Monday 28 February 2022

Meeting Kezzie

We couldn't believe our eyes when the sun streamed in through our windows once more on Sunday morning the 13th of February! Surely it couldn't be true that we would have a whole weekend of dry and - gasp! - sunny weather? Had the weather gods finally taken pity on us? We kept eyeing the sky suspiciously in case they'd change their minds and gleefully send another little black rain cloud our way ...

The mercury climbed to a delicious 12°C, but once outside a blustery wind was doing its best to throw a spanner in the works. 

From my dresses which as yet remained unworn this season, I pulled this vintage blue and white houndstooth patterned one I found at Think Twice in February 2020. I'd spotted it during one of my lunch breaks but decided against buying it at full price, a fact I instantly regretted once I was back at the office. Nevertheless, I didn't go back for it the next day, deciding to let it simmer and see what happened. When it turned out to be still on the rails on my next visit to the shop, I took this as a sign that it was meant to be.

I took it with me on our Silver Anniversary trip to Bruges that month, which would be our last getaway for a while, as we all know what was about to hit us just a month later. Still, I always think of that handful of gold-framed days whenever I'm wearing it.

Red seems to be the obvious choice for layering and accessorizing, so I added a red glass ring and beaded necklace, vintage red plastic brooch, a charity shopped red tie-neck cardigan and a pair of red opaques. A white felted flower corsage was pinned to the cardigan. My blue ankle boots came out to play as well, even if they were only worn for the photos. 

The sun showed up an accumulation of dust bunnies, which shamed us into doing some long-overdue dusting and vacuuming of our sitting room and hallway. 

After lunch, though, the lure of the garden proved to be too strong, in particular as every time we opened our back door, a heady fragrance wafted inside and tickled our nostrils. The fragrance belongs to Sarcococca, or Winter box, an evergreen winter-flowering shrub bearing diminutive yet highly scented flowers. Just a boring evergreen shrub for most of the year, it starts developing delicate, creamy-white, pink-tipped flowers between mid-December and January, before releasing their sweet honey scent, which never fails to lift the spirits even on the dullest of days, from late January or early February onwards. 

I just went into the garden the better to savour the scent, but ended up sweeping up yet more leaves and clearing up some of last year's tangle. Although I couldn't help noticing lots of new - and quite precocious - growth in many of our perennials, hardly anything seemed to be in flower apart from the Winter box and our old but faithful Winter Jasmine, which has been treating us to boughs of starry yellow flowers since November.

And then it was Monday!

I'd been contacted by Kezzie in the previous week, as she and her husband were planning to spend their half-term break in Antwerp. I'd sent her an email full of tips on what to do and places to visit and, after exchanging WhatsApp messages, we arranged to meet on Monday in the early afternoon. I'd taken the afternoon off and had only just arrived at our meeting place less than 5 minutes from my office, when she messaged me that she and her husband were still having lunch around the corner. I went to meet them there and, although I admit to being just a tiny bit nervous, chatting to both Kezzie and her husband came quite naturally. They are both the nicest people imaginable.

Before we left the restaurant, we exchanged gifts. Funnily enough, we'd both decided on brooches. Aren't the ones Kezzie got me absolutely delightful? 

Then we walked back to the square where we'd originally planned to meet and visited the stunning baroque St. Charles Borromeo Church together.

I only showed you its magnificent façade back in December, so why don't I take you straight inside this time? 

The church was built between 1614 and 1621 under instructions of the Jesuit order. Originally, there  were 39 ceiling paintings by Peter Paul Rubens, but unfortunately nothing remains of them but a handful of sketches, as a fire destroyed them and many other works in 1718.

The interior is quite impressive, and you can easily spend a couple of hours here admiring it all. Obviously, our time was rather limited, as we were eager to do a spot of shopping at Think Twice, better known as T2, where everything was now going for € 2.

In order to make the most of our time, I took Kezzie by way of back streets to the nearest T2 shop in a street called Lange Klarenstraat. Much to our dismay, however, we were faced with a queue of people wanting to go for a rummage. As due to Covid-19 regulations only a limited amount of people were allowed into the shop at one time, we had quite a wait ahead of us. The time passed quickly, though, as we were chatting non-stop.

Kezzie was wearing a rose patterned cord skirt she'd found at T2 during the weekend, as obviously she had already been shopping without me as well. She certainly didn't leave empty-handed this time either, even if she later slightly regretted not going for the dirndl dress she is holding up for inspection.

I only made one purchase, which is the deadstock Diolen skirt pictured above.

After leaving the shop, Kezzie accompanied me to the spot where Jos was picking me up, so that she could say hello to him too. How utterly sweet of her!

The weather gods, if not on their absolute best behaviour, didn't behave appallingly either, sending lots of sunshine their way, even if there was some rain first thing in the morning on both Tuesday and Wednesday. I spent my lunch break of the latter having a colour and cut at my hairdresser's.

Meanwhile, Kezzie kept me up-to-date on what they'd been doing. I was delighted to learn that they even visited one of my favourite haunts, Middelheim sculpture park!

Quite unexpectedly, we met again on Thursday, just before they were leaving. Kezzie messaged me saying they'd left their apartment and were wandering with their luggage. As I was on my lunch break and wandering as well we ended up having a drink together, after which I accompanied them to the their final stop, Rubens House, making a short cut through Antwerp's botanical gardens along the way.

It had been a whirlwind of a week, and a joyful one at that, so before I knew it Friday had rolled along once more. We'd already had a visit from storm Dudley on Thursday evening, but were expecting worse to come as gale-force Eunice was about to arrive on Friday afternoon.

As we didn't want to miss our weekly charity shopping trip, we got up earlier than usual, making it to our first shop not long after opening time.

Regular readers might recognize the brown and orange plaid skirt I charity shopped back in January, when I wore it with a multi-coloured striped jumper for its first outing. Airing it outside my wardrobe, I couldn't help noticing how well it went with the spotty Monki blouse it was sharing space with. 

And so, an outfit was born!

It was the blouse's first outing, being a recent charity shop find as well.  My only gripe with it is that it wrinkled quite easily, but as I'm in a forgiving mood, I'm letting it stay for now. 

I thought it was the perfect canvas for Kezzie's faux-Lea Stein cat brooch with its orange eyes and ears. The transluscent brown beaded necklace in its turn matched the buckle of my teal stretchy belt, while I added the teal cardigan and chunky plastic ring in the latter's honour.

Our first stop was the 2-storey charity shop in Mechelen, and I thought I'd give you a taste of what it's like. Lots of people must have stayed at home due to Eunice's imminent arrival, and as you can see we had the place virtually to ourselves.

The photo at the top left was taken from the entrance, the orange counter being the tills. There are some random pieces of furniture here, while the shelves ahead are full of general bric-a-brac, mainly consisting of various decorative objects.

Venturing further into the shop, there's a large book corner, followed by an equally large display of crockery and household wares. 

We then pass through the main furniture aisle (top left) from where you can see the stairs leading up to the second floor, which is dedicated to clothing, textiles and a children's department complete with all manner of toys as well as baby stuff.

Our next stop was at the 3-storey one in Duffel, where I forgot to take photographs of the huge ground floor furniture department. Clothing is in the basement here, and the top left is just one of the many aisles here. The shopping trolley, obviously, is mine, and as you can see I there's already something in it!

In fact, I was in luck in both shops, but I'm afraid you'll have to be patient, as my finds will be for my next post.

We ended our visit in the cafeteria on the first floor, which has everything including the proverbial kitchen sink. 

While we were enjoying our beverages - mine was a hot chocolate - we could hear the wind gaining strength and see it tugging ferociously at the trees across the road.

Time to call it a day, drive back home and batten Dove Cottage's hatches!

Wednesday 23 February 2022

February, quite contrary

One of the woes of being a working girl is the distinct lack of blogging material during the week. I'm sure my office days would illicit more than just a yawn and, as apart from a quick dash to the shops for essentials, I haven't been out much during my lunch breaks, there isn't any content to be gleaned from these either.

To add insult to injury, there's the lack of daylight which prevents me from showing you my daily outfits in Winter.  Help is on its way, however, as I've noticed with more than just a modicum of delight that the days are finally lengthening. For now, though, it'll be mostly weekend outfits and outings here.

Consequently, there isn't all that much I can tell you about the second week of February. Except perhaps that Think Twice's sales were in full swing and that I made it to one of their shops on Thursday, which happened to be a € 4 day. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, it means that every item in the shop sells for € 4! I might even have made a purchase, but I'm asking you to bear with me. You'll get to see me wearing my find later in this post!

Meanwhile, my weekends are still starting a day early, as I continue to be able to take Fridays off. Long may it last as the mere thought of working a full 5-day week leaves me quite exhausted.

In spite of our best intentions, we'd slept late-ish on Friday the 11th of February, so that the morning was quite advanced before we could make a start with our weekly round of the charity shops. 

My outfit was a repeat of one I wore to work earlier that week. With the thermometer stuck at 8°C, I was glad of my dress's wool content. The dress in question, which is vintage, its label proudly proclaiming it was made in Belgium, was a charity shop find many years ago. In fact, it was my friend Inez, whom I was shopping with that day, who pointed me into its direction.

I'm loving its pattern of pink and purple flowers floating down towards the hem on a criss-cross patterned background. It came with a rather gorgeous Bakelite buckled belt , which this time I replaced with a bottle green leather one.

Layered on top was a chunky knit cardigan in a similar shade of green. I also sneaked in yet another wear of my beloved tall green boots which, like everything else in my outfit except for my tights, socks and underwear, were second-hand finds.

The metal and enamel green butterfly brooch was one of my very first vintage brooches, picked up in a posh, overpriced second-hand shop in Antwerp before I knew any better.

Our first port of call that Friday was the Oxfam shop in Wilrijk, where the dregs of the Winter clothes were going half-price. There wasn't anything that tickled my fancy, so we left empty-handed.

We fared better in our local charity shop, where we stopped on our way home. Browsing the bookshelves, these three landed in my shopping basket.

Chaos reigned in the clothing aisles as apparently they were doing a seasonal changeover here as well. In spite of this, I still managed to snaffle a green and white striped vintage blouse of Swedish origin and a caramel cardigan with a silky front panel endorsed by women's magazine Libelle. 

Back at home, it was time for some chores after lunch. These included cleaning the bathroom and, as the initial clouds had made way for some unexpected sunshine, finally sweeping up the leaves which had been accumulating on the garden path since Autumn. 

We woke up to some light frost on Saturday. The mercury would climb to just 7°C, but with the continuation of Friday afternoon's sunshine it felt glorious and almost Springlike outside.

In fact, the weather was just perfect for wearing my latest Think Twice find! 

It was love at first sight for this wool and acrylic blend vintage C&A dress. Isn't it a stunner?

The red chevron pattern on a rich teal background made me swoon, and that's before I spied its frilly neckline and cuffs! The lining made it comfortable to wear, although I did have to combat some minor itchiness on my arms by layering a long-sleeved tee-shirt in a matching teal underneath.

Although the dress came with a teal tie belt, this was instantly ditched and replaced with a wide leather belt in a delicious reddish brown. In order to keep the collar on its best behaviour I pinned it down with a red-hearted brooch. A vintage carved celluloid brooch featuring a threesome of Summer flowers was pinned to the dress's bodice. Finally, a red plastic ring and red opaques completed my outfit.

It would have been downright shameful not to go for a walk on such a gorgeous day, so we decided to top up our Vitamin D levels in Walenhoek, which is yet another local nature reserve established on the site of former clay pits.

At just over 10 kilometers from our front door, it's the perfect choice if we want to go for a slightly longer walk but do not want to stray too far from home. 

The last time we were here was on New Year's Day, when there were only two other cars in the reserve's car park.

It was quite a bit busier now! We'd just parked our car and I was exchanging my boots for my walking ones, when a car stopped next to ours, disgorging two mothers with a gaggle of extremely loud and boisterous kids.

We gritted our teeth and waited until they were out of sight and, more importantly, out of earshot. Much to our relief, they took the path leading off to the right, whereas we wanted to take the one to the left as usual.

Finally, peace and quiet reigned again, and as we were walking in our chosen direction, we spotted some people walking on a paralell path on the opposite side of the pond to our right. 

In the Summer months, this path would be completely hidden from view by lush vegetation, and in fact, it was the very first time since we've been coming here that we actually noticed there was one at all. 

We decided to investigate and soon spotted the path in question, leading off into the direction we'd come from and meandering between the two ponds which were both on the verge of flooding it.

Negotiating some muddy patches, we enjoyed the sun on our backs and the unmistakable scent of approaching Spring in the air.


While the shady pond on our right still sported a gossamer layer of ice in places, the expanse of blue sky with its wispy clouds was reflected in the mirror-like surface of the one on our left.

Soon the path merged with one we'd frequented countless times before, although we usually walk into the opposite direction. Nevertheless, we marvelled at the fact at how different it all looked, as if it was all brand new territory.

We kept meeting fellow walkers at regular intervals, all of them giving us the time of day, even the ones walking in larger groups. The noisy family, however, seemed to have vanished into thin air.

I squealed with delight when I noticed that our favourite bench, sitting on a spit of land jutting out into the largest of the ponds, was ours for the taking. 

Here we rested our weary feet for a while, enjoying the cakes we'd brought while bathing in the sun's mild and wholesome rays.

A soft breeze had joined the sun, rippling the water with hypnotizing sparkles, which we sat and watched for a while. 

If all goes well, you can enjoy them with me ...

We would be in for a couple of sunny days before being battered by pesky Dudley, Eunice and Franklin.

But that, my dears, will be for my next post.

Friday 18 February 2022

What a difference a day makes

We've been bracing ourselves for storm Eunice as I write, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that those of you who are affected by the storm have escaped the worst.

Now, before we take a trip back in time to the first weekend of February, which will be the subject of this post, let's have a quick look at the past week, which I've been itching to tell you about. 

Never mind those gale force winds or the obligatory showers which delighted in plaguing me during a couple of my commutes, there was sunshine on the menu too. 

But sunshine wasn't the only thing to put a spring in my step! First of all, on Monday I took the afternoon off  for a blogger meet up with Kezzie and her husband, known on her blog as CBC, who were visiting Antwerp this week. It was an absolute joy to meet them and Kezzie and I chatted as if we'd known each other forever. We might even have done a spot of vintage shopping! 

Then there was a second, impromptu, meet up on Thursday, before we said our goodbyes. I'm so glad they loved the city I used to live in for nearly 15 years, and to which I have been commuting to for a further 27. 

Photos will follow, of course, in due time!

Back to the order of the day now! 

After a dismal Friday, Saturday the 5th of February looked set to be the best day of that weekend.

There had been some light frost overnight, but the blue sky and sunshine which greeted us that morning were definitely issuing an invitation to go for a walk. Highs of 8°C had been predicted which, although not bad at all for the time of year, still prompted me to wear my newly charity shopped H&M jumper. 

With such a joyful colour palette to play with, I took my lead from the turquoise in its pattern to wear one of my favourite skirts, its slubby turquoise fabric threaded with multi-coloured specks.

Paying tribute to the pops of red, I added a red vinyl belt with a square buckle to define my waist. The jumper didn't look right tucked in, so I wore it out, but in spite of its exuberant colour and pattern, I felt it looked too bland and unfinished without the belt. More red was added by the plastic cat brooch I pinned to the jumper.

The morning's chores finished, it was time for some fun, so after lunch we drove off to one of our best-loved nature reserves for a head-clearing walk. 

I've more than once blogged about Blaasveldbroek, which is one of our regular, all-seasons haunts, but I was surprised to find that our last visit dated from early October, when Autumn wasn't even in full swing. 

For the sake of variety, we started our walk from the main car park this time, which soon took us past a whitewashed chapel, its blue and white striped door open day and night for people in need of praying or burning a candle. 

The chapel is dedicated to Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van de 14 Bunders, or Our Lady of the 14 bunders, a bunder (Latin: bonnarium; French: bonnier) being an old unit of land measurement, which was slightly larger than a hectare. 

Legend has it that in the harsh winter of 1760, a statue of the Virgin Mary was found here during peat cutting. As the part of the pond where it was found miraculously did not freeze over in winter, it soon became a place of pilgrimage. The small chapel that stood here burned down in 1858, and the present one was built two years later.

The broek part of Blaasveldbroek means a marshy area, and indeed there is water galore here, and not just in the reserve's many ponds and lakes. The incessant rainfall of the last couple of months had caused quite a bit of flooding, particularly since the majority of this watery wonderland is barely above sea level.

In ancient times, this was an impenetrable area, where fairies and marsh spirits were rumoured to live, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if some of their descendants still roam here.

For the obligatory photo of my outerwear, I'm posing in front of the root system of a gentle giant slain by a past Winter storm. It has been there so long it has become a landmark.

I'm wearing a butterscotch Astrakhan jacket charity shopped in December 2020, combined with the floral eternity scarf I found the other week. The red knitted hat, which is contrasting deliciously with the colour of my skirt, was a charity shop find as well.

The area, which used to be regularly flooded by the nearby River Rupel, was dammed in between 1100 and 1300. Afterwards, it was used intensively for the exploitation of peat, traces of which you can still see today in the reserve's scattered ponds.

As we walked, the sky darkened with clouds racing by and holding the promise of rain. 

Without the warmth of the sun, it suddenly felt several degrees colder, the false Spring day reverting to just another grey Winter one.

We quickened our step, enticed by the cakes we'd left in the boot of our car.

The sun briefly reappeared, illuminating the cloud reflections in the largest of the lakes, before taking a final bow.

She was definitely conspicuous in her absence on Sunday the 6th of February. 

Torrential rain and lots of wind was our lot throughout the day, and we were even treated to a veritable fire and brimstone thunderstorm in the evening. 

We were obliged to take outfit photos inside, all of them too dark to make use of without the aid of some serious editing.

To cheer myself up, I was wearing another favourite dress - well, all our clothes should be favourites shoudn't they? 

It's always a joy to wear this blue on off-white tile-patterned textured polyester one on a Winter's day! 

Although I usually wear it with yellow, I thought I'd try it with orange this time. They do say variety is the spice of life! 

My bright orange opaques were joined by an orange beaded necklace, while the beaded brooch I pinned to the dress has some orange in it as well. It was a recent charity shop find already featured in my previous post, as was the belt which I omitted to show you at the time.

We'd slept late for us, as it was just gone 9 am before we were able to drag ourselves out of bed.

After breakfast, I tackled a couple of boring but necessary sewing jobs, and then took the opportunity to tidy my sewing basket, which had so much stuff crammed into it that it refused to close. The two plastic sewing cases are full of sewing paraphernalia inherited from my Mum and paternal grandmother. It'll be a long time before I need to buy any sewing thread, as I've got some in every colour under the sun. 

The green bottomed box, by the way, used to belong to my Mum too, while I bought the yellow bottomed one in a vintage shop long before I inherited the other one, as it reminded me of my Mum's.

As it was still chucking it down outside, I decided to rearrange my brooches, as the antique chest of wooden, glass-fronted drawers which is their home had become a bit of a mess. 

As Claire recently asked me where I am keeping all my brooches, this is especially for her. The chest is the kind which was used to display sewing threads in haberdashery shops, and it was a flea market find in December 2018. I lined the drawers with brightly coloured felt sheets.

After all this exertion, I decided to call it a day and join Bess on the sofa.

But not before showing you some of our collection of lighting fixtures. I think it goes without saying that all of these were second-hand finds as well. We certainly needed some artificial daylight that day.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to plug my ears and block out the racket Eunice continues to make outside. I'll be glad to be rid of her!

Sunday 13 February 2022

Send me the pillow that you dream on

If in the past I've often been gobsmacked by the pace at which time was speeding by, lately it seems to have accelerated dramatically, the days whizzing by faster than the speed of light. There's hardly time to catch one's breath, let alone to stand and stare for too long.

Weekends in particular do seem to come and go in the blink of an eye. And then I'm lucky that mine have a glorious three days instead of just the customary two!

Nevertheless, as you're probably used to by now, my blog isn't quick enough of the mark to catch up with real life. So, while we're approaching February's half-way point, I've still got to tell you about January's final Sunday!

By then, we'd already enjoyed two days of sunny spells and no sign of showers, so it was nothing short of a miracle when Miss Sunshine was once again knocking on our windows on Sunday morning. Never mind the fact that she managed to highlight Dove Cottage's collection of dust bunnies, there was no way we were going to spend the day inside getting rid of them!

The dress I'd earmarked for the day is vintage and an old Think Twice find, its earliest reference in the blog dating from December 2017. With its groovilicious green, brown and orange pattern, it is definitely not one for the faint-hearted, but whenever there's colour and pattern, I'm game.

To accessorize it, I pinned my faux-Lea Stein cat brooch to the dress, added one of my stretchy belts and wore a semi-transluscent brown beaded necklace. 

At just 8°C, some layering was required, so I wore a chunky orange cardigan from posh Belgian label Pauline B. on top. It goes without saying that it was a charity shop find. There is no way I'd have paid its original +€ 100 price tag! A second brooch, a vintage bird matching my necklace, was pinned to the cardigan. 

I was reminded of this vintage swing coat when posting an old photo on Instagram where I'm doing a series called Flashback Friday, so I dragged it from my full-to-bursting coats cupboard to give it a long overdue outing. As both of its pockets had long ago sprung a leak - which I'd conveniently forgotten about - anything I shoved into them promptly disappeared inside the coat's lining. Two weeks on, and I still haven't done anything about it, although it's a relatively easy fix ...

My sage green beret, recently charity shopped purple scarf and my beloved mock croc boots completed the day's outerwear. The latter were of course exchanged for our walk!

The sun did one or two disappearing acts while we were having lunch, so we decided to stay close to home just in case the weather gods would change their minds. We needn't have feared, even if the clouds seemed to be ahead of the game by the time we'd parked our car near Park Den Brandt on the outskirts of Antwerp. It looked as if lots of people had had the same idea, as the car park was full and we were obliged to park in a quiet residential street near the park.

As usual we entered by way of the picking garden, at this time of year all but empty of produce apart from a few straggling herbs. As I was lagging behind taking photographs, I thought Jos had already climbed the steps leading up to the park itself, when his head suddenly appeared through one of the portholes in the garden wall.

I always walk up to the Gautam Buddha - a gift from the Ambassador of Nepal - to have a look at the offerings people have made. This time, apart from a handful of stones and a tealight, he seemed to have been given some daisies and berries, while a kindly soul had tied a pretty bracelet to one of his wrists.

Up the steps we went and after passing through an avenue of trees, we were faced with a reed edged marshy expanse to our right, a true piece of wilderness at the edge of the metropolis which is the city of Antwerp.

Half-hidden by the trees we caught a glimpse of the enchanting gingerbread cottage which is taking pride of place in the castle's English-style garden.

We took a shortcut by taking the grassy path bordering the marshy area complete with picturesque pond, where the castle itself, a romantic white wedding cake mansion renovated in the 1870s in late classical style, could be seen shimmering in the distance.

By a stroke of luck, the clouds parted, making way for a patch of blue sky and some itinerant sunshine just as Jos made this photo with his phone's camera.

We walked the park's length, until we reached a series of bunkers at its other end. These were built by the Germans in 1943 as headquarters for the Atlantikwall in Belgium. There's a choice of paths here, and you can either take the one running alongside the bunkers, or the one running on top of them. We decided to be reckless, throw caution to the wind and take the latter!

So, that was the weekend all wrapped up.

As if to make up for lost time, the weather gods treated us to another string of gloomy days and lots of rain in the first week of February. Even stuck at the office I love a bit of sunshine to get me through the days, particularly when work is rather slow, which it was that week due to Chinese New Year.

Meanwhile, back at Dove Cottage ...

In spite of the inclement weather, I made my escape from the office during lunch break, and I may even have snapped up a bargain in a high street shop, where prices were down to 70% off.

The bargain in question was this burnt orange skirt in a very strokable faux suede fabric and equipped with two generous pockets. Of course, I already had to wear it for Friday's charity shop trawl!

I didn't have to think very long about its possible companion, as this recently shopped pussy-bow blouse was still hanging outside my wardrobe waiting for its maiden outing. Apart from its contrasting green, black and white, the blouse's geometric pattern also has the faintest whisper of orange, making the match even more perfect. Funnily enough, and quite unintentionally, the blouse's origins lie in the same shop as the skirt!

I struggled a bit finding a suitable cardigan to layer on top, until I spotted this striped one peeking out from the pile. Originally from H&M, it was charity shopped many years ago. 

Both my belt and my beloved green boots were charity shop finds as well, while the scarf clip I tamed the pussy-bow with as well as my brooch were picked up at various flea markets.

The purple mohair beret came from Think Twice, if I remember correctly. I kept it on for the photos as my hair wasn't looking its best.  As much as I love my berets, I'm finding it a bit of a struggle combining my longer bob with berets, glasses and face masks and still look okay-ish. 

As usual, we cherry-picked two shops which are easy to combine. Unfortunately, pickings were almost non-existent in the first shop we visited, where I only found the belt on the bottom left in the below collage.

My rummage in the second shop, however, was much more successful. 

The blue dress with its pink piping and ditto flower pattern is by Froy & Dind, a Belgian label which has been making sustainable fashion since 2011. 

Other finds included a pair of deadstock vintage orange knee socks, a flower patterned eternity scarf and a pair of funky tights. The latter were deadstock too and from a well-known Belgian haberdashery and accessories shop, where they retailed for € 12,95. The charity shop's price label said € 0,50: that's more like it!

The faux-tortoiseshell chain belt was in among the necklaces, and thus priced as such. 

The beaded brooch instantly caught my eye. It's quite rare to find brooches in charity shops here, and as we're still avoiding flea markets, my collection has somewhat come to a grinding halt.

The day's biggest surprise was the carved Bakelite bracelet for which, same as for the other items, I paid just € 1,50. 

As lunch time was fastly approaching, we had a car picnic before continuing to our next destination.

Our final and definitely most expensive purchase of the day were two new, state-of-the-art pillows. It was our 27th wedding anniversary and we decided to splash out. Mine is the butterfly shaped one on top, which is ideal for side sleepers, while Jos, who sleeps on his back, opted for the one on the bottom.

We've been using them ever since, and they have certainly made a huge difference. Still having weird dreams, though ...