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Friday 26 January 2024

Fun in January? Yes it's Possible


English National Ballet take their encore for Giselle at the London Coliseum, part of Is This Mutton's month of fun in January 2024

Dear friends.  January is relentless! Five Mondays this year, no less. The weather is bleak, we're often doing one of those ghastly challenges like not buying anything, and viruses are flying around.

I resolved however that January would not be a washout. I booked a few activities in advance. And we were lucky to have quite a few blue sky days, which are stunning in winter. 

What's coming up? Two art exhibitions, two ballets, David Bowie's old haunts, a meet-up of colourful ladies and a moon walking experience.

I'm starting with the end of December because last year's post was published before the end of the month.

Fri Dec 29

Out early in the forest. 5 miles. Went to Connaught Water. Flowers on one of the memorial benches. Saw 5 cygnets (originally 7) with their parents. Surprised they're still together. Bumped into John, who's getting back into a running schedule. 

Got rid of the chocolates and cheese.  (The bin, not my tummy....). 

Sat Dec 30

Raining. Went to see English National Ballet in The Nutcracker at the Coliseum  with Oxana. We had a nice dinner in Cote first. A very pretty ballet. Unfortunately we were in the third tier upstairs so the dancers were tiny. Memo to self: buy tickets in the stalls next time  (which means grabbing them when they first go on sale). 

Sun Dec 31

Did forest walk, nice sunny start. Had slow cooked lamb. Watched Lessons in Chemistry, For all Mankind and Fisk.  I like Fisk the best, the other two are take it or leave it for me.  The space programme is a bit too PC, having reinvented history to have women walking on the moon in the early 70s. 

We don't particularly celebrate New Year's Eve and were in bed before midnight. I heard a lot of fireworks.  

Mon Jan 1 

Dry start. Busy day.  Did a forest walk and saw the long horns. Took down Christmas tree and hoovered.  Wrote blog post for tomorrow. 

A chat with one of the long horn cows 

Tues Jan 2

Mild. Early start, 4.40am. Washed hair. Just a sip of water. Am going into hospital for a routine procedure and 1 night stay. Got to London Clinic  (yes, the one used by the King and Duchess of Cambridge!) before 7am and was in operating theatre by 8.15. 

All went well. Anesthetist and consultant came to see me before they left. Had falafel burger and sweet potato fries and chocolate mousse for dinner and watched a film, Leave the World Behind, (Netflix) which was long and hard going.

Weds Jan 3

Feeling fine, had Bircher museli for breakfast. Anaethetist and consultant came to see me, then John arrived and was able to go home.   

Thurs Jan 4

Slept really well.  Did a short but hilly walk. Had a blow dry, although I felt OK to wash hair myself.  Sorted out warranty claim for toothbrush.  John has already done it for his. V heavy rain. 

Had M&S beef bourgignon and mash. Gave up Prime membership,  which renewed today. John has it, so no need for me to have it too. 

Fri Jan 5

Have won again on the Premium bonds.  Stopped raining but colder. Did a walk with J, prob overdid it as felt tired on last mile. Rachel and Olive came round. Curry. Answered questions for article in Platinum magazine - how exciting!

Sat Jan 6

Didn't exercise as overdid it yesterday.  Tidied medicines cupboard and changed a bed. Wrote 1st Sunday books post. Watched Carry on Camping.Watched film Freelance, Prime, 4 out of 10

Sun Jan 7

Blue sky morning.  Did walk on own. Roast chicken.  Started book My Sister's Baby. Couldn't stop reading. Look out for my book spotlight on 5 February. 

Tube strike tomorrow. Researched a route that will take me to a check-up hospital appointment using overground, Elizabeth Line and a walk.

Mon Jan 8

Good news, tube strike is off. Went into London to see consultant & nurse. Had look round the Wallace Collection for the first time. Beautiful building with an interesting collection:  lots of armour, china and fine furniture, with paintings including artists such as Rembrandt and Van Dyck.  I loved the French chairs.  The chairs have signs on them saying don't sit on them - they're art works.

There was a room featuring one of my favourites, English artist Thomas Gainsborough.

A Rembrandt self portrait, below, which is controversial because the signature is not his. It's believed to be genuine and signed by his studio.

Very cold, slight snow flurries.

Started comedy Loudermilk (Netflix) and Dutch series Ferry The Series (Netflix).  Not sure we will continue with the latter.

Tues Jan 9

Very cold with blue sky. Intended to walk but tired so went to Tesco on the bus. Ate a new Old Jamaica bar, now called Old Gold. It's from Australia via Amazon, and tastes the same as the original. Read one of John's books The Magpies and started 2nd one. Started 1st audio book for years but 19 hours!! I read much faster. 

Started the French drama Notre Dame (Netflix). One of the stars is Caroline Proust, who was in Spiral.  Decided not to continue with Ferry The Series. 

Weds Jan 10

Set alarm to secure Pilates booking for next Thurs. It's dog eat dog now now with all the new members.  Sunny and cold. Did walk in forest. Booked haircut, J says I'm looking like Wurzel Gummidge. Mum flooded her bathroom and stressed.

Thurs Jan 11

Very cold. 4 degrees but feels like minus 2 apparently.  Searched for my P45 from my last employer to do my tax return but can't find it. Aaargh. Got in touch with them. It's unlike me to lose something important like this, but very like me to procrastinate on doing something I hate like creating a tax return.  Did Pilates, quite soon after op but was OK  and enjoyed it.

Fri Jan 12

Did walk, J was trail laying. V cold but dressed warmly and felt quite toasty. Finished Notre Dame (Neflix) - very good! 

Sat Jan 13

1 degree. Brr.   Had lovely day in London. Went to see Impressionists' Drawings at the Royal Academy. Very good with pictures from Renoir, Manet, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec.

I also went to Fortnum & Mason, where I bought chutney and a lipstick (!),  and then Heddon St where David Bowie was photographed for the cover of Ziggy Stardust. There's also a blue plaque.

Had lunch in Pret, then went to the London Coliseum to see English National Ballet in Giselle. Had a brilliant seat in fourth row from stage. Have resolved to see more ballets. Find them so uplifting and beautiful.  

One of my favourites at the Impressionists' Drawings, by Van Gogh.

Heddon Street in London, where the cover of Ziggy Stardust was photographed with David Bowie

Sun Jan 14

6 degrees, less cold. Booked for Manon and Swan Lake. We went to Rachel's and then Christopher's. Had chicken .Long chat Mum. 

Mon Jan 15

Blue sky but cold. Went to Jodie's for haircut. Did walk in afternoon to take advantage of the sun and blue sky. 

Tues Jan 16

Same weather as yesterday.  Did blog shoot in morning,  then wrote post. Did walk after lunch. Different light in forest than in the morning.

Had salmon fillet.  Started watching True Detective with Jodie Foster (Now TV). It's refreshing to see an older woman on TV who looks natural with no Botox or fillers.

Weds Jan 17

Did walk, shortish as it's cloudy today. Received p45 and did tax return. Wrote Tell Us About for tomorrow. Started watching Inspector Forst (Netflix), a Polish drama. We weren't blown away but will give it another try. 

Thurs Jan 18

Blue sky again. Had special offers from Samsung for the launch of the new S24, including a free Galaxy watch 6, so ordered one. We watched episode 2 of Inspector Forst but decided it's not for us. 

Friday Jan 19

Blue sky. Cold. Went to post office. Walked to Pilates. Usual instructor wasn't there, but the replacement was OK.  Did ironing.  Rachel and Olive came round. Had butter chicken with cauliflower rice. 

Sat Jan 20

Cloudy, cold but at least dry so able to wear purple coat to Essex meetup in Chelmsford.  Went on train. 12 ladies and those analysed Spring was the biggest group (below, I'm on the left). Outfit was a big hit, green and purple. 

Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon with fellow Springs in Chelmsford

Sun Jan 21

Cloudy but much warmer (12). Did Yates Meadow for 1st time this year. Very muddy. Roast chicken.  Storm Isha. Amber warnings for high winds. 

Mon Jan 22

Wind died down overnight, no damage, although it was bad in the north and Scotland. Did forest walk, no trees down. Got some greetings cards in Clinton's. Steak for dinner. J feeling under the weather.

Booked to go to the  Kettlewell Colour Studio in Somerset in June.  Margery lives nearby so she's also booked.  Will be fun. Started watching Boy Swallows Universe (Netflix).

Tues Jan 23

Raining.  Did a Nuffield online Pilates class. Finished the blog post for tomorrow.  Did some cleaning. Ordered Michelin starred restaurant L'enclume's Valentine dinner kit which will come on Feb 15. Hope it isn't too complicated to assemble. I resolved to have more "date nights" with J at home. Renewed over 60 rail card. Watched film The Favourite. 9 out of 10! 

Weds Jan 24

Mild, sun came out eventually,  did early walk in forest. Listening to an excellent podcast The Silent Twins  (BBC Sounds). Twins June and Jennifer spoke only to each other. They wrote books, wanting to be writers. After getting in with some boys who treated them badly they went on a minor crime spree, stealing items like Plasticine and setting fire to 2 empty buildings.  They were sent, aged 19, to Broadmoor for 11 years, with the likes of Jimmy Savile, Ronnie Kray and the Yorkshire Ripper. Unbelievable. 

We went into London to see The Moon Walkers, a new immersive experience at Lightroom.  Narrated by Tom Hanks, it covers the Apollo and forthcoming Artemis missions to the moon. Highly recommended.  When the Apollo 11 takes off, the sound and vibration of the rocket is amazing, as if you're there.

We had lunch in Granary Square brasserie which was packed and buzzing. Had scallops and lobster linguini. Delicious.  

Watched film, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a comedy set in Afghanistan. Seen it before,  not bad. 7 out of 10. 

Arriving at Lightroom, in the revitalised King's Cross area of London

The first foot print on the moon 

Thursday Jan 25

Cloudy but mild at 12 degrees. Did cleaning and worked on the PC, then walked to gym for Pilates.  Our new phones arrived. I haven't had time to delete as much as I like to from the old one, so I didn't set it up right away.  Had quiche and salad for dinner. Made another attempt with Fool Me Once (Netflix) but it's very poor and was abandoned. 

Hope you had a good January. Did you succumb to any of the viruses?  Was the weather bad in your area?  Do let us know in the comments.

Joining the lovely ladies of the southern hemisphere for the What's Been on Your Calendar link-up. Join it via Sue at Women Living Well Over 50. See where else I link up

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  1. Laura Stylebuzz UK26 January 2024 at 08:31

    Love this, I’m definitely going to plan more thing for Jan 2025 to make it go quicker. I also went to see the Nutcracker just before Christmas.. it’s stunning isn’t it.

    1. It was! Last year we saw a different version at the Royal Albert Hall

  2. That was a super month Gail, loved seeing the long horns, were you scared? Jacqui xx

    1. They're very gentle so I'm not scared of them. I wouldn't pat one of them though xx

  3. It's great to have a glimpse of your life Gail. I feel I have spent most of January with the 'lurgy'... which has evolved from a chest infection which needed antibiotics to a horrible cough and headaches. Finally somewhat better, but not 100% yet. It's absolutely not like me to be laid low for so long. Sending best wishes for a better February all round 😜

  4. You’ve had a busy January Gail. My January highlight has been a new knee which is fairly high maintenance right now. Great to see you’re enjoying our Aussie exports Fisk and Old Gold


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