUCTION FOR CHRISTMAS SALE, SALE, SALE!

Hello everyone,

Only five more sleeps to Christmas - are you ready for it?!

Great news this end. Christmas is a time for believing in miracles and if you'd like to read about one (with a dash of romance thrown in too) then the kindle version can be yours for only 99cents/99p over the festive season. It's cheaper than a glass of mulled wine and will bring you much more and longer-lasting pleasure too. Please help share and spread the word.

US PURCHASE LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Call-Heaven-Jo-Kessel/dp/1540490041/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1513767228&sr=8-3&keywords=a+call+to+heaven


UK PURCHASE LINK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Call-Heaven-Jo-Kessel-ebook/dp/B01MQU65MT/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513787102&sr=8-1&keywords=jo+kessel+a+call+to+heaven




This book is the most special to me out of all my novels and will fill you with hope - hope for the future; hope for the impossible to become possible; hope for love and hope for happy endings.
Read it and you'll see what I mean.

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year full of hope, miracles and possibilities.

To return to Jo's website please click on the link below:
www.jokessel.com

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

HELP REQUIRED TO ANSWER MY DAUGHTER'S QUESTION!

Sometimes a child asks a question which is an astonishingly good one and which I'd love to know the answer to, but haven't a clue!

Recently my twelve year old daughter asked one such question. It must have been driven by the fact that it was raining in London (where we live) yet again, and the question was this:

"Mummy, do you think that there's ever a time when it's not raining ANYWHERE in the world?"

I stopped, hesitating. Is it possible that at some point in time there isn't a droplet of water dripping from the sky anywhere across the entire globe? It seems unlikely, but perhaps this is even a frequent phenomenon - a dry world everywhere for sufficient chunks of time.

If you're a meteorologist or geologist or an expert in global weather, then please help me provide an answer. Or if you know anyone who you think might be able to answer my daughter's question then please share this question with others.

I hate not to be able to provide my daughter with an accurate answer, especially when I'm sure that somebody, somewhere out there must know it!

Happy thinking about it and here's hoping it's dry wherever you are.

To return to Jo's website please click on the link below:
www.jokessel.com


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

IT'S NOT AN OSCAR OR A GRAMMY, BUT STILL - I WON AN AWARD!

It's not every day that you win an award, so I thought it was news worth sharing! It might not be an Oscar or a Grammy or a Brit, but for me it was just as exciting. A travel article I wrote for the Telegraph newspaper in the UK was nominated in the 'Best Cruise Lifestyle Feature' category at the CLIA UK & IRELAND CRUISE MEDIA AWARDS 2017. The competition around me was very stiff - I was up against some awesome journalists and really didn't expect to hear my name called out. And when it was I was SO excited.
Here's a pic:









Thank you so much for everyone who voted for me - it means such a lot. It's my first ever award and I will cherish it as if it was a BRIT, an Oscar or a Grammy!

To go back to Jo's website please click on the link below:
www.jokessel.com