If it’s good enough for Tom and Barbara, it’s good enough for us…

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Rounding off the festival season for the summer, we spent the weekend in deepest Wales on the Hawarden Estate  for the Good Life Experience.

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Run by Cerys Matthews plus Charlie and Caroline Gladstone, it’s part music festival, part literary festival and a celebration of everything outdoors.

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Valentine Warner


The line-up included Gilles Peterson, Dr John Cooper Clarke, Ben Fogle, Jeremy Vine, Michael Morpugo and of course Cerys herself who was in conversation with Tom Hodgkinson from the Idler and whose hour covered an acoustic sing-a-long, poetry readings and a Q&A session.

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The festival also gave plenty of opportunities to try new food and new experiences such as axe-throwing, tree-climbing, ceramics and sausage-making, combined with Romanian folk bands and funky brass bands.

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Add to that some fantastic sunshine, and everyone had a great time. It’s so refreshing not to have to fork out extra to try activities including the vintage fun fair, meaning that children could go on the helter skelter, the chairoplanes and the swing boats literally ad nauseum.

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Also, there was no backstage area, which means you get to rub shoulders with the performers and we saw the organisers mingling and enjoying the performances as much as the punters did.

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Our highlights included Jeremy Vine’s anecdote-rich talk; Tom Herbert from the Fabulous Baker Brothers making sourdough bagels and Mark Shayler’s hilarious and passionate talk on why Britain needs to manufacture sustainable good-quality products. I was particularly taken with Ben Fogle and his passionate talk about being confident and not focusing on academic results.

We had a great time and can’t wait to see what next  year’s line-up brings!


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