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!


39 comments:

  1. The colour in your garden is beautiful Ann, you have so many different blooms.
    I love the 40's look at the top of your post and the red skirt and unusual collar blouse both have a 40's vibe. It's a look that really suits you, I love it.
    I've finally been to a garden centre, hurrah! Are you finding yeast hard to come by in Belgium too? You mentioned you had bought some when you visited last. xxx

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    1. Thank you Sally! I've always loved 1940s style and I agree it's a look that suits me. I'm not sure yeast is hard to come by here. However, we usually use all-in bread mix, but the new mix we found in the garden centre didn't have yeast in it. Jos couldn't find any in our regular supermarket, but luckily the garden centre stocked it! xxx

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  2. The trip to the garden center sounds like a nice outing.. nature helps lift the mood.
    Your outfits are definitely uplifting, bright and wonderfully cheerful.

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    1. Thank you Hena! I think nature is the ultimate mood lifter. It works for me every time! xxx

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  3. Oh, I want those solar jar lights for our deck!! They are amazing, like a jar full of fireflies!

    I've been having "stress dreams" lately, due to my routine changing (getting the office ready for people to return), and of course, fear of the unknown. So I totally get where you are coming from, Ann. It's such a stressful time! I was cringing for you while you battled the hordes of non-distancing people!

    I love all your beautiful floral outfits here. The orange polka dot cardi is lovely over the first one (I love that you accessorized in orange).

    Phoebe does look like the Queen of All Surveyed, doesn't she? I like Jos' plan - I also require chocolate at regular intervals!

    Your red-toned outfit is marvelous. L and I have massive amounts of magnets - they are one of those things we've seem to have collected, and our fridge is covered with them, holding up pictures and ticket stubs from theatre and concert outings. I am not one to have a minimalist fridge (I'm sure that doesn't surprise you!).

    Your double floral outfit reminds me of that Desigual dress that I wore last week, not in the pattern, but in the perfect pattern mix. I always get asked if my dress is separates...your separates are assumed to be a dress! Clever to button up your decolletage - I didn't even notice the brooches.

    Glad you have your garden as a refuge and solace in these times. Too bad about the rowdy neighbours, though! I guess we get the good with the bad!

    Take care, my dear friend.

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    1. Thank you Sheila! Jars full of fireflies is a very apt description. I do love your lanterns too! Fear of the unknown is a very bad thing for us, I guess. I do sometimes take some Bach remedy drops which, imagined or real, do seem to help. If you're interested, Aspen is the one to get. You are right about that final outfit, it could indeed very well have been a dress! xxx

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  4. Hello Ann. Funny you mention dreaming - it's something we've been experiencing and talking about a lot recently too. Didn't connect it to this pandemic, although that does make a lot of sense.

    Your garden gets prettier every week. I've never heard of climbing hydrangeas. How big do they get? We have a standard one, which is very finicky and requires way too much attention. Those trusty geraniums are tough as nails. And those lit up hanging jars are marvellous! Jos has the right idea, taking a chocolate break. One needs to replenish strength, you understand.

    All three outfits are a feast for our eyes, so very pretty. I love how you mix and match florals together. I do agree that a fitted bodice and flared skirt style suits you best.

    Have a lovely day.

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    1. Thank you Suzy! I started having dreams very early on in the pandemic and my suspicion that it was connected to the pandemic was confirmed by an article I read in the paper. Some nights, it is really bad! xxx

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  5. Strange dreams here as well. I'm feeling somewhat lost these days, and the dreams aren't helping. Ah well, good to know I'm not alone.

    I definitely thought that was a dress!

    Your plants are looking great. Our nasturtiums haven't bloomed yet but this year have gigantic leaves-I've never seen anything like it. Any idea what causes that? They look almost prehistoric.

    Hope you have a good week.

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    1. I'm having periods of feeling lost too, but - touch wood - they are becoming less frequent. I've been eyeing my Nasturtiums after I've read your comment, and it's the same here: huge leaves but no flowers as yet. Might be it's too dry, or too wet, or using fertilizer containing too much nitrogen. In my case, it'll almost certainly be because it has been so dry! xxx

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  6. Wow such nice flowers. Their colours are wonderful. And you look wonderful with orange Ann! In my mind I would like to sit with Jos eating a chocolate mousse too ­čśé
    These jars are realy magical.
    Sometimes my mood is down and I can imagine what you mean. Life is not only working and sitting at home with distancing familiy. It's so much more ....normaly.
    A huge hug Tina

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    1. Thank you so much Tina! You're right, life is indeed so much more, under normal circumstances ... xxx

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  7. Hi I have been reading your blogs for a while, thanks to Vix , I live in japan where the state of emergency was called off on Monday, but everyone is still following the guidelines. I love living here as wearing a face mask is normality as is wearing UV Gloves in the summer to protect your skin.
    I am an expat who used to live in the UK and what is going on in there horrifies me. I don’t think I ever want to go home. I cannot believe the stories my family tell me and it scares me. It really does. I feel sick with worry about them, why can’t people follow simple rules ?
    Anyway I will continue to follow and read keep safe and well allie xx

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    1. Nice to meet you Allie! I think the Japanese are a very disciplined people, aren't they? I know the Belgians aren't particularly, which has only been confirmed by the pandemic. It makes me angry and sad at the same time to see that people do not follow a set of simple rules. xxx

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  8. I think we are all the same as far as mood swings go in these stressful times Ann. I want to go out to the market for our shopping because it feels normal but it’s getting harder to be out there now people are going back to work and there’s so much more traffic now.
    It’s lovely to see all your colourful outfits, they are real eye candy. Nice to see Jos and your pretty garden too.
    I’m so glad we live where we do at the top of our hill and don’t have to venture into town. Take care both of you xxx

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    1. Thank you Lynn! I've been to one or two shops - quieter ones, obviously - as I think the longer I steer clear of them, the stranger it will feel when I eventually do. Nothing is exactly normal right now, and some days I'm fine with that, while on other I'm not. Take care you two! xxx

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  9. that collar is indeed a stunner!!
    and i love how you combined that blouse with this skirt - fab! and i need sunglasses for looking at the other 2 outfits - so very bright and gorgeous.
    lovely flowers all over your garden and the light jars are very romantic :-D
    wie have colored italian lights in the summer salon since the very first year (2011) and every time wie switch them on its like magic - still.
    as for not "wanting" to getting up in the morning - this is my longlife normal. the few bright mornings i can count with one hand..... so please don´t feel to sorry - it could be worst <3
    extra hugsies! xxxxx

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    1. Thank you Beate! Those coloured Italian lights sound enchanting! I've always been reasonably fine getting up in the morning, but then there are those days when I can't seem to find much reason to get out of bed. I'm sorry to hear that this has been your life long normal :-( xxx

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    2. thanx - i´ve learned to deal with it and most days i´m ok with my "depressive setting" ;-/
      <3 xxx

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  10. What a glorious garden you and Jos have made for yourselves within the confines of Dove Cottage, it's absolutely beautiful, so much colour and interest.
    Phoebe is magnificent in her surrounding as is Jos in his fabulously vivid shirt and you in all of your outfits. I've barely worn any clothes for days!
    The first dress is a floral delight, the red pattern mixed number is a masterpiece and the collar on the final blouse is so intruiging and quirky.
    What a nightmare with your glasses.
    The garden centre is your new charity shop, isn't it? Better, in fact, as there's always going to be something gorgeous to capture your heart!
    xxx

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    1. Thank you Vix! We still have quite a bit of work to do in the garden, and have plans for another overgrown border, involving trellis and Clematis. It's a pity the weather has turned now, but not to worry, as I can think of plenty of other things to do. Officially, lockdown is long over here, but we're still staying put most of the time. And indeed, the garden centre is our new charity shop. At least we can go there together, whereas our charity shops, which have re-opened, only allow one person per household. What's the fun in that? xxx

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  11. How very fortunate to have ones own little world in this crazy world. What stresses me most is the fact that people have forgotten what respect means and that in discussions we don't have to agree to respect oneanother. If someone has a different opinion some don't bring arguments but knock the other person down. If there is evel, that's how I imagine evil. :-( All the best to you!

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    1. You are so right, Regula, most people have forgotten that respect even exists. I think that is utterly sad. xxx

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  12. I love solar powered lights! I have all sort of lights in my garden. We only havn't been able to sit till it gets dark. Hopping out of bed is what I havn't been doing for 2 weeks or so. I think staying at our house and not doing what I want to do is taking its toll. I'm a bit down. But.... We have a very beautiful clematis too and it has such beautiful and lots of flowers! What a joy!

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    1. We've had solar powered lights for years, and actually bought our first set in the UK when they weren't available here yet! Sorry to hear you've been a bit down, which I totally understand. Staying at home can feel quite restricted after a while! xxx

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  13. woww, what a joy for the eyes!, love to see all these gloriously colorful plants blooming in your garden and love your delightfully floral outfits too!
    Love your floral vintage dress with the orange cardi and cute accessories, love your polka dot skirt and red printed shirt ensemble (Red Rocks!) and love your floral blouse and skirt, their tiny flowers and the picture of your zen moment!, so evocative!
    And I'm admiring those solar powered jars, they are Fabulous!!
    besos

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    1. Thank you so much, Monica! I think I might have been a flower fairy in a previous life :-)) Zen moments are a rare occurrence for a jittery busy bee like me! xxx

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  14. Those lights in the jar look so lovely! It's nice to see the flowers in your garden too, and I really like the first outfit with the orange pieces with the floral dress! :)

    I haven't noticed more nightmares than usual (I was sharing with hubby just the other week about how most of my dreams are scary ones but thankfully there are so few I remember - it started in pregnancy, the nightmares, and so I never remember the fun dreams only the scary ones ever since, haha. Thankfully nothing too upsetting, but the kids have had a lot of nightmares over our time in home iso, it's a lot for them to take in!

    Hope you are having a lovely week :)

    Away From Blue

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    1. Thank you Mica! I can understand that this is even far more scary for children, and I'm not surprised to hear yours have had a lot of nightmares. Even if we try to protect them from the worst, they still pick up your feelings, and know that something isn't right. xxx

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  15. You look so beautiful in that vivid floral 1940s style dress. That floral pattern is magnificent. It is such a perfect dress for you. I also love the second red styling. The blouse and the skirt go so well together. The hat you accessorized with is perfect. The whole look reminds me of TV series based on Agatha Christie's works that I like to watch.

    I can sympathize with the sleep issues. I'm not sleeping well either lately. My dreams would best be described as vivid nightmares. I'm also having problems breathing, I hope it's not something asthmatic in nature, as it is a very common illness in my family. I'm hoping it's just allergies or anxiety attacks.

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    1. Thank you so much, Ivana. My look reminding you of a TV series based on Agatha Christie's works is a huge compliment. I'm sorry to hear you've been having breathing problems. I'm not sure, of course, but my bet is that it's anxiety attacks! xxx

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  16. The collar on your blouse is lovely indeed, I can see why it made people comment. I also understand why they confused the combo for a dress. When you pair blouses and skirts, they're always so well paired they appear as a dress. Even when you use contrasting colour of patterns, it still looks very harmonic. In this combo in particular, the tiny floral patterns match so well even if the colour is different.

    P.S. Your garden looks amazing. The flowers are so beautiful. I can see how you can have a zen moment there, even with the noise.

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  17. Your flowers are so beautiful and I am glad you are enjoying them so much...even the naughty chocolate purple ones! I adore that first dress- you look gorgeous in it- cannot resist a collar dress!!! I also love the funky collar on the blouse- I repeat- cannot resist a collar- it's amazing!
    Work is so inconsiderate! I am finding it hard to get motivated to do any today after a week off...!!!

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    1. Thank you Kezzie! I cannot resist a collar either, either that or buttons or sleeves :-) Sorry to hear work is so inconsiderate! Do you have go wear a mask? Teachers here all have to wear one! xxx

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  18. Your magnet collection is wonderfully charming and brings a wave of nostalgia crashing (in a positive way) against the walls of my mind. When I was growing up my mom was a huge fan of fridge magnets and had dozens at one point. She had so many in fact, that at one point, she transferred most of them to metal baking sheets, which she displayed as the works of art they became with her magnets on them on the wall near our kitchen pantry.

    Many moves, life changes, the very passing of time itself all contributed to most of those magnets vanishing at one point or another, but she held onto a few and shared some with me as well. I treasure them dearly, especially since they're (now) amongst the only items from my childhood that I still have.

    As much as it would be fun to display them, I keep them safely in a little storage container for now. Perhaps though, one day, I'll follow my mother's lead and display them on a cookie sheet once more. :)

    Autumn Zenith ­čží Witchcrafted Life

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    1. Thank you Autumn! How wonderful that my magnet collection brings a wave of nostalgia! And what a wonderful idea to put them on metal baking sheets! I can see where you got your creativity from. I'd keep things like that safely in a storage container too, to be looked at from time to time! xxx

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  19. I'm with Jos - regular chocolate breaks are de rigeur!

    Loved your first outfit; so very flattering and such a pretty print. All the outfits were fab especially the skirt with trimmed pockets and I loved your blue shoes.

    It's hard not to buy plants at the garden centre - I always succumb to at least one!

    Take care
    xxx

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    1. While I do love chocolate, Jos is a real chocoholic! I'm hopeless with plants and always buy more than I actually need :-) xxx

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