Ever fancied getting back to basics and living the good life?
Our Head of Marketing, Alex, went along with her husband and two daughters (9 and 4 years) to The Good Life Experience festival in Flintshire from 12 - 15 September to give it a go...
Where to start? The talks, the music, the workshops, the friendships, the food (oh the food!), the setting (like, wow!!), the campfires, the dogs, the (free) fairground rides?!
Actually, I need to start with a spoiler alert – it was fan-blinking-tastic. Right up my street (or country estate!). So this is more of a ‘why you NEED to go’ rather than a review or critique, so the spoiler is – don’t come looking here for any negativity!
Now that’s out of the way I should probably kick things off with a bit about the craft workshops, after all it is what we do and why I was so drawn to the festival in the first place!
Park Maker's Row
Screen printing t-shirts with Gail Bryson
It was so heartwarming to see making placed centre-stage of a festival about living the good life and getting back to what matters. There were two main areas dedicated to craft: Park Makers' Row on the lawn in front of Hawarden Castle, which included a whittling green and a dry stone walling project to build a Moon Gate, and Terrace Makers' Row, which was a tent filled with craftspeople by day and a disco by night. The dream set up!
We enjoyed screen-printing our own t-shirts, learning about Raku pottery, whittled a green woodwork spoon, added some stitches to a communal tapestry and even learnt some trapeze skills. My only complaint is that I simply could not (despite several variations of my excel spreadsheet timetable!) fit in everything that took my fancy. There was basketry, flower crowns, life drawing, weaving, needle felting, floral distillation, leatherwork, paper making, wood turning and more that I just didn't get near... next time though!
A highlight for me was the Happy Tummy Co Bake for good gut health food workshop.
Karen O'Donoghue demonstrating making sourdough
Sourdough flatbreads in the making
Cooking rye and teff flatbreads on the campfire
There were ALOT of other great sounding food workshops throughout the 4 days, from coffee roasting through to curing. Some you paid for and others were talks that you could just turn up and grab a seat around the campfire for. I got to see a sauerkraut session with one of my food heroes Sandor Katz. Inspirational.
There were a wealth of interesting talks covering all manner of subjects including poetry, preserving, preparing for death (more positive than it sounds), Cerys Matthews' (one of the founders of the festival) book launch and a great series of talks hosted by Mark Shayler focused on reasons to be cheerful. I particularly enjoyed finding out more about Gone Rogue from Kim Shaylor and the work they are doing to bring art to more people and the connection between art and wellbeing.
Kim Shaylor, Gone Rogue - Reasons to be cheerful
Sandor Katz - fermentation campfire talk
The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves too. We embraced the good life and collected, pressed and drank windful apples from the estate for breakfast, baked our own bread, enjoyed the vintage fairground, had a go at archery, visited the picturesque lake and made lots of friends. Quality time was in abundance and we loved spending 4 full days together camping and trying new things.
The festival was intimate, easy to navigate, incredibly clean and extremely welcoming to people of all ages and interests.
We particulary enjoyed how dog-friendly it was and got to meet lots of four-legged friends. I felt a bit left out without one... got to work on the other half ahead of next year (oh yes, we will be back)!
We left feeling refreshed, with our love of all things home-grown and handmade reinvigorated!
The dog show in full swing
If you're feeling inspired to try your hand at a new craft have a browse of the thousands of courses we list on our site all across the UK >