On Friday we travelled to Wales for The Good Life Experience festival, organised by Cerys Matthews and Charlie and Caroline Gladstone. Camping overnight on Friday night, we spent the evening sitting in front of a roaring fire, drinking beer, surrounded by other festival goers. It was a special start to a wonderful weekend.
On Saturday, following breakfast cooked by the staff from the Hawardian Estate (who were universally friendly and hard working all weekend, a real highlight) we set off to discover the delights of the main event. Wandering across the campsite field towards a towering candy-striped helter-skelter, I was already feeling happy vibes coming my way. We started with axe-throwing, at which, to my dismay, I am rubbish. Then onto archery—a mild improvement in my skills there—before entering the main field.
We’d arrived early enough to sign up for a spoon carving course with EJ from Hatchet + Bear, but decided not to, having already spent a wonderful day this summer carving with her, we thought we should give other folk the chance. I suspect that there were many people disappointed at not getting the chance to carve, it was such a popular activity–something I’m sure the organisers will realise for next year’s event. And also something I will bear in mind for my own Makers Day, if I have a wood carver along! We did have big bear hugs and a laughter-filled catch up with EJ though—we definitely need to get ourselves along to one of her two-day events next year.
One of the wonderful things about going to events is meeting new people and in this case, a very lovely and funny trio of bloggers— Annie from Manneskjur, Cerys from Mascara & Mud and Emma from Tales of a Greenwood—who had me laughing all day. It was a really lovely thing to do and I hope we get chance to meet up again.
The festival seemed to get better and better as the day went on, and afternoon turned to evening. Poetry from Musa Okwonga and Murray Lachlan Young was both moving and funny and we ended up dancing until goodness knows what time with CC Smugglers and Paprika, both of whom were fabulous. I also loved the London Bulgarian Choir, a talk by James Greenwood on riding horses around the world (far too inspiring, I’ve already made a plan, much to poor Stephen’s horror!) and chatting to folk such as Anthony Oram and the people from Best Made Co. and Beer Bods. And I missed so much more!
One of the things I didn’t do was take lots of photos I deliberately left my camera at home, so most of the photos you see here are from the super-talented Annie, and huge thank you to her for letting me share. I’m clearly a terrible blogger because the site was a photographer’s dream… All I took was a late-night dancing photo, which you can see here!
More than anything, this festival felt like a private party thrown by some fantastically creative and inspirational friends that I was privileged enough to be invited to. It was small enough to keep seeing the same faces, meaning that you could continue conversations-especially true during the campsite breakfasts–which was utterly lovely because it felt like we were all part of something. Including members of the Bulgarian Choir!
We finally left on Sunday, after listening to Bruce Fogle’s talk on his time as a vet. My lovely boyfriend thought I’d said Ben Fogle and was disappointed until he realised two things. One, that Bruce Fogle is a fantastically engaging speaker, who we could have listened to for ages, and two, he’s also Ben’s dad…
I loved The Good Life Experience, and completely recommend it to you for next year–something they’ve already confirmed will be happening. And if you do go, then make sure you camp for the whole time. It’ll definitely be worth it. I’ll see you there!