By Tilly Smith Dix

Whoever said you can’t teach old dogs new tricks should be taken to the pound. Stop blaming the dog. They’re usually willing to learn, it’s the humans that might be a tad slack in that department.

I recently had a conversation with a woman who informed me she was not interested in learning new things as she felt too old. Her exact words, “I’ve always had my late husband take care of this stuff. Now he’s gone, I’ll find someone else to do so.”

In the same breath, she informed me she had no life and was so lonely as many of her old friends and relatives had passed away, moved, or simply were no longer in touch. Trying to be diplomatic, I suggested she attended some community gatherings, where people share ideas and teach each other new hobbies, or help each other get more out of life through online communications.

I was shot down in flames, with her telling me she was past wishing to acquire new skills. Yet, again, a day later, she sent another lengthy message about how lonely she was.

On the same day, I communicated with friends and family around the planet. We all expressed our gratitude for the internet, as it keeps us in touch. Without it, coping with severe lockdowns in a pandemic, not to mention sometimes being housebound for various reasons, perhaps even our health, we’d have all lost the plot. Well, certainly, lost it more than we could get away with, right?

I mentioned in a previous blog how much fun I had working with an amazing crew, filming an Apia tutorial, geared mostly for people over 60. Well, the editorial and promotions are now live via the Apia site and social media platforms, and I honestly hope it will inspire more silver sisters and brothers to take the plunge and get connected.

I’d like to add on first viewing the online ads and video, I became immensely critical. I was painfully aware of why my jaw moves awkwardly at times, how one cheekbone is a bit higher than the other. All of this is easily overlooked in still photographs for my Instagram @Sixty_is_the_new_40 fashion pages.

This triggered a reminder of being viciously assaulted by a street vendor more than 20 years ago, when facial bones were fractured. The news spread across several weekend and daily newspapers at the time, as it was a frightening experience and at the time, the perpetrator, who was caught, or rather, surrendered himself to the police, so as to continue his street-vending business, got off on a heavy fine to the Court, and a six-month suspended sentence. Why?

He was the only breadwinner in his family, with his wife out of work and three daughters at school. The public prosecutor, enraged with the judge’s decision, explained to me afterwards, if this creep went to jail, his children would drop out of school and turn to crime and this was why judges were giving them second chances.

He was from Zimbabwe, living and trading in Johannesburg. Why did he assault me? I bought a fold-up table from him the previous day, which fell apart when I tried to set it up at home. All I wanted was to exchange it for another.

Not having seen myself speak on film since I was in my twenties, this was an eyeopener. I could also see the fine lines, easily overlooked in the flattering light of a still-photographic process.

Such triggers are never easy, as old emotions rise to the surface, seemingly long forgotten, and the thread of the process is back, in vivid, frightening colour. The lengthy, and many surgeries, fractured relationships, and new, long-lasting, supportive friendships, are all reminders of a life that is lived. Yes, some friendships were compromised as people did not want to be around someone who had ‘attracted such negativity,’ to quote a former friend, whom I had assisted often financially.

Why do some ignorant people believe that bad things only happen to bad people? Amazingly, this woman, so afraid my pain and temporary bad luck might rub off on her, decided I was no longer a convenient friend.

I became stronger and eternally grateful for the genuinely caring, kind people in my life and who in fact entered my life during that time in a supportive way. I was alive and life was improving every single day.

No, this is not a ploy to get sympathy or assurance that I look okay.  Those horrid memories are part of all our stories, and dwelling on them is toxic. Shake them out, learn what is of value and throw the rest back where it belongs, in the distant past. Breathe, smile, put your shoulders back and go learn some new skills:

We are older, NOT over! I got sassy on my Facebook post to promote the promotional link, in which I suggested we should not sit on the porch counting cars, but endeavour to get in a Porsche instead. No, not been in one of those for many years but that’s another story for another blog, chuckle…

Surf and turf

Ah, George Gershwin, long gone but the music lives on, thank you, for Porgy and Bess. As for the lyrics, DuBose Heyward was pure genius. So, cheers to Summertime, when the living is easy and we get to not only walk on a pristine, sandy beach, but to get our feet wet strolling in azure waters.

We don’t always have to do glamorous things and spend vast amounts of cash to enjoy life. The simple pleasures will always feed our soul if we let it. Just being in the moment and being grateful for being able to move around freely in my own State of Victoria is sheer bliss.

One of the beaches close to my home, which I featured in my previous blog, Carrum Beach, remains a thrill. A child of the sea, I am always intrigued by the changing tide and the colours of the bay, reflecting the moods of the sun, the moon and the scattering of clouds. Such appreciation was instilled by my parents and I am forever grateful for their teaching their children to savour these wonders by example.

I am immensely impressed about how rules are adhered to on this long stretch of beach, which flows panoramically into Seaford. There is a dog beach too and I’ve not spotted locals stray from the designated dog beach with their beloved pets.

Recently, a writer I have always admired immensely, mentioned on Facebook how people were not sticking to the rules and were walking their dogs on beaches where dogs were not allowed. One of her followers expressed their approval, indicating if one was not in favour of such actions, one could not possibly love dogs. I agreed with the writer, who retorted, this was not about dogs. It was about respecting rules and other folks on the beach.

I know of children, and even adults, who have been attacked by strangers’ dogs and therefore prefer to frequent beaches where there is no risk. I also know of people who detest stepping in dog poop whilst strolling along nature’s bounty as not all dog-owners seem vigilant about cleaning up the mess.

Yes, I walk on the dog beach as I love watching dogs frolic on the beach and in the water. However, I wear sandshoes for obvious reasons. So, to those caring souls who clean up their dogs’ mess, I say, good on you, mate.

Obviously, a walk on the beach and a dip in the sea are great appetite enhancers and after a recent stroll, I discovered a quaint café in Carrum, Settle Gretel.

The food is good, the service great, and the ambience friendly. On this occasion, one of the kindly staff members happened to be an expat too! Love when that happens. Not that one wants to form a South African colony but it’s always a thrill to hear the accent and exchange fond memories of the old country, and discuss new memories made in our new country of choice.

As my friend and I were about to depart, two disabled people, who greeted everyone and had happy smiles on their faces, were wheeled in by caregivers. It was humbling, seeing the joy in those faces. Could one ever not be grateful for being able to stroll on a beach, or anywhere, unaided.

Pictured above, walking from Seaford Beach to Carrum Beach, and eggs benedict at Settle Gretel in Carrum.

One can’t be dining out daily, so, on my way home from this particular lunch, I popped into Coles for groceries, where a tricky trolley had a mind of its own once it was loaded. Yep, humans do that too but that’s another story for another day.

This runaway trolley became an embarrassment when I was walking downhill to offload my shopping in the car!

Chivalry is not dead, yay! A man waiting for someone in the disabled parking alighted promptly, offering to help as he said that trolley was way heavier than me – he was probably right!

All was sorted in a jiffy, and he even deposited the offending four-wheeler to its designated spot as further proof of his respect for women. Grateful for men of the old school. I commended his mama for teaching him right when I thanked him for his kindness, and he acknowledged the fact she had been strict about manners!

Another catch-up with my adorable family at Seaford Beach a few days later was a bonus on a mild summer’s day. Watching the pixies build sandcastles, running in the water, and collecting shells, was sheer bliss. As for those loving hugs, could one ever get enough?

Sharing stories, eating an enormous, delicious steak sandwich, fish and chips, crispy beer-battered fries, and looking at the ocean from the deck at Crackerjacks after our beach visit, was the perfect end to another blissful day.

Sofa binges

I hugely admire Ricky Gervais’ ethos and straightforward persona. When I came across After Life, his recent series on Netflix, I got hooked.

We often underestimate comedians. Often, humour is a shield for a brilliant mind and deep musings. Honestly, I highly recommend watching this series. It’s not just for laughs. It touches on so many aspects of life, so much more relevant in our current times, you cannot help but feel this is fiction imitating reality. Can’t wait for the next season.

Kiki was intrigued by Ricky and his dog in After Life too.

What to do when one gets tired of the endless senseless action, killing and car chases in more movies than I’d care to mention? Escape to the classics. The movies my parents enjoyed and my much older siblings related to.

Charade, released in 1963, with the gamine Audrey Hepburn styled in Givenchy, and the always elegantly suave Cary Grant, ticks all my movie boxes.

A great cast, including James Coburn, Walter Matthau, and George Kennedy. Add a superb musical score in the mix, a sophisticated Parisian location, and this movie remains a favourite. With most of the cast long gone, their legacy lives on.

As an admirer of Jeremy Irons’ work, he does not disappoint as British PM Chamberlain in Edge of War. What a mess and as predecessor to Winston Churchill, the man was lambasted by many for trying to pussyfoot around narcissistic, deranged, embittered Herr Hitler in 1938.

Perhaps WWII could have been avoided if the PM had listened to reason…sometimes we must get our hands dirty and fight when bullies are at large.

Elegantly directed by Christian Schwochow, based on the book Munich by Robert Harris, and a stellar cast, including George Mackay, Jannis Niewohner, and Anjli Mohindra, I highly recommend this movie.

As for Power of the Dog, despite its authentic location, a great cast, and superb cinematography, I found no pleasure in this movie. I’ll give anything directed by Jane Campion a miss going forward. I thought she was cured after the awful Top of the Lake series, but she is still focused on depressing the hell out of viewers. Yep, many will disagree, and that is fine, but I’m no longer into pretentious darkness, produced in the name of art… have a heart! Bring on some happy endings, we need more of those.

Chanel in the city

Speaking of art and heart, oh, the freedom to walk the city again, what a thrill. Gorgeous friends Trish and Rika arranged for the three musketeers to visit the Gabrielle Chanel exhibition at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), in Melbourne.

It was riveting. My attention span is short, even when it comes to fashion, but I savoured every moment of this superb showcase for the legacy of a woman with true style vision, which lives on long after she has gone.

She set the bar high, and too few fashion designers have lived up to her standards. Style over fashion. She lit that flame and long may it shine its bright light.

The woman who made the LBD, the little black dress, something no woman with any sense of style could be without, did so much more than that. From the structured tweed suit, the flowing gown, the flapper energy, to those loose-fitting trousers, and comfortable elegance, she did it all and with such aplomb and passion.

She started her career as a milliner before opening boutiques in the French coastal resort towns of Deauville and Biarritz, in 1912 and 1915 respectively.

She wore her own creations, inspired by simplicity, practicality, and relaxed chic. A woman ahead of her time.

I have devoured every movie and TV series about Coco Chanel and still basking in the afterglow of this magnificent presentation in my beautiful city, I discovered a movie on TV I’d not seen before, starring Shirley MacLaine and Malcolm McDowell, Coco Chanel!

This is a brilliant production of Coco’s rags-to-riches tale, charting the rise of one of the most influential fashion icons of the 20th century. Brilliantly directed by Christian Duguay, the initial release of the film was in 2008. Two hours and 18 minutes of sheer Chanel heaven.

As for the inimitable Ms MacLaine, sister of Warren Beatty, I saw her perform her one-woman show in Sun City, South Africa in 1994, and she was dynamite. She is superbly cast as Chanel in her mature years. Barbora Bobulova is fascinating as the younger Coco. I fabulous binge on Amazon Prime.

Of course, I digress, so many stories, so little time! During our party of three’s city visit, we naturally had to eat after the Gabrielle Chanel exhibition and on a perfect summer’s day, we had bubbles, as Chanel might have done, crispy fried calamari, green salad and petite fries at the Arbory Bar & Eatery on the Yarra River.

Conveniently situated on our walk from across the Yarra River’s South Bank to Flinders Street Station, from where our train would depart to deliver us safely back to our meeting spot on the Mornington Peninsula’s Seaford Station, a great time was had by all.

During our stroll to peruse the cosmopolitan lanes and eateries, not to mention quaint Victorian shopping malls, we were saddened about some shops and restaurants now being permanently closed after the lengthy lockdowns over the last two years. However, we were heartened that many businesses have sprung back into action and are actively recruiting suitable staff to man their shops and restaurants. Hope springs eternal.

Pictured above, some of the superb aspects of the Gabrielle Chanel exhibition at the NGV in Melbourne.

Pictured above, gorgeous gals Trish and Rika, top left, scenes of beautiful Melbourne city, and me striking a pose in honour of Coco Chanel, at Clementine’s. Not my bike…

Style inspired by Chanel

Attending the Gabrielle Chanel exhibition at the NGV, I was reminded how much of our everyday style we take for granted, often forgetting where even the simplest striped T-shirt, flowing, comfortable culotte trousers, not to mention hat styles, originated from.

Long live the legacy of Chanel and I’m paying homage to styles I have treasured for years, happily ensconced in my wardrobe’s evergreen department.

Being a fashion front-runner for comfort, I think Coco Chanel would have approved of the sustainable, environmentally friendly, comfortable, stylish round-toe fluffy patterned mules by Vivaia @vivaia_official – it’s like wearing my yoga mat, just so much more stylish!

Suitable to wear from home to the shops to a casual dinner, these babies are my new best friends, sourced from recycled materials! I love the Bordeaux colour, also available in black – and half-sizes. For a discount via Instagram, use my Tilly18 code – you’re welcome.

Cheers to living our best life, appreciating the good folks in our lives, nature’s bounty, and living the good life…

7 thoughts on “Old dogs and new tricks

  1. Oh Tilly, you are such a breath of fresh air and a reminder the age is just a number! Thank you for your uplifting, humorous and glamorous slice-of-life blogs and Instagram posts. You are honestly the loveliest person online and in real life too! xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Always love to read your blog Tills,- and see your gorgeous photos. I agree re Jane Campion. I avoided her latest and after reading your comments it was the right decision. Love Ricky Gervais in After Life. He is such a grump and still grieving but he wins me every time…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was not able to post a comment at the end of this column with my iPad.  The keyboard would not appear.  Anyway, I love your blog and appreciate your positive attitude, your beautiful writing style, and your fashion shots.     Concerning your comments on the movies and series, they mimic exactly what we have been watching and enjoying, or not enjoying, in Campion’s case.  Please continue to comment on what you watch and read.

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

    Liked by 1 person

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