Monday 27 November 2023

Life is better when you're laughing!

Here I was, at the end of my previous post, hoping - perhaps somewhat against hope - to be back before the week was over. Well, what can I say but that I'm glad I didn't actually make a solemn promise which it turned out I couldn't keep!  

Let's just say that I was otherwise occupied. 

Firstly, last week was quite an exhausting one at the office, which left me with barely enough energy to read and comment on your blog posts. Then, when the weekend finally rolled along, we caught up on some sleep, booked our Shropshire cottage for next June and answered the siren call of the charity shops. And finally, there was my latest read, Sarah Waters' Fingersmith which, being quite unputdownable, has made whole chunks of time disappear into thin air!

But time and tide wait for no man - or in my case, woman - as they say, so let's cast our minds back to November's second weekend, starting with what I was wearing on Friday the 10th.

The weather gods had a mix of dry spells and showers in store for us and the day's highs would remain stuck just under the double-figure mark at 9°C.

Apart from my boots, long-sleeved t-shirt used for layering and my hidden yet matching opaques, everything I was wearing was obtained second-hand from various sources.

My vintage chevron patterned skirt, in grey, black, white and shades of brown, was a Think Twice find back in October 2020. 

Both the blouse and the tank top were supplied by the charity shops, but while the King Louie blouse was snapped up in Poperinge while on our September holiday in 2021, the cable-knit chocolate brown tank top was a lunch-time find last December. 

I added a touch of orange with my accessories in the form of a beaded necklace from New Road Antiques in Newcastle Emlyn, Wales, and a chunky plastic ring and cameo brooch, both of which were flea market finds.

Armed with two bags of donations to woo the charity shop goddesses, we drove down to the charity shop in the nearby town of Mortsel. The contents of the bags, which included the cardigans I recently weeded out, as well as Jos's old Winter coat, amongst other things, must have greatly pleased them, as we were more than rewarded for our generosity.

Before I show you what I ended up taking home, here's a € 4 sales bargain from Think Twice snapped up earlier that week. I'd dithered over this multi-coloured dress with its side bow and shoulder buttons on Wednesday, but couldn't face the queues at the fitting rooms. When, oh miracle of miracles, it was still on the rails on Thursday when I went for a quick rummage with my friend Inez, I took it as a sign that it was meant to be.

Now, without further ado, let's have a look at Friday's charity shop finds! 

I'd been on the lookout for a (faux) leather skirt for absolutely ages, but so far my search had been fruitless. If there was anything at all on the charity shop rails, it was the wrong size, length or model, and often all three at the same time.

I'm sure you can imagine my excitement when I spotted this snake patterned faux leather midi one! I mean, it's even got pockets! Admittedly, it was a size too large, but nothing even my limited sewing skills couldn't fix. From the posh Belgian Caroline Biss label, it must have retailed in the region of € 189. As luck would have it, it wasn't on the posh labels rail, so that it was mine for just € 5,90!

The green needlecord blouse is from yet another Belgian designer label, Gigue. The label's roots are in Antwerp, and its designer, Jo Wyckmans, was one of the first graduates from the world-renowned Antwerp fashion academy. He founded the Gigue brand in 1991. According to their website, the style of the label is characterized by pure silhouettes with a sporty and androgynous twist in a mix of Anglo-Saxon influences and French flair. 

You might remember me mentioning the Belgian designer Nathalie Vleeschouwer before. Her eponymous high end label, which was launched in 2011, has its headquarters in Antwerp too. This funkily patterned frock wasn't my first charity shopped item from the label, and once more one that had escaped the attention of the shop's employees. Plucked from the regular rail of dresses instead of the posh label one, it cost me all of € 6,90. I must add that the quality isn't that great and doesn't justify its astronomical retail price of around € 150.

No charity shopping on Saturday! It was the 11th of November, and Armistice Day, which is a public holiday here in Belgium, so that most shops remained firmly closed.

The weather, which was another dismal grey-skied one accompanied by a fine drizzle, ruled out going for a walk, so that ticking off a couple of tasks off my to-do list were the only things on the menu that day.

That night, we were invited for a family dinner at a local restaurant by Jos's son Kris, who celebrated his 50th birthday back in October. No photos were taken, but let's just say that the star of the evening was grandson Cas, at not yet two and a half years old the best behaved toddler in a restaurant ever!

I was wearing one of my Diolen delights that day, a faux-patchwork patterned brown on black button through dress. Yet again from Think Twice, it seems to have been in my wardrobe forever. 

As usual, I combined it with blue, this time adding a cardigan with diamond ajour pattern by Sweet Soda and a wide leather belt with self buckle, both of which were charity shopped. My marbled blue and white beaded necklace came from a long-gone vintage shop and, if I remember correctly, both brooches were flea market finds. 

Sunday was mainly dry, but quite chilly at 8°C. I actually wore a woollen jumper for the first time this season, which you'll get to see  at the end of this post.

Wanting to make the most of the frankly speaking exceptional weather conditions, we wasted no time in getting ourselves ready and go for a walk. 

As by now we'd lost all faith in the weather forecast, we didn't want to venture too far and drove down to the park in Boom again.

This time, we parked further along the main road skirting the park, as we wanted to walk to the modernist water gardens at its tapered end.

We made a shortcut through a carpet piled high with russet leaves among which a colony of fungi had settled around the remains of an ancient fallen tree.

Then we followed a muddy track which lead us into what could very well have been the heart of a forest if it weren't for the occasional glimpses of the houses lining the adjacent street.

In spite of the weather, there weren't too many people, apart from the odd dog walker, about, so that it wasn't hard to imagine being somewhere away from humanity, with only the trees in their Autumnal splendour, and a pair of bickering ducks for company.

But then the spell was broken by the cheering and shouting emanating from one of the sports grounds which have their homes in the park.

A splash of colours of a different kind was supplied by a graffiti covered building next to a set of steps climbing out of the park. There was some excellent advice among them: I guess they've got a point that life is better when you're laughing!

The Art-Deco tower glimpsed between the trees belongs to Jos's old school, which was built between 1926 and 1930. Together with the park and the adjacent garden district, it was part of the same post-war urban planning project.

The water garden is enhanced by several bronze sculptures, the most prominent being Solidarity (above) by the Belgian sculptor, draughtsman and graphic designer George Minne (1866-1941), famous for his idealized depictions of man's inner spiritual conflicts. 

Like all the sculptures here, they were cleaned and restored as recently as 2020, although it seems that the local populations of pigeons couldn't care less. A contemporary of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, Minne's work shows many similarities in both form and subject matter to the Viennese Secessionists, considered to be the fathers of Art Nouveau.

The water garden's main entrance is guarded by three winged sculptures on a brick plinth (see here).

Called Victory (above, bottom left and right), Advancement (above, top left and right) and Reflection, they are by the sculptor and painter Ernest Wijnants (1878-1964). 

And here's me in my jumper! The yellow textured knit is an old sales bargain, while the white, blue and  yellow tartan skirt came from Think Twice. 

I found the peacock feather brooch in a charity shop on a whirlwind visit to Llangollen, Wales, in June 2019.

The translucent faceted navy beads were charity shopped locally, and both the ring and the stretchy belt with its Celtic knot style buckle were found on the high street.

My boots are the tan ones I was seduced into buying by Jos back in October and, echoing my jumper,  I was wearing a pair of yellow opaques.

I won't be making any promises but I'll be back soon-ish with tales of our wet weekend away!

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Down in the park

Hello friends and readers! 

We've been back from our very short - and very wet! - weekend break since Sunday. However, before I can make a start with the pleasurable task of telling you all about it, there's yet more catching up to do!

You'll be relieved to read that my blog has finally reached November, so why not begin at the month's very beginning? 

The First of November, All Saints' Day, is a public holiday here in Belgium. This year, it was on a Wednesday, splitting the working week neatly into two halves. What's more, a bright and sunny morning was hiding behind our bedroom curtains when we got up that morning.

If the weather forecast was to be believed - and funnily enough they are usually spot on when bad weather is in the offing - the sun would soon be hiding behind a layer of grey again, and a smattering of showers was expected from mid-afternoon onwards.

In anticipation of Storm Ciarán, which would be reaching our shores overnight, there was the proverbial calm before the storm which offered the perfect conditions for a walk in the park. 

Once again, we opted for the park on the edge of the nearby town of Boom, which is only a 15-minute drive from Dove Cottage. 

The weather was in total contrast to our last visit here a couple of weeks ago, when we sheltered from the rain under the awning of the visitor centre, so that we were able to enjoy the scintillating sights and scents of Autumn to the full.

The non-stop rain of the last couple of weeks had filled the brooks and ponds to the brim and plenty of water - rather than the usual tiny trickle - was cascading down the weirs into the brook. 

At 15°C, it was mild enough to wear my burgundy vintage Tweed jacket with knitted sleeves and yoke, supplied by the goddesses of the charity shops in October 2019. My tan beret is from Burberry, found at Think Twice back in the mists of time.

The triangular and elongated park, which covers all of 27 hectares, used to be part of a larger wood. The leafy area was turned into a park in 1925, established along the banks of the brook which meanders through it and which ends in a series of pools. 

In the not all too distant past, the water used to be quite murky and green with algae, particularly in the brook where it was almost opaque at times, giving off an unpleasant musty smell.

In recent years, however, there has been an overhaul of the park, which involved cleaning the ponds and restoring them to their former glory.

The temperatures we were blessed with that day allowed me to remove my jacket and introduce you to one of the latest additions to my Winter wardrobe. In fact, it was a tad too warm for this wool and polyester mix vintage dress. Picked up at Think Twice a couple of days previously, when another one of their sales campaigns had kicked off at minus 30%, I was nevertheless adamant to give it its first outing.

I picked up the burgundy squiggles in its pattern with one of my King Louie cardigans and the tiny ruby dots with my opaques, while my big vintage poodle brooch echoed the off-white buttons and belt buckle.

My outfit was bookended with my beret and a pair of tan boots which might have seen better days but are just perfect for muddy walks. More tan was added with my scarf of many colours, an old favourite from H&M, which has been going strong for well over 10 years.

Jos was showcasing his new C&A coat again, which he wore combined with a blue flat cap, also from C&A. He shopped his wardrobe, as they say, opting for a yellow cord shirt, blue zip-up cardigan and dark blue jeans. His shoes are Clarks, obviously, bought in the sales during our Shropshire holiday back in June. 

It was back to work on Thursday the 2nd of November, which brought us Storm Ciarán with hurricane-force winds accompanied by an incongruous 15°C. As I had to brave the elements to go to my hairdresser during lunch break, I was glad I'd had the forethought to bring my special storm umbrella. 

No damages were sustained, apart from my coiffure being a bit skew-whiff by the time I arrived back at the office. 

I noted in my journal that I was asked by a guy on the tram whether I was English. Being an Anglophile, I was quite chuffed to be asked that question, but when I asked him why he'd got the impression, he told me it was the checked coat I was wearing (this one).

Although the storm had upped and left by Friday, it was still windy and quite chilly, with a drop in temperature to 10°C.

Due to our mid-week holiday, I'd decided to forgo my usual Friday off, although I did feel the need to indulge in some second-hand shopping therapy to tide me over.

With sales prices at Think Twice down to € 6 per item, I snapped up a rose-patterned needlecord skirt
and a vintage light green Courtelle dress with top-stitched placket, collar and pockets.

Saturday saw a return of the rain and highs of 12°C. 

I'd woken up during the night feeling a bit nauseous and although I seemed to be back to normal by morning, we decided to stay at home instead of going gallivanting around the charity shops.

That didn't mean I was completely idle though: I'm glad to report that I finally finished my seasonal wardrobe exchange and tackled a couple of small sewing jobs.

My outfit was built around another one of my wool-blend dresses, a dark green vintage Trevira one patterned with orange and sage green swirls.

Although I was in socks and slippers for most of the day, I changed into a pair of matching green suede boots bought brand new from an actual shop last Winter.

A sage green long-sleeved t-shirt was layered underneath my dress, which I accessorized with my recently charity shopped Massimo Dutti belt and an enamelled orange flower brooch, which was a gift from the lovely Kezzie when we met up earlier this year. A brown fused glass ring (retail buy) and orange beaded necklace (vintage shop find) completed my outfit.

Sunday the 5th of November was yet another rainy day, this time brightened by a midday rendez-vous with Inneke and Maurice. 

We'd invited them for lunch at 't Kasteeltje (transl. Little Castle) in nearby Boechout as a thank you for looking after Bess during our week away in September.

Only a handful of photos were taken, as obviously we were far too busy chatting. And eating, of course! While the boys opted for a seasonal special - pheasant with chicory, quince and some fancy potatoes called "pomme Anna" - the girls both enjoyed fettuccini with marinated chicken, spinach, mushrooms and candied tomatoes in a mild curry sauce. Yum!

The pinkish-red skirt I was wearing, in a deliciously strokable blend of polyester and mohair, must be one of my favourite Winter skirts ever. It was an old Think Twice find, as was the blouse with its little shawl collar and sprinkling of red, pink, orange and tan flowers.

It boggles my mind that I hadn't worn the blouse since January 2018. According to my blog, that is. Too many clothes, too little time! I'm the first to admit that even some maximalists might have a fit at the sight of my wardrobes. And yes, that's plural!

Both my ring - which had been lost for a while - and the brooch were picked up at the indoor flea market, while the necklace and belt were among my recent charity shop hauls. The watch with its leopard strap was a cheapo from a high street shop.

The rest of the day was spent finishing the epic 700+ page blockbuster called Atlas, and selecting Emma Donoghue's The Wonder from my reading pile for my next read. Set in 1859 in the Irish Midlands, it tells the story of a young girl who has supposedly lived without food for months, claiming that she is living off "manna from heaven", and an English nurse who has been sent over to watch her to make sure the girl's claim is valid. I've finished it while we were away and it is one of the best novels I have read so far this year. 

So, that's another catch-up done and dusted. I'm hoping to be back with more before the week is over.

See you soon!

Thursday 16 November 2023

Forsaken fortress

What with the never-ending rain card we have been dealt of late, throwing a spanner or two in the works on most weekends, there really hasn't been a lot going on in my life.

So, our hearts were making little leaps of joy when, quite unexpectedly, it was mostly dry on Saturday the 28th of October. The sun even got the odd look-in throughout the day and the mercury climbed to a more than reasonable 15°C. Never mind that, as a rehearsal for Storm Ciarán which would pay us an unwanted visit later that week, we had to contend with gusts of blustery wind from mid-afternoon onwards.

But whatever the weather, it's always a joy to play dress-up, and especially so during the weekend, when I've got time on my hands to play around with my wardrobe.

I had been looking forward to wearing this green zig-zaggy acrylic and polyester blend skirt, which was a present from Vix when we met up back in June. It's vintage St. Michael, the label narrowing it down to the 1970s according to this recently discovered and very helpful website.

The skirt is the only vintage item in this outfit, which does, however, include another gift: the chunky green ring, which I got from Claire during the same meet-up. 

My necklace with its mix of wooden and raffia beads was a charity shop find, as were the dark green textured leather belt and the red ankle boots. The green beaded brooch was picked up from the indoor flea market in Mechelen in January.

Finally, my blouse was a bargainous retail buy from an outlet shop in November 2022. It's from the funky Belgian Who's That Girl label. 

After our usual fruit & yoghurt breakfast, I culled my collection of cardigans, only leaving the King Louie, Zoë Loveborn and any other similar quality ones, which I then reorganized by colour so that I can see what I've got at a glance.

Then, after lunch, we drove to the local branch of C&A as Jos was in need of a Winter coat. Keeping an open mind, his only requirement had been a decent number of inside pockets. As luck would have it, we soon found the perfect one: a black knee-length wool coat, which you'll get to see him wearing soon. While we were there, I also talked him into buying two pairs of slim fit trousers and a belt.

Afterwards, we continued to the edge-of-town charity shop for my rummaging fix. Here, my first find was a blue, psychedelically patterned, handmade cotton midi skirt, which is currently hibernating until Spring.

I also added to my burgeoning collection of belts with a brown pleated leather one, which turned out to be by Spanish label Massimo Dutti, and which originally retailed at just under € 50. Another stretchy belt, with a rectangular wooden buckle, ended up in my basket as well. I paid the fixed price for belts - which is € 2,50 in this particular chain of shops - for both!

Finally, I caught sight of this gorgeous cobalt blue cotton maxi dress with crocheted insets, which was among the rail of leftovers from the infamous Day of the Charity Shops which had taken place the previous week. I did a double-take when I saw lingerie mentioned on the label. Surely this is too good to be a used as a nightdress?

After a night of  torrential rain accompanied by another round of blustery wind, we woke up to a dry, bright and sunny morning on Sunday. Again, highs of about 15°C had been forecasted, but yet more rain was expected in the afternoon.

Layering weather! My wardrobe contains a handful or two of short-sleeved knit dresses which come into their own at this time of year, so out came this bottle green one sprinkled with hundreds-and-thousands in a multitude of colours.

I'm in two minds about whether it was a charity shop or Think Twice find, but whatever the case, it came without a label, so that I had no idea of its origins. That is, until I came across the exact same dress a couple of years later, this time bearing a Wow To Go label. Wow To Go, by the way, is owned by the same company as the previously mentioned Who's That Girl, supposedly aimed at a slightly older audience. Not that I care one jot!

Its companions that day were a teal long-sleeved t-shirt and ditto opaques, while I piled on fuchsia accessories in the form of a chunky leather belt (retail), perspex ring (flea market) and recently charity shopped necklace. 

My embroidered brooch was part of a haul from an antiques emporium in Carmarthen, found on a rainy June day in 2017. 

The burgundy boots are vintage and came from Think Twice.

We'd changed to Winter Time overnight, which had made us feel a bit out of sorts that day. What we needed was a good old head-clearing walk so, with one eye on our phone's weather app, we drove down to Fort 5 in the neighbouring village of Edegem for an Autumnal ramble.

Fort 5 is part of a ring of 8 almost identical forts surrounding the city of Antwerp, built in the 1860s to protect the city from enemy fire. These forts, given the unimaginative names of Fort 1 up until Fort 8, were built about 2,5 km outside the city and about 2 km apart. Each of these was about 30 hectares and consisted of a central reduit, caponiers, platforms and earthen walls for artillery, all surrounded by a wide moat. Most of these have long ago been converted into nature reserves and recreational spaces. 

Not all that far from a busy road, it is a haven of peace and quiet - that is, if you disregard the playground, which on this late October Sunday was deserted - and a habitat for plenty of wildlife.

A blanket of green algae was covering the moat as far as the eye could see, but it didn't seem to bother the heron perched on a branch which had toppled into the water. 

There's a narrow footpath which circumnavigates the moat, but we veered off to the left instead, walking past the playground where we briefly stopped to show you my outerwear.

This consisted of the rather fabulous Desigual coat I found at Oxfam last Winter, my pink beret and a frilly pink scarf charity shopped in October 2019.

Continuing our walk, we soon came across a part of the old fort: a long row of low brick and sandstone buildings half-hidden among the undergrowth, its woodwork in various stages of dereliction.

We passed but ignored the fort's main entrance which leads you inside its creepily atmospheric inner sanctum, opting for a slightly longer walk instead.

Walking past the row of buildings and rounding a corner, we eventually re-joined the path running along the moat. 

The water was clearer here, with just the odd patch of green, and it seemed to be the place to be for the resident waterbirds of various plumage, including several prehistoric-looking cormorants and a magnificent blue heron.

The narrow winding path eventually takes you through a low tunnel where the fort bridges the moat. Here, even vertically challenged yours truly had to duck her head at one point.

At the end of the tunnel lies a series of heavily graffitied rooms where daylight slants through paneless windows, some of them still holding on to their weathered wooden frames or shutters. 

There are the remains of a fireplace in some of them, and time-battered electrical fittings. The eerie light in the room on the bottom left was courtesy of some translucent green foil which had been fixed to the ancient fluorescent tube. Would this be the scene of a spooky party, I wonder. We were, after all, just a couple of days short of Hallowe'en ...

Haphazard heaps of wind-blown leaves were gathered in corners and a not entirely unpleasant smell of dampness and decay was lingering in the air.

Another tunnel, with light at its end, leads off from the final room, emerging onto the moat side path once more.

As always when we walk here, my thoughts go out to my Dad, part of whose playground this was when he grew up in the village. It's also where his ashes have been laid to rest seven years ago on All Saints' Day, the First of November 2016.

We had come full circle by now, and about time too, as the sky was turning granite grey and it looked as if yet more showers were waiting in the wings.

And now, friends and readers, I'll be off the radar for a couple of days, as we are preparing for a long weekend away. I'm not holding out too much hope that it'll be a dry one, but who knows, once in a while miracles do happen.

See you on the other side!

Saturday 11 November 2023

Rainy October pursuits

I bet the weather gods are laughing behind our backs as they keep showering us with endless rain from their heavenly heights. Surely they must be shaking with mirth when they add some gale-force winds into the mix and watch us, poor sods, trying to hold on to our umbrellas and keeping them from bending over backwards. I imagine them pouring another glass of their favourite tipple, then sit back and play a game of dice in order to decide where next to wreak havoc.

Oh November, so much to answer for!

Not that the second half of October was any better. Once the weather finally turned, it was almost as if we were having to pay penance for the privilege of the string of bonus Summer days we had been blessed with well into the first month of Autumn.

My blog being behind the times as always, I left you on Saturday the 21st of October at the end of my previous post, mentioning that we'd been for a rummage at the Oxfam shop in Wilrijk. So, without further ado, here are some of the things I found.

First up is this rather fabulous dark purple mock croc trench coat, which I wasted no time in wrestling off a shop dummy. It's by C&A's Clockhouse label. Aimed at the under-25s, I remember buying items of Clockhouse clobber back in the 1980s, when I was about the age the label was intended for. But surely age is just a number and, at well over twice the age Clockhouse was aimed at, I'm entitled to wear whatever I like! 

The trench would be absolutely perfect to combat the never-ending rain, but sadly it's far too thin to be a match for the barely into double figures temperatures.

I also snapped up another King Louie heart patterned cardigan, in chocolate brown, for my burgeoning collection. They're my favourite and most worn cardies and I'm quite chuffed that not one of them has been bought brand new!

It must have rained all through Saturday night and we kept being plagued with regular showers on Sunday, with just the oddest of dry and sunny spells and a mere 13°C.

After a morning of aimless pottering and a lunch of homemade soup, we decided upon a visit to the garden centre, as I needed to buy a watering can for the office.

Due to the uncooperative weather, outfit photos were taken against the white painted brick wall in our garage, so I'll start with showing you my outerwear. My grey, brown, blue and pink tweed coat is King Louie, charity shopped for € 6 in February 2022. 

I picked up the pink in its weave with my beret - an old retail buy - and matched the blue with my frilly scarf, which was yet another charity shop find.

The charity shops also supplied the dress I was wearing, at approximately the same time as the coat.
It's by Froy & Dind, a Belgian label which has been making sustainable fashion since 2011. 

For some unfathomable reason, the dress ended up on my flea market stall back in July, but when it was still languishing on my rail at the end of the day, I took this as an omen that it needed to stay with me.

I accompanied the dress with a pair of hot pink opaques to tie in with the dress's floral print, and layered a long-sleeved t-shirt in the same colour underneath. Pale blue beads and ditto cat brooch completed my outfit.

I'm sure my beloved caramel mock croc boots do not need further introduction. Oh, and I kept on my beret as my hair was in need of a wash. I always love it when it's beret season and I can get away with being a slob for a day :-) 

Needless to say, a watering can wasn't our only purchase at the garden centre! Three packets of bulbs (wild daffs, dog’s tooth violets and alliums) ended up in our trolley as well, not to mention a pot of heather and some pansies to replace the tired and leggy Busy Lizzies in the passageway.

As we were having one of those rare dry spells, I planted up the latter as soon as we got back home. The bulbs will have to wait until we have had the time and inclination to do a big garden clear-up. Sigh!

In spite of the continuing neglect, some of our long-suffering plants seem to be thriving, case in point being the Monkshood (Aconitum carmichaelii 'Cloudy') on the top right, still flowering its head off at the end of the garden.

When another shower materialized, I scuttled back inside and continued the morning's pottering. This included dusting a tiny cupboard full of charity shop and flea market treasures. Apart from the Matchbox caravan, which was a beloved childhood toy at the time my grandparents used to have a - very similar - static caravan in the countryside where we spent many a Spring and Summer weekend.

The rest of the afternoon was spent finishing Philippa Gregory's Wideacre and making a start with the 700+ page blockbuster, Atlas, the epic conclusion to Lucinda Riley's Seven Sisters series. Atlas was co-written by Lucinda's son Harry Whittaker, who finished the book after his mother passed away in June 2021. The heavy tome was kindly lent to me by my friend Inneke, and definitely didn't disappoint, even if I found some passages more than just a little far fetched.

As you can see, I was joined by Bess, who just loves sleeping on her new fleecy throw.

The dismal weather continued all through the working week and it often took all my willpower to venture outside during my lunch breaks. However, as going for regular walks seem to be beneficial to my mental health and definitely go a long way in keeping my anxiety issues in check, I persevered. 

And so it was that I was mesmerized by the wedding cake tower of Antwerp's cathedral and its reflection in one of the square's countless puddles. 

In all honesty, I'm not much of a rainy weather walker, so that, more often than not, my lunch break walks take me to one of the vintage or second-hand shops near my office for a browse.

One of these shops is Melting Pot, a little gem of a shop where clothes are being sold per kilo. Lately, however, it does take some level of dedication to browse its rails for treasure, and true vintage finds are few and far between. Still, I was happy with that day's finds, which included a handmade floral skirt, a rather spectacular Gustav Klimt inspired scarf, a berry coloured polo neck and navy belt featuring the Ancient Olympic games.

Yet another lunch break made me walk towards Inno, a well-known departure store on Antwerp's main thoroughfare. They had a promotion on socks and tights, so I stocked up on some Le Bourget opaques.

If there's ever a world shortage of tights, I'll be good for years to come!

In anticipation of the official start of my 4-day working weeks on the 1st of April, I'm still squandering the rest of this year's holiday allowance on Fridays off. I simply can no longer face working full-time, and I'm usually gasping for a break by Thursday night.

As torrential rain was yet again on the menu on Friday, we thanked our lucky stars that we didn't have to join the daily commute and could have a lie-in instead.

I built the day's outfit around a Diolen dress I found at Think Twice back in January. It made its debut during last February's meet-up with Kezzie in Bruges, when she promptly dubbed it the Tardis dress.

Blue was therefore the obvious choice for my belt - one that used to belong to another dress - and opaques, although I used burnt orange for my King Louie cardigan and beaded necklace. The latter was bought from an antiques centre in Newcastle Emlyn during our wet Welsh holiday in June 2017.

When I was browsing my drawers of brooches, my eye was caught by this vintage 1980s rectangular one. Surely there couldn't have been a better match with the Tardis dress?

When at the end of a morning's pottering there still seemed to be no let-up in the rain, there was nothing for it but to make another trip to the charity shops. 

Our shop of choice was the three-storey one in Duffel. Neglected for many months due to ongoing roadworks, we finally found an alternative route a couple of weeks ago, so that it is once again on our itinerary.

My star finds that day were a dark green short-sleeved Who’s That Girl dress patterned with Bialetti coffee makers, and a pair of delightful lilac Western style boots! Don't they make an excellent outfit?

Also found that day were a flouncy cheesecloth skirt - put away until next Spring - and two necklaces.

Would the weather improve during the rest of the weekend? Would we finally be able to go for a much needed walk? You will find out in my next post, for which I hope you'll join me again!