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Friday, 15 November 2019

Five For FriYAY: The Best Book, Pod and Beauty Recommendations

ARK Skincare Skinperfect Firming Serum reviewed by beauty and style blog for the over-50s Is This Mutton?
Five For FriYAY is an occasional post where I share my latest recommendations for beauty products, books, podcasts, TV, exhibitions. First up, ARK Firming Serum. ARK is a British skincare company whose products are free from parabens, mineral oil, formaldehyde and other nasties. You can shop by age and/or concern at their website.

I've been using ARK's products, gifted, for a while now, and my skin is looking brighter with a more even skin tone. It feels well hydrated, there are no dry patches, and so I am pleased with the skincare I've been using  (find my earlier posts on ARK here and here).

ARK's The Firming Serum is aimed at all age groups.

I can't say I have noticed a major firming effect after just one week, but I test products for three months so I'll let you know later. What I do like is the hyaluronic acid formula. I'm passionate about the need for women over 40 to use hyaluronic acid under their moisturizer. It makes such a big difference and you can buy them quite cheaply.


Podcast Recommendations


I'm enthralled by a "rich seam" podcast (where there are lots of episodes available) called Criminal.  I love the quirky and the unusual, and Criminal is all about offbeat true crimes. They are fascinating stories, beautifully produced and narrated by a woman with a most hypnotic voice.  The episodes include interviews and the Criminal website features a new illustration for every episode.

I have, so far, particularly enjoyed the episodes "The Less People Know About Us," where the podcast revisits a woman whose identity was stolen by her mother (who also did the same to her husband) and Off Leash, where we meet a dog trainer who was seduced by a prisoner in jail and persuaded to help him escape in one of her dog crates. Don't miss the story of Count Von Cosel, utterly fascinating - and disquieting. He was a self-styled doctor who attempted to give eternal life to a patient he had been unable to save.

One podcast which has had a lot of hype has left me cold.  It's the BBC's The Missing Cryptoqueen. Now, a few months ago I absolutely loved a US podcast documentary series called The Drop Out which examined the Theranos scandal. Theranos was a medical start up created by university drop out, Elizabeth Holmes. The charismatic Holmes modelled herself on Steve Jobs and it's a jaw dropping tale of fame and ambition gone wrong. The podcast was pacey with lots of interviews.

In The Missing Cryptoqueen, we have Dr Raja Ignatova, another one said to style herself on Steve Jobs, who persuaded millions to buy into her holistic bitcoin operation. Then she mysteriously disappeared. I was initially excited but then there was a lot of hype about the final episode which put me off the rest. It turns out (spoiler alert) the mystery is still unsolved, so I couldn't be bothered to listen.

Must See Exhibition: Tutankhamun


The Tutankhamun exhibition is back in London for the last time. One hundred and fifty artifacts are on display at the Saatchi Gallery, many being shown for the first time outside of Egypt. The exhibitions ends on 3 May. After a couple more tours, including Boston, the collection will move to its permanent home, a splendid new museum in Egypt, and will never tour again.

There were three striking moments for me, and they weren't the usual fantastic coffins and gold masks.

Among the items in the boy king's tomb was a collection of boomerangs.  They were not the right shape to come back, but were used at the time to kill wildlife, as a sport.  King Tut was only 19 so his boomerangs accompanied him so that he could have some sport in his after life.
Boomerangs placed in the tomb of King Tutankhamun for his after life sport
I loved this amulet of his grandfather, Amenhotep III, placed in the tomb to protect the young king.
Amulet of Amenhotep III at the Tutankhamun Exhibition in London
I was shocked to come face to face with a picture of the mummified remains of the boy as the last exhibit, and how life-like it still looked, with teeth present. I found this amazing, considering how ancient the mummy is.  It felt like an intimate moment, gazing at the remains of a person who once lived, and quite wrong to take a picture.

It's all very well staged and there's the inevitable "have a photo taken with your choice of scenery" moment as you enter the building. Unfortunately only one picture is taken and it wasn't our most flattering look!

It's amazing to consider that after his death, in turbulent times, all memories of Tutankhamun were swept away and statues destroyed. It was as if he never lived.  But now, he is the most famous Pharoah of them all.

I have heard the exhibition gets crowded at peak times. When we went, mid afternoon on a Thursday, it was fine and there was plenty of room.  You might want to take a day off to go during the week  to avoid the crowds.

Book recommendation: Olive Again and Our Rainbow Queen

First, Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout.  The first book about Olive Kitteridge was made into a memorable TV series where the irascible and curmudgeonly Olive was played by the fantastic Frances Dormand.
The cover of new book Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout, reviewed by Is This Mutton style blog.
In the second book, the narrative is not continually about Olive but introduces us to some of her neighbours and acquaintances in the small coastal Maine town of Crosby. We see how they interact with Olive. For all her direct talking and disdain for small talk, Olive is interested in people and unwittingly draws them out. She doesn't turn away from the woman who is dying whose husband is terrified and whose friends have stopped visiting.

Olive finds a new husband in her late 70s and we see a side of her that lingers in all of us, the desire for love and attention. 

There is probably a lot of Olive in all of us because the older we get the more fearless we become, until poor health makes us vulnerable again. 

I'm on the final chapter where Olive is elderly and perplexed at how fearful and anxious she has become. It sounds like it may be a depressing read but in fact it's the opposite.  Strout's writing and observations are so fine that it's a pleasure to be savoured.

One of my birthday presents was this gorgeous little book by Guardian writer Sali Hughes, who professes to being fascinated by the Queen and the colours she wears. 

When  you see the Queen in her monochrome splendour and fantastic jewellery, you can't help but agree that she has taken her duty very seriously in terms of making sure she always stands out in a crowd. 

She has always upheld certain standards. A hat is never worn while eating (although a tiara is fine);  gloves are always worn to avoid germs;  skirts are weighted with grommets to avoid any embarrassing incidents in the wind. The Queen has been the backdrop to our lives, a constant reassuring presence. 

The Queen rarely wears neutrals but here she is in white, below. It's good to see how glamorous and fashion-forward she looked when young. The book also features the Queen in some of the prints which she only rarely has worn.  It's amazing how inconspicuous she becomes in prints and florals. If you want to stand out, a bright or distinctive colour in monochrome is the way. 

If you have any book, TV, film or podcast recommendations to brighten our weekends, do let us know in the comments below. 

Sharing this post with: ShareAllLinkUp at Not Dressed as Lamb, Anything Goes at My Random Musings, Weekly LinkUp at Claire Justine and Linkup On the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge.


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