Living ‘The Good Life’ in an urban street

Julie and Andy Millard with their daughter Maisie (3)
Julie and Andy Millard with their daughter Maisie (3)

Supermarkets in all their convenient glory were soaring in popularity during the 1970s, so when sitcom, The Good Life, hit our TV screens, it is not surprising that it captured the nation’s imagination as an antidote to all that shopping ease.

Cheeky chappy Tom (played by Richard Briers) and his oh-so-cute, dungaree-clad wife, Barbara (Felicity Kendal), reject commercial and mass produced goods in favour of growing their own veg, rearing their own animals, bartering and generally turning their home into their own, self-sufficient island.

Nearly 40 years on, The Good Life effects are still being felt, with fresh interest now shown by many foodies in keeping their own veg patches, growing their own window herb boxes and generally trying to “eat local.”

Yet few are able to go to the lengths that good old Tom and Barbara did back in the ‘70s.

But Julie Millard, her husband, Andrew, 11-year-old son, Oliver, and three-year-old daughter Maisie, seem to have come close in Higham Ferrers.

They may live in a three-bed end-of-terrace home in a built-up residential area, but this has not stopped the “Good Life” reaching the Millard family.

Julie, who formerly worked as a manager on an alpaca farm, explained that she and her husband had ideally wanted to own a farm, but had now opted to do what they can with the space they have.

She said; “We aren’t completely self-sufficent but we are looking for land to buy. We have changed the garden to suit what we need to get out of it. We buy things like margarine and cheese and yoghurts, but I do a lot of baking as we get a lot of eggs from our chickens, and we sell the eggs as well.”

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As well as a barn owl named Barny, the family also keeps 27 quails, 15 chickens and rear their own Gloucester Old Spot and Berkshire pigs (although this is done from a friend’s land).

Julie said: “We grow 26 veg, on the last count. We do potatoes, sweetcorn, broad beans and runner beans; we have also done strawberries and raspberries.

“We have quails and we raise chickens from eggs. It was something I always wanted to do, I wanted the kids to see the progression from egg to chicken.”

Their latest venture is to start selling sausages made from the pork they get from the pigs.

Julie said: “I am registered disabled and sometimes need to use a wheelchair and have a condition whereby I cannot work, so we undertook to do the sausages as a way of me earning some money and working from home when I am well enough, but enabling me to leave it when I am not.”

As Andrew has a background in butchery, Julie explained, permission was gained from Environmental Health to produce the sausages from home... although the pigs are sent away to be slaughtered.

Julie said: “We do 10 varieties of sausages at the moment and hope to expand on that. We are trying to find some new recipes.”

The current sausage varieties include pork and herb, plain, farmhouse and Lincolnshire, gluten free and wild mushroom.

For more information on the Millard’s enterprises and to buy some of their sausages, log onto