Thursday, 17 June 2021

Twice bitten

Friday the 4th of June was V-Day! V as in vaccination, not victory, although I was feeling quite victorious after getting my first jab. As I've already told you, all went well and I did not suffer any side effects to speak of.  Also, to give credit where credit is due, I was very impressed with how smooth it all went, given that organizing all this must have been quite challenging. All the volunteers were friendly and helpful too and my own personal "jabbing guy" certainly wasn't lacking a sense of humour!

On top of all that, I was incredulous but obviously very chuffed to read that Belgium is currently the fastest country in the European Union when it comes to the number of vaccines administered per 100 inhabitants. I'm almost ashamed of being so scathing and skeptical of our country's vaccination strategy a couple of months back!

Here I am, one day later, on Saturday the 5th of June. The slightly painful arm I'd woken up with was more or less back to normal by late afternoon. 

After having rained quite heavily overnight, we were left with a cloudy day and decidedly cooler temperatures of  around 18°C.

The gauzy fabric of the vintage dress I pulled from my wardrobe wasn't nearly sufficient to go it alone, especially as only the skirt part is lined. I was wearing a camisole underneath - as much for coverage as for warmth - but still needed a cardigan when I stepped outside.

The dress's cerulean blue backdrop is enhanced by black and white squiggles erupting in a generous layer of blowsy flowers towards the hemline. This prompted my choice of belt - and one which certainly doesn't need further introduction - as well as my necklace, which numbers fuchsia pink beads among its black sisters. 

Taking it from there, adding a fuchsia pink cardigan and ditto plastic ring was a no-brainer. A grey and white plastic swallow brooch, which is vintage and an old flea market find, was pinned to the former. 

An early morning garden inspection round revealed a hint of blush pink in the first of the Lupine's flower spikes, while elsewhere the Alliums were still looking regal even if their purple florets were slowly but surely starting to fade. 

Dashes of bright yellow are provided by Geum chiloense 'Lady Stratheden', while delicious strawberry and cream swirls are the crowning glory of Dianthus 'Megan'. Both are survivors from last Summer.

Alongside velvety Mimulus, with its profusion of different coloured flowers (top right) and moody Delphiniums (bottom right), which are both recent plantings, there are those garden stalwarts such as our gooseberry bush (top left) which has been rubbing along for years with its next door neighbour, hardy Geranium sanguineum (bottom left).

The sun reappeared on Sunday, bringing along highs of 24°C. While we were having breakfast, we spotted a pair of wood pigeons making their way towards our giant white current bush. After years of practice, they have learned how to almost strip it clean from the inside out. While one is standing guard, the other one lowers herself down into the bush, feasting on the as yet green berries.

I tried to take a photo from the kitchen window but the silly bird had just disappeared from view, and was probably sniggering at me from the depths of the bush. 

It would be curtains for the tired looking pansies and bellis in the hanging basket on the right, as we were off to a local outdoor garden centre for replacements that day

Dress of the day was the cottage garden patterned teal-based one I found at the three-floored charity shop back in May. 

I kept accessories simple, adding an old hessian belt, an aqua beaded necklace from H&M by way of a flea market and a rose-red butterfly brooch which was feeling quite at home among all those flowers!

The eagle-eyed among you may notice that I am wearing the red Gador shoes I charity shopped the other week. 

Back from the garden centre, I emptied the hanging basket and a wall-mounted terracotta pot of its overly leggy and mildewed contents, replacing them with a selection of Petunias and Million Bells.

You'll get to see the finished results in a future post, as by then the sunlight was too harsh to photograph them properly.

It is almost a given that Bess is featuring in the majority of my posts. As suggested by Vix, soon she may even write her own blog post now that she's learned how to type on my grandfather's ancient Corona!

Here she is taking full advantage of her scratching post's new position beneath the dining room window.

We have reached Monday by now which, as an office day, usually doesn't get a mention. However, this one was different as one look outside the kitchen window while sipping my morning mug of lemon and ginger tea was enough to make my heart sing. Our first Oriental poppy had shed its furry shell and was showing off its ruffled scarlet petals for all to see. 

There was no time to meet it up close, which I was only able to do that evening, after work. 

The continuing sunshine had brought yet more colour to the Lupine flower spike, which I was happy to see would be the first of many. 

That day's watering and deadheading routine turned up a tiny snail who'd made herself at home in a Petunia flower. Regretfully, this is just one of many as well. 

Tuesday the 8th of June was yet another warm and sunny day, with the odd patch of clouds, and the mercury climbing to 25°C.

Aided by another round of noisy construction work, involving a succession of concrete trucks coming and going, the gorgeous weather made us seek out the peace and quiet of nature.

I'd learned my lesson and opted for a recently charity shopped pair of wide legged trousers. For good measure I was also wearing a cardigan on top of my short-sleeved blouse. Hand to heart, I swear I only removed it for the photos!

Our destination that day was Walenhoek, a nature reserve in the nearby town of Niel, which is just a 20 minute drive from Dove Cottage. Again, this is somewhere I've blogged about more than once before.

As usual we took a picnic, which we ate about half-way through our two-hour or so walk.

Being a weekday, there weren't many people about, and we had the reserve mostly to ourselves. I think we only met about five or six people in total, one of them a jogger who overtook us - slow couches -twice.

Crossing a cattle grid brought us to the grazing area where Galloway cattle were introduced many years ago. Not that we've ever seen any of these mighty but supposedly gentle creatures.

It was with some trepidation that we took a path we'd discovered during a Winter walk back in February, when its rutted clay was frozen solid. Imagining a muddy mire after the recent rains, we were pleasantly surprised to find it bone-dry and very walkable. 

The path meanders between two ponds, and the views we were rewarded with were well worth the slight detour. We even encountered a dragonfly who willingly posed for a photo. Yellow flag Iris dotted the water's edge, contrasting gaily with the blue sky reflected in the ponds.

Our stomachs were rumbling faintly, but before searching out a suitable bench for our picnic, I descended along a slightly muddy path towards the edge of one the bigger ponds, where a stunning waterscape framed by a copse of dead trees awaited.

And here's proof that I was wearing that cardigan. Nevertheless, once again I was bitten and this time it was my left arm the as yet unnamed insects had taking a liking too. At one point, I could feel the sharp pin-prick of a sting going right through my sleeve. I didn't feel anything when that syringe entered my arm on Friday, but I did feel that undoubtedly tiny insect's sting! 

By the time I got home, the tell-tale red welts had appeared, about six of them this time, the worst two being on my left upper arm. It's a good thing I got that cream the other week, so that I could start treatment right away. That is, right after some more outfit photos, as I would need to stay out of the sun once applied.

I exchanged my trousers - which had mysteriously developed a hole during our walk - for a wide flouncy skirt, black with a sprinkling of flowers and foliage in purple, green and orange.

The multicoloured and textured necklace, the pink squirrel brooch pinned to my blouse, and the vintage green and white polka dot peplum blouse itself are all the same as worn with my trousers earlier.

On my feet, the green, buckled Kicker shoes which jumped at me in a charity shop back in March. 

As indicated by my journal, the rest of the afternoon was spent inside, nursing my bites, writing that day's blog post and catching up with blogland.

The latter is what I will do after I've clicked Publish!

Until next time, my dears, please do keep on staying safe and as sane and sensational as possible.


  1. I do love the teal flowered dress, it's so vibrant, as is your garden. Your gooseberries are amazing. I can't seem to get them going here and I love them.
    Bess is looking so at home now, it's hard to believe she started her time with you as such a timid and worried kitty!
    Congrats on your second jab :) xxx

    1. Thank you Sally! We can hardly believe she is the same kitty! Oh, and Jos has just picked a colander full of gooseberries, and you'd hardly notice they are gone. A bumper crop like never before! xxx

  2. Ah, what a lovely post, Ann. I smiled and nodded as I read along, enjoying this little slice of your life. Bess is so beautiful and settling in and making your home "hers", I see! I am happy to see she approves of her new post spot! I'd love to see a post from her!

    3-4 awesome outfits here! I like the pose of you sitting back on the bench - loving your hair right now too! That polka-dot top is wonderful.

    Thanks so much for the fab pictures, and hooray for second jabs! I'm hoping I'll hear in the next few weeks about mine.

    1. Thank you Sheila! I should really do a Bess post some time :-) I'm loving my hair now too, I haven't had it this long since the late 90s! xxx

  3. I love the pink and blue outfit at the top of the post - and how nice you got your first vaccination too!

    Such a shame about the bug bits at the end though - I really suffer on my fave trail if I forget to apply bug spray as it's around the water, the mozzies can be fierce!

    Hope you're having a wonderful day :)

    Away From The Blue

    1. Thank you Mica, I've bought a couple of different bug repellents to try out, as I certainly don't want another repeat! xxx

  4. lovely bess!!
    and pretty flowers and pretty flower printed outfits! sorry that you got bitten again - i guess you would not like to live here by the oxbow lake :-D
    (not that i complain, i´m pretty cool with the moscito bites) the nice thing about the location - plenty of dragonflys in the garden.
    wonderful nature pictures! thanx!
    hugsies! xxxx

    1. Thank you Beate! I guess living where you do you learn to live with the mosquitoes! I love dragonflies and we have some coming to our garden as well. xxx

  5. Three massive cheers on receiving your second shot, dear Ann - and additional cheers for the fact that you weren't hit hard by any after-effects from it.

    I just received my 1st Covid vaccine this week on Wednesday afternoon. A bit of a sore/warm arm and a touch more lethargy than my usual level are, knock wood, the only (very minor!) impacts I'm feeling from this awesome inoculation. I was told to expect a text message or email from the provincial health ministry in 6 - 8 weeks letting me known that I can then book shot number two. I'm so looking forward to that and to the fact that it means I'll head into autumn, my absolute favourite season, I should be as vaccinated as any of us can be against this horrific illness by that point in the year.

    Big hugs & the sunniest of wishes for a beautiful last week of spring!

    Autumn Zenith �� Witchcrafted Life

    PS: I completely adore the floral pattern on the skirt of the first dress you featured here.

    1. Thank you Autumn! I'm glad to hear you've received your first vaccine without too many side effects. I'll get my second one on July 9. xxx

  6. I'm so pleased that you suffered no ill effects from the first jab. I didn't know that Belgium was doing so well with the roll-out, that's fantastic news.
    Gorgeous photos of Bess - she really does need to write a blog post and share you she spends her days. The garden is looking wonderful, simply bursting with colour. I'm still waiting on my alliums and the lupins have only just started to sprout. Maybe all this rain we're forecast for today will chivvy them along!
    Walenhoek looks glorious, what a shame about those wretched bites. A lot of people swear by Avon's Skin So Soft for its insect repelling prperies, might be worth a try?
    Three beautiful and perfectly accessorised outfits. That green polka dot top being particularly fabulous! xxx

    1. I was quite surprised by the news of Belgium doing so well after that bad start, but I'm really happy obviously. I'll be looking into that Avon cream, as you say it might be worth a try! xxx

  7. How nice to read your posts, Ann! Stroll through that lush park and admire your flowers ... how many beautiful colors! I love your teal dresses and I always smile at the accessories you choose for your outfits.A caress to Bess and an affectionate hug to you!

    1. Thank you Carmela, and I'm glad I'm making you smile! xxx

  8. Eeh you do look bonnie missus in your blue frock and cardie and I’m loving your hair. Well done on getting your vaccine jab.
    Your garden is looking so colourful. I need to get down to some weeding and clearing of one particular section, it’s far to packed and overgrown.
    Life’s downers have started creeping in again since we got home from the caravan, with several friends having a real bad time at the moment. So we are on hand to do what we can. It seems such a sharp contrast from the fun and laughter of last week. Awh well that’s life isn’t it.
    So it’s nice to pop in on you and Jos and Bess of course to see what you’re all doing .
    Lots of love xxx

    1. Thank you Mrs. H. Out little patch is becoming quite overgrown too, what with all the rain we've had there hasn't been much opportunity for tidying. Sorry to hear life's downers are starting to creep in again. Sending hugs xxx

  9. I can't have the vaccine Ann because of allergies. Glad to hear yours went so smoothly. Some of my friends have been quite ill after having it. Have a lovely weekend xx

    1. Oh, that's really too bad Laurie! I hope it doesn't cause you too many problems ... xxx

  10. Don't start me on insect bites! We test cycled last week and I wore sandals, I now have bites between my toes!!! What does it feel good to walk in nature right? We also have that cattle in our parks, they are so beautiful and indeed very friendly. Enjoy your weekend@

    1. Oh, bites between the toes sounds quite horrible! It won't keep me from walking in nature, obviously, only need to apply insect repellent! xxx

  11. Thank you! I'm safe and sensational although it's almost the end of the school year, the hardest yet to come. :-)

    Have a nice weekend!


    1. Thank you Regula, I do hope you're getting through this tough time without too much hassle. xxx

  12. I'm happy to hear you got your second jab. It's great that the vaccination process is running smoothly in Belgium. In Croatia, there was some kind of problem with the applications via online platform but it is quite easy to get an appointment by making a telephone call.

    As always, I absolutely love your outfits, especially the first one. The blue dress is so gorgeous. I just love that cerulean blue....and the flowers on that lovely blue background are very pretty. Great pattern and colour- and a lovely cut. I also like your belt and the cardigan you wore with the dress. The cardi looks a bit red in the collage photos (probably because it is against the blue) but in that first shot you can really see how beautiful is that fuchsia pink. I also love the green dotted jacket paired with a printed skirt. It also looks great with those wide trousers- again such a gorgeous pattern! Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you Ivana! It's good to hear that vaccinations are starting to go smoothly in Croatia now! xxx

  13. The fuchsia is a nice color for you.

  14. Sorry to hear about the bites but yay for getting your second jab.
    You look fabulous as always. I am in awe of all your flowers.. so beautiful.

  15. Yay for the vaccine! I'm so happy for you.
    Fantastic outfits. Next time something bites you, bite it back :)

    1. Thank you Goody, and I'll keep that in mind :-) xxx

  16. What a great post and I am in love with all your looks- the prints and colours are incredible! The vintage dress is to die for and I love the jumpsuit as well! So happy you came by my blog and now we can also connect- all because of Sheila! Have a great rest of the week!

  17. So lovely to see your garden in bloom and your colourful outfits!, and so glad to read that you had your first jab. I've also been skeptical of my country's vaccination strategy, they're incredibly efficient now!.
    Loving every dress and every color combo, but my favourite ones are the teal-floral dress (fab colours and accessories!) and those wide legged trousers with the polka dot blouse!. Sorry that you were bitten by those pesky insects again!.
    I'm catching up with your blog and loving it!

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to catch up, Monica! It's good to hear Spain's vaccination strategy is efficient now. It's such a relief to hear some positive news now and again, isn't it? xxx

  18. Im with you on the weather Ann but a new thing for me is hay fever, it’s been a real pig this year. As soon as I open the door or window my eyes start streaming and nose gets either blocked up or I start sneezing.
    Anyhow enough of that and over to the two gorgeous dresses at the top of your post, they are gorgeous. No good adding them to my pile as I’m way over weight at the moment haha.
    I’m loving all your bargains. Fancy C&A still going strong, it’s years since it disappeared here in the UK.
    Little Bess looks so angelic. Enjoy the rest of the weekend you three xxx

    1. Oh dear, I never had hay fever until a couple of years ago, either. It's not as bad as yours at the sound of it, though. C&A is definitely still a feature of Belgian high streets! xxx