In a bid to get my writing juices flowing again, I thought I would talk to you about my Jolly side to January.

Of course I faced my fair share of January blues, and it certainly wasn’t the easiest of months. I questioned whether January would ever end, and I wondered if the light would ever return! However, despite the bouts of gloom, there were plenty of reasons to be cheerful, as I soaked up the likes of theatre, film, TV, music and more.

Firstly, a few days before one of my best friends headed back to Syracuse in New York to complete her year studying abroad and travelling, we went on a day out in London for a double dose of theatre as a belated Christmas treat to each other. Our shows of choice were Les Miserables (matinee) and Young Frankenstein (evening).

I don’t feel there’s much I need to tell you about Les Mis, as the world knows it will always be one of the greats. In fact it’s the third year in a row that I’ve seen it – but each time has been a different cast, and while the story and it’s heart remain the same, due to this factor, each time feels almost like the first. I saw Killian Donnelly in Kinky Boots and loved him as Charlie, but he shines even brighter as Jean Valjean, and Paul Wilkins’ rendition of Empty Chairs brought a tear to my eye. It’s simply the must-see show.

As for Young Frankenstein, it’s my fourth visit since October so there’s no denying I’m a fan. I’m possibly partly biased as Dianne Pilkington is my favourite leading lady of the stage, however it really is an utterly hilarious and fun show; held together by some of the greatest West End talents. It was really lovely to get to share it with my friend who shares a similar humour to me, as I was just bouncing-off her laughter in seeing it for the first time and having stepped in with no knowledge other than my raving about it! If you want to switch off from all your troubles, this show will help you do just that.

If you’re a follower of my blogs, you may have heard me mention Standard Issue and their brilliant In Conversation with… events before. Well, I attended my third and this time is was in Cambridge, with one of my biggest inspirations Liz Carr. The event was as funny, engaging and insightful as always; and I urge you to keep your eyes and ears open for the podcast or their future events. I also had the bonus of having a lovely meeting with Liz afterwards, that I will deeply treasure for a long time.

Speaking of which, anyone who knows me will know that I’m an avid watcher of the TV series Silent Witness and I truly believe the current series (Series 21) is one of the best yet. The storylines, acting and overall look of the series has been raised to a new level of greatness; and the longevity of its show and the fact it’s still hitting over 5M in audience figures proves it’s strength. In particular, the episode One Day was emotionally harrowing, but a story that needed to be told. I would have blogged about it in full , but I think this Penny Pepper post on The Guardian’s website has it perfectly put.

I also recently enjoyed Series 2 of Sky One’s Delicious, starring Emilia Fox and Dawn French, which I watched on Now TV. It’s a quirky family based drama, with hints of romance and comedy. It’s a little out there at times, but you find yourself immersed in the characters and their stories. It’s a very clever drama, and I’d love to see more.

In terms of film, I caught Disney Pixar’s Coco in its previews and it’s no secret that I love all things Disney and Pixar but this truly exceeded all expectations. I found the subject matter fascinating, as it’s educating an audience on the Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ traditions, and it really gets you thinking about death and grieving. It’s creative and clever, with great characters and music, and there’s some really gorgeous animation too. I think it’s a worthy watch, whether young or old, it’s just another brilliant Disney Pixar gem.

I also caught the new Spielberg film, The Post, starring the legendary Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. Frankly, I was left speechless by the end as I processed it all. I admit I wasn’t sure I would like it as it appeared quite complex, but I was relieved that despite my lack of knowledge on the history, it was told brilliantly with power and precision that it’s hard not be gripped. I just loved the subtle nods to feminism at that time, and it’s alarming how many elements of the attitudes towards women still feel relevant in today’s society. I really enjoyed it, and it’s another film I highly recommend.

Finally, I found myself at London’s iconic Zedel venue for the first time, to see Scott Alan in concert with past and present Wicked stars Alice Fearn, Bradley Jaden and Savannah Stevenson. 

I was pleasantly surprised by Zedel; although it was a fancier venue than the type I normally visit, I still felt very welcome and I actually really enjoyed the vibe. If given the chance, it’s certainly worth checking out.

As for the music, in truth I had merely tagged along, as the friend I was with loves Wicked, and I didn’t mind revelling in the theatrical voices; and I had almost zero knowledge of Scott Alan, despite it being his residency – but do not fear, as I will certainly be paying attention now. His music and lyrics are powerful and moving, both honest and raw, and the renditions from the guests were hauntingly beautiful. I wasn’t sure if piano ballads were my thing, but to just sit, listen and be present in that moment is a really wonderful feeling. I highly suggest nabbing a ticket to see Scott Alan at your next opportunity, as I’m certain you won’t regret it.

And that’s it! An insight into the joyful parts of my January. I’m sorry it’s a little late, but it’s been a hectic time. I hope you enjoyed reading, and I hope you had some January joys too; just remember that if you didn’t, there’s still time for things to get better.