by Tilly Smith Dix

It certainly feels terrific being able to drive beyond the initial 5km then 25km radius from home once more. And to top that, after too many months of lockdown house arrest in stalag 2020, actually eating in restaurants again.

Sitting at a table, breaking bread with good people, lively conversation, laughter, sipping bubbles, with a magnificent view to boot, serotonin levels are pushed to a ring-the-bell-top-the-charts high. Prescription meds encouraging 5-hydroxytryptamine apparently kept many folks’ spirits positive during this pesky pandemic.

To tell the truth, I never knew the scientific term for serotonin was 5-hydroxytryptamine, but Professor Google helped me in that department, and I thought you’d be massively impressed. Not that I want to impress anybody, however, it’s always good to dazzle a reader with science, right?

Speaking of dazzle, my first sojourn out of my hood when the ring of steel started easing, was to one of my happy places in this magnificent state of Victoria, The Mornington Peninsula.

Dining beyond the ring of steel

Just filling up the car at a gas station felt like a fun thing to do as I’ve not performed that simple task in many months. Wearing a mask whilst doing so is not a bad idea either. I dislike the fumes during this filling up process, so, it was all good. I even checked the tire pressure. Still impressed?

So, on a bright, sunny, perfect spring day, I set off to meet up with my friend Rika in beautiful Mount Martha, from where we took the scenic ocean road to the charming seaside village of Sorrento.

Above: Sorrento, The Baths Restaurant, and traversing the back beach with my ya-ya friend Rika Keyser from Mornington Peninsula Tourism.

The village centre is delightful and if we were going shopping, we’d not have been disappointed. From fashion choices to satisfy the most discerning, woman, man, pet and child, to luxe homeware, art and antiques, with prices seemingly affordable, this sophisticated yet unpretentious town has it all.

Window shopping done, we set off for The Baths, a restaurant set as if on location for a romantic beach holiday, right in front of the bijou Sorrento Jetty, offering splendid vistas of the Sorrento Pier, close to the entrance to Port Phillip Bay, where the ferry docks.

A feast for the senses, and that before we’d even ordered bubbles and lunch.

Lunch was a delicious event and I rather enjoyed the social distancing of tables in the restaurant. My entrée of salmon gravlax on a beetroot and chive cream bruschetta, did not disappoint. Rika started off with a crispy fish taco, with Asian herbs, pickled cucumber, crispy shallots and chipotle mayo. All washed down with some affordable Yarra Burn bubbles.

Mains were equally delectable, and Rika’s ricotta gnocchi, with creamy tomato, mozzarella, fresh basil and dried olives, hit the spot. My fish & chips, comprising battered fried flake, Greek salad and tartare, proved too much but it ticked all the boxes. More Yarra Burn, cheers.

An Instagram follower, now a delightful new friend, Sue, who lives in Sorrento, joined us for a glass of elixir and it felt like a glorious holiday. You never know if you really like people on social media until you actually meet as gracious protocol often hides a dark underside.

Protocol flew out the window over the beautiful bay as the three of us got along like old friends. Obviously, I’m a tad envious as these two Mornington Peninsula locals will now be spending plenty time together, laughing, dining, sharing anecdotes and going on the many scenic walks around their hood. Well, I have news for them, I’ll be tagging along often and happily going forward.

So fabulous when the tribe is ya-ya. Cheers to the good life!

I know South Africans are able to travel within their country again so, here’s some superb sites to peruse, from a fun steam festival between 19 and 22 November at Sandstone Estate to a five-star safari at Tau Game Lodge for Christmas, choices abound at:

www.sandstone-estates.com and www.taugamelodge.co.za

Couch potato

Recent small screen binges have certainly saved what sanity remains, and a friend is now learning Spanish. Why? Is she planning a trip to Spain as soon as we are allowed to board the airways and wing off to destinations afar?

No, she is not, she says. However, what sparked her interest, was binging on superior television series produced in Spain. She was the ya-ya sister who introduced me to Velvet, the series I lamented about in an earlier blog. Now, she’s done it again, and got me hooked on the period drama, Grand Hotel. Some of the cast members starred in Velvet, with the gorgeous Amaia Salamanca in a major role. This time, she is a good girl. She was equally convincing as the conniving bad girl in Velvet. A versatile actress indeed.

Yes, these series come with perfectly legible English sub-titles. However, the ear gets accustomed to the language and picking up a few familiar phrases is not difficult. Anyway, my friend may still convince me to take up that sweet language in due course.

Years ago, a cousin, on her return from Spain, said she had never visited a country positively crawling with beautiful people. She told her husband to behave as she may just return to Barcelona, solo, next time. She also claimed learning a new language was so much more fun if you found a local to teach you. She was taking up Spanish. It scared the hell out of her spouse. That reminded me of an actress friend who spoke fluent French. She only had school French before she spent a few years studying in Paris. She never told me who taught her to speak like a local…

Anyway, I digress, back to binging on the small screen. I highly recommend The Kominsky Method, starring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin. They had me giggling like a schoolgirl and looking forward to an hour or two of their shenanigans. Think grumpy old men but with plenty style and attitude. I look forward to the next series. What I would love is to introduce them to Grace & Frankie. Now that would be a show – or a showdown? Now, to pitch this idea to the producers…

Yep, I’m still watching old codgers and thoroughly loved Going in Style, in which Michael Cain, Morgan Freeman, and again, Alan Arkin, prove they could still act and frolic their way around any script. Pure delight. Nothing like a hoot to lighten the mood and brighten the spirit during lockdown. Natural serotonin in bucket loads, I’ll take it, gracias – said with a gentle lisp on the ‘c’…

Mrs Fixit

So, the fridge door spring gave up the ghost. I heard a ping, heard something drop and this strange thingy fell to the floor. Panic set in. I have never fixed such a gizmo before.

Anyhow, Google helped me find Fisher & Paykel parts, a helpful online expert assisted and the part was ordered. It arrived within two days. Impressive.

The instructions were clear about replacing the old casing and inserting the spring, after removing the bottom of the fridge flap door. The images on the instructions were shocking, though. Luckily I have some psychic powers and some practical savvy.

I finally worked it out, found my limited toolkit and proceeded with great caution. It worked and I am right chuffed, mates. No fridge or fingers were harmed in the process. Plenty hail Marys, though, some cussing took place, and the cat did not approve.

Style it up

Fashion therapy has remained a passion and whilst the Opshops were shut during lockdown, I have been saving some items that might be of use to other fashionistas. However, versatile, quality style never dates. Adding current accessories to tweak the old wardrobe to look more current, is great fun.

Above: Spring style from my closet, in with the old as well as the new. From classic to boho chic, anything goes when the season is fickle. Loving the candy pink linen and saffron jersey-linen blend from Country Road this season.

I was immensely flattered when a young follower messaged me to say I had inspired her to not buy on a whim anymore but to only buy good, quality, durable fashion to last at least a lifetime. Mission accomplished. I’d never think of myself as an influencer but I honestly like the thought of inspiring women to go slow on fashion but never compromise on quality. It kinda lightens our carbon footprint, right?

That being said, I have acquired three new items for the season only. I’m also happy to say, they did not cost me a dime as they were gifted. Call it a collaboration of brands and great friends. Lucky ol’ me.

Boho chic is back and I loved watching the enigmatic Julia Stiles in Riviera, now in season 4, carry off the look with great panache. LOVE this feminine, sexy look, the flow of sheer summer fabrics, and styling it up or down for any occasion. The revival of quirky belts and accessories to complement the boho vibe almost brought a happy tear to my eye as I’ve not been able to ditch some of my vintage accessories since pa fell of the buggy. Back in style, babes!

Then, there’s the colours. Yes, here in Aussie we are in spring about to enter summer, with candy pink, saffron, many shades of green, pastels, and fuchsia lifting our fashion spirits with gusto. Even our sisters across the waters, now mostly entering autumn and winter, are breaking into bright, festive colours. Of course, the whites, blacks, tans and greys will remain with us forever as the classics are forever in vogue.

Three cheers to fashion, feeling fabulous, great friends and a jolly good life, all considered…

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