vrijdag 12 januari 2018

Got my feet on the ground

Going back to work after the Christmas break was hard enough as it is and to be faced with the crowds going mad at the first day of the sales didn't exactly improve things.

But, as they say, if you can't beat them, join them, so that's what I did, although it was totally unintentional.

As I was battling through the crowds in the small shopping centre near my office - I needed to pick up something at the chemist - I passed the shop where, a couple of months ago, I'd spotted a gorgeous burgundy fake fur wrap.

Being used to second hand shopping, I baulked at seeing its price, possibly exclaiming "How much?" in the process. As the shop wasn't too crowded, I took a chance and popped inside. And there it was, reduced by 50%. Result!


Obviously, I had to wear it on Saturday to show if off, although it wasn't nearly cold enough for wearing fur, fake or otherwise.

I wore it with my belted Tweed jacket and my fluffy purple beret.



Underneath, I was wearing a vintage dress picked up at one of Think Twice's sales.

It's a fit and flare model with a cowl neck and the fabric has a busy Paisley print in muted colours. There's a variety of greens in it, as well as sky blue and peachy pink.

I added a lilac belt and a long, chunky, green necklace.



On top, a royal blue cardigan, on which I pinned a brooch with different coloured stones in earthy tones, which was charity shopped in Wales back in 2016.

On Saturday morning, we took down our decorations and dismantled our Christmas tree, putting them away in our basement for another year.

Then, after lunch, we did some leisurely charity shopping, and ended the afternoon with coffee and cake at our final shop, which has a rather nice cafeteria.


I have dozens of belts, the majority of them charity shopped for € 1,50 or less. At prices like this, you can afford lots of variety, so I always look out for belts in different colours and styles.

I always look out for cardigans too, this time picking up this pink one with black collar detail and black buttons.

The row of photos on the right show a vintage pink Paisley print skirt. It's handmade, and I love how they used a contrasting bright green zip!

Jos was in luck too, as he found a brand new shirt from Massimo Dutti for next to nothing.

On Sunday, we had another date with our favourite indoor flea market.

I'm taking you through what I was wearing first.


The long orange cardigan on the left was another charity shop find from Saturday. Although it worked really well with my outfit and I wore it in its entirety on Monday, I changed into a short bottle green cardigan for our outing, as I was planning to wear a short jacket.


Jos actually thought I was wearing a dress, and indeed, the skirt and blouse went unexpectedly well together, with similar geometrics going on in their prints.

I matched my brooch to the ladies on the blouse and after trying on and discarding several necklaces, I finally settled on this ochre yellow and gold one.

Have you noticed that the green stone of my ring matches the brooch lady's cloche hat in shape as well as colour? I only did when I was looking at the photographs.

It had turned bitterly cold overnight, so we did most of the outfit photos at home. I am looking quite pale and ghostly in them, which isn't helped by the fact that I wasn't wearing lipstick.



All ready to go with my green jacket, favourite scarf, orange beret and tights and dark brown vintage gloves. The burgundy handbag has a cross body strap as well, perfect for some hands free browsing!


On to the flea market, which wasn't as big as last month's, and not overly crowded. My guess is that most people were out sales hunting as most city centre shops were open.

It did mean we were able to see it all - we are usually quite cross-eyed by the time we reach the last two aisles - and we found quite a few treasures too!


Zooming in on the strangest oddity first, we picked up these feet with their varnished toenails, advertising a shoe brand, from a favourite stall. They are made of some kind of moulded plastic. The stall's owner (a follower of my blog!) bought them at a flea market back in the day when she used to work as a window dresser. Neither she nor I had any luck finding anything about them on the Internet.


Another favourite stall yielded this plaster head on a heavy stone plinth. She has joined the others on our spare room's mantelpiece.


More oddities! I was drawn to this sad looking wooden Scottie and was wondering about the indentation on his back, when the stallholder told me it was a pipe holder. I couldn't very well leave the poor thing behind, and was given a beautifully crafted and marked pipe to go with him.

The tin on the top right was a gift from the lady who sold us the feet, while the tin with the 1930s lady was issued by chocolate brand Côte d'Or to celebrate their 50th anniversary in 1933.



These vintage deadstock woolly hats were just € 2,50 each, so I bought three of them as I couldn't make up my mind. I already wore the green one to work this week.


There were some brooches too, of course, picked up at various stalls. With prices ranging from € 1 to € 7,50, my purchases didn't exactly break the bank.

Although I obviously love them all, my favourite is the wicker brooch embroidered with straw poppies. As it is also the most fragile one, it might only get the odd outing.

Which one is your favourite?

maandag 8 januari 2018

Tickled pink

Time moves on relentlessly, each day a page torn off the new year's calendar, at this time of year still promising endless possibilities.



But before we plunge headlong into the new year, I am setting the time machine one more time for last month.

It was on Boxing Day that the sun finally made a timid appearance and as we had been cooped up inside for long enough, a bracing walk was what we needed.

Our destination was one of our favourite parks in Antwerp, Middelheim, which is a less than fifteen minute drive from our home.



It was just our luck that once we'd got out of our car, the sun had disappeared behind some nasty looking clouds, and a cold wind was blowing when we crossed the open space leading up to the main part of the park.



Things warmed up considerably once we were under the shelter of the trees, helped by the occasional appearance of the sun, who was trying her very best to keep one step ahead of the persistant clouds.


My outfit of the day was a long sleeved black, floral patterned dress, with a full skirt and a cowl neck, which of course isn't visible here. I wore it with a green cardigan, the sleeves of which are just peeping out from under my jacket's sleeves, green tights and black boots.

You can have a better look at the dress here.

My green fur-collared jacket, warm yellow chunky knit scarf and red beret were keeping me warm and toasty.

Oh, and a pair of fingerless gloves, necessary for taking photographs!



If you've been following my blog for a while, you might remember our previous visits to this open air museum with its eclectic collection of sculptures.



This really is a park for all seasons, although some of the sculptures were covered up or even removed to protect them from harsh winter conditions.


In this empty space, the artwork hasn't been removed at all. Here, the visitor is encouraged to become an artwork for the duration of one minute. Or long enough to strike some silly poses and make some photographs!

Although we took a different route than usual, the Braem Pavilion pulled us in like a magnet, the low, curvy, white building appearing like a mirage through the trees.



The pavilion usually hosts an exhibition of some sort and this time was no exception.

The current exhibition, called Recall Sculpture, shows a collection of sculptures on loan from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA), and as they were originally purchased at one of the biennial exhibitions organised by the Middelheim Museum from 1951 until 1989, they have, in a way, come home!

Clockwise from top right: Door (1975), by Erzebet Schaar (bronze), Rain (1957), by Mark Macken (bronze), Saturne (1962) by Julio Gero (iron) and Omaggio al Cosmonauta Nr. 2 (1962) by Arnaldo Pomodoro (bronze).


Fausto Melotti, The Dance, 1973 (gilded brass and plexi)


Apart from a few exceptions, the majority of the pieces on show were table top sculptures which were presented on raised platforms.

I grabbed a brochure, so that I could identify the pieces later, but unfortunately it only showed the placement of the sculptures with a list of numbers, making the artwork difficult to identify later and requiring a fair amount of guessing and googling for this post.



I loved the backdrop of floor length dusky pink gauzy curtains, which really offset the sculptures, bathing them in a warm glow.


Clockwise from top left: me looking at Peace (1952) by Mark Macken (bronze), detail of The Big Dancer (1951-53) by Marino Marini (bronze), Standing Girl (1949) by Charles Leplae (terracotta) and detail of top left.

The works all date from the 1950s to the 1970s, a period during which artists broke free from the oppressive straitjacket of the war years, resulting in a wide variety of materials and themes, which was in sharp contrast with the government restraints on art during wartime.


Emerging from the warmth of the pavilion, we continued our walk, crossing Ai Weiwei's Bridge Without a Name.



The museum's café inside the park's castle was beckoning with hot drinks, in my case a delicious hot chocolate topped with whipped cream!




Dusk was falling rapidly, the gloaming providing an eerie shadowplay of silhouetted artwork, bare-limbed trees and fluffy white Clematis seed heads.

Refreshed in both body and soul, we made our exit the way we started, through the Artist's Entrance (created by Dutch artist John Körmeling), proclaiming some of the resident artists' names in lights.

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style for the first time this year!

donderdag 4 januari 2018

Tales from December's twilight days

When I waved goodbye to the office on Friday before last, I was looking forward to eleven days of freedom, which seemed like an eternity at the time.

All too soon, though, the Christmas break was over: I've been back treading the hamster wheel of daily life for two days by the time you're reading this.

But I was able to refresh my batteries, as they say, although it would have taken at least twice as long to get them fully charged.

So, what did I do with all the time I had on my hands? In terms of actual achievements, not all that much, but I did get to the bottom of my mending basket (well, almost: there's still one Summer dress waiting for new buttons).



It might be stating the obvious, but we did some charity shopping.

These photos were taken on the very first day of my break, which was the Saturday before Christmas.

The skirt I was wearing is part of a St. Michaels suit, in a rust coloured marled polyester fabric, which I'd recently found at Think Twice.

But although it's looking quite nice on Angelica, it didn't feel right on me.


Instead, I wore the skirt with a psychedelic vintage top, tight fitting and closing with a back zipper, and cinched in with a powder blue belt. For warmth, I threw on my "faux sheep" gilet.

For our shopping trip, I replaced the gilet with a powder blue and cream wool jacket, accompanied by a multicoloured knit scarf and a dusky pink mohair Kangol beret.


The gods of the charity shops were with us that day, as there were two pairs of boots and a pair of booties waiting for me!


I even managed to find a vintage dress, which is quite a rarity at the chazzas these days. It's a Summer dress, so I let Angelica do the honours, while Phoebe was keeping a watchful eye.


These scarves are both from the same shop, but couldn't be more different: a silk Paris souvenir scarf, depicting Parisian landmarks as well as elegant Parisiennes, and a blue and white woollen scarf, which looks brand new. They were a steal at just € 0,30 each.


I'm skipping Christmas, as you already know what we were up to.

Weather permitting, we went for a couple of walks. The trouble is, weather didn't permit all that often, but on Boxing Day it was obliging enough for us to for a good long walk in one of our favourite parks.

This, however, you will be able to read about in my next post.


On Wednesday, I had to go into Antwerp as I'd made an appointment with my hairdresser for a colour and cut. Jos went along and we made a day of it, although I wasn't really up to facing the crowds yet.

Before lunch, we popped into a recently opened shop selling vintage clothing per kilo, where I bought this fabulous Austrian made tapestry handbag.


It was only when I got it home that I discovered the tasseled comb in its cute little case lurking at bottom, together with the bag's quality label. What a lovely surprise!

It was Thursday by now  - how time flies! - and we decided upon another round of charity shopping.


This turned out not be be very fruitful, but I still ended up buying several necklaces, a gorgeous new-to-me orange cardigan and a bag full of vintage darning wool.

The green furry scarf with the big pom pom was found at the supermarket, of all places!


We ended the day, which turned out to be reasonably sunny, by visiting the atmospheric castle ruins in nearby Duffel, which were the subject of my last post of the year.

Here's a closer look at what I was wearing that day: a vintage dress in a heavy polyester, its abstract print a riot of colour, combined with a blue cardigan and the blue boots I found on Saturday, and accessorized with orange plastic beads.

My outerwear consisted of my brown fur-collared jacket, to which I pinned what I call my "octopus" brooch, although the thing's got ten arms and not eight! I also wore a burgundy crushed velvet scarf, a purple beret and red leather gloves, and I was carrying a blue handbag.



Back at home, Phoebe made the most of the dry weather by playing hide and seek in our garden and clambering on top of our weathered stone angel.

There's not much to see out there except for the skeletons of Summer's blooms, the brown remains of our rampant ferns, and our Hydrangea's papery flower heads. But look, one of two Fuchsia bells have decided that their season is not quite over yet!

It's been grey and miserable for most of the month and with hindsight December seems like one long rainy twilight zone.



It was one of Mim's comments that reminded me of the existence of my light box, which I hadn't needed in years, and which I'd completely forgotten about.

So, we promptly dug it out of the cupboard, blew off the accumulated dust, and I sat myself in front of it while reading. Thank you, Mim!


Defying the greyness of the weather can also be done by wearing bright colours, which is what I did in abundance on the last Saturday of the year!

Then, New Year's Eve was upon us. I'd picked out the dress I was going to wear well in advance and obviously it was going to be a maxi. A bright blue vintage cardie, blue opaques and black suede booties closing with a front buckle completed my outfit. I also wore a Lucite statement necklace.



We celebrated with friends, each supplying one of the courses for our New Year's Eve supper.

I made paprika (bell pepper) soup, and brought some savoury appetizers in my 1960's Tupperware hostess tray.

1960s Tupperware ads featuring the tray!

The main was Orloff Roast with potato croquettes and salad, and we closed with Panna Cotta topped with raspberry coulis.

We were joined by Nessie, our friends' beautiful cat, who managed to steal a cheese cube from my tray ...



After supper, we played a game of Trivial Pursuit, which was won by the girls, although according to the boys we got off lightly as we got all the easy questions ...

Here's to friendship and lots of shared fun in 2018!

The winning team!


zondag 31 december 2017

The keepers of our secrets

Another year has passed and once again earth has completed its orbit.

Once more, the enchanted place has fallen under midwinter's spell.



December's eternal gloom has lifted, if only briefly. The layers of grey have peeled away, leaving patches of delicate blue sky and a low watery sun painting the horizon in brilliant colours.



The river is a mirrored ribbon, snaking away towards the railway bridge in the distance.

Every so often, a train passes by, creating a low, rumbling, but somehow soothing sound.



The sky is darkening already, the sun still convalescing and not yet strong enough to lengthen the late December afternoon.



A path leads away from the river towards the castle. Through tangled shrubs and weathered branches, the crumbling castle can be glimpsed, moated and miserable.



Rounding a corner, its unearthly beauty is revealed, its turrets defying gravity, its walls covered with mosses and lichen.

Time is fleeting, and we fail to catch the fleeting moments.

Only the trees have witnessed the castle's slow but steady decay.



Gone is the great hall used for feasting. The birds are kings of the castle now!

The silence is shattered by their plaintive calling and their bickering and squabbling for the best seats on parapets and blind window ledges.



Turning away from the castle, with its padlocked gates and moss encrusted coat of arms, it's as if we are leaving behind last year's regrets and I-told-you-so's.



The wintry sunlight is casting elongated shadows.



Rainclouds are gathering, but shafts of sunlight keep piercing through them, creating an eerie interplay of sun and clouds.



The illuminated trees are bright and brilliant beacons in the park's undulating landscape.



The sun keeps getting tangled in their branches, sinking lower still, the sudden chill a herald of the night to come.



So, it is time to say goodbye once more, taking only dreams to be dreamt on moonlit nights in the new born year.




 May the new year be a happy one and may some of our dreams come true.


“For last year's words belong to last year's language 
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning." 
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets