Monday, 23 January 2023

On the move

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!


  1. Great finds at the chazzas and vintage sale. I loved your cat brooch with the orange ears, so much! Loved all the outfits and I agree the buttons from your stash will look fab on the dress.

    The last sculpture was wonderful and I liked your copy cat pose!

    Have a great week.

    1. Thank you Vronni! The cat brooch was a gift from fellow blogger Kezzie! xxx

  2. its a walnut kernel! :-D
    you know i´m a huge fan of your sculpture park walks - wish i had such park at my doorstep too......
    love the dress with the asymetrical button row - it speaks to me late 20s sowjet fashion..... (hard to google, but i have books :-D)
    genius to wear a rainbow on a gray day - you look pretty!

    1. It is indeed, I only realized it after I'd published my post! xxx

  3. Totally understand that you were not feeling happy when having to deal with the move and workers and stuff (which is always stressful!). But I hope that finally everything will work properly and you'll have a shiny new office!
    Both dresses you acquired are really beautiful and love the cute buttons you added to the first one. Love that 80's vibe, very 'nine to five' style dresses!
    Love your criss-crossed skirt (totally a favourite of mine too!): it matches delightfully your striped jumper and the perfect cat brooch!. So fabulous outfit.
    Queen Bess seems to be enjoying her new tower castle of fun!
    (great news that you had not to assembly it!)
    Also lovely last dress with the green details, and always looking fab in your warm coats when going for a walk, comfy and stylish!. Great photos of those sculptures, they don't cease to amaze me!

    1. Gracias Monica! I'm glad the office is finally finished, it definitely is a great improvement from before! xxx

  4. I love the sculptures! How charming the last lady is.
    Bright colours really suit you, your multi coloured striped jumper is perfect on you. I hope that you have recovered from the work move, what a huge drag. I recall having an office move back in the day. We were told not to worry as the caretakers had moved all our stuff for us, yes they had, but they simply dumped everything in huge piles in our new office! As you will imagine it took days to sort everything out.

    1. Thank you Carole! Oh dear, that sounds absolutely awful! xxx

  5. Oh goodness! The weather sounds like it has been awful lately. I'm glad you brought your umbrella at least.

    Wow. It sounds like the office move was really challenging. I can't believe the bosses forgot to reach out to the IT people. What a frustrating situation. You were definitely right: moving on Friday the 13th was not a good idea at all!

    I just love that red and blue patterned dress. What a fabulous piece! It looks beautiful. The skirt you found is stunning as well.

    The Queen's Fool certainly sounds interesting. It is always nice when a book hooks you right away! And I love the pictures you shared. You always visit such extraordinary places! Love that last picture! It is so fun!

    the creation of beauty is art.

    1. Thank you Shannon! It was very frustrating indeed but everything worked out in the end! xxx

  6. Ugh, that sounds like a chaotic move! When we moved our office, I was left without a working laptop for two weeks! It was impossible to do my job - so frustrating. I hope it can settle down for you soon, Ann.

    I'm charmed by that 80s dress - I used to have one very similar in 1984 and wore it with a red leather belt and red court heels. I also had a giant perm, lol!

    Vizzini doesn't make that noise either! Oh, look at Bess conquering her new post! She looks very happy with it!

    I always love seeing pictures of Middleheim - what a gorgeous place. Thank you for sharing it!

    1. Oh my goodness, two weeks without a working laptop sounds beyond frustrating! xxx

  7. At least you have the office move over and done with finally!
    Love the striped top with that cat brooch! Talking of cats, Lotte is also very quiet when observing wildlife through the window...not so much when she brings something inside! Bess looks like she's going to have hours of fun in her new play area!
    I too am reading a Philippa Gregory novel (Tidelands). She's very good isn't she? I'm the same as you though, often too tired to get through more than a chapter at a time. Still, the pace of reading doesn't matter so much as the pleasure we take from books.
    As ever, I enjoyed your visit to the sculpture park, particularly your hold-onto-your-hat pose. xxx

    1. Thank you Claire! It's such a relief to have it over and done with. Funny that Lotte, as well as Sheila's Vizzini, do not make that noise either. I thought Bess was the exception to the rule! xxx

  8. Haha, Bess' eyes are almost as huge as her head! Our cats don't ekekek either, they don't even think birds are interesting. Other cats are. Loooooove the striped sweater. I often aan attracted to striped sweaters because of the colour combinations. I will be so happy when the sun is coming out again, this weather is so boring. Was it very cold today at your place too? It was barely above zero degrees. Brrrr

    1. We've had a couple of sunny - but cold - days in the meantime, which I hope you had as well xxx

  9. What a difference the sun makes. We are under a thick layer of fog, it seems the day doesen't even start properly. However, there is sunshine above the fog and some day we will see it again. There is still hope. Thank God for good company, tea and books. :-) All the best! Regula

  10. I'm loving the photos of Bess in action, she's such a scamp.
    The striped jumper is groovy and the lilac dress with the green accessories is an inspired colour combo. I like the look of that ruffled jumper and jumbo checked midi skirt.
    I'm very happy that you and Claire are both enjoying Philippa Gregory's writing, I read one of her early works, a modern thriller over the last two nights - not dropping off once! xxx

    1. It's definitely not Philippa's writing that's been making me drop off :-) xxx

  11. Very happy to see there's a new 'Ann' sculpture in the park, to keep 'April' company ;) Kezzie's brooch perfectly matches your outfit. I must check out Phillippa Gregory, I know Vix seems to eat those books. Action Bess, what a cutie xXx

    1. Thanks Lulu! Philippa Gregory is definitely worth checking out! xxx