Sunday 29 January 2017

Beam me up, Scotty!

If you thought that after last Saturday's winter walk, we were going to keep it quiet on Sunday, I'm afraid you were wrong: we had a flea market to go to!

There was actually no way we were going to miss this one, as it's our favourite indoor market by far.

The dress I pulled from my wardrobe was another one in a polyester/wool blend, in a white patterned muted brown. It is fully lined, has a front pleat and still has its self fabric belt with fabric covered buckle. Still, I thought it looked a tiny bit boring, so I used an orange-brown vinyl belt instead to break it up.

I layered it with a burnt orange cardigan, to which I pinned one of my Camay brooches.

As luck would have it, there were some tights in my stash in almost exactly the same colour as the cardigan!

It was still as cold as on Saturday, but since we were going to spend most of the day indoors, there was no need for my fake fur coat. Instead, I chose the jacket of a mustard brown tweed suit, with soft brown fake fur collar and cuffs.

If anyone's interested, here I am in the tweed suit, which I last wore in late February 2016, just before I started blogging. Which is why it hasn't featured here yet ...

On to the flea market, which did not disappoint, even if there were less stalls than usual. It seems January really isn't a good month for flea markets ...

These are some of the things we got:

Now, let's have a more detailed look.

First up is this heavy brass family tree picture frame, its base decorated with a cluster of tiny flowers.

Currently empty, it will soon be filled with some old family photographs.

These Heatmaster sugar bowl and milk jug will go well with the insulated coffee pot we bought a couple of weeks ago.

We already have a gorgeous blue Heatmaster teaset we bought in Wales in 2015, the story of its aquisition you can find here. Not wanting to take any risks this time, we didn't think twice!

We also picked up this old-fashioned ink pot, which has a ridge designed for holding a pen.

It wouldn't be a succesful flea market if I hadn't found any brooches!

I'd been lusting after this Scottie dog brooch for months. There was no price tag, and it was in a glass topped display case, which usually isn't a good sign. Sure enough, after plucking up the courage to ask for the price, I walked away as I found it too expensive.

Seeing it was still there after all this time, I innocently offered a lower price, which was accepted, so he finally came home with me!

We ended up talking to the seller, who turned out to be a nice lady, especially as she thought I was in my late 30s! Needs new glasses, more like ...

Then there was this pair of navy gloves, which I got cheaper than the asking price after I pointed out a stain on one of them. I knew it would be easily removed, and it did!

As an aside: when out vintage clothes shopping, I usually carry a travel pack of make-up remover tissues. Whenever I stumble upon anything I like, but which has a stain, I unobtrusively try rubbing the stain with one of these. If it fades, I'm sure it can be washed out. If it doesn't budge, I know to leave the item behind.

I loved this faded Lourdes souvenir album, which was signed by its former owner, the priest of a Belgian village called Vollezele. I googled him, and it seems he was a priest there in the 1920s, and a famous one at that, as he was also a poet and biographer.

Judging from the clothing worn in the bottom right picture, I'd guess the album was even older, but so far I haven't been able to trace it.

Our final purchases were some 78 rpm records. Although they are not exactly rare, jazz 78s aren't that easy to find. At least not for next to nothing at flea markets, so we were quite pleased with this Count Basie one, which was in perfect condition too!

All in all, quite a decent haul, don't you think?

Wednesday 25 January 2017

Warming up to the ice age

Last Saturday, our plans for another clearing session at my dad's house fell through, so that we unexpectedly had a whole day to ourselves, to do whatever we fancied.

As it was an exquisitely sunny, albeit frosty day, there was no way we were going to spend it inside.
In fact, we made the very most of it and went for a long walk a little further from home.

As the temperature was still well below zero degrees Celsius, we dressed warmly, which in my case meant a colourfully patterned wool-blend dress, closing with a zip at the front.

It might look deceptively thin, but its wool content makes it really warm. In view of our walk, I wore it with both a slip and a thermal camisole underneath.

I chose opaques in almost exactly the shade of green featured in the dress.

This thick cream cable-knit cardigan, with delicate red and lilac detail, completed my outfit.

On top of this came my trusted fake fur coat. I also wore a lined vintage turban hat, a nice long purple scarf crocheted by my friend Ingrid and a pair of fingerless gloves to enable me to take photographs. Oh, and my new-to-me sheepskin boots, of course!

Whenever it got too cold, I tucked my hands in my handbag disguised as a muff. Or is it the other way around?

A thirty minute drive away, Het Broek in Blaasveld (broek meaning marshy area) is a favourite nature reserve, which we visit in all seasons. Much to our shame, our last visit was in May (I blogged about it here), and I guess 2016 was the first in many years that we did not visit it at least once in the autumn months.

Although there are several options for shorter and longer walks, we usually do the same loop, which offers quite a lot of variety.

Immediately after entering the domain through a gap between hedges, two large ponds come into view, now covered in a thick layer of ice.

The pond on the left is the kingdom of a gracious pair of white swans. A lady walking her dog was feeding bread crusts to the birds. Rather than regally gliding over as usual, the swans, clearly out of their depths, came waddling over, treading carefully on the slippery ice.

Followed by a comical moorhen, whose antics on the ice put me in mind of a funny cartoon bird.

Het Broek is a watery wonderland, with ponds and lakes in different sizes, and with the exception of one or two sand ridges, the whole area is only two to three metres above sea level.

In winter, the many brooks and creeks which run between the crooked trees are clearly visible.  In spring and summer, these are mostly hidden by abundant foliage, allowing only the occasional glimpse.

Beyond the first two ponds, the path snakes through a wooded area, passing some secluded ponds, the quiet only punctuated by the sound of chainsaws accompanying the process of woodland management.

Eventually, a more open landscape on the edge of the domain was reached, where a small frozen stream quietly meandered through banks of iced greenery.

After a short stretch along a tarmacked path bordering a body of water which is used for water-sports, the nature reserve is re-entered. This part was opened to the public fairly recently, and still has a relatively untouched feel.

I loved this enchanted tree-bordered channel of now frozen water, with thick slabs of ice littering the path next to it. And doesn't this innocent piece of wood eerily resemble some poor animal's head?

On to the visitor centre and picnic area called Beaver Island for a short stop and some silly poses involving a couple of naughty bronze beavers.

A few minutes after leaving Beaver Island, we caught our first glimpse of our favourite stretch of the walk: the water meadows, or should that be ice meadows?

From here, there are paths in two directions. We opted for the one leading off to the left, which is the longer of the two. Surely, those few patches of ice are going to be a doddle?

Soon the path became harder to negotiate, with treacherous patches of ice alternated by squelchy stretches of mud where the sun had melted the ice. At one point, the only way to continue without sinking into the soft mud was by climbing a conveniently placed bench.

And yet we continued, even when at one point there was no way of avoiding having to walk on the ice. Let me tell you that this is quite something for me. As a four year old, I broke my arm after slipping on ice, leaving me with a life-long trauma.

The magical world at the end of the path was worth the effort, though, the low sun spotlighting the ice floes dotting the drowned forest floor.

The final stretch of our walk led us past some of the bigger ponds, in other seasons the haunts of gaggles of quacking ducks and honking geese.

Now they were deserted, apart from a couple of dare-devil ice skaters, watched over by dormant, dead-to-the-world winter trees.

Saturday 21 January 2017

Jump(er) for joy

Now here's a sight you will not often see: me wearing a jumper!

Through most of winter, I can get away with wearing long-sleeved dresses by adding layers underneath and on top. However, with temperatures plummeting to below freezing point and hardly reaching positives even during the day, if I was to survive my frost-bitten commutes this week, I needed to wear something slightly warmer.

There was a time, not all that long ago, when I wore nothing but jumpers all through the winter months, but a combination of changing tastes and the "change-of-life" has put a stop to this nonsense. Nowadays, even the mention of the word "jumper" makes me break out in a sweat. Oh, the joys of being menopausal! The upside is that I don't need that many jumpers, and can be really choosy as to which ones make it into my wardrobe.

Take this bottle green jumper, for instance. It's lightweight and warm, and its front panel, with a stripy pattern in off-white, sage green and burnt orange, almost exactly matches the colours in my tweed skirt. More greens were supplied by moss green opaques, olive green beads and a cheeky Bambi brooch.

Did you notice my new boots?

I picked them up for € 4 at Think Twice last week.

Lined with a generous layer of sheepskin, they are perfect to wear in the coldest of weather.

Next up is a slightly thicker purple jumper with a diamond lace stitch at the yoke and sleeves. An embroidered leaf or flower sits in each of the diamonds. I'm wearing it with a vintage Dralon box-pleated skirt, with an op-art pattern in brown and beige.  Purple tights complete my outfit (although you'd have to be eagle-eyed to spot them), and I'm wearing my burgundy boots.

Can you believe we did these outfit photos on a weekday? On Wednesday I took the afternoon off to go to the hairdresser's and when I got home, there was still enough daylight left for a photo session. I was wearing the green jumper outfit that day, then changed into the purple one, which I was going to wear on Thursday.

Although it was crispy cold, the days were mostly bright and sunny, tempting me to go out for a walk during my lunch breaks.

Wrapped up in my fake fur coat, warm woollen scarf and hat and a padded pair of gloves, obviously!

I made a beeline for Think Twice to have a look at what was left of their sales, which was nothing much. But never mind: I already had my fill last week.

Apart from the boots, I found a couple of dresses   ....

...  one of which even menopausal me won't be wearing any time soon!

Oh, and in spite of a self-imposed handbag ban, I couldn't resist buying three for € 5 each. The fourth one (top left) was a flea market find from two weeks ago.

But I swear: one of these days (or weeks, or months), I'm going to have a good clear out!

I've added some close-ups of the bags. If my eyes don't deceive me, the top right one is an unusual greyish green colour, almost exactly matching the first dress I bought.

I'm particularly pleased with the two tapestry covered bags. It's nothing short of a miracle that they made it to the € 5 sales, and weren't picked up long ago. The bottom right one even has Lucite handles!

As freezing temperatures have been predicted for next week as well, I'm sure you'll get to see more of my vintage jumpers.

I have them all at the ready now.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Wednesday 18 January 2017

January days and their scarecrow trees

"Pale January lay
In its cradle day by day
Dead or living, hard to say."
-  Alfred Austin, Primroses

For most of us living in the Northern hemisphere, January isn't exactly a favourite month. After the - if often forced - excitement of Christmas, January seems drab in comparison.

If the days are lengthening, it is hardly noticeable in the first few weeks after the winter equinox.

Only on the occasional sunny day does the light seem to linger just that little bit longer.

But sunny days are few and far between in this first month of the year. It is, after all, only the very beginning of winter and spring still a long way off.

In spite of all this, I wouldn't have it any other way, as I quite like the change each season brings.

I'm actually glad to be living in a part of the world with proper seasons!

(Photos dating from January 2014 and 2015)

The trick is not to give in to the downward spiral January often brings, and to add some much needed colour to every godforsaken winter's day.

This vintage St. Michael dress, with a pattern of yellow and brown flowers on a cream background, was just the thing, especially as it is made of a heavy polyester fabric to keep me warm.

It came with a slim brown belt but I like it much better with a slightly wider yellow one, bringing out the yellow in the dress. The round white metal buckle, in its turn, echoes the circle shapes in the dress's pattern.

By far my favourite feature of the dress is its unusual brown plastic buttons.

I chose yellow for my cardigan and tights too, adding yet more, if illusionary, sunshine.

Due to the freezing temperatures, we were obliged to do a photo session inside the house. And look who's come to steal some of my limelight! Oh well, then she'll have to earn her keep and be a model. Not being a cuddly cat, she couldn't wait to get away, though.

Friday's weather, in spite of severe storm warnings, wasn't too bad, with periods of sunshine in between flurries of sleety snow, but by evening more and more clouds gathered and we were treated to all kinds of semi-frozen wetness.

In spite of a murky start, the sun soon made an appearance on Saturday morning. Of course, once we decided to leave the house, she decided to call it a day and to make way for leaden skies and more snow.

My charity shopped fake fur coat was put to good use against the biting cold. Once again, I chose my woolly turban. I also grabbed my warmest gloves, a colourful knitted pair found at our village's weekly market.

Silly poses? Oh yes!

The weather conditions didn't keep us from visiting our favourite charity shop, where it was unusually quiet for a Saturday, allowing us to browse at ease.

There were many new additions in the book department, and after some deliberation, these came home with me.

We don't really need more books, as we're still only half way through sorting out my dad's, but I'm sure we'll find space for them. We also regularly (re)donate books to charity, so that some kind of balance is being kept.

Even the clothing floor (this shop actually has three floors!) didn't disappoint, as I found an abstractly patterned green polyester vintage dress (in my size, for once) and a green skirt. I'd been looking for a plain green winter skirt since last year, but couldn't find one that ticked all my boxes. The shape, colour and size of this one were just right, and it is lined too! Here, Angelica is wearing it with a flowery blouse from Think Twice.

My last find of the day was this red felt hat, which came with a bonus brooch!

Since last weekend temperatures have dropped considerably, so I guess it's time to dig out the jumpers ...