Fashion and fun for the over-50s.

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Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Find the Best Skirt for Your Shape

 & #WowOnWednesday 

Is This Mutton the style blog for the over-50s on how to choose the skirt shapes that flatter you the most
Dear friends. I'm a big fan of skirts and today I'm focusing on how to find the best skirts for your shape and style personality.
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Monday, 29 May 2023

Frilled to Bits: Style Not Age Challenge

 Five style bloggers over 45 are showing their outfits with the prompt Frilled to Bits

Dear friends. It's the monthly Style Not Age challenge, and we're all Frilled to Bits with Anna's prompt. Stand by as five style bloggers over the age of 45 show their interpretation!

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Thursday, 25 May 2023

What's been on my [May] Calendar?

 

A rose stand in the pavilion at the Chelsea Flower Show 2023

Dear friends. Welcome to my review of May. Highlights included the 40th anniversary of BBC Radio Devon reunion, the Chelsea Flower Show and a wheely good new acquisition.
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Wednesday, 24 May 2023

Top of the Crops

Can women over 50 wear cropped trousers? Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton shows how they can be styled for all occasions, from work to casual.

 & #WowOnWednesday

Dear friends. Summer heralds the cropped trousers/pants season, which I love! I snapped up a few new pairs as soon as they went on sale and now have orange and yellow in addition to the rest of my collection. 

What do I like about them?  They're very adaptable:  you could wear them in the office, they are longer than shorts, and they look polished and professional with a jacket.  They're available in a rainbow of colours, and they work on most shapes and sizes. 

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Friday, 19 May 2023

Is This Mutton May Book Reviews

 #WHATSBEENONYOURBOOKSHELF

Book, fashion and beauty blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton reads a book on her tablet

Dear friends. Welcome to another month of book reviews. A very varied selection for you: two novels that will be among the most talked about of the year; a delightful celebration of a garden over the decades; the latest thriller from Kim Slater; the Tudors (again), plant-powered protein, and two memoirs.

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Thursday, 18 May 2023

Tell Us About....Gardens and Gardening

 Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton shares spring and summer garden tips
Dear friends. Welcome to this month's Tell Us About challenge, which is now even bigger. We have 10 bloggers taking part, from the UK, US, Australia and Portugal.

They all have their own spin on this month's topic which is Gardens and Gardening, courtesy of Penny from Frugal Fashion Shopper. 

I love gardening and also visiting gardens.

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Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Lake District in the Spring

 & WowOnWednesday

Peaceful scene from the Lake District in spring with sheep grazing and St Begas church near the Mirehouse in the corner, on the banks of Bassenthwaite Lake

Dear friends. I'm back after a break in the wonderful Lake District, in the north of England. Spring is a lovely time to be there to see ewes, lambs and pheasants galore. I actually saw a red squirrel this time (very rare in the UK now) and a hare.

J and I were taking it fairly easy this time. We've both had bad colds recently  and J was keen to avoid any muscle strains prior to his gruelling cycling holiday. So unlike previous trips, we didn't climb the really big fells like Scafell Pike, Helvellyn or Skiddaw.  

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Wednesday, 10 May 2023

10 on the 10th: Can I upholster a chair?

 & Wow on Wednesday link-up


Dear friends. I am away for a few days and was thinking there would be no post today, but serendipity came along in the form of Marsha's monthly challenge, 10 on the 10th.  This month it asks if we can recall certain things or perform certain things. Let's see.....
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Wednesday, 3 May 2023

Coronation Ready with Cotton Traders

 & #WowOnWednesday

Is This Mutton prepares for the Coronation with his and her outfits and picnic ware from Cotton Traders in a gifted non-paid collaboration

Are you among the millions of people worldwide who'll watch the Coronation of King Charles III? It's a big event here in the UK with an extra public holiday and three days of festivities, including a star-studded concert and street parties. 

My friends at Cotton Traders have some great buys for your picnic or street party plus the attire to make sure you're Instagrammable! Here are my picks for Hosting and Toasting. 
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Friday, 28 April 2023

What's Been on My {April} Calendar?

 #WBOYC 

The London Eye and County Hall photographed by Is This Mutton from a Thames river boat

Dear friends. Time for my review of April! It must surely be the coldest April on record. Yet it started off quite well. I managed to find one photo for a walk on April 4 where it was warm and sunny! 

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Wednesday, 26 April 2023

Find the Trousers that Suit You Best

 & #WowOnWednesday

Gail Hanlon, over 60s blogger from Is This Mutton, in yellow jeans and jacket and orange top

Dear friends. You may have noticed that trousers, or pants in North America, are having A Moment. Wide legged trousers and trouser suits are both trending for spring and summer. But how do you feel about wearing trousers and jeans? Are you wary about them suiting your shape?  

I have a love/hate relationship with trousers, jeans and shorts.  I've always had big thighs proportionately. When I put on weight, it goes to my thighs and waist. 

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Monday, 24 April 2023

Bring Me Sunshine!

 #StyleNotAgeChallenge

Wearing yellow, orange and dark green Is This Mutton's Gail Hanlon

Dear friends. Another month has nearly ended and it's time for the Style Not Age Challenge, where 5 blogger friends over the age of 45 style an outfit based on a different prompt each time.

This month it was Emma's choice, and she came up with a great challenge, Bring Me Sunshine.  We certainly need some sunshine. I believe the weather has been "off" in most countries. It's still quite cold here, which dictated my outfit.
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Friday, 21 April 2023

Is This Mutton Books Edition, April

 

Dear friends. Welcome to another Books Edition of Is This Mutton. There's a nice variety of books in today's post: two works of fiction, three memoirs and a nutritional guide. Where I'm reviewing a book that has been supplied free of charge as an advanced reader copy, I give the publisher's description and then my own thoughts. 

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Thursday, 20 April 2023

Tell Us About....Whimsy

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, the definition of a whimsical character according to blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton

Dear friends. The monthly Tell Us About challenge is back, and this time it's set by Mary Katherine of MK's Adventures.  MK, a US based blogger, chose Whimsy.

It was surprisingly difficult. I had imagined there would be a lot out there on Google and possibly even a museum of whimsy I could visit.  Well there are, two - but both in America. 

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Wednesday, 19 April 2023

Moto Jacket 6 Ways

 & WowOnWednesday

Over 60s blogger Gail Hanlon in cream moto jacket worn over a jade green ruched skirt and top

Dear friends. I'm a great believer in snapping up duplicates if you find a garment that's perfect.  If it's available in different colours, all the better.

I love the Kettlewell Chloe jacket for its versatility - and colours! I now have six. I started with one in lavender, followed by jewel blue. I then found a pre-loved Chloe in soft white. This season, the jacket reappeared after a year long hiatus, and I went a bit mad and bought three in island green, cream and soft yellow. 

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Monday, 17 April 2023

A Day in My Life: April 16 2023

 

Young couple with baby in papoose, on walk in Epping Forest

Dear friends. I was intrigued to see Leslie documenting one of her days because I've thought about doing this, and even had a half finished version of a day in February.

In  20 years time I imagine we'll have forgotten the flow of our days, what technology we were using, what we were eating and so on.  Life changes so fast.

So I made notes on Sunday about everything I did. It was a "rest day" for me, I wasn't planning to take any exercise.  I like to have a couple of hours to take photos for the blog, and the weather was promising. J was going out on a long cycle ride so I knew I'd be uninterrupted. Unfortunately I didn't take as many pics as I should have done...but here goes! 

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Wednesday, 12 April 2023

Avoid frumpiness with the right accessories

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in purple coat with accessories that add interest:  rainbow bag and scarf

& Wow On Wednesday

Accessories have their own seasonal trends, the same as clothes. Buying the right accessories can jazz up outdated outfits and remove any chance of frumpiness. 

I approach accessory buying very carefully. I look at sites such as Asos and Schuh to see what's trending for jewelry, bags, sunglasses, shoes and sandals. I identify the trends I like, and set about buying them in the right colours for my wardrobe. 

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Wednesday, 5 April 2023

On Trend Summer Jewelry

 & WowOnWednesday

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton with lightweight gold color fashion jewelry from Meideya

Dear friends. Jewelry (jewellery in the UK) is one of my greatest pleasures. It's the fastest way to update a look and needn't cost a fortune.

I was thrilled when Meideya Jewelry approached me. I discovered their fashionable range looks far more expensive than it actually is.

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Friday, 31 March 2023

March in Review

 #WhatsBeenOnYourCalendar #WBOYC

David Hockney Immersive exhibition in London

Dear friends. March could be described as "the month that sunshine forgot."  They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  Unfortunately, it was a lion for most of the month! Let's hope for an improvement in April.

So what did I get up to? I continued with my monthly discovery of art, and I succeeded with my personal self-care goals.  There were two colourful Kettlewell meet-ups and a trip to Devon for Mother's Day. Not to mention walks and books.

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Wednesday, 29 March 2023

Beauty Rummage and the Cult Products I Can't Live Without

 & #WowOnWednesday

Beauty over 60 with London style blogger Is This Mutton.  Latest discoveries include Korean Erborian Super BB Cream and Japanese Suqqu Waterproof Mascara.

Dear friends. I won't lie to you, it has not been an easy week.  I lost my devoted companion Molly seven days ago and the grief has been intense. Last week I threw myself into work - blogging and cleaning. But the last few days have been more difficult.  I sent J to collect her ashes, which we will scatter on the garden on a sunny spring day. 

I jettisoned plans for an outfit shoot today when it started raining again.  Instead it's a good time for a periodic rummage in the makeup bag and a look at the products I consider indispensable. Plus the cult products I can't live without.  These would surprise the young beauty bloggers and social media managers I suspect. But we like to surprise them, don't we? 

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Monday, 27 March 2023

Denim - Not Jeans: Style Not Age Challenge

 Wearing a denim dress over 60. Gail Hanlon in midi denim dress from Asos with white ankle boots and orange belt.

Dear friends. Jacqui's challenge to style something in denim other than jeans turned out to be quite the challenge! I could have used my denim jacket but I styled it just last week and featured it here. I used to have a denim dress but it strained across the front buttons so I hardly ever wore it.  I do like a denim dress though, particularly for this transitional time of year, so I ordered this one from Asos.
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Thursday, 23 March 2023

Read All About It: March Books 2023

 

Dear friends. I didn't think I'd read many books this month but the list is quite long, and shows what you can do what you put your mind to it! My post is late this month but I've managed to join the southern hemisphere link-up by the skin of my teeth! 

My books of the month are: 

Henry VIII: The Heart and the Crown by Alison Weir

Metronome by Tom Watson

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Remembering Molly 2004 - 2023

 Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton on the life of her 19 year old cat Molly who died on March 22 2023

Dear friends. Sad news. My devoted companion Molly the Mouser has gone to the great garden in the sky. She was 19, we think, and had a long, happy life. 

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Wednesday, 22 March 2023

My Cotton Traders Spring Edit

 & #WowOnWednesday

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in lime boucle jacket from Cotton Traders

Dear friends. It's official: the Spring Equinox has happened and we finally leap forward into British Summertime on Sunday.  So I was more than ready to choose 4 items from Cotton Traders to start making the most of the spring sunshine.

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Thursday, 16 March 2023

Tell Us About....Scent!

 & The Tell Us About It Link-Up

Bottle of scent to illustrate a post about the scents and perfumes which have shaped women's lives. Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

Dear friends. Welcome to another edition of Tell Us About, the challenge where bloggers from the UK, US and Australia respond to a prompt each month in their own unique way.

This month it's the turn of Jill from Grownup Glamour whose prompt is Scent.
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Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Accidentally On Trend - and Bold Colours

 & #WowonWednesday

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in jade and bright apricot

Dear friends. Ever had that delightful epiphany when you discover you're accidentally on trend?  It happened to me twice this week.

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Friday, 10 March 2023

10 on the 10th: Ring Ring!

 Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in the early 1990s with one of her first mobile phones

Dear friends.  I couldn't resist this one: 10 questions about phones!  It's the March prompt for 10 on the 10th from Marsha in the Middle.  I had a brief two year stint working at BT International in the late 80s and am a bit nerdy about phones.

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Wednesday, 8 March 2023

New Beginnings! Fashion and Nutrition

 & #WowOnWednesday

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in her seasonally analysed spring colours: flamingo pink and warm yellow, in clothes by Kettlewell Colours.

Dear friends.  Happy International Women's Day! 

I always regard March or September as the best times for new beginnings. Forget January with its bad weather and all the pious crusades for giving up this, that and the other.  For me, as we move towards the spring equinoxe, the light changes and it's much clearer to think now about how we want to enrich our lives.

SPRING WARDROBE

After not buying anything in January  (yep, I fell victim to a pious crusade!), I've bought a fair few things for spring. I don't feel guilty about it. As I've always said, buying everything from charity shops is laudable, and essential if your budget is tight, but if we can afford to buy new we're doing a huge favour to retailers, the fashion industry and the huge numbers of women who work in that sector.

When the Kettlewell new range came out I was thrilled to see the return of the short moto jacket Chloe and in a shade called Warm Yellow.  Since my re-rating as a spring last year, I've discovered that warm light yellow is one of my best colours. I love it!  I have several of these jackets. I wear them a lot in spring and summer both on my everyday walks and dressed up for social events. 

Is This Mutton founder Gail Hanlon in warm yellow and green to celebrate the arrival of spring

I also snapped up the Sunshine Scarf in yellow and flamingo pink, top pic, which I'm wearing with the Becca sweater in lemonade and short tie wrap in flamingo pink. I bought a couple of basics too in terms of tops and another short tie wrap. 

Make-up Used

Clarins Everlasting Youth Fluid in Honey, Too Faced Papa Don't Peach blusher, Charlotte Tilbury Brow Lift in deep brown, Suqqu Waterproof Mascara 107, Look Fabulous Forever Soft Eyeliner in forest green and No Shimmer Eyeshade Trio in Soft Greens plus lipsticks True Coral (top pic) and Sunset Glow (second pic). Highlighter: Lisa Eldridge Elevated Glow in Crystal Nebula.

CHANGING MY DIET

Back in 2019 I started eating low carb and it's helped me to keep off the weight. Cue reminder pic of me in 2002, to show you what I used to look like, three and a half stones heavier, at 12 stone 7 pounds  (175 pounds or 79kg). 

Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon in 2002 when she was three and a half stones heavier than in 2023

I'd seen research that suggested it wasn't a great diet long-term, and I didn't think much about it.  That is, until I had a blood test when I signed up for the NHS Our Future Health initiative  (read about it here). My triglycerides were so high they couldn't get a reading for cholesterol.  

When I Googled high triglycerides, it suggested that this affects obese people who eat processed foods and sugar, as well as those who consume too much alcohol and those who don't exercise.

I immediately cut out my lunches of full fat Greek yoghurt layered with toasted nuts and berries, and reduced my my high consumption of cheese.  I then took a private blood test with Medichecks - you do it yourself and send the sample to them for analysis.  Four weeks had elapsed and everything was normal  (including triglycerides) except for my cholesterol which is high, both for "good" and "bad" markers.

My risk of heart disease is still mercifully low because I have hereditary low blood pressure. But it's still been a wake-up call. 

My diet was mainly deficient in grains, fruit and pulses, so I'm gradually reintroducing them.  I've decided to have red meat only very occasionally and to increase consumption of fish. I'm also reducing consumption of eggs, although they seem to be exonerated in most research I've seen lately, and swapping my egg breakfasts for overnight oats, porridge or smoothies with oat milk, cacao and berries. 

The thing that bugs me the most is the full fat business.  

The British Heart Foundation has a low cholesterol diet on its website and it recommends everything should be low fat: yoghurt, milk and cheese, with vegetable spread instead of butter and vegetable oil instead of coconut oil for cooking.  I find this odd because low fat foods, and vegetable spreads and oils, are generally highly processed and/or full of sugar. 

I still can't bring myself to buy low fat yoghurt so that's an avenue of pleasure closed.

I'm not expecting to lose weight but I hope to see the cholesterol levels drop.  I pledged to myself that I would do everything I can to stay in good health and not require prescription drugs. 

International Women's Day

In honour of today I bought a book from Amazon which is from a first time author in her 50s:  Trespasses by Louise Kennedy.  It's been long listed for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2023. It's the haunting tale of a Protestant-Catholic love affair.  Another debut novel, Fire Rush from Jacqueline Crooks, also in her 50s, made the long list too.  It just goes to show that we are not past it in our 50s and beyond!

What's your view on new beginnings for spring?  Have you made any fashion buys yet? Do let us know in the comments.

Sharing this post with: On Mondays We Link Up at Glass of Glam, Weekday Wear at Away from the Blue#AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Rena at Fine WhateverTurning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Confident Twosday at I Do Declaire, Style with a Smile at StylesplashTalent Sharing Tuesdays at Scribbling BoomerChic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #SpreadTheKindness  and #Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge,  Thursday Fashion Files at Doused in Pink, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey BrunetteFancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style,  Traffic Jam Weekend at Marsha in the Middle Fabulous Fridays at Lucy BertoldiCurated by Jennifer (Wednesdays). 

Wow On Wednesday Link-Up

Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday, the weekly link-up with extra goodness. Readers can find new blogs to read, and bloggers, Instagrammers and YouTubers can find new audiences! Plus I promote five to six posts that caught my eye each weekend on FB and Twitter. The week's favourites - most clicked - are shared on Instagram Stories on Wednesday.

Last Week's Favourites (Most Clicked) 

Layering with a Vest During Bridge Season by Di from I Wish I was Back in Style 

9 Spring Trends You can Actually Wear from Kellyann of This Blonde's Shopping Bag


Heather from Bauchle Fashion with 5 Must-Have Thrift Fashionphile Finds

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
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Wednesday, 1 March 2023

How Much Longer Can Brands Ignore the Revenue Opportunity of Older Women?

 & #WowOnWednesday

The Is This Mutton survey 2023 results on women's wardrobes and influences over the age of 50

Brands are failing to represent older women in their ads and on websites,  even though nearly 60% of women over 40 buy more clothes now than they did in their teens or 20s.

This huge discrepancy is highlighted in the 2023 Is This Mutton annual survey.  

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Monday, 27 February 2023

Buttoned Up: Style Not Age Challenge

 

Dear friends. It's time for the Style Not Age Challenge and this month it's my turn.  We're Buttoned Up! 

If you're not familiar with this challenge, five style bloggers over 45 tackle a different one each month. 
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Friday, 24 February 2023

February in Review: Art, Abba, Health, TV and More

 #WBOYC

Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon in bright colours in clothes bought in February ready for spring. Read more in her account of the month of February 2023.

Dear friends. Another month has sped by and we are nearly in spring. I'm joining Donna, Joanne and Sue for #WhatsBeenOnYourCalendar. Quite a busy and varied month!
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Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Is Your Cashmere Ethical?

& #WowOnWednesday

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in honey cashmere jumper from the Nearly New Cashmere Co in Yorkshire, England

Dear friends. Sorry to add another worry to the list, but are your cashmere sweaters and cardigans ethical?

Unfortunately, cashmere, that most luxurious of yarns, has the most destructive environmental impact of any animal-derived fibre.  Plus, as it comes from the winter coats of goats, it also involves animal exploitation, cruelty, stress and injuries. Goats have a nervous system and can suffer and feel pain. 

But fortunately ethical suppliers are addressing some of the problems, and there's a welcome trend for seeing cashmere restored and recycled, which means we can buy with a clear conscience.

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Friday, 17 February 2023

Judging Books by their Covers and #WhatsOnYourBookshelf

 February's book reviews from UK reviewer Gail Hanlon at Is This Mutton.

Dear friends. Have you ever paused to look at a particularly beautiful book cover, and maybe bought the book as a result?

As a Kindle reader, book covers have been less important to me. But now that I have access to thousands of unpublished books via NetGalley, and choose titles based on their description/author/book cover, I'm finding that the covers guide me to the right choices.

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Thursday, 16 February 2023

Tell Us About.....Play!

 Two children acting in their own play. Picture by cottonbro studio for Pexels

Dear friends. My angle on Play, this month's theme for the Tell Us About Challenge, is "The Play's the Thing", and my thwarted theatrical ambitions. 

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Wednesday, 15 February 2023

Bright Outfits, Chewbacca and Abba!

& #WowOnWednesday

How to wear bright colours over 50.  Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in orange, yellow and turquoise
Dear friends. I don't expect you ever thought you'd see that triumvirate feature together in a style blog.  Put your feet up, this could be a long post.

Further to my January Brights post, here are more colourful outfits which I've been wearing for various challenges on IG/FB, and on outings. 

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Friday, 10 February 2023

10 on the 10th:

 

Dear friends. Time for 10 questions on the 10th on the month, set by Marsha from Marsha in the Middle.  I'm glad they're not the usual "ick" questions around Valentine's Day. Instead it's all about our loves and hates. Let's dive in!

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Wednesday, 8 February 2023

Feeling Your Way to the Best Colours

 & WowOnWednesday

Alison Bowker from Feeling Colour, profiled by style blog Is This Mutton. Photo: Ksenia Belash

Dear friends. Imagine finding your best colours with your eyes shut. In today's post we're finding out about Feeling Colours, a Bath-based business that throws the usual method of colour analysis out of the window. 

Alison Bowker has been running Feeling Colours since 2018. She describes herself as a guide rather than a colour consultant. In her method of colour analysis your body responds to the vibrations of colours. The outcome is a seasonal colour rating and the knowledge that you have a swatch of colours that will flatter you and make you feel fabulous. 

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Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Walk into Style

 & #WowOnWednesday

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton, a keen walker, in all weather waterproof jacket and walking shoes from Cotton Traders

Dear friends. Happy February! Regular readers will know I do a lot of walking. I'm very keen to encourage more people to take up walking and enjoy the health benefits. I was thrilled when Cotton Traders asked me to join their Walk Into Style campaign to show how bright pops of colour can liven up a winter walking wardrobe.
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Monday, 30 January 2023

January Blues! Style Not Age Challenge

Over-60s blogger Gail Hanlon in turquoise and yellow
 

Dear friends. Ah, January. Everyone's favourite! It's cold and dreary; some of us are giving up alcohol or buying clothes; many of us are hard up after Christmas.  So it's not surprising there's a "Blue Monday" when we're supposed to be at our lowest ebb. But here's the #StyleNotAge gang to cheer you up with some colourful blues.

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Friday, 27 January 2023

January in Review - #WBOYC

 Is This Mutton's Gail Hanlon has afternoon tea at the Berkeley Hotel in London with friends

Dear friends. Welcome to the first month in review of 2023, which has a different look and feel. I'm joining bloggers in the southern hemisphere for #WBOYC, what's been on your calendar. 

I didn't set any resolutions as such for 2023, but I did have a few goals:

  • To read 100 books and be active on Good Reads 
  • To have more relaxation via activities like yoga, massage, sound baths
  • To have at least one cultural experience a month
  • To go on or two MeetUps or walks with the Ramblers Association each month
  • To mix up my exercise and do more weights
  • To launch a new blogger link-up
  • To not buy any clothes in January but shop my wardrobe! 
So how am I doing?

Books

So far I've read 7 books so I'm ahead of my reading goal. Early days! You'll find my latest book reviews here. I'm getting advance reader copies from NetGalley and sharing my reviews to Good Reads NetGalley and Amazon.  So far I've enjoyed all the books I requested with one exception, which I declined to review. It's certainly saving me a lot of money as I had quite an expensive Amazon habit! 

Walks

Only one MeetUp so far this year. I joined a group for a new walk from Bond Street to King's Cross. Very enjoyable. After strolling through Regent's Park we arrived at Primrose Hill for our lunch stop, and enjoyed spectacular views of London. You can see all the landmark buildings including the Shard, St Paul's Cathedral, The Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie and the BT Tower. 

Parakeets are a common sight in a lot of London's parks.  I see - and hear them - in our local cemetery. But I was surprised to see red and blue coloured parrots in Primrose Hill park. I can only assume they have escaped from nearby London Zoo. 


I did my usual local walks in Epping Forest, including a couple where John and I drove to the start point to explore a different route. He knows the forest like the back of his hand. 

I like to follow a group of Longhorn cattle, who graze parts of the forest all year round. They move around quite a lot so it's hit and miss as to whether or not I see them. 

Sometimes they're on paths, and other walkers get very nervous about going near them.  No need as "The Girls" are very docile and don't take any notice if you walk near them. 

On our 8 January walk we saw the girls and also had a blue sky. It was very muddy. 

Cultural Experiences

I visited the Dulwich Picture Gallery today for the first time.  It was founded in 1811 and was the first purpose-built art gallery in Europe, designed by John Soane. The gallery houses a collection of Dutch, Flemish, Italian, Spanish and French Old Masters. I feasted over paintings from Rubens, Rembrandt and Canaletto. Two later gifts added important British paintings from the likes of Gainsborough (one of my favourites). 

I was fascinated to see several works from Sir Joshua Reynolds and James Northcote, who were both alumni at my old school in Plymouth. 

The exhibition featured a Lithuanian artist and composer called M.K. ─îiurlionis. Well, this was fascinating. He died at 36 but had a feverishly creative period between 1902 and 1909. A symbolist painter and pioneer, M.K ─îiurlionis explored early abstraction, spirituality, philosophy and our relationship to the universe. The Evening Standard described the exhibition as "Mystical and magical," which I would agree with. 

This is one of his early works 1903-4. The figure suggests a God-like character from the Bible, but the animal skull suggests pagan associations. If you want to see more pics and you're quick, head over to my Stories on Instagram:  @is_this_mutton_


I've booked to see the new David Hockney immersive exhibition in March.  I'm thinking a visit to Tate Modern in February might be good - haven't been there for a few years.

Relaxing

I've enjoyed a few massages in the past but I never used to seek out yin yoga or other relaxing activities because I was always racing around, and found them too tame. Now I'm retired, I can live at a more gentle pace, and I've discovered a very good yin yoga class at my gym, and a monthly gong bath.  If you're wondering what a gong bath is, here's the set-up for the one I attend.


We started with a taster of cacao, used in ceremonials and said to open our hearts for self renewal that keeps us centered.  (No sniggering please). 

We snuggle under a blanket in darkness and wait for the first sounds of the gong and other instruments played.  Initially these are quiet. The gong sound is changed frequently to avoid producing a fixed, monotonous rhythm. The auditory stimuli of the gong bath process lead to entrainment, a form of beneficially modified brainwave frequencies. The first brainwave state to be reached is alpha, which is defined by frequencies between 8 and 12 Hz. Alpha brainwaves are associated with creativity and feelings of relaxation. All I can say is it's quite addictive. 

Blog Activities

The new link-up was launched - "Tell Us About...Time" and the four posts from the co-hosts in Australia, the US and the UK were all very different and very interesting. This is going to be fun! Next month's theme is Play, and we will be adding a link-up for others who want to join in. My post described the mortification on being late on a few occasions, when I am an obsessively punctual person.

BBC Radio Devon Anniversary

It was the 40th anniversary of the launch of Radio Devon, where I worked as a reporter and then news producer for six happy years. There's a reunion every year in Devon, although I haven't been able to get to many. Lots of reminiscences on the day, and this original photo was shared.  I'm at the front, wearing cream, and looking very serious. I wrote about some of my memorable experiences in radio here


Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley Hotel

The Berkeley, in London, is one of those hotels that's too posh to have a sign. I met  Penny (Frugal Fashion Shopper) and Janice for the hotel's celebrated "Pret a Portea."  

After a selection of sandwiches, cakes are served in the shapes, colours and styles of the latest catwalk trends. These are changed every season.  They gave us a little leaflet explaining which designers were being featured. It's a brilliant unique selling proposition when afternoon teas in London are 10 a penny!  (Although much more expensive...).

It was a lovely relaxed occasion.  I am not normally an eater of cakes or desserts, but I have to say the cakes were not too sweet and had varied flavourings which kept me nibbling.  You can see the three of us at the top of the post. Penny is in the green beret.  She very kindly gifted me a Studio Preen purple coat which will soon be making an appearance on the blog.


Below: close-up of one of the cakes, shaped like a handbag. Everything is edible.


Mixing Up My Exercise

Well, you've got to give me credit here - I went on a bootcamp refresher!  It was in Derbyshire, a part of the Midlands I've never been to.  It was quite tough but also good fun.  Read more about my experience here

Back home, I had a session with a trainer at my gym who gave me some guidance on using the TRX  (which is a pulley based thing that uses your own body weight) for core and glutes/quads, and a couple of machines in the weights room for shoulders and hamstrings.

Not Shopping in January

I have been trying not to buy any clothes in January.  I've done quite well. I did buy a couple of sports bras and leggings, but I needed them for the boot camp.  I realised all my fitness gear is several years old. Apart from that, nothing.  I haven't found it too difficult and may carry on, at least until Kettlewell releases its new collection. I didn't do very well in my intention to try to wear "real clothes" every day, rather than athleisure. I typically go for a walk or to the gym in the morning, so I put on athleisure. It's easier to add a fleece or cardigan as the day goes on. It's been too cold to change clothes.  My Instagram bears testament to this - hardly any outfit shots in January! 

Also in January

It hasn't all been plain sailing. The hubster has been quite unwell for the last few days, but seems to be turning the corner.  As he's such an active and sporty person, it's a nightmare for him when he has take it easy for days.

My brother's cat Leo died, which was very sad. He was 11. 

What We Watched

We're currently engrossed in Happy Valley (BBC), The End of Us (Netflix) and Women at War (Netflix). All three are extremely good.  Happy Valley needs no introduction. Sarah Lancashire and James Norton are amazing.  I treasure each episode in the knowledge that this is the last series. 

The End of Us is a little ponderous but perfectly watchable. A fungal species called Cordyceps has taken over, invading the bodies of humans and turning them into some sort of zombie.  It stars Pedro Pascal from Game of Thrones. He's a drugs smuggler who becomes entrusted with taking the feisty 14 year old Elle  (Bella Ramsey, also from GoT) to a place where vaccines are being developed. It seems she is able to repel the bites of the Cordyceps.

Women at War is outstanding. It's a French drama about three women whose lives intertwine in World War One.  I knew it would be great when I saw it stars Audrey Fleurot, who was in Spiral amongst other things, and is such an expressive actor. 

We also enjoyed Woman of the Dead (Netflix), a curiously named German thriller about a female undertaker whose husband is run over in what police say is an accident.  She has misgivings and starts her own investigations, uncovering widespread corruption and abuse of female immigrants. She doesn't wait for police to catch up. This is one kick ass undertaker. 

The jury is out on Extraordinary Attorney Woo (Netflix). On the one hand, it's good to see a woman on the autism spectrum killing it as a lawyer in Korea. But it's packaged as a sickly sweet confection. Attorney Woo is adorable and cute, and we bristle against the other lawyers when they panic about her appearing in court, or roll their eyes as she tries to negotiate swinging doors. I like it but the hubster is less keen. The episodes are perhaps long at an hour. 

I treated myself to Mrs Harris Goes to Paris  (Prime), a delightful film about a cleaner (Lesley Manville) who craves a Dior gown.  Finally she has enough money and travels to Paris but things don't initially go very smoothly. It's a redemptive tale where Mrs Harris transforms the lives of workers at Dior and gets a happy ending. The atelier dresses! I was in heaven.

What I've Been Listening To 

I'm hooked on The Phenomenon, which would make a brilliant TV series.  Only 98% of the world's population is left after people were blinded and then destroyed by flashes in the sky (later named "the shards.").  Survivors are mostly people who had been entrusted to manage situations like this for governments, who fled to special bunkers. There are strict hierarchies for who can access certain information. And then another adversary appears.  Gripping, and extremely well done.

Sharing this post with: #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Rena at Fine WhateverTalent Sharing Tuesdays at Scribbling Boomer #SpreadTheKindness at Shelbee on the Edge,  Traffic Jam Weekend at Marsha in the Middle

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