Thursday, 25 May 2023

Back to Flora's garden

The weather gods were still up to their old tricks in the second week of May. According to my journal, which these days mainly acts as an aide-memoire for my blog, we were treated to fog, grey skies, all-day rain and a thunderstorm, with the odd sunny spell thrown in for good measure.

As a consolation price, the temperatures were on the up, reaching an unheard of 20°C by Friday. Never mind that the sun only briefly showed her face a couple of times throughout the day. 

The ever-present Northeast wind made me grab another long-sleeved blouse from my wardrobe's shelves. My fuchsia blouse with its multi-coloured stripey pattern - likened to sweeties by Lulu - is from the defunct Belgian Who's That Girl label, and was part of a haul from an outlet shop back in November.



Last time I wore the blouse, which was in January, I wore it with the same mustard suede belt. By yet another Belgian label, this one called CKS, it too entered my wardrobe by way of an outlet shop somewhere in the Autumn of 2022. 

The green and white plaid Courtelle skirt is Swedish vintage and an old Think Twice buy. Both the green butterfly brooch and the blue glass ring were bought on the high street, while the yellow, pink and green wooden beaded necklace was a charity shop find. And yes, I am wearing my gold and silver patterned Western style ankle boots from the popup shop again. They have been hardly off my feet lately, although by rights I should be in sandals by now.



Speaking of the latter (the popup shop, not the boots), my feet took me into its direction again during one of the week's lunch breaks. I'd hardly walked into its spacious premises when this long-sleeved and lined dress with its swirly red, green, yellow and white pattern caught my eye. It's got an attached tie belt, which is fine, although the ties at the sleeves were unpicked in the meantime as they were rather annoying.



The blue, foliage patterned, crepe tie-neck blouse was my second find. 

Then my heart skipped a beat upon spotting the chevron patterned knit item on the bottom left. I was just making a bee line into its direction when, out of nowhere, a woman rounded a corner, grabbed it from the rails and added it to her already overflowing basket. Damn!



I continued my browsing and was just on my way to the till when I did a double take, swiftly followed by an imaginary jump for joy. Apparently someone had had second thoughts and had put the coveted item back on the rails. No second thoughts here, though. Isn't that pale pink, mustard, black and white fringed poncho gorgeous?

Perhaps it marked the start of a run of good luck where second-hand shopping was concerned, as only two days later did I find not one, but two of my holy grails at Think Twice. I'd been on the lookout for a floaty chambray midi skirt and a new (to me, obviously) denim jacket for absolutely ages, and bingo! 



But I digress, back to Friday the 12th of May it is.

For once, no charity shopping was on the menu that day, which wasn't much of a hardship. After all, I'd already had my fill of finds during the week. Instead, we went shopping for Jos at the local branch of C&A, as he was in need of a couple of pairs of trousers. Apart from these, we also found him a denim jacket and a flat cap, both of which have been on constant rotation ever since.

We also went back to the optician's, but don't worry: all is well with the varifocals situation. The trouble was that, having had my old glasses converted to reading and computer ones, I was now without a spare pair in case of a mishap with my varifocals. Not wanting to fork out another fortune, I opted for a pair of single-vision distance glasses. They're pretty funky and I promise to show them in my next post.



Saturday was a rare sunny and dry day, the highs of 22°C slightly hampered by a strong wind.

After breakfast, I donned my gardening gear to finish potting up and planting the stuff we brought back from the garden centre the other week. The passageway border has been completed with a Dicentra spectabilis a.k.a. Bleeding Heart, while the two pots on the tiny plant table at the back now contain an Astilbe and a Ligularia.

Pink Busy Lizzies and Dwarf Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla erythropoda) are keeping each other company in the terracotta bowl on the table. 

Then I had the brainwave of putting a row of tiles at the back of the border. We bought these for the princely sum of € 6 at the first indoor flea market after restrictions were lifted in October 2021, but hadn't figured out what to do with them yet. Here's a closer look.


Elsewhere in the garden, old faithfuls and favourites are popping up one by one. Clockwise from top left: Allium 'Purple Sensation', Trollius 'Lemon Queen', Kniphofia or Red Hot Poker, and a ground covering Geranium I've forgotten the name of, but which was one of the first plants we added to Dove Cottage's garden in the Summer of 1999!



We had a late lunch, then, wanting to strike the iron while it was hot, we decided to go for a walk.

Striking one destination after another off our list of possibilities as they'd be too muddy after all the rain, we opted for Den Brandt, one of the jewels in Antwerp's crown of parks.

Obviously I changed out of my gardening gear, selecting a lavender vintage dress with pleated skirt and blowsy flower print from my wardrobe, and wearing my newly acquired denim jacket for its maiden voyage. It would be my old Summer boots' swansong though, as one of the soles had developed a big hole by the time we got home. 

You've only got to look at my hair to see I wasn't exaggerating when I mentioned there was a strong wind!



As usual, we entered the park by way of the picking garden. Whereas last time we were here, which was back in January, the herb beds were as good as barren and the soft fruit bushes were leafless skeletons, everything was now lush and green, the herbs ready for picking and the soft fruit bushes and espaliered fruit trees already showing the promise of a rich harvest.



We were making our way towards the Gautam Buddha in the far left corner, when to my delight I saw that the gate leading to the neo-Gothic style Villa La Chapelle (the turreted house at the back) was open. Reluctantly followed by Jos, as we were actually trespassing in spite of the open gate, I made my way to the back of the villa to say hello to the lovely Flora (above, top left), whom we met for the first time at the end of October. 

It wasn't so much the trespassing Jos was worried about, but rather the fear of being locked in if someone should come along and lock the gate while we were in the garden. Obviously that didn't happen :-)
 


Buddha's offerings were plentiful this time around, his lap containing a mixture of wildflowers, feathers, sea shells, a pine cone and the odd enigma. He was even sporting a necklace with a dog pendant. And yes, the plastic orange and red striped beetle and the car key from last time were still there as well!


I kept lagging behind in the picking garden, making photos, but Jos was raring to go and continue our walk, so up the steps to the park proper we went. 

Den Brandt strikes the perfect balance between semi-wilderness and city park. If it weren't for the solitary joggers and groups of people out for an afternoon stroll, we could have imagined ourselves miles from civilization in some places. Alas, this being the first Springlike day in a long time, there were plenty of people around, leaving us in no doubt of our whereabouts.



Here's a proper look at the dress, which was a charity shop find and has been in my wardrobe for many years. In order to avoid it being too twee, I added a wide stretchy rattan belt (retail), a charity shopped Les Cordes rattan and wooden beaded necklace and a faux-Lea Stein cat brooch picked up from the indoor flea market.




We took a path close to the park's perimeter until we reached the gently undulating area at the edge of the park. This is the location of a bunker village, built during World War II as the main command for the Atlantik Wall in Belgium. 


The village, comprising 11 bunkers, was built in 1943 and abandoned on 29 August 1944, only a couple of days before the liberation of Antwerp. Initially, plans were made to demolish the bunkers, but these were eventually called off, the site receiving Monument status in 2004.  

A museum has been established in three of the bunkers, which are open to the public every first weekend of the month. A visit is well worth the effort and quite the experience.



We walked along the path which runs on top of a row of bunkers until we arrived at the castle. Originally dating from the late 18th century, but renovated in late classical style in the 1870s, the romantic castle is the park's focal point.

The castle is available for events, one of which was taking place at the time of our visit, the castle's entrance, which is guarded by two playful lions, decorated with a fabulous flower display!



I'm ending this post with Sunday's outfit. Although the day didn't exactly need brightening up (we had lots of sunshine and highs of 21°C), I though a dash of orange wouldn't be amiss.

It has been quite a while since this vintage frock featuring an orange abstract print on a pale peachy background made an appearance here. In fact, it might have been as long ago as the Summer of 2020.
I just love its massive collar and pocket tabs, the latter unfortunately being fake.



I dug up an orange leather belt with double gold tone buckle from my stash of belts, and added more gold tones with my filigree leaf necklace - found still on card in a charity shop back in 2019 - and a beaded butterfly brooch, which I think was a flea market find.

We had a lazy day, doing nothing in particular so, that's it for now. See you next time!


36 comments:

  1. You had such luck with the poncho! I already thought, how could you have taken a photo then. I pictured you stalking that woman,lol. That chambray skirt is fabulous! And those tiles are beautiful! About the weather..... its going to get to 2 degrees here tonight! Can you believe that! It's almost June! Going to shop tomorrow with a girlfriend, hoping they have lovely pre loved shops.

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    1. Thank you Nancy, and I hope you had a lovely shopping trip with your girlfriend! xxx

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  2. Oh goodness, the weather definitely doesn't sound like it is ideal. I'm glad there were at least a few sunny spells! I love that long-sleeved blouse that you chose. That colour is just perfect on you and I love the necklace you paired with it. Oh, I hate when you have your heart (and eyes) set on something and someone else snags it. I'm so glad it worked out and you were able to take the item home after all! What an incredible piece. I just love the fringe! Oh, I love that picture of you in the floral dress with the denim jacket. You look amazing! As always, you spend time in the most gorgeous places. Your pictures are so fantastic.

    the creation of beauty is art.

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    1. Thank you Shannon! It has happened a couple of time that someone else snags a garment before I can get my hands on it. They often put things back - like I do - so I've learned to be patient and stalk someone if necessary :-) xxx

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  3. Ann I love the last dress, you look amazing! You found a denim jacket?!! Great. ­čśü Lucky Buddha, he wear a dog necklace. ☺️
    You are lucky too, you had so much luck on thrift shopping.
    Happy weekend for you, with a huge hug Tina

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    1. Thank you Tina! I'd been looking for the perfect denim jacket for ages! xxx

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  4. So glad you got the poncho. It's definitely found its rightful owner!
    Loved the sneaky visit to Flora's garden and bunker village is fascinating. We apparently have some kind of bunker dating back to the war hidden in our wood, although its not widely known and has well and truly been reclaimed by nature!
    Sunday's outfit is a stunner! I know the pattern is abstract, but from a distance, it reminds me of an Art Deco sunburst motif. xxx

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    1. Thank you Claire! I never noticed the likeness to an Art Deco sunburst motif, but now I cannot unsee it! xxx

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  5. The denim jacket with the colorful summery dress is a dream... and yes, we are heading for sunny days.
    The garden, the plants, the birds singing in the evening... so beautiful.
    Happy Pentecost to you, the weather is showing its good side :-)))
    I answered you on my blog. Do you know the German Winnetou films from the 1960s, based on the novels by Karl May?
    Hug of Viola

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    1. Thank you Viola. I know the Winnetou books but have never to my knowledge seen the films! xxx

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  6. Beautiful park to walk in. Isn't it lovely to see all the fresh green? I love all your dresses, each so very different from the others and I do like the butterfly brooch - so pretty x

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    1. Thank you Janice! We do have a plethora of lovely parks to choose from around here! xxx

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  7. What a gorgeous walk! I'd never want to leave...
    I LOVE the lavender dress and jacket!! And you look beautiful in it...that is definitely your color!
    hugs
    Donna

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    1. Thank you Donna! You're not the first to tell me that this is my colour :-) xxx

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  8. Dat denim jasje staat u zeer schoon! Nooit meer wegdoen en vaak dragen want het past perfect!

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  9. I was so annoyed on your behalf when I thought you'd been thwarted in your poncho aspirations! It's a beaut as is the jacket and chambray skirt. I really love the debut outfit you made with the jacket.
    I love all the outfits and enjoyed hearing about the bunkers.
    I do love your garden pics.
    Kezzie x

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    1. Thank you Kezzie! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that poncho back on the rail! xxx

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  10. you visited the buddha again!
    good to see your garden is healing from the wall building last winter..... and i enjoyed your photos of flowers and parkland!
    xxxx

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    1. Thank you Beate! We always visit him when we're there. I love seeing the offerings he got! xxx

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  11. You had so much luck thrifting! I always enjoy finding the perfect denim pieces at the opshops - I keep hoping to stumble across a denim jacket but haven't had any luck yet!

    Really love the boots and skirts and dresses outfit formula - it's one I've been wearing a lot myself recently, perfect for our autumn weather!

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    1. Thank you Mica! I am looking for a lightweight denim/chambray dress too, but no luck so far! xxx

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  12. Life without a denim jacket is unimaginable. I found mine in a thrift store some years ago and love it. And I am positive that your were meant to be the owner of this chevron poncho even when that woman grabed it before you. So never worry! xxx

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    1. You're absolutely right Regula! I did have a darker stretch denim jacket but was looking for another one, exactly like the one I found! xxx

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  13. Well didn't you do well in the chazzas? It's very rare to find something you are actually in need of and you struck lucky twice! All your finds were fab and all the outfits looked lovely. Sorry to hear about your summer boots but I bet you have a replacement in mind already...

    That looks like a lovely place to walk; the house looks wonderful and what a magnificent flower display on the steps. I bet it was a wedding.

    Hope you have a great week and lots of sunshine to come.
    xxx

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    1. Thank you Vronni! It is indeed quite rare, but it has happened before! xxx

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  14. What a bounty of finds you lucked on, and how fortunate that someone rejected the poncho before you could leave the shop! I love the new dress (the pattern is very Diane Von Furstenberg) and know you'll get oodles of wear out of that jean jacket. I gave mine up a few years ago, as I just wasn't wearing it (same reason I always give away my blue jeans - I have other jeans I like more).

    Lovely to see your garden in bloom, and good idea for the tiles! I like it when things have a use.

    That park is just wonderful - I'm glad you both got a sneak around and didn't get trapped inside!

    Gorgeous outfits as always. Love the orange dress, the silver boots, the faux Stein brooch.

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    1. Thank you Sheila! I can't wait to wear the new dress but it's more of an Autumn weight. I've already worn my denim jacket non-stop, which I knew would be the case! xxx

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  15. Lynn Holland

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    1. Oops I’m having trouble commenting Ann. Lots of lovely frocks on your blog post my friend. I’ve dragged out my denim jacket recently, it’s one I’ve had for sometime but didn’t seem to wear much. Isn’t it good to be moving into warmer weather. I’ve ditched my opaque tights now hopefully while autumn xxx

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    2. Thank you Lynn! I hope I've ditched my opaques as well, but of course you never know! xxx

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  16. Lovely outfits!, that hot pink and green ensemble is really fab and love the mustard colour details!
    Totally admiring your finds, particularly that chambray skirt (which is something really hard to find!) and denim jacket (same!). It's amazing to find something you've been looking for!, hurrah for that!
    Looking fab in your orange and peach dress (fruity colours!) and so delightful accessories!, brilliant!
    besos

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    1. Thank you Monica! I know, I looked for the perfect chambray skirt for years! xxx

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  17. The denim jacket and the indigo blue floral dress is such a bomb combination!

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    1. Thank you Ivana, I loved wearing that outfit! xxx

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  18. Excellent finds there - how brilliant to find two things you'd been looking for in the same trip. And that you were able to get the poncho after all. The denim jacket really suits you.

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