A personal style and beauty blog by a working woman who wants to instil joie-de-vivre in the over 50s

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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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Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Recent Outfits and #WowOnWednesday Link Up

Style blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in red sequin top, asymmetric plaid skirt and red and black boots
This week is a round-up of recent outfits I've been wearing, smart, casual and work wear. First up: the outfit that didn't make it.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Crazy About Boots - and Link Up

Style blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton blog shows her collection of boots
One of the things I love about autumn and winter is the return of boots. Ankle boots, long boots, over-the-knee boots, round toed, pointed toed - I love them all. And here I am surrounded by most of my collection.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Sentence a Day, October 2019: US Visit and Big Reunion

Pumpkin display for Halloween at Marks and Spencer, Epping, England
Tues Oct 1
The hubster has added Netflix to our Sky subscription at a bargain rate so at last we can start watching The Crown!

Weds Oct 2
At home. Extremely busy, last meeting at 7.30pm. Watching The Crown.......

Thurs Oct 3
Getting colder. Wore new green snakeskin boots for first time. Came home early as have late meetings again.

Fri Oct 4
One of those days where everything going wrong! Except for being able to get in size 10 (US size 6 trousers.) again. We were supposed to be going to a restaurant tomorrow for J's birthday but unfortunately they rang to say it's closed for a few days because of a flood in the kitchen.

Sat Oct 5
Nice morning, went to garden centre and bought 2 hellebores, a winter hanging basket and an indoor stephanotis plant. Did a blog shoot.

Sun Oct 6
Weather was bad. Went to gym, did roast chicken. John's birthday so kids and grandchild came round to give him his presents.

Mon Oct 7
Early start, flight to San Francisco. Attending my company's big tech event for customers in San Jose which I've helped to manage.  On plane watched films Yesterday (very good), Late Nights (average) and a documentary about Vivienne Westwood (v gd).

Tues Oct 8
Woke at 3 but ok because I class this as "me time" to read and do emails. Event started. Booth looks fantastic. Below, with a colleague on one of the demos.
Style blogger Gail Hanlon with a colleague on the Arm booth at Arm TechCon in San Jose, California
Weds Oct 9
Up at 4. Very long day as there was a lot of normal work I had to do as well as duty at the event all day. I was wearing an augmented reality t-shirt: if you clicked on the back of it, with the Zappar app, I took off!
Showcasing augmented reality at Arm TechCon: Gail Hanlon's t-shirt becomes jet propelled when activated by Zappar
Thurs Oct 10
Awake at 5.15 today, getting better! But now it's the last day. Went out with colleagues for a nice lunch salad in the sun. Left for airport 4.30 and pleasant flight home. No films - managed some sleep.

Fri Oct 11
Landed on time and home by 4.30.

Sat Oct 12
J's belated birthday celebration at The Gilbert Scott - a restaurant at St Pancras station, beautiful decor. Here's the three of us.
Dining at The Gilbert Scott Restaurant in London:  Is This Mutton's Gail Hanlon with husband and stepdaughter.
And here's the birthday boy.
Sun Oct 13
Quiet day, did some work on blog

Mon Oct 14
Worked from home. Sorting out sales leads from the event. Went to the gym.

Tues Oct 15
Worked from home. Got 2 pumpkins to put outside the house to show we're receptive for Halloween trick or treaters.

Weds Oct 16
In office. Up early making salads for our lunches. A new nativity stable and characters arrived for Christmas - have always wanted one!

Thurs Oct 17
Office. Good day busy and productive.

Fri Oct 18
Worked from home, went to gym.

Sat Oct 19
Food shopping and garden centre. The pumpkin display at the top was in Marks and Spencer, Epping. At the garden centre bought 6 wallflowers plants and three trays of forget me nots. These will look great with spring bulbs.
Sun Oct 20
Walked to the gym, 2 miles. It was a  strenuous class so got bus halfway home!

Mon 21 Oct
Good day in office.

Tues 22 Oct
Dark when I left the house at just before 7. Gross.

Weds 23 Oct
At home. Went to gym. Squirrel continues to try to steal nuts in the garden - look how muscular he is!
Thurs 24 Oct
Working from home. Went into London to get a train to Plymouth at 6pm - am there for a long weekend for a reunion of the people on my first job as a trainee reporter. Read the post.

Fri 25 Oct
At my mum's in Plymouth. Blustery and wet. Had a lovely lunch on the Barbican.  Bought a secondhand sapphire ring in a shop called Pre-Loved.

Sat 26 Oct
Very wet and windy. Met up with my brother, his wife, son (and girlfriend), daughter and Mum for lunch. Later in the afternoon my friend rang to say she'd arrived and I left Mum's to stay the night in an Airbnb on the Barbican. Nine of us met up for drinks followed by dinner. Very pleasant - and a late night for me (2am!).

Sun 27 Oct
Beautiful sunny day. Originally we had all arranged to meet at 9am for a walk, but this turned out to be too ambitious so I went back to London on an earlier train. I was home by 3pm.

Mon 28 Oct
The clocks went back yesterday so it was light when I left the house. Hooray.

Tues 29 Oct
Working from home. Tidied up old CDs and found my soundtrack to the film Oliver! Been playing it ever since.

Weds 30 Oct
Up early (5.30) to make salads, wash hair, get petrol, drive to work. New monitor and keyboard came for my home PC.

Thurs 31 Oct
Halloween. About 12 kids came in their costumes trick and treating. Had to sit in darknesss after we ran out of sweets!

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Sunday, 3 November 2019

Transform A Boring Outfit with Just Three Accessories

Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon in an outfit transformed with three accessories
I'm as guilty as the next person of throwing on an outfit on dark wintry mornings and then cursing later how boring it is.

I liked the colours and print of this Mistral skirt from last winter and purposely bought a blue cashmere cardigan to wear with it this year. So this was my intention, adding burgundy ankle boots and a cream silk blouse. Arriving at work, I realised the outfit looked dull, dull, dull.

Here's how I transformed it with just three accessories.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

A Life At Work, 40 Years Ago - and Link Up

Reunion of the class of 1979 Mirror Group Newspapers training scheme
Forty years ago I started work as an apprentice journalist on the Mirror Group training scheme.  The national daily trained a group of reporters every year to staff its stable of regional newspapers in the Westcountry. This weekend some of us met up in Plymouth to celebrate our anniversary.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Five For FriYay: Reading, Podcasts, Beauty

Is This Mutton shows a pair of white hosiery gloves, ideal for preventing ladders when putting on sheer tights
Welcome to Five for FriYay, my occasional post on what I've been reading, listening to, watching and trying.

I look like a magician above but those white gloves are a godsend if, like me, you have ruined sheer tights just pulling them on. I have had so many instances over the years where a finger has created a hole or ladder, and I was unable to wear the tights in question!

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Purple and Pink - and Link Up

No woman is invisible in purple and fuchsia pink.  Over 50s blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in violet velvet skirt and infinity scarf with pink top and cropped cardigan
Regular readers will know that I like pink, particularly in the bright fuchsia shade which suits my cool / clear colouring. I also like purple and lilac, which look great with pink. Certainly in this combination none of us will be invisible.

The velvet midi skirt from Kettlewell has a lovely sheen and I added a bit of extra sparkle with metallic tights.  I've been finding so far this year that dark opaque tights aren't doing it for me. They suddenly look too solid, and dated with midi skirts. So I'm preferring thinner denier tights like these and the embellished brocade tights worn here.

The purple is echoed again in the infinity scarf, described as "pansy" by Kettlewell and a shade that is said to suit everyone. I don't really wear scarves except the Rew type shown here, which has a button fastening, but this scarf is good because it doesn't need tying.
Over 50s blogger Is This Mutton in pink with purple

A glamorous velvet skirt in violet with a bright fuchsia top and purple
Silver ankle boots and a cute micro bag provide finishing touches.  As an aside, I'm standing in front of one of our stained glass windows. The house dates from the 1920s and in the area where we live it was a big feature to have particular designs of stained glass in certain streets. A few years ago we replaced the windows. I managed to find a vendor who was able to take the precious original stained glass and encase it into the new frames. I'm passionate about retaining original features in houses, so this made me very happy.
Silver ankle boots with a velvet midi violet skirt and pink top and cro
I had to do this shoot in a big rush, after work, before it got dark as I didn't have time at the weekend. But phew, I got there.

Disclosure: no items were gifted for this post.

Sharing this post with: #iwillwearwhatiwant at Not Dressed as Lamb, #VisibleMonday at Not Dead Yet Style, Weekly Blog Hop at Claire JustineEmma at StyleSplashChic & Stylish at Mummabstylish,  TurningHeadsTuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish, Weekend Wear Link Up at Mom with StyleTop of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Muttonstyle, AnythingGoes or BloggerClubUK at My Random Musings,  Share the Kindness or Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge, Fancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion StyleRed Carpet Linkup at The Glam Adventure 

Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday.
Last week's most clicked post was by Emma from Style Splash, "Rust Checked Wrap Skirt and Navy Sweater." Emma is very skilled at colour mixing and always has quirky, fun accessories.
My favourite was Darlene from Aquamarina Style and her post How to Style a Faux Leather Skirt for Fall.  I often look at the racks of coated, faux and leather skirts and trousers and then move on, thinking it's not for me. I've only ever had one faux leather skirt which was silver and hardly ever worn because it was always too big. So Darlene has given me a welcome push to think about adding a faux or leather item to my wardrobe. I think I will need to try on several to find the right fit so this will make a whole post on its own!
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Wednesday, 16 October 2019

All-Green Monochrome Look - and Link Up

Over 50s style from Is This Mutton: green sequin top worn with green midi skirt from Boden and green snakeskin ankle boots
I'm going through a monochrome phase at the moment where I like to wear one colour in tonal shades. This all-green outfit combines two of my loves, green, and sequins.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Quick Update and A Few Outfits

Framed by a dramatic red Virginia creeper, woman in striped trousers leopard print boots and white boucle jacket
I've been meaning to snap more of my everyday outfits but the weather lately has been conspiring against me. You have to seize the opportunity when it's not raining. Above, here is the first outing of autumn/winter 2019 for my leopard print ankle boots from last year.  I think they work quite well with the stripes of my old Tesco trousers, don't you?  I didn't expect it to work, but the trousers have an orange stripe that complements the leopard.

It's still warm enough to get away with a jacket or blazer.  The bag is a new leather tote from Marks and Spencer. I was hoping it would be big enough for my laptop  (I even measured it) but it isn't really. But a black bag is always useful.
Casual chic with black t-shirt with cosmic print, black jeans and silver metallic boots
At the weekend I normally dress shamefully in fleeces and old jeans, but I've been buying the occasional t-shirt to try to look a bit more like a fashion blogger in my spare time. This t-shirt with a cosmic motif caught my eye at The-Bias-Cut.Com  The jeans are old, from Warehouse, and the silver boots are last winter's from Asos.  They're on sale, here. 
Green midi skirt with green neoprene snakeskin ankle boots and blouse with artichokes print

I've bought a couple of pairs of boots to augment my collection. These green "snakeskin" numbers were ideal for all my green outfits. The skirt is from Boden and the artichokes blouse was a purchase last year from the Bias.Cut. UK size 14 is still available in the sale.  
Zara paisley print blouse with black trousers
Last week I was in the US for work and this was my outfit on the first day. I was expecting to have to change the blouse for a branded t-shirt, as I was helping out at our big tech industry event, but I was able to keep it on all day.  The blouse is from Zara and the trousers are old - they're straight legs from Marks and Spencer who do these so well.  I wore my black Adidas Stan Smith's all week - so comfortable.

I'm back on Wednesday with the #WowOnWednesday link up. Hope you can join me.

Disclosure: this post includes no gifted items but does include affiliate links. If you click through I make a few pence. 

Sharing this post with #Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, #IWillWearWhatILike at Not Dressed as LambTurningHeads at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish#Stylewithasmile at StylesplashChic&Stylish at MummabstylishTop of the World Style at High Latitude Style#ThursdayTell /Mutton Style Monday at Muttonstyle, Fancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion StyleFabulous Friday at Pocketful of Polka Dots, Anna at The Glamadventure, Shelbee On The Edge#BloggerClubUK or #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings Grace at Color and Grace, Julie at This Main Line Lif


Stay in the loop: follow Is This Mutton? on Bloglovin or Feedspot. I post extra goodies on the Is This Mutton? Facebook page. Check out the Is This Mutton? Pinterest boards, including boards on other bloggers in fab outfits plus beauty, jewellery, hairstyles and fashion picks. Is This Mutton? is also on Twitter.


Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Adding Drama to an Outfit With Patterned Tights

Woman in burgundy with patterned tights
AD/Gifted: One of the reasons I like the return of cooler weather is the chance to wear hosiery. I've written before here and here about my love of hosiery, specifically tights, in amazing hues and patterns. UK Tights invited me to select a few pairs and this week I'm featuring the fabulous Brocatelle tights by Cecilia de Rafael, designed by Ulises Merida, a Spanish designer.
Close up of woman's leg to show the intricate design of the Brocatelle tights by Cecilia de Rafael from UK Tights
I thought my new burgundy Hope skirt (bought in the sale a few weeks ago) would add some lush texture to these amazing tights. Being a matchy-matchy girl, I added my burgundy Ted Baker top with detachable bow, matching bag (old) and, perfect for the autumn chills, my old faux fur gilet. Mixing lots of textures - the fur, the velvet from the skirt and bag, and of course the brocade pattern of the tights, adds extra interest.
Framed by a Virginia creeper Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon is wearinbg a monochrome burgundy outfit with a white fur gilet and patterned tights
I'd intended to wear shoes and dug out a silver pair, but somehow, after a summer in Stan Smiths and ankle boots, shoes look.....weird. So I replaced them with silver boots (last winter's).
I have a couple more pairs of tights to show you - blue lurex and green. A perfect green. I always wear tights: stockings and hold-ups do not do it for me. I can see that stockings probably look much more alluring, but I remember an embarrassing slip up a few years when the suspenders pinged and a stocking slid down my leg!
Adding Drama to an Outfit With Patterned Tights: Is This Mutton on adding patterned, coloured and textured tights to liven up a monochrome outfit
If you haven't discovered UK Tights, they have a huge selection of hosiery to suit every taste and budget. I buy all my tights there, they ship right away and I can get my hands on all the designs, textures and colours that you can't buy in the high street.
Style blogger Gail Hanlon in burgundy and white with silver boots and Brocatelle tights by Cecilia de Rafael
Yes that is Mr Mutton in the background. We are very trad, me and Mr Mutton:  he doesn't cook or do housework but he does wash my car occasionally and takes the bins out. Works for us.
Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday. As you read this, I'll be in California for work, attending an annual industry event we run for three days.  So I'll be relying on scheduling tools to deliver this post at the normal time.

I was gifted with the Brocatelle tights by Cecilia de Rafael at UK Tights, the biggest online hosiery store on earth. As always, copy approval was not sought or given, and I always voice my own opinions.

Sharing this post with: #iwillwearwhatiwant at Not Dressed as Lamb, #VisibleMonday at Not Dead Yet Style, Weekly Blog Hop at Claire JustineChic & Stylish at Mummabstylish,  Weekend Wear Link Up at Mom with StyleTop of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Thursday Tell at Muttonstyle, AnythingGoes or BloggerClubUK at My Random Musings,  Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge, Fancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style, Red Carpet Linkup at The Glam Adventure 
Last week's most clicked was Penny from Frugal Fashion Shopper and her post "The cooler weather means I get out my warmer clothes – hooray! Part 1 – skirts". A girl after my own heart! I love getting my winter clothes out of storage, it's like being reunited with old friends.
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Thursday, 3 October 2019

Shoes, Dublin, Conkers and a Spa Break: My September

I paused my Sentence a Day posts a few months ago but now I'm raring to go again, albeit a few days late with September. Without further ado....

Sun Sept 1:
Got inveigled into going to a dealer for a test drive by the hubster. Took ages! Wasn't able to do a blog shoot.

Mon Sept 2: Bright and sunny.  Roads busier as the kids have gone back to school. Ventured into a field near the office to do my shoot, the post is here. Box of bulbs came today, hooray.

Tues Sept 3: Left at 2, wasn't feeling great.

Weds Sept 4: Changed two of my social media handles to reflect the blog's name rather than mine. Working from home and v busy.

Thurs Sept 5: Unusually at home because of an evening event, the Vionic runway show in London. My, what a glamorous audience! Nice to have a few glasses of champagne and a catch up with Jacqui and Michelle.

Fri Sept 6: exhausting day. Went to the pub in the evening for John's sisters 60th. She doesn't know there's also a lunch in Dublin on Sun - it's a surprise.  Goodness knows how we kept it a secret.

Sat Sept 7: off to Dublin. Easy trip. Checked into our hotel near the park  (pic at top). Saw Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre. Really good show.
The Gaiety Theatre in Dublin and its sensational Riverdance show attended by Is This Mutton blogger and husband.
Went to a traditional Irish pub for dinner with live music, and had this delicious lamb shank.
Sun Sept 8: warm pleasant day. Went for a walk around the city centre and posed by the Phil Lynott statue.  The surprise lunch was booked at Fire, a former municipal building.
The interior of Fire, a restaurant in Dublin city centre
The extended family was present, a lot of whom live in Ireland. Read here about Sue's reaction.  This is what I wore.
Mid life woman in green and pink midi dress and pink cropped cashmere cardigan.
Mon 9 September: drizzly.  Walked to the Shelbourne Hotel to get a cab to the airport with John's other sister and her husband. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was arriving in Dublin so traffic was at a standstill. We were home by 2pm - rushed off to do some food shopping.

Tues 10 September: I'm on holiday for the rest of this week. Did a few chores and set off for Grayshott Spa, about an hour and a half's drive. I last went there about 20 years ago! Did an aqua aerobics class right away. Then had a massage.  Dinner was sublime.Three courses and healthy but delicious. I'm here for four nights.
The handsome mansion of Grayshott Spa in England.
Weds September 11: keen to do a lot of exercise today. Did circuits, stretching. Had an aromatherapy massage with Faye who did yesterday's massage and is so easy to talk to. Did Pilates in the afternoon using balls of different sizes - very challenging!

Thurs September 12: knees quite sore today so need to be careful about what exercise I do. Did a walk followed by a short session in the gym and then a swim. Had "lymphatic drainage" with Urzula. This was surprisingly tiring. Had a personal training session to learn some new stretches.  Dinner was smoked haddock kedgeree, below, followed by baked apple with dates and lavender cream. Divine.
Fri September 13: feeling great! Went to a stretch class and then did aqua aerobics in the sunshine in the outdoors pool in sun. The day was rounded off with a facial and the dinner highlight was honeycomb ice cream (and I normally don't even eat desserts).

Sat September 14:  decided to leave Grayshott before 9 as I have a lot to do today. I collected a meat order for tomorrow.  Did some gardening, removed a huge penstemon and got rid of a Christmas tree which came in a small pot a few years ago but is now looking a bit sad.

Sun September 15: Went to Power Plate, cooked sirloin for lunch, John's daughter and husband came. Sunny.  Planted most of my daffodil bulbs. Wrote Wednesday's blog post.

Mon September 16: back at work.  V quiet in the office.  Ploughed through emails then had to turn a pres around v quickly.

Tues September 17: at an all day off site meeting. Photos. Sunny but cold. Long day.

Weds September 18: Working at home, very busy day.  Went to Power Plate. Tried a new dinner, recipe with aubergines and lamb steaks.  Not a success.

Thurs September 17: in the office. Was dreading today for various reasons and woke up in night but everything went ok.

Fri September 18: working at home. Sunny, colder. V busy again - it's the run up to a major event that we run, and I'm the campaign manager.  J got my winter clothes down, five bags. Two bags went up. I make a note of what's in each, otherwise he claims he can't find the bags!

Sat September 19: the last official day of summer, and gifted with brilliant weather. Did power plate and food shopping. Then went to a "welcome to the world" party (similar to a christening) for John's first grand child. It was a lovely day.

Sun 20 September:  did some blog photography and wrote 2 posts. Roast chicken. Dreamed that I couldn't find my car. Boris was telling me I wouldn't get it back. Looked up the meaning of this dream and it's not good!

Mon September 23: in office. After three trips to petrol stations looking for a working air machine, I was finally convinced to go to Kwik Fit to have a slow puncture looked at. Unfortunately it can't be repaired.  Booked in for tomorrow for a new tyre, nearly £200.

Tues September 24. Terrible rain. Took car to the garage again for the new tyre, and got quite wet on the walk to work. Felt a bit carb deprived and headachey.  Revolting silage smell from a farmer spraying his fields, and and cars in the upper deck at work got splattered.  Came home and had to face a late meeting.

Weds September 25: At home.  Long day, ended at 8pm.

Thurs September 26th: had a day off. An old friend Margery was visiting from Dorset. We went to the William Blake exhibition (disappointing) followed by a lovely lunch.

Fri September 27th: worked at home. A free pair of bamboo socks came in the post - my third pair!
Free socks sent out by bamboo clothing firm BAM in the UK.
I gathered some conkers on the way to Power Plate. They're useful on window sills for deterring spiders.
A handful of conkers gathered in the UK September 2019
Sat September 28th
Had hair done. Big drama, armed police chased a car through nearby Loughton.  For dinner I created a recipe from one of my low carb cook books: ratatouille with ginger/mandarin lemon sole.  Did a mini shoot by Virginia creeper, now a glorious red.

Sun September 29
Went to Power Plate. Very windy today. We had roast beef and I made a casserole.

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Wednesday, 2 October 2019

A Time For Reinvention - and Link Up

Autumn/Fall is a much better time for attempting major life changes than January, in my view. January is such a bleak month with three months of winter still ahead and bank balances decimated by Christmas.  I started several of my major jobs in the month of September, and it's a month with feelings of optimism  (Brexit aside) and regeneration.

I like to change my beauty routine at this time of year. I was thrilled to get two more products from British skincare firm ARK to continue my efforts to brighten and polish my skin.

I've been using their Age Defy nourishing moisturizer and cleanser, both aimed at the over-50s, for a few weeks and said I'd give an update when I'd used them for a while.

Well, I've had a few compliments about my skin recently so they must be doing a good job! I like the moisturizer in particular.  The pump mechanism isn't great because it stops working long before the pot is empty, but no problem, I just lift off the lid. It has a refreshing herbal/eucalyptus type scent and is a good primer for makeup.
The new exfoliator is aimed at all age groups:  you simply leave the product on for longer (five minutes) if you're over 50.  I'm not always very good at using exfoliators. They seem a waste of time if they aren't very grainy - how do you know they're sloughing off dead cells? - but on the other hand, too much graininess is bad  (remember Aapri?).

This exfoliator has a triple action: a physical, fruit acid and enzymatic action to gently slough dead skin and debris. AHA acids from bilberry, sugar cane, sugar maple, orange and lemon help to diminish the look of acne scars and the appearance of wrinkles.

I like it! There's a pleasing graininess, but not too much, and afterwards my skin looked fresh but not red.

I haven't tried the hydration injection masque yet but as you know from previous excursions,  here and here, I love trying a mask so I will report back.

Kick starting a New Health Regime

At the start of September I spent four days at my own expense at Grayshott Spa, on the Surrey/Hampshire border. I haven't been there for more than 20 years but it was still the tranquil heaven it always was, with just a few changes.
Every day there are two walks in the gorgeous heath land surrounding the mansion
One of the changes is "the Regime," a special diet for the gut devised by Stephanie J. Moore and Grayshott's head chef Adam Palmer.  Grayshott runs a 7-day long introduction to the Regime.  I didn't do it, but the food in general is based on its principles. I was hoping it would kickstart a healthier eating regime. Somehow, even after the delicious three-course dinners, I managed to lose four pounds! Yes, even after a daily pudding like this - honeycomb ice cream!
I bought Stephanie's book, Why Eating Less and Exercising More Makes You Fat: Current Health Advice is Failing Us, and the Grayshott recipe book, Gut Gastronomy: Revolutionise Your Eating to Create Great Health by Vicki Edgson, to learn more about the diet.

It's low carb and avoids high GI foods  (such as potatoes, bread, grains, bananas).  The diet encourages us to be lavish with fats and nuts. We're now using butter and coconut fat, and avoiding spreads which are full of hydrogenated fats.

Diets like these have shown revolutionary results in reversing type 2 diabetes.

In the last three weeks I've continued the weight loss and it's now half a stone  (seven pounds). I don't feel low on energy and I'm not feeling constantly hungry (hangry) as you normally are when you eat less.

I haven't really cut out any food groups:  vegetables are carbs and some are starchier than others. The diet forces you to cook unprocessed foods and to avoid anything pre-packaged, plus desserts, sugar and sweeteners. But I'm not counting calories for the first time ever, nd it's such a relief.

I've been cooking everything from scratch and trying new veg and ways of cooking them:  celeriac mash was a revelation!  Last night I made my own ratatouille to accompany a dish from the Grayshott recipe book, lemon sole with mandarins and ginger. Both delicious and even Mr Mutton approved.

I haven't given up my vice - cheese - and have a few thin slices with two sourdough crackers if I'm not sated.

I must confess to not doing some of the gut health measures - soaking nuts overnight, blanching salads, eating sauerkraut and making kimchi.  Life is too short!

Examples of what I'm eating


When I'm in the office, I take a bottle of Biotiful Kefir which is nourishing and good for gut health. Or I take a container with some coconut yoghurt, blueberries, raspberries and nuts.  At home, I like two poached eggs on a slice of toasted sour dough  (better for us than wholewheat bread).


Lunch is a challenge with this diet:  the best thing is to make a salad, which I try to do on most days. I add an interesting pot of edamame and soya from M&S or Tesco, and some sliced turkey or salmon. If I'm in a rush, I make a smoothie from the Grayshott book  (apple/pear/juice of half a lime/maca powder and coconut milk). Or I have a Huel shake - quite a few carbs, but also filling. You could, if you had time, roast some vegetables with meat or fish.


I make a few batches of chicken casserole or chilli at the weekend and have plentiful vegetables with those, plus a serving of oily fish once or twice a week, falafels and a grass-fed organic steak. If I'm in a hurry or desperate, I have an omelette with ham and a Greek salad.

I've just bought another recipe book, The Diabetes Weight Loss Cook Book, by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi. This is useful because it profiles the two authors and two others in terms of how many carbs they aim to have each day (it varies).  And there are some useful recipes for crackers/bread without the carbs. Joe Wicks' recipe books are also good for low carb recipes.

I have an ambitious target of another seven pounds in the next month, in time for a reunion with former colleagues from the first job I ever had.  My reward, if I succeed, will be a new pair of Boden patterned Richmond trousers!

Disclosure:  I was gifted with two products by ARK Skincare.  Copy approval was neither sought nor given, and my editorial opinion is my own and always objective. 

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Now it's that time of the week:
Last week's most clicked was Jess from Elegantly Dressed and Stylish who looked stunning in her chestnut dress from Target.  Jess is a master of wearing colors that suit her, and accessorizing.
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