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…

One thought on “Life after lockdown

  1. Always enjoy your blogs Tilly and this one is no exception.
    Great to read of your post lockdown life and life affirming philosophy. Glad I had eaten before I saw the pix of all that lovely food. Happy I shared one of the meals with our lunch at Casa de Playa… I look forward to our next.
    Noted re viewing tips and of course can’t wait to see the results of your filming with the ad agency…
    Well done!
    Sue😘💕💕
    Thanks so much, dear Sue. Always great to see you😘🙏🥂

    Like

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