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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.

Let's start with an activity that happened at the end of April but didn't make it into last month's highlights because the post came out before it happened.  Our granddaughter Olive's first birthday.  Here's the birthday girl at her party.

Four nights in the Lake District

We had our usual spring break, a bit shorter than normal, but blessed with weather that wasn't wet. Here's the Derwentwater launch calling at the jetty closest to our hotel. More about the mini break

The Coronation

The extra bank holidays didn't mean much to us because being retired, we're always on holiday (!). I enjoyed watching the Coronation on TV.  It's been described as The King's marriage to the nation. It was a deeply religious ceremony, which I found gratifying because being a Christian in the UK is looked down upon, and the faith doesn't get much coverage. 

The two miniature sheep who live in  a nearby garden were also primed for the occasion.


After the Coronation I set off for a brisk walk after having been sat down for several hours. I've done over 100 miles this month. The walks were either in Epping forest or the Lake District. I didn't do any walks with Meet Up. 

Garden ready to bloom

We bought some new garden furniture, not before time, and had to give it a coat  or two of teak oil as I'd like it to stay this colour if possible. There's also a steamer chair for J to use during the summer, when he sits outside reading or watching cycling on his tablet. 

I had more space to fill in the garden thanks to winter killing off a couple of big shrubs, and made 2 visits to the garden centre. 

Last year I bought my first auriculas for my plant theatre.  They're said to be quite tricky to grow as they like particular conditions.  I was thrilled when 3 of them flowered. This was the best one. 

The garden is now ready for summer. I just need everything to grow and bush out!

This is one of two roses in the back garden. I've allowed this one to get very big. It's Olivia Rose Austin. Very disease resistant. 

On the subject of gardens, I went to the Chelsea Flower Show in London with Lynn this week.  It was my fourth time - I first went in around 1998 with my mum.  It's changed over the years. We used to queue to get into gardens, or climb walkways that allowed us to look down at them.  This year, only one garden allowed you to walk through. It was lovely to meander along and take pictures.  Here we are in this particular garden.

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton with Lynn Hanlon - left- at the Chelsea Flower Show 2023

It was difficult to take good pictures of the other show gardens because they were constantly surrounded by people. We caught a glimpse of Monty Don filming.  

I don't usually go for irises but I loved the garden featured on TV that had irises in these soft shades. This pic from the pavilion.

I took a few pics of ladies whose outfits caught my attention.  

We had a really good day, saw pretty much everything, and rounded it off with a couple of cocktails at Battersea Power Station! 

BBC Radio Devon Reunion

Back in 1983, the BBC launched its latest local radio station, BBC Radio Devon. I was the Plymouth based reporter.  The main studio was still being built in Exeter, and the first broadcast came from portakabins.  Sadly the studio complex has been knocked down (criminal!) and replaced by student accommodation. 

40 years on, we had a reunion in Exeter. I went down by train for the day. The weather was beautiful and I enjoyed the first train ride with the train stopping at many small stations, amidst rolling fields and countryside with cows and sheep grazing, and picture box villages and stations. 

We met at a scenic pub on the canal. There were several people who were there on day 1 and it was great to see everyone. 

Here's the group photo, taken by Graham Brodie. You should be able to spot me: 

BBC Radio Devon reunion May 2023 on the 40th anniversary of its launch

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton with ex colleagues who were at the launch of BBC Radio Devon 40 years ago

Here I am with two other members of the original team, Sally Twiss and Chris Loughlin. 

A new acquisition!

Canyon ebike

Let me introduce you to to my new acquisition which came over from Germany:  an e-bike! I was inspired by Deb from Deb's World whose e-bike Essie has covered thousands of miles. As you know, J is a very keen cyclist. He's currently on a very strenuous cycling holiday in Portugal. I figured that while I could never keep up with him on a normal bike, I might have more chance with an ebike, and we could perhaps chance a cycling holiday together! 

Ebikes haven't really taken off in the UK yet, compared with Germany and France. But holiday firms who run cycling tours are now saying they're getting growing demand and will start to cater for ebikes.  We are hoping to do Land's End to John O'Groats (LEJOG) next year.  It'll be J's third time, he loves it.  This is quite a challenge at 1189 miles (1913km). 

We may also do the Coast to Coast, which is quite a short one in comparison, and we plan to take the bikes to the Lake District (J will take one of his normal bikes). 

One inaccurate perception of e-bikes is that they do all the work. I found when I was doing test rides that you need to get a certain cadence and speed going, and given the weight of an e-bike, it was quite a good workout. I was powering up hills in turbo mode, but on a very long and hilly ride like LEJOG I would soon exhaust the battery if I did that all the time.

J chose a new model for me which has a long range of around 70 miles. On some days of LEJOG I might need to charge it during the lunch break.

Now I need some cycling tops and jackets! Not to mention padded shorts.

TV This Month

I'd describe May as lean pickings.  Sometimes it's hard to find something decent, even with all the channels we have.  It was a lot easier back in the 70s when we only had 3 channels. 

We enjoyed Malpractice (ITV, ITVX), a thriller about an A&E registrar who finds her actions at the centre of a medical investigation. There was a pleasing twist at the end. Silo (Apple TV) is potentially interesting with its dystopian plot, but interest is starting to falter unfortunately. It's quite slow. I'm "kind of" enjoying Maryland (ITV, ITVX). It's good to have a plot which doesn't involve a murder but instead a mystery around Mary, found dead on a beach on the Isle of Man. Mary has been leading a double life, with her daughters unaware she had a house, friends and a lover on the island.  I have to say that the constant flouncing out of rooms by the two grownup daughters (Suranne Jones, Eve Best) who don't get on very well, is annoying. 

Tried, or didn't like:  

In J's absence I watched the film Tár, about a celebrated female conductor (Cate Blanchett) who is accused of sexual misconduct.  Her performance was breathtaking, but I found the film itself a bit unsatisfying.  It was entirely possible to miss critical nuances in the plot which flashed by in a second.  I also watched the film Where the Crawdads Sing, having rejected the book.  The film didn't do much better. It was very tepid and I found the whole plot  unbelievable. Why had a whole town taken against a white, docile, polite woman like Kyra (Daisy Edgar Jones) who had had the misfortune of being abandoned by her parents and forced to live as a "swamp girl" on her own?! 

Podcast Recommendations 

British Scandal (Wondery) is always a hoot, I just love the humorous asides, but the short series about the tragic downfall of  Paul Gascoigne - Gazza - was superb, not least because of Matt Ford's excellent Gazza accent. 

I'm also enjoying Flipping the Bird, the fairly jaw dropping account of Elon Musk's takeover at Twitter (Wondery). 

Uncanny (BBC Radio 4) with Danny Robins is back, confounding us with ghostly phantoms and UFOs. 

That's it for this month. How was May for you? Do tell in the comments. Any TV progs to recommend? 

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

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 Explorer, Senior Salon Pitstop at Esme Salon 



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1 comment

  1. CFS looked amazing. I hope one day to go there. Love that you got the piccys of other ladies. I too watched Maryland and thought it was fab. Have you watched Ten Pound Poms? I loved that too, made all the more interesting because my mum did that, however she stayed with friends and planned to live there, she met my dad on the boat though ( he was a merchant seaman) and the rest is history. They divorced just after I was born and he eventually emigrated there with his 2nd Australian wife. Xx chat again soon x


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