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The Good Life Experience


01 Feb, 2018



From adventurers to farmers to journalists to wellbeing experts and more, our speaking line-up is filled with inspiring talks. Here are some of the people who will be speaking at The Good Life Experience in September, and stay tuned as there is lots more to be announced.

In 1993, Dave Lory joined the team working with an exciting new singer named Jeff Buckley, just as he released his first EP. Lory got to know his new artist by joining him on a solo tour of the West Coast. It was the start of a tight working relationship and deep friendship that was rudely cut short in 1997 when Jeff walked into the Wolf River in Memphis for a late evening swim and never came out.

'From Hallelujah to The Last Goodbye' covers key scenes in Buckley’s short but explosive career, the first solo tour, the first visits abroad, the making of his brilliant sole album, the wrangles with his record company, troubles with his band on the road and the struggle to make a follow up album. It climaxes with the week after his tragic swim and how Lory managed the sudden death of a friend and client. Lory and co-author Jim Irvin have interviewed many people who knew Jeff intimately -including The Good Life Experience co-founder Steve Abbott- and have never spoken about their time with Jeff since that tragic day 20 years ago. You can read an extract from the book here.

As well as presenting numerous hit TV programmes, Ben has rowed the Atlantic Ocean, crossed Antarctica on foot, run across the Sahara and crossed the Empty Quarter on camel. He has published a number of best-selling and Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild is now in its sixth series. Ben was recently appointed UN Patron of the Wilderness, and will speak about his forthcoming book about Everest at The Good Life Experience.
Photo: Nenad Obradovic

By Day, Gavin is a Senior Designer for the Interactive arm of Aardman Animations, by night he's a Designer & Director going under the alias of JamFactory, indulging in all manner of passion projects. In 2015 he co-founded the contemporary design store 'STRANGE' with his wife Jane and he wrote his first book 'Do Fly - Find your way. Make a living. Be your best self', published by The Do Book Company. With advice, encouragement and a reminder that life’s too short to not pursue your passion, whatever your age or position – from school leaver or graduate just starting out to CEO ready to head in a new direction, Do Fly will inspire you to change your perspective and revamp your mindset, to develop creative side projects, to stay optimistic and resilient and to discover skills and passions you never knew you had. 

Giles Andreae is the creator of the stickman bard, Purple Ronnie, and of the philosopher/artist, Edward Monkton. With over 100 million greetings cards and 3 million books sold between them, these iconic characters have made Giles the country’s top selling living poet. Giles is also one of the UK’s most popular children's authors, with over fifty bestselling and award-winning titles to his name, including Giraffes Can't Dance, Rumble in the Jungle, Commotion in the Ocean and recently Be Brave Little Penguin and I Love My Dinosaur. His children’s titles have sold in excess of 7 million copies worldwide.

In a period of meaningless mass manufacturing, our growing appetite for hand-made objects, artisan food, and craft beverages reveals our deep cravings for tradition and quality. But there was a time when craft meant something very different; the Old English word cræft possessed an almost indefinable sense of knowledge, wisdom, and power. In his new book, historian, archaeologist, writer and popular broadcaster Alex Langlands goes in search of the mysterious lost meaning of cræft. Through a vibrant series of mini-histories, told with his trademark energy and charm, Langlands resurrects the ancient craftspeople who fused exquisite skill with back-breaking labour-and passionately defends the renewed importance of cræft today.

Alice Holden, is one of Britain’s most pioneering female growers, has spent her life outdoors working on small and large scales – from the kitchen gardens of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage to commercial farms. Currently she is head grower at Growing Communities, an award-winning social enterprise in Hackney, who run an organic box scheme, farmers’ market and urban food production sites. Alice is author of 'DO Grow - Start with 10 simple vegetables', and we are excited to welcome to The Good Life Experience for the first time in 2018. If you have ever wanted to grow your own but think you don’t have the time, the space, or even know where to start, this talk is for you. Alice will help optimise the space and time available to you – even if it’s a window box and 10 minutes a week.

Having been in love with the wild world since childhood, James Wood spent many years developing his skills and knowledge of all things “wild” from mushroom paper to elder berry salt. James is now seen as one of the UK’s top foraging and wild food experts, he’s on a mission to share this knowledge and show people that wild food is something we can all forage, prepare and enjoy. James is the author of “The Foragers’ Cookbook” and has featured on both ITV’s Countrywise and BBC’s Countryfile, his team supplies some of the top restaurants in the UK and he has personally developed the first ever foraging qualification. 

Photographer Rob Evans and brand designer/art director Chris Roberts are the story tellers behind With Love Project. Their first road trip, seeking out makers producing things with passion and purpose culminated in a brilliant book and film 'The Backbone of Britain'. Rob and Chris hit the road again for book two, this time meeting meeting inspirational food and drink producers and tasting culinary delights. For The Love Of Food is out now.
Photo: Arran Cross


Andrew White is one of the country’s leading writers and broadcasters about walking – but don’t ask him what it’s like on the top of Ben Nevis… or Scafell Pike.  He has been to the top of Snowdon – but on the train.  Andrew’s passion is actually for shorter walks – ones which are designed to get the most people outside and discovering the Great British Countryside. As the presenter and producer of the TV series Walks Around Britain, Andrew has walked all across the British Isles, from the Channel Islands and the Isles of Scilly to the Highlands of Scotland, discovering walks with stunning views and fascinating stories – but all between 2 – 8 miles.  Always at the heart is a desire to inspire more people to go walking. He is a regular writer for magazines such as BBC Countryfile, Walk, BRITAIN, Coast, Discover Britain, RAIL and many others, as well as writing and researching the last three editions of the AA Guide to Yorkshire and several other walking guide books.

Sensitivity is messy. It is inconvenient. We think of it as a weakness, yet 20% of the population are 'highly sensitive'. If you are not highly sensitive, you definitely know someone who is. At The Good Life Experience in 2018 Hannah Jane Walker will ask if sensitivity has helped us evolve, has had a purpose historically, why only now we see it as redundant. In a time of political and social division, Hannah brings a community of people together to ask if we can use our sensitivity better, if we can change the story, if it could in fact be our greatest strength.

Hannah Jane Walker is a theatre maker and poet. She makes interdisciplinary work that engages people who feel theatre and literature are not for them. She makes work that asks big naive sounding questions. She makes work that creates real-life human encounters in a room, that connect her to the audience and the audience to one another, by weaving stories and poems and humour and emotion.

Peckham-based social activist Joshua Coombes has been patrolling London’s streets for three years, offering a free haircut to any homeless person who wants one. The 30-year-old listens as he snips, noting the names and stories of individuals routinely ignored by society, then posting their mini-biography -and 'before' and 'after' pictures- on Instagram.'That’s why I begin every post with: ‘This is Stewart… this is Martin…’ Coombes says. 'That’s the first thing: let’s give them their identity back. Then I hit rewind and tell their story.'

The Devon-raised former punk guitarist launched a social media campaign, #DoSomethingForNothing, which encourages others to do as he’s done: give over something, anything, to help people less fortunate. He’s now active in 10 countries, hair-cutting while sofa-surfing, his tonsorial trips funded by non-profits, charities, and brands. Meanwhile, others have been inspired by #DoSomethingForNothing. Jade Statt, a Hertfordshire veterinarian, has launched Street Vet UK, which cares for homeless people’s dogs; Chris Leamy, a Wall Street banker by day, has an evening gig going out and playing guitar for homeless people; and Paul Avila distributes Walkmans and headphones to the inhabitants of Skid Row in downtown LA.

Dan Kieran is co-founder and CEO of Unbound, the world's first crowdfunding publisher. Before that he was a Sunday Times Bestselling author, publishing twelve books. He was Deputy Editor of the Idler for many years and still writes occasionally for The Guardian, Times, Telegraph and Die Zeit.

Dan started Unbound with John Mitchinson and Justin Pollard back in 2011 to find a new way to publish books. Six years on and he is finally using it for a book of his own. It's called The Surfboard, and it's about a week Dan spent with James Otter in Cornwall building a seven foot surfboard even though he had never surfed in his life. Interspersed with the story of making the board Dan tells the story of what the last six years of his life have been like starting and then running a company. Dan went to Cornwall to build the board at a point in the businesses evolution when he felt he had reached the edge of what he was capable of achieving within it. He had to find a way to push beyond the preconception I had of what he could do. And find a way to do it that was consistent with his personality and values.

Kay Ribbons Steen will talk about the unique benefits practicing mindfulness in the woodlands can bring to our holistic wellbeing both to adults and children. Sharing her incredible journey, which started with a walk in our own Billbery woods, Kay will share how being mindful in the woodlands transformed her life. This will be followed by a guided walk on the Estate, where you can experience mindfulness for yourself. Kay is passionate about reconnecting  with the natural world and has led barefoot walks, delivered eco-therapy sessions, trained in social forestry, environmental conservation and now runs our popular natural play sessions, at the Hawarden Estate Farm Shop.

Stay tuned for many more speaker announcements, and in the meantime, get your Early Bird festival ticket here.

A weekend of discovery + adventure, music, food, books + the great outdoors