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.


  1. I love the original way you've styled the cowl neck jumper at the top of your post.
    I haven't been near the garden lately, we've had awful weather recently. You look like you're getting your garden spring ready, I love seeing all of the flowers.
    Bess is starting to look right at home! xxx

    1. Thank you Sally! I think the cowl neck jumper was one of my best finds to far this year! I hope your weather has improved and you have been able to venture into your garden in the meantime. It's such a lovely time of year, if the weather cooperates :-) xxx

  2. I'm tired .... :-( The number that matters is the one regarding people in the hopsital and the ones dying. The more tests, the more positives. Same old story again and again and again. And yes, another even more dangerous and more contagious virus, this time from Manaus.

    As long as we play the game, there won't be any change to the better.

    All the best!


    1. I am tired too, Regula! Everything is taking son much effort, and at times it feels as if all the fun and pleasure has been taken out of our lives ... xxx

  3. I'm so sorry about the lockdown ag ain, maybe this will finally do the trick or at least buy some time until vaccines are available. Keeping my fingers crossed for you. Our vaccine roll out has been erratic and no one knows what the rules are from one day to the next. Who knows when I'll eventually get mine?
    I really like that brown/beige dress and it seems like it would be fab with just about any colour accessories. Glad to hear Bess is calming down. Any day now she'll be hopping into your lap.
    Take care.

    1. Thank you Goody! Not sure when I'll get mine either, but at least Jos has received news about his. He'll be getting his first dose on April 17! xxx

  4. So sorry you have another lockdown - but it's good you have been enjoying the opshopping while you could and that you could get into the hairdresser! I hope the lockdown works and is nice and short for you - our last one was just 3 days, so a long weekend for us all, and so nice!

    Really love that first outfit, the striped top is so good with the suit! :)

    Hope you are having a good weekend :)

    Away From The Blue

    1. Thank you Mica! It'll be for 4 weeks at the very least. They should have been more strict earlier on, just like they did in Australia ... xxx

  5. Oh Bess is sooo gorgeous! So glad you've got a new cat! Hope she keeps you company during the latest lockdowns.

    Also love your 30s deer lamp (😍😍😍).

    1. Thank you Jess! Bess is slowly but surely coming out of her shell. And I knew the deer lamp had to be mine as soon as I laid eyes on it! xxx

  6. Lockdown yes... another one. No end. after easter we are allowed to vaccinate against covid! I am looking forward to 20! vaccination doses per week. A drop in the ocean. but a beginning. why is vaccination so slow in belgium? But it's not that much better in Germany either. However, here in Baden-Württemberg, sick people over 70 years of age and younger are vaccinated with a certificate.
    Ann I am in love with your new charity found...this jumper. The colours and the way you wear it! ❤️
    Bess is so cute. You surprised her. 😁
    I am sure she will be the head of dove cottage in the near future. 😉
    I wish you a nice weekend, with a huge hug Tina

    1. Thank you Tina! Of course, all our cats so far have been head of Dove Cottage in their time :-)
      I'm sorry to hear vaccinations are equally slow in Germany. 20 doses a week? They must be joking! xxx

  7. lovely sweet bess - thanks for including her :-D
    and thanks goodness for bright frocks! great combinations here again! my fav is the new sweater with the suit......
    german´s vaccination system is a drop in the oceal too - and one lockdown is followed by another. numbers rising steep. and people start getting crazy - even running amok. sigh.
    clean virtual hugsis! xxxxx

    1. Thank you Beate, and of course it's a pleasure to include her! I've even made a little video, let's see if that works on the blog ... I do think it's understandable that people are starting to get crazy (I know I am :-)) but running amok - like they do here too - is more than one step too far, and very frustrating for all of us who have been abiding by the rules all this time! xxx

  8. Bess is beautiful! She is lucky to have you, as you are her. Lise

  9. It's lovely to see Bess coming out of her shell, you're doing a brilliant job at making her relax and she really is gorgeous!
    I'm with Beate, all your outfits are fabulous but I love the new jumper with the suit.
    I'm looking at all your lovelies and longing to stock up at the garden centre. It's bitterly cold today with intermittent hail but we've been promised a couple of days of 20°C next week.
    I hope Belgium's lockdown does the trick. As from Monday up to six people can meet in a private garden - just in time for Liz's birthday - we haven't been able to meet up for a drink since October! I'm already giddy with excitement! xxx

    1. It's been a crazy week, weather-wise, but I've been able to put in some well-needed time in the garden regardless. I'm glad to hear lockdown is slowly being eased in the UK. It must be so nice to meet up for a drink after all this time! xxx

  10. So sorry to hear that Belguim is in lockdown again , hopefully it will help and vaccines will roll out soon.
    Bess is so sweet and certainly making herself at home now.
    As usual I love all your wonderful outfits but I was particularly taken with the striped jumper with the suit.
    I so enjoyed seeing what is blooming in your Spring garden . xx

    1. Thank you Jill. I've got a feeling that in the end all will depend on the vaccine roll out. They can't keep people in limbo forever! The striped jumper was one of my best finds so far this year. It's just perfect for these neither here nor there Spring days! xxx

  11. Oh so lovely to read that Bess is feeling at home more and more. They need their time don't they. Isn't it just a horror to see that we are over a year now and still nothing further. I think our hair dressers etc. Will be shut too in a few weeks. On the bright site, the weather is going to be gorgeous next week! Yeah, time to read in my garden! The beide in the bath sounds fun! Have a great Sunday!

    1. We're giving Bess all the time she needs to make Dove Cottage her home and learn that she can trust us. I haven't been reading in the garden yet, it needs a bit of a tidy up first. The Brides in the Bath turned out to be a bit of a slog in the end, even if it was interesting at first! xxx

  12. It is so frustrating the way virus is taking hold of everything. All this time passed and nobody has any idea what is really effective. Nothing seems to make sense. I don't know what is the right thing to do anymore, lockdown or more. I didn't know Belgium had a problem with vaccines.

    Your outfits are wonderful and inspiring as always. My favourite is the printed beige and greyish dress worn with an orange cardigan and tights. I also like how you accessorized with the belt and beanie.
    That book by Jane Robins sounds fascinating. Thank you for your recommendation.

    1. I think the whole of the EU is having a problem with vaccines ... and I guess nobody knows what's the right thing to do anymore. It feels as if we've been living in limbo this past year! xxx

  13. Sorry that you're in a semi-lockdown again, it's frustrating that people can't learn anything from previous months. The situation is becoming more and more absurd here, tourists coming to Madrid to party or visiting the coast and isles, meanwhile we spanish people have to stay in our own regions. No isles nor coast for us. Isn't it ridiculous?. And Madrid makes me feel embarrassed.
    But let's talk on fab clothes, which makes us feel better!. Love your multicoloured ensemble, the striped top and the short sleeved jacket, such a perfect layering and lovely color combo with the teal tights and cute brooches!.
    Lovely black floral dress, lovely matchy cardi and tights combo, and lovely brooch (one of my favourites ever!). Rocking these Green details!
    This book looks really appealing to me!. I'm adding it to my list now!
    Love the way you jazzed this brown&beige dress with some orange, cute beads and a beret!. Looking really fabulous!.
    And thanks for this last news on Bess, she's so cute!

    1. Thank you so much, Monica!
      Oh, how absurd and frustrating this situation must be, Monica! And you're right, as usual people don't seem to be learning from their mistakes. It sometimes make me feel ashamed to be human! xxx

  14. Oh, look at sweet little Bess there on her post! She will be Queen of All She Surveys soon enough!

    Although our numbers have been going up here (mostly younger folks who are ignoring the gathering restrictions, arg!), they are rolling out the vaccines (my mom goes on Saturday for hers, and it's likely I'll be able to book mine before April is up, woo hoo!) and slowing opening up to more outside in we must be outdoors! I'll take it!

    Your new jumper is as gorgeous as I thought it would be! I love the black/red/white dress (great minds think alike, I see), and your autumn-ish toned dress is lovely.

    Thank you for all this beauty, Ann, from your frocks to your flowers! I always come away with a smile. I saw that you're going to stall on your spring clothes a bit - I'm eager to dive into my stash of "I'll wear these in spring" clothes that have been threatening to tumble down on me! I have forgotten everything in there!

    1. We are having the same problem with younger folks. The police had to break up a gathering of thousands (!) in a forest near Brussels a couple of days ago!
      I'm glad to hear you'll be able to book your vaccine soon. Not sure when it'll be my turn, but Jos will be getting his first dose on April 17! Woo hoo indeed! xxx

  15. I'm so pleased Bess is settling in so well. The photo of her lounging on her cat contraption; both the pose and facial expression remind me of a stroppy teenager!

    Lovely outfits as always and I absolutely loved your red necklace and the vintage brooch gift from Inez. I am also enchanted by your deer lamps - how pretty are they?

    The garden flowers are looking lovely; we're having a reshuffle of ours at the moment. Hope you've had the right weather to crack on with your planting!

    I was reminded of John George Haigh 'The Acid Bath Murderer' a UK serial killer in the 1930s and 1940s; seeing your book!

    I'm sorry to hear about your lockdown again and the slow rollout of your vaccination programme.

    1. Thank you Vronni! Given her age, she might very well be in the stroppy teenager phase ;-) We've been making the most of the lovely, warm weather of earlier this week to do some well-needed garden, which also included a reshuffle! Sadly, Spring seems to have packed her bags again by now :-( xxx

  16. As much as I'm a perpetual realistic optimist, I'd be rather surprised at this point if we see the end of the pandemic in 2021 (as much as I hope beyond measure, of course, that we do), and doubt this will be the last "wave" to ripple across our weary world.

    Case numbers have shot up again big time here in BC and some, but far from all, businesses and public locations have been shut down again. Primarily restaurants - though those with patios or other outdoor seating areas are allowed to remain open and serve customers strictly outdoors for the time being.

    I agree with you that "half measures" might not be the best or swiftest path to stop this wave in its tracks, and think more stringent measures might be the wiser way to go.

    On a more upbeat note, Bess really isn't the cutest thing on four paws (and I continue to marvel at how similar looking she is to our late Stella). It warms my heart to know that she's settling in and adapting to life in your loving home.

    Wishing all three of you a sunny, peaceful, safe, and truly happy Easter long weekend!

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

    1. Thank you Autumn! As much as I'm sure more stringent measures might be wise, I'm not looking forward to them at all. I think the only way to go is speed up the vaccination process, so that people can more or less pick up their lives again. xxx