Thursday 31 May 2018

It's only humid!

The day of last post's flea market ended the way warm sunny days often do.

Slowly but surely, dark clouds started sprawling across the sky and soon there was a low crackle of thunder, followed by the pattering of the first, experimental, raindrops. Then the downpour began, the rain-heavy clouds unleashing a torrent of water.

It was the start of a week full of days like these, slightly chilly in the mornings but soon warming up to around 30 degrees Celsius, often ending in brief but heavy showers.

Although I'm not very good with the heat, I would have coped better if the days had been bright and sunny, but no: the air grew heavy, humidity pressing down, the only redeeming factor a slight but very welcome breeze ...

By Saturday, I was wilting, but not one to give up that easily, I dressed the part for a short charity shopping trip.

Now, at least, my sleeveless Summer dresses can come out to play, like this Chelsea collared one in sky blue with a floral print in orange, green, white and - heaven forbid - a bit of grey as well!

Any excuse for piling on lots of orange, which I did by choosing an orange belt, necklace and ring. 

I added a bit of blue too: a plastic bracelet and a blue and white ceramic one. Look how my watch strap matches the blue bracelet almost exactly! Then there was the blue and white sailing boat brooch pinned to my collar.

As I was feeling frivolous, I wore two flowers clips in my hair.

A navy wicker and plastic handbag (the rings are plastic) and a pair of comfortable navy wedge sandals, decorated with a row of flowers, completed my look.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention my tiny Spanish fan: my portable airco and a bare necessity in this kind of weather!

Back at home, I made some pocket squares, for Jos to wear with his linen blend Summer jacket, from two cheap charity shopped kipper ties. A very useful tip from Vix, so thank you darling! I'm sure that Jos will soon have a whole collection of these, as most charity shops here have baskets full of abandoned ties.

I was ready for a lie down by now, but sitting still, let alone lying down in the daytime, is not something I often do, busy bee that I am.

Instead, I gave a new lease of life to my rather tired looking pair of Clarks slingbacks by painting the worn bits with nail polish in exactly the same colour! 

After that, I decided to have that lie down after all, leaving my charity shop finds for Sunday.

Looking out of our bedroom window, the sky was painted in pastel pink with streaks of yellow, the sun, wearing a fiery halo, retreating behind the trees and houses beyond.

No sun to greet us on Sunday morning, leaving us with leaden skies instead. The air felt very close, suffocatingly so, and it was muggy, which left me feeling indolent and limp like a week-old lettuce leaf.

But I did promise you to show you my finds of the day before, starting with yet another pair of shoes. This stylish, yet comfortable pair are by Weekend, and would have retailed at more than € 100, so I was glad to hand over my € 5.

At the same shop, I was halfheartedly riffling through the rack of dresses, despairing at what was on offer, when I suddenly zoomed in on this fabulous maxi. A quick look at the label (Diolen) confirmed what I'd already suspected: it was proper vintage! I grabbed it without even looking at the size label and went in search of a fitting room.

To my utter relief, it was a near perfect fit.

The print is a meadow full of small sky blue flowers, growing bigger and more colourful at the hem, where they are joined by pink flowers and green leaves. This same print is repeated on the panels at the front and back, which are trimmed with green rick rack.

The dress zips up the back, where it additionally ties with a sash, accenting its empire waist.

Best of all are the massive butterfly sleeves, which are draped like a cape at both sides of the bodice's panels, hiding plain armholes underneath.

The perfect dress to waft around in on a hot Summer's day!  Would it be tempting fate if I packed it away for our holiday in the UK?

One more Summer look before I call it a day. And I'm not talking about the flowers in our garden!

This is what I actually wore on Sunday. 

Lilac and orange are meeting on a black background in this wide, swooshy midi skirt, which has a ruffled hem edged with orange ribbon trim.

I wore it with a no-nonsense stretchy top with a gathered bust and a little tie, a lilac vinyl belt, multicoloured beads and my recently acquired orange shoes!

With all items charity shopped or from Think Twice's sales, I think the total cost of this outfit is well under € 10, proving that there are alternatives to fast fashion from a certain cheap high street store when you want to look stylish on a budget!

Sunday 27 May 2018

The thrill of the chase

In stark contrast to the grey bank of clouds of Saturday before last, the weather gods decided to grace us with a sky painted in azure blue and lots of sunshine on Sunday.

We couldn't be happier, as we had an outdoor flea market to go to. Not just any flea market, mind you, but a firm favourite, and one of huge proportions. I've heard it said there were 750 stalls, spread out on a grassy field as well as the surrounding streets, where people set up stalls outside their front steps.

We managed to grab a parking spot about one kilometer away from the market's entrance, and I was glad I was wearing my hat and sunglasses to protect me from the sun's glare when walking up the tarmacked road leading up to the field.

The orange cardigan I started out with was soon packed away!  My Clarks Cloudsteppers, bought in the sales in Aberystwyth last June, had their first outing this year. They really lived up to their name as I walked in them for hours on end without any pinching or rubbing resulting in painful blisters.

You can probably judge from the amount of bags I'm carrying that it was a huge success!

But before I'm getting down to details, there was a sweet end to our flea market trawl, as we suddenly came upon this colourful stall selling .... cuberdons or "neusjes" (little noses), the sweets after which the room in our B&B near Bruges was called!

I asked the lovely lady who was running the stall, which is owned by De Neve JiPi, if I could take a photo, and I promised her I'd give them a mention, which is my pleasure, as the "neusjes" we bought from her were fingerlickingly delicious!

Our car was a sauna when we got back, so we opened all doors in an attempt to cool things down a bit, taking the opportunity to take some outfit photos in the meantime.

I found the blue dress I'm wearing at Think Twice a couple of weeks ago. It was calling me from afar, as I'd immediately recognized the pattern: I already have this dress in mustard yellow as well!

In keeping with the flower pattern, I added a necklace featuring orange, yellow and white beads and  chose a royal blue bracelet and an orange carved plastic bangle. To the dress's collar I pinned a pearly ladybird brooch.

The belt, which is caramel brown with a cream crocheted strip, was a recent charity shop find, and the wicker bag came from the greatly missed Blender Vintage Shop.

Back at home, we unpacked our treasures, and assembled them for a group photo. Needless to say, we were quite pleased with our finds.

Minutes after entering the field full of stalls, I snapped up this powder blue Crimplene jacket. For its state portrait, it seemed blend to organically with a dress which was hanging outside my wardrobe, so I added a scarf and one of the brooches I'd found to further accessorize it.

This pristine pair of shoes, in the palest of yellows, was just € 1, so it would have been foolish to leave them behind.

After reading Elle's post on straw and wicker bags, which I'd read the night before, I kept my eyes peeled and found this delightful specimen which I'm sure will have its first outing soon.

At one of the street stalls I stumbled upon this bamboo sewing basket, which was mine for € 3. 

Now, I do have quite enough sewing baskets already, and surely it's too cute to be sitting at home, so I was thinking of using it as a handbag!

I was very taken by this orchid pendant and it was only after handing over my € 2 that I noticed it doubles as a brooch!

Further jewellery finds were a purple plastic flower ring (it looks bluer here than it actually is!) and three more brooches. I managed to haggle down the price of the gorgeous behatted lady on the bottom left to € 5, which was the highest price I paid for any of them, and surely still a bargain!

Love at first sight for this vintage serving platter with four individual little dishes. Aren't the colours and the rather unusual flower pattern absolutely gorgeous?

They're perfect for serving "neusjes", that's for sure!

We are not certain of the age of this battered old tin, which used to contain chocolate spread made by Kwatta (a household name in Belgium and the Netherlands), as even good old Google let us down!

As Jos remembers similar packaging from his childhood, we'd like to think it's from the 1950s.

Our last find - but not the least! - is this quirky piece of kitchenalia.

Patented by Grimwades in 1911, we'd only ever come across the "Quick-Cooker Bowl" in the kitchens of stately homes in the UK. I remember photographing one in Scolton Manor in Pembrokeshire back in 2012.

An internal funnel allows steam to circulate through the middle of the pudding and cook it from the inside as well as the outside. The cover is grooved to hold string so the cover and bowl can be tied closely together. 

Made of white ceramic, it has green printed pictures and instructions for use on the lid, while the inside is covered with advertising for several of their other products.

Again, we have no idea of its age, but it is very similar to one the V&A has in their collection and which dates from the 1950s.

Who'd have thought that such a piece would turn up at a flea market here in Belgium!

Now, I'm going to head over and join the party at Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style!

Wednesday 23 May 2018

Second hand news

With the weather going up and down like a yo-yo, the temperature often fluctuating wildly within a single day, deciding what to wear in the morning can be a hard nut to crack.

Take last Saturday, which started out grey and miserable and with a definite chill in the air.

We had a long weekend to look forward to, with Monday off as well with, as I already hinted at in my previous post, not one but two flea markets chalked in.

First up is Saturday's which, in view of the unstable weather, fortunately was an inside event.

Your eyes might be deceiving you in thinking it's a dress I'm wearing, but it's a skirt and blouse combo, which turned out to be a match made in heaven.

The skirt is modern, bought in the sales a couple of years ago, and I have it in navy blue as well.

The blouse, on the other hand, is one of my Diolen delights, picked up at Think Twice. With its simple green and blue floral print and white collar and button placket, it was love at first sight. 

Looking at it more closely when I got it home, I'm thinking that it probably started life as a dress, which I imagine to have been a short A-line mod dress. How cute that would have been!

The temperature dictated that I wore a cardigan on top, its colour picking up the bits of blue in the blouse's print.

I thought it looked a bit bland so I added a contrasting colour by using an orange belt. Further accents of orange can be found in my ring and the brooch I'm wearing on the blouse's collar, which has an embroidered orange flower at its heart.

The chunky wood and plastic necklace came from Accessorize, when they still had a shop here in Antwerp.  I've had it for absolutely ages. 

A final colour pop is provided by the tapestry handbag, its design featuring two huge roses. 

There were less stalls than usual at the flea market, as is often the case this time of year. It did look fully occupied at first sight, but there were huge gaps between the rows of stalls. This was due to the presence of a television crew, who were using the venue for Belgium's watered down version of The Antiques Road Show.

We ignored proceedings and the people queuing up to have their items valued, and browsed as usual, pausing for lunch and coffee mid-way. 

And then there was this scary green-eyed doll, which had my friend Inez and me in fits of laughter. 
But have no fear, we did not buy her!

We did buy other things, though! Don't they make a pretty little tableau on our garden table? 

Of course, by then it was late afternoon and the sun had decided to come out and play after all.

Now let's zoom in and see some details!

As you are probably wondering what the yellow and blue cylinder shaped object is, I am starting with that.

Well, I'll keep you no longer in suspense: it's an unopened can of scouring powder, a predecessor of the more famous VIM, if you like. On the side it mentions "Verkocht zonder Zegels", meaning that it was being sold without coupons. This dates it firmly to the Second World War or immediately after.

It definitely predates 1946, as it has still got the pre-1946 Flemish spelling.

The next item is a wall hanging letter rack, in the same style and colours as the newspaper rack we already own, bought at the same flea market earlier this year.

I couldn't resist bringing home these two sewing baskets, which will come in handy for storage. 

Tania, a seller who follows my blog, brought the small round blue and white one with its cute butterfly closure especially for me. Thank you, darling!

Displayed on top of the largest basket are some of the smaller pieces we found, including two cheap flower corsages and a transparent yellow plastic ring.

But these are the real stars, of course, all but the German souvenir brooch featuring Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf, bought from the same stall.

Both the blue and gold Bambi and the swan pendant brooch can be spotted in the display pictured on the top right of the flea market collage.

I almost walked away from the Murano glass necklace as it didn't come cheap, but Jos insisted on buying it for me!

Now, I cannot possibly sign off without showing you some of the other things which have recently relocated to Dove Cottage.

They were gifts from our lovely friend Inez, who is in the process of refurbishing her apartment.  Isn't she an absolute angel for thinking of us?

This vintage wooden mantle clock, by renowned German clockmaker Junghans, is in perfect working order, and charmingly chimes the half-hours and hours.

These magazines dating from the 1950s are just the top of the iceberg, as Inez gave me a whole bag full of them, including a volume dating from 1937-38.

I can envisage many an hour spent looking at the fashions of the day and the at times very entertaining advertisements!

I'm still thinking of how best to display these delightful Bakelite chocolate moulds, but they're a wonderful addition to our collection of kitchenalia.

After a thorough clean, this 1930s coffee grinder is now gracing our kitchen wall, replacing a smaller one which we will be selling on at our local flea market in July.

This too is in perfect working order and is destined to earn its keep as coffee is made in the proper way here in Dove Cottage, starting with the grinding of coffee beans.

That's all I have time and space for for now, but I will be telling you all about Sunday's flea market in my next post!

Saturday 19 May 2018

A lawn full of Daisies

There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, 
the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.  
~Through The Garden Gate, Elizabeth Lawrence~

Last Saturday, we packed a picnic and went to the park.

The weather forecast said it was going to be a fine day, so I went bare legged for a change, but even after multiple applications of body lotion lashed with self tan, my legs were still a milky white.

The dress I'm wearing was a last minute choice and in spite of initial misgivings, it turned out to be a good one. It was warm enough to go without a jacket, so I'm just wearing it here for some quick photographs before stuffing it into the boot of our car and setting off.

Strangely enough, the orange felt flower was the only brooch I was wearing that day.  I kept the rest of my accessories in shades of butter fudge brown, in keeping with the flowers in my dress's pattern.

It's mid-May and the park is almost at its lushest. The paths between the trees, meandering and disappearing from sight, hold promises of a fairy land beyond, where ivy cascades over tangled thickets of thorn, growing tendrils in all directions, with Sleeping Beauty's castle tucked away in its heart.

There's a grassy scent in the air, and soon there will be the cloyingly sweet smell of flowering privet hedges, transporting me all the way back to my childhood.

The village I grew up in was still quite rural back in the early sixties. Our house was at the end of a cul-de-sac in a new housing development. Ours was one of the first houses to be built there, so for the first few years we were mostly surrounded by wasteland and semi-meadows. 

These were the perfect places for adventures involving the building of camps and hide-outs. 

I had my first experience of stinging nettles there, and in Spring and Summer there were wildflowers to pick and assemble into small posies, which my mum put in lemonade glasses on the kitchen sill. 

Dandelions and Buttercups. Cuckoo Flowers and Campion. And Daisies! Let’s not forget about them! Daisies could be linked into chains and made into crowns which turned little girls into princesses, or fashioned into makeshift jewellery. Their yellow hearts left a pungent smell which clung to my fingers as their “he-loves-me, he-loves-me-not” crowns of pure white petals were blown away by a summer breeze.

Somehow the days seemed to be longer then - sunnier and more fragrant too. Now the hours seem like mere minutes, chasing each other around the clock until they become days which string together into a row of tomorrows.

The sun was climbing higher, almost reaching her zenith, so we carried our picnic basket to a secluded bench near a bank of lilac rhododendrons.

Here you can see one of my dress's redeeming features, two large patch pockets! 
They would have come in handy for carrying treasures, but the dresses I wore as a little girl never seemed to have pockets. They were made by my grandmother and all of the same rather shapeless variety, interchangeable but for the fabric they were made of.

I love Daisies in a lawn, the more the merrier! The little girl in me wants to walk among them barefoot and let them tickle her toes.

There's a sea of fluffy Dandelion spheres too, their seeds drifting like tiny parachutes in a crazy choreography. 

Here's your chance to see me without glasses. In the top right photo I'd taken them off to rub off a fingerprint, just when Jos clicked the shutter. It took me years to reconcile myself to having to wear glasses, preferring contact lenses, but I'm so used to them now that they've become an essential part of me.

Part of the park's pond has been drained for some reason, and a family of ducks was foraging its silty bottom in search of tasty bites to eat.

White geese were having a siesta in the shade of a tree, honking lazily at our approach. Oh, it's them, I could almost hear them think!

At the water's edge, clumps of yellow flag Irises were dancing like exotic ballerinas among the reeds.

Doing a double take: while Jos was making photographs, I snapped him with my phone's camera, his orange shirt coordinating with the yellow-leaved tree beyond.

Leaving the park behind, we would have been mad not to visit the nearby charity shop, where one of our first finds was this sturdy wicker basket, a snip at € 0,50. It definitely came in handy for carrying all our other finds!

Then I came across an orange skirt in a light wool fabric, still with its tags on. All skirts were half price, so I paid the princely sum of € 2. As luck would have it, there was a pair of orange shoes in my size as well! They were mine for € 4.

Here's me modelling my orange finds in the garden. I added a short-sleeved white polyester blouse sprinkled with chocolate brown spots in different sizes. They do look a bit like the chocolates at Choco Story in Bruges!

Other finds included two jewellery trees (both € 0,50), which I initially planned to use at my flea market stall in July. Meanwhile, they have already found a home in Dove Cottage.

The jewellery, two necklaces and a bracelet, were charity shopped as wel.

Next up will be not one but two flea markets to go to. I wonder what will cross our paths there!

I'm taking my orange skirt to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style!