Tuesday 31 May 2016

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside!

I was about six years old when I first saw the sea.

Before that, the sea lived in the bottom drawer of a chest of drawers in my maternal grandparents’ attic room. More specifically, it lived inside a beautiful shiny conch shell. If you put it to your ear, you could hear the sound of waves crashing on the shore. Or at least, that’s what my grandfather told me. I never doubted his words, as the drawer also contained photographs of my grandparents taken at the seaside.  In them, they wore funny bathing costumes, even my grandfather did. They must date from late 1920s or early 1930s.

My grandmother (far left) and grandfather
The year I turned six, my parents bought their first car, a 2CV (Deux Chevaux), after which we started spending Sundays going on day trips all around the country. In we would pile: my dad and paternal grandfather in the front, and me squashed between my mum and grandmother in the back.

My paternal grandmother in front of our Deux Chevaux
That summer, we went for an overnight stay to the seaside. We arrived around midday and I remember it being warm and sunny and very crowded. I stayed at a hotel for the very first time and I remember being served half a grapefruit as a first course at lunch, which I didn't like. I have only vague memories of playing on the beach but what sticks in my mind was being told to be aware of jellyfish!

Strangely enough, I cannot find any pictures of that seaside holiday except for this one, which must have been taken by my mum, of my grandparents, my dad and me, picnicking in the dunes. I am wearing a striped towelling top, which was all the rage back then.

After that holiday, though, I don't remember any seaside visits until we first took the ferry from Ostend to Dover in 1976. 

Although I love all kinds of landscapes and natural features, I seem to be particularly drawn to the seaside, to which I keep returning again and again.

Here I am in St. Ives, in 1995, during my first summer holiday with Jos.

I love the sound of the crashing waves (which sounds exactly as they did in that conch shell) and seagulls' cries, ...

... and the sight of boats bobbing in harbours and marinas.

I like the salty smell of washed-up seaweed ...

... and walking along the shore when the tide is coming in, trying to keep one step ahead of the ever increasing waves.

I like walking along the beach, collecting shells and pebbles smoothed by centuries of tides ...

... and natural sculptures of driftwood bleached by the sun.

When I saw this amazing vintage seagull printed dress at Vintage Styling last year, it just had to be mine!

Over the years, I have collected quite a few seaside related brooches, like these boats and seagulls.

Last summer, I succumbed to this sailing boat patterned dress, which I saw in shop window in Cardigan while on holiday. It is from Seasalt and although I think it's lovely, it needs lots and lots of ironing, which is why it had been languishing in my ironing basket for months. I actually ironed it especially for this post.

In the bottom left picture you can see Colin the Crab, which we bought from the same shop, called Mundos, on Cardigan High Street.

I am going to finish this post with some photos of the colourful beach huts at De Panne, Belgium's most westerly seaside resort, near the French border. They never fail to cheer me up and I cannot resist taking photographs of them whenever we visit.

What about you? Do you like to be beside the seaside?

Friday 27 May 2016

It looks like rain in cherry blossom lane

The powers that be have been playing yo-yo with the weather again. After a humid Saturday, it started raining overnight and it was still drizzling when we left for Sunday's destination: a vintage fair we had been very much looking forward to.

The event developed from a Belgium-based Facebook group called The Vintage Market, initiated to enable members to buy and sell all sorts of vintage stuff and to generally “talk vintage”. In a short space of time, the group had over 30000 members, which called for a celebration in the form of a real live market, aptly called The Vintage Market Live!

Sunday’s market was already the 2nd edition, the first one being held last September.

The location for this market is a well-known music centre in Antwerp, including a small venue for gigs, with a capacity of 1100 people, called Trix

We went soon after the event opened, at about 10.30, when it was still rather quiet.

Here’s a view of the centre, which is situated along a very busy ring road. If you look closely, you can see two soldiers guarding the entrance, which, exactly 2 months after the attacks in Brussels, is still being done at all major events.

There are stalls everywhere, including in the concert hall itself, the foyer and the garden, where food and drink trucks were plying their trade.

Within minutes of walking into the venue, I found a lovely round tartan case, which then of course I had to carry around the whole time we were there. You can see it in this photo, where I am posing with Lies and her mother Rie in front of their lovely stall.

It is from that stall that I made my next purchases:

A colourful micromosaic brooch ...

...  and a lovely emerald green new wool suit from Delmod.

There were also some classic cars on show. We were both smitten by the cute burgundy 1950s Renault and of course I couldn't leave out "Jade Princess", could I?

After a much-needed cup of coffee, we went exploring the stalls in the main concert hall. It was not easy to take photographs there as the hall – being used mainly for gigs – is pitch black with very poor lighting. Despite the colourful merchandise being displayed, this made for quite a gloomy atmosphere.

At the stall of our friends from Blender Vintage Shop, I found another nice little handbag for my fast growing collection. This one will be nice to use in summer.

Here you can see it together with a better view of the tartan case.

My last purchase was from a stall which reminded me a little of Vix’s Kinky Melon pitch.

The yellow jacket with gorgeous polka-dotted lining caught my eye and as luck would have it it was my size as well. I’m guessing that originally it had a matching skirt.

After a final coffee and some people-watching, we walked back to our car in the pouring rain.

Oh, and I’ve still got to show you my outfit for the day, which you have already caught a glimpse of.

This dress is a favourite of mine, with its diamond pattern in navy and green, its square white buttons and wide collar. It is not easy to put on as its sleeves are very narrow. Once on, though, it is perfect without any pinching anywhere.

Because of the wet weather, I resorted to boots again and wore my short black ones with a back zipper.

After this fun-packed day (and indeed weekend), I actually needed another one for resting.

As it was, duty called on Monday for yet another working week.

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Cherry pink and apple blossom white

It turned out to be quite a nice day on Saturday. With temperatures of about 23 degrees Celsius but the sun regularly playing hide and seek, it was rather humid though, and at times it felt like a thunderstorm was brewing.

We decided to take a chance at the charity shops, including a picnic and a little walk in the park along the way.

I wore a short-sleeved white summer dress with a cheerful pattern in pink, red and green, slightly V-necked and with three little white flower buttons at the yoke.

The dress is made from Terlenka polyester.

This label fell from a shirt Jos was trying on in a charity shop a couple of years ago. Although we didn't buy the shirt, I secretly took the colourful Terlenka label, featuring the iconic elephant, home with me.

While trawling the Internet in search of further information on Terlenka, I came across this advertisement from the 1950s emphasizing Terlenka's drip-drying qualities.

I accessorized the dress with a pink pearly necklace, which I “inherited” from my great-aunt Josephine, my paternal grandmother’s sister and Angelica’s youngest daughter. She died quite a few years before my grandmother and eventually some of her belongings ended up at my parents, who apparently didn't care much for her pieces of costume jewellery. My dad even let my little niece play shop with them and I was lucky enough to be able to rescue some of it from the tangled mess it had become.

I thought the dress would be perfect with my green shoes, bought cheaply at a local shop and very comfortable. Initially, I wore a tomato red jacket, but that soon had to be discarded as it was much too warm. 

Look at that cute green plastic brooch which I found at Cardigan Antique Centre last summer!

The wicker handbag from last week's flea market had its first outing. I'm very pleased with it, especially since I saw the same one at a vintage market on Sunday for € 20 while I only paid € 3.

Dress: Blender Vintage Shop
Jacket: charity shopped
Brooch:Cardigan Antique Centre
Wicker handbag: flea market
Necklace: great-aunt Josephine
Shoes: retail

We took our picnic to a bench in the park, from where we enjoyed the croaking of many invisible frogs in the nearby water garden.

The park looked particularly lush and the air was fragrant with scented flowers and blossoms.

I struck gold at the charity shops as I found no less than five new-to-me tops, costing only € 3 each.

The pink one is from Karen Millen and judging from similar items on their webshop would have cost over € 100 originally.

I particularly love the green knitted sailor-style top from Belgian retro brand "Who's That Girl".
I already have the same top in blue, bought in the sales a couple of years ago.

This photo was taken in Pembrokeshire and yes, I am actually wearing jeans, so please just look at the top (and the scenery).

It was taken at one of the UK's best beaches, at Barafundle Bay.

My final finds were this pretty scarf and enameled peacock brooch, which the silly man at the till said was a seahorse.

That was it for Saturday, but we still had a treat to look forward to on Sunday.

In my next post, I will take you with me to a vintage market!

Friday 20 May 2016

All kinds of everything

We had been looking forward to last Sunday’s flea market for weeks. Held on some playing fields and surrounding streets in a neighbouring village, with around 600 stalls it is one of the biggest flea markets in the area.

The flea market has a good mix of stalls. There are people selling the contents of their basements, often right outside their own front doors, the usual flea market sellers selling everything and the kitchen sink (sometimes quite literally) and stalls selling vintage and small antiques.

The forecast said it would be cold but mainly dry, so we kept our fingers crossed.
As luck would have it, the minute we got up on Sunday morning we could hear rain drumming against our windows, which tempered our excitement a bit. Fortunately, the rain soon stopped, with the sun putting in the occasional appearance. They were right about the cold, though, as it was still barely in the region of 10 degrees Celsius.

I opted for a skirt and many layers topped by my red winter jacket, which I’d actually just put away. Black opaque tights and a sturdy pair or black boots completed my outfit. At first I regretted not to be wearing a pair of gloves, but one has to draw the line somewhere.

In spite of the weather, the flea market did not disappoint and there were hardly any gaps between the stalls. Lots of punters, too.

I had my camera at the ready, as I wanted to make sure that I didn’t forget to take photographs this time.

These are the things that caught my eye:

Red, white and blue

Instant collections of matchboxes, shaving brushes, coffee grinders, hunting trophies, ...

... strange dolls, glass bottles and lampshades

Veiled hats and gas masks

Elegant tea and coffee sets, a chandelier and songbooks from long-forgotten times

Childhood memories

The cute little tray brings back happy memories for me. It is from a Belgian series of books for girls which first appeared in 1954 and ran until 2010, with a total of 61 titles.

Although the tray is from a much later period, the most recognizable and sought-after titles are from the 1950s and 1960s. They were among my first reading material. As usual in Belgium, the series ran in both Flemish ("Tiny", which is pronounced "Tinny") and French ("Martine").

Here are a few of my childhood books. I was totally in love with the drawings (and Tiny's wardrobe), the lovely end-papers and the chicken-eating bear on the back cover!

After this little diversion, here are our finds of the day:

Two handbags and an unusually shaped olive-green case, which I might use as a handbag as well.

Two lovely scarf clips

.. and two fans, one of them a little brooch, which actually opens and closes!

A traditional, old-fashioned spinning top: pure boyhood nostalgia for Jos.

And finally: a Bakelite soapbox, for our small Bakelite collection.

Before I sign off this picture heavy post, I would like to show you the parcel I received on Wednesday from the lovely Lynn.

She spotted my tapestry covered handbag found at another flea market and sent me a cute little matching purse. It arrived in a little box, complete with a sweet note from Lynn and some beautiful Vogue cards. And some ribbon for Phoebe to play with ...

I am ready for another weekend. What about you? Do you have any exciting plans?