Fashion, books, fun for the over-50s.

Search This Blog

Friday, 13 November 2020

Friday Fizz: A Beauty Box Winner and the Return of Epicure Piccalilli


Over 50s blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton tries out the My John Lewis x Hannah Martin beauty box - and likes it

Welcome to a new monthly post, Fizzing on Friday, where I'll feature a beauty update and other news and updates. In this first post, I'm praising a beauty box - after saying I wasn't going to buy any more - and the return of an old favourite, Epicure Piccalilli. Plus some other random thoughts.

The contents of the My John Lewis x Hannah Martin beauty box

My John Lewis x Hannah Martin Beauty Box

I was buying something online in beauty at JLP and I noticed this beauty box, a collaboration with makeup artist Hannah Martin. I pledged a few weeks ago I wasn't going to buy any more beauty boxes or beauty Advent calendars or Easter eggs because once you've done it a few times, you get the same products, some of which haven't been selling well. But this box intrigued me because the products looked carefully chosen, and some of them are very well rated.

The box retails for £95 but is worth £160. The products are:  Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base, 50ml; MAC Mascara in Extreme Dimension Waterproof, black; By Terry Terrybly  Eye Pencil, black; Charlotte Tilbury The Queen of Glow Luxury Palette;  Clarins Natural Lip Perfector, Candy Shimmer and Rose Shimmer, 5ml; NARS Blush in Deep Throat (I hate the names of those NARS blushers - cringe city).

There's a card in the box where Hannah Martin explains why she chose each item.  This box really delighted me because the items are so good. The mascara doesn't budge, and is noticeable on my puny eyelashes. The blush is a soft pink with a gold undertone, which imparts a pretty, soft flush.  I have a few Charlotte Tilbury eyeshadow palettes and the high pigmentation and dazzling colors always impress me. I'd forgotten about Clarins Natural Lip Perfectors, but used to love them - and I rememer why; they make the most lined and wrinkled lips look smooth and luscious with just a hint of colour. 

I had to be convinced about the eye pencil because I've tried a few By Terry products and never rated them, but the kohl is very soft and glides on easily. It did transfer to the lower lash after about 30 minutes, which was irritating, but I dabbed it off.

The products create a soft pretty look with emphasis on the eyes.  I didn't use the eyeshadow palette for this picture, or indeed the Bobbi Brown enriched face base, because I'm using other products right now. But my "Bobbette" friends on Instagram rate the face product very highly so I'm looking forward to trying it.

Graham Norton Leaving BBC Radio 2

I've always enjoyed Graham Norton's Saturday morning show;  it's relaxed with interesting guests (he attracts a higher calibre than the usual Z listers) and I enjoy the "Grill Graham" slot and his banter with co-presenter Maria McErlane.  Unfortunately it was announced this week that after 10- years, Graham is giving up his show.

The BBC said it was his own choice, but we later learned that the BBC wants its presenters to talk less and to play more music. 

Back in the day when I worked in BBC local radio,  there was a high cost for royalties called "needle time", so they would substitute free-of-charge music called "radioplay"  (I would describe it as muzak or not by the original artists).  

I had hoped the BBC was going to regain some common sense now it has a new Director General who overturned a couple of daft decisions. But no.  They pay Graham Norton a lot of money to be Graham, which means a lot of chat and laughter.  I can't understand why they'd want to play more music, unless it's another futile attempt to make Radio 2 attractive to younger listeners, who already have Radios 1 and 6. 

A welcome return for Epicure Piccalilli 

A jar of Epicure Piccalilli which is back on the shelves after a very long absence

Back in 2008 on my old blog, I wrote a post "It's thick and yellow" about my passion for piccalilli and my search for a replacement to Epicure's distinguished product, which had been discontinued a long time before 2008.

I was recently contacted by Jason Beaumont, managing director of a company which has revived the Epicure brand. Epicure Piccalilli is back on the market! 

I was quick to purchase a jar of piccalilli from Ocado.  The verdict?  The color is a deep gold, perhaps a little more lurid than I remembered, and there were fewer silverskin onions. But the balance is exactly right. 

Jason told me: "We researched brand archives in a bid to find out what set Epicure Piccalilli apart from the rest.  With piccalilli it’s all about getting the right balance of the key ingredients - chunky and crunchy veg and gherkin - not too much, but then again absolutely not too little and thin.  Pack a tangy punch with the mustard dressing - again not overpowering and definitely not too acidic to strip the back of your throat."

The piccalilli is a harmonious blend which will be perfect with the Christmas cold meats, pork pie and cheese board. 

Those who remember Epicure will be pleased to know that a wide range of products is now available and you can see them on the Epicure website, including a Christmas pudding and mince pies, honey, tinned vegetables (artichokes, asparagus spears and so on), ingredients and home baking.  Buy the products at Ocado and in farm shops, delis, and supermarkets, not just in the UK but also in Ireland. 

More good news: Cummings is leaving

We'e been spoiled this week with good news: the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines for Covid are on their way;  we're getting a bank holiday in 2022 for the Queen's Platinum anniversary, and now the loathsome Dominic Cummings, Machiavellian advisor to Johnson, is said to be quitting after Christmas.

You may remember he ruined lockdown by flouting the rules, "testing his eyesight" in a trip to a castle, and then lying about it on TV.  Johnson should have sacked him but was too cowardly and selfish. 

Instead, the government did everything it could to "move the debate on", ie, close it down. Historians will remember that period as the moment the public saw this government for what it is - contemptuous of us, with different rules for them - and a turning point in the public's good will in upholding lockdown situations. 

Ironically Cummings is quitting now after some petty spat involving the firing of the PR chief.  Shows their priorities doesn't it?

Prince Harry got it right this time 

More stick in the papers for Harry and Meghan for their lone photo call in a US war graves cemetery to mark Remembrance Day. Apparently Harry had wanted a wreath to be laid at the Cenotaph in London on his behalf, but the royal family refused. How long is this boring feud going to drag on?  Harry and Meghan have made their bed but surely there's a bit of room for compromise every now and then. 

I applaud their Remembrance Day effort because young people need to be educated about remembrance and why we do it, and the younger (trendier) royals will do a better job in conveying this than Charles and the Queen. 

I would caution William and Kate to remember what happened to the  Duke of Windsor, the former Edward VIII, who abdicated for the love of (another) American divorcee. Bored and idle, spurned by his family, he was a Nazi sympathizer who was apparently involved in a failed plot to overthrow the British crown during World War II.

Hope you enjoyed this first Friday Fizz. Nothing was gifted for this post. I'm back on Wednesday with #WowOnWednesday and a long cardigans style up.

Sharing this post with Not Dresssed as LambMy Random Musings, Fancy Friday at Nancys Fashion Style, Fabulous Friday at Lucy Bertoldi, Beauty by Miss L,  and Shelbee on the Edge 


There's a fashion or beauty post every Wednesday with the #WowOnWednesday link-up. Stay in the loop: follow Is This Mutton? on Bloglovin or Feedspot. I post extra goodies on the Is This Mutton? Facebook page. 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 and Instagram


Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Sixty Favourite Things - and Link-Up

 Style blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton on reaching the age of 60 and her ambitions for the next few years
I reached a  milestone at the weekend, my 60th birthday.  Until yesterday, this post was about my feelings on being 60 and how ageism is the only prejudice that is still roaming untamed. But thinking about it, I thought it was all a bit dark; and having cried for joy today at hearing about the Pfizer vaccine, and how we might be back to normal by spring, I thought I'd create something a little more light hearted.

So here are my 60 Things:   60 things I love. I should explain first that some of these are informed by my younger self, nostalgia and memories ----there were certain films and TV shows we adored in my family, and I knew all the words and songs.  There are a couple of books in the list which I loved as a child / teen, but wouldn't want to read now.

10 Favourite Books

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

1984 - George Orwell 

Never No More - Maura Laverty

The Long Walk - Slavomir Rawicz

Papillon - Henri Charriere

Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

The Skin Chairs - Barbara Comyns

The Women's Room - Marilyn French

The Golden Notebook - Doris Lessing

Far from the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy 

A red plaid dress with red and black boots worn by Is This Mutton style blogger Gail Hanlon

10 Favourite Films

Oliver!  (musical starring Mark Lester, Ron Moody)

Far From the Madding Crowd  (Julie Christie, Terence Stamp version)

Jean de Florette

Manon des Sources

Frankie and Johnny

Carry On Camping

The Great St Trinians Bank Robbery

The Passion of the Christ

The Sound of Music

The Railway Children

10 Favourite TV Shows 

Game of Thrones

I Claudius

Monty Python's Flying Circus

Father Ted

Fawlty Towers

Line of Duty

Top of the Pops

Jesus of Nazareth

All Creatures Great and Small (1970s version)

Das Boot  (original version)

Celebrating a big birthday in a Fabienne Chapot red plaid dress

10 Miscellaneous Likes



Cheese, most types except goat's


Rain after weeks of dry weather (yes it happens once in a blue moon!)

Waking up on the first day of a holiday abroad

Waking up on Christmas Day 

Walking on a beach in winter 

Seeing the first bulbs pop their heads above ground: the harbingers of spring

After a long and steep walk in the Lake District, seeing the car (!) 

5 Celebrities I Adored (clue: I was not the type to fall for Brad Pitt or anyone too obvious)

Mark Lester  (I was 8)

James Drury "The Virginian"

Jeff Thomson (Australian fast bowler)

David Bowie (always)

Colin Farrell

5 Girls I'd Like As Best Friends 

Marian Keyes

Nigella Lawson

Jane Garvey

Claudia Winkleman

Liza Tarbuck

A red plaid midi shirt dress worn by Is This Mutton's Gail Hanlon

10 Favourite David Bowie Songs

John I'm Only Dancing
Life on Mars
Wild is the Wind
Word on a Wing
Hello Spaceboy
The Dreamers
Slow Burn
We are the Dead 
Absolute Beginners 

In the pictures I'm wearing the red plaid Fabienne Chapot dress that I bought for my birthday, from The Bias Cut. Originally I was going to wear it for dinner at one of our favourite restaurants in London, the Gilbert Scott. Hopefully it will happen in a month's time - we rescheduled for early December when England should be out of lockdown again. 

I won't forget my 60th birthday in lockdown - it was the day that Joe Biden won the US election, and a few days later, a vaccine was announced for Covid, so it looks as if we are finally turning the corner and good things are starting to happen. 

I'm back on Friday with a bonus post to tell you about a beauty box that was really worth the money, and the return of an old favourite - it might surprise you to know what this is but you can read the preamble in my post from 2008

Sharing this post with Top of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #LinkupOnTheEdge  at Shelbee on the Edge, Anna at Muttonstyle, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Thursday Moda at Elegance and Mommyhood, Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Style with a Smile and Stylish Monday at StylesplashAnna at the GlamAdventure, Style Six at Coast to CoastTFF at Doused in Pink, Fancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style, Fabulous Fridays at Lucy Bertoldi, Beauty by Miss L Link Up#iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed as Lamb,  Lizzie in Lace  Ask Suzanne Bell and Confident Twosday at IDoDeclaire

#WowOnWednesday was replaced last week by the one-off #7DaySkirtChallenge, where a group of Instagrammers and bloggers showed off their skirts for a week. The two readers' favourites were Lucy Bertoldi and Michelle from Fifty and Fab.

Lucy's post 7Day Skirt Challenge Linkup! Who Wears Short Skirts? We Wear… showcased an enviable skirt wardrobe and Lucy's love of bright colors and eclectic prints. 

Michelle also showed off a gorgeous animal print skirt in a outfit which ticks all the trends for autumn:  Autumn outfits and black chunky boots!  I envy Michelle's ability to pull off this amazing look - midi skirt, leather jacket, chunky boots. It looks so contemporary, I love it.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

The 7 Day Skirt Challenge - and Link Up

Had a bit of fun on Instagram over the last week with my #7DaySkirtChallenge. Every day a group of us posted a different skirt outfit, or one skirt that featured all week, with a different look each day.

I thought it would also make a good blog post to show the versatility of skirts, so most of the girls involved will be sharing their skirts today and joining the link up. Hopefully we'll see some new skirts from those who didn't take part on Instagram.


Monday, 2 November 2020

Sentence a Day: October 2020: Covid test, trip to office, strange contraption in forest


Thursday Oct 1

Got print copy of Yours magazine - I was featured as a fashion blogger to follow!  

Friday October 2

Raining.  Went to gym. Did an online Bobbi Brown make-up webinar.  Watched first episode Emily in Paris.

Saturday Oct 3

Raining.  Put wet weather gear on and did urban walk 5 miles. Did some cleaning after lunch.

Sunday Oct 4

Raining.  Did food shopping. Family came for lunch including step granddaughter. Roast chicken. Watched last episode season two Borgen. Really enjoyed it.

Monday Oct 5

Raining and cloudy. New passport came, black cover - not the burgundy EU cover for obvious reasons (which make me sad - I am foremost a European).  

Tuesday October 6

John's birthday.  We did my favourite walk - started raining when we got back. My company's major event for developers started, virtually. This time last year I was at the event in California.  J had his favourite dinner, sausages and jacket potato.  He didn't want to go out. 

Weds Oct 7 

Frustrating day. Busy so no walk or gym. Lipstick and eye colour ordered from Byredo came. J got his bike trainer out.  Similar concept to Peloton, he uses one of his own bikes with it and can choose routes with virtual friends.

Thurs Oct 8

Emotional to see last two 747s leaving Heathrow, shown live in breakfast TV.  Went to gym and did shopping. 

Fri Oct 9

Ordered new fridge.

Sat Oct 10

Walked to gym (4 miles).  It was a lovely morning.  Watched last episode Emily in Paris.

Sun Oct 11

Kept day free so I could do a big blog shoot, 3 outfits . Watched film The Secret: Dare to Dream.  6 out of 10. Secured click and collect slot for Christmas turkey crown in Dec.

Mon Oct 12

John and sister Kate set off to the Lake District for a week's holiday.  Rain. No exercise, busy st work. Watched first episode of new series Adult Material. Bit of an eye opener! 

Tues Oct 13

J and Kate did Helm Crag (J is pictured below on one of their walks). Cloudy. Gym and shopping.  Gym.  Laughed at a survey where the top Google questions asked about the UK from different countries were examined.  Top of the list was "why do the British have bad teeth?"

Weds Oct 14

Sunny start. After meetings left at 11. 30 to drive to the office in Cambridge,  first time since Feb! We were given individual slots to go in to collect personal items from our office, which is to be renovated. Very strange atmosphere - deserted. A plate of nuts still on a desk. Quick stop off at Tesco, like old times.  Went home. Started Inhuman Resources,  serial with Eric Cantona  (enjoyed it). 

Thursday Oct 15

Covid news: London moving into tier 2, high risk. Households can only socialise outdoors. Went to gym. Still a bit tired after Tuesday's session.  Finished Inhuman Resources. Started book about  Barbara Amiel (read my review here). Watched extraordinary documentary My Octopus Teacher on Netflix. 

Friday Oct 16

Had long sleep as I fell asleep at 8.30pm and woke up at normal time 6am. Must have been tired. Haven't had any walks this week. Just too busy with work. John came back today, a day earlier than planned. Fridge was delivered.

Sat Oct 17

Did my fave walk then Epping and shopping. 

Sun Oct 18

Walked to PP. Sorted out bulb containers  in front garden.   Gammon for lunch but couldn't understand why it was still pink after being cooked for a long time. Then remembered that gammon stays pink, unlike pork!  Watched two episodes of Wanted.

Mon Oct 19

Did walk 4 miles, Connaught water in Epping forest (top picture). Weather quite mild. Quiet day. During night woke up v hot. Radiator was on, although heating had switched off on timer hours earlier. Had to open windows as I couldn't switch radiator off.

Tues Oct 20

Cloudy, mild. Gym.  Covid test came. Have been invited to take part in a research project where I take the test at home. It's to see how many people have Covid without symptoms.  

Weds Oct 21

Raining. Did 4 mile walk in new waterproof trousers, which worked perfectly. J ordered a new TV. 

Thursday Oct 22

Did Covid test. Sunny. Courier supposed to collect test before 6pm but didn't come. Falafels and salad

Friday Oct 23

Rearranged collection. The sample is OK in a fridge for 7 days. Walked to gym. Warm. Usual fish and chips. Sample was unexpectedly collected at 6.45 (had been rebooked for Mon). Started Barbarians, Netflix. 

Sat Oct 24

Did favourite walk of Yates meadow.  Feeling tired. Did shopping in Epping.  New TV delivered.  Watched Bill Murray film On the Rocks. 7 out of 10. Sausages and jacket potato.

Sun Oct 25

Kept the day free for household chores. Managed to plant some bulbs and prepare a bed for a bare root rose I'm expecting. Roast chicken.  

Mon Oct 26

Short walk although weather lovely. Heart wasn't in it. 

Tues Oct 27

My #7DaySkirtChallenge started on Instagram. Look out for a blog post featuring all the skirts tomorrow, 3 Nov.  Negative Covid result. Rained. Gym. 

Weds 28 Oct 

Did 4 mile walk, Yates. A strange contraption has appeared, like an old rusty motor bike. Has label saying forest police are aware.  Entire meadow now mown. Sunny. Got very wet later.

Thurs Oct 29

Had an amusing email about a post I wrote in 2004 on my old blog about Epicure piccalilli, which had been discontinued years before.  The new owners of the brand would like me to try it.  No exercise. today. Got v windy.

Friday Oct 30

Walked to gym. Rest of day was working. Bare root rose, Gabriel Oak, came.  I couldn't resist a rose named after the hero in one of my favourite books.

Sat 31 Oct 

Halloween but no kids called. Govt announced whole of UK going back into lockdown on Thursday for a month. That's my birthday dinner (Sat) up the spout. Rained so didn't do the shopping as usual.

I hope your month was more exciting than mine! And things won't be any better for November with the lockdown for a month (at least). 

Sharing this post with Not Dresssed as LambMy Random Musings and Shelbee on the Edge 


There's a fashion or beauty post every Wednesday with the #WowOnWednesday link-up. Stay in the loop: follow Is This Mutton? on Bloglovin or Feedspot. I post extra goodies on the Is This Mutton? Facebook page. 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 and Instagram

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
Blog Design Created by pipdig