With my travelogue finished, there is nothing for it but to return to the order of the day, starting with a big catch-up as I'm obviously lagging far behind.
To jog your memories as well as mine, I finished my last non-travel post with those strange little creatures at Castle de Renesse, which we visited on my birthday. Yesterday's newspaper, by the way, contained a piece of good news: it seems that, paired with some interventions, the heavy rains of the last couple of days are slowly but surely filling up the castle's lake again!
The next day, 13 September, was a Sunday, and once again my journal had to come to my rescue, telling me it was another warm and sunny day.
With Summer slowly but surely coming to an end, and Autumn about to make an entrance, I have been trying to make the most of those Summer clothes which are still languishing unworn in my wardrobe.
That morning, I fell for this leaf-patterned coral Diolen delight dotted with blue and lime green flowers, which has been a wardrobe staple for many years. Taking my lead from the splashes of blue in the print, I added a cropped blue cardigan and accented my waist with a blue fabric covered belt. Even my shoes were in the same shade of cobalt blue.
Further accessories were a blue beaded necklace and a green-petalled and turquoise-hearted flower brooch, which was part of my recent charity shop haul.
As we wanted to buy some flowers to welcome a new neighbour, we drove down to a small local garden centre after lunch. But as garden centres as well as charity shops are my undoing, we obviously ended up buying things for ourselves too!
To fill some of the gaps in our collection of patio plants, a pot of cheerful pink Cyclamen, some pale yellow small flowered Chrysanthemums and a dwarf Sunflower came home with us. We also found the glazed square terracotta pots which are home to the latter two. They were end of range and slightly chipped and thus reduced to € 2 each.
The garden centre in question also has a discount homewares and decoration department which is well worth a browse, resulting in a tartan throw and some textured velour cushions for our sofa.
Summer's last hurrah came on Monday and Tuesday, when the temperature once again soared to 30°C and beyond. Thankfully, it significantly cools down overnight at this time of year, so that at least we were spared the uncomfortably sweaty nights!
Tuesday was the perfect opportunity to wear that gorgeous green blouse I'd picked up from the charity shop in Poperinge. With its sugar pink buttons and rick-rack trim at the collar and cap sleeves, it was nothing short of a miracle that it was still on the shop's end-of-summer rails. On its collar, I pinned the Bambi brooch I'd found in the same shop.
My hand-made green cotton circle skirt with its tiny white checks and red dots, multicoloured wooden beaded necklace and pink, yellow and white woven belt were all charity shop finds as well.
In fact, only my Gabor sandals were brought brand new. They were a sales bargain last year and are super comfortable.
I just love this time of year and keep popping out into our little patch, my attention caught by the slant of the sun, intensifying the colours of the late Summer flowers and hangers-on or making them appear almost transluscent.
I don't think there is any month of the year when the light is so beautiful yet tinged with bittersweet nostalgia as September.
The bees are a-buzzing, feasting on nectar as if there’s no tomorrow, which their instinct seems to tell them is exactly what will happen.
One day soon, the last of the flowers will have wilted, the last of the leaves turned brown and brittle and, tired of hanging on, they’ll join the crispy carpet beneath them. The sun will still be shining, but her warmth will diminish and daylight will become a scarce commodity, darkness coming sooner with each passing day.
For now, my eyes are feasting on Summer’s grand finale as, handing over the torch to Autumn, she’s winking at me, whispering I’ll be back after next Spring.
The world keeps on turning, and seasons are whirling by, one following the other as they always have and always will. Or will they?
But before I'm getting too morose, let's have a look at Thursday's outfit.
The temperature had taken the tiniest of tumbles on Wednesday and a mild breeze helped to cool things further down on Thursday.
With so many unworn Summer dresses clamouring for attention and hoping for an outing before they are whisked away until next year, deciding what to wear is harder than ever.
The lucky winner that day was this blue, lilac and grey watercolour print dress, which was among my earliest Think Twice finds. Adding red as an accent colour seems to come naturally where this dress is concerned, so I picked out a belt, necklace and cat brooch in a rich ruby red. To liven things up, my red bangle was joined by a blue on white polka dot one and a multicoloured bracelet.
The day was spent doing mundane tasks, such as cleaning kitchen windows and bathroom and cutting back some of the rampant ivy and other climbers in the garden.
For Friday, we had something quite different in mind. Our plans required getting up a bit earlier than usual on one of my non-office days, as we wanted to be in Antwerp by the time the shops opened in order to beat the crowds.
We were going on a Think Twice trawl for my birthday!
My celebratory outfit consisted of another as yet unworn Diolen dress, in a wild navy, bright blue and yellow on white print, with a neat tie bow at its notched collar.
At my waist, I wore my Mum's white buckled navy belt. Further accessories consisted of blue and yellow bangles, a yellow necklace and a sky blue cat brooch. The latter was a recent addition to my collection, bought from a newly opened shop opposite my hairdresser's, selling all manner of cat related things!
Think Twice, here I come! Can you imagine how excited I was? A regular lunch-time haunt not all that long ago, post-lockdown only saw me visiting one of the shops briefly back in June. How times have changed!
After parking our car, we made our way to the first shop, which is located in a side street of Antwerp's main shopping thoroughfare. Due to its location, we wanted to go there first, before the arrival of the masses. And if initially I feared I wouldn't find anything, this first shop proved me wrong already.
On the top left is the shop in question. I'd planned to photograph the others too but, typically, I forgot once I was in the throes of browsing their rails of vintage stuff.
As Jos hadn't yet had the opportunity to savour the grandeur of the newly restored and re-opened former Stock Exchange which is just around the corner from the first shop, we paid it a short visit before proceeding to the next one on our agenda, located in what used to be one of Antwerp's most famous alternative shopping streets.
In-between shops, we ate the sandwiches we'd brought sitting on a bench in a largely empty back-of-beyond square. After visiting the third and final shop, we ended our outing by walking along the promenade beside the River Scheldt, where we selected another bench to watch the world go by from.
But I'm sure you'll be on the edge of your seats by now, so I'll keep you in suspense no longer and show you my finds!
This jersey polyester A-line midi skirt was waiting for me in the first shop.
As was this long-sleeved frock, which is joining my collection of black florals. It's from Mac Scott, which I believe was a Scandinavian label.
A browse in the almost empty second shop yielded three dresses, one of which was this navy flower drenched beauty from the Finnish Karelia label, which came with a self fabric tie belt.
This knee-length short-sleeved mod dress has a hard to photograph orange, purple, teal and olive green checked print and a solid burnt orange collar. The belt is one of my own. You will see the dress in action in one of my next posts, as I've already been wearing it in the meantime.
The second shop's final dress is easily the most spectacular, with its groovilicious print and massive bell sleeves. It's in a warm Tricel fabric, so excellently suited for those as yet unmentionable December festivities. If they are allowed to happen this year.
And if no food is involved as that would be virtually disastrous with those sleeves!
Obviously, there was no way I could leave this gorgeous tapestry bag behind in the third and final shop!
Making my way to the till, I came across a bowl piled high with all manner of costume jewellery, from which I soon extracted this large Cameo brooch.
Quite a decent haul, don't you think?
I'll be back with a further September catch-up soon. Until then, my dears, keep on staying safe and as sane as possible!