The Good Life in the 21st Century

Are we living “The Good Life” at GlenMyu Estate, Beragala, Sri Lanka in the 21st Century?
This is something that I have thought about often as I strim the lawns & pathways around the 5 acre estate in anticipation of our next guests.
For me, it’s very important to keep the grass height. At a low level to make a walk around the land an enjoyable experience. It also makes the Estate look fabulous and me particularly proud of the work.

The Good Life - the sitcom

British sitcom “The Good Life” consisted of 30 episodes running from 1975 to 1978. As there were only a few television channels in the UK during the 1970’s and 1980’s the hit series was rerun often. 

The Series starts with the midlife crisis of Tom Good, a 40 year old plastics designer. He and his wife Barbara attempt to escape from the “rate race”. The couple try to become self sufficient in their suburban house in Surbiton (a neighbourhood in South West London).

They change their gardens into allotments to grow fruits and vegetables. Tom and Barbara introduce chickens, pigs and goats into their garden. They try to make their own electricity, clothes and sell and barter their produce reducing the amount of money they need.

Their neighbours, Margo and Jerry, are horrified by what Tom and Barbara are doing next door. This is where a lot of the comedy for the series is generated. They are often placated by the Goods very strong homemade wine.

An enjoyable watch.

When I watched the repeats of the sitcom in the UK and I remember finding it a little bit boring and frustrating as a young child who preferred his comedy in the form of cartoons.

The Good Life - GlenMyu Estate, Beragala, Haputale, Sri Lanka

My wife always dreamed of owning her own farm in the mountains, having animals and being self sufficient.

I must admit, I don’t remember her mentioning this to me over the years we have been together, until we settled in Sri Lanka.
We had met in London and I always understood that Ru wanted to move back to Sri Lanka to spend more time with her parents as they get older.
Maybe I wasn’t listening at the right time!

Showing our guests around GlenMyu Estate on the garden tour.
The House at GlenMyu Estate, Hotel and Bed & Breakfast, Haputale, Sri Lanka.

Did you plan this?

I had never aspired to become a farmer however, there appeared to be a movement during ones “middle age” contemporaries of ours moved out of London for a more suburban or rural life.

Every so often I read in various newspapers, magazines and articles about professionals leaving the “rate race” changing career to something more artisan and moving to the countryside.
I read books about people moving to France, Italy or Spain and renovating an old property and starting their own business. I watched YouTube videos of renovations of old farmhouses in France and Spain.

It was an attractive idea but I questioned my confidence to enter into a new venture after being part of an institution and system for so long

A special song.

A song replayed on repeat in the back of my mind which gave me some impetus in part to consider a change. “Rat Race” by the Coventry Ska Band “The Specials” really did resonate over the years.
I was however, very thankful for the experience, lifestyle, opportunities and so many more things that my career had given me. There were lots of good times over the years, great colleagues and clients that made the commitment worthwhile.

Changes made me look for a change

As with most industries, things change and some of that enjoyment (in the good old days) are not there anymore.

I also was aware that if I did not make a change my health would deteriorate.
Every morning I would go to the gym before work, sometimes have a session with my personal trainer and try to change the results of the bad habits I had picked up over the years.
Too many lunches with clients, drinks with colleagues at the end of the day and exploits after playing rugby on a Saturday had taken its toll

Decision made - lets go.

Once the decision was made to relocate to Sri Lanka it was quite a relief that I didn’t have to do the commute to work and all that a day in the office entails.

It was scary. Having been used to the comfort of collecting my monthly salary to having no pay and trying to live off savings it was a large ask. This was the big test. Can we change from being employees to working for ourselves?

Fast forward 6 plus years we have managed the challenges and struggles to create a small business that allows us to pay our way.
The huge task of building a property, managing a 5 acre estate and dealing with all kinds of contractors in a new country was something that nearly broke us. We could see why the couples that built their Grand Designs Homes were under so much stress and endured the levels of frustration trying to build their dream homes.

Challenges - but worth it.

Sri Lanka has had its’ challenges as a country whilst we have been here and it will continue to do so for some years to come until it can get itself back on its’ feet economically

However, we love it here. 

Are we living the Good Life?

My wife and I do feel that we are living the good life.

We have a collection of ducks, chickens, dogs along with a cow on the estate.
There are a variety of fruits and vegetables that we are growing that helps to feed ourselves, our workers and the guests.
Any food waste is composted or eaten by the chickens or the dogs.

Let's be creative.

Ru has been very creative in the dishes we eat and serve to our guests using as much as we can from the land. We do not add any chemical and pesticides to what we grow so are as organic as we can be. Our diet has changed to one based a lot on the convenience of meat in the UK to a more plant based diet. We eat some chicken and fish occasionally however are fully satisfied with the delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes we create.

If you look at our food menus you should get a grasp of the idea.

Mainly plant based but....

We do serve chicken or fish dishes to our guests if required but we have found that most people are really happy with the plant based dishes we offer once they have tasted them.

It is great that wee have learnt so much about farming and operating a small bed & breakfast business over the last few years.  Howver, we continue to learn.

We love meeting guests which adds so much to our Good Life.

Welcoming guests and getting to know about their lives back in their respective countries adds so much value and interest to our lives. We have met people from different countries that have different and interesting professions that we would not have met in our lives in the UK.

Would we recommend the Good Life?

Well, for us, this was the right time in our lives to make the change. We also think it is inevitable for the benefit of the planet and all who live here. More people will need to carry out some of the concepts we are practising. Some are already doing this. Composting food waste, eating mainly organic, turning to a plant based diet and planting more trees.
Since we have been living in Sri Lanka we have reduced our consumption, partly as a lack of choice available in the supermarkets, but also because we feel that we don’t need as much.

Less consumption is more!

Both of us were never wanting the latest Apple I-Phone, a new car every year or the hippest fashion. The environment where we live has meant that we don’t need new clothes as often due to working on the land and on the farm.
We are too busy for our time to be consumed by the amount of television that we watched in the UK. That being said we do watch some TV and series every so often.
Our wine consumption has reduced as it is quite expensive being imported so we are a little bit more healthy.
We no longer spend hours at a desk looking at a screen as we have work to do around the property. It has the benefit of us feeling physically stronger (especially walking up and down the hills).
My wife used to fly quite a lot for work and this is an experience that she does not miss.
We both have much more interest in the environment, trees, plants and what food we can grow locally.

In conclusion.

So, in conclusion, if you are able and it is the right time for you, we would highly recommend it.

If you are interested in visiting GlenMyu Estate and experiencing the Good Life in the Sri Lankan Hill Country please visit our website to find out more.

GlenMyu Estate
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