Text and photography by Tilly Smith Dix
March has certainly been an eventful month on a grand scale. How do we deal with such devastation, floods, greed, and war during a pandemic?
It would be extremely frivolous to write this blog, focused on living our best life, without thinking of people struggling in my country after devastating floods, or a war waged on innocent women and children, based on greed in Ukraine. How, today, do world leaders allow this to happen?
The older I get, the more I value the basic principles my parents instilled in me and my siblings. Often with a wooden spoon on our bottoms if we disregarded their valuable advice. No, none of us are scarred for life. If anything, those basic rules of engagement with our fellow human beings grow stronger as we grow a tad wiser.
To start with, we need to understand our actions and hold ourselves accountable. When we know the facts about a situation, yet, we still turn a blind eye, we are guilty by association. The company we keep does say a lot about us.
In ancient Rome, March 15 was the deadline for settling debts. This is also the date on which Julius Caesar was killed. On this date the world record rainfall was recorded in 1952. For my US family and friends, this was also the date on which the Ed Sullivan Show was cancelled in 1971.
Beware the Ides of March. Good news, it’s almost over and may its end see bright new beginnings, and in the words of many a beauty queen through the ages, let’s work on World Peace.
I’m proud of this beautiful country I now call my home. More than 1,000 Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion, had their visas approved to arrive in Australia this month. Our community leaders want these new arrivals to have work rights and access to healthcare.
As in our private lives, we cannot be neutral about life. There is wrong and right. Know the difference and get off the fence. It starts with us.
Mint is no catnip
A word of advice to pet owners. Don’t let your pets nibble on mint. It makes them aggressive and could harm their kidneys. I discovered this when Kiki stole mint I brought in from the garden. Within the hour, she became aggressive and looked as if she was on a bad trip!
The vet, obviously prejudiced against silver Persian cats, advised I put her to sleep but prescribed some anti-depressant for cats in hope…
Kiki gets to live her best life. The image above right is the day after that bad mint trip.
I opted for the Felliway calming diffuser after I researched the effects of mint digested by pets. The following day she was very thirsty and hungry. Much like humans with a hangover. I offered her some greasy bacon and eggs, but she did not seem impressed.
Happy to report, no more violence from the fur ball teen, who might have been a late teen if I’d not researched the herb, which I love in my tea! I’m thrilled to report mint has not turned me into a murdering psycho. Not yet anyway. Been tempted, though.
Out and About on the Peninsula
When it comes to living the goodlife, we need to appreciate what’s on our doorstep. For too long were we deprived of going out and savouring the beauty and bounty of this splendid Mornington Peninsula – and the myriad other charms of Melbourne and surrounds.
Attending a tourism business event with my friend Trish to familiarise myself further with the hospitality destinations on offer, I was surprised by the choice of venue for such an event. One always expects a winery, being here in wine country and all.
Well, JimmyRum Distillery in Dromana certainly delivered. I don’t drink spirits and have not had rum since a splitting headache the day after, which I chose to never repeat, about 27 years ago.
Happy to report I had no day-after fog after that delicious Rum Negroni, which included oaked JimmyRum, Campari, Dolin Rouge, topped with fresh orange peel. Refreshing and I’d describe it as a sophisticated tone on the tongue. I can’t help remembering a silly commercial, many years ago, in South Africa, asking, “where did you have your first Campari?” – pronounced in a guttural Afrikaans accent. The answer, “Benoni.”
Not a great place to come from, even worse to go to. However, one of South Africa’s greatest movie star exports, Charlize Theron, hails from there, so, not all bad. And they serve Campari there. I think?
My fondest memory of Campari? Where did I have my first, Campari? Clifton Beach, Cape Town. So, this cocktail conjured up so many joyful memories for me.
Trish, cocktails and prawns at JimmyRum in Dromana.
On that happy note, I suggest you head off to JimmyRum Distillery here on the glorious Mornington Peninsula, which in many ways, reminds me of the beautiful Cape of South Africa – just without those majestic mountains but the hills are pretty and the vineyards are so scenic. The water is warmer here too.
All this waxing lyrical just after one cocktail. Imagine the stories after two… Trish, who is launching something to appeal to stylish women soon, (watch this space), agreed. We’ll be back – with the rest of the musketeers. Visit www.jimmyrum.com.au
No harm in indulging in some of the classical culture I grew up with and a visit with dear friend Rika to Beleura House & Garden in Mornington made my soul soar on a perfectly mild summer’s day.
Joe Chindamo on piano and Zoe Black on violin ‘s recital, Salut D’Amour comprised works by Frank Bridge, Edward Elgar, Erich Korngold, Josef Haydn, Astor Piazzolla, John Chindamo and Joe Chinadamo’s own Spiegelhaus, proved an encore for more. Judging by the lunchtime audience, my sentiment was shared with gusto.
Tea and delicious sandwiches, followed by scrumptious macaroons and other sweet treats, served in the restaurant overlooking the tranquil garden and pond, made for a charming afternoon in an historical villa.
Sir George Tallis was MD of JC Williamson Ltd, the world’s largest theatre company. In 1916 he purchased Beleura as a family holiday home, where celebrities from the theatre world, including Dame Nellie Melba and the Ballet Russe, often stayed as guests of the family.
Sir George’s son, composer John Tallis, spent a lifetime preserving the property after his father’s death in 1948. He left Beleura House and Garden in perpetuity to the people of Victoria for their enjoyment and education.
The romance of Beleura House and Garden, pictured above.
Originally built for successful merchant James Butchart in 1863, then regarded as Victoria’s finest residence, this state heritage-listed house museum contains intriguing artworks and furnishings. The great grand piano is a triumph.
The Palladian architecture, so reminiscent of great homes I’ve seen on Lake Como and the UK, also reminded me of a similar villa, modern but copied to depict such romantic designs, in Johannesburg, namely Fairlawns Boutique Hotel, Spa & Villas. My last visit to that luxurious beauty was superb.
Delicious champagne, great company, mouth-watering cuisine, whilst discretely spotting international celebrities wishing to be away from the madding crowd.
Beautiful music, architecture and good food will evoke happy memories. That’s the magic of soul-touching events. I highly recommend a visit to Beleura House & Garden – www.beleura.org.au
Dining on the Peninsula is always a treat and watching the sunset over the bay, somehow makes everything seem right with the world.
I’ve written about Crackerjacks in Seaford before, whilst Waves in Frankston, and The Rocks in Mornington always deliver on beach views, good service, and delicious food.
My only gripe at Crackerjacks is the lack of choices for bubbles when we produce such fine sparkling wines here in Victoria. I’ll be making some suggestions. Their garlic prawns are out of this world and my current favourite dish.
Garlic prawns, above left, at Crackerjacks, octopus salad at The Rocks, and barramundi at Waves.
So, our little gang, including Rika, originally from South Africa, Trish, Aussie, Rosaria, originally from Sicily, and Sue, another Aussie, meet for lunch and we fix the world regularly. The stories are long and detailed, with plenty enthusiastic interruptions about memories of our past travels and more stories. Fashion, good food and living our best lives make for much joy and laughter. Cheers to sincere friends and living the goodlife.
Pictured above, from top left: Sunset view from Frankston, bathers on Frankston Beach with Melbourne in the distance, Mornington view from The Rocks, Frankston Beach with Oliver’s Hill in the background.
Autumn safari in South Africa
Itis no secret, Tau Game Lodge being one of my favourite safari destinations on the planet. Having spent so much time there over the years, every visit resulted in new experiences and nuances, in understated five-star luxury.
Autumn is a special time, when the hues and landscape change to warmer colours, and hot toddies and much conviviality abound around boma fireside dinners on an authentic safari.
This is also the time when the visibility of game enthrals visitors to Tau Game Lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve. Game is less inclined to seek shade after the summer heat has subsided.
Tau Game Lodge, pictured above.
Safari game drives with prolific sightings of the myriad game, including the Big Five, followed by sundowners in the bush before a delicious dinner, are memorable. Listening to the sounds of game trumpeting, roaring, tweeting, and barking their nocturnal supremacy, is pure safari bliss. This is Tau, the place of the lion.
The Tau Easter and Autumn 2022 packages from @R16,000 per couple, include:
- Accommodation for 2 nights in one of the 12 newly renovated Luxury Standard Chalets as an introductory offer
- 3 meals per day
- 2 game drives per day
- Drinks and snacks on safari drives
- Tau Spa Oasis African Foot Ritual (30 minutes) per adult: Allow your feet to be pampered by our therapists in a soothing footbath to drain away fatigue. Next your feet are cleansed and massaged with an aroma-therapeutic based scrub, followed by a true African warming foot massage.
To book this special package, please quote: TAU EASTER 2022 – go to www.taugamelodge.co.za for further details.
On the couch
I have loved the movies since those early childhood days when the folks would take me to a matinee once a month on a Saturday at the Century Cinema. Who needs therapy when we can escape into another world, vicariously living exciting lives in exotic places.
The recent Bafta Awards ceremony held at one of my favourite theatres on the planet, the Royal Albert Hall in London, was a dazzling event. After two years of on-off lockdowns, it was a treat watching the event on the box and seeing tribute paid to some of our favourite stars, in recognition of cinematic genius.
Aussie star Rebel Wilson did a good job as presenter but the star of the event, for me, was Dame Shirley Bassey, belting out Diamonds are Forever and still hitting those high notes perfectly at 85! She still looks every bit the star.
The last time I visited this great hall, I had a casual lunch of bangers and mash, whilst students of the nearby music academy performed the sweetest jazz. A delightful interlude with a dear friend from afar.
Movies I’ve enjoyed lately, include Green Book, Brief Encounter, and Deep Water.
Green Book stars Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. This is a bit like Driving Miss Daisey but a far deeper education during a time of rampant racism in 1960s southern America. Based on the true story of pianist Don Shirley, this was a riveting story.
I adore classic movies, when the locations were believable, the stars enigmatic and the stories heartfelt. Brief Encounter, released in 1974, starring the now late Richard Burton and magnificent Sophia Loren, is a class act. We need more of these.
Deep Water, stars Ben Affleck and Ana de Armes, who is the latest Bond girl too. I believe during the filming of this movie they were romantically linked before Ben’s returning to old love Jennifer Lopez. The chemistry is tangible, and this dark thriller ticked most boxes of a gripping movie for me.
The location, set in and around New Orleans, brought back fond memories of my time spent with family in the South. Atmospheric and scenic.
Series that have entertained me and had me giggling like a silly teen, include Pieces of Her, starring the superb Toni Collett; Hotel Portofino, which I watched purely for the joy of reliving my visit to this romantic port years ago; and Cashmere Mafia. I believe these girls were in a class of their own and if you love fashion, this is a treat. Seeing sweet revenge taken on cheating partners, a further thrill. We are only human…another Aussie starring in this series, Miranda Otto, nails it with great panache, whilst Lucy Liu is always dynamite, all 5’2” of her.
Style, comfort and sustainable fashion
I love authentic fabrics in fashion as it makes the garments, and accessories, more enduring and sustainable for my slow fashion closet.
However, I recently discovered Vivaia, featured in my previous blog, which produces stunning, stylish, comfortable footwear from recycled plastic bottles.
Not only are the designs classy, but the fact that my feet are comfortable in washable, recyclable shoes, eases my conscience for having so many shoes. These sustainable beauties, offering yoga-mat comfort to my tootsies, are simply fabulous!
Use my discount code Tilly18 www.vivaiacollection.com and on Instagram on vivaia-official – have a look at the new detachable bows – a great idea to embellish any shoe.
Pictured above, adding colour to neutral linen basics. Above right, lounging in comfy striped pointed toe Vivaia flats.
Pictured above, sticking to classic styles, layers and vibrant colours to add attitude to neutral colours. Wearing my gorgeous Vivaia pointed flats, also with detachable bows, above. Remember to use my “Tilly18” discount code to shop.
With summer slowly finding her way to distant shores and autumn quietly replacing her, layers make for easy dressing to complement the varying temperatures.
Digging out my long-life garments, gathered in travels and always acquired to complement existing items in my cupboard, is a happy start to a new season.
I love the strong jewel colours and rich burgundy hues back on trend and I’m so thrilled I kept most of mine from years gone by. Being presented with always welcome fashion vouchers to feature the new season’s colours and styles of my choice on my fashion Instagram page, Sixty_is_the_new_40, I’ll be adding a new dimension and colour harmony to my often-preferred neutral shades.
Here’s to a stylish, happy month, wherever you are, darling readers. We make the world better by creating joy for ourselves. Cheers to the ripple effect of living the goodlife…it starts with us.