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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! 

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 

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