Trading lemons for mojitos – Tilly the Good Life

Trading lemons for mojitos – Tilly the Good Life

By Tilly Smith Dix

A dear friend recently commented kindly on my motto of awakening grateful (most) mornings. I pondered this and realised how different we think as we age.

Yes, ageing is a privilege and if we do so in good health, life is a charm. However, seeing the signs of ageing in ourselves and coming to grips with the many things we did with such ease, such as running in stilettos without breaking a sweat or a hip, could now easily send us into a deep depression. Gulp…

We’ve all gone through ups and downs in life and some, I’d say, encounter more obstacles than others. If we get deep and dark about that, we could end up clinging to that black dog for eternity, especially when we’d often attracted Machiavellian souls.

Enter reality. If we could behold those magical sunrises, savour the sun on our faces during a stroll or even a few chores in the garden, embrace the wildlife, birdlife, our pets, watch a beautiful sunset, have a secure roof over our heads, delicious food in our stomachs, and at least one good friend, not to mention family we’d not wish to trade for a mega-yacht, we have plenty to be grateful for.

Pictured above, a sunrise over the Yarra Valley, a sunset on the Mornington Peninsula, and birdlife will always balance the dopamine levels.

Okay, so about that yacht… hie, no, tempted as I might be, my family is pure joy and having the pixies hug me and laugh with me, not to mention now wearing my old clothes as they are growing way too fast, I am grateful for the ears on my head (which still hear just fine), otherwise my head would be split in half by a smile that goes all the way around…

Yes, we all have happy as well as sad stories, and often those sad stories seem to overwhelm us and overshadow the good times. We recall allowing belligerent personalities to turn us into irascible creatures at times too, which always put us in a losing position.

If we focus on one thing that brings us joy in the morning when awakening, it’s amazing how quickly all the other wonderful things that don’t cost a fortune will line up to remind us how lucky we are.

A friend from long ago recently said just because we miss something, or someone, it does not mean we want it or them back. This is profoundly true. We are human, we will be sentimental, feel alone at times, or simply in a forgiving mood, remembering the best of times.

Then we snap back into reality and recall why we walked away from upsetting situations and people who hurt us. It is healthy to just go with it, and in the end, good sense will prevail when we realise how far we’ve come. Then gratitude steps in for now having peace of mind.

Of course, when the lemons life hurls at us are seen as lessons and only moments in time for us to move on from, we’ve beaten the battle. Our ability to turn those sour little devils into lemonade, limoncello, margaritas, mojitos, or a dirty martini, or whatever else we choose to bring a happy grin to our face, adds energy to gratitude. Hmmm, that dirty martini is calling me now… or was it the mojito… decisions, decisions!

Travels without my aunt

It’s no secret that I always had a penchant for five-star safaris and how eco-conscious Tau Game Lodge in the wonderous Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa bordering the wilds of Botswana, always topped my expectations.

My memories of Tau, in short, include warm, welcoming staff; a large verdant waterhole, which is overlooked by the hospitality decks, accommodation, and two swimming pools. Having game come to you is pure joy. Taking a game drive conducted by caring, knowledgeable rangers, who also understand the medicinal purposes of many native plant species growing in the reserve, is addictive.

Then there is the prolific birdlife, always tangible around the lodge waterhole too. Watching birds and all the creatures of the wild deftly side-stepping the seemingly lazy crocodiles while one is dining outdoors overlooking that paradisal vista, is magical.

Pictured above, memories of luxe safaris at Tau, the place of the lion – one of the kings of the wild just catching some son.

Winter at Tau conjures up warm blankets on safari drives, large log fires at dinner, delicious warming toddies, and authentic local treats during safari pitstops, always under the watchful eye of a ranger, followed by convivial conversations at dinner.

Tau Game Lodge is family-friendly, malaria-free, and laden with the Big Five, and so much more, such as the endangered African wild dog families thriving in the reserve. My favourite sightings over the years? Leopard and elephant, not to mention playful lion cubs pushing their mothers’ patience to the limit. Did I mention the intimate Tau Spa Oasis overlooking the bush? See more at

Croatia’s lesser-travelled Istria

I’ve talked to so many intrepid travellers singing the multiple praises of Croatia. However, as most people are now travelling by boat, the big cruise ships are mostly anchoring in the larger cities. I highly recommend a visit to the lesser-known regions, where one is able to soak up the authentic culture, people, and hearty food.

My visit to the Istrian Peninsula, which happens to be the largest peninsula within the Adriatic Sea and close to the Italian border, comprising majestic mountains, charming towns, and smaller fortified cities, such as Rovinj, totally rocked my world some years ago.

I did get to travel on a boat, which was more like a creaking tub, touring the surrounding islands for a day, which included Marshal Tito’s home in the Bijela villa. It was fabulous.

Pictured above, Rovinj and Pula on Croatia’s panoramic Istrian Peninsula.

Lunch comprised the catch of the day, served with delicious fresh local produce, which the Croats take pride in. The breathtaking beauty of the coastline, not to mention the scrumptious food and charm of Rovinj and the surrounding ancient country towns, is a memory I will treasure for as long as memory serves me. As for the entertainment in Pula and its remarkably well-preserved Roman arena and port, I highly recommend a visit.

So, my advice? Get off the beaten track, avoid hordes of tourists and get into the true heart of the country. You won’t regret this scenic slice of delight bordering Italy and Slovenia – go to

More hair with Vegamour

I was recently approached to collaborate with Vegamour and gifted with a generous selection of GRO Hair Serum, GRO Biotin Gummies, GRO Lash and Brow Kit, GRO Scalp Detoxifying Serum, GRO Dry Shampoo, GRO Shampoo and Conditioner, and a GRO Scalp Revitalising Massager.

As is customary, I agreed to test and use the product for several weeks to ensure results were positive before I’d write a review on this blog.

I’m avoiding synthetic formulas and the Vegamour plant-based formulas for hair wellness, developed with scientifically proven ingredients, convinced me it was worth a try. After all, it is a known fact after a certain age, women also start losing hair and this has annoyed me no-end. Someone recently mentioned how we should be mindful of products we use on our heads as it surely could affect the brain! It made sense.

My skin has remained fairly elasticised because of the serums I’ve used for many years, whilst also taking the alphabet in vitamins and essential minerals daily, including collagen.

However, my hair still needed assistance! I’d stopped using colour some years ago, as I found my hair was suffering, so, I’ve gone graciously silver (well, at first, I did drop a few not so gracious profanities in private as it seriously miffed me).

Those days of modelling hair products and showing off a mane that could change colour regularly just for fun, yet remain glossy in my twenties were long gone. Even my long lashes had thinned out somewhat. As for the chocolate-box nails of long ago, they were letting me down too – sod it!

Pictured above, my happy hair with Vegamour. If this is what these products do for my senior hair after several weeks of use, I can only imagine how it would respond to the GRO volumizing range – watch this space.

Enter Vegamour to the rescue. I can honestly say I’ve seen obvious improvement in the texture of my hair. It seems stronger, whilst showing visible signs of thickening again! Even my eyebrows are improving. I gave up on those years ago after plucking them to copy Twiggy’s look in 1969, and they never grew back! Okay, I’ve never been hairy on my body, but the lashes and tresses were always healthy and strong.

I’m now a fan for life and among the many positive international reviews I’ve seen, I like that InStyle magazine raved about the brand too.

The company’s holistic approach to hair wellness incorporates clinically tested plant-based ingredients that work in tandem to promote healthy, beautiful hair naturally. By avoiding the use of harmful chemicals or short-term fixes that could lead up to long-term hair and skin problems, Vegamour focuses on the power of nature through the lens of science to produce the ultimate in total hair wellness.

The founder, Dan Hodgdon, spent summers working on his uncle’s organic farm in Vermont, New England. Whilst his farming cousins referred to him as a useless city slicker, it did not take long for Dan to notice that all life on the farm was dependent on the symbiotic relationship between living organisms and the many elements that comprise the environment.

When everything in nature is in balance, the mineral, nitrogen and pH levels of the soil, the hours of direct sunlight, the frequency and source of water, the weather, insects, and animals thrive.

Bioavailability means ingredients could only be effective if it can be absorbed and synthesized by the body. This is just one of the holistic concepts in practise by Vegamour. The ethically harvested high-quality natural actives and fair-trade partnerships with the communities that produce the ingredients prove how growth is possible on so many levels.

This inside out approach to create the optimal ecosystem for hair wellness appeals to me and I’m loving the progress in my hair health. See more at – I’m thrilled it’s available online in Australia too at

Absorbing culture

Sunset Boulevard at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne city, starring Sarah Brightman as Norma Desmond and Tim Draxl as Joe Gillis, alongside a stellar cast, was spellbinding. Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical genius, together with a thrilling reimagination of the show, stunning costumes, and atmospheric sets, transported the audience into another dimension. A triumph, and to be honest, I prefer the warmer, richer timbre in Sarah Brightman’s now mature voice.

Melbourne is always a marvel and at night it seems even more cosmopolitan and sophisticated. A scrumptious pre-show snack and delicious bubbles at Federici adjacent to the Princess Theatre proved the perfect choice.

Pictured above, gourmet snacks and champagne at Federici before the show at the Princess Theatre next door.

The photographic genius of Steve McCurry was exhibited in scenic Williamstown, where his ICONS revelations were a veritable mind-blow. “Just the simple fact of travelling and exploring in depth different cultures brings me joy and boundless energy,” he says. From the legendary portrait of the Afghan Girl, Sharbat Gula, to capturing people and cultures around this diverse planet, if this exhibition comes to your city, don’t miss it.


Pictured above, the mesmerising work of Steve McCurry, who has the ability to capture the soul of his subjects through the lens.

Dining Out

The Sofitel’s level 35 is a marvel! The 180 degree view of the city, the Yarra River, and bay, not to mention the plethora of green spaces and ground-breaking contemporary architecture alongside the historical relics of this liveable city, is breathtaking.

Suffering from acrophobia, which is commonly referred to as vertigo, which is just one symptom of acrophobia, I did feel as if I was spinning when I looked down, so, I looked out instead, and it was incredible. Oddly, I have no fear of flying and looking out of an airplane but I’m not wasting time trying to establish why…

The gourmet cuisine complements the gracious service and contemporary French ambience.

Our menu choices included entrees to share, comprising steamed beetroot, watermelon radish, apricot puree, blueberry gel, coconut yoghurt, with puffed rice; the Port Macquarie kingfish ceviche, rock melon and tomato gazpacho, chilli, finger lime, coriander, and lemon with fried garlic were a triumph.

Pictured above, French flair at the Sofitel’s Level 35 Restaurant on Collins Street, with vistas of Melbourne and cuisine to drool over. That skylight in the lobby of the hotel…

Our mains comprised, Humpty Doo Barramundi with nduja chorizo sauce, braised baby octopus, wilted spinach, and a rice cracker; Gippsland eye fillet, truffle fries, mixed salad, chimichurri; and potato gnocchi, mixed mushroom ragout, crispy enoki, caramelised onion, lemon zest, with shaved parmesan. We ordered French fries to share as a side. A superb day in the city with friends who have become chosen family.

The Rocks in Mornington never disappoints, and it is a less than 30-minute drive from home. The value for money and delectable food, vista of the pier and marina, are further enhanced by the always convivial atmosphere and friendly service.

My most recent dinner with my local bestie did not disappoint. The succulent slow-roasted lamb, deliciously glazed carrots, and fries with aioli on the side proved the perfect choice to share on a chilly winter’s evening. Complemented by Laurent Perrier champagne, all was well with the world.

Pictured above, slow-roasted lamb, glazed carrots, perfect fries and the always calming view at The Rocks in Mornington.

Sofa spud

Netflix 2024 Geek Girl, a limited series, is charming. The story is based on the book by Molly Smale, which demonstrates the careless treatment by their classmates experienced by many teens through the ages. The outcome is refreshing. Emily Carey is delightful as Harriet Manners, and Liam Woodrum is her modern-day prince on a white steed, Nick Park. The bullies do get their comeuppance. Loved that. There is an indication that Harriet could be on the autism spectrum, a seemingly common phenomenon these day too, and it is handled with sensitivity by the director.

The Greatest Showman 2017, starring Hugh Jackman, also on Netflix, was electrifying and I would gladly watch this larger-than-life musical movie again. Michelle Williams, always great cinematic value, is outstanding. When acting and musical talents gel, it makes for the best sofa binge. Oh, and don’t forget Zac Efron and Zendaya, who match these luminaries on the pitch. Directed by Michael Gracey, this movie is evergreen. I do enjoy spectacular productions by Baz Luhrmann but I’m delighted he did not get his zealous hands on this gem.

Still on Netflix, Maria by Callas, a 2017 documentary, is one of the best and most honest doccies I’ve seen in years. She was beautiful, a rare talent, and loved deeply with all her heart. She started singing in her early teens and sadly passed away aged only 53 in Paris from a heart attack in 1977. Her captivating voice and mesmerising stage presence will never die. I believe her ashes were stolen, then recovered, and scattered over the Aegean Sea, as was her wish, by 1979. The true cause of the loss of her magnificent voice remains unclear. Could it have been from a broken heart as Ari Onassis had been the love of her life?

Channel Seven, free to watch: Person of Interest starring Jim Caviezel, is a series that ran from 2011 to 2016. I love this modern-day take on a man of integrity serving justice in the shadows.

Another free to air movie I enjoyed on Seven was Spinning Man, starring Guy Pearce, Pierce Brosnan, and Minnie Driver. Released in 2018, this one was full of surprises. A disappointed wife, a college professor, pretty young things, and a gruff police detective who won’t quit. A thriller.

Prime: The Burial, starring Jamie Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones, is a 2023 movie based on true events, reflecting the dilemmas and prejudices of the Mississippi justice system.

I loved watching Mermaids again after so many years. A young Winona Rider, her character’s free-spirited mother portrayed by Cher, and Bob Hoskins as the quirky love interest, made for a delightful romp produced in 1990.

Audrey Hepburn Remembered, still on Prime. This 1993 documentary, narrated by the like of Roger Moore and Gregory Peck, confirms the gamine, gracious talent with the kindest heart that was Audrey.

If you enjoy the classics, the 1947 film The Bishop’s Wife, starring Loretta Young, Cary Grant, and David Niven, is pure delight in black and white.

Binge: My Old Lady is a 2014 movie filmed in Paris, starring Kirsten Scott-Thomas, Kevin Cline, and Maggie Smith. I just love happy endings – and Paris!

I watched Striptease, starring Demi Moore and Burt Reynolds again after many years after its first release in the mid-1990s. Why? No, not to take up pole dancing but to laugh out loud at the now late Burt Reynolds’ brilliant performance as the ridiculous Congressman Dilbeck. Okay, Demi as a single mother and cash-strapped former FBI employee dancing in a sleazy joint to pay the bills, was superb in her role too. A fine thriller with genuine laughs.

Up your style with simple classics

Layering for winter is not as complicated as we tend to make it. Often, when in doubt, I go for the less is more look. Uncluttered, simple style when paired with classic designs are timeless and always classy.

The basics to build a look on matter as we want them to stand alone when the outer layer is removed for warmer indoor temperatures.

When we know we will spend time in heated restaurants or locations, wearing a lighter knit top, or silk shirt, will serve us best when paired with a skirt or pants. Add a good coat, blazer, or poncho, and a scarf for the outer layer without creating a bulky look.

When wearing a thicker knit or knitted dress, a wrap, bigger coat, or poncho, will do the trick when entering the chill. Wearing a tight-fitting jacket or coat over a bulky outfit does nothing for our silhouette.

Leather jackets in classic styles, ranging from the bigger aviator design (which is ideal over a thicker knit), to the snug cropped or longer fitted jackets, complement those figure-hugging basics.

Mixing colours, from simple monochrome elegance, to charismatic brighter shades to warm up the mood on chilly days, is fun. It’s all about our mood and the occasion.

Pictured above, from top, left to right: Choose a big coat as outer layer when wearing bulky basics – a gilet works well too; fitted coats pair well with thinner first layers to avoid a bulky look; warm blazers never date, whilst fitted jackets work best over thinner first layers; a classic suit is evergreen and when fully lined, it is better to wear a thinner top underneath – just add a wrap scarf for the outdoors; ponchos and wraps are great over thicker knits.

Some good news for my Mornington Peninsula readers, Fella Hamilton, which I’ve featured before and a favoured Australian fashion brand, now has a branch in Mornington too!

For more style ideas, see my latest fashion article for @Startsat60 at

Cheers to the good life, darlings. We owe it to us to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly… it’s our choice what defines us. I say double cheers to that – now where did I leave my mojito…

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