A shared vision
Life isn’t defined by what I can’t do – it’s about what I can do. If you’ve got the right attitude, you can more or less do anything. It’s all about looking at the small things that create something important for you. At The Good Life Experience, everyone is seeking the same thing: a more meaningful life. It was great to see people together, joining in and getting along. It did feel like I was part of a big family there. Even though I'm in a wheelchair, I didn't have many problems getting around the site. I met some other people in wheelchairs and chatted to them for a while – they’d been a few times before. The only problem is mud if it rains, but that’s the same for everyone!
A taste of the good life
Sometimes the simplest experiences can be the best. One of the highlights of the festival was sitting around a fire, cooking some kebabs. There was a man called Ambrose who kept a fire pit going, and anyone could bring their own food along. It’s all so sociable. The festival is a great place to wander, looking at the stalls and artworks, and see all the little things going on – like people whittling spoons or throwing axes. It’s a lovely atmosphere.
Words and music
We caught a good mix of performers. Jnr. Williams, on the Saturday evening, was great – a very soulful singer. We managed to see some storytelling and spoken word, including a talk by Helen Sharman, the first British astronaut. Her story was inspirational. We also got a chance to see the poet Mike Garry, who gave a passionate performance with musical backing.
Echoes of history
I really admire what Cerys Matthews and her three co-founders have achieved with the festival. I met her on the first day, and she talked about how they’d started it from scratch. She is so knowledgeable about the history of the Hawarden Estate and the area – Flintshire was the scene of many battles. I found it fascinating, and it's given me inspiration to learn more about that chapter in our history.
A glorious setting
Hawarden is set in a beautiful part of Wales, and driving to Flintshire for the festival was lovely. Often people drive through this part of wales on their way to the north east, so it’s a bit under-explored by visitors, but easily reached from places like Llangollen – an amazing town where I spent some time earlier this year – and Chester, over the border in England. The Hawarden estate itself is so scenic, especially down by the lakeside. It was once home to British Prime Minister William Gladstone, and his descendants still live in the house.
Small is beautiful
The organisers aren’t planning to make the festival bigger each year. They pride themselves on keeping it small and accessible. I think sometimes, when things get too big, they can lose sight of what they were intended to be.
When I get the chance to go to The Good Life Experience again, I’d like to spend the whole weekend and camp in one of the pods there. There’ll be more chance to have a few drinks, try more of the great food and chill out.