Saturday 17 October 2020

A quiet life

Life at Dove Cottage has been rather quiet lately. 

If during lockdown back in Spring, my creative juices were flowing and a surge of energy got me ticking off things on my to-do list one after the other, this gradually dwindled over Summer, until they both came to a grinding halt by late August.

My batteries recharged after our week away, I had great expectations, but alas, the energy I'd saved up was soon consumed by the worries and uncertainties created by an alarmingly increasing infection rate. Back to square one, it seems.

It doesn't really help that the weather hasn't been on its best behaviour either, with wet and windy days adding to the general doom and gloom.


Some days are better than other, of course, but there is one constant that's keeping me from the brink. Getting dressed up will always be a joy, a bright spark on even the darkest of days. And no, I don't think that is shallow at all. It's therapy! 

The dress I was wearing two weeks ago on Friday (eek, that long ago already?) was a Think Twice find last Autumn, plucked from the rails less than a minute after the shop assistant had hung it up. 

I fell head over heels for its monochromatic print dotted with red and green hexagons. More geometry was added in the form of my necklace, a chain of wooden, jigsaw-like circles, octagons and rectangles, some of them picking up the red from the dress's print.

Green was almost the obvious choice for my cardigan and opaques, while I threw in delicious caramels for my belt, boots and stag's head brooch. Everything but the boots was a charity shop find at one time or another.

As was the amazing grey, black and lime swirly coat, which I found new with tags in a charity shop back in February. My outfit was completed with a well-needed scarf, echoing the green of my opaques.

It was Friday, which in these pandemic times has replaced Saturday as our weekly date with the charity shops, as they are obviously much quieter on a weekday.

There's only a limited number which we deem safe enough due to their size and layout but, always willing to try out new haunts, we decided to check out a large Oxfam shop in one of our neighbouring villages. After having given it a wide berth for years, we were pleasantly surprised at its transformation, so that it has now been added to our list of approved shops.

The jewellery display near the entrance, for starters, enticed me with no less than four necklaces.

Then, while Jos browsed the vinyl, CD's and DVD's, I perused the well-stocked clothing rails, where my heart made a happy jump upon spying one of my holy grails: a midi-length skirt in a sturdy and slightly stretchy denim. I'd been looking for one in my size, and which ticked all my boxes, for well over a year.

On the same rail, a handmade floral pleated skirt in a gorgeous mix of blues, pinks and greens winked at me, so that went into my basket as well.

You might have noticed that I'm going through a bit of a skirt phase lately, so surely it won't come as a surprise that I found yet another one at our local charity shop, which was next on our itinerary.

This purple and pink knee-length jacquard skirt is by Melvin, a Belgian label founded in 1975. I'm not sure they are still trading as I couldn't find any recent information on them. Whatever the case, I can definitely see myself wearing it with the sparkly magenta top Angelica is modelling here, and book-ended with opaques in the same colour. 

It would be silly to pass up the opportunity of adding another charity shopped King Louie frock to my collection, even if I won't be wearing this one any time soon. I'll probably have forgotten all about it by next Summer, when it will be like finding it all over again!

It had started raining while we were in the shops and by the time we got home it was clear it would be one of those all-dayers, so the sofa and a book were beckoning.

But however tempting that sounded, the dust balls and cat hair hiding in the corners downstairs were becoming a bit of a health and safety hazard and thus could no longer be ignored. 

Afterwards, I finished my current read (Jonathan Coe's Number 11) and started the Lucinda Riley novel I'd picked up in Oxfam that morning. 

Saturday was another dismal day, grey and rainy, and only once or twice interspersed by a watery ray of sunshine.

Not our resident spiders' favourite weather, their only catch of the day being tiny raindrops.

While doing the dishes, I noticed a strange blob in the pot of Million Bells which is hanging just outside our kitchen window. The blob turned out to be a snail, which on further investigation seemed to have taken up residence behind the cherub's chubby legs on the stone plaque hanging directly above the pot.

This late in the season, we could not be bothered, and just let it be.

That morning, after breakfast, I stood in front of my wardrobe and let inspiration strike. 

The starting point of my outfit was the ruby red polka dot blouse I'd picked up in the charity shops back in July but was still awaiting its first wear. Selecting a pair of opaques in an almost identical colour was a doddle, as my stash of opaques contains a veritable rainbow. And yes, I am one of those crazy people who actually likes wearing tights!

For contrast, I chose one of my favourite skirts, in a turquoise slubby fabric with specks of blue, green, white, red and black in its weave (see here for a close-up). Some of you might recognize it as it is definitely not making its debut on the blog. 

Turquoise appears again in my brooch, ring and necklace. The rust-coloured belt is a crochet one with a massive round wooden buckle and was a sales bargain from Mango back in August.

Oh, and I'd almost forgotten to mention my beloved snake print ankle boots, snapped up in New Look's closing down sale in Antwerp last year.

Wandering through the garden during a short respite from the rain, I noticed a large but very wet and bedraggled looking bumble bee hanging on for dear life on top of one of our miniature sunflowers.

We think she must have been the same solitary bee we'd christened Big Maya, who used to visit the Salvias in front of our bench like clockwork around the same time each day. Flitting from bloom to bloom, she regularly interrupted her activities by going for short flights around the garden, buzzing around our heads if we happened to be siting there, before resuming her flitting and nectar gathering. 

The poor thing must have been at the end of her life as she was still sitting there the next day, although she'd disappeared the next time I looked.

On Sunday, the rain was joined by a blustery wind; a grey, chilly and decidedly unpleasant day.

After a breakfast of omelettes with tomatoes and mushrooms, I photographed Friday's new finds modelled by Angelica, which you could see earlier in this post.

Then, in a bid to shake off the lethargy I've found myself prey to lately, I made a list of things to do in the next couple of weeks, although I wasn't in a frame of mind to get started just yet.

So, let's look at my outfit instead!

Opting for a dress with a wide pleated skirt wasn't perhaps the wisest move on a windy day!

Nevertheless, this fit and flare vintage dress with its print of tiny red, pink, turquoise, blue and lilac squares, shouted the hardest when I opened my wardrobe's doors that morning.

To ward off the chills, I wore a turquoise cardigan on top. Spicing things up, I once again added caramel as a contrast colour with my belt and beaded necklace.

My attempt to ward off the rain by wearing one of my umbrella brooches failed miserably!

On that note, I'm leaving you with a selection of brooches I shared on Instagram earlier this year, including all of my brolly brooches as well as a couple of fans. The latter, of course, I won't be needing anytime soon!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, wherever you are, and please do stay safe!


  1. You always find such great pieces when you shop! I really like all the green in the first outfit, it's a beautiful colour on you! But the last outfit is my favourite - I like the pretty turquoise cardigan with that dress! :)

    Hope you are having a nice weekend and the weather improves for you soon! It's been a very summery-like spring for us so far, not looking forward to the summer heat if it's this hot already!

    Away From Blue

    1. Thank you Mica! The weather's still a bit up and down here, and I'm still holding out for some proper leaf-kicking Autumn weather! xxx

  2. if that dotty red blouse was my size i would steal it right from your back!
    the first dress is lovely, love the abstract print - typical 50´s bi-color black´n white with cheery colors on top.......
    the denim skirt looks chic, the 2 others too in their own way. the colourful glass beads make me dream of summer on a sandy beach, sunkissed skin and a good surf*******
    AND - dressing well and meaningful is not shallow at all - it´s art and therapy too.
    hugsies! xxxxx

    1. Thank you Beate, I'm glad we agree dressing being meaningful and therapeutic! xxx

  3. Getting dressed each day is one of my highlights, too - thank goodness for beautiful clothes! I love your spotty blouse with the blue skirt and the other two outfits are fabulous, too.
    How exciting to find the exact skirt you wanted, I bet you'll be wearing that loads. The beads are lovely.
    What a great photo of that snail!
    We were hearing about Belgium's lockdown measures on the news this morning. I hope the circuit breaker does the trick and the cases slow down, I wish our lot would do the same. Stay safe! xxx

    1. Thank you Vix! I've already been wearing the denim skirt and it's just perfect. Even better after the long wait, I think. Keeping my hopes up that the current measures will be sufficient. xxx

  4. Our bees are gone now too. We didn't have many this year, but we had plenty of yellowjacket wasps.
    You do have the best selection of tights. That red top with the big spots is wonderful, and would look good with almost anything. Snakeskin boots-be still my heart!

    I'm sorry you're going through another lockdown, but hopefully this time will be enough to stop the spread. No such luck here.

    Stay safe and well.

    1. Thank you Goody! I've been going through my collection of tights this week and I was surprised how many pairs I actually had. No need to go shopping in a long time! Now that you've mentioned wasps, I've just realized we didn't have as many as other years ... xxx

  5. Life has been quiet here this weekend as well, mostly because I feel so exhausted that I barely got out of bed yesterday. Your collection of brooches brought a smile on my face, though. Those umbrella brooches are so cute we can forgive them for not being able to fend the rain away. The fans are adorable as well.

    Your outfits brought a smile to my face as well, they are so lovely. I love your green and red styling. I'm a big fan of green actually. I find it a very calming colour. That geometrical print dress looks lovely paired with green accessories. The second styling- the red polka blouse paired with a red belt and a blue skirt is so gorgeous!!!! I love outfits like that one. The lavender and blue outfit is gorgeous as well. That dress is very pretty and the cardigan is the perfect pairing for it. I love how you embrace colour. Have a lovely Sunday.

    1. Thank you Ivana, and I'm glad my outfits put a smile on your face. I hope you are feeling better and less tired by now! xxx

  6. Oh you look fabulous in this red polka dot blouse. I must laugh about so many umbrella brooches you can wear in this autumn. :)
    Stay healthy Ann. A very huge hug Tina

    1. Thank you Tina, and stay safe and healthy too! xxx

  7. I have a brolly brooch too! I love your outfits, particularly your additions of caramel as a neutral and spicy (heh) accent, and your colourful cardigans. Very much needed here too!

    Getting dressed in my "good" clothes has been my salvation in the past 7 months (gawd, has it been that long??), and will continue to provide mental health therapy to me (and my readers!) in the future. I know others love seeing me "in the wild", and I bet you get similar reactions when you are out and about.

    I can't leave without commenting on that fabulous coat! It's gorgeous - great shape on you! Love your finds in the thrifts too - that purple pencil skirt and the King Louie dress are the stars for me.

    I hope you had a good weekend, Ann! Hugs from me, my friend.

    1. Yay for brolly brooches! If only they helpt keeping the rain at bay :-) I've just realized it is indeed been seven months! I used to have regular comments from others, but now I'm no longer using public transport and there's hardly anybody about in our office building, I often feel quite invisible! But never mind, as I'm basically dressing for myself and my blog readers, of course! xxx

  8. You're right Ann! Dressing carefully, thinking about yourself, pampering yourself is a help to a good mood. Let's find energy! Your clothes are wonderful! I love your Think Twice dress and most of all the beautiful necklace that fits beautifully! You've found some beautiful skirts, it's rewarding to find treasures in thrift stores. I love them, in my city there are 4, one of which is only for children (accessories and toys). Enjoy the flowers and the little ones in your garden! Enjoy the reading!

    1. Thank you Carmela! Indeed, we have to boost our moods and energy levels, especially as we head into Winter! xxx

  9. What a fabulous finds! That denim skirt is amazing! Love the simplicity of it and those necklaces are good too! It's fashion and all things related that keeps me saint for the moment. I am staying away from everything outside my house and garden. Gerben had to work yesterday unexpected, boy what a boring day that was and pretty depressing too. Oh how I wish we were 6 months further! Stay safe and happy Ann!

    1. Thank you Nancy! That denim skirt is such a joy to wear too! I hope this weekend wasn't as boring as the last one for you. And yes, I do wish we were 6 months further too! xxx

  10. I love that you called your resident bumble bee Big Maya!
    I'm a skirt girl too, I can't resist them and love the way you can make so many different outfits with the same one.
    I like the polka dot blouse with the turquoise skirt, I wouldn't have thought to put those colours together but they look fab.
    Its definitely tights weather, I love the opaque and am also into woolly ones, so cosy.
    The brolly brooches are somehow very uplifting!
    Stay safe and have a good week. xxx

    1. Thank you Sally! Big Maya was such a character, she definitely deserved being named ;-) I got quite a few comments on the polka dot blouse and turquoise skirt. I just felt they belonged together. xxx

  11. So many great outfits..
    Things here are returning back to normal. We are wearing our masks and keeping our distance but life is for the most part returning to normal.
    Love your photo of the snail.

    1. Thank you Hena, and I'm glad to hear life is returning somewhat to normal where you are! I wish the same could be said here! xxx

  12. Oooh! More lovely necklaces. You did very well on your charity shopping expedition! Not one but 3 skirts! All fab especially the purple jacquard one; the magenta top was wonderful with it. And as for that amazing coat I have nothing bu lust for it!!

    All the outfits were lovely and so colourful; you must surely cheer everyone up in your outfits? Loved the spotty blouse and what a fabulous turquoise and gold brooch you wore with it.

    I don't mind wearing tights either - especially as they keep the legs warm and if they're fab colours or have interesting patterns/designs on them.

    What is it with men and CDs/DVDs/LPs? It's usually the first thing men head for when they come into our charity shop and I've noticed it too when I've been charity shopping.

    Take care and don't the let the miserable weather get you down; getting dressed up fabulously everyday is indeed therapy and not at all shallow.

    1. Thank you Vronni! I'm not sure yet whether the purple jacquard skirt is me, but it was too good not to buy it. We'll see! I'm glad you agree getting dressed up isn't shallow. I often think other people think so, but it has always been my saviour! xxx

  13. Have a great start of the week!

  14. So many beautiful styles! I liked the black and lime swirly coat.

  15. I have been thinking of you Ann as I hear of the increasing cases in Belgium and throughout Europe and the UK. Getting dressed up is so important in raising the spirits in these challenging times. I always enjoy seeing your colourful outfits and your collection of brooches and now your co-ordinating tights. Take care. xx

    1. Thanks for thinking about me, Jill. I do hope we'll be flattening the curve soon. xxx

  16. Hello Ann, hope you're well. Did you mention bees? Well they've all flocked over to Melbourne, making themselves comfortable in our garden in particular!

    You've picked up some fantastic goodies on your treasure hunt. I particularly like the denim skirt. Can't wait to see the King Louie frock on you - I'm thinking of making a maxi dress in that style soon.

    Both the spotty blouse and the last dress are so pretty on you.

    I'm in the same boat with extreme tiredness. Have a lovely week.

    1. Thank you Suzy! I'll miss the bees over Winter, as I love having them in our garden and often buy plants because of their attractiveness to bees! Can't wait to wear that King Louie frock either, but that too will have to wait until next Spring! xxx

  17. I think it’s natural that our moods ebb and flow. It’s a weird time to be alive, but finding the things that we can do, that make us smile is so important. It’s no wonder that your colourful wardrobe brings cheer to your life. It always cheers me up to see your colourful outfits!
    I have to say that coat looks very cosy. And hurrah for the denim skirt, the charity gods always deliver in the end :)
    I really like the pattern of the jacquard Melvin skirt. And the King Louie dress will be well worth the wait for the summer. The dress couldn’t be more you if it tried.
    I love the polka dot shirt outfit, the combination of red and turquoise is fabulous!
    I wish it was fan weather instead of umbrella weather…

    1. Aww, I'm glad your outfits cheer you up :-) The coat is indeed quite cozy but unfortunately not a Winter weight. It'll do for now, though.
      I do wish it was fan weather too, as I've had quite enough of rain right now! xxx

  18. Sincerely relatable. It's been one heck of a roller coaster ride to see how my energy has risen and fallen throughout 2020. The summer's stifling heat was especially brutal on that front, but it certainly hasn't been the only factor that has caused notable dips.

    I think that the heavy toll of witnessing and experiencing how the pandemic has impacted each of our lives (in varying ways and degrees) has been zapping energy from a good many of us for several months now - especially those, I would argue, who are of a more introspective, sensitive (i.e., HSP), and empathic nature. Of course though, anyone can easily feel the impact of these heavy months and it would be naive to think they wouldn't influence our individual energy levels in a wide assortment of ways.

    I've tried (sometimes easier said than done) to go with the flow of energy, carve out time for rest and self-care, and make the most of the energy serges that do happen, but - as with so much in life - this has been easier some days than others.

    I think that being mindful of one's energy and how it impacts their quality of life, productivity, emotions, health, etc is of the utmost importance - as is acknowledging, as you do a great job of (doing), dear Ann, that sometimes our energy is there for us in spades and at others, it's woefully MIA.

    Hopefully these coming chilly months will be a restorative period for many of us, which allows our energy reserves to be replenished as best as is currently realistically possible.

    Autumn Zenith 🎃 Witchcrafted Life

    1. What a lovely, mindful comment Autumn. I am definitely a HSP, so the situation has a huge impact on my emotional well-being. But I cannot imagine anyone not being impacted by the pandemic. It's so life changing and exhausting, isn't it? xxx

  19. Your outfits are definitely a source of joy! You were right to snap that dress up as soon as you saw it.

    I'm sorry to hear your batteries are getting low again - it's been such a trying year. Pete and I were talking about it, and I think the inability to do things on a whim, to go for a day out somewhere, to take a break from the grind, is a big part of that. Next year will be - all going well - a year of joyful frivolity.

    1. Thank you Mim! You are quite right, I miss not being able to do things on a whim. Let's hope for a better and more joyful 2021! xxx