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Wednesday 29 December 2021

Most Liked Everything of 2021 - and Link-Up


Gail Hanlon from over 60s style blog Is This Mutton

Dear friends. It's the last #WowOnWednesday post for 2021, and I'm recalling my favourites -  TV, books and podcasts - and most liked:  posts, jewellery, clothes. It's a bit of a monster read, but hope you'll make it to the end, and, of course, the link-up.  


Monday 27 December 2021

Little Black Dress: Style Not Age Challenge


The little black dress is a wardrobe staple. See how five style bloggers over the age of 45 styled theirs

Dear friends. Hope you all had a splendid holiday weekend. Welcome to the December Style Not Age Challenge, where Jacqui, Anna, Hilda, Emma and I create an outfit based on a prompt from one of the team.


Wednesday 22 December 2021

What's Happening and Link-Up


Dear friends. Good news - Christmas is saved! We were waiting anxiously to see if Christmas was going to be cancelled.  Cases of the new variant are rocketing - we are now #2 in the world for numbers of cases. But yesterday the government confirmed the festive break would go ahead, although there may be restrictions before the New Year. 


Wednesday 15 December 2021

Outfit Challenge, Holiday Traditions

 Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton waits for her guests wearing a red jumper in this image from 2008

Another mixed Christmas platter today:  continuing the wardrobe challenge loosely based on the 12 Days of Christmas, and joining in with Leslie for a belated 10/10 post on decorating, traditions and family recipes for the holiday season. It's a long read so extra points if you hang in till the end! 


Wednesday 8 December 2021

A Christmas Mixed Platter - and Link-Up

 Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in her favourite green: a dark alpine green worn with fuchsia pink

Dear friends. Hope you are in fine fettle. Here's a bit of good news for you.  Middle aged women have fewer wrinkles than their male counterparts, according to the Ben-Gurion University in Israel. 


Friday 3 December 2021

My Sabbatical Month Off: Sentence a Day, November

 Long horn cattle on a frosty November morning in Epping Forest. Photo: Gail Hanlon Is This Mutton

A very busy month packed with fun things - I was on sabbatical!  This is four weeks' paid leave which my company grants us every four years. I had originally planned to go to South America but travel restrictions put paid to that. Find out what I did instead. 

Monday 1 November

Lovely blue sky day so spent it in the garden, planting bulbs, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Have never planted so many spring bulbs! This is what the garden looks like today. Still quite a lot in bloom. 

Tues 2 Nov

Another lovely day. Had booster jab, then went on a walking tour of Secret London.  Fascinating to see the tiny alleyways of Cornhill and places like Simpson's Tavern, which are so atmospheric, some with original outdoor gas lights. 

London alleyway, Cornhill area of the City

Weds 3 Nov

A beautiful day with a frosty start. Did forest walk 5 miles. Saw the cattle unexpectedly. I was bending to take a picture of the frost on leaves when the cows suddenly appeared through the trees (top picture) to cross the trail. 

Thurs 4 Nov

Cloudy, cold. Went to the Victoria & Albert Museum to see their exhibition of handbags. The nearby Natural History Museum has a festive set-up with an ice rink and Christmas tree outside. 

Friday 5 Nov

Blue sky, cold. Met up with John's sisters and Don for a  trip to the Natural History Museum to see the  wildlife photographer of the year competition entries. Then had lunch at the Hereford Arms. Very enjoyable.  In the evening had dinner at the Kings Head, five minutes walk, with John's daughter and her husband. 

Sat 6 Nov

Drove to Newbury, 88 miles, for a meet-up with nine colourful women from the Kettlewell Colour Club. Interesting to see Newbury again - I lived there more than 20 years ago.  Boy has it changed.  

Sun Nov 7

My birthday! Sunny. Blue sky, not so cold. Did walk, saw cattle. John and I had a lovely lunch at Dinner by Heston, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.  I wore my new black dress with tartan collar.  Starter was meat fruit  (the "tangerine" is pate) and main course was duck. 

Mon Nov 8

Busy day getting ready for my holiday. Wrote and scheduled 2 blog posts, did an online shop, 4 loads washing,  housework, shop. Chilli for dinner. 

Tues Nov 9

Packed, made a salad for J's dinner  (he is staying at home to look after the cat) and set off to Plymouth to stay with my Mum for a few days.  Left 1030 arrived 3.40pm.

Weds Nov 10

Drizzly but mild. Mum went in town to meet friends for coffee and we arranged I would get the next bus and explore the Box ((museum) before meeting her for lunch. Unfortunately the bus didn't turn up. Got the next one but had to meet mum, so no time for Box. Lovely lunch at Quay 33. Got towels at M&S ready for boot camp, having forgotten them. 

Thurs Nov 11

Cloudy, mild. Walk. Thrilled to see the village church, which closed a few years ago and was originally earmarked for flats, is now operating as a church again, Romanian Orthodox.  Went to Otter garden centre and had quiche and chips. Was hilarious when mum started talking to another woman, thinking it was me, and she was answering.  My brother and his family came over in the evening 

Friday Nov 12

Windy, cloudy. Wore the new pink jacket J gave me for my birthday.   Took mum to new deli/coffee shop. We stayed in today, did some reading, reminiscing.

Sat Nov 13

Journey to the boot camp, which is approx 48 miles from Mum's. Was dreading it a bit in case everyone was a lot younger and/or fitter. Journey was OK although satnav took me down more single track roads than was necessary!  Met those who had arrived yesterday and moved into the cottage where I'm staying with three others. Did a boxing class. Not as much exercise as I'd expected, so far.  Lunch was pea soup, dinner was a pepper salad with halloumi. We watched Strictly in the evening in our cottage's spacious sitting room. 

Sun Nov 14

Cloudy but mild. We did a short local walk of 45 mins. Breakfast was savoury beans with a poached egg. Lunch was tomato onion cucumber salsa.

Mon Nov 15 

Over 20000 steps today.  The day started in the pool for an hour, followed by a coach trip to Instow and a walk to Bideford, 6.5 miles.  Had a crunchy salad with a poached egg for lunch and delicious chicken Thai curry for dinner. 

Tues Nov 16

Cloudy. Very tough day. Started in gym with 40 mins cardio. Then step and cycle, alternating, high intensity. Also had a strenuous session with kettle bells. In the afternoon had an  hour in the gym on the weights machines. Lunch was cumin, broccoli and chilli soup. Dinner was turkey satay and cheese Cauliflower puree. Had session in the jacuzzi.  Fitbit has given up the ghost. Ordered a new one. 

Weds Nov 17

Felt quite depleted through the 2 hour gym and pool sessions. We are intermittently fasting, so breakfast is 16 hours after dinner. It was worth waiting for, a wonderful smoothie with nuts, coconut and full fat yoghurt and berries. 10 rounds of 6 exercises with 10 reps was our punishing red zone workout. I skipped boxing and tried to do some work in the gym, but quite sore and fatigued. Beetroot and feta salad for dinner. 

Thursday Nov 18

Last day! More energy today. We did an hour in the gym - 10 min circuits on the cardiovascular equipment - followed by a swim, Pilates and a fitness test. I was proud to to be able to finish the 12 rounds along with a handful of others, most of them half my age.  We also has an aerobics class. Breakfast was a rasher of bacon, poached egg, half a tomato. Lunch was crustless quiche. Late dinner of cauliflower mash and meatballs - delicious. We were then presented with our certificates and a hug from Justin. 

Friday Nov 19

Up early and we were measured (and weighed, if we wanted it). Lost 6 pounds and 3 inches off waist plus 2 inches off each thigh!  Thrilled. Set off for London at 8.30. Did some food shopping at Epping on the way home.  Poor old cat so pleased to see me. Lots of deliveries to open!  Booked MOT for car. Steak for dinner.

Sat Nov 20

Set up new Fitbit. Did walk, 4 miles.  Forest looks quite different, a lot more leaves on the ground.  Cows still there.  Falafels and salad

Sun Nov 21 

Lots of washing and tidying up. Roast chicken. 

Mon Nov 22 

Walked to Tesco. Thanks to a bulging rucksack my heart rate was in the right place on way back  (between 120 and 150 BPM). Determined to keep the weight off. 

John and I went to Tate Britain to see the Hogarth exhibition. Very busy. Was amused by this painting, "The Flea" by Crespin. 

Had lunch at a pub nearby. They only had 2 healthy options, soup or chicken breast with beans and kale. Chose the latter and it was awful! 

Tues Nov 23 

Walk, getting colder. Did forest walk. Had lunch at a carvery with John's brother and sister, and their partners. Festive atmosphere.  Had roast turkey with gammon (ham). Dinner was cheese and biscuits as we ate lunchtime. John (end of table) and his brother (on the left) look alike don't they? Their sister Sue is on the right. 

Weds Nov 24 

Turned v cold. Had  breakfast at the normal time - am experimenting with what I can get away with, to maintain weight!  Did a longer walk including Yates Meadow. Saw the horse and pony. Although it was quite steep and I tried t walk faster, my heart rate didn't go above 119. Published post about my boot camp experience.  Chilli

Thurs Nov 25 

Aargh. 2 pounds on. Reverting to intermittent fasting!  Sunny but cold. Walked to Buckhurst Hill (5 miles round trip) to collect sparkly purple dance shoes, then took them to cobbler for re-soling so they can be worn outdoors.  Put car though wash  -it was absolutely filthy - and rejoined Nuffield gym.  Salad with Falafels and houmous.

Sparkly purple dance shoes

Fri Nov 26

Those 2 pounds gone. Phew. Did 1st session at Nuffield, cardiovascular and weights. Didn't work as hard as I did at the bootcamp. Clearly need peer pressure! Packed 2 Christmas shoe boxes for Samaritan's Purse. Made the yoghurt smoothie from the bootcamp for dinner - it's full fat Greek yoghurt with toasted mixed nuts throughout, coconut on the top, and frozen berries. Delicious. 

Sat Nov 27

Very cold. Did shortish walk of 3 ponds with J. Unfortunately fell over,  wasn't hurt but my cream jacket got very muddy. Collected purple sparkly shoes from the cobbler's. Steak

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton with husband on Epping Forest walk

Sun Nov 28

Rest day. Did a lot of blog photography which didn't go well, the conservatory lighting was terrible.  Tried a new pub, Duke in Wanstead,  for Sunday lunch with R and S. Had roast pork. Very good - lovely crackling!

Mon Nov 29

0 degrees and frost. Did forest walk. First day back at work. Relatively quiet, catching up on emails. Just three meetings.Salmon for dinner. 

Tues Nov 30

Drove to the office in Cambridge.  Christmas decorations are up, and a pavilion being built in one of the car parks as a winter wonderland that opens next week.  Had a lovely Christmas lunch in town with the team. As you can see, not many of us ate our sprouts!

Sharing this post with #Linkupontheedge at Shelbee on the Edge, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings,Rena at Fine WhateverFabulous Fridays at Lucy Bertoldi, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey Brunette  


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 and Instagram.

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Thursday 2 December 2021

Spreading Joy with Flowers: Heidi Boston-Thompson

One of the arrangements sold at North Chingford Market by local florist Heidi Boston-Thompson

Welcome to another "Is This Mutton Meets", an occasional series where we profile women making their dreams happen.

This time it's the turn of Heidi Boston-Thompson from East London. Heidi is developing a very impressive "side hustle" making and selling beautiful arrangements and wreaths, using dried and fresh flowers. She does this as well as her day job as Head of Digital Marketing, Commercial Music Group at Sony Music UK. 


Wednesday 1 December 2021

November Favourites and Link-Up

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton walking in Epping Forest with her headphones and podcasts for company

Dear friends. I don't normally post my Friday Favourites until the last Friday of the month, but had a disaster with some photos so substituted this post instead. I hope you enjoy my round-up of TV, books and podcasts, and look forward to seeing your recommendations in the comments.


Monday 29 November 2021

Festive Finery: Style Not Age Challenge


Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in festive finery for the Style Not Age Challenge - lemon maribou trimmed jumper and lilac leopard tulle skirt

The Style Not Age Challenge prompt for this month was from me, and it's Festive Finery.  Thoughts are turning now to Christmas and the various forms of festive dressing required.  There are no parties or glitzy occasions planned but I like to dress up a bit on Christmas Day, in a stylish but comfortable outfit. 


Wednesday 24 November 2021

The Skinny From My Week at Boot Camp

 Sun rises over the Highbullen Hotel in North Devon, location for the first Devon fitness retreat from Fit Farms

Dear friends. Today's post is all about the six days I had at a FitFarms fitness retreat. After spending a few days in Plymouth with my mum, I drove to North Devon feeling a bit apprehensive: would everyone be in their 20s? Would I be able to "keep up?" The answers to those questions were No, and Yes.  I had the most fabulous time and achieved better results than I expected.  Here's what happened at FitFarms.


Wednesday 17 November 2021

Makeup with Me Using Look Fabulous Forever: and Link-Up

Over 50s blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton wearing makeup by Look Fabulous Forever

Dear friends. As you read this, I am several hundred miles from home at an exercise boot camp. Yes! Judging from the reactions of some friends, most people think I'm mad, but I wanted to do something challenging during my sabbatical month off.

I've gone under my own steam so I will hopefully write an unbiased review when I'm back. In the meantime, I bring you a make-up tutorial using products from Look Fabulous Forever.  I've written about the brand before, and am an avid user of three of their products:  the Hydration Hold face serum, Smooth the Day face cream, and Smooth Out Eye Prime.


Wednesday 10 November 2021

Beautiful Necklaces from Recycled Beads


Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in multi-strand pearl necklace hand made by Jovanka Ristich of Bijou Rebooted

Dear friends. Today I'm thrilled to introduce you to Jovanka Ristich who makes the most stunning jewellery  (jewelry to my US friends) from recycled beads and gemstones.

Regular readers will know that I'm very partial to a statement necklace. On a tonal outfit, or on bare skin, these add real drama. Jovanka, whose brand is called Bijou Rebooted, kindly gifted me two stunners which I'm showing you here.


Thursday 4 November 2021

Sentence a Day, October: Birthdays, Back to Office, Bulbs

Rain doesn't stop play for ardent walker Gail Hanlon of Is This Mutton.

Fri Oct 1

Changed the beds with winter duvets. Rained in morning so no walk. Quiet day work-wise. 

Sat Oct 2

Did longish walk with J looking for the small cattle but no sign of them. Rain set in. Had 2 Zoom calls for the John Lewis Beauty Weekend, Laura Mercier and NARS - very enjoyable! Will get a beauty bag in a few days. 

Sun Oct 3

London marathon. We were up at 5.30, J had an early start as he's volunteering on the Orions elite runners' drinks station. I took some blog photos. 

Mon Oct 4

Sunny start, did walk, 4 miles. Booked a charity collection for Fri. So much stuff to go.

Tues Oct 5

Sunny intervals. Workout.  Went out looking for petrol.  Yes there's a shortage caused by a lack of tanker drivers, plus panic buying. Got it in the 3rd place I tried. Then went to get a birthday card for J. Bought Xmas cards too. Picked up some conkers on the way to the shop. Useful around the house for deterring spiders. 

Weds Oct 6

J's birthday - we will go out for dinner on Friday.  Not able to have walk because had to take the car for a service, and then start work.

Thurs Oct 7

Went back to office! Great to be back to some vestige of normality. Our building has been refurbished.  The cafeteria is running a seated lunch service - place your order and get served at the table.  

J's sister Kate finished the Santiago Camino walk. Huge achievement.

Fri Oct 8

Day off. Cloudy. Wanted to go for walk but bad back. I Collect Clothes collected 2 boxes and 4 bags. Dinner at Grand Trunk Rd, one of J's favourite restaurants, for his birthday.  His daughter Rachel told us she's pregnant with their first child. 

Sat Oct 9

Lovely warm day. Did walk. 5.4 miles. Planted bulbs, daffodils, tulips and alliums.  Still have some empty containers so ordered more mixed daffodils.

Sun Oct 10

Christopher, Katie and baby Rosie came round to give J his presents. Brought brownies. J and I went into London for the return of the annual Hanlons' birthday lunch, which hasn't happened for a while.  J and two of his siblings have birthdays in October.   Forgot our masks and felt mortified on tube. Fortunately Yvonne had 2 spares for return trip. Photo shows Yvonne, J's sister-in-law, left, and his sister Kate, right.

Mon Oct 11

Bright start, chilly. Felt v stiff and in pain at start of walk but wore off thankfully.  Mum had 3rd jab. Salmon fillets.

Tues Oct 12

Smooth trip to office.  Fun day. Lunch with the Machine Learning marketing team, 2 of whom I haven't met face to face. I was quoted in an article in the Huffington Post! Spaghetti bolognese

Weds Oct 13

Urban walk to big Tesco (bus back!).  Has to wait as usual at the level crossing for the train to central London to go by. Curry for dinner. 

Thursday Oct 14

5 mile walk, started off blue sky but clouded over.

Friday Oct 15

Had 9.20 meeting so not enough time for a walk. Busy day combining work and fresh n up Friday. 

Sat Oct 16

Cloudy and chilly. Did walk 4 2 miles. Did the first Body Flow class, combination of Tai Chi, yoga and Pilates. Felt my legs had lengthened and less painful. Lisa Eldridge's new make-up additions went on sale so bought a few items. Hard to resist!

Lisa Eldridge's latest additions, bought by blogger Is This Mutton

Sunday Oct 17

Sunny intervals. Did blog photography including pics for Joe Brown's. Pleased with how they turned out. Roast chicken

Mon Oct 18

Cloudy but not cold. Did walk 4.4 miles. Busy day. Macaroni cheese and salad

Tues Oct 19

Lovely day in office. Kept playing Sound Your Funky Horn  (KC and the Sunshine Band) in the car after hearing it on Johnnie Walker.  Had lunch with a colleague I met on the induction course three and a half years ago.  Got home to find flowers from boss - pastel coloured baby's breath - to thank me for helping with big event which started today. Sausages and baked potato. 

Weds Oct 20

John is back on his bike trainer - similar to Peloton but uses your own bike. 

Thurs Oct 21

Did walk. Getting muddy in the forest. A bit under stress today, feels like so much to do before my sabbatical in November. 

Fri Oct 22

Got quite a bit done plus cleaned the bathroom. No walk. Watched 1st episode Invasion.  Fish n chips but not for me after eating huge bag crisps (!). 

Sat Oct 23

Cold, cloudy. Did walk featuring four ponds in Epping Forest with J. Was over 6 miles. Picture shows a memorial to a dog at one of the ponds, Strawberry Pond. Blue green algae is present - and a dog died there. Did Body Flow.

Memorial to a dog at Strawberry Pond, Epping Forest

Sun Oct 24

Nice weather. Did blog photography.  Then we went to West Malling in Kent for Lynn's 60th. Very nice afternoon. Had tuna followed by steak. Lynn blows out the candles

Mon Oct 25

Saw the cattle on the Plains. Cloudy. Quiet day. Very tired.

Gail Hanlon on Chingford Plains with the famous Epping Forest longhorn cattle in the background

Tues Oct 26

Office. More people wearing masks now in coffee areas. Home by 4pm in time for meetings at 5 and 6. 

Weds Oct 27

Walk, 4.4 miles. Saw the cattle.  Powered through a lot of work. Quite pleased with myself!

Thurs Oct 28

Last day before sabbatical starts. Work out. A fair bit to do. Thought I'd be euphoric but was hard to get everything done and it felt a bit flat. 

Fri Oct 29

Raining when I got up. Decided to try aqua aerobics at public pool. Then took fright in case test & trace and a positive result would ruin my plans for sabbatical  (November).  Went for a walk instead.  I am on target to reach 1,500 miles by the end of the year. Wrote Fri Favourites post which always takes a while. Started watching Bump (BBC). 

Sat Oct 30

Rained. Walked to WR to get tartare sauce, as J prefers theirs!  5 miles round trip.  Had a look round a charity shop. Went in the dance shoes shop and ordered pair purple glittery shoes. Will need to get them soled, as dance shoes have suede soles. 

Sun Oct 31

My brother's birthday.  Pouring with rain.  J still went running with club. I did a beauty shoot.  J lost his key through a hole in his shorts. Another group of runners found it, in Yates Meadow, and reported it on the WhatsApp group. He was reunited with it.  Of course it was Halloween today,  I put the light-up pumpkin outside and had a steady stream of kids in costumes. 

Sharing this post with #Linkupontheedge at Shelbee on the Edge, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings,Rena at Fine WhateverFabulous Fridays at Lucy Bertoldi, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey Brunette  


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 and Instagram.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Wednesday 3 November 2021

10 Ways to Get Your Mojo Back

 Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon in black dress with plaid colllar from Joe Browns as she partners with the brand to help the nation regain its confidence

Dear friends. We've had 18 months of lock down followed by a seemingly endless string of shortages and price hikes.  It's not surprising that many of us have still to regain our mojo. We're still nowhere near pre-pandemic levels of socialising.  

Clothing brand Joe Browns recently carried out a survey to find out how people are feeling about their wardrobe confidence post lockdown. With over 13,000 responses, they found that 47% of people avoid wearing what they would like due to a lack of body confidence.  

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