Gillian van biljon (née Ferguson Daughter of Peter and Honor Ferguson) (2023)
It has been my lifelong dream to revisit the beautiful country of my birth and more importantly see, in person, the estate bungalow. I have kept some treasured photos safe in the event that I would be able to fulfil this dream.
My one wish was to bring my mum back to the country of her Birth as well but alas this was not to be.
I was born in the then Hatton Nursing Home in Kandy in 1963. My mother and father met in Sri Lanka, my father was the manager of Tillicoultry Tea Estate between the 50’s and 60’s. They had 3 children, myself my brother and sister. I do not remember Tillicoultry as I was 2 when we left but have always held it close to my heart.
My parents decided to immigrate to South Africa in 1965 due to various reasons and my father also started a tea estate in Kwa Zulu Natal. I planned a trip in 2019 but had to cancel due to unrest. My second cancelled trip was in 2020 due to Covid. In 2023 I at last managed to climb on an aeroplane from UK to Sri Lanka and had the best 2-week holiday of my life. Everyone that helped me during this time were absolutely amazing. It truly felt like this was where I was meant to be.
I was extremely fortunate to have contacted Horana Plantations and my email was forwarded to the CEO Johann Rodrigo and he incredibly kindly not only said I could visit Tillicoultry, but I could stay there for a few nights. Driving up to the bungalow was like I had found a part of myself that had been missing.
I had at last ‘come home’ and was treated with such kindness and care and for this I am forever grateful to all that were involved. I had a wonderful tea tasting and tour of Bambarakelly Tea Estate and even picked some tea leaves with the pluckers. My aim was to marry up photographs from 1965 and 2023 and I achieved this and more. My little fairy tale was followed closely by many people, and I know that they would love to visit this special country.
How well this beautiful bungalow and Estate has been looked after. Very little has changed over a huge 58 years. I will return, sooner than later.
Thank you, David Colin-Thome, Editor of the History of Ceylon Tea for also assisting me over the last four years with information since I first started planning my return to (Ceylon) Sri Lanka.
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