Edinburgh

Simon Amstell – What Is This? Preview (Work In Progress)

When I saw the poster for Simon Amstell’s work in progress show I immediately wanted to go. My prior experience of him was from religiously watching him host Never Mind The Buzzcocks as a teenager and falling asleep next to him in a club during the Edinburgh Festival once. He was dancing, I was sleeping I was later informed by friends. I’d worked a long shift that day. No judgements. 

I didn’t really have any experience of his stand up work but I was curious to see if the humour I’d loved as a teenager translated into his stand up work. So, I bought the tickets even though they were for 11:20pm after my first day back at work eek. I’m not as young as I used to be. 

The show was great! I absolutely loved it. He was candid and transparent as he talked about various experiences in his life including: relationship with parents, coming out story, first experience in a gay nightclub, drugs, marriage, being raised in a Jewish family and much more. 

I love the way he couples on the mark wit with stark observations about the human condition. It is clear that his journey has entailed a lot of self reflection and psychoanalysis and this comes through in the show. Some of those bits were the bits I enjoyed the most as they were clearly so personal. I love that  he didn’t disentangle this part of his life from the comedy anecdotes. 

Anyway, if you’re wondering if you should get tickets to see his show the answer is YES. You definitely should! I think you can get them here >>> https://www.simonamstell.com/

Anyone else see any work in progress shows that are worth checking out?

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Mental Health

Why I’ve Decided To Write About My (Sometimes Lacking) Mental Health

People who know me personally will not be surprised when I say this yet it is still hard for me to write. I have struggled with my mental health.

To be clear, writing about this is not hard for me because of shame, I’m not ashamed. Mental health is an integral part of being human and just like any part of a human, it can get sick – that is not shameful.

I find it hard to write about because I often try to convince myself that my feelings and problems aren’t valid. Common thought, you may have had it: My problems aren’t as bad as other peoples problems therefore I am not entitled to feel the way I do. And I know that other people feel that way too. It’s such dangerous thinking because it can so easily take you from feeling bad to feeling worse.

In fact, I think it’s almost engrained in us from a young age to feel guilty about feeling bad. Ever complain about something as a child to be met with “there are starving people in Africa” or some other stock phrase designed to make you feel guilty for being selfish and having your own feelings? True, there are times when we are mumping and moaning and a little perspective is all that is needed but I’m not talking about those times.

I’m talking about the times when you can’t be rational. The times when the feeling that you have feels bigger and more scary than any feeling you’ve ever had before. The times when you can’t get out of bed, or shower, or see people, or make a simple decision for yourself. Or arguably the worst times when you don’t have any feelings at all.

I am talking about the times when, for whatever reason, you are at your lowest but still finding the energy to beat yourself up about feeling bad.

It is a lie that you have to feel guilty about feeling bad.

Since my mum passed away (which took its toll on my mental health) I’ve had friends talk to me about things in their lives and preface it with “I know it’s nothing compared to what you’ve dealt with” or “I know it’s nothing in comparison”. I’ve done it many times myself either in conversation or internally whenever I’ve felt my stuff just wasn’t big enough to merit talking or having feelings about.


But here’s the thing: there is no perfect sized problem that validates your depression or anxiety or agrophobia or OCD or eating disorder or whatever your mental health struggle is.

You are allowed to feel bad. You are allowed to feel angry. You are allowed to feel frustrated. You are allowed to feel lost. You are allowed to feel defeated. You are allowed to feel alone. 

You are allowed to feel any feeling that you feel for whatever reason or for no reason at all. Without judgement. Without judgement from others and without judgement from yourself.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned (with the help of a wonderful counsellor I had a while back) it’s that sometimes it’s the feeling guilty for feeling bad that keeps you down and makes it that much harder to fight to get healthy.

And that’s why I wanted to write today. As a reminder to myself (and anyone who chooses to read this) to let go of the guilt or that nagging voice telling you how you should be feeling and to be mindful of what you are feeling. And to allow it without judgement.

Your struggles are valid. Whatever they are. 

love jojo

p.s. the only thing I’d say you’re not allowed to do is suffer on your own. Please seek help from a loved one, a G.P., a counsellor or an organisation like the samaritans.

 

 

Music

My Top 5 Albums of 2017 

I settled down with a cup of tea to write a little post of my Top 5 Albums of 2017 thinking that it’d be a fun and easy one to hammer out.

Turns out I was wrong. And here I am an hour later, having relistened to various tracks from each album and my tea has gone cold and I’m still miles from getting anywhere. It’s amazing the way that music can overwhelm you like that isn’t it?

There are several reasons that I’m finding it difficult; the obvious one is trying to pick my top 5 and put them in order, the second is that every time I start writing I end up getting so involved with each album that I might need to write individual album reviews for each one. Later maybe.

Anyway, here I go, with my not so little post….. *drum roll please*….. join me as I countdown my top 5 favourite albums this year!

5. James Blunt – The Afterlove

I’ll start of with the admission that yes I know that it’s not cool to like James Blunt but hey, I never claimed to be cool!

This was actually the hardest spot to decide on as there were a few albums that I’ve flirted with but not quite committed to this year. It was a toss up between this; Ed Sheeran’s “Divide” and Elbow’s “Little Fictions”. If I’m really honest I wanted to give it to Blink 182’s “California Deluxe Edition” but I felt that was cheating as it was really just the original one I am super in love with which was released last year.

Anyway. I settled on James Blunt as I’ve given it quite a few listens. It makes a great on the plane album.

It’s an easy listen. The album has lots of lovely little guitar riffs and some of the tracks have a beautifully summery vibe. When it starts up with Love Me Better it makes me think I should be in the car driving to the beach with the windows down and the sun ahead. Lets talk about how much I LOVE this lyric:

“Saw you standing outside a bar, would’ve said YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL but I’ve used that line before”

because I love the little nod to his past! BAHAHAHA I feel like it’s a joke, but in a song. Maybe it wasn’t intended that way but I love it.

The majority of the album is about love in its various guises. Good Love (Love Me Better, Time of Our Lives, Make Me Better, Paradise) bad love (Heart Beat, Lose My Number) adulterous love from both sides (Don’t Give Me Those Eyes, Over) and lots of other types of love too. Infact I could write a whole other post about the “Many Types of Love as Told By James Blunt” – I guess that’s why it’s called “The Afterlove”.

Favourite tracks: California, Love Me Better, OK, Don’t Give Me Those Eyes

4. Haim – Something To Tell You

I was in love with their first album and waiting for this one has felt like an absolute age! It was worth the frickin’ wait! I love it. I listened to the album three times in row the day it was released. I love the unique sound that they have and how I always feel happy when I hear them (even though the lyrics aren’t always all that uplifting). Their songs always make me think of the soundtrack of “Pretty Woman” for some reason, I guess they reminds me of music from that time. I’m still chewing this album over and have many more listens to go before I get to know it fully but I know that it will feature heavily in my go to albums for many years to come!

Favourite tracks: Found it in Silence, Want You Back

3. Everything Now – Arcade Fire

I remember listening to Arcade Fire when I was at Uni with The Suburbs on repeat as I pounded out essays however they had fallen from my musical repertoire and been forgotten until I got together with my boyfriend. They are his favourite band so I have been listening to them plenty over the past year. I was lucky enough to get to see them play in Edinburgh in June at the Corn Exchange where they played a few tracks from this album. They were amazing but I still couldn’t justify seeing them again so soon when they released their tour which I believe is now sold out. When the album first dropped I wasn’t sure. I gave it a tentative listen and actually found it quite jarring sound wise. But this has been that classic case of an album growing on you to the point that you find yourself humming the tracks in the shower, doing your shopping and even soundtracking your dreams!

It is an excellent piece of work and I can see why it went straight into number 1 in the UK Album Chart (currently sitting at Number 3). This album makes so many statements about society and the human condition that it makes you question most of the way you live your life. And lets not forget to mention how it does that cool thing where the album ends with Everything Now (continued) and starts with Everything_Now (continued) so you can listen to it infinitely should you wish! Which I have several times over.

Favourite Tracks: We Don’t Deserve Love, Creature Comfort

  1. Alt J – Relaxer


Alt J weren’t even on my musical radar until the bf introduced me to them last year. They slowly wooed me with several late night listens to “This is All Yours” and the even more impressive “An Awesome Wave” and I’d say they are now up there amongst my favourite bands. So when this album released I was excited! I could fall in love with this one on my own accord. Which I did. Swiftly and hard.

This is the album I want to put on when my friends come over in the hopes of woo-ing them too. It’s the album I want to listen to put out and just listen to whilst I chill on the sofa. I want it on all the time. 3WW is one of the most beautiful tracks I’ve ever heard. I just want to love you in my own language is one of my favourite lyrics. The gentle lull of the guitar followed with the crash of the piano or keyboard or whatever instrument it is AHHHHHHH – it hurts. Going to see these guys in Blackpool in Sepetember and I’m buzzing for it!

Please listen to this album. It’s good for your soul.

Favourite Tracks: 3WW, In Cold Blood, Deadcrush, Adeline

  1. The XX – I See You


(there wasn’t a full album link)

I’ve been in love with The XX since the very first moment I heard them on some tv show or another, I think it was Misfits, from then I had to google them and hoover up every tasty musical morsel. Although weirdly yet to listen to Jamie XX’s stuff. IT’S ON MY TO DO LIST OKAY.

This album. There are no words.

Typical The XX brilliance. Twinkling sounds, decent beats, haunting lyrics. It’s embarrassing how many times I’ve listened to this album this year. It’s my go to “NEED TO GET WORK DONE” album because it relaxes me so much. It’s also a go to for a romantic evening in or listening to in the car or walking the dog or generally just being alive album. I ABOLUTELY CANNOT WAIT TO SEE THEM IN GLASGOW IN TWO WEEKS AHHHH!

Listening to this album is DANGEROUS. I DARE YOU to listen to it and not say SOMETHING LOVING at the end! You’ll have these songs on your LIPS and wish to catch them in a live PERFORMANCE. Put whatever you’re doing ON HOLD and listen to it right now.

See what I did there? SORRY I couldn’t help myself.

Favourite tracks: I Dare You, A Violent Noise, Something Loving, On Hold

Other albums that deserve mention this year:

Paramore “After Laughter”
Creeper “Eternity, In Your Arms”
Royal Blood “How Did We Get So Dark?”

Albums I’m looking forward to:
Nothing But Thieves “Broken Machine” on 8th of September and The Killers “Wonderful Wonderful” on 22ND September. I was also looking forward to Fall Out Boy but it’s been pushed back to January booooohooooo.

So there you have it. My five favourite albums of 2017 so far. I wonder if this will hold up at the end of the year. A lot can change…

What are your top 5 albums this year? Anything that I NEED to listen to right now? Drop me a comment 🙂

love jojo

Travel

8 Reasons to Visit Croatia 💖


We visited Croatia in July this year and it was amazing!! I’m definitely going to write a bigger post about what we got up to at some point but I was flicking through some of the photos (#throwbackthursday) and just needed to reminisce a little. So here are my 8 reasons to visit Croatia along with some photos I took whilst we were there!

1. The sea is so so clear and beautiful. A turquoise blue green that I have never seen before. I was mesmerised by it and made every effort to be in it as often as I physically could.



2. The views are absolutely stunning. Sea, mountains, beautiful buildings. Everywhere you turn the view is magical.


3. The sunsets. There isn’t a much more romantic evening for me than over looking the sea with a cocktail in hand and watching a beautiful sunset.


4. The islands. You could spend weeks exploring the islands alone. Each with their own charm and beauty. What sounds more like an adventure than the phrase “island hopping”?


5. The boats. We got on so many boats and what doesn’t feel luxurious about travelling to dinner by boat? You can even get an Uber Boat! We didn’t as it wasn’t very cost effective for two with a tight budget but the taxi boats were great.


6. The charm. Old buildings steeped in history, narrow streets with charming restaurants spilling onto them, little ports and harbours up and down the coast.


7. The swimming. People swim all around the coast. There are steps into the sea in random places and people take a dip from rocks. There are hundreds of designated swimming areas even right in the centre of Dubrovnik Old Town!


8. The bars and clubs. There is Something for everyone and every price range. Dance from sunset to sunrise on boats, beaches, islands and clubs in the walls of cities. 

We will return to Croatia! 💖

We went to Dubrovnik (stayed in Cavtat) and Hvar and visited Lokrum and Jerolim. So all photos taken in those places. If you are thinking about visiting, DO IT! It’s beautiful. Have you already visited and got any other reasons to love Croatia? Or any questions about visiting? Leave a comment below 🙂

Edinburgh

Five Tricks to Make The Most of The Edinburgh Fringe (on a budget)

Predictions are that this year we will see 1,000,000 visitors a week to the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe as it celebrates its 70th birthday!! 

There is nothing quite like the Edinburgh Fringe. I LOVE IT. Thumbing through the festival guide, earmarking pages, circling shows, checking ticket prices, writing itineraries…. all warm memories I have of visiting the Fringe every year since I was about 15 (I’m now 27). 

I have been known to make several pilgrimages a Summer to the capital to take in all of the magic it has to offer. A vibrance and buzz which pulls you in with a promise of witty puns, laughter, songs, dancing, serious stage performance and everything beyond and in between. 

It’s a well known fact that visiting the festival can easily tear a hole in your wallet and last year I spent a small fortune watching the likes of Joe Lycett, Mark Watson, Ed Byrne and David O’Docherty. Each performer delivering me my monies worth and more. However, this year I don’t have a little bit put away for the Fringe Extravaganza so I thought I’d share the tips I plan on using to see me through this amazing month – ON A BUDGET. 


1. See the free shows 

There are so many amazing venues which offer free shows all day every day throughout the Fringe. Venues like The Hive, Banshees Labyrinth, Espionage and Three Sisters have all delivered amazing shows in the past and setting aside a day or a few hours to just sit in one of them and watch a handful of the amazing up and coming acts has never been disappointing. Yes it’s a risk, sometimes the shows might not be to your taste but hey, it’s an experience. In all my years of fringing I think I’ve seen maybe 2 or 3 shows (out of about 100!) that were bad. So that’s a pretty decent hit rate in terms of enjoyable comedy shows. If you can spare it, take some cash with you as each act will ask for a donation at the end to help them fund their Fringe trip. You pay what you can and what you want to. There have been times I’ve been truly skint and one time when all I had to offer was half a packet of polos (that’s why I was watching the free shows) – they make a joke about cheapskates etc but they do understand. Still, it’s nice to at least take the time to say “Sorry I’ve no cash but I loved the show and I will tell people to come see it” as a way of thanks! 

2. 241 days

Most acts do a couple of 241 days at the beginning of their run so if you have a chum getting two tickets for £15 and going halfsies can really make a difference. This year a lot of the acts are doing 241 today and tomorrow (7th and 8th August).

3. Make use of the half price hut

A lot of the shows I saw when I was younger were a result of rocking up at the half price hut, seeing what was available for a price I could afford, and just taking a random punt. I remember seeing the likes of Kevin Bridges and other now big acts for like 3 quid! If you can get tickets to the “Best of the Fest” style shows even better as there are quite often big names doing little slots in these shows. Just hang out around the half price hut with a brochure (open from 9th August this year), look up a show on offer and if it sounds good – go for it! 

4. Chat to the people flyering 

Sometimes if a show hasn’t sold out,or they know there will be reviewers in so they want a full house, you can blag a free or discounted ticket. If you chat to the people flyering shows and seem like you could be tempted but you’re strapped for cash, every now and then a ticket will make its way into your hands. Doesn’t always work but I’ve landed a few tickets this way. Usually hanging around near the Underbelly, Pleasance or on the Royal Mile. 

5. Eat and drink away from the pricey fringe venues

There are soooo many good pubs, restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets in Edinburgh that no matter your budget you can find food and drink within your price range.  If you choose to eat and drink all day in the festival venues it can easily end up around £22 for four ciders and £7 for a burger. Everything is in walking distance so take a few breaks out of your day to nip off somewhere else for a wee drink or a snack and then head back to the venues after. Lots of supermarkets on North Bridge (Tesco, Sainsbury’s etc.) where you can grab a meal deal for lunch.

For next year:

Make the most of the preview days

At the beginning of the Fringe, before the official first day, most of the acts will run preview days. This year those were on the 2nd and 3rd of August so you’ve missed them for 2017 but put a reminder in your calendar to look up the dates next year!! The preview days are amazing for a few reasons:

1. It’s still quieter, the crowds haven’t quite gathered yet so it’s not rammed to the gunnels in the likes of The Pleasance or Underbelly (two of the main Festival hotspots).

2. You can get lots of free tickets. If you just lounge about in the Pleasance courtyard flicking through a brochure the people flyering will come up to you and if yo seem interested they often offer you free tickets. I have done this two years running, year 1 I was there for about 1 hour and got free tickets to see 6 shows; year 2 I was there for about 10 minutes and got free tickets to see 5 different shows. 

3. If you have particular shows you want to see you can get them for discounted prices (Avg of about £6.00)

Downsides: occasionally the shows can be a little quieter than usual,  some of the jokes are still being trialled, can’t really be too picky in terms of what you get tickets to.

Official fringe website – click here

Thanks for reading and enjoy the festival!!