There was no improvement in the weather in the week after our visit to the crumbling castle. It was just one day after another of gloom and the temperature, which kept flitting around 5°C, was accompanied by a raw East wind. Weather conditions which didn't exactly tempt me to go out exploring during my lunch breaks.
If I'm honest, the lack of daylight combined with the lack of perspective has been making me feel quite lethargic.
With nothing much apart from a day at the office to look forward to, dragging myself out of bed in the morning has become a bit of a struggle lately. It doesn't help that Bess often sneaks into bed with me minutes before I am supposed to get up, purring loudly as I stroke her belly. She's quite annoyed when eventually I have no choice but to leave the warmth of my bed and that of her snuggly feline body.
But look, I made it through another working week, as here I am on Friday the 10th of December.
The corner of the kitchen outfit photos indicate that it was yet another one of those days on which daylight was almost non-existent. The rain was non-stop, too, and at just 4°C, it wasn't a day to be gallivanting about outside.
My vintage chocolate brown velvet midi skirt with its trails of cream lacy flowers was charity shopped last December. It is very strokable, but while ease of movement is aided by its lining, at the same time it is slitless which can be a bit of a hazard when walking at my usual brisk pace.
The blouse, with its funky yellow, green and brown pattern, is by Belgian retro label Wow To Go, and was another one of last year's charity shop finds. My green, short-sleeved cardigan is vintage and came from Think Twice. Accessories were a faux tortoiseshell necklace and a forest green leather belt, both courtesy of the charity shops, and an enamelled butterfly brooch which I believe was a flea market find.
My faux fur trimmed slippers were thrifted too. In fact, the only retail items in my outfit, apart from my underthings, were my ochre opaques.
Is a selfie made of one's feet a feetie, I wonder :-)
Our weekly charity shopping trip had been a short one that day, as Jos was due for his booster jab in the early afternoon. A quick dash to our local charity shop that morning yielded a handful of things, brought to you by my faithful assistant Angelica. If you are wondering who the hell Cléo is, well that was Angelica's real name until she was adopted by us and called after my great-grandmother Angelica, better known as Zeleke, who was a dressmaker.
There was a lilac addition to my growing collection of long-line cardigans, and an argyle patterned V-neck jumper in shades of blue on a sandy background. OK, beige would probably be a better word for it but I'm loathe to use such an ugly word! I picked up the crochet flower brooch as well, and promptly pinned it to the green cardigan I was wearing.
While Jos was out for his jab, I kept myself busy by hand-washing a batch of face masks. Although I will never ever accept this as normal, this is yet another one of those things which have crept into our daily routines.
The rest of the day was spent dutifully following in Bess's paw-steps, and although I didn't go as far as taking a cat-nap, I spent the afternoon reading and catching up with blogland.
We were treated to rays of sunshine on Saturday so, after lunch, we went for another cobweb clearing walk in one of Antwerp's cluster of parks.
At just 4°C, layering was required, particularly since my dress, by the Ein Fink Modell label, is unlined. Yet another one of last year's charity shop finds, I fell in love with its tiny pink flowers drifting down towards the hem. However, its lining had been partly removed by its previous owner, leaving only the top half which kept bunching up in such an annoying fashion that it had to be taken out completely.
Consequently, I'm wearing both a t-shirt and a slip underneath, as well as a chunky green cardigan on top. My choice of green for the latter, as well as for my belt and - another - enamelled butterfly brooch was prompted by the flower stalks in the dress's print.
I struggled a bit finding a necklace which was able to compete with the dress, eventually settling for a string of chunky wooden beads in multiple colours including pink and green.
Arriving at our destination, we parked our car in the designated car park on the avenue which separates the parks. Our initial idea had been to explore the part of the sculpture park called Middelheim-Low and the formal Hortiflora garden to its West.
However, upon entering the park, our feet veered off to the left instead of to the right, taking us towards the third of the parks, which is called Vogelzang (transl. Birdsong), the other two being Middelheim and Den Brandt.
This is actually the oldest of the three parks. There used to be a small castle here as early as 1457, but it was not until the 17th century that a park estate was added. The current park, laid out in typical English landscape style, dates from 1850.
The castle itself was demolished in the early 20th century and only the orangery and stables remain to this day.
I was tempted to do another statue impersonation here, but the soggy mass of leaves had made the bluestone plinth far too slippery to climb on top of it.
The park also contains an impressive First World War memorial, which was unveiled in 1930.
The former dairy, or melkerij in Flemish, was preserved and turned into a tavern where, from 1920 onwards, milk, lemonade, beer and sandwiches were being sold to visitors and hikers.
These weary hikers were glad to see that it was still in business and what's more, after whispering Open Sesame - or rather, scanning our CST's - we were allowed to enter and enjoy cups of cappuccino and huge waffles with oodles of whipped cream!
Thus fortified, we started our return journey which eventually found us making a short cut through Middelheim-Low after all.
Here, we narrowly escaped being abducted by aliens, who seemed to have made an emergency landing in the middle of a lawn. Their spaceship is called Never Mind and is a work by the Welsh artist Richard Deacon.
Never mind the aliens, we made it home in one piece!
On Sunday, the rain returned with a vengeance, with dark clouds putting paid to the sun getting a look-in. The temperature, which has been yoyoing a bit lately, was now back to 11°C.
Again, we only stepped outside for outfit photos. I was wearing the dress I'd found during our charity shopping trip the previous week. The lovely Lulu
commented that its pattern reminded her of a Gustav Klimt painting, and you know what, I think she's right!
It was an absolute joy to wear, too. As I'd had a couple of things to tick off my domestic to-do-list, I kept my accessories simple, just adding some silvertone jewellery. The 1960s style necklace is modern and came from the high street, although I can't for the life of me remember which shop. The brooch, with its dangly little chains ending in tiny pearls, was a flea market find, and one of my very first vintage brooches.
My wine red opaques are a well-worn pair I'm keeping for chores around the house, and I only added the recently charity shopped cardigan and the burgundy boots for stepping out into the garden.
The afternoon was spent putting up and decorating this year's Christmas tree. Due to the arrival of a certain furry creature, we had to put it up in a different place, for which we needed a smaller faux fir.
In addition, using our beloved vintage and heirloom baubles was out of the question, so that our tree is looking quite a bit different this year. The decorations included felt icicles, fabric hearts and angels, fake apples, wooden bird houses, resin wrens and gingerbread men, all of which were already in our collection. Oh, and the same 150 LED lights we used in our big tree, so that it's looking quite flashy! The fabric hiding its base is a remnant of the 1960s tablecloth which used to grace my parents' table on Christmas day.
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas, whichever way you prefer to spend it. Or not!
Stay safe, everyone!