Saturday 30 March 2024

Just walking in the rain

From the title of this post, you will probably surmise that Spring still hadn't arrived in earnest as perhaps foolishly hoped for at the end of my last post. In fact, the Thursday I spent my lunch break basking in glorious sunshine at the Botanic Garden turned out to be a one-off!

On my penultimate Friday at the office - according to the calendar, it was the 15th of March by now - the highs of 14°C came accompanied with the customary solid grey skies. The forecasted rain held off until midday, when it started drizzling as I walked around the corner to Think Twice for that week's cappuccino catch up with Inez. And then there was that heavy shower during my commute home. Ugh! Honestly, I've got a bone to pick with the weather gods!

Saturday was yet another dismal and grey day, on which the temperature dipped to about 11°C.

Both the skirt and the jumper had been waiting in the wings for a while, even though it was never my intention to wear them together. The thin knit green jumper with its diamond patterned yoke was still airing after its outing at the end of December, while I had yet to wear the wool and polyester blend peasant-style skirt I found at Think Twice earlier that month. Turned out that, united by one of my stretchy belts, they were perfectly suited!

My woodpecker brooch was joined by a brown plastic owl ring - not properly visible in the pics - and a funky black, white and brown plastic and wooden necklace purchased brand new from Accessorize many years ago.

While taking outfit photos, I suddenly spied a flash of pink out of the corner of my eye. Upon closer investigation, I was amazed to find that the Geranium macrorrhizum 'Czakor' we planted in the passageway last year was already sporting its first flowers. Very precociously so, as it's only supposed to flower in late Spring and early Summer! Courtesy of "the wall", we must have a very favourable microclimate in our passageway.

The Euphorbia amygdaloides 'Purpurea' (above, bottom left) the geranium is sharing a bed with is in its prime, and so is the Spirea bush in our garden proper, which is displaying its annual fireworks of tiny white flowers. It was one of the first plants we added to Dove Cottage's garden in our first Spring after we moved in, now all of 25 years ago.

I spent the morning doing a couple of minor sewing jobs and exchanging my heaviest Winter coats for some lighter ones. I also filled a couple of bags for charity, as I'd been doing a bit of a clear-out in the last couple of weeks. These we'd planned to drop off at the charity shop in Duffel after lunch and then perhaps go for a stroll in the park across the road.

But although a modicum of sunshine had been promised for the afternoon, the weather gods once again didn't deliver. In fact, by the time we'd finished our rummage in Duffel, they'd send some angry looking clouds our way, which made us continue to the charity shop in Mechelen instead.

Here is what I found, which was nothing short of a skirt-fest.

The red patterned skirt is from the defunct Belgian Who's That Girl label while the blue skirt with its crazy green, orange, yellow and white pattern is vintage. The latter was probably a remnant from the infamous Retro Day which took place earlier this month. Both were found on the rails of the shop in Duffel.

My final find in that shop was the chartreuse paperbag waist maxi skirt, which is 100% cotton and by the Belgium CKS label. 

Pickings were meagre at the very busy shop in Mechelen, but I fell head over heels with the handmade cotton 1980s does 1950s circle skirt, which reminded me of a skirt I owned - and loved very much -back in the day.

We woke up to yet another mind-numbing cloudy day on Sunday. Like a yo-yo, the temperature had bounced back to a balmy 14°C so, when the sun put in an appearance after lunch, we decided to go for a walk. After all, our phone's weather app said it wouldn't rain until after 3 pm. 

It was almost a given that it started raining while on our way to Boom park, but we persevered and drove on, hoping it would just be a blip. 

However, it was still raining when we got out of the car, so we grabbed an umbrella, determined to take a brisk turn through the park at the very least. 

Lack of fresh air had left me feeling somewhat zombie-ish, and my head had more than its fair share of cobwebs that needed blowing away.

The magical sight of a veritable carpet of wood anemones instantly snapped me out of my lethargic state of mind. They even made me forget the rain which was still creating patterns of concentric circles in the park's pond. 

They were literally everywhere, those starry harbingers of Springtime! 

Weeping willows were clothed in fresh lemony greens and marsh marigolds were preening themselves in the rippling surface of the big pond. 

There was plenty of wildlife out and about as well. Broody moorhens were awaiting this year's batch of offspring in a twiggy nest floating in the middle of the pond. We even spotted one or two turtles who were reacquainting themselves with their surroundings after their stretch of hibernation.

It eventually stopped raining so that we made our walk last a little longer. We even found the perfect spot for some outfit photos, using the back of a wooden shed as a backdrop. 

I was wearing one of my favourite Diolen frocks. Charity shopped in January 2017, I was instantly smitten with its bottle green colour and its white, beige and yellow geometric pattern. 

The butterscotch cardigan sporting tan buttons was charity shopped as well, while the faux Léa Stein cat brooch was a flea market find. Exceptionally, my outfit contained not one but two items I bought on the high street. Both the tan mock-croc belt and my necklace came from haberdashery and accessories shop Veritas, the necklace snapped up for a mere € 4 in last Summer's sales.

We had circuited the largest pond and were on our way back to the car park when we spotted more wood anemones ... and more wildlife. We'd seen the white cat several times before on our walks here. How lucky it is to have this park on its doorstep!

Upon spotting us, the bushy-tailed red squirrel promptly scuttled away and, quick-as-lightning, started scrambling up the nearest tree. But I was quick-as-lightning too, as I managed to catch it on camera just in the nick of time!

The rain was back before we'd reached our car and our windscreen wipers were working full speed on our way home, but we were so glad we'd made the effort. 

As for those cobwebs, they had well and truly been cleared.

Sunday 24 March 2024

In a rut

What with the work, eat, sleep, repeat pattern of my office days, it feels like I've been stuck in a rut a bit lately.

The same goes for my Winter wardrobe which, as much as l love all my clothes, I'm starting to get thoroughly bored with. A change is on the horizon though, as yesterday I've worked my final Friday ever - we're having the day off on Good Friday - and on top of that, Spring has now officially sprung. Never mind that, apart from the odd deliciously warm and sunny day, the season is still dragging its heels, Mother Earth has definitely had her wake-up call, and surely it can't be all that long now until we can ditch the woollens and warm Winter frocks in favour of some lighter fabrics.

There might have already been some Spring vibes going on in this outfit, which I wore to the indoor flea market on Sunday the 10th of March. 

Make no mistake, though, as I was wearing both a cardigan and a fur-collared jacket to combat the chill inside the flea market venue. I never even took off my scarf and beret either, as someone must have thought it wise to turn the heating down that day. Never mind us punters, who were constantly on the move between stalls, what about those poor stall-holders who were mostly glued to their pitches all day? At 12°C, it actually felt much warmer outside than it did inside that cavernous hall!

The teal blouse with its funky orange, yellow, turquoise and white pattern was found for the silly price of € 2 on this very flea market in October 2016, and has been a regular on the blog ever since.

My skirt is an old Think Twice find. It is vintage St. Michael, and is part of a suit - what would nowadays be called co-ords - with a short-sleeved belted jacket. 

I picked turquoise and aqua for my accessories, which consisted of a charity shopped belt and beaded necklace - the latter originally from H&M - a chunky ring from the high street and a cat brooch from the wonderful Katshop in Antwerp.

To cope with the strain of walking the flea market's endless aisles, I was wearing my charity shopped No Stress lace-up boots.

I'm sure you won't be surprised that I picked up another batch of brooches! They are my main subject of interest on flea markets in general, although obviously I'm keeping an open mind for other treasures as well. And with Jos's friend's generous gesture of supplying me with yet more of these shallow dark wooden drawers - in addition to the two I got earlier this month I've now got six more! - there's no reason to curb my enthusiasm! 

The day's finds were picked up from a variety of stalls and came in all shapes and sizes. 

Although the majority of my brooches are vintage, I'm not averse to modern ones and I don't mind cheap 'n cheerful either. I basically buy those that tickle my fancy - if the price is right. 

I tend to spend a bit more on pristine Italian micromosaic brooches, so I was pleasantly surprised that the stunner on the bottom left only had a price tag of € 15. It was my most expensive buy of that day.

The cameo brooch on the top right is actually an early plastic Paris souvenir brooch.

I've grouped the birds together here. I seem to have a bit of a penchant for them, as I've had to resort to a second drawer for my bird-themed brooches!

In the meantime, I've already worn the - vintage - peacock brooch and the - modern - woodpecker one, which you'll get to see in my next post(s). The peacock turned out to be a real dazzler, particularly when sunlight is playing with the plethora of rhinestones in its plumage!

Continuing our rummage, I picked up this 1970s oilcloth tablecloth from our friend Tania's stall. It's by the French company Nydel who are still going strong to this day, and will soon be gracing our kitchen table. We just need some placemats in a matching colour.

Shortly after we'd entered the venue, I pounced upon this revolving necklace display, for which I gladly paid the € 5 asking price. As it was a bit cumbersome to carry around, the sellers kept it behind for us until we were ready to go. It has already been put to work displaying my current most worn necklaces.

With only two more aisles to go, my friend Inez, who was with us, told me she was looking for a vintage powder box, preferably made of carton, for her vanity. What are the odds of coming across a huge box full of them only a couple of minutes after she'd uttered those words? While she was engaged in the difficult task of making a choice, I spotted two more, equally huge boxes around the corner of the stall. The owner told us that she'd found about 800 of them when on a house clearance job. 

There was nothing for it but to buy a couple of them myself, and these are the four which, after much deliberation,  were eventually selected.

And so, the weekend had come and gone, the week ahead another 5-day one, with the weather yet again a mixed bag of mostly grey and rainy days and temperatures barely into the double digits.

The monotony of my office days was broken on Wednesday by a hairdresser's appointment for a colour and cut during an extended lunch break. On my way back from the salon, I nipped into the charity shop a couple of houses down the street. This was purely out of habit, as I've hardly found anything here over the years. This time, however, my effort was rewarded by two midi skirts, a blue and tan plaid wool-blend one and a red cotton dream of a skirt with a pattern of sky blue, white and tan flowers and the odd butterfly. Both will be making their debut on the blog soon.

This Italian-made vintage dress, probably dating from the 80s, also ended up in my basket. On top of its eye-searing neon colours, it's also got a bit of sparkle, which my camera wasn't able to catch.

The odd one out that week was Thursday, with its gorgeous Springlike weather and highs of 18°C.

It goes without saying that I went for a walk during my lunch break, and I'm sure regular readers won't be surprised to read that this took me into the direction of the Botanic Garden.

This time, I went around the back, so to speak, making my way to the garden through the entrance to the white building on the top left, which used to belong to the college I attended for two years in the early 80s. I believe it's currently some kind of co-working space.

To the right, when entering the garden from this direction, is a 17th Century arcade. This was originally a baroque shooting range, which was taken from the grounds of former archery society "Cercle Willem Tell" located in the Arenbergstraat around the corner, and rebuilt here in 1911-1912. 

The greenhouses, which contain cacti and other exotic plants, are on the left. They were built as recent as 1976, but retain the form of the old 1880s conservatory. 

At this time of year, I'm sure it's possible to watch the garden grow while sitting on one of the garden's benches. Although I'd only been here a mere week ago, the changes were remarkable.

Shrubs were starting to blossom and there were fiery orange Pyracantha bushes and a yellow haze provided by Forsythia and a variety of daffodils.

Two ducks seemed to have taken up residence in the tiny ornamental pond, while a firebug was visiting a patch of forget-me-nots. There were some showy pink Camellias and Peter van Coudenberghe, the garden's founder, was keeping watch over the magnificent Magnolia tree.

And it's with a close-up of its lush goblet-shaped blooms that I'm bidding you goodbye for now.

See you next time, and let's hope that Spring has arrived in earnest by then!

Monday 18 March 2024

A waterlogged walk

The weather, as well as my mood, had its ups and downs in the first week of March. Although the temperature was reasonably well-behaved and kept flitting around the double digits, the weather gods were in one of their moods again. They were sulking for no apparent reason and sending us sunshine one day and all-day rain the next.

The weather's continuing fickleness has been affecting my mood and both my mental wellbeing and my energy levels have been suffering as a result. Still, I've been trying to find a slice of happiness in the small things, which that week included the sight of some cheerful golden daffodils during Wednesday's lunchtime stroll to the Botanical Garden.

That same day, on my way back to the office, I couldn't resist taking a photo of a shop selling Antwerpse Handjes, the famous hand-shaped biscuits referring to the legend of Brabo and Antigoon. 

According to said legend, Antigoon was an evil giant who demanded tolls from people wanting to cross the river and cut off the hands of those who refused to pay. After slaying the giant, Brabo - a brave Roman soldier - gave him a taste of his own medicine by cutting off his hand and throwing it into the river Scheldt. As per popular belief, the city's name - Antwerpen - is derived from the act of Brabo throwing the hand, which is 'handwerpen" in Flemish. Whether there is any truth in it or not, the hand became a symbol of Antwerp, appearing on the city seal as early as the thirteenth century.

The little hand-shaped biscuits were developed in 1934, and are therefore celebrating their 90th anniversary this year. If you look closely  you'll be able to see that the celebratory 90 is entirely made up of these iconic biscuits!

Another source of happiness is of course our little monster, Bess, who was celebrating an anniversary of her own that week. The 4th of March marks the third anniversary of that fateful day that she came to live at Dove Cottage back in 2021. 

It's nothing short of heart-warming that she welcomes me home in the evening by jumping onto my lap the minute I sit down. She often cannot wait until I have taken off my coat and boots!

And finally, there's my current read, which has me entirely in its grip, although admittedly I'm often too tired after work to read more than just a couple of paragraphs. Looking on the bright side, however, my slower progress will allow me to savour it just that little bit longer!

Work had been busy and stressful, so I was more than glad to be able close the office door behind me on Thursday afternoon, having opted to sacrifice another day of my holiday quota to take Friday off. 

We slept until about 7.30, when a crew of workmen arrived to repair the sinkhole in the gutter between our house and our neighbour's, caused by the digging up of our pavement to lay fast fibre back in September. The fibre crew's notorious inefficiency has been causing problems left, right and centre, in our case resulting in a burst sewer pipe. Discovered early November, it took a crazy amount of phonecalls from Jos to the local council - the last one containing a threat to involve the local TV news station - until finally something was done about it. 

The black floral Mae Scott frock was part of a Think Twice birthday haul in September 2020. 
I picked up the orange in its pattern using various shades of orange with my vinyl and elastic belt - an ancient retail buy - a charity shopped tiled necklace and an orange and green mottled brooch picked up from a flea market.

One of my heart-patterned King Louie cardigans - in teal this time - was layered on top, with a vintage orange flower brooch pinned to it. Emerald green opaques and a pair of charity shopped pine green ankle boots completed my outfit.

Although it was a sunny day, a nippy wind made it feel a lot colder than the alleged highs of 10°C, and didn't exactly put us in the mood for a walk. Neither did we care much for a rummage at the charity shops. What with Saturday's Retro Day event, it would have been nothing short of frustrating to see all the cordoned off overpriced vintage stuff which people would be gullible enough to buy the next day.

Instead, Jos vacuumed and I pottered - I know, exciting! - in the end only leaving the house to run a couple of errands in the afternoon. These included picking up some felt sheets from a haberdashery shop which I needed to line yet more of those wooden brooch drawers gifted by Jos's friend.

On Saturday - we were the 9th of March by now - we'd been promised a springlike day with temperatures of up to 15°C, so I'm sure you can imagine our disappointment we were initially greeted by a solid grey sky.

Still, we were determined to make up for lost time and go for a walk a bit further afield. However, I was having an off-day, which was made worse by the lack of sunshine, so that I had to drag myself off the sofa and gear myself up into walking mode.

The further afield plans were ditched but, bored silly with our strolls in the local parks, we decided to drive down to Walenhoek, a nature reserve about 10 kilometers from Dove Cottage, in the village of Niel. 

But lo and behold: as I was putting on my coat, the sun had decided to make an appearance after all, which instantly boosted my mood!

By the time we'd parked our car, whole gaps had appeared in the blanket of grey which was soon replaced by a bright blue sky filled with wisps of white clouds.

Our previous visit here, which I was incredulous to note dated from April 2023, was marred by roadworks and the presence of a whole community of illegal fishermen who'd set up their tents at the edge of the reserve's plethora of ponds.

But although there was no longer any sign of road diversions, it soon became apparent that those pesky fishermen hadn't upped and left during our absence.

It also soon became clear that the incessant rains of the last six months or so had left the highest water levels we'd ever seen here, with quite a few flooded areas as a result.

The tree on the top left, which now had its feet firmly planted into the pond, is the same one Jos is standing in front of on the top right (November 2020). On the bottom right, you can see it in its full Summer regalia (July 2020), while on the bottom left I am posing between its multiple trunks in January 2022.

We should have known it would be tempting fate to take the narrow reed-lined path running between two ponds (below, top left), and indeed we were soon halted in our tracks at a spot where the two ponds had joined forces to seriously flood the path.

There was nothing for it but to turn left onto the semi-flooded and muddy path (below, top right) and end up again on the path we'd originally started from.

This wasn't much of a hardship, though, particularly when we spotted the cormorant who, in spite of  giving us the side-eye, willingly posed for me and another photographer. 

Thinking on my feet, I announced to Jos that I was going to make our walk circular by taking a right turn and then a left. This would take us to a fishing club's pond and then away from the wetlands through a stretch of woodland.

However, my first attempt failed miserably as the right turn I'd confidently taken turned out to be the wrong one, dead-ending at the edge of another pond.

With no fellow walkers to disturb us, we declared this the perfect spot for outfit photos. The weather was balmy enough to take off my coat and scarf and show you what I was wearing underneath. There was even a tree at hand which turned out to the perfect coat stand!

The sky blue dress with its intriguing geometrical print was long overdue an outing. It was bought at Episode, part of a Dutch chain of vintage shops, in 2015.

For obvious reasons, I always seem to pair it with oodles of yellow, in this case in the form of my opaques, necklace and charity shopped Who's That Girl cardigan with its white and two-tone blue chevron pattern. To the latter, I pinned a blue flower corsage found on a flea market. 

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the blue fabric belt came with the dress, but it didn't. It used to belong to dress which is no longer in my wardrobe, but which I sold without the belt as I'd forgotten its existence.

Finally on the right track by taking the correct right turning, we were faced with another hurdle when we tried to find the left turning we needed. As in normal circumstances this path narrowly bridges two ponds, it had almost disappeared. Spurred on by a young couple who were walking in front of us and who eventually gave us the all-clear, we decided to brave it. On the top left, you can see Jos negotiating the narrow stretch of mud between the trees, which was all that was left of the path.

The views left and right to the ponds were nothing short of magical! 

By the time we made it past the fishing club's pond and into the woods, the sun was hiding behind a layer of grey again. 

Thankfully, the inevitable rain had the decency to hold off until long after we got back home!

The weekend still had one more trick up its sleeve, as we had the March edition of the indoor flea market to look forward to on Sunday.

But that, my friends, will be for next time!

Wednesday 13 March 2024

Life in March

March at last, and soon we'll be bidding farewell to Winter and welcome Spring. 

As if that isn't enough to put a spring in my step this will also be my last month of full-time employment, ever. The end of an era, so to speak, and about time too. No more squandering part of my holiday quota on those much needed Fridays off. No more measly two-day weekends in which there's never enough time to call my own. The First of April cannot come soon enough!

But we're not there just yet, and as the thought of another month of five-day working weeks made me break on in a sweat, I decided to take Friday the First of March off. 

It had been a grey and rainy week, so the sunshine which greeted us that morning was welcomed with open arms. Sadly, however, it didn’t last: by the time we'd finished breakfast it had turned into another  miserable and windblown day. One of those washed-out days which needed a hefty dose of colour!

The temperature might have reached double digits - if only just - a nasty wind made it feel quite a bit chillier, so that I needed some warmth as well. 

My bottle green faux-suede skirt was a pre-Covid retail buy from Mango and has proved to be worth its weight in gold. I couldn't imagine my Winter wardrobe without it!

This time around I paired it with a red patterned Diolen blouse - one of that week's Think Twice sales bargains  - which I topped with a charity shopped shaggy yellow cardigan. The multi-coloured wooden beads and the pale green suede belt with its groovy beaded buckle were charity shop finds as well. 

In honour of St. David's Day, I pinned a felted daffodil brooch to my blouse. It came all the way from Wales, purchased at the end of a most wonderful day spent at the National Trust owned Chirk Castle last June.

Obviously, the Diolen blouse wasn't the only thing that followed me home from the Think Twice sales that week. Over several lunch breaks, I found a round blue crochet bag (€ 4), a pair of wooden clog sandals from the Swedish Moheda brand (€ 2) and a floral button-through cotton skirt (€ 4, below bottom left and right).

The skirt on the top left and right is by Esprit and was my one and only charity shop find on Friday. I guess that in the run-up to the much maligned Retro Day - which would be on the 9th of March this year - there was little chance of any exciting finds ...

The rest of the day was spent doing some gentle pottering, which included rearranging my brooches and filling those additional wooden drawers Jos's friend was kind enough to supply me with. My attempts to count the number of brooches in my collection failed miserably, but at a rough guess I'd say there might be between 700 and 750 of them ... Oops!

As I was reclining on the sofa with my current read that evening, Bess jumped onto its back and actually allowed me to grab my phone and take several photos of her. Aren't our striped sitting room curtains an amazing backdrop for madam's state portraits? 

We woke up to the sun streaming through our windows again on Saturday morning, and this time she was here to stay until late afternoon. 

While enjoying our fruit & yoghurt that morning, we noticed that we weren't the only ones having breakfast. There's a family of mice living in our shed at the back of the garden and we loved watching the acrobatics of the most forward of the bunch who was climbing up and down the bird feeder.

I hadn't worn this wool-blend dress with its vibrant watercolour print for far too long, and with my Winter wardrobe soon to be on its way out, it was a question of now or never.

Charity shopped many years ago, it came with a self-fabric belt with a pink plastic buckle. However, I replaced the latter with a wide, bright pink suede belt picked up in last Summer's sales, as I wanted it to be in keeping with my necklace and my famous (or should that be infamous) pink suede boots.

Although they're both doing their best to hide from view, I was wearing a ring with a sage green stone and a pair of opaques in the same colour, matching the Miracle brooch I pinned to my dress's bodice.

Determined to make the most of the dry and relatively sunny weather, we opted for a visit to Middelheim Sculpture Park. It goes without saying that the pink boots didn't come along, but were replaced by the scruffy old pair I usually wear for our Winter walks.

Having found a convenient parking space which allowed us to get out of the car without stepping straight into a giant puddle, we entered through the so-called Artist's Entrance. 

Nothing is what it seems here, so I'm sure you won't be surprised that this is yet another work of art. 

The mushroom shaped canopy on its three slender pillars, which seems to be inspired by those iconic 1950s petrol stations, was created by Dutch artist John Körmeling (° 1951) in 2012. On top of the canopy the names of some of the resident artists are twinkling in lights, which looks particularly effective against a dark sky.

One of the first sights that greet you after the entrance itself is what looks like a building under construction, but is of course a work of art, called The Passage of the Hours, by Portuguese artist Pedro Cabrita Reis (°1956).  Measuring 8 x 8 x 24 metres, it is constructed of steel, brick, glass and fluorescent lamps.

The work refers simultaneously to a historic ruin and a recent remnant of a conflict. The artist himself is calling it a ‘serene disturbance’ and a "church without religion", the walls resembling the buttresses of a medieval cathedral. 

Before proceeding into the park proper, we passed the container installation on the top right which - you've guessed it - is a work of art as well. Created by the Belgian architect, urbanist and artist Luc Deleu (°1944), it dates from 2004 and is called Orbino.

The outlandish structure on the bottom left is called Sunwagon (1974) and is by another Belgian artist, Camiel van Breedam (°1936).  Apparently, it is meant to be - again in the words of the artist - a chariot made to transport the sun to an ideal place. It doesn't seem to be working though!

As the art in the park is still on the move, things tend to be a bit chaotic, with lots of empty plinths awaiting their new inhabitants. Some of the sculptures which have already been moved to their new spots are still looking a bit out of context but I'm sure it will all work out when this gargantuan task has finally been completed.

Instead of doing our usual tour of the park, keeping mainly to the part called Middelheim Hoog (High), we decided to cross the street and explore Middelheim Laag (Low).

As we were waiting at the zebra crossing, I took the opportunity to photograph the mural at the back of the castle. The mural is a work by the American artist Lawrence Weiner (°1940) and is called Wind and the Willows. The mural reads "Iron and gold in the air, pollen and smoke on the ground”, with the Dutch translation on top.

Having safely made it across the road, we walked on one of the main paths in Middelheim Laag, soon coming across the Column Pavilion (above, top left). Created by Belgian architect Charles Vandenhove (1927-2019) between 1984 and 1992, it is both a work of art and a pavillion for exhibiting smaller open-air art.

I'm sure some of the sculptures must be quite envious of Sphairos (1998) by the Austrian artist Franz West (1947- 2012), having a little shelter from the rain all of its own!

Once again, I neglected to investigate who the menacing creatures on opposite side of the pond are, but the four marble stones which are bathing in the water are aptly called The Bathers (1994). Their Italian creator, Luciano Fabro (1937-2007), drew on a long tradition of portraying bathers, but preferred to render his in non-figurative stone. The cold marble takes on an almost human quality as the sunlight reflects in the rippling water and onto the marble’s gleaming veins. The marble, at times, seems to move, particularly when a breeze makes the reflected leaves flutter.

On our way back we came across this creepy sculpture high up in a tree. A plaque identified it as one of Two figures for Middelheim (1993) by the Spanish sculptor Juan Muñoz (1953-2001).

There was no sign of the second one, though ...

Muñoz robs his bronze figures of any illusion of movement, sight and speech. While sculptors like Rodin endeavoured to make their figures as animated as possible, Muñoz drew attention to the immobility of a bronze sculpture. His figures have no legs and are imprisoned in a straitjacket that resembles a sack, while their arms hang down lifeless like the limbs of a ragdoll. And if this were not tragic enough, he installs them at unreachable height in a tree, separating them from one another with a pathway. 

 It's clear we'll have to go back when the second one has been installed as well.

I'm leaving you now with a quick look at Sunday's outfit. Both the grey wool skirt criss-crossed with yellow, red, green, black and white diagonals, and the green short-sleeved Dralon cardigan were vintage finds from Think Twice, my yellow flower patterned jumper came from Oxfam and both the red necklace and my green ankle boots were charity shopped. 

My green beaded brooch was a flea market find and, finally, my half-elasticated belt with its massive square buckle was a sales bargain from a high street shop.

That's all for now, I hope to see you again soon!