I don't blog very often (you will have noticed that..) but my recent weekend at The Good Life Experience so resonated with much of my work-life philosophy that I felt drawn to write about it and share some photos. Grab a cuppa, sit back and relax for a few minutes...
Spending time outdoors with good friends and good food, dancing and discovering new music, stimulating debate, and finding quality products from British craftspeople that will last for years - these are all important parts of my good life. Here are some of my festival highlights:
For a start, the weather was gorgeous all weekend, which meant long days and evenings sitting outdoors enjoying the sunshine, the sunsets and those big blue skies.
Lovely weather also meant for easy camping. George (the camper van) was parked up next to the festival site in the Scout campsite, which was spacious, peaceful and amazingly well-equipped with toilets and showers. We parked next to a huge tree, and watched dogs and small children play underneath it with leaves and twigs. The weekend was already looking like a winner before the fun had even started.
The music was a treat. In best festival fashion, the most exciting and enjoyable groups were the ones we just happened across. Just walking past the main stage for example, we were drawn in to see the Booka Brass Band, who were just terrific. We bought their CD after the set and had a very jolly drive back home with it playing on LOUD. Other musical highlights were Friday night dancing with Geordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys (ditto the CD) and the delicious Sunday lunchtime treat of "Recomposed": by Max Richter, performed by Mari Samuelsen and the 12 ensemble.
Alongside the very groove-worthy Booka Brass, were plenty of other chances to dance too, including the super-fun Swing Patrol dance class.
A good festival always needs good food of course and the Good Life had plenty of that. I loved all the dahls (yes I did try them all), there was the best goats cheese I've ever had, the coffee was awesome, Calon Wen's frozen yogurt was a revelation and their cheese was deliciously tasty. And then there was just a little bit of alcohol... there were cocktails (mine's a Honey Whisky with FeverTree Ginger Ale please), Tincup whisky in the woodland bar, and Black Cow vodka, served up in the wonderful honky-tonk Black Cow Saloon.
In between the music and refreshments we also went shopping. This was really unexpected, as I'm not usually interested in shopping at festivals. But the quality and practicality of the products for sale by the small-scale vendors was exceptionally good. I love my new iron wok from Netherton Forge and we bought enough magazines and books to provide several months of quality reading and inspirations for new things to make at home.. I was particularly pleased to see Cambrian Wool there, who are working to help sustain traditional upland farms and rural communities in Wales by making Welsh wool popular and sustainably processed in the UK.
There were interesting talks throughout the weekend too - we particularly liked the very entertaining Mark Shayler on "what is Britain for if we don't make things?" And the whole site was decorated with a beautiful aesthetic - see photos below - making it a feast for all the senses.
A good life experience indeed. And dog-friendly - hooray! Big Sky's dog is still struggling with his travel anxiety problem so missed the fun this year but fingers-crossed for next year. In a society that seems to be becoming increasingly dog-unfriendly, this festival was an exemplar of how festivals really can be for a whole family.