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Wednesday 31 March 2021

Covid Learnings, Miscellaneous Outfits

 Over 50s blogger Gail Hanlon in bright pink and white

It's just over a year since the UK went into lockdown for the first time. I looked over my March 2020 entry for Sentence a Day to see what it was like. On the first day, March 24, I went into the local Co-Op and was horrified to see empty shelves.  It was as if locusts had been and stripped the place. 


Monday 29 March 2021

Stealing from Boys - Style Not Age Challenge

Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon in unisex lilac jacket from Asos lilac brogues from the Bias Cut and white trousers from Marks and Spencer in an androgynous but feminine look

Stealing from Boys is Emma's brilliant prompt for the March Style Not Age Challenge.  Fortuitously I had just bought an over sized unisex jacket in lilac and I thought it would work well as part of an androgynous look with a shirt and tie.


Friday 26 March 2021

Friday Favourites March 2021 Edition: Books, TV, Podcasts

Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon with magazine as she prepares to review TV, podcasts and books for the popular Friday Favourites monthly round-up

Welcome to the March edition of Friday Favourites, the monthly round-up of what I've been watching, listening to and reading. You may find yourself disagreeing with my views - there's nothing wrong with that. Let's start with books - I've powered through a few.


Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah

An advert in The Times steered me to this one, a novel in the John Grisham-type genre where a court case is at the centre of the story.

Kamran is a privileged 17 year old at a boarding school he loves. His perfect life crumbles when, in the middle of the night and drunk after some mid summer revels, he finds another boy in bed with him. Was it rape?  The court has to decide which boy's version of the truth is the reality. Meanwhile Kamran's conservative, wealthy and emotionally closed off Muslim father is finding it hard to deal with what happened to his son and why Kamran didn't fight off his attacker.

I found the book a bit ploddy and there's repetition about "blood pounding in people's ears and their lips turning white from being pursed", but there is a good twist right at the end. 

Promising Young Women by Caroline O'Donoghue

A ringing endorsement from Marian Keyes was enough to get me downloading this. 

Jane is an adrift twenty-something by day, and a world-weary agony aunt by night. After an office party, she takes on another role: the Other Woman. As Jane's affair with her much older, married boss, takes off, she discovers that sex and power go hand-in-hand. Soon her friendships, her sanity and her life are put into jeopardy.

I quite often read books aimed at millennials because their chaotic life situations remind me of what it was like when I was in my 20s and 30s.  Sometimes I want to scream at Jane for drifting into a bad situation, but then I remember some of my dilemmas back then.  I enjoyed it although the hindsight and perspective that you have as an older reader perhaps gives you a disadvantage. And it's sobering to think that for women in the workplace, battling against male power plays and sexism, very little seems to have changed.

Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker

This was a fascinating book because it challenges our stereotypes. The story of the abduction of a child took a completely different turn than I expected.

We don't know the name of Mummy, a woman desperate for a child who steals a little girl, Tonya, when her mother's attention is elsewhere. Mummy lives in a nice neighbourhood and her shopping is delivered by Ocado. Tonya's background is nothing like this and Mummy finds she is not the sweet compliant child she expected.  Meanwhile there's another crime that Mummy is concealing, 

The focus on Kim, the mother of Tonya, makes the book compelling.  The media portray Kim as a "scummy mummy." She doesn't play the role of grieving mother in the way we expect, she is outspoken and sweary.  Both she and Mummy were abused as children so their lives have interesting parallels.

You Me and the Sea by Elizabeth Haynes

I've been a great admirer of Elizabeth Haynes since I read the hugely memorable, sinister and moving "Human Remains" - I didn't need the Marian Keyes endorsement  (my word she's in demand by publishers).

The setting is a spectacular windswept and deserted Scottish island, where Rachel has been sent to provide temporary cover looking after the small number of bird watchers who go there.  She has to share her accommodation with the other inhabitant, Fraser Sutherland,  a brooding loner who is not happy about sharing his lighthouse.  Both Rachel and Fraser are dealing with demons that have caused them to seek solitude. Homesick and out of her depth, Rachel is sure she’s made another huge mistake. But, as spring turns to summer, the wild beauty of the island begins to captivate her soul.

This was deeply engrossing and as always I enjoyed the writing and ability that Haynes has in conveying human frailty and suffering.

The Recovery of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

This is a Richard and Judy book club read, and on the surface promised a lot but didn't quite deliver. Rose Gold's mother is leaving prison after her sentence for child neglect.  Her daughter Rose Gold haa been in and out of hospital most of her life with mysterious and debilitating illnesses. Yet Rose Gold is there to collect her mother, and allows her to live with her.  Has she forgiven Patty, or is she seeking revenge?

Which Podcasts Go Into The Is This Mutton Hall of Fame?

Against the Odds (Wondery)

This month was a bit of a lean spell for my podcast listening because I didn't have a "gripper" until the last few days, and was listening to my regulars without the feeling that I wanted to binge listen.

Fortunately Wondery came to the rescue with Against the Odds, a new series which examines thrilling stories of survival.  The first story covered, in four episodes, is the Thai Cave rescue of 2018.  The world was agog when 12 boys aged between 11 and 15, and their young football coach, got trapped in more than six miles of caves when the rains came early. 

The podcast skilfully tells the story of the rescue, where international experts and specialist cave divers from the UK, came to help, and a Thai Navy Seal lost his life. It's fascinating to hear how they finally rescued the boys, one at a time, each child sedated and referred to as a package so that the divers didn't make an emotional connection to them.  The chances of rescuing the boys successfully had been at just 20%.

Against the Odds goes into my Hall of Fame, where you can find many podcasts to listen to.

Consciously Coupling

In this new podcast much loved radio broadcaster Johnnie Walker and his wife Tiggy chat with other couples about their love and their lives.

I adore Johnnie so had high hopes for this, particularly with the first episode featuring Cockney Rebel singer Steve Harley and his wife Dorothy.  My mum will tell you that I played "Come Up and See Me (Make me Smile)"  25 times in a row as a teenager.  I also got last minute tickets to see Cockney Rebel at Plymouth ABC, and was less than impressed when they came on stage late.  I had to catch the last bus home so didn't see all of the set.  I've held that against Steve Harley ever since. 

The podcast wasn't quite up to the professional standard I was expecting. It was obviously done over Zoom, and sometimes the editing was a bit off.  It didn't sound like a natural chat.  I know that podcasts struggle to make money but I didn't like the gratuitous product placement, where Johnnie and Tiggy had to ask the couple what they thought of the product they'd been given to try.  

Sideways (BBC Radio 4)

I've always been fascinated by the off-beat or different ways of seeing the world.  In this weekly series author Matthew Syed explores ideas that shape our lives with stories of seeing the world differently. In The Most Selfish People on Earth, he recounts how in the 60s a well-known anthropologist encountered a mountainous people in Uganda called the Ik, who were reeling from starvation and famine.  

He labelled them as brutal, uncaring and the most selfish people on earth, and even recommended they be dispersed so that the tribe would no longer exist.  Later thinking showed that Colin Turnbull's views were misinformed and incorrect:  new studies of the Ik showed they were responding to a terrible situation but, relieved of that, the beating heart of human kindness was at their core.

Another one for the Hall of Fame.

TV Viewing

Line of Duty: BBC and iPlayer 

I have to start with the long awaited return of Line of Duty, which to my mum and The Times, was disappointing.  All I will say is that the first episode is usually a little heavy going:  they have to set up the crime and start the reveal of the bent copper that AC12 will be pursuing. So give it a chance, I'm sure it will be gripping.

Family Business (Netflix)

If you're missing Call My Agent, this is for you.  It's a French comedy about a warring but loving family who turn their butchery business into a cannabis operation after hearing rumours the French government is going to legalise pot. Very funny. Stars Arlette from Call My Agent as well as renowned French actor GĂ©rard Darmon. A second series is on the way. 

The Flight Attendant (Sky)

This American comedy-drama stars Kaley Cuoco as a carefree flight attendant who gets caught up in an FBI investigation after one of her passengers, with whom she enjoyed a brief rendezvous, is found dead.

I know a lot of people love it, and it's been described as saucy, sexy, twisted, clever and truly suspenseful. But it has three things going against it for me.  A ditsy blonde, a ghost  (the dead man turns up every now and then to chat to the flight attendant) and repeated flash backs. I find that I don't care enough about Cassandra to want to see it through to the end. 

Unforgotten  (ITV, ITV Hub, Netflix for seasons 1-3)

Unforgotten seems to have escaped my beady eye until the release of the new series on ITV, season 4. I don't know why because it's right up my street: the solving of cold cases.

I was able to pick it up perfectly well from the new series, although I probably should have started at the beginning.

DCI Cassie Stewart (Nicola Walker) and DI Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar) investigate an unsolved crime involving headless remains found in a London scrapyard – and worryingly, the suspects in the case were all once newly qualified police officers. 

It may not have the dramatic razzmatazz of Line of Duty, but this is solid, results-driven policing underpinned with human interest. Cassie’s petition to leave the force early and receive her full pension was effectively denied. With her father’s increasingly apparent health issues at the forefront of her mind, a bitter Cassie returns to her old stomping grounds, supported by Sunny.

The One (Netflix)

Our stop and start progress in watching this new series speaks volumes. I realised, writing this compilation, we had forgotten about it and not seen an episode for a few days. It's a shame because on paper the plot looks compelling.  Love — and lies — spiral when a DNA researcher helps discover a way to find the perfect partner, and creates a bold new matchmaking service.

The pace is quite slow - it could probably have had fewer episodes - and the characters don't seem all that engaging.

Let me know what you think about my verdicts, and if you have any recommendations of your own, in the comments.

Sharing this post with #NeverendingStyle at the Grey Brunette, Rena at Fine Whatever, #LinkUpOnTheEdge with Shelbee on the EdgeNot Dressed as Lamb, #FabulousFridays at Lucy Bertoldi #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings


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Wednesday 24 March 2021

Polka Dot Skirt 2 Ways

 Mid life blogger Gail Hanlon in violet and blue shades in Kettlewell Ella polka dot skirt and violet cowl neck top and silver boots

Polka dots never go out of fashion. I've always bought my polka dots in black and white - see an example here - but this fun skirt from Kettlewell Colours caught my eye and I've styled it two different ways.

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Lime Green and a Dash of Florals - and Link-Up

 A colourful Liberty print scarf adds spring color to a lime green jumper

When the bag of long-lost treasures came down from the attic recently, one of the finds was this lime green jumper, an impulse buy a few years ago in Sainsbury's.

It was perfect to team with a new scarf I bought from Culture Vulture.  I was attracted by both the bright and colourful Susulu Liberty print, which will work well with pink too, and the magnetic fastening. 

I didn't bother with scarves until recently because I found them impossible to style, and life is too short for YouTube tutorials. But scarves like this, or the Rew scarves with a button fastening, or the Kettlewell infinity scarves, well, they're all ideal for a scarf-phobic.


Wednesday 10 March 2021

Can I Wear a Tiered Skirt Over 50? And Link Up

 Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in khaki tiered skirt and fuchsia pink top and boots

Tiered skirts all the rage for spring and summer, a progression from the ruffles of last year.  I am not big on either ruffles or tiers.  I usually go for clean, straight or asymmetric silhouettes.  Tiers remind me of wedding cakes. I wasn't looking for a tiered skirt but in fact a khaki skirt when I stumbled across this beaut, which combines both.

Dark khaki is great as a neutral with bright pink, red and orange.  I'm wearing it with a fuchsia pink top from Kettlewell, metallic pink boots and a three-string necklace dating from the 60s, from Etsy. I love Etsy and often buy jewellery  and secondhand clothes there.  It's lovely to buy directly from women who make it or have a pre-loved business.

Gail Hanlon from over 50s style blog in khaki green tiered midi skirt and bright pink

The skirt, from Oasis at Asos is quite long - initially I thought too long, but it's balanced out by the heeled boots. It has an elasticated waist which is fabulous in these Covid times. The tiering is there but the colour and fabric ma

The bright pink is a great colour for not looking invisible over a kes subtle, so there's no wedding cake effect going on. The skirt is in the sale at £22. certain age! 

A Covid forgiving waistline and tiers make this khaki skirt a winner for all ages and fuchsia pink means anyone wearing it over 50 will be far from invisible

Has the tiered skirt trend grabbed your attention or is another spring trend appealing to you? Perhapss you prefer to just do your own thing?  Do share in the comments.

No items were gifted for this post, one affiliate link was used. I gain a couple of pence if you click through! 

Sharing this post with: #OnMondaysWeLinkUp at Glass of GlamTop of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #LinkupOnTheEdge at Shelbee on the Edge, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Thursday Moda at Elegance and Mommyhood, Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Style with a Smile  at StylesplashStyle Six at Coast to CoastTFF at Doused in Pink, Fancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style,  #Iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed as Lamb,  Lizzie in Lace  and Confident Twosday at IDoDeclaireBeauty by Miss L, Rena at Fine WhateverFabulous Fridays at Lucy Bertoldi, #neverendingstyle @ The Grey Brunette

Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday, where bloggers find new readers, and readers find new blogs to read!

Last Week's Favourites  (Most Clicked)

Suzy, The Grey Brunette, speaks for a lot of us when she says she's fed up with being told what to wear, and in particular that skinny jeans are "out": 

Kellyann at This Blonde's Shopping Bag asked the question "Can blondes wearing yellow?" and judging by how gorgeous she looks in her yellow dress, the answer is a resounding "yes."  


Is This Mutton's Favourite Non-Fashion Post

Michelle from My Bijou Life wrote a thought-provoking post about how we measure success. Chronic illness, retirement and the pandemic have all made Michelle re-evaluate success. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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Sunday 7 March 2021

Rediscovering My Fashion Sense in Shades of Purple

Life in lockdown was getting to style blogger Gail Hanlon and she ddn't see much point in dressing up for working from hoe. But signs of spring have seen a change of heart as she shows in a tone on tone purple outfit with silver boots.  A great way to showcase colour and not look invisible over 50

I lost my fashion mojo for a few weeks.  After seeing the UK government's roadmap for getting us slowly out of lockdown, I felt there was no reason to keep on dressing up for life at home, so I reverted to jeans or leggings with hoodies.


Wednesday 3 March 2021

The Happiest of Times: Childhood in the 60s

 Admiring the Christmas cakes: children from Geason's Lane Primary School, Plymouth, in 1971

Whatever decade you were born in, you probably think you had the best time of it.  Even today's children, driven to school, never allowed out to play and given ipads for distraction, will probably look back and said the 2020s were marvellous.

I have very happy memories of childhood - it was a rough tumble time of grazed knees, skipping, dens and fields full of wildflowers.


Tuesday 2 March 2021

The Jab, A Quiz, 200 Miles Down: Sentence a Day February

 The Jab, A Quiz, Forest Walks - Sentence a Day Feb 2021

Covid situation:  The UK is still in lockdown, imposed shortly after Christmas.  Non-essential shops, restaurants, pubs and gyms are closed.  We're allowed out for daily exercise and trips to the shops.  Workers are encouraged to work from home if it is feasible.  The vaccination program reached 15 million by the end of February with the goal of all adults having been vaccinated by July.  I am working from home, full-time, as a digital marketer.

Monday Feb 1

Did a workout at home. J's jab booked for Thurs. Hand held vacuum came. I can't stop using it everywhere.

Tuesday Feb 2

Didn't do a walk, looked like rain. Also v busy with work. Not a very satisfying day. Lots of irritating things to deal with. Captn Sir Tom died aged 100. What wonderful achievements he had, particularly in the last year of his life when he inspired so many to walk and to raise money for charity.

Wednesday Feb 3

Did 4.4 miles trails. Good to be out even though it was raining lightly.  Quiche and salad. Busy day.

Thursday Feb 4

No walk. So busy had to do Zoom calls without any makeup on!! J had jab.

Friday Feb 5

Beautiful day. Had day off. Did a tabbing walk Tesco (large loaded-up rucksack walk).  J took a lot of old electrical items to tip.

Sat Feb 6

Did trails walk.  J and his son went for a run and you can see them in the distance. Pick of the Pops was unusual in that it featured 1976. Radio 2 is so determined to get younger listeners it is now banning POTPs from playing music earlier than 1976. I tried a home gel manicure -see what I thought. 

Sun Feb 7

Did workout. Did a blog shoot in the conservatory which J has tidied. Roast chicken for lunch. 

Mon Feb 8

Woke to snow, not v deep. Minus 2 degrees. Did golf course walk with J so he could use his 360 degree camera to create a snow video.  Horribly busy and felt under pressure. Watched The Great, The Bay 

Tues Feb 9

Slept badly for just 4.5 hours. Was visualising the village where I grew up. Busy day but got a lot done. J got down a sack of clothes from the attic I hadn't seen for years - see more on this

Weds Feb 10

Still a lot of frost but blue sky so did trails walk with water jump. Squidgy texture of mud and frost. Tech issues with blog and link-up didn't go live. Was afraid I'd been hacked  (I hadn't). 

Thursday Feb 11

Bitterly cold. Thin layer new snow. Did workout. J ran. Came back freezing and sniffing. Busy afternoon sorting ads for work. Had salmon fillets. Watched last Call my agent and started Valhalla Murders  (we didn't watch it again). 

Friday Fri 12

Minus 1. Day off but feel tired and sad. Social distancing may continue until autumn. Then had good news, invited to book my jab online.   Watched News of the World film (6 out of 10).

Saturday Feb 13

V cold but sunny. Walked to Waitrose to get saffron (5 miles). Haven't been there since Dec. Watched Spurs, who lost:  I captured a bemused Hugo Lloris after letting in a goal. Then we started The Killing series 2 ep 1.

Sun Feb 14

4 degrees.  Didn't go out. Did a 3 outfit blog shoot. Roast beef.  Seems we may not be out of lockdown until April. Sad to miss my 2 favourite times of the year again, Mothers Day and Easter.  We didn't mark Valentine's Day - not for us. Bird bath and water butt are frozen.

Mon Feb 15

Walked Tesco in rain, back hurting. Seem to have pulled a  muscle somehow. Snipped my fringe as it's getting ridiculous. Had quiet day work-wise.

Tues Feb 16

Set off on walk but had to turn back. Could barely walk. Back very painful. 

Weds Feb 17

Jab day!  Such a great day out.  J drove me to the health centre as it was a few miles away and not one I've ever been to. The young man who vaccinated me with the Pfizer/BiONtech jab was more than happy to facilitate a photo - in fact his mum, also working there, took it.  The feeling of relief afterwards is immense.

Thurs Feb 18

Blue sky walk, 'reverse ferret' which is a trail walk but reversed..  Clouded over when I got home. V busy. No side effects from jab  (and never did have). 

Fri Feb 19

Weather forecast was good so wore light jacket and short sleeved top. But the wind was colder than I expected so I didn't enjoy it v much. Busy day with a big virtual event happening from 1 March and lots to do. Normally it would be a live event in Nuremberg and it's sad not to be going there.

Sat Feb 20

First day in nearly a week that I walked without pain. Warm, 15 degrees and sunny. Walked to Waitrose, 5 miles, to get birthday card for R and daffodils.  Did family Zoom quiz for the first time. Predictably lots of technical problems before everyone got into their groove. We finished the 2nd series of  The Killing. Loved it.

Sun Feb 21

Did blog photos for a beauty shoot. Made a tagine for tomorrow and freezing.  Roast chicken.  Started The Legacy (Prime). 

Mon Feb 22

Promising warm day. Did trails walk 5 miles. Took a wrong turn. Stressful day. The lamb tagine was nice but disappointing in that I couldn't really discern saffron dates or apricots

Tues Feb 23

Got straight to work at 8 as I had a lot to do. Finished at 6.30. I could have carried on until midnight as I had booked for a virtual marketing conference in the US.  But work life balance important so will watch the sessions on demand.

Weds Feb 24

Trails walk. Beautiful spring day. Horribly busy at work.  J surprised me with a new leather strip for my desk, under the keyboard, replacing one that had become very tatty.  He likes to buy useful presents, he's not one for flowers or fripperies.

Thurs Feb 25th

Workout first time for ages. Hoped it wouldn't be too busy but it was. 

Fri Feb 26

Day off, day of care. Our company allows us an extra day off each quarter. 12 degrees.  Sunny. Did 5.2 mile walk with J.  He showed me a clump of snowdrops hidden away in the forest. Sadly, they have now been dug up by thoughtless people. Did a couple of hours in garden, weeding brushing pruning.  Nothing has died except possibly erigeron (fleabane).  Cleaned bathroom, wrote Fri favourites.

Sat Feb 27

Another lovely day.  Did the Mud Walk. Wasn't expecting quite so much mud, as it's been dry for last few days. 5.3 miles. Started watching Shooter

Sun Feb 28

Cloudy.  Wrote blog post. Drove to Epping, first time  since Jan 3. Got a few bits in M&S. Sadly the clothes have gone! Roast beef. So far I've walked more than 200 miles since Jan 1, so on target to do 1,000 miles in 2021, if I actually do it seriously again.

How was your month?  What's the Covid situation where you are? Do let us know in the comments.

I'm back tomorrow with #WowOnWednesday. See you then.

Sharing this post with Top of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #LinkupOnTheEdge  at Shelbee on the Edge, Anna at Muttonstyle, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Thursday Moda at Elegance and Mommyhood, Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Style with a Smile and Stylish Monday at StylesplashAnna at the GlamAdventure, Style Six at Coast to CoastTFF at Doused in Pink, Fancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style, Fabulous Fridays at Lucy Bertoldi, Beauty by Miss L Link Up#iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed as Lamb,  Lizzie in Lace and Confident Twosday at IDoDeclaire, Rena at Fine Whatever

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