Fashion,beauty and jewellery for the non-invisible woman over 45

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Dear BBC: why we care

The original BBC Radio 2 Drivetime Dreamteam, including Simon Mayo, Matt Williams and Bobbie Pryor
It's now three months since the BBC changed the format of the much-loved and award winning BBC Radio 2 Drivetime programme, pairing Simon Mayo with Jo Whiley and ditching Simon's posse, above, and most of the best content.

This is "halfway day" for Lewis Carnie, the Radio 2 controller, who gave a couple of high handed interviews before the change happened but has been missing in action ever since.  He told us the show would need six months to "bed in."

In those three months, one of the petitions demanding for the return of the original show has grown to 15,000 signatures, and every day more people join the Facebook group.

Today the supporters of the original show have blitzed Twitter, Facebook and the BBC's complaints process. There seems to be a suspicious news blackout on the whole thing. Complaints about the deplorable Love Island TV show (2,600) was reported by BBC News, yet the petition (15,000 names) was not. To put this in perspective, the audience for Drivetime is (currently) far bigger than anything Love Island enjoyed.

Below, I have chosen a few of the letters and stories from the Facebook group, to show the suits why we care so much. You;ll find more in my posts here, here and here.

Email sent to Messrs Shennan (Bob, Director of BBC Radio) and Carnie

Mr Shennan, Mr Carnie

You must realise by now the error you made in radically changing the format of the Simon Mayo Drivetime Show.
You had then an award winning show that brought real pleasure, every day, to millions of people - young and old, male and female.
Now that has been destroyed, and its replacement is simply not working.
We all make mistakes in life. Captains of industry do it, politicians do it, even the finest football managers do it. No one is infallible.
The problem is in not acting to rectify the problem.
Winners accept that things haven’t worked, and change course instantly. Losers blindly plough on, and then are eventually forced to change, but not before inflicting unnecessary pain, suffering and (sometimes irreparable) damage to their organisations.
You have the chance to change - please grasp the opportunity now before it’s too late.

Gordon Young


Letter to the BBC on behalf of the 5,000 strong Facebook group Bring back Simon Mayo's Dreamteam on Drivetime

Dear Sirs,

You will by now be aware that a great number of BBC licence fee payers are disgruntled enough to have formed and joined a Facebook group about the way that the Simon Mayo Drivetime show has been unceremoniously dumped and replaced by a very poor substitute of a programme of which the two main members of the team, Simon Mayo and Jo Wiley, are now absent for holidays right in the middle of the “bedding in” season (your words in the numerous letters, not mine). How could this have even been thought about when planning the launch of a new show and with a controversial line up? The show which has been removed was a fun and all-inclusive – young children right through to the more senior of listeners, a group in which I now nearly find myself.

Such is the frustration experienced by people that many have emailed the BBC directly to express their concern. Your reply to each is basically a selection of standard phrases and sentences designed to make the reply look personal. Can you not understand that by the volume of email complaints and random commenting on any Radio 2 show that we, the listeners, communicate with each other? I am sure that the intention was not to be patronising to individuals, but by comparing replies it is clear this is what is happening. It is high handedness in the extreme and disrespectful to your listening public.

It is interesting that the letters now no longer have the reference to there being no right of appeal. This response was appalling and really did show what the hierarchy of BBC Radio really thinks about the public. This alone was almost enough to make me retune to other radio broadcasters. We do have a right of appeal and this is included within your own charter. Should we not be happy with a proper review our response to the decision could be to listen to shows on other stations. Your own marketing people cannot be blind to the comments made by other radio stations welcoming new listeners? We do know that the BBC has "moles" within the posting public, and some of these are really quite unpleasant, but this will be the subject of a separate formal complaint from me to you (unintentional reference there) and Facebook for allowing this to happen and continue.

We are all licence fee payers and, as the BBC so boldly states, the BBC is owned by the people. We have no choice about paying, that is enshrined in law but as a consequence you should regard what the listeners are saying. To just disregard a very large group of people who have all expressed the same view is just ignorant.

The egos who have made the decision to remove this show, and clearly other changes are being planned, should be stopped now before further damage is done not just to Radio 2 but to BBC Radio in general. There would be more sympathy from the listening public if the people in charge accepted that the new format just does not work. You have stated that Simon and Jo have known each other for 25 years. That makes them friends, or acquaintances, it does not make them a good team – they are just too different. I like cream and I like lemon juice, but mix the two and you will have a curdled mess which is unappetising. This is what has happened to the Drivetime Show.

You will be receiving a great deal of emails and other communications today and I really hope that you read and respond to each of them separately as, despite what you may think, people really do care and can vote on change by the use of the tuning dial on their radio.

Thank you,

Bill Cummings
For and on behalf of our 5055 members


Facebook posts by Paul Loughlin


I have read the letters received by some today. How patronising and condescending they are. They appear in their Text to be rather like a teacher humiliating a student. Well BBC let me tell you something. Good Radio is a very rare thing these days. Every man and his dog believe that they can do it. That in essence is what is wrong. I grew up fascinated by the radio. Kenny Everett. Terry Wogan. Ken Bruce. Jimmy Young. Even the likes of Henry Kelly. Sarah Kennedy. And Bob Harris. Later we had Steve Wright. Chris Evans and the utterly fantastic Alex Lester. Where I'm going with this is Simon Mayo belongs on that list. He is a brilliant broadcaster and the reason for change within drivetime was neither wanted or needed. An idea to fulfill a desire to have more female hosts has resulted in both a terrible annihilation of a great show and a backlash towards Jo Whiley. Well done BBC!!! Radio fans are loyal. But also are far from stupid. This new show is awkward and poor. So very very poor. In the end. Patronising the listeners wont do. As license payers we require more than that. Great radio is indeed rare. Thanks to you even rarer now. The way you are treating this wonderful medium it could soon be extinct. Thanks for that!!

And in reply to Lewis Carnie's assertion that there was a big protest when Chris Evans took over the Breakfast show from Terry Wogan


I remember it well. After many fun mornings listening Terry Wogan announced to us TOGs that he was leaving the breakfast show. After picking myself up off the floor it was also stated Chris Evans would be the new host. I approached that with an open mind and to be fair Chris is a natural. Having Moira Stewart on the show was a master stroke and along with Vassos Alexander the show is brilliant. Great chemistry and a fun show. The point I want to make is Sir Terry retired (sort of) and went to Sunday mornings. Chris was asked to be the new host and after a while he flourished. In the case of Simon Mayo. He has created a great show and for 8 years it was all you would want. Funny. Inventive and great music. A wonderful dynamic in the studio. Suddenly!! Jo Whiley is just dropped in there.(dropped in it if you ask me!!) Most of the team go and the show (sorry to say) really sucks the big one!!! The audience can't accept the new show. We all loved the real one. Whilst Chris replaced Terry due to the togmeister leaving the slot. Jo has just been sent in and the end result is a awful dynamic. Poor chemistry and the whole thing is dull!. Please Radio 2. It's not too late!!
Director of Radio at the BBC, Bob Shennan
Bob Shennan, Director of BBC Radio
Lewis Carnie, BBC Radio 2 Controller
Lewis Carnie, Controller of BBC Radio 2 

How about it guys?


So gentlemen, what do you say? Remember, we forgive very quickly when those who got it wrong apologize, and put it right. Coca Cola, Toblerone, legions of England football team managers. There would actually be huge kudos in restoring the original show in terms of PR spin.

I absolutely get why you parachuted a female presenter into a mainstream programme. You had to. After years of paying women peanuts and putting them into night time slots  (and Mr Carnie and Mr Shennan were among those responsible, having been senior managers for many years), the BBC suddenly finds it has no option.

But now we have the problem of what do we do with Jo, because you know as well as we do that she hasn't got the right personality for the Drivetime show.

Bob, I'm sure you could have a word with Tony (Lord Hall) and get her moved to TV.  Win win, because that would be seen as a promotion! She likes gardening  (and so do I, but I would be willing to tolerate her on Gardeners' World just to get her off Drivetime....) and there all those programmes where the BBC broadcasts "new music" like Florence and the Machine  (not really all that new) from various pop festivals. She could do those.

Or is this the start of the end of Radio 2?


Some of us have noticed that you seem determined to lower the age of the average Radio 2 listener, and you may possibly have some Machiavellian plot brewing to merge Radios 1 and 2.  In which case, millions more listeners for Magic, Absolute and Smooth. And with their increased revenues from ads and listeners, one of them will be bound to offer Simon and the original Dreamteam a berth.














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Sunday, 12 August 2018

Six tips for must-have accessories

Image showing an over 45 woman showing how to add great accessories to a plain black outfit
When I revived Is This Mutton? two years ago, one thing I quickly noticed was my lack of accessories. I had just two handbags in black and brown, hardly any belts, one or two necklaces I wore all the time, and no hats at all.
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Is This Mutton? featured in Blogger's Corner

Image showing Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton, featured in Blogger's Corner at My Random Musings.
Have you discovered the blog My Random Musings by UK author and blogger Deborah Stansil? She writes about motivation, inspiration and success, with plenty of material for writers and bloggers. I'm thrilled to be featured in Blogger's Corner.

Find out how I started blogging, my penchant for collecting random information, and which style blogger influences me the most.

Thanks Deborah!

My Random Musings, UK blog by Deborah Stansil, featuring Is This Mutton?, the UK fashion and beauty blog, in Blogger's Corner FOR MORE MUTTON

Don't miss a post -  follow Is This Mutton? on Bloglovin or Feedspot. You'll love "shoe of the day" on Is This Mutton? Facebook page. And check out the Is This Mutton? Pinterest boards, including boards on other bloggers in fab outfits plus beauty, jewellery, hairstyles and fashion picks. Is This Mutton? is also on Twitter.  


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Sunday, 5 August 2018

Whitstable Wedding

The bride and groom with proud father of the bride and stepmother
This weekend was spent in glorious sunshine in the seaside town of Whitstable in Kent for the wedding of John's daughter Rachel to Sean.
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Thursday, 2 August 2018

Sentence a Day: July 2018

Part brickwork, part wood shed painted Cuprinol rosemary green and decorated with bunting
Sunday 1 August
Sunny, no rain now for 30 days! Went to a BBQ at Christopher and Katie's (John's son and wife). Just a small family gathering, good sausage selection from a farmers' market including a "Harry and Meghan" banger.  

Mon 2nd
Worked at home. Inspired by the summerhouse in Christopher's garden, John painted the shed. Looks very pretty (above).

Tues 3rd
In office. Lunch walk. World Cup: England eventually beat Colombia. Too wired to sleep

Weds 4th
Still sunny. Walk. Jubilation in office after England win.

Thurs 5th
Worked from home. Still sunny. Power Plate. Feel Unique delivery. Keen to road test the Fairydrops mascara. See my review here.

Fri 6th
In office, unusual for a Fri. Delayed on M11 for ages on the way home because of an accident. Grrr. This is why I try not to travel on Fridays - the motorways are very busy and there always seems to be an accident.

Sat 7th
The whole of England was up early bustling about to make sure we were all ready for 3pm: the England v Sweden match. We won 2 nil. Did yoga for 1st time in over a year. 

Sun 8th
Walked to gym for PowerPlate. Roast beef with Yorkshire puddings. Just J and me.  Did some gardening. Published lilac floral skirt blog post. 

Mon 9th
Another accident on M11, this time on the way to work.  Had a new tyre fitted (nothing to do with the accident!).  Office is buzzing with "communitas", the joy that humans find in collective experiences

Tues 10th
At home. Did new gym class body conditioning. J watched RAF flypast celebrating their 75th anniversary. 

Weds 11th
Felt bit stressed and apprehensive. Couldn't find purse. Home early for England v Croatia. Lost 2 - 1. I must have had a premonition.

Thurs 12th
Wrote piece about the football. Ate too much. Took a salad to work but it was abandoned for a sandwich and crisps instead, and later a shortbread someone had taken to a meeting. Then when I got home had one of my favourite meals, quiche with a Greek salad. Oh well, tomorrow's another day.

Fri 13th
Went into London for the Monet & Architecture exhibition and had to battle our way through the Trump demo in Trafalgar Square. Then we had dinner at Langans Brasserie. It rained unexpectedly, first time since May 29. Quite prolonged and had no umbrella.
Van Gogh Irises painting with cushions picking out the blue and orange tones
Sat 14th
Sun is back. Delivery of new cushions and a lamp for the sitting room.   Do this occasionally to freshen it up. Usual tasks:  yoga  (hopefully, now becoming a habit every Saturday);  shopping,  housework.

Sun 15th
Did PowerPlate; got home, did make-up and then a "shoot" for four different outfits for the Bias-Cut.com. Two of the outfits are for winter so did the shoot indoors, out of the blazing sun.  Results here and here. Had gammon and jacket potatoes for lunch.  Rachel (John's daughter) and fiance Sean came over.

Mon 16th
Sunny. Went for a pub lunch with my "buddy" at work, a fairly new colleague who I'm helping with informal support. Had a duck wrap. With chips. 

Tues 17th
At home. Finished book The Wives, Lauren Weisenbeger. Found it a bit predictable.  Re-reading Philippa Gregory's novel about Margaret Tudor, Katherine of Aragon and Mary Tudor:  Three Sisters, Three Queens. Did a stretch class.

Weds 18th
Quite an exciting day after Drivetime post went live and a lot of reaction on Twitter and Facebook  (this is a parochial UK thing concerning a much loved radio show), 

Thurs 19th
Quieter day. At work. Signed the agreement for a new car. Will take delivery hopefully at the end of November. 

Fri 20th
At home. Went to my first MeetUp for over a year, a piano recital.  It was in the basement of a record shop and not quite as enjoyable as the recitals they occasionally run in churches. 

Sat 21st
Rained a little in night, convenient. J went to Sean's stag night. Meant I could indulge in whatever TV I wanted. Started with an episode of Say yes to the dress UK followed by the film Lady Bird.

Sun 22nd
Cycled to PP - first time on my bike for probably two years !! Roast chicken for lunch. Hot and sultry. Played what I call the Instagram algorithm game, where I look up people whose posts I haven't seen for ages, and then leave comments on the posts Instagram made me miss). Listened as usual to  Johnnie Walker's Sounds of the 70s. I've found a fantastic Facebook group for his show and it's so enjoyable seeing all their comments for each song.
Middle aged woman in cycling helmet and colourful leggings on bike
Mon 23rd
Busy day in the office. Had meetings late afternoon so left early to do those meetings at home. Makes life a whole lot easier.

Tues 24th
At home. Did an early PowerPlate class. Sweltering in my little office.

Weds 25th
In the office. Very hot outside, short walk at lunchtime. Cancelled gym class because we were going to watch the last episode of series 2 of Line of Duty. Have seen it before but it's very gripping. A bad excuse for not exercising!

Thurs 26th
Am really enjoying a podcast series called The Bright Sessions (found it at iTunes store). It's sci-fi, about a US psychologist who specialises in people with atypical abilities such as being able to read people's minds, and time travelling.

Fri 27th
27 degrees today and hot in my home office. Did two classes I haven't done for probably two years, Pilates and Body Pump, so pleased that I'm using more of the gym's facilities. Was looking forward to the "red moon" lunar eclipse, but unfortunately the weather took a change for the worse. We had a short shower and then it became cloudy. Too cloudy to see the eclipse. Boo hoo.

Sat 28th
Household chores today. Very tired after yesterday's exertions. The Body Pump squats have killed my knees, and the Pilates has tortured my obliques!

Sun 29th
Did a PowerPlate class. Rachel and Sean came for lunch - it's their last Sunday lunch with us as an engaged couple. This time next they will be married.

Mon 30th
Bad night, couldn't sleep - woke up at 5.30am feeling feverish with a sore throat. A cold, but decided not to go to the office as I don't believe you should knowingly spread germs.

Tues 31st
A bit better, coughing a lot. Getting hot again after a few days of cooler weather. Picked blackberries in some waste ground behind our house. At 5pm had hair cut and coloured, ready for the wedding.
Wonderful stewed with apple:  wild blackberries

FOR MORE MUTTON


Don't miss a post -  follow Is This Mutton? on Bloglovin or Feedspot. I post extra goodies (handbags and shoes) on the Is This Mutton? Facebook page. And check out the Is This Mutton? Pinterest boards, including boards on other bloggers in fab outfits plus beauty, jewellery, hairstyles and fashion picks. Is This Mutton? is also on Twitter.  

Sharing this post with #WelcometotheWeekend at Claire Justine, #SaturdayShare at Not Dressed as Lamb,  UK Blogger Club at My Random Musings and Continental Drift at Mutton Style.

An InLinkz Link-up
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Monday, 23 July 2018

Radio 2 #DriveTime protest update, 23 July

I'm starting a weekly update on the growing protest about unwelcome changes made to the BBC Radio 2 Drivetime programme. This follows my letter to the Director-General and other luminaries last week.  There's a fantastic group on Facebook and a petition here. 
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Wednesday, 18 July 2018

#DriveTime Protest

This post might not make sense to many of you (particularly US readers) but indulge me while I share a letter I've sent to the Director-General of the BBC, Tony Hall, in protest at the changes made to the Radio 2 Simon Mayo #DriveTime programme.

If you also feel strongly about this, please sign the petition. Keep up the pressure on the BBC by sending complaints. There is also a friendly Facebook group here.

LETTER TO TONY HALL, BBC DIRECTOR-GENERAL


Lord Hall

Director-General

The BBC

Portland Place

London WIA 1AA


Cc Anne Bulford, Bob Shennan, Lewis Carnie


July 17 2018


Dear Lord Hall

I’m afraid I am another of the BBC Radio 2 #DriveTime whingers, the people you assumed would “move on” or go away after our favourite show was dramatically changed.

I am writing to you by snail mail because the widespread protests on social media don’t seem to be eliciting much response from you, Ms Bulford, Mr Shennan and Mr Carnie. I imagine your social media moderators and PR teams have been keeping you appraised of the ongoing furore and there are all sorts of “defcon” meetings happening in conference room Frankie Howerd.

It was a sad day for me last Thurs when, faced with my usual 60 mile drive from work, (a senior marketing post I took up a year ago – showing that 50-somethings are not change averse) I couldn’t face the strident tones of Jo Whiley any longer, despite giving the revamped show a 10 week chance.

A drive time show has to have some special ingredients for the frazzled commuter.  Simon Mayo and team had delivered this in spades, to audiences of millions. That audience is dwindling by the day, as I’m sure you’re already aware.

After a stressful day I want to imagine myself in the studio on a Thursday with Nigel Barden cooking up a storm. I can just imagine the fragrant smells. I want to guffaw with laughter, as I’m stuck in yet another tailback on the M11, as Matt and Bobbie “corpse” at Simon’s put-on accents in the Confession.

I really don’t want to have “new music” rammed down my throat or another interview with a band flogging a new album.  I don’t want to squirm with embarrassment at Jo Whiley’s lack of empathy during interviews with normal people who aren’t musicians. And even the Confession has turned into a rushed damp squib. Simon has lost all his sparkle next to his humourless assassin.

Valour in admitting defeat


There is no shame in admitting you got it wrong. Good companies admit their mistakes and the public forgive them. Coca Cola and Apple (when Taylor Swift boycotted them) are just two.

If you’re determined to sit it out for a year and wait for the listening figures, the humiliation will be far worse and you’ll have to sack Lewis Carnie and do some wholesale moving around of presenters.

Hold your hands up. Move Jo Whiley to another slot. We understand all too well the mess the BBC has got itself into, with institutional misogyny around pay for women and so few women in top presenting jobs.  Yes, we know the problem. We realise you have to sort it. But parachuting Whiley into Drivetime has not proved a solution.  I have nothing against women on Radio 2.  I love Liza Tarbuck and wish Sara Cox could replace Chris Evans.  Janice Long and Annie Nightingale should still be on the airwaves. But Jo Whiley is not in their league. She’s a new music specialist, a DJ, and nothing more.

As a Baby Boomer you know yourself we’ll never give up. We’re not going to let it drop over the next few months. We are furious that a successful show was changed, without any research. The justification given so far is lame in the extreme.  “We want to attract younger listeners”.  Yes, as if the baby boomer population isn’t already the biggest cohort in the UK. As if “younger” people would be lured over by a 53 year old.  “The programme has been running for eight years.”  Yes, and Ken Bruce and Steve Wright have been running a lot longer – and both of those programmes need refreshing.

Please stop patronising the loyal listeners of Radio 2 and give us back what we want. Move Whiley to a 7pm slot, or do something with the horrendous Saturday morning schedule, and restore Matt, Nigel and all the other ingredients that made the original DriveTime show so special.

This letter will also be published on my blog, https://www.isthismutton.com and shared via social media.


Yours sincerely




















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Thursday, 12 July 2018

It's coming home, just later than advertised

Image showing the individual England World Cup squad players in 2018
I couldn't resist going off piste from fashion to write about the extraordinary few weeks we've had, here in Blighty. Continuous sunny weather; the royal wedding, and of course The Football.

Last night England lost in the semi-finals of the World Cup, and while there were lots of tears around the island, we're all philosophical. At the start of the tournament we certainly weren't expecting our young, inexperienced team to get this far.  Married to a Spurs fan, I had heard of some of the England players, but not all of them. Who does Jesse Lingard play for? I asked, on the night we played Tunisia. Who's Stones? Who's Jordan Pickford?

I know now that the exuberant "JLingz" (Lingard) plays for Man U, and his social feed is much admired. I know now the back story on the players - how most of them fought their way through the mundane Championship with glamorous sides like MK Dons and Bradford. And I read how sales of waistcoats have gone through the roof at M&S, thanks to Gareth Southgate.

Two famous Croatians were critical of how arrogant England was about the semi-final with our "It's coming home" confidence. Goran Ivanišević and Luka Modrić thought we got above ourselves and under-estimated Croatia. But guys, you misinterpreted England's excitement, our playfulness.  How we couldn't help getting caught up in "communitas," the joy that humans find in collective experiences. We finally came to love our fooball team.

When we kept singing "It's coming home", we were referring to a silly song, the words of which speak about the agony of the England supporter over the years.  We did get carried away, but when you've suffered our sort of pain, it's understandable.  England is supposed to be the home of football but apart from the World Cup win in 1966, and a semi final place in 1990, we've had nothing to celebrate.

A telling BBC documentary, "The Impossible Job" told the story of the managers who tried to mould  successive England teams into a winning side.  At the weekend, Lady Robson, the widow of Sir Bobby, who took us to that semi final in 1990, read some of his hand written notes on leadership principles. But even Sir Bobby was pilloried by the English tabloids when his team failed to perform to expectations. Graham Taylor was famously branded a turnip, with his head superimposed on a vegetable, when he lost against the Swedes.

The nadir was two years ago when England was defeated by Iceland in the European Championships. We watched the match with lots of other Brits in the bar at the Greek hotel where we were on holiday. At the end everyone was speechless and left the bar silently.

Gareth Southgate's whole approach, while good management practice, is not rocket science. He tries to understand each player and what makes them tick.  He brought a leading psychologist on board to deal with the legacy of numerous penalty shoot out disasters. He launched his campaign by showing the young team how useless we used to be in the Olympics, compared to 2012 and 2016 when we punched massively above our weight in the medal tables.  And somehow he got the players performing as a team, managing to overlook their team rivalries,

Previous teams were filled with "stars".  The egos had landed. David Beckham unveiled a new hair style every time there was a major tournament. There were scandals off the field, involving the ghastly John Terry and Wayne Rooney to name two. On the field, they laboured, going for the long ball. Or trying to get rid of the ball as if it were an incendiary device. There was no nutmegging  (a new one I learnt about this time!), very few set pieces and very little of the fancy footwork of mercurial players like Modrić, or Sterling.

And in those days, we didn't have a captain with the stature of Harry Kane. Aged just 24, and completely composed, calm and statesmanlike, he was a towering colossus and is on track to win the "golden boot" award of the tournament.

It was wonderful to see the sportsmanship and dignity of Gareth Southgate, consoling a Colombian player who missed a penalty;  speaking to each and every one of his team and coaching staff after each match. This quiet, unassuming man often goes out of his way to help charities and worthy causes without alerting the papers in advance, or boasting about it on Twitter.

The next World Cup in four years time will no doubt see the return of teams who shockingly failed to make it to the finals - Italy and Holland - and the resurgence of teams who went home early (Germany, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina).  Even with these reinvigorated foes, the England team should be a force to be reckoned with.

The UEFA Euro 2020 championship finals are in England, so what could be a better time (and place) for football to finally come home?

In the meantime, I'll be backing Croatia on Sunday. If they're good enough to beat England.........

Sharing this post with #SaturdayShare at Not Dressed as Lamb and #WelcometotheWeekend at Claire Justine.

If you managed to get through this piece - with no photos! - you;ll be glad to know that normal service will be resumed here on Is This Mutton? on Sunday, when I'll be showing my top picks from the sale of a very special online store.



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Thursday, 5 July 2018

Sentence a Day: June 2018. A heatwave!

Women in their 20s, 30s, 50s and 60s at a wedding in Herts, UK, in June 2018
Friday 1 June
Worked at home. Got a lot done. Sun came out pm. 3 parcels including Cult Beauty 10th anniversary birthday gift box.

Sat 2
Shopping and garden centre. Bought 2 scabious, 2 heucheura, compost.

Sun 3
Walked to gym. Roast chicken. Planted heuchs. Went to see step daughter's new flat. Ran out of time to do a lot.

Mon 4
In office. Cloudy and cool.  Back home, blackbirds sitting on eggs in nest.

Tues 5
Had hair done. Blackbirds hatched. J had tooth out.

Weds 6
Stressy day at work preparing for a big 2 day meeting next week.

Thurs 7
Worked at home. Published SAD for May - read it here.

Fri 8
At home. Molly my cat gave me a mouse. She's 14, so good on her! Started watching Dietland on Amazon Prime. Didn't like it.

Sat 9
Our niece Sam's wedding. Glorious day. Held at a beautiful country house hotel. Free standing bath! I wore my "Amal Clooney" yellow (or tangerine, as it's described on the website) dress. Here I am with my sisters-in-law, step daughters-in-law (pic at top).

Sun 10
Stayed overnight at the wedding hotel, and were down first for breakfast. Sunny day. We were home by 10.30.

Mon 11
Start of a tough week with  four consecutive days in the office and four early starts. Our eighth wedding anniversary - we recreated this picture at Saturday's wedding:
2018

2010
Tues 12
Long day started at 5.30am and ended at 10.40pm. After work had a team dinner at Pho, a Vietnamese restaurant in Cambridge. The jasmine tea looked very pretty!
Weds 13
Lovely drive in countryside to barn for all day planning meeting.
Thurs 14
Meeting was in the office today. My turn to present. Around 50 people in the room. Went well!

Fri 15
Tired and glad to be working at home. Blackbird chicks in our garden will be fledging soon
Blackbirds soon ready to fledge. Nesting in N North garden, June 2018
Sat 16
The blackbirds fledged! The adults were stressed. Let's hope the fledglings landed in a tree or hedge.

Sun 17
Quiet day, usual gym session. Maxi dress shoot. Js son and wife came round with Father's Day present.

Mon 18
In office. Sunny. Flags are up for the World Cup! Left early to avoid traffic problems, as England were playing Tunisia.  Won 2 - 1.
Cafeteria at a UK tech company displaying flags from World Cup nations, June 2018
Tues 19
Working at home. Sunny. Had a drop from M&S. Liked everything.

Weds 20
At work. Went for a pub lunch to celebrate a recent successful launch. But, sign of the times, we had to pay for ourselves!

Thurs 21
Working at home. Sunny.

Fri 22
Working at home. Sunny. Went to the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A in the evening. Very interesting, particularly to see the personal touches of her life.

Sat 23
Went to the cinema to see The Happy Prince with Rupert Everett, about the life of Oscar Wilde.

Sun 24
Another hot day. Walked to my Power Plate gym. Had a late lunch as England were playing. Beat Panama 6 - 1. Sensational!

Mon 25
At home. Hot. Finished book After the party, Cressida Connolly

Tues 26
In office. Glorious. Walk at lunchtime. Divine scents of roses assailed nostrils

Weds 27
Got train to work. First time I've done this since I started my job ten months ago. It's a lot more expensive and takes an hour longer. Our CMO was over so we had a team dinner at a North Afrcan restaurant. I chose the vegetarian option.
Thurs 28
At home. Sunny. England lost 1 -0 to Belgium. They didn't have to win as they still qualified for the knock out stages, but we all  hoped they'd win.

Fri 29
At home. Sunny. 2.30: gave myself a manicure and pedicure. 3pm: removed the nail polish on my hands. Date night: went to the local pub
Sat 30 
Last day of June, another scorcher. We haven't had any rain for 30 days apparently. Water shortage already in Northern Ireland. Went for a swim in the Serpentine, an open air lido in Hyde Park. There's a mastaba, made of horizontal oil drums, in the middle of the lake.
Image: Pikview.com
Sharing this post with Weekend Blog Hop at Claire Justine, Saturday Share at Not Dressed as Lamb and Fake It Until You Make It at Fake Fabulous.

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Monday, 2 July 2018

TBB asks: Vacations/Holidays

The Blended Blog is using July, a traditional holiday month, to find out what our plans are for the lazy, hazy crazy days of summer. I'll be giving a slightly different perspective as a UK blogger.
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Thursday, 7 June 2018

Sentence a Day: May 2018

As you may remember, May was a Big Month for me because I was walking the 190-mile Coast to Coast route for 15 days with Mr Mutton (J) and his sister K. I had been training and buying suitable clothing for months. So the holiday mentions will be a bit longer than the usual sentence format.

May 1 Tues
Working at home. Published April SAD.

May 2 Weds
Received an invite to a Dove blogger retreat. Never been able to attend an event like this before because of working. Actually able to attend because it falls during time off! Exciting.

May 3 Thurs
At work; lunch walk became painful. Got home, voted in local council elections, then went to  see a GP about knee. Have a sports injury - me! Never thought the day would come. Too much walking apparently.

May 4
Had an ultrasound guided cortisone injection. Didn't hurt. Finished handover at work for holiday. Had a delivery from Dove - some of their "Summer Revived" and "Visible Glow" gradual tan products to try. Had a fish n chips supper.
May 5 Sat
Hot weather!! Gardening. Knee feels fine.

May 6
Walked to my gym class, four miles. First time I have walked since I had the injection 48 hours ago.  Told J it's a miracle. Leg fine! Read article about Charlie Puth. Big Instagram star. Never heard of him. Finished packing for the holiday.

May 7 bank (public) holiday
Set off on the holiday, Euston to St Bees via Carlisle on board a train called Matthew Flinders. Captain Flinders RN was an English navigator and cartographer, who was the leader of the first circumnavigation of Australia and identified it as a continent.

J had splashed out on First Class tickets. Free drinks and sandwiches. Wonderful sunny day. St Bees is a tiny village on the coast which does brisk business from Coast to Coast walkers. Our bed and breakfast (B&B) was very close to the station. We had dinner at a place called The Manor. Crispy batter fish n chips.

May 8: Day one - St Bees to Ennerdale, 14 miles (turned into 16)
High standard set at the St Bees B&B with a big breakfast, plus for our packed lunch, a plastic bag with our name on and home-made flapjack.  As is the tradition, picked up two pebbles on the beach to carry to Robin Hood's Bay (one to take home). The first few miles were along the St Bees coastal path. Saw a lighthouse and a bird hide to view gannets. Cloudy in the morning and became very overcast and misty in the afternoon.

First 10 miles were OK but soon we had to climb a horrendous fell, Dent hill, by which time visibility was very poor. K set off very fast and we couldn't see her after a while.  A local gave us a longer route to avoid a very muddy steep descent, which added another mile. Had to walk through about 12 wild horses who were in the middle of the path and refused to move.

Our farmhouse accommodation was reached via meadows. The lady owner rushed out to meet us and liberate us of wet clothes. Her husband drove us to a local pub, the Fox and Hounds, for dinner.  Long wait for the main course and we were very tired.
Three pictures showing St Bees at the start of the Wainwright Coast to Coast walk
Left: three pebbles; top right, setting off from St Bees; bottom right, striding out along the coast path
May 9 Day two - Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite, 16 miles
Set off at 8.20. Proprietor of the B&B drove us to the village. Saw cockerels on the road as we walked to Ennerdale lake. After walking round the lake, we had a long walk along a straightish road to Black Sail Youth Hostel, in the middle of nowhere. It seemed to take forever but then the isolated building appeared like a mirage.

Had sandwiches inside and tea with millionaires shortcake. Left money in the honesty box. Joined by other walkers. After lunch, which was poor  (slices of tasteless cheese in boring bread with crisps and a Mars bar and nothing home-made), had a very steep ascent followed by a worse descent as it had rocks and stones which jar my dodgy knees. Windy and cold.

Finally got to Honister slate mine. Ordered drinks but didn't get chance to have mine because I'd decided to catch the bus rather than walk another three miles. Aching with sore feet.  Got to our accommodation, the Langstrath, around 4. Had a cup of tea in bar. We've stayed in the Langstrath before so I knew there would be a bath. Bliss!

Dinner in their restaurant was delicious:  haggis/black pudding croquette followed by trout and then a cheese board. J was so tired he went to bed before the cheese and biscuits arrived. The first few days, in the Lake District, are tough.
May 10: day three, Rosthwaite to Grasmere, 9 miles
Better weather, sunny intervals. Long ascent up Borrowdale valley. Boggy beyond. J fell in the mud, up to knees. Lunch from the Langstrath was pleasant, smoked salmon bagette and wild thyme crisps, although there was no drink. The descent was long and hard on the knees but not too bad. Was excited to be going to Grasmere. A proper town, with shops! After just three days I'm missing retail therapy.

Got to Grasmere at 3. Had coffee in an art gallery coffee shop,  and did a little shopping. Dinner at The Jumble Room was excellent. Lively, crowded place. We all had something different. I had the "thriller from Manila" - spicey noodles with seafood -  and a starter of crab crostini. J had the dessert speciality, gingerbread sponge.

May 11: day four, Grasmere to Patterdale, 7 miles
The initial ascent was long but fairly gradual. K decided to walk a more challenging ridge route. J was anxious as he watched her in the distance, as it was getting very windy.
My feet are prepared every morning with plasters! Bottom left, setting off from Grasmere.
Arrived in Patterdale about 2.30. Tiny village with a general store, couple of pubs and a school. Walked to the next village, Glenridding, for coffee. Then back to our accommodation, the White Lion Inn. Dinner was good. I had beef chilli followed by syrup sponge. I'm eating the sort of calorific food I wouldn't normally have.

Noisy, busy pub full of walkers. Good atmosphere. Saw Michael from Herts and the 2 young Americans. We've been seeing them each day although the youngsters have a rest day so we won't finish at the same time.

J booked all the evening meals and it's becoming a hilarious trend that nearly every time our name is wrongly spelt, even though he insists he spells it out. Below, Hanlon has become "Landlen"

May 12: day five, Patterdale to Shap, 11 miles
J and I went off the official route, getting a steamer across Ullswater to Pooley Bridge and following a fairly benign mostly flat path. This took around 4 miles off the route, mostly for my benefit. Such beautiful views across the lake.
Ullswater Lake

The baguette from the White Lion was very good. Meals are extremely important on this type of holiday!

The weather was great until about 3.15 then clouded over a little and rained around 5. Unfortunately my feet were hurting very badly. Particularly left ankle. Became very weary. Then we had a long walk to the  B&B. I was lurching like a zombie. Margaret, the B&B owner, who's been doing this for 50 years, made scones for us presented with tea and served on Victoriana Roses crockery. How lovely.
Brookfield House B&B in Shap, Cumbria, presents walkers doing the Coast to Coast walk with delicious warm scones and lemon curd with tea

Had dinner in the Kings Arms. Scampi and chips.

I had been mulling over whether or not I could carry on, for a couple of days. Decided to go home tomorrow. While the walks may be flatter now, some are still very long. I would be fine if there were rest days, but we couldn't fit any in because I didn't want to use up too much of my holiday allowance.

Some of the walks are 19 -20 miles and I can't contemplate it. I knew everyone was going to try to talk me out of it so I quickly booked a one-way train ticket. No arguments. I figured it was best to leave at this point because from tomorrow the walk takes us into Yorkshire and a long way from train stations.

Sunday May 13
I took the usual "starting off" photo for J and K. They were already arguing about the route. Then I  waited for a taxi to take me to Penrith station. Home by 4pm. I felt irrationally happy to see dear old London.  I'm a city person when all's said and done. Those hills frighten me.

Meamwhile J and K have arrived in Kirkby Stephen, Yorkshire - looking cheerful!

May 14 Mon
So now I've got two weeks of holiday! I did think about going back to work but it was only a passing thought. Lovely weather. Went to garden centre and bought lots of plants. Spent most of day in garden. Called J around 5pm to see how he was doing.

Tues May 15
Still good weather so planted the rest of the plants I'd bought.

Weds May 16
Collected Molly from the cattery and took her straight to the next door vet to get her annual booster. This was handy, removing the need to catch her and pop her in the basket a second time. She doesn't like being handled by strangers so sometimes the annual visit to the vet is a nightmare. Fortunately she was OK this time.

K is now walking on her own doing more difficult routes. J had worked out easier routes for my benefit months ago, so he is happy to stick to the original plan. He's meeting other people along the route and isn't too perturbed.

Thurs May 17
Decided to surprise J by booking a train ticket from London to Scarborough for the last day of the walk. From Scarborough I will get the bus to Robin Hood's Bay in Yorkshire, the final destination.

Went into London to look round the shops, but couldn't find any clothes I liked. This is odd because when I look online, I find plenty.

May 18
Having some back end issues with the blog. Google is currently not indexing nearly half of my pages. Spent ages trying to find the problems. Installed a new template and started a new analytics account.

May 19
The royal wedding! Installed myself on sofa from 9am having been to the shops and made lunch early. By 10.30 had eaten lunch!
Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon getting into the Royal Wedding spirit as she prepares to watch the nuptials of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
J hasn't had any company the last couple of nights. K decided to shorten her holiday by a day which meant doing extra miles during the day and  staying at different accommodation.  Normally J sees people he knows at the pubs for dinner, but the last couple of nights he hasn't. I feel sad for him.

May 20
Another hot day. Cooked the usual roast dinner for just me. Planted purple petunias and bright pink geraniums. Wrote a blog post with my thoughts on the Royal Wedding, here.

Tues May 22
Early start, train to Kings Cross then York followed by long wait for the Scarborough train and then a bus to Robin Hood's Bay.

I got there around 1.30 and had a toasted sandwich, having worked out J would get there around 3pm.  He messaged me to say he was coming into RHB, and I got into position and jumped out at him. He was so thrilled to see me. There were even a few tears.
Road sign showing a walker the mileage to Robin Hood's Bay on the final day of the Coast to Coast wak
J sees the first sign to Robin Hood's Bay 

We had a fun dinner at the Victoria Hotel, with two Aussies Sharon and Cliff from Perth (still no bath). J was amazed to learn how much I know about Australian cricket in the 1970s, having had a big crush on Jeff Thomson.

Lots of other walkers were there on their final night too. Had a pate starter (huge) and fish and chips (again!). The fish was from nearby Whitby and melted in the mouth. Sharon and Cliff were going to a Dire Straits tribute evening but we gave it a miss.
Arriving at Robin Hood's Bay in Yorkshire, the last day of the Coast to Coast walk
Final day: top, view of Robin Hood's Bay from our hotel. Bottom left, J at the finish. Right: we started with three pairs of feet in the sand. Just one pair at the end!
Weds May 23
We left RBH by taxi to Scarborough. Train on time, lovely to get complimentary food in 1st class. Hot when we got home. Exofoliated and applied Dove Summer Revived gradual tanner.

May 24 Thurs
To Bath for the Dove #SummerRevived event. Was stressing a bit about what to wear, and pack, as I knew I would be among "heavy hitter" fashion bloggers. Had a wonderful time. There were eight of us altogether, only one that I had met before (the lovely Laurie from Vanity and Me).

After brunch we enjoyed a massage and the spa facilities, followed by afternoon tea. There were gorgeous flowers in our room. After a class making cocktails we had a lovely dinner with a  tasting menu and matching wines. Then sank into the wonderfully comfortable bed!
Dove's gradual tanning products and beautiful flowers left in hotel room at Dove bloggers spa retreat

Fri May 25
Quite a challenge to get the huge bouquet safely home on the trains, with my case and bag! Went out for a drink with J in the evening. View my Dove post.

Sat May 26
Did usual shopping and picked up my new glasses: tortoiseshell frames. Then did some gardening.
Sun May 27
Power Plate and a walk. J has toothache. Pasta for him, roast chicken for me. Good weather. His daughter and her fiance are in the process of moving house so they didn't come round.

Mon May 28
Bank (public) holiday and day off. Cloudy morning, then sun came out. Our small garden teems with wildlife and we have seen a lot of blackbird activity in the hedge. The female is sitting on four eggs. J managed to get a photo when she left to find food. Just hope there will be a happy ending - last year magpies destroyed the nest and chicks. It was so upsetting.
Close up of blackbirds' nest in the UK with four blue green eggs, May 2018

Tues May 29
Back to work after 3 weeks holiday. A lot of emails to get through! Weather cloudy and cool.

Weds May 30
More reconciled to being back at work. Did a walk at lunchtime and PP abs class in the evening.

Thursday May 31
Worked from home.

Sharing this post with Weekend Blog Hop at Claire Justine, Saturday Share at Not Dressed as Lamb and FakeItTillYouMakeIt at Fake Fabulous


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Sunday, 20 May 2018

Thoughts on the royal wedding

The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Image: USA Today
Image: USA Today

Thousands of column inches have been devoted to analysis of the royal wedding but undeterred, I'm going to give my two'pennorth  (or 10 cents, for US readers). Hold on to your hats ladies!
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Thursday, 10 May 2018

200 mile walk ahead!

Preparing for the 200 mile Coast to Coast challenge which takes in the national parks in England. What to wear and what to take.
By the time you read this, I will be setting off on a massive challenge: the Wainwright Coast to Coast walk.
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Thursday, 3 May 2018

Miami, Mutton and bluebells: Sentence a Day, April

A table decorated for Easter in London, UK, April 2018. Includes an Easter wreath and an Easter tree decorated with glass birds and woolly sheep.
April 1, Easter Sunday
Easter seems such a long time ago! Had a lovely Easter table and roast rib of beef. The kids and their partners came for lunch and we played games afterwards.

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Monday, 23 April 2018

What I Wore in the Bluebell Wood

Is This Mutton blogger and husband in a secret bluebell wood outside London, spring 2018
We're lucky to have a secret bluebell wood not too far away, in Epping Forest. At this time of year the wonderful delicate English bluebells are out and their sweet scent drenches the forest glade.
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Friday, 6 April 2018

The Blended Blog asks: Spring

It's officially spring and finally the weather is co-operating. My favourite time of year! So much promise: beautiful flowers, long languid summer days, a glass of wine in the garden in the evenings, not having to wear coats, jumpers or tights.

The Blended Blog has set us some questions about April:
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Friday, 23 March 2018

A Brief History of the Brassiere

Image showing a young woman wearing lace underwear on a sumptuous bed.
Our relationship with the brassiere is one of love / hate. Many women say it's the first thing they take off when they get home.

But like them or loathe them, our figures would be considerably worse without the support, particularly as we get older.
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Friday, 2 March 2018

Sentence a Day, 02.18

Very pleased to be taking part for the first time in Sentence a Day, a monthly series where a number of bloggers share a review of our month written in one sentence a day. I made a few rookie errors, among them not taking enough photos! I promise to make it a bit more visual next month. Oh, and you'll have to humour me with the British obsession about the weather.
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Sunday, 25 February 2018

You're never too young to have a heart attack

Image showing a woman over 45 in a bedroom holding her hands in a heart shape. The picture illustrates an article on blog Is This Mutton? about how to stay healthy and active to avoid heart disease in early middle age.
The tragic deaths of Indian film star Sridevi at just 54, and British comedy actress Emma Chambers, aged 53, have shone a light on heart attacks and how they are claiming more women at younger ages.
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Thursday, 28 December 2017

Ultra Violet: the 2018 Colour of the Year

Image showing the colour ultra violet, the colour of the year for 2018 recommended by the Pantone Institute
The Pantone Institute has chosen this colour, ultra violet, as its colour of the year.  Expect to see this variation of purple in home decor and fashion.
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