Fashion and fun for the over-50s.

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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

FOR MORE MUTTON

Stay in the loop: find 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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Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Make the Best of Your Wardrobe

 Clare Smythson from Zero Based Wardrobe with is This Mutton's Gail Hanlon as they go through her wardrobe.

Dear friends. One trend so far from the Is This Mutton 2023 survey so far (scroll down if you haven't taken it yet) is that most of us don't organise our wardrobe in any way, and buying duplicate garments is quite common.

Speaking from my own experience, I probably wear 40% of my clothes. But let me introduce you to a woman who's on a mission to make our wardrobes joyful again, and reduce the waste from garments, both financial and environmental, from clothes never worn.

Clare Smythson from Redhill in Surrey has started a new business, Zero Waste Wardrobe, and hopes to leave clients invigorated and inspired to have fun again with their clothes. 

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Friday, 20 January 2023

Latest Book Reviews

 #WhatsOnYourBookshelf


Dear friends. Welcome to another round-up of book reviews and the #WOYBS link-up with bloggers in the southern hemisphere. The star rating is:  5 stars = I loved it! 4 stars = very good;  3 stars - OK;  2 stars: don't go there. 
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Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Tell Us About....Time!

 

Dear friends. Today's post is a new monthly creative challenge.  I'm joined by bloggers from the US, UK and Australia - Mary Katherine, Deb, Jill and Penny - to answer a different prompt on the 3rd Thursday of the month.  This time it's mine, and it's Time.

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What Happened on a 3 Day Boot Camp Refresh

 

Dear friends. I'm back from a three night fitness "kick start" in Derbyshire with FitFarms.  It wasn't gifted so I'm giving my own account, having spent my own money!  I know a fair bit about diet and exercise but I learnt a lot over the weekend and am here to tell you all about it. 

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Wednesday, 11 January 2023

What's In Your Wardrobe? The 2023 Is This Mutton Survey

& #WowOnWednesday

Graphic showing a women's wardrobe to invite responses for the 2023 Is This Mutton annual survey. It's all about what's in your wardrobe and the shopping habits of women aged 30+

Dear friends. It's survey time! This year we're asking about what's in your wardrobe and we want to see a few numbers. How many wardrobes? How many pairs of shoes?  But it's not all frivolous. We're also keen to see how you're buying fashion and how you're disposing of it. Have brands improved their representation of older women in ads and on websites?

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Saturday, 7 January 2023

Exciting New Blogger Challenge for 2023:

 "Tell Us About....." A New Global Writing Challenge 

Dear friends.  We are thrilled to announce a new monthly opportunity for bloggers to showcase their creativity. I've been joined by Deb from Deb'sWorld (Australia), Mary Katherine from MK's Adventures in Style (USA),  Penny from Frugal Fashion Shopper (UK) and Jill from Grownup Glamour (Australia) for "Tell Us About....."

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Wednesday, 4 January 2023

January is Bright

 & WowOnWednesday

January needs bright colours as Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton shows, in yellow and red

Dear friends. January started off bright with a blue sky but has now reverted to grey with rain, so I'm determined to add some colour.

Jodie over at JTouchofStyle is hosting a challenge on her blog and IG, #BrightColorJanuary. Well, you know I like a few bright colours!

I've developed a bit of a passion for yellow. I never thought it suited me, but then I discovered Kettlewell's acid yellow, for those seasonally analysed as winter or spring, and more recently, the warmer spring yellows such as lemonade, canary and light yellow.

Yellow and red is a bright January combination from over-60s blogger Gail Hanlon  of Is This Mutton

I love these sunny yellows with red. It's a bit in your face. but bright colours are mood pleasers.  Here I'm wearing the supersoft jacket in canary yellow and cream/sunshine yellow stripy pima tee, both from Kettlewell.  Draped over the bag is an infinity scarf in mimosa. The red trousers are from Robell, and the red boots, from Lotus, are old. Necklace, old, from Eternal Collection.

In the top pic, and below, I'm wearing a Kettlewell ponte skirt in true red, which I bought pre-loved;  their short tie wrap in scarlet, sleeveless V neck in buttermilk and a supersoft scarf in apple blossom from Colour Me Beautiful.  This outfit, although featuring quite a lot of red, is dialled down by the neutral top and the light green. There's no need to be scared of wearing bright red over 50.  The secret is finding the right red for your skin tone. 

Don't be afraid of bright colours over 60. Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in red skirt and short tie wrap and apple blossom scarf

Like a lot of you, I suspect, I'm trying not to buy any new or pre-loved clothes in January.  I really don't need anything new, there are too many things I hardly ever wear. So I'll be shopping my wardrobe and finding new colour combinations. I'll probably continue into February but it depends when the Kettlewell spring range is launched.  I've learnt from experience that a lot of the colours for those coded spring sell out very fast, and I'll be looking for a couple of pieces.


Make-up details: lipstick Strawberry Shock by Lisa Eldridge with MAC Lip Glass, clear;  foundation Clarins Everlasting Youth Fluid in Honey; blusher Papa Don't Peach by Too Faced, eye shadow in Naked Lunch by MAC;  Legit Lashes mascara by Huda Beauty. 

Find out more about my plans for 2023, including fitness and travel. 

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,  Style with a Smile at StylesplashTalent Sharing Tuesdays at Scribbling BoomerConfident Twosday at IDoDeclaireChic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #SpreadTheKindness  and #Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge,  TFF 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 Bertoldi

Now it's time for the #WowOnWednesday link-up.  Bloggers, Instagrammers and YouTubers are invited to share new and evergreen content. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
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Sunday, 1 January 2023

Plans for 2023: Fitness, Fashion, Fun

 Gail Hanlon's favourite outfit of 2022 - it all came together after she was re-rated in colour analysis

Dear friends. Happy New Year! In this first post of the year I'm taking a look at 2022 and then turning my attention to what's in store for 2023. 

WHAT A YEAR!

2022 was tumultuous with lots of change. In the UK we had three prime ministers in one year and we lost our sovereign of the last 70 years. The Ukraine war started and shows no sign of ending. We've all had freakish weather: unusually hot in the UK and most of Europe in the summer, and unusually cold or wet in other regions. 

We're having a winter of discontent in the UK with many public service workers on strike at various times:  nurses, ambulance workers, railway/tube workers, BT, the Post Office, border staff.

I GAVE UP WORK AT 61

There was a big change for me on a personal level:  I gave up work! This was unexpected, because I'd intended to work for at least another couple of years. But when the opportunity of voluntary redundancy came along, it was too good to miss.  I haven't regretted for a minute my decision, but to make the most of retirement you need to have a plan for how you're going to spend the time. Plus, if youre retiring early, you need to have made financial provision.  I won't get the state pension until age 67, but fortunately I always made good payments into my employers' pension schemes. 

HOLIDAYS IN 2022

We went back to Skiathos, our favourite Greek island, for the first time since 2018. It rained for the first two days - unheard of! But we loved being back and will visit again this year. 

We also had a week in the Lake District, hill walking. We  tried ghyll scrambling for the first time, which was fun, and had a day on e-bikes  (new to me). 

Trying ghyll scrambling in the Lake District: Gail Hanlon, 61, from Is This Mutton

The hubster did another cycling challenge holiday (Land's End to John O'Groats, 874 miles). 

WALKING AND FITNESS

I haven't kept track of my walking mileage this year, but on average I walk around 24 miles a week. This year I've been consciously walking faster, so each walk is either good for fat burning or cardio  (I track this via a Fitbit). 

I rejoined a gym in April and have a new love for Pilates which I do twice a week. I find myself conflicted with the gym v walking.  Lately I have been walking to the gym, but it's only a mile each way. More on my fitness goals shortly. 

I did several walks with MeetUp, and highly recommend finding organized walks, either through MeetUp or organisations like the Ramblers Association. I have a free over-60s travel pass so it's so easy now to use public transport anywhere around London and its borders to go for walks in areas new to me.

IS THIS MUTTON IN 2022

After two fallow Covid years in terms of brands approaching me for collaborations, I had some great partnerships with brands this year including Land's End, Cotton Traders, Vichy, Teddy Blake bags, Look Fabulous Forever and Violet Jordan. 

I don't do paid collaborations, or those where affiliate links are used; I like to keep the reading experience for you as clean as possible, and the blog to me is a hobby and not something I want to monetise.

I signed up with Net Galley and now get free books ahead of their publication to review. 

New for 2023:  I'm starting a new challenge with blogger and IG friends Mary Katherine, Penny from Frugal Fashion Shopper, Jill from Grownup Glamour and Deb from Deb's World (Australia).

MOST POPULAR POSTS OF THE YEAR 

Now some of these surprised me. But the list does show the importance of search engine optimisation (SEO) because sometimes my most popular posts concerned products or trends which don't throw up quite so many results on Google, thrusting my blog to the fore. 

My old blog, started in 2006, still delivers impressions for search terms like "stench pipes,"  "does John Torode wear a wig" and "Vaslav Nijinsky".  (Yes, I wrote about all three!).  

So here's the top 10, with #1 getting the highest number of page views:

1. Have you tried makeup sticks yet? 

2. Styling winter skirts 

3. Thinning lips and barcode lines 

4. We're good enough - no resolutions needed 

5. Get yourself coated

6. Cord pinafore 3 ways

7. Plans and Goals (June - when I gave up work)

8. Purpleologists of the world unite!

9. Finding my inner gamine with collars and brogues

10. Pretty daytime make-up with Look Fabulous Forever

FAVOURITE OUTFITS OF 2022

Selection of favourite outfits of 2022 worn by over-60s style blogger Gail Hanlon of Is This Mutton
Here are my choices, not quite the same as the ones I featured on Instagram but all favourites anyway. My top choice is the outfit right at the top of the post.  

The reason I liked it?  Sometimes accessories make an outfit "sing." You may recall I was re-rated in colour analysis as a Spring in June, having previously been dressing as a Winter.  It takes a while to rebuild a wardrobe. You may think: why bother? But when you've had your colours done by a professional,  you can see the difference the right colours make to your skin tone, even helping to diminish dark rings and sallow skin. 

So I started selling some of my winter clothes and buying new ones in my spring colours. Finding accessories in these colours takes a while. I'm still looking for a coral / peach handbag, for example. But the outfit at the top pleased me because the scarf and the shoes were exactly right and brought the outfit alive.

My Favourite TV Shows of 2022

I went over my Favourites posts to choose the 10 programmes I most enjoyed.These aren't in any particular order.

1. The Responder  (BBC iPlayer) 

A taut crime drama starring Martin Freeman as a damaged first response PC.  Still available on the iPlayer, Sky Go and Britbox, or as a video on Amazon.

2. Tokyo Vice (BBC iPlayer, Prime, JustWatch)

An eight part drama series based on a book by US journalist  Jake Adelstein. He became the first westerner, fluent in Japanese, to work on a Tokyo daily newspaper. He gets entangled in a world of vice in the Yakuza underworld. Very exciting.

3. Deadwind, Netflix (3 seasons)

This police crime thriller from Finland is about a really kick ass detective, Sofia Karppi, who's reluctantly partnered with a colleague, Nurmi.  The story lines are very strong, and series 3 in particular was a stand out. I love how Karppi bucks convention, does her own thing and doesn't "emote" even though her personal life has been challenging. She is very Finnish I suspect! 

4. Slow Horses. Apple TV (2 seasons)

Not police this time but the "slow horses" of British intelligence:  agents who have been sent to work at Slough House because they have disappointed or not delivered.  Superb and justifies Apple TV. 

5. The Split (BBC iPlayer, Prime, Hulu) - 3 seasons

The Split chronicled the breakdown of a marriage between two lawyers in London. There were sub plots around the mother and two sisters of lawyer Kate (Nicola Walker). 

A bit corny, but nicely done, and the outfits were first class! 

6. House of the Dragon, Netflix

The long awaited prequel to Game of Thrones. Ultimately slower paced than GoT, but we were getting to know the Targaryen dynasty and family politics. The next season, due in 2024, will have more fights and gore. The good news: strong, credible women dominate.  Unlike GoT, there are no gratuitous sex scenes with women. 

7. Borgen: Power and Glory (Netflix)

I was very excited for the return of this powerhouse of a political drama from Denmark.  Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen)  was back, and this time she is Foreign Minister, dealing with issues that include a major oil find in Greenland and the global ramifications of this, with China, Russia and the US all wanting a share of the action. 

8. The Rings of Power  (Prime)

I was pleasantly surprised by this. I'm not keen on Tolkien, the books or previous films, but I did end up enjoying this, set in "the Second Age" and based on appendices by Tolkien rather than an actual book. The filmography and lighting alone make it worth it.

9. Wisting, BBC iPlayer (3 seasons)

After a two year absence we met up again with William Wisting in this Norwegian crime thriller. Wisting, a widower, is a detective investigating the escape of a serial killer who was being escorted to the scene of his crimes but somehow gets away. Wisting and his colleagues have to race against time to catch him and prevent panic. 

Wisting comes across as a likeable, empathetic man, and for once he's not a show boating detective, always solving the crimes. It's a team effort.  Wisting's daughter Line is involved because she was filming the killer in her job as a podcaster and journalist.

10. Marriage  (BBC iPlayer, Pure VPN)

Nicola Walker and Sean Bean are a married couple in a long term domestic relationship. Notably, it's like real-life, so the conversation is often around everyday topics like forgetfulness (his) and buying a new shower gel. But there's more to it than that, as Bean's character, made redundant, gets jealous and suspicious of his wife's success at work. Outstanding acting.

11. State of Happiness (Lykkeland), BBC iPlayer, Amazon 

In the first series, a couple of years ago, we got to know the characters. American oilmen in the early 70s descended on the sleepy Norwegian town of Stavanger to drill for oil. Series two covers the period 1977 to 1980 and the real-life Alexander Kielland Platform disaster. 

FAVOURITE PODCASTS

1. The Witch Farm (BBC Sounds)

A new paranormal cold case from the team that brought us The Battersea Poltergeist.  Danny Robins investigates the terrifying case of a remote farmhouse in the Brecon Beacons, Wales, where a young family encountered weird happenings. If, like me, you prefer to align with science in such cases, it becomes quite difficult to assign a scientific explanation to some of the very strange goings-on.

2. Con Juan (Apple Podcasts)

The world's most prolific and successful criminal is profiled, and we actually get to hear him talking about his career  (and he's a bit of a charmer).  Con Juan, better known as Juan Carlos Guzman-Betancourt, although he has dozens of international aliases, has perpetrated some jaw dropping scams since he arrived in America as a child stowaway in the landing gear of an airliner. 

3. How to be 60

UK broadcaster Kaye Adams was not looking forward to her 60th birthday in December and has been in denial about her age. In this podcast she interviews inspiring people over the age of 60 to find that it isn't really that bad. 

4. Smoking Gun (4 seasons)

A true crime podcast with a slightly different angle. In every murder investigation, there's one key item that could bring a killer to justice. But finding it, and knowing what evidence it contains, is the challenge. Romola Girai narrates this podcast and the tales of various smoking guns including a house brick, a bouquet of flowers, a mosquito. 

5. Impact Winter (Audible)

A drama, or, in podcast terminology, "fiction."  It's the future, and small clusters of survivors try to outwit the vampires who now roam the land. These are not your average Dracula type vampires. The story is centred on two sisters, one who is fearless and a ruthless slayer of vampires, the other feels she lives in her shadow. An excellent drama. 

6. Wild Things (Apple TV / At Will Media)

A podcast that tries to find out what went wrong for illusionists Siegfried and Roy. In 2003, on his 59th birthday, Roy Horn was attacked by one of the act's signature white tigers. He was dragged backstage and mauled. Horn survived but had permanent impairment to his motor and verbal abilities. He also had a stroke either before or after the tiger dragged him offstage. Both he and Siegfried have since died. 

7. British Scandal: The Coughing Major (Wondery)

This was such a fascinating story anyway:  how a participant in a TV quiz show managed to dupe the producers and presenter and won one of UK TV's biggest prizes, but was then exposed as a cheat. 

8. Last Known Position (QCode)

A team of experts is sent to recover a plane that suddenly vanished over the Pacific Ocean. On the flight was the wife and daughter of the airline's owner, the billionaire William Cavanaugh (James Purefoy).  He has spent a fortune on designing a super yacht and submersible to comb the ocean for wreckage, even though nothing was found in the international search operation.  The truth is unravelled and has biblical origins. Loved it. 

If you're looking for my favourite books of 2022, check out this post

WHAT'S IN STORE IN 2023?

Any resolutions?

I'm not very keen on making resolutions in January.  As I've said before, it's one of the hardest months to get through. Why make it even tougher by vowing to give everything up?

Having said that, I have one aim for January: not to buy any clothes.  I was looking at my wardrobe and, even though I sold and gave away a lot in 2022, there's still too much, and I don't wear some items at all. I'm determined to "shop my wardrobe" more often.  And to wear real outfits during the day, rather than stay in athleisure after doing a walk or exercise class. 

HEALTH AND FITNESS PLANS

I do have some ambitions around up leveling my fitness.  OK, I have maintained my weight, but sadly gained a couple of cms on each thigh and around the waist (not enough "earning my carbs!). I made my walks more strenuous, plus developed a Pilates habit. But I feel there's potential for more.

I saw a woman on IG and my mouth fell open. @Dolphinine, Julia Linn, shows swimsuit pics of herself at 62 and now, at 65.  In three years she transformed her body through nutrition and weight lifting. She looks amazing.  Now, as a member of a gym, I could do more with weights. So I'm going to book a personal training session to learn how to use the weights room properly. I have six months between now and Skiathos to hone my body. 

I'm also going to do some work on my diet because I fear the low carb nature of it is now starting to cause me problems, namely iron deficiency.  I've started taking Spatone and will do some private blood tests, as I did in 2021, to see where I have problems.

WILD SWIMMING

A daft name for swimming in the sea or in rivers, as most of us did as kids. I had a float for Christmas and would love to add a few "wild swims" to our Lake District holidays. I saw two women, with floats, swimming across the tarn beneath Blencathra.

RELAX!

I've never been one for mindfulness or relaxation. When I worked, I never wanted to slow down, and any yoga class had to be fast and strenuous or I thought I was wasting my time. But now my priorities have changed and I'm going to put some serious effort behind relaxing and "just being" in 2023:

  • Attending a weekly restorative yoga class , followed by a meditation class;
  • Going to occasional gong baths; 
  • Adding a few massages and facials to my life 

GENERAL PLANS FOR THE YEAR

I'll be continuing to go on MeetUps and hope to try a walk with the Ramblers Association. I've got a couple of holidays booked. I'd like to do something cultural at least once a month, an art gallery or museum visit. 

I'd also like to visit Dungeness for a short break, go to the Gainsborough Museum in Suffolk, visit  Hever Castle and Wisley, and visit some places I've never been to, Rye, Norwich, Southwold. 

Also on my list:  Abba Voyage, Chelsea Flower Show (booked). 

Bit of a long post today! Hope you made it to the end.  Do let us know in the comments what plans you have for 2023.

I'm back on Wednesday with #WowOnWednesday. See you then! 

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