Traditionally, the month of February should already bring some spring like days. After all, Imbolc, also known as the Feast of Brigid, celebrates the arrival of longer days and the early signs of spring on the First of February.
In the past week, the weather gods finally gave in to our cravings and treated us to a couple of days of sunshine and milder temperatures.
Saturday was such a day, and what a relief it was to be able to pose for outfit photos in our favourite spot without the risk of catching pneumonia.
I chose a short purple dress with a lilac flower pattern, a dropped collar and three self-fabric buttons at the yoke. It was one of my very first vintage dresses.
I accessorized the dress with a little mustard cardigan with purple trim and buttons, mustard opaques, a string of black and white beads, an elephant brooch and a ring with a purple centre stone in a circle of little pearls.
I bought the roomy brown tapestry handbag at Think Twice last month.
The weather was far too good for indoor activities, so we took a picnic to our favourite park, which is conveniently close to a large charity shop, in case said weather gods would suddenly change their fickle minds!
In the end, I'm glad to report that they didn't and that we were able to have our first outdoor picnic of the year! Yay!
It was a picnic with a view too. I know, you've seen this stony water feature before (here, for instance) but it's a view we never get tired of, looking different every time we visit.
The park itself has also featured here many times before. It really is our go-to place if we want to soak up some sunshine at short notice. We also often use it for picnics while on charity shopping trips, usually starting at the shop which is only a five minute walk away.
Nature left us in no doubt that Spring is on its way. Clumps of gently nodding snowdrops were everywhere, there was the odd pink-blossomed shrub and the first of the daffodils were coming into bud.
We walked along the River Nete, which is bordering the park, towards the town of Duffel, and across the bridge to the river's other side, where the towpath runs between the river and a water reservoir.
Recrossing the bridge, we descended into the park again, where a baby stone circle seemed to be growing ...
After practising our silly poses, we continued along the river, until we came to the path leading down to the adjacent Ter Elst park and its evocative moated ruin.
The first sight of the castle, framed by the ancient trees, made my heart sing, the quality of light making the red brick glow and stand out against the deep blue of the sky.
White gulls, which had drifted up from the river, were circling the castle and vying for a place at the top of the tower, which met its drunken reflection in the rippling water of the moat.
On our way back, we passed a tree which called out for some posing. Split and hollow, it is nevertheless still going strong.
I was reminded of a photo taken of a much younger me, taken in a different park in 1968.
I've always been fascinated by trees, especially of the old and gnarled variety and I can't help wondering about the things they must have witnessed in their lifetimes. Oh, the stories they could tell if they could speak. Unlocking their secrets must be equal to stepping inside a time machine.
Nearby, there was tree with a little hollow of its own, into which a couple of blue tits were moving when we passed. Nesting already, as one of them arrived carrying a beakful of moss.
But be careful, little birds, as it isn't Spring just yet, and Winter might still have a couple of nasty surprises in store ...
"Late February days; and now, at last,
Might you have thought that
Winter's woe was past;
So fair the sky was and so soft the air."
- William Morris, The Earthly Paradise: A Poem, 1870