Friday 29 April 2016

Three swallows do not make a spring

Last weekend, temperatures plummeted to an almost wintry level. Ok, I know that was what the weather forecast said, but somehow I always hope that they were wrong.  But no, on Saturday we woke up to a chilly day and dark clouds soon chased the initial sun away. 

Same scenario on Sunday, except that it was even colder and even more of the wet and wintry stuff came down. Ugh. I even had to dig out one of my winter coats.

I am so bored with that coat that I applied a special effect to make it look a little different. Same old coat, though.

Of course, nothing could deter us from going on our usual treasure hunt.

You will probably have noticed the brick wall with the peeling white paint which is the backdrop for most of my outfit pictures? Well, this wall is part of the complex where we rent a space for our car. While our garage box is a modern addition, our photo wall is part of the main complex, which is an old lemonade factory.  Although it houses several cars and bicycles, it is usually quiet so that we can take photos undisturbed. On Saturday though, we had one interruption after another, and I was starting to get really annoyed, which you can probably tell from some of the photos.

The dress I am wearing is a riot of colour, with a leafy pattern in reds and pinks (and even the odd splash of green) on a navy blue background.  I was going to wear red opaque tights with it, when I suddenly remembered these pink ones (the colour on the packaging said Raspberry). To continue with the pink theme, I chose a pink string of beads and a pink plastic ring. My first choice, a pink cardigan, made me feel all sugary, so I swapped it for a navy blue one, to which I pinned a brooch featuring two roses encased in perspex. Short navy blue boots completed the outfit.

The Koret handbag has some nice details and was bought for € 4 last year.

Dress and coat: charity shopped
Handbag: Think Twice
Beads: Blender Vintage Shop
Brooch: flea market ("The Brooch Lady")

Saturday’s charity shopping trip did not yield much treasure. After visiting two shops, the only thing I’d found was a new-to-me red cardigan from Belgian label Wow To Go. I paid € 3, which is not bad if you know their cardigans retail for about € 65.

We decided to visit one more shop, which was a good thing, as it was there that we finally struck gold. Look at the wonderful colours in this vintage newspaper/letter wall rack.

We have several of these, only one of which is actually being used for storing newspapers and magazines, but this is the loveliest by far. It will be used in our kitchen to hold recipes and the like.

On Sunday there was another indoor flea market to visit, in the nearby town of Mechelen, which is about half way between Antwerp and Brussels. This market too is being held on a monthly basis, except in July and August.

It is a much better flea market than the one in Antwerp as its stalls are generally of a higher quality with lots of vintage stuff. There was no sign of any end-of-season slump: no gaps between stalls and lots of punters.

We were very frugal and didn’t spend much money, but we did find some nice things.

This little green wicker and glass tray cost just € 3,50 and is perfect for displaying the vanity set my parents got as a wedding present in 1956.

Look at the opalescent jade green colour of this Fire King cup! We do not collect this set at all, but we pick up pieces now and again when we find them at too ridiculous a price to leave them behind (milk jug for € 0.25 anyone?). We now have two milk jugs, and a cup and saucer.

A set of three 1960s flying swallows set us back a total of € 1. We have several locations for them in mind, but we need to find a good way to wall-mount them, as they keep flying upwards instead of sideways. 

We also found a stack of pristine Boch breakfast plates. Now we just need the cups and saucers, but it seems they are a rare thing. From experience we know that we will be rewarded for our patience and that one day we will stumble across them.

To add to my endless stash of vintage buttons: three sets of flower-shaped ones, still on their original cards.

The most expensive find, though, was not a vintage one. The flea market always has a huge stall of books on collectibles.  If money was no objection, I could happily buy dozens of books from them. As it is, we only bought one, on European record players from 1945-1975.

Portable record players are one of my husband’s collections, which unfortunately has to be reined in due to lack of space. He is especially interested in Philips ones, as he used to work at Philips in the late 1960s/early 1970s.

Another week has flown by and I am ready for another weekend.

Have you got any exciting plans for the weekend? If you're in the UK: have a great Bank Holiday weekend!

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Tuesday I got Friday on my mind

For the last year or so, I've been in the habit of taking as many Friday afternoons off as possible, making my weekends just that little bit longer.  

Lately, I've been feeling the need for some extra time for myself and for doing the things I love. Unfortunately, as I cannot afford to give up full-time work any time soon, I will have to make do with an extra couple of hours here and there.

I am very lucky that Jos, my husband, is retired, and is doing most of the housekeeping while I am at work, so that all our free time is exactly that: free time, to spend whichever way we like.

My free Friday afternoons are often spent having coffee and a good chat - as well as a vintage shopping session - with my friend Inez.  Sadly, due to circumstances, she has not been able to join me lately, and I really miss our “us” time terribly.

Before catching the bus home last Friday, I had a browse in my favourite vintage shop, ThinkTwice.

After seeing the bottom picture, Jos said that it is looking suspiciously like the inside of my wardrobe, but that's an insult really, as my wardrobe is much more organized!

The shop was having one of its famous sales, and everything was only € 4. In spite of this, I did not go completely mad, and came home with just 3 things.

All glorious 100% polyester!

These are the things I couldn’t resist:

A cute mustard yellow dress with a pretty flower pattern in white, orange and green, which fits both Angelica and me perfectly.

A black A-line skirt with a colourful pattern which I am thinking of wearing to work later this week.

And finally: a maxi! It was Vix who convinced me that you don’t need to be tall to look good in a maxi, as she always looks stunning in hers.

As on Friday afternoon it was still reasonably warm and sunny, we spent some time in our garden.

The dress I'm wearing is yet another one I found at Think Twice and the elephant brooch was charity shopped. 

I love wearing those red boots, which are really comfortable.

I didn't wear them in a very long time though, as they had lots of bothersome straps, which I didn't like.

Last autumn, I finally took my scissors to them and cut them all off.

Since then, my red boots have been on many an outing.

Thanks to Jos, who spent the last two weeks pruning like crazy, our garden is starting to look a bit less like a jungle, although there is still a lot of work to be done to restore it to its former glory after the neglect of the last couple of years.

In the process, we are rediscovering our "garden artwork", some of which was hidden by ivy and other rampant climbers.

Summer 2013

Now, we are waiting for the weather to warm up again to add some colourful planting and spruce up our sitting area, so that we can once again enjoy outside breakfasts in summer.

Oh, I am so looking forward to some warmer weather!

Saturday 23 April 2016

Dry your eyes Sunday girl

As last Saturday's charity shopping trip proved unsuccesful, the hopes we had for Sunday's flea market were high.

Rommelant, an indoor flea market in Antwerp, is being held on a monthly basis from October until April.

The day was fraught with obstacles though, as it took us an hour and a half to get there instead of the usual 20 minutes or so. We were stuck in traffic due to the Antwerp 10 Miles and Marathon which, typically, we'd forgotten all about.

When we finally arrived at the venue, we couldn’t find a free parking spot and had to pay a fortune to park our car.

The minute we stepped out of the car, we were pelted by sleet, while it had been dry and sunny the whole time we were in the car.

Upon entering the venue, there was further disappointment, as the number of stalls was rather disappointing, with huge gaps between them.

Nevertheless, within minutes of entering the venue, I picked up a brooch for € 1, after which things started to improve.

I was happy to see that the “Brooch Lady” was there. After looking through her files of brooches, I decided on these two, featuring variations of the colour blue.

As by this time we were getting hungry, it was time for a coffee stop and for the packed lunch we had brought with us. This cute little biscuit, which we got with our coffees, would have made a nice brooch too, don’t you think?

After lunch, we continued our flea market trawl and came across a wonderfully laid out stall, which was completely up our street.  While I was admiring the many vintage treasures, I was approached by one of the stall’s owners, who complimented me on the skirt I was wearing.

As we completely forgot to take outfit pictures, you will have to make do with this one of me browsing the stall’s clothing rail. The skirt and the red woollen jacket I’m wearing were both bought at my favourite vintage shop, Think Twice.

It is indeed one of my favourite skirts, made from Diolen, a 100% polyester fabric which is very commonly found in vintage 1960s and 1970s clothing here. In fact, I am always delighted to spot the fabric label and needless to say I have quite a few Diolen treasures in my wardrobe.

The stall’s nice owners, Ilona and Wannes, turned out to be living in our neighbouring village, Duffel, which I blogged about only last week! It's a small world indeed.

This is what we found, apart from the brooches.

Some more Lourdes souvenirs for our "little" collection.

A coffeepot from the Boch design called “Rambouillet” we are collecting. We already had one in a bigger size, but this one's perfect for when it's just the two of us.  

Some vintage soap, which you can see here displayed on top of our bathroom cabinet.

And finally, a 1960s tablecloth, which is already adorning our dining table.

I wonder which treasures will cross our paths this weekend.

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Kaleidoscope style

Oh, I could definitely get used to the warmer spring weather we’ve been having last week, but it wasn’t to be, as the forecast for the weekend was rather grim and temperatures were expected to drop quite dramatically.

Sure enough, it was rather chilly on Saturday and although the sun made regular appearances between the showers, there was an arctic wind, making me regret that I’d just put away my winter woollies.

This is what I wore for our weekly charity shopping trip on Saturday.

I rather defied the weather in this long-sleeved kaleidoscope print dress, as its cottony fabric, although lined, is quite thin.  The bodice is fitted and embellished by orange stitching. The skirt has alternate panels of printed and plain black fabric.

I bought the dress at Episode, which is a Dutch chain of vintage shops. After having been absent from Antwerp for several years, they re-opened a branch here last summer. I must say that I’m not a great fan of the shop. Not only are they more expensive than my usual vintage haunts, there’s a lot of focus on the 1980s and 1990s, as well as recycled pieces, which are not really my thing. There are still some nice things to be found, though, like this dress, which was too good to resist.

The obvious choice would have been my orange cardigan, but I went for a lavender blue one, picking up the blue in the dress’s print.  I added a belt in pale lilac. 

The beautiful micro-mosaic brooch I’m wearing features both lilac and orange and was bought at Carmarthen Flea Market last June. 

I’m fully coordinated, as I’m even wearing lilac eye shadow!

I didn’t want to neglect the orange in the dress, so I chose to wear a long string of orange beads.

As it was cold, I wore one of my favourite between-seasons coats, in a gorgeous blue colour. The woollen scarves all being stashed away,  I had to make do with a sheer ochre yellow one featuring white polka dots, which contrasts really well with the blue.

Dress: Episode
Coat: Think Twice
Brooch: Flea market
Cardigan, beads and bag: Charity shopped
Scarf, tights and boots: retail

As for Saturday’s charity shopping, we came back with nothing, which was a bit disappointing to say the least.

Since we were home early, I spent my time doing repairs on a dress I bought a couple of weeks ago. There were some split seams and the red buttons were rather faded as well as boring, so I replaced them with white vintage ones from my stash.

Here's the finished dress worn by Angelica.

There was also time to catch up on some reading. These are the books I currently have on the go.

As you will probably guess: “schoenen” is the word for “shoes” in Flemish.  It’s a translation of the book “A Century of Shoes – Icons of Style in the 20th Century” by Angela Pattison and Nigel Cawthorne. The book deals with the socio-cultural history of footwear in the 20th century, as well as highlighting iconic shoe designs and famous designers, old and new.

The Diary of an Edwardian lady was picked up in a charity shop for less than € 1 and contains nature notes and beautiful drawings made by the author, Edith Holden, in 1906. It is a book to dip into now and again.

The Perfect Summer: Dancing into Shadow in 1911, is a fascinating read, describing the events taking place in England in the glorious summer of 1911, just before the world was to be changed forever. 

The book is written by Juliet Nicolson, who is Vita Sackville-West’s granddaughter.

Her latest book, A House Full of Daughters, a family memoir, will be released in June, and as this is a book I’m particularly interested in, I will be on the lookout for it when I’m next in the UK, which incidentally will be in June.

Have you read any good books lately?

And is there anyone else who has several books on the go at once?

Friday 15 April 2016

The Great Wardrobe Switch and other stories

Last weekend, I took a leaf out of a fellow blogger's book and had a serious decluttering session.

It’s that time of the year when, rather than spring cleaning, I’m having a wardrobe clear out, putting away most of my winter clothes and getting my summer clothes out of hibernation. 

In other words: time for the Great Wardrobe Switch. Ideally, this is taking place twice a year, in April and October, although in this part of the world it is difficult to pinpoint a date when to actually do this.  After all, it can still freeze in May, while October and even November can still bring some Indian summer days.

The Great Wardrobe Switch goes hand in hand with the Great Trying-On Session, which I think needs no explanation. 

There’s always a What Was I Thinking of? pile, most of which ends up being bagged up for the charity shop. 

Next up are the things which have become too snug or those which still fit perfectly but do not make me feel great. 
Again taking advice from a fellow blogger, to only keep and wear clothes you are feeling fabulous in, these are put aside, either for giving away or for selling.

The Great Wardrobe Switch is also a time to get reacquainted with my summer frocks, some of which I’m ashamed to admit I have completely forgotten about.

Here is a little taster ...

On Sunday, I took a little breather to soak up some much-needed sunshine. 

We also had our friends Ingrid and Maurice over for coffee and cake, giving us girls a chance to have a look at my latest finds. The handbags especially were greatly admired.

Coffee at Dove Cottage is serious business. No instant or even ground coffee for us. We always buy coffee beans, which we grind ourselves with one of our vintage coffee grinders. Neither is our coffee being made in any kind of machine or in a caffetiere. It's being brewed the old-fashioned way, with a coffee filter, and tastes all the better for it. As you can see, coffee is always on our shopping list too! 

I’m finishing this post by showing you last week’s only find on the clothes front. I think you had better sit down first, as you will now see the rare sight of me wearing trousers. I picked up this perfectly fitting crimplene pair for € 6 at Think Twice. Here it is paired with a polyester short-sleeved jacket I bought at the same shop last year. The shoes are also a vintage find, from a shop called My Ohm. They cost a little more than I am usually prepared to pay, which is why I left them behind the first time I saw them. As luck would have it they were still there when I changed my mind a few weeks later.  What’s more, I got them at a reduced price!

I wonder what this weekend will bring?

Have you got anything nice planned?

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Capturing the castle

Finally, finally, we had a full weekend of spring weather, with lots of sunshine, but still a bit chilly in the shade. Exactly the kind of weather, in fact, that allows the wearing of a suit with a lightweight jacket, so on Saturday my coat stayed behind on our hallstand.  

Not that I have anything against coats, mind you. Quite the contrary, in fact: I love a good coat, and I have a multitude of them, in different fabrics and colours. Needless to say that all of them are vintage and/or charity shopped!

This jersey polyester suit was bought for the grand total of € 4 and is fully lined. It was only when I got it home that I discovered the belt in one of its pockets.

As the colours are rather muted, I wanted to make it look more spring-appropriate and chose a long-sleeved Tricel top in a gorgeous shade of blue as well as some tights in a slightly different hue.

The brooch is one of many bought from the “brooch lady”, a lovely 80-something lady with a collection of over 2000 brooches, which she is now selling at flea markets. At very reasonable prices, I should add.

The colourful scarf, again featuring blue, was bought at a local flea market and the handbag was a charity shop find from several years ago. It is just big enough to carry my charity shopping kit.

Suit and top: Think Twice
Beads, boots, belt and bag: charity shopped
Brooch and scarf: flea market
Tights: retail (market stall)

The charity shop we went to is in a neighbouring town called Duffel, which allegedly is where the word “duffle”, as in duffle coat, is originating from. Although it was known as a cloth making town in the 15th century, neither the duffle coat (a British invention) nor the heavy woollen cloth it is made from, was actually ever produced in Duffel.

Whenever we visit the marvellous three-floored charity shop in Duffel, and the weather is fine, we combine it with a walk in the nearby park which runs alongside the town’s river.

Adjacent to the park are the grounds and ruin of a castle called “Ter Elst”, which is said to be one of the oldest buildings in the Province of Antwerp.  

Originally dating from the 12th century, it burnt down and was rebuilt in 1584, then partly destroyed in 1914, after which it was left to deteriorate.

Even though it was bought by the town and has been a protected building since 1973, its towers seem to be leaning ever more precariously each time we visit.

The site is very atmospheric and the castle’s moat is a haven for waterfowl.

On our way back, we found a perfect place to display our charity shop finds, which were rather few this time.

First off is a plaster ware Mary and baby Jesus statue. Although we are not at all religious, we seem to be drawn to stuff like this over and over again. At only € 1,  how could we possibly leave this behind? Doesn’t baby Jesus's head, complete with a cute cowlick, look like one of those antique porcelain dolls' heads?

Hidden at the back of a shelf full of odds and ends was this small rack of hooks from the 1970s Emsa range we are collecting. It was very dirty and one of the hooks has broken off, but it was only € 0,50 and after a good clean it is already taking pride of place in our kitchen.

We also bought some items of a more practical nature (old suitcase and beauty case as well as a new-to-us throw) and spent a total of € 4,50, which actually isn't too bad, is it?

I hope that spring has reached you as well, wherever you are!