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 ...


  1. I came over for a quick catchup before we go out to dinner (going to Tamo Thai on Volkstraat!)
    Absolutely adore your first outfit! So stylish! That dress is amazing!!! I did keep looking at things in T2 and thinking you'd like them!
    Regretting some of my finds I put back now! AND I didn't even SEE accessories!!!
    You did well on the red skirt! It really suits you!
    I love the picture of Jos poking through the hole in the wall. That's rather lovely about the Buddha.
    I used to enjoy the Hindu offerings on the street corners in Bali and liked looking at them. Also liked the fact they seemed to nourish the stray animals of Denpasar!
    What a bargain that Bakelite bangle was! The brooch is pretty too!
    Happy anniversary to you both!
    How does that pillow for you work- I'm also a side sleeper and intrigued!

    1. Again, so funny to reply to older comments, particularly this one. Can you believe that T2 has just today started another round of sales?
      I always make a beeline for that Buddha to see his offerings. I might take him something next time! xxx

  2. I love that burn orange skirt. What a great find! Pairing it with that funky blouse was the way to go. Beautiful styling.
    I absolutely love your first outfit with the vintage printed dress. The vivid green, brown and orange print is so stunning. It is giving me art deco vibes and the green in particular makes me think of stained glass. Pairing this dress with a vivid red sweater was a lovely choice as well.
    Nice to accompany you on your walk and to see offerings to Buddha statue. That bracelet is pretty.
    The photo of Bess is adorable.
    Have a nice day!

    1. Thank you Ivana! I'd never thought of that dress having Art Deco vibes but I can definitely see it now! xxx

  3. Oh this orange bargain skirt looks amazing with this blouse and belt. Orange ist often a good idea. 😊
    I love this buddha statue in the park and enjoyed this walk with you.
    Feeling like Bess thir morning 😂
    have a nice monday! With a very huge hug Tina

    1. Thank you Tina! I'm quite envious of Bess most mornings ;-) xxx

  4. What a fabulous shot of Bess! That orange skirt is really fabulous, what a burning colour! I have such a pillow too, am also a side sleeper and it makes a huge difference I think. Have a great start of the week!

    1. Isn't she cute? The pillow does take some getting used to as it's a lot firmer than the worn out one I had before, but I can definitely feel the benefits! xxx

  5. the first dress is one of my favorites!
    lovely park and jos looking out of the porthole seem to own the place :-D
    is´t it impressive when our sweet furry creatures, usually looking like plush toys, reveal their predator nature as does bess in that photo?!
    hugsies! xxxx

    1. Thanks Beate, and you're right about our furry creatures. Although Bess is definitely a lot cuddlier than Phoebe, whose sharp claws and teeth we only knew too well :-) xxx

  6. Happiest of anniversaries to you both!
    That first dress is lovely, such a great pattern and I can see you getting lots of wear out of your sales bargain orange skirt, very clever to spot the orange highlights in the green blouse, too.
    Park Den Brandt looks lovely. The white house shimmering behind the grass reminds me of Capability Brown's style of garden design and I love Jos peeping out of the porthole in the wall. The Buddha is lovely.
    That's a fanrtastic shot of Bess, the ferocious beast that she is.
    Great scores in the charity shops and I'm keen to know how ou get on with those intruiging pillows! xxx

    1. Thank you Vix! There's an English style garden at Den Brandt, so I'm sure Capability Brown's influence isn't far off. The pillows are great, quite an improvement on our old worn out IKEA ones! xxx

  7. The pickings in your shops are far better than ours Ann, or at least our area.
    If I was slimmer I’d say put the Froy & Lind frock on my pile but there’s no way I’d fit into it. I’ve put a stone on since everyone opened up again. I was fine during lockdown haha.
    I’d love to see the Buddha and leave a little offering. Thanks for the outing xxx

    1. Picking aren't always this great here either, I'm afraid.
      As for putting on weight post-Lockdown, I am definitely hearing you. All the inches I've lost during lockdown are back, and they've brought their friends :-) xxx

  8. Love both outfits and both orange cardigans! (it's also a favourite colour of mine!). That mirror-print dress is particularly fabulous and you rock it with those beautiful brooches and cute coat!. Looking cosy and elegant!
    No wonder you took advantage of the sales to purchase this lovely skirt, its colour and texture are amazing!. Love it with the geometric printed blouse and the fab cardi!. Totally fabulous ensemble!
    Always enjoy some photos of your walks, the light and clouds, the semi-hidden details, the architecture, everything looks fascinating!
    Finally, Congrats on your Anniversary!, lovely that you decided to splash out in some quality things that you're going to use everyday (actually every night!). I'm also a side sleeper, so considering that pillow!, it looks really interesting!
    Sending cuddles to Bess too!

    1. Thank you Monica! I should really wear that mirror-print dress more often, but you know, too many clothes too little time :-) xxx

  9. I've made three attempts to sit and read your blog in recent days and each time, I've been interrupted. Third time lucky! I can see why your green print dress is such a favourite and although I don't really wear brooches, I could be converted, judging by the cat and bird brooch you selected as accessories. I enjoyed taking a walk with you, as usual and it was nice to see a bit of blue sky and the serene Buddha. We have Storm Dudley heading our way this week and there is little in the way of sunshine here! Yet again, you've scored some brilliant items from the charity shops - love the knee high socks, the funky tights and the Bakelite bracelet. I'm desperate to get out to one of my favourite charity shop towns. Fingers crossed for some time this week. Bess is looking sleepy. Has she been partying too much? xxx

    1. Oh dear, I'm glad you finally managed it Claire!
      Weren't those storms absolutely horrendous? We had a lucky escape but there was a lot of storm damage elsewhere. Bess always needs her naps after playing her rough games :-) xxx

  10. P.S. A very Happy Anniversary to you both! xxx

  11. If you're dreaming that the world has been in a pandemic state for two years, I hate to break it to you...(lol).

    Ah, this post is so lovely, Ann, as are you in your fabulous outfits! I gasped aloud at that first dress - what a stunner that is!

    I very much enjoyed your pictures from your walk and I always note how similar our vegetation is!

    Aw, Bess is such a ferocious beast!

    Love your new faux suede orange midi skirt - fantastic colour and you had me at "generous pockets"! Such a great match with the wisp of orange in your new-to-you (but same shop!) blouse.

    What good finds you had on your shop! I love finding dead-stock tights and hosiery - such good deals to be had (I've found Wolford for only $1.50!).

    Happy 27th Anniversary, Jos and Ann! I hope you have many more years of good times together. :)

    1. That was quite a rude awakening :-) I'm so behind with replying to comments that I've only just realized the date: little did we know that worse was about to cross our paths! xxx

  12. Happy 27th anniversary!

    Your new skirt is very cool and I loved the stripey cardigan with it. I also loved the groovelicious first dress; what a gorgeous colour combination. The orange cardigan looked lovely with it. Great chazza finds especially the Bakelite bangle and the beaded brooch. The tights were a fabulous find!

    Bess looks as if she is having a good old belly laugh...

    Hope you have a great week,

    1. Thank you Vronni! I just couldn't resist those tights, and I gasped when I spotted the Bakelite bangle. It's such a thrill when charity shops do not spot treasure! xxx

  13. I really love that first dress, it's so pretty with the orange cardigan! And I love the orange again in the second outfit with the green, it's a fun combination and one I like when I wear and so really need to wear more often! :)

    It's good to see what luck you had thrifting too!

    Hope your week is off to a good start! Another wet week here :)

    Away From The Blue

  14. I've got rid of my pillow completely. :-) Sweet dreams!

    xxx Regula

    1. Oh, I definitely couldn't sleep without a pillow! xxx

  15. If, off in the far distance, you just hear a distinct thud sound, that was my jaw plummeting to the ground regarding your magnificent find of that incredibly well priced Bakelite bralette.

    Around these parts, finding Bakelite in the wild for next to nothing is about as common as spotting a unicorn. It has happened to be here and there over the years (find Bakelite, not seeing unicorns, that is :D), but those occasions just keep getting fewer and further apart.

    That really is your thrift/charity shop find of the month - if not, potentially, all of 2022, if you as me.

    Congratulations both on it and each of the other fantastic pieces that came your way that day. I adore your new burnt orange hued skirt as well.

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

    1. I've only got a handful of Bakelite bangles, all thrifted for next to nothing. I really couldn't justify the extortionate prices they usually go for. I had a giggle at your unicorn remark, particularly as I almost bought a unicorn print blouse earlier today :-) xxx

  16. A belated happy anniversary to you Ann :) xXx