Awling England

Let the good times begin...

Let the good times begin...

Charlie Gladstone at the Good Life Experience 2019. Wearing the Original Walnut Brown and Brass Awling belt.


Once a year Charlie Gladstone, his wife Caroline, Cerys Matthews and Steve Abbott put on the Good Life Experience, a festival like no other. A melting pot of music, food, books, ideas, workshops and the great outdoors.


We stand back and admire Charlie effortlessly work his way around the Good Life Experience. He is stopped over and over again and each time he moves on, the person he speaks to is left with a smile. He has a warm welcoming glow and an uncanny ability to pass that warmth and energy on. He is an enabler, a people person, a believer, a doer and we were thankful to grab five minutes of his time.


The Goodlife Experience campsite


The Good Life Experience is a unique festival, a place to learn new skills, hear talks, go swimming, shoot arrows and more. At night you can feast on amazing food and party until late. It’s a few days of loveliness just as the summer is coming to an end. It feels like the closing party of the festival season, a last celebration and a chance to learn, party and play for one more long and glorious weekend.
Charlie strides to us arms open wide and a big smile on his face, this is our third Good Life and this has become somewhat of a pilgrimage. We sit on hay bales and chew the fat.


You’ll still be in the warm afterglow of another successful Good Life Experience - how did you feel this years went?

It was our best yet. It’s a labour of love and the afterglow is powerful when we have delighted thousands of guests.


How much time does Good Life take up compared to your other businesses?

I own and oversee a number of small businesses and engagement with them is constant. I do something for the Good Life Experience every day.


How many businesses do you have now and what do you look for when starting a new business?

Around 25, some tiny, some not so tiny. All they need is an idea, some guts, some energy and a line of credit to get them going and then they need great people.


If you could keep just one of them which would it be?

I can’t answer that because they are all deeply woven into the fabric of each other.

People eating and wooden wild swim sign at The Goodlife Experience

As well as an army of volunteers he also enlists the help of his six children to get stuck in, this year Xanthe Gladstone produced a three course dinner using seasonal and sustainable ingredients served in the Victorian greenhouse in the Walled Garden.


Do any of your children share in your entrepreneurial spirit?

Absolutely; I think you just pass it on. Probably, truthfully, the main thing that I have passed on is my insane work ethic. And I won’t get started on that because it’s all quite complicated.


What wisdom have you and Caroline tried to instil in them over the years?

Everyone is important; be your same civilised self with everyone that you encounter, whoever they are.


Two women watching a cooking display at The Goodlife Experience


Charlie always looks sharp, he isn’t one for following trends and he likes to wear what feels good to him. He’s been wearing the Awling belt now for a while and it was great to see him proudly wearing it for the festival.


And how are you liking the Awling belt?

It’s great; the kind of thing I’ll use forever. Sometimes I take my belt off to act as a dog lead (we have six dogs and I often forget one or two leads) and I know that this will contain even the most fiercely enthusiastic hound.


Do you have a go to outfit?

(When no one is looking I dress up as a nurse). When in public I don’t really have a go to outfit because what I do varies so much. I will dress quite differently for a lawyers’ meeting and a day in the fields for The Good Life Experience.

Evening time at The Goodlife Experience with a camp fire

How has your look changed over the years?

It has evolved endlessly. I always say to my children that interesting people will always look back and ask ‘what the hell was I wearing there?’ simply because they keep on experimenting.


And finally...what does style mean to you?

I believe that there is no such thing as taste or style per se, but, instead, there is confidence of style or taste.


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