I’m still catching up on a number of blogs from earlier in the year, but I’m pausing to write this one as I had such a great time this weekend!
Several months ago when my husband raised the question of attending a festival, I have to confess it wasn’t something at the top of my personal ‘to-do’ list, especially as he wanted to camp out under canvas! We eventually compromised (no tents involved, I need my own bed) and tickets were duly purchased. Fast forward to Friday 18th September 2015…and we arrived at The Good Life Experience in Hawarden at 6.00pm on a pleasantly balmy evening and a favourable weather forecast.
This is the festival’s second year. The Good Life Experience was founded in 2014, and it is curated by Cerys Matthews together with Charlie and Caroline Gladstone and hosted on the Hawarden Estate just a few miles from our home in Hope. Billed as a festival of culture and the great outdoors, it brings together an interesting mix of food, literature, music and performance, as well as a host of activities for festival-goers to try.
A well-thought out layout of the site, with sufficient food, drink (lots of local beers available) and clean amenities made for a great evening. The current Mr E’s initial reason for booking the tickets was to see the legend that is Wilko Johnson play the music tent. The warm up act was The Clameens, a young band from Derry who have recently released their first EP ‘Techno’. They reminded me of the Arctic Monkeys amongst others, and played their set with enthusiasm and energy and the audience loved them.
After a short break (and another pint of Purple Moose for my husband), the main event took to the stage. Wilko Johnson recently overcame a battle with cancer, but you would never have guessed. He tore up the stage and delighted the audience with tracks including Going Back Home and Roxette. An added bonus was his bass player in the form of Norman Watt-Roy from The Blockheads. The energy of these mature musicians leaves you in no doubt they still have not lost their passion for performing and leave you in no doubt of their zest for life.
Saturday brought one of those wonderful crisp autumn days, a chilly start, but with a bright blue sky and the promise of sunshine through the haze. Breakfast in the form of porridge for me and a bacon bap for Mr E set us up for the morning.
It was lovely wandering through the eclectic mix of stalls including a mobile bookshop (purchases made of course!), we were fascinated by the skills on show in Makers Row (dovetailing, weaving, enamelling t0 name but a few) and of course, no Saturday would be complete without our friends from local store, VOD Music – well there had to be a record stall in there somewhere didn’t there?
I tried a beginner’s yoga class…and left with a sense of well-being and a desire to find a regular class in the not too distant future. We listened to speakers in tents, watched cookery demonstrations, ukulele demonstrations, ate a little, and drank a little too…all to the soundtrack of people enjoying themselves.
There was of course, a distinct literary theme as well. The Gladstone Library, The Idler Academy Book Shop and Caught By The River all offered books on a variety of topics, all with the aim of living the good life.
In the afternoon, we listened to a line-up of speakers and musicians, including Gabrielle Drake, Daisy Vaughan, Nonny Denny and Jeb Loy Nichols in a session called ‘Nick Drake Remembered for a While’. It was insightful and moving and held the audience’s attention in its thrall right through to the very end.
A further wander saw us enjoy home-made ice cream, axe throwing and a little bit of Cuban music at the Cuban Dance tent, we weren’t brave enough to join in the dancing, but it was fun to watch people having a go and they were very good at it too!
We sat and listened to Daisy Vaughan’s set in the Caught By The River tent, it really was standing room only, as this young woman entranced her audience with original songs played on guitar, some in Spanish too.
By now, my feet were starting to feel as if they belonged to someone else, and shortly after the lively and very energetic Cuban Revolucionarios set in the music tent, I conceded defeat and called for our lift to pick us up and take us home…
But not before I captured the sunset…a fitting end to a wonderful day.
This morning I snipped off my bracelet (other commitments, so no visit today) and pinned it to the noticeboard by my desk as a reminder of a great couple of days which really was the perfect introduction to festival-going, family oriented, genteel, cultured, feel-good and fun. So from me just a huge thank you to everyone who took time to make it such a great experience.
Until next time