September has been busy month for the Hepple team with two amazing Welsh festivals which have kept us away from the office and prevented us from keeping our journal up to date!
We split ourselves between The Good Life Experience in North Wales and Abergavenny Food Festival in South Wales with Valentine Warner gallantly racing across Wales on Saturday evening from one to the other!
The Good Life Experience
The Good Life Experience was created by Cerys Matthews who, with co-founder Charlie Gladstone, wanted to develop a festival like no other. The big idea, Cerys says was “that we want people to leave having tried out a new skill, adding a bit of physical activity to the usual line up of music, literature and food.” So at the Good Life there is axe throwing, abseiling and wild running, campfires and foraging, sourdough and sausage making workshops, mass sing-a-longs, comedy, talks by explorers, poetry and music and a 1930s fairground. It’s just a little bit quirky – like us.
We built our Hepple Bar complete with Northumberland stone and moss and blackcurrants and douglas fir on the roof. From the bar we served tasters of our gin and lured people into the Gin Palace where they could buy Hepple cocktails including one designed for especially for the Good Life Festival Cup with raspberry syrup, vermouth and Countess Grey tea, we also had our classic Gin & Tonic with a Douglas Fir rim and Southside Orchard with green tea, mint and apple juice.
[Hepple at The Good Life Experience]
Photo: Vic Phillips
The laid-back bar was bustling all weekend with people including Cerys Matthews enjoying our comfy straw bale sofas and stopping for a chat over the bar. We were really lucky to be entertained all weekend with music from the Caught by the River stage just next door, their artfully curated programme was the perfect backdrop to the weekend and Caught by the River’s founder, Jeff Barrett popped in out of the bar on a regular basis to refill his glass!
Abergavenny Food Festival
120 miles south at Abergavenny we had a busy food-filled weekend surrounded by over 200 stalls selling amazing food and drink from Wales and beyond – Trealy Farm charcuterie, Black Mountain smoked salmon, wasabi grown in the watercress beds of Hampshire and some fantastic local ciders. Abergavenny is the place to be in September if you love food and drink with some of the country’s best food and drink producers and prestigious chefs and food writers visiting.
[Valentine Warner] We kicked off the weekend on Friday evening with a gin cocktails masterclass from Hepple’s co-founder Nick Strageway in the stylish surrounding of Homes of Elegance. Nick’s masterclass was booked up months ahead and the room was packed with people who’d come to learn how to make gin cocktails at home and sample some along the way!
On Sunday Valentine’s fish cookery demonstration was also packed! The focus was on cooking fish – but not without a bit of plug for Hepple gin and several of the audience hot-footed it straight to the bar to try a cocktail and buy a bottle to take home.
The sun shone all weekend and a gin cocktail was just what people were looking for so the Gin Palace which we shared with some other distilleries including Warner Edwards, Sibling Distillery and Chase was packed all weekend. On Saturday evening the marketplace came alive with live music and street food and a real festival vibe.