By Tilly Smith Dix

I mentioned in my December blog, the sadness of losing my dear childhood friend to cancer at the end of 2022.

Given the timing of Mariekie’s passing a service to celebrate her life took place on January 7, 2023.

The live stream via YouTube was heart-warming and she would have approved, I’m certain. The pastor talked about helmets and crowns, which deeply resonated with me. We wear helmets to protect us when we have no choice but to face a problem and imagining a light on that helmet to help us navigate the challenge, makes sense.

We wear our crowns of pride to celebrate what we hold dear in our lives. These scintillating crowns tend to define us, so, we need to choose them wisely.

The eulogies delivered by Mariekie’s beautiful, accomplished daughters, Steph and Mica, confirmed their mother’s biggest crown was her two amazing daughters. She also took enormous pride in her beautiful head of hair, which was always immaculate.

Tears were shed as I prepared my video to celebrate my beautiful friend, my ya-ya sister’s often eccentric outlook on life. My way of dealing with this loss of a soul, gone too soon? I’m clinging to the memories of our childhood, when we fought like cubs and made up like soul sisters. In the end, we always ended up laughing and dancing, which continued throughout our adulthood.

She is teaching the angels some interesting dance moves and promoting the joy and glamour of always wearing red lipstick. I hear laughter. This makes me smile and somehow, when we smile, the sadness subsides, and we let go…

So, it was with a bitter-sweet note I celebrated my dear friend’s passing and found closure of her visit to this earth. As I am in another country and could not attend her memorial service, I dressed for the occasion, blow-dried my hair to a strand-width of perfection, and applied red lipstick, knowing she’d approve this stylish online attendance to pay homage to her life.

Then I ate a delicious mince pie, left over from the endless Festive Season’s smorgasbord, and had a glass, or two, of champagne. Kiki was keen on the box containing the gin infused mince tarts but I told her she was too young. Mariekie would have laughed at this discussion between me and the fluffy feline tornado. She loved animals and was kind to people too, especially those less fortunate…

Why, said someone, do we have such religious services, especially when people are not religious? Celebrating a life that has gone is not only for the religious as it brings closure to everyone, a final farewell, remembering a life that was lived. I feel better about her being gone too soon now, having witnessed that service on my screen. There is always something spiritual to take with us, no matter what our views are on religion. Believing in the good and the betterment of our soul, to me, is a religion too. I say amen to that.

We also bid farewell to an Old Year. For many, it was a year best forgotten. So, here’s to celebrating this New Year, remembering what we savoured last year, learning from the hardships, as without those we cannot move forward, and embracing the best of what’s to come.

Cheers to wearing our helmets and crowns with determination and at least a semblance of wisdom. Let’s not forget to laugh and dance – and don’t forget the red lipstick!

Pictured above, a good partnership. I eat the tarts and Kiki destroys the box.

Solstice feasting

Being born on 21 December has plenty perks. It is a day of celebrating the winter or summer solstice, depending on where one is in the world, and this past December proved a plethora of celebratory feasting, resulting in almost a week of daily birthday lunching with dear friends.

How lucky could I get… I did try to pace myself for two days before the Christmas feast with my extended family, otherwise, I was certain, my liver would object, together with my waistline… I also took long walks on the beach, always good for body and soul.

Pictured above, Frankston Pier, gulls, crested terns and dear friend Rika.

As subscribers to this blog will attest, this liveable city, and its surrounds, including the Mornington Peninsula where I reside, offers sublime dining destinations and I could not fault any of the restaurants I’m about to mention.

Commencing with Spanish sharing platters at De Barcelona in Hawthorn with my expat Fab 5 group, there was laughter, tasting and much catching up to do. A most convivial venue, and I vote the Tropical Sangria, with pineapple and coconut, a winning summer tipple. The home-made beef empanada was fresh and delicious, the nachos a treat.

Pictured above, history and Italian humour in Hawthorn.

Botticelli in Brighton offers authentic Italian cuisine and excellent service. I highly recommend the simple Linguini aglio olio, comprising salty Sicilian anchovies, spicy chilli, garlic, capers, herbs, olive oil and shaved pecorino. You are offered a choice of avoiding any of the spices, which impressed me even more about the service.

Pictured above, scenes of Brighton, and delicious pasta at Botticelli.

Manhattan in Mornington serves sublime crispy skin duck breast on Paris mash and orange sauce. Teamed with a fresh garden salad, it was superb!

Pictured above, dining on delicious crispy skin duck with friend Gretchen at Manhattan.

The Atrium in Sorrento is a most convivial venue for a special occasion. The ambience is bright and airy, the food scrumptious. Portions are scant, though. The tuna tartare and natural classic mignonette oysters proved ideal starters, whilst mains of the ocean trout poke bowl, grilled barramundi, and sides of golden chat potatoes and creamed corn were mouth-watering.

Pictured above, The Atrium in scenic Sorrento.

Reading wisely

As I like reading at bedtime and prefer to hold a book in my hands, I’ve neglected the online books I have lined up, for now…

At a loss for what to read to keep my short attention span in check, I’ve returned to past literary pleasures. John le Carre’s The Secret Pilgrim is entertaining me again after many years of a sabbatical in my small library as I now have less space for a larger bookcase. I love a good spy story and this one tells a fine tale…

The Treasury of Kahlil Gibran is reminding me of the insight of this man, who in his short life between 1883 and 1931, left such a wealth of wisdom in his written words, from poetry to philosophy, and in his art. Sometimes we need to go back to go forward, in literature anyway…

“Humans are divided into different clans and tribes, and belong to countries and towns. But I find myself a stranger to all communities and belong to no settlement. The universe is my country and the human family is my tribe.” I particularly like this paragraph and philosophy of this wise man as it resonated deeply during a recent conversation with someone, when we agreed how we are all connected, and what a thrill it is when we discover even deeper connections in which to create our global village, our tribe.

Sofa Binge

Brunel, 150 years of creating landmark structures in the UK gives insight into the genius of the man, available on Binge. A fascinating documentary if you appreciate timeless bridges made of steel.

Also on Binge, I enjoy vintage movies, and Marriage on the Rocks with Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, Deborah Kerr and even Trini Lopez, takes us back to a different time.

However, Splendor in the Grass, also on Binge, which I’ve always wanted to see because of the true-life romance that sparked between Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood, was worth watching. That poem by William Wordsworth remains a classic: ”What though the radiance which was once so bright, Be now for ever taken from my sight, Though nothing can bring back the hour Of Splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower, We will grieve not…”

Where the Crawdads Sing on Prime Video was less satisfying than the book. Still worth watching, though. As the movie was shot mostly in Australia, the director did a fine job of creating a Deep Southern US ambience.

The English on Amazon Prime is worth watching, with Emily Blunt, as always, portraying her character brilliantly.

Back on classic movies on Binge,  The Young Philadelphians with Paul Newman, Barbara Rush, Robert Vaughn, Alexis Smith and Diane Brewster, does not disappoint. An intriguing 1959 drama.

For something lighter on Binge, I’ve enjoyed The Carrie Diaries. Before Sex and the City, there was just Carrie, Carrie Bradshaw. This might sound lame but watching this series out of desperation, as I’m so over the murder, darkness and manic over the top special effects and dark side of so many current movies, I got swept into being a teen all over again. It certainly keeps the old woman out, chuckle…

Not sure it’s a good idea, as now I’m having flashbacks of some really crazy things I got up to with my friends in the 70s, and, last, but never least, experiencing that first, painful, all-consuming love. Austin Butler aces the part of Carrie’s first love, Sebastian, and got me remembering my first beau.

So, if you want to escape the present and revisit your teens and the growing pains of entering the world of young adulthood, again, enjoy this charming series.

The Pale Blue Eye on Netflix, starring Christian Bale, Lucy Boynton, Robert Duvall, and Gillian Anderson, is darkly mesmerising with an unexpected twist.

For armchair travel, look no further than Amazing Hotels on Binge. The sublime locations include a surreal volcanic Icelandic experience, fascinating Madeira, and the magical small city and port of Rovinj in Croatia, which I fell in love with and wrote about some years ago, when several publications published my review. Of course, this being a British production, it ends with an award-winning home-from-home for the filthy rich in London. I’ve strolled past that hotel on past visits, and I now regret never popping in for tea!

Pictured above taken some years ago on a visit to Rovinj, Croatia.

Get the snack and tipples ready, this one is pure entertainment… and you may wish to book a trip to a dream safari destination next… read on…

Romance in the wild

Valentine’s getaways are always a good idea and for the ultimate getaway, a luxe safari is the stuff romantic dreams are made of. Celebrating romance in five-star style at Tau Game Lodge has often resulted in happy couples returning to Tau, not only to embrace new love but also to celebrate and revitalize romance in relationships that have withstood the test of time…

Indulge in a romantic breakfast overlooking the waterhole at the lodge after an early morning safari, sip cocktails in the bush, and dine under the stars. Then relax in the privacy of one’s room overlooking the natural waterhole, where the wide-angled vistas of the endless parade of game and prolific birdlife seem never-ending.

Fancy a swim, as it is summer, in one of the two pools, one being an infinity pool, both overlooking the waterhole?

Pictured above, nightfall at Tau Game Lodge, South Africa – see more at

Shopping and style, the Aussie way

Accompanying my gorgeous friends to shop for items to complement their lifestyle and existing wardrobes has become a regular adventure. I may just start hiring my services out as a personal stylist and shopper. Spending other people’s money is such fun!

Spoilt for choice, it pays to shop around. From Mornington to Mt Eliza and Sorrento’s Riviera-styled bijou boutiques to old-meets-new-money in Brighton’s small but select fashion precinct, looking good on a budget is not difficult.

An advocate of slow fashion, acquiring only sustainable items to complement my existing wardrobe, I’m enthralled with the quality and affordability of Italian linen this summer. Relaxed, cool, timeless, and versatile, it is my summer staple.

Melbourne weather is like a diva, mostly sparkly and at times cool, which is reminiscent of my happy years spent in Cape Town. It makes dressing fun for summer as often layers are required.

A linen shirt over a sleeveless dress, a light knit over a silk shirt, or a big silky or linen scarf to enhance and keep a slight chill at bay, make for versatile and interesting dressing.

Bright colours are back with flash, and I’m thrilled as I have some relics from years ago that are now back on trend! From berry pink palazzo pants to an orange tiered skirt, a bright green or orange wrap belt, or a cobalt blue linen-weave light knitted dress, summer style has not been this vibrant and exciting for years. Embrace it and don’t forget the bright lipstick…

Pictured above, mixing and matching the old with the new, from bright and bold to understated linen. The best linen I’ve spotted this season in timelessly elegant styles, was at Trenery and Seed Heritage. Bright colour sliders for comfy casual style at Witchery Fashion, which also features the sublime black sequin palazzo pants and berry pink silky palazzo pants. Most of the items featured above are from my timeless closet, up-styled with a belt, scarf or shoes reflecting the current Aussie summer style. Detailed style posts appear on my dedicated fashion Instagram page @Sixty_is_the_new_40

Cheers to the goodlife, embracing the now with gratitude, and being in the moment. That’s my only resolution for 2023… what’s yours? If it does not make you feel fabulous, don’t do it, don’t buy it, don’t wear it, don’t eat it, don’t date it, and don’t keep it… cheers to that too!

One thought on “Helmets and crowns

  1. Beautifully written
    Reminiscent of an era of glamour which you so vividly resurrect in the reader’s mind
    While keeping it very much in the here and now.
    Kiki’s gorgeous piercing eyes are quite unique, they make her speak words without sound
    While your recommendations of various sources of entertainment are equally interesting

    Liked by 1 person

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