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Friday 24 February 2023

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


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!

Cezanne at Tate Modern

One of my goals for 2023 is to visit at least one art exhibition a month. I went to the Cezanne Exhibition which ends on 12 March. My perception before the event was that he painted mostly still lifes of fruit. They were a small part of his output, though it was fascinating to see how he perfected them over the years.

My favourite was the Man in a Blue Smock, 1896-7. You can see soul and character in really good portraits. This gentleman was a farm worker known as Pere Alexandre. The background is, unusually for Cezanne, blues and ochres. Most of his works from the late 1890s contained a rich variety of pigments such as emerald green and brilliant and opaque red vermilion. 

Man in a Blue Smock by Paul Cezanne from the exhibition at Tate Modern, covered by Is This Mutton in the February review.

I also wandered around an exhibition called A Year in Art: Australia 1992, which  addresses Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land rights in Australia. These photographs by Yhonnie Scarce caught my eye. This is his great-great-grandfather "Pappa Willy." He is shown around 1920. The case in front contains hand-blown glass bush yams and gloves.

It was a blue sky day and London looked fantastic. 

Next month's post will feature two immersive art experiences - Van Gogh and David Hockney.

We saw Abba in Concert!

My friend since the 70s, Margery and I went to east London to see the amazing Abba Voyage show at their purpose built eco arena. It was a Monday night but the huge arena was full.  There was a delightful party atmosphere at Stratford station as the excited guests, many in sequins, boarded the Docklands Light Railway train.  The arena is the first thing you see as you alight at Pudding Basin Lane.

Below: the arena starts to fill up. We were seated but there's a large standing section where people can dance.

So what was it like? As you probably know, the concert features "Abba-tars," real-life avatars of the band in their prime. The technology has come on a long way since the ghostly holograms of Whitney Houston and Roy Orbison. There were times during the performance that we almost felt they were with us on stage.  

The two girls look unnaturally perfect, although Benny and Bjorn look as I remember them.  The performance features a live band, who also performed a number on their own, plus a couple of animations. But mostly it is the Abba greats. Each member of Abba speaks to the audience.  It was quite moving, I must say;  I shed a tear near the end, mainly because seeing the group in their 20s, and the audience, mostly peers in their 50s and 60s, reminds you of our mortality.

But it's a fantastic way to enjoy the music we loved.  Having said that, neither Margery nor I was a big fan of Abba back in the day, but nostalgia does funny things to the memory.

Health and Fitness

Sign up to make a difference

I signed up for a huge NHS health project called Our Future Health. The goal is to enrol 5 million people over the age of 18 and many more are needed. Find out more here

Those taking part will provide data to make discoveries that will help people live healthier lives for longer. We'll also have the chance to find out more about our own health and future risk of disease.

To enrol I completed a very detailed questionnaire . There was emphasis on the presence of gas central heating and gas hobs in our lives (!) plus sun protection, as well as the usual fitness, diet and family health questions. I had blood taken and my stats were captured (waist circumference, weight, height etc). DNA will be taken at a future date.  I will be tracked until I die. 


In the period 27 Jan to 23 Feb, I walked 100.79 miles, which was more than I expected. I went out once with the lovely Meetup group. It was around 7 miles from Lavender Hill to Vauxhall, which included Battersea Power Station and ended with a pub lunch. 

There were lots of Epping Forest walks and I occasionally saw the longhorn ladies. 

I also did a couple of weekly Pilates classes and a monthly gong bath.

I was so taken with the ceremonial cacao that we enjoyed at the gong bath I decided to buy my own. I bought a taster pack from Ritual Cacao. You can can drink it every day for health benefits, or have a bigger "ceremonial" dose once a week.

Scientific research points to cacao helping stress levels and improving mood. A weekly ceremonial dose, which is what I did on Sunday, involves adding 42g of cacao to the milk of your choice and a sweetener if you want it. I used oat milk and added some maca powder and a little brown sugar.

The resulting drink was very thick and delicious.  It gave me a huge surge of energy - probably why it's not recommended near bedtime.  

Family Time

Occasionally there's a get together with John's brother and two sisters, plus spouses. We went to a pub in Epping Forest for our lunch. A walk was naturally involved.

We tried a new local bistro on Rachel's birthday. Very good menu, lots of delicious and nutritious things.  Below: my "Chingford Garden" which included avocado, feta, asparagus, fruit, scrambled egg, sourdough.

Baby Olive approved too. 

Fashion and Beauty

I didn't buy any clothes in January (except for sports bras) but I had a bit of a splurge in February. Before a new season I have a clear out and identify the gaps in my wardrob. For me, there are quite a few gaps because when I was re-rated as a spring it was June last year and a lot of the spring colours had sold out at most places.

I balanced my splurge with quite a few sales. What I sold on Ebay and FB more than covered what I bought, result! 

My buys have included a pair of white chinos, a lime green jumper, a gorgeous coral bag which came from Ukraine, and some new tops in colours I didn't have.  In the pic at the top I'm wearing some of them.  I also bought a pair of Sol Sano boots in an unusual ginger colour, reduced from £221 to £66. 

Profiled by Differently

I was thrilled to be featured on a new website,  Do More.Differently.com.  I was Interviewed by Nick Brookes and we covered topics including ageism, losing fashion direction over 50, and the 10th anniversary this year of Is This Mutton.  

You do have to create a log-in to view the post, but the site is very interesting. It offers experiences to buy, including a rare opportunity to see author Margaret Atwoood in London, a charity sky dive, theatre visits and beauty treatments. Differently is a social enterprise owned by the charity Independent Age. 100% of profits go towards supporting vulnerable older people living in poverty and struggling with maintaining their quality of life.

TV: What We Loved

We've been enjoying The Gold (BBC), based on the £26 million Brinks Mat gold bullion heist, which was the biggest of its kind at the time.  Better (BBC) promised more than it delivered. It's about a female detective who's been in a mutually beneficial with a drugs dealer and friend, but decides it has to come to an end.  It's not always entirely believable - for example the scene when a young woman PC went off on her own to apprehend the criminal. 

I adore Clarkson's Farm, now in series 2 (Prime) and recommend it even if you don't like Jeremy Clarkson.  Some of it is hilarious, but it is also the most serious representation on TV of the problems facing farmers. How idiotic is the district council that keeps censoring and restricting plans for Diddly Squat Farm, some of which involved creating a co-operative for local farmers. Farmers are facing real hardship: they can't get their pigs slaughtered or face ruin thanks to Asian bird flu. 

We're liking The Law According to Lidia Poët (Netflix). Forbidden from practicing law, a woman prepares an appeal to overturn the court's decision in this true story of Lidia Poët, Italy's first female lawyer.  It sounds a bit dry but it's a lot of fun with modern music. Lidia has a nice line in neat little hats.

The film True Spirit (Netflix) is about real-life story of Australian Jessica Watson, who, at 16, famously set out to become the youngest person to sail solo, nonstop and unassisted, around the world.  It's a bit cheesy but kept us gripped and delivered a tearful ending.

Podcast Recommendations 

Love, Janessa (BBC, CNBC) is about how the stolen images of an adult entertainment star, Janessa Brazil, are being used in thousands of worldwide scams daily.  Journalist Hannah Ajala sets out to find the real Janessa in this 7 part true crime series. Quite jaw dropping.  "Romance scams" are often organized crimes across several continents, and there is very little success in catching the perpetrators. In Ghana the "Sakawa Boys" spend months and years building trust and connections with their victims, before conning them out of vast sums of money. 

Stolen Hearts (Wondery) is about a true life love story like no other.  Sergeant Jill Evans in Wales gets involved in a long distance romance with a charming beauty entrepreneur. They plan to marry, and Jill gets pregnant. Then it all goes "Pete Tong."

Visit our latest February book reviews.

Sharing this post with #FridayCoffeeShare at Natalie the Explorer,  #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Rena at Fine WhateverTalent Sharing Tuesdays at Scribbling Boomer#SpreadTheKindness at Shelbee on the Edge,  #Neverendingstyle at The Grey Brunette, Final Friday at Marsha in the Middle


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