The weather forecast had been inconclusive and the morning sky threatening, but as the day progressed into afternoon, it turned out to be too fine to be wasted indoors.
Some of you might remember this place from my post back in March, when on freezing cold day, we went in search for a castle fit for a princess.
In spite of the fact that it's quite close by, in a neighbouring village, we hadn't been back there since.
As we'd heard on the grapevine that restoration on the coach houses flanking the castle's courtyard had been completed, it was time to see the transformation with our own eyes.
Walking up the double linden avenue, I took the opportunity of its temporary emptiness to take this photograph with the castle a glimmer of brilliant white at its end.
The sight that met us at the end of the avenue was even more brilliant: the finished coach houses left and right of the courtyard painted a dazzling, almost blinding white.
The castle's original monumental wrought iron railings and gate, which had been removed while work at the coach houses was ongoing, had undergone a transformation of their own and were once again in pride of place, complete with decorative gilded finials.
When my Dad was a boy, the woods around the estate an illicit part of his playground, this is where a walk up the linden avenue ended, the castle and its pleasure grounds firmly closed against prying eyes and wandering feet.
Now, the gates stood invitingly open, so we entered the courtyard, where the western coach house has been turned into a brasserie. No chance of a cup of coffee though as it was Mother's Day (which is celebrated on the 15th of August in and around Antwerp) and the place was packed.
I was wearing a mustard coloured Diolen dress, sprinkled with green, orange and cream flowers, and accessorized with a green skinny belt, orange beads, a translucent green plastic ring, and cream and green bracelets.
It might have been a bit too warm for my green cardigan, but it was such a dull day, the sky indecisive on whether to dispense with the blanket of grey.
My brooch was a tiny gold basket brimming with jade green flowers. The orange leather bag was a sales bargain and is just big enough for essentials.
Posing for photos in the castle's porticoed entrance, we happened upon a half-braided scoubidou, the ends of its multicoloured plastic strings spreadeagled on the tiles.
I remember having one of these back in the early 1970s, when it was one in a long row of crazes sweeping the school playground, which had us all braiding away until one day they suddenly were no longer in vogue, having been replaced by the next craze.
It wasn't the last time the scoubidou was popular, but nor was it the first. Apparently it originated in France, where it became popular in the late 1950s. It was named after the 1958 song of the same name by French singer Sacha Distel, whose fans, following a gig, fashioned bracelets for their idol out of wire insulators.
Obviously, we felt sorry for the thing and it came home with us!
Although I have only just finished this book, recommended by Lynn, and picked up in a charity shop while on holiday, we have been keepers of lost things for many years.
Consequently, we have a small collection of orphaned buttons, marbles and other odds and ends picked up from the streets, and living on a ledge in our hallway. The tiny green plastic angel was left behind on a train to Amsterdam and has been living with us for over 10 years now!
There are even more signs of neglect at the back of the castle, the cracked and peeling plaster and rotting woodwork the result of endless seasons of weathering.
The castle itself is next in line for restoration: I've read that there are plans for turning into an events venue and, possibly, at a later stage, a Bed & Breakfast.
Judging from its dilapidated exterior only, which I'm sure is just the tip of the iceberg, this will be quite a daunting project!
Here too, the hot and dry months have played havoc with the lake's water level, which is at an all time low. It was in the news a couple of weeks ago that a group of worried villagers has been making plans to rescue the resident fish if necessary.
No visit here is complete without a walk around the castle's park, and we took note of the many acorns littering the paths, while the leaves on some of the trees seemed to be turning already, making me wonder if they will hang on until Autumn.
Meanwhile, Jos was unsuccessfully trying to recapture his scoubidou braiding skills ...
A bonus of having a day off in the middle of the week is that it doesn't take long for the weekend to come around again.
Our weekends have been rather quiet affairs lately, with nothing much planned. Nevertheless, we hardly ever miss a charity shopping opportunity, which is what we did on Saturday.
Talking of opportunity, I've been waiting for the right moment to show you this delightful frock. Although it was picked up at Think Twice nearly two years ago, so far only Angelica had been lucky enough to wear it.
The reason, of course, is that it had, and indeed still has, issues. Apart from a small but visible spot (easily hidden by a brooch), I had no idea what to do with the hem, which was finished with white ribbon, quite a substantial piece of which was missing. I'd already bought replacement ribbon, but with my limited sewing skills, I was reluctant to have a go at this rather fiddly job.
In the end, with the old ribbon removed, I just left the edges raw, as the fabric, which has a crepe-like feel, doesn't seem to be prone to fraying.
The dress is handmade and lined, the hem of its lining exquisitely finished with a row of embroidered flowers. The square buttons, made of translucent plastic, are worth having a closer look, with a wide semi-opaque middle part edged by two see-through strips decorated with scrolls.
Did we find anything note-worthy at the charity shops? All will be revealed in my next post.
Better late than never, I'll be linking my blue and white dress to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style as usual.
This week, I am also joining Shelbee On The Edge's linkup, which is a first for me. Please get over there and have a look!
And last but not least, I am linking up to birthday girl Nancy's Fancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style.