Thursday 29 March 2018

And the daffodils look lovely today

Last weekend Spring decided to show us her true colours by giving us a glimmer of hope in the form of two perfectly formed early Spring days.

Perfect for venturing out into the garden for some pruning, or for going on a long walk, but I was lacking the energy and my mood was strangely at odds with the weather.

I do try to avoid too much moaning on the blog, but life isn't all ha ha hee hee, you know. I am shamelessly quoting Meera Syal's novel of the same name!

Dressing up never fails to cheer me up, though, so here I am faking it until the fog in my head has cleared.

Beige and brown doesn't have to be boring! Proof is in this frock, which has one of the funkiest prints ever! The fabric is seriously swishy too. I pinned not one but two brooches on it: a mottled turquoise stone rimmed in gold metal to keep the frock's tie from, err... untying, and a pair of turquoise swallows in flight. They're modern, and I have them in green as well.

Other accessories included a turquoise chunky plastic ring and a tan belt.

This frock is actually a film star! Here I was re-watching a Flemish film on the telly, called Groenten uit Balen (2011), which is set in 1971, when all of a sudden there was one of the actresses wearing my dress!

A turquoise cardigan went on top, which meant I could add another brooch. This is one of the embroidered brooches I picked up at a Carmarthen antique shop last June. The majority of these kind of brooches feature flowers, and I especially love this one with its tiny gentians.

I completed my outfit with turquoise opaques and tan ankle boots.

It might have been Spring, but it's early days yet, so a jacket was still required. I could have opted for a lighter one, but that would have involved digging into the depths of our coats wardrobe.

I also could have done without a scarf, but old habits die hard, so I chose the frilly one I charity shopped earlier this month. It looks deceptively light but was in fact quite heavy and warm.

Notice that I'm not wearing a beret! I admit I did feel quite lost without one.

We went for a short stroll in the park, which only weeks ago was a wiry tangle of last season's growth, with unruly twigs and branches and the sodden and sordid remains of late Summer and Autumn perennials.

Pruned and trimmed, the park was looking a bit bare. It's hard to fathom that within a few short months it will all be green and lush again.

I gingerly sat down in the tree trunk seat, as its back was cushioned by fungi.

Blossoms in delicious pinks and yellows were out to herald Springtime.  And look: a host of golden daffodils!

A few late crocuses were attracting the first of the bumble bees, who were deliriously buzzing among the flowers. 

The pair of  Egyptian geese on the top right were honking for joy when some of their friends passed by overhead.

Conveniently, the park is close to one of our favourite charity shops, so it would have been downright silly not to go and have a look.

I was rewarded with all kinds of jewellery. The brooch and earring sets were remnants from the Retro Day, and were reduced by 50%, so I basically had two for the price of one!

Back at home, I took pity on Angelica and dressed her in a Spring appropriate outfit.

The hour we lost during the night to mark Summer Time was making me feel even more out of sorts on Sunday.

Drastic measures were required so I piled on lots of colour. The starting point for my outfit was the electric blue blouse, with its starburst and flower print. It's got a huge (and I mean huge!) spoon collar reaching over my shoulders. 

After trying several skirts, I settled for this fresh green plaid midi length one.

Echoing the pink flowers in my blouse, I then added a sizzling pink belt, cardigan and ring.

It wasn't easy to find the right necklace as the blouse kept clamouring for attention, but then I remembered this colourful necklace made up of wooden discs. It predates my vintage and second hand years and came from Accessorize, back in the day when they still had a shop in Antwerp.

The day was too good to waste inside the house so, after we spent the morning booking a weekend away at the end of April, we were dying for a breath of fresh air and some healing rays of sunshine. 

The nature reserve at the site of the old fort in the next village fit the bill perfectly.

The resident tortoises are slowly coming out of hibernation and some of them were basking in the sunshine.

My lilac jacket added yet another colour to my early Spring outfit and this time I made the wise decision to leave behind the woolly scarves and wear a lightweight one instead.

I was quite disappointed to spot only one small clump of daffodils, its twin flowers looking rather dolefully at their own reflection in the water.

It seems Spring still has a lot of catching up to do!

Sunday 25 March 2018

Suits me fine!

The weekend before last was a quiet one for a change. 

Temperatures had suddenly skydived from a mild 10 degrees Celsius on Friday to around freezing point on Saturday, accompanied by a bitterly cold, eye-stinging and bone-chilling wind.

It had snowed during the night. It didn't stick and it was gone within the day, but for a couple of hours on Saturday the bare remains of our jungle garden were sugar coated.

Rather optimistically, I'd put away my fake fur coat, thinking I wouldn't need it anymore after the cold snap of a couple of weeks ago. So, out it came again. I wore it with a bright green scarf and a pink Kangol beret with a  pom pom.

I briefly braved the cold for these outfit photos, which were taken by Jos from the kitchen window. 

We were off to a charity shop we hadn't visited on Retro Day and couldn't believe our eyes when we saw the amount of leftover stuff.

All became clear when we saw the exorbitant prices! Not only that, there were many fakes, too.  New tins disguising as vintage ones, for instance, and priced at a crazy € 10. 

While Jos was browsing the tables laden with orange, green and brown stuff, I made my way to the rail of clothing on the opposite side. Passing a rack of handbags, I almost pounced on a black tapestry handbag, when my eyes clocked the price. It was € 16! Which was just as well because, you know, handbag ban!

Many modern retro pieces among the clothes as well. But then there was this vintage dress suit and it was love at first sight! Well worth the € 16 asking price in my opinion.

The groovy red and blue print of the dress somewhat belies its classic silhouette, with its box pleated skirt and cute little bow tie, while the starkness of the solid blue jacket is lifted by its funky buttons and the edging of its collar and pocket tabs in the fabric of the dress.

I am a sucker for a dress or skirt suit and always find them hard to resist.

Here's another one, which I found at different charity shop just weeks before Retro Day.

Again, its main colour is blue, but this time the dress's skirt is made from the same fabric, while its bodice is in a contrasting fabric with the most fabulous print featuring blues, browns and yellow. 

There's a generous bow tie as well, which can be draped over the jacket's collar.

The bodice's fabric re-appears in the rather fancy pocket square peeking out from the V in one of the breast pockets. The squarish buttons are blue plastic framed in white metal.

Now, tell me, which one is your favourite?

Although I can't put my finger on the reason for my love of these suits, I can remember the very first one I owned. I was 11 going on twelve and about to take Confirmation.

My paternal grandmother made me a little suit in sugar pink, and I remember the exasperation of both my Mum and grandmother when I insisted upon the skirt being made very short. 

The photograph was taken before entering the church, and I am standing in front of my Dad's blue Citroën Ami 8.

Last year, while I was sifting through the contents of my Mum's sewing box, I came across the buttons to this dress - spares, I presume, although I wonder why there are so many - together with a reel of pink sewing thread.

Back to the future. Or better, the past, as these photos were all taken last week! 

Here's what I was wearing beneath the fake fur. The light wasn't very flattering upstairs in our spare room, but there was no way I was going to strip to my dress and cardie outside!

I switched my boots to my vintage fur-edged slippers, which were keeping my feet warm and toasty.

The dress is one of my warmest too, made from a polyester/wool blend. Its groovy and colourful print means it can be combined with almost any colour under the sun. 

I couldn't decide, so I wore mustard opaques, a green belt and lilac beads. The belt was on its last legs, with the upper layer peeling away, so this was actually its very last wear.

Phoebe is watching procedures from her perch on my laptop. She's the real princess here, you know!

Sunday brought a marginal improvement in the weather, but there was still enough wind to ruffle our resident robin's feathers.

Before leaving for a family commitment in the afternoon, I had to show you what I was wearing.

This pink long-sleeved dress with its round colour and row of purely decorative buttons down the front (thankfully, it closes with a back zipper!) doesn't get nearly enough wear. I always think the colour is too pale on me, especially in Winter, but combining it with purple and orange, which both feature in the print, seems to do the trick.

I opted for purple opaques and burgundy booties.

A long necklace made of multi coloured beads and a white plastic flower brooch were added for good measure.

Meanwhile, Dove Cottage's garden is waiting for Spring. Nothing much is happening yet.

A stone dove sits patiently among the first leaves of the ground covering geranium. The bird bath's water has frozen, trapping some of the rampant ivy, which seems to find its way through ancient stone, wrapping its tendrils around rusty metal. You've got to admire its tenacity!

Here's to hoping we have finally waved goodbye to Winter!

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style as usual. Do go and check out the other visible girls!

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Be my Baby ... Brownie!

Looking at my diary for March, I almost did a double take when I saw that two of my favourite events had been chalked in for the same weekend!

So, we'd hardly recovered from the Retro Day of Saturday before last, when there was our favourite flea market to go to on Sunday.

We were still having a temporary respite from the cold, so I decided to wear Saturday's swing coat again, accessorizing it with blue instead of red for a change, with a sky blue lightweight wool scarf and a beret in electric blue.

I was originally wearing a pink cardie underneath, but that was discarded only minutes after entering the flea market venue. 

My blue frock was sprinkled with bursts of pink flowers, and in spite of initial misgivings (I thought it would be too frumpy), I felt absolutely fantastic wearing it.

This was of course greatly helped by the fabulous belt, which I found lurking in one of my belt boxes, giving the dress an edgy 1980s look. I never thought I would say that about anything 1980s but the further we're getting from that decade, the more I'm appreciating the merits of its iconic looks. 

Not the ginormous shoulder pads, obviously! Nor would I want to go back there, especially not to the old house, which sometimes still haunts me in my dreams.

Oops, sorry to digress!

I added my great aunt Josephine's pink pearls, which puts the outfit back several decades, as does the oval rose brooch. The ring I'm wearing is one of my collection of plastic rings (hello, 1960s!) which I'm picking up whenever I can find them. Sadly, they seem currently to have vanished from the high street. Fashion is so fickle!

A pair of pink-ish tights (they're Falke, and the colour's called Valerian) and my blue, flat heeled boots, and I'm ready for the hunt.

Fast forward several hours and we're back at home with our treasures. Ominous rain clouds were gathering, so I quickly made a tableau on our garden table, where there's the best light for photographs this time of year.

Now, let's look at it all in more detail. 

It wouldn't be a successful flea market if there weren't any brooches. The top three ones are from the same stall, which has an alluring jumble of costume jewellery. Sadly for me, an English lady, who visited the flea market on Saturday, beat me to it, and got away with the best stuff.

The fabulous rectangular micromosaic brooch came cheaply as it had been repaired with a replacement clasp, but luckily I'm not a purist, especially if the price is right. Nobody sees the back when you're wearing it anyway.

These two unusual cameo brooches came from different stalls. They are both celluloid and I'm especially enamoured by the slightly faded lady sporting a Pompadour hairdo on the right.

This Art Deco egg cup and serving platter set by Crown Ducal Ware is missing two of its egg cups, but at € 3 it would have been silly not to take them home.

In spite of my self-imposed handbag ban, Jos persuaded me to buy this beaded evening bag. Oh, go on then!

Having had a similar toy as a young boy, Jos had a bout of nostalgia when he laid eyes on this small plastic dog. Apparently, it can walk, but although it's very tempting to try it out, he's to remain in his packing. 

Poor little mite! As if it isn't bad enough that he's green ...

I wasn't in need of another sewing box, but I loved this small blue and white plastic woven basket, for which I will no doubt find another use.

In case you are wondering about this post's title: this Kodak Baby Brownie camera was actually one of our first buys.

This small, basic Art Deco style camera was originally introduced in 1934. Made of Bakelite, it had a flip frame viewfinder, as you can see in the ad below. Apparently, the company was still called Eastman back then!

Ours, called the Baby Brownie Special, was its replacement, adding an built-in optical view finder, produced by Eastman Kodak Company from 1938 to 1954. 

In the above collage, you can see it next to one of the other Brownie cameras we have in our modest collection, for size comparison.

One of the stars of our collection is a boxed Brownie Starlet camera, complete with flash unit and flashbulbs, dating from the late 1950s.

Jos found this in the waste disposal area in the communal basement of the block of flats we used to live in before we moved to Dove Cottage. As photography has always been one of his interests, he didn't hesitate to give it a home. 

In order to recover from this mad weekend, I managed to take Monday off.

Around noon, our doorbell rang and it was the postman carrying a mysterious parcel.

In it were two gorgeous dresses, complete with their original belts. One even had a matching jacket!
They were a gift from the lovely Gisela at Miss Magpie's Musings! Wasn't it sweet of her to think of me?

They obviously had to be tried on immediately and, as the weather was still mild, it was possible to take outfit photos in the garden without freezing to death.

First up is this candy striped green and cream frock, closed asymmetrically with a row of the most unusual hexagonal mother of pearl buttons. 

The self-fabric belt is slightly too long for me, but I replaced it with a plain green one, and added a green necklace and green slingback shoes with coppery toes. I drew the line at going barelegged so I am wearing nude tights here. 

The second dress is the one with the matching jacket. It's a gorgeous royal blue colour with a subtle gold print and gold piping at the neckline.

I spent the rest of the day making space for my new acquisitions by filling a couple of bags for charity.

Now don't tell me I haven't been a good girl!

Saturday 17 March 2018

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed

I'm rewinding to last Saturday, when it was time for the famous (or should that be infamous) annual charity shop event here in Belgium, called Retrodag (Retro day), loved and loathed by vintage aficionados in equal measure.

While I'm the first to admit it isn't much fun that throughout the year most of the exciting vintage stuff is put aside, to be sold on this day at often inflated prices, I mustn't grumble, really, as it's still worth having a look at what's on offer.

This year, we weren't looking for anything in particular - we've got more than enough of the Boch dinner services we are collecting, for instance - so we were just browsing.

Here I am posing beside a truck advertising the event, which was parked near one of our local shops.

But that wasn't our first port of call.  Having been disappointed with that shop's offerings in the past, we started at a shop which is usually last on our list, as it has a good, reasonable priced selection, and therefore we have yet to leave it empty handed.

They also have three huge racks of vintage clothing which, apart from the odd exception, they are selling at their regular fixed prices.

I ended up with my arms full of stuff. Just browsing, you know ...

But let me tell you about what I was wearing first.

Mustn't grumble about the weather either. It was quite mild and the forecasted rain held off until mid afternoon - but we were back home by then. 

Fed up with the coats I've been wearing on rotation, I took advantage of the mild weather by opting for the shorter length, three quarter sleeved new-to-me swing coat I snapped up back in February.

There was really no need for the beret, but I love wearing them and have to wean myself off them very slowly.

Although most of my accessories were red, I chose this blue rimmed plastic brooch for contrast. There is a tiny bit of red in it as well!

I didn't even wear a cardigan, but pulled this vintage waistcoat from my wardrobe. It's made from red and white marled wool and knit in a diamond pattern.

The print of the black dress is a riot of colour and pattern. The fabric is smooth and silky and, especially when interacting with its lining, makes a satisfying swish-swish sound whenever I move around. 

I added a red belt, red beads and red opaques. 

The brooch I chose was a big green butterfly, as it needed to compete with the dress's pattern.

A turquoise scarf and navy handbag and booties completed my outfit.

After spending our money at the first shop, we made a little detour to the shop near the park. 

We'd packed a picnic, fully expecting to eat it while sat in the car, but as there was still no sign of rain, we went off in search of a suitable bench in the park.

The green thing I'm carrying under my arm is a picnic rug to put on the bench in case it was still wet. It's from CADW, the Welsh version of English Heritage, and bought when visiting Tintern Abbey back in 2009.

While we were enjoying our picnic, Jos suddenly noticed these two delightfully bushy-tailed red squirrels, who seemed to be playing  a game of tag in a tree. Tiptoeing ever closer, I was able to catch them and their antics on camera. Aren't they the epitome of cuteness?

Now, without further ado, let me show you what I found in that first treasure trove of a shop!

Uncharacteristically, I didn't try anything on as I couldn't face the inevitable queues, nor did I use my tape measure as I didn't have it with me. But I'm happy to report that all, apart from two dresses which I will be selling on, are perfect fits.

First up is this charming lilac frock. While its bodice is rather sparsely patterned, the print gets denser on the skirt. I love lilac paired with orange, so I was delighted to find timid splashes of orange in the print, prompting me to add bright orange beads and an orange belt. 

You can never go wrong with red and white and the bamboo print of this handmade frock, with its simple cut, short sleeves and tie, is particularly appealing.

Navy and green is another favourite, and I love how the skirt is cut on the bias, creating a chevron effect in the front and the back, contrasting with the vertical stripes on the bodice.

Love at first sight for the funky print of this dress, although I am not totally convinced about its neckline, closing with a little tie string, and its puff sleeves. Oh, but that print!

Last to join my wardrobe is this blue and white patterned dress, which still has its self fabric belt. It is hemmed in white with a blue stripe, which also appears on the collar and the placket. 

I couldn't get enough of the funky fabric of the penultimate dress, so that I used it as a background for the jewellery I found lurking on the counter of the same shop.

These two necklaces (the one on the right isn't vintage but I love its colours) came home with me, together with three brooches I plucked from a basket. The large one in the middle is Limoges and was my most expensive find at € 10. 

Finally, among the racks of vintage fashion was this psychedelic print bathing suit, made from a soft, strokeable towelling fabric. I took a chance on it and by a stroke of luck, it fits me to perfection.

All I need now is an occasion to wear it, but with temperatures plummeting back to the sub-zeros, that's not likely going to be anytime soon!

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