Image: Cerys Matthews photographed by Nenard Obradovic

Motherland: You’ve launched a festival. Tell us about it.
Cerys Matthews: I was talking with my friends Caroline and Charlie Gladstone, who live near us in Portabello in London. We were saying that the further into modern life we go, the more time we spend on-screen, the more we hanker after the exact opposite: getting our hands dirty, going off grid, going back to the old crafts, butchering, foraging, cooking on campfires, dealing with knives. We thought it would be brilliant to do a great festival with brilliant music which also had a big dollop of the good life. The Gladstones have beautiful green hills on their Hawarden estate in Flintshire in Wales, so we thought “right, let’s do it”.

M: So what’s on the agenda?
CM: This is the kind of experience every member of the family can enjoy. For grown-ups there is everything from an artisan beer collection – including the biggest collection of Welsh beer in one place ever! – and coffee masterclasses, to talks; and for the children, a vintage fair ground, donkeys, archery, axe throwing, and the music. The main activity day will be on the 20th but everyone is welcome to camp throughout weekend. In the morning there will be a freshly-cooked fried campfire breakfast and lots of fringe events in the local pub, the Glynn Arms. And there’ll be the best food you’ve ever eaten at a festival. It’s all just 45 minutes from Liverpool and Manchester and two hours from London.

The Hawarden Estate, Flintshire

M: You seem to effortlessly combine motherhood and a demanding career. Is it really that seamless?
CM: All working mothers know it’s a struggle. Very seldom do I come across a man who can manage as much as the working mothers I know. We get on with it; we wear different hats. Somehow food gets in cupboards; the fridge gets cleaned; the kids get to school and get picked up again. I don’t have a nanny at all at the minute. I just have friends who help to babysit, but it isn’t easy. I keep thinking ‘it should be easier than this’. I always wanted to be a mum. Having friends and family around you that you love, that’s the aim of it all at the end of life, isn’t it?

M: What’s the biggest challenge?
CM: These days our children are born with the word “consumer” on their T-shirts. We don’t have terrestrial TV in our house otherwise they’d be bombarded with adverts all the time. I’m pretty adamant they will be sheltered from that to a certain degree – or at least armed, given enough information so that they can ignore them and not just be a blind consumer. The more you educate yourself, the more you can make an informed decision about whether that gadget is what it said it is or whether that information is what it is said to be.

Seldom do I come across a man who can manage as much as the working mothers I know. We get on with it, we wear different hats.

M: How do you create the right balance?

CM: The more cultural crafts and skills you can offer children, the better able they will be to deal with what is thrown at them. The physics equation is true: to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If we’re all in small rooms looking into computer screens and gadgets all week how good does it feel to go run around and throw an axe; to go abseiling, camp, learn the guitar, have a gypsy dance? I like that idea for my children. My daughter’s a great cook – a much better baker than me, I have no patience – and I am adamant that all my children will be able to cook. I also like to teach them what’s edible; we walk around identifying sorrel, blackberries… even in London. People are sometimes horrified as my children walk up the road chomping on green things. I was taught it by my mum, her dad taught it to her. Now it’s my turn.

Cerys will be performing at ‘The Good Life Experience’ on Saturday 20 September. For more information or to book tickets visit 

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