By Tilly Smith Dix

Folks and things we love

Our lovely younger neighbours often travel and as I’m such an animal lover, I’ve bonded with their chooks, making me the preferred carer of hens during the neighbours’ absence. I’m seriously contemplating turning vegetarian as the hens are smart and affectionate. They enjoy being stroked on their backs and crouch down for the love. They also like my food scraps, so, I’d say a bit of cupboard love might be involved here.

I never expect gifts for minding the chickens as we get loads of free eggs during my chook-minding sessions. However, these sweet folks often present me with delightful tokens of appreciation, which have included lovely wild flower bouquets and sweet treats from their travels.

One such token turned out to be them treating us to an evening at their daughter’s year-end Luther College of Croydon jazz fundraising concert held in Warrandyte. What a treat! Expecting just a normal school concert, the talent and obvious passion for jazz of these students blew our minds and you will need a long hard stick to keep us away from the next concert.

A wonderful part of growing older is our memories, while we have them, hie, and these memories will come bouncing in as reminders of our past while we experience the present. I was believed to be talented as a young girl and loved playing the piano. Aged 14 I performed in a large hall, playing Wagner, Franz Liszt and Stevie Wonder and got a standing ovation. Seems like yesterday, just with many more memories between then and now. The jazz event reminded me of that time and now I was one of the oldies cheering for more!

I have two Helens in my life here in Melbourne. One is a neighbour, with whom I have delightful lunches and she sometimes spoils me with some of their Immerse Estate wines, the latest being a sparkling blanc de blanc, which is hedonistically delicious and perfect for summer. My other Helen is the stunning yummy mummy married to my cousin Jason.

The older we get, the more we realise how dear special family is, especially when you’ve known some family you’d want to push under a bus. Not that I know such folks, of course. This remarkable couple and their three special munchkins have filled my heart to bursting point and they have also managed to twist my old man around their little fingers. I now enjoy joining in glam-gran discussions about their grandkids being the best thing since strapless bras in summer as I now have first-hand knowledge of such special bonds.

My step-daughter and her husband have also produced an adorable little boy, whom we hope to meet in the near future – they live in the US but here’s a warning to them: we are now fully loaded on spoiling grandlets, so, we plan to take it to the hilt when we get to meet the little man, Jacqui and Zach!

Music, food, art and wine for the Holidays

Melbourne and its Yarra Valley offer culture and entertainment galore, complemented by great food and wine. Recent dining delights include a visit to l’Auberge in Lilydale, where the French owner has remained true to form in a converted chapel. Now licenced, their small but ideal bistro menu never disappoints. Leave space for the delicious patisseries – you can smell the Chanel and see the Eiffel Tower, I kid you not. I try a different sweet every time I visit and am yet to find anything I don’t like. I also their gracious table service. I give l’Auberg a 5-star rating for café chic, and the piece de resistancefor me includes the eggs benedict (with salmon). Tell them I sent you.

Pictured, from left, clockwise: Christmas treats at the Yarra Valley Dairy; baby snapper at Round Bird Can’t Fly; Immerse blanc de blanc heaven on the tongue; eggs benedict at l’Auberge.

Still in Lilydale, Round Bird Can’t Fly has become another favourite lunch destination. The presentation is easy on the eye, table service is friendly and efficient, and our recent lunch proved a triumph. I savoured every morsel of my order of baby snapper on potato gratin and a green salad, and my friend waxed lyrical about her quinoa with tahini dressing, falafel, spinach, avocado and pickled cabbage, hummus and smoked salmon. If I was a bird I certainly could not fly after that lunch. For more reviews on dining, do head over to TripAdvisor, who tell me I’m in the top 4 reviewers for Melbourne: tildix2016

I have always loved the idea of affordable art as gifts, especially when you are familiar with people’s taste. This being the season of giving, I’ll be heading off to Art at Linden Gatein Yarra Glen, which is ideally located in the midst of picturesque vineyards. Supporting local artists is a great idea and art is a gift that keeps giving!

The gallery also offers boutique B&B accommodation, with views that will enthral the most stressed city soul. Pop over to the nearby Yarra Valley Dairy for a scrumptious lunch, where the world-class cheese, including my favourite goat’s cheeses, won’t disappoint. The shop offers sinful treats, artfully packaged to enhance any Christmas stocking – and festive table.

Paddock views, accommodation and art for giving at Art at Linden Gate.

We recently attended the AndréRieu Christmas Concert at the Rod Laver Arena in the city. What a show! We took our 92-year-old Kath, who is now in a retirement home, and a great time was had by all. Maestro Rieu’s polished and gracious management of his orchestra, chorus, accomplished tenors and sopranos was a delight; they certainly knew how to bring joy to four generations of a vast audience. Not only are André’s choices of Australian sopranos beautiful but their superb handling of a tune gave me goose bumps. Encore, keep spreading joy, maestro.

Cheers to the good life, and however you celebrate this Festive Season, may it be filled with joy and goodwill…

Yarra Valley Flight Training Adv Aug 2018.jpg


2 thoughts on “‘Tis the Season to give joy

  1. Dearest Tilly, as always, I enjoy you stories so much. You make us feel right there with you. I am a vegetarian for the past four years, but I have to warn you that the cravings for a juicy cheese burger, keeps on bubbling just underneath the surface. Please keep the tales coming.


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