Saturday 30 May 2020

Imitation of life

Isn't it funny how time seems to fly by even faster in these pandemic times? Well, at least it does to me. Perhaps this is due to the fact that I'm working less hours, which results in strangely stunted weeks, interrupted by my two office days.
Whatever the case, it is almost beyond comprehension that tomorrow we will be bidding farewell to the fair month of May, and herald the coming of the first Summer month on Monday.

As traditionally June is our holiday month, the next few weeks will be a bit of a bitter pill to swallow. I'm not really feeling the need for time off as I've actually already been on a semi-staycation for two months. Therefore I have cancelled the two-week holiday I'd chalked in, preferring to keep those precious days for better times, when they eventually come.

We have also managed to change our UK holiday cottage booking to next June without any cost.

For now, I am continuing the pandemic diaries, for which I'm taking you back to Friday before last.

After Thursday's hot Summer weather, we woke up to a moody grey sky accompanied by muggy temperatures on Friday. By the time we'd finished breakfast, however, the sun had made one or two brief appearances. She even accompanied us on a walk into the village. While I visited the organic grocery shop, Jos went to pick up a newspaper for us as well as for our elderly neighbour, at the newsagent's around the corner. 

These errands finished, we walked along the high street to a shop selling all manner of homewares. At this time of year, they often stock garden items, so we wanted to see whether they had a small garden table and two chairs for our little courtyard. There was a queue, which would have made us turn heel, if we hadn't spotted the exact thing we were looking for in their window. Turned out that they were having a clearance sale - hence the queue - so that we were able to buy this lovely yellow set at half price. Result!

Hating the sight of the ugly white plastic parasol stand - a welcome gift from  a friend - I made it a cover by cutting up a never-used grey polka dot rain poncho bought in Bruges (top right) while on the bottom right you can see the famous solar powered garden spot, which we put in an abandoned pot, its soil covered with a generous layer of marbles.

Soon after these photos were taken, it started pelting down, but not before I'd positioned the pots of plants we'd bought on Tuesday into their planned future spots.

Oh, Phoebe, what will people think when they see you splayed out like that? Do think of your reputation! 

The Nasturtiums I sowed have all come up, both the ones in the biodegradable pots and toilet roll and the ones I sowed around the wire obelisk in my new border. 

It cleared up again by evening, enabling us to take some outfit photos. 

First wear for this vintage, red floral, butterfly winged frock. Judging from its label, it was made for me, as it's got my name on it: Lady ❤ Ann!

I pinned a pale green flower posy brooch to it and wore a darker green beaded necklace as well as an ivory coloured plastic bangle and a flower painted wooden one.

We were treated to a truly spectacular sunset that night, which I watched and photographed from our kitchen window.

Look at that amazing pink and indigo sky, blending and dissolving like clouds of paint into a glass of water, illuminating the garden with a magical glow.

Then, as the sun kept sinking lower, it set the sky on fire with a luminous blend of tangerines and oranges.

Sights like these make it even harder to fathom that all's not right with the world at large.

Saturday's weather was another blend of sunshine and clouds. Another day of pottering and watering, a task which - as remarked upon by Vix - seems to be taking longer every day. Not surprisingly, with the rate at which we've been adding more and more plants to our collection.

With the chronic lack of rain, there's talk of water shortage ahead, but we are lucky to be blessed with a water well, from which we can pump up fresh and cool water by way of a hand-pump in our bathroom. A bit cumbersome, with the pump itself being a bit of a hindrance from time to time, but at least we are able to save on mains water for quenching our garden's thirst.

I was wearing a vintage C&A faux-patchwork dress in blues, oranges and yellows. A charity shop find at the tail end of last Summer, I only wore it once before putting it into hibernation.

Again, it fit me better than it did last September, as I seem to have definitely lost some inches on my hips and waistline. 

I spent the afternoon planting out our latest acquisitions in their designated places, so that the new border has now been extended with both Oriental and Iceland poppies, Lamb's Ear, Penstemons and another Erigeron or Mexican fleabane, which I'd cheekily added to our cart on Tuesday.

The two wire structures (actually upside down plant hangers) next to the Penstemons have been put there to deter Phoebe from doing naughty business in that particular spot.

While I was digging up the border to accommodate the Penstemons, my trowel hit what at first looked like a flat reddish stone. Digging it up, it turned out to be a stone toadstool head. I'd never seen it before, so it must have been there since before we bought the house. It actually felt as if I'd found treasure!  After a good wash to remove most of the soil, it is now taking pride of place between the two lost-and-found bunnies. I loved the shade thrown on it by one of the Erigeron flowers!

The temperature had skydived on Sunday, leaving us with cold and windy weather.

With nothing to tempt me outside, I thought it was time for a bit of ironing. I'd been adding to my ironing pile for a couple of months, always finding another, more pleasurable job, to do instead.

It turned out not to be too bad, with a CD of soothing classical music playing in the background, but I was still glad it was finished.

Afterwards, I was still on a roll, so I decided to strike the iron while it was hot  - pun totally unintentional - and continue with the cleaning extravaganza.

Having left the kitchen behind me, it was now time for the adjoining dining room, starting with the 1930s display cupboard we scored for next to nothing in a charity shop about six years ago.

The beautifully decorated wooden panels at the bottom of its doors hide a multitude of sins. But it's the top half which, apart from the bevelled glass door panels, has glassed sides as well as a mirrored back, that holds some of our most precious treasures.

There's the blue Heatmaster tea set with its typical chrome insulated covers, picked up in a charity shop in Aberaeron, Wales, in 2015. We'd left it behind on a Saturday, regretted it on a Sunday, and made a one-hour round trip to buy it on a Monday.

Another Welsh souvenir, the 1930s green glass vanity set was a Cardigan car boot sale find on the first day of our holidays that same year.

The two tiny glasses in front of it (top right) are vintage eye baths from a local flea market.

This ornately decorated Art Deco style vanity set is made from so-called depression glass. It was love at first sight when we spotted it at an outdoor flea market in September 2014. We were amazed the asking price was only € 12.

By then, I'd run out of steam, so the Bakelite in the final compartment will be for another time.

It had turned even cooler in the meantime, accompanied by the odd drop of rain, so that I couldn't be persuaded outside for outfit photos.

Bar the top - I was wearing a green short-sleeved jumper on Sunday - I wore the outfit again on Monday, when the sunny weather had made a return.

I topped the Art Deco print white, green, yellow and navy pleated skirt with a a green polka dot peplum top, one of my all-time favourites. The finishing touches were a navy and white beaded necklace and a vintage brooch, its flowers made from tiny plastic beads.

More home and garden adventures to come in my next post. I hope to see you again, but in the meantime, please do stay safe!

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Bittersweet dreams

On most mornings, I wake up from weird and vivid dreams, which I only remember for a split second before they're gone. And although they cannot be classified as nightmares - what I do remember of them isn't exactly unpleasant - they leave me with an unsettled feeling of unease.

Apparently, I'm not alone, and there's a scientific explanation for them as they are due to
pandemic-related anxiety, our minds having so much more to process in terms of experiences and feelings.

Waking up to reality can be a mixed bag too. Some days I am raring to go, already making plans while hopping out of bed. OK, hopping might be a bit far-fetched, but I'm sure you'll get the picture.

But then there are those days when I'm feeling lethargic and would rather crawl back under the duvet than face another day in this strange new reality.

Sunday before last was a day which fell exactly between those two extremes, neither here not there, just like the weather. The sunlight which was bathing our garden in its glow was in sharp contrast to the chilly wind, which put paid to our plans for a relaxing day sitting in our secluded little corner at the back of the garden.

I was wearing a favourite dress in an attempt to improve my mood, a 1940s style full-on floral vintage one with slightly puffy sleeves, its upturned cuffs finished with a button. It is of the fit and flare variety, making it the ideal silhouette for me, and is boosting a buttoned bodice and wide lapels.

From its many colours, I chose orange for all my accessories: a half-elasticated belt, beaded necklace and vintage brooch. On top went a charity shopped orange polka-dot cardigan to combat the chill.

There, feeling better already!

I pottered around the garden, taking in the full effect of Jos's rigorous pruning of the ivy and climbing hydrangea in the passageway. Not only does this offer an almost uninterrupted view to the back of the garden, we can now reach the compost bin without bending double or bumping our heads against the low hanging branches of the hydrangea. 

The last of the grape hyacinths and daffodils have been left to die down in a corner, out of sight but definitely not out of mind: they will be replanted in the garden in Autumn.

Phoebe was surveying my efforts in the newly developed border, while other wildlife - in this case, a delightful red damselfly - was enjoying a moment of quiet.

A mass of lilac flowers is provided by our trusty hardy geranium, one of our garden's greatest successes, having survived, or perhaps thriving on, the neglect of the last couple of years.

Jos needs regular chocolate boosts to keep going, and was enjoying another tub of chocolate mousse. 

And look at those lovely Nemesias which, rather than putting in a pot, I planted out in my new border to provide even more floral interest.

I'm skimming Monday, which was another hectic office day, made even more stressful by having to dodge hordes of regulation bending shoppers on my way home. 

Having made it to the car, we were just heading out of town, when I realized I'd forgotten my reading glasses at the office! Not wanting to spend my non-office Tuesday without them, we had to return through the hectic rush hour traffic to our pick-up spot, and I had to face the crowds all over again. Such a relief I only have to commute twice a week!

The weather and my mood were definitely on the up again by Tuesday. I was craving some red, so I selected on of my reddest skirts, a vintage button-up polka-dot one featuring side pockets with white tabs. I combined it with a funky red, orange and pink printed vintage blouse. An orchid brooch, a brown mottled beaded necklace, an armful of bangles and a lace trimmed tan belt completed that day's outfit.

While Jos went to the drinks superstore, I washed up our breakfast things and then treated all our fridge magnets to a soak. A motley collection gathered over the years, quite a few of these were freebies, such as the different loaves of bread, which came from a local bakery, and the Lourdes souvenirs, which were gifts. 

They all live on the side panel of our free-standing fridge, with only one taking pride of place on its door. And no, we've never been to Nebraska, nor to its State Fair! I won it in Goody's State Fair giveaway two Summers ago.

Jos returned with our week's supply of drinks and, after putting everything away, we sat in the garden until it was time for lunch. 

Well, that was the plan. However, fed up with seeing the twining tendrils of our Akebia quinata, or chocolate vine, snaking its way through the garden, Jos took the secateurs to them. A climber we were foolish enough to plant many years ago and cannot seem to get rid of, its only redeeming features are its dark purple chocolate scented flowers.

Later, when I went to inspect his handiwork, I was amazed to see that the Clematis we'd thought we'd lost (bottom left) was still alive and kicking! I'm currently cossetting it with some well-deserved TLC. Its full name is Clematis viticella "Etoile Violette" and it's got the most amazing velvety violet flowers, which I live in hope it will produce this Summer.

After lunch, we made another visit to the garden centre, although this wasn't our usual day. We needed to pick up some yeast from the home baking department, and wanted to buy another one of those solar spotlights, but alas, the latter were sold out. 

While we were there, it would have been downright silly not to have a look at the plants, so I did and bought oriental and Iceland poppies, Stachys byzantina or Lamb's Ear and a pot of Penstemons. 

And we bought these: solar-powered jars with strings of Led lights in them. Aren't they magical?

After the rude interruption of yet another office day on Wednesday (how bothersome!), we made it to Thursday and the start of another 4-day weekend.

The forecast had been for hot Summer weather, with temperatures in the high twenties, so nothing more strenuous than sitting out in the garden was on the menu.

A glance out of the window at breakfast time was rewarded with one of the Iceland poppies having just popped open, with one part of its hairy pod still hanging on for dear life. I quickly got my phone to make some photos with its camera, using a cheap macro lens attachment. I had some fun playing around with it, photographing the inside of a Nasturtium flower, which looks rather spectacular!

We enjoyed sitting in our little courtyard among the fruits of our labour until mid-afternoon, when our peace and quiet were shattered by our neighbour, who'd invited some friends over for a barbecue. Things got a bit boisterous so we fled inside. In our narrow terraced gardens there's really no escape from things like that as, in spite of the high walls, people are literally sitting mere metres away from you and you can hear - but thankfully not see - everything that's going on.

But I was able to have a zen moment, with my head among the honeysuckle, which had just opened the first of its deliciously fragrant flowers.

When I posted the zen photo on Instagram, several followers waxed lyrical about the collar on my blouse, which everybody presumed was a dress.

It is by Belgian label Lucy Has A Secret, and was charity shopped for a fraction of its undoubtedly astronomical retail price back in September.

For its first wear, I combined it with a 1970s cotton, button-up kirt sprinkled with tiny flowers. I quite liked the effect of the two seriously floral items together, kept in check by a cream elasticated belt, with a round circular buckle. In order to keep it decent, I pinned two flower brooches to the blouse's decolletage!

That'll be it for now. I will be returning with further tales of semi-lockdown soon.

Stay safe, my friends!

Saturday 23 May 2020

Day in, day out

It never ceases to amaze me how time flies, even in these precarious times, when everything's out of kilter, and nothing is as it was. This would be the time for the first of the outdoor flea markets but I don't miss them as much as I thought I would. Also, at this time of year, the countdown to our UK holiday would have started and I would already have been stressing about packing. This is a much harder nut to crack, but I'm not allowing my mind to dwell on it too much, saving my energy for the ongoing home and garden projects here at Dove Cottage.

As I already mentioned in my previous post, Thursday before last was a bit of a meh day. It took until the early afternoon before I could even bring myself to do anything useful and, as I'd had more than enough of attacking the kitchen with my cleaning cloth, I decided to make a final effort and finish it there and then.

Opposite the big kitchen cupboard is an equally big window and wedged in between the latter and the doorway to our dining room is a tiny cupboard with sliding doors. To my slightly colourblind eyes - I have problems differentiating between certain shades of blue and green - it is blue and always has been, but I'm being told that to some eyes, it might very well be veering towards green. 

Whatever its colour, it started life as a doll wardrobe made by my Dad as a Sinterklaas present for a 3-year-old me. There was a little bed as well but that's no longer with us. The wardrobe was passed on to my sister, who then passed it on to her daughter, and it was only by pure coincidence that we were able to save it from ending its life at the dump.

It now holds a myriad of smaller kitchen necessities, while providing yet another surface for displaying kitchenalia, such as a 1970s melamine tray, antique kitchen scales and weights and a well-used bread bin.

Hanging above the cupboard are two vintage enamel household wants indicators. 

The larger one on the right was found in an antiques shop in Lewes, East Sussex in 2005, and dates from the 1920s to 1930s, while the smaller one is a 1930s Lucie Mabel Attwell designed wipe clean one complete with its original pencil. This was picked up in Bridgnorth during our penultimate Shropshire holiday in 2018.

Here's a closer look at the larger one, which basically consists of a shopping list with metal tabs in front of each item. These tabs can be turned to indicate the required items. I've turned the one for the all-important toilet paper as an example! 

It seems that in the last couple of years, this particular one has become even more desirable as apparently it features in Downton Abbey's kitchen!

On the other side of our kitchen window, some vintage orange and white enamelware is on display. There's a utensils rack with an assortment of ladles and strainers, and a colander hanging above it.

Phew, I'm glad that's all done now!

On to Friday, with sunnier and slightly warmer weather making a return. 

Dipping into my wardrobe, I found this dress winking at me. In a deep chocolate brown with an orange, yellow, green and light brown floral print, it hadn't seen the light of day at all last Summer, as it was a just a tad too snug on the hips. A more healthy lifestyle - and less snacking - has certainly been a positive side to all this, inadvertently nipping inches off my hips and waistline without the need of a diet.

Green was my colour of choice for my accessories, a vinyl round-buckled belt, beaded necklace and  a green floral brooch. I even added a green hair clip to my #Coronahair solution hair band.

Oh, and did I mention my green fingers? I'm so glad I took up gardening again and rediscovered that I actually had them. Especially as green is my favourite colour :-)

Fridays usually mean a trip to the calm oasis provided by our favourite garden centre. Now that all other shops had re-opened, it was even quieter than usual. Look at all that space, with nobody else in sight, enabling us to browse the well-stocked aisles at ease.

Apart from a few more plants, we bought a bag of garden compost and some solar garden lights to replace our decrepit ancient ones which had long ago run out of steam.

We discovered there is a home-baking department as well, so that we were able to grab some bags of bread mix, which aren't available at our smaller supermarket.

Back at home, Jos took the secateurs to the giant currant bush, giving it a bit of a haircut, so that we can now walk to the bottom of the garden without getting tangled in its branches. He had to sacrifice some of the currants for this, but these would probably have either been damaged by us trying to squeeze past, or been eaten by the local population of wood pigeons.

The upside is that our Fuchsia magellanica now has more room at the top!

Meanwhile I got busy in the passageway next to our kitchen, replacing the tired looking Primulas and pansies in the window box with Lobelias, Busy Lizzies and Begonias.

I replanted the yellow Primula, which was still in reasonable nick, as well as the leggy pansies, into pots, allowing them to live out the rest of their lives on an old garden chair turned plant table in the passageway.

The rusty enamelled coffee pot in the garden bathroom was planted with a spare Lobelia.

Jos's final job of the day was dotting the garden with the solar lights we'd bought. One of these is a spotlight, which he used to illuminate the enamel sign in the courtyard.

That night, we waited anxiously for darkness to fall, so that we could see the full effect, which was definitely worth waiting for! Can't wait for a balmy evening to sit out there and enjoy our little secret garden.

More of the same weather on Saturday before last, sunny but not quite warm enough to go without a cardigan. 

My outfit that day was based around one of my Diolen delights, a green dress with a print combining flowers and stripes in a multitude of colours. It was made in France, proudly bearing a Françoise de France label. It's not in the best of conditions, but it was a Think Twice sales bargain and I found its print utterly irresistible. 

I added a blue cropped cardigan, its three-quarter sleeves trimmed in green, as well as blue beads and a blue moulded flower ring. A bevy of bracelets and a yellow felted flower pinned to my cardi completed my outfit.

While having a good old rummage upstairs, I made a discovery - or should that be re-discovery - which put a huge smile on my face. 

A week or two ago, I got up one morning, determined to wear a particular dress - the top one in the below photo - but I couldn't find it anywhere. I'd already resigned myself to the fact that I'd probably sold it, although I couldn't for the life of me understand why, when I suddenly thought of another dress I was missing: the green and white one in the photo, to be exactly.

After racking my brains as to where it could be hiding, I had the brainwave to open the bottom suitcase in the above photo, which I initially thought only held some coats. Well, what can I say? Not only did I find both dresses, but many more to boot! 

Other things I did that day was clipping Jos's hair again, and make an appointment with my hairdresser for a colour and cut on the 3rd of June. Huzzah!

I did some more work in the garden too, potting up a couple of annuals and adding more perennials to our new border: another Scabious, in a dusky purple, and Erigeron, or Mexican fleabane, which has white daisy flowers blushing with pink while they age.

When we were clearing some of the rampant groundcover, we unearthed two tiny stone rabbits I'd forgotten all about. One of them needed a good wash as he had been half buried under some soil and was absolutely filthy, poor thing. I bet they're happy to be reunited.

Look at all those cheerful blooms! Clockwise from top left are a candy pink Dahlia, some purplish blue Lobelias, pink cheeked double Million Bells and a symphony of pink Cosmos and yellow Nemesias. 

I'd just finished my planting when our neighbour popped his head above the garden wall for a chat, telling us he and his wife were separating - #Coronadivorce - and they were selling the house, which means we'll be getting new neighbours in the near future. Fingers crossed they'll be nice people!

We would be in for warm Summer weather in the week to come - gone again at the time of writing - but that will be for my next post. 

Until then, keep on keeping safe, my friends!

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Poison arrows

Admittedly, the torrential rain we were treated to on Sunday before last did have its advantages. Not only did it go a long way in quenching our garden's thirst, it also saved us the job of cleaning the decorative tiles lining the path in front of our garden bench.

This higgledy-piggeldy collection of what we suspect might have been Dove Cottage's original kitchen tiles, was part and parcel of our garden's lay-out when we bought the house, and add a quirky element to the otherwise boring grey paving slabs elsewhere in the garden.

But the rain had made some casualties as well, as it had flattened the one and only Allium out of the half a dozen bulbs I'd planted many years ago, which had been foolhardy enough to produce a purple globe.

In order to still enjoy its transient beauty, I snipped off its stem just above breaking point and put it in an orange glass bottle we found lurking at the back of our kitchen cupboard.  It lasted almost a week on our kitchen windowsill, between two items of 1970s orange kitchenalia.

It was such a relief to be home from work that Monday, as it had been a bit of a stressful day. That Monday, the 11th of May, was the day all Belgian shops were allowed to re-open, with a mass of people reminiscent of the first day of the sales flocking to Antwerp's shopping streets.

I had been anxiously watching procedures from my 5th floor office windows, noticing that a lot of people seemingly couldn't care less about the rules. People were supposed to walk on the right with helpful arrows painstakingly painted on the footpaths, but even as early as late morning it was total chaos, with people walking willy-nilly and often hardly observing social distancing.

I was a nervous wreck and had a knot in my stomach by the time I had to go home. Needless to say I wore my mask as an extra precaution while trying to avoid people running straight into me. I told off quite a few of them, pointing at the arrows and telling them they had to walk on the opposite side of the street, but most of them just looked at me as if I was a madwoman. They might have thought they were smart, but really, they were so stupid, stupid, and I was all ready to shoot some poison arrows into their general direction.

So glad Tuesday rolled along, and I could stay safely at home. 

The sun, which had been shining on Monday's shoppers, did let us down a bit that day, and it was chilly enough to wear a cardigan. I was re-wearing the green plaid patterned midi skirt I wore on the blog not all that long ago, this time adding a long-sleeved blouse printed with green and turquoise flowers and tiny brown dots.

Both Jos and I were almost at the bottom of some of our self-care essentials and we were running low on hand soaps, so I ventured into our village's mercifully quiet high street by opening time, and was able to get most of the things on my list in one particular shop. As the shop had had to close in the run-up to Easter, they were stuck with lots of unsold stock, so that I was given a whole kilo of mini Easter eggs for free. 

Most of which have been scoffed by Jos, I should add.  I honestly, hand on heart, have only had a handful.

While sitting out in the garden after this expedition, we were visited by a fledgling blue tit, who excitedly chirped at us. Further excitement in the garden was provided by the steadily growing Hydrangea flower heads.

And here's a better look at the print of my blouse, to which I'd pinned a faux tortoiseshell bird brooch. I wore a turquoise flower-embossed belt and a string of pale green plastic beads. Due to the chill I'd reverted to wearing opaques, unearthing this pair in a soft eau de nil shade from the bottom of a box.

Who needs shopping - except for food, flowers and face creams - when one lives in a maximalist home? A stylish cover for our garden chairs was provided by a redundant vinyl tablecloth we'd kept for decorating our flea market stall. 

The neither here nor there weather continued throughout the day, so that I decided to carry on with the seemingly never-ending kitchen cleaning. When I'd just learned I would only be working two days a week, I envisaged myself whirling like a white tornado through the house, ending up with a fully cleaned and reorganized ground floor by the end of the month.

Instead, I've just only worked myself halfway through the kitchen, taking my time with everything and only tackling the jobs I feel like doing.

Having finished the shallow Tomado shelves, it was now the turn of the mantelpiece shelf next to it.

After I'd taken everything off for cleaning, I thought the shelf did look a bit lacklustre, especially its edge, where the creamy white paint had chipped in several places. I was thinking of adding some kind of lacy trim but when I looked in my haberdashery stash, I came across some white ribbon trim embroidered with orange and green. Perfect!

Nearly all my sewing things are second-hand, by the way. They were either the contents of charity shopped sewing boxes or were inherited from my Mum and my paternal grandmother.

The copper moulds which grace the wall on either side of the mirror were bought in the UK and at a local flea market respectively. I gave them a bit of a well-needed buff but I've got no intention of making them all shiny and stately home perfect. In fact, I rather prefer them with all their stains and imperfections, speaking of a well-lived previous life.

The mirror was originally intended for our bathroom. We'd spotted it in a charity shop, but baulked at its highly inflated price. Months later, after we'd found a different and much more affordable mirror for our bathroom, we noticed that this one had been reduced to too ridiculously low a price it would have been a shame not to buy it.

The shell-shaped Bakelite chocolate moulds were charity shop finds as well.

More treasures on the shelf are two Bakelite coffee grinders (top left) and a wooden sieve, potato masher and butter pats (bottom right).

The green salt cellar and funnel were picked up at flea markets several years apart.

Finally, on the top right, is one of our oldest pieces of kitchenalia in terms of ownership. The French Fries cutter (big mistake, as fries are a Belgian invention and not French!) was bought in a junk shop in Wells, Somerset, in the early noughties. The box has been living on top of our wall mounted plate rack next to the mantelpiece shelf for years.

Being on a roll, I continued with said plate rack, again taking everything off and cleaning the surfaces as well as the myriad of objects on display. Apart from plates, there's a multitude of other kitchen bits and bobs on top of the rack, as well as items of kitchenalia, including a colander, whisks, a pudding mould and an enamel bread basket hanging from its hooks.

The glass fronted cabinet below the rack holds our collection of 1960s Boch crockery.

Vintage packets of sugar cubes and pasta are sharing space with a small collection of Thermos flasks - one of them Bakelite - and a kitschy ceramic poodle decanter bearing several poodle-faced cups.

The Wright's Biscuits Ginger Nuts tray, featuring the cheeky-faced little boy called Mischief, was picked up at a flea market held in the next village. 

Mischief was Wright's Biscuits' trademark, drawn by Mabel Lucie Attwell, and children could join the Mischief Club and get a special badge.

Other treasures include the orange Wedgwood butter dish, which was winking at us in the window of an antiques centre in Newcastle Emlyn, Wales, as well as the French coffee pot, complete with filter, and our beloved Teasmade, both of which were flea market finds.

The small canister on the bottom left, which has long ago lost its lid, is part of the set of canisters living elsewhere in our kitchen (see here) and is holding the tiny cocktail forks which used to belong to my parents. 

Wednesday was another office day and even if there was less of a crowd out shopping in Antwerp, the arrows were still mostly disregarded. I tried not to let it get to me too much and hastened to our agreed pick-up point hiding my scolding face beneath my mask and my quiver of arrows tucked away inside by bag.

Uncharacteristically, Thursday was a bit of a slow burner, when I couldn't settle to anything, with the weather not inviting enough to spend much time in the garden.

After an unproductive morning, I though I'd better finish in the kitchen but in order not to bore you I've decided to leave this for my next post, treating you to that day's outfit instead.

The floaty floral C&A midi dress was a sales bargain three Winters ago. Picking up the pink bit in its print, I wore bright pink opaques. The off-white bits were enhanced by my mother of pearl pendant and brooch, both of which are favourite flea market finds.

Some animal elements were introduced as well: a zebra print belt and snake print ankle boots - both sales bargains - and a fiery eyed Phoebe, who was given to us for free but has cost us handfuls of money over the years!

But does she appreciate this? Not a chance!

And before you ooh and aah over the kiss we share, don't be fooled, as it's just a snapshot, and I was taking the risk of being scratched or bitten any minute.

I hope you are all staying safe and sane?