Broadcaster, musician and writer Cerys Matthews talks about her roots on the North Pembrokeshire coast and what inspired her to co-found The Good Life Experience
The place I return to again and again and again is North Pembrokeshire on the west coast of Wales. It’s a stretch I know particularly well, between St Davids and Fishguard. Part of my family’s from there, we go back generations, and my forefathers have carved initials into some of the caves in the cliffs in that area. It really is the stamp of my heritage, in a way.
It’s very exposed so there are not many trees, but what plants there are (bladderwort, thrift and all sorts of mosses and lichen that grow over the dry-stone walls) have this rugged stalwart nature that you just fall in love with and admire and respect. And you fall in love with the dry-stone walls as well as the cliffs – the mark that man has managed to make on this majestic landscape – and the way they co-exist. It’s a very humbling and inspiring place to be.
There’s this wide, wide sky and it never stops changing, so the quality of the light differs all through the day. There are rocks, kelp and detritus of the shipping from Milford Haven and Ireland – there’s lots of plastics these days. But, given all that, you can still find yourself on your own staring out to where Ireland would be – it’s only 50, 60 miles away – with that sea-salt air, 40-50ft cliffs and a sheer drop, gulls and the occasional seal and pup. It’s the opposite to a selfie – it’s time to look out.
Why did I found the Good Life Experience? I wanted just to start a festival for thinkers. The Hay Festival does a really good job of attracting brilliant authors, philosophers, experts and so forth, but I wanted to add a huge amount of activity and nature to that cerebral kind of event. What we’re aiming to do is take the best of all the festivals that I have ever been to, and then having it in a field about 10 minutes’ drive from Chester. It’s essentially a festival for the curious-minded.
The Good Life Experience takes place 14-16 September in Hawarden, Flintshire. For more details, visit thegoodlifeexperience.co.uk.