Sunday 14 April 2024

April fools

At the time of writing, the second of my official three-day weekends has come and gone. You'd think that with all that extra time at my disposal, I'd be upping my blogging frequency, but frankly speaking all I've been doing so far is honing my procrastination skills. Which is why I've still got to show you what I was wearing underneath that Desigual coat on Easter Sunday!

As Spring still didn't get the memo, it was up to me to jog the season's memory, which I did by wearing a dress whose pattern is a veritable tribute to Spring. Or rather, Tribute with a capital T, according to its label. I'm in two minds whether it was a charity shop or Think Twice find, but I'm leaning towards the latter. Whatever the case, it's been in my wardrobe forever, and it was long overdue an outing.

I made use of all its colours for my accessories, which were a mix of charity shop and high street purchases.

Here I am making my plea to the weather gods to send some sunshine our way on the final day of my Easter break. Perhaps foolishly so, as Easter Monday was the First of April, known to all and sundry as April Fools' Day!

And so it was that we could hardly believe our eyes to find our prayers answered. After a cloudy start, patches of blue soon dotted the sky and by midday the sun was out in full force, with the temperature climbing to a balmy 15°C once more.

Our initial plan had been to go for a stroll in Park Den Brandt. After parking our car, however, a glance towards Den Brandt's opposite neighbour, Middelheim Sculpture Park, made us notice an entrance  which we were sure hadn't been there before.

We decided to check it out, crossed the street and found ourselves exploring the part of the sculpture park called Middelheim-low instead. 

Clearly, a lot of work had been done here since our last visit, and it was a delight to come across the sculptures we've gotten to know so well over the years in their new settings.  It's definitely not finished yet and some areas were cordoned off by red and white tape where new grass was sown to repair the disruption caused by the machinery, but I'm sure it's going to look fabulous!

Almost inevitably, we ended up at Het Huis (The House), a half-open pavilion designed for temporary exhibitions and opened in 2012.

For a couple of years now, strange bird calls have been emanating from The House. These are part of a work of art, not surprisingly called Birdcalls, by the American artist Louise Lawler. Using her own voice, she has sounded out the names of twenty-nine well-known artists - a list of which is on one of the walls, above, bottom right - into bird calls.

Here's a sample in case you're intrigued. I can't for the life of me make out which artist's name this particular bird call represents, though.

The sculptures in the park come in all shapes and sizes, and there are some strange creatures among them indeed. 

Why does Strange Fruit always look so sweet? is the name of the mysterious overgrown figure on the top left. Created between 1998 and 2008, it was born from the fantasy of Flemish artist Johan Creten (°1963).

On the top right is Miss Television II (1979) by the Belgian sculptor Olivier Strebelle (1927-2017).

And yes, the chair is a work of art too. I couldn't find it in the museum's online catalogue, so hopefully by our next visit it has been labelled and I'll be able to properly identify it.

Like many of the sculptures, Three Standing Figures (1978) by the French artist Eugène Dodeigne (1923-2015) used to be in the other part of the park, but has found its perfect setting here, in a garden room of their own. The pink blossom in the background added another dimension.

Half-hidden by the green-sprouting branches we spotted the roof and turret of Villa La Chapelle over in Park Den Brandt. The fairy-tale like miniature castle was originally built in neo-Gothic style between 1880 and 1885 as the gardener's residence of Castle Den Brandt, commissioned by the then lord of the castle, Emile Augustin Joseph della Faille de Waerloos (1835-1890).

Always hoping for a glimpse of Flora, we recrossed the road and entered the park. It wasn't to be, though, as the villa's garden gate was firmly closed this time around.

Nevertheless, we extended our walk by a stroll around the park, as was our original intention.

On our way back, we passed the ornamental English-style cottage called De Peperkoek (which literally translates as The Gingerbread), currently under well-needed restoration. By the looks of it, it's going to be quite the transformation. Here's what it looked like when we last passed this way.

The weather reverted to its usual grey and rainy self in the first week of April which, what with Easter Monday and then my first official Friday off, thankfully was only a very short one, 

This is what I wore on Wednesday when for once we made to effort to take outfit photos after work.

I combined the funky InWear blouse I charity shopped in the weekend with a chevron patterned wrap skirt by the Belgian high street label JBC. This too was a charity shop find, about two years ago.

Apart from my boots and glass ring, which were both retail purchases, everything else was picked up second-hand from flea markets or charity shops.

A highlight of my short working week was the fact that everything was down to € 5 in the latest Think Twice sales. After only recently complaining about the lack of Diolen dresses, I was happy to come across not just one but two on the very same day!

The sturdy fabric bag on the left was found for € 4 later that week, while the genuine leather Italian made clutch-cum-shoulder bag was a € 1,50 charity shop find on the Friday.

A rare visit to the always busy Dutch bargain store Action at the edge of our village for some essentials yielded no less than 4 of my beloved stretchy belts. With their € 2,90 price tag, it would have been silly to leave any of the available designs behind.

The weather on the menu on my first official Friday off - I clearly can't mention this enough :-) - was cloudy and overcast with some light drizzle thrown in, which somewhat tempered the dizzy heights of 18°C shown on the thermometer.

My outfit consisted of two recently charity shopped items, the vintage skirt I scored back in March and the Who's That Girl blouse I found in February.

The cardigan I layered on top is from the line created for women's magazine Libelle, while the belt is from the Belgian CKS label. Both via the charity shop, obviously. My green and turquoise beaded necklace and green brooch were both second-hand finds too.

While we were out in the passageway, we marvelled over the rows of fully developed heart-shaped blooms in our Dicentra spectabilis. What a feast for the eye!

And finally, here's the latest installment in the life of our feline family member.

Lately she'd been spending a lot of time looking longingly through our kitchen window. We were quite hesitant to let her outside, though, particularly since we are living near a busy crossroads. Both her predecessors, Poesie and Phoebe, never made any attempts to venture outside our little walled garden, but we couldn't be sure that our lively, boisterous Bess wouldn't do so either. 

So, we bought her a harness! She wasn't (and still isn't) exactly a big fan of the thing, but her urge to go exploring outside was much stronger.

Here she is on her very first outing, which went very well indeed.

We had a bit of a scare during her second outing, though. After crawling under a shrub and getting stuck, she somehow managed to escape her harness. Much panic ensued from both sides, as you can imagine. Initially she seemed to have disappeared into thin air. Now where could she have got to? But then I spotted her: apparently she had run back to safety inside the house! Phew! 

To be continued, I'm sure.

We'll be going away on a short break in couple of days, so see you on the other side!


  1. poor bess! but i do understand you. our biggest fear was the railroad - but lisbeth has a healthy respect against heavy noise - which includes every kind of motor...... she´s away even bevor i could spot the car/train/etc. in question.
    the first dress is totally spring in the form of a garment!! gorgeous!!
    and again - love the sculpture park impressions <3

    1. I'm glad Lisbeth is able to roam free and has a healthy aversion to loud noises. So does Bess, but sometimes here curiosity gets the better of her ... xxx

  2. Your lovely spring dress should have encouraged better weather. You couldn't help but feel cheerful, wearing that.
    Lovely sculptures, though I tend to favour more traditional over avant-garde.
    Taking a cat for a walk is a strange experience, isn't it? They don't walk in a straight line. I'm glad Bess enjoyed it, though.

    1. Thank you Janice! I love both the more traditional and avant-garde sculptures, though obviously not all of them. It's amazing to find out how old some of the avant-garde ones often are! xxx

  3. The first dress is SO you!! Love it!
    I think Lawler was saying, Vito Acconci. I played it several times. Probably not, but that's what I
    Love the Gingerbread House! I could see myself living there...
    Have fun on your trip!

    1. You know what, I think you're right there Donna! Thank you for the observation! xxx

  4. I'm loving the stretchy belts, I must look out for some over here in Blighty. What a scare with Bess! I hope she takes to the harness. A friend of mine used to take her very sweet natured cat Bramble walking in the woods on a harness, all went well.

    1. Thank you Jean! I do hope your search for stretchy belts is successful. I keep coming across different ones, and have got quite a collection by now! So comfy! xxx

  5. Those are some beautiful, colorful outfits!

    Thank you on behalf of cats everywhere for taking Bess outside on a harness. It means so much to them when they can explore the outdoors. If I may offer a bit of advice on the subject of cat harnesses, some are more comfortable than others, and some are also designed in such a way to make it less likely for the cat to wriggle free, so if you aren't sure if this harness is the best choice for you and for Bess, try another style and see if it works better. All cats are different. Mine preferred one that was secured with Velcro around the neck and with a plastic latch that clicks into place around the waist. She didn't care for any type of harness that required being pulled on and off over her head, as it tickled her ears and whiskers. I have also seen fabric or mesh harnesses that cover much of the cat's torso; these are often referred to as walking jackets. We never tried one, but they do look comfortable.

    As you discovered the other day, bushes and hedges tend to snag the straps on harnesses, so whenever my cat would try to crawl into some dense shrubbery, I'd watch her carefully and help untangle her if need be. I suspect Bess might not have intended to remove the harness--she probably found herself immobilized by straps getting caught in the branches, and in the process of extricating herself from those branches, pulled the harness off by shrugging her shoulders and stepping backward.

    You have such a beautiful, tranquil garden, and it makes me happy to know that Bess can admire it up close. May her explorations continue.

    1. Thank you so much for the useful tips on cat harnesses! We might look out for a more comfortable one for Bess to wear! xxx

  6. Wow some amazing pictures which are full of creativity. I love those belts and their styling. The statues are a work of art. Wonderful Post! Have a great day!
    Rampdiary | Fineartandyou

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment! xxx

  7. Oh, I love your sculpture park! So full of interesting things to see. I loved all your outfits especially the chevron skirt and patterned blouse; what a fab coordinating outfit. Great finds in Think Twice and the fabric bag and stretchy belts were brilliant.

    One of the plants OH bought with his gardening voucher was a 'bleeding heart' and ours like yours is in full bloom.

    What a clever idea to put Bess into a harness to enable her to explore safely outside. I'm sure she'll get used to it and love you even more for it!

    1. Thank you Vronni! We've been back to the sculpture park last weekend, and truth be told, I'm not sure I'm completely happy with all the changes ... xxx

  8. Hooray! When you published this post none of the photos were showing up on my PC, I've been checking back and finally they've appeared!
    The pretty dress is Spring personified and I love both your fabulously coordinated outfits but I'm afraid it's bess that's stealing the show inspecting Dove Cottage's garden on her swanky new harness. I was hoping we could make William a house cat but three or so years spent on the streets has made him very set in his ways. I think Jos needs to build her a catio!
    We've actually visited that Louise Lawler installation before - In Goa's state capital, Panjim. It's fabulous!
    What a lots of fab finds, those belts have got your name written all over them! xxx

    1. So glad the photos finally showed up! And how amazing you visited that Louise Lawler installation in Panjim! xxx

  9. I think you deserve to procrastinate a little! I hope you've been enjoying every moment of your three day weekends. That dress looks like it was made for the spring season! The colours are beautiful. I love the portion of the sculpture park that you chose to explore. It looks like there is so much to see there! I like that there are all sorts of sculptures in many different styles. And wow...your nature photos are gorgeous! I can't believe you are able to spend time in such beautiful places. I love those stretchy belts! They are so pretty! I'm so glad Bess had a good time outdoors. My cat used to love going outside and had a similar harness.

    the creation of beauty is art.

    1. Thank you Shannon! I'm glad to hear your cat used to love going outside in her harness! xxx

  10. I'm glad you found Bess again! Cooper has a little doggy harness after one walk he slipped his collar and ran into traffic. Harness all the way now, and thankfully it's a complicated one he can't wriggle out of, haha!

    I love the first outfit - you're right that the dress is perfect for spring, such beautiful colours and you accessorised it so well :)

    1. Oh no, Mica, Cooper running into traffic must have been so scary! xxx

  11. Oh gosh, I would be petrified to take my cats outside. Well they don't want a harnas either, so it's not going to happen. I'll bet you are totally enjoying the long weekend! It feels like a mini holiday I think. Enjoy the days off, wherever you are heading too!

    1. We wanted to keep Bess inside, but she's showing so much interest in the outside world that we decided to give a harness a try! xxx

  12. Your Easter adventure sounds delightful! It's always a joy to explore unexpected corners of familiar places, especially when they're as charming as the Middelheim Sculpture Park. Your dress choice sounds like the perfect nod to spring, even if the weather wasn't fully cooperating. Looking forward to reading more about your outings and fashion discoveries. Read my new blog post.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed tagging along on my visit to Middelheim Sculpture Park. Well worth a visit should you even find yourself in Antwerp! xxx

  13. So many beautiful outfits!
    I love the pink and yellow dress. Such a pretty colourful look on you.
    Your mixed print outfit is gorgeous! Love the blouse and the skirt.

    Time really flies. I almost can't believe it's the end of April.
    Bess is adorable!

    1. Thank you Ivana! And now we're already the middle of May! xxx

  14. wow, you're totally wearing your own Spring sunshine in the form of a dress!, lovely dress to cheer up any day!.
    I hear you in that procrastination skills that I'm actually mastering!.
    Looking fab in your geometric skirt and teal jacket in the park, thanks for another fab walk!
    Love your chevron skirt and geometric blouse, such a great ensemble!. And also love that you found some Diolen dresses and cute belts. That eighties skirt is really beautiful and its colours look enhanced by yellow blouse and turquoise details!
    Glad that Bess is going out to explore safely, even if everybody have to get used to that harness!.

    1. Thank you Monica! It's a relief to now I'm not the only one mastering my procrastination skills :-) xxx