Monday 31 July 2017

Trinkets and treasures

Friday the 21st of July was Belgium's National Holiday, so I had the day off, making it a very welcome extended weekend.

Much to our delight there was a flea market about a 20 minute drive from Dove Cottage, and as we woke up to sunshine and blue skies, we didn't waste any time getting there.

I was wearing the maxi skirt I didn't show you in a previous post, made up of two layers, a gauzy upper layer with a yellow, orange, lilac and green floral print and a solid yellow underskirt.

I racked my brains on which top to wear it with, as I have a chronic lack of interesting plain tops (sounds familiar, Goody?) and none of my printed ones did it justice.

In the end, I settled for a pale green open collared Tricel top. The brooch I chose was bought at our local flea market, and has a mottled stone in greens and oranges, complementing the predominant colours of the skirt. An orange belt, beads and ring, and green, orange and yellow bangles, completed my outfit.

On my feet, a comfortable pair of flat canvas shoes, which has seen me through many a walk in Wales. In the heat of the sun, my hat proved not to be just an accessory but a bare necessity!

We browsed and admired and soon made our first purchases: a hand made crocheted purse and its baby sister, meant to be attached to your handbag to hold a supermarket cart token. Cute and clever!

Always on the lookout for cheap 'n cheerful costume jewellery, I found several brooches and bangles.

We ran into Jos's youngest daughter, who inherited the collecting and flea market gene from her Dad!

I love the dress she is wearing.

The market was a good one, with endless stalls lining the playing fields, but of course, as usual, I forgot to take photos.

This Art Deco Bakelite ashtray was cheap as chips, so couldn't be left behind, even if we aren't smokers, and it wasn't in the best of conditions.

Speaking of Bakelite, we also found this object (right), which Jos remembered from his early working days. But does anyone know what it was used for?

We kept picking up little odds and ends until we got hungry and settled down in a shady spot to eat our picnic. There, we were spotted once again by Jos's daughter. One thing's for sure: there's no hiding when you are dressed in colour.

Fortified, we continued our treasure hunt, picking up this French stereoscope viewer, dating from 1956.

Then, Jos went wild at a stall selling deadstock flat caps!

Shortly afterwards, I found this gorgeous lined basket, which I will be using as my mending basket, and which came in handy for carrying all our stuff.

Rounding a corner, we came across a delightful stall full of temptingly displayed vintage goodies. As we were commenting on its loveliness, it dawned on us that we knew the owner, Ilona.

It's her stall I am posing in front of in the first collage.

Of course, we bought a couple of things from her!

There was a small Bakelite lamp, which is now throwing some light on the objects displayed on top of our 1930s cabinet.

This summer dress (left) is joining my collection (the dress on the right was bought earlier at another stall) and as there was a whole box of vintage buttons, which I can never resist, I bought several packets of them.

I also fell for a green, tan and cream necklace, which Ilona threw in for free! Thank you Ilona, if you are reading this! The others necklaces were found earlier at different stalls.

The dress I wore on Saturday is one of the first vintage dresses I ever bought and a firm favourite.
Actually,  I'm quite surprised that it didn't feature on my blog yet.

It's a fit and flare frock with a buttoned bodice and a notched collar. The print has a riot of differently sized circles in brown, orange and yellow.

Circles also feature in my yellow necklace and the round buckle of my yellow woven belt. If you look carefully, you can see I am wearing one of the brooches I bought the day before!

I added an orange red jacket (charity shopped) to which I'd pinned a yellow felt flower and sling backs in almost the same orange red, which were a sales bargain from a couple of years ago.

My plastic, wicker-look handbag was bought at Blender Vintage Shop back in 2013.

It should come as no surprise that we were off to the charity shops, although like Lynn I definitely do not need more stuff, as I already have more dresses than I can count.

Well, it's no use going charity shopping and not buying anything, is it?

This Kitsch Kitchen bag was € 21. If you rightly think that's quite expensive, then I should add that it includes the contents as well.

There was a shirt with a funky print for Jos, a couple of summery tops for me, and a pink belt.

Oh, and this gorgeous French silk scarf, which I'm quite a fan of!

That's it for now but do stay tuned here for the penultimate episode of my Welsh travelogue ...

Thursday 27 July 2017

Garden of delight

Let's continue with the Welsh travelogue!

It was the Friday of our first week by now, and the weather didn't show any signs of improvement: it was raining when we got up, and still raining after we'd finished breakfast.

Still hoping for a break in the weather, we waited, and waited, but as nothing happened we had to admit defeat and visit one of our other wet weather options.

Scolton Manor is a traditional Victorian country house set in 60 acres of park and woodland, 5 miles north of Pembrokeshire's county town, Haverfordwest.

The house was designed and built by a local firm of architects, and finished in 1842.

Until it was acquired by Pembrokeshire County Council in 1972, it was home to successive generations of the Higgon family.

With the rain still in evidence, we roamed the mansion's rooms, experiencing Victorian country life above and below stairs.

In the meantime, the rain had abated, which we took advantage of by exploring the grounds.

It didn't take long for it to start pelting down again, this time in earnest, so that we made a hasty retreat to our car.

It was on our way back to Cardigan that we had to stop for a herd of cows crossing the road.

Well, what can I say? Sh*t happens! We did have quite a smelly car for a day or so ...

On Saturday morning, it was still drizzling on and off, but we had plans!

We'd seen a notice in Coast to Coast, the yearly magazine published by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, that there was a vintage fair in Newport, a small coastal town less than half an hour up the road, where we hoped to spend a couple of hours browsing the stalls.

Imagine our disappointment at finding the venue closed and the fair cancelled!

Suffice to say I was in a foul mood! We moped around the small town, thinking on our feet on what to do instead.

As it was nearly 12 o' clock by then, we drove down to Newport Parrog, one of the town's beaches, and had our picnic sitting inside a shelter, taking in one of our favourite views, towards Dinas Head (the obvious, rounded headland in the distance), ripples tickling the gaily painted boats bobbing up and down in the small harbour.

Then I remembered a garden, which was in the neighbourhood, but which we'd never visited before, hoping it had stopped drizzling by the time we got there.

It was a 15 minute drive down to the garden, which is nestling in a valley on the outskirts of the town of Fishguard.

The rain had virtually stopped by now, but slate grey clouds were still in evidence, threatening more rain without a moment's notice.

Dyffryn Fernant gardens is a wonderful surprise, a hidden gem of a garden, its 6 acres set just below the Preseli uplands, watched over by the rocky outcrop of Garn Fawr. Its owner, Christina Shand, started the garden from wilderness in 1996.

The area around the delightful cottage is a riot of colour, provided by tender things such as dahlias, pelargoniums, salvias and agapanthus, from which the garden gradually makes its way to the wilderness beyond, by way of fernery, bog garden, wild marsh and pond.

Everywhere, the flotsam and jetsam of every day life are used to enhance the casually (to the eye, at least) planted up areas, garden rooms, if you like, separate but forming an organically grown whole.

Then there are the cleverly placed works of art, which are dotted around the garden, focal points amid the lush planting.

Sitting places are abundant, too, inviting you to take in the garden from all angles, or just to simply sit and be, perhaps getting lost in a daydream.

There's even a library for garden visitors, with a wide selection of books on gardening and art, with a table and chairs to browse them at ease while having a cup of coffee or tea.

We came across an old cat asleep on a bench, who started following us around, meowing loudly. As we sat down near this clever water feature (top right), its gentle gurgling a soothing sound, she demonstrated its use as a drinking fountain by delicately licking its sides.

Water crazy Phoebe would love this!

After we were finally able to tear ourselves away from this oasis, we took a scenic route through the Gwaun Valley, a verdant, steep sided valley created during the last Ice Age, with a unique atmosphere and plenty of prehistoric sites.

The people living in the valley's hamlets uphold a special tradition: they still celebrate New Year's Day or Hen Galan on 13th January according to the old Julian calendar!

While trundling along, we passed The Dyffryn Arms, which is not just your run of the mill pub. Prehistoric it may not be, but it's definitely a time capsule of a bygone era. Owned by Bessie Davies for more than 35 years, and known locally as Bessie's, it is a simple room in the front of her house, and the beer is served through a hatch straight from the barrel.

We didn't get to see Bessie herself, though, and as we don't drink alcohol, neither did we taste the ale, but we wouldn't have missed the experience for the world, chatting to a couple of locals, one of them even taking our photograph, even though this wasn't without its hiccups!

En route again, we passed signs to Pentre Ifan, a fine example of a Cromlech, which we followed through a maze of country lanes basking in the sun, which had finally made an appearance.

Returning to the main road, we were suddenly faced by a ford which, following the example of the car in front of us, we were brave enough to cross!

Before heading back to our cottage, we drove on to Poppit Sands, a large sandy beach backed by dunes, at the mouth of the Teifi Estuary. With the tide out, we walked across the large expanse of sand towards the sea, warmed by the late afternoon sun and with a gentle sea breeze ruffling my hair.

In the distance, near Cardigan Island, we spotted a cloud of playfully dancing kites - there was a Kite Festival going on - patterning the sudden blue of the sky.

Looking back, the ever watchful coast guards' hut nestling near the dunes looked like a discarded child's toy, shrunk by distance and all but lost in the landscape.

Looking all wind blown, but oh so happy, a perfect ending to a perfect day!

Sunday 23 July 2017


Last Sunday the tables were turned for once as we had our first proper stint at selling at a flea market.

The market itself, which is being held yearly in our village, has been going from strength to strength, until last year it reached our front door, with the people trading at the stall in front of our house parking their car so close to it that we were almost unable to get out.

We'd vowed to take that pitch this year, and we did!

The perfect opportunity to sell off some of the surplus stuff cluttering up our basement, including some vintage items, a boxful of vinyl offloaded to us by our ex neighbour, and the toys Jos's grandchildren have long ago outgrown.

I also put together a rack of vintage and retro clothing, which I'd outgrown, some of it quite literally.

There was also a suitcase full of shoes and handbags and a display of no-longer-loved jewellery.

We got up at the crack of dawn, as sellers started arriving and putting up their stalls, early buyers on bikes maneuvering between the half-finished displays.

By 7 o´clock, we'd already sold a coffee grinder and a slightly damaged vintage tin child's stove complete with little pots and pans.

Although people were clearly drawn to my colourful display of frocks and blouses, I didn't make a sale until a Dutch lady came along and bought about a third of my stock, as well as all of my handbags!

She later returned and bought more stuff after I'd replaced the empty hangers with new items.

To fill up the empty gaps, I'd put out some vintage Barbie clothing, doubles that I had accumulated during my collecting years. To my surprise, these got some interest and I sold a few pieces, the last customer later returning for an item she'd regretted not buying. I left her talking to Jos, while I got out the rest of my doubles, which she happily browsed through, making another couple of purchases.

Of course, I made some forays myself, leaving Jos to hold the fort (and selling off some of my clothing in the meantime). I didn't go wild, especially as I had less time than usual to look at things properly, but I still picked up several pieces of jewellery: some rings and clip-on earrings, a couple of brooches and a necklace.

I spotted this exquisite micro-mosaic crucifix and held my breath while asking for the price. Needless to say, I wasted no time when I was told it cost € 2. I've seen similar ones selling for at least € 30 on Etsy!

My final purchase was this gorgeous pair of vintage shoes, which I can't wait to wear in autumn.

All in all, we sold well and, more importantly, we had a great day. We'll definitely do it again next year.

I was completely knackered and kept nodding off in the evening.

But not before letting you have a proper look at the dress I was wearing.

It's a vintage wrap dress trimmed with rick-rack and with the most wonderful butterfly sleeves, which I picked up at a charity shop event back in March. The brooch, a huge white poodle, is modern, but isn't he lovely?

I'd taken the next day, Monday, off to put away the unsold stuff and have a rest. It was a fine and sunny day, so we retreated to the garden with a drink and a bowl of cherries.

Did any of you do the earring thing with the doubles when you were little? I can never resist doing it, even if there were no doubles to play around with here ...

And yes, we have a new garden table, which is a bit bigger than our old round one. We had to go out and buy it on the Saturday, as the table we'd originally planned to use for the flea market was found to be in a bad state.

I even had another stint at painting my toe nails. I nipped into Kruidvat (the Superdrug of the Low Countries) when I went into town, and found these handy pens. They have a felt tip instead of a brush, which seems to be working for me.  I picked them up in all available colours!  It's a pity there's no green though ...

I could definitely get used to a three day weekend ...

Back to work on Tuesday it was, and yes, back to the high twenties too!

I was adamant to wear this funky top, which I'd bought at Think Twice quite a while ago, but had forgotten all about. The green skirt, bought in the sales a couple of years ago, went perfect with it. In order to keep the high collar of the blouse away from my neck, I added a scarf clip which used to belong to Great Aunt Josephine.

The sandals were given to me last Sunday by my friend Ann. She's the one who gave me all those shoes back in June. They are, if possible, even more comfortable than the jelly shoes!

On Wednesday, temperatures of 30°C were predicted, so I opted for a cotton sleeveless dress.

Yes, I finally got around to wearing the colourful stripy dress I bought in Cardigan. It's looking a bit crumpled here after a day in the office ...

With all the colours, it was easy to accessorize. I added a belt, beads and watch in bright blue, a chunky red ring, red and white bangles and a Turquoise plastic brooch, incidentally also bought in Cardigan, albeit a couple of years ago.

As Think Twice was in the middle of another one of their famous sales, with everything down to € 5, I needed to get out there.

This is what I found:

It looks like I was in a maxi mood ..

There was another maxi skirt, but I'll be wearing that in one of my next posts!

Wednesday 19 July 2017

Rock pools and seashells

After the outfit post intermezzo of last Saturday, it's time to crack on with my Wales travelogue, especially as I've just realized I was only 3 days in!

By now, it was Wednesday and the weather gods continued to be nice to us. As it was much too warm for anything else, we decided to go to the beach.

Several beaches were rejected, as we wanted a beach with at least one other attraction nearby, but still a bit off the beaten track.

We opted for Manorbier, in the very south of Pembrokeshire about 5 miles from Tenby, which has a picturesque castle overlooking the beach.

We'd been to both the beach and the castle before, but considered them well worth another visit.

Manorbier's beach, reached by a path through the dunes, is a sandy one, has a stream running down the northern end, and is great for rock pooling.

In spite of the glorious weather and the number of cars parked in the National Trust car park, there weren't all that many people about, so that we could explore the beach and rock pools in peace, taking photographs and enjoying the gently caressing sea breeze.

Afterwards, we spread our picnic blanket in a grassy spot beyond the parking area in the castle's shadow.

Then, it was up to the castle, which dates from the early 12th century. It is a rectangular enclosure castle with round and square towers. There was no moat as the castle stands on a natural promontory facing the coast. The main gateway to the inner ward is across a bridge and dry moat.

In 1146 Gerald of Wales, the great twelfth century scholar known as Geraldus Cambrensis was born at the castle.

Our last visit to the castle was on a windy day back in 2013, when there was a rather disappointing Vintage Fair taking place.

Now, it seems to be much more commercially exploited, its facilities for weddings very much in evidence. As it is privately owned, and surely in need of funds to keep the place going, who can blame them really?

There's a well with a secret passage to the beach (bottom right), which was used by smugglers.

I was wearing my tomato red trousers combined with a lightweight short-sleeved pussy bow top, to which I'd clipped a flower to keep the pesky bow in place, as well as some pale pink beads.

My hat made another appearance, although this time with a different band of flowers. The bag is my faithful over the shoulder waterproof travelling bag from Dutch brand Kitsch Kitchen, which is a holiday staple.

Then came Thursday. If we'd had to believe the weather forecast, the apocalypse was near, as heavy thunderstorms and torrential rain were predicted.

Not in North Pembrokeshire though: we woke up to a grey day with some fine but steady drizzle.

The rain didn't worry us much as it meant we could indulge in one of our favourite wet weather options: a trip to Newcastle Emlyn. About half an hour up the road, there are two antique centres vying for attention.

Our favourite one, New Road Antiques, has a decent selection of vintage clothing, including a corner called The Country Squire, where Jos took the plunge and bought a vintage, Scottish made, Tweed flat cap.

My purchases were a book on collecting vintage fashion, a cute wicker and red leather handbag and some vintage plastic beads.

Jos also picked up a Bakelite loudspeaker.

After a car picnic, we called in at the town's one and only charity shop (Animals in Need), tucked away in a back street, where I found another vintage handbag (the light tan one in the photo) as well as several books.

The rain had eased off in the meantime so we decided to visit a little known gem hidden away just outside the village of Boncath: the Cilwendeg Shell House, which is only open on Thursdays between April and August.

The Cilwendeg Shell House is an ornamental grotto, a folly if you like, built in the late 1820s by Morgan Jones the Younger, who inherited the Cilwendeg estate upon the death of his uncle and created the Shell House in his uncle’s honour.

It is on private land, part of an estate farm, and not signposted at all, so we nearly missed the turning.

After parking our car, the folly was approached along an atmospheric woodland walk, where it could be seen shimmering in the distance.

Through the open door, with a barrier keeping you from entering, the fascinating interior can be admired.

Look at those lavishly decorated walls and ceiling, made up entirely of shells and sparkling minerals!

The Shell House, which was created by an unknown architect, was used as a garden retreat for the Jones family, and the fireplace meant that it could also be used in winter.

Wouldn't it be a perfect hideaway for whiling away a rainy afternoon, reading a gothic novel, with a fire gently crackling in the hearth, and all the lanterns lit?