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Thursday, 21 September 2023

Tell Us About: Legacy

 Kathleen Lovis, grandmother of Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon

Dear friends. Welcome to this month's Tell Us About challenge, where 8 global bloggers interpret a prompt in their own way.

This time it's Legacy, chosen by Leslie from Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After.  It seems to have most of the group scratching their heads.


Friday, 1 September 2023

Ballet, Bikes, Sunflowers: Life in August {2023}


A field of sunflowers near Hainault in Essex with city of London in background

Dear friends.  Welcome to the first day of meterological autumn (fall). And just like that, summer was over. We usually get some good weather in September and October, so here's hoping. 

At the start of summer I had a list of walks to do and places to visit, but it was just wasn't sunny enough for the seaside places.  Enough of the weather.  I'm sticking to the paragraph per day format which you seemed to like last month. 

Tues 1 August

Did bike ride 26 miles, v hilly, around Essex to the White Water Centre. Saw teams training for the new kayak discipline. Cloudy. Had roast chicken.  

Weds 2 August

Rained nearly all day. Cleaned bathroom,  washed conservatory floor, changed bed. Watched Mark Cavendish documentary film. Caesar salad.

Thurs 3 August

Cloudy. Did urban walk to drop off a card and DHL parcel.  Ordered new tablet, Samsung S9. I get the 12 in version as I use it mainly to watch TV when J is watching something ghastly.  Pilates.  Mac cheese.

Fri 4 Aug

Cloudy. Won £300 on premium bonds. Invited to join Bluesky. Did cycle ride, 17 miles,  Olympic Park.  New tablet came. It's so simple nowadays to transfer everything from one tablet to another. Got DNA results for health & fitness. 

Sat 5 Aug

Did walk in Epping Forest, rainy, saw the runners in an Orions race. Went to the Royal Opera House with Oxana to see the Australian Ballet in Jewels. Had to rethink outfit because of the rain. She spotted a famous Russian Bolshoi Ballet dancer, Nikolai Tsiskaridze, in the audience and we had our picture taken with him. 

Is This Mutton Gail Hanlon with friend meeting Russian dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze

We had dinner before the performance in the Balconies restaurant, high above the bar.  A lovely experience. We were there early, before the crowds. 

Sun 6 Aug

Went by bus to M&S South Woodford to get a chicken to roast for lunch. Bus and tube travel is free for me in London as an over 60. 

Mon 7 Aug

36 mile bike ride, it was hard work on the way back. Wrote 2 blog posts.

Tues 8 Aug

Rainy. Went to a Meetup at Royal Courts of Justice. There were 25 of us. The building was designed to look like a cathedral.  The architect never saw his vision fulfilled as he died before it was finished. Every day judges preside over hundreds of civil cases, and the public is welcome to attend many of them. We weren't supposed to take photos but I couldn't resist a couple. 

The "Bear Garden," not to be confused with beer garden, is where the opposing barristers meet each other to discuss cases. 

Weds 9 Aug

Bike ride, Lee Valley Country Park. Nice weather.  Weeded in afternoon.  A pendant I'd sent off to be mended came back, with no charge.  It was a birthday present last year and my favourite. 

Thurs 10 Aug

Daughter-in-law-went into hospital.  Third grand child born just after 11am with no problems. We're asked not to share details on social media.  A sunny day had been promised and it was indeed. Did forest walk instead of Pilates. Wrote a blog post.

Fri 11 Aug

Sunny after cloudy start. Walked to Pilates, no buses running. Then went to see the new grand child at home. The parents don't like mentions of the children on social media, which is a good idea. Photos are shared among family on an app called Back Then. I'm afraid that means no pics here. Fish n chips (home made).

Sat 12 August

Sunny intervals.  Did longest bike ride yet, 45 miles. Coffee at Moreton. Max heart rate 104 so not working v hard, but felt exhausted. We were battling against wind on the way out. 

Sun 13 August: Rest day. Roast lamb.

Mon 14 August

Mostly cloudy. Cycle ride to Lee Valley.  20 miles, cut short as J had puncture.  I'm watching the weather forecast for Saturday like a hawk  (it's my big Kettlewell event). It has changed from very hot and sunny to showers! Sent my old tablet to Samsung as part of the trade-in. Aching and tired. 

Tues 15 August

Sunny start. Bit depressed about blog stats, huge fall off after the turnaround in traffic a couple of months ago.  Google tells me there are lots of issues with CLS and INP.  (!). Asked Pipdig for help but they didn't deliver. The fixes online are extremely technical, aimed at software developers, which makes me frustrated that I can't improve things.

Went to garden centre for compost, also bought a pot with 3 plants in, to try to rescue "shed corner,"  and a tray of pansies. Harvested seeds from nigella.

Shed Corner looking a bit busier.

Weds 16 August 

Did a brisk forest walk before getting to Jodie's for noon to have my hair coloured and cut. As always she did a very good job. 

Thurs 17 August

Became sunny. Did 45 mile bike ride. Wind on the way, was gruelling.  Knees very sore, probably because I was wearing different shoe than usual.  Had bath to relax the sore muscles. Curry.

Fri 18 August 

Bit cloudy, rained am. Had been due to do a Meetup (Benfleet to Southend, via Leigh-on-Sea) but decided to do it in October instead.  I'm not keen on seaside walks in poor weather, ruins a joyful experience.  Seem to have lost my over-60s travel card, which is a pain. 

Sat 19 August 

My Kettlewell event in Hyde Park, which was scheduled back in March. Fortunately the weather was ideal, not too hot , light wind, no rain.  31 ladies attended and it was huge fun. I took this shot with the tripod and camera on timer and should have been in it, but a couple of ladies got cropped by the camera from each end, oops.  Two girls nearby asked me if we were from the Women's Institute!  

Sun 20 Aug

Watched the World Cup final.  I put some Cremant in the fridge to chill in case we were celebrating, but unfortunately the Lionesses lost. Had chicken. Finished a book blog post for tomorrow. Ordered replacement travel card.

Mon 21st August 

Sunny after 11. Cycle ride Lee Valley.  Wore new Sundried top. Roads quieter today.  My day on the Amanda Prowse All Good Things blog tour. She posted a lovely tweet on Twitter/X. It makes my day when authors engage with me. 

Tues 22nd August

Turned sunny pm. Did several outfits in a shoot and wrote the post. Heard Debussy L'apres midi d'un faun. Haven't heard it for ages. Booked a visit to the Courtauld Gallery with Oxana in September.

Wednesday 23rd

Did bike ride, sunny, one of the best yet, saw field of sunflowers (top and below).   Coffee in Abridge. 25 miles. 

Thurs 24th August

Drizzle and cloudy. Did some blog work and housework, then Pilates. 

Friday 25th August 

Sunny. Did a Meetup, Ruislip nature reserve and lido. Lots of fun. Went on the miniature railway.  Very tired, haven't been sleeping well this week. 

Sat 26th August

Sunny intervals in the morning, went on short (20 mile) bike ride to the Olympic Park. Rained with thunder in the afternoon.  Started clearing out hiking and summer clothes.  Have far too many and find it depressing, have nowhere to store it all. Took pics of my outfit for Style Not Age.  Felt a bit peculiar today. Stomach in spasms, although had same dinner as J. Very tired. 

Sunday 27th August

Feels cooler and more autumnal. Actually slept well. Did a walk in the forest with J. Saw the big herd of cattle, around 24. I got back in time to catch bus to South Woodford to get a few bits in M&S and Boots. Had roast chicken. 

Mon 28th August. 

Bank holiday. We did a bike ride to the Lee Valley Country Park (24 miles). I'm still suffering from exhaustion after what appeared to be a bug last week. Had no energy in the afternoon although I'd planned to weed the rose bed. Watched last episode of Wolf (BBC iPlayer). This was a very strange drama which grew on us. Didn't like the ending.

Tues 29th August

Still feeling a bit drained. Cloudy weather. Returned a Boden tulle skirt. Sadly although I love tulle skirts, they do me no favours. You  need a very small waist. Took a  bag to the charity shop. Started watching The Tower (ITV). Made chicken casserole. Finished book The Cold Case, very good. 

Weds 30th August

No Wednesday blog post today for the first time in years. Attempted to write one yesterday but had no energy to do the pics.  The sun came out late morning. Dropped off another bag at the charity shop and did a long walk in the forest, which was therapeutic. Was up to weeding the rose bed, which took two and a half hours. Such huge weeds! Unbelievable, particularly as I did it a few weeks ago.  Salmon fillets for dinner. Started a new book, a thriller called Geneva. 

Thurs 31 August

Missed the Blue Moon last night. In bed quite early. Cloudy start as usual. Did a long forest walk and saw just one cow, strangely. No sign of the others. 

Hope you enjoyed my August. What did you get up to?  Did the weather mean you did less, or did you carry on regardless? Do let us know in the comments.

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 Traffic Jam Weekend at Is This Mutton 

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Friday, 18 August 2023

Four for Friday

 And Weekend Traffic Jam Reboot

Ease into the weekend with Four for Friday at Is This Mutton

Dear friends. Hope you have something good lined up for the weekend. I'm off to a picnic in Hyde Park, organised many months ago. It looks as if the weather will be OK, although today we're expecting thunderstorms and rain.


Thursday, 17 August 2023

Tell Us About...Imagination

 Image by pexels-ena-marinkovic showing a typewriter, a camera and flowers

Dear friends.  It's time for this month's Tell Us About challenge, and this time it was set by Suzy from The Grey Brunette. Imagination is the topic. 

When I was a child I was very imaginative. From a very young age I was writing stories and creating plays and comics. But over time, I fear I am less imaginative. It seems as if the left hand side of my brain has taken over, and while I'll never be able to master a spreadsheet  (and thankfully don't need to now!) I've become too organized and analytical to let my mind wander.


Wednesday, 16 August 2023

Threads, Bluesky or Elon's X?

 & #WowOnWednesday

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in coral with teal

Dear friends. Were you a user of Twitter when it launched in 2006? Are you exploring Threads? And have you heard of Bluesky?

It was the emergence of two new players in recent weeks, Threads from Meta and Bluesky from Jack Dorsey, that made me realise how much I love Twitter, or X, as it has now been named by its owner Elon Musk.


Friday, 11 August 2023

Four for Friday

 & Weekend Traffic Jam Reboot

Dear friends. Welcome to my new fortnightly post, Five for Friday, where I bring you five things I've enjoyed, read, watched, done. There's the opportunity to link up, along with Emma and Marsha, at Weekend Traffic Jam Reboot. 


I was sad when the chain of my favourite pendant broke but the small business that made it, Eclectica, have mended it free of charge and even sent back my contribution towards postage. Thank you so much! You can find their lovely pieces at John Lewis. 

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton wearing pendant from Eclectica

War Sailor (Netflix) is up there with Das Boot among the WW2 greats.  This three part mini series tells the story of how Norwegian merchant seamen were forced to stay at sea, or be considered deserters, once war broke out. They were tasked with helping the UK and its allies. Thousands of lives were lost, and Norway was badly bombed. I am ashamed to say I had no idea, and it will make the annual gift of a Christmas tree from Norway all the more poignant. 

I go through phases with reading, and after a spell of reading literary fiction I'm devouring twisty thrillers. It's not out for a while but I really enjoyed The Perfect Patient by Luana Lewis, which comes out on 28 September. Look out for my review next month. #

I'm on the new "Twitter" type platform, Bluesky, created by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. Have you heard of it? I'm also still on Twitter, now named X by Elon Musk, but I gave up on Threads pretty quickly. I'm writing about my impressions of the three channels next week. 

Sharing this post with
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Last week's most clicked post

Alison from Midlife and Beyond with Celebrating Our Wedding Anniversary in Rhodes, Greece!

Is This Mutton Pick

French Country Summer Tablescape by Thrifting Wonderland 

Don't forget to visit Emma and Marsha's blogs to see who they chose as their favourite.

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Thursday, 10 August 2023

August 10 on the 10th


Graphic representing the August edition of 10 on the 10th about holidays, answered by blogger Is This Mutton

Dear friends. A quick and fun post today answering 10 questions posed by Marsha in the Middle.  They're all about vacations, or holidays as we prefer in the UK. Here are the questions.  

1. Tell us about your favourite summer vacation, Now, tell us about a holiday gone wrong! 

My all-time favourite was in 2002, a singles' activity holiday on the island of Corfu. It was an unprepossessing start, there were just seven of us (three men and four women), but we bonded and had the most amazing time.

Here's the group, I'm wearing a blue t-shirt, fourth from the left. The lady at the front is the tour guide, Pauline, who was brilliant fun.

The holiday gone wrong was in 1999.  I got terrible food poisoning in Egypt. Anxious not to spend days in bed, I agreed to go on a tour the next day and got into difficulty on a day trip which involved a strenuous walk in extremely hot temperatures. I was still a bit dehydrated and could scarcely pull myself up the rocky hills.  A kind Israeli man with his family gave me water and took my hand to pull me along. 

2. Share an activity from your summers as a kid, but now you wouldn't even consider trying it.
I loved funfairs as a kid and teen and adored the fast rides and roller coasters. I experienced a roller coaster on a work outing a few years ago and kept my eyes shut, it was dreadful!

3. Is there something you love to wear in the summer, but would never wear in the winter months?
Shorts! Too cold. 

4. Spill the tea! Which summer beverage do you need to make it through the day? What beverage wouldn't grace your table ever during the summer?
I'm a bit boring because I don't have any special summer drinks. I mostly drink fizzy water. There are a couple of alcoholic drinks which are only ever consumed in the summer: Pimms no 1, and rose wine. 

5. When you were a kid, was there something you did that kids today would think was a complete waste of time? Is there something kids do today you find a lost cause?
Lots of things: building dens, picking blackberries, skipping, writing and performing in plays, creating scrapbooks full of pictures of holidays and pop stars.   Do kids do any of those things nowadays?  They always seem glued to screens.

6. Share a summer movie you watch as often as you can. What summer movie do you wish had never been made?
The only film I associate with summer is Saturday Night Fever. I've only seen it a couple of times.  It probably counts as the one I wish had never been made, although I like the music. I couldn't understand why women swooned over John Travolta! 

7. Tell us about your current  favourite summer song. Now tell us about a song that instantly takes you back to your childhood.
I'm wracking my brains but I don't have any current favourites. As my grand children are aged 4 and under, I'm not exposed much to "modern" music  (we mostly listen to classical and 70s/80s). A song that instantly takes me back is Maggie May, Rod Stewart. 

8. Time to spill the tea again! Are you a bikini type person? Or do you only dip your toe in the waters in a one piece?
I wore a bikini in my teens and then not again until I was 43! I stopped wearing bikinis this year and had a couple of one piece swimsuits. I felt a lot more relaxed, and happy, knowing my stomach was covered.

9. Share a favourite summer recipe you like to fix over and over again. Now, what recipe did you attempt one summer and will never attempt again?
I'd say it's Tuna Ni├žoise, a salad which is simple to prepare but very tasty. The recipe I attempted and will not make again, is my own taramasalata.  It was delicious but very time consuming as I had to order cod roe and then wrestle with skinning it, as it's quite tough.  It was no better than a supermarket version.

10. What is your absolute favourite summer smell? What summer smell makes you want to vomit?
Coconut fragranced sun lotions like Hawaiian Tropic were my favourite, although nowadays sun creams don't seem to have a scent. Here's an ad from the 70s. We used to buy the one with the lowest SPF! 

70s ad for Hawaiian Tropic sun oils and lotions

The smell that I detest is the sweet vanilla that young girls wear as perfume. So sickly. 

Fun set of questions Marsha.  If any of my answers strike a chord, or jog a memory, let us know in the comments.

See you tomorrow, Friday, for Traffic Jam Weekend Reboot.

Sharing this post with #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Rena at Fine WhateverHello Monday at Sunshine and Books,Talent Sharing Tuesdays at Scribbling Boomer, Final Friday at Marsha in the Middle, Senior Salon Pitstop at Esme SalonWeekend Traffic Jam at is This MuttonUnlimited Link Party at Grammy's Grid

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Tuesday, 1 August 2023

My Month: July


Dear friends.  July was one of the wettest months ever! But I still did a fair bit. It takes more than rain and grey weather to put me off. July highlights were a trip to Devon for my nephew's wedding and RHS Hampton Court.

It was also good to get back inside the National Portrait Gallery. It has reopened after being closed for renovation for more than 3 years. 


Friday, 28 July 2023

Weekend Traffic Jam Reboot

Is This Mutton has 4 Things for Friday as well as the Weekend Traffic Jam reboot

Dear friends.  Here are my 4 Things for Friday

  1. Thank you: To the people of the Greek island of Rhodes, who worked in shifts to help the thousands of tourists stranded by forest fires and hotel closures. They provided  food, drink and blankets, and in some cases a bed in their own home. 
  2. TV prog:  it's an old one but we've only just discovered it - Godless on Netflix. In the 1880s American West, murderous outlaw gang leader Frank Griffin hunts for ex-protege Roy Goode. Lots of gun toting WOMEN in this one. 
  3. Book: if you want a psychological thriller with a twist that really surprises, try Three Sisters by OJ Mullen. See my review
  4. Podcast: Into the Dirt (Tortoise). Six episodes tell how Rob Moore became a spy in corporate intelligence, after a successful career in television. He was tasked to extract information from an environmental organization,but eventually became sympathetic to their aims. 

I'm back tomorrow - Saturday - with my highlights of July 2023, including a wedding in Devon, one of the biggest horticultural shows, and Paul McCartney's photography exhibition. 

Without further ado, let's get the weekend party started! Marsha, Emma and I am now co-hosting Weekend Traffic Jam Reboot, which features content on every topic under the sun. 

Last Week's Favorite - Most Clicked

Friday Update from Scratch Made Food & DIY Homemade Household

Melynda and family are on their way to a new home in Texas. 

My Pick from Last Week  

I loved the interpretation of  Still Life by Kristy Goggio that blogger Sally from Within a World of My Own came up with: Dressing Down a Fancy Skirt for SIA.  Don't forget to pop over to Marsha in the Middle and Stylesplash to see who they chose as their favorite! 

All About Is This Mutton

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Friday, 21 July 2023

Barbie v Sindy: Who Won?

& Weekend Traffic Jam Reboot

Dear friends. Greetings and welcome to an additional weekly post.  Emma from Stylesplash and I am joining Marsha in co-hosting the Traffic Jam Weekend link-up. 

I'll use this as a weekly opportunity to give a view on one of the big topics of the week. Today it has to be Barbie. There's been so much hype around the new film, aptly named "Barbie," directed by Greta Gerwig.  Stores are reporting huge demand for clothes and furnishings in Barbie Pink (Pantone number  219). 


Wednesday, 12 July 2023

Are You Set Up to Live Your Best Life in Retirement?

 Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton with fuchsias at the Hampton Court Flower Festival

Dear friends.  I recently celebrated my first year of not working. When people ask what I do, I say I'm leading my best life. I honestly am. 

But I'm fairly unusual in saying this. Research shows that a lot of people who retire regret it.  There's identity loss for some;  too much time on their hands for others, and financial insecurity for many. 

A new book, Relish Your Retirement by Florance Philip, addresses the challenges and has more than 500 ideas to give women a blissful retirement. 

I'll be covering some of the advice in the book, plus lessons and tips from me and two friends, Penny and Veronica.  


Friday, 30 June 2023

What's Been on My {June} Calendar?

 & #WhatsBeenOnYourCalendar 

A busy month for London blogger Is This Mutton including exploring on an ebike, meeting famous makeup artist Lisa Eldridge and celebrating a wedding anniversary.

Dear friends. I've had a busy and colourful June. The weather finally came good: it was hotter in the UK than in many other European countries. Let's find out what's been occurring.


I mentioned last month I'd bought an electric bike. I'm now on a routine of three bike rides a week. So far the average distance has been around 20 miles, with a longer ride at 28 miles, as I get used to the gears and bike riding in general.  It hasn't always been easy. I have fallen off once; have been experimenting with "bum butter" and padded shorts to avoid a sore arse, and have struggled to accommodate my other hobbies. 

In spite of it being an ebike, I still get a good workout, particularly if I can keep up with J in Eco mode! My range is around 80 miles per charge.

Two easy (ish) rides are to the Olympic Park (below) and the Lee Valley Country Park, which is also home to the Olympic White Water Rafting Centre.  Both are great places for a coffee and rest. 

Three Gardens in the Cotswolds

I went to Oxford by train to join a MeetUp group on a perfect day for a tour of three private gardens. We drove through the picture-perfect golden brick villages of the Cotswolds.  First up was Sezincote, a fantasy-renaissance style garden with elements of Hindu style. 

The second garden was Bourton House Garden, a 1700s estate noted for its eclectic topiaries and unique, colourful plantings. This was our lunch spot. 

Finally we went to Chivel Farm, a beautifully designed country garden with extensive views of the Cotswold countryside.  The owners showed us around, and served delicious cakes. This was my favourite garden because I love the English cottage garden look. 

The Monument and London Mithraeum

I did an interesting walk in the City of London with MeetUp that took us up the 311 steps of The Monument. The Monument was built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London and to celebrate the rebuilding of the city. Alas, the sun came out about an hour after we'd left, so it was a cloudy view of London.

We then explored the Roman Mithraeum that was discovered in Walbrook, a street in the City of London, during a building's construction in 1954.

At the end, I went past the Tower of London to see how the wild flowers in the moat were looking. 

Bushey to Rickmansworth

My final walk in June with MeetUp was on one of the hottest days of the month.  It was a delightful walk from Bushey in Herts to Rickmansworth, below.

Swan Family

Back in Epping Forest, my regular haunt for walks, there's a lovely family of swans with seven cygnets. The proud male hisses at any dogs that get too close. 

Colourful Ladies Alert

There was a gathering in Morden Park Hall of the "Colourful Croydon Coffee Club."  We're an offshoot of the Kettlewell Colour Club.

Our 13th Wedding Anniversary

As is our tradition, we celebrated at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. We took the anniversary gift home with us to eat on another day. 

I Met Lisa Eldridge!

Regular readers will know that I am very keen on the luxurious makeup range of famous MUA Lisa Eldridge. I'm also very keen on the gorgeous gemstone jewellery she sells, but it's a little out of the price range.  

Lisa has just launched her first concession within Selfridges. I went to one of three events where she gave a talk and then met each of us and recommended the best lipstick.  I was a hard one to choose for because I already have nine. You can see me in my fan girl moment with Lisa, at the top of the post. 

I went with the lovely Annemarie from My Over 50s Fashion Life on YouTube. 

That was my June! As you read this I am enjoying myself in Greece and will tell you about our holiday when I'm back. 

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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