Helmets and crowns

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 www.taugamelodge.co.za

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!

Let it flow

by Tilly Smith Dix

A social media friend recently bemoaned too many cliches being posted online as all this inspirational stuff made her gag, she said.

I never tire of being reminded of life lessons. Yes, life toughens us and moulds us, a bit like a garden. Often, one plants a seed or shrub, and they simply won’t grow, whilst something we were not paying much attention to, will flourish. There’s a lesson here. Life has its own flow.

In life, we plan to get ahead or simply to stay in step. When we are young, we are encouraged to develop our professional and emotional skills and somehow, we define ourselves through our management of self. I was going to become a pianist. I loved music, worked hard at it since the age of seven, and with the support of my teachers and mother, this, I felt, was what defined me.

When that dream came to a crashing halt because of circumstances beyond my control, I felt lost. I was sixteen, in a new city, a new school, a fish out of water, so to speak…

Slowly, I evolved, after a few heartbreaking life lessons, and discovered, through a supportive tutor, that I had a gift for writing essays. I found some balance in a new city, at last.

However, this was not going to pay the bills after my studies were completed and I started at the bottom of public relations, and as a PA before that, but earned extra cash through modelling after an agent spotted me in a bank and signed me up. I even had a few small parts in movies, but the money was rubbish, and I rejected the tacky casting-couch regime.

This, however, was not how I wanted to be defined. I always liked fashion and enduring style but wanted to be taken seriously as a young woman with a good mind and not just a pretty face.

To cut a long story short, what I love about almost reaching the rude number in 60 plus, I don’t wish to be defined by anything as, like most of the people of my village, in other words, my tribe scattered around the globe, we are multi-faceted. Simply call us by our name, not yours.

I enjoy writing and photography, I have been an editor, a corporate manager, an agency boss, and I am still a publicist and blogger, as well as a social media inspirer for people over 60.

Oh, and I’ve started playing the piano again, after a sabbatical of some 50 years. I’m just a woman who has lived an eventful life, travelled extensively, had ups and downs, and who continues to live authentically – a grateful woman who lives by her own rules. Cheers to that, and all the men and women out there, who embrace their true spirit and worth. We have stories.

Pictured above, top left, a time for sentimental gifts of old and embracing the inner child. The teddy was given to me many years ago by my godparents in Savannah, Georgia. It is unwrapped every Christmas, with love and laughter, long after they have moved over the rainbow bridge. The cute little riders, bottom left, seem to love their modern transport and are proud supporters of The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation @dashpatch. No space or time for a tree, or a preference for less fussy Christmas decor? The Christmas vase works too. Bottom right, Kiki approves of the Walkers gin-infused fruit tarts box.

What am I proud of? I no longer accept every invitation to a fight I’m invited to, and I decline offers I’m not keen on. I’m too busy embracing life. As for this time of year, I do embrace a great mince pie and the best I’ve sampled so far is the Walkers gin-infused mini mince tarts from Woolworths. Kiki loves the box and it will be destroyed over the next few days. She can ruin the box but I hide the pies!

It is with deep sadness I think of my lifelong friend since childhood passing away a few days ago. Mariekie suffered for some time and her pain could no longer be numbed by morphine. Cancer is a monster. It is with gladness I let her go, free of pain. How would she be defined? A conscientious corporate assistant accountant, a teen beauty queen, a kind person, a woman who loved fashion and fabulous cars, a proud mother, and a person who forgave easily and loved to laugh. She was beautiful and she was loved. I hear laughter when she is welcomed by her family and loved ones who arrived at her peaceful new haven ahead of her. She will be missed. RIP, soul sister. Your light was bright.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it … I say, let it flow, let it flow, let it flow! Let life happen. It has its own purpose, as long as we do our best and learn our lessons well. Otherwise, we may have to start all over again. A good time of the year to reflect, I’d say. I’m starting with gratitude and telling the folks I adore how much I love them.

All in the family

Celebrating an early birthday and Christmas lunch with my precious family proved the perfect occasion to want to burst with gratitude.

Doing a crazy jitterbug Christmas dance with an eight-year-old, with our jazz hands flying and bottoms bumping against each other, giggling madly, is a moment treasured forever. Again, there is gratitude. For starters, I did not dislocate anything doing the crazy dance!

Pictured above: made with love by the pixies for their crazy Christmas Auntie Tilly. What’s not to love.

Hand-made Christmas cards and art created just for me by the pixies made my heart sing. So, if I’ll be defined as the laughing, crazy-dance auntie they’d like to join them on holiday, I’ll take it!

No, I won’t crash their grandparents’ long-awaited Cape holiday with the pixies as that would be selfish but knowing I’d be missed makes all the difference. Okay, so maybe they’ll miss my pavlova more… I’ll take that too.

That’s entertainment

Music of most genres thrill me and on any given day, I’ll listen to classical music, jazz, blues, and whatever sounds good to my musical ear. So, when my dear friend Rika invited me to attend a blues concert at the Frankston Arts Centre, I accepted before the offer could be withdrawn.

Paying tribute to the Three Kings, BB King, Freddie King and Albert King, this event was a triumph. If you love blues, you’d understand. Their music lives on and thanks to Australia’s Geoff Acheson, Dave Hole and Shane Pacey’s superb homage performances, I bet not only were plenty memories stirred up with fans of the blues, but a new generation has become privy to the old masters of the blues.

The guitar-slinging fretboard talents and vocals of these Australian musicians are pure musical pleasure and I’m hoping this world-class show returns to the Mornington Peninsula soon.

These Kings inspired the like of Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Peter Green and the great Jimi Hendrix, who are now forever regarded as guitar gods.

Returning to Frankston Arts Centre for Christmas Carols proved a celebration of the combined talent of professional Australian musicians who have not only performed with our top operatic and symphony orchestras, but who have indeed performed internationally, to great aplomb.

Compere Chris McKenna, who also performs with the tenors, baritone and soprano did a great job engaging the packed audience in the Christmas spirit, with plenty giggles and hearty participation.

Star Opera Australia baritone Roger Lemke, soprano Alison Jones and tenor Roy Best, were backed superbly on the grand piano by young rising star William Schmidt.

Alexandra Partridge, one of Melbourne’s finest cellists, who has played for Orchestra Victoria and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, added warmth and beauty to the concert. I’m still giggling at some of the additional Aussie verses, such as, “riding through the bush, in a rusty Holden ute…” to the tune of Jingle Bells!

Sofa binges

Michel Roux in the South of France streaming on Prime Video proved a blissful trip down memory lane for me, comprising visits to Arles, St Remy, and other delightful villages of the region.

The famous London chef with his French origins, shines a light on simple food, sourcing the fresh produce Provence is famous for.

Getting down to basics in Provence begs simple dishes to celebrate the fresh flavours of this region’s abundant produce, from lamb to fruit and vegetables, herbs, and fish, to cheese and wine.

If you love this beautiful part of France and good, honest food, this series is for you! I enjoyed the synergy between this series focused on simplicity, and Michel’s legendary two Michelin-star eatery, Le Gavroche in London, which he took over from his famous father and grandfather, where the focus has always been on fine dining.

I’ve mentioned one of my favourite British chefs James Martin in an earlier blog and his 2016 Christmas Comforts series on Binge remains a joy, hosting Michelin-star chefs, and celebrity friends, such as the always delightful Sir Michael Parkinson. The recipes are indulgent, the mood jolly, and the conversations lively. Michel Roux Snr, who passed away in 2020, makes an appearance too.

Add the festive food reports from Austria, which brought merry memories of my visits over the years, and a food historian, who offers interesting background to some of the traditional dishes, and you have a delicious BBC food binge. Fancy some Yorkshire pudding with your roast? This one’s for you! Proper, mate.

Documentaries are such fun binges, and I found the tribute to David Geffen on Netflix quite enchanting. He made artists such as Jackson Brown, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Guns ‘n Roses, Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and Bob Dylan household names.

Man About Town, with Ben Affleck and Rebecca Romijn, made for a comfy rainy-day movie binge. The story is not new but it’s always good to see a new storyline for couples fixing their problems for a happy ever after. It beats the cheesy Christmas movies for me.

Ah, then there are the oldies, those vintage movies directed by people like Bob Fossie, who could act, choreograph, and dance. Fancy a trip down memory lane with Howard Keel and Doris Day on Binge, look no further than Kiss me Kate – and watch out for Cole Porter and Bob Fosse himself appearing in this movie.

I had a giggle whilst flicking through Amazon Prime Video, where I came across most of the Bond movies. The parental warning on The Spy who Loved Me reads: Mild coarse language and sex, and a mild sense of peril…

Currently trending on Netflix is The Watcher. Based on the true story of the book The Haunting of a Dream House. Greed and the insular lives of old New York suburban money are thrown in the mix and it’s bloody scary. Scarier than my neighbours…

Bobby Cannavale, as always, is great value. Jennifer Coolidge adds her usual odd method persona in the mix, whilst Naomi Watts is a mother protecting her family. Mia Farrow, Margo Martindale, and Christopher McDonald add to this ominous limited series. Pour some wine and don’t watch it alone if you are sensitive…

Eating out

Lorida is situated on Main Road, Mornington, and serves Greek cuisine. My first visit was great, with an excellent tasting platter for two with a generous helping of fried calamari, spanakopita cigars, zucchini chips, kataifi, prawns in honey, lemon and roasted hazelnuts, and dips including taramasalata, tzatziki, hummus, and warm pita.

My second visit was not so good as the zucchini dominated the platter, offering less calamari and smaller prawns. When I suggested to our server this was different to a few weeks ago and the zucchini was a bit much, he returned to say he’d mentioned it to the chef.

We did not finish the zucchini as it was dripping with oil from the batter, whilst the calamari, this time far less than before, was pale. Still hungry, we ordered baklava, which was superb and tasted fresh as this was my friend’s birthday lunch, after all.

Sadly, the second visit convinced me to avoid Lorida in future. Customers matter.

Oliver’s Corner at the Frankston Yacht Club is affordable, relaxed and offers a panoramic view of the pier and convivial beach.

Pictured above, top, left to right: Frankston Pier, calamari and fish cakes at Oliver’s Corner; bottom, left to right, poached eggs on crispy bacon, rosti and haloumi, with fresh orange juice at the Winey Cow.

The sparkling Seppelt Salinger Vintage Pinot Noir Chardonnay from Victoria, lemon pepper calamari with tartare sauce, hot smoked trout fish cakes with pea puree, roasted leek, spinach and herbed cream cheese, and crumbed pepper calamari hit the spot – I will be back.

The Winey Cow in Mornington is my new brunch crush. Feasting on Eggs Norwegian, comprising smoked salmon, panko-crumbed eggs, halloumi, sesame avocado, citrus hollandaise, and squid ink tuille; and the Brunch Stack, including streaky bacon, avocado puree, halloumi, potato rosti, poached eggs and hollandaise, was delecious. Fresh Orange juice and a chai latte complemented a scrumptious start to the day. The diner is always busy, with good reason!

Love on safari in South Africa

Gosh, Christmas is hardly here and romance is calling for planning ahead… love the idea of gifting a safari for Valentine’s at Christmas, https://lifebrands.co.za/tau-game-lodge-valentines-love-on-safari

Pictured above: Make a romantic gesture for Christmas, a gift of a romantic getaway to Tau for Valentines leaves enough time to plan…

Come snow or sunshine, wherever we may be in the world, this is a time to celebrate, eat the pudding, drink the wine and dust off our Santa shirts and sweaters, wear red and green as often as we wish, and reflect on a year gone way too fast.

It’s also a good time to assess one’s wardrobe and donate unwanted items to those less fortunate. This is a time to give. Don’t forget, Santa’s watching… it’s okay to be a bit naughty but don’t be a Grinch…

Pictured above: Layered linen, old with new, glam silk, changing a look effortlessly, easy dressing for the Holidays – and pool parties. Ageless basics, mixed with new accessories could elevate the look. White and ivory never date for me, add a splash of cerise, cobalt blue or emerald green, and it brightens the mood as well. As weather patterns are tricky, coats should never be forgotten. Full details of garments are available on my Instagram fashion page @Sixty_is_the_new_40 and stockists featured include: Trenery, Witchery, Jo Mercer, Zara, Silk Maison, Sea of Love, and Country Road.

Cheers to the goodlife, and wishing you ONLY joy for the Holidays, Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Buon Natale, Joyeux Noel, Geseende Kersfees, and happiness in any language of your choice!

To Like or not to like

by Tilly Smith Dix

Love is the most abused word, too often used to cajole, influence, bully, placate, manipulate, and control, by some. However, the word like seems enormously underrated.

Yes, this could become a conundrum, understanding whether we LIKE or LOVE someone, or something.

A good friend once told me she loved her husband deeply but she sometimes disliked him. We then got into a discussion about this, to clarify if we could differentiate between those two emotions. Her response? “I love him as we have a strong bond, and he is a loving, caring husband and father.

“However, there are times I dislike his mannerisms, his short temper, his inability to think outside the emotional box. Most of the time, though, I do like him.”

When we profess to love, don’t we agree to take on the entire human package, faults and all? However, when someone constantly treats us with disrespect, bullies us, and behaves selfishly most of the time, how could love possibly last, as resentment sets in, and dislike becomes rife?

So, my take on this dilemma? I’d much rather be in like than in love. A fine line, perhaps, but I believe friendships, relationships, marriages, partnerships, and the like last longer when built on a foundation of LIKE as that surely leads to respect and an enduring relationship. Add that chemistry triggered by the thing called love, the racing of the heart and softening of the eyes when in each other’s company, and it’s a winner. As for my smart friend who knew the difference between love and like? She is still happily married.

So, I’ve spent a few days in Facebook jail, again, because of my acerbic responses to some of the madness of the world. Will we eventually break away from social media, which seems dystopian in so many ways, yet, the real criminals and evil souls of the world continue to form their wicked chat groups, and speak in code so as not to get caught by social media administrators when conspiring to do dastardly deeds?

Always a silver lining, as I’ve had so many messages from good friends offering to send cake and wire-cutters, hie! Tell you the truth, I enjoyed the break, but it is frustrating reading comments yet unable to respond. I did not like that, chuckles.

So, why was I in FB jail? A young man in a skirt raped a young woman and his mama defended him in court, stating the girl should have put more effort into fighting her son off! Seriously? My response? Some people should never have children as they are unfit to teach their offspring right from wrong.

Okay, I was probably harsher than that. My point, what’s to like about bad parents rearing bad children. Some chromosomes should not be passed on…

In a world gone awry and spiralling into profound confusion, it seems we are ready for a meteor strike. One of my learned friends suggested it was time for Noah to send the boat.

Speaking of the ark, the recent floods caused by torrential rains, resulting in rivers and creeks overflowing on a massive scale, caused devastating damage, not to mention the destruction of so many lives and livelihoods here in Australia.

Yet, the Aussie spirit could not be dampened and people reaching out to those who suffered similar or worse losses, still tried to see the bright side. Seeing this on the news, daily, was deeply humbling. Hope certainly floats… I like that.

Single White Female

No, I’m not being racist but the title of that scary 1999 movie, starring Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh, springs to mind. So many women bemoan the fact of their no longer being part of a couple. They become invisible to their friends with partners.

This is sad. Are some women threatened by their newly single female friends? Do they think such single women wish to take over their lives, and partners, as did the obsessed bad girl in that movie?

A word of advice, not every single woman is set on taking on another woman’s partner. Frankly, many single women are just too happy to be out of a toxic relationship and are not looking for more drama anyway. Yes, there are some man hunters who are relentless and believe me, I’ve known some. Those, you walk away from, but now and again, its kind to embrace single friends into the fold of a couples’ event. We tend to forget there were times we hankered for not only the company of our girlfriends but the balanced conviviality of both the men and women of our tribe.

The old cliché, ‘life is short,’ should be changed to ‘life is for living.’  To single women feeling a tad lost without a partner, my advice, for what it’s worth, is not to wait for a man to take you to a show, take you to dinner, or go on a fabulous vacation. Just go with a good friend or, if you don’t have a friend to accompany you, go solo! It is empowering. Live life.

I know of someone who spent her entire life waiting for a man to take her to faraway places because some fortune-teller told her a man would take her abroad to a place where the beaches were pebbled. That prince on his white charger never arrived and now she regrets never travelling abroad and taking her girlfriends up on their offers of a fun and soul-enriching getaway. Now in poor health, it is too late for her and she is filled with regret.

For those of us who have been fortunate enough to travel extensively for business and pleasure, the memories of such journeys never stop bringing joy.

It’s not the story, it’s how they tell it…

Who remembers Taylor Caldwell’s Testimony of Two Men?

Holding a book, feeling its energy, and inserting a bookmark for the next evening’s bedtime indulgence is an old habit that remains part of my evening ritual.

Yes, Ms Caldwell’s diction was old school and the spelling of certain words were certainly different in the early 1900s, especially in the US, when today was to-day. However, her writing style, use of the English/American language, and story-telling magic enthralled me even more than when I originally devoured this book about 40 years ago.

Effortlessly creating memorable characters, delving into human nature, and creating a story that did not seem like fiction, is an art to embrace. Much to learn from the old guard…

Pictured above, adorable Kiki, a very loving, funny cat. I guess my breakfast story was not entertaining… it’s in the telling?

Sofa Binge

The Luckiest Girl Alive on Netflix, starring Mila Kunis. Released on Netflix in September, directed by Mike Barker and screenplay by Jessica Knoll. Ms Kunis, also known as Mrs Ashton Kutcher, has matured into a formidable actress. I enjoyed every moment of this movie. I don’t want to spoil the story by divulging too much but suffice to say addressing and shedding the past could be thrillingly emancipating.

Rick Stein’s Cornwall on SBS on Demand is armchair travel and dining at its finest. A longstanding fan of his honest food, I had the privilege to engage with his gorgeous wife Sass a few years ago and believe me, she is as approachable and nice as the food maestro himself.

Cornwell has always been on my bucket list as somehow, I never got there in my travels. This series is certainly going to encourage visitors to that historically beautiful region, not to mention going on a food fest to test the international award-winning gin and sparkling wine of Cornwall!

Think gin-drizzled blackberry pancakes and Cornish cream, not to mention fresh local lobster and crab! This is an addictive binge, so, put the phone on silent, and get the nibbles and tipple ready!

Speaking of food, From Scratch, a limited series I enjoyed immensely, filmed on location in one of my favourite cities, Florence, is worth a binge on Netflix. Delightful and it’s not just about food as its about bitter-sweet romance too.

A riveting documentary, House of Hammer, paints a dark picture of actor Armie Hammer and his family’s legacy of abuse and disregard for women. Getting back to my introductory musings on this blog, we mostly take our cue from our parents and elders. When entitlement is the norm in a bloodline, the cycle often seems neverending. How does one break the mould… this was deeply disturbing to watch but it gave plenty insight into a dark family legacy.

The Sound of Bond, the music of Bond through the ages, includes most of the composers and performers of these unforgettable movie scores. A magical tour of the unforgettable music created for the massive Bond franchise on Amazon Prime. Enjoy this shaken, as well as stirred, ride down memory lane.

Sustainable safari indulgence in South Africa

In South Africa or planning a summer safari to that land of the Big Five, and the rest of the fascinating game tribe to be found in abundance, look no further than Tau Game Lodge. This is what the fabulous Caroline Hurry of Travelwrite published about this summer safari indulgence: https://www.travelwrite.co.za/summertime-tau/

Pictured above, teen lion summer siesta at Tau Game Lodge in the Madikwe Reserve.

A table with a view

I’ve reviewed Stumpy Gully Restaurant and Winery before and my most recent visit was, to say the least, a feast for the lips, the eyes, and the soul.

Deciding on the two-course option, I picked the Pork Jowl, served with cauliflower, golden raisins and sprouts as my entrée; my great dining friend savoured the Torched Blue Mackerel. Suffice to say, not a morsel was left of the ample serving.

My main course was the Duck Confit, served with red cabbage, baby beets and sorrel. Tender, deliciously pink inside, enveloped in a crispy skin crust, it was perfection on a plate and on the palate. My lunch buddy had the Mushroom Forestry Gnocchi, which was a scrumptious melody of mushrooms, blue cheese, gnocchi, and herbs. Hedonistically yummy.

Naturally, this delicious cuisine was superbly complemented by the Stumpy Gully sparkling wine, which I regard as a sin not to purchase a bottle of for another day before departing for home…

As spring had sprung, albeit a cool wet day, the vineyards looked spectacular. The antics of the strutting ducks at the large pond, and vistas of the magnificent roses beautifying the estate, made for a superb afternoon.

Pictured above, duck confit, roses and vineyards, and torched blue mackerel at Stumpy Gully.

Counting House in Mornington is an old bank, complete with historical relics of days gone by, offering a modern twist on the dining areas, but remaining true to its origins, described as rustic chic. The pressed ceilings, antique bank vault, Victorian sitting areas, and bar, complete with its ornate original bank counter, conjure up an eclectic blend of then and now.

Settling for a tapas sharing menu proved a great idea. The prawns and smoked chorizo, rocket and pear salad, laden with caramelised walnut and pecorino cheese, the three-cheese croquettes, and saucy prawns, served with the best crispy ciabatta bread I’ve ever sampled, were sensational.

Having left a tiny space for dessert, the Bread and Butter Pudding, served with Baileys liqueur, topped with butterscotch sauce, and Turkish delight ice cream, ticked every box of delicious. I always thought my late mama’s bread and butter pudding was the best but this was a triumph!

Pictured above, bread and butter pudding, tapas, and a park view at rustic chic Counting House.

Add views of Port Phillip Bay and the beautifully maintained Mornington Park, excellent service, and the always friendly vibe of this gorgeous village, and you’ll want to buy a house nearby.

Heronswood Café Gardens and Nursery, part of the Diggers Foundationin Dromana, is another historical relic, reflecting the grand old-world charm of yesteryear. This is not a fine-dining destination but the views of the gardens and bay, not to mention the nursery specialising in native local flora, are worth a visit. The chicken pie was fresh and tasty.

From the Gothic Revival architecture of this stately historical house built in 1874 to the fairy-tale garden scapes, it is a magical location. Within an easy downhill drive, one could be walking on Safety Beach, which is visible from Heronswood, within a few minutes.

Pictured above, Heronswood in Dromana, and Safety Beach Pier nearby.

It’s personal

Luckily I had not packed up my winter wardrobe for its spring and summer siesta as the chill has remained with us, on and off. I like that.

The bright side? When we are enveloped in sunny, mild spring days, it is pure bliss going all bright and boho in style.

Fashions change but style remains. Mood dressing is allowed and why should we be defined by one particular look? Tailored, boho, girly, sexy, eclectic, or classic, we embrace whatever makes us feel good on a particular day or evening. In the mood to be chic in monochrome? Just do it. Every self-respecting wardrobe should have basic items in monochrome. Need to up the mood? Add some pop, like cerise, apple green or red!

Pictured above, slow fashion never dates. Add something quirky to old jeans, wear a silk or satin shirt, add a belt or scarf to emphasise, we create our own style, which outlasts fashion. Many of the items featured above have been in my wardrobe for some years. When acquiring something new, I always consider which items in my existing wardrobe would give it longevity and versatility. Authentic fabrics are long-lasting, and I prefer cotton, wool, linen and silk. For my detailed fashion page, see @Sixty_is_the_new_40 on Instagram.

Whether one wears plenty makeup or the bare minimum, I believe in looking healthy and authentic. Not a fan of thick, plastered makeup, I have become a loyal fan of Enhance Proage, as its three makeup sticks, reviewed in this blog before, are moisturising too!

Pictured above, left, Enhance Proage makeup sticks are my new best friends. Right: Silk Maison never disappoints when it comes to glamming up. I’ve styled the silk jumpsuit with my old silk wrap – use my 35% discount code TILL25 and glam up for the party season at https://www.silkmaison.com/ or view their IG page @silkmaison

This is a superb gift idea too for the special women in our lives. What’s not to love about getting a moisturising Blush, Glow and Shine? Get less 10% by using my discount code Tilly10 at https://enhanceproage.com/.TillySmithDix10 – see more on their Instagram page @enhanceproage – not sure how I ever managed without these beauty enhancers, and, the beauty sticks won’t make a mess in the handbag either, thanks to the double caps. I like that.

Cheers to the goodlife, which is the best life we wish for ourselves. It does not have to be extravagant, and we know, nothing is perfect. However, if we simply tap into what we have around us, nature, good people, sunshine, and waking up every day being grateful for at least one thing that will inspire us into being joyful on a given day, it becomes a good life. It certainly helps us cope with some of the obstacles life throws at us before Noah sends the boat…

The times, they are a changing

by Tilly Smith Dix

Grief is the price we pay for love, said Queen Elizabeth II, after the loss of her husband. This sentiment resonates deeply, as she apparently preferred to grieve in private.

One has to respect her dedication to her nation, whether one is a royalist or not, which I’m not. Her solemn oath, to put her people first for as long as she lived, was honoured. No, she was not perfect but gosh, I think she tried her best.

It could not have been easy for a man of distinction and pride to play second fiddle to a woman. He did it though, and I’m sure his wicked sense of humour often got him through some dilemmas.

This reminded me of a profound post by a Facebook friend, obviously a true gentleman, about real men, or the lack of such good men.

He wrote about how women bemoan the loss of good men. How we don’t hate men but how we wish there were more good men around to fill voids, which we often deny, in our lives. The voids of true companionship, being respected by a good man, allowing us to be strong, yet, holding us when we feel vulnerable or tired.

I salute you, my friend, I’m so honoured to know you. To the men out there who think a real man should control, bully and belittle women, think again, and again.

Try to imagine your life with a woman who is happy being in your company because you are kind, fair, thoughtful and man enough to know that no matter how often the lads scoff at your being too decent a man, you are man enough to know who you are and your worth as a real man. Now teach your children those good values too.

I, for one, respect a woman who showed us, by example, that a woman could hold the most powerful position in the world for so many years. RIP, Ma’am. May your reunion with the love of your life, Prince Phillip, and all those who departed before you, including your beloved corgis and horses, be sweet.

I did get to meet the now late Queen’s youngest and his lovely wife, Edward and Sophie, some years ago at a charity tea party in Johannesburg, hosted by the boss of events managing in South Africa, Edith Venter.

Prince Edward was charming, funny, and well-informed. Sophie was humble and lovely. Her PR skills were superb, having been a professional publicist prior to her marriage to this quietly spoken man must have prepared her for this job, which the two of them handled like a well-matched team. I might be tarred and feathered for uttering this, but I think the Wessexes would have made an admirable team on the throne…

Documentaries are great company on chilly, rainy wintery evenings and once I showed signs of royal fatigue during the Queen’s funeral procession, the buildup thereof, and a slew of documentaries on the Royals, a friend posting a letter written by Rudolph Nureyev while he was dying of AIDS, evoked memories of ballet dancers I worked with back in the day. No, I never met Nureyev but did watch a superb documentary on his life some time ago.

What a scintillating talent he was. Born to dance, with a difficult childhood, I’d describe him as a beautiful, tortured, complicated soul, a true artist, much like a wild, barely contained, gracefully fascinating animal. True art never dies. He left big shoes to fill in the dance world.

A writer recently questioned the fact that the late, great, enormously talented dancer, actor and singer, Patrick Swayze, who also battled demons of alcoholism, smoked. This reminded me of working with the ballet companies of South Africa and at times, such artists from abroad. This was the late Seventies and most of the ballerinas smoked! They ate very little, drank too much coffee, and smoked like chimneys.

I then had the honour of working with and meeting the magnificent, classically beautiful ballerina, Natalia Makarova, and her dance partner Ivan Nagy. I even took them gliding during their spare time over a weekend! Picture The Thomas Crown Affair but with that glider carrying two world-renowned dancers! Imagine the insurance that would be involved in such an adventure now? Back in the day we did not even think of that and merely planned which farmland would be suitable to land in during an emergency! How times have changed.

Nagy, sadly no longer with us, was a magnetically handsome Hungarian, and took my breath away with his spectacular leaps. Makarova, a defected Russian, was light as a fairy and you could barely hear her float across the stage! I don’t recall either of them smoking but I may have been so mesmerised by these enigmatic artists, I never noticed.

With Makarova only 5’2”, I did some of her early costume fittings to prepare the wardrobe for her arrival from New York to dance a world premiere of Swan Lake with Nagy, in South Africa! I was an inch taller than her, still am, happy to say. Must remember to thank my yoga teacher, Tee at Soul Essence Yoga, namaste.

What is my point with these musings? Live life. Make memories and on cloudy, cold days, when we cocoon in a cosy space, it’s always a thrill to reminisce about the good stuff…

Local travel and dine

It has been a month of magical sensations, where more memories were made.

It’s no secret that I am dotty about living on the scenic Mornington Peninsula and one of my favourite villages has to be pretty Sorrento. This is where a ferry departs daily on return trips to Queenscliff.

I had not dined at Italco in Sorrento for some seven years. Authentically Italian, complete with Italian-speaking staff, the food, and view of the bay, did not disappoint.

Settling for two of the chef’s specials with sharing plates, the fresh flounder with sweet potato fries, and salmon tagliatelle, were delicious. I’d forgotten how bony flounder was but enjoyed it all the same.

Pictured above, dining at Italco in Sorrento, the essence of the town, striking a pose and good friend Rika.

I’d not visited the city of Melbourne at night for some years and what a thrill it was, seeing the city getting its life back not only by day but at night too!

Dinner and a show, and what a show! Hamilton, at Her Majesty’s Theatre, was a mind blow! For anyone not familiar with this world-renowned musical, I don’t want to write any spoilers. Frankly, I simply kept an open mind and hoped to be pleasantly surprised.

Not only did the show tick all the musical boxes but it also educated me on some of the history of the US I was unaware of. As for the performances, talent, sets and scale of this production, I did not want it to end! My gratitude for being treated to this spectacular show is endless. Feeling so lucky to have beloved family here.

Prior to this auspicious show, dinner at Hochi Mama on Little Bourke Street, proved a scrumptious Vietnamese, Asian-infused feast. Offering superb service and friendly, attentive staff, this introduction to Chinatown was a delectable prequel to a night on the town.

The starter portions of salmon sashimi and fried prawn dumplings were followed by bigger Mama’s pad see ew (Thai stir-fried rice noodles), with prawns, broccoli, chilli and stir-fry sauce, cashew stir-fried chicken with capsicum, Chinese celery and spring onion, and a side of fragrant, sticky, scrumptious steamed coconut rice. I’ll be back!

The trendy Interior has a modern, NY-styled warehouse conversion vibe. A well-priced menu and good wine list complement their sensational cocktails.

Pictured above, dining at Hochi Mama and the charm of Melbourne.

Back on the Peninsula, offering myriad dining options, ranging from ocean-front to vineyards, I’m so pleased to be able to return to another old favourite, the Beach Café in Seaford, offering panoramic vistas of the bay as well as the city in the distance on a clear day.

The prawns, calamari, fresh catch, which was barramundi, sweet potato fries, and saucy slaw did not disappoint. The Beach Café is not licenced but one could always take an easy stroll to the Spanish Bar for a glass of elixir afterwards, right?

Pictured above, dining at the Beach Cafe, Seaford, and that vista.

Winery dining is sublime and I’m a sucker for the bijou intimacy of the smaller restaurants in the vines, and Barmah Park Restaurant is a treat.

Indulging in the baked scallops, pure black angus beef brisket, cauliflower cream, roast parsnips, wild barramundi, organic grains, zucchini, bass strait lamb shoulder with braised winter vegetables, washed down with Barmah Park Sparkling Brut, proved an auspicious celebration of my first year in my little Peninsula home.

Pictured above, dining at Barmah Park Winery and Restaurant, and scenic surrounds.

Travel abroad

I’ve collaborated with Michael Gebicki, a superb travel writer, for many years, who was kindly introduced to me by the fabulous Caroline Hurry, a prolific travel writer, now also a published author of Reign and its riveting sequel.

Michael is a Sydney-based travel writer and together with partner, Liz, he leads small-group tours to exotic places.

He says: “During my travels I’ve discovered some pretty remarkable places that I wanted to share with other like-minded travellers, and so Tripwired Tours was born. It’s not just places – I like to travel slowly, with flexible itineraries, I don’t like long bus trips. I prefer small hotels with character and calm as well as comfort, and I like to eat great food in lovely surroundings, but I also opt for street food from time to time.

“Liz has a talent for finding special places to stay and to eat, and the unique experiences that underpin the small-group tours we operate. We’re still charmed, excited and delighted by our travels, and that’s what we enjoy sharing with clients who journey with us.” 

On the Tripwired Tours agenda for 2023 is an 18-day tour of Rajasthan, the same in South India, a two-week tour of Umbria in May, with three nights in Rome, and 17 days in Morocco, scheduled for October – see more at www.tripwired.com.au

Pictured above, some of the exotic destinations hosted by Tripwired Tours, from Morocco to Umbria to India, with Michael Gebicki and partner Liz.

Already in South Africa or planning a trip to that land of beauty and diversity – and its sublime wildlife? I enjoyed reading this article recently published in Nomad Lifestyle Magazine: https://www.nomadslifestylemag.co.za/travel/spring-safari-wonderland-at-tau

Pictured above, safari bliss at Tau Game Lodge – www.taugamelodge.co.za

Sofa spud

Recent indulgences on the box had me tune into a delightfully romantic movie, Love Locks, with an actress and her husband, Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell, whom I’ve always enjoyed watching. My good friends in LA also assure me these are lovely people as they know them well.

If you are a romantic and you love Paris, you’ll enjoy this 2017 movie – currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Prefer spies and sassy, classy kick-ass MI6 action? Look no further than The 355 streaming on Amazon Prime. The aesthetically fabulous cast comprises: Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger, Penelope Cruz, Fan Bingbing, Sebastian Stan, Lupita Nuong’o and Edgar Ramirez.

Spring into comfy chic

Slow fashion is one of my passions as I do believe in keeping our carbon footprint light. Love fashion and style? Buy with a conscience and look after it. Your wardrobe will serve you well for many years in the process.

Spring has been arriving at a snail’s pace, but layering is such styling fun. Linen, cotton, silk, with overlays of light knits, such as cashmere, make for fun combinations – and one has to use your imagination, planning for any eventuality the weather might conspire to deliver.

I know my style-sisters now entering autumn are experiencing similar patterns in temperatures, so, we are on the same page, yet in different seasons.

Pictured above, layering ideas for spring, mixing old with new. Starting with basics such as silk, linen and cotton, adding layers of light wool and cashmere to elevate a look and stay snug on colder days. Can’t go wrong with silk scarves, light blazers and wraps, depending on the occasion. Occasionally, a coat is still called for. I keep it classic and simple. Layering with shirt dresses works for me during the changing season. No rules, we create our own individual style – so much better than following trends religiously. See more on my daily style Instagram page @Sixty_is_the_new_40 – I tag stockists on IG and many of the items featured above are from my vintage stock gathered over the years. Slow fashion…

They had me with ‘sustainable fashion,’ that’s Grizas, a family-owned fashion house, keeping its carbon footprint light by producing only on customer orders, ensuring each garment is individually produced, without industrial machines! One garment is fully sewn by one seamstress. Pretty remarkable in a time of mass production frenzy.

“Celebrating individual beauty through naturalness,” is the Grizas team’s motto.

“Creating floating silhouettes in bright colours, the Grizas designs offer women the chance to express their personal and individual style,” says a spokesperson.

As I am an advocate for slow fashion, individual style and expressing personality through fashion, I’m smitten with the silk dress received from the designers, offering me the choice to wear it in a free-flowing, boho style, or, more form-fitting, by adding a belt.

Part of keeping a light carbon footprint, includes an ethos of keeping it local all the company’s material suppliers and the production centre are based in Europe.

Garments are wrapped in silk tissue paper which is dyed with soybean dye and all parcels are dispatched in 100% recyclable cardboard boxes.

The business is owned by one family and all employees are treated as family members. “We value each worker and treat them with the utmost respect, creating a safe, comfortable, and happy work environment for the past 31 years,” state the owners.

Pictured above, a versatile, sustainable design from Grizas. Even the shipping packaging is sustainable. Styled with my vintage items. See more at www.grizas.com

Cheers to living our best life, here’s to the good life and looking, and feeling, fabulous…

The Circle of Life

by Tilly Smith Dix

Losing a beloved relative is never easy. However, watching their deterioration, struggles with memory, and the simple, basic functions of life, is worse. Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Cancer, these seem to be the most dreaded enemies of the aged.

When attending a celebration of a long, fruitful, mostly happy life that has left us, we do tend to dwell on the departure of the special soul we are paying homage to, instead of celebrating a life well-lived.

While I was contemplating this thought, a granddaughter of this dearly departed, strong, feisty, clever soul we were paying our respects to announced her and her partner’s excitement in expecting a new little soul, in the summer. I cannot express in words how happy this news made me on such a sad day. It changed the mood into a celebration of life, as it should be.

As the seasons come and go, as lives depart, new life springs eternal and this, I see as the magical circle of life at its best, ever mutable.

Speaking of that magical universal circle of energy, the news has been laden with professors and other experts in psychology labelling some dodgy world leaders and celebrities as narcissists. How to keep ourselves positive and safe from such toxic people, not easy.

If you are working with a narcissist, involved with one, even married to one, these are points to remember:

         A narcissist will never apologise for being wrong, unless it is a means to their hidden agenda; they will never admit to being mistaken; they will rewrite scenarios to suit their agenda; they also love-bomb to get someone to fall in love with them; once they feel they have the power over such a person, they will try to control that person; once they’ve established dominance, they will also use banter to belittle that person in company as the narcissist needs to be the centre of attention.

They are on a spectrum, therefore, often highly intelligent in reading their environment to execute their agenda. They also happen to like losers as they know they can control such people.

They will usually choose a partner who is attractive and accomplished, an asset on their arm. Once such a partner defies their will, war is declared in a catch-22, never-ending battle of wills.

Often, narcissists are indulged by parents in their childhood who fail to instil boundaries and who prefer to be blinded by the narcissistic child’s charms and whims, allowing the foundation of this personality to be cast, believing it a gift to the world.

How do children handle any failure if they believe they are invincible? Apparently, providing a child with too little or too much self-esteem could also trigger a narcissistic personality. If their belief in themselves is totally suppressed by parents, such a spectrum child will create a world of their own, in which they rule. Too much self-confidence? They will always blame others for any failures of their own.

My point? Be aware of children’s behaviours and flaws. If it is evident the child has narcissistic tendencies, have them evaluated and treated by a professional, who’d also provide parents with the tools to help such a child develop into a more balanced individual.

The world has enough problems, let’s try and lighten its load and prevent unnecessary heartache and mayhem caused by such disorderly personalities. Struggling with insecurities and heartache caused by a narcissist? Get therapy. Seeking professional help makes you a winner!

In short, don’t wrestle with a pig, says one expert. The pig likes it, and you get dirty.

Remember, they will try to destroy you, then pretend to help you as they don’t like to let go of people from the past. Just ignore them. The only way to deal with such a person is to remove their power, by denying them your attention. Choose a good life, choose happy.

Continuing with the wonders of life, attending a school concert with my family, in which the eldest, now eleven-years old, was outstanding in her chorus line, was a reminder of happy childhood events. The energy of children, seeing them blossom on a stage, watching the young discover its creative powers, some displaying great promise of comedic proportions too, brought a happy tear to my eye.

Observing how our young performer on the night was supported by her younger brother and sister, was deeply satisfying. As we all know, siblings often bicker, and compete. So, the brief adoration of her siblings put the cherry on her proverbial cake of joy on the night. I drove home with a huge smile on my face, singing Cinderella Rockefeller, from the hilarious pantomime.

Although the circle of life starts with our young, I believe the secret to eternal youth is not looking twenty forever, it is holding on to our inner child and allowing that boy or girl to embrace the simple joys of life, immaterial of age.

I’ve mentioned, in earlier blogs, how often idiotic people are blocked on the Instagram platform I frequent, on which we focus on ageless style, beauty regimes, life, and slow fashion.

Well, some fool recently commented, “sixty is still sixty,” not understanding the IG handle @Sixty_is_the_new_40 – I must also add, this bloke is a keen fisherman, posing with big fish on his posts. Now what interest, in the name of King Fish, would this man have in following mature women discussing fashion, beauty and lifestyle?

Luckily, and boy, am I grateful for being older and a little wiser, I did not stoop to engage in a discussion. The blocking finger is swift – that would be the deadly long finger third from the thumb.

The point of labelling ourselves as Ageless, Proage, Ageing Well, Age Is Just a Number, and the like, is not because we believe we can compete with younger women or look twenty years younger. It is about simply not allowing ourselves to feel old by behaving as if we’re on our last legs.

While we have life, our health, our faculties, (well, most of them anyway), we embrace it, make the most of ourselves and support each other where needed. It’s called Women Supporting Women. It’s a beautiful thing.

Yes, some do opt for cosmetic help to look younger. That is their choice. I specifically follow those who do so subtly, when they do that thing. If it makes them feel better, power to them. My advice, for what it’s worth, though, is, if irresolute about having work done or fillers injected, wait. Look at others who are older and natural. See their beauty and embrace your own.

I have no beef with men following me on IG if they are respectful. Hopefully, they learn a thing or two about women ageing intelligently, happily and stylishly, and will respect such qualities in their partners as they grow older too.

Dining gems

Dining at Stumpy Gully to celebrate a dear friend’s house sale on a cold winter’s day, was an ideal end to a frantic week.

The myriad winery dining gems on the Mornington Peninsula make for easy dining choices but I think this one is going to be my favourite for some time. Stunning location, a mere 20-minute drive from home, convenient for my Mornington and city friends to meet up with because of its proximity to the highway, superb service, scrumptious food, and excellent wine. In fact, I enjoyed the bubbles, with a slight French nose, so much, I could not resist taking a bottle home!

The select menu made for some time to ponder the delicious choices. Settling for the torched blue mackerel (accompanied by dill emulsion, fennel, and nasturtium), followed by slow cooked Gippsland beef cheek (with caponata, parsnip and pine nut za’atar), and broccolini on the side, washed down with the delicious Stumpy Gully Brut Sparkling, tasted like a sublime holiday.

Someone recently told me they did not like looking at winter vineyards. I see beauty of promise in those bare vines, as every season plays its supreme part in creating the promise of a different, lush transformation in progress, and spring is almost here…

Pictured above: Stumpy Gully is a feast for the senses. Another gem in the winery and restaurant crown of the Mornington Peninsula.

A favourite bayside restaurant remains Waves on the Beach at Frankston. You could not dine closer to the water and whatever the weather, even on a drizzly winter’s day, the view remains a marvel. It somehow reminds me of a little hotel I used to stay in overlooking the beach of Monterrey, California, located on Cannery Road.

This is a different vista with a vibe all its spectacular own but linking it with another special place, somehow, enhances the experience even further. Something I love about growing older. We have memories and stories galore! Silver linings, right? Forget the wrinkles, count the stories instead.

So, my chosen family is growing and great friend Rika, now commonly known as my Aussie sister, agreed, we were choosing our fellow expat Len Vorster as our Aussie brother. Lunch is always a jolly affair, and Len, who loves the drive to the Peninsula to meet with us, finds it a welcome escape from city suburban life.

Also being a child of the Cape of South Africa, I know how he feels, so, the kindred spirits unite on a regular basis, when the stories and laughter shared during scrumptious meals and vistas, make for great new memories.

I can hardly wait to hear accomplished pianist Len’s recordings of our composer friend Lachlan Brown’s latest marvels. I wrote about how my little antique organ brought us all together in perfect harmony in an early blog this year. This magical circle of life just keeps on giving, we simply have to see…

Pictured above: Len Voster, bay views, pan-seared barramundi, seafood linguine, and seafood jamb-aella at Waves on the Beach in Frankston.

So, having such magical destinations on my doorstep makes my decision not to travel for a while in the wake of this lingering pandemic so easy… cheers to the delightful Mornington Peninsula.

However, if you are planning to visit South Africa in need of a five-star, affordable safari fix, look no further than Tau Game Lodge. I enjoyed this recent review by Sara Essop: https://inafricaandbeyond.com/tau-game-lodge-review

Pictured above, the birdlife at Tau Game Lodge’s waterhole is always spectacular.

Sofa spud

No doubt, there is plenty to watch on the box but sadly, most of it is so violent and obnoxious, they all seem the same in the end! Damned scary too. They could drive me into adult nappies ahead of my time, I kid you not.

However, Queen Bees streaming on Binge, with the now late James Kahn and Ellen Burstyn, produced last year before Kahn’s death, insinuates that 80 is the new 18.

We can snigger but I saw firsthand how romance blossomed in retirement villages years ago, when my now late dad moved in after Mom’s passing. The ladies were on high alert, and he virtually had to hide at times. No, it’s not only the ladies who are often ready to get back on the dating train, as the stories I heard of lonely widowers romancing the gals seemed pretty similar to boys trying to impress girls when I was in my teens!

It’s never too late for love. The stellar cast includes the always endearing Anne Margaret, zesty Jane Curtin, hilarious Loretta Devine, and engaging Christopher Lloyd. Delightfully directed by Michael Lembeck, I felt this movie so relevant as now that one is no longer a spring chicken, you realise, authenticity, honesty, life lessons, love, living, caring, this all becomes profoundly relevant when we are in our mature years. Cheers to love and those who embrace it.

An old favourite movie, also on Binge, brought back such sweet memories from the 80s.  Against All Odds, starring Rachel Ward, Jeff Bridges, and James Woods, with the hauntingly beautiful title song by Phil Collins, is still a great movie.

Somehow, watching this movie again after so many years, remembering that era, the music, trends, and memories of people I encountered, made for a magical trip down memory lane.

One such memory was of a visit to the Overberg region in the Cape of South Africa, not far from Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa.

Reminiscing about spending a weekend in the then relatively unspoiled fishing village, Arniston, with friends and neighbours in Cape Town, brought tears of glee to my eyes.

I remembered arriving at my friends’ holiday cottage, walking on the beach on a wintery afternoon and descending into the cave, big enough to accommodate a large yacht at low tide but impossible to navigate at high tide. A remarkable place, also known as Waenhuiskrans Grot, (Wagon House Cliff Cave), way back when.

So, we collected fresh mussels off the rocks, which I was to cook with pasta for our dinner. The men planned to purchase fresh fish, choices including black bream, (galjoen), or dusky cob, (kabeljou) the following day, fresh off the boats.

Of course, as it was a long weekend, they said the only place in town to purchase firewood from was at the Arniston Hotel, which today, I hear, is a luxurious destination, complete with a wellness spa.

So, while friend Debbie and I cleaned the mussels and prepared the meal, adding fresh garlic and plenty parsley, the men took off to get firewood before the weekenders arrived.

Well, given we were in our 20s, and that boys would be boys, three hours later, the men had not returned, and we decided to have dinner without them. In the meantime, we also discovered a striped field mouse and her two youngsters behind a cupboard in the kitchen. We had cheese and after some wine, okay, several glasses, we had just about tamed mama-mouse enough to snatch cheese from our fingers to feed her offspring.

Then, the wine now really at play, we saw headlights driving in the direction of the cottage and realised the boys had finally gotten off the bar stools at the hotel, where they’d obviously been sharing conviviality with some locals.

So, in a fleeting moment, great (wine-soaked), minds thinking alike, we dripped some tomato sauce at the front door, overturned a chair or two, and hid in a dark corner under the dining table.

Revenge was sweet. The guys, at first, sounded full of bravado, with my boyfriend saying this was probably me plotting to scare them and he’s not falling for it.

After half-hour of searching, joking, and looking for us under beds and in the bush, things got more serious. When Debbie’s boyfriend started passing wind on yet another trip into the garden to look for signs of us, Debbie whispered that David only got windy when nervous.

When we overheard them planning on calling the police on the old landline, we emerged from our hiding place, right under their noses!

See what happens when you watch a favourite old movie? It’s like visiting a dear old friend and sharing stories of the good old days, again. Call it therapy.

Spring and late-winter style

Whilst spring is a tad slow in arriving, the sun has been out most days and layering garments is part of the fun during the transformation of a new season.

Getting creative is not always easy but if we build a wardrobe with solid foundation pieces, timeless accessories and quality wraps and cardigans, even ponchos, the battle is won.

Ah, and then there is the luxury of silk, always a good idea. Receiving a French-bow halter-neck silk maxi-dress in my colour choice, copper, from Silk Maison proved ideal to welcome a warmer season.

I could wax lyrical about this forever goddess dress, suitable for any age, but I’m going to make it short and sweet. Using sustainable silk and authentic textiles, including pure wool, I’m smitten with the craftsmanship and designs of their fashion.

For those of you now entering autumn, or who simply wish to stock up on quality, soft, stylish, sustainable winter items now for next year, feast your eyes not only on the dreamy silk dresses, shirts, suits, and sleepwear, but also the luxe coats on offer for the colder season.

Check them out at: https://www.silkmaison.com/ or on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/silkmaison/

The high-quality garments are shipped internationally, and the prices are highly competitive. By using my 25% discount code TILLY, you get Silk Maison fashion for even less than advertised. You can thank me later as these also make for magical gifts any woman of style would treasure and be grateful for. Prices are in US$.

Another superb fashion label I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog, and often on my Instagram handle @Sixty_is_the_new_40 is Gentle Herd.

I’m smitten with their quality and style, not to mention the affordability of such quality! Lucky me, I recently received two items from them and will be wearing the light knit as well as the cashmere knit for many years to come, ideal for colder days as well as on the milder trans seasonal days. Long live quality and the softness of the finest wool and cashmere.

See their latest ranges at https://smarturl.it/o2z0hg

For less 25%, use my discount code TILLY – prices are in US$ and they ship internationally.

Cheers to the good life, living our best life. Not there yet? Start planning and projecting. If we start with the easy stuff, like the beauty of nature, the kindness of strangers, the people we care about us and for whom we care deeply, surely the good life will follow…

 end

Music was my first love…

by Tilly Smith Dix

I’ve mentioned the piano tuner and piano removalist, Lachlan Brown, in a previous blog, and finally booked him to tune my piano last week. Well, not only did he do an exceptional job, as the piano needed some minor refurbishments after several big moves in the past 11 years, which included a trip across the ocean, but I got a free show to boot!

This highly skilled and multi-talented man recently told me about his translating ancient Chinese poetry into English, to which he has now also composed music.

Nosy as I am, I asked about it and for my trouble, I got a concert whilst he demonstrated my old concert upright being back in fine form!

Being a private audience to his new compositions and eloquently translated poetry about nature and the country, made for a memorable morning. Then, as a bonus, being privy to his rendition of one of my favourite Rogers and Hammerstein tunes from South Pacific, This Nearly was Mine, made my heart soar.

I was dumbstruck, yes, unusual for me, as the entire process profoundly touched my soul. After Lachlan’s departure, I got onto YouTube and again listened to this wonderful song, which was now haunting me. If this musical is your thing, listen to Julian Ovenden, or Brian Stokes, perform this timeless tune, they are sensational. Thank me later.

I worked on cloud nine for the rest of the day, grateful for these amazing surprises life bestows on us, scattering stardust in my little home on a cold, drizzly Monday. Namaste.

Next chapter? Pianist Len Voster, he who now owns my antique organ, will be recording these sweet sounds created by Lachlan! This story about lesser degrees of separation just gets better. Life’s not half bad…

Then I thought I got even luckier as one Lerynne West at mrslerynnewest6@gmail.com sent me an email via one Alexandra Karuska, informing me she was donating the generous sum of €5.8m to li’l ol’ moi! Geez, I was about to crack a bottle of French but luckily, I curbed my enthusiasm when I realised, I did not know these people! Who are these people?

I once worked with a Lyrene but as you can see, the spelling of her name is different, plus she has children to leave her millions to and she never bought me as much as a cappuccino in the old country, so, I settled for a glass of local bubbles instead. I thanked my lucky stars I did not respond to the sender of the fraudulent message and drank to the fact that I’m not as dumb as I often feel. Hie.

As dear Dad used to say, “it’s okay to sometimes act a little crazy but don’t be stupid just because you are blonde.” Cheers to that, mates. Even my excellent electrician, Jackson, says I’m delightfully eccentric. He claims there are far too many boring people on this planet. I like that! Gosh, at my mature age, I welcome any compliments. Give that young man a Bells! He also does a great job, at affordable rates. Check him out at J. Lewis Electrical Services.

Let’s own our joie de vivre and if people call that crazy, it’s their loss. Authentically peculiar is the new vogue, my rule…

Breaking bread

Speaking of those few degrees of separation, I recently met with a lovely Instagram friend, Gretchen in Mt Eliza, where we had a delicious brunch at Ad Hoc. It is pure delight meeting new people who feel more like old friends. The world truly is filled with special people, we simply must open our eyes and hearts.

My scrumptious eggs benedict on crispy bacon were perfect, the chai latte delicious and spiced just right, whilst Gretchen took delight in her benedict special, which was made with smoked salmon. I’ll be back. Simply yum.

Some people get depressed and grumpy when it rains, I get high. No, not like that, silly, I just love rain and cold, so, I’m a self-confessed pluviophile. An old pal in Cape Town used to call such days, “Janis Joplin, cheap red wine, and slit your wrists,” days. None of us ever felt that low but I guess it summed it up for some folks.

I recently had some business to attend to in Mornington and popped into Betty’s Burgers as the art deco building reminded me of Miami. I don’t do burgers often, but was I glad I did this once-a-year-burger flip. Fresh, tasting of pure beef, I then popped to the waterfront for a quick pic of the bay on a drizzly day. This midweek treat certainly charged my EQ battery to deal with the rest of the week. Simple pleasures, right? Again, we simply have to see…

Scrumptious eggs, above, at Ad Hoc in Mount Eliza.

Rainy days in Mornington, above, and Betty’s Burgers.

I’ve written about the expat women of Melbourne before and finally, after all those lockdowns of the unmentionable virus, we managed to coordinate our diaries as we are spread across the greater suburbs and outskirts of this liveable city. We agreed, with all these animal-related pocks doing the rounds, we’d better catch up before we start seeing veterinary surgeons for new vaccines!

Five of us gathered in South Yarra at a magnificent heritage estate, Como House, where the food is a treat, the service friendly and efficient, and the location pure old-world charm.

Sharing our life journeys since our last gathering between lockdowns in 2021, it was clear we were all more relaxed, having taken control of the stresses and strains life hurls at us from time to time.

Suffice to say, time flew way too fast, the bubbles were delicious, the stories even more so, and none of us had lost our sense of humour. You can take the girls out of South Africa, but you’ll never take the country out of our spirits. Again, I felt extremely lucky to catch up with these special souls.

Our bubbles of choice proved a perfect complement to our respective dishes, and I highly recommend the Jules Faulker Rose from France at one dollar more than a bottle of bubbles from New Zealand! I know the French can be full of themselves but hey, when it comes to bubbles, they have plenty reason, Oui, on sait

I settled, happily, for the steak frites porterhouse with madame sousou butter. Not ashamed to say, I finished the 250g!

Catching up with the girls at Como House, above.

At the movies

Watching Elvis at Karinga Village Cinema Gold Class, nibbling on prawn and vegetable spring rolls, and wedges, with delectable aioli choices and bubbles, is my idea of movie magic.  Riveting, this Baz Lohman masterpiece. Spellbinding. Three hours too short! I could have watched another hour of this spectacular film.

As for Austin Butler, sensational and mesmerising in character as Elvis. Someone wrote when he stares into the camera, it melts. I’d say it more likely explodes!

Tom Hanks as the evil Colonel Parker, superb. Giggles galore too, reflecting the reactions of women in the audience back in the day. Hysterical females, throwing underwear at Elvis on stage, caused riots. The US bible belt did not react well, and Elvis’ movements were banned, especially being filmed from the waist down on television. Pure sin, straight to hell, ha!

My, how times have changed? Some performers now come on stage almost naked, and top talent have been known to simulate sex acts on stage to the thunderous applause of audiences wanting more.

This reminded me of seeing Tom Jones performing live in Cape Town many years ago, when a friend promptly ripped off her unmentionables and hurled it at the stage. I thought she was going to faint! I was so embarrassed. She was a teacher and totally dropped her prim pose. Her boyfriend nearly fainted too, declaring their pending engagement was off!

I did have questions. What happens to these panties? Is there a special museum, paying homage to the brave panty-throwing brigade? The mind boggles. I’m not judging, seriously, just pondering this phenomenon, and leaving such a show, especially in winter, without proper protection of the nether regions…

Should I even get that crazy, I’ll go buy some big-girl pants, Bridget Jones style, and throw that at the he-god. That should get his attention, right? Might knock the sucker out. Chuckle.

Back to my story at the movies. Keeping social distancing in mind, of course, savouring a movie in gold-class style certainly is the answer. Comfy, spacious reclining seats, food and drinks on order and delivered to your seat, way to go. I’m ruined for life.

Book worm

I’ve become a tad disgruntled with some of the current books and modern authors. There are many superb writers but when I want to relax on a chilly winter’s evening, I want to be certain I’ll not be disappointed.

Great writing and above all, superb storytelling, are my top priorities when opening a book. No, I don’t like to read online and have not yet succumbed to acquiring a Kindle. I love the energy of a printed book and using a bookmark. Yep, call me old-fashioned, I’ve been called worse.

So, as I am with some old movies I’ve watched many times over the years, returning to a good book after many years, is like embracing an old friend.

A writer I’ve never tired of, is Pat Conroy. A while back I read Beach Music again, after some 20 years, and loved every word and nuance, again, always brilliantly described by Conroy, now sadly departed. So, I dug around my library, which is now seriously bijou due to living in a smaller space, and found another old love, South of Broad, by this evergreen author.

Again, I cherished every word. Some authors write for authors. Some write for avid readers. Pat Conroy, to my mind, came up trumps in both categories. Reading his stories, one is never bamboozled with complicated or over-written diction. Yet, when you stop, as a modest writer, to pay attention to his words, you realise, how, gently, he educates and, I’m certain, helped many improve their linguistic skills over many years.

South of Broad, in true Conroy fashion, paints a picture of colourful characters and never leaves one in doubt about the author’s love and understanding of the US South, with his beloved Charleston ruling as a city of many layers.

Hilarious, heartbreaking, shocking, and depicting characters so enigmatically, I’ll read this book again, as I do with all his books, probably in 10 years’ time. Perhaps in five as I’m sure my memory will worsen by then…

The pragmatist, Leo, has problems. He gets in trouble for protecting someone else, and at an early age, struggles with mental problems after his 10-year-old brother commits suicide.

His mother is a former nun and the principal of his school. His father is a sweetheart. Leo befriends a group of orphans, who have had the worst of times and so begins friendships and bonds that bind these characters for life, until death.

Having been to San Francisco several times and having an eternal love-affair with that eclectic, fascinating city on the bay, I’ll leave you with Conroy’s description of this city, which does hold a piece of my heart, but his character, Leo, does not share my sentiments: “In California, the mad, deep breath of deserts is never far away. The sky above San Francisco is often so dazzling a blue that it merits the overripe description of cerulean, or comparison to lapis lazuli. Its clouds are sea-born and formed in the odd depths of its mysterious bay, where the fog moves inland in a billion-celled, mindless creature, amoeba-shaped and poisonous, like a stillborn member of the nightshade family.

“Southern fogs calm me as they paint the marshes with their milk-stained fingers. The San Francisco fog is a silver-lined hunter of the predator class, and I always find it troubling. When I awaken to its fog horns, they sound like the exiled whimpering of a city in endless sexual distress.”

TV indulgence

Love a travel series with a personality that seems like an old friend? Look no further than catching James May in Italy, he of the motoring shenanigans, on Amazon Prime. Funny and delightful. Something couples could watch without fighting over the remote.

Dinner with Friends (2001) on Binge, starring the lovely Andy McDowell, superb Denis Quaid, slick Greg Kinnear, and edgy Tony Collett, depicts the anatomy of a good marriage and friends in bad relationships. Insightful and real. I highly recommend it.

Gino’s Italian Family Adventure on Binge is a delicious journey with Italian chef Gino D’Acampo and his British family.

Gino’s love for his birth-country, traversing from Sardinia to Naples, is highly addictive. He also proves the world is older than 3,000 years by featuring ancient ruins of structures built even before the Romans or Egyptians.

Teaching his English-speaking children how to pronounce bruschetta: b-r-u-s-k-e-t-t-a, had me in stitches! The fact that he pays homage to my favourite Italian hard cheese, pecorino, which is made from sheep’s milk, was heart-warming. I prefer it to parmesan, mia culpa.

As for magnificent Sardinia, I never got there on my magical visits to Italy, but this is the best virtual tour of this bucket-list island I’ve experienced. I love Gino’s emphasis on the Italian way of life: “Simple. Family, Great Food.” Divino. He even teaches his mother-in-law to pop a cherry. Salute. Chuckle…and Mama loves Gino.

Spring safari

Speaking of travel, I see Tau Game Lodge is offering sublime packages for spring, between September 1 and 20 December 2022 – check it out at http://www.taugamelodge.co.za

With over 250 bird species, Tau Game Lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve of South Africa, is a birder’s paradise. This is the waterhole, above, where guests observe the endless parade of game and birds – watch out for the opportunistic crocs!

Style is never out of fashion

I recently watched an excellent documentary on Binge, titled American Style. Yes, many will argue the fact that the USA has produced some iconic style over the years. However, many of its designers were trailblazers and will go down in fashion history as world leaders in style.

Remember Grace Kelley and Oleg Cassini? Jacqueline Kennedy and Oleg Cassini? Anyone worth their salt in fashion, immaterial of age, would agree, Halston was a style god. In fact, in this brilliant doco, Halston and his fellow US designers, Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows, Oscar de la Renta and Anne Klein, were the stars in the 1973 Battle of Versailles Fashion Show.

Why? They did not rely on elaborate props and backdrops to show off their designs, but let the garments speak for themselves through design, and the movement of the models, dancing to the beat of contemporary music. A triumph, and the start of an era when models looked like living, breathing, moving people, allowing the garments to flow, instead of looking like deadpan mannequins.

I was a teen model and loved strutting and moving, even dancing, down the catwalk to the rhythm of popular music. It was such fun! We were slim but nobody looked hungry, grumpy, or resembled heroin chic. How could looking like death be depicted as chic? Ever? We had the best time, when choreographing a fashion show was pure art, and fashion was wearable!

So, it’s to these fashion icons I’m paying homage. Freedom of style is a gift to savour. We are presented with seasonal fashion four times a year. We have the freedom to have our own style at any time of year. Can’t remember who said that but I like it.

Paying homage to classic designs that remain winter stars in my cupboard, above. From the black Witchery wrap, to the blue alpaca wool scarf, to Trenery car coats, an old butter-soft leather coat, knitted dresses, hats, heels and the classic trench coat, also Witchery, these items remain forever new as slow-fashion gems. See my IG page for more style tips @Sixty_is_the_new_40

When buying clothes, think about the garments complementing us, and with which existing items in our closet such new pieces might merge successfully. Slow fashion is not just a trend, it is a lifestyle. Find a style that will suit your personality and shape. It need not be followed religiously. We are supposed to break the mould from time to time, otherwise we’d be oh, so boring. Just be authentic and own your look…

My motto this month? Find your superpower, own it, live, be authentic and whilst we will never be everyone’s cup of tea, let’s be our own delicious cuppa – the rest will follow, our tribe will find us!

Cheers to the good life, living our best life. Not there yet? Start planning and projecting. If we start with the easy stuff, like the beauty of nature, the kindness of strangers, the people we care about us and for whom we care deeply, surely the good life will follow…

As time goes by

By Tilly Smith Dix

My late dad used to say you knew you were getting old when most of your friends were dying. Sounds grim, right?

I was thinking along those lines when friends from the past started reaching out across the waters to communicate with me. Sadly, much of their news brought heartache as they are in fact struggling with incurable illnesses, with one of them needing to go into a high-care home, and the other now on permanent oxygen to function basically.

This shattering news brought so many wonderful memories of special friendships. None of these friendships were forced. Honesty always prevailed and whilst it at times had people at loggerheads, love and respect always shone through.

This reminded me that true friendship, as with love, should never be forced or built on deceit. When we are emotionally available, vulnerable and caring, manipulation is forbidden. Above all, if we are honest and caring, forgiveness will always find a way. Sacrosanct equals true friendship.

As for growing older? Tomorrow is never promised, so, never forget to smile, dance, love, live and celebrate today. It is human to sometimes long for a better life, but if we remember and learn from the past and try to make the most of today, tomorrow holds magical possibilities if we are lucky enough to embrace it.

A woman recently tried to bully me in a grocery store. I looked her in the eye, smiled, and asked her to take a stroll to aisle 29. She was obviously confused, and asked, “why?” I responded with, “they sell good manners there.” The shop has only 8 aisles. Okay, so I had a little fun. Only human.

Dining and wining

With so many picturesque dining destinations on the Mornington Peninsula, offering cuisine that would make foodies drool, visits to the city are fewer and further between. However, not having popped on the smooth train to the city on the Yarra River and the port since January, the time was right for a daytrip with my good mate to see how Melbourne was going.

Voted the most liveable city in Australia and among the top ten in the world, Melbs is a marvel. New buildings which were still under construction during my last visit, are now complete and do they strike a perfect pose, somehow complementing their historical, beautifully maintained neighbours. A celebration of old and new.

Strolling the network of lanes, from Flinders Lane to Little Collins Street, embracing the Victorian magic of the Royal Arcade and adjacent modernity, results in my being constantly mesmerized in my own city.

It is heartening to find most of the eateries and shops in full operation again after the Covid lockdowns. Discovering Caffe E Torta in the Royal Arcade, munching on authentic, freshly prepared fettucinne bolognese, sipping a delicious local rose, and watching stylish people walk by, challenges other top cities of the world.

Pictured above, liveable, marvellous Melbourne, and dining on scrumptious fettuttine bolognese at Caffe e Torta in the Royal Arcade.

Halfway to the city, there is Chadstone. A shopper’s mecca, with high-end brands also found in the smart shopping district of the inner-city, available in this world-renowned shopping centre. Great eateries and cinemas too. Just remember where you parked your car. This mall is vast but worth a visit. Yes, it’s not all outback and corked hats here in Aussie, darlings! I’ve not spotted Crocodile Dundee – yet.

Pictured above, dear friend Rika, vogueing it up in Chadstone.

Dining closer to home in Mornington at Casa De Playa, proved a celebration of flavours with my good friend Rosaria. Tapas is so my thing and our choice during this visit included garlic prawns, pulled beef cigars, crumbed calamari steak strips, and cheese croquettes. Exquisito!

Moving even closer to home, the Spanish Bar in Seaford never disappoints. Whilst dining on the most mouth-watering soft-shell crab and flavoursome tortilla I’ve ever tasted, the convivial vibe is underlined further with vistas over Kananook Creek, where ducks, gulls and birds of a feather seem to celebrate nature. The ducks even have their own crossing, but they disregard such rules, crossing the road wherever they wish. Much to learn from ducks. Own your space, just remember to look right, left, right…

Pictured above, delectable tortilla and soft-shell crab at the Spanish Bar in Seaford overlooking Kananook Creek, where ducks have their own crossing, and gulls demand a snack.

Out and about

A concert at Montsalvat in Eltham by Duo Kalen, formed in 2006 by South African Len, and Natsuko, who originates from Japan, now both Australians, proved a triumph and I’d be fibbing if I said I did not brush away a sentimental tear or two…

Accompanist and music tutor Len, and soprano Natsuko, performed at the historical Montsalvat art centre on a cold, rainy winter’s day and I hardly felt the chill as my heart was cosy as toast, listening to Songs of the World.

This heart-warming duo studied and performed internationally and are worth braving the chill at any time.

I’ve mentioned the serendipity of my little antique black organ in my previous blog, and Len is the new owner of that little treasure.

The concert commenced with Heimwee, (longing), by S. Le R. Marais, born in 1896 in South Africa. As a child, I heard South African soprano Mimi Coertse, who performed in the top opera houses in Europe for many years, perform this song of longing on the radio. My father, a superb tenor, often asked to join top choirs, would sing along.

Special memories came flooding through and my spirit felt light.

Pictured above, historical Montsalvat in Eltham, where art is celebrated in all its magical forms.

This heartbreaking song was followed by further enchanting songs from France, Australia, Germany, Japan, and Spain. One of my favourite musical scores by Russia’s Pyotr Tchaikovsky, None but the Lonely Heart Op. 6 no. 6, evoked further sentimental memories as not only did I enjoy playing it on the piano years ago to many encores from my dear mother, but I’d never heard it in song!

Natsuko is pure of voice and her sensitive spirit shines through, whilst Len’s accompaniment is pure velvet. Duo Kalen should be titled Duo Amazing. Go see them soon and catch them on YouTube!

Armchair binges

A series I could not get enough of was Fosse/Verdon. The forever enigmatic Bob Fosse, now entertaining in the afterlife, and feisty Gwen Verdon, shared a love-hate relationship, which resulted in some of the most famous Broadway productions.

Nominated for plenty awards and landing a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress, and more, this is a compulsory binge.

Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse and Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon. Say no more. Think Chicago and All That Jazz. Enjoy, now brush up on your jazz, baby.

As a long-time fan of Yorkshire chef James Martin, I was driven to drink watching his American Adventure series. In the best possible way!

Not only does he create scrumptious dishes based on the local produce and gastronomy of each specific region, he also takes you on an armchair tour of some of the most scenic and thrilling destinations in the USA.

Having visited many of the featured regions and cities in this entertaining series, I found myself guzzling more bubbles than usual as I was in a celebratory mood watching some of my favourite places, such as Sonoma’s Santa Rosa, Napa Valley, San Francisco, LA, and Texas. I believe my male readers would love James’ choices of transport, from a Harley to a 1970 Pontiac, and airboats on the bayous. Exhilarating.

His perception of New Orleans, Louisiana, was my final binge before going to sleep with a huge grin. I also awakened starving for some of his delectable dishes. His spin on gumbo? Proper, which is a word he uses often. His humour is contagious, and I was along for the ride every step of the way. I’ll watch the rest of the series next weekend as my liver simply could not handle another binge right now.

Travel

Wishing to go on a luxe, affordable winter safari in South Africa? Look no further than this review from Sandton Times to get in the mood: https://sandtontimes.co.za/tau-game-lodge/

Style it

Black. White. Tan. Grey, loads of grey. These have been the dominant colours for winter for may winters. These basic hues never date, however, putting some colour into winter has never been more fun than now!

Love brown? That’s okay but feeling like upping the ante? Add a cool colour to a warm brown, like cobalt blue, or even a powder blue – or pink.

Love winter white? Always mixing it with a touch of tan or black? Why not go for the warmest tone to add some spark to the brrrrrr, such as desert rose, a softer shade of coral and not as bright as orange. It certainly adds some colour to my pale winter complexion. Of course, red and cerise are always sensational options to improve winter gloom.

We’ve been wearing big knits for a while and they are remain on trend. Want to add definition to an outfit and show off your trim waist? Add a belt. Any size will do but the current favourite is the wider belt for added structure. Waistline not so trim? Ditch the belt and add a scarf instead to draw prying eyes away from that winter waist to a lovely face instead. Smile!

Now add a big wrap coat or a flowing poncho, et voila, you’ve in vogue and feeling fabulous.

Prefer a slimmer line? Wear a fitted knit or silk blouse, layered with a big wrap scarf and belted coat to draw the eye to the neckline, the scarf, and therefor elongating the body line. Seemingly effortless style comes with planning, buying with an eye on the longevity of a garment and outfit, as well as engaging new acquisitions as team players in an ageless wardrobe.

Speaking of coats, I’m smitten with the Gentle Herd woollen coat I received recently. The softest wool, stylish, luxurious, and in winter white. Endless styling possibilities and I’ve got long-term plans for this gorgeous straight-hem double-breasted marvel.

I often get lucky and receive quality garments to wear and promote on my Instagram fashion page, Sixty_is_the_new_40 – colour me grateful as I love luxe winter style.

See the current cashmere and pure wool designs at http://www.gentleherd.com – their passion for sustainable fabrics and high-quality garments is rooted in urban style practicality.

Cashmere and wool are sourced from the world’s largest pasture, Inner Mongolia. Herd sizes and grazing are strictly monitored, and animals are not harmed in the making of their fabrics.

Pictured above, the slow-fashion woollen coat in winter-white from Gentle Herd – use my discount code “tilly25” for less 25%! Styled with my old…pop to my IG page Sixty_is_the_new_40 for a sassy video to showcase this stylish coat.

Workers are employed and respected as per strict labour rights in the entire process. Factories are currently operating in Denver, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Inner Mongolia, Paris, Frankfurt, Vancouver, Sydney, London, Shenzhen, and Hang Zhou.

Purchase your forever style @gentleherd by using my 25% discount with this purchase code: “tilly25” – you’ll thank me later, stylish darlings. Slow, sustainable fashion, agelessly in vogue.

Pictured above, styling old with new, featuring timeless turtle-neck sweaters and hat at Seed Heritage, currently discounted, in caramel and ocean blue. The lofty blue cardigan, blue scarf, and striped poncho are from Witchery Fashion – pure, timeless Aussie designs.

Not sure about making a purchase? Stop. Think. Have a coffee, (not wine, that would lead to impulse shopping).

An Australian brand I adore, is Seed Heritage – seedheritage.com – established since 2000. Specialising in sustainable fabrics, top quality designs and sophisticated style. I love the women’s capsule range of luxe, trend-led styles. The designs for girls and teens are a great way to instil elegance and fun with long-lasting style in a new generation.

Live life. Wear your best. Use your special tableware, linen, whatever! Travel. Travelled plenty? Write your memoirs, illustrate your journey with pictures of wonderful memories. Celebrate today. Show the folks you adore how much you care. Cheers to the good life…

Serendipity triumphs

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.

Finding its new loving home, the little black organ.

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.

Tasty folded egg and smoked bacon at Second Home in Eltham.

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.

Sofa spud

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…

When the going gets tough

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…

Ides of March

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.