When I was growing up I used to watch re-runs of the British Sitcom ‘The Good Life’ (The Good Neighbors in the US) but back then I had no idea that as I grew older I would identify more and more with the characters in it. Inspired by the lifestyle of Barbara & Tom Good and growing up in the countryside of the Lake District meant that I was always outdoors, spending time in the family garden, eating home grown produce, horse riding, cycling and living a pretty good life. However, a part of me also wanted some of what Margot had. I saw her as having fine food, a well stocked booze cabinet and expensive clothes. Moving to the City to study a Design Degree the good life was soon behind me as I focused on the joys of being a student, continuing my education by taking a Masters in Software Development I was going more and more down the career path. When my career took off I wanted to be Margot even more, status symbols such as nice cars and hobbies such as clothes shopping became my life, but then something just happened and I naturally started to be drawn back to my old lifestyle.
In 2002 I moved just 6 miles out of the city to a more rural location and applied for an allotment. The location really is the best of both worlds, having the countryside on my doorstep and the City only 20 minutes away. Since then Barbara and Margot have been my alter ego’s. Unlike Tom Good who left the ‘rat race’ on his 40th birthday to live a completely self sufficient life with Barbara I am still in the rat race and sometimes even enjoy it. So how can I achieve the best of both worlds and will I be able to sustain both? Unlike Tom Good, I don’t have my mortgage paid off or live in surbiton with a huge garden I can convert, I need to work to pay my mortgage and the bills. However, I don’t believe the work I do is in any way unethical or pointless so there is no problem there but at times I do feel like a living contradiction.
I know my dream is to once again live completely in the countryside and own a small holding, but to get there I need to work hard and I need to avoid burn out along the way. Achieving both and maintaining work-life balance without overdoing things is difficult and therefore I use the best parts of what I learn from my job to improve efficiency at home to allow me time to switch off and achieve balance through my other interests. So far it seems to be working pretty well, however, I’m still improving many areas of my life and this is what I intend to share on my blog.