New Year's Day dawned and it was eerily quiet outside. As we had been up past midnight, just to sit out the fireworks going off left, right and centre, we'd slept a bit later than usual, but otherwise it was just an ordinary Saturday for us.
We tiptoed downstairs for fear of waking up the sleeping world. Nevertheless, we put on the radio and loaded the washing machine just like we always do on a Saturday morning. After all, nothing had changed since we'd closed our eyes and drifted off. The world hadn't been magically transformed into a virus-free one overnight. At least, they didn't mention it on the news!
For once, though, we didn't need our daylight therapy lamp to tide us over breakfast. As we'd tentatively lifted a corner of our bedroom curtains, a pale blue sky floating with marshmallow clouds had greeted us. Drawing them wide, we could even detect the rays of a waking sun.
We'd been making attempts to go for a longer walk in one of our favourite nature reserves all week but all had been thwarted by the weather. In fact, it looked as if this day would be the first one in a long time when those godforsaken weather gods didn't have rain in store for us. Plus, at 15°C, it was so mild that it might as well have been an early Spring day.
I didn't even need that many layers. The green jacket, in spite of its faux fur collar, is only a moderately warm one, and so is my thin knit brown speckled scarf. I could have gone bareheaded, but wore my charity shopped Burberry beret as I'm a creature of habit.
My only concession to the relative wildness of our destination was my old pair of fleece-lined brown boots to tackle the undoubtedly muddy paths.
Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while might remember this particular nature reserve from previous visits. In fact, I've mentioned it in no less than 7 blog posts since having rediscovered the area in the Summer of 2020.
At a mere 20-minute drive from Dove Cottage, the reserve, which goes by the name of Walenhoek, is the perfect choice for sampling some fresh air and the delights of nature whatever the season.
There were only two other cars in the car park, both apparently belonging to dog walkers making use of the adjacent, fenced off dog area.While dogs are obviously allowed in the reserve itself, they have to be kept on a lead at all times to protect the resident wildlife.
Apart from a handful of early birds like us we had the place virtually to ourselves so that we could immerse ourselves in its soul soothing solitude, the quietness only pierced by bird calls and the hypnotic, distant rumbling of a train passing by on the track just beyond the domain.
There used to be clay pits here belonging to one of the area's many brickmaking factories. After the industry collapsed in the 1970s, it was reclaimed by nature and the traces of centuries of exploitation by man all but erased by its almighty force.
Today, the reserve comprises 60 hectares and offers a delightfully varied landscape of large ponds and pools bordered by reed beds and dense thickets through which a myriad of footpaths wind their way.
It was balmy enough to remove my jacket and show you what I was wearing underneath.
You've already caught a glimpse of my grey woollen skirt criss crossed with woven diagonals in red, green, yellow, black and white, which has been gracing my wardrobe for many years.
The blouse is another one which I reclaimed from the bottom of one of my flea market boxes and no, I honestly haven't got a clue what it was doing there. It was a delight to wear, so it's not going anywhere anytime soon. My teal cardigan is one of my charity shopped heart patterned King Louie's.
Both the green stretchy belt and the green beaded necklace were retail buys which have earned their place in my wardrobe over time.
The brooch, with its green mottled stone set in a circle of tiny pearls, was bought from the Brooch Lady at an antiques fair in April 2017.
Although we'd walked this path countless of times, we only noticed the battery of bird feeders offering a plethora of delicacies last April, when it was being raided by a pair of cheeky squirrels.
Sure enough, there was one of the bushy tailed creatures squirreling away its fill of nuts as we passed by. What's more, he or she didn't even bat en eyelid when I tiptoed ever closer to take its picture!
The reserve is dotted with the crumbling remnants of the former brickmaking factory, such as the old electricity cabin (below, top right), its former use given away by a danger of death warning sign.
It's almost beyond belief that less than half a century ago this place was a bustling hive of activity.
We'd brought a picnic, as we often do, and took some time looking for a suitable sun-drenched bench, eventually deciding on one with a view across the largest of the ponds.
Here, we were dazzled by the low Winter sun which had joined forces with its reflection.
I was just in time to grab my camera and catch one of the trains whizzing by, an elongated, quick-as-lightning blur of red and white (below, bottom right).
Hunger pangs satisfied, we continued on our way when, just before taking a final turn to the tree-lined path which would take us back to the car park, we spotted the slats of a wooden garden chair among the trees.
Gingerly making our way towards it without being tripped up by treacherous brambles, we noticed that it wasn't a case of fly-tipping. In fact, it was a rather fancy one in perfect condition, which was tied to a tree trunk with a piece of rope. Clearly, this was someone's secret hideaway. Not so secret now, obviously, but I suppose it would be completely hidden by an exuberance of foliage in Summer.
With a view like that, I can imagine sitting and staring here for hours!
My depleted energy levels somewhat recharged, I decided to strike the iron while it was hot when we got home. I finally ventured into the garden and removed the slimy remains of the Nasturtiums, which hadn't yet been cleared as they'd been producing flowers only a couple of weeks ago.
What with all the wetness, and sunny days occurring almost exclusively while I am stuck at the office, the garden has been somewhat neglected, which means I'll have my work cut out come Spring!
The sun had upped and left us again on Sunday, the grey sky reflecting my mood. To say that I wasn't looking forward to going back to the office on Monday is quite an understatement.
Nevertheless, I tried to cheer myself up by wearing colour, and lots of it. I thought it was time this dress got another outing. A sales bargain from Think Twice in the Autumn of 2019, I fell head over heels for its jungly flower and foliage pattern. However, it initially took me a while to wear it because of its plethora of split seams and its zipper, which needed to be fixed.
Taking the lead from the cobalt blue flowers, I added a belt, necklace and ring in the same colour.
Although picked up at a flea market ages ago, it was the necklace's first wear. I've certainly been discovering hidden treasures now that I've culled my tangled jumble of necklaces!
My final accessory was the brooch with its bouquet of sparkly flowers - the odd cobalt blue one among them - on a purple background.
The Christmas break now being well and truly over, it will be business as usual in my next post. Please make sure to stay safe until then!
That bargain dress is an absolute beauty, I love the cobalt highlights!ReplyDelete
New Year seems like an absolute age away. You went to your lovely nature reserve whilst we walked aroung Palfrey Park and like you, I was glowing with the heat and dodging the mud,
You and Jos look magnificent on your thrones! xxx
Thank you Vix! New Year seems light years away by the time I'm typing this. I keep getting behind with replying to comments ... xxxDelete
Starting the year as you mean to go on with a beautiful day out in nature wearing vintage finery.ReplyDelete
Cobalt blue doesn't work with everything, but when it does it seems almost magical. That dress, necklace and brooch look like they were designed together.
Thank you Goody. That dress was definitely worth spending a couple of hours of repairs on! xxxDelete
That's a perfect way tro start the new year. I am like you, nothing changed because it is a new year right. So why make a fuss about it. Love that skirt with the gorgeous green belt. I want a brooche lady too! Lol. Have a great day!ReplyDelete
Start as we mean to go on ... Unfortunately, I no longer have a Brooch Lady either ... xxxDelete
today you´r wearing all my favorites: the fur decorated teal jacket, the fab gray skirt and the lovely jungle dress!! yay!ReplyDelete
we too went for a walk on new years day - but it was very cloudy - making it to dark for photographing us or the views..... but the fresh air was gorgeous after some bottles of wine and crémant ;-D
Especially for you, Beate! Fresh air is a must, I guess, after bottles of wine and crémant! xxxDelete
Hi Ann, What a perfect walk (and beautiful, reflective accompanying photos) for New Year's Day. I think you and Jos need to smuggle another wooden chair to that spot so that you can both take the weight off! How lovely to see a red squirrel. We don't have any in our part of the country now, courtesy of the grey squirrel. I hope the return to work hasn't been too arduous. Your last outfit is a stunner and a fabulous way to counter a low mood! xxxReplyDelete
Thank you Claire! Perhaps they should distribute some chairs all over the reserve, like they do in the sculpture park. We've seen quite a few red squirrels around here, they're such gorgeous creatures, aren't they? xxxDelete
I love that first photograph of you. This seems like such a great area for a walk. You took some lovely nature photos. Wonderful jacket and skirt combo, lovely colours. I love that you are always so stylish for your walk. I like to dress stylishly when I do my hiking as well.ReplyDelete
That printed dress with cobalt blue flowers is simply divine. I love the statement cobalt necklace you wore it it and the cobalt belt. The floral brooch is lovely too. A beautiful outfit...and simply perfect to cheer oneself for Monday morning at work.
Thank you Ivana! There's no reason not to dress stylishly for hiking, is there? xxxDelete
WOWW, what a perfect walk, so lovely to have a warm day to enjoy and walk in this quiet landscape. Love your photos.ReplyDelete
And love your beautiful teal jacket with this grey skirt. It's fab how the colours in the skirt are enhanced by the printed blouse and the green accessories. Love particularly the first photo of you!.
I'm in love with this cobalt blue necklace, it's an unusual colour but totally matches your dress print!, a joy for the eyes!. Looking Fabulous!
Thank you so much, Monica! I love that first photo too, although it wasn't easy to climb up there. I'm not as nimble as I used to be :-) xxxDelete
That looks like a perfectly soothing start to the New Year, Ann. How lovely that you basically had the park to yourselves, and that the Weather Gods cooperated and gave you some sun! Love the cheeky squirrel and how fun to discover someone's secret chair hidden in the trees!ReplyDelete
I ADORE your final dress - what a fantastic pattern and colour mix. The cobalt blue is perfect with it.
Why is it that it's always nice during work days and crappy on the weekends??
Ha, yes, I've been wondering the same. The weather was absolutely horrendous on Sunday, and lo and behold: it was bright and sunny on Monday! xxDelete
Wow you look aaaaaaamazing in every style of this post. Great you accessoirize blue to this jungle dress. ❤️ReplyDelete
I enjoyed your walk with todays first morning coffee. And remember these mild 15 degres Silvester. Now it‘s cold. Brrrr
Have a good day, with a huge hug Tina
Thank you Tina! It hasn't actually been all that cold here yet. So far, we've only had one or two days when the temperatures were below freezing point! xxxDelete
Like you, I enjoy walks in nature but, unlike you, I don't look as fashionable doing so! I *love* the first picture. It could be the cover of your autobiography. :)ReplyDelete
Thank you Ally, I will keep that in mind :-) xxxDelete
How nice you got out to greet 2022 in arm and sunny weather!ReplyDelete
I adore the green dress; what a totally marvellous pattern and the cobalt blue accessories were perfect with it. If you ever get tired of the dress don't forget me...
Thank you Veronica! I'll keep it in mind ... but I don't think I'll ever tire of it :-) xxxDelete
Cobalt is such a gorgeous colour and I love your use of it as accents in that dress. That dress looks really comfortable as well as stylish.ReplyDelete
I still haven't removed the rogue Nasturtiums either.
Your nature reserve is so delightful.
What does "Hoek" mean? I saw that word a lot in South Africa too. Does it mean Water or Lake?
Thank you Kezzie! The literal translation of the word "hoek" is corner or angle! xxxDelete
Have a lovely weekend.ReplyDelete
Thanks Ivana! xxxDelete
You both look straight out of a retro catalog here. I love photos of couples who dress a like this way. I have a hard time getting my husband to wear his cool stuff. He always defaults to graphic t shirts and fleece jackets!ReplyDelete
Thank you Joni! xxxDelete
The sun makes such a difference doesn't it? What a lovely way to start the new year.ReplyDelete
It definitely does, Gisela! xxxDelete
What a glorious way to begin the year - surely, the perpetual optimist in me likes to believe, it must be an auspicious sign to begin the year on a (literal) sunny note.ReplyDelete
Many scores more days - be they literal or proverbial - of warmth and happiness be yours the whole year through, dear Ann.
Autumn Zenith 🎃 Witchcrafted Life
Thank you Autumn! The weather is still letting us down a bit, though. Need more sunshine! xxxDelete