In early September The Goodlife Experience went live and having an early bird ticket I brought the year before I headed to North Wales to take part. The festival is a combination of music and bushcraft/slow living with an intention of upskilling people and bringing together a community that wants to have knowledge beyond their office and how to do a powerpoint presentation. Tickets are now on sale for 2017 and I guarantee you don’t have any plans that weekend! So lock it in, sort out your accommodation, get your mates to come and follow my tips for a great Goodlife Experience.
1. Bring your dog. The festival is located on the Gladstones Farm which is part of the Hawarden Estate. This is the estate that Prime Minister Gladstone lived and built his private library at. It is country living at its best and the open space meant that dogs are very welcome. There were plenty of working dogs including Springer Spaniels and Labradors but there were also Chihuahuas, Irish Wolfhounds and my favorite Wired Haired Sausage Dogs socialising and enjoying plenty of pats.
2. Sign up for workshops. There are so many things to learn at The Goodlife Experience and in order to try and make it fair all the craftspeople holding workshops would only sign people up an hour before the start time. In my experience this actually meant you should queue 30min before the sign up time to guarantee a spot. My favourite activity was learning to carve a wooden spoon with Grain & Knot. This was a lot tougher then I thought it would be and I was a slow learner but the end result was a spoon that I am now using in my day to day life.
3. Spend time in Chester, Wales. Chester is the main town only 30mins away from The Goodlife Experiance and it has all these beautiful Elizabethan buildings, cathedral and roman wall to explore. It also has a great mix of shops being a key town in North Wales including everything from Primark, M&S, The White Company and Cath Kidson. On the day I was there the local deaf choir was performing drawing crowds and making lots of people smile.
4. Support local businesses. The local town of Hawarden has a couple of little shops, three pubs and plenty of B&B’s in the local area. Make sure you spend some time in the town purchasing your essentials like chocolate bars from the local post office and lunch from the pub. The staff are locals and incredibly proud of their part of the country (as they should be) and are more then happy to chin wag and give you some tips.
5. Layer up. We were incredibly blessed with fantastic weather and there was no rain or need to wellingtons. It does get chilly though once the sun goes down so some layering of jumpers, long sleeve tops and jeans are a must!
6. Wander & Plan. Contradictory I know! I do recommend going and knowing beforehand what talks you really want to hear and skills you want to learn. However, I also ended up doing things, speaking to people and enjoying activities that I didn’t plan to do just because I wandered past and joined in.
7. It is kid friendly. Kids are everywhere and The Goodlife Experience must be such a fun place for them. There is a castle play area, hug hill to climb, giant swings, blackberries to pick, corn fields to wander through and more. Kids are encouraged to try anything and learn how to do things like use knives and climb trees with ropes all sensibly and with maturity.
8. Try everything. You won’t know what you are good at until you try it and many of the activities are free or just cost a small amount to participate in. I learnt to throw axes, surprisingly easy once you know how and archery which made me feel like Robin Hood! I carved a pumpkin, jumped in a harness and learnt to climb trees and started a fire from scratch. So many life skills that I want to take away for the future.
9. Talk to people. Every one is so relaxed at The Goodlife Experience and I found lots of people open to have chats. This worked out well for me being there on my own. I met a man who is currently walking across North Wales, 250miles, 10 per day and the festival was him ‘taking a break’ from the trip! Another group had come together for a families 60th birthday and spent their days at the festival to learn new skills.