Thursday, 15 November 2018

A haunted castle

If all goes well, I'll be enjoying a short holiday by the time you are reading this. Since I still had a post up my sleeve, I thought I'd give scheduled posting a try. So, if you are reading this, it has worked! Yay!

I don't know about where you are, but here in Belgium we've had yet another batch of gorgeously warm and sunny weather in the week and weekend before last.

Admittedly the mornings were a bit chilly and once or twice there was a flimsy layer of hoarfrost greeting us upon drawing the curtains, but the warmth of the sun soon did away with that, and by midday it had warmed up sufficiently to start shedding layers.

We went charity shopping on Saturday before last and took a picnic, which we could easily have eaten outside if there had been any benches to sit on.

So, a car picnic it was then, but one with a view!

The rather murky water I'm looking out over belongs to the moat of one of the double ring of defensive forts around the city and port of Antwerp. This one, dating from 1878, is in Walem near Mechelen and is now a nature reserve which can only be visited with a guide.

Afterwards, we briefly walked along the water's edge and took some photos.

I was wearing a long sleeved frock, black but sprinkled with poppy-like flowers. It was, after all, that time of the year again when we wear poppies as a symbol of remembrance of those who died in war. I thought that this year the occasion of the centenary of the WW1 Armistice warranted the wearing of more than just that single poppy pinned to my jacket.

I took the lead from the pink flowers to add a pink cardigan and pink tweed jacket, but opted for green for the rest of my accessories, including green opaques and a green beret to tie in with the flowers' stems. I chose a white vinyl belt to please the white flowers.

Next stop was the charity shop near the park.

I'd come across a delightful green tweed jacket in the first shop we visited and, even if I'd told myself to stop buying more jackets, I just had to make an exception for this one. I mean: it's green! How could I not buy it?

I changed into it immediately and have in fact been wearing it for most of last week.

We spotted a heron at the other side of the pond and tried to get a little closer to take its picture, but unfortunately it had spotted us too and flew off. Oh well.

After a short circuit of the park, which was veiled in the light of the Autumn afternoon sunshine, it was time to continue our charity shopping.

The usually rather disappointing jewellery display came up with a marbled orange beaded necklace and a plastic ring in the shape of an apple, complete with diamanté leaf.

Anything velvet always grabs my attention and when I saw a black midi skirt with the most gorgeous metallic print, I knew resistance was futile. I'm promising to wear it on the blog soon, but until then you can admire a close-up of its amazing print.

When I left the fitting room and came across a rail full of coats, my eyes zoomed in on a gorgeous brown textured wool coat. Taking out its hanger for closer inspection, I was delighted to see a flash of orange floral lining. Then my eyes clocked the label. Now, I don't need another coat, but it was my size, and it would be quite foolish to leave this Dolce & Gabbana coat behind for € 32.

The next day, Sunday, we had to be up bright and early for our second trip of the year to Castle de Renesse in Oostmalle, just over half an hour's drive away.

There's a twice-yearly antiques market, held in April and November, when stalls selling all manner of brocante fill the castle's public rooms and corridors.

We were dismayed not to see the Brooch Lady presiding over her folders of brooches as usual, but on the plus side this seriously limited our spending!

Still, it's always a pleasure to be there and browse the many treasures, oddities and curiosities on display in this magnificent setting.

They were obviously expecting me as, climbing the spiral staircase in the castle's keep tower, there was this ornate silver and turquoise throne waiting for me. 

There have always been rumours that the castle is haunted, but this has now been officially confirmed. Apparently, an organization called Paranormal Research Europe, has done some investigations and has registered "entities".

During WWI, a German officer committed murder and then suicide, and legend has it that he is the notorious castle ghost, but whether he was one of the "entities" remains to be seen.

Our browsing finished, it was time for lunch, and as usual we'd brought a picnic, which I am delighted to say we were able to have outside.

There is only one picnic table, next to a path leading into the domain, and with a view to the castle across the lake. Funnily enough we seem to be the only ones making use of it. 

With our picnic hamper and checked tablecloth spread out on the table, we caught quite a bit of attention from the people walking or cycling past.

As a rule, and weather permitting, our picnics here are followed by a walk around the domain, and it was such an exceptionally gorgeous Autumn day that we picked up our walking sticks from the car and opted for a longer than usual walk.

But let me show you what I was wearing first.

You've already caught a glimpse of my outer wear: my new-to-me green tweed jacket, a fluffy pink charity shopped scarf and a dusty blue vintage beret.

What you haven't seen is my dress, in brown with a print featuring a profusion of flowers in pink, coral, lavender and green. It is handmade and lined and has the most unusual leg-of-mutton  sleeves. Can you believe I unearthed it from the reduced bin at one of Antwerp's vintage-per-kilo shops? 

I added a lavender vinyl belt, wore my rose beaded necklace, pinned a gold tone brooch with a red and white mottled stone on the dress's collar, and chose a pair of purple opaques.

And I just had to wear this ring, its colours echoing the dress's print almost exactly.

The sun was beaming dazzling rays of sunlight though the trees, creating a magically enchanting atmosphere.

The earthy aroma of the leaf-layered woods mingled with a nostalgia inducing pine tree smell, providing a ticket for time travelling back to my childhood.

On our way back, we passed the spot where a frame has been erected, perfectly catching the castle surrounded by Autumnal splendour.

We concluded the afternoon with coffee and cake, which we had outside in the castle courtyard.

Finally, here are the things we found. And no, we didn't set out to colour coordinate them!

Our first purchase, mere minutes after we walked in, was the fabulous head plaque. She has joined our wall of heads by now.

The turquoise leather gloves and large brooch with the turbaned lady both came from the same stall.

Upstairs is a stall selling - amongst other things - brooches at every reasonable prices. The choice wasn't as extensive as before, but I still managed to find this charming little bird brooch.

Lastly, a small book full of drool-worthy jewellery, edited by Judith Miller. I already have similar books on shoes and handbags.

I am leaving you now with a selfie. I am notoriously bad a taking selfies, and usually I can't push the delete button fast enough. Still, perseverance must have paid off as I was quite taken with this rather spooky one!

See you next week!

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Skirting the issue

The sun had joined us again on Sunday two weeks ago, when it was time for the next edition of our favourite indoor flea market.

It is usually being held once a month, from September until June. But wait, I can hear you thinking, hasn't there just been one about two weeks ago? Well yes, you're absolutely right. There was an extra edition in October!

I've been wanting to wear this blouse, with its cheerful bird print, ever since I happened upon it in a charity shop last month, but hadn't got around to it yet.

On this day, balancing on the edge of Autumn, I thought it appropriate to combine it with this tweedy rust coloured vintage St. Michael skirt, which came with a matching short-sleeved jacket.

I added an ochre yellow cardie on top, and chose a pair of burnt orange tights, which happen to be my favourites.

The gorgeous, behatted lady on my brooch is wearing similar colours, and as she's wearing a green beaded necklace, I thought I'd to the same!

And here is the first of my charity shop finds of the day before, the orange belt!

I thought my mock croc bag deserved another outing as well.

The berry coloured cord jacket, originally from H&M, provided contrast and as a final touch I added a yellow felted flower corsage (bought in Narberth, Pembrokeshire) and a charity shopped crushed velvet ochre yellow scarf.

It goes without saying that we didn't come away empty handed. There's always something to catch our eye at this fabulous flea.

Here's a nice little tableau of the things we brought home!

Childhood nostalgia for Jos, who remembers having this booklet on the sign language used by American Indians as a young boy. It's another one of those albums where you had to collect the pictures by eating lots of chocolate!

The disc on the bottom right, with its picture of the Antwerp skyline, and probably dating from the 1950s, is a clever little device which enables you to find out the day of the week of any date between 1849 and 2007 So, we now know that I was born on a Tuesday and Jos on a Saturday!

Although there were lots of stalls selling jewellery, I generally found prices a bit high, so I only bought three brooches this time.

I couldn't resist this little yellow handmade shopping bag, which folds up and closes with a cute vintage button, although I have to admit that the big round bamboo handles are a bit incongruous when folded up.

One of my first buys was this funky pair of red boots in a butter soft red leather. They are hardly worn and a snip at € 15. The box still had the original price label of € 140!

The wicker handbag matches their deep red colour almost exactly. 

From Tania, one of our favourite sellers, and reader of my blog, came this caramel brown Melitta coffee pot and filter set.

This cute set of shot glasses, in typical Mid Century style, was a snip at € 5.

The stall which yielded this fabulous mounted Art Deco style head sculpture is run by Rita, another follower of my blog. 

The week following the flea market was a short one, as I'd taken Monday off. Additionally, we had a public holiday on Thursday 1 November, All Saints Day.

It turned out to be a dreary day but although Jos said this is typical for 1 November, my blog tells me otherwise, as this is what we did on this day in 2016 and 2017.

We were dithering over whether to go for a walk, in the end deciding on a short outing to a park in a neighbouring village where, funnily enough, we had never been before. 

Inspired by my friend Ingrid, who had shared some photographs of it on Facebook a couple of days earlier, we thought we would check it out.

Annoyingly, it started raining the minute we'd stepped out of our car but, in spite of the fact that we hadn't thought to bring umbrellas, we went ahead regardless.

The rain, lightly at first and hardly noticeable when walking under the trees, steadily increased in intensity, and for the first time this season, it actually felt like an Autumn day, one of those interminably grey and foggy days when there is no place like home, curled up on the sofa with a good book.

But we were there, so we thought we might as well take some outfit photos.

Passing a sign pointing to an ancient ice house hidden behind an insulating barrier of yew hedges, we climbed the winding path leading to its top, where a gazebo resting on gnarled pillars was awaiting us.


As you might notice, I am wearing the same St. Michael skirt again, this time combining it with a brown floral print polyester blouse. I wore it over the skirt, with a slim green belt at my waist and topped by a green batwing sleeved woolly cardigan. Needless to say, all vintage or new-to-me!

While you can just make out the Cotoneaster berry necklace I'm wearing, there's no need to point out the bright orange plastic ring I'm wearing.

Oh, and finally, it's beret time! Yay! The sage green one I'm wearing came from a vintage per kilo shop in Antwerp called Riot.

Jos has swapped his green jacket for his warmer Harris Tweed one, charity shopped last year.

The park, originally part of the grounds of the neo-classical castle you can spot between the trees, is laid out in English landscape style, inspired by Capability Brown. 

We will definitely have to return on a better day.

In the meantime, we will be going on a short holiday this week. I might squeeze in another post before we leave but if not, I'll be back next week with new adventures.

Linking my rainy day outfit to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style once the link is up!

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

All along the water tower

It's November but apart from one or two miserably grey and wet Autumn days, we keep being blessed with unseasonably warm weather.

My transitional wardrobe has really come into its own these days, as I've even been wearing those dresses which usually fall by the wayside for it being either too warm or too cold.

This pink, tan and taupe short-sleeved dress is made from a lightweight corduroy, its fabric too thick to be counted as a Summer dress, while its short sleeves prevent it from being an Autumn staple.

It's been in my wardrobe for well over a year - my blog tells me I bought it in April 2017 - picked up at a consignment store we sometimes visit as a convenient stop-over between charity shops. 

Their stock mainly consists of furniture of all shapes, sizes and eras, with the odd smaller, usually quite overpriced object thrown in. We treat it more like a curiosity shop, gawping at some of the gorgeous things well beyond our budget and space limitations, while having a good laugh at some of the "what were they thinking of" stuff.

At one point, a couple of clothes rails had appeared out of nowhere and, making a beeline for them, I was happy to see they contained lots of vintage. On closer inspection, it dawned on me that I'd seen some of those clothes before, in a vintage shop in Antwerp which sadly stopped trading. It just couldn't be a coincidence, so I'm quite sure that's where they originated from.

Over the months, I bought some of the dresses and this was one of them. 

I wore it for a get together with friends on a Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago. Although it had a self fabric tie belt, I thought it looked better with this tan leather belt. 

I used lilac and purple as accent colours for my plastic peacock brooch, ring, bracelet and cardigan. The plum coloured shoes are by Hotter and were a € 2 flea market find back in May.

The grey tweed jacket, with elaborate embroidery on its right side, was charity shopped last month, but never shown on the blog.

Fast forward to the next week, when on Saturday there was a definite nip in the air, the bright blue sky belying the fact that a cold northeastern wind was blowing, making me regret the wearing of my thin lilac jacket and the omittance of a pair of gloves.

With a flea market planned on Sunday, we wanted to take it easy on Saturday, but decided on a short outing to blow away the week's cobwebs. And to show you what I was wearing, of course!

Purple, lilac and mustard with a bit of old rose thrown in! 

The purple and lilac dress I was wearing, with its dropped collar and three self buttons down the front (purely for decoration, mind you, it closes with a zip at the back) was one of my first ever vintage purchases.

I added a mustard cardie and opaques in a similar colour. The first opaques of the season!

My burgundy new-to-me boots were a recent find from Think Twice. This really is a case of serendipity as I wasn't even looking. In fact, I'd given up looking altogether for a suitable pair by then.

After desperately seeking a fitting pair (and you can take this quite literally!), I was happy to stumble upon these pull-on ones back in November 2016. However, they weren't easy to pull on. Or off for that matter. Soon, the pulling on had created a bulge on the inner heel, making them quite uncomfortable to walk in.

Needless to say that I squeed when I spotted this pair, which not only are a perfect fit, but have a zipper too!

We stopped for outfit photos in the little garden behind the old water tower in the neighbouring village of Reet.

Built in 1938, it was bought by the council in 2008 and turned into a viewpoint in 2012.

At first sight, you'd be forgiven in thinking that the low, squat building, merely ten meters in height, is remarkably low for a water tower. However, as it was built on the highest point of the area's clay formation, forty meters above sea level, this allowed it to fully function as a water tower.

The metal cage attached to the tower contains a set of steps leading up to the viewing platform.

We'd been up there once before but after the viewing platform was vandalized in September last year, it had been temporarily closed off.

Climbing up to the platform we were rewarded with a panorama of the surrounding landscape, with a working clay pit belonging to the last of the brick making factories in the foreground.

They are the lone survivors of the once mighty brick making industry which used to reign the area.

All around, as far as the eye can see, nature has reclaimed the heavily scarred landscape and some of its abandoned clay pits have been turned into precious nature reserves.

From up here, several local landmarks can be made out, and on a clear day part of the Atomium in Brussels, some 30 kilometers away, can be spotted on the horizon.  That day, it was firmly hiding behind some overgrown bushes, so we'll have to return after they have shed their leaves.

The sun dived behind an advancing army of dark, menacing clouds, taking away its warmth and leaving the biting wind to chill us to the bone.

With a final glance at the bleak landscape suddenly plunged into an eerie semi darkness, we descended the caged stairway back to ground level.

I can tell you that, suffering from vertigo, going down those see-through steps was infinitely more scary than going up!

Before returning home we stopped at a local charity shop where pickings were slim but I still managed to find a corduroy blazer in a delicious berry colour and an orange leather belt ...

... both of which I would be wearing to the flea market the next day.

But that will be for my next post!

Meanwhile, I am once again joining the visible ladies at Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

The calm repose of Autumn days

October is synonym with the first real days of Autumn. While September still has that summery ring to it, even the most sunny October day can no longer hide the fact that Summer is well and truly over.

The sun is slowly but surely withdrawing her light and her warmth is waning.

There's a certain melancholy in the air, gently tugging at one's heartstrings, while nature's final fireworks are trying their best to detract from the apparent decay.

October means foggy mornings and the first hint of frost. It can no longer be denied that the days are getting shorter and now that we've once again put the clocks back one hour to herald the approaching Winter, darkness is upon us before the afternoon is over.

Vivid shades of tangerine dye the sky as the sun rises or sets. And everywhere, crunchy carpets of fallen leaves are getting satisfyingly kick-worthy.

October always has a couple of treats up its sleeve, one of them being the Dag van de Kringwinkel (Day of the Charity Shops), a yearly event to promote the workings of the charity shops here in Belgium. This year, the event was on Saturday 20 October.

In our local chain of shops, this means there's usually a lot of vintage on sale, things that have been hoarded throughout the months preceding the event and which are now being sold at inflated prices. 

Nevertheless, we still can't bring ourselves to give this day a miss, as there's often treasure to be found among the inevitable tat, and in spite of everything, there are still bargains to be had.

Between shops, we stopped off at the park for what might well have been our last outdoor picnic of the year.

The weather was still doing her Summer impression, but there was a slight chill in the air which warranted the wearing of some true Autumnal pieces.

Could there be anything more Autumnal than this maxi skirt, in darkest brown, and sprinkled all over with ochre, red, pink, taupe and white flowers? It's handmade from a thick polyester fabric and lined to boot. Its previous owner must have been as vertically challenged as me, as it was just long enough for me not to trip over its hem. 

My jacket, in a bottle green velvet, was its perfect companion.
The brooch I pinned to its lapel, its Lucite shell encasing a crinolined lady walking among flowers and wearing a summer hat, was a gift from the lovely Lynn. Isn't it absolutely gorgeous?

The sun was playing with the amber and golden leaves, illuminating their vibrant shades, the sunlight shimmering through the treetops creating a slightly disconcerting feeling of timelessness.

There's something quite mesmerizing about standing beneath a canopy of trees, looking up at the sunlight filtering through its tangle of branches and leaves.

The small park here is always a delight, whatever the time of year, and we keep returning again and again to see the changes each season brings.

I love the vivid red of these leaves and the long curly seed pods of the Acacia tree, which will soon litter the ground and footpath beneath its overhanging branches with their alien shapes.

There's no label to identify the contents or provenance of this almost sheer crepe like blouse in a colour I would call coral, and with a delicate flower print.

My brooch, with its deep green stone, is another one from my flea market haul. When I shared it on Facebook, one of my friends commented that it would make me look like a superheroine. Well, I actually wouldn't mind having a superpower or two!

Further accessories were a caramel belt with a round tortoiseshell buckle and amber coloured beaded necklace.

There are hidden delights around every corner, and my camera's been working overtime, as my eyes dart here, there and everywhere trying to catch all these visual treats. Here I was taking out my smartphone to make a snapshot of the pretty pink cyclamen growing among the layer of leaves.

But I mentioned charity shops, so I guess you'll be on tenterhooks to find out what I've found!

I can never resist a colourful print, so first up are these two retro print frocks. While the green one on the left looks to be handmade, the deep red one on the right is another King Louie dress, its original retail price a tenfold of what I've paid. I already wore this one to work later that week.

Here you can have a closer look at the prints. 

Unworn Hush Puppies boots for € 4? Yes, please!

The pattern of the Boch coffee pot on the top right is Argenteuil. Dating from the early 1970s, this is one of the patterns we collect, and we already own pieces of the coffee and dinner service.

More frocks at another shop.These are all vintage and while the two long-sleeved red frocks can be expected to make an appearance on the blog this season, the blue and yellow one in the centre, a deadstock Diolen, will grace my Summer wardrobe next year.

Last but not least is this Indian cotton maxi dress, which I couldn't wait to model for you.

It's got a quilted bodice, so no chance of catching a chest cold, I guess!

It's also got the most massive sleeves. The things I could smuggle in them!

I'm taking my Autumnal outfit to Nancy's Fancy Friday (yes, I know it's Saturday already!) at Nancy's Fashion Style this week.