Tuesday 13 April 2021

Once more in misted April, the world is growing green*

We're almost half way through April by now, and so far the month has more than lived up to her reputation for capriciousness. Bright sunny spells walked hand in hand with a sharply stinging wind which made the temperature drop to the low single figures, and with clockwork regularity snow flurries fell from lead-grey skies. The snow didn't stick or at least didn't hang around for long, but I could have sworn I could hear the mocking laugh of the weather gods when they turned the world outside our windows into a giant snow globe.

If it wasn't for the fact that what's its name put a bit of a damper on things, last April's weather couldn't have been more perfect, so I can only presume that we're now getting two Aprils' worth of those proverbial showers.

It all started well enough, though, as in continuation of the last days of March, Thursday the 1st of April was another glorious Spring day, even if the temperature had dropped from its plus twenty heights to a mere 18°C. 

It would have been the perfect day for a stint of gardening, but alas: due to the Easter holidays I had to work on Thursday instead of Friday that week. This was a bit of a wrench, as much cooler temperatures had been forecasted for the weekend, and indeed, by Friday we'd landed feet first into the single figures again.

Making the remainder of my Winter wardrobe work for its money, I reached for this vintage coral polka dot dress. An early Think Twice find, it has been gracing my wardrobe for many years, and it seems I always manage to squeeze in at least one wear of it each season. 

In true Sheila style, I looked back at its previous wears on the blog (I counted at least 5 times) noting that I always seem to wear it with shades of blue. What's more, I combined it with exactly the same cardigan and necklace - both of which were charity shopped - in March 2019. 

More blue appeared in the glass beads on my Art Nouveau style brooch, a flea market find, and the ring, which if I remember correctly was picked up on the high street. In an attempt to break the blue rut, I added a vintage snakeskin belt. There's nothing faux about this one: it's the real thing and I snapped it up at the indoor flea market in December 2018.

There was an unmistakable nip in the air, but as the sun was still gracing us with her presence, it was a now or never situation where gardening was concerned. The rest of the Easter weekend was looking pretty dire indeed.

First up was a trip to the garden centre! There was a buy 5 get one free sale on perennials, which was the perfect excuse to have a splurge.

In spite of the fickle Spring weather - or perhaps because of it - the world is growing green indeed, with leaves unfurling and new growth appearing as if by magic overnight.

Our Spirea bush, which happened to be one of the first plants we added to Dove Cottage's garden after moving in all of 22 years ago, has set up its yearly fireworks show of tiny white blooms. At the back of the garden, the first of the waxy red leaves of Virginia creeper have joined the precocious honey suckle foliage scrambling up the concrete wall. Both of these are garden stalwarts as well.

After lunch, I planted out all but 3 of the 13 plants we'd recently brought back from the garden centre, before my back insisted I call it a day. At the time of writing, they're still waiting out there, as do the Nasturtium and California poppy seeds which happened to find their way into my shopping trolley.

My heart made a leap of joy when I spotted that one of the Fritillary bulbs I planted near the pond in Autumn had decided to pop up its head after all. I'd almost given up on them. Non-ribetting frog is watching it with one of its beady eyes lest any of the garden's population of slugs and snails has marked it out for its next meal. 

The plastic cloche on the bottom right is one of a set brought back from the UK in the mists of time. I use them whenever I think a plant might be in need of a bit of encouragement. Here, it's helping along the new growth I discovered in one of my patio plants. Having discarded its label long ago, it's a toss up between Echinacea and Garvinea, both of which flowered their heads off well into Autumn last year.

A stiff breeze and ditto back and knees didn't deter me from doing more garden work on Saturday morning. In spite of the weather forecast, the sun played peek-a-boo with the clouds all day, warming things up sufficiently to have the mercury climb into double digits.

Before I show you my gardening handiwork, here is what I was wearing. I was totally convinced that this skirt and blouse combo was a first, but when I scrolled through my Instagram squares in search of the skirt's last wear, I was stumped to find that just over a year ago, I wore it with the very same blouse! Zero points for originality, but it does seem to work, so why not?  I was quite relieved to see that at least my accessories were completely different back then.

Both the blouse and the skirt were Think Twice finds, the skirt being handmade, lined and graced with satisfyingly deep patch pockets. I picked up the chartreuse in its floral pattern by adding a charity shopped belt in a similar shade. I kept to green for the Miracle brooch pinned to the blouse while the colour appears yet again, alongside blue and brown, in my long beaded necklace.

My opaques echoed the blues of the blouse and I wore a pair of navy ankle boots for the outfit photos.

Obviously, I changed into my ankle wellies for my gardening session, wearing an old fleece jacket and my long denim gardening apron on top for warmth as well as protection.

I gave the red dotted vinyl tablecloth on the table in the passageway a thorough clean and removed the dust and grime from the old bathroom mirror at its back. Then I made neat stacks of the smaller terracotta pots I'd emptied and cleaned out the previous week. Having once again forgotten to protect the old ceramic wash basin from frost, it had now developed several large cracks, so that there was nothing for it but to add the shards to my stash, to be used for decoration and drainage.

Its contents of marbles, my brother's childhood ones brought back from the parental home, was decanted into a smaller bowl standing idle in the kitchen cupboards. On a whim, I used some of the larger ones to decorate the tops of the terracotta pots. 

Both the blue floral and green enamelled tea pots used to live inside the house but ended up in the garden after a recent cull.

Easter dawned grey-skied with no trace of sunshine until late afternoon. The distinctly dismal weather, however, was greatly improved with a handful of chocolate mini eggs from our local Leonidas shop. And what better way of serving them than by putting them into vintage papier-mâché eggs decorated with Easter scenes! The latter were old flea market finds I'd almost forgotten about.

Something else to look forward to that day was the arrival of our first visitor since last Summer! We were expecting Jos's youngest daughter An, who arrived on her e-bike from the nearby town of Lier, where she lives with her two cats, Spookje and Hazel. 

It is almost a given that I forgot to take photos, as we were far too busy chatting. 

She came bearing gifts, too. Apart from a pot of daffs and two mice and a bag of cat treats from her cats to our Bess, she also presented us with some of her authentic arts and crafts.

We are delighted to finally own one of her amazing miniature drawings - it only measures 5 x 6 cm - which is already taking pride of place on our sitting room wall. She also made us a tiny handcrafted pot of flowers, standing barely 7 cm high.  I've only put it next to the plant on our window sill to emphasize its smallness. Far too risky to leave it there, now that Bess is getting more adventurous by the minute!

But that wasn't all. On one of her final Pre-Covid flea market forays, An came across some wonderful additions to our Bakelite collection, in the form of these shaving soap and brush containers. 

In spite of the greyness of the day, I was determined to wear cheerful Spring colours, emulating blue skies and sunshine.

My flower sprinkled sky blue dress, with its generous pleated skirt and tie collar, was just perfect for the occasion. I tamed the rather cumbersome tie with a yellow hearted brooch. The dress's belt loops are the telltale signs that it originally came with a belt, but this was long gone by the time it leapt at me from the rails at Think Twice. Knowing me, I probably wouldn't have worn it with the belt anyway.

Instead, I opted for a textured off-white belt with a mottled plastic buckle, which has the added attraction of a small dangling fish. Perhaps in honour of the 1st of April, as the traditional April Fool's pranks are being called April Fish in Belgium, as well as, according to good old Wikipedia, in Italy, France, and the French-speaking areas of Switzerland and Canada,

Sunshiny yellow was provided by my charity shopped H&M batwing cardi and my opaques. Oh, and the pale yellow cat brooch I bought from Katty's shop the other week.

And speaking of cats, what about a short video starring the new Princess of Dove Cottage?

This is a first for me, so I do hope it works.

* The title of this post was borrowed from An April Morning by Canadian poet Bliss Carman (1861-1929).


  1. Oh how lovely to see Bess up close. She seems to be settling in happily.
    Your spirea is looking beautiful. We had them in the yoard when I was a child, but for some reason have fallen out of favour in midwestern landscapes. I rarely see them now.
    You have such an incredibly talented daughter-in-law. I'm always amazed by people that can work in miniature.
    That coral dress is such a beauty, and perfect with those accessories.
    Have a great week.

    1. Thank you Goody! The trouble with Spirea is that it only looks good for a short while in early Spring! My step-daughter is indeed very talented. She is also a great storyteller, used to make puppets and made her own wedding dress! xxx

  2. It's so nice you were able to have a visitor and what beautiful gifts! the little paper flowers are so beautiful and made me smile - so perfect even though they are so tiny! :)

    I like your blue and yellow outfit at the end too, and the coral and blue one at the beginning. I like coral and blue together a lot too, I'm almost at 30 wears with one of my coral maxi dresses and I'm excited to put a post together of it although I know almost all the outfits will be me wearing it with blue, haha!

    Hope that your week is going well :)

    Away From The Blue

    1. Thank you Mica! To be honest, I can't think of another colour which works with coral so well! xxx

  3. I loved the video! Bess looks so confident and has a cheeky glint in her eye, I love her!
    How fantastic is An's artwork? Both the picture and the hand-crafted flowers are incredible. How lovely that you were able to spend time with her and completely understandable that you didn't find time to take photos.
    Dove Cottage's garden is going to be magnificent. Funnily enough "tidy the terracotta pots" is on my to-do list for today!
    Three fabulous outfits. Fancy forgetting you'd tried that combination before almost a year to the day! The spots look wonderfully springlike and cheery.
    It's gloriously sunny here this morning but I've nearly lost my arms to frostbite pegging the washing out in my yoga gear! xxx

    1. Cheeky is the correct word! Well, you forgive them anything, don't you? An is very chuffed with all the compliments she received. She is very talented at many things, and we are very proud of her! xxx

  4. Your garden is coming along nicely.
    Such sweet present Ann brought along.
    You look delightful as ever.

  5. Bess is such a cutie!

    You did splurge on plants but it's that time of the year isn't it? Your garden is going to look lovely once everything is in bloom.

    I loved your outfits; beautiful colour combinations and fabulous accessories. Very Spring like even if the weather was misbehaving. We seem to have had similar weather to yours.

    What a talented young lady that is! I loved the wee sketch and the mini plant. The Bakelite shaving stuff was wonderful; what a brilliant find!

    1. Thank you Vronni! We do have a mini collection of Bakelite which also includes a Bakelite razor and soap box. We often used to pick up pieces at flea markets when the price was right! xxx

  6. It's nice to have visitors once in a while. Although it is getting greener, the temperature is sharp as a knife. :-( It it is going to stay for the next days ...

    1. Thank you Regula! It has slightly warmed up here by now, but the temperature in the early mornings is indeed still "sharp as a knife"! xxx

  7. Ohh cute little bess. It works! She is not shy yet?! So lovely.
    You look gorgeous in this light blue dress. I love it Ann.
    Great you have a visitor. Stunning arts!
    I don't want any more. I hate the restrictions and I want to go on vacation. So, now it's out! It doesn't help. Vaccinate vaccinate;)
    Stay healthy♥ With a very huge hug Tina

    1. Thank you Tina! Bess is still a little shy, but becoming ever more adventurous in exploring her new home! I so want to go on vacation too, but had to cancel and postpone our UK holiday once again :-(

  8. Okay, firstly, I'm sitting here at 11:30pm, talking to Bess through my computer screen! What a dear, lovely creature she is, and seems to be getting quite friendly. Hooray!

    Loving this round of outfits, Ann - and aw, aren't you sweet to give me a shout-out? Thank you! I usually check to see what I last wore with my odd pieces, as what I often think is original is a copy of the previous outfit. I blame menopause, but nothing wrong with repeating a winning combo, I say!

    Massively admiring that real snakeskin belt - that's a find! I'm also drawn to your chartreuse belt - a very useful colour, and looking fabulous with the blue.

    I have never heard of French Canadians referring to April Fish. Poisson d'avril? I do like the little fish on the belt - I remember belts having those charms in the early 80s.

    So glad you had visitors! How exciting! We haven't had a guest since Christmas. An's art is amazing! I love the wee "plant" too, but Vizzini would play with it, chew on it, then barf it up.

    Happy week, my dear!

    1. I now have a mental picture of you talking to Bess through your computer screen ... It's Poisson d'Avril indeed, perhaps the tradition has become obsolete? Had to put the wee plant out of Bess's reach, too. xxx

  9. bess the movie star! :-D
    so cute.
    how nice to have jos´ daughter for a visit. interesting artwork of her! jos must be very proud.
    you worked a lot in the garden. here its still much to cold with temps short over zero........
    hugsies! xxxx

    1. Bess is a VIC - very important cat - obviously. All the blogger cats are, including your Lisbeth! And both Jos and I are very proud of An indeed! xxx

  10. Bess is a beauty. Look at those clever eyes of hers! The new princes is looking quite at home at her new home.
    Your outfits are so beautiful. I love the coral polka dot with the blue cardigan. Blue tones always look fabulous with the coral pink or red. I also really like your blue and yellow combos as well. The printed dark blue skirt looks great with the blue blouse, green belt and yellow cardi. The final outfit (the blue dress and the orange knit cardi styling) is a winner too. I love the yellow cat brooch and the belt with the fish pedant.

    The drawing from Jos' daughter is wonderful. Makes me think of Dali. So nice she came to visit.

    I didn't know that April's Fools day is called Fish April in Italian and French speaking countries. I have been listening to Adamo a lot lately and curiously I only now realized that he was Belgian (of Italian ancestry, but still Belgian). We live and learn.

    1. Thank you Ivana! Bess has certainly started feeling quite at home here, slowly but surely exploring Dove Cottage's rooms. How nice that you've been listening to Adamo. Few people realize he is Belgian, and still very much alive and kicking today! xxx

  11. Lovely video of Bess in her cute attitude!, she's a Princess indeed!
    And so lovely outfits!, the coral polka dot dress is a stunning piece, and love the way you styled it with navy/blue details!, and a contrasting belt!
    Love the skirt and blouse combo in blue with the chartreuse accents, they créate a fab color combo, matchy and cool!
    And love the yellow and blue outfit, a classic color combo which doesn't cease to make me feel happy!, so fabulous!.
    I always enjoy a tour through your garden, the pots and plants, and your home, particularly the orange living. So great news that you had visitors at home. This makes me feel hopeful!

    1. Thank you Monica! Bess certainly has oodles of catitude :-) We have to remain hopeful, but I do think things like having a visitor or doing something normal for a change is a great help in keeping our patience! xxx

  12. Oh so cute your outfits and decorations

  13. Bess is adorable, she looks very relaxed in the video.
    I love the spring outfits you've showcased, they go with your lovely garden!
    An's artwork is so original, I bet you were delighted to receive it, it's good that you got to see her.
    I'm now going to get on with some gardening, it's long overdue here!! Have a good weekend. xxx

    1. She does, doesn't she? She really is going from strength to strength, and much sooner than we expected too!
      I'm glad we made an early start with gardening, which is making me feel less overwhelmed! xxx

  14. I am so sorry I am so late , but I think I have missed this one! How lovely to see Bess in that video. Have you already heard her making a sound? I love miniature things! Must be something British right?

    1. Thank you Nancy! Bess is purring loudly, she trills (the short "prr" sounds) and we even heard a faint meow once or twice! xxx

  15. This weather really has been so frustrating I gather it's going to get cold AGAIN next week!
    How lovely to see Bess getting brave. XX

    1. Thank you Gisela! I know, we've had a couple of reasonably warm days, but it'll be all over again by end of this week! xxx

  16. A super Sunday morning read and a good look at Miss Bess. What a treat.
    Isn’t it nice to have visitors, especially one that brings you nice things. We’ve recently added two more Bakelite light switches to take the place of the boring white plastic piece ones. They are reproduction ones with oak backs but very well made. We have them in every room now.
    The coral and blue outfit was going to be my favourite, the I decided I liked your skirt and blouse, then I oohed and aahed over your last outfit. All gorgeous Ann.
    The Madame Burova book by Ruth Hogan is great I’ve nearly finished it and can recommend it. I may even re-read her first novel.
    Take care you two. Philip had his second jab yesterday, so that’s us done.
    Lots of love xxx

    1. Thank you Lynn! We also replaced some of the ugly plastic light switches by Bakelite ones. They are the real thing though. I'll have a lookout for Madame Burova! And I'm very pleased to hear you're both fully jabbed! xxx

  17. Awwww Bess looks so happy! She must've decided to keep you by now...

    Your garden's going to look even lovelier when all those flowers come up - it seems to look good all year round.

    1. Thank you Mim! Still much work to do in the garden before it's exactly how I want it. But I guess that's the pleasure of gardening! And yes, I think Bess has decided to keep us :-) xxx

  18. A growing smile quickly spread across my face as I read the eloquent and wholly relatable opening lines of this lovely post, dear Ann. Much as on your end, winter was reluctant to give up the ghost (as per usual) around these Canadian parts as well. The last snowfall (to date) was on April 10th. However, plenty of sunshine has been streaming down, so we're now in this interesting spot where fresh grassing is spurting, but blossoms and flowers haven't quite caught up yet. Give them a few more days and plenty more sunshine, and no doubt they'll be out in all their radiant glory once again, too (I can scarcely wait!).

    Many hugs & wishes for a super safe, relaxing, gorgeous remainder of the month!

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

    1. Aww, what a veritable treat of a comment Autumn. As an eloquent writer yourself, that's a great compliment. xxx