Tuesday 30 March 2021

Cat paws and catkins

Whatever life has thrown at us in this past year, and continues to do so as we speak, the world is still turning on its axis and yet another Spring has made its entrance in the Northern hemisphere. 

March is marching along towards its end, with fickle April lying in wait around the corner. In just a matter of days it'll be one year since my working hours were seriously reduced. After the initial shock, though, I took to it like a duck to water. Having an unprecedented amount of time at my disposal was an undiluted luxury, only slightly marred by the sorry state of the world at large.

Fast forward one year, and the dark cloud of a return to full-time employment has been looming on the horizon for a while.  For now, however,  I've been given a reprieve and I'll be continuing  my current three-day working week schedule for yet another month at the very least.

Kudos to those who have been working full time, often in challenging circumstances, all through the pandemic! I am fully aware how lucky I have been!

Rewinding the tape again back to Thursday, the 18th of March. 

So far, the month had been quite a mixed bag, weather-wise, and it wasn't an unusual occurrence to be faced with several seasons in one day. That Thursday, however, the weather gods were fairly consistent in delivering a grey and dismal day, with highs of about 8°C.

Even though I'll be doing my wardrobe changeover quite a bit later than Sheila does, I am casting a critical eye over my wardrobe's contents, trying to wear those poor frocks who haven't yet seen the light of day this season.

Enter this glorious 1970s does 1940s with its blowsy flower pattern on a green background. Green being my favourite colour, I'm sure that some of you are shaking their heads in disbelief that this is only its first - and probably only - wear before it is relegated to the out-of-season vacuum bags.

Funnily enough, scrolling through my Instagram squares - which is easier than going through my blog - revealed that I combined it with the same opaques and charity shopped King Louie cardigan last time I wore it. As this, incredulously, turned out to be almost exactly a year ago, I am definitely a creature of habit!

I am wearing a different brooch though, one of my vintage favourites, as well as another belt. For some reason, the latter seems to be popping up quite a lot lately.

Both the Fly London ankle boots and my necklace with its swirly teal and white beads were between lockdowns charity shop finds. 

Talking of charity shopping, that is exactly what we did that day. It would be the last time for a while, although we were blissfully unaware at the time. With Spring on its way, it isn't that big a deal for us, really, as we'll be spending more time in the garden and, almost inevitably, the garden centre.

Once again, we had to turn back at our original choice of shop, as there was a queue waiting outside, which there was no way I was going to join. We then continued to a shop a bit further up the road, where I found a stripy Monki jumper with a bit of sparkle in its knit, and a midi skirt by Belgian designer Nathalie Vleeschouwer. This would have retailed at well over € 100, so mine was a snip at just € 4,50.

Ever since little Bess entered our lives just under a month ago, no post would be complete without reporting on her progress. And progress she is definitely making, gaining confidence on a daily basis.

As recommended by many a cat whisperer, we are letting her do her own thing in her own time, which seems to be doing the trick. But boy, does she love her food! We only have to open the kitchen cabinet it is stored in for her to come out, waiting impatiently until her bowl is filled and we put it down.

There is no petting just yet although we are longing for the day that she'll come up to us, but when I gingerly put out my hand towards her, she sometimes comes up for a brief sniff and, on two occasions, to high five my hand with her paw! Aww!

There was a considerable improvement in the weather on Friday - sadly, an office day - and even though it was still quite chilly, with the lightest of frosts overnight, the sun having come out of hiding made all the difference.

Much to our relief, the sunny spell continued on Saturday, when wild horses nor even Bess's funny antics couldn't keep us from going for a walk.

In the weekends, our local choice is rather limited, as we want to avoid anywhere too busy at all cost.

As it had been fairly dry for a couple of days, we thought we'd risk driving down to the nature reserve established on the former clay pits in Terhagen. There's a choice of paths we can take there and we were sure we'd be alright as long as we avoided a certain uphill path which seems to be mired with sticky, muddy clay most of the time.

The sun was shining brightly in a deep blue sky and we could feel our muscles as well as our muddled brains relax as we walked and basked in her body and soul soothing rays.

There was a haze of green carpeting the ground beneath the trees and there were catkins and sun warmed lichen galore. Looking upwards was rewarded by the sight of a whisper of buds about to spring into leaves. 

And all around us, there was joyous birdsong, joined by the cackling of geese and the high-pitched squawks of the moorhens going about their daily business on the water-filled clay pit beyond the thicket lining the path.

I emulated the mood of the day by wearing yellow and blue. The yellow jacket with its double collar and sleeve cuffs is by the Spanish Cortefiel brand, and was a lucky charity shop find back in February.

It accompanied one of my favourite and most worn skirts, the multi-coloured specks in its slubby turquoise fabric inviting a multitude of outfit possibilities. In the depths of where the clay pits used to be we were sheltered from the wind, so that my frilly turquoise scarf and Burberry beret were rather superfluous. As usual on our outings, I was carrying the cork bag charity shopped earlier this year.

Against our better judgment, we took a path we'd never walked before. Initially, all went well, with only the odd muddy patch to negotiate. Then we came upon the mother of them all. Still we persevered and, with the helping hands of our walking sticks, we managed to keep upright on the slippery clay which was trying to suck us in, triumphantly reaching the other side.

Hurray, we thought, but then we came across a kind of sticky clay gully, leading quite steeply down and then up by way of makeshift steps which were slippery with rain-gorged clay. What can I say? We tried but we failed and had to turn back, recrossing the mud we'd only conquered minutes before. When will we ever learn to wear our hiking boots? 

On our way back through the wood, we came across a sturdy tree branch, which was just inviting to sit and swing one's legs upon. 

The perfect opportunity to remove my outerwear and show you the rest of my outfit.

I took the lead from the red specks in my skirt's weave and wore a red and white vintage pussy bow blouse, its trellis pattern enhanced by different sized solid red squares. Echoing the skirt's turquoise, I tamed the pussy bow with a turquoise based floral cameo scarf clip from my modest collection.

I'm sure that the belt does not need further introduction, as it's one of three similarly patterned stretchy black and white belts which joined my accessories wardrobe last year.

As an extra layer, I wore a yellow, red and turquoise checked cardigan, which unfortunately isn't very visible in the photos.  If I remember correctly, it was charity shopped back in 2019.

What a glorious, life-affirming day! One of those days which lead you to believe that things can only get better.

But until they actually do, please do stay healthy and happy, my friends!

Friday 26 March 2021

Back to square one

 As from tomorrow, Belgium will be in a sort of semi-lockdown again. In order to tackle the spike in infections, our authorities have initiated a four week "Easter Pause", ordering non-essential shops to operate by appointment only, closing contact professions such as hairdressers and closing down schools a week early in the run-up to the Easter holidays. Outdoor gatherings, which had been allowed in groups of up to 10 for the past two weeks, will now be limited to just four people again.

None of this will affect us very much - we only have to forego our weekly cherry picked charity shop rummages - but it remains to be seen if these half-measures will be sufficient to stop the virus in its tracks. With Belgium's so-called vaccination strategy little more than a farce - my colleague's 84-year old Mum finally received an invitation this week, only to be told there were no vaccines available -  all this will probably just be a drop in the ocean.

Whatever the case, it seems we are yet again back to square one, which feels quite disheartening. 

One bright spark is that although I was supposed to go back to the hairdresser's on April 1, which would now be off the cards, I got a phonecall from him on Wednesday, offering me to reschedule to today! I could have hugged him, but obviously that is off the cards as well. At least, I won't have to worry about #Coronahair this time around!

Returning to my blog's actual timeline, I'm taking you for a wee two-week backwards journey in the time machine, with a gentle landing on Saturday the 13th of March.

A mixture of sunshine and rain, often accompanied by lots of wind, was on the menu that day, the temperature not climbing higher than 10°C. The ideal weather, in fact, to give my recently charity shopped Caroline Biss cowl neck jumper its maiden outing. 

I wore it over a rust coloured slubbed vintage St. Michael skirt, which came with a matching short-sleeved jacket. I don't think I've ever worn the two pieces together, but when I needed an extra layer to go outside into the garden, it turned out to be just perfect. 

The suit has a self-fabric belt as well, which I'd initially wanted to belt my jumper with, but as my search for it was fruitless, I opted for a tan leather one instead.

The jumper was accessorized with a faux Lea Stein cat brooch, while I pinned a yellow felted flower corsage to the jacket. 

My outfit was completed with green opaques and my fake snakeskin ankle boots.

A trawl around the garden revealed a casualty of the storm we had earlier that week. Poor plaster Venus, who had been faithfully guarding the self-seeded Geranium phaeum which had settled in a gap in the paving stones, had toppled over, cleanly breaking the brave lady in two pieces!

Cutting back the dry tangled mass of Mexican flea bane (Erigeron) revealed the two stone rabbits and toadstool head hiding underneath. I found the latter when digging over the soil for planting last Spring.

The little stone dove - mascot of Dove Cottage - is making its yearly appearance as well, before being engulfed by the exuberant hardy Geranium which surrounds it.

And look: last year's Grape Hyacinths (Muscari), which I planted out in the Autumn, are regaling us with a mass of Delft blue spears.

I would have loved to do a spot of gardening, and plant up all the spoils we brought back from the garden centre, but alas, the weather gods were against us. That night, we were even treated to an ominous sounding thunderstorm which came accompanied by drifts of hail.

The latter didn't seem to have caused much havoc, as an inspection on Sunday revealed undamaged purple Crocuses, which thankfully the yellow flower eating pest doesn't seem to have a craving for.

Sunday saw a repeat of Saturday's weather but minus the thunderstorm, and with the temperature nudging but not quite reaching double figures.

We made the most of one of the sunny spells for photos, in order to show you my outfit, which was built around this vintage black floral dress. With its garlands of frothy pink flowers climbing up a fence on a background of tiny white dots, it caught my eye in sorely missed vintage shop many years ago.

While burgundy was its main companion colour, which came in the form of my opaques, floppy vinyl belt and beaded necklace, I opted for green as a contrast colour for the cardigan I was wearing on top. 

The floral brooch I pinned to the cardigan is vintage and was a gift from my friend Inez. 

My footwear once again consisted of my moss green wedge ankle boots, which I seem to be reaching for a lot lately.

The dress's full skirt is lined and perfect for giving it a twirl or two. It has an elasticated waist, which is easily disguised by a belt, and there's elastic at the cuffs as well. Here's a closer look at its pattern and if you squint you will note the little bow at the neckline.

The rest of the day was spent sorting out the broom cupboard, folding away the morning's washing and entertaining Bess. Or so my journal tells me.

As rain clouds gathered yet again in the afternoon, we made ourselves cozy and comfortable, putting on pools of light, including this 1930s green ceramic deer lamp. What were the odds of finding its green companion figurine at a flea market only months later?

I'd just started a new book, which was found on the charity shop shelves with the Victorian era ones.

Based on a real life Edwardian era drama, The Magnificent Spilsbury and the case of the Brides in the Bath, is the gripping story of murder against a backdrop of the Titanic, Suffragettes and the First World War. Newly wedded Bessie, Alice and Margaret all drowned in their baths, apparently without a struggle, and the intriguing case temporarily ousted the 1915 Zeppelin raids from the front pages. The book reads like a thriller and is a true page-turner. In case you might like to read the book yourself, I'm not offering any further spoilers.

I'm quickly skimming over Monday's office day which was as dull as the grey and dismal day outside my window. It wasn't very busy so I was able to catch up with work in no time. 

It rained all day on Tuesday, and with the mercury stuck at a mere 7°C, it was the perfect opportunity to give the last of my Winter frocks a whirl. The dress's Crimplene is joined by 20% wool, which makes it ideal for a colder day.

Surely, the dress's eye-catching print more than makes up for its muted beige and brown colourway, proving that these colours don't have to be staid and boring.

I found the dress at a consignment store but could have sworn it originally came from a vintage shop I used to frequent, which sadly stopped trading back in 2016.

I ditched the dress's self-fabric belt for a mustard one with a rectangular buckle and book-ended it with a burnt orange cardigan and opaques. 

The latter two were the only retail purchases in my outfit, the H&M cardigan having more than earned its keep in my wardrobe over the years. The necklace  with its multi-coloured beads was charity shopped, while the brooch was a flea market find, if I remember correctly. I love the faceted orange glass stone in its golden nest.

The weather being too horrible to leave the confines of Dove Cottage, I set myself some light tasks, which included re-attaching two buttons which had popped off my vintage, charity shopped, fleecy dressing gown.

The spool of pink thread was among the sewing paraphernalia inherited from my Mum. It's from Veritas, a chain of haberdashery shops still in existence today.  Nowadays, they have expanded their range with accessories and hosiery, the latter being my main reason for popping in to the shop near my office building.

With several sewing boxes full of inherited and charity shopped stuff, I'm sure I won't need to buy any threads, press studs or hooks and eyes for many years to come!

That's all I got for you for now, but obviously I can't leave without offering you a glimpse of our newest family member, the gorgeous Bess.

Here she is sprawled out on the platform on top of her dual scratching posts. It's nothing short of a miracle that I caught her in the act, as she usually jumps down whenever we are about to pass through what she clearly thinks of as "her" room. It's as if she isn't sure she's actually allowed to lie on there. Either that, or she's not too keen to be out in the open, preferring the safety of her wicker chair nests when we are around.

Nevertheless, after three weeks she's barely recognizable as that frightened scrap of a cat we brought home from the shelter.

Sunday 21 March 2021

The stormy March has come at last

I'm not making a secret of the fact that life has been quite a rollercoaster in the last month and a half.

If Phoebe's unexpected departure from our lives wasn't enough, the increase of my workload hasn't been a walk in the park either, leaving me constantly stressed out even on my days off. 

Having quite got used to my two-day working week during the better part of a year, it was a bit of a wrench to admit defeat in my struggle to get things done in the limited amount of time at my disposal. In the end, a 3-day working week isn't so bad either, although the on-off-on-off rhythm of working Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays makes me feel somewhat disorientated and funnily enough does seem to make the weeks pass by at a slightly slower rate.

Enter a certain furry creature, who would enrich our lives and turn them upside down in equal measure.

During Bess's first night at Dove Cottage, she finally left the relative but uncomfortable safety of the back of her litter box and found a hiding place under our dining room cupboard, where she remained for two days, only coming out for the bare necessities when we weren't around. 

I'm sure you can imagine our relief when, early on Sunday morning, we passed through the room on our way to the bathroom and spotted her in one of our dining chairs! 

My blog, always running behind the facts, has now arrived on Sunday the 7th of March, which my journal tells me was a bright sunny day with highs of 7°C.

In spite of the gorgeous weather, my energy levels were low that day and, apart from some aimless pottering and catching up with blogland, it was largely spent curled up on the sofa with my book and the weekend paper's supplements. 

By the time we made it outside the garden was completely sun-drenched, and the glare of the otherwise welcome sunshine made taking outfit photos a challenge. It wasn't only tiredness which made me look so washed out!

My outfit of choice was based around a 1970s Swedish "Petri" dress, the orange in its riotous geometrical pattern prompting its companions and accessories.

Both the chunky knit long-line orange cardigan and the tan belt were charity shopped, while the floral brooch was a flea market find. My necklace is a holiday souvenir, bought from an antiques centre in Newcastle Emlyn, Wales in June 2017. The bright orange opaques and black ankle boots were both retail purchases. 

Although the latter have become increasingly rare over the years, I am the first to admit that I am not immune to succumbing to the lure of the high street once in a while. This was especially true when I roamed Antwerp's streets during my pre-Covid lunch breaks. It was on such an occasion that I stumbled upon this bottle green faux suede skirt when I happened to walk through Mango, which offered a short cut on my way to Think Twice. The skirt being one of my holy grails, I haven't regretted its purchase for one minute.

On Tuesday the 9th of March, I wore it accompanied by a sage green Tweed jacket, my sugar pink feather boa scarf, a purple mohair beret and a pair of moss green wedge a ankle boots.  In my defence - although surely there's no need to feel apologetic - these were all charity shop finds at one time or another. 

Underneath the jacket, the psychedelically patterned vintage blouse I charity shopped earlier this year received its very first outing. Both the burgundy King Louie cardigan and pale green suede belt with statement buckle were picked up from various charity shops as well.

The fern green necklace is from H&M, and has been in my collection for well over 10 years, while the pink and green flower posy brooch is from a small independent shop in Antwerp.

Not having been able to do any rummaging the preceding week, we were starting to get withdrawal symptoms so, after breakfast, we hopped into our car and drove to the charity shop in nearby Mortsel.

Much to our surprise, though, there was a queue at the shop's entrance, which prompted us to make a U-turn and stop at the charity shop at the outskirts of our hometown instead.

There, a quick trawl through the clothing aisles yielded a thin, cowl-necked, multi-coloured jumper by posh Belgian label Caroline Biss, and a blue crazily patterned skirt by the German Gerry Weber label.

I wasn't going to look at shoes, but as this particular shop has them displayed on the bottom of the clothing rails, there was no way I could have missed these spanking new looking green (!) buckled Kicker shoes. They are size 36 (3) while I generally wear a 37 (4), but they fit, so I wasn't going to leave them at € 4,50. I've inserted vintage shoe stretchers for a couple of days to create some extra room.

From the shop's book shelves, I plucked these two non-fiction books on one of our favourite subjects, the wonders of the Victorian age. 

Magpies, Squirrels and Thieves tells the stories of some of the 19t century's most intriguing collectors, following their often perilous journeys across the globe in the hunt for rare and beautiful objects.

Jeremy Paxman's The Victorians explores the Victorian age using the paintings of the era as a starting point and accompanies his eponymous 2009 BBC series.

They are joining the rest of our books on the subject, nearly a shelf full of them, accidentally collected from charity shops and second hand book shops over the years.

We're swiftly hopscotching Wednesday's office day to arrive on Thursday the 11th of March.

Wind, rain and a bit of sunshine: we had it all that day, but it was the wind in particular that was prominent, as it was blowing a gale. Not even the mild temperature of 13°C was able to alleviate the overall unpleasantness of the day.

A Think Twice sales bargain from December 2019, this navy dress printed with an array of massive flowers, instantly made me think of Monica's famous massive flower skirt. 

Although the red flower at the front of the dress is the most prominent, it were the pink bits in the pattern that I turned to for my tie-neck cardigan and opaques. There's purple in the pattern as well, a colour that I honoured by adding a woven belt in a similar shade.

You've seen my necklace of wooden circles and rings many times before. It was bought from Accessorize who, for a brief period in the late noughties, used to have a shop in the Grand Bazar shopping centre a stone's throw from my office. 

My cat brooch was bought in a shop selling all manner of cat related items which opened opposite my  hairdresser's last Summer.

We had a couple of errands to run that day, including a visit to a local DIY store, as Jos needed some bits and bobs. 

With the vacuum cleaner out of bounds in the dining room, where Bess currently resides, as well as the adjoining kitchen, we bought an old-fashioned wooden room sweeper and utility brush to keep those rooms dust - and cat hair - free. 

Even after all those years, Phoebe still invariably fled when the vacuum cleaner came out, so we do not want to unduly upset Bess until she is properly settled in.

The wind slightly eased in the afternoon, and I planted up the window box at the end of the passageway next to the kitchen with orange-violet and lavender pansies and frilly white double Bellis perennis at either side of its permanent resident, Heuchera 'Can Can'.

There's still a table full of Spring colour to be planted out, but I'm waiting for a sunny Spring day to go ahead with this, as well as a long list of other gardening tasks.

Hopefully, it won't be too long now for Spring to start in earnest.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a glorious April just like last year's, but bearing in mind that month's usual fickleness, I'm probably hoping against hope.

I am ending this post with the usual mantra to stay safe, sane and fabulous. See you next time!

Wednesday 17 March 2021

The cat's whiskers

Unbelievably, by the time you are reading this, the anniversary of Belgium first going into lockdown has come and gone. And not all that much has changed, really, as the pandemic is still very much with us. After the euphoria of coming out of Lockdown I in the early Summer, when for a moment it looked as if the end was in sight, and rules were being relaxed left, right and centre, things soon started to go pear-shaped again. It's been an uphill struggle ever since and, with infection numbers going up and down like a yo-yo, new variants popping up all over the place, and Belgium's vaccination strategy a painfully and shamefully slow process, it's no wonder that people are starting to lose heart and are quite literally at the end of their tethers.

For a couple of weeks now, I've reverted to my old la-la-la approach, giving the news a wide berth, and trying to concentrate on the positives, however trivial they might be.

Clothes for instance! When life continues to give you lemons, and you've had quite enough of lemonade, there's always that.

It was the last day of February, a sunny Sunday graced with balmy temperatures of up to 12°C. 

In spite of the weather, my back, shoulders and arms, stiff and achy from Saturday's rigorous pruning session, told me I wouldn't do much gardening that day.

Instead, I spent a happy half an hour or so in front of my wardrobe before deciding on this psychedelically patterned vintage dress with its glorious ochre, orange, lilac, purple, turquoise and burgundy colour scheme. I've got a gripe with it, though, as its collar refuses to stay put. Still, I can live with that, so it's not going anywhere anytime soon.

Taking advantage of its multiple colour options, I accessorized the dress with a lilac vinyl belt, purple beaded necklace and a gold-tone brooch featuring two rows of tiny turquoise beads.

Burgundy was represented by my charity shopped King Louie cardigan and the Fly London boots with their turquoise trim. I chose a pair of bright orange opaques to shake things up.

I know I said I wasn't going to do any gardening, but I did plant up the basket hanging from our awning, replacing the withered ornamental cabbage and cyclamen it contained with plum coloured pansies and red pompom daisies. They are joining the surviving yellow pansy, which at that moment wasn't in flower but has made up for that since.

The rest of that Sunday was spent on the couch, resting my weary limbs and devouring my latest read, Christina Baker Kline's 2017 novel, A Piece of the World.  Although a work of fiction, this atmospheric novel is inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World and is based on the life of the painting's subject, Christina Olson (1883-1968). 

That evening, while I was catching up with blogland upstairs, Jos came up and showed me the details of a cat for adoption at the animal shelter where his daughter had adopted her beloved cat Spookje from. The cat's name was Bees (colloquial for a berry or a sweet), born in 2019, and in need of a calm environment without children or other animals. Although the accompanying photo (which you'll see later in this post) only showed her head, we decided to take the plunge and texted the shelter's manager, Maria, as required.

After having been on tenterhooks all through Monday, waiting for Maria's call, we finally heard back from her in the early evening. An appointment was duly made to go and meet Bees on Thursday.

As I had to work on Wednesday, this only left us Tuesday to go shopping for cat equipment, as we wanted her to have her own things instead of Phoebe's hand-me-downs. We sneaked into the garden centre's pet department together and bought a scratching post, a snuggly cat bed, a litter box, a ceramic food dish and a starter pack of dry food.

I'm sure that you've already been ogling my dotty Diolen frock in the meantime! I dare anyone to stay down in the dumps for long wearing this navy delight liberally sprinkled with pink, green, yellow and white spots! I can actually vow for the fact that it is virtually impossible!

With its empire line, it did not need a belt, but I added a green cardigan on top, pinned with a white felted flower corsage, and wore my wooden beaded necklace which has all the colours of the spots. Mustard-y opaques and my charity shopped blue Western style boots completed my outfit.

Wednesday was another hectic and stressful office day, which made my boss and I decide it was time for an extra day a week, starting that Friday. This was unavoidable, although far from ideal, as it would mean I had to go into the office the day after our new fur baby had taken residence.

Thursday was C-Day, and as we hadn't slept very well for the last couple of nights, doubts had been creeping up on us. Were we making the right decision in taking on what was clearly a traumatized cat? And were we ready for another cat in our lives in the first place? On top of it all, after a string of dry sunny days, it was now raining quite heavily, and we had a 40 minute drive ahead of us. But as you all know by now, we did go ahead as planned and brought her home. 

As for her name, we initially had a totally different one in mind. On the way home, however, while I was sitting next to her in her carrier in the backseat, trying to put her at ease as the poor thing was literally shaking with fear, we decided that it didn't suit her, and came up with the name Bess (as it was close to Bees, which is pronounced base) almost instantly.

On the top left is the photo from the shelter's Facebook page. The one on the bottom right was taken after we got her home and she had taken refuge at the back of her litter box. The white stuff you can see in the foreground isn't a fleecy blanket, but cat litter! She ended up in there after she'd accidentally knocked over a couple of empty bottles when she tried to hide behind our bin, after which she fled behind a chest of drawers and had to be detangled from the cables and wires which live there.

Fast forward two weeks, and while she is still a bit wary of us, slinking back under the dining table whenever we come too near, her eyes are no longer looking as sad and fearful as they did at first. She's inquisitive, playful and has a healthy appetite. She's taking steps into the right direction on a daily basis. At the time of writing, we're alright on the napping and playing front, but still need to work on meowing and stroking. She might as well be mute, as so far she hasn't uttered a single sound.

We were too preoccupied for outfit photos that day, and although I re-wore my outfit in its entirety on Friday, it being an office day meant we had no opportunity for photos either.

After Thursday's one-off rainy day, the sun had reappeared on Friday, and remained with us on Saturday, when we decided to give Bess some peace and quiet by going for a walk in the park.

Although the temperature was barely above freezing point, it was such a gorgeous day, and we certainly weren't the only walkers taking advantage of it. Geese were throwing hissy fits while a congregation of inland seagulls had gathered on the shores of the pond.

There were hosts of golden Daffodils aplenty and patches of March Violets (Viola odorata) to delight us. 

As I'd foolishly packed my warmest coats away, I was wearing the vintage plaid swing coat I charity shopped several years ago, combined with a red and purple knit scarf and my purple mohair beret.

To combat the inevitable muddy patches, my chocolate brown boots came out to play once more.

In spite of the low temperatures, the sun's warmth was benevolent enough to divest myself of my coat to show you the dress I was wearing underneath.

In a rusty red textured polyester (you can see its circle pattern in the close-ups), it is one of the dresses I was stumped to find in the flea market boxes. It was promptly rescued so that it could shine another day. And shine it certainly did.

On top, I was wearing a fluffy sage green cardigan to combat any lingering chills.

We strolled for well over an hour, delighting in the abundant signs of Spring we met along the way and, as usual, ended up at the picturesque castle ruins, where its current owner sat honking loudly to deter any likely trespassers.

Before going back home and probably scare the living daylights out of Bess, we made detailed outfit photos against the white painted brick wall of our garage building.

My hair is looking quite flat here. Gone is the volume Michel created so expertly!

Don't you just love that dress's notched collar? 

I picked several shades of green for my accessories, including the scallop edged gold-tone brooch with its emerald green stone, and my favourite mossy green suede belt.

My millefiori glass ring contains a primary coloured symphony of green, red, yellow and blue.

Finally, here's a closer looks at my necklace, which is a curious arrangement of plain green and black and white glass beads joined by felted circles in the same shades.

On the right, a close-up of my grey opaques sprinkled with rose buds.

So, that is all I've got time for today. I've got a cat waiting to play games with. She is currently quite fascinated by a plastic wind-up mouse so that's my entertainment sorted for tonight. 

See you next time, my friends. As always, do stay safe, sane and sensational!