This year when I saw that the Good Life Experience was back, the lineup looked like it was going to be bigger and better than ever. Last week, I was given another opportunity to attended the festival and I wasn't disappointed. The brainchild of Cerys Matthews, Steve Abbott and Charlie & Caroline Gladstone, the festival is set in the grounds of the Hawarden estate in North Wales, just over the border from Chester. It brings together thousands of like minded folks: artists, performers, craftsmen, makers, talkers, thinkers and doers for three inspiring and engaging days in a beautiful countryside setting. This is the Good Life.
This isn't a music festival or a food festival, its a people festival and thats what makes it so unique. To paraphrase Steinbeck: The Good Life Experience is a dream place that isn't quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.
This year, the weather was kind to us, apart from a few drops of rain when were putting the tent up - we had sunshine for most of the weekend which made for a lot of outdoor fun. There's a lot to see and do over the three days - talks, demonstrations, workshops, live music, food and drink abound. Luckily we'd planned ahead and knew who we wanted to see and meet but our itinerary was quickly filling up. Despite the hectic schedule we'd laid out, I managed to rise early enough for spot of kayaking on the lake with Tim from Gather Outdoors on the first morning which set me up perfectly for the day ahead.
A big draw for people is that The Good Life Experience is a dog friendly festival which means George was on board for this trip too - he loves camping and with his veteran status from last year he knew what to expect and he was in good company with lots of whippet friends.
The great thing about this festival is that it's like your Instagram feed in real life, there were so many people who I had already organised to meet or recognised from following them or vice versa. I had the chance to catch up with friends old and new: with Alec from Trakke, Ant Oram, Tim from Gather, Rob and Chris from With Love, Michael from Best Made Co, Lewis from Couplands, The Bicycle Academy, Mark Shayler, Charlie & Cerys... the list goes on. A lot of Gin was drank and some exciting plans were made in the small hours of Saturday night/Sunday morning, everybody remembering those plans might prove a bit trickier though.
At night the site becomes electric with open camp fires, live music, food, beer and a fairground. The highlights for me were seeing Dr John Cooper Clarke perform on the main stage on Friday and Giles Peterson's DJ set on Saturday. There were plenty of food and drink outlets but the Black Cow saloon was the stand out venue and the vodka shots and cheese chasers took its toll on most people on Saturday morning.
When you've spent the weekend by the camp fire with some of the best people you could ever know, you certainly come back to earth with a bang on Monday morning. Only another year to wait 'til next year and I'm a already counting down the days.
Visit THE GOOD LIFE EXPERIENCE to book your tickets for next year now.