jessica nicole griffiths
Twenty eight today!
Another year older (and hopefully a little wiser.) It’s been a huge year with many highs and lows. I’ve lost my way and found a new path many times over. Over the past year I feel like I know myself better and appreciate myself so much more. I know who I am – I am happy with who I am – and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I am a very emotional person and I had always thought of this as a weakness – but it’s not. It’s a strength and one that I am so grateful to be blessed with. Yes I am a cryer – yes I am sensitive – but I wouldn’t and couldn’t have it any other way. My creativity is fuelled by my intense emotions. I’ve done all my best work in times of great happiness and great sadness. I am no stranger to heart break. But for me heartbreak doesn’t just happen in a romantic interest. Heartbreak most often comes in the form of a friendship – someone who I love and care for and give and give and give to as that is my nature – someone who lets me down. I will never change – I never want to. I want to fall in love with new and wonderful friends every day from now until forever. I want to love and nurture them – care for them and support them in their dreams and help them achieve all the wonderful things I know that they can. If those friendships then fall apart – drift away – or go in a new direction I am now okay with that. I just feel lucky to have met such wonderful and exciting people on their own incredible journeys and adventures. I’m so happy to be a part of their journey – a character dancing like a maniac in a story that they will one day tell.
For today I am grateful and so humbled to have so many people from all around the world who have made me feel so special and so loved. I appreciate every letter – comment – photo – everything. I’m feeling the good vibes coming my way and intend on giving all that love back out again to all those beautiful souls I’m blessed to cross paths with in this period of my life.
So thank you to everyone for your kindness and your love today and every day. I am honoured to have such magical people in my life.
Until next time wanderlusters x
I was staying with my friend in her Clapham apartment. I’d only just arrived in London and I was spending my days and nights looking for flats and jobs and daydreaming of adventure. I spotted a Facebook post from Rebecca Litchfield. She was upset because the model that she’d booked for the job had pulled out at the last minute. I messaged her immediately and she said she’d love to have me involved. We’d both been wanting to work together for a while so it was almost like it was meant to be.
I met Rebecca at Clapham Junction and we caught the train out to a station nearby the manor house we would be shooting in the next morning. Matt and Richie met us at the train station. It was the first time Rebecca had met either of them but they all knew each other from urbex forums. We did the standard introductions and then we were off. It was only a short 15 minute drive to Bull Manor. We weren’t technically meant to be there so we parked the car around the corner and then under the cover of darkness we quietly snuck down a muddy path and… that’s where we came across out first obstacle. All the winter rain had turned what was previously a large ditch in to a rather deep creek. Luckily we came across a fallen tree and we all took turns in crossing the rotting log on to the opposite bank. Richie went first with his sleeping bag in one hand and his camera and clothes in another. He made it nearly all the way across before slipping on the rotting bark and falling in to the water. He pulled himself out pretty quickly but the main concern was the camera. We needed to get in to the manor first before checking the damage. After Richie had slipped we all knew to be extra cautious and we passed all our camping gear across the creek before crawling along to the other side.
Once we crossed we then had a whole new challenge to face. As silent as could be we had to climb a rusted old fence – the boys being such lovely gentlemen helped me across silently we crossed fields and jumped more fenced this time they were covered in barbed wire. I must admit that I was a little apprehensive when we approached the house and I saw the razor wire that surrounded the building. Luckily my new friends knew the way in. The rest of our entrance I’m going to have to leave out but it was very challenging and took us a rather long time with all of our gear.
When we entered the house the first thing that surprised me was all the stuff! No one ever moved out of there. All their things were just there. Left to rot. We couldn’t see much in the night and we didn’t want to turn our torches on just in case someone saw us – so we set ourselves up with a few candles for light and sat around chatting in to the wee hours of the morning. Everything in the house was damp so we sat on bin bags to keep the moisture out. It was a freezing night and I was very grateful to be dry and in a very toasty sleeping bag. Sadly the same couldn’t be said for Richie – all his clothes and his sleeping bag were damp from his fall in to the creek. We chatted late in to the night and they all exchanged stories of their adventures. I listened intently – they certainly fanned the flames of my wanderlust fire. Urbex is like a whole new world to me and a very interesting one at that.
By the time we went to sleep I was completely exhausted. We rolled our bin bags out on the floor – jumped in to our sleeping bags with our pillows zipped up inside with us. I slept like the dead. who would have thought? We woke at first light and I saw the true haunting beauty of this abandoned manor house. The house itself was 4 stories high and an impressive stained glass ceiling. We could only reach the first two stories as the other staircases had rotted and fallen down. The boys ventured further than we had using a ladder that was in the house. We got my hair and makeup ready while we were waiting for the sun to rise. Then we spent the next few hours shooting barefoot around the decapitated house… I have never been so cold in my life! My feet completely lost feeling but somehow were still really painful. Thank goodness it was worth it. It was so so worth it.
I had an adventure. I had a brand new experience. I made some wonderful new friends and we created some beautiful images.
Love to hear from you so leave me a comment below or tweet with me @jessicaswander.
Until next time wanderlusters.
I had an “ah-ha moment” a few years back when I was in Bali for one of Eoin Finn’s YES (Yoga Ecology Surf) retreats.
It was the final day of the retreat and I was getting dressed for our last dinner together in one of the bigger houses. I’d already packed up my backpack in preparation to move on to beautiful inland Ubud for the next week or so and I realised just how little I had with me and just how little I actually needed.
Fast forward to November 2013 when I was packing up my bags and getting rid of all my possessions. It was absolutely liberating. I don’t want to waste money on trivial things like more handbags, ornaments, clothes, shoes, jewellery, cosmetics or perfumes. When you really think about it how much do those things actually add to your life? How many hours working did you spend to be able to afford that watch your wearing to make sure you catch your train on time? Now I’m not saying I’ve gone all minimalist and have gotten rid of all my material possessions because I haven’t. I just realised that some of the best things in life are not all that expensive and I’d rather spend my money on a grand adventure than a grand gown that will sit in my closet until I find somewhere to wear it. I’d rather work hard at what I love doing then spend each day commuting in to a job that I don’t enjoy just so I can afford the Claude Maus jacket I’ve been lusting after.
Less is almost always more,
p.s. I always love to hear from you guys, so please leave a comment below, or tweet with me @jessicaswander
Loving being back in Koh Phangan again. We took the mopeds out for the day and discovered this little gem of a beach and this fabulous tire swing. It’s a much different experience from my last trip that’s for sure!
One thing I adore about modelling is playing dress ups and creating a character to play around with so this shoot for me was so much fun! This was my first shoot with these marvellous humans and I hope we will work together many more times in the future.
Also, It’s impossible to be unhappy in an Indian Headdress!
Photographer: Damien Bowerman
Hair and Make-up: Brooke Pearson
Model: Jessica Nicole Griffiths