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  • siobhanmdaniels

WHEN YOU GET SO MUCH MORE FROM A FESTIVAL THAN YOU ENVISAGED.


I had been booked to talk at THE BIG RETREAT FESTIVAL in Pembrokshire. https://www.thebigretreatfestival.com/ on the May bank holiday weekend, about my motorhome adventures, my book Retirement Rebel https://www.adventurebooks.com/products/retirement-rebel and my podcast RETIREMENT REBEL; Life after 60. https://retirementrebel.co.uk/


I knew it was a Wellness Festival, but to be honest, I did not totally know what that entailed. I am on this journey of finding my happy place in life and ageing the best way possible, so I was very excited to be taking part.

I decided to take my time travelling down through Wales. I hit upon a Gem of a campsite in mid Wales the GWERN-Y-BWLCH Caravan and Motorhome club campsite. .https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/wales/powys/gwern-y-bwlch-club-campsite/ It is between Snowdonia and Old Montgomeryshire, with splendid views across the valley.

It has no shower block but it has everything else you need to feel immersed in nature and to slow your pace of life down. The wardens have really created a little haven, where you can listen to the birds and walk around the grounds. It is also very eco friendly. I am taking part in a CAMC initiative, that links literary works with places and their campsites.

I love the Welsh poet and writer, Dylan Thomas, and this was the perfect place to reflect on some of his works, including the poem "Do not go gentle into that good night" and his radio play 'Under Milk Wood' that was commissioned by the BBC.


After two days recharging my batteries, listening to the torrential rain on my motorhome, which I find very calming, I headed off to make my way slowly to Pembrokshire.

I never tire of navigating the winding roads of Wales, with its lush green expanses of countryside and hills. It just make me smile as I drive along.

My mother was evacuated to Wales during the war and it was a place she loved. So somehow I feel close to my her as I make the journey. That warms my heart.

When I got nearer to the Festival site the roads got a lot narrower. At times I wondered if I had got the wrong route. Eventually I spotted the large flags flying, marking the entrance. If I am honest I was worried about getting stuck in the fields because the rains had not stopped for days. Thankfully it was not bad and I was allocated a nice spot not too far from everything.

Once settled into my pitch, I donned a high viz jacket and explored the festival site. Seeing the Yoga tents, sauna and ice baths, cooking demo stage, talk tents and the main music stage just added to my excitement.

I met a few ladies who were great fun. I opened up my gin bar in Dora the Explora and we ended up drinking gin and chatting until late.

Throughout the four days of the Festival I did several talks, the first of which was in the Ganesh tent.

I was very nervous and a lovely lady spotted that, and came over to me and quietly helped me calm my breathing down and focus. This was typical of the spirit of the whole festival, women and men supporting each other. Helping each other to get the most out of themselves and what was on offer. All around me people were on their own personal journey. This was a safe place where you could talk, listen, laugh, cry and learn new skills. I saw people come alive and have life changing moments on their personal quest for wellness.

I loved the sauna and cold water dips. I plumped for the 4 degrees celcius tank. I managed to stay in it for five minutes. The views across the estuary, as I was submerged in the icy waters, did help to calm and focus me. I felt totally invigorated.

I treated myself to a facial with Michelle at The Face Whisperer, she used crystals to massage my face and sound bowls to enhance the experience. It was truly amazing.

I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and took part in a jewellery workshop and made myself a silver ring, something that I am very proud of.

One of the highlights for me was seeing Gok Wan DJ. I was not convinced that it was going to be my thing, but I was curious.

I am so glad I saw him headline the Saturday night. The atmosphere was electric, he is brilliant. He got everyone on their feet dancing. I jumped for about two hours. The next day my knees where not happy.

I was on a panel discussion in the talk tent, about overcoming adversity, with Alex Staniforth, founder of the mental health charity https://mindovermountains.org.uk/?gad_source=1&gclid=Cj0KCQjw9vqyBhCKARIsAIIcLMH_gJLagEMOSxDqTqml-7RlQNVdu2Oyn65O78dfDGxMdfEUTrn97T0aAiEEEALw_wcB Mind Over Mountains. and

Carys Rees, a mountain rescue volunteer and founder of https://thisgirlwalks.co.uk/

we had a great chat hosted by Harrison, AKA Fellfoodie and author of COOK OUT https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cook-Out-Foodies-gourmet-outdoors/dp/1839811986

The audience was so receptive, it was a pleasure to be part of the discussion.

I had to have a hand from someone to get down from the stage because my knees were so stiff from dancing the night before.

That night I braved the pouring rain with some women who I had been hanging around with at the festival, to watch THE FEELING. Despite the torrential rain they drew a very appreciative crowd, who danced the night away. I took some Iboprufen before I headed out so I danced my socks off, for a second night in a row.

I was in the Talk Tent again on the Sunday, this time being recorded for the OUTDOORS FIX PODCAST WITH LIV BOLTON. https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-outdoors-fix/id1449415079 I loved it, she was a pleasure to chat to.


I loved listening to Ruby Wax, who talked so much sense about how we deal with mental health issues in our society. She was very open about all that she has and is going through, with regards to her mental wellbeing. She drew a big crowd, who at times made me very emotional, listening to their stories. Throughout the four days of the festival, I got to chat to so many people who filled me with joy and happiness. I cannot wait for next year's festival. I plan to sign up for far more yoga sessions and wild water swimming session.


I was thrilled with just how well my talks were received and by the fact that I sold out all my books at the book signings.

I drove away from https://www.thebigretreatfestival.com/ feeling like I had made some dear friends, as well as feeling totally rejuvenated and positive about life.

I reflected on the fact that, I took away so much more from the long weekend than I ever imagined that I would do. The icing on the cake was to find out that my podcast RETIREMENT REBEL;Life after 60 had been shortlisted in the International Women's podcast awards.



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