The Good Life Society’s Summer Camps 2022

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The Good Life Society’s Summer Camps 2022

Camp follow-ups

Summer Camp is a series of events taking place over four weekends in July, put on by friend of Breed Tara Gladstone and The Good Life Society at Hawarden Castle in North Wales. Smaller and more intimate than other events put on by The Good Life Society, about 100 people get to spend a few days camping in a beautiful rural location, while enjoying talks, workshops and excellent food in good company around an open fire.

This year, Annie Atkins was among those running workshops – Creating graphic props for filmmaking – over the weekend of 15-18 July. She was in esteemed company, as others taking part included Sir Ranulph Fiennes, chef Thomasina Miers, Pippa Middlehurst (aka Pippy Eats), and Holly Tucker, UK Ambassador to Creative Small Businesses.

Breed founder Olivia Triggs also attended the weekend of 4-5 July, before Annie, and below, both she and Annie give their impressions of this year’s camps.

Here’s Olivia on her experience:

Annie Atkins was booked and scheduled for one of their July weekends, so I wanted to head over and experience a Summer Camp ahead of her visit.  

Big moments included meeting The Good Life Society founder Charles Gladstone in person, after what we worked out was over five years of emailing each other…  and, of course, meeting the team: Tara and Will plus Charlie’s wife Caroline. A huge amount of work must go into organising these summer events and what makes it work is having such a passionate and hands-on team. They are the ones who really make the magic and it’s inspiring to see. It was good to be back at Hawarden, the last time was 2019 for one of their larger festivals. This had a completely different feel – small and intimate, for 100 people only.

Hearing Sir Ranulph Fiennes talking on the first night was amazing – I had booked this weekend mainly due to him speaking.

I was camping in a bell tent, in the beautiful old walled garden, surrounded by box hedges and with the luxury of a z bed, pillow and a mattress, a lovely relief after a few nights camping on the route up to Wales, at Ludlow and Oswestry. 

Fresh coffee on tap and a bacon sandwich each morning just a stone’s throw away.

I tried multiple workshops over the three days, including print-making with Laurie Avon, foraging, wine tasting, and natural dying with Nellie & Eve.

Two end-of-day Qi Gong classes up at the old castle with Mark Shayler made it complete, with the wellness area Camp Zen a magical spot to gather, all organised by Purab Kohli.

Other highlights for me were the sunshine, a swim in the lake, log fires, a reintroduction to drinking cider, and a dance on Sunday night to the tunes played by Atsushi Hasegawa with his old French vinyl.

We asked Annie what she made of her weekend:

Did you know anything about The Good Life Society and their Summer Camps before you were invited this year?

I had heard rumours about the summer camps – I’m from North Wales originally, so these things get talked about. I’d heard that they were running “micro-festivals” of only 100 people, so there’s plenty of seating, food, comfort, and pristine actual bathrooms for everyone on site, no queues! My kind of festival, if you ask me…

How did your workshops go?

The workshops were fun. Being outdoors at a festival means it’s more of a relaxed atmosphere than the workshops I run in my studio. We did some hand-lettering exercises for drawing signage for film set design, and I got some good questions. I’m a chronic over-sharer anyway, but I probably spilt a few too many beans about the film industry this time! 

Did you take part in any of what the Summer Camp offered outside of your own workshop?

I was travelling with my children, so my partner Neill very kindly gave me an afternoon off to go and get the most amazing shiatsu massage underneath the shade of an old oak tree.

Were you camping on the site?

No, we stayed at the nearby Gladstone Library which was a treat. I would love to have camped, the bell tents looked glorious, but having a little baby with us meant we needed some boring bedtime rituals in place so we had to shirk off.

Do you think you’ll be coming back in future, either to take more workshops or as a punter?

I hope so!

Photo credit: Marcus Brown

Our thanks to Tara, Will and Charlie.