Sunday 29 November 2020

Welcome to the wilderness

Although we were supposed to be in a watered down version of lockdown until 13 December, we had another government announcement on Friday, informing us that non-essential shops will be allowed to re-open on Tuesday the 1st of December. Personally, I'm not sure this was a wise decision, with Christmas (there, I've used the other C word!) very much on our doorstep.  However much precautions will be taken, I already have visions of hordes of Christmas-shopping zombies crowding the streets of Antwerp, and I'm thanking my lucky stars I only have to grin and bear them two days a week.

Christmas itself is still very much cancelled, so at least that's something to be thankful for, even if I'm not sure that everybody will be responsible enough to follow the rules as far as this is concerned. I know I may be a bit of a Scrooge, but I'm thinking of the future here. Admittedly, Covid-19 cases have been going down again for a while, but we're not anywhere near the ultimate goal so there's still every reason to remain cautious. 

But anyway! As my blog is still struggling to catch up with daily life at Dove Cottage, I'm inviting you to come along on a short trip in the time machine as I'm taking you back on two weeks ago on Saturday.

After a wishy-washy few days,  the weather gods had finally deemed to treat us to another gloriously sunny one, with innocent white clouds drifting in a bright blue sky. Too good a day, in fact, that it would have been silly not to make the most of it, so we ignored the fact that it was a Saturday and went for a walk.

Besides, we needed to experiment some more with our new phone's cameras, so that although we took along my proper Canon DSLR camera - with which most of the photos appearing in my blog are taken - we didn't actually use it.

We'll have a look at my outfit later, but first I need to mention the brown fur-collared jacket I'm wearing. It's vintage, proudly bears a Paris label, and was among my earliest Think Twice finds. For some unfathomable reason I hadn't worn it in years.

I was carrying one of my cross-body bags, featuring panels of tapestry at the back and front but, only mere minutes into our walk, the strap snapped off, leaving me with no other option than to carry it in my arms. Fortunately, Jos's shepherd style walking stick came to the rescue!

For our walk, we set the time machine's controls for Jos's childhood, as the area we visited are the former clay pits surrounding the hamlet he grew up in. There is nothing left of the hamlet nor its neighbouring ones which, together with the once flourishing clay industry, have been taken over by the mighty forces of nature.

A nature reserve has been established here with lots of meandering paths criss-crossing it. Even on this sunny Saturday, it was very quiet and we were alone for most of the time, only meeting a handful of fellow walkers in all the time we were there.

The crooked semi-bare trees with the carpet of discarded leaves beneath them were the perfect backdrop for showing you what I was wearing underneath that jacket.

My rust coloured slubbed skirt is vintage St. Michael and part of a suit, its short-sleeved belted jacket remaining largely unworn. To accompany it, I chose a chocolate brown polka dot blouse enhanced by handfuls of orange and yellow flowers. The latter colour was repeated in my cardigan and opaques, while I used olive green as an accent colour for my necklace and suede belt.

I was wearing a semi-worn out pair of boots, perfect for walking the wet paths the recent rain had left in its wake. It can be quite muddy out there!

The last time we visited here was on the 31st of July, which with its 35°C was one of last Summer's hottest days. That day, the heat of the sun was beating down relentlessly, and when we crossed the sandy plain where we took the long-shadowed selfie on the bottom right, the hot sand kept sloshing over the tops of my shoes, almost burning my feet in the process.

Now, instead of making a beeline for the shelter of the trees beyond, we kept on walking in the balmy November sunshine with the temperature a very agreeable 15°C.

We kept wandering at will, taking note of the sun's position in order not to get lost, as we hadn't brought our walking map. Not all paths are waymarked here but eventually we would come across one of the numbered markers which would have given us an indication of our whereabouts if we'd had a map.

As those of you who have been following my blog for a while might have gathered by now, we are very prone to getting lost even if we do have a map, so it's nothing short of a miracle that we found our way back to where we'd parked our car quite easily. Who needs a map anyway?

It was supposed to be very rainy and windy on Sunday, but there was still a bit of lingering sunshine to be spied when we got up. Having taken note of the shape of things to come, however, we went into the garden for outfit photos straight after our Sunday breakfast of eggs and soldiers.

Here I am amid the tangled jungle our garden usually is at this time of year, the dry and brown Hydrangea flower heads, the wilting and yellowing ferns and the jolly red Cotoneaster berries all harbingers of advanced Autumn. Peeking from the rampant ivy behind me are the first of the tiny yellow stars twinkling in our Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum).

I was wearing a pink dress with lashings of purple and off-white flowers which I picked up in a vintage per kilo shop in Antwerp last year. A vintage off-white flower brooch and a semi-transluscent lilac beaded necklace - both charity shop finds - were my accessories. Oh, and I once again wore one of my stretchy chevron patterned belts. They really go with everything!

In typical Sunday mood, I pottered around the house, ticking a couple of smaller things not worth mentioning off my to-do list.

Shortly after lunch, it started pouring and turned quite windy as forecasted, and although it had virtually stopped by the time we went to bed, we closed the bedroom window, which is usually left partly open during the night if weather permits, just to be on safe side.

Monday's office day was uneventful, not even worthy of a journal entry. Then Tuesday dawned grey and dismal but with a quite reasonable 12°C.

I still had the task of properly hibernating my Spring and Summer dresses to tick off my list. In order to save well-needed space, my out-of-season clothes are put into vacuum bags which are then put to sleep in our linen chest. The problem was that some of the bags, which had been doing their jobs for many years, turned out to be no longer airtight.

I'd bought a new set of bags just before lockdown 2 but hadn't yet been able to summon the get-up-and-go to tackle the gargantuan task of repacking the clothes into the new bags.

Now was as good a time as any, and what's more, the new bags turned out to be so much better quality. There was now more than enough space left on top of them to store my warmest woollens as well as a non-vacuumed bag of clothes which still needs sorting out.

The linen chest in question used to belong to Jos's maternal grandparents, who lived on a farm. A true family heirloom, its age spelled out by the scratched and stained surface of its heavy lid. It finally came into Jos's possession after his brother Eugene passed away in 2014.

It sits right next to my desk in the spare room, wedged into the only space we could find for it, but what a godsend it turned out to be! 

Covered with a quilted throw, it is yet again one of Phoebe's favourite snoozing places. 

Due to the eternal lack of space, I am constantly reshuffling my coats and jackets, which are jam-packed inside the wardrobe the jackets are hanging from in the linen chest collage.

A forecasted change in the weather prompted me to take out and hang up some of my warmer jackets  ready for wear. You will probably have recognized the two plaid jackets (top right and bottom left), which I've recently worn on the blog.

The teal new wool jacket (top left) and green wool jacket are both vintage and with their furry collars they usually come out to play as soon as a cold snap is on the horizon.


The belted brown Tweed jacket is another favourite which was worn on the blog not too long ago. Slightly moth-eaten before it even came into my possession, it has nevertheless been cherished for years.

The bottle green Tweed jacket was charity shopped in the Autumn of 2018 and my stash of buttons came up with the perfect one  to replace its boring predecessor. 

The deliciously coloured plaid jacket on the left was a sales bargain from a village shop which has since closed down, while the pale green, blue and black jigsaw print cape came from Think Twice. Tucked away at the back of the wardrobe, I always keep forgetting its existence, but I'm hoping to find the perfect occasion for wearing it very soon!

That just leaves that Tuesday's outfit! 

It actually features the skirt I couldn't get to look right, as mentioned in my previous post. I thought it deserved a second chance so I played around with my wardrobe's contents until I found the perfect top to pair it with. I was led by its blue background and the red in its confetti print, which echoed the blue and red in my skirt. 

On top, I threw on a teal waterfall cardigan which, same as the skirt and top, was a charity shop find.

As were the belt, necklace, brooch and boots, for that matter! In fact, the only new-bought items in my outfit were the blue opaques and ditto plastic ring.

I'm happy to report that I didn't feel the need to change into anything else that day and that the skirt will be a keeper after all.

And with that, I bid you goodbye for now. Until next time, please do stay safe, sane and as fabulous as possible!

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Creature comforts and home truths

The temperature continued to hover around a balmy 16° C in November's second week, and although we'd left the handful of gloriously sunny days of the first week behind us, it was still unseasonably warm.

Even the mornings weren't chilly enough to qualify as properly Autumnal, so that there was as yet no need for the heavy woollen coats, chunky knit scarves and gloves which are usually par for the course this time of year.

After Monday's uneventful office day, we woke up to a mixture of sunshine and light clouds on Tuesday. 

I'd chalked in a blog catch up as well as making a start on dusting the downstairs rooms while Jos was running errands, but my plans were thwarted by a wardrobe failure. 

Alas, the outfit I'd earmarked, and which was built around one of my recently charity shopped skirts, had looked infinitely better in my mind's eye. It simply didn't work and although initially I decided to persevere with it, I felt so out of sorts that I couldn't possibly concentrate and had to abandon my blog commenting to change into something else entirely.

The rust, burgundy and cream plaid H&M skirt I changed into was another charity shop find, but picked up several years ago, in October 2017. My brown leather belt, teal King Louie cardigan and black and white ceramic beaded necklace were charity shopped as well, while the Paisley print blouse came from Think Twice. 

To compliment my skirt's rusty shades, I pinned an orange felted flower corsage to my cardigan. This is an old retail buy, which has family members in many different colours. The ceramic heart brooch on my blouse is a Welsh holiday souvenir bought from a shop called The Crafters Cwtch in Cardigan.

From my rainbow of opaques, I selected a pair of wine red ones, while my footwear of choice was a pair of snake print ankle boots, a sales bargain from New Look.

I'd barely finished dusting the sitting room when Jos returned with his purchases. Apart from a fortnight's supply of non-alcoholic beers, these included a new mobile, picked up in our phone provider's shop in a nearby town, which had thankfully been allowed to stay open. His old mobile's battery had been playing up for months and as things had recently come to a head, the time had finally come to upgrade to a new one.

After lunch, we attempted to get to grips with the new phone's features. Then, as it looked as if rain was imminent, we grabbed our coats (in my case, my burgundy Tweed jacket with knitted sleeves and yoke) and swiftly walked to the museum garden further up our street for outfit photos. 

We'd only just made it home before the heavens opened and we were treated to heavy rain for the remainder of the day, leaving a drowned and bedraggled garden in its wake.

Wednesday was Armistice Day and as this is a public holiday in Belgium, the week's schedule was a bit different, with me having to go into work on Thursday instead.

It was an utterly grey and damp day and I was in a bit of a maudlin mood so that I couldn't settle to anything. For want of something better to do, I finished the dusting I'd started on Tuesday, giving the hallway and dining room a once-over, while Jos vacuumed the downstairs rooms in my wake.

The day's chores done, I made myself comfortable on the sofa, finishing Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread, and starting the latest installment of Lucinda Riley's The Seven Sisters series. With its 836 pages, The Sun Sister will certainly keep me spellbound for a while.

Presented with a gap in the clouds, Jos wanted to walk to our garage to connect his new mobile to our car enabling him to call hands-free, so I accompanied him for some outfit photos.

It might not have been cold enough for woollens, but berets, now that's a totally different story! 

Although there hasn't really been a need for these either, my drawerful of berets in all colours of the rainbow - painstakingly collected over the years - has been calling my name whenever I walk past the hallway cabinet they live in. I have been known to purposely postpone washing my hair just to have the bad hair days which justify wearing them!

That day, I selected a burnt orange one to go with my opaques, which in their turn picked up the burnt orange swirls in my vintage bottle green polyester and wool-blend Trevira dress. More shades of rust and orange appeared in my vintage woollen plaid jacket and crushed velvet scarf. To accompany the dress, I donned my bottle green wedge heeled ankle boots for the occasion. 

Is that a ray of sunshine I detect up there? Let's bask in it for a minute!

The coral polka dot cardigan I layered my dress with is an old H&M one, to which I pinned yet another one of my flower corsages, in a minty green to compliment the similarly coloured swirls in my dress.

The wooden brooch covered in tiny flowers was a flea market find, while my necklace - which you can just catch a glimpse of - was a gift from one of our favourite flea market traders. Sigh!

Back at home, we awarded ourselves the luxury of a warm waffle sprinkled with icing sugar. 

Together with pancakes, this is a traditional afternoon treat in Belgian tearooms, offering a choice of toppings to go with them. Alas, they are all still closed, although I have to admit I do not really miss eating out.

As mentioned, I had to work on Thursday that week, which felt oddly off-kilter.

Drawing our curtains on Friday morning, we were relieved to see some hazy rays of sunshine lighting up the garden. A light hoar frost made the silky webs of gossamer draped over the red-berried Cotoneaster look like unruly candyfloss.

I keep marvelling at the determination of plants, their efforts to shine one more time often in vain. 

Their petals all blackened and shriveled up, the Echinacea flowers look like ghosts of their former selves, while a lonely Felicia flower (top right) rears its tiny head above the still fresh green foliage. One or two Oxeye daisies are shyly opening their hearts, and there seems to be no stopping the exuberance of the Verbena Rigida (bottom left) we planted in early Summer.

My outfit of the day started with a grey and white wallpaper print dress with a pleated skirt, its monochromes brightened with splashes of fuchsia and turquoise on its collar and hem. And here's the teal King Louie cardie again, this time adorned with a fuchsia flower corsage. 

Other accessories were a pink and black beaded necklace, a pink vinyl belt and a flower embroidered brooch pinned to my dress.

Turquoise opaques and my newly acquired burgundy Fly London ankle boots completed my outfit.

Just a tiny bit envious of Jos's new phone and wanting to make use of the incredible deal he'd got on it, I decided to trade in mine as well. After all, as we'd bought our old phones at the same time back in the Spring of 2017, it would only be a matter of time until mine would be giving up the ghost as well.

The new phone's got an incredible camera, which I spent the rest of the afternoon experimenting with.

Here's a wide angle shot of our tiny sitting room taken from the sofa on which we were sat (the blue is Jos's denim-clad knee), and look who's snoring away on one of the 1950s cocktail chairs! 

Jos often sits in that chair, reading or doing word puzzles. That is, until Phoebe comes along and claims the chair as hers. 

Now that the nights are drawing in, and it gets dark half-way through the afternoon, the time has come to make things cozy by lighting some candles! The one in front of the Gossiping Mary's on top of one of the sitting room cabinets has found a home in an old amber coloured glass flower pot.

Things were definitely looking up on the weather front, the fiery sunset a herald of the bright and sunny day forecasted for Saturday. But that will be for another post.

Until then, friends and readers, I'm urging you once more to stay safe!

Friday 20 November 2020

The sun still rises

We were treated to a string of deliciously sunny days in the first week of November which it would have been downright silly not to have made the most of.

All too soon, we will yet again be confined inside our homes, held hostage by the rhythm of the rain against our windows, with premature darkness lulling us to sleep mid-afternoon.

Tinged with an unmistakable nostalgia, golden Autumn days are to be treasured. Held up against the light to all the better savour their timeless beauty. Breathe in whole lungfuls of their sweet musky scent.

It feels as if we are living on borrowed time on such days, so on the Friday of that week - we were the 6th of November by now - we decided to top up our vitamin D levels for the barren times ahead.

Packing a couple of sandwiches and a flask of coffee, we journeyed towards the wondrous wetlands of our favourite nature reserve, the enchanting and never disappointing Blaasveldbroek.

I'd quite forgotten about the flouncy hemmed Tweed skirt I was wearing, which I must have picked up in a charity shop last Winter but which had remained unworn until now. It was just perfect for the job  and combined excellently with the multi-hued tartan Gigue jacket I charity shopped back in October.

The morning was already nudging noon when we parked our car in our usual spot facing a shady, tree-hemmed pond which once upon a time provided private fishing. 

I always think it looks like the reserve's plentiful other ponds and lakes' poor cousin, its dark mirrored surface making it appear gloomy whatever the season. 

From here, we set off upon a path we only recently discovered this Summer. Typically, as it happens, by taking a wrong turn on our way back. At that time, if offered a green and shady reprieve from the day's oppressing heat. Now, it was awash with the multi-coloured offerings of the trees.

The last time I stood on this jetty, the mercury had climbed well into the 30s, and I would have had a hard time imagining standing here again just a matter of months later, wearing Tweeds and woollens, a scarf and a beret.

Nevertheless, I could well have done without the latter two, as the temperature was still quite balmy on this November day, reaching highs of about 15°C. 

Soon plagued by hunger pangs due to our late start, we searched out a sunny bench in a quiet spot for our picnic.

We'd only met a handful of people by then, most of them lone dog-walkers or small family units, but it would get significantly more crowded as the day progressed. 

Sat on our bench soaking up the sun's rays, we got talking to some passers-by, a friendly couple with whom we marvelled at the fact that everything still looked quite green, all things considered, and that some of the trees had hardly begun to change colour.

Afterwards we continued our walk, making a slight detour to the little whitewashed chapel at the other end of the reserve. 

On the fisherman's jetty opposite we found the perfect spot for more outfit photos, this time minus jacket and scarf.

The zig-zag patterned pink, brown and pale grey V-neck jumper was another old charity shop find and just long enough to wear over my skirt rather than tucked in. I accented my waist with my zebra print belt, a much worn retail buy from exactly a year ago. I can't believe I wasn't wearing a brooch, so that my only piece of jewellery is my necklace with its different textures, materials and colour. This too was a pre-Covid retail buy.

The balmy weather continued into the weekend. Having free weekdays at our disposal, the weekends are usually spent at home, as we are intent on avoiding even the most minor of crowds.

On Saturday morning, I donned my gardening gear again, planting up a recently vacated hanging basket with a white cyclamen, a cheeky-faced pansy and an ornamental cabbage.

We'd also bought a magenta cyclamen, which I gave a home in the square pot which recently housed some wilted cream Chrysanthemums, planting up a small terracotta pot and an old enamel coffee pot with more pansies.

My final gardening feat that morning was planting just over half of these drumstick Alliums in different spots in the garden. They too were picked up at the garden centre two days previously.

After a lunch of Jos's homemade soup, we still had the whole of a sun-drenched afternoon in front of us, which obviously we couldn't allow to go to waste.

Thus we hopped in the car for a short ride to one of our neighbouring village's leafy park.

The park is part of the former pleasure grounds of a castle called Solhof and was designed in an English landscape style said to be inspired by Capability Brown. 

Nowadays, it is a semi-neglected warren of meandering paths skirting a lawn which offers vistas of the moated former castle, now much modernized and turned into a luxury hotel.

There's an ice-house built into a mound, which can be climbed by way of a spiralling path to reach the gazebo on top, to which I've taken you a couple of times before.

As we could hear voices up there, we decided to give it a miss this time. 

There were quite a few people about - it was a Saturday after all - but there was more than enough space for keeping one's distance.

It looks like we were in luck, as later that day, we would read tales of nature reserves and other green spaces being jam-packed with people.

My raspberry red dress with its print of white and yellow dots and dashes came from Episode, a Dutch chain of vintage shops, where it begged me to take it home in January 2019.

Matching the yellow dots, I added a yellow cardigan and opaques, while even my snake print handbag - just big enough for essentials - joined in the matchy-matchy game.

Further accessories were my vintage Bohemian seed-beaded brooch, a multi-coloured and textured beaded necklace and one of my stretchy, chevron patterned, belts.

As usual, walking through the crunchy carpets of scarlets, browns and golds, with brilliant shafts of sunlight piercing the canopies of the majestic old trees, got our spirits soaring, and it was with much lighter hearts that we made our way back home.

Or tried to, anyway, as a road diversion initially thwarted our plans and made us drive around in circles, with the radio playing 1970s chart music, to which we happily sang along.

And that brings us to the end of this post, but not before I show you what I was wearing on Sunday.

In spite of the initial forecast, it turned out to be another sunny day, although there were some minor clouds to be spied here and there.

My journal tells me I did a bit of mending on a jumper and a granny square blanket and ironed some of the skirts which had recently come out of hibernation. The latter is a major event, as I had been shirking my ironing duties for months!

But back to that outfit I promised to show you. 

My cobalt blue dress with its full-on print of flowers and pagodas, doesn't need further introduction as it has made it to the blog more than once before. I picked up the pink in its print by wearing pink opaques and a pink ajour cardigan. This originally had a drawstring at the waist, which I removed, as it was the reason I was hardly wearing it.

I added another one of my stretchy, woven belts, combining pink with yellow and off-white. 

A pale green Miracle brooch was pinned to my cardigan. The string of wooden beads was an old charity shop find. 

Still breaking in the charity shopped Fly London ankle boots which have yet to be taken on a trip.

I will be back - with a less sunny aspect, unfortunately - in a couple of days. In the meantime, as usual, I am hoping that all of your are staying safe, sane and fabulous!

Sunday 15 November 2020

November days are clear and bright

We're halfway through November now, and so far this month has been a rather mixed bag in terms of weather and mood. Uncharacteristically mild and sunny days which felt more like late Summer than advanced Autumn alternated with those soul-draining damp and dreary ones more common for the year's penultimate month.

More often than not, my mood seems to synchronize with the weather, which was particularly true on Sunday the 1st of November. Perhaps befitting All Saints' Day, the day was a miserable one throughout and so dark that we couldn't even muster the energy to take any outfit photos.

The bleak blanket of clouds followed us into Monday, when they were joined by a succession of showers from midday onwards, the temperature incongruously climbing towards a balmy 20° Celsius.

To say I was glad I could switch off my pc, don my mask and go home at the end of my office day is quite an understatement!

Much to my relief, the sun rejoined us on Tuesday, and even the drop in temperature to a much cooler 13°C couldn't damped my renewed joie de vivre.

Dressing was a doddle that morning, as I'd already planned to rewear Sunday's unphotographed outfit.

A mixture of palest yellow, ochre and tan flowers and seashells adorn my navy blue vintage dress, dictating my use of yellows and tans for my cardigan, opaques and belt. I even wore a yellow beret, although it wasn't strictly necessary yet. I have been eyeing my drawer full of berets with much longing, and a bad hair day is just the perfect excuse!

The chain of wooden rings and discs is an old retail buy from Accessorize and has featured on my blog countless times before, while the flower corsage I pinned to my cardigan is part of an extensive collection. I have been wearing these on and off for many years and they may well have kick-started my current brooch collection.

After a brief inspection of the garden, making note of those plants and flowers which are still going strong and those who have given in to the inevitable, I retreated upstairs for some long overdue dusting.

The November sunshine, at once bright and slightly veiled, streamed in through our bedroom window and landing skylight, highlighting my main wardrobe with its jumble of suitcases and beauty cases on top. These are not just for decoration, mind you, but offer sanctuary to smaller items such as socks, scarves, belts and buttons.

The wardrobe itself, with its gleaming bow-fronted main doors and side doors adorned with carved flower panels, was found in a charity shop back in March 2015, at the end of a very long and initially fruitless search.

Here's a view from our bedroom towards the tiny landing separating our bedroom from our spare room. However small it is, we nevertheless managed to cram a book case into it, which was custom made by my Dad, with a vintage Tomado shelving unit hanging directly above. We haven't got an inch to spare!

The top shelf of yet another Tomado unit, this one living in our bedroom, is full of Lourdes memorabilia. This is one of our accidental collections started after Jos was given a Lourdes clock-cum-music box by an ex-colleague. Shortly afterwards, we found a plastic holy water bottle in the form of Our Lady of Lourdes in a charity shop, and the rest, shall we say, is history!

We've long stopped collecting and have even thinned out our collection in the meantime, but there's still a lot of curious and intriguing objects jostling for space, making dusting the shelf an arduous task.

Egg cups and snow globes, one of them doubling as a perpetual calendar, candles, holy water bottles in all shapes and sizes, and kitsch ornaments galore: we have it all. One of the wackiest items in our collection must be the disco light ornament, pictured top right in the collage below) which we found still in its box in a charity shop. Here it is in its full glory!

The sun greeted us again on Wednesday which made quite a difference to my second working day of the week. Due to my office's wall-to-wall windows, I am very aware of the weather and I'm usually far more productive on those days when I can see Antwerp's cityscape basking in sunslight from my 5th floor perch.

We enjoyed the same sunny but slightly nippy weather on Thursday. As I was washing up our breakfast things, I glanced out of the window, stopping dead in my tracks when I saw a male blackbird making short shrift with our Cotoneaster berries. We always used to have blackbirds flock to our garden until a virus decimated their numbers a couple of years ago. Now they have become a rare sight.

While Jos was off to the supermarket, I dressed in my misbehaving pumpkin coloured cord skirt and a jumper, put on my denim gardening apron and my ankle wellies, and tackled some of the outstanding gardening chores. These included planting the remainder of the Spring bulbs (Snowdrops, two kinds of Grape Hyacinths and Allium 'purple sensation') as well as a leaf sweeping session.

We needed more bread mix, a house plant to replace one that had died on us and some plants for our window box so, as garden centres are mercifully allowed to stay open, this is where we were off to after lunch. Then, with our boot full of stuff - as we'd obviously bought more than we'd bargained for - we drove on to Jos's old playground, now turned into a nature reserve, for a short walk and the obligatory outfit photos.

I'd changed into another cord skirt after my gardening session, this one in a bottle green. Found in a vintage per kilo shop almost exactly a year ago, its midi-length A-line made me feel much more comfortable than the other skirt did. This one's definitely a keeper!

I chose opaques in an orange-red to tie in with my top, added a reddish brown leather belt and book-ended my outfit with sage green boots and beret. My Berlin-made rust-coloured woollen plaid jacket was an old Think Twice find.

A breath of fresh air was just what we needed, although we only went for the shortest of strolls as there were far too many people out and about for our liking. It might have been just a weekday, but we had quite forgotten it was in the middle of the school holidays!

Nevertheless, my nature loving heart was captured by the fluffy Clematis seed heads high up in a tree, a patch of lichen among the carpet of Autumn leaves and some end-of-season dragonflies soaking up the life-giving rays of the sun.

The psychedelic print River Woods pussy-bow top was one of my first charity shop finds after lockdown # 1, the ceramic Bambi brooch was a flea market find and the spiky green brooch I pinned to my jacket was a gift from Kezzie!

Even if the light was waning by the time we got home, I still insisted on planting up the window box in the passageway with some of the plants we brought back from the garden centre.

I used variegated leaved Heuchera 'Can Can' as a centrepiece and flanked it with pansies and ornamental cabbages. Behind the window, you can see the houseplant we bought, which compliments the arrangement perfectly.

The plant in question is called Aglaonema and originates from the Asian rain forests. It is supposed to be perfect for dark places, which is why we chose it in the first place. It might be spotlighted by the rays of the sun now, but soon the latter won't be high and strong enough to reach this spot, which is hemmed in by our kitchen and the garden wall.

While browsing the indoor plants at the garden centre, we fell hard for this bottle garden, which is now taking pride of place in our hallway, where it is enjoying the filtered sunlight streaming through our front door's fanlight.

So, that was it for another episode of semi-lockdown life. There were more sunny days on the horizon, so next time I hope you'll join me again for a proper walk in our favourite nature reserve.

Until then, as always, stay safe, sane and fabulous!