January's second week brought a string of wet and miserable days, culminating in a stormy Thursday, when the rain lashed against the office windows all day and the wind tugged at my umbrella on my way to and from work, trying its best to blow it inside out. I'd come prepared though, having had the presence of mind to carry my storm umbrella, but it was still a bit of a struggle not to be carried up and away, Mary Poppins-style.
The week, with the run-up to the office move on Friday, continued to be full of hurdles. The electrician only finished his job on Thursday afternoon. At that moment, there was still no sign of the handyman we'd engaged to assemble the IKEA furniture and who was supposed to come on Wednesday. Then it transpired that our bosses had forgotten to contact the IT guys, who were meant to work their magic once the equipment had been moved on Friday. The latter only came to light on Wednesday, when we asked at what time we could expect them. As by then they were fully booked for Friday, they were only be able to come on Monday, as a result of which we'd be losing another half day of work.
I always had my suspicions that moving on Friday the 13th wasn't the brightest idea!
Anyway, I'm backtracking to Wednesday the 11th, when the weather gods had apparently overslept and forgot to turn on the rain machine in the morning. As it was still dry, with the odd sunny spell, by lunch time, I fled the chaos of the office for a spot of second-hand shopping.
My first port of call was the vintage per kilo shop, where I was seduced into purchasing two frocks. The first of these, a blue floral hand-made affair, was missing one of its buttons. As those which were still present were of the boring variety, I didn't really mind, as I knew my stash of vintage buttons would be able to come to the rescue. I think these black and white moulded flower ones couldn't have been better suited.
I was instantly transported back to the 1980s when I plucked the second dress from the rails, falling in love with its red and blue pattern on a speckled grey background, its row of asymmetrically placed blue buttons and its gathered sleeves ending in deep cuffs fastening with a row of three buttons.
From the vintage per kilo shop I walked to the nearest Think Twice one, where sales prices had dropped to € 4, and I found this wide blue, burgundy, green and yellow tartan skirt. Unfortunately, my camera and the ongoing dark and dismal weather conspired against showing its colours to full effect.
On Friday, moving day had come at last and it was every bit as chaotic as I'd feared. The handyman arrived just before the moving guys did and, while the latter were bringing over the curated contents of the temporary office next door, the former managed to assemble one IKEA desk and two office chairs before rushing off to another job elsewhere in the building, promising to come back on Monday. They were all gone by midday, leaving our desks adrift in an ocean of boxes. After eating the sandwiches Jos had lovingly made for me that morning, unpacking the contents of my desk and putting everything in its right place, I decided to call it a day and go home.
The rain, which had held off until mid-afternoon on Friday, returned with a vengeance and presented us with yet another rainy and windy day on Saturday the 14th. Not even the fairly reasonable 12°C shown on the thermometer could redeem the utter miserableness of the day.
Having finally finished the book I'd been struggling with since the Christmas break, I started book # 1 of 2023, The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory, which had me hooked from page 1. I somehow lost my reading mojo last year, but I'm determined to do better. If only I didn't fall asleep after half a page while reading in bed!
By now, even Bess was getting fed up with the continuous rain, as it kept the birds from visiting the feeder hanging from the awning just outside our back door. She is, by the way, one of those rare cats who doesn't make that typical "ekekek" sound when spotting birds or other wildlife. She just watches them raptly, eyes big as saucers, from the kitchen window.
When the rainclouds finally took a little breather after lunch, we quickly put on our coats, grabbed an umbrella and walked to the garage to pick up our car.
Then, before dashing off to the charity shops for a rummage, we made use of the communal garage's white painted brick wall to show you what I was wearing that day.
You've already caught a glimpse of my skirt, an old favourite from Think Twice in a grey wool-blend fabric criss-crossed with red, green, white and yellow stripes.
My multicoloured striped jumper, originally from New Look, was charity shopped, as was the mustard long-line cardi and the black and white beaded necklace. The black stretchy belt with its square buckle was last year's high street buy, while the delightful grey cat brooch with its orange ears and eyes, was a gift from Kezzie
when we met up in Antwerp in February last year.
I mentioned charity shops, but we actually only visited one. I left Jos in the cafeteria with a cup of coffee and and a book while I happily browsed the clothing aisles. The two long-sleeves blouses on the left are all that remained in my basket after a trying on session, as I sadly had to leave behind a gorgeous blue tweed skirt, which was slightly too snug, and a Morris & Co. x H&M tunic/dress, which turned out to be bit on the roomy side.
After joining Jos, I made one more foray, into the bookshelves this time, where I happened upon another Philippa Gregory.
On our way home, we stopped at the pet shop for cat food. At the same time, we checked out their display of scratching and climbing posts, as it was clear that Bess was missing the excitement provided by the Christmas tree. She started investigating the post we brought home as soon as we put it down next to her old one and is now happily using a combination of both. What's more, we got it for a bargainous price as it was the last one in stock, plus, being an ex-display model, we didn't even have to assemble it!
We woke up to sunny spells on Sunday, but it was quite stormy, which made it feel much colder than the 8°C it actually was.
I picked this charity shopped vintage dress because of its generous wool content but ditched its self-fabric belt complete with Bakelite buckle in favour of this olive green leather one. More olive green was added with the vintage beaded necklace, which was another charity shop find. The burgundy ceramic leaping deer brooch was a flea market find, its colour tying in with the dress's pattern, as did my chunky ring.
You'll have to take my word for it, but I was wearing olive green opaques as well.
Layered on top was a greyish green "hairy" cardigan from Belgian label Thelma & Louise, which yet again was charity shopped.
Blue skies still reigned when we set off to our chosen destination, Middelheim, late morning. The icy wind chill factor made us do a detour to Dove cottage after making outfit photos at the garage, so that I could exchange the coat and scarf I was initially wearing for significantly warmer ones. Consequently, it was almost 11.30 before we parked our car near Middelheim's main entrance.
With the art park currently in the process of a reshuffle, which is expected to be finished by the end of the year, more and more empty plinths appear with each visit and it is rather disconcerting to find some of our favourites missing, even if only temporarily.
The guy on the bottom right was still in his usual place, part of a row of busts you meet when walking along the main avenue into the park. Admittedly, he seemed to be quite confused by the appearance of what is looking like a work-in-progress (top left) and the strange object (top right) suspended from the trees nearby.
The metal scrolls on the bottom left have been living in the park for an eternity, and as far as I know they are still in the same position. Unfortunately I cannot tell you their name or creator, as I forgot to take note and I wasn't able to access the online collection.
The strange elongated creatures on the bottom left are an enigma as well, but the peep-hole sculpture (top left and bottom right) is called O Indio e a Suassuaparà. Dating from 1951, it is by the Italian-Brazilian sculptor Victor Brecheret (1894-1955).
Nobody was home at No. 3 of this make-believe street, which obviously is another work of art. Its name is Surroundings (1972-73) and its creator is the Italian artist Alik Cavaliere (1926-1998).
My camera must have snapped hundreds of photos of the Braem Pavillion over the years. Designed in 1963 in Organic Brutalist style by Renaat Braem, who is considered one of the most important representatives of post-war architecture in Belgium, it was inaugurated in 1971.
The sun was doing her usual disappearance act by the time we finished our walk, and the wind was getting wilder by the minute, so that, just like the girl called April (1959) by by Belgian sculptor Mark Macken (1913-1977), I had to hold on to my hat!