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Saturday 27 April 2024

My April Calendar: Caravaggio, Bluebells and Bright Colours

A perfect rose for St George's Day: Gertrude Jekyll from the garden of Is This Mutton in London

Dear friends. We're still waiting for prolonged sunshine and warmer days here in the UK. April had lots of rain and it was mostly cold! Here's how my month played out. 

Sat March 30

At last more mild and sunny. Walk in forest followed by yoga. Spoke  for the first time to a cousin on my late dad's side in Southampton to talk about the family tree. He is going to send me some photos of our great grandparents. Watched film The Beautiful Game,  Netflix,  6 out of 10. Gentle film but a little disappointing. 

Sun Mar 31

Back to cloudy again. J has bad cold. Did roast lamb. Lazy day.

Mon April 1

Sunny and mild in the morning.  Did forest walk, saw the cows. Took presents to Rosie for her fifth birthday.  

Tues April 2

Did bike ride via Wanstead (saw J's brother-in-law Don) to Olympic park and Wetlands.  I was strong today and cycling with hardly any battery assist. The sun came out for a short time. Ordered some plants from Sarah Raven. Below: the tea stop at Wanstead 

Tea hut at Wanstead Park, Epping Forest

Weds April 3

Was hoping to go to the Yoko O exhibition but had to stay in for a delivery. Did a 4 outfit shoot and wrote 2 blog posts.

Thurs April 4

Showers, milder. Bike ride to Lee Valley.  Ark skincare got in touch to offer a new SPF30 sunscreen to try.

Fri April 5

Busy day. Did "Freshen up Fri" (cleaning), then some tree pruning in garden followed by a walk, Pilates, more tree pruning.  18,500 steps!

Sat April 6

Went to South Woodford to get bits from M&S. Saw English asparagus, which we love, for the first time this spring. We walked to yoga.  Watched Scoop,  Netflix, 7 out of 10. The film about the excoriating Prince Andrew TV interview. 

Sun April 7

Windy but fairly bright. Did 25 mile bike ride. Lee Valley.  Took jacket off. Tiring in wind. Did slow cooked gammon (ham).  Wrote 2 blog posts. J refurbished my manual bike which I'll be giving away. Haven't ridden it for years.

Mon April 8

Cloudy, fairly mild. Set about spring cleaning, bathroom, porch, weeding. Salmon for dinner. Watched ep 1 of a new series about rescues in the Lake District (More4).  

Tues April 9

Too windy and rainy for a bike ride. Did walk instead. Quite fast. Started re-reading Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, as I have finished her new book out in a few months' time and was craving more Olive. 

Weds April 10

Sun out briefly,  cold, but wind has dropped.  Did longer bike ride, eventually in scenic country lanes. Had to make an emergency loo stop at a pub (below).  By the time we got to the whitewater centre the sun had gone in and it was windy.  Quite a tough ride.  Started The Regime, Now TV. 

Thurs April 11

Sunny am, clouded over. Did Pilates. Tried the new Abraham Lincoln series Franklin with Michael Douglas (Apple TV),   It's a No. The lighting is terrible, so dark. 

Fri April 12

Sunny intervals,  a bit windy. Did 33 miles via Epping and Nazeing to the Whitewater Centre. Saw a pretty dinghy filled with tulips on the canal. Did some planting, dahlias and scabiosa, both from Sarah Raven. Tried Manhunt. It's a No.  

Sat April 13

Sunny! Wrote a garden post in a hurry. J ordered new scales. The old ones have given up the ghost but they were about 20 years old.  Did a walk and saw bluebells in a part of the forest where I've never seen them before. 

Sun April 14

Sunny but a bit breezy.  Did am early bike ride, short, to Lee Valley.  Had Finley's Welcome to the World party at a tennis club. We were able to mingle outdoors as it was just about warm enough. Below:  Olive (age 2) enjoyed the outdoor attractions. J is to her right. 

Had beef shin for dinner. Started Wisting  (BBC iPlayer). 

Mon April 15

Stormy. Managed to do raincoat shoot in between showers (look out for the post on Monday 29 April), but not the other outfits I wanted to do because some of the items are in the loft. 

The monsters are out in the garden:  my three clematis Montanas.  One of them smells divine, like marzipan, and they attract lots of buzzing insects all day.

Tues April 16

Sunny intervals, cold. Went to Jodie's for hair colour and cut. No new highlights for first time in ages. She tackled the regrowth and freshened up the existing highlights with a gloss. 

Nothing lined up for tomorrow's blog post but I had no inspiration/inclination. It's rare that I don't publish because I don't like to let the bloggers down who will be looking for the link-up. 

Weds April 17

Cold, sunny intervals. Met Penny from Frugal Fashion Shopper at the V&A. After coffee we looked at the jewellery section - very good - then lunch and more chat. We were so "in the moment" we took hardly any pics, but here's one of Penny.

Finished a new book by Alison Weir about the Tudor queen Mary 1.  There are often references to the "Te Deum" and found a beautiful version by Harpa Dei.

Thurs April 18

Bike ride 25 miles, through Abridge and Epping.  No coffee stop but sat on a bench in the countryside for a rest. Sunny spells  but cold. Wrote two books posts. Ordered some retro dresses as I've decided this will dig me out of my style rut. 

Fri April 19

Did a long walk before Pilates. Overcast, chilly.  Started Dear Reindeer (Netflix). 

Sat April 20

Cold, sunny intervals. Went to a  colourful Kettlewell Colour Club meet-up today which started at a house in Clapham for coffee, then moved to a Thai restaurant for lunch, and  ended up in the charity shops of Clapham, which are very good. Very enjoyable day. Click here to see the lovely ladies.  Here I am at the restaurant. 

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton with colourful friends at a Thai restaurant in Clapham

Watched a film, The Boys in a Boat, Prime, 6 out of 10.  Directed by George Clooney this is the story of how a US "B" team triumphed at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. It didn't have many memorable stories or characters.  

Sun April 21

J left at 7 to help staff an elite runners' drinks station at the London Marathon. Cold. I took a bus to M&S to get a few bits. 

Am stressed out by the nesting blackbirds: they're constantly pipping alerts, and I'm worried the evil magpies will attack them again as they did a couple of years ago, when the chicks were killed.  Had roast chicken when J got back.  Watched Baby Reindeer

Mon April 22

Feeling very lively today on bike ride to Olympic Park. Had eye test pm. Prescription has changed slightly - less short sighted and more long sighted, which is age related. Last year the optometrist said I had a cataract which would need surgery this year. However, this time the optometrist said it was very mild! Chose a pair of glasses and a pair of sunglasses. 

I ordered a reading lamp and it came today. Will help me to read paperbacks in bed  (although I will always prefer the Kindle). 

Tues April 23

Had a perfect rose for St George's Day. It's not every year that one of my roses is out on this date. (Top pic). 

We did a 2 hour walk in Epping Forest. Pulled a muscle after tripping over a branch. Took 3 retro dresses to post office. These were modern recreations of 60s style. Very poor quality. 

Weds April 24 

Cold, biting wind. 24 mile ride to Lee Valley park.  Several parcels waiting. Made chicken casserole. Watched last episode Shogun.

Thurs April 25 

Sunny intervals.  Went to the National Gallery to see The Last Caravaggio free exhibition.  It's just 2 paintings, but has attracted long queues since it opened.  Below: one of the two paintings - Salome with the Head of John the Baptist (1607). 

Did a blog interview and visited 3 vintage shops, Only one had proper vintage curated clothes.  Started taking NMN and Preservage from Youth & Earth (not gifted). I note the start dates so I can see if there's been a difference in a few months' time. 

Fri 26 April

Slightly warmer, 12. Emptied 1 container of Negrita tulip bulbs and planted them in the borders. This is a variety said to flower in subsequent years, which is unusual for tulips. Did a 5 mile walk and Pilates. Tried M&S caramel Espresso Martini. Delish!  I usually have just one alcoholic drink a week, and it's a little Friday ritual.  

Another vintage dress came via Etsy, beautifully wrapped in a scarf.  Looks wonderful. The quality!

Sat 27 April

Cold and rainy. Boiler wasn't working so J had to do several reboots to get hot water. I'd planned to go over to the gym for a shower if all else failed.  We'll be doing a walk and yoga today. The film for this evening will probably be In the Land of Saints and Sinners with Liam Neeson (Netflix). 


Blue Lights (BBC iPlayer)

In UHD, and beautifully lit, unlike many on at the moment!  This is series 2 of the gritty police drama set in Northern Ireland.  We're trying to ration the episodes. The relationships are beautifully drawn and it crackles with tension. 

The Regime (Now TV, Sky)

What a curate's egg. A fantastic cast and writing/director team, but somehow fell flat. I cheered up at one point thinking it was a political satire, but it wasn't fully carried through.  We watched to the end, but it has to be 59 out of 10. 

Shogun (Disney)

This was stupendous.  A lavish drama with superb acting, and sensitive to Japanese 17th century culture. I liked the fact there were subtitles rather than dubbing. 9 out of 10. 

Wisting (BBC iPlayer)

I loved the previous series's of this Norwegian crime drama.  But series 3 was lacklustre.  It was difficult to get into the entangled plot - the kidnap of a child - and I couldn't believe how the police weren't tougher on some of the suspects in the run-up to the reveal.  There was a moment of drama at the end which made me cry out.  A poignant ending which reminded me of why I always loved Wisting:  the way it deals so well with the trapped emotions of men. 

Baby Reindeer  (Netflix)

I'm only up to episode 3, and J has given up. I can't help thinking that the "comedian" brought it all on himself, but the female stalker is impressively frightening. 

Three Body Problem (Netflix)

The problem was, I didn't like it. Not for me but J enjoyed it!  It started off well, but stumbled and lacked any sort of finale. 

Hope you enjoyed my round-up. What were your April highlights?  Do share in the comments. 

These are the fantastic sites where I link.  I will be joining the lovely ladies of the southern hemisphere for #WhatsBeenOnYourCalendar.  



  1. I love Sarah Raven for all things gardening, as well as Farmer Gracy for bulbs!

  2. I've never tried Farmer Gracy but have heard great things about them!


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