Homage to a lady – Tilly the Good Life

Homage to a lady – Tilly the Good Life

by Tilly Smith Dix

My beautiful, elegant sister has left this world and I’m relieved she will endure no further suffering. However, I will miss our heart-to-heart chats on Whatsapp, her unwavering support of my life journeys, her sanguine persona, and her wicked sense of humour.

I do hear her lovely voice and feel her light around me and this is certainly helping me process the passing of my soul sister, who was like a second mom, best friend, shopping buddy, girlie lunch pal, and all-round champion.

She was a beauty and her tall elegance got her noticed wherever she went. Her caring heart and a sense of fun had friends flocking first to our parents’ home and then to her own.

She was a great dancer and she loved to dance. One of my earliest memories was of her practising ballet in our lounge in George, when she lived with us after my folks moved from Pretoria. I was about four years old and wanted to join in, so, she taught me all the basic ballet positions. She was patient as I did cause trouble at times, tickling her feet when she was balancing on one leg! We’d both end up on the floor laughing. She also taught me to do the chacha. It was such fun!

Rina was not always an elegant beauty. She described herself as a tall, skinny teen with Wednesday legs, “wen’s day gonna break,” she’d laugh, and with her mop of thick golden brown curly hair, she preferred wearing our brother Johan’s old shirts with big shorts, and climbing trees with the boys. And then it all changed.  The duckling turned into a graceful swan. She loved fashion and was known for her sartorial elegance throughout her adult life.

I know she annoyed our eldest sister Lulu often when they were growing up together as she played tricks on Lulu simply to watch her squirm. A troublemaker. She was also physcially strong as when Lulu would try to get the better of her pest of a younger sister, Rina always ended up on top in a tussle, I’m told.

Rientjies, as I called her when I was little, would spoil me when she came to visit after she left our parent’s home and returned to Pretoria. I loved those visits. We were then living in the Eastern Cape and I would snuggle in behind her back at night. I’d also duck in there if I’d been cheeky and our mom wanted to spank me, when Rina would shield me. I got away with plenty when she was visiting!

Rina was fifteen when I was born and apparently carried me on her hip more than was necessary. Years later, when she was a mother of two, she had a back operation and joked it was because she carried me around too much when she was a teen. So, when I felt guilty about having contributed to her back problems and asked her what I could do to compensate during my visit, I’d be asked to trim her hair and fix her makeup. My debt was settled.

She could have been a Dior model or Miss World back in the day. She did a lot of ramp and photographic modelling work but it was always a part-time job, second to her working as a bank teller. She was my style icon. My earliest fashion memory was of her wearing a below the knee-length black woollen dress and black stiletto heels. The dress had long sleeves and she wore her hair up in a classic French twist. She looked like a movie star and I wanted to be just like her when I grew up! I was about 12.

Homage to a lady – Tilly the Good Life

Pictured above: Rina in the late fifties, she remained a beauty until her passing at age 85 on 11 March, 2024.

She was elated being a mother to her two children, Jaco and Anri. She had waited so long to have them. Fast forward, when her children were grown. She was a dutiful wife to husband Koot. Her grandchildren made her so proud.

Once one had tasted Rina’s oxtail or any of her culinary delights, one was ruined for life. Her creativity and love of cooking, just like our beloved mother, brought her enormous joy, embracing friends and family savouring every morsel at her table.

You left your mark, my darling sister, you will never be forgotten. I feel you near me, I remember your wisdom, I hear your laughter, and I see your magical smile. No more illness, suffering, and loss of dignity for a proud, strong, kind, loving, caring, beautiful lady.

Rest in peace and put in a good word for me. I know that reunion with our loved ones, parents, siblings and pets, is a jolly affair and I bet you are all sharing some amusing stories about the rest of us trying to make heads or tails of this journey called life. I hear laughter. Love you always and so grateful you were in my life.

Only six days after Rina’s passing, her frail husband Koot joined her after a long battle with illness, a trip to ICU in hospital, followed by paliative care for several weeks.

Koot had been in my life since I was two years old. He always brought ice cream treats. I remember him holding my hand walking me to school when I was six, not long after they were married. He sang beautifully and played the piano accordion back then! He often sang Waltzing Mathilda to me, as that was my given name. I think it is a beautiful thing him following Rina shortly after her death. Another joyful reunion. No more suffering, only peace…

Food and Entertainment

My Peninsula Hot Springs spa day, a generous and welcome gift certificate from my sweet family for my birthday in December, was shared with my fellow expat Aussie bestie. The dinner afterwards was scrumptious, and the tranquil view of the bubbling thermal spring stream with its pebbled foot-bathing feature, and the verdant flora, proved balm for the soul. The geothermal bathing, followed by a soothing back and head massage, and a deep-cleanse facial, almost put me to sleep.

Pictured above, an afternoon and early dinner at the Peninsula Hot Springs in Fingal.

The only fly in the proverbial (spa) ointment? A large, constantly belching guy at the next table. Counting blessings, I was not sharing a table with him, chuckles, as he’d have needed more than a spa treatment afterwards. I really did giggle, under my breath of course, and remembered what my father might have said, “not at this table, excuse yourself immediately!” Exactly.

Frankston Arts Centre, Respect, The Aretha Franklin story performed by an electrifying cast, with Angie Narayan, Australia’s own soul mama, in the sassy lead. Riveting, don’t miss this show when it comes to a city near you. Swaying to Natural Woman, Say A Little Prayer, Son of a Preacher Man, Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves, and Freeway of Love were just some of the highlights of this masterfully produced story of family, loyalty, love, loss and victories that comprised the life of Aretha, the Queen of Soul. Long live the queen, who died aged 76 in 2018. I believe she’d approve of this show, and the cast made me proud to be an Aussie.

Pictured above, from the top, Respect: The Aretha Franklin Story; the colours of the ocean on a walk after the show in Frankston.

Dining at Captn. Jack’s at Summerville Cove with some amazing friends, organised by our chief entertainment manager Rika, was a treat for the palate and the senses. It takes a lot to beat a convivial Sunday lunch.

My O’Connor butcher’s steak, served with smoked potato, shallots, and peas, was pure, succulent, pink in the middle bliss on a plate. My friends swooned over their respective duck leg pie, barramundi, and ricotta & spinach gnudi, served with summer squash, and macadamia beurre noisette.

Pictured above, clockwise from the top, duck leg pie and O’Connor steak at Captn. Jack’s; seared scallops on squid-ink rice at Tio Tapas; seared blue eye fish in clam chowder at The Waterfront; view of the Yarra River at The Waterfront.

Tio Tapas in Mornington offers delicious sharing plates, which I often favour. I was too hungry to take pictures but remembered to save some evidence for this blog. The seared scallops, served on squid-ink rice and aioli, pictured, prawns tossed in a creamy wine garlic sauce, served with pan de la casa, and seasoned calamari served with Spanish aioli, proved an ideal light early dinner.

A much overdue visit to the city to meet up with my delightful expat friends Rika and Len did not disappoint, again. Melbourne, even on a mild summer’s overcast day, delivered every nuance required to uplift the sadness of losing my beloved sister. We dined at The Waterfront, which delivered first-class service and cuisine. My choice of seared blue eye fish was served with mussels and clams, with a scrumptiously creamy clam chowder. We ordered sides of crispy shoe-string fries and roasted sweet potato. We agreed, whilst this is not a low-cost eatery, we got value for our buck, plus the bonus of the Yarra River gently flowing mere two metres from our table. I highly recommend it and a stroll along the river afterwards, a scene that is up there with scenic waterways in Europe. The other diners and passing tourists all looked as charmed as we were. A world-class location.

Wineries are plentiful, from the Yarra Valley to this gorgeous Mornington Peninsula. I’ve always found them pricey but worth the cash for a special occasion. However, a recent trip to the verdant Yarra Valley’s Zonzo for a birthday celebration proved over the top.

Sunday traffic was busy with city slickers wishing to escape to the Hills, and it took me an hour and 10 minutes to get there. No, I did not get lost, I know the way, I used to live in that valley. I was on antibiotics for an infection, so, I had a soft drink only. Two slices of small-plate pizza, about 3 large olives, two small slices of lamb and one roast potato cost me $80 as one of the celebratory party of about 14 adults and their offspring. The kids had fun as they could walk around in the extensive gardens, surrounded by spectacular vistas of the Yarra Ranges.

So, if you are planning a group lunch or dinner at a winery, make sure you and your guests know exactly what you are getting and what you are in for as we were unable to pay separately, so, the host had to collect cash from us as his credit card was charged. The joyful company and many hugs from the pixies were worth it, though.

Travel

Autumn in South Africa is a great time to go on safari. I’ve written about the always magical Tau Game Lodge so often, so, this time, I’m adding a link of a current review published by a travel blogger in South Africa, sharing her authentic recent experience: https://sincerelynoks.co.za/2024/03/13/tau-game-lodge-review-an-unforgettable-african-adventure/?…

Pictured above, the waterhole at Tau. 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 live webcam will keep you mesmerized on: http://taugamelodge.co.za/main-lodge/live-webcam/

The established five-star lodge is family-friendly, with a Tau Cubz Club for children, a dreamy Tau Spa Oasis, and a Conference & Events Centre, which is separate from the tranquility of the lodge. Eco-friendly, malaria-free, and just over an easy four-hour drive from Pretoria and Johannesburg – www.taugamelodge.co.za

Sofa spud

Prime Video

Expats, a limited series starring Nicole Kidman. It was melancholy and disappointing. I’d give this a 3-star rating.

The Menten Files is in Dutch and I chose not to have subtitles to test my ancient Dutch picked up at my gran’s knee. This story, in three parts, of a mass murdering Nazi who’s greed for art robbed from Jews in WWII, is riveting. I give this one 4 stars.

Lamborghini – the man behind the legend proved a good binge. His wish to beat long-time rival Enzo Ferrari, made Ferruccio Lamborghini a compelling rival. I’d give this one 4 stars too.

Binge

Feud, Capote vs The Swans, starring Tom Hollander, Naomi Watts, Calista Flockhart, Diane Lane, Demi Moore, Molly Ringwald, Chloe Sevigny, and Treat Williams in his final role before his death last year. Superb direction by Gus van Sant, and stellar performances in this limited series based on the story of Truman Capote’s betrayal of the crème de la crème of New York’s society ladies Babe Paley, Slim Keith, C.Z. Guest, Ann Woodward, Joanne Carson, and Lee Radziwill. I give this limited series 5 stars.

A documentary on the legendary club Studio 54 in 70s New York is a reminder that nothing is new! Spot the celebrities of that hedonistic era! Sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, baby! Entertaining, I’d give it 3.5 stars.

Apple TV

The New Look, is a limited series about legendary fashion designers Christian Dior and Coco Chanel. Starring Ben Mendelson (versatile Australian actor), and the always delightful Juliette Binoche, this is not only a story about the halcyon days of fashion but also the complexities of WWII, and its aftermath. The heartbreaking stories, struggles, and choices these characters made make for a spellbinding show. I give this one 5 stars.

Netflix

Dog, stars Tatum Channing in this heartwarming story about a veteran K9. Their journey from Oregon County to San Francisco and Big Sur brought back joyful memories of my trips along that route years ago. If you love dogs, bring the tissues. I give this one 4 stars.

Love Guy Ritchie’s blockbuster movies, such as The Gentlemen? This is the reworked television production released this year. Be prepared for mind-blowing locations, old family money and British traditions, and larger than life characters. Theo James, Kaya Scodelario, Joely Richardson, Edward Fox and the entire cast deliver more than you’d bargain for. I give this one 4.5 stars.

The Monuments Men, directed by and starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett, is based on real events. Protecting Europe’s art against art-thieving Hitler. I was hooked. I give it 4 stars.

Style file

Style over fashion, style over fads and trends. That’s my motto, which does not mean I will not acquire the odd new item here and there which I am not gifted with by some of the brands I adore, wink-wink…

I recently read up on my zodiac signs, which included the Chinese zodiac and I could not argue, blush. I can be fickle, especially when it comes to what I wear. I will own that characteristic as I’m a creative and expressive spirit and will wear exactly what I like, when I like and not subscribe to one specific style only.

In my current style article for Startsat60, I focus on how we are every woman. We comprise the complexities of our inner girl, the seductress, the career woman, the partner, the lover, the wife, the grandmother, and so much more. Often, we must conform as life at times demands we do so, therefore I believe our most authentic form of expression is in the way we present ourselves to us and to the world on any given day, depending on the occasion, time of day, and our mood.

When in doubt, stick to the classics. Build an outfit from monochrome items in the wardrobe. Neutral shades are easy and versatile. By adding accessories, and scarves are back in a big way for all seasons, we can add some pizzazz, our very own blend of glamour and vitality, to the look. Whilst binging on The New Look it came as no surprise that comfortable, chic wide-leg pants, so Coco Chanel, are back, whilst curve-enhancing midi dresses have never been out of style – think Dior!

Love black? Build style around it. Love white? Do the same. Prefer soft or darker earth tones? Go with it. Adding a pop of colour ups the ante so easily. In fact, on any given day, you could mix those monochrome shades together and add a focus point to the combination, like a belt, scarf, shoes, or handbag that comprises all three hues. A statement of authentic style.

Then there are days when we see the gypsy in us, or the girl who believes in fairy tales, or the sexy cougar. Embrace your mood and go with it.

Pictured above: building around basic pieces in neutral shades, adding a pop of colour, or going all the way with a bright boho culotte theme. Mixing different hues, such as shades of blue, is energising. Life is our stage, work that wardrobe! For more style ideas, see my latest monthly article @Startsat60 and follow me for daily fashion style on Instagram @Sixty_is_the_new_40

Cheers to the good life. We only live twice: once when we are young and ignorant, and again when we are older and at least a little wiser but not over…


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