By Tilly Smith Dix

A dear friend reminded me of this quote a while ago, “life is simple, just add water,” and I recalled these wise words from Leonardo da Vinci, “Water is the vital humour of the arid earth, flowing with unceasing vehemence through the ramifying veins, it replenishes all the parts.”

Show me someone who is not soothed when watching water, and I’ll show you someone who is not in sync with nature. Being quiet, relaxing at a lake, pond, stream, river or the ocean, is one of my many soul churches.

Raised by parents who had a deep appreciation for nature’s bounty, from its flora and fauna to its mountains, rivers, creeks, lakes and oceans, living close to the bay is the cherry on the delicious fruitcake of life.

We chase our dreams as we are driven by success and money for most of our lives. Then, life knocks us about a bit, and we end up with more questions than answers…

This is when we need to listen to our soul. What is joyful? Loving whom and whatever we wish as long as we don’t hurt anybody, the earth or its creatures. Okay, I am not fond of snakes and poisonous spiders, however, I do try to avoid them so I’m never in a situation where I need to have conflict with my fears, said with BIG round eyes…

You get my drift, though. Life is as lovely as we wish to make it and appreciating the myriad gifts that are free, fills me with enormous gratitude. Reconnecting with dear old friends who are like kin, communicating with strangers that seem oh so familiar, feeling the love of animals and children when we are kind to them, and making new friends that we just know we have crossed paths with before… these are the favours of the universe.

Of course, there will always be perverse personalities sent to test us. It’s up to us how we deal with them. Stop. Think. Is it worth responding to a fool? Sometimes we have to address the issue, especially if it poses a threat to our home, ourselves or anything and anyone we care about, though.

This should not result in us giving disruptive personalities the power to ruin our day. Once we have dealt with such tricky situations, we should breathe deeply, several times, let the toxic breath go out long and slow, then think of or look at something or someone who elevates our mood. Skipping from miffed to charming is not as hard as it sounds. The mind is surprisingly responsive to how we train it.

Pictured above, top, from left to right, dining with dear friends Mark, Brett, Angie and Jessica at Vinnies Pizza Boys, where the cuisine is authentic Italian in Mt Eliza; just add water, view of Frankston Pier from the Yacht Club.

Then there is laughter. The best medicine! Even my amazing yoga coach Tee had us in stitches when we were in an awkward pose, the Garudasana, (I had to google it as I simply know it as my snakes-intertwined pose), with arms and legs entwined whilst standing up, when she impishly told us to hop backwards! We were in hysterics, giggling like teens. Whatever tension we still had in our minds and bodies were gone after this hilarity.

Then I popped into the grocery store for supplies before heading home and tempted by some toys for the boisterously playful Kiki, I bought a feline toy that looks like a tiny European robin and it chirps when you touch it. Birdie was being shaken about in my shopping trolley and the chirping continued on my journey through the aisles. I did feel rather silly but I owned it and it made other shoppers laugh as they were trying to figure out where I’d hidden a bird, in my handbag, perhaps?

I simply pointed to the toy in the trolley, and giggled. When I returned the next day to get a spare, (no, not the book), as Kiki was so taken with Birdie, I feared it would lose its tweet soon when getting beaten up or licked lovingly by the gangster diva, stock was sold out! So, I guess twitter works. Tweet that!

Let’s not forget to laugh, even with strangers in a supermarket. It hides the wrinkles too! As a little boy once told me, smiling makes our faces turn up. Keep it up.

Pictured above, Kiki and Birdie.

Motown magic

I remember being so obsessed with the sounds of Motown, I’d record all the music on the radio by artists such as The Supremes and Diana Ross, The Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gay, The Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas, and The Four Tops, on a cassette tape, editing the commercials out of the mix, and dancing in my parents’ lounge to the amazing energy of these performers in the early 70s.

Pictured above, Dancing in the Shadows of Motown vocalists Franchesca and Veena, with friend Rika.

Several years later, I’d relive this era, when disco was uber-sophisticated and my friends and I would meet up at Raffles in Cape Town, where we’d dance the night away, dressed like dancing kings and queens, after a fabulous dinner at La Perla in Sea Point, or, if we were feeling flush, usually at month-end, we’d dine in the Raffles Restaurant! Oh, and not forgetting those boogie nights at Charlie Parker’s on Main Road, Sea Point, after a gourmet burger at Whatney’s Girls diner next door! Motown lived on…

So, when my dear friend Rika suggested we see the show Dancing in the Shadows of Motown at the Frankston Arts Centre, I started planning my razzle-dazzle outfit to complement the music and the outstanding eleven-piece powerhouse-band playing those foot-tapping classics of the Motown era.

The audience were grooving in their seats and when we were given permission to boogie in the aisles, even folks with walkers and wheelchairs were in motion! This may be a retirement haven but there were at least three generations of families attending, and it was evident, Motown was introduced to a younger generation, who quickly picked up some smooth moves from us wrinklies!

When the band joined us in the bar after this rocking show, the energy was charged with joy, and, when I got to chat to some of them, one of the superb vocalists, Franchesca Appolis, picked up a nuance of my South African accent and dropped her American-Motown stage drawl! I detected a Cape Town dialect in her native tongue and before you could say Table Mountain, we were happily communicating in the language of the Cape.

What fun! It turns out the gorgeous songstress has been a Sydney resident for many years, where her and her musician husband are raising their family. There is talk of six-degrees of separation… I say zero degrees! All we need to do is talk to people, right? I’m still vibing to the beat, baby…

Dining Out

Between Us in Maling Road remains one of my favourite eateries and meeting with strangers from South Africa, who looked me up as dear friends and neighbours of my sister and brother-in-law in Joburg, Egoli, Johannesburg, Place of Gold. Colleen and James promptly became my new friends! Remember back in the day, before email and social media, when people would turn up at the door, having been sent by a relative or friend from far away? “Just go see so-and-so, you’ll love them,” we’d say? Sometimes we did not love those strangers so much but in this case, it was instant good karma.

Pictured above, lasagna at Donato in Mt Martha.

Catching up with my gorgeous Italian friend Rosaria is always a treat and her suggestion for us to dine at Donato in Mount Martha, proved a great idea. Delicious, authentic lasagna accompanied by a fresh green garden salad proved an ideal choice.

Yabby Lake Winery was the perfect spot for a convivial, scrumptious lunch with my fabulous friends from Florida, and meeting their local relatives proved delightfully fortuitous. Breaking bread with good people, enjoying superb service and dining on the best local cuisine, complemented by delicious local wines, is another church for me. Cheers to that, and friends who remain constant, no matter how far apart we are scattered around this planet.

Pictured above, Bass Strait scallops, steak frites with French butter, and a beet salad at Yabby Lake Winery with my gorgeous lifelong friend Angie.

Sofa binges:

I treasured conversations with my late American godfather, who was laconically wise and well-travelled. He said he loved good movies when he was relaxing in his hotel rooms on his business trips as he often got answers in the dialogue and storylines of such films after a tough day of business negotiations. After all, movie scripts are written by real people. Okay, some are not all that real… I’ve met a few in Los Angeles and whilst some were rather far-out, they were scintillating anyway.

I remembered this conversation often when I’m immersed in a good movie on my sofa.

Watching Brian Wilson, Long Promised Road on Prime, was a reminder of musicians who truly have music in their veins. This flow of genius never stops and it will often start in a dark, sad place the musician might find themselves in at any given time, and help them transcend into the happiest place of light.

Battling mental illness, blessed with this gift, detoxing from drugs years ago, and always being driven by that natural ability to create sweet music, Brian Wilson’s legacy lives on and it will continue, with the rest of the Beach Boys tunes, long after they’ve all gone.

This man, I agree with Elton John’s comment on the documentary, should not only be honoured for his musical genius but also for dealing with his mental illness every day! I must admit, I shed a tear, okay, several, as the music took me back to my first beach party, my first love, and right back to the present day, when the gift of his music still resonates. This honest, pure, innocent soul, to me, is an angel in the darkness of some current mediocre musical hell.

I decided to watch the Grammys on Channel 9 last week. BIG mistake. Looking at many of the artists, the way they were dressed, tacky, talent that seems to be cloned in some modern-day music factory, I was aghast at the accolades and awards. The artists that should be recognised, true talent with class, like Adele, were mostly in the audience only! The best music of the event? Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson, no longer young but still shining lights of true, musical talent.

Perhaps my critique is harsh but looking at so many brutally honest comments on Instagram, many people agreed, and they were mostly younger audiences, the Grammys were a waste of time. However, Trevor Noah, another talented South African export, did a sterling job presenting on the night.

Vintage movies transport me to a time when my late parents and much older siblings were in their prime. I also believe many of the directors, stars and cinematographers of those halcyon days had magical vision as so much of their work continues to thrill audiences today.

Some of my recent binges on Binge, include:

Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman;  Written on the Wind, with Lauren Bacall and Rock Hudson; and Rock Hudson, and Gina Lollobrigida, who passed away last month, in Come September. As for the spectacular location of this film, with a fleeting glimpse of Portofino and a villa in neighbouring Santa Margarita, where I visited some years ago, a summer romance could not occur in a more picturesque setting. A delightful movie to watch during Valentine’s week!

Netflix offers superb choices and I’ve honestly enjoyed:

Emily in Paris by the creators of Sex and the City. The refreshing fashion, colourful characters, Paris in all its most charming guises, make for an armchair escape of the sweetest kind. My memories of Paris spring to mind. Seeing this city of light through the eyes of a younger generation, with a quirky, sexy peppering of several mature characters, made me wish for season three to roll on faster!

I don’t know anyone who does not enjoy the cuteness of Reese Witherspoon. Add dishy Ashton Kutcher and Your Place or Mine should delight you as it did me. A good date-night binge too. Bring wine…

Safari in South Africa

Autumn in the bush is a magical time, when the hues and landscape change to warmer colours. Hot toddies and much conviviality abound around boma dinners on luxe safaris at Tau Game Lodge in the Madikwe Reserve.

This is also the time when the visibility of game enthrals visitors even more, as the animals are less inclined to seek shade after the summer heat has subsided.

The five-star family-friendly lodge is enclosed within the malaria-free reserve, resulting in the humans being subtly fenced in, while game, including several crocodiles, roam free. The spectacular birdlife is world-renowned.

The Tau Easter 2023 packages from R25,000 per couple, include:

  • Accommodation for 2 nights in one of the 12 recently refreshed Luxury Standard Chalets
  • 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.

This rate is exclusive of the following:

  • Park Entrance fees of R180.00 per person (Subject to change)
  • Tourism Levy of R10.00 per person per night (Subject to change)
  • Bar, Mini Bar, Laundry and all other extras
  • Rhino Conservation Levy of R190.00 per adult per night
  • Easter egg hunt for kids applicable for families in Deluxe and Family Suites – please contact the lodge for rates.

To book this special package, please quote: TAU EASTER 2023

Autumn 2023 rates start from R11,620 per couple.

Pictured above, luxe safari at eco-conscious Tau Game Lodge – more info at: +27-(0)11-466 8715/17 –  –

Ageless style

Summer has been a pleasure, with several balmy days dotted in between mostly liveable days of comfortable warmth here on the shores of the beautiful Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia.

This month’s special style feature embraces wearable fashion, easy styling, and nonchalant chic, from day to evening…

Basic, timeless items in silk, linen and cotton, are highlighted for versatility and in celebration of slow fashion, wearing old with new.

Pictured above, simple classics are elevated and styled for longevity. Australian brands featured include: Witchery, Seed Heritage, Wittner Shoes, Decjuba, and Country Road. International brands include: Showpo and MinnieandMaxxie – full details are tagged on Instagram @Sixty_is_the_new_40

Add a pair of heels with attitude, something bright to jazz up earthy hues or shades of white, and a capsule wardrobe becomes easy to manage, also ideal when travelling.

Black is always the new black, but adding some shimmer, in white or ivory for night-time, creates show-stoppers, standing out in a crowd of black… not forgetting this being the month in which love is celebrated universally, add a touch of rouge or cerise!

Cheers to the goodlife, don’t forget to add water and smile, better still, laugh as much as possible, it’s the healthiest contagious energy… and long live love!

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