Friday 30 July 2021

Oh my fur and whiskers

So much to do, so little time! Like Alice's White Rabbit I've got one eye on the clock, but still the hurrier I go, the behinder I get. So - oh my fur and whiskers - I'm late, I'm late, for this very important date ... with blogland.

How I can relate with the poor White Rabbit, being forever strapped for time. And forever, as we all know, sometimes lasts just one second. A blink of the eye, and the day is over and done with, and before I know it another week has passed. I'm not at all sure I like this full-time working lark very much! Covid worries aside, I much preferred last year's slower pace of life.

Taking up my journal where I left off, we have now arrived on Monday the 12th of July. 

Miserable and grey but quite humid at 23°C, it wasn't a day with much going for it. On top of that, I was feeling quite unwell and extremely tired, which I put down to a side effect of Friday's jab.

As luck would have it, it wasn't very busy at work, so with the purpose of clearing my head, I went for a little walk during lunch break. I may even have indulged in some retail therapy, buying a pair of bright pink palazzos in the Mango sales. Don't worry, you'll get to see me wearing them later in this post.

I was feeling marginally better by the time I got home, and even dragged myself outside for outfit photos in which, surprisingly, there is little or no sign of tiredness.

Perhaps this is due to all those brightening lilacs in my outfit?

The dress I was wearing was the one I picked up in the Think Twice sales the other week. Knowing a good thing when I see it, I wore the same belt I used on Angelica when I photographed the dress for a previous post. The shiny vinyl belt with its rectangular buckle was an ancient charity shop find.

Further accessories were a violet beaded necklace and a pink-hearted flower brooch, while contrast was provided by a pair of tomato red sandals.

A grey and cloudy day awaited us on Tuesday, when a drop in temperature to 20°C came accompanied with the odd shower and a quite usummery blustery wind.

Although I hadn't slept very well that night, the episode of extreme tiredness episode seemed to have passed, which was quite a relief.

No outfit photos were taken after work, though, as by then I was ready for a lie down. But not before taking a stroll through the garden, noting that all was as well as could be.

The temperature took another tumble on Wednesday, when all the weather gods had to offer was a measly 17°C.  

For fear of sounding like a broken record, it was yet another grey, wet and miserable day. The wind was still causing havoc too, and it felt so chilly inside that I even put on the heating at some point during the evening.

We managed a quick round of outfit photos to show you the charity shopped King Louie dress I was wearing. Although it was quite unintentional, the turquoise cardigan I wore on top was King Louie too.

The orange belt with its elasticated back was an old high street buy, while both the brooch and and the off-white necklace were flea market finds. 

The inclement weather made me grab for nylons and ankle boots that morning. In this sorry excuse for a Summer, my sandals remain seriously underused .

On days like these, I'm especially thankful for the rays of sunshine provided by garden stalwarts such as - clockwise from top left - Nasturtium, Black-eyed Susan, Helenium and Gaillardia!  Aren't they a veritable sight for sun-starved eyes?

It never rains but it pours! And that's exactly what it did non-stop, all day, on Thursday, resulting in the epic and devastating floods in the south of Belgium, in which over 40 people would lose their lives and which would leave thousands homeless. 

I kept an eye out of the window, as I had to brave the rain for a hairdresser's appointment, but I was in luck, as it had stopped raining for all of the ten minutes it took me to get to the salon! 

I had my usual colour and cut and I was happy to hear Michel, my lovely hairdresser, declare that both sides of the French bob I'm aiming for are now almost in sync. I also had my fringe cut quite a bit shorter, which I'm delighted with it.

As it was still raining when I got home, we had to resort to taking outfit photos with the aid of my umbrella.

The dress is one of my beloved Diolen Delights from Think Twice and has already made several appearances on the blog. It also had the honour of accompanying me to the UK twice, in 2018 on an outing to Erddig in Wales (here) and in 2019 when we visited Ironbridge (here).

Green seems to be my go-to colour to accessorize it, and this time was no different, as I added a green belt, beaded necklace and cardigan. 

The vintage dog brooch, its little pink bow tying in with the dress, was a flea market find.

In spite of the at times ominous looking sky, it remained dry all day on Friday, with the temperature climbing a couple of degrees to highs of 21°C.

A stroll through the garden after breakfast was rewarded with quite a few surprises. Much to my joy, the sorry looking Verbascum (above, bottom right) we brought back from the garden centre in May seems to be thriving, pushing several spikes of tiny yellow flowers skywards.

Then there are the first jewel coloured pincushions of Scabiosa 'Barocca', not your run-of-the-mill Scabious but one with a difference.

Our Japanese Anemone (top left) is flowering early this year. The changeable, at times almost Autumn-like weather, must have confused it, as last year its first flower buds only appeared in the second half of August!

Much promise is being shown by the Phlox (bottom right) we planted earlier this year. At the time of writing it is blooming its head off, but even with its tiny flower buds crowned by bronze tinged leaves it is a joy to behold. This is Phlox 'Sweet Summer Wine', by the way.

My outfit was built around the bright pink palazzo trousers I bought in the Mango sales on Monday. Well, officially they are culottes, but definitely not on tiny me!

I thought the William Morris for H&M blouse I found at Oxfam at the tail end of last year would be their perfect companion, and indeed I felt fabulous in this outfit, its flapper vibes complimenting my new hairdo!

A bottle green mock croc belt, vintage mother-of-pearl brooch and ivory coloured carved beaded necklace completed my outfit.

We were off to the charity shops after breakfast, for which I added my faithful workhorse of a dark denim jacket - charity shopped, obviously - on which I pinned a pale pink felted flower corsage. The scarf was once bought retail, from H&M if I remember correctly.

The blush pink retro style shoes I charity shopped in February couldn't be more perfect to finish my outfit.

Here's a quick look at that day's charity shop bounty.

As a lover of all things green, it was almost a given that this top sprinkled with clusters of orange flowers followed me home, while the ethnic print cotton skirt landed in my basket as well.

I'm loving the different shades of blue in the floral pattern of the vintage skirt (shown below), which is lined to provide additional swishiness. No pockets, though.

Both skirts have been worn satisfactorily in the meantime and will be featured in a future post.

The vintage blouse is missing a button, but as I don't like the existing ones very much, I might replace them with a complete set of new ones from my stash of vintage buttons collected over the years.

And so this post has once again come to an end ...

But oh my fur and whiskers, how could you forget to mention me?

Oops, I'm sorry Bess, I'm putting this right immediately by adding this lovely photo of you for all your fans in blogland!

I'll be off work for a week, an unheard of luxury which is making me feel all giddy. 

There might still be a post from me before we go away for a couple of days next week, but if not, I'll see you on the other side! 

Please do not forget to stay safe, my dears!

Sunday 25 July 2021

Red Letter Day

Hello my lovelies, I hope you are all keeping well?

A cursory glance at the calendar to jot down an appointment almost made me do a double take. Thinking I was seeing ghosts, I blinked and looked again but no, it really is fact rather than fiction that we're about to enter the last week of July!

Better get my proverbial skates on then and continue with the journal my blog has inadvertently turned into, as soon it'll be the first week of August, and we're off gallivanting around Bruges for a couple of days.


My last post ended on the Thursday of my first week back to the full-time grind, which can only mean that this is what I was wearing on Friday, the 9th of July.

The thin short-sleeved jumper I reached for was perfect, and not just for the day's weather, which brought us on and off sunshine and highs of 21°C. My other incentive for wearing it will be revealed later in this post, so please do bear with me. 

The jumper in question, with its tropical leaf pattern, is a charity shopped King Louie one from a couple of years ago.

Browsing my skirts, my eyes alighted on this peachy pink one scattered with yellow, blue and green flowers, found at Think Twice many moons ago. I shook my head in disbelief at not having put two and two together before, as surely the jumper and skirt are a match made in heaven!

Accessories consisted of a green stretchy belt with faux tortoiseshell buckle, a wooden brooch painted with a seascape and the funky necklace of wooden discs and rings which seems to pop up quite a lot lately. In spite of this being a day off, I was wearing a watch - a yellow strapped one, as obviously there has to be some degree of matching too - as I needed to keep my eye on the time ...

Talking of time, there was plenty of it that day, which we kicked off with a visit to a charity shop.
Our rewards were plentiful, which we took as a good omen for later that day!

Browsing the bulging clothing aisles, there were lots of things that caught my eye, the majority of which were put back instantly due to their size, style or crappy fabric.  

These two dresses were no-brainers, though. The red short-sleeved one trimmed with white bias tape at the collar and cuffs, is probably someone's handiwork and, with its abstract seascape decal and wave-like pattern on the skirt, it has a certain vintage feel to it.

The green floral long-sleeved faux-wrap one is ... you've guessed it ... another King Louie and is joining my burgeoning collection. The Kings of Jammy Dresses, they are. Thank you for this very apt term, Sheila!

I loved the birds and flowers print on the cap-sleeved orange cotton blouse, so it was swiftly added to my cart, as was the moss green one with its eye-confusing pattern.

In spite of their slightly scruffy appearance, there was no way I was going to leave this funky pair of green shoes behind. I couldn't find out anything about the brand name, but they do look as if they've come straight from the 1960s. Whatever the case, I have given them some well-needed TLC by treating them to a good dollop of leather restorer cream lovingly rubbed in with a soft cloth. 

A quick glance at the book shelves unearthed this 704 page whopper on the treasures of Britain. The perfect coffee table book if it didn't give me so much heartache, as visiting any of these treasures in real life is still quite out of the question.

Back at home, we had lunch, after which I retreated to the garden, where much to my delight the cutting back of our Delphinium has resulted in embryonic new flower spikes (above, top right).

No cutting back whatsoever was involved in our Aquilegia alpina (below, top right) surprising us with a second wave of flowers, albeit less prolific and much smaller than before.

I just can't get enough of the colour play of Helenium 'The Bishop' and Geranium 'Rozanne' (below, bottom left), both flowering with wild abandon.

Jos's chore that afternoon was picking the ripe ruby red gooseberries, painstakingly remove their tops and tails and making a batch of delicious jam. With 1,2 kilos of berries (and still plenty left on the canes), he ran out of empty jam pots, and had to resort to filling a glass bowl to the brim. This we covered with a reusable silicone lid and kept in the fridge for ready use.


Marked in my diary as a Red Letter Day, it was time for my second jab at around 7 pm, so we made our way to the local vaccination centre after an early dinner. I was in and out in no time, and the jumper I was wearing provided easy access to my upper arm. Here I am waiting out the required 15 minutes after the deed was done. 

This, by the way, will be the one and only time you'll see me wearing one of those hateful disposable masks. They are being handed out upon arrival, even if you're already wearing a perfectly good mask.

Apart from a slightly sore arm, I didn't seem to be suffering any side effects on Saturday. What's more, I was feeling quite energetic and this in spite of getting up at what amounts to the crack of dawn that morning.

Jos usually feeds Bess in the early morning, when she comes clamouring for food. In her eagerness to get to her food bowl, she misjudged when she jumped on the kitchen table where Jos was in the processing of filling it. She ended up on top of the basket of recycling underneath the table, the racket of the empty cans giving her such a fright that she scratched both of Jos's bare feet, one of which started bleeding profusely.

A douse of antiseptic and a plaster was all that required, but it took Bess a while to get to her senses again and come out of the hidey hole she'd retreated to. Going back to sleep after this early morning adventure proved to be impossible.

I already wore this vintage green-striped dress for work earlier this week, but as it wasn't photographed at the time, I decided to give it a second outing.

Yet another Think Twice find, I'm loving its midi length - hiding a multitude of sins including pasty legs - as well as the skirt's chevron pattern.

As I usually do, I picked red to accompany it, starting with the red woven belt at my waist.

Further accessories included a red glass beaded necklace, plastic top hat brooch, polka dot bangle and perspex ring, all of which were charity shop or flea market finds at one time or another. As was the green beaded bracelet.

My Clarks shoes were charity shopped in Bridgnorth, Shropshire in June 2019.

By mid-morning, Bess had clearly recovered from her early morning mishap, as I spied her giving me the stare while sitting on top of the 1930s cabinet when I was in the kitchen. The reflections in the photo on the bottom right are due to it being taken through both the kitchen and dining room windows.

The surge of energy I mentioned earlier spurred me into action in the garden. What with all the rain we'd had some of the plants were looking a bit floppy and bedraggled, so I started the mother of all tidy-up and staking sessions.

I also swept up the debris left behind by the minor flooding of the garden path, and was rejoicing in its tidiness all day, until heavy rains that evening once again undid my efforts.

That leaves us with that week's lazy Sunday, when thankfully the sun joined us again, with the temperature a balmy 22°C.

The perfect opportunity to wear my new-to-me red dress!

Saturday's burst of energy had collapsed like a house of cards by the evening, and left me feeling tired and with a head full of cotton wool on Sunday. 

The dress's joyous tomato red and colourful pattern turned out to be real pick-me-ups, making me feel better almost instantly.

When it came to accessorizing it, I took the lead from the cobalt blue bits in its pattern, choosing a belt, necklace and sling-back shoes in that colour. The shoes are € 4 charity shopped but brand new looking Miz Mooz ones which crossed my path in September 2018.

A wooden zebra striped bangle, plastic square beaded bracelet and striped perspex ring completed my outfit. It almost goes without saying that these were all charity shop finds as well.

A round up of July's second week will follow in my next post, when I hope you'll be joining me again.

See you soon, and stay safe!

Tuesday 20 July 2021

Like spinning plates

My blog has finally reached my first week back to the hamster wheel of full-time office life. And what a week it was! In spite of being able to pinch a day off each week for the foreseeable future, it still left me exhausted by Thursday, wondering how the hell I ever managed week after week of nine-to-fives. Or, in my case, eights-to-four thirties :-)

Life just feels like spinning plates right now. It's just one day more than the three-day weeks I've been working since March but it feels like I'm forever strapped for time.  It boggles my mind how I coped before "the rona". Where did I find time for gardening, reading and blogging, never mind the inevitable household chores? Looking back by way of my blog, there seemed to have been no shortage of fun things either. I can't imagine how I fit all that, and more, into my busy schedule!

We had a rainy start on Monday the 5th of July, with some watery sunshine from early afternoon onwards, and the temperature still hovering around 20°C.Although I’m usually working on a Monday, it felt totally different this time, as it wouldn't be followed by my usual non-office Tuesday. I only had just enough energy left for a quick watering session after work, quenching the thirst of those plants which hadn't benefited from Sunday's rain. As a matter of fact, I felt so overwhelmed that it didn't even enter my head to take outfit photos.

Last seen on my faithful assistant Angelica a couple of posts ago, this King Louie was long overdue an outing, so I wore it to work on Tuesday. It's the dress which kick-started my love for King Louie stuff back in 2012, and one of a handful bought brand new rather than charity shopped.

I took full advantage of its navy, red and orange pattern, picking navy for my Millefiori bracelet and ring, red for my wooden bangle and cat brooch, and orange for my necklace.

For once, though, I didn't swap its self-fabric tie belt for a contrasting one from my stash, in spite of there being plenty of likely candidates.

Judging from the outfit photos, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a sunny day, but in fact it was and utterly grey and rainy one. There was a brief let up during lunch break, so I decided to brave the crowds and walk to the nearest Think Twice shop. Rounding the the corner, however, I could see a queue snaking towards the shop's entrance, so that I turned heel and went for a quick walk around the block instead. I'm so, so tired of forever dodging the crowds!

At the time of writing, the Hydrangeas you can see peeking out above the jungle of ferns in the previous collage are a sorry mess, but here they are still looking fresh as a daisy, their azure and faintly purple tinged blooms with the odd new-born lime green one thrown in, a veritable sight for sore eyes.

The mixed hanging baskets and cones of Pelargoniums under the awning were at their pinnacle too, as were the pots grouped on and around the barrel at the back of the garden. 

And look: the slugs didn't kill off my lovely Astrantia 'Primadonna' (above, bottom left) after all. Aren't its pink pincushion-y flowers gorgeous?

The sun rejoined us on Wednesday, even if she once or twice played peek-a-boo with the clouds, and the day's highs of 22°C meant a cardigan could be dispensed with for once.

I was wearing a yellow dress sprinkled with orange and brown dots which, in spite of missing a couple of buttons, I fell in love with on the spot when I spied it at Think Twice in June 2016. As I didn't like the existing buttons anyway, I replaced the lot with pearly ones salvaged from a high street blouse which had seen better days. 

My sleepy Lea Stein lookalike cat brooch is nestling among the dots near my dress's collar, while other accessories were a chocolate brown beaded necklace and a brown mock croc belt with a faux tortoiseshell buckle.

As I had to wait in for a courier, I took an early lunch break while my colleague, who only works mornings, was still in the office. Once outside, I made a beeline for Think Twice where this time there was no sign of a queue. I spent a happy half hour or so browsing, finding three skirts and a a dress for which I paid a whopping ... € 16. I hadn't even clocked they were having one of their sales!

The sunny weather and my unexpected Think Twice bonanza gave me a well-needed boost of energy. 

I happily pottered around the garden after work, watering the thirsty plants and deadheading the annuals. I even uprooted several nasty Nasturtiums, the offspring of last year's climbers which had sneaked themselves into the border next to the bench uninvited and had by now grown far too big for their boots.

Looking innocent and innocuous at first, they seemed to be conspiring together in taking over the garden. Of course, I couldn't find it in my heart to get rid of the variegated leaved ones (bottom left) but the larger ones really put me in mind of the fearsome plants in The Day of the Triffids!

And there's no escaping them inside Dove Cottage either! What are the odds of having not one but two tins decorated with Nasturtiums! 

And now, without further ado, here are that day's Think Twice finds which, once again, Angelica has the honour of premiering on the blog!

First up is a red cotton skirt, which has a shirred waist stitched with rows of multicoloured thread. Garlands of embroidered flowers trail along its hemline, a crocheted lace peeking out, creating the illusion of a petticoat worn underneath.

This handmade cotton skirt has a delightful pink, blue and maroon millefiori print and has the added benefit of being fully lined.

I was charmed by the faux patchwork pattern of this vintage C&A skirt, which might well be my favourite of the three.

My final find was this Diolen dress in shades of lilacs and pinks, with the cutest of lilac buttons and a chevron patterned skirt. You'll see me wearing this one in a next post.

When photographing my finds, Angelica wasn't my only assistant this time! 

Like Phoebe before her, our Bess is keen on giving a helping hand, although she seems to be more interested in the dust bunnies living underneath the landing bookcase here.

To say that I was glad when Thursday finally rolled along is quite an understatement.  I was actually overjoyed to have made it through my first four-day working week. 

The weather gods had even cranked up the thermostat to 23°C for he occasion, so yay!

When I pre-selected and assembled a couple of outfits on Sunday, I was adamant to include a skirt and top combo among the row of dresses, as these kind of felt like the easy way out. You know, just add some accessories and you're ready to go.

As this outfit was a bit of an afterthought, I didn't try it out in advance, so I was happy it worked as well in real life as it did when planning it in my head.

Both the skirt and the cotton peasant style blouse are from the high street by way of a charity shop, the blouse having joined my wardrobe only recently.

Accessorizing was a doddle with all those colours to choose from. I picked an orange beaded necklace to tie with the skirt and added a green butterfly to frolic among the flowers on my blouse.

Stretchy belts are just perfect for accenting one's waist while not being too restricted when sitting at a desk for most of the day, and my feet were comfortable and happy in a pair of blue wedge heeled shoes trimmed with a tan bow.

And so we have arrived at the end of this post. I'll be back soon, please do stay safe until then, my friends!