Sunday 30 May 2021

A maze of rainy days

It seems that the weather gods have finally answered our prayers by sending a handful of sunny days our way. And about time too! In just a matter of days, we'll turn another page on the calendar and soon Spring will be well and truly over. Whether to make up for this year's cold April and wet May we can look forward to a warm and sunny June remains to be seen, but for now, I am making the most of the sunshine to catch up with some garden chores and top up my seriously depleted vitamin D levels. 

It is a bit of a wrench having to revisit that maze of rainy days for the sake of my blog, but here I am, late afternoon last Saturday, when a sudden break in the solid layer of grey clouds drove us outside for a couple of hasty outfit photos. 

I am wearing a short-sleeved dress picked up from Think Twice last September - incredibly, one of only a handful of garments bought from my favourite chain of vintage shops in well over a year. Underneath, I am wearing a teal long-sleeved T-shirt in almost exactly the same shade as my opaques.

The temperature that day didn't climb higher than 13°C, so I never removed the darker teal waterfall cardigan - charity shopped in December 2019 - I threw on earlier to put the chills at bay.

I struggled a bit finding the right necklace to go with it, as nothing seemed to work with the dress's collar, so originally I just went with the flower brooch, bought from the Brooch Lady in April 2019. It was only at the end of the day that I thought of this wooden beaded necklace, which turned out to be just right. If it looks familiar, it's because I was wearing its slightly different coloured sister in my previous post!

The vintage chain and tortoiseshell plastic belt was a charity shop find in May 2019.

We had an early start that morning, as Jos was due at the vaccination centre just after 9 am. Instead of a leisurely breakfast, he  grabbed a quick sandwich, took the recommended dose of Paracetamol, and went off in the pouring rain. 

With the sound of the rain pitter-pattering against the kitchen window, the rivulets it created all but obscuring my view, I breakfasted on a fruity medley of banana, juicy peach, grapes, strawberries and raspberries, keeping half for Jos to eat upon his return. Cradling a mug of ginger and lemon tea, my eye on the kitchen clock, I almost literally watched time go by until Jos sent me a text it was over and done with and he would soon be on his way home.

With still no let-up in the rain, I decided to crack on with the seemingly never-ending wardrobe changeover, this time concentrating my efforts on the shelves in my main wardrobe. 

This was a quick and easy task, as I only had to take out the Summer stuff (a jumble of tops, jumpsuits and cotton skirts) which was lurking at the back of the bottom shelf and move the Winter stuff, mainly consisting of thick woollens, to the back. This gave me the opportunity to appraise every single item and put aside the no-no's for donation.

The middle shelves hold long-sleeved and short-sleeved blouses respectively and are being kept out all the time. 

On the top shelf, a plethora of wicker bags hides a multitude of cardigans. I can't remember when I last used any of these bags, but it must be going on two years now. For the last couple of months, I have only been using the cork cross-body bag I charity shopped in February whenever we go somewhere, alternating it with the yellow leather bag - another charity shop find, from last September - for my office days.

To the right of my main wardrobe, which is in our bedroom, is a hell-hole of a built-in cupboard which is stuffed to the gills. It is hiding behind the door you can just catch a glimpse of the cornicing of in the above collage. 

Adjacent to it is a wall-mounted antique carved wooden coat rack for our dressing gowns. On top, in an ancient wicker basket bought in an antiques shop in Leominster, Herefordshire, lives my beloved childhood monkey Gustje, whom I've had since I was four years old. A cheap toy from a fairground stall, he is all but falling apart. Ear-less, leaking straw stuffing and with a wooden skewer holding his cheerful plastic-faced head upright, he is enjoying his retirement in the company of another monkey which came from Jos's side of the family.

The afternoon was spent curled up on the couch with my current read. Recommended by three of my bloggy pals (Sheila, Sally and Vronni) after I shared my charity shop haul of books a couple of weeks ago, it went straight to the top of my reading pile. I'm just over half way in now, and I'm completely hooked. It's beautifully and imaginatively written and very haunting, and I can't stop picking it up and reading a couple of pages at the oddest of moments. 

Now, before we proceed to Sunday, the 23rd of May, how about some cat spam? 

Never having had a cat who actually made use of the cat beds provided by us, we can't help being delighted every time we catch Bess having a cat nap in her Snooze Bay. At the same time, it is odd to see here picking some of Phoebe's favourite places too, such as the back of the sofa in the spare room and the wicker footstool in the sitting room.

For once, we had a blue-skied and sunny start of the day on Sunday, The sun came and went a couple of times, and it was a bit windy so that it felt quite a bit chillier than the 16°C stubbornly indicated by the thermometer. 

But who were we to complain, as mercifully, it remained dry for once! Nevertheless, the garden was still recovering from the watery onslaught of the past couple of days, so that I put off my plans for cutting back some of the ferns which will soon turn it into a minor rain forest.

There's an upside to the maze of rainy days too, as everything is looking luxuriously lush and verdant.

A round of inspection revealed quite a few surprises. While the lavender flowered Clematis we planted last year seems to have given up its attempts to outwit the slug attacks, its cream flowered neighbour ('Guernsey Cream', top left) is making great progress in scrambling upon its designated trellis.  Aquilegia 'Biedermeier' (top right) is a mass of pale pink flowers, and the first flower buds are appearing in Trollius 'Orange Princess' (bottom left).

Aquilegia 'Crimson Star' (top right), while not as abundant as the pink ones, are doing well too. I wish the same could be said for the recently planted Bleeding Hearts (bottom right), but the poor things are suffering from slug damage. After having tried to catch some of the slimy creatures unawares, I'm afraid I had no choice but to revert to using eco-friendly slug pellets in the worst affected areas.

Although it may not be evident from the outfit photos, I did opt for short sleeves again that day, picking a green short-sleeved jumper with white accent stripes at the collar, cuffs and hemline. 

Both the jumper and the skirt featuring diagonal bands of orange flowers and green foliage on a sky blue floral background, are vintage items found at Think Twice. The skirt originally had a matching blouse, which I sold on as it was too large for me.  

Apart from perhaps the sky blue beaded necklace, you've seen my accessories of choice many times before: the stretchy belt with its multi-coloured round plastic buckle, the blue-rimmed oval flower brooch and the white felted flower corsage pinned to my cardigan are all old favourites featured many times on the blog.

The bright orange long-line cardigan was a charity shop find from the tail end of last year.

Another new-comer to the garden, and yet another Aquilegia, is the alpina variety, which might very well eclipse frilly 'Nora Barlow' as my favourite. Their vibrant violet-blue flowers, the tips of their petals tinged with a faintest of green, are absolutely stunning! 

Apart from adding two more perennials to the borders, not much gardening was being done that day as, in spite of the sunny spells, a blustery wind soon drove us inside. Our garden's solar lights, however, lapped up every last ray of the available sunshine, treating us to a magical display once darkness fell.

We can't wait to spend some warm Summer evenings out there!

Until then, we'll have to make do with whatever the weather gods deign to treat us to. But whatever the weather, I hope I can count on you all to stay safe and and as sane as possible. 

Hope to see you next time!

Tuesday 25 May 2021

This mess we're in

It's chucking down while I'm typing this and I can hear a torrent of rain drumming down on the landing skylight. Under a dome of steel grey sky, the world outside my window is reminiscent of a November scene but for the lush green canopy of the giant birch tree on the corner, its leaves dripping raindrops long after the rain itself has stopped. A sole pedestrian hurries by, rain-coated and hunched-shouldered. Cars splash through puddles, their windscreen wipers working overtime. 

Oh, but all that rain's good for the garden, isn't it? Yet even the garden has had enough by now, looking drenched and forlorn, the soil waterlogged and squidgy, the flowers prematurely letting go of their sodden petals. 

Frankly speaking, I've had enough too. I'm longing for a succession of balmy, sunny, soul-soothing days, just like we did this time last year. 

What we didn't have back then, but do have now, was a ray of hope of getting out of this mess we're in. 

I'm happy to report that not only did Jos get his second jab last Saturday, I too have finally got my invite to save the date on the 4th of June and the 9th of July respectively. Huzzah!

For the sake of continuity, I'm picking up where I left off, which was in the weekend before last.

The weather on Sunday the 16th of May could almost have been a carbon copy of Saturday's, with a  sunny start but soon culminating into clouds and showers, the temperature a rather chilly 14°C.

Still, I was adamant to wear one of my short-sleeved frocks, opting for a fit and flare dress in the palest of greens sprinkled with delicate yellow and orange flowers and fresh green foliage. It comes with an attached self-fabric belt, which for once I didn't feel the need to replace. 

I kept my accessories simple, just adding a green beaded necklace and mid-century celluloid brooch featuring two Scottie dogs in a sailing boat. They're clever chaps opting for their own private version of Noah's Ark to sail away in. 

An extra pop of colour was provided by the bright orange cardigan, which I needed to keep the goosebumps at bay.

Before the heavens opened, we cracked on with a couple of tasks in the garden, starting with last year's strawberry plant in its hanging bucket a good dose of organic feed. It's got several flowers already, which hopefully will end up as juicy red berries. 

In the meantime, there seems to be no stopping the wild strawberries (bottom left and top right), which are growing like mad in the large terracotta planter which used to be home to last year's rhubarb. The rhubarb in question has sadly departed without trace, which cannot be said of the tiny strawberry we'd hastily planted in there, a little stray rescued when we revamped the plant tables outside our back door last June. 

Another job to be tackled was staking the gooseberry bush which, laden with what looks like a bumper crop of berries, was in danger of succumbing under their weight, while its canes were lying in wait to scratch unsuspecting passers-by with their treacherous thorns.

With an army of clouds gathering on the horizon, it was time to retreat indoors where, after lunch, I continued with my seasonal wardrobe changeover. Taking the last of the Summer frocks out of the linen chest - although heaven knows when I'll be able to wear them -  I filled the by now empty vacuum bags with their Winter siblings. Then Jos schlepped the vacuum cleaner upstairs and helped me re-vacuum the bags and put them into hibernation.  

Before doing so, however, I retrieved this almost-forgotten jacket from the bottom of the chest. In a hard to capture emerald green, this vintage new wool jacket with its shiny black buttons and vinyl belt, hasn't seen the light of day for years. The last time I wore it must have been pre-blog. Having become a bit too snug on the hips, it nevertheless escaped being sold on, perhaps due to some reluctance to part with it. Trying it on one more time, I was happy to find it fits me once more!

I'm once again skipping Monday's office day. As if we didn't have to get up early enough already, we were woken up in the middle of the night by Bess jumping on and off the bed and the chest of drawers beneath the window, where she had managed to dislodge one of the blind cords, so that Jos had to do an emergency repair. Needless to say, we were wide awake by then. 

In spite of the wet weather forecast, it turned out to be a reasonably sunny day on Tuesday, the temperature reaching 16°C.

The dress I selected had been hanging ready for a couple of weeks, waiting for the right weather conditions to wear it. It might be long-sleeved, but the fabric is quite thin and unlined. 1970s vintage and sporting a lethal dagger collar, it is from the Finnish Merry Finn label, and yet another old Think Twice find.

I accessorized it with one of my beloved stretchy chevron patterned belts, a pink pearly brooch and a necklace of pink, orange and purple wooden beads.

After our fruit & yoghurt breakfast, we made a trip to the garden centre, as we needed a bag of compost as well as our usual brand of cat litter, which the supermarket had run out of.

While we were there, it would have been rude not to have a look at plants, and it was almost unavoidable that I was seduced into making some purchases. I selected another tray of annuals, including two varieties of Diascia and Antirrhinum, both of which were a huge success last  Summer. Three perennials came home with us as well: Dicentra formosa ‘Luxuriant’, or Fern-Leaf Bleeding Heart,  Gaillardia ‘Kobold’ and the delightfully named Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’. 

I also picked up an almost fully grown and about to flower Delphinium (top left and bottom right), as the one I'd planted in the border was decimated by slugs. Back at home, I put it in a big terracotta pot, the rim of which I completely covered in copper foil tape in a bid to deter the slimy creatures. 

Taking advantage of the favourable weather conditions, I also potted up most of the annuals and found a home for the Bleeding Heart in a shady spot.

After Jos had brought up our solar lights from the basement the previous week and positioned them in the garden, we felt we could do with some additional lighting. So, apart from an additional ground spike, we also bought two lamp-shaped lights to hang from the awning. Our initial idea was to buy some more of the coloured jars we got last year, but unfortunately they had sold out. The new ones work on the same principle, though, the miniature solar panel on top lighting a coil of tiny led lights.

The mild and sunny weather continued on Wednesday's office day, but was briefly interrupted by a sudden downpour around lunch time. A torrent of emails kept me busy all day so that I was glad to be able to step out into the garden for a moment of zen when I got home.

I'd been following and photographing the developing Allium globes for a couple of days and that evening I was happy to note that the most forward ones had burst out of their skins. They are Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation', and their colour is truly sensational indeed!

If we'd been hoping for a repeat of the previous days' sunny weather on Thursday, we were sorely disappointed as a solid layer of clouds soon obscured the initial blue sky and sunshine we'd woken up to.

Nevertheless, I insisted on wearing short sleeves again, this time opting for a skirt and blouse combo. First outing for the brightly coloured Diolen skirt I found in a charity shop in October last year. Its companion was a vintage blouse found at Think Twice many years ago, to which I pinned a flower corsage in exactly the same blue as its buttons and some of the flowers in its pattern.

A pea green beaded necklace and my stretchy clasp-buckled belt completed my outfit. Oh, and have you noticed my green ankle boots? A lucky charity shop find back in February, their waxed nubuck exterior dictates they can only be worn on mostly dry days. 

We hadn't gone on a charity shop spree for over a week, which obviously had to be rectified by not visiting one but two shops, striking it lucky at both.

A rummage at the first shop yielded two tops, including a lightweight emerald green jumper, which I'd been on the lookout for for quite a while. I would have been happy with a plain one, so finding one with a diamond patterned yoke was a definite bonus. 

I was also drawn to the bright pink peasant style blouse, which has an opaque bodice and see-through sleeves.

Another top came my way in the second shop, where I picked up this pale blue one strewn with Summer flowers. The sleeveless sheath dress is another King Louie one. I already have a blouse in the same pattern.

Last but not least is this pair of shoes! I normally wouldn't look twice at cream coloured shoes, but surely these are something else! The brand name (Soulier) is on the inside, but so far I haven't been able to find out much about them. Not easy, considering soulier is the French word for shoe! Anyway, they have a very 1970s looking block heel. I'll let you know if I can unearth more information on them. 

And with that, we've once again come to the end of my post. I'll be back in a couple of days. Do stay healthy and happy until then, my friends.

Friday 21 May 2021

Come into the garden

An unexpected but obviously very welcome glut of sunny days has made me lose track of time in the garden, resulting in a mad rush to finish this blog post. How I ever managed to consistently post every four days while simultaneously working full time, I'll never know. 

If there's one thing I've learned this past year it's to live life at a slightly slower pace, although it has also created the opportunity to fine-tune my procrastination habit to an almost professional level! It's a thin line to walk, especially as I've still got to work for my money, and a return to full-time employment is looming on the horizon. 

For now, I'm happy as it is - even if there is room for improvement - and I'm making the most of all the days I've got left on which time is my own to do with as I please.

For the sake of this blog, I am backtracking to last week, starting with Tuesday the 11th of May. Although the temperature was nudging 20°C, the sun only paid us the briefest of visits, waving us goodbye before the morning was over.

In my book, blue and green can certainly be seen! In fact, it is one of my favourite colour pairings.

Various shades of both have joined forces in this short-sleeved Diolen dress, which is usually among the first to get an outing in Spring.

I picked up the palest of the greens by adding a sea foam beaded necklace and honoured the sky blue with my charity shopped King Louie cardigan. Navy was represented by my belt and the delightful  enamelled brooch featuring a girl bearing a flower posy.

As that week's Thursday, my other non-office, would be a public holiday and consequently everything would be closed or far too busy, it was a toss-up between the charity shop and the garden centre on Tuesday. 

In the end, we decided to do both, starting with a visit to the three-floor charity shop in nearby Duffel. 

The clothing rails were choc-a-bloc and I dithered over a couple of things, in the end only buying this handmade vintage dress offering a veritable explosion of Summer flowers on a teal background. 

Ok, I also bought a mustard cardigan and a pair of slouchy trousers, but they weren't exciting enough to merit photographing.

On to the garden centre, where a handful of annuals and two perennials ended up in our trolley, together with a Sweet Pea plant (Lathyrus odoratus). I love Sweet Peas, and each year I vow to grow some from seed, lack of space on a sheltered windowsill usually putting paid to my plans. 

Back at home we had lunch, after which I wasted no time in planting them in a big terracotta pot, where they are allowed to scramble upon a wigwam I cobbled together from old bamboo canes, one of which topped with a blue ceramic heart. At its feet, I planted the delightfully named Calibrachoa ‘Good Night Kiss’ (bottom left), more commonly known as Million Bells. 

As Spring flowers are slowly but surely making way for their Summer sisters, the time has come to spruce up the little courtyard at the end of the garden with patio pots. Here, I planted yet another terracotta pot with striped Petunias, aptly likened by Vix to circus tents. These particular ones are called 'Rose Stardust' and they seem to be floating upon a sea of white and purple Alyssum (bottom left).

Other floral delights include, clockwise from top left, the by now pink-tinged petticoats of my beloved Aquilegia 'Nora Barlow', the first of the dusky purple Geranium phaeum flowers, and the delicate white, yellow hearted crepe paper-like blooms of Helianthemum 'Snow Queen'.

Wednesday's office days was a reasonably busy one, but as the sun had decided to be with us for the duration, I nipped outside during my lunch break. 

On my way back from the hairdresser the week before, I'd seen rolls of vinyl tablecloth in various gorgeous patterns outside a lovely shop called Akotee (linking because I like), and as we were in need of a new cloth for our kitchen table, I returned, armed with the necessary measurements, and selected a mustard yellow one with sprigs of white flowers. It is coated cotton rather that vinyl, and it looks fantastic against our kitchen's blue walls. 

I was also tempted by a set of cat face shaped bag clips. No Bess among them, though.

And speaking of Bess, there's no sleeping in on my days off with her around, as she tends to jump on the bed - and on us - in a bid to get us out of bed. We've had to shut her out of the bedroom at one point. And of course, the minute we finally get up, she's out for the count, looking as if butter wouldn't melt!

Thursday was mostly sunny, with temperatures of about 18°C. As I had gardening plans, the outfit I wore was assembled with that in mind, selecting a black floral skirt and a pale long-sleeved blouse scattered with tiny red flowers. These are both items which, although nice enough, aren't too precious to wear for some light gardening. 

Both the skirt and blouse are old Think Twice finds, but it was the first time they were paired.

I refrained from using red throughout as an accent colour for my accessories, only picking a red beaded necklace, and adding a belt and bird brooch in butterscotch yellow. 

As the temperature had dropped by the time we made the outfit photos at the end of the day, I quickly threw on my chartreuse mid-length open cardigan, which I think doesn't look bad at all.

Back to that morning's gardening, for which I pulled a pair of purple striped Pipi Longstocking socks over my tights and wore my charity shopped purple plaid ankle wellies and old IKEA denim gardening apron. Into the latter's generous front pocket hides a myriad of items such as my gardening gloves, pieces of string and my trusty pair of secateurs.

My first task was planting the two perennials we brought back from the garden centre on Tuesday. 

Persicaria bistorta (Common Bistort) and Verbascum nigrum (Dark Mullein), along with two leftover purple Alyssums, were added to the new border on both sides of the stepping log path.

Then, with the help of Jos, I transplanted the Nasturtium seedlings into small terracotta pots. When I ran out of these, I put two of them in the old enamel coffee pot I roped in as a planter last Summer, and planted the rest in the garden. In the new border, some of the offspring of last year’s climbing Nasturtiums are popping up too.

Aquilegias galore, including one we never planted in the first place. Growing in a crack along the wall I found the wine red double Aquilegia (top left) which must be the mutated offspring of Nora Barlow. Isn't she gorgeous? Clockwise from top right are the first flower of  'Crimson Star' about to open, the first of the 'Biedermeiers' and the promising flower buds of Aquilegia alpina!

We're jumping to Saturday now, a cloudy and mostly rainy day, with a drop in temperature to a decidedly non-Springlike 14°C. Hello, weather gods, wake up, it's May for goodness sake!

Layering is key in these kind of temperatures, so I wore a three-quarter sleeved t-shirt underneath the midnight blue long-sleeved top. The latter was a charity shop find, as were the necklace and long line pink cardigan, while the pink dragonfly brooch was picked up at the indoor flea market. 

The rest of my outfit was bought from the high street over the years, the most recent being the belt and the oldest the skirt which, although the shop it is from firmly classes it as fast fashion, has been going strong for more than 10 years now.

In spite of the dampness of the day, there was no rest for the wicked when it came to gardening. After all, I still had a trayful of annuals to be given a home. Next up were a two-tone pink Pelargonium and Petunia 'Sweet Pink' (top right) which will hopefully keep each other company for months to come.

Elsewhere, our late Winter, early Spring combos of Pansies, Violas and Bellis (bottom left and right) are still going strong.

I'm leaving you now with a view taken from the back of the garden towards the house. 

To the left of the kitchen, from where Jos is keeping an eye on things, is the famous potting shed with its peeling paint often used as a backdrop for outfit photos, while to the right is the passageway which leads next to the kitchen. The window box at the end is on our dining room's window ledge, and you can actually see all the way to our front door!

And with that, I bid you goodbye once more. I hope you'll join me again next time, and that you will do your best to remain safe, sane and fabulous until then!

Sunday 16 May 2021

A blue-buzzed haze

Who knows where the time goes? Not me, that's for certain, as it absolutely boggles my mind that we're already half-way through the month of May at the time of typing.

Give or take the odd day when it felt like Summer was on its way, there hasn't been much improvement in the weather. We were treated to the familiar mixture of clouds - sometimes dark and foreboding, a solid blanket of mind-numbing grey at others - showers and sudden bursts of sunshine. The kind of neither here nor there weather that makes us sigh and resignedly plod on. 

The temperature hasn't been much to write home about either, reaching only a shivery 11°C on Wednesday the 5th of May. Nevertheless, this was redeemed by it remaining dry and sunny, so that my coiffure wasn't immediatly ruined after my visit to the hairdresser!

An after-work stroll through the garden revealed yet more Nasturtium seedlings, the newly planted Aquilegia about to unfold its first flower, and all four of our garden's Heucheras, including those in the window box and terracotta pot in the passageway next to the kitchen - having developed wands of budding flowers.

Thursday went off to a sunny start, but clouds soon appeared out of the blue by late morning. The initial forecast had been for warmer temperatures than the repeat of Wednesday's 11°C, making me reach rather optimistically for one of my short-sleeved frocks. 

Made from a jersey polyester, this mod style dress - once again an old Think Twice find - was warm enough to combat the relative chill, although its pastel yellow colour failed miserably at replacing the vanishing sunshine.

I couldn't really put my finger on it, but I didn't really feel this outfit. Perhaps I've gotten so used to seeing myself in stronger colours but, whatever the case, it made me feel a bit washed out. A feeling which wasn't even remotely remedied by the liberal doses of sky blue I completed my outfit with. 

The cardigan was a charity shop find, and so were the boots, but everything else was once bought new, the birds in flight brooch as well as the necklace UK holiday acquisitions.

We needed a couple of things from the garden centre, but decided to make a detour to the big Oxfam shop in a small nearby town which we hadn't been to since February.

The majority of their clothing rails are suspended from the ceiling by ropes, causing something akin to seasickness when browsing them, which, together with the semi-fogginess of my glasses caused by my mask, made me feel quite dizzy.

Nevertheless, I found a couple of things, including an apple patterned skirt by retro label Zoë Loveborn and a burgundy and pink Summer dress from Cassis, a Belgian high street shop.

My favourite find, though, was this green based floral top by French label Gerard Darel. Again, Angelica was lucky enough to get first dibs on wearing it!

Then it was off to the garden centre where, apart from another batch of plants, we bought an additional log effect wooden slab to complete our stepping stone path.


The weather wasn't inviting a gardening session after lunch, but I was still determined to put the finishing touch to the path, which now reaches all the way to the retaining wall.

Soon, the bluebells will be over for another year but until then, their delicate violet-blue veined flowers never fail to delight me, even if in our tiny garden they might not provide the ‘blue-buzzed haze’ as described by the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889). And oh, look, another Aquilegia is on its way. This one is called 'Crimson Star' and as it has been newly planted, I can't wait to see it in its full glory.

The mercury climbed to 16°C on Saturday, but once again it was overcast and it starting raining quite heavily soon after our fruit and yoghurt breakfast. Obviously, this did nothing to improve my morale, which was at a bit of a low. In fact, I felt quite tired and out of sorts all day, and definitely needed the colour boost provided by my outfit.

I was determined to finally wear the funky plum-coloured long sleeved top I charity shopped in January. I think it found its perfect companions in my green and white plaid textured polyester skirt and my plaid King Louie cardigan, a charity shop find which, apart from the obvious red, also has grey, yellow, teal, green and brown in its knit. 

Further accessories were a pink, yellow, white and brown woven belt, a necklace of plain green and black and white glass beads joined by felted circles, a crochet flower corsage pinned to my cardigan and a green plastic squirrel brooch adorning my top. Together with my grass green opaques, the latter was my only retail buy. My green wedge-heeled ankle boots - a charity shop find in November 2018 - came out to play once more.

We took the outfit photos at the end of the day, when the sun decided to pay us the briefest of visits. 

The rest of the day wasn't entirely wasted, though, as I switched around my coats and jackets, making the Spring and Summer ones more easily accessible, wrote a batch of plant labels and continued my latest read, Douglas Kennedy's The Woman in the Fifth.

Sunday had been heralded as the week's best day, with temperatures of up to 25°C. This was good news for Belgium's cafés and restaurants, which had been allowed to open their outdoor spaces and terraces that weekend. The fact that the sun was mostly hidden behind a layer of clouds, and that we had one or two heavy showers to contend with, didn't dampen people's enthusiasm, with the inevitable crowds as a result.

Obviously, we stayed put and spent the better part of the day in the garden, making up for lost time.

I last wore this chocolate brown short sleeved dress almost exactly a year ago to the day. It was a happy reunion and with its orange, yellow, green and light brown floral print on a dark background, it wasn't too delicate to be worn for gardening.

The stretchy green belt is slightly too large on me - it was bought retail but came in one size only - but some clever (Sheila would say "klassy") use of a green hair elastic solved the problem of its end dangling ungainly.  I added an orange necklace and green bracelet and bangle, et voilà! There's also a cat brooch but it is somewhat hidden among the flowers.

And obviously, I did not wear the orange shoes for gardening!

We started by planting Salvia nemerosa ‘Caradonna’ to the right of the dead tree trunk structure (top left and right). Its flower spikes will soon attract the local population of bees.

Then I lifted the spent bulbs, including white Muscari (bottom lef) from their pots, and put them in an out of sight spot in the passageway border, where they are allowed to die down gracefully.

Meanwhile, the Aquilegia 'Biedermeier' (top left) in the new border is making progress, some flowers already clearly exposing their spurs, while elsewhere, a glut of gooseberries is in the making.

Even last year's curry plant (Helichrysum Italicum, bottom right), which stubbornly remained flowerless back then, seems to have mended its ways, as it is full of flower buds.

As is the white lavender peeking up behind the sea of cheerful looking pansies. 

My final task was planting up some of the annuals which had been waiting patiently in the aisles. Here, Salvia 'Mystic Spires', which were a huge success last year, are joined by Petunia 'Fiesta' and white Nemesia.

And now, for some more Bess progress before I call it a day. The little rascal has now started exploring heights, as here she is on top of one of our dining room cupboards. As this is unknown territory for us - Phoebe never did anything as daring - this is quite unsettling, but luckily she seems to be very careful and no damages have occurred (yet).

She is still fond of her snooze bay, in which we often find her fast asleep. She's even found an alternative way of using it (bottom right) by jumping on top of it and plonking herself down in the resulting cavity.

So, that was it for now.

I hope to see you soon. Until then, as always, please do stay healthy and happy, and I'll try to do the same.