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Wednesday 26 January 2022

Enjoy Valentine's Day when Romance is Off the Menu - and Link-Up

 Gail Hanlon from over-50s blog Is This Mutton wearing a burgundy velvet jacket, cerise print blouse, silver ankle boots and burgundy jeggings

Dear friends. To be brutally honest with you, I've always hated Valentine's Day. It started when I was at school and there was competitive pressure to receive more than one card. Fortunately I was guaranteed to get at least one from my grandma. 

Fast forward a few decades, and Feb 14 is all about over-priced restaurants, and expensive and over-travelled red roses. 

But for those of us who haven't got a partner, or whose partner is unromantic, we can still make the day special. Here are my tips.

To avoid the IG photo bombings of happy couples and bouquets of flowers takes a bit of stealth and planning. One thing that's easy to do is order in, or create, your own feast.  Valentine's Day in most restaurants is a terrible bore: a set menu to make it easy for chefs, and a sea of tables for two with hardly any atmosphere.

But at home you can serve up a chef's feast, enjoy your favourite drinks, play your own music and then retire to bed without having to get cold waiting for a bus or taxi.

Many of the UK's top chefs have got wise to packaging their delights for home consumption. Michelin starred chef Simon Rogan has meal options for one or two people and you can choose from a list of choices, including wines or beer and vegetarian options.   They can cater for a gluten free and nut free diet as required. The food (and drink) is delivered to your door and all you have to do is assemble it.

Michelin-starred Gymkhana, described as the best Indian restaurant in London, has a tandoori feast for two for £100, delivered anywhere in the UK. 

Do something you love 

Valentine's Day is on a Monday so you may have commitments during the day  (work, caring, child care) but if you can, squeeze in a few things you love to do:  a yoga class; a bath with candles and a facial;  your favorite meal; watching a favorite film with a glass of wine; starting a new (or old) boxed set. 

If you're single, how about hosting an evening for other singles, perhaps with cocktails, and ask everyone to bring some food? Or go to the cinema with a friend or relative. If you're looking for a new relationship, investigate sociable groups like Meet Up or the Ramblers Association. 

If you're retired, plan something different for you and your partner to do.  How about visiting a town or seaside resort that you haven't been to before, and have lunch. Or take him/her to a place with special memories. 

Treat yourself to a house plant

Who cares about those garish bouquets of flowers? House plants are hugely popular and very trendy - and they last a lot longer than the Grand Prix roses which have been flown thousands of miles across the world. 

The trendiest plant, according to the Times this week, is the fiddle leaf fig.  This one is from Patch Plants and costs £50 for  100-110 cms  (other sizes available).  

If you aren't green fingered, artificial plants have come on a lot these days.Spend the most you can for the most realistic looking plant. Blooming Artificial have  one at 150 cms for £96  (a taller one is available), or Dunelm's, height 120 cms, is £45.

Create a colourful winter display 

If plants in the house are not your thing, visit a garden centre and snap up some plants for that elusive burst of winter colour. Plant up a window box or big container with a mix of violas, pansies, hellebores, gaultheria procumbens for berries, and winter flowering heather. Find some inspiration at The English Garden

Here's a container from my garden, with a male and female skimmia, a heuchera and heather. You can also order a container already planted and have it delivered to your door.

Winter container of skimmia, heuchera and flowering winter heather by Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton.com

Another idea is a "plant theatre" where one type or colour of plant is highlighted to show it off to best effect.  Here's mine from a few years ago, where I had a display of purple polyanthus. The shelving came from Sarah Raven.

Winter colour with a plant theatre with purple polyanthus - by Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton

I hope you've been inspired by my alternative Valentine's Day suggestions. Love to hear in the comments what you'll be up to.  Is it a day of romance, or a day to dread? 

Oh and if you love Valentine's Day, you'll find plenty of posts in the link-up with inspiration about what to wear, and what to buy as presents.

Over-50s blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in thrifted velvet jacket, cerise print blouse and spider brooch from Etsy

Outfit details: velvet jacket, pre-loved (has a Marks and Spencer St Michael label, which was discontinued in 2000); jeggings, M&S, current;  cerise blouse, M&S, old;  spider brooch, Etsy.

Sharing this post with: On Mondays We Link Up at Glass of Glam, Top of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #SpreadTheKindness 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 StylesplashTFF at Doused in Pink, Lizzie in Lace Confident Twosday at IDoDeclaireRena at Fine WhateverFabulous Fridays at Lucy Bertoldi, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey Brunette #TheWednesdayLinkUp at Claire JustineFancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style, Traffic Jam Weekend aLife as a Leo Wife Weekday Wear Link-Up at Away from the Blue Sunday Showcase with Chez Mireille and Elegance and Mommyhood  (first Sunday of the month), Stylish Monday (first Monday of the month) with Ask Suzanne Bell, Talent Sharing Tuesdays at Scribbling Boomer

News Just In - I'm in a Podcast!

Regular readers will know I love listening to podcasts. I'm so thrilled to actually be in one! I'm a guest on Lara Laudick's wonderful podcast, Unlock Your Hidden Confidence.  Lara interviewed me about starting a fashion blog as a midlife woman, and finding your own style. You can find it wherever you listen to podcasts. 

We discuss topics including finding your own style, women losing their way style-wise, HRT, ageism and discovering your creative voice with writing - in my case, this blog.

If you haven't tried a podcast before, download an app like Pocketcasts or find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.  Simply search for Unlock Your Hidden Confidence.

If you're on a PC or tablet now and want to listen, here's a direct link

Quick Reminder

If you haven't already done so, I'd be very grateful if you could spend a few minutes answering some fun and interesting questions in the 2022 Is This Mutton survey.  This year it's all about household chores, who does them, how much time it takes, and which are the worse tasks. The survey closes on 29 January.

No email addresses are being captured and you don't need a Google log-in to take part.

Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday, the weekly link-up where readers find new blogs to read, and bloggers find new readers.

Last Week's Favourites

Doing Our Bit for the Environment by Michelle of My Bijou Life.

Shorts Outfit from Instagram by Anna @lookingfabfifty 

Is This Mutton Choice

Ageless Style: Very Peri by Leslie at Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


  1. That's one more then I'd ever received Gail, lol! I don't like Valentines day at all. Not even to celebrate at home, I'm a hopeless unromantic woman!

  2. We should not feel pressure to do something on valentines day. I say treat yourself as often as you can.

  3. I love the blog post Gail. It’s fun and informative a d will be helpful for single people. We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, like you say over priced and under whelming for sure. Jacqui xx


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