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Friday 28 April 2023

What's Been on My {April} Calendar?


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! 

I had two walks with MeetUp, two theatre trips and an art exhibition. I also snapped the Colour Walk in Spitalfields. Unfortunately I couldn't make a Kettlewell colour club outing because I was unwell. I also had two root canal appointments in April which was not fun! And I have been struggling to get used to life without my darling cat Molly, who died five weeks ago. 


So here's the sun on that momentous day in early April! This is at the start of my usual walks in Epping Forest. There's a lot of water and mud around. 

I caught up with the six longhorns quite often, and discovered that a couple of them have name tags! Below is Spruce. I think Spruce is actually a steer. He's very gentle as you can see. 

To add some variety to my walks I occasionally go out with a MeetUp group.  In April I did two enjoyable walks with them. The first involved an Uber boat from Embankment to Greenwich. London is simply stunning from the river as you pass all the amazing landmarks: the London Eye (top of post), Houses of Parliament, Tower of London, Canary Wharf and so on.  

I was intrigued to see the Thames Barrier as it figures in an international espionage thriller on Sky which we enjoyed, Liaison. We had our lunch stop here. 

Historical Churches of London 

I also did a walk that took in seven of London's historical churches in the St Pauls / Tower Hill and Aldgate areas. Here are two of my favourites. 

St Botolph without Aldgate, above. There has been a church on this site since Saxon times, but this iteration is a Georgian church on 11th-century foundations, blessed with excellent stained-glass.

Below:  St Mary Le Bow, Cheapside. This is the church famous for signifying that a true Cockney must be born within the sound of its bells. The Norman crypt is the oldest parochial building in London still in use, but the rest of the church was built by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire.

Witness for the Prosecution

It was great to catch up with Anna who has a hugely popular YouTube site, My Over 50s Fashion Life. We haven't seen each other since early 2019. We went to see a drama, Witness for the Prosecution, which is staged at County Hall in the former assembly chamber of the Greater London Council.

It's like being in a real court. Members of the audience are sworn in as jurors, and the cast enters the court room from all directions. You can hear footsteps echoing outside.  I really enjoyed the play, it's an Agatha Christie story and full of intrigue and twists. 

Is This Mutton's Gail Hanlon with YouTuber My Over 50s Fashion on a trip to the theatre

Aladdin Sane 50th Anniversary

It's hard to believe but David Bowie's album Aladdin Sane is 50 years old.  There are quite a few activities going on in London.  I remember buying the album aged 12 for £2.10 from my mum's Freemans catalogue. I was paying her 10 pence a week. 

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton at the Royal Festival Hall for a concert marking 50 years of the album Aladdin Sane

J and I went to the Southbank Centre to see a one-off concert re-imagining the album. It was fronted by the Nu Civilisation Orchestra and several different singers  (none of whom we had heard of, except for Jake Shears from Scissor Sisters). 

I thought the venue was stunning: the Royal Festival Hall was built in 1951 and has lots of art deco touches including a listed carpet (!). Unfortunately it's always been dogged with bad acoustics, even after a multi-million pound exercise in the early 2000s to remedy it.

We found the sound quality was appalling.  The concert itself was a disappointment, it never really got going, even though the audience was keen to sing and dance. Critics agreed with us. The Times gave it 2 out of 5 stars.

Next month I'm going back to the Southbank Centre to see their Aladdin Sane exhibition, which focuses on the iconic album cover photo.

Berthe Morisot Exhibition, Dulwich Picture Gallery

One of my goals for 2023 was to visit at least one art exhibition a month.  April was challenging, I was booked to attend one at the National Gallery but was unwell so couldn't go, and then I had to cancel a booking of the Berthe Morisot for various reasons.  I re-booked it and I'm so glad I did. Some of the art exhibitions I've seen in London lately have been a bit meh! but I loved this one. 

Berthe Morisot was the leading female painter in the Impressionists genre. She married Eugene, brother of Edouard Manet, and they had one daughter, Julie.  As she came from a wealthy family, Berthe was unusual in being able to combine a career with family life. Her sister trained with her but gave up painting when she married. There's a lovely painting by Berthe of her niece, aged 20, who was deep in concentration as she painted. 

I loved the delicate femininity of her work, both the subjects and the colours. Berthe tragically died of pnuemonia at 54, leaving Julie an orphan at 18 as her father died the year before.

Below: Summer's Day 1879

Colour Walk in Old Spitalfields

Every month there's a "colour walk" in Spitalfields Market where people in very bright colours parade like exotic birds.  It was started by Sue Kreitzman, now in her 80s, who you can see third from the left. 

Ladies doing the Spitalfields Colour Walk in April 2023

I was nowhere nearly colourful enough for this company, even though I wore yellow and orange! I needed a colourful wig and maybe a rubber duck to finish off my outfit. 

TV and Podcast Recommendations 

The Diplomat (Netflix) - for the first 2 episodes I thought this was a serious spy thriller, but after episode 3 and a hilarious fight between the Ambassador and her husband (Rufus Sewell), I now realise it's more of a black comedy and spoof.  Very telling how the US President (old) and the UK Prime Minister (idiotic) are both portrayed as "yes men" who don't make the important decisions. I'm sure Rufus has had a lot of plastic surgery. What do you think?

The Playlist (Netflix) - the story of Spotify, and thoroughly enjoyable! Some of the episodes are told from the perspective of one of the main protagonists: the coder, the visionary, the entrepreneur, the lawyer.  Highly recommended. 

Blue Lights  (BBC iPlayer):  If you haven't seen this, it's a must. Set in Northern Ireland, it tells the story of three probationary police officers.  They get caught up in action with an organised crime group and a govt security department.  The last episode, after tragic events, is a masterclass in drama and the power of using silence. 

The Nurse (Netflix) - just started this Danish thriller. 

Colin from Accounts (BBC iPlayer) - it's so unusual to watch a comedy that is actually funny! This is Australian.  Fresh and fun. 

I didn't like (and stopped watching):  The Watcher (Netflix) - a strong start, but becomes unbelievable and daft;  Lost: Those Who Kill (BBC iPlayer) - we liked the first 2 series but this one is very hard going;  Rabbit Hole, Paramount: I've lost interest after a strong start because it's so similar to Kiefer Sutherland's other ventures;  The Last Thing He Told Me (Apple) - this drama with Jennifer Garner is horrendous. There's no character development.  She's a step mother who makes fruit bowls and is inevitably detested by her missing husband's teenage daughter. The Night Agent - first 2 episodes were OK, but I'm bored with the formula of these CIA/espionage thrillers. 

Podcast Recommendations

A Very British Cult (BBC) - the true story of a sinister life coaching company called Lighthouse that takes over your life. 

Wiser than Me (Lemonada) - I'll be charitable and give it a second try. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is on a mission to interview older women because we don't hear enough from them. In the first episode she interviewed Jane Fonda. It was quite saccharine with Jane getting praise for what she was wearing etc, and various statements not being followed up such as Fonda saying she regretted having plastic surgery but not why she did it, or why she regrets it. The questions got a little tougher towards the end so that we finally got some life learnings from Fonda.

That was my month of April. I captured one particular day, a Sunday, in minute detail and you can read about it here.

I'm joining bloggers from the southern hemisphere for the What's Been on Your Calendar link-up.

Sharing this post with #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#FridayCoffeeShare at Natalie the ExplorerSenior Salon Pitstop at Esme Salon 


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