Music was my first love…

by Tilly Smith Dix

I’ve mentioned the piano tuner and piano removalist, Lachlan Brown, in a previous blog, and finally booked him to tune my piano last week. Well, not only did he do an exceptional job, as the piano needed some minor refurbishments after several big moves in the past 11 years, which included a trip across the ocean, but I got a free show to boot!

This highly skilled and multi-talented man recently told me about his translating ancient Chinese poetry into English, to which he has now also composed music.

Nosy as I am, I asked about it and for my trouble, I got a concert whilst he demonstrated my old concert upright being back in fine form!

Being a private audience to his new compositions and eloquently translated poetry about nature and the country, made for a memorable morning. Then, as a bonus, being privy to his rendition of one of my favourite Rogers and Hammerstein tunes from South Pacific, This Nearly was Mine, made my heart soar.

I was dumbstruck, yes, unusual for me, as the entire process profoundly touched my soul. After Lachlan’s departure, I got onto YouTube and again listened to this wonderful song, which was now haunting me. If this musical is your thing, listen to Julian Ovenden, or Brian Stokes, perform this timeless tune, they are sensational. Thank me later.

I worked on cloud nine for the rest of the day, grateful for these amazing surprises life bestows on us, scattering stardust in my little home on a cold, drizzly Monday. Namaste.

Next chapter? Pianist Len Voster, he who now owns my antique organ, will be recording these sweet sounds created by Lachlan! This story about lesser degrees of separation just gets better. Life’s not half bad…

Then I thought I got even luckier as one Lerynne West at mrslerynnewest6@gmail.com sent me an email via one Alexandra Karuska, informing me she was donating the generous sum of €5.8m to li’l ol’ moi! Geez, I was about to crack a bottle of French but luckily, I curbed my enthusiasm when I realised, I did not know these people! Who are these people?

I once worked with a Lyrene but as you can see, the spelling of her name is different, plus she has children to leave her millions to and she never bought me as much as a cappuccino in the old country, so, I settled for a glass of local bubbles instead. I thanked my lucky stars I did not respond to the sender of the fraudulent message and drank to the fact that I’m not as dumb as I often feel. Hie.

As dear Dad used to say, “it’s okay to sometimes act a little crazy but don’t be stupid just because you are blonde.” Cheers to that, mates. Even my excellent electrician, Jackson, says I’m delightfully eccentric. He claims there are far too many boring people on this planet. I like that! Gosh, at my mature age, I welcome any compliments. Give that young man a Bells! He also does a great job, at affordable rates. Check him out at J. Lewis Electrical Services.

Let’s own our joie de vivre and if people call that crazy, it’s their loss. Authentically peculiar is the new vogue, my rule…

Breaking bread

Speaking of those few degrees of separation, I recently met with a lovely Instagram friend, Gretchen in Mt Eliza, where we had a delicious brunch at Ad Hoc. It is pure delight meeting new people who feel more like old friends. The world truly is filled with special people, we simply must open our eyes and hearts.

My scrumptious eggs benedict on crispy bacon were perfect, the chai latte delicious and spiced just right, whilst Gretchen took delight in her benedict special, which was made with smoked salmon. I’ll be back. Simply yum.

Some people get depressed and grumpy when it rains, I get high. No, not like that, silly, I just love rain and cold, so, I’m a self-confessed pluviophile. An old pal in Cape Town used to call such days, “Janis Joplin, cheap red wine, and slit your wrists,” days. None of us ever felt that low but I guess it summed it up for some folks.

I recently had some business to attend to in Mornington and popped into Betty’s Burgers as the art deco building reminded me of Miami. I don’t do burgers often, but was I glad I did this once-a-year-burger flip. Fresh, tasting of pure beef, I then popped to the waterfront for a quick pic of the bay on a drizzly day. This midweek treat certainly charged my EQ battery to deal with the rest of the week. Simple pleasures, right? Again, we simply have to see…

Scrumptious eggs, above, at Ad Hoc in Mount Eliza.

Rainy days in Mornington, above, and Betty’s Burgers.

I’ve written about the expat women of Melbourne before and finally, after all those lockdowns of the unmentionable virus, we managed to coordinate our diaries as we are spread across the greater suburbs and outskirts of this liveable city. We agreed, with all these animal-related pocks doing the rounds, we’d better catch up before we start seeing veterinary surgeons for new vaccines!

Five of us gathered in South Yarra at a magnificent heritage estate, Como House, where the food is a treat, the service friendly and efficient, and the location pure old-world charm.

Sharing our life journeys since our last gathering between lockdowns in 2021, it was clear we were all more relaxed, having taken control of the stresses and strains life hurls at us from time to time.

Suffice to say, time flew way too fast, the bubbles were delicious, the stories even more so, and none of us had lost our sense of humour. You can take the girls out of South Africa, but you’ll never take the country out of our spirits. Again, I felt extremely lucky to catch up with these special souls.

Our bubbles of choice proved a perfect complement to our respective dishes, and I highly recommend the Jules Faulker Rose from France at one dollar more than a bottle of bubbles from New Zealand! I know the French can be full of themselves but hey, when it comes to bubbles, they have plenty reason, Oui, on sait

I settled, happily, for the steak frites porterhouse with madame sousou butter. Not ashamed to say, I finished the 250g!

Catching up with the girls at Como House, above.

At the movies

Watching Elvis at Karinga Village Cinema Gold Class, nibbling on prawn and vegetable spring rolls, and wedges, with delectable aioli choices and bubbles, is my idea of movie magic.  Riveting, this Baz Lohman masterpiece. Spellbinding. Three hours too short! I could have watched another hour of this spectacular film.

As for Austin Butler, sensational and mesmerising in character as Elvis. Someone wrote when he stares into the camera, it melts. I’d say it more likely explodes!

Tom Hanks as the evil Colonel Parker, superb. Giggles galore too, reflecting the reactions of women in the audience back in the day. Hysterical females, throwing underwear at Elvis on stage, caused riots. The US bible belt did not react well, and Elvis’ movements were banned, especially being filmed from the waist down on television. Pure sin, straight to hell, ha!

My, how times have changed? Some performers now come on stage almost naked, and top talent have been known to simulate sex acts on stage to the thunderous applause of audiences wanting more.

This reminded me of seeing Tom Jones performing live in Cape Town many years ago, when a friend promptly ripped off her unmentionables and hurled it at the stage. I thought she was going to faint! I was so embarrassed. She was a teacher and totally dropped her prim pose. Her boyfriend nearly fainted too, declaring their pending engagement was off!

I did have questions. What happens to these panties? Is there a special museum, paying homage to the brave panty-throwing brigade? The mind boggles. I’m not judging, seriously, just pondering this phenomenon, and leaving such a show, especially in winter, without proper protection of the nether regions…

Should I even get that crazy, I’ll go buy some big-girl pants, Bridget Jones style, and throw that at the he-god. That should get his attention, right? Might knock the sucker out. Chuckle.

Back to my story at the movies. Keeping social distancing in mind, of course, savouring a movie in gold-class style certainly is the answer. Comfy, spacious reclining seats, food and drinks on order and delivered to your seat, way to go. I’m ruined for life.

Book worm

I’ve become a tad disgruntled with some of the current books and modern authors. There are many superb writers but when I want to relax on a chilly winter’s evening, I want to be certain I’ll not be disappointed.

Great writing and above all, superb storytelling, are my top priorities when opening a book. No, I don’t like to read online and have not yet succumbed to acquiring a Kindle. I love the energy of a printed book and using a bookmark. Yep, call me old-fashioned, I’ve been called worse.

So, as I am with some old movies I’ve watched many times over the years, returning to a good book after many years, is like embracing an old friend.

A writer I’ve never tired of, is Pat Conroy. A while back I read Beach Music again, after some 20 years, and loved every word and nuance, again, always brilliantly described by Conroy, now sadly departed. So, I dug around my library, which is now seriously bijou due to living in a smaller space, and found another old love, South of Broad, by this evergreen author.

Again, I cherished every word. Some authors write for authors. Some write for avid readers. Pat Conroy, to my mind, came up trumps in both categories. Reading his stories, one is never bamboozled with complicated or over-written diction. Yet, when you stop, as a modest writer, to pay attention to his words, you realise, how, gently, he educates and, I’m certain, helped many improve their linguistic skills over many years.

South of Broad, in true Conroy fashion, paints a picture of colourful characters and never leaves one in doubt about the author’s love and understanding of the US South, with his beloved Charleston ruling as a city of many layers.

Hilarious, heartbreaking, shocking, and depicting characters so enigmatically, I’ll read this book again, as I do with all his books, probably in 10 years’ time. Perhaps in five as I’m sure my memory will worsen by then…

The pragmatist, Leo, has problems. He gets in trouble for protecting someone else, and at an early age, struggles with mental problems after his 10-year-old brother commits suicide.

His mother is a former nun and the principal of his school. His father is a sweetheart. Leo befriends a group of orphans, who have had the worst of times and so begins friendships and bonds that bind these characters for life, until death.

Having been to San Francisco several times and having an eternal love-affair with that eclectic, fascinating city on the bay, I’ll leave you with Conroy’s description of this city, which does hold a piece of my heart, but his character, Leo, does not share my sentiments: “In California, the mad, deep breath of deserts is never far away. The sky above San Francisco is often so dazzling a blue that it merits the overripe description of cerulean, or comparison to lapis lazuli. Its clouds are sea-born and formed in the odd depths of its mysterious bay, where the fog moves inland in a billion-celled, mindless creature, amoeba-shaped and poisonous, like a stillborn member of the nightshade family.

“Southern fogs calm me as they paint the marshes with their milk-stained fingers. The San Francisco fog is a silver-lined hunter of the predator class, and I always find it troubling. When I awaken to its fog horns, they sound like the exiled whimpering of a city in endless sexual distress.”

TV indulgence

Love a travel series with a personality that seems like an old friend? Look no further than catching James May in Italy, he of the motoring shenanigans, on Amazon Prime. Funny and delightful. Something couples could watch without fighting over the remote.

Dinner with Friends (2001) on Binge, starring the lovely Andy McDowell, superb Denis Quaid, slick Greg Kinnear, and edgy Tony Collett, depicts the anatomy of a good marriage and friends in bad relationships. Insightful and real. I highly recommend it.

Gino’s Italian Family Adventure on Binge is a delicious journey with Italian chef Gino D’Acampo and his British family.

Gino’s love for his birth-country, traversing from Sardinia to Naples, is highly addictive. He also proves the world is older than 3,000 years by featuring ancient ruins of structures built even before the Romans or Egyptians.

Teaching his English-speaking children how to pronounce bruschetta: b-r-u-s-k-e-t-t-a, had me in stitches! The fact that he pays homage to my favourite Italian hard cheese, pecorino, which is made from sheep’s milk, was heart-warming. I prefer it to parmesan, mia culpa.

As for magnificent Sardinia, I never got there on my magical visits to Italy, but this is the best virtual tour of this bucket-list island I’ve experienced. I love Gino’s emphasis on the Italian way of life: “Simple. Family, Great Food.” Divino. He even teaches his mother-in-law to pop a cherry. Salute. Chuckle…and Mama loves Gino.

Spring safari

Speaking of travel, I see Tau Game Lodge is offering sublime packages for spring, between September 1 and 20 December 2022 – check it out at http://www.taugamelodge.co.za

With over 250 bird species, Tau Game Lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve of South Africa, is a birder’s paradise. This is the waterhole, above, where guests observe the endless parade of game and birds – watch out for the opportunistic crocs!

Style is never out of fashion

I recently watched an excellent documentary on Binge, titled American Style. Yes, many will argue the fact that the USA has produced some iconic style over the years. However, many of its designers were trailblazers and will go down in fashion history as world leaders in style.

Remember Grace Kelley and Oleg Cassini? Jacqueline Kennedy and Oleg Cassini? Anyone worth their salt in fashion, immaterial of age, would agree, Halston was a style god. In fact, in this brilliant doco, Halston and his fellow US designers, Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows, Oscar de la Renta and Anne Klein, were the stars in the 1973 Battle of Versailles Fashion Show.

Why? They did not rely on elaborate props and backdrops to show off their designs, but let the garments speak for themselves through design, and the movement of the models, dancing to the beat of contemporary music. A triumph, and the start of an era when models looked like living, breathing, moving people, allowing the garments to flow, instead of looking like deadpan mannequins.

I was a teen model and loved strutting and moving, even dancing, down the catwalk to the rhythm of popular music. It was such fun! We were slim but nobody looked hungry, grumpy, or resembled heroin chic. How could looking like death be depicted as chic? Ever? We had the best time, when choreographing a fashion show was pure art, and fashion was wearable!

So, it’s to these fashion icons I’m paying homage. Freedom of style is a gift to savour. We are presented with seasonal fashion four times a year. We have the freedom to have our own style at any time of year. Can’t remember who said that but I like it.

Paying homage to classic designs that remain winter stars in my cupboard, above. From the black Witchery wrap, to the blue alpaca wool scarf, to Trenery car coats, an old butter-soft leather coat, knitted dresses, hats, heels and the classic trench coat, also Witchery, these items remain forever new as slow-fashion gems. See my IG page for more style tips @Sixty_is_the_new_40

When buying clothes, think about the garments complementing us, and with which existing items in our closet such new pieces might merge successfully. Slow fashion is not just a trend, it is a lifestyle. Find a style that will suit your personality and shape. It need not be followed religiously. We are supposed to break the mould from time to time, otherwise we’d be oh, so boring. Just be authentic and own your look…

My motto this month? Find your superpower, own it, live, be authentic and whilst we will never be everyone’s cup of tea, let’s be our own delicious cuppa – the rest will follow, our tribe will find us!

Cheers to the good life, living our best life. Not there yet? Start planning and projecting. If we start with the easy stuff, like the beauty of nature, the kindness of strangers, the people we care about us and for whom we care deeply, surely the good life will follow…

As time goes by

By Tilly Smith Dix

My late dad used to say you knew you were getting old when most of your friends were dying. Sounds grim, right?

I was thinking along those lines when friends from the past started reaching out across the waters to communicate with me. Sadly, much of their news brought heartache as they are in fact struggling with incurable illnesses, with one of them needing to go into a high-care home, and the other now on permanent oxygen to function basically.

This shattering news brought so many wonderful memories of special friendships. None of these friendships were forced. Honesty always prevailed and whilst it at times had people at loggerheads, love and respect always shone through.

This reminded me that true friendship, as with love, should never be forced or built on deceit. When we are emotionally available, vulnerable and caring, manipulation is forbidden. Above all, if we are honest and caring, forgiveness will always find a way. Sacrosanct equals true friendship.

As for growing older? Tomorrow is never promised, so, never forget to smile, dance, love, live and celebrate today. It is human to sometimes long for a better life, but if we remember and learn from the past and try to make the most of today, tomorrow holds magical possibilities if we are lucky enough to embrace it.

A woman recently tried to bully me in a grocery store. I looked her in the eye, smiled, and asked her to take a stroll to aisle 29. She was obviously confused, and asked, “why?” I responded with, “they sell good manners there.” The shop has only 8 aisles. Okay, so I had a little fun. Only human.

Dining and wining

With so many picturesque dining destinations on the Mornington Peninsula, offering cuisine that would make foodies drool, visits to the city are fewer and further between. However, not having popped on the smooth train to the city on the Yarra River and the port since January, the time was right for a daytrip with my good mate to see how Melbourne was going.

Voted the most liveable city in Australia and among the top ten in the world, Melbs is a marvel. New buildings which were still under construction during my last visit, are now complete and do they strike a perfect pose, somehow complementing their historical, beautifully maintained neighbours. A celebration of old and new.

Strolling the network of lanes, from Flinders Lane to Little Collins Street, embracing the Victorian magic of the Royal Arcade and adjacent modernity, results in my being constantly mesmerized in my own city.

It is heartening to find most of the eateries and shops in full operation again after the Covid lockdowns. Discovering Caffe E Torta in the Royal Arcade, munching on authentic, freshly prepared fettucinne bolognese, sipping a delicious local rose, and watching stylish people walk by, challenges other top cities of the world.

Pictured above, liveable, marvellous Melbourne, and dining on scrumptious fettuttine bolognese at Caffe e Torta in the Royal Arcade.

Halfway to the city, there is Chadstone. A shopper’s mecca, with high-end brands also found in the smart shopping district of the inner-city, available in this world-renowned shopping centre. Great eateries and cinemas too. Just remember where you parked your car. This mall is vast but worth a visit. Yes, it’s not all outback and corked hats here in Aussie, darlings! I’ve not spotted Crocodile Dundee – yet.

Pictured above, dear friend Rika, vogueing it up in Chadstone.

Dining closer to home in Mornington at Casa De Playa, proved a celebration of flavours with my good friend Rosaria. Tapas is so my thing and our choice during this visit included garlic prawns, pulled beef cigars, crumbed calamari steak strips, and cheese croquettes. Exquisito!

Moving even closer to home, the Spanish Bar in Seaford never disappoints. Whilst dining on the most mouth-watering soft-shell crab and flavoursome tortilla I’ve ever tasted, the convivial vibe is underlined further with vistas over Kananook Creek, where ducks, gulls and birds of a feather seem to celebrate nature. The ducks even have their own crossing, but they disregard such rules, crossing the road wherever they wish. Much to learn from ducks. Own your space, just remember to look right, left, right…

Pictured above, delectable tortilla and soft-shell crab at the Spanish Bar in Seaford overlooking Kananook Creek, where ducks have their own crossing, and gulls demand a snack.

Out and about

A concert at Montsalvat in Eltham by Duo Kalen, formed in 2006 by South African Len, and Natsuko, who originates from Japan, now both Australians, proved a triumph and I’d be fibbing if I said I did not brush away a sentimental tear or two…

Accompanist and music tutor Len, and soprano Natsuko, performed at the historical Montsalvat art centre on a cold, rainy winter’s day and I hardly felt the chill as my heart was cosy as toast, listening to Songs of the World.

This heart-warming duo studied and performed internationally and are worth braving the chill at any time.

I’ve mentioned the serendipity of my little antique black organ in my previous blog, and Len is the new owner of that little treasure.

The concert commenced with Heimwee, (longing), by S. Le R. Marais, born in 1896 in South Africa. As a child, I heard South African soprano Mimi Coertse, who performed in the top opera houses in Europe for many years, perform this song of longing on the radio. My father, a superb tenor, often asked to join top choirs, would sing along.

Special memories came flooding through and my spirit felt light.

Pictured above, historical Montsalvat in Eltham, where art is celebrated in all its magical forms.

This heartbreaking song was followed by further enchanting songs from France, Australia, Germany, Japan, and Spain. One of my favourite musical scores by Russia’s Pyotr Tchaikovsky, None but the Lonely Heart Op. 6 no. 6, evoked further sentimental memories as not only did I enjoy playing it on the piano years ago to many encores from my dear mother, but I’d never heard it in song!

Natsuko is pure of voice and her sensitive spirit shines through, whilst Len’s accompaniment is pure velvet. Duo Kalen should be titled Duo Amazing. Go see them soon and catch them on YouTube!

Armchair binges

A series I could not get enough of was Fosse/Verdon. The forever enigmatic Bob Fosse, now entertaining in the afterlife, and feisty Gwen Verdon, shared a love-hate relationship, which resulted in some of the most famous Broadway productions.

Nominated for plenty awards and landing a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress, and more, this is a compulsory binge.

Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse and Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon. Say no more. Think Chicago and All That Jazz. Enjoy, now brush up on your jazz, baby.

As a long-time fan of Yorkshire chef James Martin, I was driven to drink watching his American Adventure series. In the best possible way!

Not only does he create scrumptious dishes based on the local produce and gastronomy of each specific region, he also takes you on an armchair tour of some of the most scenic and thrilling destinations in the USA.

Having visited many of the featured regions and cities in this entertaining series, I found myself guzzling more bubbles than usual as I was in a celebratory mood watching some of my favourite places, such as Sonoma’s Santa Rosa, Napa Valley, San Francisco, LA, and Texas. I believe my male readers would love James’ choices of transport, from a Harley to a 1970 Pontiac, and airboats on the bayous. Exhilarating.

His perception of New Orleans, Louisiana, was my final binge before going to sleep with a huge grin. I also awakened starving for some of his delectable dishes. His spin on gumbo? Proper, which is a word he uses often. His humour is contagious, and I was along for the ride every step of the way. I’ll watch the rest of the series next weekend as my liver simply could not handle another binge right now.

Travel

Wishing to go on a luxe, affordable winter safari in South Africa? Look no further than this review from Sandton Times to get in the mood: https://sandtontimes.co.za/tau-game-lodge/

Style it

Black. White. Tan. Grey, loads of grey. These have been the dominant colours for winter for may winters. These basic hues never date, however, putting some colour into winter has never been more fun than now!

Love brown? That’s okay but feeling like upping the ante? Add a cool colour to a warm brown, like cobalt blue, or even a powder blue – or pink.

Love winter white? Always mixing it with a touch of tan or black? Why not go for the warmest tone to add some spark to the brrrrrr, such as desert rose, a softer shade of coral and not as bright as orange. It certainly adds some colour to my pale winter complexion. Of course, red and cerise are always sensational options to improve winter gloom.

We’ve been wearing big knits for a while and they are remain on trend. Want to add definition to an outfit and show off your trim waist? Add a belt. Any size will do but the current favourite is the wider belt for added structure. Waistline not so trim? Ditch the belt and add a scarf instead to draw prying eyes away from that winter waist to a lovely face instead. Smile!

Now add a big wrap coat or a flowing poncho, et voila, you’ve in vogue and feeling fabulous.

Prefer a slimmer line? Wear a fitted knit or silk blouse, layered with a big wrap scarf and belted coat to draw the eye to the neckline, the scarf, and therefor elongating the body line. Seemingly effortless style comes with planning, buying with an eye on the longevity of a garment and outfit, as well as engaging new acquisitions as team players in an ageless wardrobe.

Speaking of coats, I’m smitten with the Gentle Herd woollen coat I received recently. The softest wool, stylish, luxurious, and in winter white. Endless styling possibilities and I’ve got long-term plans for this gorgeous straight-hem double-breasted marvel.

I often get lucky and receive quality garments to wear and promote on my Instagram fashion page, Sixty_is_the_new_40 – colour me grateful as I love luxe winter style.

See the current cashmere and pure wool designs at http://www.gentleherd.com – their passion for sustainable fabrics and high-quality garments is rooted in urban style practicality.

Cashmere and wool are sourced from the world’s largest pasture, Inner Mongolia. Herd sizes and grazing are strictly monitored, and animals are not harmed in the making of their fabrics.

Pictured above, the slow-fashion woollen coat in winter-white from Gentle Herd – use my discount code “tilly25” for less 25%! Styled with my old…pop to my IG page Sixty_is_the_new_40 for a sassy video to showcase this stylish coat.

Workers are employed and respected as per strict labour rights in the entire process. Factories are currently operating in Denver, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Inner Mongolia, Paris, Frankfurt, Vancouver, Sydney, London, Shenzhen, and Hang Zhou.

Purchase your forever style @gentleherd by using my 25% discount with this purchase code: “tilly25” – you’ll thank me later, stylish darlings. Slow, sustainable fashion, agelessly in vogue.

Pictured above, styling old with new, featuring timeless turtle-neck sweaters and hat at Seed Heritage, currently discounted, in caramel and ocean blue. The lofty blue cardigan, blue scarf, and striped poncho are from Witchery Fashion – pure, timeless Aussie designs.

Not sure about making a purchase? Stop. Think. Have a coffee, (not wine, that would lead to impulse shopping).

An Australian brand I adore, is Seed Heritage – seedheritage.com – established since 2000. Specialising in sustainable fabrics, top quality designs and sophisticated style. I love the women’s capsule range of luxe, trend-led styles. The designs for girls and teens are a great way to instil elegance and fun with long-lasting style in a new generation.

Live life. Wear your best. Use your special tableware, linen, whatever! Travel. Travelled plenty? Write your memoirs, illustrate your journey with pictures of wonderful memories. Celebrate today. Show the folks you adore how much you care. Cheers to the good life…

Serendipity triumphs

Text and photography by Tilly Smith Dix

Little did I know when I bought a little black antique organ at Billy Moon in Parkhurst, Johannesburg years ago, how such a little treasure, the size of an upright piano, would create a story that sounds too good to be true.

Made in Washington, NJ by the Cornish Company, this sweet little number got my attention when I was looking for an antique rolltop desk to serve as a vanity. I had invested in a beautifully hand-crafted French sleigh bed made by Van der Merwe & Son in Mooi River, South Africa some years earlier. I thought the bed deserved a vanity table to befit its stature in my spacious bedroom in Sandton.

I could not find such a rolltop desk but the rolltop organ was calling my name the moment I saw it. So, after some deliberation, it won me over and I took delivery of it. Yes, there were some naughty references to my keeping a little black organ in my bedroom by a cheeky editor friend, which resulted in interesting lunchtime conversation. South African humour, say no more…

So, this little organ eventually moved with me to Australia. As I simply could not part with it at the time, it travelled here via Singapore in a container with the rest of my household goods.

After several years, I decided to downsize, and I realised I could either keep my piano or the organ, no space for both in my new bijou home. The piano won as I was having it tuned and would commence playing again once settled in my home. It was also of enormous sentimental value, as my late parents bought it for me, on a budget, after I proved my love and dedication to music after passing my first exam aged seven.

Finding its new loving home, the little black organ.

I tried selling the organ. I tried giving it away. I offered it to the Organ Society of Melbourne. This went on for many months, no luck. In the meantime, this sweet little darling was wrapped in blankets in the garage, where the car slept outside to ensure this ageing beauty was snug. I’d like to add I endeavoured to prevent spider and rodent invasions too, so, every precaution was taken to preserve this treasure. In fact, I nearly euthanised myself, given all the earth-friendly pest repellents I sprinkled and sprayed in this process.

So, reaching the end of my tether and deeply saddened about nobody seemingly having interest in such beautiful old instruments anymore, I mentioned it to a Facebook friend I met on a modelling shoot three years ago here in Melbourne.

This incredible person, tiny in stature, but with a voice like an operatic angel, who also teaches karate, immediately told me she would speak to her accompanist for her next concert. She also mentioned the pianist originates from South Africa and that in spite of having lived in Melbourne for some 40 years, he told her he still missed speaking Afrikaans.

Within minutes, Len Voster, Natsuko Minegheshi’s accompanist called me after I forwarded images of the organ to her. Len asked for measurements, which I provided, as it should be when it comes to organs, this one now fondly known as the LBO.

The piano tuner and removalist who moved the LBO to my new nest last year, did play a tune on the relic at the time and pronounced it in good shape and tone.

So, I provided Len with his details. In the meantime, Len discovered my Afrikaans was in good shape too, and as one does, we shared some family secrets, only to discover that on both our mothers’ sides, we were related!

Within a few days my organ removal contact, now Len’s, arrived to collect the LBO, only to advise me he had not seen Len since university days, where he studied when Len was a tutor – some 40 years ago!

Lachlan Brown, piano tuner and piano mover, also turns out to be a composer and his work is available on YouTube. I begged him to share this news with Len when he delivers the little treasure as there must be an opportunity for his work to be performed by the maestro and musical tutor!

I am attending a concert at Montsalvat in Eltham in June, to bask in a performance by Len and Natsuko, where they will be performing music of the world. Some of the songs on the programme are by South African composers and Natsuko is currently being coached by Len to perform these in Afrikaans.

I believe Len and Lachlan are discussing Lachlan’s compositions, so, watch this space. We hear of six degrees of separation. I’d call it two degrees of separation only. How sweet the sound of serendipity is when it warms the cockles of the musical heart…

Running with the muses

Being invited to send my bio to the founder of 800Muses, made me a tad nervous. After all, am I good enough to be part of such a posse of highly acclaimed, published writers?

Yvonne Aileen, Writer, Publisher, Realtor, Indie Author, and Founder of 800 Muses, is a force of nature. A natural communicator and writer.

So, I put on my brave façade and was humbled and thrilled to be accepted. I cannot sing the praises of the writers in that fold enough, the like of Caroline Hurry, Laura Waters, to mention only the few brilliant authors I happen to know and respect.

So, if you’re a writer passionate about telling stories, check her profile on FB and LinkedIn. You will thank me later.

As for Caroline Hurry, her newly published book Reign, mentioned in a previous blog, is enjoying glowing reviews. Available online, you will love the laughter, tears, and balm for the soul stories, not to mention her superb use of the English language:  https://amzn.to/3LIqZvv

Food, wine, and taking a long walk on a long pier

Mantons Creek Winery is home to Quattro, a restaurant I highly recommend. Situated on Tucks Road, driving on the Mornington wine trail is pure magic. Arriving at Quattro, overlooking vineyards, hills, and picturesque avenues of trees, feels like heaven.

The service is efficient and friendly, the food scrumptious. Indulging in the Mantons Reserve Sparkling Rose proved a perfect pairing to the gnocchi mushroom forestry, goat cheese and Mary’s herbs; followed by the salmon, red cabbage, finger lime and wild garlic emulsion; then some sweet sensations, including, Strawberry tart, raspberry and white chocolate ice cream – and Mandarin panna cotta with candied apple and Mary’s flowers. Delicioso – I’ll be back!

Delicate flavours, fresh herbs, and a seasoned chef. The Epicurean Group manages multiple venues across the Mornington Peninsula and Macedon Ranges.

Quattro at Mantons Creek Winery: succulent salmon, melt-in-the-mouth gnocci, and strawberry tart.

From here, it is an easy drive of about 15 minutes to scenic Flinders for the scent of the ocean on the Mornington Peninsula point, where the Western Port meets Bass Strait.

This picturesque seaside town is also home to a world-class golf course overlooking the coast.

I was so enamoured with this quaint town, its vistas, and long pier, I returned a few days later to savour the fresh oysters, and delicious delicacies available at the impressive Flinders General Store, which offers myriad choices of local produce, gourmet groceries, local and imported wines, and delicious ready-to-eat meals.

A picnic on a cool, overcast day, with a glass of delicious local bubbles, was just the midweek escape I needed to revitalise the spirit and revive my senses for the rest of the week.

Idyllic Flinders on the Mornington Peninsula.

Dining closer to the city in Eltham, a leafy, vibrant community, is never disappointing. Meeting my gorgeous cousin Helen at Second Home for brunch, proved delightful. Catching up on family and dining on a delicious, folded egg with basil pesto, on fresh sourdough bread and smoked, crispy bacon, made for the perfect midweek break.

Attending our youngest pixie’s Special Person’s Day at Kinder, was pure joy. Our four-and-a-half-year old served me home-made vegetable soup and introduced me to the resident pets, two spiny leaf insects, which also shed their skin. Who knew? Part of the programme of this special day, was the children paying homage to the native inhabitants of this land, who tended the earth before the westerners arrived.

Tasty folded egg and smoked bacon at Second Home in Eltham.

Hats off to the teachers who instil such values in children at this tender age to have respect for all our people and the land.

Sofa spud

Resistance, featuring the early life of Marcell Marceau and his part in the Resistance, saving thousands of children, was an eye opener. I highly recommend this binge.

The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: the unheard tapes – piecing together the puzzle by those who knew her well. It seems this mystery will never be solved. She knew too much. She was out of control. She was vulnerable. She threatened the wrong family. The authorities wanted her gone.

She was a prescription medicine addict who needed to be defined by the men she got involved with.  Her story still saddens me deeply. If only she had believed in her own strength. A broken childhood, fame and men who took what they needed and left. A candle in the wind indeed.

A Very British Scandal on Amazon Original: Claire Foy and Paul Bettany head up the three-part series, the dramatized scandalous divorce case between the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. The Duke, played by Bettany, accused the Duchess, superbly portrayed by Foy, of sleeping with some 88 men during their marriage. Very busy lady but certainly a lot more classy than the recent courtroom soap opera of Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard.

Impromptu, a frothy story of author George Sand, how she pursued Frederic Chopin, his friendship with Franz Liszt, and the French society who courted these brilliant composers. I was intrigued by Hugh Grant, as Chopin, playing the piano and discovered he took lessons with the now late Yonty Solomon, the world-renowned South African pianist, to acquire his technique. I’m a proud Aussie but this heart will never deny the amazing people and places of my origins.

Safari at the place of the lion in South Africa

It is no secret Tau Game Lodge is one of my favourite safari destinations on the planet and when I see the special winter rates, hugely attractive to international luxe travellers and great value for South Africans wishing to indulge in a five-star safari on their own doorstep, all seems well with the world.

Situated in the Madikwe Reserve, just over four hours’ drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria, eco-tourism is key at Tau. Think superb visibility of game, magical safari drives with knowledgeable rangers, hot toddies, wholesome food, warm service, and understated luxury.

Add a large waterhole, where the game roam free, prolific birdlife, and guests observe the wild things from the privacy of their rooms, or the convivial dining and hospitality decks of the lodge, and a sublime winter safari unfolds.

Family-friendly, with a bijou spa overlooking the bush, see more at www.taugamelodge.co.za

Enhance and be pro age

Blush. Shine. Glow. These are the little beauty secrets one never takes for granted when ageing.

I could not have been more thrilled receiving three magical makeup sticks that create such alchemy, resulting in a rejuvenated glow, and healthy blush on this sixty-plus face, especially on a day when I felt a tad pale.

The Enhance Pro Age Blush stick is easy to apply, smooth and I not only applied it to my cheeks but dabbed a little above my eyelids and a tiny touch on my nose and chin. This was followed by a touch of the Shine stick, which I applied on my cheekbones. We always want to enhance those, right?

Brightening up with Enhance Pro Age.

The Glow stick I dabbed sparingly on my eyelids, on the cupid’s bow of my lips, et voila, I looked refreshed.  If we look good, we feel good…

Snuggling into winter style

Oh, when I get news of fashion vouchers coming my way to indulge in the latest alpaca, merino, and mohair knits, not to mention stylish capes, coats, scarves, and ponchos, I’m happy as that proverbial bug in a rug.

This is also a therapeutic indoor escape, sorting through my winter finds, gathered over the years, and teaming these vintage pieces up with the gifted new styles, to create a harmonious blend of old and new. Slow fashion rules and it is kinder to the planet.

This winter has such a seventies vibe, with flared pants, high waists, and plenty of boho chic, how could one not feel energised, realising that what goes around, comes around, and to once again take a trip down memory lane with style, but somehow, this time, it’s better, more refined and, oh so slick.

A follower on my fashion Instagram page Sixty_is_the_new_40 recently seemed confused about me talking about autumn and winter, when she was experiencing spring in the USA. I merely responded how amazing this planet was. While I could admire and gather new style tips for the months ahead from my fellow IG sistas, others could hopefully do the same with our current seasonal chic Down Under. Yes, the world is not flat. Chuckles.

        

Adding warmth to winter with a pop of desert rose, pink, blue, and my current grape crush.

Cheers to the good life, wherever you are, folks. Carpe diem…

When the going gets tough

Text and photography by Tilly Smith Dix

It never fails to amaze me how resilient people can be. We have all, at some time in our lives, at times too often, been through tough times, when we feel we simply could not deal with another setback.

However, after some quiet time, a good sleep, deep breathing, perhaps a good cry (if you’re a woman or a man in touch with his gentle side), putting our shoulders back and looking life straight in the eye, we pick ourselves up and start taking baby steps towards fixing the problem by identifying the cause.

Some of us blog to get the pain out of our system. Others, like my amazing friend Carrie, might write a book. When an unexpected emotional tsunami tossed her into darkness and left her adrift in a sea of utter, lonely desolation, she decided to start a social media group.

This group would consist of women who have experienced trials and tribulations, and may still be experiencing such emotional tidal waves. These are the women who would support each other, from around the planet, and share wisdom, virtual hugs, and advice but never judgement. Those who are too precious to care about others’ woes, toss themselves out of the fold. A great pal once said, “it’s always convenient when the garbage takes itself out.” Amen to that, honey!

So, Carrie would post insightful stories, funny stories, and often silly stories, just to make us giggle like teens. Laughter is good for us. However, she was not only sharing information to inspire others, she was also taking on board what we were saying, how we were feeling, our stories told, when we were witty, or at our wit’s end.

She was writing a book to help people heal. That book has now been published and I’ll be reviewing it this very weekend as anything written by what I believe to be one of the best writers I’ve ever worked with, deserves my undivided attention. Watch this space.

To the manners born

Something I treasure, is etiquette in business. Don’t even get me started on table manners.

Arrogance and entitlement are major irritations and rudeness in business, unless the service provider is doing a bad job or no job at all, is simply unacceptable. When such disregard, however, is reflected by the service provider to a paying client, such unprofessionalism must be taken to task. Is this a new trend? Treat the client like an inconvenience? Never! Not on my watch.

Working with a client years ago who launched a school of business and social etiquette, after their studies with the best in Washington and The Hague, was a simple reminder of what I was taught in business economics: prepare, dress up, show up, show respect, show interest, engage, deliver what you promise.

Going to be in a long meeting which will involve hours around a boardroom table spanning over the lunch hour? Take snacks for the table. Imagine the meeting hosts ordering lunch and ignoring their guests? Simple etiquette.

Sadly, we are not always remembered for our good behaviour, but it is guaranteed we will be remembered for bad behaviour.

After some peculiar events in recent weeks, which tested my patience and faith in a few members of the human race, I decided to go to bed with Gerald Jampolsky. Oh, get over it, I mean one of the books written by that wise man, Teach Only Love. I even found the notes I made when reading it the first-time years ago.

Whilst I agree with many of his theories, sometimes you’ve just got to realise there are people in this world who will change the narrative to suit their narcissistic souls. Learning to spot the difference between ignorance and toxic manipulation takes practice. Walking away instead of wasting time trying to care about people who have no regard for us, is the best new skill I’ve acquired in recent years.

Creating space for new light to enter, lovely new people to add interesting, caring new stitches to our tapestry of life, to me, means to evolve. Knowing whom to love and sending those who don’t treat us right off with love, reduces stress and detoxifies our precious space.

Oh, and if someone has the grace to buy us a delicious meal, the least we could do is thank them. No flowers, no big gestures, just a simple act of graciousness, even a text message. Amen to that too, sweeties. Simple, right?

Food, glorious food

Spoilt for choice when it comes to savouring scrumptious food and wine here on the magical Mornington Peninsula, my most recent culinary wanderings included a delicious dinner after a sunset shoot at Martha’s Table, overlooking Martha Cove Marina.

A glorious setting, which reminded me of my roots on an estuary, where sailing was part of life. Of course, the boats were never as grand as the ones in this cove.

The food portions were small. No, I’m not a big eater and I detest enormous portions, but this was rather skimpy and expensive. The Lobster Bisque was delicious, served in a Mediterranean style, with carnaroli rice. The service and vistas of the marina are worth the trip.

Pictured above, clockwise from top left: autumn shades at Polperro Winery; Barn & Co Restaurant interior; lobster bisque at Martha’s Table; Martha Cove Marina; tour queen of the Peninsula, Rika Keyser at Martha Cove; boats at Martha Cove Marina; moi pretending to be rich and famous at Martha Cove Marina; entrance to Barn & Co Restaurant; and the autumn vineyards at Barn & Co in Balnarring.

Autumn has arrived and log fires, tasty hot food, and fine wine in a scenic vineyard beckon. Sunday lunch at Barn & Co at Balnarring on the Peninsula’s wine route did not disappoint.

The tapas choices are scrumptious. Opting for the Lamb Meatballs with smoked tzatziki and pomegranate, Sliders with house brioche, beef brisket, pickle and slaw, and Crispy Artichoke Hearts with citrus aioli, proved ample to share.

To finish, I could not resist the Sticky Date Pudding, with butterscotch, honeycomb and vanilla bean ice cream. Another triumph. Washed down with local sparkling brut Baillieu from Merricks, I was ready for a stroll in the vineyard before a leisurely drive to Polperro Winery in Red Hill for a delicious glass of pre-sunset rosé. Highly recommended. I’ll be back.

Sofa spud

Not only is Lady Gaga an icon in the music industry, to me, she is also a superb actress and kind human being. That moment, at the Oscar night now forever etched in my memory, when a star, so high on his own importance, thought he could get away with abusive behaviour on a world stage, when Gaga told a frail Liza Minelli, “don’t worry, I’ve got you,” proved how women are there to support each other.

Yes, I loved Gaga in A Star is Born – I’ve seen every version of this movie ever made. However, my favourite remains Barbra Streisand and Chris Kristofferson’s film of the same title.

I’m surprised Gaga did not cop and Oscar for her performance in House of Gucci. She was superb and immensely convincing in her role. As for Adam Driver, this man was born to act. Pure entertainment of a successful family that lost the plot.

Sadly, it brought back a memory of a much-treasured Gucci belt a good friend bought for me during a visit to New York in the late 70s, when I would never have been able to afford such a luxury item. The timeless belt would still be stylish today. Sadly, it disappeared through an act of affirmative shopping – by someone I knew back then. I did not wish to send them off with love, I promise you, hie.

Shirley MacLaine, iconic sister of Warren Beatty, is another Hollywood treasure. Eccentric, talented and a most entertaining author, I saw her one-woman show in the mid-Nineties at Sun City in South Africa.

She was sensational! To have an audience in the palm of your hand, still kick as high as a Vegas showgirl, embrace the world, and make people laugh without uttering an expletive, is a class act. A dying trade.

As for her role as the grumpy Louisa, Ouiser, in the all-star cast of Steel Magnolias, which put a young Julia Roberts firmly on her path to stardom, she still makes me giggle when I watch reruns. Ouiser’s famous quip, “I’m not crazy, I’ve just been in a bad mood for 40 years,” said in a deeply Southern accent, still cracks me up.

As usual, I digress as I love a detailed story. A friend at lunch recently mocked me about my love of telling lengthy stories. I must admit, I was a tad disappointed as I listen to others’ stories, often repetitive and long. I love stories. Women supporting women, right?

So, back to fascinating Shirley. Tired of watching war, natural disasters and upsetting news on the box at night? Pop over to SBS if you live in Aussie and watch The Last Word. A good story and brilliantly played by Ms MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried, who certainly holds her own when performing with legendary stars such as MacLaine, Meryl Streep (Mamma Mia), and Vanessa Redgrave (Letters to Juliet), to name but a few!

I lose patience with endless series. Give me a fascinating binge for a weekend or a few nights on TV, and I’m there. Snacks, glass of bubbles, cup of chai or rooibos tea (yes, we get the rooibos from South Africa in Aussie too), and I’m happy as a clam.

Anatomy of a Scandal is such a binge. Sienna Miller is riveting as the devoted wife. She is certainly growing older beautifully. The story is typical of many who had everything handed to them on a silver platter since childhood. Gosh, I’ve known people like that and whilst not all of them expect the world to serve them, in this instance, the stiff upper lip, sweep it under the carpet, and just enjoy this ripe plum called success as a privileged brat, reminded me of similar epic scandals.

Infused with true British flavour, despite the always brilliant involvement of US writer/producers David E. Kelley and Melissa James Gibson, this courtroom drama will have you begging for more. As for the styling, especially Sienna Miller’s wardrobe, the entire production proved pure class.

An author, who’s books many of us seldom admitted to devouring in private, the hugely successful now late Jackie Collins, had an incredible life, not always ideal but she certainly had true grit and was no quitter. I highly recommend her story, Lady Boss. Imagine having Joan Collins as your sister? Not easy, yet Jackie held her own, and some. Worth watching.

Styling into autumn

This is one of my favourite seasons as layering is always fun. The warm colours of autumn, playing with textures and planning outfits to complement a day starting out cold, then warming up slightly, only for the temperature to drop rapidly when the sun starts setting earlier, is a time to also clean out the closet.

Keep the treasures, ditch the silly buy of years ago. I see it a bit like relationships too. If we no longer agree with people’s life choices, we have the choice to walk away. With our wardrobes, it becomes a labour of love as what we no longer like, could be gifted to an opshop, which serves as an act of kindness. Such opportunity shops are run for charitable organisations here in Aussie, and it could help someone less fortunate than us. As for letting go of people who no longer treat us right? That is also an act of love – for ourselves.

Pictured above, autumn colours that transcend fashion but remain in style. I tend to mix my old with the new. Loving the flash of cobalt blue, especially the luxe wool cardigan in the top row, centre, from Country Road. The coated jeans, in black and in plum, add a touch of contemporary to the classic straight-style pants at Witchery Fashion. The check cape and top are from the newly launched House of Lucas, made in Australia. The pink pointed-toe flats are from Vivaia – use my discount code ’tilly18′ – your feet will be grateful! I love a versatile poncho and Witchery Fashion does not disappoint with the midnight navy striped one featured above. The blazers are my own vintage picks from Zara – ageless. A classic coat, big or with a snug fit, never date, especially in camel. I’ve spotted some great styles at Trenery this season.

This is also a way to promote slow fashion by supporting sustainable, recycled fashion. Every tiny effort we make to be kinder to our planet will help if we all get on that caring train.

Speaking of which, I’ve written about @Vivaia shoes before and I’m still thrilled wearing their gorgeous flats, made from recycled plastic bottles. Stylish, yoga-mat comfort and designs to suit any occasion, I’m a fan! Washable and recyclable, what’s not to like?

My favourite colours and styles this season? Flared or straight pants, midi skirts and knitted dresses, classic coats and ageless jackets. Cobalt blue, camel, dove grey, winter white, and fuchsia pink spin my colder season colour palette. As for black and white, they will never die.

Cheers to living the good life, folks, we have one life. Our  stories matter…

Ides of March

Text and photography by Tilly Smith Dix

March has certainly been an eventful month on a grand scale. How do we deal with such devastation, floods, greed, and war during a pandemic?

It would be extremely frivolous to write this blog, focused on living our best life, without thinking of people struggling in my country after devastating floods, or a war waged on innocent women and children, based on greed in Ukraine. How, today, do world leaders allow this to happen?

The older I get, the more I value the basic principles my parents instilled in me and my siblings. Often with a wooden spoon on our bottoms if we disregarded their valuable advice. No, none of us are scarred for life. If anything, those basic rules of engagement with our fellow human beings grow stronger as we grow a tad wiser.

To start with, we need to understand our actions and hold ourselves accountable. When we know the facts about a situation, yet, we still turn a blind eye, we are guilty by association. The company we keep does say a lot about us.

In ancient Rome, March 15 was the deadline for settling debts. This is also the date on which Julius Caesar was killed. On this date the world record rainfall was recorded in 1952. For my US family and friends, this was also the date on which the Ed Sullivan Show was cancelled in 1971.

Beware the Ides of March. Good news, it’s almost over and may its end see bright new beginnings, and in the words of many a beauty queen through the ages, let’s work on World Peace.

I’m proud of this beautiful country I now call my home. More than 1,000 Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion, had their visas approved to arrive in Australia this month. Our community leaders want these new arrivals to have work rights and access to healthcare.

As in our private lives, we cannot be neutral about life. There is wrong and right. Know the difference and get off the fence. It starts with us.

Mint is no catnip

A word of advice to pet owners. Don’t let your pets nibble on mint. It makes them aggressive and could harm their kidneys. I discovered this when Kiki stole mint I brought in from the garden. Within the hour, she became aggressive and looked as if she was on a bad trip!

The vet, obviously prejudiced against silver Persian cats, advised I put her to sleep but prescribed some anti-depressant for cats in hope…

 

Kiki gets to live her best life. The image above right is the day after that bad mint trip.

I opted for the Felliway calming diffuser after I researched the effects of mint digested by pets. The following day she was very thirsty and hungry. Much like humans with a hangover. I offered her some greasy bacon and eggs, but she did not seem impressed.

Happy to report, no more violence from the fur ball teen, who might have been a late teen if I’d not researched the herb, which I love in my tea! I’m thrilled to report mint has not turned me into a murdering psycho. Not yet anyway. Been tempted, though.

Out and About on the Peninsula

When it comes to living the goodlife, we need to appreciate what’s on our doorstep. For too long were we deprived of going out and savouring the beauty and bounty of this splendid Mornington Peninsula – and the myriad other charms of Melbourne and surrounds.

Attending a tourism business event with my friend Trish to familiarise myself further with the hospitality destinations on offer, I was surprised by the choice of venue for such an event. One always expects a winery, being here in wine country and all.

Well, JimmyRum Distillery in Dromana certainly delivered. I don’t drink spirits and have not had rum since a splitting headache the day after, which I chose to never repeat, about 27 years ago.

Happy to report I had no day-after fog after that delicious Rum Negroni, which included oaked JimmyRum, Campari, Dolin Rouge, topped with fresh orange peel. Refreshing and I’d describe it as a sophisticated tone on the tongue. I can’t help remembering a silly commercial, many years ago, in South Africa, asking, “where did you have your first Campari?” – pronounced in a guttural Afrikaans accent. The answer, “Benoni.”

Not a great place to come from, even worse to go to. However, one of South Africa’s greatest movie star exports, Charlize Theron, hails from there, so, not all bad. And they serve Campari there. I think?

My fondest memory of Campari? Where did I have my first, Campari? Clifton Beach, Cape Town. So, this cocktail conjured up so many joyful memories for me.

Trish, cocktails and prawns at JimmyRum in Dromana.

On that happy note, I suggest you head off to JimmyRum Distillery here on the glorious Mornington Peninsula, which in many ways, reminds me of the beautiful Cape of South Africa – just without those majestic mountains but the hills are pretty and the vineyards are so scenic. The water is warmer here too.

All this waxing lyrical just after one cocktail. Imagine the stories after two… Trish, who is launching something to appeal to stylish women soon, (watch this space), agreed. We’ll be back – with the rest of the musketeers. Visit www.jimmyrum.com.au

No harm in indulging in some of the classical culture I grew up with and a visit with dear friend Rika to Beleura House & Garden in Mornington made my soul soar on a perfectly mild summer’s day.

Joe Chindamo on piano and Zoe Black on violin ‘s recital, Salut D’Amour comprised works by Frank Bridge, Edward Elgar, Erich Korngold, Josef Haydn, Astor Piazzolla, John Chindamo and Joe Chinadamo’s own Spiegelhaus, proved an encore for more. Judging by the lunchtime audience, my sentiment was shared with gusto.

Tea and delicious sandwiches, followed by scrumptious macaroons and other sweet treats, served in the restaurant overlooking the tranquil garden and pond, made for a charming afternoon in an historical villa.

Sir George Tallis was MD of JC Williamson Ltd, the world’s largest theatre company. In 1916 he purchased Beleura as a family holiday home, where celebrities from the theatre world, including Dame Nellie Melba and the Ballet Russe, often stayed as guests of the family.

Sir George’s son, composer John Tallis, spent a lifetime preserving the property after his father’s death in 1948. He left Beleura House and Garden in perpetuity to the people of Victoria for their enjoyment and education.

The romance of Beleura House and Garden, pictured above.

Originally built for successful merchant James Butchart in 1863, then regarded as Victoria’s finest residence, this state heritage-listed house museum contains intriguing artworks and furnishings. The great grand piano is a triumph.

The Palladian architecture, so reminiscent of great homes I’ve seen on Lake Como and the UK, also reminded me of a similar villa, modern but copied to depict such romantic designs, in Johannesburg, namely Fairlawns Boutique Hotel, Spa & Villas. My last visit to that luxurious beauty was superb.

Delicious champagne, great company, mouth-watering cuisine, whilst discretely spotting international celebrities wishing to be away from the madding crowd.

Beautiful music, architecture and good food will evoke happy memories. That’s the magic of soul-touching events. I highly recommend a visit to Beleura House & Garden – www.beleura.org.au

Dining on the Peninsula is always a treat and watching the sunset over the bay, somehow makes everything seem right with the world.

I’ve written about Crackerjacks in Seaford before, whilst Waves in Frankston, and The Rocks in Mornington always deliver on beach views, good service, and delicious food.

My only gripe at Crackerjacks is the lack of choices for bubbles when we produce such fine sparkling wines here in Victoria. I’ll be making some suggestions. Their garlic prawns are out of this world and my current favourite dish.

Garlic prawns, above left, at Crackerjacks, octopus salad at The Rocks, and barramundi at Waves.

So, our little gang, including Rika, originally from South Africa, Trish, Aussie, Rosaria, originally from Sicily, and Sue, another Aussie, meet for lunch and we fix the world regularly. The stories are long and detailed, with plenty enthusiastic interruptions about memories of our past travels and more stories. Fashion, good food and living our best lives make for much joy and laughter. Cheers to sincere friends and living the goodlife.

Pictured above, from top left: Sunset view from Frankston, bathers on Frankston Beach with Melbourne in the distance, Mornington view from The Rocks, Frankston Beach with Oliver’s Hill in the background.

Autumn safari in South Africa

Itis no secret, Tau Game Lodge being one of my favourite safari destinations on the planet. Having spent so much time there over the years, every visit resulted in new experiences and nuances, in understated five-star luxury.

Autumn is a special time, when the hues and landscape change to warmer colours, and hot toddies and much conviviality abound around boma fireside dinners on an authentic safari.

This is also the time when the visibility of game enthrals visitors to Tau Game Lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve. Game is less inclined to seek shade after the summer heat has subsided.

Tau Game Lodge, pictured above.

Safari game drives with prolific sightings of the myriad game, including the Big Five, followed by sundowners in the bush before a delicious dinner, are memorable. Listening to the sounds of game trumpeting, roaring, tweeting, and barking their nocturnal supremacy, is pure safari bliss. This is Tau, the place of the lion.

The Tau Easter and Autumn 2022 packages from @R16,000 per couple, include:

  • Accommodation for 2 nights in one of the 12 newly renovated Luxury Standard Chalets as an introductory offer
  • 3 meals per day
  • 2 game drives per day
  • Drinks and snacks on safari drives
  • Tau Spa Oasis African Foot Ritual (30 minutes) per adult: Allow your feet to be pampered by our therapists in a soothing footbath to drain away fatigue. Next your feet are cleansed and massaged with an aroma-therapeutic based scrub, followed by a true African warming foot massage.

To book this special package, please quote: TAU EASTER 2022 – go to www.taugamelodge.co.za for further details.

On the couch

I have loved the movies since those early childhood days when the folks would take me to a matinee once a month on a Saturday at the Century Cinema. Who needs therapy when we can escape into another world, vicariously living exciting lives in exotic places.

The recent Bafta Awards ceremony held at one of my favourite theatres on the planet, the Royal Albert Hall in London, was a dazzling event. After two years of on-off lockdowns, it was a treat watching the event on the box and seeing tribute paid to some of our favourite stars, in recognition of cinematic genius.

Aussie star Rebel Wilson did a good job as presenter but the star of the event, for me, was Dame Shirley Bassey, belting out Diamonds are Forever and still hitting those high notes perfectly at 85! She still looks every bit the star.

The last time I visited this great hall, I had a casual lunch of bangers and mash, whilst students of the nearby music academy performed the sweetest jazz. A delightful interlude with a dear friend from afar.

Movies I’ve enjoyed lately, include Green Book, Brief Encounter, and Deep Water.

Green Book stars Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. This is a bit like Driving Miss Daisey but a far deeper education during a time of rampant racism in 1960s southern America. Based on the true story of pianist Don Shirley, this was a riveting story.

I adore classic movies, when the locations were believable, the stars enigmatic and the stories heartfelt. Brief Encounter, released in 1974, starring the now late Richard Burton and magnificent Sophia Loren, is a class act. We need more of these.

Deep Water, stars Ben Affleck and Ana de Armes, who is the latest Bond girl too. I believe during the filming of this movie they were romantically linked before Ben’s returning to old love Jennifer Lopez. The chemistry is tangible, and this dark thriller ticked most boxes of a gripping movie for me.

The location, set in and around New Orleans, brought back fond memories of my time spent with family in the South. Atmospheric and scenic.

Series that have entertained me and had me giggling like a silly teen, include Pieces of Her, starring the superb Toni Collett; Hotel Portofino, which I watched purely for the joy of reliving my visit to this romantic port years ago; and Cashmere Mafia. I believe these girls were in a class of their own and if you love fashion, this is a treat. Seeing sweet revenge taken on cheating partners, a further thrill. We are only human…another Aussie starring in this series, Miranda Otto, nails it with great panache, whilst Lucy Liu is always dynamite, all 5’2” of her.

Style, comfort and sustainable fashion

I love authentic fabrics in fashion as it makes the garments, and accessories, more enduring and sustainable for my slow fashion closet.

However, I recently discovered Vivaia, featured in my previous blog, which produces stunning, stylish, comfortable footwear from recycled plastic bottles.

Not only are the designs classy, but the fact that my feet are comfortable in washable, recyclable shoes, eases my conscience for having so many shoes. These sustainable beauties, offering yoga-mat comfort to my tootsies, are simply fabulous!

Use my discount code Tilly18 www.vivaiacollection.com and on Instagram on vivaia-official – have a look at the new detachable bows – a great idea to embellish any shoe.

Pictured above, adding colour to neutral linen basics. Above right, lounging in comfy striped pointed toe Vivaia flats.

Pictured above, sticking to classic styles, layers and vibrant colours to add attitude to neutral colours. Wearing my gorgeous Vivaia pointed flats, also with detachable bows, above. Remember to use my “Tilly18” discount code to shop.

With summer slowly finding her way to distant shores and autumn quietly replacing her, layers make for easy dressing to complement the varying temperatures.

Digging out my long-life garments, gathered in travels and always acquired to complement existing items in my cupboard, is a happy start to a new season.

I love the strong jewel colours and rich burgundy hues back on trend and I’m so thrilled I kept most of mine from years gone by. Being presented with always welcome fashion vouchers to feature the new season’s colours and styles of my choice on my fashion Instagram page, Sixty_is_the_new_40, I’ll be adding a new dimension and colour harmony to my often-preferred neutral shades.

Here’s to a stylish, happy month, wherever you are, darling readers. We make the world better by creating joy for ourselves. Cheers to the ripple effect of living the goodlife…it starts with us.

Old dogs and new tricks

By Tilly Smith Dix

Whoever said you can’t teach old dogs new tricks should be taken to the pound. Stop blaming the dog. They’re usually willing to learn, it’s the humans that might be a tad slack in that department.

I recently had a conversation with a woman who informed me she was not interested in learning new things as she felt too old. Her exact words, “I’ve always had my late husband take care of this stuff. Now he’s gone, I’ll find someone else to do so.”

In the same breath, she informed me she had no life and was so lonely as many of her old friends and relatives had passed away, moved, or simply were no longer in touch. Trying to be diplomatic, I suggested she attended some community gatherings, where people share ideas and teach each other new hobbies, or help each other get more out of life through online communications.

I was shot down in flames, with her telling me she was past wishing to acquire new skills. Yet, again, a day later, she sent another lengthy message about how lonely she was.

On the same day, I communicated with friends and family around the planet. We all expressed our gratitude for the internet, as it keeps us in touch. Without it, coping with severe lockdowns in a pandemic, not to mention sometimes being housebound for various reasons, perhaps even our health, we’d have all lost the plot. Well, certainly, lost it more than we could get away with, right?

I mentioned in a previous blog how much fun I had working with an amazing crew, filming an Apia tutorial, geared mostly for people over 60. Well, the editorial and promotions are now live via the Apia site and social media platforms, and I honestly hope it will inspire more silver sisters and brothers to take the plunge and get connected.

I’d like to add on first viewing the online ads and video, I became immensely critical. I was painfully aware of why my jaw moves awkwardly at times, how one cheekbone is a bit higher than the other. All of this is easily overlooked in still photographs for my Instagram @Sixty_is_the_new_40 fashion pages.

This triggered a reminder of being viciously assaulted by a street vendor more than 20 years ago, when facial bones were fractured. The news spread across several weekend and daily newspapers at the time, as it was a frightening experience and at the time, the perpetrator, who was caught, or rather, surrendered himself to the police, so as to continue his street-vending business, got off on a heavy fine to the Court, and a six-month suspended sentence. Why?

He was the only breadwinner in his family, with his wife out of work and three daughters at school. The public prosecutor, enraged with the judge’s decision, explained to me afterwards, if this creep went to jail, his children would drop out of school and turn to crime and this was why judges were giving them second chances.

He was from Zimbabwe, living and trading in Johannesburg. Why did he assault me? I bought a fold-up table from him the previous day, which fell apart when I tried to set it up at home. All I wanted was to exchange it for another.

Not having seen myself speak on film since I was in my twenties, this was an eyeopener. I could also see the fine lines, easily overlooked in the flattering light of a still-photographic process.

Such triggers are never easy, as old emotions rise to the surface, seemingly long forgotten, and the thread of the process is back, in vivid, frightening colour. The lengthy, and many surgeries, fractured relationships, and new, long-lasting, supportive friendships, are all reminders of a life that is lived. Yes, some friendships were compromised as people did not want to be around someone who had ‘attracted such negativity,’ to quote a former friend, whom I had assisted often financially.

Why do some ignorant people believe that bad things only happen to bad people? Amazingly, this woman, so afraid my pain and temporary bad luck might rub off on her, decided I was no longer a convenient friend.

I became stronger and eternally grateful for the genuinely caring, kind people in my life and who in fact entered my life during that time in a supportive way. I was alive and life was improving every single day.

No, this is not a ploy to get sympathy or assurance that I look okay.  Those horrid memories are part of all our stories, and dwelling on them is toxic. Shake them out, learn what is of value and throw the rest back where it belongs, in the distant past. Breathe, smile, put your shoulders back and go learn some new skills: https://www.apia.com.au/apia-good-life/learning-development/digitise-skills.htmlhttps://lion.app.box.com/s/1s99yzciqyq3wboxlts3oprorf6vmbnl/file/907339259776

We are older, NOT over! I got sassy on my Facebook post to promote the promotional link, in which I suggested we should not sit on the porch counting cars, but endeavour to get in a Porsche instead. No, not been in one of those for many years but that’s another story for another blog, chuckle…

Surf and turf

Ah, George Gershwin, long gone but the music lives on, thank you, for Porgy and Bess. As for the lyrics, DuBose Heyward was pure genius. So, cheers to Summertime, when the living is easy and we get to not only walk on a pristine, sandy beach, but to get our feet wet strolling in azure waters.

We don’t always have to do glamorous things and spend vast amounts of cash to enjoy life. The simple pleasures will always feed our soul if we let it. Just being in the moment and being grateful for being able to move around freely in my own State of Victoria is sheer bliss.

One of the beaches close to my home, which I featured in my previous blog, Carrum Beach, remains a thrill. A child of the sea, I am always intrigued by the changing tide and the colours of the bay, reflecting the moods of the sun, the moon and the scattering of clouds. Such appreciation was instilled by my parents and I am forever grateful for their teaching their children to savour these wonders by example.

I am immensely impressed about how rules are adhered to on this long stretch of beach, which flows panoramically into Seaford. There is a dog beach too and I’ve not spotted locals stray from the designated dog beach with their beloved pets.

Recently, a writer I have always admired immensely, mentioned on Facebook how people were not sticking to the rules and were walking their dogs on beaches where dogs were not allowed. One of her followers expressed their approval, indicating if one was not in favour of such actions, one could not possibly love dogs. I agreed with the writer, who retorted, this was not about dogs. It was about respecting rules and other folks on the beach.

I know of children, and even adults, who have been attacked by strangers’ dogs and therefore prefer to frequent beaches where there is no risk. I also know of people who detest stepping in dog poop whilst strolling along nature’s bounty as not all dog-owners seem vigilant about cleaning up the mess.

Yes, I walk on the dog beach as I love watching dogs frolic on the beach and in the water. However, I wear sandshoes for obvious reasons. So, to those caring souls who clean up their dogs’ mess, I say, good on you, mate.

Obviously, a walk on the beach and a dip in the sea are great appetite enhancers and after a recent stroll, I discovered a quaint café in Carrum, Settle Gretel.

The food is good, the service great, and the ambience friendly. On this occasion, one of the kindly staff members happened to be an expat too! Love when that happens. Not that one wants to form a South African colony but it’s always a thrill to hear the accent and exchange fond memories of the old country, and discuss new memories made in our new country of choice.

As my friend and I were about to depart, two disabled people, who greeted everyone and had happy smiles on their faces, were wheeled in by caregivers. It was humbling, seeing the joy in those faces. Could one ever not be grateful for being able to stroll on a beach, or anywhere, unaided.

Pictured above, walking from Seaford Beach to Carrum Beach, and eggs benedict at Settle Gretel in Carrum.

One can’t be dining out daily, so, on my way home from this particular lunch, I popped into Coles for groceries, where a tricky trolley had a mind of its own once it was loaded. Yep, humans do that too but that’s another story for another day.

This runaway trolley became an embarrassment when I was walking downhill to offload my shopping in the car!

Chivalry is not dead, yay! A man waiting for someone in the disabled parking alighted promptly, offering to help as he said that trolley was way heavier than me – he was probably right!

All was sorted in a jiffy, and he even deposited the offending four-wheeler to its designated spot as further proof of his respect for women. Grateful for men of the old school. I commended his mama for teaching him right when I thanked him for his kindness, and he acknowledged the fact she had been strict about manners!

Another catch-up with my adorable family at Seaford Beach a few days later was a bonus on a mild summer’s day. Watching the pixies build sandcastles, running in the water, and collecting shells, was sheer bliss. As for those loving hugs, could one ever get enough?

Sharing stories, eating an enormous, delicious steak sandwich, fish and chips, crispy beer-battered fries, and looking at the ocean from the deck at Crackerjacks after our beach visit, was the perfect end to another blissful day.

Sofa binges

I hugely admire Ricky Gervais’ ethos and straightforward persona. When I came across After Life, his recent series on Netflix, I got hooked.

We often underestimate comedians. Often, humour is a shield for a brilliant mind and deep musings. Honestly, I highly recommend watching this series. It’s not just for laughs. It touches on so many aspects of life, so much more relevant in our current times, you cannot help but feel this is fiction imitating reality. Can’t wait for the next season.

Kiki was intrigued by Ricky and his dog in After Life too.

What to do when one gets tired of the endless senseless action, killing and car chases in more movies than I’d care to mention? Escape to the classics. The movies my parents enjoyed and my much older siblings related to.

Charade, released in 1963, with the gamine Audrey Hepburn styled in Givenchy, and the always elegantly suave Cary Grant, ticks all my movie boxes.

A great cast, including James Coburn, Walter Matthau, and George Kennedy. Add a superb musical score in the mix, a sophisticated Parisian location, and this movie remains a favourite. With most of the cast long gone, their legacy lives on.

As an admirer of Jeremy Irons’ work, he does not disappoint as British PM Chamberlain in Edge of War. What a mess and as predecessor to Winston Churchill, the man was lambasted by many for trying to pussyfoot around narcissistic, deranged, embittered Herr Hitler in 1938.

Perhaps WWII could have been avoided if the PM had listened to reason…sometimes we must get our hands dirty and fight when bullies are at large.

Elegantly directed by Christian Schwochow, based on the book Munich by Robert Harris, and a stellar cast, including George Mackay, Jannis Niewohner, and Anjli Mohindra, I highly recommend this movie.

As for Power of the Dog, despite its authentic location, a great cast, and superb cinematography, I found no pleasure in this movie. I’ll give anything directed by Jane Campion a miss going forward. I thought she was cured after the awful Top of the Lake series, but she is still focused on depressing the hell out of viewers. Yep, many will disagree, and that is fine, but I’m no longer into pretentious darkness, produced in the name of art… have a heart! Bring on some happy endings, we need more of those.

Chanel in the city

Speaking of art and heart, oh, the freedom to walk the city again, what a thrill. Gorgeous friends Trish and Rika arranged for the three musketeers to visit the Gabrielle Chanel exhibition at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), in Melbourne.

It was riveting. My attention span is short, even when it comes to fashion, but I savoured every moment of this superb showcase for the legacy of a woman with true style vision, which lives on long after she has gone.

She set the bar high, and too few fashion designers have lived up to her standards. Style over fashion. She lit that flame and long may it shine its bright light.

The woman who made the LBD, the little black dress, something no woman with any sense of style could be without, did so much more than that. From the structured tweed suit, the flowing gown, the flapper energy, to those loose-fitting trousers, and comfortable elegance, she did it all and with such aplomb and passion.

She started her career as a milliner before opening boutiques in the French coastal resort towns of Deauville and Biarritz, in 1912 and 1915 respectively.

She wore her own creations, inspired by simplicity, practicality, and relaxed chic. A woman ahead of her time.

I have devoured every movie and TV series about Coco Chanel and still basking in the afterglow of this magnificent presentation in my beautiful city, I discovered a movie on TV I’d not seen before, starring Shirley MacLaine and Malcolm McDowell, Coco Chanel!

This is a brilliant production of Coco’s rags-to-riches tale, charting the rise of one of the most influential fashion icons of the 20th century. Brilliantly directed by Christian Duguay, the initial release of the film was in 2008. Two hours and 18 minutes of sheer Chanel heaven.

As for the inimitable Ms MacLaine, sister of Warren Beatty, I saw her perform her one-woman show in Sun City, South Africa in 1994, and she was dynamite. She is superbly cast as Chanel in her mature years. Barbora Bobulova is fascinating as the younger Coco. I fabulous binge on Amazon Prime.

Of course, I digress, so many stories, so little time! During our party of three’s city visit, we naturally had to eat after the Gabrielle Chanel exhibition and on a perfect summer’s day, we had bubbles, as Chanel might have done, crispy fried calamari, green salad and petite fries at the Arbory Bar & Eatery on the Yarra River.

Conveniently situated on our walk from across the Yarra River’s South Bank to Flinders Street Station, from where our train would depart to deliver us safely back to our meeting spot on the Mornington Peninsula’s Seaford Station, a great time was had by all.

During our stroll to peruse the cosmopolitan lanes and eateries, not to mention quaint Victorian shopping malls, we were saddened about some shops and restaurants now being permanently closed after the lengthy lockdowns over the last two years. However, we were heartened that many businesses have sprung back into action and are actively recruiting suitable staff to man their shops and restaurants. Hope springs eternal.

Pictured above, some of the superb aspects of the Gabrielle Chanel exhibition at the NGV in Melbourne.

Pictured above, gorgeous gals Trish and Rika, top left, scenes of beautiful Melbourne city, and me striking a pose in honour of Coco Chanel, at Clementine’s. Not my bike…

Style inspired by Chanel

Attending the Gabrielle Chanel exhibition at the NGV, I was reminded how much of our everyday style we take for granted, often forgetting where even the simplest striped T-shirt, flowing, comfortable culotte trousers, not to mention hat styles, originated from.

Long live the legacy of Chanel and I’m paying homage to styles I have treasured for years, happily ensconced in my wardrobe’s evergreen department.

Being a fashion front-runner for comfort, I think Coco Chanel would have approved of the sustainable, environmentally friendly, comfortable, stylish round-toe fluffy patterned mules by Vivaia @vivaia_official – it’s like wearing my yoga mat, just so much more stylish!

Suitable to wear from home to the shops to a casual dinner, these babies are my new best friends, sourced from recycled materials! I love the Bordeaux colour, also available in black – and half-sizes. For a discount via Instagram, use my Tilly18 code – you’re welcome.

Cheers to living our best life, appreciating the good folks in our lives, nature’s bounty, and living the good life…

And just like that

By Tilly Smith Dix

I’m not going to bang on about the pandemic and the sadness so many around the planet have experienced. Done that. We’d prefer to escape reality, for a moment at least…

However, what I have been made aware of, again, is people being lonely and getting conned on the internet by bogus characters. Yes, the fraudster Charlotte Shaw is still at large, conning men on dating sites in the US, including Silver Singles, using images from my fashion Instagram posts. I’ve written about Run Charlotte Run in an earlier blog, yet, Silver Singles, aware of this scam, continues to host this fraudster. The mind boggles. This individual has defrauded several lonely mature men since last year. I am NOT on any dating sites. Anywhere.

My point, we cannot buy love. We cannot buy affection. Have we become so insecure we believe this will save us from loneliness? Gosh, I’ve even heard of many quickie weddings taking place as folks are in a hurry not to ever experience another lockdown solo.

Committing to a relationship out of desperation is not fair to ourselves or to our intended partners. Learning to love ourselves, enjoying our own company, being at peace is a true gift. I find we appreciate the company of people who truly care about us so much more once we are comfortable in our own skin.

So many people lament the one that got away…perhaps a first love, a crush at the wrong time, or simply logistics of life sending lovers into different directions.

Do you have a Mr Big, like Carrie in Sex and the City, or perhaps a Juliet who was not to be? Years ago, a wise mature woman told me we should not mourn a lost love, the one we felt we had a true connection with that transcended beyond just the physical. The one we could just be ourselves with. The one we could laugh with. The one that took no effort to get along with.

Her point was, we evolve over many lives. If we believe in reincarnation, there is less despair as during this life, the one where that Mr Big or sweet Juliet is lost, is mere training for another life, when that lost connection is a new beginning, once wisdom through our other lives is gained. I like that. Makes you realise THIS life is for living and learning and loving more – and the next one might be an even greater reward.

Most importantly, being in the moment, and showing our appreciation for those kind, loving souls around us, makes it all worth living. Now.

The joy of finally spending time with our family and nearest and dearest, could never have been greater than during these now fast disappearing holidays. Christmas, through the eyes of children, dining with our kin, celebrating New Year with hope and toasting new beginnings, these are priceless gifts.

Cheers to a brand-new year. May it bring enough of what we need.

Me and my (new) shadow

A dear friend reminded me, ten days before Christmas, it was five months since my sweet Cathycat departed this world. My friend went on to send me a link for PetRescue in Mornington, through which I found the Community Animal Shelter in Mornington. I thought about it. Slept on it and perused the site the next day.

The two kitties I liked on the website, of which I’d adopt one, depending on how we bonded on that first meeting, were adorable. However, on arrival at the shelter, I spotted a shy, frightened little fluffy girl. It was déjà vu.

Kiki takes over, even tries to take notes…

Let me explain. I get premonitions, not all the time, but often. It happens in my dreams. It has occurred since I was a child. My parents never doubted my stories of dreams as my late dad had a similar gift, or curse, as some may call it. Being of positive persuasion, I find it a gift.

Having set my heart on that little black and white female, or striped tom resembling the African wild cat prior to my visit to the shelter, whilst sleeping on the decision to adopt a cat again, I had a dream about a silver, fluffy kitten, sporting streaky fur. I awakened, thinking it odd as such a cat was not on the shelter’s website.

So, imagine my surprise when I saw this little spayed female on my arrival at the shelter, only 10 months old, and she tried to seek shelter under my arm when I picked her up. She was stressed about the other cats walking around and obviously felt threatened. She trusted me. So, Kiki is now ruling this little home not far from the sea. I think Cathy would approve.

Kiki is smart, feisty, and enthusiastically interactive. That frightened little animal I felt I had to protect has made way for a boisterously playful pet, an affectionate purring machine, and a quick learner. Some boundaries had to be established and manners taught. Fully housebroken within a few days, Kiki is winning hearts of visitors to her new domain. Might I add, said visitors are deeply chuffed by this tentative show of acceptance.

Now, if only the difficult humans we know could be trained this fast, and well… chuckle…

A huge shoutout to the care and thorough screening of potential new owners wishing to adopt a pet by the team at the Community Animal Shelter, Mornington Peninsula. The love, care, and priorities to ensure the animals would be well taken care of, impressed me enormously. Kiki even got a few samples of her favourite pet food from Hills, a food sponsor of the shelter, to get us through the first few days! See more at mornpen.vic.gov.au or call 03 5950 1838.

Cheers to love, and the devotion of a beloved adopted pet.

Speaking of love, February is around the corner…

Valentines’ safari

Getting away from it all, to a place where the living is easy, the ambience understated luxe, the food is wholesome, and the spa overlooks the verdant bush…

Add lazing around two pools, one with infinity features, both overlooking a waterhole always frequented by game, or sipping cocktails in the privacy of one’s room deck, or reclining on the main hospitality deck, all with too-close-for-comfort vistas of the waterhole. Delight in the endless parade of game. No stress, visitors are safely surrounded by security fences to keep the predators at bay, whilst those wild creatures roam free. They own the bush.

This is Tau Game Lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve of South Africa, bordering Botswana. Can’t plan a trip yet? Why not get creative. Buy a Valentines safari voucher for two to visit Tau later – what a fab Valentines, or any special occasion, gift…

Get a safari fix at www.taugamelodge.co.za and be transported into the magical world of the bush at http://taugamelodge.co.za/main-lodge/live-webcam/


Beach music

Ah, walking on a clean, white beach, looking at families enjoying a picnic, children frolicking and building sandcastles, talking to gulls, embracing the smell and music of the sea. These are things that make the spirit soar.

Exploring my new neighbourhood is proving fun and simply pointing the nose of my trusty wagon in a direction I think could be a new adventure, I came across Carrum Beach, a mere 11 minute drive from my little home.

People are friendly, the beach stretches for miles, one end offering endless vistas of the Peninsula’s Seaford, Frankston, Mount Eliza and Mornington in the distance, the other offering views of the city via Bonbeach, Chelsea and Brighton. And, of course, the wide expanse of a beautiful bay, where the colour of the waters reflects the sun, the clouds, and a mutable kaleidoscope, from turquoise, to cobalt, moody grey, and sometimes midnight blue. Next time the yoga mat will accompany me too.

A customary stroll along the seashore, getting my feet wet, feeling the cool, white sand between my toes…three cheers for the sea…and it’s free.

Dining pleasure

The Mornington Peninsula offers endless choices of charming eateries and panoramically appointed wineries. Living here is never dull and after all those lengthy lockdowns, my appreciation for even the humble cheese and ham toasty on sourdough bread, is boundless! Imagine my joy when savouring the finer aspects of dining in my hood…

The Spanish Bar in Seaford is an authentic, quirky, unpretentious eatery and the food is affordable and delicious.

The stuffed bread from the breakfast menu ticked all the boxes. Broken chilli eggs, accompanied by serrano, manchego cheese, chorizo and Napoli sauce, perfecto.

Add a delicious chai latte, view of Kananook Creek and the diverse birdlife, such as crested pigeons, gulls, ducks and rainbow lorikeets, and the entertainment is endless – and not included in the bill. A further plus, the Seaford Pier is mere minutes away for a refreshing beach stroll.

The crested pigeons, eagerly observed by diners at the café through the large picture windows, were most entertaining, with one amorous male doing the fully plumed mating dance, inviting several females, dining on grass seeds, to join him. The ladies were indifferent, and one chased him off in a huff. I think he should change his technique. Perhaps focus on one gal at a time? Just saying…

Kananook Creek, the view from the Spanish Bar in Seaford.

A flock of wood ducks were attempting to cross the busy road and several diners, yours truly included, dashed outside to try and assist them. Happy to report, these ducks know their neighbourhood and decided to fly instead when the road seemed too busy to cross on foot. A collective sigh could be heard from the restaurant. I highly recommend a window seat.

I’ve mentioned the charm of the Mornington Peninsula wine trail before on this blog, and I’m eternally enthralled. How did I get so lucky, moving from the wine region of the beautiful Yarra Valley to this magical Peninsula, all part of greater Melbourne. Yes, my friends abroad still think we only hang in the outback, wearing corked fly-scaring hats and wrestling crocodiles. Think again! Attention must be paid.

My trusty friend Rika, another expat, who also happens to be a sterling tour guide, features in previous blogs. She has lived here for many years and put in time with the Mornington Peninsula Tourism Division. She knows stuff.

She suggested lunch at Merricks Trading Store, which proved yet another superb pitstop during a day spent traversing the many charms of the wine trail.

The rustic ambience with modern twists, great service and scrumptious food and wine got my vote. A delicious Baillieu Brut sparkling methode traditionelle, teamed with the daily salumi selection, cornichons and baguette, elgee garden crudites with tarragon oil and chopped almond, proved a perfect light lunch.

Yes, it was ample but still, we needed something sweet and the Merricks mess, rum and banana compote, dulce de leche, gingerbread and meringue to share proved a perfect sin on a sunny, summers day.

So much to savour, so little time…and thank ye gods of fabulous for Sagittarius birthdays. The three musketeers again gathered for Rika’s birthday, which proved not only a culinary sensation, but a glorious celebration of friendship, art, fine dining, fine wine, and sublime vistas of the ocean at Pt Leo Estate. On a clear day, one could see French Island.

Our entrées included carrot souffle, served with warm brioche, carrot sauce and herb salad; prawn rotolo with coconut, Pacific island bisque and curry leaves; and Tuerong Farm semolina cavatelli, globe artichoke barigoule and peas. Perfection on the plate and palate.

For mains, we opted for the Angus beef eye fillet, fine herbs and anchovy butter, accompanied by mousseline, tendon and lime puffs. A simple green salad, fresh butter lettuce with a sweet and sour drizzle, made for sheer delight.

My only criticism, whilst the cuisine is worth the price tag, the least the management should do is offer a free walk to diners to peruse the larger-than-life outdoor art overlooking the bay. We were not prepared to spend $10 to take that walk. We stuck to the restaurant exterior parameters for a brief stroll and used the zoom on our phones instead. No walk of shame.

Shaken, not stirred

Bond. James Bond. The thrill of sitting in a luxe cinema, reclining chair, the big screen, bubbles and popcorn. Yes, one should perhaps consider a martini, not stirred when watching the new Bond movie, No Time to Die but I’d not be able to drive home after a martini, so, I stick to the stuff I know, one glass only, of course!

What a movie! Pulling out all the stops, romance, action, villains of old returning, special moments and sounds from the original Bond movies, transported me back to a whimsical time of Bond. Sensationally in the now, with the title theme song performed by the stupendously talented Billie Eilish, if you love Bond, prepare for the Bond ride of your life.

Brilliantly directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, and I bet his job was made easier working with such a stellar cast. I love the quirky new Q, played by Ben Whishaw, the almost sensitive M, with Ralph Fiennes, and Miss Moneypenny portrayed by the gorgeous Naomie Harris. The bad guys are riveting, with Rami Malek, a favourite actor of mine, as Safin.

I hope Ana de Armas gets a bigger part in the next Bond movie. If she could spring into action like this after her character Paloma’s three weeks spy training, just imagine how great she’ll be after a few years in this spy game. I bet most men will fancy this pretty thing. Don’t mess with her, though.

I’m not going to drop a spoiler alert here but look into that beautiful child’s eyes. Brilliant casting.

As for Mr Craig, Daniel Craig, sad to see him depart as Bond, just when I started crushing on him.

Next time, I’ll get really into the groove by ordering delicious pizza when purchasing my ticket – that way you get it hot on arrival. Goes well with delicious Aussie bubbles. The popcorn, though, was not half bad.

I was so impressed with the checking in process at Hoytts Cinemas in Frankston. Our health matters.

As for the locations in this Bond flick, again, I was transported to amazing destinations I’ve visited and others still on my list. Gosh, I can hardly wait for the next instalment. Who will take over the Bond role? Big martini shoes to fill.

Sofa spud

If you want some action with plenty eye candy on the telly at home, I recommend Red Notice. Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot. Can’t get better action, or a better unexpected twist, in any tale…

Blythe Spirit, starring versatile Aussie actor Isla Fisher, Leslie Mann, Dan Stevens, and Judi Dench. One of my favourite Noel Coward plays, which took me back to my days working backstage in theatre. Loved it.

Nine Perfect Strangers, based on the book by Liane Moriarty, proved a gripping mini-series. It takes place in a boutique health-and-wellness resort, where plenty unfolds, secrets are revealed, and lives are changed forever. Produced by maestro David E. Kelley, the soundtrack is superb too, compiled by Marco Beltrami and Miles Hankins.

Festive in slow fashion

Ah, and again, just like that, after too much loungewear during lockdowns, we could glam up and dress in our finest for the Holidays!

I love the weather of Melbourne. It is so reminiscent of the Cape in South Africa, where we often got cool days to ease off some intense summer temperatures. Even some rainfall to cool things down, thus, keeping our style choices interesting, is welcomed – for the garden.

Layers are so my thing, and it becomes easy to plan a wardrobe when we only buy new items to complement our existing wardrobe mix. It makes for a more sustainable lifestyle, creating a slow-fashion trend, which is dear to my beating fashion heart.

Linen, lace, satin, silk, cashmere, cotton, these are the fabrics I never let go of. So, vivid colours are back on trend? Mix them up with the classic, basic, and earthy shades we’ve become so accustomed to.

Ah, we wore those bright colours years ago! I keep my Pandora’s box, a large suitcase, okay, maybe two, to store wardrobe items completely out of style. Then, when those fashions return, or I simply want a different look, it’s like wearing something brand new.

My ethos towards clothes resembles my ethos for people. Choose wisely, pick long-term and sustainability, and the clothes as well as friends will withstand the sands of time. I try not to store my friends in a suitcase, though, even when they are out of style. It makes them rather testy…

I recently received a note from the founder of Feedspot, advising me I’ve been selected as one of the top 20 over-60 bloggers selected from around the globe. Naturally, I checked out the source prior to clicking on the link provided and it is legit. For now, I see, I feature in the top 3  Top 20 Fashion Over 60 Blogs – I’ll take it, thank you so much, Anuj for the heads up. Seems I’m in excellent company.

Cheers to the good life, folks, here’s wishing you enough of what you need to bring you joy in this brand-new era, 2022. Don’t forget to smile, in fact, laugh out loud, often. Folks who don’t enjoy laughter, will avoid you and think you’re nuts, whilst those who are of the same tribe, will adore you more…

Life after lockdown

by Tilly Smith Dix

As a novice DIY diva, I found ordering supplies from the hardware store rather tedious during lockdown. Trying to work out the names of certain products online proved tough at times, but I got it sorted, eventually.

So, where did I dash to the moment shops reopened for the public? Fashion boutiques? Hair salon? Shoe store? Wrong! Bunnings! Armed with my new power drill, curtain rods, curtain hooks, and a selection of screws and hooks that will make a decorator salivate, I headed into the store’s nursery section too.

I needed colour in my new garden and was set on acquiring indigenous plants to attract butterflies, bees, and native birds. Mission accomplished! Butterflies are arriving and I’ve already spotted a red wattle bird in my young bottle brush trees.

Just learning to fit the drill bits in the drill proved an education and luckily, I had my kind friend Rika around, who smartly reads the instructions in detail! Always a good idea. NOBODY was injured in the process and all my fingers are intact. I also did not fall off the ladder, yay.

The lengthy lockdown clearly, affected so many people, often not in a good way. I’m rather grateful I had so much to do during that trying time. It kept me too occupied to ever feel sorry for myself. Loneliness, stress and a general feeling of alienation during those long 260 days seem to have been rife and so many people will struggle with the aftermath, not to mention financial struggles.

We need to be mindful of this as those feelings of desolation don’t simply vanish once the ordeal is over.

On one of my trips to the shopping mall post-lockdown, a woman, who was tearful and seemingly distressed, skipped the queue when needing to pay for parking at the pay station. Nobody standing in line at the pay point said a nasty word. We simply looked at her kindly from behind our obligatory masks. It was obvious this woman felt agitated and overwhelmed.

The parking attendant assisted the woman, with great care, looking at the rest of us with pleading eyes. Once the customer felt her problem had been attended to, she seemed calmer, and then realised she’d jumped the queue.

She turned to me, as she’d pushed in front of me, and had tears streaming down her face, apologising profusely. I assured her all was okay and I was so relieved she had help and it also clarified the paying process for me, as this was my first visit to the centre.

It felt so good not being angry and the fact it might have restored the woman’s faith in humanity, improved my mood even further for the rest of the day. Humanity has not completely lost the plot.

This incident reminded me of women who support women. This mindset is close to my heart. Women who appreciate and admire other women are my kind of tribe.

When my talented friend Chiz designed my fashion Instagram logo for Sixty_is_the_new_40, my reason for choosing the title was poignant for me. Friends in this age group, who were superb in their jobs, were being put on retirement to make way for a younger generation. The lucky ones got to consult as someone had to train these young future stars of business. Smart companies retained many over-60s as they realised their value. Many did not…

So, my mindset for the Insta handle was simple: Over sixty does not mean over the hill.  Forty seems a good, relevant age. Not too young. Not yet ‘old.’ For me, personally, I felt a shift when I turned forty. I started a new life, moved back to the big city, embarked on a new career path. My attitude attributed plenty as I felt I’d come into my own at the time.

So, when I turned sixty, I felt slightly adrift but not lost. How did that happen so fast? The world saw us as ‘older,’ and often, ‘over.’ Sadly, some people accepted this and sat on the porch counting cars and became depressed.

I’m not trying to be forty. I’m establishing the fact that we are as relevant now as we were at forty. We start new lives. We are sexy. We come into our own. We start new businesses. We pursue new hobbies. We are fabulous. We pursue life at our own pace and on our own terms. We matter.

This mature age group is the new warrior tribe going forward. We have knowledge, confidence and make the most of our appearance as we are proudly ageing and making this not only a new chapter, going forward to our seventies and beyond, but creating a whole new era. Never doubt how amazing this tribe is and what we are capable of achieving.

So, whilst I’m not there yet, when I hit 70, I’ll be changing the title. I’m thinking Sixty+Beyond_is_the_new_fabulous – or simply, Sixty+_is_the_new_era – any ideas? Let’s talk.

Be kind to each other, learn from each other, respect each other, don’t judge each other. Want to have invasive surgery to look younger, have botox, do whatever it takes, go ahead. Don’t wish to succumb to the needle or the knife to chase everlasting youth? Our choice. I don’t do botox and fillers. I don’t colour my hair either. However, this is my choice. We are free to choose. We just need to know where to draw the line.

If we drop or need to fix a bad stitch of this tapestry of life, it simply makes us more interesting. There is a space for us all, especially for authentic women supporting women, and men supporting women. Misogynists and narcissist are not welcome. Scoot off.

Trouble with the Neighbours

Things get a bit tricky when you live in a unit, where you share common property, like the roadside and parking spaces, with strangers. We can’t always pick our neighbours.

One or two of these neighbours have toddlers and are flushing baby wipes, yuk, down the loo.  After the heavy rains in recent weeks, these offending wipes block the common sewage system and plumbers are called out, mostly at weekends, it seems, to remove the offending obstructions in the flow of things. Reality can be a stinker.

When the body corporate manager again failed to respond to my email in distress, I took matters in my own hands. I’d had enough as after only a week or so in my new home, housecleaning wipes had blocked the system, this time used by the previous owners, who believed such wipes were indeed flushable. The manufacturers said so, after all.

Anyhow, I decided to pen an anonymous note to all the other tenants, requesting they be mindful of the rest of us.

This is so unlike me, to be anonymous. Be honest and straight, that’s my motto. However, when asked by a dear friend why I did not reveal my identity, I retorted I had a fear of unknown neighbours – I did not wish to start a war.

My other fear, said neighbours may just throw their babies over my fence, demanding I clean their bottoms without flushing those stinky wipes. One just never knows what folks will do when cornered, right?

Then, a much-loved neighbouring cat spent a night with me. He was the best one-night stand a girl could wish for. Excellent bedside manners, housetrained, well-mannered and adoring. I suspect he snuck out while they were preparing to depart for a few days, not realising he had gone. Probably a self-feeding system and plenty of kitty litter were left for him.

My one-night stand, Ollie. He stayed, he ate, he charmed, he slept, he left…sigh…

I’ve not told them he spent a blissful night with me. They must have been relieved to have him back home too once they returned and found him missing. He heard them return and after a brief goodbye, similar squeaky voice to my darling departed Cathy, he hopped my high fence with the stealth of a panther to return home the following day after a delicious lunch of tinned sardines.

I’ve spotted Ollie once since then, welcoming his adoring little blonde human home from school. The cute little girl once told me he was her best mate and does not leave her side if she is sick.

I think Ollie is cautious about leaving the house now, for fear of his humans leaving him again since lockdown restrictions were lifted. My ego is not crushed – maybe just a little. The upside? I’m hoping the neighbours and Ollie will be more careful going forward.

Dine, wine and embrace good times

Always a keen cook, I must admit I became rather bored with my own food after 260 days in lockdown. After all, dining out is an occasion. It is also a time to spy on good chefs and try to recreate their dishes at home. Ordering in is just not the same.

Well, I’m recreating nothing culinary at present. I’m sampling and getting busy on TripAdvisor to promote local eateries offering delicious cuisine and gracious service. My new job, chuckle…this cook is off duty for a while.

Meeting my friends to dine out is a delicious regular pastime again and never have we appreciated breaking bread and chewing the fat, washed down with tasty bubbles, more than now.

Lilo, in Mornington, is pure delight and catching a glimpse of the ocean adds further joy.

A great spot for breakfast or lunch and I’m told they are working on a license to serve alcohol. For now, the chai tea latte is nectar of the gods – for brunch.

My friend and I decided on ordering two different dishes to share so we could enjoy several different flavours. The choices of fritters and croquettes, with bacon and a poached egg, proved scrumptious. My choice, the sweet corn fritters with smashed avocado and bacon on baby spinach and the sweetest tomatoes. We could not fault it!

A scenic drive to Martha Cove afterwards, and an easy stroll to Pebble Beach, proved an ideal way to walk off our ample brunch.

      

The Baths Restaurant in Sorrento is one of my favourite dining venues on the planet and a cold rainy spring day did not deter two good friends from tucking into the always delicious food and captivating ocean views of the ferry.

The mouth-watering Loaded Seafood Chowder, Flash Fried Japanese Calamari, Grilled Humpty Doo Barramundi served on new season asparagus, and Grilled Prawns served on warm soba noodles and enoki salad, enhanced by citrus wasabi, ticked all the flavour boxes. Not a morsal left on our plates.

Yes, life is beautiful here on the Mornington Peninsula and a restaurant my lovely circle of friends has grown to cherish, is Waves on the Beach in Frankston. If we were any closer to the beach we’d be sitting in the water.

Calling ourselves the three musketeers, we celebrated a good life here, and as our eyes, as always, were bigger than our proverbial stomachs, we ordered a starter for three to share, followed by our individual mains.

Walking in Martha Cove, watching marine crabs chase shadows, and dining on scrumptious prawns and barramundi at The Baths with vistas of the ferry on a rainy day in Sorrento – welcome to the Mornington Peninsula.

Suffice to say, the Spanish Prawns, cooked in smoked paprika chilli oil with chorizo and sourdough, was finger-licking-delicious! Dipping our bread in the remaining sauce was as fabulous as dining on the best tapas somewhere in Spain. Just better, with our panoramic azure sea vista.

My Lamb Shank, served on Linguini, was succulent and oh so tender. Trish’s Pan-Seared Barramundi, topped with scallops, toasted nuts and seeds with chat potatoes, green beans, and lemon caper butter, was perfection on a plate.

Rika declared her choice of Bengali Lamb Curry, slow-cooked in aromatic spices and served with black mung bean dhal, rice and pappadum, a veritable feast.

How could one be dining so close to the sea and not enjoy a delicious champagne? Our choice of the Varichon et Clerk NV blanc de blank cuvee from Savoie, France, was simply delicious. Priced the same per glass as a local prosecco, there was no contest. The French won this round. We support local, but seriously…

Just to show we have no beef with the Spanish, in fact we like their beef, a meetup with another lovely friend in Mornington proved another delightful interlude.

Sue had been locked out of Victoria whilst on holiday in NSW and she had no complaints. Her partner and cute silky terrier also had fun on the beach, away from the madding crowd, for several months.

We met up at Casa de Playa in Mornington for Spanish tapas and it was a treat. Ole. A huge thumbs up for this vibey eatery…

Having missed all three birthdays of the three pixies in my family, having them around to visit after such a lengthy separation was pure heaven.  Heaps of hugs, stories, sugar and giggles, not to mention them being happy with their respective belated birthday gifts, kept a smile on my dial for days afterwards.

Affairs of the sofa

I thank the gods of television entertainment for keeping sanity intact during our forced incarceration. Sharing some of the gems that caught my fancy and kept me amused…

The Judge – 2014 on Netflix. The sterling cast includes Robert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga and Billy Bob Thornton. A riveting binge and some catchy one-liners. Duvall, as always, is superb, whilst Downey Jr delivers the performance of his life, as far as I’m concerned. I’d watch this one again.

Old Doris Day and Rock Hudson movies. My parents used to go to the cinema once a month. We’d go to a Milky Lane, have a burger, fries, and milkshake. In summer, I’d have a Cream Soda float. Heaven! Then, it would be a an early evening movie. I now find myself drawn to those old classics, which were easy on the eye, witty and nobody was brutally assaulted or killed. The ending was always happy too. I like that.

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel on Amazon Prime, what a treat! I became addicted and binged shamelessly on the first three series. Hoping Season 4 is in the bag, soon! Midge Maisel, brilliantly played by Rachel Brosnahan, is a woman ahead of her times in the Fifties. Susie, her gritty agent, is hilariously portrayed by Alex Borstein, whilst Abe Weissman, Midge’s father, is a larger-than-life character, portrayed by the ever-entertaining Tony Shalhoub. The entire cast is brilliant, and I developed a soft spot for the Lenny Bruce character, played by the enigmatic Luke Kirby. Get the snacks and cocktails lined up. You won’t want to leave your sofa and your laughter lines are bound to multiply.

Bond, James Bond, and Mission Impossible. Confession time. I love action flicks with style and happy endings, where the bad guys die. I loved the previous Bond movie, Spectra and will be watching the sequel, No Time To Die, in a cinema near me, where I’ll enjoy a glass of something delicious, not stirred, and a snack of crumbed calamari. Watch this space. Can’t wait…

As for the last Mission Impossible flick I watched, MI-4, whilst I’m not a fan of Tom Cruise, I savour the locations, action and visual splendour of these movies. So, Ethan and Bond now share a French actress… she is something, that Lea Seydoux. Mysterious. Unique. French. However, Paula Patton gets my vote. She just brings it home in MI-4. Pure escapism. One or two olives? Ah, decisions…

Speaking of martinis, Daniel Craig was never my favourite Bond. Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan ticked the boxes for me. However, I never skip any Bond film. Mia culpa. After watching Knives Out, though, starring Daniel Craig, I changed my mind. I now dig this guy. Okay, so I’m fickle but honest… more olives, anyone?

A movie I found entertaining and visually pleasing, was Blind, also on Amazon Prime, starring Alec Baldwin, Demi Moore and Dylan McDermott. Sensitive and believable. I thought this a superb screenplay by John Buffalo Mailer of a story written by Diane Fisher. No doubt, Alec has serious acting chops. So does Demi. No contest. It is deeply disturbing and tragic, the recent shooting on Alec’s latest movie set. One can only hope the truth will set them free and justice will prevail.

The Love Punch. Take a mature British couple, delightfully portrayed by Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson, a divorced couple, deciding to unite in claiming what is rightfully theirs. Now imagine them in the South of France, where an enchanting caper unfurls. The locations are sheer escapism and I’m so chuffed to say I’d been to most of these places. The final scenes in Paris will have the most hardened heart purr with hope. Think of me…

Ah, then there are those Christmas movies. Some are just too sweet to be real, then then are the ones that help us believe in fairy tales again, such as A Castle for Christmas on Netflix. I am a huge fan of Brooke Shields. I love how she is ageing naturally and graciously. I also love Cary Elwes’ work. Seriously, I’d make him the next Bond. Picture a magical location in Scotland, which I adore too. A white Christmas. A castle. A dog called Hamish playing cupid. Perfect. Happy Christmas.

Style, video tapes and no lies

Fashion and styling my timeless wardrobe remain visual and creative therapy for me and when a delightful, uber professional and kind content scout approached me through my Sixty_is_the_new_40 fashion Instagram page, I was thrilled.

I was booked for several hours of pure fun and entertainment, working with the highly skilled video crew at my new home. The focus was to demonstrate that women of a certain age are coming into their own, communicating with other likeminded people through social media and establishing themselves as an authentic brand.

As a proud silver sister, I had a blast! As soon as the link is released by the ad agency for their client, I’ll share. For now, I’m teasing…the reason? This entire experience is a testament to WHY I started my blog and WHY I launched the fashion Instagram account: to have fun and establishing myself as a woman who is true to herself, who will never stop learning and will enjoy fashion, style, and all the joys of nature and life, for as long as I live and breathe. Viva, we are OLDER, not OVER! Cheers to not sitting on our porch counting cars.

During filming, I also illustrated the process of planning my outfits for my fashion shoots and thoroughly enjoyed showcasing my ageless, often classic, as well as vintage, style, which features in living colour in current fashion trends. My motto, buy only outfits and accessories that will withstand the test of time as true style will always return to the fabulous canvas of ageless, gorgeous fashion.

Style over fashion, any day. Spot the basic pieces, styled in different ways to suit any occasion or mood. The hero items for me, French linen shirts, including that fabulous black halter top, personify timeless Aussie fashion at Country Road and Witchery. We had some nippy days in spring, hence the images in the top row, sporting a cashmere coat with faux fur, a fitted leather jacket, and suede pants with matching jacket, all from my vintage closet acquired in South Africa a long time ago.

Whatever your spiritual belief, here’s wishing you and yours Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Buon Natale, Joyeux Noel, and Geseende Kersfees – joy to the world. May we all embrace kindness, understanding, respect, gratitude, and compassion, a universal language. Here’s wishing you plenty of it. Cheers to the good life…

Life’s a beach

by Tilly Smith Dix

Lockdown level 4 has been a grind and people, especially kids, are struggling with the strict confines and home schooling. Melbourne is now known as the city with the longest lockdown restrictions in the world.

Fortunately, when one is moving home, it is regarded as an essential activity and it was during this time I changed my address, moving from the verdant Yarra Valley on the city’s outer East to the Mornington Peninsula, similar in distance from the city but located closer to the bay.

Again, I declared the next time I move house, it will be in a box to my permanent home of the spirit world, chuckle. I said that once before and ended up moving to another country. Never say never…another chuckle.

So, I had the move planned with precision. One needs to do that to maintain some level of sanity as it is a task not to be sneezed at, moving house. I was systematically, meticulously, moving items after thoroughly cleaning the new house, so as to have as little disruption as possible in the process.

Keep the bare essentials at the old house until the day of the final move, and cart the lighter stuff in unsealed boxes to the new address, unpacking where it would be utilised, then returning to the old home with the now empty containers. This was the plan.

I felt in total control. Then something bizarre happened and I realised I needed to hightail it faster to my new abode. If I’d known this would happen, I’d have had time to arrange a nervous breakdown. However, I had no time nor the resources to allow such frivolity, so I could hardly afford dropping the basket. I switched into energiser-bunny mode and packed like a demon to speed up the process.

My incredible family and a friend who is now like family, pitched in, which was allowed under the circumstances, loading their vehicles with me as the project manager and chief packer. Apparently, they were astounded at my energy, strength, and determination. I had no time to ponder this, as I just needed the job done! Woman on a mission, beware!

On the final day, the removalists arrived to pack up the heavy items, and fridge, bed, washing machine, furniture and garden furniture were relocated without a glitch.

Still, I remained in that highly charged, altered state of unpacking in, and organising my new space. Until an injury to a big-toe nail slowed me down. I guess I needed that, alas, could have done without the agony, as I needed to slow down after a month of energiser madness.

I slept for 10 hours, unaided by champagne. This is when I realised whilst the spirit is willing and the body keen, there is only so much one body can take before it needs to be recharged. Well, Rome, as the saying goes, was not built in a day and I became kinder to me.

Having always prided myself on having an excellent memory, which served me well as a journalist and then as a publicist, I haven’t the foggiest clue how I managed this great trek so fast.

It has to be said though, without the emotional support of said loved ones, not to mention my special tribe around the globe, I’d have cracked like Humpty Dumpty. So, cheers to never being too old to make yet another big move and never forgetting how lucky I am to have these special, caring souls in my life. Thank you from my heart’s bottom, said whilst blowing kisses of gratitude. Namaste.

To crown my joy, living in this new tranquil space, a loving couple of spotted doves built a nest in my small private garden, from where I have taken enormous pleasure observing the dedication and care with which the male and female are tending to the nest. I feel privileged they chose my tree from which to launch their new family.

Of course, I miss my sweet Cathy as she’d have loved this quiet space but for now, I have the doves cooing their contentment. She was way past her hunting days and would have simply moaned at the doves and complained to me about allowing these feathered beasts to nest within spitting distance of her favourite throne at the foot-end of the bed, from which she would observe them through the window…

        

My freeloading tenants, spotted doves nesting.

Living mere minutes from the sea is a bonus. I grew up near the sea and loved sailing on an estuary with friends as a teen. Whilst the Mornington Peninsula does not have the majestic mountains of the Western Cape of South African, there are aspects of the region that trigger happy memories of my years on that glorious coastline and making new memories in my beautiful surrounds is sheer bliss.

I’ve managed to meet my friends for walks in Frankston, where a stroll along the long white beach and along scenic Kananook Creek, a takeout coffee and toasty seemed like a glorious holiday. Lockdown has given us all a new appreciation for the little things that bring plenty joy.

I’ve also had to visit scenic Mt Eliza nearby to attend to essential business and savoured every moment of the 20-minute drive along the beachfront, return. Grabbing yet another takeout coffee and gazing at the moody ocean, with Melbourne depicted as some faraway Gotham City, again felt like a gorgeous escape from lockdown. Yep, silver linings abound…

For those feeling adrift during a pandemic, reach out to others. Often, we discover our problems are miniscule compared to those of others. In the quaint words of my beautiful friend of so many years, living faraway in Florida, we must embrace our lives as being, “tickity-boo.” Thanks for the smiles from so far away, Angie.

Sofa spud binges in lockdown

Harry’s Law is not just another law series.  Kathy Bates gets my vote as a middle-aged lawyer who gets fired from a big law firm and starts up her own practice with a diverse legal team, in a shoe store in a Cincinnati ghetto. Created by David E. Kelly, I’m disappointed the series was cancelled by NBC after Season Two, even though it was the most watched series on the network, according to the entertainment media! Something to do with Paramount owning the rights. Politics, sigh.

Having had plenty legal matters to deal with in the past almost two years, watching this series made me realise my problems were small! I love quirk and some of the unusual cases, not to mention befriending seemingly dangerous gang members who often tend to have a soft side, the often-unorthodox situations proved thoroughly entertaining. I’d gladly give this series 4.5 stars.

Pan Am is not just about pretty flight stewardesses and handsome pilots. Well, there is that but far be it from me to say I don’t enjoy looking at beautiful people, especially captains in uniform, wink-wink. The stellar cast includes the gorgeous Aussie, Margot Robbie, feisty Christina Ricci, lovely Karine Vanasse, enigmatic Kelli Garner, and handsome Mike Vogel. The layered web of romance, espionage, and stunning locations for great story lines, proved a delightful diversion.

This series takes place in the early Sixties and the war was still raw in many minds. Jack Kennedy built political bridges, declaring, “Ich Bin Ein Berliner,” which did not resonate with everybody. Five stars for the fun of this series.

Somehow, watching Pan Am reminded me of the late Seventies when I fancied myself as a flight attendant. Instead, I got bamboozled into a film test. Couch casting was offered after my two small movie parts.  I refused. No regrets. But I missed my chance to fly. However, I got to travel on my own terms eventually.

Travel back in the day seemed so much more glam. Sadly, 9/11 and Covid-19 diminished the gloss of travel but, once the world is back on a more normal track, all will be forgotten, and dreamy destinations will lure us to distant shores again. For now, I’m happily ensconced in armchair travel and savouring magical memories of travels of old…

On a more serious note, a movie gem I came across on Amazon Prime, based on true events during WWII, is A Call to Spy. Director Lydia Dean Pilcher and a stellar cast, including Stana Katic, of Castle fame, Sarah Megan Thomas, Radhika Apte and Linus Roache, tell the story of how Winston Churchill ordered his spy agency to train women to undermine the Nazi regime in France.

Not always comfortable to see these events unfolding, but we must never forget. Directed with sensitivity and style. I highly recommend this movie and gladly give it 4.5 stars.

The Only Living Boy in New York. Take Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Callum Turner, Kate Beckinsale and Cynthia Nixon, add a nuance story, laden with intrigue and surprises, and you get a sophisticated hidden gem on Amazon Prime. The soundtrack is so New York, I could smell that city of many layers. Watch it. This one deserves five stars.

Summertime, and the living is easy… and travel choices abound in South Africa

Luxe safari at Tau Game Lodge

Getting away from it all, to a place where the living is easy, the ambience understated luxe, the food is wholesome, and the spa overlooks the verdant bush…

Add lazing around two pools, one with infinity features, both overlooking a waterhole always frequented by game, or sipping cocktails in the privacy of one’s room deck, or reclining on the main hospitality deck, all with too-close-for-comfort vistas of the waterhole. No stress, visitors are safely surrounded by security fences to keep the predators at bay, while game roam free as they own the location.

This is just some of the magical safari aspects at Tau Game Lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve of the North-West, bordering Botswana.

Early morning safaris are spectacular, offering magical light for photography, with a pitstop for tea, coffee or hot chocolate, and delicious buttermilk rusks in the bush, whilst game rangers always keep a vigilant eye on game – got to keep the paying guests safe…

        

Tau Game Lodge, five-star understated luxe…great memories.

Current rates:

Special daily rates start at R 4,800 per person sharing, valid until 20 December 2021. After 20 December rates will be R6435.00 per person sharing – contact reservations for weekly and monthly special offers and packages at  +27-11–4668715 or check specials at www.taugamelodge.co.za

The Cherry Steam Train Festival at Sandstone Estates

In celebration of newly relaxed Covid-19 restrictions, narrow gauge steam trains, restored heritage transport and farming equipment, magnificent vistas of mountains, and simply in celebration of life and the tradition of the age-old cherry harvest, just north of Ficksburg…

This getaway is set to put the ‘wow’ back in life on 19 and 20 November. The Cherry Steam Train Festival at Sandstone Heritage Trust Estate in the Free State of South Africa is designed to thrill all ages – a magical, fun getaway for the entire family.

Steam fun for all ages at Sandstone on 19 and 20 November 2021.

One of the many highlights of the event will include Sandstone’s latest restored steam locomotive, the 1968 Johannesburg built NGG16A number 155, which will haul trains for the first time in 21 years!

Call Mariette on 064 752 3852 or 051 933 2235 or visit www.sandstone-estates.com for further details.

Fashion therapy

Spring has shown her true colours, albeit sporadically but how one appreciates her when she bedazzles the senses!

Layers just work during this trans-seasonal time and frankly, I like it, as we simply have to get creative. Wearing a silky camisole, layered with a linen shirt and perhaps a cashmere wrap, or cardigan, styled with loafers or heels, whatever the mood happens to be, creates a sophisticated, yet versatile style for any body shape.

I believe in investing in good basics for any season, which will transcend trends over many years.

Feeling overweight or just not comfortable with the body shape at present? Use a basic dark colour. Black or navy always works. Now style it up with perhaps a slightly lighter colour and finish the outfit with a pop of bright colour, perhaps around the neck, to highlight your face and detract they eye from body parts you wish to keep hidden for now…

 

I’ve always loved white. For any season. It works with layering and will do the job every time as a basic palette.

I’m loving the boho vibe for summer and have hauled out my scarves and kaftans to update any basic dress, pants, or skirt. If I can’t travel to the Riviera for now, I’m going to do my best to create the vibe in my own back yard!

Cheers to the good life, it’s not always perfect but we simply have to create colour and shine. The rest will follow…take care of you!

Losers and winners

By Tilly Smith Dix

This tapestry of life will often throw us an unexpected cross stitch, just to show us we are not in control, even when our intentions are good and our attitude positive.

Never have I realised it more than in recent weeks, when my devoted little shadow, trusted confidant and foot-warmer, fell ill and I had the choice to keep her comfortable for as long as her deteriorating body and now fragile disposition would allow.  She was not to suffer or endure pain just to keep her with me for selfish reasons.

The vet agreed this was the best choice for Cathy. He prescribed antibiotics to at least clear up her bladder infection. She deserved a dignified passage onto the Rainbow Bridge when she was ready.

Brave, feisty, pretty Cathy, who lived rough for some time until the day she decided to take me up on my offer of a haven. Always a remarkable communicator with her favourite human, she made it clear on the morning of 26 July 2021 that she wanted to end her journey on this earth. She was now in pain and she was losing the use of her front paws. Her head would also unexpectedly quiver.

In the wild, she would have chosen a bush in a quiet corner in which to fall into that quiet place, where pain would shift her into that outer body elevation, so she could simply float away to escape a condition that was irreversible. Stage four kidney disease.

         Pictured above, eastern spine bills, crimson rosellas, and plenty more colourful bird species on view through the window, where Cathy would spend her winter days on a warm bed. In summer, she’d stroll in the garden with me. The feather on her face floated down from a tree, where a juvenile rosella was expressing its glee. Cathy found it entertaining to play with that feather.

Instead of that bush, she chose to no longer eat and made it clear she wanted to crawl under her favourite blanket in the sun on the bed but she did not wish to see daylight. She wanted the dark of the blanket over her head.

Cathy always had a healthy appetite and until a few days prior, I could still bribe her with some extra cooked chicken, brown rice and sweet potato, in which I could camouflage her arthritis meds.

Now, she merely wanted to be warm and comfortable, after briefly looking out of the window, as she did most days, moaning at the birds outside one more time, before her choice of bush could be crept under.

I respected that and called the kind, caring veterinary team at Coldstream Animal Aid, where the staff had become accustomed to her grace as well as her excellent communications skills. She’d also made it clear to them, especially over the past weeks, she would tolerate certain procedures and prodding only if her trusted human could be with her. They respected that.

And so, after several weeks of palliative care, when the electric blanket was kept on low to keep her comfortable 24/7 to ease her arthritic aches during a cold wet winter, she made it clear she had no more fight left to remain by my side.

She had been on a natural product for arthritis for some years but as she was eating so little towards her final days, she could not consume enough food to absorb the prescribed dosage to ease her body aches.

I promised Cathy I’d not let her suffer when she had had enough and she soldiered on, albeit now walking in a geriatric, unbalanced manner, shaking her little head as if she had Parkinson’s disease. Never fond of being picked up, she now signalled she needed my helping hands to lift her onto and off the bed.

For several weeks, this smart little cat seemed grateful for the step I’d built for her with shoe boxes to ease her ascent and descent from the bed. No longer did she want to utilise her own beds, strewn around the house. She wanted the human bed she shared most of the time, where it was warm and her view through the window into the garden was unhindered.

Even on her final day on this earth, she showed dignity and wished to walk to her litter tray to do her business. However, she had stopped grooming herself and the sad smell of death started to not only emerge from her breath but from her rapidly declining little body. Even then, she was still a beauty.

Staying with her during her departure from pain and disease, assuring her of my love and gratitude for her intelligence, devotion, love, and often straight talk, was no walk in the park for this human. It took all my determination to speak to her calmly, lovingly, and reassuringly until she let out her final sigh with her little face in my hand after that second, lethal dose of anaesthetic. It broke my heart but hopefully, it eased her journey, knowing she would always be loved and never be forgotten.

Palliative care is tough on us humans. We ensure our pet is kept comfortable and happy. However, observing their deterioration, day by day, is heartbreaking. A fellow animal-loving friend said, “our pets don’t know they are sick. They only know they are loved.”

On a sunny day, after some torrential rains on the country estate where I lived in South Africa almost ten years ago, she arrived on my doorstep and requested permission to enter. I invited her in and from that moment, the wild, seemingly feral cat and I shared an amazing bond of trust. I’d watched and tried to coax her to take shelter in my home during those heavy rains, when she got flushed out of the drain where she had been living for some time. It took several days for her to think about my offer and come to my door. She proved to be a highly intelligent and well-mannered little diva.

However, she did not like being touched, her trust in humans had obviously been tested and she was adamant. I respected that and we just conversed.

She would rub against me, and lick my feet with gratitude after I’d fed her. She seemed proud of her achievement when I showed her, once, how to use a kitty litter tray. I told her how smart she was for catching on so fast as this adult kitty had obviously never used a litter tray.

Exhausted after living so rough and being abused by local farm workers, who believed cats were sent by witches to cast evil spells, which I tried to educate them about as being old-wives’ tales, Cathy would sleep all day in the soft little bed I provided for her in the sun in the bedroom. At night, she’s sleep close to me on the bed.

Late afternoon she would stroll into my home office and often sit on my desk. She seemed fascinated by the computer. In fact, she seemed fascinated by most things I did. I was her chosen human, and she was going to observe my every habit, it seemed. Even the girly things, like doing my hair or make-up, getting dressed, taking a bath, seemed to intrigue her.

I’d brush my teeth, and she’d jump on the bathroom counter, and attempt to drink water from my glass or, her personal favourite, straight from the dripping tap.

When I took her to the vet for a check-up and her required shots and microchip shortly after we adopted each other, it was discovered she had indeed been someone’s pet as she had been spayed. The vet agreed, her fear of being touched could have stemmed from being physically abused. However, by now, she was comfortable with me picking her up and stroking her.

Having her ears and chin scratched resulted in amplified purring. She was also gracious in allowing the vet to go about his business touching her when I was with her and talking to her.

The stories about Cathy are endless as she had a large personality and never failed to show her appreciation for being given a loving home. She used to take walks with me, her choice, and stay at my side. She’d find twigs and drop them at my feet. I’d throw them and she’d chase after them, like a little dog. If she sensed danger, in particular a dog that was on the loose, she’d dash straight home and await my return.

Not keen on strange humans, she was inquisitive, though, if I was conversing with people. So, she’d join in and acknowledge they were welcome if I approved. The neighbours miss her interaction, with me and Cathy on the porch, chatting over the fence with them.

These are the neighbour’s she’d also ignore if I was away for a few nights and they’d feed her. On day one, she’d pop from the bedroom to welcome them. However, once she realised it was not me, she’d return to the bedroom. After that, she’d only eat the food they’d leave for her in the kitchen once they’d mad their departure. Awkward, right?

Eating chicken without her quietly appearing in the hope of a treat, which she always got, is torture. However, how to deal with grief? Keep doing those everyday things that so poignantly remind us of our loss. Eventually, the pain lessens but the memories never fade.

The very hens next door she wanted no part of, would cluck away when I’d deliver some of my fresh food scraps. Cathy would wait at the neighbour’s gate for my return and complain about my chatting to the chooks. I’d then stroke her, she would seemingly reprimand me for interacting with the enemy, I’d reassure her, and we’d have a companiable stroll back into the house. This little cat has left a huge void.

Cathy also had a keen eye for footwear. She made no secret of the fact that my new discounted bunny-face slippers were not meeting with her approval. She’d stare at them, look up at me and march off. I’d replace them with my trusty old wool slippers, would stroll up to her, and she would rub her little face against them. Ever the clear communicator.

I also had several gifts of stunned juvenile snakes, which she would drop at my feet in my office during those early years! Luckily, they were in shock or pretending to be dead, so I’d scoop them into a kitchen container with some ventilation, until I could deliver them back to the bush by early evening, when they’d start showing signs of life!

Brace yourselves, there will be plenty more stories about this incredible, brave, determined little cat and I’m also working up the courage to add chapter two to the initial story from Cathy’s assumed perspective, which was published on this blog under Tales from Home some years ago…

I had looked forward to moving to my new home, where I hoped she would spend many a day napping in her private little garden space, but the angels had other plans for this little trouper, who lived to age 16 or 17, the exact years of which the vets were uncertain.

Cathy had survived a tough life, abuse, a move across the waters with me, chronic pancreatitis, FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus), for at least 7 years, arthritis, a 10ft fall from the sundeck (by rolling off when snoozing some years ago), the extraction of three teeth, several catfights to defend her home, where neighbours’ cats came to pick on her but sadly, the sudden onset of stage four kidney disease could not be reversed.

The first indication of the disease was frequent urination, drinking more water than before, and having two seizures, apparently brought on by the advanced stages of kidney disease.

Sadly, that devastating storm in June caused Cathy enormous stress. She seemed okay after a few days but a week later, we had wild winds again and that seemed to be a catalyst as the next day she had her first seizure, which seemed like a stroke. For several minutes she could not move her left front leg and looked at me pleadingly.

I called the vet and the blood tests revealed she was sicker than we suspected. The vet indicated the results were unexpected as Cathy still behaved in a robust manner.

Feeling helpless and wishing I could have done more to help this loving little pet, I am told, is normal. It is part of the grief and loss we suffer when we lose something so dear to us. Eventually, I will only remember the joy and love this devoted little cat brought into my life. Getting playful and rolling at my feet with joy when I listened to music that made me sing or dance.

Acceptance is often difficult. I miss our walks around the garden, with her chatting and me responding. Her sniffing the heated mat under my desk, indicating she was feeling the chill and I needed to turn it on. A creature of habit and a fast learner. I complied with all the love and care she deserved.

Cathy did grant me enough room for my feet, though, after spreading herself comfortably on that heated mat. Whilst enjoying the finer side of life, she was always ready for a chat and to show adoration and gratitude. A happy girl but never keen on other animals.

The welcome I got after a brief trip to the shops or running errands, was heart-meltingly sweet. Running to me, chattering, rubbing, and insisting on my hands scratching her under her chin. Ah, and did she love getting groomed! That soft brush, at first seemed suspiciously threatening to her but within seconds of our first grooming session, she was hooked on the tender care.

So, to now help me through this journey, I imagine my old Tiger, a large, robust, yet gentle cat I had the honour of spending 16 years of my life with before his body succumbed to kidney disease, arthritis, and cancer, to guide her and show her around that magical garden in the sky. To chase butterflies but never harm them.

Not simply a part of my past but a part of me, Cathy’s ashes will accompany me to my new home, where I am certain her feisty and communicative spirit will guide me to the spot in which she would like to be remembered in years to come.

My gratitude to my wonderful friends, fellow cat lovers, who have gifted Cathy’s individual cremation to me as a token of their caring hearts, and my family, and dear friends and neighbours who knew her and sent flowers to celebrate her vibrant personality, is endless.

At first, on arrival in that special place for our pets in the clouds, Cathy would have been cheeky with Tiger, I’d imagine, as she did not enjoy the attention of other animals but, being the gentle giant and charmer he was, I bet he now has convinced her of his genuine affection and devotion, as they had both basked in the light of my devotion.

I was lucky enough to have been honoured by their love, loyalty, and strong personalities.

So, even when we have a good life, we still need to deal with loss. This is my way and I hope my story will help you when you need to do the same.

Memories of Cathy come flooding back, constantly. The day a neighbour’s chook (hen) came strolling into the garden and walked straight past her. The look of total consternation on Cathy’s expressive little face was priceless. I could not stop laughing. She did not approve.

That look changed to pure fury when I spoke to the hen and picked her up to return her to the neighbours’ yard. Miss Cathy did not like to share her human with other animals.

Music has the power

It was during this labyrinth of grief I flicked channels to find a distraction and came across Echo In The Canyon, a documentary about the musicians who created amazing sounds when living in Laurel Canyon, California, during the hippie era. A place I visited and found fascinating years ago.

Featuring Jakob Dylan, son of Bob Dylan, and directed by Andrew Slater, I loved this authentic journey of a time when some of the most poignant music of our times was written and produced.

Be ready for an epic musical treat, which reverberated across the planet, by such iconic performers as The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, The Mamas & The Papas, and the like. Interviews with Ringo Starr, Jackson Brown and Michelle Philips will entertain you, I bet.

So, this is how I came to discover Jakob Dylan, a musician-songwriter, and actor in his own right. I am now a devoted fan. So, to Cathy, I dedicate Goin’ Back, performed by Jakob Dylan and Beck, and Go Where you Wanna Go, performed by Jakob Dylan and Jade, originally performed by The Mamas and The Papas.

If you remember some of these musical geniuses, you’d love Jakob’s videos on YouTube…

I bet you’ll also enjoy Dedicated to the One I Love, such sweet echoes from the past…

Say cheese

A brief relief from lockdown resulted in a scrumptious lunch and vistas of the Yarra Valley’s verdant hills, green pastures, and cheese-producing goats at the Yarra Valley Dairy.

The cheese and charcuterie platters have not lost their charm and the local wine choices did not disappoint.

Ask for the cheese hotpot, on this day, it was gruyere with onions. So French, so delicious and the fresh bread was irresistible. So was the duck terrine. The goat and dairy cheeses, bottled calamata olives and other delicacies from the bijou deli won’t disappoint either.

Sofa spud

My latest sofa TV binges comprise The Leisure Seeker, with superb acting by Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland. Suffice to say this is a bitter-sweet, deeply moving film about an ageing couple. Have the tissues ready.

I became so engrossed in Late Night, starring the incredibly versatile Emma Thompson, I cheered when things turned out right! A feel-good binge, you’ll thank me later.

For Leonard Cohen fans, the sensitive documentary on his love for Marian, Marian & Leonard, Words of Love, will touch your heart. No spoiler alerts. A beautiful love story indeed.

Series I’ve enjoyed whilst escaping the realities of lockdown and depressing world news, include The Good Witch and Virgin River. Catherine Bell, whom I enjoyed watching in JAG years ago, will bewitch you, whilst every woman I know would love to marry James Denton, whom we all secretly crushed on years ago when he was the male lead in Desperate Housewives.

As for Martin Henderson, true blue Kiwi actor as Jack in the Canadian production of Virgin River, he gets my vote as leading man this round. Hoping Season 4 follows soon!

Travel plans

Never has travel seemed more alluring than now, after seemingly endless lockdowns and feeling imprisoned in our homes.

Local travel beckons, whilst many of us are reluctant to travel abroad for now. However, planning a local getaway and being a tourist in our own countries, is healing therapy.

Travel in South Africa is always a treat and while most international travel would be on hold for now, this means locals get to experience the best of the best – and reduced rates!

Pictured above, endless fun for all ages as well as corporate team building facilities at Sandstone Estates in the Free State of South Africa.

Steam, heritage tours and a walk in the country

The Sandstone Walking Tours have proven an ideal getaway for visitors in need of the fresh, mountain air and magnificent surrounds of the Free State. Starting at the Waenhuis Café, small groups adhering to social distancing rules proceed on a walk down memory lane, which includes viewing:

Military vehicles, the tractor display, an ox wagon shed, steam and vintage sheds, vintage machinery, the vintage workshop, the main workshop, the stationery engine museum, a rolling stock shed, and the Sherman tank shed.

From Corporate team building to executive getaways, product launches and weddings, to year-end functions, television, video and photographic location shoots, Sandstone Estates cater for a myriad of interests. Some of the most recent group visits have comprised student, club, and tourist group outings.

Fancy a scenic trip to the Lesotho border in the BSA Rail Car, a 1910 classic Edwardian Rail Car, or perhaps the Wickham Rail Trolley, depending on numbers in your group…or perhaps an ox wagon or military vehicle ride afterwards?

Affordable accommodation for 32 guests, with options ranging from camping facilities, complete with an ablution block @R380-00 per stand per night, to six self-catering Victorian Cottages, which sleep 4 guests in twin-bed rooms, offering fully fitted kitchens and shower-bathrooms @R1,980-00 per cottage per night, including VAT. Railway cottages @R425-00 per person per night. Braai facilities are also on offer.

Call Mariette Palmer on 064 752 3852 or 051 933 2235 or email: mariettep@sandstone.co.za  for enquiries and visit www.sandstone-estates.com for further details.

Safari bliss at Tau

Waking up to the sound of a lion’s roar, a jackal barking, a cacophony of birdsong, or elephants trumpet…

Feeling chilly? Nothing a hot cup of chocolate, a rusk or muffin, perhaps with a dash of a warming Amarula Cream, won’t fix.

This is how a morning safari starts at eco-friendly, family-friendly, malaria-free Tau Game Lodge in the Madikwe Reserve, only hours from Johannesburg. 

The five-star lodge is enclosed within the reserve, resulting in guests being subtly fenced in, while game roam free. This is also a birder’s paradise.

See the mesmerizing Tau live webcam at http://taugamelodge.co.za/main-lodge/live-webcam/

Current rates:

Special daily rates start at R4,800 per person sharing, valid until end September 2021 – contact reservations for weekly and monthly special offers and packages –  +27-11–4668715

Rates include:

One night, 3 meals and 2 safaris, as well as refreshments on safari drives.

www.taugamelodge.co.za

Style it up

Winter has been long, cold, and often wet here in my verdant Yarra Valley. However, I’ve always loved winter as one could layer up, style up and do plenty with some basic outfits.

Spring, I hear, is on her way but for now, she is hiding behind the late winter chill, giving me plenty reason to snug up in some of my vintage and more recent wardrobe choices, especially mohair and woollen coats.

Pictured above, styling old with new. Acquiring current styles but understanding the versatility of a garment, will result in longevity. Much of the styles utilised above are from my vintage closet, with some new additions of soft corduroy pants and mohair knits. The image at the bottom features current stylish pants at Witchery Fashion, and an elegant longline white blazer from Zara.

Cheers to the good life, dear friends. It may drop a stitch or sadden us at times but in the end, there is plenty to lift our spirits – starting with nature, fashion and the love of those folks who truly care, and our animals. Oh, and don’t forget the bubbles…