Thursday 23 December 2021

We are nowhere and it's now

There was no improvement in the weather in the week after our visit to the crumbling castle. It was just one day after another of gloom and the temperature, which kept flitting around 5°C, was accompanied by a raw East wind. Weather conditions which didn't exactly tempt me to go out exploring during my lunch breaks. 

If I'm honest, the lack of daylight combined with the lack of perspective has been making me feel quite lethargic.

With nothing much apart from a day at the office to look forward to, dragging myself out of bed in the morning has become a bit of a struggle lately. It doesn't help that Bess often sneaks into bed with me minutes before I am supposed to get up, purring loudly as I stroke her belly. She's quite annoyed when eventually I have no choice but to leave the warmth of my bed and that of her snuggly feline body.

But look, I made it through another working week, as here I am on Friday the 10th of December. 

The corner of the kitchen outfit photos indicate that it was yet another one of those days on which daylight was almost non-existent. The rain was non-stop, too, and at just 4°C, it wasn't a day to be gallivanting about outside.

My vintage chocolate brown velvet midi skirt with its trails of cream lacy flowers was charity shopped last December. It is very strokable, but while ease of movement is aided by its lining, at the same time it is slitless which can be a bit of a hazard when walking at my usual brisk pace.

The blouse, with its funky yellow, green and brown pattern, is by Belgian retro label Wow To Go, and was another one of last year's charity shop finds. My green, short-sleeved cardigan is vintage and came from Think Twice. Accessories were a faux tortoiseshell necklace and a forest green leather belt, both courtesy of the charity shops, and an enamelled butterfly brooch which I believe was a flea market find.

My faux fur trimmed slippers were thrifted too. In fact, the only retail items in my outfit, apart from my underthings, were my ochre opaques. 

Is a selfie made of one's feet a feetie, I wonder :-)

Our weekly charity shopping trip had been a short one that day, as Jos was due for his booster jab in the early afternoon. A quick dash to our local charity shop that morning yielded a handful of things, brought to you by my faithful assistant Angelica. If you are wondering who the hell Cléo is, well that was Angelica's real name until she was adopted by us and called after my great-grandmother Angelica, better known as Zeleke, who was a dressmaker.

There was a lilac addition to my growing collection of long-line cardigans, and an argyle patterned V-neck jumper in shades of blue on a sandy background. OK, beige would probably be a better word for it but I'm loathe to use such an ugly word! I picked up the crochet flower brooch as well, and promptly pinned it to the green cardigan I was wearing.

While Jos was out for his jab, I kept myself busy by hand-washing a batch of face masks. Although I will never ever accept this as normal, this is yet another one of those things which have crept into our daily routines. 

The rest of the day was spent dutifully following in Bess's paw-steps, and although I didn't go as far as taking a cat-nap, I spent the afternoon reading and catching up with blogland.

We were treated to rays of sunshine on Saturday so, after lunch, we went for another cobweb clearing walk in one of Antwerp's cluster of parks.

At just 4°C, layering was required, particularly since my dress, by the Ein Fink Modell label, is unlined. Yet another one of last year's charity shop finds, I fell in love with its tiny pink flowers drifting down towards the hem. However, its lining had been partly removed by its previous owner, leaving only the top half which kept bunching up in such an annoying fashion that it had to be taken out completely.

Consequently, I'm wearing both a t-shirt and a slip underneath, as well as a chunky green cardigan on top. My choice of green for the latter, as well as for my belt and - another - enamelled butterfly brooch was prompted by the flower stalks in the dress's print.

I struggled a bit finding a necklace which was able to compete with the dress, eventually settling for a string of chunky wooden beads in multiple colours including pink and green.

Arriving at our destination, we parked our car in the designated car park on the avenue which separates the parks. Our initial idea had been to explore the part of the sculpture park called Middelheim-Low and the formal Hortiflora garden to its West.

However, upon entering the park, our feet veered off to the left instead of to the right, taking us towards the third of the parks, which is called Vogelzang (transl. Birdsong), the other two being Middelheim and Den Brandt.

This is actually the oldest of the three parks. There used to be a small castle here as early as 1457, but it was not until the 17th century that a park estate was added. The current park, laid out in typical English landscape style, dates from 1850. 

The castle itself was demolished in the early 20th century and only the orangery and stables remain to this day. 

I was tempted to do another statue impersonation here, but the soggy mass of leaves had made the bluestone plinth far too slippery to climb on top of it.

The park also contains an impressive First World War memorial, which was unveiled in 1930. 

The former dairy, or melkerij in Flemish, was preserved and turned into a tavern where, from 1920 onwards, milk, lemonade, beer and sandwiches were being sold to visitors and hikers. 

These weary hikers were glad to see that it was still in business and what's more, after whispering Open Sesame - or rather, scanning our CST's - we were allowed to enter and enjoy cups of cappuccino and huge waffles with oodles of whipped cream!

Thus fortified, we started our return journey which eventually found us making a short cut through Middelheim-Low after all. 

Here, we narrowly escaped being abducted by aliens, who seemed to have made an emergency landing in the middle of a lawn. Their spaceship is called Never Mind and is a work by the Welsh artist Richard Deacon.

Never mind the aliens, we made it home in one piece!

On Sunday, the rain returned with a vengeance, with dark clouds putting paid to the sun getting a look-in. The temperature, which has been yoyoing a bit lately, was now back to 11°C. 

Again, we only stepped outside for outfit photos. I was wearing the dress I'd found during our charity shopping trip the previous week. The lovely Lulu commented that its pattern reminded her of a Gustav Klimt painting, and you know what, I think she's right!

It was an absolute joy to wear, too. As I'd had a couple of things to tick off my domestic to-do-list, I kept my accessories simple, just adding some silvertone jewellery. The 1960s style necklace is modern and came from the high street, although I can't for the life of me remember which shop. The brooch, with its dangly little chains ending in tiny pearls, was a flea market find, and one of my very first vintage brooches.

My wine red opaques are a well-worn pair I'm keeping for chores around the house, and I only added the recently charity shopped cardigan and the burgundy boots for stepping out into the garden.

The afternoon was spent putting up and decorating this year's Christmas tree. Due to the arrival of a certain furry creature, we had to put it up in a different place, for which we needed a smaller faux fir.

In addition, using our beloved vintage and heirloom baubles was out of the question, so that our tree is looking quite a bit different this year. The decorations included felt icicles, fabric hearts and angels, fake apples, wooden bird houses, resin wrens and gingerbread men, all of which were already in our collection. Oh, and the same 150 LED lights we used in our big tree, so that it's looking quite flashy! The fabric hiding its base is a remnant of the 1960s tablecloth which used to grace my parents' table on Christmas day.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas, whichever way you prefer to spend it. Or not!

Stay safe, everyone!


  1. Your christmas tree is very cute dekorated. Bess had fun with it? 😁
    Great you can est waffle and drink cappuccino. You look amazing kn this dress you can call Klimt dress. 😉 It‘s very cold theese days. I enjoyed the stroll in the park with you.
    I wish you a merry christmas, with a huge hug Tina

    1. Thank you Tina! Yes, Bess had so much fun with the tree that we had to dismantle it earlier than planned :-) xxx

  2. The Christmas tree is lovely and I hope it's not a cat magnet, haha! :) It's nice to see you still dress bright and colourfully even while it's cold, and that despite the cold you have been able to get out now and then! :)

    Hope that you have a wonderful Christmas :)

    Away From The Blue

    1. Thank you Mica! As you could have guessed, the tree was a cat magnet indeed. I'm so glad we didn't use our precious vintage ornaments! xxx

  3. Merry Christmas dear. Your Christmas tree is looking lovely even without the vintage ornaments you usually put on.
    I love the dress whose pattern reminded Lily of Gustav Klimt paintings. I see the connection myself. The dress is beautiful and it looks great on you. I like how you paired this dress with burgundy tights and a pink cardigan. The outfit with the purple printed dress and a green cardigan is fabulous as well.

  4. Hi there, it's early in the morning and it will be dark for quite some time. Your Christmas tree is the motivation I need to go outside and take mine in. I'm not sure where to put it. Upstairs or downstairs in the living room. Hm.

    The weather has been dry but freezing. So I take some rain any day just to have temperatures over zero.

    Merry Christmas!


    1. I hope you find the perfect spot for your tree, Regula! xxx

  5. Three fabulous outfits! Loving the mixed greens of the first, the groovy print on the third dress and the regal purple in the third. Those slippers look wonderfully cosy!
    Vogelzang does indeed look a very English garden, the bridge reminds me of those at Shugborough Hall. That WElsh sculpture is very striking.
    It must be very hard to leave a sunggly cat on a bitterly cold morning.
    Talking of cats, I hope Bess appreciates the cat proof tree!
    Wishing you, Jos & Bess a wonderful festive few days. Stay warm! xxx

    1. Thank you Vix! They were renovating the bridge, so we'll have to return one day to cross it and make the walk a circular one. xxx

  6. you match your carpet :-D
    now the dark short days are over - it will get better day by day! in the meanwhile i do enjoy your bright and funky outfits - love the dress with the "firework" of tiny flowers.....
    bess knows something - we should stay in bed in this time of the year! :-D she´s so super cute.
    an alien spaceship indeed! good that you escaped!
    stay warm and cosy! xxxx

    1. Now that you mention it :-D
      I agree, Bess does know best! I'll tell my boss I can't make it to the office in Winter :-) xxx

  7. Beautiful outfits and your Christmas tree is cute! Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas!

  8. Bess looks like such a contented cat! Lotte has also taken to snuggling up next to me, paw on my hand. I love the combination of moss green knit with your lovely pink flower dress. The park gardens are so English - they remind me of the Enville Hall Estate close to us. I found that war memorial quite moving - more of a reminder of the human cost than some featureless lump of stone. Your tree looks lovely - hoping it stays that way! ;-) Happy Christmas to you all! xxx

    1. Thank you Claire! Our previous cats weren't the snuggling type, so having Bess is a bit of a revelation!
      The tree, of course, didn't stay that way. We even had to dismantle it earlier than planned ... xxx

  9. Lovely outfits. I loved the blouse with the fabulous pattern especially. The Christmas tree looks wonderful and I hope Bess doesn't pull everything off it. What is it with cats and Christmas trees and decorations?

    I hope you enjoy your festivities and have a good break from the office - Merry Christmas!

    1. Thank you Vronni! I had a wonderfully relaxing break, even though the weather didn't cooperate much! xxx

  10. Finally I know where Angelica got her name from. I immediately thought of Morticia Adams..... What a gorgeous name for your great grandmother! One of our cats does the same in the morning. I always feel so sorry, as of I reject him. I wish you and Jos a very cozy and good Christmas!!

    1. Thank you Nancy! I do hope your tests at the hospital went well today. Cats do know best, don't they? xxx

  11. The Christmas tree is beautiful even without the extra ornaments. Who knows, perhaps Bess will be the rare cat that looks at a Christmas tree and wanders away unimpressed to knock over something else.
    Gorgeous outfits and those fur booties are the ultimate. I wouldn't want to leave home either if I had something that warm and cozy on my feet.
    Hang in there friend. I know this has been a sh*tty year and winter weather doesn't make it any better but there's always something better on the horizon. Wishing you and Jos a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

    1. Thanks Goody, but no, Bess isn't that rare cat at all. Phoebe was, though. The only time she broke something was purely by accident.
      Wishing you, Mr. ETB and Danny a happy and healthy New Year too. xxx

  12. Well, what with your fluffy Bess and strokable velvet skirt, it is any wonder you make it out of the house Ann! Bed is certainly my favourite place to be at the moment. Thanks for the shout out and I'll now refer to that fab dress as your Klimt dress.

    It is a shame we didn't have another statue shot, but I am glad you prioritized health and safety. Incredible to stumble across a Richard Deacon spaceship.

    Your tree looks lovely. Great idea for the table cloth base. Have a wonderful Christmas day. Lulu xXx

    1. Oh, mine too, Lulu! I'm back at work now and keep thinking I should have slept more during the holidays.
      Isn't that Richard Deacon spaceship wonderful? He had a special exhibition in the sculpture park a couple of years ago. xxx

  13. Your tree is so festive, charming and sweet - with the loveliest homespun quality to it. So true about how we often need to curtail our usual ways of decorating when a new furry friend joins our lives.

    And likewise, very true about the (many) things that a brief two years ago were not a part of our lives but which are now everyday elements that have become second nature to us at this point. From washing masks to no longer shaking hands with people to the chill that descends down one's spine when they here someone in their vicinity cough, we have all changed and will keep on adapting as we embrace 2022 and the ongoing global pandemic it houses.

    On a vastly more positive note, I really want to thank you, dearest Ann for the beautiful gift of your online friendship throughout 2021 and for each thoughtful, supportive comment you brightened my blog (and IG - not, unfortunately, that I've been on there much this year) with the whole year through.

    May these final days of another unforgettable year smile sweetly on you, Jos, and precious Bess, and lead to a safe, lovely, and highly enjoyable 2022.

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

    1. Thank you my dear friend. It's very strange to think that we once, not all that long ago, lived in a totally different world. Our online friendship is very dear to me. I'll never forget the welcome I got from you when I first started blogging! xxx

  14. Merry Christmas, Ann! I love your mini tree - very smart not to put out your vintage glass with wee Bess being so curious (as cats are!). Awesome outfits, particularly the "Klimt" dress.

    Sorry to have been absent lately - I've been hiding from the world! XO She

    1. No problem Sheila, we all need hiding from the world from time to time! xxx

  15. I wish you all the best in 2022. I really hope this next year will be better for all of us.

  16. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas xx

    1. Thank you Gisela, I certainly did. It was quiet but enjoyable. xxx