zondag 23 juli 2017


Last Sunday the tables were turned for once as we had our first proper stint at selling at a flea market.

The market itself, which is being held yearly in our village, has been going from strength to strength, until last year it reached our front door, with the people trading at the stall in front of our house parking their car so close to it that we were almost unable to get out.

We'd vowed to take that pitch this year, and we did!

The perfect opportunity to sell off some of the surplus stuff cluttering up our basement, including some vintage items, a boxful of vinyl offloaded to us by our ex neighbour, and the toys Jos's grandchildren have long ago outgrown.

I also put together a rack of vintage and retro clothing, which I'd outgrown, some of it quite literally.

There was also a suitcase full of shoes and handbags and a display of no-longer-loved jewellery.

We got up at the crack of dawn, as sellers started arriving and putting up their stalls, early buyers on bikes maneuvering between the half-finished displays.

By 7 o´clock, we'd already sold a coffee grinder and a slightly damaged vintage tin child's stove complete with little pots and pans.

Although people were clearly drawn to my colourful display of frocks and blouses, I didn't make a sale until a Dutch lady came along and bought about a third of my stock, as well as all of my handbags!

She later returned and bought more stuff after I'd replaced the empty hangers with new items.

To fill up the empty gaps, I'd put out some vintage Barbie clothing, doubles that I had accumulated during my collecting years. To my surprise, these got some interest and I sold a few pieces, the last customer later returning for an item she'd regretted not buying. I left her talking to Jos, while I got out the rest of my doubles, which she happily browsed through, making another couple of purchases.

Of course, I made some forays myself, leaving Jos to hold the fort (and selling off some of my clothing in the meantime). I didn't go wild, especially as I had less time than usual to look at things properly, but I still picked up several pieces of jewellery: some rings and clip-on earrings, a couple of brooches and a necklace.

I spotted this exquisite micro-mosaic crucifix and held my breath while asking for the price. Needless to say, I wasted no time when I was told it cost € 2. I've seen similar ones selling for at least € 30 on Etsy!

My final purchase was this gorgeous pair of vintage shoes, which I can't wait to wear in autumn.

All in all, we sold well and, more importantly, we had a great day. We'll definitely do it again next year.

I was completely knackered and kept nodding off in the evening.

But not before letting you have a proper look at the dress I was wearing.

It's a vintage wrap dress trimmed with rick-rack and with the most wonderful butterfly sleeves, which I picked up at a charity shop event back in March. The brooch, a huge white poodle, is modern, but isn't he lovely?

I'd taken the next day, Monday, off to put away the unsold stuff and have a rest. It was a fine and sunny day, so we retreated to the garden with a drink and a bowl of cherries.

Did any of you do the earring thing with the doubles when you were little? I can never resist doing it, even if there were no doubles to play around with here ...

And yes, we have a new garden table, which is a bit bigger than our old round one. We had to go out and buy it on the Saturday, as the table we'd originally planned to use for the flea market was found to be in a bad state.

I even had another stint at painting my toe nails. I nipped into Kruidvat (the Superdrug of the Low Countries) when I went into town, and found these handy pens. They have a felt tip instead of a brush, which seems to be working for me.  I picked them up in all available colours!  It's a pity there's no green though ...

I could definitely get used to a three day weekend ...

Back to work on Tuesday it was, and yes, back to the high twenties too!

I was adamant to wear this funky top, which I'd bought at Think Twice quite a while ago, but had forgotten all about. The green skirt, bought in the sales a couple of years ago, went perfect with it. In order to keep the high collar of the blouse away from my neck, I added a scarf clip which used to belong to Great Aunt Josephine.

The sandals were given to me last Sunday by my friend Ann. She's the one who gave me all those shoes back in June. They are, if possible, even more comfortable than the jelly shoes!

On Wednesday, temperatures of 30°C were predicted, so I opted for a cotton sleeveless dress.

Yes, I finally got around to wearing the colourful stripy dress I bought in Cardigan. It's looking a bit crumpled here after a day in the office ...

With all the colours, it was easy to accessorize. I added a belt, beads and watch in bright blue, a chunky red ring, red and white bangles and a Turquoise plastic brooch, incidentally also bought in Cardigan, albeit a couple of years ago.

As Think Twice was in the middle of another one of their famous sales, with everything down to € 5, I needed to get out there.

This is what I found:

It looks like I was in a maxi mood ..

There was another maxi skirt, but I'll be wearing that in one of my next posts!

woensdag 19 juli 2017

Rock pools and seashells

After the outfit post intermezzo of last Saturday, it's time to crack on with my Wales travelogue, especially as I've just realized I was only 3 days in!

By now, it was Wednesday and the weather gods continued to be nice to us. As it was much too warm for anything else, we decided to go to the beach.

Several beaches were rejected, as we wanted a beach with at least one other attraction nearby, but still a bit off the beaten track.

We opted for Manorbier, in the very south of Pembrokeshire about 5 miles from Tenby, which has a picturesque castle overlooking the beach.

We'd been to both the beach and the castle before, but considered them well worth another visit.

Manorbier's beach, reached by a path through the dunes, is a sandy one, has a stream running down the northern end, and is great for rock pooling.

In spite of the glorious weather and the number of cars parked in the National Trust car park, there weren't all that many people about, so that we could explore the beach and rock pools in peace, taking photographs and enjoying the gently caressing sea breeze.

Afterwards, we spread our picnic blanket in a grassy spot beyond the parking area in the castle's shadow.

Then, it was up to the castle, which dates from the early 12th century. It is a rectangular enclosure castle with round and square towers. There was no moat as the castle stands on a natural promontory facing the coast. The main gateway to the inner ward is across a bridge and dry moat.

In 1146 Gerald of Wales, the great twelfth century scholar known as Geraldus Cambrensis was born at the castle.

Our last visit to the castle was on a windy day back in 2013, when there was a rather disappointing Vintage Fair taking place.

Now, it seems to be much more commercially exploited, its facilities for weddings very much in evidence. As it is privately owned, and surely in need of funds to keep the place going, who can blame them really?

There's a well with a secret passage to the beach (bottom right), which was used by smugglers.

I was wearing my tomato red trousers combined with a lightweight short-sleeved pussy bow top, to which I'd clipped a flower to keep the pesky bow in place, as well as some pale pink beads.

My hat made another appearance, although this time with a different band of flowers. The bag is my faithful over the shoulder waterproof travelling bag from Dutch brand Kitsch Kitchen, which is a holiday staple.

Then came Thursday. If we'd had to believe the weather forecast, the apocalypse was near, as heavy thunderstorms and torrential rain were predicted.

Not in North Pembrokeshire though: we woke up to a grey day with some fine but steady drizzle.

The rain didn't worry us much as it meant we could indulge in one of our favourite wet weather options: a trip to Newcastle Emlyn. About half an hour up the road, there are two antique centres vying for attention.

Our favourite one, New Road Antiques, has a decent selection of vintage clothing, including a corner called The Country Squire, where Jos took the plunge and bought a vintage, Scottish made, Tweed flat cap.

My purchases were a book on collecting vintage fashion, a cute wicker and red leather handbag and some vintage plastic beads.

Jos also picked up a Bakelite loudspeaker.

After a car picnic, we called in at the town's one and only charity shop (Animals in Need), tucked away in a back street, where I found another vintage handbag (the light tan one in the photo) as well as several books.

The rain had eased off in the meantime so we decided to visit a little known gem hidden away just outside the village of Boncath: the Cilwendeg Shell House, which is only open on Thursdays between April and August.

The Cilwendeg Shell House is an ornamental grotto, a folly if you like, built in the late 1820s by Morgan Jones the Younger, who inherited the Cilwendeg estate upon the death of his uncle and created the Shell House in his uncle’s honour.

It is on private land, part of an estate farm, and not signposted at all, so we nearly missed the turning.

After parking our car, the folly was approached along an atmospheric woodland walk, where it could be seen shimmering in the distance.

Through the open door, with a barrier keeping you from entering, the fascinating interior can be admired.

Look at those lavishly decorated walls and ceiling, made up entirely of shells and sparkling minerals!

The Shell House, which was created by an unknown architect, was used as a garden retreat for the Jones family, and the fireplace meant that it could also be used in winter.

Wouldn't it be a perfect hideaway for whiling away a rainy afternoon, reading a gothic novel, with a fire gently crackling in the hearth, and all the lanterns lit?

zaterdag 15 juli 2017

Welcome to the working week

Although I've got another couple of Wales posts scheduled, I thought I'd give it (and my readers!) a break and do a good old outfit post!

With the weather hitting the high twenties again last week, typically just when I had to go back to the office, we took outfit photos every evening after work, with me sitting at our little garden table.

A word of warning though: you are going to get to see quite a lot of outfits!

Tuesday was my first day back at work, and I was wearing a flower-patterned cotton skirt combined with a green top, to which I'd pinned one of my newly acquired brooches.

The beads were bought on one of our Welsh shopping trips too, which would have made me feel a bit as if I was still on holiday, if it weren't for the weather!

Whatever the weather, I had a very relaxing holiday, and as a consequence I'd totally forgotten the code of my bank card.

I was in a small shop in Antwerp and wanted to pay for my purchases, when I realized I had a complete black out.

I managed to scrape together just enough money to pay, and then it was off to the bank to apply for a new code.

Oh, the utter shame, especially as I am known for my fabulous memory!

Now that I've got a new code, of course, my fingers have remembered the old one ...

The purchases in question were these two pairs of jelly shoes, which I'd taken a fancy to after reading Lynn's post on them while on holiday.

She was absolutely right in that they are the most comfortable sandals ever! In addition, there is a certain nostalgia factor, as they remind me of my childhood, although I don't think they were available in such a range of colours back then.

On Wednesday, I chose a cool, lightweight 1980s does 1950s dress in a red and white wavy pattern, with solid white cotton collar and cuffs, and a wide skirt.

If you think you've seen Thursday's funky cotton dress before, then you are right: I bought it back in June. And look who is wanting a piece of the action!

On Friday - oh my, that week went like a train - I wore one of my favourite summer dresses. I love its summery flower print, the orange popping out against the sky blue background, and the dropped collar. And here's Phoebe again!

I'd been making a beeline to Think Twice during my lunch breaks, to make up for lost time, but it took until Friday before I made my first purchase: a groovy vintage St. Michael cotton dressing gown.

Almost too good to use as a dressing gown, don't you think? Jos actually thought it was a dress!

Saturday came around, and we resumed our weekly charity shopping trips.

I wore a sleeveless dress I bought at Think Twice last year. Although it is just a tad too big, I couldn't resist its colour and the bodice's print. Adding a belt and nipping in the slightly too large armholes did the trick, though.

I added zingy orange accessories and even painted my toenails a pale orange! Don't look too close though, as I'm a total dunce when it comes to applying nail polish.

The brooch, which was hand made, was found in a delightful little shop called The Crafters Cwtch in Cardigan. And no, the "w" is not a mistake, as it's a vowel in Welsh!

I just had to wear it as its colours are an exact match to the rest of my outfit.

As I'd sent the charity shopping gods over to Mim, there wasn't much to be found in the one and only shop we visited, but still enough to keep from going cold turkey.

These two vintage paperbacks, dating to the late 1940s, couldn't be left behind. Just look at those fabulous covers!

The huge textile department was full of uninspiring things, but I managed to unearth these powder blue, lace trimmed Terlenka pyjamas. The elastic was gone, but I added a drawstring in exactly the same colour.

The funky tights were languishing at the bottom of a basket.

Before queuing at the till, I had a quick look at the jewellery, and found a cute pair of ceramic clip on earrings, a plastic flower ring and two necklaces.

This green vintage sewing machine did not come home with us, but I couldn't resist taking a photograph. Isn't she a beauty?

We finished the afternoon by taking a stroll through the park to see how nature had come along since our last visit at the beginning of May. Oh dear, I was quite shocked to find it was that long ago!

Even though the imaginatively planted perennial border surrouding the park's pond was flowering abundantly, it was lacking last year's lushness, as we've had a shortage of rain.

Hello Wales, please send over some of yours ...

At least the local bees have plenty of flowers to choose from!

dinsdag 11 juli 2017

Postcard from Aberystwyth

While the heatwave continued with warnings of thunderstorms to come, we kept seeking refreshment at the seaside.

On Tuesday, our journey took us 40 miles north to Aberystwyth, which is Ceredigion's biggest town, on what would be our first visit to the town when it wasn't raining.

The popular seaside resort, to which tourists have been flocking since the late 18th century, is locally known as "Aber" and doubles as a cosmopolitan university town. It also has a large Welsh-speaking population.

As parking can be a nightmare, we opted for Park and Ride ... only to find that the service had been suspended: Park and Walk, it was to be then!

I was wearing my blue polka dot King Louie dress, which I accessorized with a red belt, a red flower corsage and white beads. Oh, and my hat, customized with a flowery hair band.

Instead of heading straight for the busy main part of the Promenade, we walked south to the Castle Grounds overlooking the harbour and South beach, where we found a bench in the shade to eat the picnic we'd brought. Aren't we terrible cheapskates?

Along the way, we passed and went into several charity shops, but it wasn't the weather for shopping, and the air inside most of the shops was stifling.

I did buy some comfortable looking red shoes called "Cloudsteppers" from Clarks, who had a 50% sale, which I changed into while sat on our picnic bench.

Aberystwyth's castle was begun in 1277, but by 1561, the building had fallen into ruin.

The grounds now include a magnificent war memorial, commissioned from Italy in 1919.

We now had the whole of Aberystwyth's gracefully sweeping northern seafront in front of us.

Savouring the salty sea air, and fortified by a delightfully cool sea breeze, we started walking the promenade's length unhurriedly, reapplying sun cream along the way.

Soon we passed a curved Victorian seafront shelter, with ornately decorated cast iron pillars, which was perfect for some silly poses!

A seafront landmark, the Old College was originally built as a hotel in the 1864, which unfortunately failed after barely one season, after which it was purchased by the founders of the recently established university college.

Although Aberystwyth University is now mainly based on the hillside Penglais campus, the ornate, Gothic-style, Grade 1 listed building still houses a few university activities.

And what a glorious building it is with its conical spires, castellated towers and gargoyles.

The busiest section of the seafront is Marine Terrace, which is home to the irresistibly tacky Royal Pier.

Constructed in 1864, this soon became a popular attraction. Long since reduced from its original 242 metres in length to barely 90, the pier houses the usual bars and nightclubs, an ice cream parlour and, of course, the obiquitous amusement arcade.

A little further on, there's this appealing seafront shelter, which was restored after being heavily damaged by the storms of 2013. The shelter, which featured in no less than three Hinterland episodes, was empty, so I quickly took a snap. Only seconds after clicking the shutter, some people came and sat down in it.

Not far from here, in a street leading off the Promenade, is the building masquerading as Aberystwyth's police station in Hinterland, but it was obscured by scaffolding, so that I couldn't take a proper photo.

The seafront ends at Constitution Hill, which was our destination. While there's a footpath up the hill, there was no way we are going to take it in this heat, especially as there is the famous Aberystwyth Cliff Railway to be experienced.

It is the longest funicular electric cliff railway in Britain, and has been transporting visitors to the summit since opening in 1896.

While being hauled up at the slow but steady pace of 4 miles an hour, Aberystwyth's Promenade and its landmarks which we'd passed just moments ago, quickly got smaller and smaller, looking like a Lilliput version of itself.

Reaching the summit reveals an amazing panorama which on a clear day extends as far as the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire to the south, while the whole expanse of Cardigan Bay opens out to the west and to the north the mountains of Snowdonia can also be seen.

There is a cafe at the summit, originally called Y Consti, which also features in an episode of Hinterland, as well as the famous Camera Obscura, a recreation of the Victorian original. We have yet to visit it, as on our first visit, in May 2012, it was closed, while now it turned out to be out of order!

Back on ground level, we retraced our steps to Marine Terrace where, inside the old Coliseum Theatre adjacent to the Tourist Information Office, is one of the most interesting local museums we've ever had the pleasure to visit.

The Ceredigion Museum showcases the history of Aberystwyth and the county of Ceredigion, and the displays chronicle life in the county from prehistoric times to today. There is a wide variety of objects on show, many of which were donated by the public, covering all sorts of topics including home and work life, agriculture and seafaring.

We spent a happy few hours there back in 2012, on a miserable rainy day and, although it is now under refurbishment, we couldn't resist popping in. I was quite taken with an example of the predecessor of our Goblin Teasmade!

After browsing the small but well stocked museum shop, we came away with several books, while in a small pop up charity shop a couple of doors away, I snapped up these vintage Charles Jourdan shoes for £ 5. Although they're my size, I'm not sure I'll ever wear them, but they were too good to resist.

Then it was back to our car and our cottage to wind down from yet another day well spent and make plans for the next one.