End of  the month review – January 2023

Hi everyone

Well, the start of a new year and a month nearly done, which seems to have flashed past!  Don’t think I’ve done much more than usual to make it go so quickly. We’ve been to dear friends for lunch and entertained the whole family to a second Christmas as one half of it had Covid on Christmas Day. I’ve had a good turnout of my wardrobe and taken things to a dress agency to be sold, and then bought some wonderful items at charity shops: the boots, skirt and coat (recently featured on Instagram) were the outstanding buys of the month, and all three from Outfit@Emmaus, which is the best place for pre-loved and vintage in the whole of Brighton, I think.


My hair is shorter, as I went to the hairdresser twice this month. All those years with long hair and I never ever thought I’d hear myself say, oh blast, the hairdresser’s not cut it short enough! But I did say that and went back again. I realise now that cutting the hair to be near the jaw-line is by far the best for my face.


And talking of faces, I had a lovely facial. Taking extra care of the face is, I think, so necessary during these winter months with the cold winter winds buffeting our skin. I know we don’t get the extremes of cold here but when the wind blows it can get very cuttingly cold – and don’t forget it’s a damp cold. Mind you, there’s me wrapped up like an Egyptian mummy, including a woollen scarf, hat and gloves and yet I see some people wearing next to nothing. Like one particularly cold day I was in a queue next to a young girl wearing a pair of shorts so short they were like big knickers – amazing! I kind of admired her for her youthful chutzpah and she didn’t seem to have a single goosepimple!


Recently I went up to London to meet Gail from is This Mutton again. We had tea in a very posh hotel.



Glad to say, I wore that new dress with the sweetheart neckline. Here I am getting ready.



Note the fingerless gloves! Over the dress I wore a green cropped cardi, my faux leather jacket and my long wool coat and a mad hat.



This was the first time I’d worn this hat and I rather think I shall wear it again as it’s great fun. I was so glad to get this hat out and wear it as it was the first time it’s been worn – I’d bought it years ago.


In fact, the hat made me laugh!




And the cakes and sandwiches were divine!



Look at those little cakes!



Thank you Gail for organising this and btw, thank you, dear readers, for your thoughtful comments on the first theme of our new venture, Tell Us About It. I hope to continue the conversation on ageing and the reality of being older, as opposed to the gung-ho way it is often written about, usually by much younger people. In the meantime – let’s turn to books, films and television.



I realise when I see your comments, and read other blogs that mention best reads, that our choices are always subjective and invariably suit our own particular tastes. For me, I prefer quite weighty books (and weighty might mean literally as the current one I’m reading is a paperback as big as a brick and heavy too!) filled with jeopardy and war and history, not the bodice ripper history type though.


This month I’ve read two books based in the past, which I thought might have been too light for me but they were good reads. The first was The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell, based on the true story of the marriage of 15-yr-old Lucrezia, daughter of Cosimo de Medici to Alfonso, d’Este, the Duke of Ferrara. In real life she died a year later who knows how: poison, strangulation, or maybe tuberculosis? Spoiler alert, the ending isn’t quite as dark as her short life implies. It was an enjoyable read as was the second book set in the past, The House of Fortune, by Jessie Burton. This is a sequel to The Miniaturist and features all the characters within that first book, setting out their mis-fortunes as their wealth and status declines. It was actually a very well thought through book and an excellent read. I don’t like giving a blow-by-blow account of plots so do give this book a go!


Another good buy was Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.  When I think of Ishiguro’s writing I always feel that there’s something infinitely sad in his tales (do tell me if you’ve read a jolly novel by this author) and this is no exception. The voice throughout this novel is Klara’s, a solar-powered sentient AF or Artificial Friend bought by parents for their children. Ishiguro’s writing is a perfect example of the power of never telling but just letting slip glimpses of what is happening so that very slowly we begin to realise what an artificial, anxious and dystopian life these humans lead. It is a masterpiece in my view of what it is to be human, what it is to love, what it is to lose one’s love and slowly leave this world. Ishiguro is a genius.


Another genius is Hilary Mantel, the author of the Cromwell trilogy, and I’ve just started A Place of Greater Safety which is a huge tome (this is the brick) on the French Revolution. It’s a kind of, phew, am I really reading this book – I’m enjoying it hugely!


A book which I have been dipping into over several weeks is Food for Life. The Science of Eating Well by Tim Spector. I am quite the fan of Professor Tim Spector as he leads the academic team that monitored Covid symptoms throughout the pandemic and is now leading the huge study on Intermittent Fasting in which I am taking part. The first half looks at food in detail, what is healthy (mainly plants) and what is not (sugar, sugar, sugar) and in the second half looks at food categories and all the scientific evidence that there is on meat, veg, cheese, dairy, eggs and so on. It’s actually very readable making it a fascinating read. I highly recommend it.



We seem to have not watched all that many films this month. Maybe that’s because we have temporarily stopped going to the cinema while we’re in the middle of the ‘flu and Covid season. But talking about Ishiguro we watched the film of his book, The Remains of the Day (BBC iPlayer) starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. It’s an old film made twenty years ago in 1993 but still retains good production values. Interesting to see a much younger Hugh Grant. Four**** from me for this one.


Another excellent film, a new one this time, was the inspiring and uplifting The Swimmers (Netflix), a biopic of two teenage Syrian sisters who had swum for their country at an international level. You see them flee the war and suffer enormous hardship as they make their way to Germany as refugees. The pair had been trained by their father to be top-class swimmers and while one sister, Sara, begins to lose interest in swimming the other sister, Yusra, is determined to get to the Olympics. It’s an uplifting tale and both an insight to another culture, and to the plight of the refugee and the dangers they encounter as they travel across the sea and through many countries. Five***** from me for this one.


And then a very different Eddie Redmayne in The Good Nurse (Netflix) playing a serial killer nurse who (rather like our Dr Shipman) managed to murder many old and vulnerable patients. Yikes, you’ll think that’s not for me. But it’s actually a gripping watch and we sat mesmerised held there mainly I think by the incredibly authentic acting coming from both Eddie Redmayne (usually such a pretty boy) and Jessica Chastain, playing his stalwart friend who later helped the police to stop his ghastly acts. Honestly, I didn’t expect this to be as good as it was, in fact, it was a brilliant film and Redmayne surely deserves an Oscar for his portrayal of this role. Five ***** from me for this one.



We’re rather short of good things to watch – please send me some recommendations!


I’ll start with a documentary. We watch a lot of documentaries too numerous to name, but one to look out for, especially considering that it was Holocaust Memorial Day last Friday is the Storyville documentary, Three Minutes: A Lengthening (BBC iPlayer) which looks at three minutes of a 16mm home movie footage taken in a Polish town just before World War II (found on the brink of deteriorating to nothing) and examines it in detail. So very very poignant, even more so when you realise that out of 3000 Jewish people in that town only 100 survived. We see the lives in that film and hope that never again….and yet….see above for the plight of refugees….


We’ve just finished watching Mystery Road: Origins (BBC iPlayer) which was excellent. This is the precursor to two other Mystery Road seasons. In this the newly qualified aboriginal detective Jay Swann returns to his hometown where his estranged father lives and joins the police force there. I say police force but it’s a small town and the police presence is small. This is really good television as the writing is brilliant and we come to care about the characters. It also helps that Mark Coles Smith who plays Jay Swann is really hot!


Also finished watching the first season of Deadwind (Netflix) which is the usual Nordic Noir set in Finland this time. It’s very good and we shall watch the next two seasons as and when.


We’re slowly getting through the episodes of Wednesday (Netflix) the remake and slightly different take on the Addams family, and billed as a coming-of-age supernatural comedy horror! It’s OK but a bit juvenile.


The best thing we are currently watching is the French language series, Women at War (Netflix) which tells the tale of four women caught up in the horrors of World War I. It stars Audrey Fleurot who you might remember from Spiral. This has great acting, a good script and is an all-round good watch.


Here’s to the coming Spring – and a reminder that there will be warm days again and beautiful flowers, plants and gardens to look at!



That’s all for now. I so appreciate you reading this to the end – thank you!


With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper


P.S. I have just listened to Sunday’s Omnibus edition of The Archers on the radio. This radio soap, for those of you outside the UK, is one of the world’s longest running daily radio drama ever as it’s been on for 60 years. I am a devoted fan so (Spoiler alert) RIP Jenny. What a shock that was!


End of the month review – January 2023
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33 thoughts on “End of the month review – January 2023

  • 30th January 2023 at 2:14 pm

    Hi Frances
    If you have not watched Pachinko: I highly recommend it. I love the title sequence, but
    the whole story is fascinating to watch. I did not know the history of the Japanese in Korea.
    Also: Poker Face–amazing acting!

    • 1st February 2023 at 2:32 pm

      Ah yes, thanks, I’ve heard of that series. Will look for it!

  • 30th January 2023 at 3:27 pm

    Hello Penny! I loved seeing your posh lunch with Gail – the green felt beret is awesome! I heard a great piece of advice about wearing something as soon as possible after you buy it. I’m wearing the gold glitter boots I bought on Saturday to work today. In my conservative office. To great delight by all…
    Will be saving your watching recommendations. The TV we’re enjoying right now is Vienna Blood (police detective and psychiatrist team up in very early 1900’s Vienna – great plots and all filmed beautifully on location.
    Would we enjoy spring and summer so much if we didn’t have to survive winter to get to them? Methinks not…

    • 1st February 2023 at 2:37 pm

      Yes, you’re so right, I should have worn the beret much earlier, but I’ll make up for it now! It’s the greyness of winter that can get you feeling gloomy but hey I’ve bought my first daffodils and am loving that Spring-like yellow in my kitchen! And yes, Vienna Blood – I’ve seen ads for that, so will try it this week. Thanks so much Mary 🙂

  • 30th January 2023 at 5:46 pm

    Hello Penny! A Place of Greater Safety is my favourite Hilary Mantel, and almost my favourite book EVER. Do continue to read it as it is enthralling, and the writing seems to speed up as the madness of the French Revolution comes to pass. I think it’s time I read it again….

    • 2nd February 2023 at 4:07 pm

      Oh brilliant Angela – I am loving the book. Yes, time to read it again! Thanks

  • 30th January 2023 at 7:05 pm

    I think that every decade or so we have to take a good look at our face to see if our makeup and hairstyle still fits the face. Love your baret and those handbag cakes!!! So cute!

    • 1st February 2023 at 2:40 pm

      They were cute, those cakes! And yes, it is important keep looking at what suits one best as the years pass!!!

      I shall wear the beret far more often now! Thanks Nancy 🙂

  • 31st January 2023 at 1:04 am

    Oh, I adore that beret and just wait until you see mine later this week. Yours, of course, is better since there’s a flower on it, but maybe I’ll add something like that to mine.
    I love that you got to meet up with other fabulous women…and the goodies?? Oh my!!

    • 1st February 2023 at 2:41 pm

      That beret is amazing and I should have worn it much sooner – but I will wear it far more often from now on!

      Those cakes…..!

  • 31st January 2023 at 4:37 am

    Oh, I agree! You should wear that hat often! It suits you so well! I’m considering cutting my hair as it seems to have developed a mind of its own and just won’t cooperate at all!

    I loved Klara and the Sun. It was so poignant…you don’t particularly ascribe feelings to AI beings. But, in other ways, it was a bit scary.

    We are watching My Life is Murder…an Australian show with Lucy Lawless having just finished Emily in Paris which I found a bit tiresome. I liked the fashion, Ashley Park’s singing, and the character of Luc…oh, and the scenery which I hope to someday see!

    Wonderful wrap up, Penny! I love receiving an email saying there’s a new post!


    • 1st February 2023 at 2:46 pm

      The thing with hair is the it will grow long again, and that’s what I said to myself when I first had it cut. I think easy does it, cut it a bit and then a little bit more. Then it isn’t such a shock.

      Klara and the Sun was so poignant. I still think about it. Also I loved the fact you had to work things out for yourself – the lives of the humans wasn’t great.

      Thanks for the recommendation – I do like Australian series so will go look for it.

      Thanks Marsha – I love your blog so much. Off to look at it now!

  • 1st February 2023 at 2:41 pm

    The Swimmers has been on my list, definitely want to watch it! Vronni has recommended a Danish crime thriller called Grow on Walter Presents, which sounds good.
    Yes you must wear the green beret more often! It’s very you.
    I’ve signed up for the NHS “Future Health” project. They want to track the health of 5m over 50s until we die. Giving a blood sample next week x

    • 1st February 2023 at 2:49 pm

      The Swimmers is a very good film that gives a lot of insight into refugee life – that boat crossing……

      I will wear the green beret more often!

      And interesting re: the NHS project. I’ve just written about the NHS on MOB. What you’re involved in sounds like they’re moving slowly towards more data on the population but something needs to be done right now – let’s hope the politicians can grasp the nettle!

  • 1st February 2023 at 3:29 pm

    So nice you and Gail got to meet up again. It looks like a lovely lunch. Your lace gloves are wonderful and I love your green hat. I just finished reading Tim Spector’s The Diet Myth. Wonderful book. He is able to explain the science so well. I devoured the first half of it in a day. I wrote a post about it. No great help on TV suggestions. We spend much of our time on Acorn which is devoted to British and Australian TV. I think my favorite at the moment is The Good Karma Hospital.

  • 1st February 2023 at 7:38 pm

    Hi Penny,

    I saw this post in Gail’s ‘link up’ so it seems that the alerts or updates about your posts are not appearing. I wondered why you weren’t posting…

    I loved your green hat, do wear it more often; it suits you and what a beautiful colour. Loved your afternoon tea meet up outfit, too. Who was the third member of the party? A fashionista for sure. The afternoon tea looked delicious, btw.

    I loved ‘Klara and the Sun’ and ‘A Place of Greater Safety’ too as well as Mystery Road. I highly recommend ‘Grow’ on Netflix; a Danish crime drama. Will try and watch ‘The Swimmer’ it sounds fab.

  • 1st February 2023 at 11:45 pm

    Hi Penny, this was a great warp-up post and I love your green hat (and your whole outfit)! Lovely to see you with Gail and what lovely looking cakes – so dainty and no calories as they are too small :). I also enjoyed The Marriage Portrait recently. I’ve just finished a really good book The Measure by Nikki Erlick, very thought provoking about our life span and how we measure our life. It’s been great to connect with you through our Tell Us About posts and I look forward to reading our next posts about Play.

  • 3rd February 2023 at 3:05 pm

    My husband and I went to the cinema to watch The Remains of the Day all those years ago, but we walked out after half an hour…bear in mind that we were teenagers and were bored to tears lol. I’m sure if we watched it now, we’d probably rather enjoy it!!
    My favourite TV show at the moment is Wednesday LOL!!! I’ve watched it two and a half times already….my tastes are clearly very different from yours. But I’m also enjoying watching Robson Green’s weekends away. It does help that he’s rather dishy!
    Suzy xx

  • 3rd February 2023 at 3:39 pm

    How lovely to get together with other bloggers and what a delightful place to meet at. I love that green hat. I am looking forward to spring as this winter has been rain and more rain. It is actually a beautiful day today so I should go out and walk!

  • 4th February 2023 at 5:48 am

    Hi Penny! I missed receiving an email from you so I googled and found your latest post. So glad I did as it looks like a lot of fun! And you look wonderful while having all that fun!
    Charlene H

  • 12th February 2023 at 11:40 am

    Hi Penny, I’ve just read the last comment from Charlene H, and the same thing happened to me, No email from you (greatly missed!) so I googled FFS and found you.
    So glad to see you again and read about your lovely lunch!!

    • 16th February 2023 at 9:47 am

      Sorry about the lack of an email, Pauline. The email is an automatic thing totally controlled by WordPress. When we changed the theme lots of widgets got disconnected one of which was the automatic email, but although we reinstalled it, it is going out as though it is from WordPress.com rather than me, hence the email might have gone to your Spam folder. Things have changed a lot since we last tweaked the WordPress email (it was many years ago) so we are at the moment rather flummoxed as to solving this – we’re working on it!

      Also there have been no further posts as I have been simply pole-axed by flu, the type where you can’t get out of bed. Day 11 and I am still feeling unwell. I know I will get over it, but even so it’s very debilitating. I can barely sit at my desk so no writing has been done.

      Thanks for looking for me Pauline I do appreciate it 🙂

  • 12th February 2023 at 11:45 am

    Hi Penny, I’ve just read Charlene H’s comment and the same thing happened to me. No recent email from you (greatly missed!) and so I googled you and found this post about your lovely lunch!
    Pauline in. Madrid.

  • 13th February 2023 at 4:46 pm

    Same from me Penny – no email,. Will check spam. I’ve just read The Stoneware Monkey by R Austin Freeman who was writing in the 20’s. Wonderful language, some of which I had to look up. Very surprised to find him putting words and phrases in quotation marks, I thought that was a modern thing. We are watching a very old drama called Fortunes of War with Kenneth Branagh & Emma Thompson on BBC4. A bit dated but very good. I agree that The Remains of the Day is a wonderful film. Our local film club is showing the The Lost King next month which we missed so will probably go although I really prefer the ‘proper’ cinema. Vienna Blood is just too dark for me. I’m an Archers fan too. Having a difficult time at present as bad news on the health front but trying to stay hopeful.

    • 14th February 2023 at 9:27 am

      Oh Lynda – so sorry to hear about your health situation. I am replying to you and only you as I too have been unwell but it is absolutely nothing in comparison to you as I shall get over it. I have ‘flu, not a horrid cold but actual flu and have never felt so unwell for I’d say about 20 years when I last had flu. But then I was twenty years younger! Day 9 and still feeling really really unwell. Can’t write and barely able to do more than watch daytime telly!

      Sorry about the IT/email situation. Changing the ‘theme’ which made it look better disconnected a lot of stuff including the email, which btw, I don’t send, it’s always automatically done by WordPress, but there’s something we can tweak which makes it look like it’s from me and we still have to do that. I think the email might be in your Spam as although we connected the email again we haven’t as yet done the extra tweak, and your system might have rejected it.

      I remember Fortunes of War, and yes, Remains of the Day was such a quality film. Sending a virtual hug and thanks as always for your comment X

  • 14th February 2023 at 9:33 am

    Hi Penny
    Great post, but I only found it by checking your website 😕. No usual email.
    Thanks for the recommendations. One for you, totally quirky and odd, but amazing. It’s a programme that was on BBC4 a week ago, so should be on iplayer – all about moss! The Magical World of Moss. And it was truly magical! The photography was incredible, and it was so interesting. I admit to being keen on gardening but even a non-gardener would find this interesting I think.
    Love the beret, you’ve definitely got a face that suits hats.
    All the best x

    • 14th February 2023 at 9:58 am

      We saw the programme about Moss too, so surprising and quite beautiful.

    • 16th February 2023 at 9:44 am

      Thank you Kathy and sorry about the IT problem. The email is an automatic thing totally controlled by WordPress. When we changed the theme (the look) lots of widgets got disconnected one of which was the automatic email, but although we reinstalled it, we realise it is going out as though it is from WordPress.com rather than me, hence the email might have gone to your Spam folder. Things have changed a lot since we last sorted the WordPress email out (it was many years ago) so we are at the moment rather flummoxed as to solving this – we’re working on it!

      Also there have been no further posts as I have a flu virus. It’s not a rotten cold but a ghastly flu, the type where you can’t get out of bed. Day 11 and I am still feeling unwell. I know I will get over it, but even so it’s very debilitating. I can barely sit at my desk so no writing has been done.

      Thanks so much for looking for me Kathy 🙂

  • 15th February 2023 at 9:19 am

    Dear Penny…saw your reply to Lynda. Sorry that you are feeling so ill. Prayers for healing and good health for both you and Lynda. Do take care…Charlene

  • 15th February 2023 at 12:48 pm

    for whatever reason I never got this post. I did have internet problems last weekend but seems ok now, this morning I went searching and here you are. I know what you mean about hair, it its longer it seems to emphasize the lines and wrinkles. this has been a quiet few weeks for me. anyway, I am happy to see you are getting out and looking well. Darby

    • 16th February 2023 at 9:41 am

      Thank you Darby. I’m replying to you quickly to say – sorry about the IT problem. The email is an automatic thing totally controlled by WordPress. When we changed the theme lots of widgets got disconnected one of which was the automatic email, but although we reinstalled it, it is going out as though it is from WordPress.com rather than me, hence the email might have gone to your Spam folder. Things have changed a lot since we last sorted the WordPress email out (it was many years ago) so we are at the moment rather flummoxed as to solving this – we’re working on it!

      Also there have been no further posts as I have been simply pole-axed by a flu virus. It’s not a rotten cold but a ghastly flu, the type where you can’t get out of bed. Day 11 and I am still feeling unwell. I know I will get over it, but even so it’s very debilitating. I can barely sit at my desk so no writing has been done.

      Thanks for looking for me Darby, I do appreciate it 🙂

  • 16th February 2023 at 2:56 pm

    Hi Penny, I enjoyed your post, as always!
    But I thought it was quite amusing that just after a thoughtful post on time, how it passes, how our perception of it varies, you mention 1993 as being 20 years ago…

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