woensdag 13 december 2017

Rainy days and Sundays

Waking up on Sunday before last, we realized that Saturday's reasonably dry weather had been a one-off!

Yes, we were back again to yet more rain, coming down in buckets, pelting against window panes, creating puddles and turning the roads into minor rivers.

Feeling the dampness in my bones, I'd been pottering around the house without much enthusiasm and I would have flopped myself down on the sofa for the mother of all naps, if we hadn't found out that Expo 58 was having one of its rare Sunday openings.

Still wearing my Princess coat, I acccessorized it differently this time, with a burgundy knitted hat, a pair of red leather gloves, and my yellow crushed velvet scarf.  Nothing new here, you've seen it all before, including the tan bag and slouchy boots.

I'm sure you're dying to see what's beneath the coat? Ta-dah!

You didn't expect all that yellow, did you? The world suddenly seems just that little bit brighter.

Would you believe that this cheerful little frock is living in the black section of my wardrobe? Although I have quite a few of these black, printed dresses, I only have one plain little black dress and a plain black maxi, which admittedly has gold thread in the bodice and sleeves ...

I added an orange belt (only just visible), a yellow cardie and yellow honeycomb textured tights.

The white diagonals in the dress are picked up by my vintage black and white intertwined beads, while the brooch which I pinned to the cardie in its turn compliments the yellows, oranges and reds.

Are we done yet? I'm getting cold here!

Now, in order to avoid confusion, I must tell you that while Expo 58 is the name of a shop selling all manner of vintage items, it is named after the other Expo 58, the Brussels World Fair which was held in that year.

The shop is a veritable treasure trove, but a little bit out of our way, constituting a two hour roundtrip, which is why we only visit it a few times a year.

Trundling along the motorway in the pouring rain, the rain battering the roof of our car, an unnatural darkness descending on the early afternoon, we were starting to question whether this had been good idea.

However, any doubts vanished into thin air once we stepped inside the shop.

Stefanie, the shops's owner, who is a follower of my blog, bade us welcome with a cup of hot chocolate, which was simmering in an old fashioned cast iron pot on the gaily burning stove.

Thus fortified, we were ready to rummage the shop's shelves, nooks and crannies.

The revolving rack of vintage clothing obviously didn't escape my attention. While it was clear that the groovy shoes were way too big for my petite size 4 feet, I tried on several dresses, deciding on the two Jos is holding up for inspection.

The black, orange and yellow long-sleeved frock is handmade and at first sight had one or two minor, easily resolvable issues, but the multicoloured floral one, a Diolen delight, was in perfect condition.

Taken in better light conditions, the close-up does the colours of the print infinitely more justice.

My wardrobe has its fair share of Diolen, a popular 1960s/1970s polyester, its bright colours and prints vying for attention.

In fact, my heart skips a beat whenever I spot the Diolen label in a garment!

As the dress in question is short-sleeved, it will be put away for Spring, but I can't wait to wear it when the time has finally come!

Then I spied this rack, which in a previous life was a shop display rack for zippers.

The zippers in question were made by Métalsa, which apparantly was owned by that institution of haberdashery, DMC.

DMC has been producing haberdashery, and in particular all kinds of thread, in its factory in Mulhouse, France, since 1746, and DMC threads are used virtually everywhere!

I googled Métalsa but, apart from some zippers being sold on Etsy, any information on the brand remained elusive.

Obviously I wasn't planning on using the rack for displaying zippers, nor as a handy gadget for hanging up my hat, scarf and gloves!

No, its purpose was clear from the beginning, so it has now started its second life displaying my ever-growing collection of necklaces! Sorted by colour, of course!

Oh, and it suddenly dawned on me that I still have to show you Saturday's charity shopping finds!

This faded Jesus print appealed to us because of its pretty embroidered frame, the print itself asking for Jesus's protection of the family. That's sorted then!

Another irristibly wacky thing is this naive children's wall art, probably dating from the late 1960s.

Finally, a pair of gloves and yet another pair of boots!

The deadstock gloves were found at the bottom of a carton. They aren't real leather and have a slightly musty smell, but at € 0,50, who am I to complain?

The boots, which have a decorative cut-out pattern at te top, have already been worn and thus proved their worth.

Keep warm and dry, wherever you are!

zaterdag 9 december 2017

In the grey of December

It was to a grey and foggy world that we woke up last Saturday, but at least it was dry after the endless rain of the week before.

We were raring to go out and have a taste of fresh air before the rain clouds would once again descend on us.

The aforementioned fresh air turned out to be quite chilly, nipping at any uncovered extremities, so we wrapped up warmly, giving me the chance to wear my latest € 4 winter coat.

This coat is such a pleasure to wear, being warm but not too heavy as some woollen winter coats tend to be. The furry collar and especially the generous amount of fur at the hem, make me feel quite glamorous.

The extremities were covered by a teal velvet hat (slightly too large, I should have added a headband to secure it more firmly over my ears) and a pair of purple suede gloves. I added a turquoise knitted scarf for extra warmth.

My choice of handbag was a dark chocolate brown tapestry one with a floral motif.

These boots are good quality leather ones charity shopped a few weeks ago. I've just realized I completely forgot to show them to you, so here they are.

They close with a side zipper, although the laces at the back can be adjusted if necesssary.

Let me show you what I'm wearing underneath!

The dress's fabric is a heavy polyester, and it has a front zipper and wide turned up cuffs.

I broke up the pattern with a caramel coloured belt and a vintage plastic brooch carved with flowers in blue, red and ivory. The beads echo the blue of the dress's pattern and I chose a plastic ring in a similar colour as the belt.

On top went a chocolate brown cardigan edged in yellow, contrasting perfectly with my two deep blue 1930s Gentian brooches. The large one came from our favourite indoor flea market while the small one was charity shopped for a pittance in Cardigan last summer. I just had to wear them together.

By the time we made it to the park the fog was retreating but the sky was still a dull uniform grey, the sun lacking the energy and motivation to break through the iron curtain of clouds.

The edges of the park were blurred, the trees veiled in a light haze, the gnarled bark of their trunks a sombre brown.

It was a typically gloomy December day on which it is quite clear that, although not yet officially Winter, nature has outgrown its Autumn mellowness.

The relentless rain has made a soggy mess of the remains of the once abundant herbaceous border surrounding the park's pond.

The delicate Cyclamen have finished flowering, leaving patches of patterned leaves in their wake, a welcome oasis of green amid the endless carpet of sodden brown leaves.

We spotted the tall, leggy figure of a heron, that most majestic of birds, almost pre-historic in appearance.

When I tried to tiptoe closer, it took flight: wings flapping and with its legs dangling, it was airborne.

I've read that the heron often keeps its neck extended when taking flight, but once in level flight coils it back in typical heron fashion, which to my surprise I caught on camera!

Near the pond, the monochrome world suddenly turns orange. Bright orange!

It is where Taxodium distichum, the bald cypress, grows.

Deciduous, its feathery foliage turns this fiery colour in Autumn, then carpets the ground until it glows as if touched by a magic wand, creating an eerie world of colour, while all around seems to be leached of it.

One has but to step onto the bridge to bring out the full population of the pond's waterfowl, including a handful of cleverly disguised gulls, in search of a handout.

Unfortunately, we'd had our picnic in the car and ate everything to the last crumb, so they swam away disappointed, but in orderly fashion!

I'd taken off my gloves so that I could use my camera (making a mental note to put my pair of fingerless gloves in my handbag), so by now the cold was numbing my fingers and turning them stiff and clumsy.

Stamping to keep warm, pulling our hats closer over our ears, it was time to return to our car and hit a couple of charity shops!

It was Saturday, after all ...

Linking once again to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style!

dinsdag 5 december 2017

All silent save the dripping rain

It seems I am seriously lagging behind. Another weekend has come and gone and I've yet to continue telling you about the previous one!

I left you on Saturday before last, riding my bike dressed in my 1980s batwing dress. But obviously we did something else as well that day. Can you guess? Yes, we were off to the charity shops!

Our first stop was a shop which has somewhat fallen out of grace. It used to be one of our favourites, as its shelves could always be relied upon to yield a couple of treasures, but lately we have once too often left it empty handed. They also tend to be a bit more expensive, especially when it comes to vintage items, sometimes quite ridiculously so!

So, imagine our delight when minutes after walking in we spotted this slightly battered plaster bust of Joseph and the infant Jesus for just a few €.

Although we are not religious, this is just the kind of quirky thing to appeal to us. In fact, we already have a motley crew of plaster saints living at Dove Cottage. Surprisingly this is our first one featuring Joseph who, after all, is Jos's namesake!

Then, there was this set of pretty rose coloured glass coasters, priced at € 1.

This decorative tin used to contain chocolates called Mignonettes by Côte d'Or, which is a major Belgian chocolate brand.

The chocolates, it seems, were never meant to come onto the market. In fact, they were produced especially for the Brussels International Exhibition of 1935, where they were distributed among the visitors to their pavilion.
The miniature chocolate tablets proved to be so popular that Côte d'Or decided to put them into production, and they are still going strong today.

Now, let's get back to Saturday!

The charity shop's large clothing department didn't deliver, as the only thing I found was a new to me yellow wool scarf, which admittedly I've already been wearing for most of last week.

Our next stop was the charity shop in our own village. This used to be a smallish and rather cramped one, but it has recently more than doubled in size. Some of the shelves and racks were still waiting to be filled, but I promise to take some photos once all is finished.

While I unearthed this pristine red vinyl bag (seen here with the yellow scarf), Jos found an album of 78 rpm records, all in perfect condition. The album itself, and most of the records, came from a well-known shop in Brussels called Cado Radio.

Back at home, we spent the rest of the afternoon listening to the records, most of which were quite good. They got Phoebe's approval as well!

On Sunday, we were at a bit of a loose end. Although we'd woken up to sunshine, more rain had been predicted and indeed we could see dark clouds looming, which ruled out a walk.

There was an indoor flea market in Antwerp, but as it is very much in decline, we'd vowed we wouldn't go near it again. I mean, even the Brooch Lady, who could always be relied upon, and for whom we often went especially, has been giving it a miss lately!

Still, with nothing else to do, and not inclined to spend the day at home, we ignored our self imposed ban, and went ahead regardless.

I dressed in a grey wool skirt, featuring diagonals in white, yellow, red and green, which I combined with a floral print V-neck blouse. On top, a green cardie, to which I pinned Gisela's Scottie dog brooch.

Further accessories were green beads, a green vinyl belt and a red plastic ring. I wore my burgundy boots again. They are so warm and comfortable, with a reasonably low heel, which is perfect for trawling flea markets.

Look at my new jacket! It was bought full price at Think Twice, which must have been the only shop not participating in the Black Friday madness which seemed to prevail on Antwerp's shopping streets.

Although I have quite a few green jackets and coats, I'd been looking for a short, fake fur collared winter jacket for ages. In return, and to free up some space in our coat cupboard, I donated another, seldom worn jacket to charity.

Not one of these, though ...

Obviously, the jacket needed a brooch (I later spotted its twin at the flea market!), and as it was quite cold, I wore a pair of thin vintage gloves, my mustard beret and one of my oldest but favourite scarves.

As usual, we took a coffee break about one third into the flea market, this time accompanied by a sugary waffle.

By this time, we have usually already made a couple of purchases. Not now, though.

It seems that apart from the Brooch Lady, some of our other favourite traders were missing as well.

Instead, we trawled through aisle after aisle of discarded toys, heaps of tatty clothing, tasteless decorations and overpriced knock-offs, which made us feel quite miserable.

At one point, we feared we'd made a wasted journey and would leave with nothing, but then I spotted these glass rings and, a couple of stalls further on, some vintage buttons for my stash.

We were almost at the end when my heart skipped a beat upon spying a carton full of celluloid Scottie dog brooches. Unfortunately, the trader knew what they were, which was reflected in his asking price of € 25 per brooch. With heavy heart, I walked away.

Then Jos argued that since we had hardly spent anything, I'd better go back and buy one of the brooches, or I'd be forever regretting it. He was right, so I did and chose a black dog beating a drum. Isn't he cute? He has already made friends with the similar green doggie I bought in Cardigan a couple of years ago!

In the end, the seller knocked off € 5 too!

This purchase made, I found two more brooches before we left, for which I paid € 3 each. This, I'm sure, was a steal, especially for the one on the left, whose trombone clasp revealed that it is older than I initially thought it was.

As they say, you win some, you lose some!

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

vrijdag 1 december 2017

Back to the 80s

The weather has been behaving atrociously for the last couple of weeks and those interminable miserably grey, non-stop rainy days almost made me go out of my mind. Added to that, the fact that I've been all alone in the office and only had myself to talk to was enough to drive me up the wall!

A welcome little ray of sunshine appeared on Tuesday last week, with the arrival of a parcel from the lovely Gisela at Miss Magpie's Musings.

She'd bought two dresses at a vintage fair in Bath, but as alas they didn't fit her, she kindly send them to me!

First up is this colourful Arnel pussy bow frock. As it's sleeveless it will be put aside for the warmer months, unless I come up with a suitable jumper to wear underneath. Watch this space!

There was a sparkly Scottie dog brooch too!

I wore the other dress on Saturday. It is handmade and fully lined, with the lining cleverly sewn in, and with its batwing sleeves - a first in my wardrobe - it seems to have come straight from the 1980s.

I remember having a grey batwing sweater dress back in the day, complete with the ubiquitous shoulder-pads of the era, which I wore to death, accessorized with a massive red belt. It's hard to believe now that this was my only dress!

The dress was somewhat similar to the white one shown below, tapering towards the hem, but the belt was more structured, and with an angled buckle.

Funnily enough, there are no photos of me wearing it. Well, there are hardly any photos of me from that period, full stop!

I was in my twenties in the eighties, and they were turbulant times.

In no particular order, I left home, lived in semi-squalor, was on the dole, found a job, did some serious growing up and kind of lost my way a bit both at the start and the end of the decade.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I see that perm

It was a happy, carefree and crazy time, but kind of bittersweet too, if only because with hindsight I know I wasn't always happy in my own skin and frightfully insecure.

Back to the old house ...

For a couple of years in the early 1980s, I lived on the second floor of a house in the north of Antwerp, built in 1912, up four flights of creaking stairs. The house (the first one in the photo) hadn't moved with the times, with cracked linoleum, the most basic of mod cons and an old-fashioned coal stove by way of heating.

It was at the dead-end of a dead-end street backing onto a railway embankment, and I remember the chugging of pass-by-night freight trains lulling me to sleep.

By day, the soundtrack was mostly provided by The Smiths and almost all the memories I have of that time have a Smiths song playing in the background.

But I digress. Isn't it amazing that a whole chunk of the past can be conjured up just by wearing a particular dress?

I had a whale of a time accessorizing the dress and added a burgundy belt, tights from the market stall in rusty red, lilac beads and a purple beret. The brooch I chose was an early plastic one in dusky pink, which I think went rather well with the vibe of the dress.

Due to the massive sleeves, a fake fur cap-sleeved vest was a better option than a cardigan. This offered the opportunity for another brooch, featuring tiny embroidered flowers in an oval frame.

On top went my brown fake fur collared jacket, which is going into its third season, and I added a burgundy crushed velvet scarf.

Comfortable burgundy boots and a tapestry handbag in the same colour completed Saturday's outfit.

Oh, I forgot one accessory. Let me introduce you to my new bicycle! In burgundy, to complement my outfit.

It was mostly paid for by Ecocheques, which are a kind of vouchers most employees get here in Belgium every year. With these vouchers, you can purchase energy saving devices and all kinds of environmentally friendly stuff.

Yes, you can buy stuff at the charity shops too, but it's far more satisfying to spend it on one, more expensive, piece.

As my old bike was rusty beyond belief, I opted for a new, old-fashioned style, one.

Now, my dress might be a similar design to the sweater dress I had in the 1980s, but with one big difference: the material isn't stretchy at all, so the dress's tapered shape felt a bit restricted when riding a bike.

But I did it, even if it was just for a test ride around the block.

And to show it off on my blog, obviously!

For those who are interested, thanks to Fiona, who kindly alerted me to its absence, I now have a Followers button on my blog! Not being very tech adept, it's a miracle that my blog ever made in online at all!

Feet firmly back in the here and now, I will tell you all about last weekend's finds in my next post.