Dating in our dotage – Tilly the Good Life

By Tilly Smith Dix

Well, suffice to say I’m so over movies depicting single men and women over sixty being desperate for love, or, to put it not so delicately, panting for pleasure, before the final bell tolls.

I recently saw a movie on Netflix starring Blythe Danner and Sam Elliot, two of my favourite stars of a certain age, I’ll See You In My Dreams. Well, sorry about the spoiler alert but it does not end so well.

Remember speed dating events? I must admit I never participated in those, but some good friends did as they felt they were not meeting suitable potential partners whilst busy with their careers and needed to make the effort to find love. Some worked out, many did not…

Well, in this movie, senior citizens were trying to find love, or at least some passion, although it seemed kind of lacklustre, which I think might have had something to do with the young director, Brett Haley. He was born in 1983, so how would he comprehend possible passion experienced by anyone over 50?

Well blow me down, pardon the pun, but as soon as two of the seniors did find a likeminded soul to spend their time with, one of them died! What a downer! Being the eternal optimist about happy endings, this was brutal. However, the message I got from the movie was to acquire a pet as a companion instead, in this instance, a rescue dog. This part I really fancied, chuckles…

Some time ago, a dear friend told me about her attempt at online dating for seniors. One hears plenty stories about love being found on the net, whilst many experience the torture of con artists lying in wait to part lonely souls from their cash. She wanted to head for the hills after the first week of her trial run on the dating site. Why, pray ask? She is a gorgeous woman and looks younger than her passport would claim. So, finding admirers was not difficult.

However, she felt almost depressed about the desperation of some of the lonely hearts looking for their final partner. Some desperado did not even suggest to meet for coffee or have a chat on the phone to become better acquainted first, as his leading question to her on the site was: “I’ve bought a camper van and will be leaving on a three-month road trip next week. Want to join me?” Yikes!

Then there was an attractive man who seemed kind and refined, and just wanted a friend to go to the movies with and meet up for lunches or dinners, even for the occasional trip to the theatre – the stage type, not the ER, hopefully. She says this one stood a chance of her wanting to spend time getting to know him better as she was also interested in friendship first, believing if romance was in the cards, it would be better to develop organically in a caring friendship.

He confided in her about seeing a lady for some time, but she was not interested in a friendship, she only wanted to meet up once a week for some physical coupling. Little hussy, hie!

The man was quite overwhelmed by the lonely ladies setting their sights on him and decided he was going to depart from the site and ditch dating in his dotage as he’d already had one stroke after his wife died some years earlier, and he was not looking for another stroke whilst running from Mustang Sallies on their final chase. He has adopted a cat instead of desperately seeking Susan, and confided he had all the cuddles necessary to balance his dopamine levels. If a caring friendship did come his way, it would be a bonus.

Desperation to find love was never attractive when we were young, and in our golden years it’s just coyote ugly. Finding a hobby, stimulating our minds, staying physically active, maintaining a healthy interest in the world and nature around us, and spending time with good friends and family, will sustain us. If love happens to come along, we are now wiser to choose quality over quantity, and should not settle for less than the deeper love we so deserve.

A glamorous, beautiful, effervescent writer friend, Gwynne, recently posted a thought-provoking quote by the late great Leonard Cohen and it confirmed my take on the ageing tapestry of life, in which he said his teacher once told him that the older you get the lonelier you become, and the deeper the love you need. This is because, as we go through life, we tend to over-identify with being the hero of our stories. The hero isn’t exactly having fun…

He is getting kicked around, humiliated, and disgraced, but if we can let go of identifying with him, we can find our rightful place in the universe, and a love more satisfying than any we’ve ever known. In reality the dragon usually slays the hero, as life is no fairy-tale.

So, before we start singing Kumbaya, the authentic, sincere soul will live a happier life by not trying to be the hero but to embrace all it comprises to be happy with our own company and in our skin, which is indeed the greatest love of all.

One of the iconic Hollywood love stories must be that of the late Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, now aged 94. They were well-matched as partners and admitted they had a fantastic physical attraction for each other. However, in the end, Joanne claimed the most lasting quality of their relationship was being best friends. Living with someone who could make you laugh out loud every day, as passion subsides with age, was the key.

On that note, I had to chuckle when watching a recent interview with Cher, who is dating a much younger man. She claimed most of the nice men in her age group were either dead or they did not have the confidence to ask her on a date. So, she is finding happiness with her much younger beau. Well, nobody blinks an eye when an older man partners with a young, nubile filly, why should she be judged for flipping the cards on that cliché. Do I hear “brave cougar?” I say, “go Cher!”


Vinnies in Mt Eliza still offers the best spaghetti marinara by far as well as good value for my favourite comfort dish here on the Mornington Peninsula. I’m a sucker for sharing several dishes when dining out and when you add the prosciutto pizza, salmon tortellini, and gelato with espresso and amaretto for dessert, I’m happy as a clam!

Pictured above: spaghetti marinara and prosciutto pizza, salmon tortellini, and gelato with espresso and amaretto at Vinnies, Mt Eliza.

Wildgrain Mornington is a restaurant ideal for any special occasion. In fact, if you pick a night when there is smooth live jazz on offer, any occasion becomes special.

The set menu choice proved ideal for two sharing: slow cooked lamb shoulder, served with WG cucumber, broad beans, black garlic, mint yoghurt, almond brittle; baked ricotta gnudi – chestnut, pumpkin, burnt butter, sage; twice cooked Hawkes Farm russet potatoes with tarragon aioli, capers, parsley; tahini cauliflower with nasturtium chimichurri, pickled grapes, persian macadamia feta, Wildgrain greenhouse leaves with walnut dressing, peninsula apple, pickled celery hearts.

The scrumptious cuisine, sophisticated ambience, and superb service made for a memorable dinner – perfection.

Pictured above: the Wildgrain Harvest Menu, and jazz, Mornington.

Melbourne offers a plethora of discerning dining choices and Waterfront in Southgate overlooking the Yarra River, which I have reviewed before but keep returning to, ticks all the boxes for city dining. A cosmopolitan vibe, where tourists and locals blend happily, a spectacular view of this beautiful, liveable city and its Yarra River flowing towards the nearby bay, excellent service, and world-class food.

During my most recent visit, I indulged in the whole snapper, served with golden chat potatoes, and carrots with walnuts as a side. The complimentary fresh sourdough bread, served with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and clam chowder, proved ideal to start with.


Pictured above: Dining at Waterfront in Melbourne overlooking the Yarra River and city ticks all the boxes.


Winter warming safari

Need to escape on a luxury, authentic safari, where over twenty-seven major species of game roam free, with all of them frequenting a large waterhole, which is surrounded by the lodge accommodation and hospitality areas? An animal kingdom where humans are elevated within the lodge areas for safety but with sublime vistas of the never-ending parade of game…

This is also the place where migrating and native birdlife establish their territory around the Tau waterhole, making for a year-round birders’ paradise of over 250 bird species recorded so far!

This is Tau Game Lodge, a five-star safari gem situated on the far northern border of South Africa, in the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, bordering the wilds of Botswana. Madikwe is the fourth largest game reserve in the country.

A guest recently reported seeing two lions in their late-teens, lazy in the morning sun, before they suddenly started sniffing the air and looking alert. “As our safari vehicle moved further down the track, we saw some wildebeest with their calves and realised those two maned boys had sniffed breakfast,” he chuckled. This is just one of the convivial stories that abound after game drives, when delicious toddies and snacks are served in the bush under the watchful eye of safety-conscious rangers.

Pictured above: Winter safari romance at Tau overlooking the waterhole, and the intimate Tau Spa Oasis.

For 29 years five-star Tau has hosted visitors from around the world. 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, where the rest of the Big Five and so much more will astound you… ever seen African wild dog and those adorable pups frolicking in the sun? This protected species has thrived in the Reserve for many years.

Tau is pure, understated 5-star luxury and family-friendly, whilst memorable weddings are hosted too.

The Tau Winter 2024 packages start from R12,782. – per couple, including:

  • Accommodation for 2 nights in a Luxury Standard Chalet
  • 3 meals per day
  • 2 game drives per day
  • Drinks and snacks on safari drives

Park Entrance fees, Rhino Conservation Levy, Tourism Levy, Bar, Mini Bar, Laundry and all extras.

The  Tau live webcam will keep you mesmerized on:

See more on the established five-star destination at

Sofa spud


Apples Never Fall, 2024. Starring Annette Bening and Sam Neil, this limited series has an interesting twist.

Marnie, starring Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery, is a 1964 Alfred Hitchcock psychological thriller and still gripping to watch.

Apple TV

Palm Royale, a limited series released this year, stars Kristen Wiig, Josh Lucas, Carol Burnett, Laura Dern, Ricky Martin, and Allison Janney. It’s a hoot and seems a dead ringer for some of the folks residing in that part of Florida.

Steve, a two-part documentary released this year with Steve Martin. His best pal Martin Short appears in the self-confessed philosopher and creative loner’s story. Intriguing.

Prime Video/Brit Box

Marple, the Agatha Christie 2004-2013 series, starring Geraldine McEwan and Julia Mckenzie, is delightful. Getting into the mind of my favourite author since my teens is pure mystery joy.


Hampstead, released in 2017, starring Diane Keaton, Brendon Gleeson, and Lesley Manville, is a delight. I enjoyed this quirky take on dating seniors!

Money Monster, released in 2016, stars George Clooney and Julia Roberts. Brilliantly directed by Jodie Foster, who certainly did her research on fingerprints on the money market system and Wall Street.

Page Eight is a 2011 release, starring Bill Nighy, Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Judy Davis, Tom Hughes, Alice Krige, and Felicity Jones. I’m a sucker for MI5 stories and this one’s a gem.

Widows, a 2018 film, stars Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, Colin Farrell, and Jacki Weaver. A gritty take on the wives of criminal husbands having to fight for survival when they are unexpectedly widowed.

Good reads

A sweet friend thought of me and forwarded a link of a children’s book that might be more suitable for adults, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, illustrations by Jules Feiffer, first published in 1961.

Milo, a bored young boy, is surprised by a magic tollbooth that transports him to the once prosperous, but now troubled Kingdom of Wisdom. Milo, a dog named Tock and the Humbug, depart on their quest to the Castle in the Air seeking the kingdom’s two exiled princesses, Rhyme and Reason.

Learning lessons, with clever puns and wordplay, and exploring the literal meanings of idioms, certainly stimulated my inner child. My guess is Milo was never bored again.

Bridging the divide between education and wisdom, knowledge and common sense, this is an engaging read for all children young and in my case, over 60.

Style it autumn

I have always loved autumn and its golden hues, and this year seems to be particularly magical as autumn is lingering, whereby summer did not end abruptly to promptly spill into the winter chill. Milder days and colder nights make for creative seasonal layering, which I simply adore.

Colours are varying from vibrant reds, blues, and greens, to warming berry and lavender. I’m thrilled to see earth shades playing a major role in the colour palette, such as several variations of brown, whilst comfortable, wide-leg pants, knitted pants, knitted sets comprising skirts and pants, seem to be starring proudly.

Old faithfuls, like form-fitting knits teamed with pleated trousers, and big knits paired with form-fitting longer skirts and wide-leg pants, are back in vogue. So, my advice is to look at your existing wardrobe before acquiring new items to elevate an enduring look with panache.

The short-sleeved roll neck jumper, knitted vest, woollen poncho, blazer and cropped Chanel-style jacket all lend elegance to our timeless style platform.

Neutral capsule dressing has always served me well, before adding some additional layers and accessories to bring those old faithfuls back on pointe.

Pictured above: Mixing textures and designs, such as tartans, plaid, and animal print, could turn a neutral outfit into a showstopper. The idea is to have fun, and feel fabulous at any age. Sometimes we want to be bold, and sometimes we want to go classic and classy. Expressing our mood is part of the fun. The little leather jacket will never leave my fashion plate, neither would the Navajo poncho and hat, as mixing and matching are made easy. Wearing my old, with the newest items comprising: the maxi knitted skirt set in marble @Decjuba, and the striped top and comfy knit in raisin @Witcheryfashion.

Footwear is diverse and the return of the knee-high boot gets my shoe mojo going. What, too old to wear long boots? Never! It’s all in the styling. I personally draw the line at platform heels, though – been there, got the scars to prove it too in the late-70s…

I also leave the shorter skirts to the younger gals, whilst I prefer to pair my suede kitty in the boot style with a longer dress, creating an elegant silhouette and offering just a tiny peep of the top of the knee when seated. I certainly won’t judge anyone wishing to embrace showing a shapely leg in a shorter skirt, though. We follow our own trend and the only rule is to feel confident in what we wear. Our sexiest accessory is confidence…

Cheers to living the good life, we only live twice, once when we are young, and again when we hope we know better…

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