By Tilly Smith Dix

The sunrise magic of the Yarra Valley.

We will all have our stories of woe and joy to tell when this COVID-19 lockdown eventually ends. In some instances, that story may be a rather meaty book, me thinks.

What I have learned during this time will hopefully help me deal with situations differently in the future. I see this as a positive.

What I have learned during this lockdown

I am quite mutable and accommodating, until I feel I’m being manipulated, managed, disrespected or bossed. I get rebellious and claustrophobic, triggering memories of similar predicaments in the past.

I now speak my truth and I try to do so kindly, and if it is not appreciated, I can live with it. Our mental health, now more than ever, is of great importance, after all.

Thank you, smutty, sneaky Corona, you have not beaten me (and this is one test I’m happy to say, I tested negative for), as you have made me stronger and more determined than ever to live my best life and not tolerate bad behaviour from anyone in my fold.

Boundaries and respect are key elements in relationships and here, I hear the voice of reason from my late dad. 

Dad could sense BS, my sweet mother never could. I am the product of both of these amazing folks and, I’m not sorry to admit, the older I get, the more I’m my father’s child. When he was your friend, he was generous, kind and warm. However, if you disrespected him or overstepped boundaries, your ticket was punched, he’d communicate his disappointment to you. He’d forgive you and not bear a grudge. However, you had no return ticket.

Time to say goodbye

Some very dear friends lost loved ones before lockdown. There is nothing more final than death. I knew I could not erase their pain. I simply sent them regular messages to let them know I was thinking of them. Having been friends for so many years, they knew, whenever they were ready, I’d call to talk and listen. Until then, I was with them in thought. Yes, you feel helpless when folks you love are in pain, however, you also have to realise you cannot fix their pain. Only they can work through it and time, hopefully, eases the pain and makes their loss more bearable.

I was having a conversation with one of these treasured friends and we were discussing divorce and the pain suffered by so many people going through breakups.

Having lost both her father and her husband in death last year, my treasured friend was appalled at the cowardly way some people leave relationships. Her words resonate, deeply: “Life is precious and yes, people change, and they fall out of love – or their values change and they wish to continue on a different path to the one they’d committed to with their partner. However, NEVER leave without saying goodbye. Do the right thing. Face the music, play open cards, be honest.

“Breaking up is never easy but just man up or woman up before you close the door. Tomorrow, that partner you abandon could get run over by a bus, contract a terrible disease, or virus, and you’d never rid yourself of the guilt of having behaved like a coward by just disappearing from a life you had committed to. UNLESS they have a gun and you know they’d use it.”

Of course, domestic violence, we agreed, calls for different measures and one word comes to mind: RUN. Then, never look back. Yes, this sounds flippant but having seen plenty of that as a journalist, that calls for another blog, another time.

Back to the good life

Many grandparents have lamented the fact they could not spend time with their beloved little people during this pandemic. I’m thrilled to have been the sounding board for one of my much-adored munchkins, who chose me to critique her reading prowess on Facetime. 

Cameron is eight and a half and I believe her mum has done a superb job in home-schooling. I can only imagine trying to harness three youngsters into a home-schooling routine. Salutations, Helen.

Yes, I know, usually my blog is more light-hearted, including fun places to travel to and dine at. This, sadly, is not a topic to be covered at the moment as travel is on hold for some time, everywhere.

Tourism is suffering and destinations coveted by many are in lockdown until further notice. However, there is light at the end of this dreary COVID-19 tunnel.

Some luxury hotels and lodges are now offering voucher systems, whereby guests can pay it forward. For example, purchase a voucher at a highly reduced rate and book your dates later. This creates revenue for the hotels and lodges, affording them the means to continue improvements and stepping up their operations, conservation and eco-tourism, whilst implementing strict health and safety measures to ensure guests enjoy a dream holiday without risk of contracting the dreadful virus.

Waterhole parade of elephants at Tau Game Lodge

Word in the industry is prices will drop at first but, once tourism is back on track, rates will escalate to cover the losses suffered during lockdown.

In my previous blog I published a link to eco-friendly five-star Tau Game Lodge in the Madikwe Reserve of South Africa, which offers a 24/7 safari indulgence on its live webcam at: :     –  for more on the safari voucher trend and a chance to win an additional night at Tau, go to:  

Romance is still blooming and planning a wedding or honeymoon at Tau is eloquently reviewed by Wersha Bharadwa at:

Stay home

Bingeing on movies and series have become the norm and quite frankly, if anyone ever says watching more than four hours of television a day is detrimental to your mental health, I’ll slug them. I now know how, having watched some kick-ass movies lately.

It has SAVED my mental health as I, like many others, have had way too much to contemplate and worry about during this trying time and there comes a day when you just DO NOT WANT TO THINK. You meditate for so long before even that starts doing your head in.

Having worked long hours for many years, I missed out on movies and series that could have brought many lighter moments into my, often, stressful work routine.

Well, I’ve been making up for lost time, BIG time. Older series such as Diagnosis Murder, Nash Bridges, Becker and Friends have made me giggle and it is fun trying to remember the era of your life during which those series were filmed. Sets you off on a whole new track, in fact, mostly a carefree one…

Made at home – Moroccan lamb stew with brown rice

A movie I missed some years ago and managed to watch on SBS on Demand this week was the delightful Florence Jenkins Foster. Hugh Grant, Meryl Streep and Simon Helberg bring this poignant story, based on Florence’s life, into perspective. At times hilarious, one cannot help but feel admiration for this woman, who was so much more than a rich, wannabe opera star – with a terrible voice.

In fact, a beloved relative, now sadly in the foggy confusion of dementia, told me about seeing this movie with some of her then social club members some years ago when she was still operating on all cylinders, which included driving her car when aged 90.

Her verbal review on the movie was brief, and it went something like this, “I cannot understand why this actress was cast in this role. She sure as heck cannot sing. They should have cast someone with a better voice.” 

Adorable, right? I gently explained, at the time, that Meryl Streep was indeed a pretty good singer but the character she portrays in the movie was obviously tone deaf. I was given a disbelieving glance and offered some tea, whereby the subject was closed.

Kath, this adored relative, used to love walking and, somehow, I think of her when I walk around my scenic local lake, where we are now allowed to partake of exercise whilst adhering to social distancing.

I never tire of the sublime beauty and constant surprises offered by nature on my doorstep. My current passion at the lake is watching the darters fish, frolic and sun themselves after feasting. 

I never realised they were also known as snakebirds until I noticed one in the water, with just its long neck protruding, and I honestly thought it was a snake. It tossed fish out of the water and caught it mid-air, the rest of its body only emerging from the water to dry its mighty wings in the sun on a rock, clearly marked by its excrement.

A darter dries its wings after feasting at Lilydale Lake

The darter’s swanlike grace in the autumn sun stopped me in my stride. Ain’t Mother Nature grande.

Walking, of course, stimulates the appetite and I am always keen to return home to defrost a home cooked dish from my stash. My current favourite is scrumptious Moroccan lamb stew. Jamie Oliver would be proud of me.

Reading, as always, has proved a further saviour of sanity during this time and I’m so enjoying reading one of my favourite authors, the late great Pat Conroy, ‘s Beach Music again. I read it years ago and am savouring every word of the superb Southern scribe’s stories again. He certainly could string a sentence together and spin a fascinating yarn…

Fashion therapy

With fashion stores closed for so long, online sales are booming here in the land of Oz. Good news indeed as that part of the economy might survive this pandemic. 

As always, my fashion Instagram page has offered welcome respite from lockdown-blues as I get to rummage through my closet, get creative, improve my photographic skills and be girly.

Further inspiration came from an unexpected series discovered on SBS On Demand, Made in Italy. What a treat as it took me back to that epic fashion revolution that took place in Italy in the 70s. I always coveted Italian style, not to mention their superbly designed shoes. My first outfit and killer heels were purchased at a friend’s mother’s boutique, which specialised in Italian designs. It was a fashion investment as I wore those shoes and outfit for many years.

In the TV series, the gorgeous Irene, editorial assistant at a fashion publication in Milan, waxes lyrical about how a great belt and shoes will elevate an ordinary outfit. Never a truer fashion word spoken. Having travelled to Milan and cherished every stylish moment, not to mention the delicious cuisine during my stay, I felt I was part of the crew.

Imagine interviewing a young Armani, Valentino or the incredible Missoni team as a cub fashion reporter. Fashion Nirvana, I’d say. I do hope there’s a second series, I can hardly wait…ah, and that romantic scene, and setting, at Lake Como was the proverbial cherry on the tiramisu for me. Been there too, so, this was a two-for-the-price-of-one for me: fashion and travel: a winning combination for this down memory lane tripper.

I’ve also been lucky with a few unexpected fashion gifts to beautify my Instagram page @Sixty_is_the_new_40 and mixing these up with classic outfits to complement current trends is pure fashion eden…

Bigger jackets are back on trend and having walked down that bumpy big-shoulder-pad road before, I’m wiser this time around. I recently had some classic big blazers altered to be more tapered for my small frame. I’ll leave the bigger shoulders to the younger and taller gals. They’d rock it so much better.

That’s the beauty of growing older, you don’t follow blindly when it comes to fashion as you’ve learned to bend the trend to suit your own style.

Cheers to the good life, being wiser, defying age, being true to ourselves and comfortable in our skin – we WILL get through this. We will emerge from this chrysalis and flutter and glide like the spectacular butterflies we are, richer in spirit from the many lessons we have learned during this trying time…


4 thoughts on “Lady sings no blues

  1. Oh Tilly you have echoed my thoughts in this blog. Beautifully penned as always with a mix of the serious and lighthearted words.


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