Wednesday, 22 March 2023

And still the pensive Spring returns

I was feeling somewhat lightheaded from the overdose of fresh Spring air when we returned from our waterlogged walk on Saturday before last. In fact, I kept nodding off in the car on our way back, so Jos dropped me off at Dove Cottage and, while he ran an errand and returned the car to the garage, I had forty winks on the sofa. Bess wasted no time in joining me and, struck by the perfect harmony of her eyes and my tights, I quickly grabbed my phone and snapped this picture.

The remainder of the day was spent reading, catching up with blogland and, after our evening meal - Dove Cottage's version of Chili con Carne, if you're wondering - watching an old episode of Midsomer Murders. 

On Sunday - we noted the 12th of March by then - Saturday's blue skies had reverted to grey again. Nevertheless, the mercury eventually climbed into the double digits, although the rain which followed in the afternoon soon made us forget the previous day's attempt at Springtime.

Browns and blues were the main ingredients of the day's outfit, which consisted of a mix of vintage, charity shopped and the odd high street purchase.

My skirt, with its brown, black, grey and white chevron pattern, was a Think Twice find back in October 2020, while the chocolate brown blouse with its crazy multi-coloured print was an earlier purchase from one of their shops. 

The charity shop goddesses recently provided the two-tone blue and tan diamond patterned Zoë Loveborn cardigan and the No Stress caramel suede lace-up ankle boots. The blue beaded necklace and flower corsage were charity shopped as well.

The high street ingredients of my outfit are the turquoise plastic ring, and the stretchy belt with its massive wooden buckle. Oh, and my blue tights, which were a sales bargain from Inno, a chain of Belgian department stores founded in 1897 in Brussels as A l'Innovation

The gloomy, ill-tempered weather kept us inside for the day, but as usual, I had no problem keeping myself occupied. My journal tells me that I washed my hair, assembled some possible outfits for the week ahead, did a minor repair on a dress and continued my wardrobe purge by filling another bag for charity and putting aside a pile of items to be sold at this year's flea market. 

Assisted by the ever helpful Bess, we changed the bed sheets, using the William Morris-style duvet cover and pillow cases which ended up in our IKEA shopping bag for the first time.

After a thorough quality check, it seemed to meet our funny feline's approval.

I also finished my latest read, Alice Hoffman's The Third Angel, which I picked up from a second hand book shop during lunch break the other week.

So far, I've read a dozen or more books by her, loving the elements of magic realism which are such an integral part of her novels. However, I'm still on the fence about this one. Somehow, it didn't grip me as much as some of her earlier works, such as her well-known 1995 novel Practical Magic, Second Nature (1998), Blue Diary (2001), The Probable Future (2004) and Blackbird House (2005).

And so another weekend had come and gone, with another working week waiting in the wings. But even those tend to pass by in a blur, the days akin to the wagons of a high speed train. I don't know what's happening to the passing of time lately, but I wouldn't at all be surprised if someone has been fiddling with the hands of the universal clock. I'm waking up, bleary-eyed, on Monday, and then - woosh! - it's Thursday again, and time to wave the office goodbye for another 3-day weekend.

It had been a week of ups and downs in terms of weather, the days only having had a chilly start in common, but varying from sunny, with highs effortlessly reaching the mid-teens, to grey and rainy, with the mercury not even climbing into the double digits.

Thursday the 16th of March fell into the former category, with glorious all-day sunshine, and it's on days like these that the light noticeably lingers longer.  Cue the first of the after-work outfit photos of the year!

Apart from my necklace and brooch, which were a charity shop and a flea market find respectively, all I was wearing that day was bought brand new. 

The rust coloured faux-suede paperbag waist skirt was a sales bargain, bought at 70% off in January 2022, while the blue blouse with its purple stripy print, from the defunct Belgian Wow To Go label, was snapped up from an outlet shop back in November. Finally, the zebra striped belt was a cheeky retail buy a couple of years ago. One of my favourites, it has definitely earned its place in my wardrobe by now!

I was happy to see that several of the dwarf Irises (Iris reticulata) whose bulbs I tucked into the kitchen window box at the end of December had decided to show their pretty little faces. I swear that only days ago, there wasn't even a flower bud to be spied. Aren't they absolutely gorgeous?

Friday saw a repeat of Thursday's gorgeous weather, and in spite of the fact that a light layer of cloud briefly obscured the sun once or twice, the mercury effortlessly climbed to 17°C.

I was raring to go outside and into the garden to make a start with the gargantuan task of spring-cleaning our little plot. So far, the weather and my mood - but mostly the weather! - had conspired against doing anything but the very bare necessities. It hasn't really helped that the little paved courtyard at the back of our garden is looking like a junkyard of garden waste bags and discarded pots, hastily moved there when our neighbour started work on the infamous wall. 

I chose to ignore the latter for now, and cut back, pruned and filled up our compost bin with garden waste for the better part of two hours.

In spite of the self-confessed neglect, our garden is slowly but surely coming to life, with new green shoots seemingly appearing overnight. Our ancient Spirea shrub, planted in our first Spring at Dove Cottage, is full of tiny flower buds (above, top right). And I couldn't believe my eyes when I spotted several Snakeshead Fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris, bottom left) about to burst into flower. Only one Daffodil though ...

Task finished, I changed out of my gardening gear and into this dotty Diolen delight. An old Think Twice bargain, I was surprised to find I hadn't worn it at all last year. A big mistake, surely, as with its joyous multi-coloured dots it's the perfect mood booster on the gloomiest of days!

I paid tribute to the green dots with my opaques, ring and carved heart brooch, the latter bought in Cardigan on one of our last Welsh holidays. My pink, charity shopped, beaded necklace matched the pink dots exactly.

Of course, no Friday would be complete without a rummage at the charity shops, so that was our afternoon sorted.

Our first stop was at the Oxfam shop in Wilrijk, which isn't on one of our regular charity shop itineraries, and therefore often forgotten about. In fact, our last visit dated from October.

I ummed and ahed about a chambray skirt and a chunky aqua long-line cardigan, both of which were put back on the rails.

But then I spotted this coat! And no, I definitely don't need another coat, nor do I usually like Desigual very much. But what can I say? I fell head over heels and even more so when I tried it on and it turned out to be a perfect fit. What's more, it was on the half-price rail, so I couldn't hand over its € 15 asking price fast enough. 

Next, I took pity on this snakeskin bag. It's not in the best of conditions, but it's the real thing, and I couldn't bear thinking of what would happen to it if I didn't take it home. I happily paid € 8 for this.

At our most local charity shop, I purchased this handmade fluted navy and green pin-striped midi skirt. I couldn't get it to look right in my photos, as neither my phone's camera nor my Sony Cybershot seemed to be up to the job, particularly on the gloomy Saturday morning I tackled the task. It does look quite a bit greener in real life.

A dark red belt, Gustav Klimt spectacles case and gold-tone and faux tortoiseshell chain belt landed in my trolley as well. They are displayed on a tartan garment, which I couldn't get Angelica to pose for you. No fear, though, I will do the job myself in my next post ...

My final purchase was plucked from the bookshelves: The Gardens of Emily Dickinson by Judith Farr.
The book highlights the poet's passion for gardening. As I love both her poetry and gardening, this will be a book to regularly dip into.

* Post title taken from Emily's Dickinson's poem Snowdrops in Spring

Friday, 17 March 2023

Walking on water

Remember the wicker basket that followed me home from the last flea market? I am truly a sucker for them as, in spite of the not insignificant number already cluttering up Dove Cottage's spare room, I cannot seem to stop picking them up whenever the opportunity presents itself.

The largest of my baskets are true workhorses and have been roped in as storage for belts, scarves and holiday brochures, to name but a few. In fact, my latest buy has already been put to work and is currently holding my stash of long-sleeved t-shirts. The others, unfortunately, were crammed into every available nook and cranny, so that sadly enough it was a case of out of sight, out of mind! 

Note my use of the past tense, though, as on Friday last week - we were the 10th of March by then - I woke up with a fully formed idea: what if I displayed them on a coat stand? Not wanting to be left deflated by a long-winded and possibly fruitless search in the charity shops, I went online and searched IKEA's website. And hey presto, there it was: I instantly fell for its classic design and, what's more, I knew that the sturdy steel it was made of would most definitely be up to the job.


So, right after lunch that day, we did something we hadn't done in well over ten years. We went to our nearest IKEA store. We expected it to be a lot busier, but apparently we'd picked the right time of day, as it was actually quite alright. 

By the time we'd paid for our purchases (almost inevitably, we also ended up buying a couple of smaller things, such as some laundry bags and a new laundry basket) the weather, which had been reasonably sunny, with 10°C, had changed for the worse. Strong gusts of wind were rattling the IKEA flag poles in the parking lot, and I had to hold on to my beret and scarf to keep them from making their escape. The temperature had dropped several degrees as well, and would be more than halved by the end of the afternoon. 

But we made it home in one piece and, after Jos had put the thing together and we'd done a reshuffle in our bedroom to make space, I had fun collecting all my baskets and arranging an eye-pleasing display.

As a bonus, here are some of the baskets in my collection. All but one in the above collage were charity shop finds - the one on the top left was picked up in Bridgnorth, Shropshire in 2018 - but I bought the green-striped and raffia embellished beauty from a vintage shop which unfortunately is no longer trading.

Both the crab basket on the top right and the tourist souvenir basket which probably started its life in Menorca (bottom left) were charity shopped as well, the latter quite recently last November. I'm in a quandary about the origins of the other two, though. I seem to remember that one of them - I think the blue one - came from Think Twice, but my mind draws a blank for the yellow one.

By now, the weather had deteriorated even further, the temperature slowly but surely making its way towards freezing point and with rain followed by sleet and hail lashing our windows.

As weather conditions prevented us from taking outfit photos, I decided to follow in Vix's footsteps, and try my hand at a flatlay, for which I used the only uncluttered bit of floor space in our bedroom.

The dress, which is a rich chocolate brown rather than black, is vintage and another Think Twice purchase. The label reads Ralph dress, and proclaims it was made in West Germany. The three buttons at the cuffs echo those decorating each shoulder. 

Picking up the colours of the floral pattern, I added a turquoise belt and orange beaded necklace, then layered it with a blue, charity shopped Zoë Loveborn cardigan with orange buttons, to which I pinned the orange flower brooch which was a gift from Kezzie.

Saturday's weather was the complete opposite of Friday's, having a frosty start but, courtesy of the delicious all-day sunshine, warming up to a reasonable 7°C during the day.

It was still chilly enough to wear this as yet unworn pink and green patterned wool-blend dress. Charity shopped back in October, it's from the French Le Gaillard label, its shoulder pads a testimony to the 80s. 

I enhanced the green bits in the dress's pattern by adding a stretchy belt, ring, necklace and huge bird-on-a-branch brooch in shades of my favourite colour. 

Note that, in anticipation of the afternoon's adventure, I was already wearing my chocolate brown, fleece lined walking boots. Although, in hindsight, I would have been better off wearing a pair of wellies!

The weather gods having conspired against us somewhat lately, we hadn't ventured any further than the cluster of city parks in the last couple of months. This time, however, the capricious deities were kind enough to treat us to a sky painted the most delicate of blues rippled with whirls of white cloud.

Our destination for the afternoon, a leisurely drive of about half an hour from home, were the enchanting wetlands known as Blaasveldbroek. 

Regular readers of my blog are well acquainted with this magical place, as they've tagged along on my walks here at least a dozen of times in the past 7 years. It's an all-seasons favourite whenever the weather allows, but my blog tells me we hadn't been here since November. 

The relentless rainfall of the intervening months had turned this watery paradise, most of which is a mere two to three metres above sea level, into a half-drowned landscape. The jetty I am standing on was almost level with the mirror-like water of the pond so that it felt as if I was walking on water.

Creatures of habit, we almost always do the same circuit, skirting the big pond the jetty juts out into, and then taking a left turn towards the heart of the domain. 

Imagine our dismay when we found the path partly submerged by floodwater (below, top left). We briefly considered trying to navigate the puddles by walking on the grass edges, but these turned out to be saturated by flood water as well. Not surprisingly, as the path is hemmed in by swollen brooks on both sides. 

There was nothing for it but to continue walking straight on along a winding path which would eventually take us to Hazewinkel, a 2000 meter rowing and regatta course. In order to re-enter the domain without retracing one's steps, there's a rather boring walk on a long and straight concrete path along the water's edge, which is why we tend to avoid taking this route at all. 

It's a shame, really, as before reaching the course, the woodland path meanders through an otherworldly, almost primordial landscape, eerily quiet in spite of the fact that it isn't all that far from what we call, for want of a better word, civilization. There's an orchestra of birdsong, and a frog chorus in season, the rhythm section supplied by the resident woodpeckers.

The woodland floor was submerged here, some of the trees left stranded on islands in an impenetrable swamp. And no, there was no need for the No Entrance sign at the bottom left, as we would have been rooted to the spot by tangles of brambles, if the marshy underground hadn't got to us first. The No Entrance signs, by the way, are placed at regular intervals to protect the kingdom of fauna and flora, which are the true rulers here.

Eventually, the course, and its boring concrete path was reached. Apart from a single rower, the expanse of water was empty, just the sky reflected in the water which was gaily festooned with the red and yellow buoys marking the lanes. 

When the exit into the domain beckoned, we walked along a broad semi-surfaced woodland path which took us to the heart of the domain, the delightfully named otter and beaver island.

Here we sat ourselves down on one of the available picnic benches for a breather, just sitting and staring and eating the waffles we'd brought with us, before continuing our journey.

On the final stretch of our walk, before we rejoined our car, we passed a large expanse of meadowland which was completely waterlogged except for the narrow path bisecting it. 

It looked for all the world as if the cotton wool clouds were caught in the grasses and reeds which were desperately trying to keep their heads above water.

And I think I finally caught one of those elusive marsh spirits on camera ...

Sunday, 12 March 2023


Once again, the weather was nothing  much to write home about in the first weekend of March. If we'd been treated to a handful of cold yet gorgeously sunny days earlier that week, any hints of imminent Springtime had dwindled away by Friday.

Without the sun to warm both our bodies and the cockles of our hearts the days were dismal and depressing and, although the temperatures were well above freezing point, it required a bit of an effort  to step outside for outfit photos. Perhaps Vix's idea of making flatlays isn't such a bad one!

However, I decided to be a diligent blogger, so here is what I was wearing on Friday.

I based my outfit around the purple and tan tartan skirt I'd charity shopped the other week, combining it with two of my wardrobe stalwarts. The purple polo neck is an old retail buy which, at a rough guess, I've had for close to fifteen years. After hot flushes prevented me from wearing my polo necks for years, they have recently made a comeback. In fact, this one's previous outing only dates from January.

The dusty pink blouse with its wide wing collar is vintage, found at a sorely missed vintage shop back in 2015.  It is patterned with a sprinkling of plum and orange flowers and diamonds and closes with a row of bright orange buttons.  

I picked green for an extra pop of colour, adding a stretchy belt with round faux-tortoiseshell buckle bought retail a couple of years ago and a necklace found on a flea market just before the first Lockdown. The flapper girl in my brooch, which was another flea market find, is wearing a green turban for good measure. 

In fact, I was wearing forest green suede boots as well, but the darkness of the day didn't allow them to photograph well. 

The day's charity shop trawl - well, that's what Fridays are for, aren't they - took us to the shops in Mortsel and Lier, and once again I was in luck.

Both the blue, yellow and white zig-zag top with a bit of sparkle, and the one with its feathery grey, yellow and aqua pattern, have been put away for Summer. The former is from an unknown to me Belgian label called She Goes Lala, while the latter is from Mayerline, which is Belgian too.

For the skirts we are travelling to the UK and the Netherlands respectively. The navy pleated skirt with its baroque pattern is Marks and Spencer's St. Michael, and the teal one with its ditsy print is King Louie, Another one which slipped through the cracks and didn't end up on the posh label rails, I am pleased to add.

Back to Belgium with the eye-confusingly patterned polo neck from Terre Bleue, then straight on to the US, where the label was founded in 1968, for the chunky knit tan Esprit cardigan.

The bookshelves didn't disappoint either, making my reading pile,which is in danger of toppling over, even higher.

Flanking the Taschen book on 15th Century paintings are a novel by Julia Glass, whose Three Junes I enjoyed reading in August 2021, and Sweet Caress by William Boyd, a book I admit to initially choosing for its cover, but which promises to be a great read.

There was no improvement on the weather front on Saturday, but we didn't let the minor issue of the day's grey skies spoil the first of the anniversaries my post title is referring to. Indeed, on the 4th of March we celebrated the fact that our fabulously fluffy, fierce and funny Bess came into our lives exactly two years ago! And how she's changed from that scaredy scrap of a thing that hid under the cupboard for two whole days and remained the seldom seen cat for weeks!

The day didn't prompt us to engage in any outdoor activities so, as an anniversary present to Bess, we stayed with her all day, most of which she spent lying sprawled out on our laps.

But that didn't mean I was completely idle! According to my journal, I washed my hair, did a wardrobe purge resulting in a huge bag for charity, uploaded some photos, caught up with blogland and cleaned and rearranged the items living on top of our bathroom cabinet. Hello vintage loo rolls (bottom left) and oh, I'd completely forgotten about those Avon flower soaps!

Saturday's outfit consisted of a diamond patterned blouse picked up in the newly opened Think Twice shop in Antwerp back in February, paired with an Essentiel Antwerp skirt charity shopped in March 2022. I ditched the latter's self-fabric belt in favour of a multicoloured pleated leather one. As most of my belts were charity shop finds I presume this one was too, but I can't remember buying it al all. 

The orange wooden beads were charity shopped as well, while the brooch was a flea market find last month. My tall red boots also followed me home from a flea market. In fact, the only retail buy in my outfit - apart from my tights and underwear - was the ring!

As I was making my way back inside after our photo session, I noticed some big fat buds (bottom right) in our Hydrangea. We initially thought that the poor shrub hadn't survived the "wall massacre", so we were delighted to find that it was alive after all. Still wearing my non-garden proof outfit, I threw my orange knitted poncho on top, and gave the shrub its annual haircut, pruning each stem back to the lowest healthy looking bud. I also removed at least four empty bags which were hidden in its heart, abandoned by our heartless neighbour.

The Sarcococca (Winter Box, top right) outside our back door has finally opened its non-descript yet strongly scented flowers, the last of the Snowdrops at the back of the garden are delighting us with their shy, dainty flowers, and there's new growth in the potted Euphorbia in the passageway. It's not all bad news in our sorry excuse for a garden.

And then it was Sunday and time for this month's edition of the indoor flea market.

Another grey and sunless day, with temperatures in the mid single digits, it was imperative that we dressed warmly, particularly in view of the erratic nature of the flea market venue's heating.

I don't think I wore my chevron patterned brown and tan knit skirt at all last Winter, so it was definitely due another outing. If my memory serves me right, it was a Think Twice find. This time, it found its perfect companion in the orange polo neck, which I charity shopped in November 2021.

The cropped faux fur gilet I layered on top was a charity shop find too, as was the green mock croc belt, while the Lucite bird brooch was picked up from a flea market. 

Both the necklace, which came from Accessorize who once upon a time used to have a shop in Antwerp, and the ring, were retail buys.

At the flea market, we spent a happy few hours trawling the aisles and perusing the multitude of stalls.

Purchases were made, obviously, although it turns out that we are a lot more fussy than we used to be.

The box of Agfa glass plates (top right) was a no-brainer, however, bought to display with the wooden stereo camera we purchased from a charity shop in November. The plates are all exposed and I managed to photograph one of the negatives by displaying it against our spare room window. I'm left wondering, of course, who these people were and when and where the photographs were taken.

Having been to the factory's visitor centre back in September, the book on the history of Jules Destrooper (top left) was a no-brainer as well. The seller threw in the booklet on the history or Prince biscuits, designed and first sold in Antwerp in 1894 in honour of the Belgian King Leopold II after he visited the pavilion of biscuit manufacturer Edward De Beukelaer at the Exposition Internationale d'Anvers. 

It almost goes without saying that I added to my collection of brooches.

The oval enamelled rose brooch came from a French speaking lady I've bought from many times before and who always gives me a good price, while the flower laden metal wheelbarrow was picked up from a random stall. 

The wooden flower brooch and the smaller, round enamelled roses and rose hips brooch were found at our friend Rita's stall.

The gold-rimmed ceramic flower brooch was my star find, while yet another random stall yielded the jade green celluloid bird brooch and the slightly damaged enamelled feather, both of which went for the silly price of € 3.

The day's final find came from our friend Tania's stall. Can you guess what it is? Well, obviously it isn't the demented looking doll, but the wicker basket! Although I could very well have been sharing the doll's horrified look when I was faced with the lack of space to properly display my ever-growing collection of straw, wicker and rattan baskets ... 

Anyway, that's it for now. Before I leave you, however, I've still got to tell you about the other anniversary, as my post title clearly mentions anniversaries, plural!

Well, Monday the 6th was my blog's 7th anniversary or blogiversary! I can't believe it has been 7 years that I have been sharing my life with you. Blogging has become one of the joys of my life, and I cannot thank each and everyone of you enough for not only putting up with me, but leaving the loveliest of comments on my posts!

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Sculptures and scones

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.