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…

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