Sunday, 17 October 2021

Autumn's advancing

We've made it halfway through October by now, and Autumn is in full swing. As capricious as April with its eponymous showers, the former's fresh Spring greens replaced by a palette of yellows, russets and browns.

Just like her Spring sister, October can be glorious, but we're on a slippery slope when she deals us a hand of dark rainy days.

True to form, my blog is lagging behind, so I'm continuing where I left off at the end of my last post, on Friday the 1st of October.

While I did tell you all about that day's Oxfam haul - well, not quite all of it, but we will get to that later - I was yet to show you what I was wearing that day, so why don't we start with that?

Although it was a bit of a dismal day, with on and off rain, the temperature reached highs of 17°C, which was mild enough for this lightweight midi dress in a yummy shade of aubergine.

With its multi-hued Paisley-esque pattern, it was a lucky find in the January sales back in 2019. I took the lead from the greens and pinks in its pattern for my accessories, which included a moss green belt and necklace and a pink carved celluloid brooch. My ring echoes the dress's main colour.

On top, I wore a purple trimmed cardigan in an impossible to photograph shade of olive green, which is much more vibrant in real life. The glare of the sun, when she eventually made an appearance, wasn't any help here, and additionally made my face look quite ghostly.

In my haste to finish my previous post, I forgot to photograph this lacquered wicker handbag, which joined my collection of basket-style bags after I found it winking at me from a shelf near the fitting rooms.

My reading pile also got a bit bigger after these three books followed me home. Not sure yet which one will be my next read if I ever finish the 592-page Elizabeth Gilbert, which has become quite a chore.

Flush with our many treasures, we drove home and had lunch, after which we had some errands to run. These included a visit to our edge-of-town branch of C&A, as Jos was in need of a couple of pairs of trousers.

Time to show you my outerwear, which consisted of an olive green cord jacket - again, looking paler that it actually is - and an aubergine embroidered crushed velvet scarf, picked up for € 0,50 at a flea market many years ago.

Trouser buying mission accomplished, we were wandering around the shop on our way to the till, when Jos spotted these ankle boots, which were exactly the thing I was looking for!

Back home again, the sky had turned a uniform shade of non-descript grey, against which the tower crane at the building site across the road stood out starkly. 

Its arm is acting like a giant weather vane and if the wind comes from the wrong direction, it towers over our garden, as well as several of our next door neighbours'. 

It has become a meeting point for a parliament of rooks of late, their raucous cawing competing vigorously with the weekday noise of the construction equipment!

Rain had been forecasted from the afternoon onward on Saturday the 2nd of October, so we made the most of the dry, clear and at times sunny morning to make outfit photos before the heavens opened.

I felt the need to wear Autumnal, yet cheerful, colours, but before I'm taking you through the details of my outfit, I'm sure you'll have noticed I was wearing my spanking new footwear!

My dress is a short-sleeved one, although you have to take my word for it. For some reason, I never thought to remove my thin long-line chartreuse cardigan.  In a polyester knit, the dress was more than adequate to deal with the day's 17°C on its own.

I piled on citrussy orange accessories: a long necklace, a belt belonging to a different dress and a flower corsage pinned to my cardigan. A cream vintage flower brooch adorned the dress itself.

My efforts to compete with the Autumnal exuberance of our garden were clearly in vain! 

The long-suffering Cotoneaster - one of the garden's inherited inhabitants - is displaying its yearly fireworks of fiery red berries, their colour echoed by the first of the changing Virginia creeper leaves.

Vibrant pink is represented by the Hydrangeas in their final blush and the magenta flower heads of Sedum spectabile.

And then there are the pops of orange from the seemingly invincible Nasturtiums!

With the weather in non-stop rain mode from late afternoon on Saturday until mid-afternoon on Sunday, it was the perfect opportunity to continue with the daunting task of my seasonal wardrobe changeover.

I made a start with my main wardrobe, folding away my Spring and Summer frocks and putting them to sleep inside the vacuum bags recently vacated by my Autumn and Winter ones. I've still got the Real Winter Weather stuff to do - thank you Monica for this moniker - but that'll be for a later date. And then there are the skirts, shoes and coats to tackle as well ... 

I'm usually taking this biannual opportunity to weed out the things I'm no longer enamoured with, and I filled a bag of donations and another one for my flea market stock, which made me feel rather proud of myself. I even repaired the separated zipper of the dress whose pattern you can see on the bottom right.

This is what I was wearing on Sunday. After it had finally stopped raining, we just managed to take photos before the light started to fade.

My recently charity shopped floral maxi skirt was joined by a vintage blouse bought from a long-gone shop. I fell hard for its rosewood colour, naive flower print, orange buttons and large wing collar, to which I pinned a vintage pearly posy of flowers brooch.

Further finishing touches were a bottle green mock-croc belt, an apple green beaded necklace and a chunky purple ring.

The week ahead of us would be a mostly gloomy one, during which we didn't even manage to take outfit photos once. You didn't miss much, as I did rewear versions of Friday's and Saturday's outfit. I also gave the dress with the newly repaired zipper a go. Sadly, when I unzipped it at night, the zipper separated again. It's now currently awaiting its faith. Perhaps I'll have a go at replacing it myself ...  

Tuesday the 4th of October was World Animal Day, so I thought it was only fitting to include another Bess update. She is becoming ever more confident, continues being inquisitive and is, of course, utterly spoiled.

Her latest tricks include waking us up in the middle of the night by continuously scratching the duvet. Ignoring her doesn't help, so that there's nothing for it but to ban her from the bedroom. She also likes rearranging the rugs and is totally obsessed with the kitchen faucet!

Weather permitting, I've been indulging in what Sheila aptly calls Mental Health Shopping during my lunch breaks. 

Always on the lookout for interesting skirts, I couldn't resist buying the fudge coloured button through cord one from a high street shop, while a rummage at Think Twice yielded the black, daisy patterned one. You'll get to see me wearing the cord skirt in my next post, and I'm happy to report it'll definitely be a keeper!

Well, that's it for now. 

As we were blessed with a couple of gorgeously sunny Autumn days in the ensuing weekend, I'll be taking you on a couple of walks in my next post. Will you join me?

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Melancholy me

The sun had been hiding behind a blanket of grey all morning on September's final Sunday, which felt strangely at odds with the 20°C indicated by the thermometer. 

I'd been making a half-hearted attempt at starting my seasonal wardrobe changeover, but so far I had only switched sandals for ankle boots. The task felt quite beyond me so I sighed and gave up, thinking there would be gloomier and thus far more suited days ahead to get on with this cumbersome job.

Sometimes I think my life would be a lot easier without my mega-maximalist wardrobe, but what would be the fun in that, I wonder.

Days like these, when I can't seem to settle to anything, often seem to occur on a Sunday. Quite without rhyme or reason, a melancholy mood takes hold of me and lingers if not taken in hand and pulled up by the root.

Sometimes, all it takes is going for a walk to chase the tangle of cobwebs away, so that is what we decided to do after lunch. 

Still going through the dregs of my Summer wardrobe, I unearthed this short-sleeved vintage dress, its multi-hued millefiori pattern interspersed with blowsy cream roses. My blue butterfly brooch felt quite at home in this meadowful of flowers!

I added a tan leather belt at my waist, while further accessories consisted of a chocolate brown beaded necklace, aqua flower ring, blue bracelet and - as the cherry on the cake - an ivory-coloured carved Bakelite bangle.

My blue jacket, in a crepey fabric, is charity shopped King Louie, to which I pinned a peachy flower corsage. Instead of taking the easy way out and grabbing my usual cork cross-body bag, I made the effort to dig out this leather-topped wicker basket which hadn't seen the light of day for well over a year.

Our initial plan was to walk on a castle domain in the next village but alas we couldn't find a parking spot. Not wanting to admit defeat, we drove on to Fort 5, one of the old forts - dating from the 1860s -surrounding the city of Antwerp. Most of these have been converted to nature reserves and although this particular one actually links to the aforementioned castle domain, we were just aiming for a leisurely stroll around the fort and its moat.

The monument on the bottom right commemorates 16 Belgian resistance fighters who were executed at Fort 5 during the First World War.

As always, it felt good to walk among nature, breathing in its sweet yet earthy fragrance, our eyes feasting on the trees and vegetation which were peppered with the first signs of Autumn. 

There's a veil of melancholy here too, especially at this time of year. This used to be part of my Dad's playground when he was growing up in the village, and it's where his ashes have been laid to rest on All Saints' Day 2016.

The dull grey sky was reflected in the gently rippling water where the usual gaggle of moorhens and ducks - not to mention the odd turtle - was joined by a majestic cormorant.

We hadn't been here since before Covid, and couldn't help but notice the signs of neglect and negligence with more than just a degree of sadness: the willow hurdles lining the path all but disintegrated, the graffiti which had mushroomed inside the accessible parts of the fort, and the mind-boggling amount of litter to be found everywhere we turned.

The weather forecast for the week ahead of us was looking pretty dire, with a drop in temperature and a more than usual amount of rain being definitely on the menu.

This wasn't immediately apparent on Monday and Tuesday, when the mercury kept flitting around the 20°C mark and the sun often managed to find a break in the clouds. 

Determined to make the most of my Summer wardrobe while it lasted, I wore this 1970s does 1940s frock on Tuesday, a glorious floral Diolen which is among my favourites.

I picked two of the dress's multiple colours for my accessories: blue for my cardigan and belt, and orange for my necklace, ring and squirrel brooch. Isn't the latter a cutie?

More clouds appeared on Wednesday, ominously threatening rain and erupting into a fierce thunderstorm while I was at the hairdresser's.

The temperature had plummeted to barely 15°C, but I still persevered with wearing my short-sleeved Summer frocks. Obviously, I was wearing a cardigan for most of the day, but I still had to put the heating on at the office to combat the chills.

With the cornucopia of fruits among its pattern - I detect apples, pears and grapes - the dress speaks late Summer and early Autumn to me, which is why I often wear it at this time of year.

Green is my usual go-to colour for accessorizing the dress, so I added a beaded necklace, Cameo brooch and belt in my favourite colour. Note the belt, which used to belong to a vintage dress I never wore and was thus redonated. In fact, the thing that persuaded me to buy the dress in the first place was its gorgeous belt. The two parts of its buckle hook up together, and they are painted metal, not plastic.

Thursday was another dismal day, with the mercury still stuck at 15°C, its only redeeming factor being the lack of rain.

As once again I would be sitting on my office chair for most of the day, I finally relented and opted for long sleeves in the form of this vintage blouse with its pattern of dots, squiggles and flowers.

More flowers appeared on my skirt, in delicious shades of burnt orange, blue, pink and fudge.

My teal King Louie cardigan - charity shopped, obviously - was worn on top.

Various shades of blue were added with my belt, beaded necklace, ring and brooch.

Having noticed the decrepit state of some of my ankle boots, I was on the lookout for replacements, so I browsed some of the shoe shops on Antwerp's main shopping thoroughfare during lunch break. No luck, unfortunately, as those which weren't yawn-provokingly dull were much too high of heel. Oh well, it's not as if I haven't got footwear aplenty.

And so another working week had come to an end and we were once again ready to hit the charity shops on Friday the 1st of October.

As from that day, mask wearing was no longer mandatory in shops here in Belgium, and although we are still carrying masks in case it gets too busy, it was an absolute joy to browse without one's glasses constantly fogging up or feeling a bit disoriented as I usually do when wearing one.

The Oxfam shop in Wilrijk, which was our choice of destination that day, is quite spacious, and as there was only a handful of other shoppers present, I never felt anything but safe.

The charity shop goddesses must have been in a good mood too that day, as my finds were plenty. 

And green!  

The dress with its massive flower print is a 34, which is several sizes smaller than my usual size, and one which normally I wouldn't be able to fit into in a million years. Having recently found another dress by the same brand, I was aware of the fact that their sizes seem to run quite large, so I went by sight and indeed it fit me perfectly.

The green jacket is King Louie, and a size L, while I would usually go for a medium. Still, it fits perfectly, which just goes to show how off sizes can often be.

I couldn't believe my luck when I spotted this green vintage raincoat and squealed with joy when it turned out to be my size. And that was before I discovered its tag, and a spare button in one of its pockets. 

My final finds were a handmade vintage black floral frock, which will go straight into the linen chest - where I store my out-of-season clothes - after its spin in the washing machine, to be rediscovered next Spring.

The yellow flower and leaf patterned jumper won't have to wait that long to make its debut on the blog!

And with that, we've come to the end of this post. I'll be back with more in a couple of days. See you next time!


Friday, 8 October 2021

Summer's golden close

After the funny sort of Summer we've had, September's glorious weather was nothing short of a blessing. Thus, it was quite a shock to the system when, almost like a bolt from the blue, Autumn had turned wet and windy by the time October rolled along. So much for mellow fruitfulness, while the mist was of the kind that follows in the wake of non-stop rain.

But I'm being hasty again, as here I am on Sunday the 19th of September, enjoying another Indian Summer's day, with the mercury indicating a balmy 23°C.

There wasn't much need for my mustard cropped, short-batwing-sleeved cardigan - would it be correct to call it a shrug, I wonder - and indeed I was carrying it over my arm and almost lost it if it weren't for a nice guy winding down his car window to tell me I'd dropped it, complimenting us both on our attire in the process.

We were on our way to our car as we were having a lunch date with our friends Inneke and Maurice to mark the occasion of both mine and Inneke's birthdays. We are the same age, and have known each other since secondary school, reconnecting via Facebook after 30-odd years in 2009. 

Until that very morning, I hadn't put much thought into what I was going to wear. If I'd had anything in mind at all, it would have been a maxi dress or skirt.

Rummaging through my shelf of blouses, this gauzy peacock feather patterned and pussy-bowed one all but leapt out at me, so who was I to deny it my outfit's starring role. It's from the Libelle Collection, produced for the eponymous Dutch and Flemish women's magazine, and picked up from a flea market stall for all of € 1! I secured its pussy-bow, as I'm wont to do, with a vintage scarf clip.

Same as the mustard cardigan, the wide blue midi skirt I picked as the blouse's companion is H&M by way of the charity shops. My blue wedge shoes adorned with tiny tan bows were charity shopped as well, as was the by now familiar copper and turquoise cuff.

My vintage snakeskin belt - nothing faux about that one - was a flea market find, and I bought the tapestry bag during last year's Think Twice birthday trawl.

Our restaurant of choice was 't Kasteeltje (transl. as little castle), a mansion built in 1900 in so-called cottage style, in the nearby village of Boechout. It is somewhat reminiscent of its contemporary, Chalet Schabaillie, which we visited when in Poperinge.

The food was delicious - I had vol-au-vent, a Belgian classic - and a lovely time was had by all. On top of that, we had the most entertaining waiter, a guy called Dovy, who made us guess his country of origin by dropping little hints each time he passed our table, telling us only a handful of people had got it right so far. We soon guessed - correctly - that it was Israel! 

Back at home, what was left of the patio plants were in urgent need of a drop of water. 

As Maurice had noticed that the construction site across the road had stopped pumping up groundwater while we were on holiday, we tentatively gave our hand pump a try and were overjoyed to find we were once again able to draw well water to quench our garden's thirst. Huzzah!

It was back to business as usual on Monday, even a three-day weekend being over in the blink of an eye. With the weather still on its best behaviour, treating us to lots of sunshine and a temperature which kept hovering in the low twenties, I ventured a bit further afield during my lunch breaks. I indulged in a spot of shopping too, even if there was nothing which tickled my fancy at Think Twice and the vintage per kilo shop.

As for outfit photos, I'm skipping a couple of days to Wednesday, when we finally found the time and energy to take some after work.

Ideally, my hair would have been freshly cut and coloured, courtesy of a hairdresser's appointment during lunch break. Alas, it turned out I'd got the time wrong, arriving at the salon an hour late. Michel, my hairdresser, had been quite worried as not only I'd never been late in the 26 years I've been going to the salon, for some reason he hadn't been able to reach me by phone ... While he was relieved to see me turn up after all, there was nothing for it but to reschedule to the next week!

There's more than just a hint of Autumn in the colours of this button-through Diolen dress I bought in a vintage shop in December 2017. Therefore it will come as no surprise that I mostly find myself reaching for it this time of year, although I've been known to wear it in April as well.

It came with its own self-fabric tie belt, which I usually replace by a belt in one of the colours of the dress's flower pattern. More often than not, it'll be yellow, which here I used not only for the belt, but for the beaded necklace and perspex ring as well. I'm even wearing a watch with a yellow strap. 

My brooch, an old flea market find, echoes all the colours in my dress! How is that for matchy-matchiness?

On Thursday, my final office day of the week, my lunch break was spent having coffee and a mammoth catch-up with my friend Inez. We used to do this almost every week pre-Covid, but this was the first time we picked up where we left off about 18 months ago!

As our previous haunts have closed down, we looked for pastures new, which we found at Maurice, a cozy coffee bar located in a 15th Century chapel.

The dress I was wearing was plucked from a rail of deadstock Diolen I came across at an outdoor flea market in May 2018.

It has a rather unwieldy tie belt in the same fabric as the dress's colour and cuffs. As I didn't like the latter at all, I tried replacing it with a green fabric belt belonging to another dress, only to end up ditching it at the office and spending the rest of the day wearing the dress belt-less. Although this did make me feel slightly better, I still wasn't happy with it, which was only confirmed when I saw the outfit photos we made that evening.

I tried it again with an orange fabric belt on Friday, but that still didn't convince me either so, after chucking it into the washing machine and rejoining it with its original belt, it has now been relegated to the flea market pile. Don't get me wrong: I love the dress - that print is absolutely delightful - but not on me.

As it was Friday, we went for a charity shop rummage as usual, although our choice of shops was limited, the direction we were driving in dictated by the UCI World Championships 2021 which were passing through our village for three days running. 

My treasures that day included this floaty blue maxi dress and a maxi skirt with a ditsy purple, green and white floral pattern, both of which are proudly showcased by the always obliging Angelica.

I already wore the skirt myself in the meantime, but that'll be for a next post.

The jewellery display came up trumps again as well, with a longline necklace featuring cream heart-shaped beads and a multi-strand pink and magenta one.

These red Rieker shoes with elastic straps and jelly-like red and pink heels look virtually unworn and turned out to be extremely comfortable. They've got just the right height of heel for me too.

I couldn't wait to wear them, so that's what I did on Saturday. 

It was a day of pottering and running an errand or two, visiting grandson Cas and his parents, and marvelling at how much he'd changed since we last saw him back in August.

I played around with my wardrobe, trying to wear as many items of my Summer wardrobe before the big changeover. 

This midi-length circle skirt was charity shopped in December 2019, and is something of an oddity. Although there is a label, I suspect it is a personalized one, and the skirt is somebody's handiwork. Apart from its mid-century style print, it has a visible red side zipper and features random felt circles and visible stitching, strangely enough on the front left side only.

The blue three-quarter sleeved top was charity shopped as well, and is from the same label as the peacock feather patterned blouse I wore at the beginning of this post. To tie in with the cream edging and shoulder buttons, I wore a cream beaded necklace and barley twist bangle, both of which are vintage.

The vintage celluloid brooch featuring three Scotties in its turn ties in with the mid-century theme of the skirt. The millefiori bracelet and the belt - the latest stretchy one to join my collection - were both bought on the high street.

Finally, in other news, it has been a while since I shared my reading matter. 

I've started this epic 592-page novel during our holiday, and I'm only just now into its final pages.
It's not that I haven't been enjoying it - although it does go on a bit - but I only seem to find time for reading in bed lately, again often falling asleep mid-sentence after only a couple of pages!

I'll be rounding off September in my next post, for which I hope you'll join me again. Until next time, please do take care!