Leaving Neverland – Tilly the Good Life

Leaving Neverland – Tilly the Good Life

A new year has welcomed us into its fold, and I cannot remember when last I felt so ready to start this new chapter of life!

Much has happened during the Festive Season. For one, I became a year older, and I’d like to say I had some reservations about this new number! I’ve never liked figures but life, and business, requires one deals with basic arithmetic, which I have managed to do, miraculously. Whilst I’d rather write an essay about the importance of understanding the psychology of ants than tackle the beastly monthly budget, reality bites.

So, after contemplating this ripe new age and spending some time on examining my life, my wrongs, my rights, my joys, and my heartaches, I felt rejuvenated on the day. Why? I realised I now had far less time left on this planet than I have already had the privilege to savour, so, it was time to stop wasting time on unimportant matters and focus on the people and things that make me happy.

I was also confronted by a Machiavellian person from the past, who was creating a beleaguered situation. I was thrown off guard for a moment, then swiftly realised I did not wish to waste precious time getting entangled in unnecessary drama, so, I stepped away and erected an enormous imaginary ‘no entry’ sign. I slept like a baby that night! We do get wiser as we age, yay!

Last year was often heartbreaking as people I had loved dearly over many years departed this life too soon, whilst another soul decided to remove himself from a life he obviously felt was no longer worth living. This saddened me deeply and I could only imagine the prelude to this sudden end to life, the pain of feeling lost and alone, in fact, so desperate, that one would simply not see any light at the end of that deep, dark tunnel.

Most of us have often gone through unbearable strife and struggle, from which we may have found it difficult to escape. However, whilst many of us will always find that silver lining to eventually offer us the emotional strength to rise and rebuild our hopes and dreams from the ashes, there are souls who do not seem to have the ability to shed that darkness.

How could we ever judge such actions? Yes, we could label it ‘giving up,’ but unless we have lived in someone else’s head, we could never understand the desperation caused by that black dog.

The Festive Season always comes with good and bad news. That is life, that is reality. My darling much older sister had major surgery but being the fighting spirit that she is, she is recovering and adapting to a new lifestyle in frail care and her sense of humour remains a delight, and her timeless beauty shines through.

My dear, beautiful friend of so many years in Florida is valiantly fighting cancer, again. She is so determined to beat the dastardly big C, she cut off her luscious locks and invested in gorgeous wigs whilst enduring hellish chemotherapy. No time wasted on falling hair when she is set on positive action!

Someone recently told me about their deprived childhood, and I felt deeply saddened as the few ghastly memories I had of wrongs that were done to me in my youth seemed quite ridiculous by comparison. I immediately decided to only dwell on the past if I felt I needed to learn from it, again, or to savour sweet memories of long ago.

This privilege of ageing is to be treasured. I always felt we all had a purpose in life, and we put pressure on ourselves to keep finding the answers to why we are here in the first place. I’m no longer seeking answers as we could only get lost by dwelling in the past for too long.

We are here. This is now. A special moment, or many, could pass us by whilst we waste time reliving the past. The future is not promised but we live in hope. The now is more rewarding than Neverland.

Observing the daily stress of animals in their natural habitat will also teach us plenty. I discovered a little thrush family nesting in my small, terraced garden and I was thrilled! I wrote about these songbirds in my previous blog. I’d had them nesting in my gardens before but never had the time to observe how tough it was fighting off predatorial creatures, in this case, ravens and common mynas.

Only one of the three nestlings survived, probably because I was chasing off the killer birds at least three times a day to protect the little creature. On the day it decided to jump out of the nest, the parents were in a state and so was I as the ravens were still trying to get at it! As it leaves the nest to learn to fly, it is still vulnerable and between the two parents and I, we were on full protective watch!

After a full day of running around in the sunny garden, the little fledgeling, Tootsie, managed to hop up to the highest part of my neighbouring fence and took a short flight to test its wings, only to disappear into my next-door neighbour’s garden. I was a bloody wreck! The parents were now on higher alert as they wanted to return to the old nest in my garden but junior could not fly back as it apparently does not return to the nest once it’s left it and still learning to fly.

I interfered with nature, mea culpa, but how could I not? I discovered they liked the pellets cats eat as it is full of nutrients, so, Kiki’s food became bird food as well. I’d stand guard and give mommy and daddy enough to sustain them as they were taking turns in catching bugs in my garden to take to junior next door. It worked out and junior, after about two weeks, started bathing in my birdbath and calling me for snacks too. It had its wings!

The parents and their little survivor are more relaxed again as they are, for now, safer from danger, until, I guess, mommy starts laying eggs again. Their dedication to their offspring is remarkable and I now have a deeper understanding of the stressful lives of birds too. I tell Kiki the floof how lucky she is to live such a sheltered life as an indoor cat, with gourmet snacks served in clean crockery several times a day… okay, she does provide plenty entertainment to earn her supper, I guess.

So, as we enter 2024, I intend to be more understanding, to be free of past struggles by avoiding snollygosters, and situations I know would be pointlessly upsetting. I will continue dreaming big, whilst being endlessly grateful for the good people, loving friends and family, great opportunities, scenic surroundings, and lucky stars I’ve been favoured with. Living in the present is much more fun!

Romantic travel

A Valentines’ luxe safari is the stuff romantic dreams are made of. Celebrating love in five-star style at Tau Game Lodge has often resulted in happy couples returning to Tau from across the planet, not only to embrace love but also to celebrate and revitalise romance that withstood the test of time…

Leaving Neverland – Tilly the Good Life

Pictured above: all accommodation and hospitality decks face the Tau Waterhole, where game and birdlife abound!

Indulge in a romantic breakfast overlooking the waterhole at the lodge after an early morning Big Five 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 endless parade of game, and prolific birdlife, has enthralled lovers for some 29 years.

Fancy a swim, as it is summer, in one of the two pools, one being an infinity pool, both overlooking the waterhole?

Add a romantic spa treatment for two overlooking the verdant bush, and the mood is set for relaxation and eternal romance.

Sustainable, eco-friendly, prolific wildlife, malaria-free, the Big Five and all the smaller game in-between, with some 27 major species roaming free in this natural habitat safeguarding nature for future generations, contribute to making Tau a bucket-list safari destination.

When game stir from their afternoon siesta and either have a final frolic before nightfall, or, in the case of the nocturnal big cats, start to prepare for their big night ahead, late afternoon safari sightings are spectacular.

Before heading back to the lodge to refresh for dinner, you will stop at a perfect spot for sundowners and refreshments, always under the watchful eye of a ranger driver.

Tau is pure, understated 5-star luxury and family-friendly, offering a Cubz Club, baby-sitting services, and special safaris and education for youngsters, affording the adults some quality safari, leisure, and spa time. Memorable weddings have been hosted here over the years too.

The Tau Valentines’ packages start from R30,000 per couple for two nights, including:

  • Accommodation for 2 nights
  • 3 meals per day
  • 2 game drives per day
  • Drinks and snacks on safari drives
  • A Tau Spa Oasis African Foot Ritual (30 minutes) per adult
  • This rate is exclusive of the following:

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

To book this special package, quote: TAU Valentines 2024

The  Tau live webcam will keep you mesmerized on: http://taugamelodge.co.za/main-lodge/live-webcam/

Tau is malaria-free, an easy four-hour drive from Pretoria and Johannesburg – www.taugamelodge.co.za

Dining Out

Captn Jack’s in Somerville Cove overlooking Yaringa Boat Harbour and the mangroves is a hidden treasure! The Pacific oysters served with lemon and Champagne vinegar mignonette proved a hedonistically delicious starter, and the duck-leg pie, served with cauliflower, mushrooms and fine herbs, was a sensation. The dessert, comprising honey, vanilla and yoghurt panna cotta, blood orange and pistachio, was outstanding. The service is friendly, professional, and world-class too.

Pictured above: Dining at Captn Jack’s with tranquil views of the harbour and surrounds.

Seaford Beach Café is a favoured local eatery with sublime views of the dreamy Seaford Pier, pristine white-golden beach, and every shade of azure waters of this magnificent bay. The fresh juice choices are deliciously healthy, and I opted for the Kick Starter (apple, orange, pineapple, banana, blueberry, passionfruit, and purple carrot). The prawns medusa (juicy char-grilled tiger prawns) were served on creamy potatoes and a fresh Greek salad. Perfection!

Pictured above: Dining at Seaford Beach Café with its dreamy views of the bay.

Alatonera in McCrae proved a perfect lunch venue on my Solstice birthday and the Universe was generous! A perfect summer’s day, vistas that almost had me believe I was in Greece, with glimpses of the sandy beach through the trees, and a shared mezze platter that would have satisfied the fussiest food critic. The warm grilled pita, taramasalata, scallops, calamari, crispy crusted kataifi prawns with honey, lemon and roasted hazelnuts, zucchini and feta fritters served with lemon yoghurt were scrumptious. The cocktails are deliciously decadent, and I loved the Mum’s Marg, comprising frozen watermelon and passionfruit margarita. One more and I could have demonstrated my Greek dancing skills acquired from my Greek friends in Cape Town way back, Opa! Maybe next time…

Pictured above: dining at Alatonera with my Aussie bestie Rika, and the scenic surrounds.

Cinque Ristorante in Ringwood North, to celebrate a combined early birthday and my cousin achieving her MBA, was delightful. The authentic Italian cuisine and ambience, paired with charming service, made for a heart-warming family dinner. My choice of slow-roasted beef cheek served on carrot puree with roasted potatoes and asparagus, was perfectly succulent. My family opted for the herb and almond crusted lamb loin, parsnip puree, grilled leek, and zucchini jus, plus a side of broccolini. Not a morsal left on our plates!

Pictured above: authentic Italian dining at Cinque Ristorante.

Sofa spud

Brit Box/Prime:

Becoming Archie – the Cary Grant Story. How a rejected little boy from Bristol invented a screen idol in Hollywood. Superb.

As Time Goes By – old series with Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer. Witty, touching on real issues of ageing, love, family, and marriage in their mature years. Still a feel-good binge!

Always at the Carlyle (on Madison Avenue overlooking Central Park) – I walked past the hotel years ago in Manhattan and loved the subtle glamour. Discretion is key and this old-world elegance remains the home-from-home for celebrities from around the world, where musicians such as Bobby Short, Herb Albert, and Steve Tyrell, who still performs here regularly, offered classy entertainment. Celebrity guests over the years have included Lucille Ball, Mark Twain, Jackie Onassis, Harrison Ford, George Clooney, and John Hamm, who chats about the iconic location in the documentary.

We’ll Take Manhattan documents the British Invasion in the form of photographer David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton in the 60s for Vogue magazine. Having had many meetings with media over the years at Vogue House on Hanover Square in London, where the journey begins, and of course, remembering Jean Shrimpton as the first super-model I admired as a young girl, I thought the story most enjoyable. Nobody could portray The Shrimp to perfection in my eyes, but Karen Gillan did a fine job, as did Aneurin Barnard as the cockie Mr Bailey.

Trail of The Pink Panther – starring the now late great Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, Joanna Lumley, Harvey Korman, David Niven and of course the priceless Herbert Lom as the crochety Chief Inspector Dreyfus. Masterfully produced by Blake Edwards, I return to these legendary movies regularly. The humour never gets old, ah, and the glamour… Steve Martin as the clumsy inspector never did it for me, sorry…

Italy’s Mystery Mountains is a superb documentary on the wild beauty of Italy, off the beaten tourism track.

Their Finest is a bittersweet drama about making movies during the Blitz. Romance, tragedy, and humour, an era portrayed brilliantly by Gemma Arteton, Bill Nighy, Sam Claflin, and Richard E Grant.

Netflix:

Your Place or Mine, a 2023 film about friendship blossoming into love, starring Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher. Believable.

The Juror, old movie starring Demi Moore and Alec Baldwin, remains a winning combination of justice and fear.

Leave the World Behind, starring Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawk – give this one a miss!

Trevor Noah, Where Was I – clever, slick, funny, and cheeky, this South African charmed the US. His vocabulary is superior to most comedians. Loved it.

Maestro – this recent release starring Bradley Cooper as the controversial composer and musical director Leonard Bernstein, is mesmerising. Carey Mulligan’s portrayal of the musician’s tough yet vulnerable wife was deeply touching. I see an Oscar for Bradley Cooper, who proved himself a worthy maestro.

A Boy Called Christmas – this became my favourite Christmas movie, released in 2021. Starring Maggie Smith and Jim Broadbeam, we are never too old to believe in the power of magic.

Binge:

What’s Love Got To Do With It – starring Lily James and Emma Thompson. A most enjoyable take on arranged marriages in the UK, falling into like, walking into love.

Man Up – starring Lake Bell and Simon Pegg. I enjoyed this blind date story about mistaken identity.

SBS:

Evil Under the Sun – the 1981 Agatha Christie film remains elegantly crafty! Peter Ustinov, James Mason, Jane Burkin, Nicholas Clay, Roddy McDowell, Maggie Smith, and Diana Rigg got it just right! Please take note, Mr Kenneth Branagh, your OTT Poirot lacks credibility.

A Most Wanted Man – setting a trap for the 9/11 master terrorism planner, starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdam, and Willem Dafoe. The 2014 movie is worth watching. We must never forget.

Styling into 2024

During the holidays I developed a close relationship with my shimmery garments, especially sequins. Never say never, right? Years ago, I vowed not to wear the glitz again as I did find it rather scratchy as I have sensitive skin.

However, I’m so pleased I kept some of my glamorous items as for some obscure reason, I no longer seem to be that sensitive wearing sequins, and it certainly elevates an outfit for a special occasion… or perhaps I’ve just grown a thicker skin, chuckles…

I have always dressed up for Christmas dinner as it was customary in my family, who believed it was showing respect to a special time of year. I’m not giving it up, unless I get an invitation specifying a themed party that excludes glamour.

Urgh, some might say, sequins are so Vegas and vulgar. My answer? It depends on your personal style as it need not look like a Follies Bergere extravaganza. We’re not talking nipple caps and shiny tassels.

Summer holiday dressing has my full attention and I’m lapping up every moment, from ice-cream pink linen outfits to silky soft tunics, which also work with shiny pants to glamorise an ordinary outfit for a Riviera-inspired occasion.

Having turned a certain age, I no longer care what people think of my style. I dress for me, and I wear whatever I think fits the occasion. I recently showed up at a dinner wearing black sequin pants, sequin mules, and a Ferrari-red draped top, complete with red and black tassel earrings – they were on my ears! I felt great. When I saw the expression on the host’s face, that look of total astonishment, I took it as a compliment.

Feeling confident in our skin, which also happens to be what we wear on it, is key to always feeling fabulous – own it.

For daily updates on style, pop to my Instagram page @Sixty_is_the_new_40 – and for further monthly style inspiration, see my current monthly article at https://startsat60.com/media/lifestyle/style/festive-fashion-elevate-your-holiday-wardrobe-with-ease

Pictured above: from the top, left to right: white linen pants worn with a silk and lace camisole – add a (faux) animal print jacket and it has a chic edge; go all white as it stands out in a crowd of black; an old light-wool black pantsuit with a subtle olive-green sequin top; a transparent blue linen shirt worn over a gold halter top and jeans; black and white stripes never date – just add a dash of colour if you like; the colourful silk Fella Hamilton tunic is ideal with the button-hem pants and would work well with white shimmer pants too; pants with a matching sleeveless trench coat will do the trick on cooler days; add a cotton tie shirt to a pair of pants for a trendy statement – or wear a halter top and summer wrap cardigan for a layered colour-coordinated look; the pink linen palazzo pants are old and this strapless linen top from Seed Heritage proved a perfect match – add a linen shirt for casual chic or one could easily mix it up with shiny items or black for a more dressy occasion.

Cheers to the goodlife and a sparkling New Year. Embracing it with enthusiasm and wisdom is my intention… and I hope it delivers exactly what we all need, as well as more love and understanding…


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