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!


38 comments:

  1. Gosh, that was a speedy new post! Lovely outfits as always and your charity shop finds were marvellous. Loved the needle cord shirt and the abstract print dress. I'm so glad the multi coloured dress was still waiting for you; it's lovely and so very you!

    I read the title of your post as 'Life is better when you're layering' and it was only when you were talking about the graffiti on your walk in the park did I realise....
    xxx

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    1. Thank you Vronni, and perhaps life is indeed better when you're layering :-) xxx

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  2. Oh, what a lovely post, and full of so many exciting things, Ann! I love all of your outfits, particularly your last yellow/navy ensemble - that yellow is fabulous on you! You have the best luck with dresses of anyone I know - that orange abstract print dress is amazing, as is the not-quite-up-to-quality dress by the swanky designer. Print is one of my top things I look for - you can't beat a good print.

    Boom is such a lovely place. There is often wisdom in graffiti! Thank you so much for reaching out - I'm still alive, just sick with Covid, which finally grabbed my hand and said, "Let's dance." So pushy! ;-P Hugs to you, my dear!

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    1. Thank you Sheila! Quite a few people have told me lately that yellow is fabulous on me. How strange, it's not a colour I particularly go for.
      I'm sorry that Covid asked you to dance :-( xxx

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  3. You are the best charity shop buyer there is! Congratulations on your new great finds. I like all of your outfits so much, but I really love the last one with the yellow jumper and the peacock brooch. 💕 A huge hug Tina

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    1. Aww, thank you Tina! That final outfit was my favourite here too! xxx

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  4. What fabulous outfits, a perfect match with Boom's Autumnal landscape. I especially love the chevron skirt with the tank top, 1970s-tastic! I absolutely those love Ernest Wijnants statues, they're stunning.
    You found some gems, it's great to hear about Belgian labels. I thought of you when I spotted two Essential Antwerp jackets in the clearance chazza on sunday but sadly they were grey and pinstriped so they stayed behind.
    Isn't it exciting when you find "that" piece you've been hunting for? I can't wait to see you style that fake snake skirt.
    Happy belated birthday wishes to Kris.
    Life is indeed better when you're laughing! xxx

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    1. Thank you Vix! I need more tank tops, but if you think the chazzas will oblige, then you're wrong :-) Admittedly, although Essentiel Antwerp might have some fabulous stuff, they've got some boring designs as well. xxx

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  5. the first look with its choco-tones suits you very well..... and the yellow top with tartan skirt is another favorite.
    glad you could go for a walk - and that graffiti is very wise indeed!
    stay warm and dry! hugs! xxxx

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    1. Those are my two favourites too, Beate! Staying warm shouldn't be a problem. Staying dry on the other hand ... xxx

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  6. Een vrolijke groet gaat naar jou... we hebben een grote werveling van vlokken, ik ben blij en ik denk dat ik de kerstelfen al in de struiken zie :-)))
    Ik vind je groene corduroy blouse in jaren 70-stijl prachtig... zo mooi met de leren rok. En ik hou ook van je wandelingen in het herfstpark... alhoewel ik nu de voorkeur geef aan de sneeuw en ik weet niet hoe lang het zal duren... dus geniet ervan zolang het duurt... Sprookje.
    Zoals ik al zei: mijn vrolijke groeten aan jou.

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    1. Dankjewel Viola! Wij hebben haast geen sneeuw hier, sommige jaren helemaal niets! xxx

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  7. Ein fröhlicher Gruß geht an euch... wir haben einen großen Schnee-flockenwirbel, ich freue mich und ich glaube, ich sehe schon die Weihnachtswichtel im GebĂŒsch :-)))
    Ich liebe deine grĂŒne Cordbluse im 70er-Jahre-Stil ... so wunderschön mit dem Lederrock. Und ich liebe auch deine SpaziergĂ€nge im Herbstpark ... obwohl ich jetzt den Schnee bevorzuge und nicht weiß, wie lange er anhĂ€lt ... also genieße ich ihn, solange er anhĂ€lt ... MĂ€rchenhaft.
    Wie gesagt: meine fröhlichen GrĂŒĂŸe an Sie.

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  8. Gigue...what a great find! and I love the blue and brown Diolen design on you...
    Cas must be so fun at this age...
    What a beautiful old school!
    Have a sweet week!
    hugs
    Donna

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    1. Thank you Donna! Cas is a wonderful little boy! xxx

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  9. You've got such a good eye for style and colour and luckily you have a lot of thrift shops near you that have good quality items. I can't think of anywhere nowadays in Blighty that doesn't price up nice lables at really high prices. Still I shouldn't grumble as I do find a little treasure every now and then.

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    1. Thank you Jean! Some of our charity shops do price up high-end labels, but you can still grab a bargain! xxx

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  10. I love your birthday meal outfit and how nice to have the company of a well-behaved toddler. I like the winged sculptures - so graceful. You seem to be blessed with lovey places to walk. Isn't it surprising that so few people seem to take advantage of them? x x x

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    1. Thanks Janice! We do have some lovely places to walk, but we tend to pick the same ones over and over again. We should be a bit more adventurous ... xxx

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  11. *lovely* - lovey is quite different:-)_

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  12. What a beautiful outfits. Especially love the last one, the skirt is such a good one and the yellow jumper very joyfull. Also the belt makes the look! But your purchased!! Wow. Real treasures! I hope to finally read about your weekend away next time, ha ha, you know how to keep your readers in suspense.

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    1. Thank you Nancy! Sorry for keeping you in suspense. That's what you get when you're behind with blogging :-) xxx

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  13. I love the title of this post and wholeheartedly concur!
    Yet more fabulous finds! My favourites are the fiery Autumnal coloured dress with its side bow and the faux leather skirt.
    I enjoyed tagging along on your reflective seasonal walk and gorgeous outfits. I second Vix; the brown tank top outfit screams 1970s and the yellow knit/tartan skirt combination is sublime!
    I bet you were both very proud of Cas! It's not often one encounters a perfectly behaved toddler in a restaurant! xxx

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    1. Thank you Claire, and yes, life is indeed better when you're laughing. I have to remind myself sometimes!
      Cas does love his food, and I guess he was far too busy eating :-) xxx

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  14. I'm sorry it was such an exhausting week at the office! It sounds like you had a jam packed week all around. I'm glad you were able to find some time to read something good. It's always nice when a book transports you away from all time and place! I love that chevron patterned skirt and the knitted brown tank! Woah...that multi coloured dress is incredible. My goodness! I just love it. So glad you found good items at the charity shop on Friday as well. That faux leather skirt is beautiful and I love the patterned dress as well. What a great price for it! The family dinner sounds like it was nice. How wonderful that you were able to enjoy a walk as well. Your pictures are so gorgeous. I always love seeing the fallen leaves.

    the creation of beauty is art.

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    1. Thanks Shannon! I couldn't believe it when I found that faux leather skirt. I never expected to find a fake snake one! xxx

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  15. Hurray, I'm back to commenting. :-) So some may say brown is rather bleak, but I love it. Of course it is not as shiny as red, orange and yellow.

    Wish you a shiny weekend!

    xxx Regula

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  16. Apologies for not commenting on your blog while I was away but I did enjoy seeing your IG posts.
    Your outfits are as colourful and well accessorised as ever and much brighten those gloomy days of Autumn /Winter.
    I did remember that your little grandson was a bit older than Hamish , who may not be so well behaved .

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    1. Thank you for your comment Jill, there's no need to apologize! Oh dear, well I guess Cas, who loves his food, was far too busy eating to be misbehaving :-) xxx

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  17. Fabulous outfits.
    I hope you have a wonderful new month. I hope that you have a wonderful time in December.
    I have just shared a new post, and I would be delighted if you could take a look at it. Thank you very much!https://www.melodyjacob.com/2023/12/festive-and-heartwarming-holiday-films.html

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    1. Thank you Melody, I promise to pop over to your blog later! xxx

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  18. Oh yes, the graffiti artist is wise! You look beautifully sunny in your yellow knit outfit Ann. So glad the charity shop godesses were so appeased they offered up a faux snakeskin skirt WITH POCKETS!... at a steal of a price. I always take great delight in telling people the original shop price of clothing items they may compliment. They don't need to know they are chazza sourced. That would spoil my reet posh allure ;) xXx

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    1. Haha Lulu, you're right, one has to keep up appearances.
      I love "reet posh allure" :-) xxx

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  19. The yellow jumper is a fabulous colour on you. I love this outfit with the navy plaid skirt. Lise

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  20. You know I always love your outfits...but the yellow jumper, black necklace and tartan skirt look is on another level of awesomeness!
    That's one smoking hot outfit.

    The patchwork pattern dress is lovely as well. It looks nice paired with a blue cardi and belt!

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