Friday, 10 December 2021

Ain't no sunshine

Sunshine has been a rare commodity of late. When yet again we woke up to a dark and moody day on November's final Friday, we knew we needed all the help our daylight therapy lamp could give us.

After breakfast bathed in artificial daylight, Jos walked into the village to get a newspaper for us and an elderly neighbour, nipping into the garage for our car on the way back. 

As it was Friday, we were off on our weekly charity shopping trip, planning to take outfit photos afterwards, crossing our fingers for a ray of sunshine later in the day. But while the rain held off until we were back, it started getting gloomier by the minute. By mid-afternoon, realizing that we were running out of time, we returned our car to the garage, hoping that its white brick wall and skylight would provide sufficient natural light without having to use our camera's flash.

My outfit's main components, the dress and cardigan, both from contemporary retro labels, were charity shopped on the same day a couple of weeks ago.

When I dressed up Angelica in them to show you my finds, I loved the mix of caramel and blue of the dress with the butterscotch yellow of the cardigan so much that I decided to wear them together myself.

The dress was accessorized with a tan belt and a tan and black beaded necklace, while the squishy stag head's brooch provided a fun and funky element. I love how the cardigan's buttons echo the colour of the belt, which was serendipitous rather than intentional.

I've been wearing my houndstooth patterned coat on repeat, as it's keeping me and my legs warm and toasty in all kinds of inclement weather. With the thermometer stuck at 4°C, it was very welcome indeed. 

Here it is book-ended in tans by my beret and boots. The scarf with its jigsaw stripes in orange, purple, green and blue, is a repeat offender too, and has been darned in various places where it got stuck in zipper teeth.

That Friday, our shopping trip first took us to the outskirts of a town called Mechelen, just under 10 kilometer from Dove Cottage. The charity shop here is a large, two-floored one, with the second floor entirely dedicated to clothing and textiles.

This time it was Jos who struck lucky, as we found him a chunky grey zip-up cardigan - not pictured - and this rather fabulous brown jumper striped in blue, orange and white.

We also splashed out on this € 1,5 vintage Antwerp souvenir plaque, showing the cathedral in all its glory and without scaffolding, with the River Scheldt in the background. It has already joined our Wall of Souvenirs in the hallway.

There were some treasures waiting for me in our second shop, which was the famous three-floored one in Duffel.

Here I found a short-sleeved blue and white marled knit jumper closing with a row of three shoulder buttons, as well as a thin green long-sleeved one, a turquoise chunky scarf and - oh joy - a vintage slip still with its tags. It is inset with Dentelles de Calais, a type of lace which has been produced in the Calais area for at least two hundred years. According to their website, Dentelles de Calais is the label of an iconic lace, the stuff of dreams with its beautiful craftsmanship and timeless glamour. The lace is inherently linked with French chic, elegance and femininity and talented designers use its sublime beauty and transparency to show off the body’s curves and delicate skin.

My final find were these magnificent denim blue Western style boots. It was only when I got them home that I noticed they were by Sasha, a Dutch label established in 1909. There's a Sasha shop near my office, and when I went to check them out during one of my lunch breaks, I was delighted to see similar boots with a € 175 price tag. Mine were just € 4,50 and in near perfect condition. Oh, the joys of charity shopping.

To make the most of the sparse amount of daylight streaming in through our dining room window, I posed for photos while standing on Bess's round orange carpet directly in front of it. 

I was facing Bess's battery of Snooze Bays across the room, and this is what I saw. Oh Bess!

There was no change in temperature on Saturday, but lo and behold, there was strange yellow orb in the sky that morning. 

According to the weather forecast, we were in for more rain in the afternoon, so that wasted no time in making the most of this short-lived stroke of luck by going for a walk.

Pinks and greys were my outfit's main ingredients that day. I've had the zig-zag jumper - charity shopped, obviously - for absolutely ages, but the skirt, in a fine corduroy fabric with a swishy lining, only crossed my path last Winter.

The jumper being rather short, it kept escaping from the skirt's waistband, so I wore it on top, cinching in my waist with a snake print belt. The latter was bought brand new on the high street during the January sales. My pink beret came from a high street shop as well.

The liquorice necklace - dubbed as such by an Instagram follower - came from Oxfam, while the brooch with its hand painted rose was an old flea market find.

Layered between my jumper and my favourite vintage fur-collared jacket was a fluffy cardigan to combat the cold, but you'll have to take my word for it as there's no photographic evidence. 

The pink boa matches my beret's colour exactly, so that I am treating them as a set and often wear them together. I wore the burgundy boots - picked up at Think Twice several years ago - just for walking to our garage and taking these photos. Courtesy of all the rain we've had, it was far too muddy, so obviously I didn't want to take the risk of ruining them, exchanging them for my old brown boots for our intended walk.

Although a wintry blue sky filled with patches of innocent looking white clouds was trying to trick us into believing we'd be in for a sunny day, the predicted return of the rain clouds kept us close to home. 

Weighing our options, we decided on yet another visit to the sculpture park. We had to wade through a succession of puddles to get from our car to the entrance, but once we'd circumnavigated the worst of these we were fine.

I have no idea what kind trees these are, but aren't their alternating yellow and red berries delightful against the blue of the sky? 

The container installation is a work of art too, by  Belgian architect, urbanist and artist Luc Deleu. It dates from 2004 and it called Orbino.

We said hello to the three Walking Nuns (1960-61) by  Elia Ajolfi (bottom right) and chuckled at Girl Looking Down (1956-57) by Reg Butler (bottom left) who we were pretty sure wouldn't be able to see anything much looking down but her own rather impressive bosom!

The title of Floriano Bodini's Ladies (1961, top left) is rather misleading, as one glance at the sculpture makes it clear that they are scarred by life. In fact, the sculpture radiates fear and horror.

The rather grumpy looking creature in Will to Live (1952) by Hildo Crop was looking non too pleased by the Autumn leaves which had landed in its lap!

We, on the other hand, rejoiced in the fitted carpet of Autumn leaves at our feet, and were delighted to see a colony of tiny mushrooms climbing up the tree on the bottom right. That's one of them up close on the top right.

Fiery red leaves and Clematis seed heads join the pure whites of the Braem Pavillion (1971, bottom right) and "L" by Augustin Cardenas (1968, top left).

At barely above freezing point, we did feel a tad sorry for Sitting Figure (1929) by Georg Kolbe.

We'd brought sandwiches for a picnic, which we ate sitting gingerly on pieces of oilcloth we keep especially to spread on wet or soiled benches. 

Then we spotted some empty tables on the terrace of the museum café, where we had cappuccinos and cakes, wrapped in thoughtfully supplied blankets.

My glasses had misted over by the time I'd climbed the stairs to the toilets where I blindly snapped a handful of pictures of the bird's eye view of the park.

It was only afterwards that I noticed the delightfully painterly properties of this one.

In the meantime, clouds had gathered, and we'd only just made it home before darkness descended and it started to rain once more.


  1. Dear Ann,
    that pink is adorable on you! i love the Middelheim too...

  2. on Shifty Thrifting jean boots are known as Joots. So nice Joots!

    That's a lovely jumper Jos found. It is so hard to find good men's stuff secondhand as men will wear things until they're threadbare.
    I could use something to make me feel more feminine-off to look on ebay for a slip like yours.

    1. Good to know! I know, finding men's stuff secondhand is all but hopeless. We often have to revert to retail after searching high and low in the thrift shops. xxx

  3. Well that was a fabulously packed blog post. Where to start, well Jos looks good in his striped jumper and your coat is like a favourite one of my own.
    The pink though steals the show along with your blue cowboy boots, they were a great find.
    Have a lovely weekend you two. We are busy meeting friends we haven’t seen for two years and an American cousin we haven’t seen for 30 years
    Lots of love xxx

    1. Thank you Lynn! That jumper is rather good, isn't it? The pink outfit is one of my favourites too. xxx

  4. Hi Ann, This week's outfits are stunners! Love the combination of grey and pink and your incorporation of tan into your outfits works really well. What incredible charity shop finds! It's so thrilling isn't it when you discover an item which would have had a hefty original price tag? Bet those boots are super comfy. A wall of souvenirs is an inspired idea! Lovely photos from the sculpture park - the picturesque houses in the last photo are intriguing. xxx

    1. Thank you Claire! It always takes me by surprise how well pink and grey go together. The picturesque houses are some of the outbuildings of the castle which houses the café, and yes, they are looking particularly lovely viewed from the second floor window ... xxx

  5. I love your trips to the sculpture park, those wonderful artworks contrast brilliantly with their natural landscape.
    Fab outfits! I love the tones in the first one and that fabulous scarf matches Jos's snazzy new jumper a treat, you'll have to share it!
    Loving those new boots and the pink jumper has a Missoni vibe going on, doesn't it?
    As usual beautiful Bess steals the show.... xxx

    1. We do love our trips to the sculpture park too, I just hope I'm not boring my readers with them :-)
      Oops now I'll have to share the scarf with Jos on top of having to share my limelight with Bess! xxx

  6. Great boots! I couldn't walk in them, but still great. :-) Have a lovely weekend and some sunshine!


    1. Thank you Regula! The jury's still out whether I will be able to walk in those boots :-) xxx

  7. So many good finds, Jos looks great in his striped jumper. Like a model. 😊
    I am in love with your zig zag jumper. these colours hachzzz.
    I enjoyed the walk with you in thempark. wonderful pics. ❤️
    I wish you a nice weekend. I miss sunlight too.
    With a very huge hug Tina

    1. Jos was rather chuffed to read he looks like a model :-))
      That zig zag jumper is one of my best finds ever! xxx

  8. bess! has flattened the next cosy cave! ts! :-DDDD
    and you went to my fav park - the sculpture park. how nice that the café was open and you could sit there, wrapped in warm blankets and drink hot coffee......
    hugsies! xxxx

    1. Isn't she a naughty minx ;-)
      We never tire of going to that park, and we try to take different paths every time we visit. xxx

  9. But they can't steel that outing from you! It has been weeks since we cycled or walked. I really miss it, I think we will do so next weekend. If it doesn't rain of course. Those boots are really fantastic! I used to be a Sacha lover. And that pink zig zag sweater is gorgeous. I also love Jos' sweater. Stripes always are attractive aren't they. Enjoy your Sunday@

    1. You're absolutely right about that, Nancy! I did see some fantastic shoes and boots in that Sasha shop ... but gulped at the price. Not used to pay so much for shoes :-) xxx

  10. Ann, I got all excited and sweaty when you mentioned a 'two floored' charity shop, then you unleashed the idea of a 'three floored one' !!! Those denim western boots are awesome and you should expect Dolly Parton to come a knocking for those. Especially love your pink and red outfit (I think you must have a beret in every colour!). Oh Bess indeed...squishing her snoozer, she knows what she likes ;) Lulu xXx

    1. Haha, yes, we do have two and three-floored charity shops. They're usually huge, warehouse type shops rather than the UK high street ones. I'll have to take some pictures, I guess. And yes, I do have berets in (almost) every colour ;-) xxx

  11. I hear you, Ann - it's been so gloomy here lately. It feels like I never see the sun!

    Love your outfits, especially that black and pink one, which fills my heart with delight. Love Jos' new stripey sweater (L refuses to do sweaters/jumpers - such a silly man!).

    Oh, Bess, you little monkey - squishing down her other house, ha ha! "This is how it's done, mum!"

    I am so envious of a 2 and 3-floor thrift store! Wow!!

    Sending you good vibes for the week ahead, my dear friend.

    1. For two weeks in a row, we had a couple of sunny weekdays, reverting to dark and rainy again by the weekend. Pff!
      Jos doesn't wear jumpers much either, but I'm trying to convert him. He's got a wonderful chunky orange jumper I always have to remind him of! xxx

  12. Bbrrr.. sounds chilly but you still made quite a day out of it.
    Love Jos's jumper.. such great color. And you look fabulous as always.

  13. Love your houndstooth coat and the jigsaw stripes scarf is beautiful!

  14. Looking lovely in your colourful outfits despite the weather was not collaborating. Love the butterscotch colour cardi with the dress, and the cute squishy brooch!.
    Jos looks really dapper in his striped jumper!. I always admire your finds, particularly the dentelles piece, so luxurious!, and the blue boots!
    You Rock mixed prints, love your joyful pink pullover with the floral skirt in subtle colours, and the matchy accessories!, so Fabulous!. And so lovely photos of the fiery red leaves!, also lovely photos of you enjoying your coffees at the terrace!.
    You look fab, dear Anne!

    1. Thank you Monica! I couldn't believe it when I found that lacy slip still with its tags, and those incredible blue boots, although I'm not sure I'll be able to walk in them :-) Those fiery red leaves were attracting me from afar! xxx

  15. The Walking Nuns are my absolute favourite!

    Lovely outfits and you did very well in the chazzas. Another pair of fabulous boots; you must have an internal boot magnet is all I can say. The lacy slip looks so pretty and I loved the jumpers. Jos looks very dapper in his striped jumper.

    Hope you've had some sun; our weather has gone surprisingly mild but very dull...

    Have a great week

    1. Thank you Vronni! I love those Walking Nuns too. I've found so many pairs of boots that I'm running out of space. I'll need to avert my eyes from them in the chazzas :-) xxx

  16. What a bevy of marvelous finds, my friend. Those fantastic boots for a less than five euros must surely be one of the best thrifting deals of the year.

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

  17. The SUN!!!!! Lucky you!!! I've rarely seen it too (though Sunday morning was nice!)
    Love Jos' new jumper and your Houndsrooth coat is really attractive!. I love the length.
    The little mushroom is such a cutie!!

    1. Thank you Kezzie. We've had two days of sunshine, but unfortunately I had to work. Now that I'm at home, the weather has changed again :-( xxx PS I knew you'd appreciate that little mushroom!

  18. That's a fun striped cardigan Jos is wearing. As always, I loved seeing your outfits. Beautiful colours. Another lovely photo of Bess.💕💕💕

    1. Thank you Ivana, I do hope you are well, my dear! xxx

  19. I'm not surprised you wanted to replicate that outfit to wear, it's a lovely one.

    Those boots were a fantastic bargain.

    Here's to the brighter days coming our way!

    1. Thank you Mim, and I can't wait for those brighter days in both senses of the word! xxx