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?


  1. Love those photos of youa nd Phoebe! Frank's had an emergecy trip to the vets today and I can only agree with a free cat costing a fortune!
    I love in you in green, both outfits look wonderful.
    How horrible that those idiots failed to adhere to the social distancing in their excitement to get to the shops, I don't blame you for shouting!
    The haberdashery trim on the shelf is inspired. Can you beleive that, yet again, we have a twin in our collections? It's the shot poodle - only mine has six cups and no yellow bow.
    I wonder why they call them French Fries when you Belgians invented them, damned cheek!
    Stay safe! xxx

    1. To be honest, I've given up on shouting at those idiots by now. It's really not use at all, it seems. I'm not surprised you have one of those poodles. Mine is supposed to have six cups, but was missing two when we bought it! xxx

  2. Hello Ann. Sadly the world is full of mad, selfish people. Here too, the restrictions have eased, shops are opening and people feel like it's ok to crowd. I walked briskly out of a fruit shop the other day because there was so many people in there, bumping into each other! Thank God for the safety of our homes and gardens!

    Anyway, onto a happier note, your kitchen managed to cheer me with all its goodies. So much to see!!! Love your copper tins, green salt cellar, Teasmade and that yellow coffee pot is divine.

    Your outfits are gorgeous and colourful, as usual. Love how you introduced the zebra print belt and snake skin boots to the floral dress. Also, the crochet bag is beautiful.

    Sorry about the rain damage to the alliums. Hydrangeas really are such majestic blooms in the garden. I used to have two in large pots on either side of our front door. People always commented on their beauty.

    1. I can't believe how undisciplined people are. It's as if they think the restrictions have been put in place to annoy them! Glad I've managed to cheer you up with the kitchenalia! xxx

  3. People are losing their minds. Our streets are packed again like nothing happened, and not a mask in sight. I'm staying in.

    I've seen those potato cutters in thrift shops and the look intimidatingly sharp. Perfect cut spuds aren't important enough to me, but they are interesting objects.

    1. Yes, they are, and it has not improved my faith in humanity, to be honest. We have never used that particular potato cutter, it's only for display! xxx

  4. Life in the countyside and city/town is extremely different during these times. We have lots of space, no need to say anything about distancing (2 metres). Most of the time there is a lot more. :-) As I am an earlybird, I don't see much people on my way to work anyway. All the best! Regula

    1. I'd love to live in the countryside ... I'm an early bird too, and I've got absolutely no problems in the mornings. Going home in the late afternoon is a totally different story! xxx

  5. I am kissing cute little Laila every day 😁
    It was a little bit strange to see these arrows on the streets.
    I was still working every day and go at home and one time a week in the supermarket by car. We are at home or in the garden. I would like to go out for eating but not wich masks. So I stay at home and cook or use the delivery service.
    1 kg chocolate eastereggs!? This would be poisson for my diet to loosing weight. 😜
    With a very huge hug and stay healthy, Tina

    1. I don't understand why all these people are queuing at shops like Primark Etc. Just crazy! I'd never go to Antwerp if my office wasn't there! Eating place aren't open yet here ... xxx

  6. anyway what you say - phoebe is so very sweet <3
    @cleaning: i dont like it and therefore i want only very few knick-knacks in my house so i´m done fast with that task...... :-D
    still love the jugendstil pattern of the C&A dress and your accessorizing with it is spot on! and the icy colors of the first outfit are right up my alley too.
    1kg chocolate easter eggs! in my dreams! oh - and belgium with its shell shaped pralinés........ yum!
    hugsies! xxxxx

    1. p.s.: we have a whole lot of this star patterned tiles but in red/sand colorsheme - bought it for our hallway...... :-D

    2. I don't like cleaning either, and neither does Jos, so I've learned to live with a bit of dust :-) Oh, and now you've reminded me of those pralines, and now I'm craving some! Those star patterned tiles sound lovely! xxx

  7. I love the midi dress - the print is so pretty and you look lovely in it.

    I am just so amazed by your wonderful kitchenalia collection; so many shapes colours, varieties and items. I think it's better to take your time over tasks like that and not rush and do it all at once. Also; it gives you a chance to enjoy the items all over again! The green and orange trim was a brilliant idea and looks great.

    People can be so unbelievably stupid can't they? I haven't yet experienced anything like that yet but our shops won't be opening again until 1st June so we'll see what that brings.

    A kilo of chocolate eggs - yes please! Couldn't you have hid some away before letting Jos loose on them? Lol!

    Take care and stay safe.

    1. Thank you Vronni. You are so right, there's no need to rush, is there, and it was lovely to look at all those items with fresh eyes. Oh, I did have some of those eggs, don't worry, but there's no keeping up with Jos if it comes to chocolate :-) xxx

  8. Phoebe sounds feisty, she's a real beauty too.
    Some people are so blasé about the distancing aren't they, it makes for an uncomfortably anxious time.
    I love the poodle decanter and cups...obviously!!
    That last dress is lovely and really suits you.
    I never knew that 'French fries' are infact Belgian! I'm enjoying the kitchenalia.
    Hope it's been as sunny where you are today as it has been here. xxx

    1. Thank you Sally! I had a feeling you'd love that poodle! We've been enjoying quite a lot of sunny days, but some of them have been quite windy. Hardly any rain, though, and I think we desperately need rain. xxx

  9. Those arrows look pretty visible to me, I don't see why people won't follow them. There is no reasoning with some people. I'm feeling a bit of a nervous wreck myself. The Ministry of education is sending us mixed messages and we're all confused: the kids, the parents and us teachers.

    On the upper side, your outfits are beautiful. I like your mixing of prints in the first outfit. Lovely blouse, skirt and a baby blue cardigan. The second outfit with the floral midi dress is absolutely gorgeous. You look great...and your posing friend (the kitty) is lovely as well.

    1. The ministry of education sending mixed messages doesn't sound like much fun. I think it's the same here. And I don't understand why it's so difficult to follow those arrows either. People can be so irresponsible and undisciplined. xxx

  10. Those tiles are lovey! The "maze" one is so unusual. I love your minty-green outfit - such pretty spring colours.

    Arg. I get so stressed out by other people! They are very willy-nilly here too. I find myself having to make wide detours onto the road because they cannot seem to comprehend that walking side by side takes up more room than walking single file! I will not chastise anyone; I remind myself, "Would you say this to an elderly person? Would you say this to a child?" It helps me not escalate. I love seeing all your lovely things (I see you taking the picture in the mirror!). That poodle decanter is a hoot!

    Your second outfit is amazing - that dress looks incredible on you, and the necklace and pin are so perfect with it.

    I'm not entirely shocked that Phoebe is not a cuddly, lovey kitty! She really does seem to do "dagger eyes" well, lol. Vizzini gets bitey when he doesn't get his way - I've spent the last 30 minutes trying to keep him from biting my cardigan buttons, and he eventually bit my hand (not breaking the skin, but hard enough to let me know he was angry). This got him ousted off me quicky! Little monster.

    Victoria/Vancouver Island has had only 5 COVID deaths, and has only 125 active cases - we haven't had a new case announced in nearly 13 days. It feels like we might be seeing a light at the end! However, people seem to think that they can forego masks and distancing! It's incredibly stressful, and the next month will bring me more stress as I start to configure our office for the return of about 1/5th of our staff.

    1. I get stressed by other people too and try my very best not to chastise anyone, but it's hard not to escalate, especially after a stressful day. Believe me, I can do dagger eyes even better than Phoebe ;-) Numbers are going down here in Belgium, but we're not nearly where you are. We still have new cases and deaths, I'm afraid. But I've read that our village hasn't had one for days! Configuring the office for the return of those staff does sound quite stressful indeed! xxx

  11. Love the floral dress you wore on Thursday and I'm impressed you got so much chocolate for free! Here our supermarkets donated any unsold Easter chocolate (of which I think there was a lot!) to all the hospitals, which was a very nice thing for them to do.

    We have the markers here and not a lot of people follow them either. I even had someone sneeze near me as I left a store today, ugh! It's hard to keep my distance when other people insist on getting so close!

    Hope you are having a good week :) It's a bit cold here - winter has arrived a week early!

    Away From Blue

    1. Thank you Mica. How awful that someone sneezed near you! That would have freaked me out. It's nice that the supermarkets donated their unsold Easter chocolate to the hospitals! xxx

  12. Haha black cats are having their own mind! Our has! Wedgwood is so beautiful isn t it. I still want to buy a cream Wedgewood, how do you say that.....servies.

    1. Not only black cats, I think, Nancy ;-) A cream Wedgwood dinner service sounds lovely. xxx

  13. I so understand what you mean about people not social distancing! It never ceases to amaze me how selfish people can be! It's so frustrating! I love your first outfit. The prints work so well together and I love the colour combo! Phoebe is so adorable! I know what you mean though, Amber always looks so sweet, but the camera doesn't show the hisses and swipes!! ;) ;) Hope you have a wonderful weekend, Ann! XXX

    1. People can definitely be selfish, Sasha. It's not as if these restrictions aren't in their best interest! Cats do have their own minds, don't they? xxx

  14. PS - I just popped a letter in the mail to you today. :) Gawd knows how long it will take to get to you!

  15. Getting to and from your office sounds awful - such a shame some people are being so careless. I don't get out much at the mo, but when I do people are generally pretty good at maintaining a safe distance.

    I'm definitely staying sane. My anxiety's finally simmering back down again. And work want us to work from home for at least another three months, which is fab.

    1. Good to hear your anxiety is simmering back down again. Not having to go in to the office so much and being in our garden has definitely done the trick for me! xxx

  16. Goodness, am I with you, dear Ann! Personally, IMO, it's far too soon to start relaxing isolation and SD rules yet anywhere and really wish that countries weren't doing so this early on.

    If they insist on doing so though, it seems like the least folks could to do adhere religiously to the rules and to social distance like their lives depended on it - because, to blunt, in some instances, they very well may.

    We're remaining in strict self-isolation for the time being, only leaving our property once every few weeks for groceries and to refill medications. We plan to continue on like this until the pandemic is over (or at least until Canada has gone a good while without any new cases appearing) or until a safe, successful vaccine has been developed - whichever comes first.

    I miss many things about "life as usual", but I'm not willing to risk my health (especially as someone who is immune-compromised) or that other people just because it might be nice to go out a bit more often.

    Okay, end of mini rant. ;D

    Fabulous ensembles (and vintage treasures), my stylish friend. I especially like the eye-catchingly chic pattern of the last dress shown here.

    May you have a tail end of the month that is every bit as sweet and fun as that kilo of yummy Easter eggs.

    Autumn Zenith 🎃 Witchcrafted Life

    1. I certainly cannot blame you for remaining in self-isolation, especially in your case. I think the government was under economic pressure, but I'm not sure if it was the right move either. I think the crowds in Antwerp are almost back to normal, in spite of everything. xxx