Sunday, 9 December 2018

Here comes the rain again

I have one more travel post coming up, but I'm saving it for a rainy day ;-)

Not that we haven't had any rainy days lately. In fact, it has been grey and wet for well over a week now. There is no denying that we are on the slippery slope to Winter, but who are we to complain? After all, we've had the most gorgeous weather well into Autumn.

Now, the year's twilight days are once again upon us.  Even on the clearest of days, daylight is waning by 4.30 pm here in Belgium, and we've still got about two weeks to go until the days are at their shortest.

So, shall I treat you to some colour? On Friday before last - a half day for me - I wore this navy vintage frock printed with sky blue and green ... things. I'm afraid I've no idea what they are, some kind of leaves perhaps, but they are certainly doing the trick.

I went all matchy-matchy with green tights and a green cardigan and chose a blue plastic ring, the blue necklace I'd charity shopped the week before, and a blue belt. The brooch pinned to my cardigan, a gold tone flower with turquoise plastic beads, was bought from the Brooch Lady about two years ago.

All I'm wearing is vintage or new-to-me, except for the ring and the tights. Oh, and my green booties from Middelburg!

When I was uploading my photos for this post, it suddenly dawned on me that I forgot to mention the fabulous snakeskin belt I found at our last flea market. So let's start with this.

Then, I'll proceed with the task at hand and show you my latest finds.

As it rained on most days during that week, my lunch breaks weren't exactly much fun. When one day there was a break in the weather, I went for a browse at Think Twice, whose sales had now reached the € 2 mark.

I still managed to find some exciting things, starting with two vintage dresses which are in such pristine condition they could very well be deadstock.

The black and white mod dress, with its funky print and two solid black pocket tabs, is from Finnish label Vinetta. I'm intending to wear it with one of my trademark pairs of coloured tights and a fierce pair of black boots. Watch this space!

The second dress, in navy with a happiness inducing flower print was made in France. The label is Castille, which I couldn't find anything about. It is quite similar in shape to the dress I'm wearing at the start of this post, but oh that print! Not to mention the row of cute orange buttons at the cuffs!

I also bought another jacket (yes I know) but you'll get to see that in a minute.

No, it's not this one. Incidentally, this also was a Think Twice sales bargain, snapped up back in February.
I love its rust coloured check, the delightful self-belt and ditto buckle and the fact that it has actual pockets. Here's a close-up.

It was Saturday by now and another dismal day with little or no let-up in the rain.

As wearing colour is an instant pick-me-up, I added my green beret and burnt orange scarf in the mix.

This green, red, white and navy plaid print frock is one of my all-time favourites. Apart from the obvious attraction of its amazing print, there are the buttons, the upturned cuffs and the large, pointy collar.

I added a red belt to define my waist, a red cardigan and bright green opaques. My accessories were a green and white beaded necklace, another one from my charity shop haul the week before, a navy plastic ring and a dainty cream flower brooch with a red plastic pearl at its heart.

In spite of the rain, we went for a quick dash to the charity shops, knowing that we'd be cooped up inside all day on Sunday.

Browsing the "new in" shelf of books in one of the shops we visited, I found these two, one telling the story of Coca-Cola, and another one called Kitsch Deluxe, full of kitsch interiors and collections.

In case you hadn't noticed, I do love a bit of kitsch, so this is right up my street!

Here's a little peek inside this book full of eye candy, but can you spot the impostors I've included in the collage?

Our second shop was the one near the park. We always try to go for a stroll there but as it was positively pouring by then, we only briefly went up the path for some moody photographs, with Jos holding up an umbrella to protect my camera.

The things one does for the sake of blogging!

There was a veritable cornucopia of Christmas stuff in this shop. Not my thing, but you'd wonder why anybody would go out and buy new decorations when it's all available here for a fraction of the price. 

We escaped to the basement, where the clothes and textiles department is housed, and the Christmas soundtrack was less noticeable. 

I soon found this handmade skirt, which I suspect was made from a pair of curtains! Love that print!

Although a couple of months ago the shop started to display its clothes by size, it still pays to have a quick browse through the smaller and larger sizes as well. This jacket, a size 38, was on a XL hanger. I wasn't planning to buy another jacket, but it was such a perfect fit that it came home with me.

And below is the Think Twice jacket I was talking about earlier, made from 100% wool and originating from Berlin!

Not exactly the One In Two Out Closet Reduction Rule as practiced by the lovely Suzanne, but I did re-donate three jackets to make room for these two. It's a start!

Just when I was about to take my skirt to the fitting rooms, I noticed a pair of booties on a shelf below a rail of clothes. Pinch me, as this just couldn't be happening! Here were the green booties of my dreams, in the exact shade of green I had in mind. And in my size too!

Never mind that I'd already bought green booties in Middelburg: these were meant for me, surely! Especially as they were only € 6!

So, thank you, gods of the charity shops, I promise to re-donate at least one pair of booties I'm hardly wearing instead!

One last outfit to show you. It was last Monday's, when I had taken a day off as we had stuff to do.

Obviously, I had to break in my new-to-me booties. The skirt I'm wearing came from Forever 21 many moons ago when I still bought retail.  I'm still wearing it at least once a year, and as long as I do, it deserves its space in my wardrobe. I love the zig-zag pattern! The belt is another old retail buy.

I combined the skirt with a vintage blouse from Blender Vintage Shop, a shop which has sadly stopped trading and is sorely missed. The necklace was charity shopped in Shropshire back in June and its beads are exactly the same shade of olive as my opaques. 

So, that's it for the weekend before last. I'll be back with the last episode of my travelogue later this week.

I'll be linking to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style as soon as the link is up.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

The morning fog may chill the air

It was the second day of our little holiday in Zeeland and things didn't look all that bright.

We'd woken up to a foggy, humid morning after having heard the strange and mournful wails of ships' foghorns giving warning in the night.

After all, even in landlocked Middelburg, one is never far from the coast in Zeeland.

By morning, the outside world was still murky and uninviting and, frankly speaking, far better suited to a day spent inside, reading a good book perhaps, or watching some rubbish daytime television. Or we could have browsed and listened to Eveline's extensive and quite excellent CD collection.

I'd already made myself comfortable in that fabulous Art Deco style chair ...

But that's not what we'd come here for! The weather forecast having promised the fog would clear by late morning, we decided to wait it out, but when this still hadn't happened by 11 am, we donned coats, hats and scarves and walked into town.

The pea soup-like conditions had drained the outside world of most of its colour and across the canal the picturesque windmill was doing its best to contrast with the blanket of white obscuring the sky.

Slowly but surely, a misty drizzle was blurring my glasses but using an umbrella would have been too cumbersome.

The rather forlorn view towards the bridge was in sharp contrast with two days earlier, when there was the hustle and bustle of shoppers and day trippers making their way into town, making the most of the exceptionally mild and sunny day.

In the foreground is the landing stage from where open-top canal boat trips take off between April and November. Now, its emptiness added to the desultory atmosphere. I guess nobody in their right mind would have been tempted to take a cruise on the city canals in this weather.

I couldn't help but be charmed by the little vehicle on the bottom right. It belongs to a local brewery and must be the smallest beer delivery van ever!

The town hall's carillon was chiming the hour, its tower, which the people of Middelburg call Malle Betje (Silly Beth), still wearing a thin layer of mist.

The tower earned its nickname from the fact that its clock used to run behind the town's other clock tower, the Lange Jan (Long John).

Speaking of the devil, where exactly is Lange Jan? Middelburg's most visible landmark had clearly decided to play hooky that day!

We picked up some brochures at the tourist office and roamed the streets around the market square, taking in the buildings' delightful details and doing some window shopping.

There was a whole shop window dedicated to Zeeuwse Babbelaars (bottom left), the traditional butterscotch flavoured candy Zeeland is famous for.

The Christmas decorations, which seemed incongruous in the gorgeous weather of two days ago, somehow seemed more appropriate on this most dismal of days. Still way too early for me, though!

Having made such a late start, we were soon faced by hunger pangs so we went in search of a suitable place to eat. Shouldn't be too difficult in a town the size of Middelburg, right?  However, as it was almost 1 pm by now, all the places we liked seemed to be fully booked. In the end, our empty stomachs got the better of us, and we settled for a rather run of the mill café-restaurant. 

Upon leaving the café, we suddenly noticed the sign in front of the shop directly opposite. Yes, we'd discovered a vintage shop! The shop, called Lieve Hemel, was a veritable treasure trove of vintage china, kitchenalia, religious statues, handbags, hats, jewellery, you name it. It didn't take long for me to select these two brooches.

Venturing further into the shop, I found a rail full of vintage frocks! This handmade pink and green one took my fancy. I was holding up another frock and telling Jos that I used to have exactly the same one, when my eyes suddenly clocked two more frocks which looked familiar. This just couldn't be a coincidence: they must have been mine! Thinking back, both Jos and I are certain that the owner was the lady who bought up so much of my stock at last year's flea market. I've even spotted two of the dresses in question on the clothes rail in my post.

By now, it was past 2 pm, and with the afternoon well on its way, we knew our sight-seeing time would be limited.

As we'd already made up our minds to return next year, we decided to continue roaming the streets and following our noses, paying brief visits to some of the town's landmarks along the way.

First up was the abbey complex, which can't be missed if you walk into the direction of Lange Jan. The tower had finally decided to grace us with its presence, even if the fog up there was still quite persistent.

The abbey dates back to the 12th Century and consist of a complex of buildings surrounding a large and picturesque courtyard. Three adjacent, internally connected churches make up one part of the complex and it also houses the Zeeuws Museum, which traces the history of  Zeeland.

We limited ourselves to admiring the courtyard, vowing to return for a more extensive visit.

Leaving the abbey behind, we found ourselves face to face with a picturesque red shuttered building. This former civil guard post is called St-Jorisdoelen and, in spite of  the date proclaimed on its façade (1582), this is actually a reproduction of the original building, as it was destroyed by German bombs in May 1940.

Note the statue of St. Joris (St. George) on top of its scrolled gable.

On the bottom left is a wall fragment of yet another building destroyed in May 1940. Several such fragments, or stumbling stones, were built into the pavement at different locations across Middelburg, and are part of a memorial called The Explosion erected in 1988.

We walked into the direction of the Dam square, which eventually leads to the old dock area, in search of one of Middelburg's hidden gems, the Kuiperspoort.

This picturesque cobbled courtyard, with its historical gabled houses and warehouses, was built by the coopers guild between 1586 and 1642.

Entering the secluded courtyard through a gate leading off the Dam feels like travelling back in time to the Middle Ages. 

Note the change of coat: I was very glad I'd had the presence of mind to bring along this warmer vintage swing coat as well! I was also wearing gloves, albeit fingerless ones which enabled me to take photographs without constantly having to take them off.

Leaving the Kuiperspoort through the gate at the other end of the courtyard, we emerged onto the quayside, close to the marina, where abandoned pleasure-craft were moored and a cold stinging wind was driving us back into the safety of the sheltered town centre streets.

Time to get warm and rest our weary feet, while having a cup of cappuccino and an indulgent piece of white chocolate cheese cake!

On our way back through town, I spotted a pair of green booties in a shoe shop. I'd been looking for a a pair that ticked all my boxes for many a year, so I couldn't believe my luck, even if they weren't the deep shade of forest green I'd had in mind. Their heels are just the right height for me.

After this purchase, it was straight back home for a quiet, relaxing evening by the fire. As you can see, someone was quite exhausted ...

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style as usual, and to Nancy's Fancy Friday!

Saturday, 1 December 2018

I believe in Miracle(s)

As November has drawn to a close, I'm briefly interrupting my travelogue for a catch-up on what else I've been up to and to show you some of the outfits I've been wearing.

On the Sunday before our little trip, there was another edition of our favourite flea market, but we were so caught up with our travel preparations that I completely forgot to give you a round-up of our finds.

We didn't even take any outfit photos that day, except for these, taken in front of the flea market venue for the purpose of showing off the new-to-me hat I'd just found.

I thought its rich aubergine colour went rather well with what I was wearing, in particular my beloved bottle green velvet jacket and my opaques in a colour labelled as curry on the packing.

This wasn't the only hat I found that day, as I also picked up this deadstock, marled green fuzzy hat from one of our favourite stalls. These are the same style as the hats I bought from there last year.

One of the stall's owners had brought along this booklet especially for me. It extols the merits of various synthetic fabrics and was aimed at sales persons in order to better inform their clients about these. My guess is that it dates from the late 1950s, early 1960s. 

The two brooches on the top right came from Lieve, the friend whom she is running the stall with, and who lives in our village, while the striking mother-of-pearl pendant was found later on at another stall ...

... which also yielded this vintage inkwell and pen holder stand in a rather gorgeous shade of aqua.

Our best finds often happen in the last aisles, and this time was no exception. Apart from the hat at the top of this post, there was this heavy, Celtic inspired brooch with mottled olive green stones. I wasn't surprised to see the Miracle mark at the back, having just read up on Miracle after Sheila found a fabulous pendant by the same maker a couple of weeks ago.

Apparently, Miracle is the trade name of A. Hill & Company Ltd. of Birmingham, England, which started manufacturing jewellery in 1946 and, although they have since moved to Cornwall, is still in business today.

My final buy of the day were these deadstock red leather shoes for € 3. I love how they contrast with the curry opaques.

Fast forward one week. Temperatures had plummeted several degrees on they day we returned from our holiday. On top of that, I came down with a cold. Nothing too serious, just a scratchy throat and runny nose, but enough to make me feel a bit under the weather. As a consequence, I couldn't seem to get warm.

There was some improvement by the end of the week. I'd taken Friday afternoon off, so that it was still light enough outside for taking outfit photos when I got home.

I was wearing a just-above-the-knee long-sleeved black shift dress, in black with a glorious floral print in purple and green. Oh, and there's some beige hiding in there as well.

A purple cardigan went on top, with a mother-of-pearl and gold tone flower brooch pinned to it, and I was wearing matching purple opaques. I also wore a green beaded necklace, bought retail many years ago before I became a second hand girl.

I thought this was the perfect frock to showcase my kinky new-to-me red boots, but then I got photobombed by a certain furry someone. Look at those flashing eyes, which mean danger!

We made a detour to a charity shop on our way home, but almost literally made a U-turn when we noticed they were in the process of turning the shop into a gigantic Christmas market, which would take place on Saturday.

Still, I was able to grab a handful of jewellery from the stand near the exit. And guess what, they cost us nothing whatsoever, as we were able to spend what we'd saved on our loyalty card. A present from the charity shopping gods perhaps?

Saturday was another dismal day, which I guess will be very much our lot for the next couple of months. So, once again, it was down to me to provide some colour, even if I got a little bit of help from the Cotoneaster berries behind me, which are still going strong.

I built this outfit around a skirt and cardigan I'd bought from Think Twice earlier that week for € 4 each. The cardigan has a Dralon label, while the skirt, which is vintage C&A, is made from a suede-like polyester. Initially, its colour, somewhere between camel and ochre, was what grabbed my attention, but then I felt its totally tactile fabric and saw the row of decorative buttons down the front. Not to mention the brown belt with tortoise shell buckle it came with.

All other items were already in my wardrobe: the long-sleeved blouse printed with chocolate brown polka dots and squares and sprinkled with green and turquoise flowers, the ochre necklace and the burnt orange beret.

Funny how these boots, which in real life are a very dark burgundy to my eyes, always turn out a deep shade of purple when photographed.

As you can see, tidy gardeners we're not!

In order to combat the cold, I added a green plaid cape with asymmetrical closing and collar, picked up at Think Twice last Winter, my burnt orange scarf and a pair of ochre leather gloves.

This green floral skirt, in a lightweight corduroy, was another of my Think Twice finds that week.

I went a bit wild with patterns here, as I added a red and white geometrical print pussy bow blouse, topped with a plaid print King Louie cardigan in dark red, blue and green.

I kept the pussy bow in check with a scarf clip featuring a glamorous lady wearing a gigantic feather hat, added my Miracle brooch to my cardie and wore a hot pink ring.

This would be my outfit for Monday, but I road tested it on Sunday, which resulted in these outfit photos.

In fact, I liked it so much that I'm linking it to Nancy's Fancy Friday linkup. Do check out that fabulous pre-loved houndstooth (known as pied-de-poule in these parts) suit she is wearing!

Monday, 26 November 2018

November in Zeeland

I'm the first to admit that November in Zeeland doesn't have quite the same ring to it as April in Paris, but believe me, the weather was balmy enough to rival, and indeed surpass, any April day's.

Here I am, still in my vintage St. Michaels dressing gown and pink slippers at 8.52 am (quite a luxury for me on a Thursday morning), having a wake-me-up cup of coffee, with the sun streaming in through the windows.

Our itinerary of the day was to drive down to the North Sea resorts on the northwest coast of the Walcheren peninsula. A scenic drive along quiet, tree-lined country roads, with fields as far as the eye can see stretching away on either side, the flat landscape dotted with grazing cows, neat little houses and picture postcard perfect windmills.

But then the omnipresent roadworks and confusing diversions put a spanner or two in the works!

Finally, we reached our first destination, Domburg, the oldest coastal town in Zeeland, where parking is plentiful and free out of season. I'm sure it would have been quite a different story in the Summer months!

Domburg has a long history as a beach resort as well as an artists’ colony.  Its healthy air and the luminosity of its skies have been drawing people here for many a year.

It was the Dutch physician and - rather confusingly - inventor of Swedish Massage, Dr. Johan Mezger (1838-1909), who first coined in on the town's  potential as a health spa.

Originally from Amsterdam, Dr. Mezger had a wide circle of rich and famous patients, who followed him to Domburg when he set up shop there.

In 1888, a small pavillion which had been built on top of the dunes was replaced by the extraordinary Badpaviljoen (Bath Pavillion), built in lavish neo-renaissance style. It has been a listed building since 1983, and now houses a restaurant as well as several exclusive private apartments.

Behind the sand dunes, there's a wide sandy beach which  extends all the way to the next coastal town, Westkapelle.

Around the turn of the century, artists started arriving in Domburg, drawn by its mythical light. Many spent their Summers in the town, producing paintings depicting Domburg and its surroundings, with a favourite subject being the beach with its long lines of wooden poles, acting as wave breakers, jutting into the sea.

One of the members of the artists' colony was Piet Mondriaan, who spent several Summers (and some Winters) in Domburg between 1908 and 1916.

His seascape, Beach with five piers at Domburg, dates from 1909, and is a view which is still recognizable today.

It was heaven strolling on the beach beneath the deep blue of the sky, breathing in the salty sea air.

That day, I accessorized my checked Winter coat with a mustard beret to contrast with the sky, as well as a burnt orange scarf, which looks almost red in the brilliant sunlight.

I'd swapped my ankle boots for long, comfortable, low heeled boots which made trudging through the sand a doddle.

Underneath my coat, a long-sleeved frock, in black with a crazy white, yellow, orange and red print (see here for a closer look), topped by a striped cardigan in the same colours.

It was well past midday by now, so we returned to the town's main street for lunch, which we had at By Juuls, a restaurant recommended by Jos's son.

After lunch, our plan was to take the coastal road out of Domburg towards Westkapelle, which would take us over a massive, 5 kilometres long seawall, where the Walcheren peninsula juts into the – sometimes – wild and windy North Sea.

Again, roadworks did their best to thwart our plan and when our satnav noticed that we didn't take the left turning she (yes, she's a she, called Marie Jeanne) intended us to take, she proposed an alternative route which would first lead us inland, and then back to the coast.

If we'd followed her instructions, we would have missed this picturesque lighthouse, which is why we wanted to take the coastal road in the first place, so we were very naughty and ignored her!

I've always loved lighthouses, especially those of the typical red and white striped variety, and ever since I saw Tina's post back in October, where she posed next to this one on the road to Westkapelle, I knew I wanted to do the same!

There are two lighthouses at Westkapelle, and this is the so-called Low Lighthouse (Noorderhoofd or 't Lage Licht), the smaller of the two, an iron, 16 meter high structure built in 1874, which sits along the sea dike to the north of the town.

If this is the Low Lighthouse, there must be a High Lighthouse as well, right? 

This one, a prominent landmark visible from far and wide, is further along in the village itself, and consists of a red structure dating from 1817 and placed upon a 50 meter high brick tower constructed in 1470 as a church tower.

We didn't stop to take its photograph, but if you're intrigued, you can have a look here.

On the landside of the seawall is the Noordervroon, a watery nature reserve which is home to many different species of birds. Although the nature reserve itself is not accessible, there's a magnificent view of it from the road running on top of the seawall.

Our final stop of the day was the popular seaside resort of Zoutelande, which is called the Riviera of Zeeland and was rated the best resort of the Netherlands in 2013.

Lovely though it is, wild horses couldn't drag us here in High Season, but on this glorious November day, we enjoyed the view of the virtually empty beach from a bench on the promenade.

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style as usual.