If all goes well, I'll be enjoying a short holiday by the time you are reading this. Since I still had a post up my sleeve, I thought I'd give scheduled posting a try. So, if you are reading this, it has worked! Yay!
I don't know about where you are, but here in Belgium we've had yet another batch of gorgeously warm and sunny weather in the week and weekend before last.
Admittedly the mornings were a bit chilly and once or twice there was a flimsy layer of hoarfrost greeting us upon drawing the curtains, but the warmth of the sun soon did away with that, and by midday it had warmed up sufficiently to start shedding layers.
We went charity shopping on Saturday before last and took a picnic, which we could easily have eaten outside if there had been any benches to sit on.
So, a car picnic it was then, but one with a view!
The rather murky water I'm looking out over belongs to the moat of one of the double ring of defensive forts around the city and port of Antwerp. This one, dating from 1878, is in Walem near Mechelen and is now a nature reserve which can only be visited with a guide.
Afterwards, we briefly walked along the water's edge and took some photos.
I was wearing a long sleeved frock, black but sprinkled with poppy-like flowers. It was, after all, that time of the year again when we wear poppies as a symbol of remembrance of those who died in war. I thought that this year the occasion of the centenary of the WW1 Armistice warranted the wearing of more than just that single poppy pinned to my jacket.
I took the lead from the pink flowers to add a pink cardigan and pink tweed jacket, but opted for green for the rest of my accessories, including green opaques and a green beret to tie in with the flowers' stems. I chose a white vinyl belt to please the white flowers.
Next stop was the charity shop near the park.
I'd come across a delightful green tweed jacket in the first shop we visited and, even if I'd told myself to stop buying more jackets, I just had to make an exception for this one. I mean: it's green! How could I not buy it?
I changed into it immediately and have in fact been wearing it for most of last week.
We spotted a heron at the other side of the pond and tried to get a little closer to take its picture, but unfortunately it had spotted us too and flew off. Oh well.
After a short circuit of the park, which was veiled in the light of the Autumn afternoon sunshine, it was time to continue our charity shopping.
The usually rather disappointing jewellery display came up with a marbled orange beaded necklace and a plastic ring in the shape of an apple, complete with diamanté leaf.
Anything velvet always grabs my attention and when I saw a black midi skirt with the most gorgeous metallic print, I knew resistance was futile. I'm promising to wear it on the blog soon, but until then you can admire a close-up of its amazing print.
When I left the fitting room and came across a rail full of coats, my eyes zoomed in on a gorgeous brown textured wool coat. Taking out its hanger for closer inspection, I was delighted to see a flash of orange floral lining. Then my eyes clocked the label. Now, I don't need another coat, but it was my size, and it would be quite foolish to leave this Dolce & Gabbana coat behind for € 32.
The next day, Sunday, we had to be up bright and early for our second trip of the year to Castle de Renesse in Oostmalle, just over half an hour's drive away.
There's a twice-yearly antiques market, held in April and November, when stalls selling all manner of brocante fill the castle's public rooms and corridors.
We were dismayed not to see the Brooch Lady presiding over her folders of brooches as usual, but on the plus side this seriously limited our spending!
Still, it's always a pleasure to be there and browse the many treasures, oddities and curiosities on display in this magnificent setting.
They were obviously expecting me as, climbing the spiral staircase in the castle's keep tower, there was this ornate silver and turquoise throne waiting for me.
There have always been rumours that the castle is haunted, but this has now been officially confirmed. Apparently, an organization called Paranormal Research Europe, has done some investigations and has registered "entities".
During WWI, a German officer committed murder and then suicide, and legend has it that he is the notorious castle ghost, but whether he was one of the "entities" remains to be seen.
Our browsing finished, it was time for lunch, and as usual we'd brought a picnic, which I am delighted to say we were able to have outside.
There is only one picnic table, next to a path leading into the domain, and with a view to the castle across the lake. Funnily enough we seem to be the only ones making use of it.
With our picnic hamper and checked tablecloth spread out on the table, we caught quite a bit of attention from the people walking or cycling past.
As a rule, and weather permitting, our picnics here are followed by a walk around the domain, and it was such an exceptionally gorgeous Autumn day that we picked up our walking sticks from the car and opted for a longer than usual walk.
But let me show you what I was wearing first.
You've already caught a glimpse of my outer wear: my new-to-me green tweed jacket, a fluffy pink charity shopped scarf and a dusty blue vintage beret.
What you haven't seen is my dress, in brown with a print featuring a profusion of flowers in pink, coral, lavender and green. It is handmade and lined and has the most unusual leg-of-mutton sleeves. Can you believe I unearthed it from the reduced bin at one of Antwerp's vintage-per-kilo shops?
I added a lavender vinyl belt, wore my rose beaded necklace, pinned a gold tone brooch with a red and white mottled stone on the dress's collar, and chose a pair of purple opaques.
And I just had to wear this ring, its colours echoing the dress's print almost exactly.
The sun was beaming dazzling rays of sunlight though the trees, creating a magically enchanting atmosphere.
The earthy aroma of the leaf-layered woods mingled with a nostalgia inducing pine tree smell, providing a ticket for time travelling back to my childhood.
On our way back, we passed the spot where a frame has been erected, perfectly catching the castle surrounded by Autumnal splendour.
We concluded the afternoon with coffee and cake, which we had outside in the castle courtyard.
Finally, here are the things we found. And no, we didn't set out to colour coordinate them!
Our first purchase, mere minutes after we walked in, was the fabulous head plaque. She has joined our wall of heads by now.
The turquoise leather gloves and large brooch with the turbaned lady both came from the same stall.
Upstairs is a stall selling - amongst other things - brooches at every reasonable prices. The choice wasn't as extensive as before, but I still managed to find this charming little bird brooch.
Lastly, a small book full of drool-worthy jewellery, edited by Judith Miller. I already have similar books on shoes and handbags.
I am leaving you now with a selfie. I am notoriously bad a taking selfies, and usually I can't push the delete button fast enough. Still, perseverance must have paid off as I was quite taken with this rather spooky one!
See you next week!