The month of March has come at last, alas not bringing Springtime weather with her just yet. The days keep getting off to a frosty start, but if we are in luck and the sun deigns to make an appearance, it does warm up a bit by midday. Those sunny spells are mostly short-lived, though, the sun's absence making Winter drag its feet, leaving us with leaden skies and an unwelcome biting wind blowing straight from the East.
At least the days are getting longer in leaps and bounds, so that I'm no longer leaving the house and returning home in the dark!
But wait, I haven't finished telling you about the rest of February yet, so let's get this post moving shall we?
Arriving back home from our Bruges escapade on Saturday 18 February, we both felt a bit gloomy. Our maudlin moods, however, were swiftly lifted by being reunited with Bess. She was clearly overjoyed to have us back and demanded that we make up for lost time and missed cuddles!
The rest of the weekend was spent with, in no particular order, getting in some food, unpacking, doing a load of washing, uploading 300+ photos, catching up with blogland and mentally preparing myself for the ordeal of going back to work on Monday. The latter, I hasten to add, wasn't nearly as stressful as I'd expected. In fact, the rest of the week was quite uneventful, the days dismal and grey, with moderate highs of 8-10°C. Apart from a lunch break visit to my hairdresser on Wednesday, there was nothing worthy of a journal entry to break up the monotony of a February working week.
Still, I breathed a sigh of relief when Friday 24 February - the start of another three-day weekend - rolled along. However, the weather gods were once again adamant to spoil the fun by throwing in some rain in the afternoon. Without even a smidgen of sunshine, it felt quite a bit cooler than the 8°C shown on the thermometer.
I spent some time playing around with my wardrobe, taking out a handful of dresses which still remain unworn this season. My final choice was this vintage frock with its groovilicious green, orange and brown pattern. Although lined, going it alone was no option, so I layered a long-sleeved brown t-shirt underneath.
The dress is a tiny bit baggy if worn unbelted, so I added a chocolate brown belt with a chunky buckle to define my waist.
I picked up the orange in the dress's pattern with my cardigan (charity shopped King Louie), opaques (retail) and beaded necklace (found in a Welsh antiques centre). The orange flower brooch was a gift from Kezzie
, and a very welcome one as my collection was seriously lacking in interesting orange brooches.
My tall green boots were one of my best charity shop finds ever, in December 2019.
And speaking of charity shops, that's exactly what was on our agenda that day. It was Friday after all, and we hadn't been for a rummage for weeks.
As usual, we visited two shops, this time opting for the two-storey one in Mechelen and the three-storey one near the park in Duffel, which are about 8 kilometers apart. No such thing as a string of smaller town centre shops here, our charity shops are all of the large, edge-of-town variety!
The first shop yielded the red ankle boots and the flowy floral skirt (below, top left and right) and while the latter was a random find, I had been looking for a pair of red ankle boots in my size for absolutely ages!
The second shop's booty included a vintage red tartan coat (my star find!), a prairie-style blouse and a purple and brown tartan midi skirt.
Fast forward to Saturday, when the sun kept playing hide and seek with the clouds which were propelled along by a strong wind and carried random showers.
With the temperature stuck at around 7°C I needed the warmth of this knit dress of many colours, charity shopped almost exactly a year ago to the date.
Again, I layered a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath. I've got a whole stash of these in a rainbow of colours, which I'm keeping mainly for this purpose. It's been many a year since I last wore a plain t-shirt on its own.
Although I didn't have one which matched any of the dress's colours exactly, I decided that the yellow one made the grade, particularly when paired with the suede belt I picked up from an outlet shop back in October.
Mustard beads, burnt orange opaques and a green enamelled brooch with a posy of multi-coloured pansies were my dress's other companions. I'm pretty sure I wore a cardigan on top, my chunky knit long-line orange one if my memory serves me right, but in our haste we forgot to include it in the outfit photos.
As we were adamant to go for a walk, we kept one eye on the weather, which was as fickle as an April day's. In fact, even while we were picking up our car and driving towards our destination, we'd been treated to one or two sunny spells and a brief shower.
Our destination, of course, was our beloved Middelheim, the sculpture park. No surprises there! Although on second thought, there were several of them, as they are doing a major reshuffle and some of our favourites seemed to have disappeared into thin air.
Nevertheless, the sculpture named Grosse Badende (Great Bather), dating from 1971 and by German sculptor, artist and writer Wieland Förster (Dresden, 1930), was still voluptuously sunbathing at the edge of the lake, unperturbed by the resident geese which were making quite a racket behind her.
Taking a shortcut through the leaf-strewn lawn, we soon came face to face with Winged Form (1964). This artwork is by yet another German sculptor, Friederich Werthmann (1927-2018), who created his first abstract sculptures in wood and stone in 1950. He became a member of Gruppe 53, pioneers of avant-garde art in Germany. From 1957 onwards he worked exclusively with steel. His sculptures consist of hundreds of parts, which appear to have been thrown into the air and become frozen in time.
The poor thing seemed to have lost some of its feathers, though ... And look at that patch of blue sky which had suddenly appeared out of nowhere!
On and on we walked towards our final goal, the open-air depot at the edge of the park.
We met a girl carrying a rather scruffy handbag, but I forgot to ask her name. No chance of searching the online collection either, as sadly the site has been down for weeks.
Before crossing the Bridge Without a Name by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, we came across a garden inspired installation (below, top right and bottom left and right). Again, I'll have to take note of its name and creator on our next visit.
Upon reaching the open-air depot, I made a beeline for one of my all-time favourites, the column shaped house of mirrors, Kolom (above, top left), created by Belgian artist Felix Roulin (Dinant, 1931) in 1975. It's not displayed at its advantage here, but then again it - together with many others - is only being stored here temporarily while the sculpture park is undergoing its metamorphosis.
I couldn't place the guy on the bottom centre, so I'm not sure of his former location, but the art installation called Beam Drop Antwerp (above, top centre) by US performance artist Chris Burden (1946-2015) has been there since its creation in 2009.
And then there are the open-air depot habitués, side-lined and retired sculptures which, in their prime, used to grace the city's squares and parks. Seemingly thrown together willy-nilly, they have become permanent residents here. Some of them rest on rickety pallets and there is a definite air of unease among them as they await their fate.
I always linger the longest in this atmospheric corner of the park, and here I was taking one more photograph before backing away and beating a hasty retreat to our car. We had barely made it when the dark and foreboding clouds started pelting us with big fat raindrops.
We finally woke up to some sunshine on Sunday, but with an overnight frost and highs of barely 5°C, not to mention an icy wind, it was pretty cold outside.
As we would be spending the day indoors, I took a chance and plucked this black Diolen blouse patterned with tan and teal flowers from my wardrobe's shelves. Again, a long-sleeved t-shirt, this time in a matching teal, was worn underneath. When I repeated the outfit on Monday, I replaced the t-shirt with a polo neck in the same colour, which was infinitely more suitable to combat the cold.
The wool knit skirt with its gorgeous green, blue and turquoise jacquard pattern is by the sustainable German Hess Natur label and was a Think Twice sales bargain in November 2019.
The mock croc belt and matching boots were both retail buys, as was the faux fur cropped gilet, a fast fashion find which has been gracing my wardrobe for an absolute eternity. The aqua beads are H&M by way of a charity shop, while the faux Lea Stein cat brooch was a flea market find.
We were having a get-together with our neighbour Karin, who lives a couple of houses away. We've been passing the time of day with her for years, but only got to know each other properly when she looked after Bess for a week last June. She absolutely loves animals, and Bess clearly loved her too, as we got photos of her sitting on Karin's lap while we were on holiday.
We had originally planned our get-together during the Christmas holidays, but had to cancel due to that pesky flu I was plagued with.
Although we'd been invited to her place, we had promised her we'd make scones, which we did that morning. Helped by paws-on Bess, obviously, so that we couldn't vouch for the absence of itinerant cat hair. Anyway, they were declared delicious, and we'd even got our hands on some clotted cream to go with them.