Dancing on the ceiling – Tilly the Good Life

Dancing on the ceiling – Tilly the Good Life

By Tilly Smith Dix

Spring has officially arrived and this beautiful rejuvenation of the colourful season, like so many changes, also brought loss.

My late dad said you knew you were joining the ranks of the elderly when your friends start dying, and when you find yourself saying goodbye more often than hello. My mom would smile, and say, “we are still here, so, let’s listen to music, dance, and embrace everyone who means something to us.”

Too many dear friends, some younger than me, have had to endure dreadful cancer treatments, and I’m relieved that many of them have beaten that evil disease as they were diagnosed in good time and responded favourably to surgery, treatment, be it chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or both.

Sadly, a friend of so long ago, still in her early sixties, passed away from a form of aggressive breast cancer recently. Sue played a major part in my life when I arrived in Johannesburg, the City of Gold, Egoli, in the early eighties from Cape Town. She sadly lost her life suddenly a few weeks ago, which devastated all who knew her, her children, and especially her husband Brian.

I believe she felt just fine but suddenly had a pain in her breast, went to lie down, and died in her sleep shortly after. Her baffled family, in shock and devastated, requested an autopsy, only to be informed Suzie had an aggressive breast cancer that took her away before she could even be diagnosed. The family had concerns about her sudden weight loss in recent weeks, though.

Having lived in Australia for several years now, and not having had close contact with my friend of the fun eighties for too long because our lives had changed so much over the years, did not diminish my deep sense of loss and heartache for another soul that has now gone too soon.

Memories of our twenties, when we were both newcomers to the city of gold, came flooding back and once the tears subsided and my heartache for her family lightened somewhat, I started to remember the music and the laughter. Oh, how we danced, chattered, planned, plotted, listened to our favourite music, and treated that era exactly as we should have, with passion, joy, and great expectations!

Chatting to our mutual friend Terri, with whom I’ve remained in close contact over the years, during which distance never diminished our unwavering, caring friendship, we reminisced about those carefree days. The happy memories sustained us somewhat as we bid our effervescent Suzie farewell and wished her a magical welcome by other dear mutual friends who departed for the rainbow bridge before her.

I hope there is wine too, and hopefully dancing, as I’ll never forget us boogying to one of her favourite tunes back in the day, Dancing on the Ceiling by Lionel Richie. I’m so grateful she did not suffer, and thinking of her husband and children with fondness, and wishing them the courage and strength to move forward, remembering her laughter and zest for life. Cheers, SuzieQ, you mattered and did so much for charity in recent years. Thanks for the memories.

Then, momentarily rhapsodising about spring, I received good news. My darling friend Terri, who has suffered such enormous losses of loved ones over the years, twice tragically widowed, announced her engagement to her best friend, a soulmate she’d never expected to have the privilege of finding again in this life – a partner in every way that matters.

So, I’m looking at this beautiful new season with optimism, albeit a lingering sadness for recently departed dear souls, and knowing that even the change in season comes at a price. However, celebrating the small things, like new buds and blooms in the garden, the swallows returning from Europe, beloved people who remain constant in our lives, and savouring the promise and the heady scent of spring, will transcend grief. We must keep on dancing… perhaps not on the ceiling as that could be too far out, baby… but we are alive, it’s a celebration, whatever the season.


Victoria State Ballet at Frankston Arts Centre:

Giselle was a triumph. I was a tad apprehensive about the music being pre-recorded but soon forgot about the orchestra pit being closed as the dancers were magnificent. Principal ballerina Elise May Watson-Lord seemed faultless in the title role; Tynan Wood as Albrecht and Sera Schuller as Myrtha, and the entire troupe, delivered a world-class, riveting performance.

I was quite nostalgic afterwards and remembered working with South African ballet companies, who had either international dancers in the company or often invited highly acclaimed international artists to perform in a world premiere, such as Natalia Makarova, Carla Fracci, and Ivan Nagy. Back then, I sometimes had to do the fittings for these ballerinas prior to their arrival as I was the same size as Natalia and Carla, which enabled wardrobe to simply do the final costume fittings once the visiting artists arrived.

I have fond memories of Xristos Papidis, Faye Daniel, Phyllis Spira, Elizabeth Trichardt, Dawn Weller, Malcolm Burn, Eduard Greyling, Veronica Paeper and maestro David Poole in Cape Town. The Victoria State Ballet Company has two new fans, my sweet friend who booked the tickets, and me.

Jazz at The Barn, Montsalvat in Eltham

I’ve featured classical performances at this historical artists’ estate before, complete with a chapel, and am thrilled The Barn now offers jazz concerts too.

Internationally acclaimed Tamara Kuldin’s honey-rich voice and sassiness complemented the playful and sultry songs from The Great American Songbook, with a penchant for Doris Day and Sarah Vaughan.

She was accompanied by some of Australia’s finest jazz musicians, Ben Robertson on double bass, Paul Williamson on tenor sax, and Darrin Archer on piano, who have performed with the likes of Joe Chindamo, the late Nancy Wilson, and Vince Jones. I highly recommend seeing Tamara & Co!

Pictured above, from top left to right, a peacock on the roof, old world charm, and friend Rika and I waiting for our fellow expat friend Len to join us at Montsalvat.


A riveting spring safari

Guests savouring a bush dinner in the Boma at Tau Game Lodge in South Africa overlooking its world-famous waterhole, recently reported a lion kill at the waterhole, in full view of diners!

The lodge’s live webcam captured this spectacle too, when the Chaba pride killed a wildebeest, after which a female not of the same pride, stopped by for a drink with her cubs for some playtime – and a free meal! An elephant delicately stepped around the feasting cats, unperturbed by the event.  A giraffe dropped in for a sundowner later… could a spring safari get any better?

Pictured above, just some youngsters showing off at the Tau Waterhole – see the full story at https://www.travelwrite.co.za/wings-over-the-savanna/

Go to India – with Michael Gebicki

Rajasthan, “Land of Kings”, is India at its flamboyant best. If you’re looking for a version of India that fulfils every exotic fantasy – palaces, warrior kings, leopards, elephants, peacocks, brooding fortresses and cities that might have sprung from the pages of The Far Pavilions – Rajasthan is the place.

Pictured above, discover the charm of Rajasthan.

Starting and finishing in Delhi, embark on a fully escorted 17-night tour starting on February 27 2024. It’s slow travel, three nights in most places, staying in small, luxurious, and delightful hotels that reflect India’s heritage. Maximum group size is 10, in addition to Liz Ryan and travel writer Michael Gebicki, with four places left. Cost is $10,670 per person twin share. For further information, go to: tripwired.com.au

Keep it local on the Sorrento-Queenscliff Ferry

Melburnians have myriad choices for one-day vacations and living on the Mornington Peninsula, to me, is idyllic as within forty minutes, I’m in Sorrento, from where I could catch the ferry to Queenscliff to meet up with my Melbourne family, who were making the most of spring in Torquey during the school holidays.

I’d not travelled on the ferry for about 11 years, and it felt like an exciting adventure! I booked online, which saved a few dollars, and at this time of the year, parking at the ferry dock is free! One could also take your vehicle on the ferry if you plan on driving further from Queenscliff along the enchanting Bellarine Peninsula, which is en route to the world-renowned Great Ocean Road, which of course features the magical Twelve Apostles.

The ferry is spacious, clean, and professionally managed, with friendly, attentive staff, and the recently opened new ferry terminal in Queenscliff is fit for royals! A short walk to the yacht basin, where I met up with my tribe, brought further delights, with the newly developed waterfront shops and cafes offering vistas of boats that would look perfectly at home in Monte Carlo!

We strolled into the quaint town, which looked even more picturesque than memory serves me, and then returned to the waterfront to sample some fish and chips.

The forty-minute ferry trip seems shorter as the scenery of land and sea, not to mention some impressive ships passing, is balm for the soul. The day out felt like a weekend getaway, and I highly recommend it. A day earlier, the dolphins were frolicking in the bay and I’m sorry I missed that joyful spectacle… next time!

Pictured above, a ferry trip from Sorrento to Queenscliff.

Dining out:

The Rocks, Mornington

It’s no secret this village on the Mornington Peninsula is one of my happy places and dining at The Rocks, where one could watch the gulls, yachts and fishing boats whilst dining on delicious fresh seafood, remains a treat when catching up with friends.

The current specials include paella for two to share on Sundays, and mussels and fries for two on Mondays! Nothing like a thrilling bay view, breaking bread with good folks, and special prices on two of my favourite dishes! The attentive staff deserve a mention too as they are always friendly and efficient.

Pictured above, dining at The Rocks on paella and seafood linguini – the view is always magical.

Sofa spud:


Luxury Escapes, with Australian actor and radio host, Cameron Daddo – I found watching the Tuscany episode especially charming, having visited the region often in the past, with Sienna and Florence forever in my heart.

And So It Goes, starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton. This feel-good movie released in 2014 of true romance in the mature years was delightful. Never too late for love!

Babylon – whatever possessed Brad Pitt to star in this movie? The most upsetting mess I’ve seen in years!

Britain’s Novel Landscapes, hosted by Mariella Frostrop, an accomplished journalist, ticked all the boxes for me. Featuring some of the most scenic regions, including the Lake District, Hampshire, and Cornwell, I’m not surprised this is where Daphne du Maurier, Jane Austin and Beatrix Potter found inspiration to write their stories that remain evergreen, even in our modern times. Think Rebecca

The Prince of Tides, starring Nick Nolte, Blythe Danner, and Barbra Streisand. This story, written by my favourite author of all time, Pat Conroy, was released in 1991 and I’ve probably seen it four times after reading the book years ago. Still a heartbreaking charm.

How to Make Love Like an Englishman, starring Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, and Jessica Alba. Released in 2014 – I can’t believe I’d never heard of this movie, a double thumbs up from me, with giggles too!


Secrets of the Blue Zone is about regions of our planet where people live for at least a100 years. This documentary of exploring why some populations are healthier and live longer than most, is a revelation. Regions include Ikaria Island in Greece, Okinawa in Japan, rural Costa Rica, and the distant hills of Sardinia. Not wishing to relocate to enjoy a long, healthy, happy life?

The answer, it seems, lies in having purpose immaterial of age, healthy eating of the fresh local produce, regular gardening, eating natural fibre to strengthen the digestive system, good carbohydrates, and a sense of community and an interactive family life. Many claim that an hour of dancing a day, laughter, wine, prioritising their partners and investing in relationships lead to longevity. I score on balanced eating (when I’m not scoffing choccies or ice-cream), dancing, laughing, spending time with people I care about, and drinking wine… how are you doing? Hie!

The Best of Enemies, released in 2019, starring Sam Rockwell and the late Anne Heche. A civil rights activist and the local Ku-Klux-Klan leader co-chair racial desecration of schools in the US. Superb life lessons.

On-the-Basis-of-Sex, starring Felicity Jones. Released in 2018, this is the story of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her drive for women’s rights, which started back in 1957. Spellbinding.

Prime Video:

Big Stone Gap, released in 2016, starring Ashley Judd and Whoopie Goldberg. Love in a small town and its people. Such a joy.

Apple TV:

The Super Models, a documentary with the trailblazers who were the original influencers who had it all, featuring Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington. They are still stunning and able to move merchandise. Their stories show how the industry has changed, and how abuse of women in the beauty industry is now called out. Linda’s life has been challenging, as she was physically abused by her former French model agency boss husband, has survived breast cancer, and suffered disfigurement caused by CoolSculpting, resulting in her winning her case against the manufacturers of the product in 2022. I hope she finds peace now. Christy still epitomises natural grace, intelligence, and kindness, complemented by everlasting natural beauty.

Style for spring:

Feminine vibes personify the essence of spring now, whilst earth tones and white never date, I’m hauling out old relics that are back on trend, and embracing the glorious colours of spring, from soft pink to flamboyant cerise, mint green, and cornflower blue.

Classics never date and navy and white, plum, white and camel, now better known as caramel, remain solid basics. I loved the late great Audrey Hepburn’s take on elegance, in which she said elegance is the most lasting form of beauty. I’ll take that.

Be it casual, smart, workwear, or formal, striving for elegance outshines a penchant for only the latest trends. Mixing old with new to give a classic outfit a new nuance, is fun and so much easier on the budget.

Personal style is key and harnessing that by looking at similar body types, current trends, and ageless elegance, and wearing what we love and what flatters our complexion and shape the most, is one of our many superpowers. Have fun and be original!

For more style tips, pop to a recent article in StartsAt60: https://startsat60.com/media/lifestyle/style/your-guide-to-layering-colours-for-spring

Pictured above, style choices for spring include layering, whilst one floral shirt (from Witchery the Australian brand also available in South Africa), could elevate several outfits, and a shirt dress could be styled with pants too. For more details on garments, follow me on Instagram @Sixty_is_the_new_40

Cheers to the goodlife, and whilst it’s not always strewn with roses, the thorns keep us grounded as a reminder to savour the joys of being alive, and understanding that the odd little prick cannot always be avoided… wink-wink…

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