Saturday, 21 May 2022

Musings and ramblings

Hello and thank you for joining me again for another episode of my usual musings and ramblings. 

Before I go any further, however, I think I need to put things straight. If my last post gave some of you the impression that churning out blog posts has become just another chore, let me tell you that it hasn't and that I have absolutely no intentions to stop blogging. Au contraire, I couldn't live without it and the only regret I've got is that I didn't start blogging sooner. Furthermore, it has been my blog and my wonderful bloggy friends and readers (yes, that's you!) who have kept me sane all these years, in particular the last two!



So, let's continue where we left off, shall we? 

Saturday the 7th of May had a sunny start, with some patches of clouds in the afternoon. There was no sign of the forecasted rain, but still a bit windy and at 20°C it was the perfect opportunity to wear one of my short-sleeved flower infused Diolen Delights.

Found at Think Twice pre-blog, in the Summer of 2015, there would be quite a few entries if I were to do a Sheila style Flashback on it. I know for a fact that it went to Wales with me in June 2016 and that it accompanied me to Bruges in April 2019, so it's safe to say it's a well-travelled dress!



It has also been at least once before to the destination I took it to that afternoon. And no, this is not Dove Cottage I'm standing in front of. Our house might be tiny, but it's still quite a bit bigger than this one, which is part of a row of fake houses. Now, where else can it be than in the very place where nothing is what it seems: Middelheim Sculpture Park.

This make-believe street is a work of art, of course. It's called Surroundings, dates from 1972-73, and its creator is the Italian artist Alik Cavaliere (1926-1998). I forgot to take a photo of the complete installation, but you can see it here, on the museum's website.

Further outfit details:
Flower embroidered denim jacket: Think Twice
Green apple ring and beaded necklace: Charity shopped
Cream stretchy belt and my beloved red Clarks Cloudsteppers: retail



I'm not sure what Surroundings is all about, the but the artist himself summed it up as follows: "I have always used material like a director does, or a storyteller. I work with memory and try to find paths, labyrinths, where I can meet spectators and then get lost with them in the work itself. That can happen both psychologically and physically." 

Not sure if that makes you any the wiser though.



As usual, we wandered at will, without any itinerary whatsoever, meeting works of art along the way. Some of these feel like old acquaintances, like Dr. Koeberlé (1914, top right) by sculptor Emile-Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929), one of a series of busts which greet you soon after stepping through the park's main entrance. 

Among the Bluebells and other wildflowers, an enigma (bottom left), Forme Inhumaine (1954-55) by André Bloc(1896-1966).



We took the path running at the edge of the park, and were spellbound by this view. Half-closing our eyes, the patch of white clouds seemed to be taking on the form of a snow-capped mountain peak. 

The path was lined with a true menagerie of sculptures, as most of them were representing animals of some kind, even if we had to read the plaques on some of them to find out what they were exactly.

There were birds (top left and right), a very obvious bull, and a cow, the latter of which Jos insisted on keeping company as they were both born in the same year!



We were nearing the Braem Pavillion by now, its whiteness more brilliant than we'd ever seen it before. Not surprisingly, as its brick exterior is currently being repainted!

Jos snapped the photo below, top left, through one of the wings of the big black bird you can see in the above collage.


Facing the pavillion are two ghost-like plaster figures seated at a table. This sculpture is called Dialogue (1974) and it's the work of Antwerp-based but German-born sculptor Albert Szukalski (1945-2000).  

He used living people as the models for plaster figures, laying lengths of fabric soaked in plaster over their bodies and allowing them to harden. The remaining husks of pale plaster were then coated in polyester to weatherproof them. 



As I was walking to Antwerp's botanical garden the other week, I spotted one of his ghostly works on top of a building. 



One of our favourites, which we revisit again and again, and which has appeared on the blog many a time, is Kolom by Belgian artist Felix Roulin (1975). This polished metal column has one or more human figures trapped inside, different body parts of whom can be seen through holes in the column. 

Its main attraction for me, however, are the distorted reflections it offers, creating endless photo opportunities. 



We ended our walk by gravitating towards the museum café, where we sat ourselves down on one of the tables on the terrace and indulged in huge slices of flan with a generous layer of cream and topped with nuts.

Those slices were so huge and filling that we skipped our evening meal and had a quick sandwich instead. I'm making a mental note to order only one slice for the two of us next time!





Sunday was a gorgeously sunny Spring day, even if the mercury never reached 20°C. 

In Dove Cottage's garden it was a couple of degrees warmer as usual, of course, and we even put up our funky 1970s parasol, which used to belong to my parents. 

We were all out of bread, so Jos walked down to the bakery in the village to get a loaf and some pastries, which we ate at our little courtyard table. We used the 1970s Emsa plates we'd scored at the indoor flea market back in April, while the mugs are vintage late 1960s Boch ones. The kitschy sign propped up against the wall of the shed was an old charity shop find and proclaims that the sun also shines behind the clouds!




The garden continues to thrive and is becoming lusher by the minute, but this is what caught my eye that weekend. The first flush of the Lupine spikes are now almost over, but here they were still in their prime. They are Lupinus "My Castle", which is one of the tall Russell hybrids.

Once again, our tiny garden will yield a bumper crop of gooseberries (top right) and we were overjoyed to see the first of the flower buds in our Oriental Poppy (bottom left).

Aquilegia "Biedermeier" (bottom right), with its mass of pale pink flowers, seems to be the only of the Aquilegias I planted last year which hasn't been taken over by the overzealous "Nora Barlow".





Both Kniphofia (top right) and Phlomis russeliana (bottom left) are slow burners, finally coming to life respectively one and two years after they were planted. 

No such problems for the Snapdragons (top left) and Mimulus (bottom right), which are into their second year, having survived the - admittedly mild - Winter in our garden.




The rest of the day was spent pottering as usual. I did manage to exchange my Winter coats for my Spring ones, hanging some of them outside the full-to-bursting coats wardrobe ready to wear. Blue and green seem to feature prominently!



Finally, let's have a proper look at my outfit!

I was wearing the floral wrap skirt I charity shopped back in April, picking up the orange from its floral pattern with a vintage orange polo top. I merged the two with one of my stretchy belts with a faux tortoiseshell buckle.

For some reason, my necklace seems to take on a bluish hue in the photos, but its beads are tortoiseshell as well.  The gold rim of my brooch frames a mottled orange and green centre stone.  




And once again my feet were happy in my ridiculously comfortable Clarks Cloudsteppers! It'll be a sad day when I finally have to let them go ... but let's not think about that just yet.





Monday, 16 May 2022

Dreaming of Manderley

Lately, my procrastination habits have been getting the better of me, as even with only a 4-day working week followed by a 3-day weekend, things only get ticked off from my to-do list at a snail's pace.

It isn't the first time that I'm left wondering how I ever fit both fun things and the inevitable chores into a 2-day weekend and have time for blogging on a regular basis too.

Never mind that my blog is lagging behind real life as usual, this time I only just started writing this post, its subject matter dating from over a week ago, as yet another weekend was drawing to its close. It's nothing short of a miracle that I managed to finish and publish it on Monday!



So, let's get our skates on and step into that time machine once more, alighting on Thursday the 5th of May at the end of another sun-drenched day.

It had been a busy one at the office, so forgive me if I'm looking a bit dishevelled, but I was determined to show you the outfit I was wearing that day.

This short-sleeved vintage frock, with its Springlike green, blue, lilac and pink watercolour print, round neckline and dagger collar, definitely isn't making its debut here.
 



Apparently, it didn't leave my wardrobe at all last year, but funnily enough, the last time it did, almost exactly two years ago to the date, I was wearing it with the same belt, a favourite tan leather one.

At least, and much to my relief, the rest of my accessories were different this time: I added a beaded necklace in the same colour as the belt and a faux-tortoiseshell rimmed brooch framing the portrait of a red-haired lady. With the temperature stuck in the mid-teens, I wore a green cardigan on top and took the opportunity to wear my beloved green suede ankle boots again, with my socklets playing peek-a-boo!



Pinks and lilacs galore in our little plot as well, the first represented by my beloved Aquilegias "Nora Barlow", which are popping up all over the place, and the developing two-tone pink flower spikes of Lupinus "My Castle".

As always, it's a delight to see the lilac globes of Allium "Purple Sensation" burst out of their skins, which they seem to be doing with gusto!



I tend to ooh and aah over many a flower, but in the end it are often the less showy ones which steal my heart. Case in point are the flowers beloning to Geranium phaeum.  Also known as dusky crane's-bill, mourning widow or black widow, its crinkly edged dusky purple petals turn backwards to show its conspicuous projecting stamens and style. 

We have a small self-seeded one which had made a crack in the paving its home, but we planted a new specimen last year (see below, bottom right) which seems to be in fine fettle.




And all the time, flowers come and go, in a seemingly never-ending cycle. 

We waved goodbye to our Clematis "Guernsey Cream" blooms, which have now all turned into gorgeous seed-heads, and said hello to the first of the little daisy-like flowers of Erigeron 'karvinskianus', better known as Mexican fleabane (top right).



Initially overcast and slightly foggy, it started clearing up by midday on Friday the 6th of May, the mercury eventually climbing to 21°C.

After breakfast, we made sandwiches before embarking on our usual Friday charity shop trawl.

In between shops, we stopped off at the park in Duffel for a picnic, returning to the park for a stroll after our rummage at the second shop.



My skirt, a Think Twice find in February 2020, is another item which hadn't seen the light of day since that fateful year's first lockdown. It has the most glorious pattern, once likened by someone to a display of colourful plates. With plenty of colours to choose from, I went for blue for my short-sleeved cotton jumper and red for my woven belt, cat brooch and three-quarter sleeved cropped cardigan.

My wooden beaded necklace has all the colours, plus pink, and I was wearing a yellow perspex ring.

To trample among the carpet of daisies, I was wearing my old oatmeal wicker panelled ankle boots. They have seen better times, but I simply cannot say goodbye to them, so I'm letting them live out their lives by wearing them for Spring and early Summer walks in the park.



Ah, isn't this a sight for sore eyes? All those fresh Spring greens, a lawn full of daisies and a cloudless blue sky. 



The brook was bordered by dense and lush vegetation, which was almost obliterating it from view. By the looks of it, there will be plenty of yellow flag Irises soon, their gently nodding heads thought to be the inspiration for the fleur-de-lis symbol. 

And oh look! I loved how that tree stump had developed a heart shaped hole!

Frogs could be heard but not seen, then stopped their croaking once I stepped onto the wooden bridge crossing the brook.



The white lacecap flowers of Viburnum plicatum were providing the perfect backdrop for my outfit. If they were trying to steal the show, they were outnumbered and defeated by the banks of differently coloured Rhododendrons which are the park's major attraction this time of year.



While Jos rested his feet and sat contemplating life on a bench, I continued my explorations, meeting flowering Elderbery bushes and pale pink Rhododendron blooms. 

The tinkling stone fountain too can be heard rather than seen as yet another season's layer of lush growth is putting in its two pennies worth in hiding it from view (bottom right).

For those who are wondering, Jos does have other shirts than the pink Chambray one, it just happens to be his current favourite :-) 




Another frog chorus erupted from the pond which is hidden behind the undergrowth. At least these ones had the decency not to stop their ribitting upon my approach!



I took the time to stand and stare at nature's bounty, and the various stages of the developing Rhododendron flower buds in particular, their tips dipped into the brightest of paints.

These majestic shrubs with their spectacular flowers always make me think of the Rhododendrons which stood fifty feet high along the abandoned drive to Manderley in Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. One of my favourite books which I think is long overdue a reread.




Fifty feet high they may not be here in this humble park. No, they are firmly kept in check, allowed to spread horizontally rather than climb to such unimaginable heights.

At one point I was faced with a sea of fuchsia pink and lavender blooms growing in dappled shade, the prima ballerina at the front spotlighted by a ray of sunshine which had managed to pierce itself through the canopy.




Now, without further ado, let me show you my bounty, the majority of which was found in the shop near the park.

This time of year makes me scour the rails for breezy Summer tops. The orange cotton one is by Gigue, while the aqua leaf-patterned one is by the Belgian Vila Joy label, and both are welcome additions to my Summer wardrobe.




I fell head over heels for the chevron patterned wrap skirt, which originates from JBC, a Belgian high street shop, while the aqua and white striped and yellow bordered cardigan is bound to become a Summer staple.



I initially dithered over the brown skirt with its Paisley-esque pattern in shades of coral and orange, until I took it to the fitting rooms and loved how it looked on me. Due to its strong Autumnal vibes, however, I don't think you will see me wearing it on the blog anytime soon.

Finally, the striped and floral pair of palazzos, which was my only find in the first shop we visited. For once, they are the perfect length on me, so that there's no need to add hemming them  to my to-do list! 

See you again soon!



Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Skirts, skirts, skirts

On April's final Friday, we woke up to a cloudy and overcast day, which somewhat put a damper on our plans. The sun would manage to make an appearance mid-afternoon, but unfortunately didn't succeed in making the 15°C the mercury eventually climbed to feel any warmer.

After our customary fruit & yoghurt breakfast, I washed my hair and got dressed while Jos walked into the village to get a newspaper. For many years now, he has been in the habit of bringing back one for an elderly neighbour as well. Lately,though, his morning walk has become just a little longer now that the lady in question has moved to service flat a bit further along.

Upon his return, he slapped together a couple of sandwiches to take on our customary charity shop trawl. Our first stop that day, however, was at his son and daughter-in-law's house as we were looking after their cat Abby that week.


Once there, we took advantage of the lofty proportions and blank expanse of white painted wall of their living room to take a batch of outfit photos.

Tired of my Winter skirts but still too chilly to wear my flimsier Spring and Summer ones, I plucked this pale green circle skirt, which is made of a sturdy cotton, from my wardrobe. Charity shopped in April 2019, I'm sure you won't be surprised if I tell you that it were the rows red and black rick-rack which cinched the deal.



The skirt didn't feature in my original plan, though. I already had the blouse with its full-on flowers and berries pattern in mind but it didn't work with the skirt I'd initially earmarked for it.

The blouse, which is charity shopped Zara, is very slippery and  kept trying to escape from my skirt  even after I'd tucked it into the waistband of the pale green opaques I was wearing. 

I secured its floppy collar with a green hearted brooch, added a string of green beads and completed my outfit with a dark green mock croc belt.



We fed and watered Abby - a.k.a. The Lady of the House - and hung around for a while until the attention seeking madam started attacking a houseplant. Not wanting to be implicated in any further acts of vandalism, we beat a hasty retreat!


My charity shop finds that day included an orange and pink patterned cotton top by Belgian label Mer du Nord and a denim shirt which had been on my list for the longest time. 

Oh, and another King Louie heart patterned cardigan. I already have a red one - in fact, I was wearing it that very day - but at € 4,90 I wasn't going to leave it behind. They differentiate between labels in this particular shop, and King Louie items are usually on the rail of posh labels, where its price tag would have been € 13,90. Clearly someone hadn't be doing their job properly :-)



I also snapped up this King Louie sundress which came with a cheap price tag as well, as it was probably priced by the same person. 

Rather than have Angelica doing the honours, I insisted on modelling it myself!



Back at home, I gave all the old pots in the garden a generous helping of organic feed, inspecting the garden's progress while I was out.

The first of the Lupines - a success story from last year - were showing some colour (top left) while there were plenty of promising flower spikes in our Delphinium (bottom right). There will be a glut of white currants (top right) as usual, although I suspect they will be at their best while we're on holiday and will therefore get eaten by the greedy wood pigeons.

We inherited a patch of Lily-of-the-Valley with the garden and it seems to be a good year for them.
They are called Meiklokjes (transl. May bells) in Flemish, and it's a tradition here (and in France) to give a small posy to someone you love on the 1st of May.  Apparently, the French King Charles IX was given a bouquet of these highly scented flowers on the 1st of May 1561 to wish him luck and prosperity in the coming year. He is said to have been so taken with the idea that he made it a custom to give all the ladies at his court a bouquet of Muguets, to give them their French name, on the 1st of May of each year.



As you can see from the photo on the top left, No Weed May is a great success!

I'd planted out some Sweet Peas the other week, but as they weren't tall enough to tie them to the obelisk they are meant to grow up, I gave them a helping hand with some wooden sticks, which for safety's sake I topped with beads saved from broken necklaces.

Oh, and look: our Honesty seed heads have got a visitor, who was kind enough to pose for me!



Saturday's weather was another mixed bag of sunny spells and clouds, the latter promising but never delivering a well-needed shower.

At 13°C, it was actually chilly enough to exchange the lightweight cardigan I was originally wearing for this chunky knit orange one. 

As I wanted to participate in the May issue of Nancy's  Good buy/Good-bye Book and the month's theme will be bird prints, I dug out this charity shopped long-sleeved top as my contribution. I will update the link to the correct post once it's up.


At first sight, you could be forgiven for thinking that it's some kind of psychedelic geometrical pattern you're looking at, but look again from up close, and there they are! Isn't it clever?

I wore the top with the denim midi skirt, another holy grail I finally found at Oxfam in October 2020, and added plenty of orange to tie in with the orange-breasted birds. For good measure, I added more birds by pinning one of my beloved birds-in-flight brooches to my cardigan.



After lunch, we paid the gardening centre another visit and bought some shade-loving perennials for the window box in the passageway and a Clematis tangutica, which has yellow nodding bell shaped flowers from July to October, followed by fantastic seed heads, to replace the deceased Honeysuckle at the end of the courtyard. 

A couple of pots of annuals surreptitiously ended up in our trolley as well. 

Sunday morning saw me finishing the main part of my wardrobe changeover, with Jos helping me vacuum the bags of Winter clothes and put them in his grandparents' linen chest. Only the coats and the shoes to do now!




It was a gorgeously sunny day, so I was out in the garden in the afternoon, doing some chores and generally taking stock, with the sun warming my back. It definitely felt warmer than the 15°C indicated by the thermometer and in our sheltered garden it probably was.

Same as seeing my old favourites emerge when I'm doing my wardrobe switch, it's always a delight to see the garden stalwarts burst into bloom once more.

Small magenta flowers are dotted among the foliage of our ground-covering Geranium sanguineum (top left) and the first of the petticoated Aquilegias "Nora Barlow"are competing successfully with the Red Valerian it is sharing space with. We've had these pretty frilly flowers for almost twenty years and they keep popping up in the most unexpected of places. It seems to be a good year for them as well.

One of the potted Astilbes in the passageway (bottom right) has produced a tiny flower spike and the as yet to flower Phlomis russeliana (top right) I planted two years ago has finally been spurred into action.



I planted up everything we brought back from the garden centre except for the Clematis, whose recently vacated designated space needs some prep before we can do so. As you can see in the below photo, it is already getting used to its future spot.

Apart from the ubiquitous Pelargoniums, we brought back pots of Osteospermum "Purple Sun" (top left and Nemesia "Banana Swirl" (bottom right), which are now living in perfect harmony in a big terracotta pot on our plant table under the awning.



And yes, I was wearing a skirt for three days in a row. This time, it was the turn of this peachy pink one scattered with yellow, blue and green flowers, found at Think Twice many moons ago. 

The green thin knit jumper with its diamond patterned yoke was a charity shop find almost exactly a year ago. My brooch, a posy of pale pink flowers, is modern and bought from a small independent shop near my office in Antwerp. I wore one of my stretchy belts, and added a blue beaded necklace and ring.

My peachy pink suede ankle boots are from New Look, bought at their closing down sale in Antwerp a couple of years ago. 



I'm leaving you now with a view of Dove Cottage's handkerchief sized garden taken from just outside the back door. 

The sense of height is provided by the fact that I was standing on a chair to water the pots of pansies and strawberries hanging from the awning. 

There's a tiny pond  in the foreground and behind the unruly Cotoneaster with its nondescript flowers beloved by bees of all kinds, is a small sunken area. Behind that is a border which goes all the way up to the paved area in front of the bench. That's our Spirea shrub, sorely in need of a haircut, partially hiding the bench from sight.





On the bottom right side of the path you can just catch a glimpse of our giant white currant bush, with the ground-covering geranium sanguineum behind it, followed by a mixed border now ruled over by Red Valerian, Lupines and Aquilegia "Nora Barlow". Behind that is our tiny but grandly named courtyard.

Obviously, this just captures a moment in time, and the garden is looking quite a bit different now, less than two weeks later.

And that's it from Dove Cottage for now! Hope to see you again soon!



Friday, 6 May 2022

Park Life

Sunday the 24th of April was another one of those sun-drenched Spring days on which the brilliant blue sky observed through the window belied the fact that it was still somewhat chilly out there. 

Nevertheless, the warmth of the sun trapped between the walls in our sheltered garden made me shed a layer as I was planting out the perennials we'd brought back from the garden centre the other week. 

Still, it's always a degree or two colder outside Dove Cottage's confines, and with the thermometer no longer fooling us after twenty-three years, the layers came out again when we decided to go for a mid-afternoon walk.


My outfit was a repeat of one I wore to the office earlier that week, centred around one of my favourite skirts, in an orangey red patterned with clusters of blue and purple flowers. Bought from a fast fashion shop on the high street, it has been in my wardrobe for many a year, making it what I'm calling fast fashion worn slowly.

The green new wool jacket is vintage and from Think Twice. It is a bit snug and has therefore been in and out of my flea market boxes once or twice until I finally decided it was too good to get rid of. It came with its very own funky black vinyl and white metal links belt, which I removed to make it feel less constricted.


Source


The park we chose for our walk is in a neighbouring village and is part of the former pleasure grounds of an old castle estate called Solhof, whose history goes back to the 15th century. The original castle, which was surrounded by a moat, was demolished for unknown reasons. Only the two watchtowers on either side of the entrance, dating from around 1550, remind us of its former glory.
There are two outbuildings, formerly the coach house and caretaker's house, which were built in Neo-Renaissance style in the early 20th century. The current neoclassical mansion - much modernized in the meantime - dates from the late 19th century.

Today, the estate still covers 7.5 hectares and has been protected as a landscape since 1975. After the death of its last owner in 1984, the property was purchased by the municipality. Subsequently, in 1990, the buildings were sold to a hotel chain, while the park remained village property.




The park is laid out in English landscape style and is said to be inspired by Capability Brown. 

There's a grassy area overlooking the ponds and bordered by groups of trees. Behind these the vegetation changes into park woodland complete with meandering paths and monumental 100 to 150 year old trees.



Case in point is the giant I was posing in front of, showing you what I was wearing underneath that green jacket. By then it had warmed up sufficiently to discard the pale blue King Louie cardigan I'd added as an extra layer.

The blue three-quarter sleeved top was a charity shop find. It's from Libelle Collection, which was produced for the eponymous Dutch and Flemish women's magazine. As a nod to its cream edging and shoulder buttons, I added a vintage cream flower brooch.



The skirt's orangey red was reflected in my orange beaded necklace, while I used cream again for my stretchy belt. The blues in its multi-coloured round plastic buckle paid tribute to the skirt's print.

The sky too was playing a matching game with my outfit, a heavenly blue dome in which puffy clouds billowed, propelled along by the breeze, playing peek-a-boo with the multicoloured leafy canopy. 




Spring offers a veritable sensory delight, and the air was alive with the aroma of blossoming shrubs and trees, mingling with the rich loamy scent wafting its way up from the woodland floor.

The honeysuckle scent of Yellow Azalea (Rhododendron luteum) reached our nostrils long before we spotted the shrub in all it golden yellow glory.

Before we continue, let's have a quick look at Jos's outfit. His pink chambray shirt was a recent charity shop find and is a great companion for his green cord jacket. The latter was charity shopped as well, and has been a Spring and Summer staple for many years. First outing this year for one of his beloved Panama hats, bought brand new from an old-fashioned hat shop.




What a joy it was to discover the earthen mound crowned by a wooden gazebo on our first visit to the park back in 2018. It was only afterwards that we learned that the mound conceals an ice house, which is said to be still in excellent condition and is one of the rare remaining examples of its kind in the area.

It was here that the ice scooped up from the moat in Winter was stored, the insulating layer of yews and of the mound itself keeping it cool even in the Summer months.




At present, small adjustments have been made to make the ice house suitable as a hibernation place for bats. 

The gazebo, with its gnarled and graffitied pillars, can be reached by climbing a narrow winding path which spirals up the mound.


Two Girl Guides were making their way up just as we were coming down and I overheard one of them say she always hurries past the ice house as it was giving her the creeps!  No need to worry, I should think, as whatever horrors are lying in wait inside have been firmly locked in!



We sat down on a sunny bench overlooking the moat and watched the antics of the various waterfowl who have made this wonderful place their home.

They're haughty creatures, though, turning up their noses at the crumbs of bread a family was throwing them. Perhaps they are used to fancy leftovers from the hotel?




After this short two-day weekend I wasn't at all ready to face another working week. But needs must and it wasn't too bad in the end. 

With temperatures hovering between 13 and 17°C from Monday to Thursday, and the sun out in full force on all four days, I made the most of my lunch breaks, going for a stroll and soaking up some sunshine.

Wednesday found me at Melting Pot, the vintage per kilo shop, again, where I managed to find yet another two skirts, one of which already got its first outing on Thursday.

This blue pleated one in a mix and match pattern including a row of cheerful yellow, orange and pink flowers, shows all the signs of being somebody's perfectly executed handiwork. 




I love a blue and green combo, so I took my lead from the bits of green in the skirt's pattern and added a sailor style short-sleeved jumper. Charity shopped in May 2016, it has featured on the blog many a time in the past 6 years. The blue and white metal sailing boat brooch was the obvious choice, as was the beaded necklace. My swirly blue and green glass ring was picked up at a craft stall in Bruges in April 2019.

Oh, and did you notice my green suede ankle boots? These too were a charity shop find. They offer a nice contrast to the Honesty confetti and Dandelion in our garden. Having no lawn not to mow, I'm doing No Weed May instead. Well, not just May, actually. Weeding isn't exactly high on my list of things to do. After all, weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them, as Eeyore famously said in the Disney version of Winnie-The-Pooh!



With Thursday being the warmest day of the week so far, I made the effort to go just a tiny bit further afield during my lunch break and walk to Antwerp's small botanical garden.

The garden is a true oasis just a stone's throw from the city's busy shopping streets and although there isn't a better place I can think off to unwind, I don't visit it quite as often as I should.



To be honest, I thought parts of the garden looked a bit arid, which I'm sure is caused by the recent lack of rainfall. I was also quite put off by the construction work going on in its upper right corner, where the site of a 15th century hospital which backs onto the garden is being turned into a 5-star hotel.

As I walked the garden's paths and admired the plants and flowers, I couldn't help thinking of Kezzie. Not only because she was with me when I was last here in February, but also because the garden was simply inundated with wild garlic, which I know she loves to pick.



Before I knew it, my lunch break was nearing its end, and I had to hurry back to the office for the final hours of my working week. 

Would the weekend which followed be a another sunny one? In my next post I will tell you all about. See you again soon!