Wednesday 15 December 2021

Clouds got in my way

Although it had been pelting down on and off since our return from our walk in the sculpture park on Saturday afternoon, the weather gods seemed to have temporarily dried their tears on Sunday morning. Without Saturday's partial sunshine, however, the day's highs of 5°C felt quite a bit chillier. 

I had a couple of chores to tick off my list, starting with wrestling a couple more Winter coats from their out-of-season hidey-hole, and putting away my lighter scarves in favour of some warm knits.

This was followed by the pleasurable task of assembling outfits for the upcoming working week. This is something I try to do every Sunday, playing around with my wardrobe and making sure I've got plenty of possibilities to choose from on dark weekday mornings, on which my inspiration seems to have done a runner.

By the time we'd finished the somewhat less pleasurable task of dusting the dining and sitting rooms, the rain could be heard lashing against our windows again.

With the world outside Dove Cottage's windows looking pretty uninviting, there was no way we would be stepping into the garden for outfit photos, so we made use of a corner of our kitchen instead.

I was wearing  a wool and polyester blend long-sleeved vintage dress, its deep forest green swirled with orange and mint green. The rust coloured marl knit cardigan was a charity shop find from several years back and helped to keep the worst of the chills at bay. 

For the sake of the photos, I donned my forest green wedge-heeled ankle boots, offering a generous peek at my dark rust opaques.

My belt with its intriguing buckle used to belong to a dress which wasn't me and was redonated sans belt. The brooch was a flea market find back in April 2016 and the necklace with its stack of tiny orange tiles was charity shopped last year.

I always think Dove Cottage really comes into its own this time of year, with its plethora of table lamps highlighting the treasures we've collected over the years.

One of our recently acquired treasures, of course, is Bess! Her latest thing is watching the wildlife in our garden from the edge of the sink below our kitchen window, often raising herself on her hind legs when she spots any quick-as-lightning blue tits making use of the feeder under the awning.

On the bottom right is a view from the kitchen into the dining room, with its original 1930s tiles.

The pretty wooden pendulum clock, found by Jos in a local junk shop, is ticking away in our sitting room, flanked by a pair of cheap as chips charity shopped Art Deco vases. The Bakelite radio dates from the early 1950s is still in working order, although its choice of stations is obviously rather limited, and was picked up at a charity shop event in March 2016.

The ceramic couple on the top left, wearing traditional Dutch costume, is identical to the pair which used to grace my paternal grandparents' mantelpiece. Alas, the originals didn't survive but these two offered an instant flashback to my childhood when I came across them when browsing at a flea market.

There's some Art Nouveau loveliness in the lamp base on the top right and the trinket box on the bottom left. The 1930s green deer lamp was love at first sight at an antiques fair. And what were the odds of finding the matching deer ornament on its left at a flea market only a few months later!

Typically, Monday saw a brief respite from the rain, although it was quite chilly in morning so that I wore gloves for the first time this season. It warmed up to 8°C with lots of sunshine though.

While I was waiting for Jos at our usual pick-up point after work, I thought I'd make a photo of Essentiel Antwerp's flagship store on the opposite corner for Sheila!

Tuesday the 30th November would have been my Mum Alice’s 86th birthday. Sadly, we lost her all of twenty years ago. As if on cue, the day was as dismal as they come, with hardly any daylight worth speaking of and a veritable deluge.

Here she is, in 1965, flanked by my paternal grandmother, a 4-year old me, and my Dad. The photo is taken at the zoo in Antwerp, and this delightful time capsule is one of my all-time favourites.

The rest of the working week brought a mix of sunny spells and showers, with the temperature dropping from a reasonable 9°C to a rather goosebumpy 5°C from Wednesday to Thursday.

In spite of the fact that I'm often finding it a struggle to get through my 4-day working weeks, they do seem to speed by at an alarming rate, with Friday rolling along in no time.

Not surprisingly, it was another dismal day. Although it remained mostly dry, a harsh, eye-stinging wind made it feel much colder than the 4°C indicated by the thermometer.

The powers that be had been sitting together trying to come up with a new set of rules since 9 'o clock that morning, but wild horses couldn't have kept us from our weekly charity shopping trip. Besides, some good-for-the-soul rummaging was just the ticket to take our minds off things.

Trying to give all my Winter coats the chance to shine, it was now the turn of my plaid vintage swing coat, charity shopped back in the mists of time. I'm sure my beret and scarf do not need further introduction.

Underneath my coat, I was wearing a vintage black floral shift dress from Think Twice, topped with a maroon long-line cardigan and ditto pair of opaques. Pinned to my dress was a cream celluloid flower brooch, while a mint green flower corsage adorned my cardigan. The finishing touch was provided by a necklace combining both wooden and raffia beads in shades of green.

Everything except for the tights, but including my beloved green boots, is vintage or at least second-hand.

Pickings were meagre at the first shop we went to, my rummage only yielding these two necklaces. While the pink one is vintage, the chunky reddish brown and pale green one is by Belgian costume jewellery label Les Cordes.

If you're intrigued by the background these were photographed against, it belongs to a dress I found in our second shop of the day. An easy-going dress with sporty trim at the neckline and some very forgiving folds at the waist and hips, I simply couldn't resist its gorgeous print. 

A brown wool and polyester blend plaid skirt and a King Louie cardigan in a delectable shade of green were my final pickings of the day.

Back at home, there was news on the new rules, none of which concerned us very much. These included the wearing of masks for all children from the age of six, a week's earlier start to the Christmas holidays for schools and the cancellation of all indoor events involving +200 people. The main source of infections seems to be in primary schools at the moment. And then there's the new Omicron strain which seems to be slowly but surely heading in our direction.

The most surreal news of the day, however, came from the zoo in Antwerp, where two hippos turned out to have tested positive for Covid-19. I won't blame you if like me you had to read this twice to make sure that your mind isn't playing tricks on you ...

Crazy, crazy world! Surely this needs a cuddling session with our Bess. No enforced cuddles where she is concerned, though, she is actually asking for them. After spending 12 years in the company of grumpy Phoebe, we are definitely not used to this kind of cat behaviour!

It looked set to be a wet weekend, starting with a rainy all-dayer on Saturday. 

To make up for the lack of proper daylight, I dressed in sparkles! Well, I actually did that so that I could participate in Nancy's Good Buy/Good-Bye Book.

My outfit was based around this sparkly turquoise midi skirt with its striking black geometric pattern. After wearing it only once upon finding it in the Think Twice sales back in November 2017, it had been languishing in my wardrobe ever since, as admittedly it was somewhat snug in the waist.

A Good-Bye, then? Well, no. It turned out to be just a matter of moving the waist button a bit to make it a Good Buy after all! It only took me 4 years to think of this!

I added more sparkle with my turquoise cardigan charity shopped last year and if you look closely there's some sparkle in my ring as well. 

The black vintage blouse with its tan stripes and tan and turquoise flowers was another Think Twice find. My zebra belt was making another appearance too, while a charity shopped cream and turquoise necklace and a - yet again sparkly - bird brooch found at a flea market completed my outfit. 

With any outside activities out of the question, but needing to flee the house if only for an hour or so, we drove down to the slightly smaller charity shop in the neighbouring village of Reet. 

I've been on the lookout for more long-line cardigans, but so far the charity shops haven't exactly delivered. Much to my delight two of them were waiting for me here, a fluffy grey one and one in a delicious raspberry colour. 

My final find of the weekend has some sparkle too, although it turned out to be nigh on impossible to photograph. This festive green and red cardi is by the delightfully named but far too expensive Belgian label Lucy has a Secret. At just € 4, I'm sure you'll agree I couldn't say no! 

And with that, we have once again reached the end of this post. My 500th post, to be exactly! How did that happen?


  1. Massive congratulations on your 500th post, dear Ann. That is a seriously impressive accomplishment! Here's to the next half a thousand and then some! :)

    I can scarcely handle Bess's cuteness - especially in the photo where she is perched on her precious little back legs. She is such a darling kitty and truly the best new edition to Dove Cottage of 2021, no two ways about it.

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

    1. Thank you Autumn, and yes, Bess definitely made our year, in particular after the sadness of losing Phoebe! xxx

  2. Hippos with Covid? Well, my gob is well and truly smacked!

    What lovely outfits you've been selecting to wear. I love your new orange wooden disks necklace. How unusual. I loved the turquoise sparkly skirt and all the acoutrements. And what brilliant finds! Love the raspberry cardigan and the one with the diamond pattern; and the new dress has the most amazing pattern. The pink beads are magnificent with it!

    The quick tour of your vases, lamps and trinket boxes was very interesting. I fell in love with your green deer lamp and ornament.

    I've never known cats to be affectionate so it must be lovely to have one that is!

    Hope you have a great weekend.

    1. Thank you Vronni! I do think Bess is affectionate as she never knew loving humans before. It's the same with the cat adopted by Jos's youngest daughter. xxx

  3. Animals often have all kinds of viruses, no problem. How did you get the idea to test it ?! I love your outfits. I love it when you wear berry tones and purple, it looks great. Your sparkly look is also very pretty. The new finds are great, especially the new cardigan, what a bargain.
    It was somehow clear that the unvaccinated children were spreading the virus, unfortunately. What a surprise ... no. Stay healthy and hey 500! 🥳🎉🌺
    with a very huge hug Tina

    1. Thank you Tina! I'm sure those hippos will recover. It seems they were tested because they had leaky noses :-) xxx

  4. A big congratulations Ann on having written your 500th post. What an achievement. I’ve no idea how many I’ve written.
    I zoomed in on the flagship store photo as it seems so long since I’ve actually seen a proper lit up shop window. It looks so inviting and reminds me of days when we would wonder up the high street window gazing when the stores where closed. Long before shutters where brought in.
    We have a family wedding this weekend so hopefully it will inspire me to get blogging again.
    Bess is such a sweetheart and do I spy a stable door you are stood in front of. I love them.
    Have a good weekend dear friends xxx

    1. Thank you Lynn! You can see in the behind-the-scenes part of your blog under posts, where it says how many you've published. It'll be a lot more than 500, I guess! xxx

  5. my fav this time? the turquoise skirt with art-deco pattern and sparkles!! if you ever grow out of it again - send it my way please :-D
    long, loose cardies add an interesting new vibe to your wardrobe i think....
    give bess an extra cuddle from lisbeth and me! xxxx

    1. I'll think of you if I ever decide to get rid of that skirt. Which will probably be never, now that it fits me properly ... Sorry! xxx

  6. Your Sunday morning play in your wardrobe certainly yielded some delightful outfits! I especially love the longline burgundy cardi with the vivid floral dress, Beate's right that shape really adds a new dimension to your style. How fortunate to find two more on your rummages!
    Look at Bess watching the wildlife, I want to pick her up and cuddle her! That photo of you and her is gorgeous.
    Loving the tantalising glimpse into your dining room and all your interesting nik-naks!
    Hippos with Covid, who'd have thought it? Hope the new rules do the trick. We're making the most of being able to do stuff while we still can!
    Happy 500! xxx

    1. Thank you Vix! I never looked back after I found my first longline cardi in a charity shop. They're not easy to find, but I'm always on the lookout.
      I always want to cuddle Bess, and the good thing is that - unlike grumpy Phoebe - she lets me! xxx

  7. Lovely idea to have some options ready to wear for the week, it makes dressing up easier and happier.
    The weather is really unpleasant here too, foggy and cold. At least, it's not raining (no more floods! phew!).
    Love your 'fireworks' dress and the rusty and orange details which enhance its print!.
    Your home looks really cozy, there are so many decorative details to love!, 30's and decó objects are particularly delightful, and obviously, Bess is a Star!. Lovely photo of you cuddling her!
    I'm loving your green boots and the dark florals dress, so delightful colours!, and the plaid coat is a beauty!.
    And so lovely sparkly outfit in turquoise shades, and so lovely brooch!, looking fabulous!
    Always admire your finds!, the prints and colours look really fab!
    And I'm amazed by the news of those poor Hippos having Covid. Everyday is stranger and stranger!

    Congrats on your 500th post!

    1. Thank you Monica! Putting together some outfit options for the week is making all the difference. I also often rewear my weekend outfits a second time during the week. The news of those poor Hippos having Covid was really surreal! xxx

  8. Yeah! 500! Congratulations, and to many more! Oh isn't it so good to cuddle with cats. Both our cats are really cuddle cats. Those tiles are gorgeous. How special is that, that you still have those in your home! So old! In Homes under the Hammer sometimes you see them in old houses. The Art Deco based are beautiful, I really like Art Deco. So quirky. Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you Nancy! We love it that our house still has some of its original features. We've got these tiles in our dining room as well as the hallway! xxx

  9. Happy 500!!
    I'm so glad that Bessie wants cuddles now. Your new cardies are wonderful!!! I really like your floral dress you wore 2nd. So Pretty!!!
    I love glimpsing Dove Cottage!!

  10. Happy 500th post! That is quite an accomplishment, Ann!

    Wonderful outfits, and I always love getting a peek at some of the treasures you and Jos have found over the years. The art nouveau items are so charming!

    Bess is so beautiful - and she's cuddly?? Lucky you! Vizzini submits to my forced lovin' (he secretly likes it). He also sits up on his hind legs - it's so cute.

    Aw, thanks for thinking of me - save my credit card if I ever see an actual Essential Antwerp store!!

    Love your long-line cardigans - that makes me want to get mine out and get in their annual wearings. I've barely touched them this season!

    Wishing you a happy birthday to your dear departed mum. *hug* Happy weekend, my dear friend.

    1. Thank you Sheila, and I'll keep that in mind. I don't even dare looking at the price tags in that window for fear of fainting :-) Still can't get my head around the fact that Bess is so cuddly. I still expect to be scratched and bitten after all those years with grumpy Phoebe! xxx

  11. Hi Ann, We too have had a murky, uninspiring week weather-wise. Thank you for the tour of your treasures. I adore the deer lamp and how fortunate that you were able to find some identical ornaments to the ones you remember from your grandparents' home. It's also wonderful to look back on old photos of happy times. As ever, your outfit choices are perfect for the conditions. I love a black floral print and that sparkly turquoise skirt is a great choice. Dull days need a little sparkle in some shape or form! I heard the hippo story too. What next?! It's looking as though our government might be coming under pressure from scientists to impose a 2 week lockdown over Christmas. We shall see... Stay safe. xxx

    1. Thank you Claire! I'm afraid our weather has remained murky, give or take one or two sunny days!
      I hear there hasn't been a lockdown. Holland is in full lockdown with everything closed, so half of Holland has been flocking to Antwerp and other Belgian cities. Total madness! xxx

  12. Loving that photo of Bess, and the black & white family photo. Of course, your outfits look wonderful, as always.

  13. Many congratulations on your 500th post Ann! The days may be cold and grey but your outfits are far from :) :) :) I love your plaid vintage swing coat and the newly chazza found dress is amazing!!!...reminds me of a Gustav Klimt painting. Dove Cottage looks so inviting with your trinkets, warm lamps and 1930s tiles. Bonkers news about the hippos :0 Stay safe, Lulu xXx

    1. Thank you Lulu, and thanks for the Klimt reference too, I'll always think of it as my Klimt dress now. Yes, I know, the hippo new does sound quite bonkers! xxx

  14. Congrats on 500 posts! I really like that floral shift dress you wore to go thrifting and you had some great luck with pretty accessories and I love that red and green cardigan, what a fab find!

    It's a shame you have more restrictions and changes in place! We have mask rules back again here because we opened the borders to the rest of Australia (previously you had to do 2 weeks quarantine when you came in) and cases are exploding, so many cases around here sadly. It's up to almost 100 now, about 9-12 a day which is unheard for here, we were covid 0 for so long!

    Hope that you are having a good weekend! :) We had a fun playdate at the park yesterday.

    Away From The Blue

    1. Thank you Mica! To be honest, I would jump for joy at having only 9-12 cases a day ... xxx

  15. I love your deep green vintage dress. It looks great paired with orange accents. That's a lovely photo of Bess. Congrats on your 500th post.

  16. That photo of Bess sitting up on her hind legs to watch the birds is just adorable. Does she chatter at them? (Ours go 'ekekekek!' when they see pigeons sitting on phone lines through the bedroom window.)

    Moving the button on that skirt was a good idea - the print is really striking and modernist.

    Congrats on hitting the big 500!

    1. Thank you Mim! Funnily enough, Bess just looks at them without uttering a sound. Phoebe always chattered at them too. I have a feeling Bess is only just learning to make sounds! xxx