Sunday 29 October 2017

Autumn serenade

It was clear that the wonderful late Summer weather wouldn't last. We are, after all, nearly the end of October, and already a month into what is supposed to be Autumn!

The forecast for last weekend looked very dire: we were promised wind blown days with lashings of rain.

As there was a charity shop event on Saturday and we expected to be inside most of the time, we didn't really mind, but were nevertheless pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a timid sun when we woke up.

Weathermen these days!

I love the print of this dress, with swirls of purples and pinks, as well as its floaty, lined fabric.

However, once I put it on, I wasn't too sure. In spite of the funky print, the dress's shape is a bit frumpy, especially with its high frilly collar. If I remember correctly, it originally even had a ribbon tie, which was bothersome and therefore swiftly removed.

Wearing the collar open looked a bit silly, but then again, so did wearing it closed! I was about to consign it to the give-away pile, when I thought of a solution: why not emulate those turn of the century ladies and wear it with a brooch pinned to the collar?

These photographs were all in a box which came from my Mum's side of the family. While I haven't got the slightest idea who the ladies on the left and right are, the one in the middle is my great-grandmother Aloysia. I do wish I'd inherited her hair!

My "brooch" is actually a scarf clip, one of a handful I've picked up while brooch hunting.

I also replaced the existing narrow self-fabric belt with a wider, green one, breaking up the expanse of  fabric. I chose green, as I already had a cardie in mind to wear with the dress, in olive green trimmed with purple and sporting purple buttons!

Still finding the dress too plain, I then added a necklace, its olive green beads (a nod to the cardie) accompanied by petrol blue and brown ones.

My final piece of jewellery was this green-stoned ring, which has swirls of pink in it, referring of course to the lilacs and pinks of the dress. I also added a pink flower corsage to the cardie.

My outerwear consisted of my recently bought lilac woollen jacket, to which I pinned a wooden duck brooch, a spotty aubergine scarf and my burgundy booties, which have been to the cobbler's!

On my arm, the brown handbag with the fishies I found at the flea market a couple of weeks ago.

When we returned to our car after our first charity shop, we couldn't resist nipping into the park for a a little turn. The sun had disappeared by now, and we took an umbrella as dark clouds were threatening to release the forecasted rain.

But we shouldn't have bothered as the wind had soon dispersed the clouds and more and more patches of blue sky started appearing.

Autumn has begun in earnest here, painting the leaves in golds, reds and browns.

The wind rustling in the tree tops makes them dance, then gently float down to join the thick blanket underneath, prompting a leaf-kicking moment and a bit of silliness.

Some of the trees stand proudly ablaze with colour, trying to hold on to their bright Autumn splendour for another day.

A winding footpath leads you to the heart of the park, leaves crunching beneath your feet with every step and, in spite of the busy road nearby, it's easy to imagine you're walking on a woodland path, about to enter a fairy tale world and leaving civilization far behind.

Looking skywards, the majestic trees seem to go on forever, taking on a Jack-and-the-beanstalk quality. Soon, the trees will be leafless and look eerie and forbidden in Winter's twilight.

All too soon, we'll be saying goodbye to these bittersweet October days, so we'd better make the most of their sensory delights.

Foliage is dying down, seed-heads turning brown and shabby, while a lonely butterfly pauses on a patch of green to rest its wings and mourn Summer's passing.

Limbs stretched and heads cleared, we returned to our car, and continued our charity shopping adventure ...

But that will be for another post!

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Behind the scenes at the museum

With its multitude of collectible items, Dove Cottage doubles as a museum as well as our home! In fact, we keep telling visitors that we ought to charge them entrance fees!

Due to serious lack of space (Dove Cottage is after all just a two up, two down, with extended kitchen and bathroom), some of our collections - vintage cameras, Expo 58 souvenirs and Pre-1973 Barbie dolls and their clothes, to name the most space invading culprits - had to be curbed.

I know I really shouldn't have rekindled my vintage paperback collecting as there is no shelf space left ...

At least, most of our kitchenalia collection is actually being used, though not the soaps and washing powders!

While my ever growing collection of brooches does not present the same problems, as they are small enough not to encroach too much on our space, they do present a problem of their own: that of decent storage.

At first, when I didn't have quite so many, empty cutlery boxes lined with satiny fabric were a great solution. But the number of boxes grew and grew, and - although I'd grouped the brooches by theme - it was hard to find what I was looking for, especially when getting dressed in the morning.

For a while, a 1970s round orange plastic jewellery box I found at a flea market last year, with separate compartments and a removable tray, was a godsend. It was my plan to put my current favourites in it, rotating them every couple of weeks or so. But guess what: it didn't happen.

Meeting the brooch lady and a couple of rainy holidays in Wales meant even more growth in my collection, so that I had brooches lying around everywhere, which made me, the eternal Ms. Organized, break out in a sweat!

I had dreams of a storage unit, with shallow pull-out drawers which would hold all my brooches, but the actual thing has so far proved to be elusive.

A couple of week ago, one of Jos's friends, who is re-organizing his coin collection, asked him if we could use some shallow polished dark wooden drawer boxes. They were perfect but unfortunately there were only three of them, but hey, it's a start!

Two of the boxes were pre-lined with velvety dividers. The third one was empty, so I lined it with a  piece of red felt bought in a haberdashery shop, which was almost exactly the size of the drawer.

Then, on one of our recent charity shopping trips, we stumbled across these two plastic filing units, with four drawers each. Not exactly what I had in mind, but they will do for now. Especially as they were priced at only € 2 each.

I gave them a good clean, lined them with felt, and spent half an hour or so every evening after work filling them and rearranging my collection in the process.

They actually don't look too bad and kind of match the jewellery box which now contains my modern brooches.

This also created the perfect opportunity to count them, so that I now have an exact figure (300 at the time of writing) instead of the rough estimate I've been bandying about.

On Sunday before last, we drove down to a nearby village, where a friend, who is one of the biggest - if not the biggest - collectors of Expo 58 memorabilia, was having a small exhibition.

The weather was still gloriously summery, giving me the chance to dress appropriately for this event, in this handmade cotton 1950s dress I found for € 2 at Think Twice back in August.

The buttons were replacements as I didn't like the original ones, but they are in keeping with the dress's age, as they came from my stash of vintage buttons. The brooch is modern, but I love its quirky retro feel, and they match the dress's buttons perfectly.

I wore my charity shopped King Louie jacket again, to which I pinned two hair clips in lieu of a brooch, but I took it off after the photos were taken, as it was far too warm for a jacket!

The cute little wicker handbag was the perfect finishing touch!

The Expo 58 exhibition was in one of the rooms of a local history museum, and contained quite a few rare items alongside the more obvious and commonly found ones.

In passing, I'd had a little peek in one of the museum's other rooms, which looked intriguing, so we took the opportunity to visit the rest of the exhibits.

As this was totally unexpected, I didn't have my camera with me, so you will have to make do with photos taken with my phone's camera.

There was a room full of china in all shapes and sizes and another full of devotional objects.

I was quite taken by the ornate clock on the mantelpiece (bottom right), which reminded me of a similar one owned by my maternal grandparents.

The first floor had some antique fashion displays, with lots of lacy garments and the most gorgeous little tapestry handbag.

The attics were a true treasure trove of kitchenalia, as well as the contents of an early 20th century village shop, the display of soaps being very reminiscent of Dove Cottage's, only on a larger scale.

We'll have to go back one day and pay the museum a more extensive visit.

In the meantime, there is of course our very own little museum to enjoy!

Saturday 21 October 2017

Brilliant trees

The weather's been acting particularly strange these days, with unprecedented mild temperatures for October of well over twenty degrees Celsius.

By the end of last week, I was wearing short sleeved Summer frocks again, when only a couple of days before I'd been thinking of breaking out the warm woollies!

Not that I'm complaining, mind you!

While the temperature gradually kept going up, prices at Think Twice kept going down, until finally my favourite moment arrived when everything is going for € 4.

Prices will continue going down to € 1, but for the best choice of fabulous stuff at rock bottom prices, the € 4 days are your best bet, especially as new things are being added until then.

Over two days, two bags of vintage gear came home with me!

I can't wait to wear this funky dress with its orange and green colour scheme when it starts getting cooler again.

Here's yet another maxi dress to add to my growing collection.

There were skirts too, including a black maxi skirt with a fabulous flower print.

I was sure the flower sprinkled cotton skirt on the right was handmade, until I discovered its size label. But someone has clearly been customizing it, adding to its length by cutting a piece off the bottom and joining them together again with a strip of plain black fabric edged by lengths of braided ribbon.

Although I already own quite a few jackets, I didn't yet have a lilac one, so this warm woollen beauty will be a welcome addition to my Winter wardrobe.

The vibrant red one is made from a crepey fabric and has a multicoloured zebra print lining and the most gorgeous buttons.

I couldn't resist picking up yet another Winter coat. Surely you agree that it would have been a crime to leave behind this classic belted houndstooth coat, with its delightful buttons and buckle detail, for only € 4?

On Saturday, we made the most of the warm, late Summer weather, by having our usual picnic outside.

In between charity shops, we stopped at one of our regular places, the Art Deco water tower, which has conveniently placed picnic benches and tables in its grounds.

How striking is the brilliant, crimson red of the foliage against the deep blue of the cloudless sky.

It's days like these that make my spirits soar! In fact, it was making me feel quite giddy, so that soon I was scooping up handfuls of the fiery red leaves and throwing them in the air like some kind of leaf-shaped confetti.

I was even prepared to overcome my vertigo and take the airy flight of stairs up to the viewing platform at the top of the water tower ... only to find it closed off due to ongoing vandalism. Oh well.
Such a shame, as on a clear day like this we would have been able to see the top of the Atomium in Brussels.

I was wearing a short-sleeved, belted navy dress with a joyous print of what looks like little apples, in pink, blue, green and white.

There was actually no need for the turquoise crepe jacket from King Louie, charity shopped back in June at the bargainous price of € 4, which I wore with a spotty navy belt and a brooch - a posy of pink roses - pinned to my lapel.

Further accessories were pink pearls and a blue plastic rose ring.

But I mentioned charity shops, so I should end this post with our quite unexpected bounty.

The small vintage zip-up suitcase came from shop no. 1, where I also found the brooch and the pink belt. The suitcase has been put to good use to store Jos's flat caps and some of my berets.

Shop no. 2 - this is an all or nothing kind of shop - came up trumps with a purple cardie (no, I didn't have one in that colour yet!), a pair of funky Italian suede and leather shoes, a red necklace nicked off one of the shop's dummies and a plaid skirt in autumnal colours.

And then there was this vintage coat, made from pure new wool in an unusual coral colour, which was hiding in a rail full of the usual modern coats.

Look at those buttons and the half-belts accentuating the waist. The label identifies it as made to measure from a posh shop in Brussels, which was established in 1932 and still exists to this day.

Having bought two coats (and let's not forget the two jackets) in as many days, I needed to free up some space, which I did on Sunday by filling a bag for charity with a coat and a couple of jackets I'm never wearing.

I'm sure that will butter up the gods of the charity shops!

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style!

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Don't go down to Doledrum

At the tail end of the week before last we were treated to some grey and utterly miserable days, with the rain turning the wind-blown leaves into a soggy mess, the wind tugging at umbrellas, turning them inside out and out of shape.

On days like these, there's cotton wool in my head and I would like to close my eyes and have a nap. A very long nap! You know, the one where you wake up and it's Spring again!

My lunch breaks were desultory affairs, as even my favourite pastime, having a rummage in Think Twice, was proving fruitless.

Imagine my delight when, walking past one of Antwerp's best known second hand bookshops, I saw this book in the window. There was no way I was going to let this one go!

I was more than ready for the weekend, which I started early by taking Friday afternoon off.

It had been raining heavily in the morning, but thankfully it had eased off by the time I met my friend Inez for coffee. Afterwards, we paid a visit to Think Twice, not expecting much. However, they'd just started their latest sales with 30% off on everything, and we each bought a dress, mine being this colourful psychedelic shift

Saturday proved to be another dreadful day, but with the addition of a significant drop in temperature.

As I'm in the middle of my wardrobe change, I already have quite a few long sleeved frocks to choose from. Surely, a couple of layers underneath and on top of this thin and unlined Paisley print shift dress would do the trick? After all, it isn't Winter just yet!

And I wore my first pair of opaques of the season! These bottle green ones were part of my birthday present from my friend Ingrid.

Green beads, navy booties and a blue round-necked cardie with a vintage brooch were the finishing touches.

I charity shopped this sumptuous green velvet jacket last November, and it now proved to be a very necessary final layer. The blue, pink and green floral scarf came from the same shop, while the brooch pinned to my jacket, a polished piece of beech wood, was brought back from Wales.

Saturdays are for charity shopping but, with one of their events coming up, for which they keep a lot of the nicer stuff behind, we didn't expect to find much.

Still, a a couple of things came home with us.

Mr. S. bought a Harris Tweed jacket, which he changed into immediately as the one he was wearing was far too thin for the cold snap we were having.  Admittedly, it looks much better on him than the jacket he found a couple of weeks ago, which was a bit broad in the shoulders, so that one will be re-donated.

My finds were a cute King Louie cardie ...

... as well as a yellow crushed velvet scarf and a red beret, both of which I left the shop wearing. Yes, it was that cold!

I also picked up a brown woollen jacket ...

... which I wore the next day, when we went to an indoor flea market in Antwerp, providing my own, portable sunshine with the ochre yellow scarf and flower corsage.

The dress is another one from my recently unearthed Autumn/Winter collection, in a light, but lined, polyester fabric, with three quarter sleeves and a pussy bow.

I love its Autumnal orange, brown and cream print, on which I based my accessories: orange necklace, cream butterfly brooch and cream and brown flower brooch. I cinched in my waist with an ochre yellow belt, and a cardie in the same colour went on top.

I wore another pair of opaques, in burnt orange this time!

Browsing through my blog posts from October last year, it seems I wore the dress then too, but styled slightly differently.

Now, on the flea market, which frankly speaking didn't live up to our expectations. For one thing, there was no sign of the Brooch Lady, whom we had come for especially.

After trawling a couple of aisles of uninspiring stalls, selling children's clothes and tasteless tat, we happened upon a stall run by two older ladies, whom I have bought from before.

They have a table piled high with costume jewellery (I promise to take a photo next time), so I was feeling like a child in a toy shop, especially after they gave me an under-the-counter box full of wonderful stuff to rummage through.

My bounty consisted of seven brooches, a carved celluloid scarf clip (bottom left) and a pendant with three tiny edelweiss (bottom right).

Oh, and there were these two necklaces as well. The one on the right has enameled discs, delicately painted with flowers and, judging from the closure, is quite old.

My final find was this chocolate brown handbag, the rim of its metal frame having a lacy pattern of leaves and, rather oddly, fish!

Wait a minute, is that a ray of sunshine I detect up there?

In fact, we have been enjoying a couple of days of glorious Summer weather as I write ...

So, Summer did not yet completely desert us after all!

Linking again to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style!