Thursday, 30 July 2020

But honey pie, you're not safe here

Life's quite a bundle of laughs here in Belgium at the moment! Due to a resurgence of Covid-19 cases, our National Security Council has ordered a drastic reduction of social contacts, shrinking the so-called bubble to just five per family unit for at least four weeks starting today. Shopping is now once again a solo activity and limited to 30 minutes and there are stricter rules for cafés and restaurants. These are just some I cherry picked for you, as I won't bore you with the complex do's and don'ts our country's Security Council have come up with.

But there's more! The Province of Antwerp, where I happen to live, and which has seen a huge increase of cases, is under stringent new restrictions, including mandatory face masks in public at all times and a 11:30 p.m. curfew.

It's not exactly lockdown - as many of us had feared - but as people are actively discouraged to visit Antwerp, it feels a bit as if we are pariahs right now. And all because people - the Covidiots as Goody so aptly calls them - have been acting quite irresponsibly.

OK, deep breaths. Breathe in, breathe out. And again.

Let's have a look at what I was wearing on Tuesday before last, when we were still somewhat blissfully unaware of what was around the corner.

First wearing of one of the skirts from the never-again charity shop we visited the week before. Originally from H&M, it has an elasticated waist with ties at the front. Quite contrary as I am, I tied them in the back, tucked in the ends and wore a red belt on top.

The red and white floral blouse is from the Belgian Wow To Go label, but charity shopped as well. And while I can't remember where the blue and white beaded necklace came from, I know exactly where I found the brooch with its embroidered posy of Gentians. It was part of a haul from a Carmarthen antique centre on a rainy June day in 2018.

The pale yellow Gador shoes were another charity shop find and only worn for the photos.

It was Belgium’s national holiday, 21 July, and we didn’t go anywhere, nor did we do very much at all.

After washing the face masks we'd been using that week, I thought I'd offer you a glimpse of part of my growing mask wardrobe. The one on the far right was handmade by Jos's daughter An - there's another one which is not photographed - while the rest were shop-bought.

Although the sun had decided to grace us with her presence for most of the day, it was a bit windy and chilly, only warming up towards the evening. 

Just in time for my daily watering session and plant inspection. Look at all that gorgeous pinkness and purpleness going on!

Some of my pottering that day included photographing a selection of brooches for Wednesday's Instagram post. For many months now, I have been treating my Instagram followers to weekly installments of my brooch collection. I might be doing a retrospective blog post for you one day.

Feeling a bit of a fraud for not participating in Kezzie's Bloggers Art Gallery that day, I photographed some of the art we have around the house - which I will be including in a future post - starting with some brooches, which I'm sure can be considered art in their own right.

On the left are two of my modest collection of intricately crafted micro-mosaic brooches. 

The Arts & Crafts brooch on the top right might be one of my oldest and most cherished, while the 1940s one on the bottom right was hand-painted on a piece of war-time fabric.

Swiftly skipping Wednesday's office day, the sun was out in full force on Thursday. With the thermostat cranked up to a sizzling 27° Celsius, we intended to enjoy the day to the full and spend it outside and away from home.

After Jos had returned from his hairdressers appointment and subsequent food shop, we made a couple of sandwiches, grabbed a soft drink, and returned to the water tower for an impromptu picnic.

As it was a clear day, we'd planned to climb the steps up to the viewing platform again for a glimpse of the Atomium in Brussels. Unfortunately, we found our plans thwarted by the arrival of a Dad and  his two children, who'd apparently had the same idea. Initially we decided to wait but we gave up in the end as they seemed to be staying up there forever.

Instead there's a quick glimpse of my short-sleeved cotton dress with its funky print of navy, green and lime triangles on a white background. I hadn't been wearing any rings for a while, but I thought my blue plastic flower ring went just perfect with the dress. As it's plastic, there was no need to remove it for hand washing each and every time.  I also added one of my collection of floral brooches.

Our picnic was followed by a quick dash to the nearby supermarket to get a couple of things our local shop had run out of. 

After dropping off our perishable purchases at home, we drove down to a nature reserve in Niel, a small town about 10 kilometers from where we live.

This tranquil wooded domain interspersed with picturesque ponds is another one which was established on some of the former clay pits the area is rich in.

We used to go there quite often until the reserve fell out of grace due to the many illegal fishermen who were often barbecuing their catches at the side of the ponds and leaving lots of litter in their wakes.

Now, peace and quiet reigned, and we only met a handful of people on our walk, most of whom were walking their dogs.

We meandered through the 60 hectare reserve, veering off the main path towards the first of the ponds which lies behind the ruins of one of the former brickwork buildings.

There's a fishing club to the left here, dotted with quiet-as-mice fisherman trying their luck.

Here, our walk continued along a narrow wooded path, until we came to yet another pond, its surface mirror-like perfection. 

Here it's easy, if not to forgot, then certainly to push our perils and predicaments to the backs of our minds for a handful of soul-resetting minutes.

And there were benches to rest our weary feet, or at least dangle them in my case, all with wonderful views to stop and stare at.

How can a Summer's day be so perfect and sad at the same time?

A relic of the past awaited us at the end of our walk, when we came across one of the little trains which were used to bring clay to the brickworks. Always ready to seize a photo opportunity, I'd climbed aboard and sat down in the little saddle seat before I could think.

It's a good thing we're all carrying hand sanitizer these days!

Do be careful out there, and stay safe, my friends!


  1. Ann, I'm so sorry you're going through this again. Maybe there's hope that this time people will understand the virus won't magically go away without taking precautions.

    I always enjoy virtually tagging along on your walks, and seeing your brooch collection. Sending you and Jos big hugs and good thoughts. You'll get through this!

    1. Thank you for your supportive words, Goody, and you're always welcome to tag along virtually on my walks! xxx

  2. I’m deeply sorry that you are having it particularly bad where you live. It is getting that bad in the town where Mum is and I worry for her and auntie Jill when they are out and about.
    It’s so good that you are upbeat enough to entertain us with your beautiful outfits and brooches. I thank you for keeping us afloat with your blog post. We need to keep supporting each other here in blogland.
    I find myself now making notes of things to blog about and it’s as much for me as anyone. It gives me a focus and makes me notice things.
    Sending lots of love to you both and don’t forget we are all in this together xxx

    1. Thank you my lovely friend! I wouldn't know how I'd cope without my wonderful blogging friends. xxx

  3. Hello Ann. I was watching the comedy channel recently and found that COVID-19 is providing endless material for comedians. Well, I'm glad someone is finding some humour in all of this! Honestly, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry!

    We seem to be in the same boat as you, numbers rising everyday and new restrictions imposed as a result. As you say, let's just keep breathing! Thankfully, I'm finding some solace in your blogs. Your guided tours are particularly welcome at the moment because I'm feeling quite incarcerated over here. Wandering around these beautiful parks with you is such a blessing. Thank you so much.

    Perusing your garden is also wonderful. Love the floral show of pinks and purples - my favourite colours in the garden.

    Your outfits are always beautiful. I quite like the red floral blouse. I'm also impressed with the colour co-ordination happening between you and Jos.

    Keep wearing those fabulous masks and stay safe!

    1. Hello Suzy! I keep seeing Covid-19 jokes on Facebook too and some of them are quite good :-) You have to be in the right frame of mind though. But I vastly prefer the jokes to all the scaremongering. Or the nagging because having to wear masks! I'll be taking you on a couple more walks so that you can virtually tag along! I know it's even harder for you because of lockdown! xxx

  4. Oh Ann I am so sorry about these restrictions again.
    You made the best of this wonderful summer day. Thank you for all these amazing pictures. I never understand that people throw away litter in the nature.
    Have a good time and stay safe. with a very huge hug Tina

    1. Thank you Tina! People who leave litter behind make me so mad. We found two empty cans under a picnic table last week, with a litter bin only a couple of meters away! xxx

  5. Hi Ann, see this is what happens when no one takes it seriously. And they think it is all over, I know what I would like to do with those people. Ignorance is bliss well not in this case. I am visiting a friend in Sendai for 3 days tomorrow taking the car instead of the train, staying with her , she knows aLl the nice quiet places . I just needed to get out of the city. I know it is the 3rd largest city in the japan but it doesn’t feel like that.
    I feel your pain. Hence my escape. Love the mask collection. Love the pictures. Keep safe and weLl my friend

    1. Hi Allie Jane! I definitely know what I would like to do to those people too, and I'm afraid it wouldn't be nice! I'm glad you have a friend who know all the nice quiet places. I've been adding to my mask collection in the meantime. Might as well wear stylish ones :-) xxx

  6. wonderful walk in the nature reserve! i would take seat in that little lokomotive too - love old technic.
    the h&m skirt is fab - very 80s, which i like more and more this days.... and the pink flowers of your garden are gorgeous!
    as for C. - i was expecting that - people are stupid, thats a fact - and they will never get wise so it will always be the worst case. in our little town we have 2 new infections and i´m sure its only the start. instructed the BW already for buying more food & drugstore basics in case of a new lock down.....

    1. I don't know how anyone could resist climbing into that locomotive :-) I find myself being drawn to the 80s too, and why not. There were some wonderful clothes around back then. I was expecting the same about C., sorry to hear you've got new infections in your little town as well :-( xxx

  7. It's starting here, too - I expect you've seen it on the news. The virus never went away and it's inevitable that the infection rates will spread when people return to normal life (like the government keep suggesting that they should).
    Like Beate's BW, Jon's just popped to the shops to stock on essentials just in case.
    Your H&M skirt is lovely, crisp and cool looking. I love your selection of masks & brooches, too.
    Niel looks like a wonderfully tranquil spot to while away a few hours. The photo of you on the train made me giggle.
    It's glorious here this morning, I'm racing through my to-do list so I can loll about in the sunshine!
    Stay safe! xxx

    1. Oh, yes, we've definitely seen it on the news! People returning to normal life so soon was never a good idea. I just had to climb into that little train :-) We've been back to that nature reserve in the meantime, doing a slightly different walk. A little bit of tranquility did wonders for my mood! xxx

  8. I'm so sorry to hear about the rise of cases there. I worry about what is to follow in the weeks and months to come. I know it doesn't help worrying about the future, but sometimes I can't help it. I try to keep myself busy to avoid thinking about it because none of it is within my control. Besides following restrictions, wearing a mask and so on, I don't see what we can really do. But moving onto brighter subjects. You have a nice collection of face masks. So lovely that Jos' daughter made one for you.
    You look lovely in that skirt paired with a red top. I like the red belt you wore with it as well. The pattern on that skirt reminds me on one of your dresses, it is very pretty. I also like what you wore for a walk in the woods. That green and blue cotton dress is so lovely. I like the fun print. Perfect arrangement of colours: navy blue, green and lime on a white background. The blue bag you wore with it is very chic. I could notice another bag (travel one) on that photo where you're sitting down. The England flag backpack (or is just a larger bag) is so cute. Is that a souvenir from England?
    Lovely photos on a train. Always fun to come across relics from the past. I wish you lovely weekend, I hope you manage to find moments of relaxation this weekend.

    1. Thank you Ivana! I do worry about the future too. And you're right, you can only follow the rules, and the rest is out of your hands. The England bag is my husband's "man bag", which we took with us as it contained our lunch. It was a charity shop find here in Belgium, would you believe? xxx

  9. Hi,Ann! Sorry for the tightening of bans! We must still use a lot of patience here too.So it's wonderful to walk with you in the nature reserve. Niel must be a quiet place, as seen from your beautiful photos! Calm the soul.I love you collection of brooche...and the colors you have chosen for you outfit! Have a good weekend!

    1. Thank you so much Carmela! I think we must all have a lot of patience. It's people's impatience to go "back to normal" which caused cases to rise again :-( xxx

  10. Ha ha, I'll bet you even took a ride in the one in Hastings once. How good it is to be in a nature reserve now isn't it. We want to see as little people as we can when we go out. Accept for friends and family. I think we are going to get a restriction of rules also here. Have you seen our beaches in the news today. Crazy.

    1. Much to my shame, I've never been to Hastings! There, I've said it. I'm sure I'd take a ride in the train, though :-) xxx P.S. I did indeed see your beaches in the news ...

  11. Sorry that you have to deal with new restrictions too!. Lots of new norms here too, but lots of recreational activities (bars, terraces, nightclubs, parties and usual summer lifestyle) because tourism is so important for spanish economy!. I'm tired of this kind of hypocrisy!.
    However, it's lovely to see you looking fab in your red shirt and cute floral skirt (such a perfectly summery print!).
    Glad that you've got a masks collection yet!. I 'only' have four masks! ;DD
    I have a weakness for anything Arts&Crafts related, so no wonder that this one is a cherished brooch!. Your collection never ceases to amaze me!.
    And it's also lovely to see some pics of your flowers, and particularly of your walks in these magnificent parks. Walking under the trees is something so inspiring!.
    Your navy and green dress is a joyful piece, and love how you've accessorized it, everything looks so gorgeous!. And totally understand the problems with hand sanitiser when wearing rings, I've had to stop wearing them and I feel a little bit 'naked'. Isn't it strange?

    1. It is hypocrisy indeed! And then they are surprises there are so many new infections! I have to confess I bought even more masks. Found a little shop near my office with lots of choice :-) xxx

  12. What a lovely post, my dear. The place looks really amazing and you have a fabulous style! Stay safe always hun


  13. There's been a rise in cases here too, local lockdowns, putting easing of lockdown on hold but also so many mixed messages and about turns it's enough to make you dizzy.
    You have a good selection of masks, I've been doing the same, that way I can wash them regularly.
    Your micromosaic brooches are pretty and I loved looking at the selection you showed, I enjoy seeing them on Instagram too.
    Your visit to the nature reserve at Niel looked very restorative.
    Hope you have a relaxing weekend Ann, stay safe xxx

    1. I keep hearing of cases rising left, right and centre. Hopefully, the new restrictions, and especially those here in the province of Antwerp, will be sufficient and there won't be another lockdown. xxx

  14. We had some restrictions (I can’t think of the word, what’s the opposite of eased?), well anyway, that. It does feel inevitable really, the Covidiots (Good word Goody!) might just start to take note now (I’m typing with my fingers crossed in hope that the comes true).
    You have a lovely selection of face masks. Mine, for some reason, are all blue (for now, I want to make some more). I had to wear one today and it was OK but I did get a bit hot, I think I’ll just continue staying at home as much as I can.
    Your brooches can absolutely be considered art! They’re beautiful.
    What a good idea to make the most of a sunny day, Thursday was glorious here too, but I spent the most part of it at my desk. I did get out in the evening and enjoyed the cooler part of the day in the garden with a book.
    Take care

    1. I can't think of the right word either ... but Covidiots is a great one, isn't it? I do hope the latter do start to take note. I must say the general mask wearing rule is being followed up pretty well. They aren't much fun to wear, but needs must I suppose! xxx

  15. I like your first red and blue outfit - such a nice way to wear that skirt! And your dress is beautiful, what a lovely walk! it's nice you can still get out and explore the local area. We did so much walking and exploring along trails and the beach and parks during the school holidays that I've aggravated my knee injury again - I need to be a lot more careful!

    Sadly things have gone downhill here - some women went to another state with an uncontrolled outbreak and lied to get back into our state so they didn't have to quarantine. They brought the virus back with them and visited a LOT of places even after getting tested :( So now masks are requested by some supermarkets. not required yet which is nice as I decided to do the right thing and wear the mask to the supermarket on Friday when the new rules requesting it came in and it was a bit strange feeling! We might see more people wearing masks here. Time will tell!

    Hope that you are having a great weekend :)

    Away From Blue

    1. Aggravating your knee injury isn't much fun :-( I tend to overdo it sometimes too, and end up with a sore back. Sorry to hear things are going downhill there too! How can people be so selfish and irresponsible? Glad you decided to to the right thing and wear a mask to the supermarket. It's not fun, but needs must! Hope your week is going well, Mica! xxx

  16. I fear it's only a matter of time before we have the same in the UK and they reintroduce more stringent rules.
    What a lovely collection of masks I really do need to get a few more.

    1. Sadly, it seems to be getting worse again everywhere. Now that we are obliged to wear masks all the time in public, I went out and bought a couple more. Found a nice little shop near my office which stocks a huge variety! xxx