Thursday, 25 November 2021

Wardrobe therapy

The clock keeps ticking, its hands tirelessly moving through the days. 

And I too keep moving through the days, my mind in a whirl of do's and don'ts. With the C word once more playing a starring role in the news, I'm putting on my blindfold and I'm plugging my ears, while sending up prayers to gods unknown and hoping for a miracle. That light at the end of the tunnel which seemed so temptingly close a while ago has been snuffed out for now.

Heaven knows I need all the therapy my wardrobe and nature can give me!

Sorely in need of some cheering up, I riffled through my wardrobe on Sunday the 7th of November and decided that it was time to give this vintage Venetia frock another outing. 

Purchased from a long-gone vintage shop about 10 years ago, it was its pattern of tiny white dots and  garlands of frothy pink flowers that won me over.

More flowers were added in the form of my rosebud sprinkled granite grey opaques. 

Further accessories, all in a delicious shade of wine red, were a beaded necklace, incidentally picked up from the same shop, a ceramic leaping deer brooch found at a flea market and the belt I charity shopped a couple of weeks ago.

A burgundy King Louie cardigan and my recently found ankle boots, both courtesy of the charity shops, completed my outfit.

I donned the boots for the photos only, as otherwise than that we didn't leave the house at all that day. The vague plans we'd made during breakfast to either go for a short walk or drive down to the garden centre, were both ditched by lunch time. By then, the day's initial sunshine had upped and left and taken my energy as a travelling companion.

Instead, I caught up with blogland and then joined Bess for a nap on the sofa. Apparently, she'd run out of steam as well. When I posted this collage on Instagram, I captioned it with waking up is hard to do!

Waking up was indeed a hell of a job on Monday morning as, in spite of a good night's sleep, I was still feeling tired and would have happily slept for another couple of hours. As it was, tiredness would plague me for the rest of the day, so it was a good thing work wasn't too busy.

In the run-up to Armistice Day, I'd pinned my wooden poppy brooch to my coat. 

Can you believe I hadn't worn this houndstooth patterned vintage coat at all last Winter? To make up for lost time, I've been wearing it almost daily ever since. 

I woke up tired again on Tuesday, but this time it were the telltale signs of an impending cold which had kept me awake. Hello itchy throat and runny nose, I haven't run into you in a long time!

I haven't seen an unblemished view from Antwerp's magnificent cathedral in a long time either. 

The view from my office window has elicited many a photograph over the years. However, the cathedral's tower has been partly scaffolded for almost three years now. To add insult to injury, our other pride and joy, Antwerp's Art Deco skyscraper, is currently being renovated and given a new purpose, for which a giant tower crane has been installed.

Although not nearly as picturesque as the cathedral tower partly hidden behind an errant cloud (bottom right), I couldn't resist snapping the two portaloos which were being hauled up in the photo on the top right.

As the 11th of November is a public holiday in Belgium, Wednesday was my final working day of the week. I can't say I was sorry, as I was feeling like a zombie. My sinuses were congested by now - I've got chronic sinus issues at the best of times - which no amount of the usual home remedies would shift. 

Things greatly improved during the evening and, after a good night's sleep, I was feeling almost right as rain again on Thursday morning.

To celebrate my return to the living, I wore one of my latest Think Twice purchases, a teal vintage dress patterned in Autumnal hues.

We'd planned a quiet day of reading and perhaps napping on the sofa to help me bounce back, so I opted for comfort by wearing one of my stretchy belts. No athleisure wear for me!

While we were photographing my outfit, Jos pointed out that I wasn't wearing a brooch. I did however, wear a faux tortoiseshell necklace. Orange opaques and a ditto cardigan completed my outfit while for stepping out into the garden, I added a sage green beret and my C&A ankle boots.

The sun, which had been playing hide-and-seek with the clouds all week, had decided to take the day off as well, disappearing completely for the duration of the day. 

Apart from some light pottering as I can't seem to be still for long, I started a new book. Pure, by Andrew Miller, is set in 1785 in pre-revolution Paris. The novel's protagonist is a young, provincial engineer charged with demolishing the French capital's oldest and by that time seriously overflowing cemetery. I've just finished it and although it mostly lived up to expectations, I felt a bit let down by its final chapter and end.

A bit of light entertainment was provided by browsing some 1950's women's magazines we've got lying around (top left). 

Passing the bottle garden which lives on our hallway cabinet, I noticed that one of its plants was trying to make its escape. After more than a year's confinement I can more than sympathize with the poor thing ... Secretly, though, I am more that just a little chuffed that we've managed to keep it alive all this time!

By Friday, I felt more than ready to face the world again. What's more, we were greeted by the sun as soon as we got up. 

While Jos was doing a food shop, I washed my hair, and then tackled some of the dust in the downstairs rooms. Nothing like the low slanting sunshine this time of year to show up the accumulated dust! 

As the sun still wasn't showing any signs of doing another disappearing act after lunch, we grabbed our coats and went outside for a much needed breath of fresh air.

Apart from the embellished belt I charity shopped a couple of weeks ago, there's nothing in my outfit which hasn't made it to the blog at one time or another. 

The rust coloured slubbed skirt is St. Michael and came with a short-sleeved belted jacket. I've had it for absolutely ages. My teal cardigan is another charity shopped King Louie in the same pattern as the one I wore in my first outfit. The blouse with its riotous pattern and frilly button placket was charity shopped too, a lucky find in between lockdowns last year.

In order to ward off the rain, I pinned a vintage umbrella brooch to the blouse, while I clipped an orange flower corsage to my cardigan. Further accessories were a turquoise plastic ring and beaded necklace.

Our afternoon outing took us to yet another park, Den Brandt, one of the pearls in Antwerp's crown of parks. 

It is part of a cluster of green spaces south of the city centre. Den Brandt, Nachtegalenpark and Middelheim used to be private estates belonging to aristocratic families until they were purchased by he town council in 1910 and opened to the general public.

After parking our car around the corner, we entered the park via the public picking garden where we checked out the offerings made to the Gautam Buddha, a gift from the Ambassador of Nepal back in 2004.

From there, we took the flight of steps leading into the park itself, continuing on the path to the left and passing through an avenue of monumental trees. Look how tiny I am compared to them! Looking up, I did feel a bit like Alice after she'd taken a sip from the Drink Me potion.

The grinning shark graffiti on a defunct stone plinth just beyond the avenue made me smile. 

As usual, we skirted the heart of the domain dominated by its romantic late-classical castle and the sweeping undulating lawns at its back, walking leaf-strewn paths under ever thinning canopies, and taking care not to trod on tiny fungi hiding among the carpet beneath our feet.

But there's no avoiding the castle forever, so eventually we could see it beckoning between the trees.

Nowadays, the castle is a venue for events and parties, and incorporates a Grand Café, which didn't seem to be open at the time of our visit.

By then, clouds had gathered again, drawing a curtain across the sun.

With a backward glance towards to Dancing Nymphs (bottom left), which have been dancing around the currently empty fountain since 1910, we made our way back to our car and drove back home.

Saturday, 20 November 2021

A feast of fungi

What with Monday the 1st of November being a bank holiday, the first working week of November was a mercifully short one.

In those three days separating us from the next weekend, the weather gods lived up to their reputation for fickleness by alternating rainy days with sunny ones, throwing in a veil of morning fog and a light touch of overnight frost for good measure. In fact, the only constant was the temperature, reaching highs of a mere 10°C.

A mixture of sunny spells and clouds awaited us on Friday, the mercury making a slight ascent to 12°C as if in celebration of the fact that we'd once again managed to make it through the week unscathed.

As we'd given the charity shops a miss in favour of a walk the week before, it goes without saying that we were now champing at the bit to have a bit of a rummage. 

But first things first: let's have a look at my outfit before we go! 

This dark green Diolen dress with its yellow, tan and white rectangles and diagonals is one of my absolute favourites. Happening upon it in a charity shop in January 2017, it instantly ticked all my boxes, except for the rather uninspired buttons. This obviously wasn't an issue and they were easily replaced with yellow vintage ones from my stock.

If I were to do a Sheila-style flashback on the dress, it would turn out to be rather boring, as I don't think I've ever worn it with anything but a yellow cardigan and ditto opaques. There would only be a subtle difference in my choice of accessories. This time, they included a tan shiny vinyl belt, a yellow beaded necklace and a green perspex ring. 

The brooch I pinned to my dress's collar is a vintage celluloid one, in which a twosome of black and white Scotties are having an adventure in a sailing boat. The green faux-leather flower I treated my cardigan to is actually a hair clip!

My boots are a leg-hugging pair of chocolate brown ones which are the epitome of comfort.

The cream woollen coat with its blue and tan plaid pattern is about to fall apart at the seams but will be worn as long as it doesn't actually do so. At a rough guess, it was charity shopped about 10 years ago, and I love it dearly. Both my yellow beret and red frilly scarves were thrifted as well.

Now, what about that charity shopping trip? I think a word of explanation is in order here. The vast majority of Belgium's charity shops are large warehouse type shops situated on the edge of towns rather than in their high streets. We usually visit two of them on a given day, choosing different ones every week.

That Friday it was the turn of the shops on the outskirts of the towns of Morstel and Lier. 

They are both part of the same chain, called Opnieuw & Co., which loosely translates to Re-use & Co. The first shop, which was the one in Lier, opened its doors in 1995. Today, they have six shops in the area, four of which we visit on a regular basis.

My recent wardrobe changeover had yielded two bags full of donations, which we handed in at our first shop, ensuring rewards from the charity shop goddesses. 

Here is what I found, starting with a pristine pair of burgundy ankle boots by the German Jana brand.
They have already been worn successfully in the meantime.

Next up are two dresses. The one on the left is modern, from the Belgian Wow To Go label, while the one on the right is vintage. Both have a funky print and are missing their belts, which I probably wouldn't have used anyway. I love the little side tie on the vintage one!

The yellow textured cardigan, which has the most gorgeous brown buttons, is from retro label Zoë Loveborn and I couldn't get over how fabulous it looked when I layered it over the Wow To GO dress for the photos. 

Both the floral skirt, orange polo neck and faux-tortoiseshell necklace were found that day as well. Another instant outfit, although I did pick up the polo neck to wear under this dress in Winter.

After all this exertion, I needed a lie-down, and was joined by Bess, who has become a model of some fame in the meantime. After I sent the collage of our little rascal making use of her tap-shaped drinking fountain to Katty, the owner of the shop where I bought it, she posted it on her social media the next day!

The mercury had dropped to 10°C again on Saturday. As it looked set to be an overall grey and dismal day, we unearthed our daylight therapy lamp, blowing the accumulated dust of its surface, and installing it on our kitchen table. Thus, breakfast was prepared and consumed while basking in its mood-lifting light.

With no rain on the horizon, wild horses couldn't have kept us inside so, after lunch, we decided that a walk in the park was in order.

Before we stepped into out car, we made use of our rented garage's photo studio facility in the form of its white painted brick wall. I was wearing two of Friday's finds, one of which I hadn't shown you yet. It's the wide black belt with its massive wicker belt! Have you ever seen anything like it?

The second of Friday's finds were the ankle boots. These I only wore for our walk to and from the garage, which is about 400 meters from our home. They were exchanged with walking boots to combat the muddy paths in the park!

The floral pleated skirt I was wearing was picked up at Think Twice about two years ago, and has already featured on the blog a number of times. Its companions this time were a yellow ribbed V-neck jumper, sage green beret and opaques, chunky beaded necklace in red, brown and cream and a red perspex ring.

The enamelled brooch I pinned to my jumper was a flea market find, while everything else, except for my opaques and ring, were charity shopped.

In spite of a ray of afternoon sunshine promised by the weathermen, the dullness of the day still hadn't lifted by the time we reached the park in the town of Boom. For any new time non-Dutch speaking readers, in case you are wondering, the town's name is pronounced as [boːm]!

The earthy, musky-sweet scent of Autumn leaves greeted us once we stepped through the gates and no matter which path we took, they were all covered in a generous layer of them.

We took the outer path, which passed the building and garden belonging to a centre for environmental education. Here, we admired what was left of the Summer flowers, including white Echinacea, an abundance of roses, the odd Lupine spike and some soggy remains of Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty'. 

After posing under the remains of a willow walk, we ventured into the heart of the park, collecting some horse chestnuts for Bess to play with, and keeping a look out for any interesting fungi.

By then, the sun was beaming down the faintest of rays from the odd patch of pale blue, illuminating the yellow leaves and sprinkling them with gold dust.

We made a shortcut through the children's play area where various adventure inviting structures were blending in organically, with a gently trickling waterfall adding to the magical atmosphere.

And then we spotted the most magical thing of all. 

The well-rotted remains of a once majestic tree trunk turned into a high rise estate for hundreds of hungry fungi!  

Oh, the magic of nature really does make my heart sing and is a definite mood enhancer, especially in these continuously trying times.

I hope you're all hanging on in there and staying as safe as possible. See you next time!

Monday, 15 November 2021

My ever changing moods

The problem with my blog lagging a step or two behind life isn't recalling the things I've done with my time or the clothes I've been wearing. With the aide-mémoire of my journal, my photographs generally speak for themselves. No, the real catch is recapturing the exact mood I was in. As I've been feeling a bit maudlin these last couple of days, my current mood tends to bathe the days I am writing about here in a shade of blue, which couldn't have been further from the truth.

Nevertheless, Saturday the 30th of October couldn't have been more dismal if it had tried. Its temperature, a reasonable 15°C, wasn't too bad, but unfortunately came accompanied by non-stop rain. This prevented us from leaving the house except for taking some obligatory outfit photos when the rainclouds were finally catching their breaths.

I'd been eyeing this forest green pleated skirt - last year's cheeky fast fashion buy - for a while, and decided this stay-at-home day would be the perfect occasion for its first wearing of the season. A quick glance at my shelf of blouses instantly picked out this vintage floral one as its companion. 

This turned out not to be very inspired as, scrolling through my Instagram squares later that week, I came across the same combo, worn in October 2020. At least, and much to my relief, I accessorized it completely differently back then!

The red and white marled sleeveless knit vest is vintage too, but hasn't made it to the blog in a long time. To the vest, I pinned a yellow flower corsage, while the brooch worn on my blouse was a pale green Miracle one, picked up at our favourite indoor flea market about three years ago.

My necklace made of linked wooden discs was a recent charity shop find, while both the belt with its wooden buckle and my red perspex ring were bought on the high street over time.

Speaking of the latter, I'm afraid I've got a confession to make. After spotting them in an advertising leaflet which fell through our letter box earlier that week, I couldn't resist checking out these boots in our local branch of the shop in question after our walk on Friday afternoon.

Buoyed up by Friday's ramble in the nature reserve, we took advantage of the energy boost by giving the sitting room and hallway a long overdue thorough clean on Saturday. 

We even rearranged some of the ornaments in the sitting room, so that the so-called "Gossiping Marys" which you can admire on the bottom right now have a shelf all to themselves. 

The plaster Mary on the right was the one who kick-started our modest collection after we came across her in a charity shop eons ago. The glazed plaster Mary with baby Jesus to her left was charity shopped while on holiday in Poperinge. 

Shortly after finding Mary no. 1, we found a pair of matching candlesticks (top right) for € 3 each. We initially left them behind, but retraced our steps after coming across a similar but considerably more damaged pair in a consignment shop for € 18.

The Mary and baby Jesus ornaments on the top left were picked up in April 2016 and January 2018 respectively, while the smaller ornament they are flanking, depicting Our Lady of St. Jan, Poperinge, was a lucky find during last September's holiday.

On the bottom left is St. Rita, to whom one of our local churches is dedicated. Patron saint for impossible causes, getting rid of Covid-19 nevertheless seems to be quite beyond her!

The girl in the above picture might look saintly, but she certainly isn't. Or perhaps she still was at the time? It's me at age 12 going on 13. Such an innocent age, in particular in hindsight. The photo graced the parental living room walls ever since it was taken by a school photographer in the Spring of 1974. 

Fast forward 47 years and here I am, looking considerably less saintly, on Sunday the 31st of October.

In observance to Hallowe'en, I was wearing a pumpkin coloured cardigan. No, scrap that. For fear of offending some aficionados, I am not very much into Hallowe'en at all, particularly since it has never been a tradition here in Belgium.

I picked this outfit for warmth as much as for its looks, as we would be going out in the afternoon. But more about that later. 

My chocolate brown floral maxi skirt is Crimplene and comes with a satisfyingly swishy lining. It was an old Think Twice bargain, as was the Diolen blouse in shades of cream and brown by the Finnish Karelia label.

I added an orange necklace and half-elasticated belt, while again I took the opportunity of wearing two brooches: a Cameo on the blouse and a cream and brown celluloid sprig of leaves and berries on the cardigan.

We were off to Lier, a small but charming town about half an hour's drive from Dove Cottage. Rather than sightseeing, the purpose of our visit was a musical concert organized and performed by Jos's granddaughter Saar and four of her girlfriends.

As usual, we'd set off well on time in case we would have problems finding a parking spot, as people often flock to the town on a Sunday. As luck would have it, there was plenty of space near the venue, leaving us with a bit of time to spare. The town's main church, St. Gummarus, and in particular its tower, which is nicknamed "de peperbus" (transl. the pepper pot) is visible from afar, and was looking suitably picturesque against the granite grey of the sky and the tree clad in Autumnal fiery red.

Although the venue, a chapel dating from 1882, and seating about 50, had already opened its doors, we preferred to postpone the moment we'd have to put on our face masks by going for a walk until it was almost time for the performance to start. After all, our seats - on the first row, no less - had been reserved. 

Being in such a prime position allowed Jos to take a couple of photographs. Jos's granddaughter is the the girl in red! Not only does she have a fantastic singing voice, she plays keyboards as well. Needless to say, we were both duly proud of her talent.

The seeds for this concert had been sown during lockdown last year, when the girls, who were communicating via Skype, had been lamenting the fact that they couldn't pursue their musical hobby and decided to start an - initially online - project instead.  As during their Skyping sessions they were all knitting various garments, the name of the project was soon decided upon: Knits and Notes!

It was raining by the time we left the venue two hours later and, as we'd put back the clocks the night before, what was left of the daylight soon made way for the gloaming on our way home. The abrupt change always leaves me feeling slightly jet-lagged, so that I was glad of the extra day tagged on to the weekend. Monday the 1st of November - All Saints' Day - is a public holiday here in Belgium!

Typically, this is the day people visit the cemetery and commemorate their departed loved ones by decorating their graves with flowers. However, as we neither have any graves to visit nor need a special day to remember our loved ones, we had the day to ourselves.

We'd woken up to a mixture of sunshine and clouds, and with the temperature having dropped to 12°C and made even more unpleasant by quite a bit of wind, we initially settled on a day of pottering. 

My journal tells me I hand washed a batch of face mask and then finished my wardrobe changeover. 

When after lunch the sun graced us with another one of her appearances, we decided on a short stroll to clear our heads. Our destination, Altena park, was reached after a mere 10-minute walk, dawdling and photographing Autumn foliage included.

I posed for photos with the park's kitschy Lourdes grotto as a backdrop. 

My dress with its wide pleated skirt and pattern of tiny red, pink, turquoise, blue and lilac squares is an old favourite. Taking the lead from its red squares and buttons, I added a red belt and beaded necklace, as well as a gold-tone brooch with a mottled red heart. I was wearing red opaques as well, but you'll have to trust me on that one as they're not visible in the photos!

A turquoise cardigan went on top, while the outer layer of my outfit consisted of a brown tweed jacket which is part of a suit I happened upon during that morning's changeover.

More red was added with my scarf and beret.

We crunched through the thick layer of leaves looking for chestnuts. Finding only browned and empty husks, we decided that their season must be well and truly over. 

Then, as the sun had taken absence of leave once more, leaving only patches of wintry blue sky among the darkening clouds, we made our way back home.

I do hope to see you again in a couple of days. In the meantime, with the virus on the loose again, please do stay safe, my friends.

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Forces of nature

As we're heading further into this second pandemic Autumn, I'm trying to keep dark thoughts and a heavy heart at bay. Sometimes, it's like walking a tightrope and it's taking my assembled willpower not to look into the abyss. On days like these, weather permitting, the best thing to do is to go outside and let one's soul be soothed by nature.

At a balmy 15°C and with brilliant sunshine, the weather definitely permitted on Sunday the 24th of October when, after a morning of catching up on chores, we found ourselves at a bit of a loose end. 

As the forecast had once again been indecisive, the weather deities apparently having a hard time to make up their minds, we had left it far too late to make any firm plans for the day. Fortunately, we are blessed with a handful of local parks allowing for spur of the moment, grab-your-coat and go decisions.

Solhof park, in the neighbouring village of Aartselaar, is the perfect size for an hour's head-clearing stroll. 

With scintillating Autumn scents tickling one's nostrils and a carpet of leaves thick enough to indulge in a spot of leaf-kicking, it suddenly felt great to be alive again.

The sun was shadow-playing with the filigree branches and their turning leaves, while - careful, watch your step! - tiny toadstools were hiding among the carpet at our feet. 

The jacket I'd grabbed in my haste to flee the house was this multi-hued tartan Gigue one picked up in a charity shop just over a year ago. This was accompanied by my orange beret and one of my crushed velvet scarves, in a luxurious shade of burgundy.

Burgundy appeared again underneath my jacket, in the form of my cardigan, another charity shopped King Louie. This was worn on top of my orange-red 1970s blouse, the colour of which tied in with some of the flowers in the pattern of my flower and foliage scattered skirt. The latter was a recent charity shop find I actually forgot to show you at the time.

To my blouse, I pinned two vintage Autumn leaf brooches, in green and brown. Other accessories included a green beaded necklace, a silvertone ring with a mottled green stone - barely visible in the photos - and a black, round-buckled stretchy belt. 

Part of the pleasure grounds of a manor house now much modernized and turned into a hotel, the park has a semi-hidden treasure in the form of an ice house. Not much to look at, its bolted door having long since sprouted graffiti, the real treasure is the spiral, yew-hedged path climbing to the top of the knoll it was built in. 

Here, a gazebo resting on strangely gnarled pillars awaits, offering - yew hedge permitting - a bird's eye view across the park. Yew hedge did not permit, particularly for tiny me, who could barely see a thing even when standing on tiptoes!

Back on safe ground - that spiral path can be a bit treacherous - we finished our circuit of the park, once more delighting in its Autumnal splendour and passing in front of a bank of pale lavender Michaelmas Daisies buzzing with the last of this year's bumblebees.

October's final week was another mild one with highs between 15 and 17°C, although there was a distinct lack of sunshine on most days.

On Tuesday, our government announced the anticipated new rules, such as the return of the mask mandate inside shops and public buildings and the introduction of the Covid Safe Pass for entering cafés, restaurants, entertainment areas and sports facilities.  We fervently hope these will bring down the number of cases and thus stricter rules or - god forbid! - another lockdown can be avoided.

Thursday, my final working day of the week, was a gorgeous Autumn day, with lots of sunshine and a generous 17°C.

Having to work in advance for the 4-day weekend ahead, it was quite a hectic one. In addition to my usual Friday off, there was Monday the 1st of November, All Saints' Day, which is a public holiday here in Belgium.

I still managed to go for a wee little rummage at Think Twice during lunch break, finding two skirts and a dress. I love the Autumnal hues of the latter, although with its lighter weight fabric, it will need sufficient layering if I want to wear it any time soon.

Sadly, the weather forecast for our long weekend was looking pretty dire, with rain supposedly on the menu from Friday afternoon onwards.

As we woke up to a bright blue sky and sunshine working overtime on Friday, we decided to forgo our usual charity shopping trip and go for a ramble instead.

Our destination of choice was Walenhoek, a nature reserve a mere 20-minute drive from Dove Cottage.

When we were last there, in early June, blood-thirsty insects made a meal of my arms and legs, resulting in itchy bites which plagued me for days. Not wanting a repeat performance, we'd avoided the place over the Summer months, so that a return visit was now long overdue! 

I'm sure that any surviving insects would have had a hard time with the multiple layers I was wearing that day! 

With a choice of paths criss-crossing the reserve, it is perfect for any length of walk depending on mood and stamina. For some reason, however, we always seem to end up doing the same longer circuit, perhaps with a short diversion or two if we're so inclined.

Established on the site of former clay pits, and dotted with the remnants of the area's brickmaking past, there's a plethora of ponds thriving with wildlife.

At this time of year, fascinating fungi are plentiful. It was when I was trying to take a close-up of a particularly delightful Fly Agaric with my phone that I inadvertently pushed the selfie button and ended up making the one on the top right ...

I was in a pink and purple mood that day, selecting this pink dress with lashings of purple and off-white flowers and leaves from my wardrobe. I was wearing a purple cardigan on top, which I removed for these photos. You can see it peeking out from under my coatsleeves if you scroll back to the outerwear photo.

Accessories included a tan leather belt, purple and silvertone beaded necklace and one of my vintage lady brooches.

After leaving the first series of ponds behind us, we continued our walk along a path meandering through the woods towards the domain's perimeter.

Here I was mesmerized by the rays of the sun which had managed to make their way through the canopy, casting the forest floor in a magical golden glow.

Soon we reached a second series of ponds, which might well be my favourites. 

The forces of nature have been at work here, snapping trees as if they were mere matchsticks. 

Below, on the top left, is one of the ruined buildings of the former brickmaking factory: an old electricity cabin with a rusty and peeling red door.

We stopped for a picnic, although we couldn't make use of our usual bench with a view due to the invasion of a group of chattering schoolchildren and their teachers. One of the latter later apologized for the disruption when the group passed the bench we were sitting on.

Other than that, we seemed to have the place almost completely to ourselves. We were even able to sit and stare for a while on the domain's most popular bench on the edge of a sandy peninsula jutting into the largest of the lakes, eating the waffles we'd packed as a dessert.

Our batteries sufficiently recharged and our heads cleared of pandemic woes, we returned to our car.

The rest of the weekend would have a considerably less sunny outlook, but that will be for my next post.

Until then, let's all make sure to stay safe!