Text and photography by Tilly Smith Dix

It never fails to amaze me how resilient people can be. We have all, at some time in our lives, at times too often, been through tough times, when we feel we simply could not deal with another setback.

However, after some quiet time, a good sleep, deep breathing, perhaps a good cry (if you’re a woman or a man in touch with his gentle side), putting our shoulders back and looking life straight in the eye, we pick ourselves up and start taking baby steps towards fixing the problem by identifying the cause.

Some of us blog to get the pain out of our system. Others, like my amazing friend Carrie, might write a book. When an unexpected emotional tsunami tossed her into darkness and left her adrift in a sea of utter, lonely desolation, she decided to start a social media group.

This group would consist of women who have experienced trials and tribulations, and may still be experiencing such emotional tidal waves. These are the women who would support each other, from around the planet, and share wisdom, virtual hugs, and advice but never judgement. Those who are too precious to care about others’ woes, toss themselves out of the fold. A great pal once said, “it’s always convenient when the garbage takes itself out.” Amen to that, honey!

So, Carrie would post insightful stories, funny stories, and often silly stories, just to make us giggle like teens. Laughter is good for us. However, she was not only sharing information to inspire others, she was also taking on board what we were saying, how we were feeling, our stories told, when we were witty, or at our wit’s end.

She was writing a book to help people heal. That book has now been published and I’ll be reviewing it this very weekend as anything written by what I believe to be one of the best writers I’ve ever worked with, deserves my undivided attention. Watch this space.

To the manners born

Something I treasure, is etiquette in business. Don’t even get me started on table manners.

Arrogance and entitlement are major irritations and rudeness in business, unless the service provider is doing a bad job or no job at all, is simply unacceptable. When such disregard, however, is reflected by the service provider to a paying client, such unprofessionalism must be taken to task. Is this a new trend? Treat the client like an inconvenience? Never! Not on my watch.

Working with a client years ago who launched a school of business and social etiquette, after their studies with the best in Washington and The Hague, was a simple reminder of what I was taught in business economics: prepare, dress up, show up, show respect, show interest, engage, deliver what you promise.

Going to be in a long meeting which will involve hours around a boardroom table spanning over the lunch hour? Take snacks for the table. Imagine the meeting hosts ordering lunch and ignoring their guests? Simple etiquette.

Sadly, we are not always remembered for our good behaviour, but it is guaranteed we will be remembered for bad behaviour.

After some peculiar events in recent weeks, which tested my patience and faith in a few members of the human race, I decided to go to bed with Gerald Jampolsky. Oh, get over it, I mean one of the books written by that wise man, Teach Only Love. I even found the notes I made when reading it the first-time years ago.

Whilst I agree with many of his theories, sometimes you’ve just got to realise there are people in this world who will change the narrative to suit their narcissistic souls. Learning to spot the difference between ignorance and toxic manipulation takes practice. Walking away instead of wasting time trying to care about people who have no regard for us, is the best new skill I’ve acquired in recent years.

Creating space for new light to enter, lovely new people to add interesting, caring new stitches to our tapestry of life, to me, means to evolve. Knowing whom to love and sending those who don’t treat us right off with love, reduces stress and detoxifies our precious space.

Oh, and if someone has the grace to buy us a delicious meal, the least we could do is thank them. No flowers, no big gestures, just a simple act of graciousness, even a text message. Amen to that too, sweeties. Simple, right?

Food, glorious food

Spoilt for choice when it comes to savouring scrumptious food and wine here on the magical Mornington Peninsula, my most recent culinary wanderings included a delicious dinner after a sunset shoot at Martha’s Table, overlooking Martha Cove Marina.

A glorious setting, which reminded me of my roots on an estuary, where sailing was part of life. Of course, the boats were never as grand as the ones in this cove.

The food portions were small. No, I’m not a big eater and I detest enormous portions, but this was rather skimpy and expensive. The Lobster Bisque was delicious, served in a Mediterranean style, with carnaroli rice. The service and vistas of the marina are worth the trip.

Pictured above, clockwise from top left: autumn shades at Polperro Winery; Barn & Co Restaurant interior; lobster bisque at Martha’s Table; Martha Cove Marina; tour queen of the Peninsula, Rika Keyser at Martha Cove; boats at Martha Cove Marina; moi pretending to be rich and famous at Martha Cove Marina; entrance to Barn & Co Restaurant; and the autumn vineyards at Barn & Co in Balnarring.

Autumn has arrived and log fires, tasty hot food, and fine wine in a scenic vineyard beckon. Sunday lunch at Barn & Co at Balnarring on the Peninsula’s wine route did not disappoint.

The tapas choices are scrumptious. Opting for the Lamb Meatballs with smoked tzatziki and pomegranate, Sliders with house brioche, beef brisket, pickle and slaw, and Crispy Artichoke Hearts with citrus aioli, proved ample to share.

To finish, I could not resist the Sticky Date Pudding, with butterscotch, honeycomb and vanilla bean ice cream. Another triumph. Washed down with local sparkling brut Baillieu from Merricks, I was ready for a stroll in the vineyard before a leisurely drive to Polperro Winery in Red Hill for a delicious glass of pre-sunset rosé. Highly recommended. I’ll be back.

Sofa spud

Not only is Lady Gaga an icon in the music industry, to me, she is also a superb actress and kind human being. That moment, at the Oscar night now forever etched in my memory, when a star, so high on his own importance, thought he could get away with abusive behaviour on a world stage, when Gaga told a frail Liza Minelli, “don’t worry, I’ve got you,” proved how women are there to support each other.

Yes, I loved Gaga in A Star is Born – I’ve seen every version of this movie ever made. However, my favourite remains Barbra Streisand and Chris Kristofferson’s film of the same title.

I’m surprised Gaga did not cop and Oscar for her performance in House of Gucci. She was superb and immensely convincing in her role. As for Adam Driver, this man was born to act. Pure entertainment of a successful family that lost the plot.

Sadly, it brought back a memory of a much-treasured Gucci belt a good friend bought for me during a visit to New York in the late 70s, when I would never have been able to afford such a luxury item. The timeless belt would still be stylish today. Sadly, it disappeared through an act of affirmative shopping – by someone I knew back then. I did not wish to send them off with love, I promise you, hie.

Shirley MacLaine, iconic sister of Warren Beatty, is another Hollywood treasure. Eccentric, talented and a most entertaining author, I saw her one-woman show in the mid-Nineties at Sun City in South Africa.

She was sensational! To have an audience in the palm of your hand, still kick as high as a Vegas showgirl, embrace the world, and make people laugh without uttering an expletive, is a class act. A dying trade.

As for her role as the grumpy Louisa, Ouiser, in the all-star cast of Steel Magnolias, which put a young Julia Roberts firmly on her path to stardom, she still makes me giggle when I watch reruns. Ouiser’s famous quip, “I’m not crazy, I’ve just been in a bad mood for 40 years,” said in a deeply Southern accent, still cracks me up.

As usual, I digress as I love a detailed story. A friend at lunch recently mocked me about my love of telling lengthy stories. I must admit, I was a tad disappointed as I listen to others’ stories, often repetitive and long. I love stories. Women supporting women, right?

So, back to fascinating Shirley. Tired of watching war, natural disasters and upsetting news on the box at night? Pop over to SBS if you live in Aussie and watch The Last Word. A good story and brilliantly played by Ms MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried, who certainly holds her own when performing with legendary stars such as MacLaine, Meryl Streep (Mamma Mia), and Vanessa Redgrave (Letters to Juliet), to name but a few!

I lose patience with endless series. Give me a fascinating binge for a weekend or a few nights on TV, and I’m there. Snacks, glass of bubbles, cup of chai or rooibos tea (yes, we get the rooibos from South Africa in Aussie too), and I’m happy as a clam.

Anatomy of a Scandal is such a binge. Sienna Miller is riveting as the devoted wife. She is certainly growing older beautifully. The story is typical of many who had everything handed to them on a silver platter since childhood. Gosh, I’ve known people like that and whilst not all of them expect the world to serve them, in this instance, the stiff upper lip, sweep it under the carpet, and just enjoy this ripe plum called success as a privileged brat, reminded me of similar epic scandals.

Infused with true British flavour, despite the always brilliant involvement of US writer/producers David E. Kelley and Melissa James Gibson, this courtroom drama will have you begging for more. As for the styling, especially Sienna Miller’s wardrobe, the entire production proved pure class.

An author, who’s books many of us seldom admitted to devouring in private, the hugely successful now late Jackie Collins, had an incredible life, not always ideal but she certainly had true grit and was no quitter. I highly recommend her story, Lady Boss. Imagine having Joan Collins as your sister? Not easy, yet Jackie held her own, and some. Worth watching.

Styling into autumn

This is one of my favourite seasons as layering is always fun. The warm colours of autumn, playing with textures and planning outfits to complement a day starting out cold, then warming up slightly, only for the temperature to drop rapidly when the sun starts setting earlier, is a time to also clean out the closet.

Keep the treasures, ditch the silly buy of years ago. I see it a bit like relationships too. If we no longer agree with people’s life choices, we have the choice to walk away. With our wardrobes, it becomes a labour of love as what we no longer like, could be gifted to an opshop, which serves as an act of kindness. Such opportunity shops are run for charitable organisations here in Aussie, and it could help someone less fortunate than us. As for letting go of people who no longer treat us right? That is also an act of love – for ourselves.

Pictured above, autumn colours that transcend fashion but remain in style. I tend to mix my old with the new. Loving the flash of cobalt blue, especially the luxe wool cardigan in the top row, centre, from Country Road. The coated jeans, in black and in plum, add a touch of contemporary to the classic straight-style pants at Witchery Fashion. The check cape and top are from the newly launched House of Lucas, made in Australia. The pink pointed-toe flats are from Vivaia – use my discount code ’tilly18′ – your feet will be grateful! I love a versatile poncho and Witchery Fashion does not disappoint with the midnight navy striped one featured above. The blazers are my own vintage picks from Zara – ageless. A classic coat, big or with a snug fit, never date, especially in camel. I’ve spotted some great styles at Trenery this season.

This is also a way to promote slow fashion by supporting sustainable, recycled fashion. Every tiny effort we make to be kinder to our planet will help if we all get on that caring train.

Speaking of which, I’ve written about @Vivaia shoes before and I’m still thrilled wearing their gorgeous flats, made from recycled plastic bottles. Stylish, yoga-mat comfort and designs to suit any occasion, I’m a fan! Washable and recyclable, what’s not to like?

My favourite colours and styles this season? Flared or straight pants, midi skirts and knitted dresses, classic coats and ageless jackets. Cobalt blue, camel, dove grey, winter white, and fuchsia pink spin my colder season colour palette. As for black and white, they will never die.

Cheers to living the good life, folks, we have one life. Our  stories matter…

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