We’re every woman – Tilly the Good Life

We’re every woman – Tilly the Good Life

By Tilly Smith Dix

I am so over women of a certain age being cast as the hard, tough, angry, bitter silver older sisters. First, we were invisible, then finally, like people of colour, we started being recognised for not giving up and adding value. Now, too many fashion designers, movie directors and women’s magazines are casting us as furious, ball-breaking witches. Enough!

Are we not allowed to be feminine, alluring, strong, feisty, sexy, smart, and gentle? We have many layers and should not be shoved into one category only. Most of the women from my era with whom I interact gladly on social media, personally, and on business platforms, are multi-faceted and interesting! We’ve seen stuff. We’ve lived life and we are still here, pursuing new adventures.

We have stories to tell and sound advice to share. We’ve struggled, which made us stronger and wiser. This does not mean we are turning into men. Frankly, none of my sisters from other misters wish to be male, yet, when I look at some of the beautiful women over fifty gracing our catwalks and magazine covers, the stylists seem united: make them look hard and androgynous. Really?

For starters, we do not need validation about all the roles we’ve had to embrace in our lives, from lovers, to partners, to wives, to mothers, to executives, to career women, to running countries. Why should this deprive us of our femininity? Why paint this picture of warmongering women hunting for battles to fight (unless you are an obnoxious fool, hie, as we now know how to deal with those by now)!

Naturally, we don’t stand for much nonsense anymore – we know what we want, we know what’s right, and we will stand up for our rights, not only as women but as citizens of this planet. We are strong, that does not mean we are hard. Read the room, know the difference…

Having fought, won, and lost many battles, we are still women. Even in our toughest moments, most of us still nurture that young woman with stars in her eyes and romance in her heart. The woman who will pacify a stranger’s crying child, take care of a sick puppy, plant a tree in the garden where she buried the ashes of a beloved cat or even a wild bird that had passed over the rainbow bridge in her garden.

At the same token, she’d also take on those who bully her or anyone she loves. When we’ve been on this earth for longer than the time we have left, we have the savvy to deal with injustice without wasting time on losing our cool often.

So, my message to those looking at us with dollar signs in their eyes and categorising us in these macabre, hardened gladiator-type roles of life, holding a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a smoking gun in the other, get real.

A male friend recently asked me why so many women were trying to look like men. I asked him for an example so I could contemplate the facts before giving him an answer, and he mentioned how fashion magazines and movies were featuring mature women in this light! I asked him if he knew any real women over a certain age that looked that way, and he sheepishly responded, “no.”

I’m not judging women who have given up on femininity and prefer sneakers to heels even for a smart event. This, however, does not automatically put them into a male wannabe category, surely?

We now live life on our terms as we’ve earned the right to do so having walked through fire and experienced the, often, unfair school of osmosis. The sisters I gravitate towards are kind, beautiful inside and out, and they take care of their minds as well as their appearance.

We are every woman. Every nuance of womanhood is embedded in our hearts, our souls, our spirits, and plenty of stories can be told about the scars we carry in our hearts and on our bodies. However, we prefer to share stories of joy, whilst savouring life for all it’s worth.

My message to those women who still feel invisible, think about what would make you happy and fulfilled, strategize your plan to feel and look lovely and desirable! Why not start by booking a spa pamper day to reawaken your feminine spirit. Just look at Dame Joan Collins at 90! Feminine, elegant, sexy, feisty, cheeky, funny, smart as a whip, and still embracing every nuance of life. Cheers to that.

We are not over. As the now late, always colourful Iris Apfel said, “you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” She lived life on her terms for 102 years and passed on March 1 this year in Palm Beach, Florida. Amen, sista. I bet the angels are loving the colours she has brought to their celestial cloud.

I hope she had something to say to haute couture designer Claude Montana, who also passed earlier this year. His almost monastic adherence to the principles of apparel design belied his wild, abusive, enfant terrible lifestyle. I hear lively conversations and Iris’ laughter…

Health and beauty

The Collagen Company recently asked me to review and post their collagen peptide shakes, promising thicker, healthier hair, glowing, hydrated skin, stronger nails, and healthy joints, on social media.

I’ve always believed in natural supplements and often joke about rattling like a pebble-filled can after breakfast if anyone should pick me up and shake me even slightly! So, I was happy to oblige.

I tested the refreshing Purple Grape shake they sent me for a week to see if my skin would respond, knowing nails and hair would take longer, as my joints still seem lubricated, thank ye gods, and I wish to maintain their moving smoothly, of course.

     

Pictured above: one glass of water, two scoops, stir, delicious! The Australian produced collagen shake contains: hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C, and biotin (vitamin B7). Beauty starts from the inside to get the glow.

Well, I did see a noticeable difference and an additional glow to my seemingly smoother complexion within a few days. I am committed to continue this collagen journey. I’ll keep you posted on the hair and nails, as they certainly need some help… the joys of ageing, sigh…

Use my discount code TILLY10 if you live in Australia, as for now, www.thecollagen.co does not deliver abroad – follow them on IG @thecollagen.co and get the glow!

Out and about

Frankston Arts Centre, The Michael Jackson History Show, on a countrywide tour to pay tribute to the late King of Pop, blew me away! The reviews were glowing, so my Aussie bestie and I set off for a night of MJ fun.

Pictured above: The Michael Jackson History Show – Garth Field as MJ is electrifying.

The world-class performance by the band, dancers, and the star, Garth Field, was electrifying! Showtime Australia has outdone itself, again… and what made this show even more memorable? Most members of the riveting cast originate from South Africa, mostly the Cape, which made me deeply patriotic of my origins. This show should be a world tour, I’d not change a thing! Go to their IG page @mjhistoryshow – the audience, packed to the rafters, danced like no one was watching!

Seaford Beach Café continues to be a favourite destination for breakfast and my recent simple scrambled eggs on sourdough, with avocado and halloumi sides, was scrumptious. Then, there is also that view of the beach and the pier… highly recommended, whilst the vibe and service will not disappoint either.

Wishing for an alcoholic beverage but the café is not licensed? Take a walk towards the station after lunch or breakfast and relax at the Spanish Bar, where the view of Kananook Creek is always a treat, especially if you enjoy ducks in their natural habitat. I’ve reviewed the menu at the bar before, and it’s another firm favourite.

Pictured above: Breakfast at the Beach Café and its view of Seaford Beach, and Kananook Creek

I adore being a tourist in my own city, and cruising to Williamstown had been on my living a good life list (notice I do not say bucket list after a sweet friend told me we were not ready to kick the bucket), for many years and I finally got to experience it with my dearest Aussie friend Rika. Suffice to say, this enchanting adventure will not be ticked off the list as I intend returning there again, and again!

Yes, it’s that good and compares most favourably with day cruises I’ve embarked on when travelling in Europe and the USA years ago. Just seeing the joy on the international tourists on the ferry’s faces and their enthusiasm in snapping pictures with their phones and cameras, spoke volumes.

We booked online for Melbourne Ferry Cruises and embarked at Southbank Promenade near the arts precinct, sailing down the Yarra River on a perfect autumn day into the tranquil bay, past the docks and Station Pier Cruise Ship Terminal. It felt like a holiday!

Seeing the city from the river and the bayside is captivating and I highly recommend locals and visitors to experience this at least once. My plan? Going on a dinner cruise to Williamstown – gosh, I may even move there!

The Yarra River might be a brown river because of natural clay soils, which is why it is referred to as the upside-down river, but it is no less enchanting. The city put on her brightest hues and watching swans with their cygnets gracefully gliding on the outward tide made me want to interrupt the highly informative commentary about the history of our city and its bridges, with strains of The Swan by Camille Saint-Saens… pure magic.

In under and hour, we disembarked in charming Williamstown, which was Melbourne’s first port settlement. Rich in history, laden with maritime museums and colonial landmarks, yachts dock alongside tall ships at Gem Pier. The convict-built Nelson Place now houses craft shops and restaurants. The tranquil parks, wetlands, and sandy beaches make for a sophisticated holiday destination, not to mention this being a sanctuary of choice for black swans.

The historical architecture and cosmopolitan eateries, which mostly spill out onto the sidewalks, make for a day-trip to rhapsodise over for years to come, not to mention the photographic landmarks and overall grace of the town and its friendly people.

Pictured above, the ferry from Melbourne’s South Bank to Williamstown is a visual treat, and the mezze platter at Santorini was mouthwatering.

We settled for a delicious mezze lunch and delightful Redbank Emily Brut Cuvee bubbles at Santorini, which is owner managed. The artful presentation was only surpassed by the delicious freshness of each menu item, ranging from octopus, to saganaki, halloumi, dips, calamari, chorizo, and the best zucchini fritters I’ve ever tasted.

For the return journey, we boarded the train, which took us back to Seaford on the Mornington Peninsula in just over an hour. Can’t wait to return!

Travel

Winter in South Africa is an ideal time to go on safari. Need to escape on a luxe, 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 its territory around the water, 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 region 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.

Pictured above: Tau, the place of the lion – and the entire big five.

All safaris are conducted by highly skilled game rangers, who respect every aspect of the flora and fauna of this natural habitat.

The lodge has a ranger who is a professional photographer to teach wildlife photography to guests using cameras. He also photographs guests to further enhance and personalise their magical safari memories by arrangement, subject to availability.

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.

Tau is pure, understated 5-star luxury and family-friendly, whilst many memorable weddings have been hosted here over the years too.

The Tau Spa Oasis, a world-class Conference & Events Centre, and eco-friendly mindfulness make for an authentic, luxe safari in this malaria-free region. Just over an easy four-hour drive from Pretoria and Johannesburg – www.taugamelodge.co.za – the  Tau live webcam will keep you mesmerised at http://taugamelodge.co.za/main-lodge/live-webcam/

Summer in the Italian Alps with an out-of-Africa safari lodge vibe could be the answer for anyone hankering for something completely different in the Northern Italian town of Bolzano.

The impeccable fusion of Africa meets a Tyrolean chalet in the magnificent mountains of the Italian Alps, is pure rustic chic, embraced further through the authentic cuisine by chef Hannes Pignater, whereby almost all the ingredients are harvested or reared within mere metres of Adler Lodge Ritten.

The lodge farm’s harvested wheat and grain are kneaded into fresh pasta and pastry dishes for the authentic kitchen. There’s also a collection of beehives in the forest, which is collected by the lodge’s own on-site beekeeper. In turn, this allows you to go on a rare tasting experience of honey, flavoured with local raspberries, truffles, and mead. 

Pictured above: Adler Lodge Ritten (supplied).
 
Anything that cannot be cultivated in this zero-mile manner is sourced from farms within the region, which includes organic eggs, fresh homemade juices, Speck bacon, as well as Wagyu and Chianina beef from specially reared grazing herds.
 
Fill up each morning with a breakfast feast, and head for the panoramic restaurant under the stars for dinner. Each recipe beautifully balances the mountain earthiness of the lodge’s environment with the lightness of the Mediterranean.

The indoor-outdoor saltwater infinity pool with a panoramic vista of the majestic Dolomite Mountains, luxurious spa cabins, and saunas in the pine-scented forest, make for a romantic slice of paradise.

With easy rail connections from Milan and Munich, and Innsbruck and Verona airports a mere two-hour drive away, this is an ideal gourmet spa escape – www.adler-resorts.com

Bookworm

Swipe Left on Scammers 

As a victim of cyber identity theft a few years ago, this one gets my vote! My images were stolen from my Instagram fashion page and used to create a false identity in the US, scamming vulnerable older men of thousands of dollars on mature dating sites during the time of Covid lockdowns. I had never subscribed to these sites but some victims and their children found me via my blog by utilised facial tracking on Google, thereby alerting me about my face being worth thousands, but not in a good way!

Intrepid author Caroline Hurry reports the following: In the shadowy realm of cybercrime, deception wears the mask of love, which is the best way to target human vulnerabilities.

These digital con artists are no amateurs ‒ they study their prey, honing in on their habits with alarming accuracy. Meet Amanda Singleton, who thought she’d soon be marrying a successful surgeon until she discovered, $10,000 later, that she’d been romancing a clone all along! 

Stella Firewall, author of Tales from the Cyber Crypt, says: “These heartbreak heists accounted for $956 million in losses in the United States alone last year. 

Pictured above: smarten up about cyber scams.

“Save yourself from potential heartache and financial loss. Before you swipe right on a possible love interest, or if you’ve never met your digital paramour in person, reverse-search their image using Tin Eye. Scammers impersonate real people who do not know their image was stolen for nefarious purposes. If it appears nowhere else, it might be AI. The same goes for conducting business transactions online.”

In a world where a stolen phone can spell financial disaster and even the most innocuous click can have disastrous consequences, it pays to be informed. For just Australian $1.50, learn how to fortify your defences and spot scammers before they can strike – https://mybook.to/CCRA

Sofa spud

Netflix

Einstein and the Bomb, 2024: worth watching, how Albert Einstein flees Germany in 1933 during Nazi persecution – they even took his violin. Based on facts from the archives, Aidan McArdle is a convincing Einstein.

Oppenheimer, 2024, deserved all its nominations and awards, and more! Cillian Murphy is perfectly cast, superbly supported by Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jnr, and Matt Damon. Tom Conti is a convincing Einstein too. Labelled the Manhattan Project, developing the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, which resulted in the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941.

Scoop is a 2024 release based on the now disgraced Prince Andrew’s embarrassing interview with Emily Maitlis of Newsnight in the 2019 expose on Jeffrey Epstein’s connections. Rufus Sewell delivers a mesmerising performance in the lead, and Gillian Anderson, I thought, creates an authentic Ms Maitlis. Billie Piper, Keeley Hawes, and Romola Garai up the ante in the supporting cast.

Monk – series: I’m enjoying bingeing this series from the start. Tony Shalhoub is brilliant as the OCD, PTS and possibly Asperger’s syndrome character. Always a sucker for San Francisco locations after falling in love with the city years ago, it’s visually delightful too. Oh, and the bad guys always get caught! Don’t you love that?

Inferno, 2016, the finale of Dan Brown’s trilogy, starring Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones, directed by Ron Howard, remains an action-packed binge.

Here Today, a 2021 movie starring Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish, is a heartfelt story about values, friendship, ageing, and dementia.

The English Patient is still a superb movie based on the 1992 book by Michael Ondaatje, starring Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Kristin Scott Thomas, Willem Dafoe, and Colin Firth. Breathtaking locations of Tunisia and Tuscany. I cried again.

Prime Video

Becoming Frida Kahlo is a worthwhile documentary released in 2023 about Frida’s paintings, writing, and often turbulent story about her legacy.

Equalizer 3, 2023, starring Denzel Washington, this time in Sicily, addressing the Camorra syndicate. Dakota Fanning, now all grown up, and the rest of the supporting cast deliver superbly.

Camille, 1984, based on the book about a Parisian courtesan by Alexandre Dumas, starring Greta Scacchi, Colin Firth and Ben Kingsley, is an oldie worth returning to.

Nancy Wake: Gestapo’s Most Wanted, a 2014 release. She was a New Zealand-born Australian spy in Paris during WWII. Based on real events, this was a captivating binge on the two-part series. The Nazis referred to her as White Mouse. What a woman, she saved hundreds of lives, leading some 7,000 Maquis troops in guerrilla warfare, claiming more than 1,400 German casualties. She lived to the age of 98 in London, and requested her ashes be scattered in central France. Her French husband Henri Fiocca was killed by the Gestapo after Nancy was ordered to flee France in 1943 when the network was betrayed.

The Lady Vanishes, 2013, based on Agatha Christie’s book, is worth a watch on Brit Box – I’ll be indulging in Agatha Christie movies for some time…

Layered style

It’s been said, the more clothes we have, the less we know what to wear. Mia culpa, chuckles…however, creating versatile outfits from good old basics, such as a black blazer, wide-leg white or ivory pants, denim, black pants, silk shirts, and ponchos, will result in us always having something to wear at short notice.

Then, there is a trend that has returned, and I’m delighted as I’ve seen summer and winter vests do the rounds since the late 70s. Not only are they ideal for layering, but also serve as a useful focus item when teamed with pants or a skirt – or even over a midi dress. I’m a big fan of the button-up vest on its own with pants or a skirt in summer, as it turns the most casual outfit into a class act. Worn over a sheer shirt, it elevates the look to next level chic.

Ah, and then there is the soft, warm, woollen vest, which creates a mood of luxe class, and when worn over a soft silky shirt, it makes a statement for any occasion. The knitted vest is also uber practical as it works so well when the weather turns chilly. Worn under a blazer or coat, it certainly keeps the torso snug and when we remove the top layer when indoors, it is comfortable as our arms are not overheating with that second layer.

I see plenty stylists advising their followers to identify their personality and find their individual style. I agree, to a degree, however, as we encompass so many layers and nuances of being a woman, being every woman, and pieces of her, I say wear whatever you’re in the mood for. Did I hear someone saying, “well hello Sybil?” Just ignore the asinine remark, we rise above it and embrace all our moods in style.

Feeling seductive but don’t want to be an obvious siren? Why not show your cougar side by adding gorgeous heels to a big shirt and skinny jeans ensemble, with a tiny peep of a lace camisole; wish to be the boss lady in the boardroom, even if it’s just a lunch, wear a silk shirt and blazer; in the mood for looking like old money in the country, wear a flat cap and a vest with jeans; feeling feminine but don’t want that Barbara Cartland vibe, wear a frilled shirt with softly tailored pants or a straight skirt.

Pictured above, styling for autumn made easy, with everlasting basics, including: a classic blazer, a cropped jacket, vests, ponchos, versatile shirts, soft knits, scarves and ponchos. No fluffy cat was injured in this shoot, hie…

Check your wardrobe before acquiring new seasonal items. Chances are, we often already have similar pieces in our closet as most of us tend to buy the same pieces and colours as we’ve already found our style basics, often without realising it. By unpacking the new season’s old wardrobe and mixing and matching the styles we’d like to embody for now, it becomes easier to decide which additional items we require to give our basic capsule style a brand-new feel and personality.

Cheers to living the good life and feeling fabulous – we owe it to ourselves to choose happy …


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