13 February 2018

Unsurprisingly, I watch quite a lot of TV. I'm loving quite a few shows at the moment on a variety of platforms and I'm going to list them for your reading. You might find a new show that you can binge!

Takeshi's Castle
If you watched Challenge (a UK TV channel) at all in the late 90s or early 00s, as well as a very young Chris Tarrant hosting Who Wants To Be A Millionaire you would see a show called Takeshi’s Castle. It’s a Japanese game show where 100 “warriors” take on Takeshi’s Castle (an actual guy called Takeshi by the way, or a papier-mâché head if he wasn’t there) to try and defeat him and his emerald guard.

You should seriously watch it, the games are mad in a way only the Japanese game shows can be and there’s some class outfits on show too. It’s commentated by Craig Charles (the Jonathan Ross one isn’t great) and he makes it, with phrases like “as my old grandad used to say” and “wakey wakey, for heavens sakey” making it a great watch. 

You can watch it on Challenge catchup and on YouTube. 

Jane The Virgin

I was recommended to check out this show via Snapchat - Cosmopolitan listed this as a show for me because of my star sign. I usually ignore these, but decided to see what Jane The Virgin was all about. By the end of Episode 1 I wanted to find out what happened to the complicated but intriguing characters. 

The storyline is fairly straightforward: a girl called Jane (who is catholic and therefore saving herself for marriage) get artificially inseminated by her doctor accidentally and then lots of drama happens that takes way too long to explain. 

Fast forward 4 months and I’m all caught up on 4 seasons of the show and am eagerly anticipating the next episode to be on Netflix on 3rd March. 

It’s streaming on Netflix everywhere, see what it’s all about HERE. If you’re in the US, it airs every Friday on CW. 

Vicar of Dibley

British comedy has a lot to exhibit, and The Vicar of Dibley is one of those great series that will be relatable through time. 

It depicts life in a tiny village with a female Vicar and the weirdos that make up the village’s parish council. It’s so funny and I love watching every episode, there’s little bits that are always missed. 

It’s available on catchup services and a playlist of episodes is on Dailymotion

The Grand Tour

Since the end of Top Gear for Jeremy, James and Richard, I’ve loved watching The Grand Tour. I love the cars on the show, as I’ve mentioned in my last post and the challenges are always fun to watch. The three presenters make it and the second season is their best yet.

It currently streams on Amazon Prime Video and is free to view for Prime members.

ITV News Programmes
It’s pretty weird to say that I love watching the news, but I watch it everyday that I can - it’s a staple of my lunchtime. Among all the news options these days, I just love ITV and their great presenters and correspondents, they all work so hard.

I may have mentioned it once, or twice (or 50 times) but I went to shadow the ITV News team last year - I wrote a post all about it which you can read HERE

You can catch ITV News on ITV weekdays at 1:30, 6:30 and 10PM. It’s on at varying times at the weekend due to what’s on telly that day, so check your local TV guide. You can also view the day’s news on the ITV News website or download the app

That rounds up my TV shows that I’m watching at the moment. Any favourites you’ve got that I should check out? Let me know below!

Happy Listening!

A K Jones

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12 February 2018

I've been nominated to do the Versatile Blogger Award tag by the lovely Mary, so thank you for the nomination! I think it's great that we nominate each other for these kinds of things - makes for good reading and also you might find out something that you didn't know about the other person.

- Post 7 facts about yourself
- Nominate 15 bloggers to do this lovely tag 🌸

1. I'm a twin.
I'm starting with the basic facts and one that some of you might not know, I have a twin sister. Her name is Sarah and from seeing a picture of the two of us, you might assume that she's the older one, but that assumption would be wrong. I'm ten minutes older than her, but we don't hold it over each other at all. 

2. I can't drive (but I'm currently learning to!).
When you're 17, it's a rite of passage that you learn to drive and finally become free on the road. That didn't happen for me however, as I did a year of manual driving lessons in 2012 and didn't get on with it. However 5 years later I'm getting behind the wheel again, but in an automatic and I'm so excited to finally get my license!

3. I love puzzles and wordsearches.
I have a thing for wordsearches in particular, as they test your brain but also let you find new words that would never have known existed. I have a wordsearch app on my phone and I use it at once a day - it’s great for playing if you’re bored or on a long journey. 

4. I’m a lover of cars, and I don’t really know why. 
Even though I can’t drive, I really like cars - looking at them, seeing them being tested etc. It’s really interesting to see how they’re designed and engineered to be the best they can be. I liked watching Top Gear and now The Grand Tour, partly because of the presenters but also the great cars they have on the show(s). 

5. My dream is to be a published author.
I’ve always had a really vivid imagination, and have been writing short stories ever since I was little. I would love to write a whole book and maybe get it published or self-publish, but I really know what to write it about 🤔  in some ways I am the author of each post on this blog, but having a book to hold that I wrote would be so awesome. 

6. My favourite magazines to read are really ‘trashy’ ones. 
I like to read things like Real People and Chat, or what my dad would call “The Jeremy Kyle of magazines”, as I’m really nosy and like to hear about what’s going on in people’s lives 🙈 Some of the stories are actually quite inspirational, and some are quite shocking. They can also help raise great awareness of certain conditions and causes, so it’s not all bad. 

7. I love space and the stars ✨
I don’t really show this too much, but I do love looking up and seeing stars in the sky at night. I would to get more into astrology, especially considering I read my horoscope every week. I know it’s not real at all, but I like to see what they think my week is going to look like anyway. 

Those are 7 great facts about me, now I want to know about you! I tag following bloggers to do the same tag:

Hope you lovely ladies have a great time reading my post and writing your own!

Happy Listening!

A K Jones

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9 February 2018

London-based Country/Americana foursome The Wandering Hearts might be a foreign name to you, but if you listen to the radio there's a chance you might have heard one of their tracks before. With lots of play on BBC Radio 2 and an interview on Bob Harris' Country Show among lots of publicity they've done, their debut album Wild Silence is out today.


The album starts as it means to go on, joyously upbeat and containing lots of captivating melodies. 'Devil' is a definite stand out track, with a quiet guitar strum accompanying the opening chords, drawing you in like a great offer you can't resist. Then it picks up into one of my current favourite tracks, which would be perfect on a driving playlist as its optimistic beat would be the perfect track to groove to on a long journey.

'If I Fall' slows the tempo a little, just to break it up a bit. If you thought that meant complacency, you would indeed be wrong. Record of The Day said of the band that they have "some of the best harmonies you'll have heard in years", and this song definitely promotes that, as they're seamless and make for spine-tingling listening.

'Rattle' is a percussion-soaked tune with a definite Country element, with an unexpected deep-voice bridge building up to a very bouncy crescendo in the chorus that continues until the next one. Think Sheppard's 'Geranimo' but with more guitar.

It took The Wandering Hearts 26 minutes to be discovered after putting their first ever demo on SoundCloud, and it's no wonder really - Wild Silence is an amazing exhibition of what they can do. Don't be surprised if you see them playing on the radio or touring in countries around the world. It also might make a few appearances in my monthly playlists.

Buy or listen to Wild Silence on iTunes, Spotify or Apple Music. Follow The Wandering Hearts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or visit their website to see what they're up to.

Happy Listening!

A K Jones

*PR samples were sent. All opinions are my own. 

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1 February 2018

Today is #TimeToTalk Day, and I thought I would share my struggles with mental health. I've suffered with depression and anxiety throughout my teenage and adult years - that may be a surprise to some, but you can't always be happy.
My depression started at uni, though I think it was there before that. I was really excited before going and wanted to get involved in all the clubs and societies, go out drinking during Freshers' Week and really blossom, hoping not to be so introverted.

But like some things, expectation doesn't always reflect reality. I was on my own a lot of the time, only joining for pre-drinks and then forgoing the club part because I was too anxious about the crowds. Eventually people stopped asking me to go out and I just sat in my room all day and all night. The early dark skies certainly don't help, as I vividly remember coming back from a lecture at 5pm, pulling down the blind, getting into bed and staring at the ceiling for a few hours, feeling not even sad, but just nothing.

I don't want you to think 'oh poor you', it was partly my fault that I thought not to get any help. I'm only just realising now, 6 months after finishing uni, that I was actually really lonely and could've done with someone to say "what you're feeling isn't normal". My sister always used to ask me whether I felt lonely and I would always say no, as I was too ashamed to admit it and just wanted to bury it.

I now don't keep in contact with many people from uni, because I didn't give myself the chance to open up to them - I shut them out, and that wasn't being nasty or anything, I just really didn't know how to communicate how I was feeling. Eventually I graduated uni and spent some time around my family for a few months, where I finally was able to feel a bit better.

Here's one thing I've learnt about anxiety though, it's all about overthinking the what-ifs, that won't happen. If they do happen, you deal with them. One example is when I had to call up journalists to pitch a story to them at work and I always think "are they going to shout at me? will they hang up?" but neither of those thing ever happened and I feel more confident speaking to journalists now.

My anxiety hasn't gone away yet, I'm still working out how to deal with it. My depression's better though, as I'm around people a lot more now and really get on with my colleagues at work which really helps lift my spirits if I'm having a day where I'd rather not show my face anywhere. Tonight was a win for my anxiety, as I went out to dinner with people I hadn't met before and survived, something I wouldn't have done 6 months ago.

But if there's one thing I need to say: please reach out to someone if you're struggling. Don't suffer in silence or bury your head in the sand. You can talk to me on Twitter if you need to, my DMs are always open. 

Hope you're opening the conversation and ending the stigma.

A K Jones

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30 January 2018

January has been quite an interesting month. I've had a lot of new music enter the playlist, and the weather's stayed as grim as it was in December. Nonetheless, we've all had work or school to go back to after Christmas and I've needed some new/revisited tunes to help get me through the dark mornings and evenings.

As per with these posts (and for those who don't know), I'll be writing a little tracklist of all the songs I've been listening to this month and then embedding the Spotify playlist so you can listen to any tracks that take your fancy.

In my playlist for January my listening of The 1975 hasn't stopped, adding a couple more of their songs to my library. There's also a few new Country songs that I've heard and am LOVING (so no surprise there really), a beautiful piece of music called Din Din Wo which isn't something I'd listen to but it's so uplifting, and a Norwegian artist I've recently rediscovered and she's released some great new stuff. See the tracklist below to see what I've been jamming to.

1. Ex's & Oh's - Elle King
2. Boy Like You - WESLEE
3. Heartkill - Tone Damli
4. Bigger Than Us - Adam Doleac
5. Found You - Kane Brown
6. After The Rain - Nickelback
7. The Cure - Lady Gaga
8. UGH! - The 1975
9. Out Of My System - Cale Dodds
10. No Limits - Angel Haze
11. It Feels So Good - Sonique
12. Thought It Was Gonna Be Me - Catherine McGrath
13. Smash - Tone Damli
14. Television Romance - Pale Waves
15. Din Din Wo - Habib Koité
16. Take You Back - Cale Dodds
17. La Isla Bonita - Madonna
18. Breathe - Jax Jones feat. Ina Wroldsen
19. Man's Not Hot - Big Shaq
20. I Got You - Josh Mirenda
21. How Does It Sound - Dylan Schneider
22. A Change Of Heart - The 1975

Have you got a music recommendation for me that I should listen to and possibly include next month? Does my playlist provide you with a new favourite song? Let me know in the comments. Also follow me on Spotify so you can see what in next month's playlist before anyone else. 

Happy Listening!

A K Jones

Photo sources 1, 2, 34

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26 January 2018

I've got some big news (and before anyone who knows me asks, no I'm not pregnant or engaged or anything of the type), it's something media-related.

I'm launching a new podcast!

This has been a long time in the works (since the end of October) and I'm so happy to finally be releasing it. It's called Amy Talks and in each episode I'll be discussing an issue that I feel passionately about and bring in guests for comment/analysis.

The first episode is up now and features an interview with nutritionist and food coach Jenn Hand, discussing January diets and how they are doomed to fail. Listen to the episode on Mixcloud and it'll soon be on iTunes to be able to subscribe to.

Be sure to follow the show on Facebook and Twitter for more updates.

Happy Listening!

A K Jones

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UK garage sensation Craig David stormed on to the mainstream music scene in the late 90s with a feature on the Artful Dodger's 'Re-Rewind', then found success with '7 Days', a fan favourite. After a bit of a hiatus David released 'Following My Intuition' in 2016. So what will his sixth studio album 'The Time Is Now' offer?
This album is very experimental, to put it nicely. It's full of dance tunes, I guess to fit with the music of today, but that's not what David's known for, which is great garage. The album's opener 'Magic' is setting the tone really, with him spelling out MAGIC in the chorus, like we're in need of a dictionary or Siri to know how to spell it.

Can it get any worse? Listen to 30 seconds of 'For The Gram' and you'll wonder what ever went through his mind when writing it. I visibly cringed on the first listen, something I don't do very often. Matching lyrics such as "We do it for the Insta / When she's done takin' pictures / Don't forget the hashtag", I'm actually surprised he would waste such a great songwriting talent on a song with such awful lyrics. I also have never seen "blah blah blah" being used on a song that's good, case and point with 'For The Gram'.

There's quite a generous use of autotune and definite infancy in his lyrics, as they're still reminiscent of something One Direction would devise. His audience has grown up since David's superstardom of the 00s, but he's the only one not to get the memo.

'Going On' is basically a Drake tribute act and like all tributes, they're not as good as the original. (I'm saying that and I don't even like Drake). The only saving grace is with single and Bastille duet 'I Know You', where his voice has been brought out properly and the dance beat isn't grating throughout the whole song, just the chorus and even that's got a slow tempo.

Craig David should really go and have a think about whether making albums is still for him, as this isn't a great effort after such a long-awaited comeback.

Follow Craig on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what he's up to. Take a listen to the album yourself on Spotify or buy it on iTunes.

Happy Listening!

A K Jones