Thursday 8 April 2021

Shake, rattle and roll

If the contents of this post are a tad incohesive, it's because Dove Cottage is currently surrounded by building sites. Two houses down on the right are having a kitchen extension done, with builders knocking down the existing one, while on the other side of the crossroads on the left, which is about 50 meters away, the construction of a new block of flats is being prepared. The latter is by far the worst, as foundations pilings are being driven into the ground by a giant machine, making poor little Dove Cottage and its contents rattle and shake and, at one point, two frames crash down from our kitchen wall!

Thankfully, Bess has been mostly sleeping through it all. Nevertheless, as the dining room seems to be  taking the brunt of these man-made earthquakes, she does look a bit wide-eyed and confused whenever the shaking is at its worst. Speaking of Bess, as it's obviously that I have to, she is doing very well indeed, taking giant steps towards making Dove Cottage her home. She even ventured upstairs for the first time yesterday!

Oh, and I've got other news as well. Last Friday, Jos's vaccination invitation finally fell through the letter box, and I'm happy to say he'll be getting his first jab on April 17! Yay!

As you are probably used to by now, my blog is doing its time-machine trick, taking us back to the last weekend of March, starting with Saturday the 27th. 

After a sunny and reasonably mild Friday at 13°C, the temperature had dropped a couple of degrees by Saturday, and we were treated to a day of intermittent light rain and sudden bursts of sunshine.

Being a bit bored with my Winter wardrobe by now, I scoured my wardrobe for things that hadn't seen the light of day this season yet. In fact, it might have been this vintage dress's first proper outing ever.

I came across it at an outdoor flea market a couple of years ago and although it didn't come cheap and there was no opportunity to try it on, I took a gamble on it, which I'm happy to say has paid off.

Long-sleeved and in a lightweight semi-sheer but lined fabric, it's the kind of garment that usually falls between seasons, not nearly warm enough on a single digit Winter's day while generating hot flushes on a sun-soaked Spring one.

I love its flattering shape, its feathery magenta and off-white pattern on a deep blue background and, of course, its keyhole neckline.  As it was rather chilly, I wore a t-shirt underneath, but as it kept playing peek-a-boo through the keyhole, I added a strategically placed brooch to keep it in place.

Other accessories included a pink plastic ring and a multi-coloured shell bracelet. To my fluffy mustard cardigan I pinned one of my flower corsages. I have quite a collection of these and was happy to read in Goody's blog post earlier this week that I'm not the only one!

Returning from my rescheduled hairdresser's appointment the previous day, I suddenly remembered Katshop, a shop selling all manner of cat related things which had opened opposite the salon last Summer.

I went for a browse, had a chat with its lovely owner Katty and bought a battery-operated little gerbil for Bess (see below collage, bottom left) as well as some colourful cat brooches for me!

On my way back to the office I hopped into Dille & Kamille, which sells authentic home, kitchen and garden goods, from where I picked up plant labels, some divine smelling soaps and two tiny cartons of chocolate eggs.

Bess loves playing with her gerbil, honing her mouse hunting skills by chasing it across the floor. She's also quite fascinated by the white plastic wind-up mouse, which she nevertheless watches from a safe distance as it makes its unpredictable trajectory through the room.

But why oh why did we have to buy a scratching post with a black plush covered seat? It's a good thing we've still got the pet hair magnet gadget we purchased many years ago!

When on Saturday afternoon it looked as if the rain clouds had finally departed elsewhere, I spent some time in the garden, inspecting the borders and cutting back the old growth of the perennials where required. I also made a start in clearing the pots of expired patio plants at the back of the garden. 

There are big fat flower buds in the Pulsatilla vulgaris (common pasqueflower, top right) I planted back  in Autumn, and I was overjoyed to see that last year's Oriental Poppy has burst back into life with abundant foliage (top left).

On Sunday, the sun was shining brightly, but as the 14°C indicated by the thermometer was cooled down considerably by a strong wind, I initially scrapped my gardening plans for the day. 

I'd settled down to a day of pottering, including sweeping the dining room and the stairs, when the siren call of the garden - and that table full of plants - became too loud to ignore after all. 

That morning, I was in no doubt that I was going to wear this particular skirt, which was part of my haul at the charity shop's retro event back in March 2019. Isn't its orange-red, lime green, caramel and white floral pattern a sight for sore eyes? 

My lime green opaques were a no-brainer, but some head-scratching was involved before my eyes alighted on this rusty red polka dot blouse. This was a charity shop find as well, bought on the same day as the floral Zara blouse I wore in my previous post.

Other outfit particulars: 

  • Cardigan, necklace and red perspex ring from various charity shops
  • Brooch: flea market find
  • Belt, felted flower corsage and boots bought on the high street

I donned my gardening apron, gloves and ankle wellies and potted up all the Spring plants which had been patiently awaiting their turn. 

That only leaves the perennials we brought back from the garden centre earlier that week. They'll be next in line after I figured out where to put them!

Nature kept cranking up her thermostat that week, starting with a balmy 20°C on Monday. The perfect temperature to get cracking with some more gardening, but unfortunately it was one of  my working days. Apart from a bothersome technical hick-up first thing in the morning, the day was uneventful, so I felt a bit sad pining away inside, looking at that cloudless blue sky and breathing in that none too fresh city air through the office's wide open windows.

Thankfully, the glorious weather continued on Tuesday, when we were treated to Summery highs of 23°C.

With most of my Summer clothes still in hibernation, I opted for a crispy cotton long-sleeved blouse rather than one of my Crimplene short-sleeved dresses which I'm keeping out all year around. 

A charity shop find back in the mists of time, this pale yellow and brown daisy print blouse is from a label called Mandarin & Mint, who I believe have or at least used to have a shop in Antwerp.

I combined it with a vintage 1970s skirt, one of my earliest Think Twice finds which, with its diagonal black, grey, brown, orange and coral stripes dotted with flowers, was love at first sight.

The sun was shining fiercely, so that we had a hard time finding a suitable place to make outfit photos where me and my clothes wouldn't be bleached out by her glare.

Note that I'm wearing opaques in spite of the temperature. I'm not ready to go bare-legged just yet! Besides, I'd only blind you with their day-glo paleness!

Accessories were all orange based, from my ancient half-elasticated belt, beaded necklace and flower moulded ring to the large enamelled vintage brooch.

I changed into worse-for-wear gardening gear to clear away the rest of last year’s pots, grouping them together in the passageway, stacking up the terracotta plant pot dishes, and collecting any broken posts to be used as crocks for drainage. 

One of the pots contained two Aquilegia seedlings which I planted out in the garden (top right). 

My final task was to find an out of the way space for the spent Spring bulbs which I'd lifted from their pots. The initial plan was to let them rest and die down for planting out next Autumn, but when I noticed that one of the Iris reticulata had developed a new flower, I planted it in the border there and then.

And speaking of bulbs, look at all those Alliums coming up. Even our garden angel looks quite pleased with them!

I hope you've been having some lovely Spring weather where you are? 

Ours, unfortunately, didn't last. But that will be for next time. In the meantime, as always, do stay healthy and happy!


  1. You always have such colourful outfits - but I really love that cosy yellow cardigan in the first one! :)

    It's nice you got some time in the garden too although sounds so frustrating with so much construction going on around you!

    Hope that you are having a nice week so far.

    Away From The Blue

    1. Thank you Mica! Thankfully, there are still some quiet moments to be had in the garden! xxx

  2. The rust coloured dot shirt is fab-and it goes beautifully with the skirt.
    Our spring did a bit of a retreat as well, but it won't stay away forever. Like you, I haven't done a wardrobe switch over yet, but a few items are starting to sneak through.
    So glad to hear Jos is scheduled for his vaccine.

    1. Thank you Goody! I've made a start with my wardrobe switch but I've barely scratched the surface. The joys of being a maximalist :-) xxx

  3. I'm so pleased that Jos has finally got his jab booked. Let's home yours won't be far behind.
    Bess! Look at that face. I told Frank about her gerbil and he's rather jealous. Great news about the journey upstairs, she really is starting to settle in.
    The renovations in the neighbouring houses sound like a right pain.
    Your garden is looking fantastic, I see I'm not the only one who collects pots of broken pots!
    Jos's cardi is very cool and I love all of your outfits especially the dress with the keyhole neck, well worth a splurge, it fits you a treat.
    After those two record-breaking days last week it's back to snow showers and frost and my bikinis are back in the summer suitcase! xxx

    1. Thank you Vix! Bess is going from strength to strength, demanding cuddles at all times of the day and night! The weather's been the same here, two days of high Summer and then back to snow and frost! xxx

  4. Hurrah for Jos' jab! You'll be next...

    Love the 'new' dress and the red spotted blouse was beautiful. It looked fabulous with the bright floral skirt - what a good pattern mix that was. I also loved the other blouse and the beautiful orange enamelled brooch.

    I'm not a cat person really, but I've fallen in love with your Bess; she has very eloquent eyes...

    Your garden plants looks gorgeous; OH has also bought some alliums and aquilegia - we've never tried them before so we're hoping they're successful. I bought anemones another one we've not tried. Fingers xxed. It's been wet but not so cold today; can't wait for proper spring weather to arrive.

    1. Thank you Vronni, I do hope so, but it won't be for at least a month, or longer perhaps.
      I love Aquilegias, especially the double 'Nora Barlow' one which have been self-seeding in our garden for years! xxx

  5. Congratulations Jos! What a relief it must be! A cat shop owner named Katty, of course... lol. Love those broches, for some reason I love colored plastic rings and broches. Your colorful outfits suited that gorgeous weather! Have a great weekend!

    1. Haha, yes, I'm not sure in how much her name influenced her choice of shop. She is also a cat photographer, by the way. I love coloured plastic rings and brooches too, but I'm sure you've already noticed that! xxx

  6. Oh, I'm so glad to hear Jos has his appointment! Ours are moving along quickly, now with anyone over 65 eligible. It won't be long for me!

    Bess is so pretty - I love that she's playing with her mousies. We have bought so many mouses for Vizzini, but once he's chewed and drooled on them, he is done with them, and they get tossed onto his post (aka Mousie Graveyard). Yup, cats shed, and it always goes where you don't want it! I had Vizzini on my lap this morning (in my lime green suede suit) and he shed all over it!

    Love your outfits this week, Ann! My heart stopped at the red/white polka dot/floral outfit. Wow, what a stunner! Your new little cat brooches are adorable!

    I love seeing all your plants. The pansies are my favourites.

    Have a lovely weekend, my dear!

    1. We are very glad as well. I hope it won't be too long for me, but wouldn't be surprised if it's not for another month at the very least! And yes, Bess definitely love her mousies ... no Mouse Graveyard here, but I had to take one to operating theatre a.k.a. my needle and thread as she'd ripped open its belly! xxx

  7. its such a relief that jon is booked for vaccination!
    love the look of the first dress! its beautiful! (although this to cold/to hot thing is a k.o. criterium for me - hence no poly frocks in my wardrobe).
    totally understand sweet bess for being alarmed by this rattling and shaking going on! the good thing - it will end soon - they build fast this days...... thats it if its not a road here in the countryside = neverending stories. always.
    spring bulbs better left outdoors in the soil until the leaves are totally rotten (don´t cut them!) - they collecting new energie with the leaves, storing them in the bulbs. if you store away or cut off to early they will not bloom the next year.
    happy gardening! xxxx

    1. Thank you Beate, it is a relief indeed.
      I know about the Spring bulb thing, and never ever cut off its leaves. I just lift the whole plant including the surrounding soil from its pot, and leave them to die down naturally in an out of the way trough, planting them out in the garden in Autumn. xxx

  8. Our spring weather has long gone too, it's freezing here, rainging too. It's good to see you lovely sunny photos.
    Speaking of which, the orange and lime flowery skirt is glorious, it would cheer up the greyest day.
    I bought sandals a couple of weeks ago but haven't had the weather to wear them yet, I can't wait for a bit of warmth.
    Doesn't Bess have beautiful eyes! It sounds like she has the makings of a good mouser. I'm glad she continues to settle in well. xxx

    1. Thank you Sally! Our Spring weather has been rather letting us down as well. It'll be a while before I start thinking of digging out my sandals, I'm still wearing ankle boots these days! xxx

  9. I hope that soon you'll have piece and quiet in your home and that your neighbours will finish your renovations soon. I'm happy to hear that Bess is doing so well. Your garden looks lovely. A proper spring garden! We had a bit of snow but I didn't really mind. We have it so seldom that it is always an event. The weather is very changeable these days, we have had some colder days but as we had a pretty mild winter, I really don't have anything to complain about.

    Beautiful outfits, all of them. I wouldn't be able to pick a fav one even if I had to. That vintage dress is a beauty. I love its colours: magenta, white and blue. Certainly a gamble that payed off. It looks lovely on you. I also like its keyhole neckline and how you accessorized it with a brooch both for stylish and practical reasons. Your outfit with a polka dot print blouse and a floral skirt is gorgeous as well. Perfect print mixing and beautiful colours! Your last outfit in earthy tones is beautiful as well. You always dress so stylishly!

    1. p.s. peace (not piece, sorry that was a typo) and quiet

    2. and their renovations (sorry, was tired when I typed this)

    3. Thank you Ivana! I guess they'll finish the renovations soon.It's the taking down of the old extension which was the noisiest. Plus the radio they have on full blast all day. xxx

  10. Great news that Jos has got his vaccine appointment. We are not far off getting our second jabs.
    It’s so good to hear that Bess is settling in nicely. I hope the building work doesn’t unsettle her. It’s a pain when stuff like that is going on. When we had the extension done we must have drove the neighbours mad with all the builders merchants wagons coming and going. I’m sorry to hear they’re doing so much work near you.
    Your beautiful it fits as always are a shot of colourfulness Ann. You always look so lovely.
    Take care both of you. Lots of love xxx

    1. I'm so behind with replying to comments that by now Jos has got his first jab already, and you both got your second :-) Must do better! I hate building work, especially since it seems to be ongoing where we live! xxx

  11. finally Jos has his vaccination appointment. Hooray. You still have to wait?
    I love the first outfit with the bright cardigan. Great colors.
    luckily, bess wasn't afraid of the earthquake of the construction machines!
    With a very huge hug Tina

    1. Thank you Tina, and yes, I still have to wait, being 14 years younger than Jos. Bess has been a very brave girl dealing with all the new impressions (and noises) coming her way :-) xxx

  12. That's stellar news about Jos being booked for his first vaccine (yay!!!).

    I am utterly smitten with the idea of an entire shop devoted to cat related items. What a fantastic, creative, and very cool concept. How lucky to have such a shop in your very own area.

    Autumn Zenith ­čží Witchcrafted Life

    1. Thank you Autumn! I'm sure you'd love that shop! xxx

  13. Ann, I really have to say a big thank you… you have been a great comfort in these difficult days of mine. I really appreciate your loving comments ... and what a great post, I love your outfits and your orange floral skirt brings joy to thoughts. Your garden is really getting ready for next spring .. A big hug to you and the sweet Bess ...

    1. You're welcome Carmela, and I'm glad to read that my comments have been a comfort to you! Take care! xxx

  14. Have a lovely start of the week<3

  15. Lovely outfits (as usual) and lovely photos of cute Bess and her new toys, she looks really adorable, lots of personality!
    I love the fluffy cardi and the feather-like print in this first outfit. But the second one is my favourite, such a delightfully matchy ensemble, love the mixed prints, dots and florals, and love the colour combo around this magnificent skirt, fab colours indeed!. And also fab accessories!
    You look fabulous in these orange and rusty colours, another gorgeous colour combo. Love the mixed prints too!, and looking really gorgeous posing in your garden!, beautiful photos!
    Thanks for sharing these photos of your garden indeed, it's looking gloriously colourful!

    1. Thank you Monica! Bess certainly has lots of personality ;-) I love sharing photos of my garden and looking back at its progress over the years! xxx

  16. I know exactely what you are talking about. Last week the dishes rattled in the cupboards due to constraction work next door. I think they haven't finished their work yet ...

    We have had wintery weather with snow even for a week, but it seems that tomorrow the cold wind from the north will coming to an end.

    Have a nice week!

    1. Oh dear, it does seem that you know what I was talking about. The rattling, thankfully, has stopped by now. It was far worse than the noise! xxx