Sunday, 2 August 2020

Chinks in the armour

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? This quote, apparently  based on a bible verse (Matthew 6:27), was posted by a Finnish Instagram friend yesterday. And while it got me thinking, as of course they don't, quite the contrary I suppose, as a natural born worrywart the act of worrying is not something I can turn off at the flick of a switch.

During the months of semi-lockdown, I found I was able to switch off by keeping myself occupied, thus tricking my cotton-wool wrapped brain into largely ignoring what was happening in the big, bad world outside our home and garden. Spring was in full swing with the promise of Summer ahead. For the longest of time, my brain seemed unable to process reality and, oddly as it sounds, it kept hoping beyond hope that this was all just a nightmare from which, surely, we would wake up anytime soon.

As so far this hasn't happened, and the nightmare continues day after day, chinks have slowly appeared in the armour, allowing negative thoughts to slowly trickle in.



In spite of it all, I seem to be surviving, even if life isn't a bed of roses and my rose-tinted glasses keep get mislaid from time to time. I'm trying to make living in the moment and enjoying the little things my mantra, even if I don't always wake up with a smile on my face. 

A dull cloudy sky was our lot on Friday before last, and the drop in temperature from Thursday's high twenties made me reach for this groovy wrap dress with three-quarter length sleeves. Originally from H&M, I picked it up in a charity shop in June 2019. It must be well over 10 years old and I remember it vividly, as I used to own the dress in a different colourway, all muted greys and browns on white. I always regretted not buying this red, pink and purple version instead, so it was a definite no-brainer when I spotted it on the charity shop rails.


I added a green necklace, which was a flea market find, and secured the dress's wrap ties with a green clip-on hair flower. The brooch, a posy of pale pink flowers, was a retail buy, as was the rosewood flower corsage pinned to my faithful denim jacket, an age-old charity shop find, originally from Mexx.

The wishy-washy weather prompted us to go on a light version of a charity shop trawl, visiting two safe favourites as early in the morning as possible. I'm pleased to report that both shops lived up to expectations in providing a safe shopping experience.



The first shop yielded a floaty Summer dress from Belgian high street chain Cassis, which caught my eye due to its funky print, cap sleeves and three-keyhole neckline. You'll get to see me modelling it on the blog very soon, as I'm actually wearing it as I type!

A book on Art Deco furniture and metalwork found its way into our shopping trolley as well.



The jewellery displays in both shops came up trumps too. There were two rings and a bracelet, a bronze metal butterfly pendant, two cord and painted wood necklace from a Belgian costume jewellery label called Les Cordes and a tiny blue plastic rose brooch. 


I was on the lookout for a lidded glass water jug and for some reason a ribbed glass one with a red plastic lid popped up in my mind's eye. Imagine my surprise when I actually came across exactly what I was looking for in the second shop we visited!

A quick browse through the otherwise uninspiring clothing rails was rewarded with a vintage Dacron polyester dress. Look at that fabulously mad pattern!


We were back home for lunch, after which I retreated to the garden for a deadheading session. It  seems that the remaining Nasturtiums have joined forces in their effort to lay claim to the area next to the bench. They are welcome to do so, as long as they keep doing their set task of covering the pile of dead branches (the remains of our Lilac tree) piled up next to the wall.


We were treated to a sudden, heavy shower mid-afternoon, which saved me the task of watering. 

Instead, my journal tells me, I caught up with blogland and kept checking the news and social media to try and make sense of the new regulations on mask wearing coming into force. A waste of time, it seems, as only in a matter of days this would change yet again.


Saturday was a bit of a glum day, on all accounts. No sunshine, no rain, but quite warm and humid, with temperatures of up to 24° Celsius. 

Wearing this midnight blue dress with exotic white and orange flower print - a Think Twice find in July 2019 - went a long way towards improving my maudlin mood. I added caramel coloured beads, an orange plastic ring and an orange enameled brooch decorated with wildflowers.




We were invited to dinner at our friends Inneke and Maurice and initially I didn't feel like socializing but I'm glad I persevered. The evening out really cheered me up and I felt a whole lot better driving home.

Earlier that day, we had another clearing and reorganizing session, this time concentrating our efforts on one of the cupboards in our sitting room. Again, we got rid of some CDs and magazines, which will soon be making their way to the charity shops. 

Anything we are keeping has been relocated to the drawer unit in the spare room.



This included a selection of my primary school exercise books, which I found at my parents' house. 

A cursory glance through some of them revealed that my handwriting has only marginally improved since I was a six-year-old. 

On the bottom right are some illustrations I cut from a fashion magazine for a social studies subject on clothes-making and fashion. I got full marks on that one. The shape of things to come, I wonder?

Next to a lesson on Autumn, I'd taped some Autumn leaves, which are dating back to 1970 and seem to have survived largely unscathed!



There were some of my drawings as well, all helpfully stamped with a date and subject matter. 

These, apparantly, are white mice, drawn by a five-year-old me! Well, how is one supposed to draw them? I actually quite like these and I'm considering framing them!

Which brings me quite seamlessly to some of the art we do have around the house, tying in with Kezzie's Bloggers Art Gallery, which I wasn't ready to take part in at the time.




We have a myriad of wall art and other objects dotted around the house. Whether they are all to be considered Art, with a highbrow capital letter, is questionable, but they are all things which caught and pleased our eye.

Let's start with some framed prints, watercolours and drawings picked up during our UK holidays over the years.

Above is a print of a watercolour painting of Port Isaac harbour by Cornish artist Elisabeth Clarke, which we picked up in a Port Isaac art gallery during our first Summer holiday together in August 1995.


In the same gallery, we bought this small original water colour by artist Rosemary Grattan. Originally intended as a present for my parents, it graced their living room wall for many years until we brought it home when emptying the house.




This charming miniature - it is only 4 by 4 cm - is a reproduction of a watercolour by artist Fiona Odle, and depicts the Vicar's Close in Wells, Somerset.



An Oxfordshire holiday back in 2007 yielded this framed print of the Tom Tower in Oxford by F. Robson (1880 - 1936), which we bought in a small antiques shop in Burford.



This print of a quintessential English garden by Pamela Derry (1932-2002) is called The Droning of Bees and instantly transports you to a garden at the height of Summer, where the buzzing of bees is the only sound you can hear.

A bit like Dove Cottage's garden then, although on a much smaller scale, and when the neighbours are quiet for once!


So, that's it for now. I hope you'll join me again for my next ramblings.

In the meantime, as always, do stay safe!


40 comments:

  1. Your first dress is an psychedelic eyecatcher. You look amazing. I love it!
    It's great you found a summer dress in the charity shop. I am looking foward the pictures you wearing it.
    so funny you found your childhood drawings ­čśü
    I wish you a nice monday. It's always a hard day for us at work.
    with a very huge hug Tina

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    1. Thank you Tina! I'll be wearing the dress in a next post! I can imagine Monday is always a hard day for you at work, so I'm wishing you lots of courage! xxx

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  2. What a joyful colour your H&M dress is, those colours can't fail to lift the spirits. The navy floral midi is wonderful, too.
    The Dacron dress you found in your charity shop foray is fabulous, can't wait to see you wearing it and what are the chances of finding the exact jug you were looking for as well?
    The garden is looking wonderful, I love the nasturtium scrambling up the bench.
    Your art gallery is a delight, each picture tells a story.
    My Mum kept all our school books, I had fun going though some of mine when we cleared the house.
    I'm glad you had a lovely evening with Inneke & Maurice, a welcome bit of normality. xxx

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    1. Thank you Vix. Every bit of normality is welcome at the moment. Such a pity it's too hot to wear the Dacron dress right now :-) The nasturtium keeps going from strength to strength. I love how determined and resilient it is! xxx

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  3. Love the trippy dress, it’s very Garu except they would wear would cut it so short that you could see their nickers !! I still love them though. Love the dresses.
    I don’t know if it’s the current mood but I have gone back to black! I just find it easy to wear. Don’t let those chinks in your amour get you down.
    I am currently visiting my crazy friend in Sendai. She’s nuts but her heart is in the right place and she is like the baby sister I never had. Take care and keep safe

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    1. Thank you Allie Jane! My days of wearing those short dresses are over, I guess. Not sure if I ever did after 12, come to think of it :-) I'm pleased to hear you're having a relaxing time with your "crazy" friend. Everybody needs one of those :-) xxx

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  4. maybe you spotted my red lidded glass jug in the summer salon :-D
    love the yellow/black/white dress - if it only where made of cotton or silk..... the pattern is fabulous.
    as for the armour: a secure armour is an act of labour. infinity labour. every day in our life we must work on it. and i mean WORK. atleast that´s what i learned in my life. every day i readjust my own armour by thinking about the reality i have to face and how i will deal with it. how i WANT to deal with it. and its not as easy as its written down - thats for sure.
    xxxxx

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    1. We're jug twins ;-) I didn't spot yours, but I went back to have a look at your post, and you're right! I'd seen those jugs at flea markets and charity shops, but never thought I'd find what I was looking for in the very first shop! I do know you have to work at a secure armour, but given how bad I am at that at the best of times, I do think I'm coping rather well. xxx

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  5. Are minds are so alike Ann, every day I have to give myself a talking to. Keep going my friend you are doing fine, we all are.
    I think the fact we keep blogging, dressing nicely and for you and Vix gardening is our way of dealing with things.
    And it helps a lot of other folk too just reading your blog posts and seeing your open honesty.
    You’re a star Ann. Keep your words and photos coming.
    Lots of love xxx

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    1. I'm so glad I'm not on my own, Lynn :-)) My blog, my wardrobe and my garden do keep me going. xxx

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  6. The wrap dress is so positive and uplifting . I love the painted wooden necklaces too. My favourite item though is the gorgeous and wow inducing Dacron dress, such a fantastic find.
    How amazing to have an image of the water jug you found. The universe responded to you there!
    I have no pieces of my childhood artwork of writing. How lovely to have all those memories to look back through.
    I enjoyed seeing the art work on your walls and hearing of all the places you picked the up on your travels.
    I'm hoping this is a good week for you :) xxx

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    1. Thank you Sally! So pleased I found that jug. It doesn't happen very often that I find exactly what I'm looking for so soon! It usually is a question of serendipity! xxx

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  7. You look so lovely in that colourful H&M dress. It was the right decision to buy it. You could even say it was a stroke of destiny, seeing it in a shop years after, especially as you had regretted not buying this particular version of it before. I also like the green necklace you wore with it. The yellow printed dress is wonderful as well. I also absolutely love the white floral print and the orange details on that blue dress. You look fantastic in this dress.
    Nice to see your kid drawings, you should definitely frame those mice you drew as a five year old.
    Wonderful watercolours and art you have in your home, thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you Ivana! It might have been a stroke of destiny indeed! I'm definitely going to frame the mice, as well as some of my other drawings! xxx

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  8. I have a similar glass pitcher but the lid is white. I'm now quite envious of the red lid :)
    Your childhood schoolwork is darling, and you absolutely should frame it. It will look great along with your other beautiful artwork.

    That yellow dress with the crazy print is the best thing I've seen in ages, anywhere. Your blue and orange outfit is also delightful.

    I wish there were something helpful I could offer by way of getting through this, but I'm at a loss. Sending you lots of good wishes instead.

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    1. Non-identical jug twins :-) I was rather charmed by the mice, I must say. Always been a lover of colour, it seems. I knew you'd appreciate the dress. Much too hot to wear Dacron right now, though! xxx

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  9. I love your drawings, Ann! I was going through Anya's childhood art recently, and it touches me every time I see it and as I see any kids art. It's so artless, but curiously - it is real art! Because that's what true purpose of art is, I think - touch our hearts. I just wrote about it on my fb, oddly enough. :)

    The yellow dress is fab! Is it an owl I spotted in the middle? :) I love the flower pin, your new accessories (those wooden necklaces!), and the blue flower dress really becomes you!

    I'm one of those who live without an armor, wear a heart on my sleeve. It isn't easy at times, but I don't want to wear an armor. I think too much of the world lives in armors at all times, so that it becomes their skin. They loose their sensitivity, and it gets hard to even "get through them", hard to connect in a true, genuine sense of the word... Maybe we need something better than an armor to stay both strong and sensitive at the same time, because sensitivity is an exceptionally valuable gift.

    Lots of love!

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    1. I'm so glad my parents keep those drawings! I wear my heart on my sleeve as well. I don't generally wear an armour. What you see is what you get. I allow myself the whole range of emotions! I'm glad you feel the same! xxx

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  10. That first dress is beautiful and I like the turquoise accessories with it! I really like the orange and navy combo on the last dress too! It's nice you still have those drawings! We have a big box in a cupboard we save some of our fave drawings from the kids in :)

    So good you got to socialise with friends as well. Things are changing a lot as we learn more about the virus and it's hard to keep on top of everything, but it's good there are more ways to keep us safe as we go about doing things. A supermarket here has requested some customers to wear masks after we had our first cases outside of quarantine for a few months. Everyone entering the state goes into a mandatory quarantine and is tested. 2 girls lied about where they had been to get past that rule and spread the virus around :( Hopefully it doesn't lead to a huge outbreak but time will tell!

    Hope that your week is off to a good start otherwise! :)

    Away From Blue

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    1. Thank you Mica! I'm so glad my parents kept all those things. You're definitely doing the right things keeping your boys' drawings. Masks are now mandatory here as soon as we leave the house. I was already wearing them in busy places and shops anyway. What a horrible thing about those girls! xxx

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  11. That is a mad pattern, but a glorious one! I very much like your midnight blue dress too.
    I'm glad you saw your friends for the evening, I often find that making the effort to socialise pays off when you're not really feeling up to it.
    Thanks for sharing some of your art, I do like that miniature one, I have a 'thing' for squares :)
    Take care
    xx

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    1. Thank you Hazel! I do agree that making the effort usually pays off. It did me the world of good, that's for sure. I'm pleased you love that miniature as much as I do. xxx

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  12. Oh I love that yellow mad pattern dress.. what a statement piece.
    Sometimes all we need is to break out of our routines and relax with friends, take our minds off the crazy world.

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    1. Thank you Hena! Yes, I agree it's all about breaking routines from time to time ... xxx

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  13. Hey, honey, I hope you are feeling a bit better today - this madness seems some days like it will never end. I also find myself wanting it all to just be over! But I'm afraid it will not be soon, and when/if it does end, it's not going to be the same as it was...which is life, really. It's not ever going to be the the way it was. Well, that's a bit of a downer, and I'm a fan of just being an ostrich with my head in the sand, so let's talk clothes!

    How I adore that wrap dress - and it's H&M! What? Every so often, H&M! I love that turquoise you put with it - so perfect. I recognize the brand Cassis - I've seen it here. What amazing purchases! I'm especially enamoured with that navy/white/yellow dress - what a PATTERN! It's truly glorious, and I can't wait to see you wear it!

    I love seeing some of your art! The landscapes/streetscapes are lovely remembrances of your travels. I like taking back gifts I've given - my mother-in-law has a painting I did for her many years ago, and I'd like it back when she is gone.

    Hang in there, sweetheart! Hugs, She

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    1. It's so discouraging sometimes. I'm absolutely terrible with any kind of change. So yes, being an ostrich often feels like the best thing to do! I know, H&M. They used to have some great stuff, but I rarely see anything like that on their rails now. Before C, I sometimes drifted into one of their shops during lunch break. xxx

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  14. It's true! . there is no need to worry too much. These months of "blocking" have been heavy: everything closed, always at home, unclear information. I thought of using my "extra" time with the little jobs that I love: embroidery,crochet and patchwork. Working with your hands relieves stress ... hoping that the emergency won't last so long. But it is still present. We can not change anything, we fill our moments of "comfort": reading, music, gardening (your flowers are beautiful!) We take care of ourselves, we love each other!
    Hugs,Carmela

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    1. Thank you so much Carmela. My working hours have been reduced to two days because of the situation, and I've been using my time wisely, writing, photographing and gardening mainly. I'm usually an avid reader too, but I found I had problems concentrating. xxx

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  15. Hello! Sorry to have not been reading your blog posts lately, or writing blog posts myself actually. I blame the fact that I have moved the laptop into a different room for a better internet connection, but it does mean that I spend less time here! Anyway, sorry to hear that you are feeling worried about the situation. I join you in that. Goodness knows what the autumn and winter have in store for us! But I really love your swirly pink dress, of course, how could you feel glum wearing that? How nice that you managed a little charity shopping (me too by the way), and WOW! I love the yellow jazzy dress! Lovely to have a glimpse at your art in your home, we seem to have similar tastes, and the flowers in the garden look stunning! Take care X

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    1. Hello Linda, I'm pleased to see you. I did start to worry a bit, so I'm glad it's only been a question of moving your laptop :-) I try to take it one day at a time, and not to think as far ahead as Autumn and Winter. I'm glad you were able to manage a bit of charity shopping too! xxx

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  16. Hello Ann. I wish I was there to hold your hand and tell you everything is going to be okay. I have to remind myself everyday that this will one day be over. As a worrywort myself, it's not always easy. And the truth is that most of the things that I've worried about never actually happened. In hindsight, what a waste of time!

    Your dresses are delightful this week. The psychedelic print on the first one is amazing. The yellow dress has a fabulous quirkiness about it.

    Love your recent op-shop finds, especially the jug.

    What treasures you have of your childhood. Those books and drawings are so precious. Fancy finding fashion illustrations! Do frame them. I only have one book of my childhood and I hold it dear. As a result, I've kept most of my kids things and stored them in large plastic containers. I know one day they'll be grateful.

    Glad to hear you managed to have a lovely dinner with friends. Enjoy your week and please stay safe.

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    1. In one way, it's a relief that I'm not the only worrywort here! If only we had a crystal ball sometimes. I'd feel so much better with a bit of perspective! It's a good thing you've been keeping your kids' things. I'm so glad my parents did. I have quite a lot of my childhood books too! xxx

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  17. I am going from one wow to the other! First all your outfits and purchases! What a fabulous fabulous color combinations. Can you also get totally exited about color combinations? And then the yellow and green necklaces! Just adore them! Love the paintings as well. We never picked up a painting as we only have one and don't want anything else, but you can smell the sea and hear the seagulls can't you!

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    1. Thank you Nancy! Oh yes, I can definitely get excited about colour combinations. Wasn't it amazing I found two of those necklaces in the same shop? xxx

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  18. You look so fabulous in the wrap dress, these colors and psychedelic print have put a smile on my face, and I love particularly the green accessories (ohh, that brooch! and necklace!).
    I think all we are having chinks in our armours, even the most positive-thinking people (I'm not included in them!). I tend to overthink, so totally agree that it's not so easy to told our minds to stop worrying. Anyway, I'm trying my best in keeping myself as safe and happy as posible, because this is everything I can do. I'm focusing on it!
    Such lucky purchases!, I love the jewellery pieces and the magnificent yellow&black dress, such a joyful print!. Glad that you could go shopping in a safe atmosphere!
    Love your midnight blue dress, its white and orange floral motives and your fab accessorizing!, your brooch and necklace are (once more) such a joyful thing!, love how they enhance every orange bit in the dress!. Looking particularly gorgeous in the photos in your garden!
    Lovely to have a look at some of the paintings decorating your home, you have some really beautiful watercolors!.
    Totally support your idea of framing your 'abstract mice' drawing!. Lovely that you've kept them!
    besos

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    1. I'm always glad to put a smile on someone's face! I too tend to overthink. Usually I allow myself to think things through a bit, and then when it becomes too much, I mentally put them in a box and close the lid. It takes some practising but it often helps. xxx

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  19. Hello Ann , it is normal to feel concerned and a bit overwhelmed in these uncertain times. I can imagine your thrill on finding that H & M dress in those glorious colours. You have found some wonderful finds in the charity shops, the jewellery took my eye.
    How wonderful to have those treasures from your childhood, such precious memories.Your paintings must remind you of your many trips . Take care. xx

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    1. Thank you Jill. I'm always looking out for jewellery in charity shops, and this time I was not disappointed. I have many more of those holiday prints, but not all of them are currently on display. We're thinking of making a wall of art in our stairwell. xxx

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  20. Thank you for the tour of your gallery.

    You found some great dresses there - I was going to say the vintage one will go really well with your new yellow necklace, but then it occurred to me that that's me being matchy and I bet you'll put something fabulous in a very different colour with it.

    Times are hard, but we're all going to get through this.

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    1. You're welcome, Mim. I have one of those prints of Bath as well. We used to pick them up every time we were on holiday. I might very well have gone matchy here, only time will tell :-)) xxx

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