zondag 19 november 2017

And when it rains all day ...

Last weekend was a quiet one and, apart from a visit to my friend Inez, involving coffee and apple pie, we hadn't anything planned at all.

We couldn't even go charity shopping on Saturday as all the shops were closed: November 11, Armistice Day, is a public holiday here in Belgium!

By a stroke of luck, though, the weekly market in our village was trading so, still on the lookout for the elusive burnt orange tights, I ventured outside. The rain we'd woken up to had diminished to a light but persistent drizzle by then, but it was still wet enough to warrant carrying an umbrella.

Sadly, the hosiery stall is discontinuing my favourite range of coloured tights and they only had some leftovers from previous years. But, hurray: they still had some burnt orange ones (actually called caramel) in my size, and I stocked up on a couple of pairs in rust, moss green and olive as well!

I'd been waiting to wear the striking aubergine blouse sprinkled with colourful spots for quite a while, but didn't hit on the right skirt to combine it with until I started pulling out my Winter skirts and found this one, in beige and brown polyester. Not really my colours and frankly speaking a bit boring: I'd actually forgotten about this skirt completely!

Once I had the skirt on, accessorizing was easy. I started by adding a brown belt with a round tortoiseshell buckle, and chose olive green tights and ditto cardigan.

The first of my brooches, a cameo, was pinned to my blouse, then a cream and brown plastic brooch, one of last week's finds, went on the cardigan. I also wore orange beads and a green plastic ring.

I have dozens of these plastic rings in different colours, picking them up whenever I find them, so they are a mix of high street and flea market finds. I store them in this 1970s orange party set, next to my collection of necklaces, so that they are within easy reach when I'm dressing.

On went the boots I can't say goodbye to and which I'll probably wear until they fall apart completely.

I wore the jacket I bought for € 2 at last week's flea market. It's dark brown with small multicoloured bobbles, which makes it less stark. I felt it needed a belt and added a dark ochre one.

My final brooch, a gold tone starburst with a large pearl at its centre, was pinned to the jacket.

I completed my outerwear with my yellow crushed velvet scarf and a red beret. If there's one thing I like about the colder weather, it's the fact that I can wear my berets and woolly hats. I've vowed that I'm not going to lose one this year, so I'm being extra careful with them!

The weather continued to be fickle on Saturday but at least the soggy periods were interrupted with a couple of dry ones, with the sun making a shy appearance now and then, especially at the end of the day.

One thing is certain: sunsets can be quite dramatic this time of year!

Sunday was a total washout, with the rain beating against our windows, daring us to go outside.

In the end, we only briefly went into the garden for these outfit photos. It started to rain again while we were taking them. I was shivering, although it was one of the rare occasions when I was wearing a jumper.

I picked up the woollen skirt for € 2 at one of the last Think Twice sales but again it took me a while to find a suitable companion. As it was cold enough to warrant a jumper, I decided on the lightweight yellow one. It was bought new in the sales a a couple of years ago, and I love its pattern and the little bow.

The blue from the skirt was repeated in my tights and accessories: belt, beads, brooch and ring, and I couldn't resist wearing the yellow beret.

Although I'm quite happy with how it turned out in the photographs, I somehow didn't feel great in this outfit, finding it too bulky on my hips, which are not really my favourite feature at the moment.

The rest of Sunday was spent pottering inside Dove Cottage, one of the other things I like about this season.

I was disenchanted with the shelves of Lourdes memorabilia in our bedroom and whittled them down to just the upper shelf, which is now crammed absolutely full of the kitschy stuff.

The other two shelves now contain a mix of old favourites and more recent finds. You might recognize the two tins bought at last weekend's flea market.

I also rearranged the mantelpiece in the spare room to make space for the latest "head" to join the collection, charity shopped for just € 1 a couple of weeks ago.

Nameless for the time being, she's already looking quite at home at Dove Cottage!

Once again, I'm taking my outfit to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style.

dinsdag 14 november 2017

Sentimental journey

No rest for the wicked!

After the antiques fair of Saturday before last, we weren't able to put our feet up on Sunday either, as we had a flea market to go to.

Saturday's rain had been replaced by a cold spell, and I hadn't chosen wisely when I selected this lightweight and unlined green charity shopped jacket. I am posing outside our garage for a change, and I am actually standing in a puddle, which wasn't very wise either, as my boots - a pair I just can't seem to say goodbye to - aren't exactly waterproof!

The dress I'm wearing was charity shopped as well: a lucky find just weeks before last March's retro event. On top, a light brown cardigan, and a scarf in similar colours as the dress. You can see a detail of both below.

My accessories were a brooch (on the cardigan) with multicoloured stones bought in Wales last year, green beads and a gold tone ring with a heart of sparkly yellow glass. The classic brooch, with its gold tone leaves and row of tiny pearls was pinned to the collar of my jacket.

The flea market in question is the famous indoor one in Mechelen, about 20 kilometers away, which is being held monthly from September until June. This year, we have taken out a membership card, saving us quite a bit of money. That means, of course, that we actually have to go now, no excuses! As if we need any incentive ...

In the top photo you can see Mr. S. in conversation with the other member of our party, my lovely friend Inez!

My first find was a jacket for the princely sum of € 2, but you'll get to see that in my next post.

Then, this empty lemonade bottle caught my eye! It dates from the 1960s, which I know for a fact as it was the lemonade my Mum always bought when I was growing up.

Although I had forgotten what the bottle looked like, I still clearly remembered their slogan, which ran "Ordal, best van al" (best of all). As I didn't like the taste of that lemonade at all, I always said it should have been "slechtst van al" (worst of all)!

I was charmed to see it even had a complete poem extolling the brew's merits on the back of the bottle. Wouldn't have convinced me, though!

Next up were these two small snuff tins, probably dating from the 1920s. The round one even still has a small amount of the vile stuff at the bottom, which I'm not going to sniff any time soon!

Talking of tins, I was very taken with this fabulous souvenir tin of the 1935 Brussels World Exhibition, in typical shape and colours of the era.

From the same stall came this tin advertising Belgian chocolate and biscuit factory Victoria.
They were established in 1896 and until 1938 their logo was a portrait of Queen Victoria, after which they switched to the marching British brigadier beating a drum, instantly recognizable to people of a certain age in Belgium!

The company finally stopped trading independently under the name Victoria in the late 1970s.

The market itself was huge and we browsed for almost four hours, only interrupted by a spot of lunch and a well-deserved cup of coffee or two!

But wait, no brooches?, I can hear you say ...

Well, it actually took me until the very last aisle to finally spot my first brooch, which was the butterfly, although I rather suspect it's a moth!

At a stall directly opposite, I found the gold and blue brooch with the chain. It wasn't priced but after thinking long and hard, the seller's verdict was € 1!

Then, a couple of stalls further on, the little dog and the pearly ladybird were waiting for me!

Four brooches wasn't bad a all, of course, especially as I'd bought six of them the day before.

But that was before I came across the stall heaped with costume jewellery I blogged about here. I'd promised a photo next time but guess what? I forgot!

The seller is the complete opposite of the Brooch Lady with her neat folders, but actually at least as much fun, as I love a good rummage. The result were no less than eight brooches for which I paid a total of € 22.

I'd taken the Monday after this two day bonanza off. However, we still had to get up early-ish to collect yet another buy.

We'd been looking for cups and saucers of a Boch dinner service we'd started collecting after we'd been given a couple of dinner and soup plates for free. Pure nostalgia for Jos, as it was the dinner service he'd grown up with.

After many years, we finally found cups and saucers - and much more besides - on a Belgian Facebook page called The Vintage Market. Asking price, a ridiculous € 25 for the lot!

We have been told by several people in the know that the cups and saucers are quite rare.

We also learned that at the time this particular dinner service could be saved up for by collecting loyalty stamps when buying a range of products, called Fort, at the grocery shop.

I remember their catalogues full of stuff to spend the full booklets of stamps on, and in particular the ones which were issued this time of year, full of toys to ask Sinterklaas for.

When emptying my parents' house, we came across this booklet of stamps which somehow never got completely filled, possibly because the company in question stopped trading in 1987.

So far, this trip down memory lane!

Even though it's Tuesday, I'm taking my outfit to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style.

vrijdag 10 november 2017

Treasure hunting at the castle

Back in April, we visited a castle where a small antiques fair was being held, which I blogged about here.

Much to our delight, we found out that there would be another one in November, the date of which was promptly pencilled into our diary.

Last Saturday was the day, so we set our trusty SatNav, Marie-Jeanne, for the 30 odd minute drive to Castle de Renesse in the village of Oostmalle.

I wore a chocolate brown polyester polka dotted dress, with long sleeves and a self fabric tie belt. Oh, and a contrasting white notched collar, to which I pinned the first of my brooches: a small blue plastic flower.

Further accessories were some amber coloured beads and a swirly amber plastic ring.

For contrast, I chose a powder blue cardigan and added a plastic brooch with a coordinating duo of brown and cream flowers.

First outing this season for this belted brown Tweed jacket from Think Twice.

Another layer means yet another brooch opportunity so I chose to add more blue with this darling little squirrel brooch. Tying it all together, I wore a silky brown and blue printed scarf.

The pleat at the back, revealing a row of three buttons, is my favourite feature of this jacket.

I decided to try out the little brown leather handbag I'd found at the charity shop event. It turned out to be just roomy enough for my weekend essentials: my purse, phone, a packet of tissues, lipstick and a small tape measure.

We'd packed a picnic, fully expecting to be eating our sandwiches while sat in our car, as rain was forecasted for the early afternoon.

After parking our car - noting that it was much busier than usual - we made our way to the moated castle, which was looking particularly picturesque drenched in Autumnal sunshine, with its mirror image reflected in the water.

At the castle's entrance this fabulous car, probably belonging to one of the stall holders, was parked.

Make no mistake: this isn't your run of the mill flea market, but a proper antiques fair selling all manner of brocante, with a lot of the the wares on offer a cut above the rest, which is reflected in the often exorbitant prices.

Nevertheless, there are still a handful of stalls selling the most wonderful stuff at prices within our budget.

And look whose stall we ran into!  Yes, it's the Brooch Lady, whom we hadn't seen since last May.
When she was absent at last month's flea market in Antwerp, we were starting to get a bit worried. She is, after all, well into her eighties ...

But there she was, with her folders of brooches, from which I selected four beauties to join my collection: a domed brown enameled brooch decorated with flowers, an oval brooch with a pearly border surrounding the painted portrait of a lady, a pink plastic Art Deco style brooch with carved flowers at its heart, and a souvenir brooch from Waterloo.

Two more brooches were bought from another stall: a sweet little cat brooch and a posy of mother of pearl flowers.

From the same stall, Jos bought this highly decorative share of Minerva, the famous Belgian manufacturer of luxury automobiles, which they produced from 1902 until 1938.

Minerva started out manufacturing standard bicycles in 1897, expanding into "motocyclettes", a kind of motorized bicycles which were a forerunner of motorcycles, in 1900, before adding cars to their production in 1902.

Minerva vehicles acquired a reputation for quality and reliability and, by 1914, enjoyed the patronage of the Kings of Belgium, Norway and Sweden.

A search on the Internet yielded a couple of international advertisements for Minerva cars dating from the late 1920s and early 1930s.

After World War II the company produced a version of the Land Rover 80" under licence for the Belgian army until 1954. After the deal with Land Rover fell through, there were plans to re-enter the car market but these did not get beyond the prototype stage.

Sadly, the company, who had their headquarters and factory in Antwerp, became defunct in 1956.

After this little diversion, it's back to the castle!

Upstairs was another one of our favourite stalls, selling vintage textiles, haberdashery, hats and miscellaneous curiosities (top right).

I couldn't resist this delightful little felt and faux fur hat. The retaining elastic needs replacing (it snapped at the merest touch), but otherwise it's in perfect condition.

By the time we finished browsing, and left the castle, the sun had disappeared and a dense blanket of grey, rain-filled clouds, had replaced the clear blue sky of earlier that morning.

As it was still dry, we decided to risk it, so we picked up our picnic basket from the car and made our way to a picnic table with a view of the castle across the lake.

As far as I know, this is the only picnic table in the castle grounds but still we always manage to have the place to ourselves.

This could very well have been our last outdoor picnic of the year!

We'd only just arrived back at our car and were about to drive off when the first drops of rain started to fall.

On Sunday, we had a real flea market to go to, for which I hope you'll join me again in my next post!

maandag 6 november 2017

Some velvet morning

The first of November is a holiday here in Belgium. It's All Saints Day, when people visit their departed loved ones' graves and decorate them with flowers.

We don't have any graves to visit nor do we need a special day to remember our loved ones, as  remembering is a continual process and memories, good or bad, can pop up when least expected.

The day started as it meant to go on, with a blue sky in which marshmallow clouds carelessly floated, the sun shining with a blinding, dazzling brilliancy, shrouding the world in a gauze-like haze.

Not a day to be spent inside, obviously.

What we needed was a good long walk, so we wasted no time in getting dressed and ready.

I dressed in velvet: my dark green velvet jacket, of course, and a printed velvet skirt in autumnal colours, charity shopped last December and last seen here. Needless to stay, I felt quite strokeable in all that velvet softness. Purr!

I combined the skirt with a wide-cuffed and pointy-collared blouse bought at a flea market last Summer, in a heavy moss green polyester with a light green and orange flower print and closing with green buttons, with a smaller version of these at the cuffs.

I added bright orange beads and a gold tone ring with a round orange centre. On top, a pale coral polka dotted cardigan, adorned with one of my Bambi brooches, which has a greenish background.

Another brooch was pinned to the jacket, with an orange and green flamed stone.

My handbag of choice was made from buttersoft dark green leather, with sturdy round handles and a flap closure ending in a fringe.

I wore, and probably ruined, my last pair of burnt orange tights. I've been looking on the High Street but I don't think burnt orange is in fashion. My only remaining hope is the weekly market in our village, which has a stall with a fabulous and inexpensive range of hosiery.

The scuffed brown boots are my footwear of choice when I go out walking from Autumn until early Spring. They are super comfortable and warm to boot (pun not intended) but the culprits of the ruination of my tights ...

I needed a scarf, as the jacket is quite low cut, but there was no need yet to bring out the wool, so I chose this large square one in yellow, orange, purple, pink and blue.

Our walk took us to one of our favourite wild places: the watery nature reserve Het Broek in Blaasveld.

The air was pungent with Autumn smells, a heady mixture of rotting vegetation and mulchy leaves, mingled with some strands of far-off wood smoke.

A patch of crown vetch was basking in a sun trap, attracting the last of the bees. It usually flowers from June to August, so it must have been rejuvenated by the late Summer weather of only a week or two ago.

Vegetation - even in its various stages of decay - was still quite abundant, and partly obscuring the view into half-hidden pools and brooks.

I love this watery world of mystery and imagination.

Flocks of geese arrive from further North to spend Winter in this paradisiacal half drowned landscape.

The meadow where I posed back in August was a squishy cushion of earth and grass. This is, after all, a marshy area, and will revert to water meadow in months to come.

For now, I could still walk across its surface without getting my feet all too wet, rejoicing in the sun's balming rays.

It felt good to be out and about in what could very well be the last of the delicious Autumn days!

Once again linking to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style!