Text and photography by Tilly Smith Dix
Little did I know when I bought a little black antique organ at Billy Moon in Parkhurst, Johannesburg years ago, how such a little treasure, the size of an upright piano, would create a story that sounds too good to be true.
Made in Washington, NJ by the Cornish Company, this sweet little number got my attention when I was looking for an antique rolltop desk to serve as a vanity. I had invested in a beautifully hand-crafted French sleigh bed made by Van der Merwe & Son in Mooi River, South Africa some years earlier. I thought the bed deserved a vanity table to befit its stature in my spacious bedroom in Sandton.
I could not find such a rolltop desk but the rolltop organ was calling my name the moment I saw it. So, after some deliberation, it won me over and I took delivery of it. Yes, there were some naughty references to my keeping a little black organ in my bedroom by a cheeky editor friend, which resulted in interesting lunchtime conversation. South African humour, say no more…
So, this little organ eventually moved with me to Australia. As I simply could not part with it at the time, it travelled here via Singapore in a container with the rest of my household goods.
After several years, I decided to downsize, and I realised I could either keep my piano or the organ, no space for both in my new bijou home. The piano won as I was having it tuned and would commence playing again once settled in my home. It was also of enormous sentimental value, as my late parents bought it for me, on a budget, after I proved my love and dedication to music after passing my first exam aged seven.
I tried selling the organ. I tried giving it away. I offered it to the Organ Society of Melbourne. This went on for many months, no luck. In the meantime, this sweet little darling was wrapped in blankets in the garage, where the car slept outside to ensure this ageing beauty was snug. I’d like to add I endeavoured to prevent spider and rodent invasions too, so, every precaution was taken to preserve this treasure. In fact, I nearly euthanised myself, given all the earth-friendly pest repellents I sprinkled and sprayed in this process.
So, reaching the end of my tether and deeply saddened about nobody seemingly having interest in such beautiful old instruments anymore, I mentioned it to a Facebook friend I met on a modelling shoot three years ago here in Melbourne.
This incredible person, tiny in stature, but with a voice like an operatic angel, who also teaches karate, immediately told me she would speak to her accompanist for her next concert. She also mentioned the pianist originates from South Africa and that in spite of having lived in Melbourne for some 40 years, he told her he still missed speaking Afrikaans.
Within minutes, Len Voster, Natsuko Minegheshi’s accompanist called me after I forwarded images of the organ to her. Len asked for measurements, which I provided, as it should be when it comes to organs, this one now fondly known as the LBO.
The piano tuner and removalist who moved the LBO to my new nest last year, did play a tune on the relic at the time and pronounced it in good shape and tone.
So, I provided Len with his details. In the meantime, Len discovered my Afrikaans was in good shape too, and as one does, we shared some family secrets, only to discover that on both our mothers’ sides, we were related!
Within a few days my organ removal contact, now Len’s, arrived to collect the LBO, only to advise me he had not seen Len since university days, where he studied when Len was a tutor – some 40 years ago!
Lachlan Brown, piano tuner and piano mover, also turns out to be a composer and his work is available on YouTube. I begged him to share this news with Len when he delivers the little treasure as there must be an opportunity for his work to be performed by the maestro and musical tutor!
I am attending a concert at Montsalvat in Eltham in June, to bask in a performance by Len and Natsuko, where they will be performing music of the world. Some of the songs on the programme are by South African composers and Natsuko is currently being coached by Len to perform these in Afrikaans.
I believe Len and Lachlan are discussing Lachlan’s compositions, so, watch this space. We hear of six degrees of separation. I’d call it two degrees of separation only. How sweet the sound of serendipity is when it warms the cockles of the musical heart…
Running with the muses
Being invited to send my bio to the founder of 800Muses, made me a tad nervous. After all, am I good enough to be part of such a posse of highly acclaimed, published writers?
Yvonne Aileen, Writer, Publisher, Realtor, Indie Author, and Founder of 800 Muses, is a force of nature. A natural communicator and writer.
So, I put on my brave façade and was humbled and thrilled to be accepted. I cannot sing the praises of the writers in that fold enough, the like of Caroline Hurry, Laura Waters, to mention only the few brilliant authors I happen to know and respect.
So, if you’re a writer passionate about telling stories, check her profile on FB and LinkedIn. You will thank me later.
As for Caroline Hurry, her newly published book Reign, mentioned in a previous blog, is enjoying glowing reviews. Available online, you will love the laughter, tears, and balm for the soul stories, not to mention her superb use of the English language: https://amzn.to/3LIqZvv
Food, wine, and taking a long walk on a long pier
Mantons Creek Winery is home to Quattro, a restaurant I highly recommend. Situated on Tucks Road, driving on the Mornington wine trail is pure magic. Arriving at Quattro, overlooking vineyards, hills, and picturesque avenues of trees, feels like heaven.
The service is efficient and friendly, the food scrumptious. Indulging in the Mantons Reserve Sparkling Rose proved a perfect pairing to the gnocchi mushroom forestry, goat cheese and Mary’s herbs; followed by the salmon, red cabbage, finger lime and wild garlic emulsion; then some sweet sensations, including, Strawberry tart, raspberry and white chocolate ice cream – and Mandarin panna cotta with candied apple and Mary’s flowers. Delicioso – I’ll be back!
Delicate flavours, fresh herbs, and a seasoned chef. The Epicurean Group manages multiple venues across the Mornington Peninsula and Macedon Ranges.
Quattro at Mantons Creek Winery: succulent salmon, melt-in-the-mouth gnocci, and strawberry tart.
From here, it is an easy drive of about 15 minutes to scenic Flinders for the scent of the ocean on the Mornington Peninsula point, where the Western Port meets Bass Strait.
This picturesque seaside town is also home to a world-class golf course overlooking the coast.
I was so enamoured with this quaint town, its vistas, and long pier, I returned a few days later to savour the fresh oysters, and delicious delicacies available at the impressive Flinders General Store, which offers myriad choices of local produce, gourmet groceries, local and imported wines, and delicious ready-to-eat meals.
A picnic on a cool, overcast day, with a glass of delicious local bubbles, was just the midweek escape I needed to revitalise the spirit and revive my senses for the rest of the week.
Idyllic Flinders on the Mornington Peninsula.
Dining closer to the city in Eltham, a leafy, vibrant community, is never disappointing. Meeting my gorgeous cousin Helen at Second Home for brunch, proved delightful. Catching up on family and dining on a delicious, folded egg with basil pesto, on fresh sourdough bread and smoked, crispy bacon, made for the perfect midweek break.
Attending our youngest pixie’s Special Person’s Day at Kinder, was pure joy. Our four-and-a-half-year old served me home-made vegetable soup and introduced me to the resident pets, two spiny leaf insects, which also shed their skin. Who knew? Part of the programme of this special day, was the children paying homage to the native inhabitants of this land, who tended the earth before the westerners arrived.
Hats off to the teachers who instil such values in children at this tender age to have respect for all our people and the land.
Resistance, featuring the early life of Marcell Marceau and his part in the Resistance, saving thousands of children, was an eye opener. I highly recommend this binge.
The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: the unheard tapes – piecing together the puzzle by those who knew her well. It seems this mystery will never be solved. She knew too much. She was out of control. She was vulnerable. She threatened the wrong family. The authorities wanted her gone.
She was a prescription medicine addict who needed to be defined by the men she got involved with. Her story still saddens me deeply. If only she had believed in her own strength. A broken childhood, fame and men who took what they needed and left. A candle in the wind indeed.
A Very British Scandal on Amazon Original: Claire Foy and Paul Bettany head up the three-part series, the dramatized scandalous divorce case between the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. The Duke, played by Bettany, accused the Duchess, superbly portrayed by Foy, of sleeping with some 88 men during their marriage. Very busy lady but certainly a lot more classy than the recent courtroom soap opera of Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard.
Impromptu, a frothy story of author George Sand, how she pursued Frederic Chopin, his friendship with Franz Liszt, and the French society who courted these brilliant composers. I was intrigued by Hugh Grant, as Chopin, playing the piano and discovered he took lessons with the now late Yonty Solomon, the world-renowned South African pianist, to acquire his technique. I’m a proud Aussie but this heart will never deny the amazing people and places of my origins.
Safari at the place of the lion in South Africa
It is no secret Tau Game Lodge is one of my favourite safari destinations on the planet and when I see the special winter rates, hugely attractive to international luxe travellers and great value for South Africans wishing to indulge in a five-star safari on their own doorstep, all seems well with the world.
Situated in the Madikwe Reserve, just over four hours’ drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria, eco-tourism is key at Tau. Think superb visibility of game, magical safari drives with knowledgeable rangers, hot toddies, wholesome food, warm service, and understated luxury.
Add a large waterhole, where the game roam free, prolific birdlife, and guests observe the wild things from the privacy of their rooms, or the convivial dining and hospitality decks of the lodge, and a sublime winter safari unfolds.
Family-friendly, with a bijou spa overlooking the bush, see more at www.taugamelodge.co.za
Enhance and be pro age
Blush. Shine. Glow. These are the little beauty secrets one never takes for granted when ageing.
I could not have been more thrilled receiving three magical makeup sticks that create such alchemy, resulting in a rejuvenated glow, and healthy blush on this sixty-plus face, especially on a day when I felt a tad pale.
The Enhance Pro Age Blush stick is easy to apply, smooth and I not only applied it to my cheeks but dabbed a little above my eyelids and a tiny touch on my nose and chin. This was followed by a touch of the Shine stick, which I applied on my cheekbones. We always want to enhance those, right?
Brightening up with Enhance Pro Age.
The Glow stick I dabbed sparingly on my eyelids, on the cupid’s bow of my lips, et voila, I looked refreshed. If we look good, we feel good…
Snuggling into winter style
Oh, when I get news of fashion vouchers coming my way to indulge in the latest alpaca, merino, and mohair knits, not to mention stylish capes, coats, scarves, and ponchos, I’m happy as that proverbial bug in a rug.
This is also a therapeutic indoor escape, sorting through my winter finds, gathered over the years, and teaming these vintage pieces up with the gifted new styles, to create a harmonious blend of old and new. Slow fashion rules and it is kinder to the planet.
This winter has such a seventies vibe, with flared pants, high waists, and plenty of boho chic, how could one not feel energised, realising that what goes around, comes around, and to once again take a trip down memory lane with style, but somehow, this time, it’s better, more refined and, oh so slick.
A follower on my fashion Instagram page Sixty_is_the_new_40 recently seemed confused about me talking about autumn and winter, when she was experiencing spring in the USA. I merely responded how amazing this planet was. While I could admire and gather new style tips for the months ahead from my fellow IG sistas, others could hopefully do the same with our current seasonal chic Down Under. Yes, the world is not flat. Chuckles.
Adding warmth to winter with a pop of desert rose, pink, blue, and my current grape crush.
Cheers to the good life, wherever you are, folks. Carpe diem…