The Storytellers of fforest
"When you stay at fforest it makes an impression on you and you'll never be quite the same again."
We are celebrating a whole decade of welcoming people to stay, play and dream with us. From wedding couples to families of five, festival goers to conference holders, our spaces have been filled to the brim with happy people looking to simply get back to nature, to escape for a little while, and to make unforgettable memories. For us, reaching our ten-year milestone meant celebrating our guests, and so, we reached out to all of them, guests past and present, and asked them to tell us their own stories of fforest. With our request came dozens of responses; beautiful stories, memories and moments that are too good not to share. So below, we have gathered a few of our favourites alongside memoirs from the founders of fforest, James & Sian. We hope you enjoy this special read...
What is fforest?
In the second week Gather 2017 a little girl, I will call her Seren*, came with her mum and her aunt. Her mum was a single mum, and Seren was a very busy little girl. Probably, at times, too busy and a bit of a handful for her mum. One evening in the yard outside our little pub we were preparing local seafood nibbles for everyone to try. I was frying mussels in a tempura batter. You might ask why? And I have to agree that there is nothing better than freshly steamed mussels (we had those as well) Anyway, Seren wanted to know why, and what? and why and what and when and how? And who and where? I was busy, so I got her to help, putting mussels in the batter, salt on the mussels, handing little bowls around. She was busy. and calm. And still asking. Whenever I saw her after that she would ask what I was doing, how she could help and when she could, she did.
Over the years at fforest I’ve met a few little Serens and some grown up ones too.
I’m proud of the physical things. the buildings, domes, the places to gather, celebrate, relax, rekindle. The food we grow and provide, the adventure we create, and of course cwrw fforest, possibly our second greatest achievement. Maybe the best thing we have created at fforest is the most intangible. Time and space; to pause, to help, to care. A place where the tiny things that can make a difference sometimes happen.
At the end of Gather 2017, when Sian & I were leaving to go home, as we drove past the camping field, there was a tiny commotion in the shape of Seren hurtling across the field toward us. Her goodbye hug was very powerful for little thing. And she had a present for me, a paper lantern she had made in a workshop earlier that week. It hangs behind me as I write this in the boatshed where I work (and daydream).
*Seren is welsh for ‘star’
10 years of fforest.
10 years of meeting people and making memories with them.
10 years of a huge learning curve learning so many new things, creating spaces, to stay and be, sleep, celebrate, to explore and feel safe, nourishing mind and body.
We have met some really great people, worked with some really amazing people and had some truly fun times with a lot of laughter and stories shared.
Of course there have been a few close shaves and near disasters - the wind and rain and weather, cooking and cooks. But I haven't once regretted moving to this far flung edge of the coast, on the far west of Wales, with our boys from the middle of London all those years ago. Hospitality was never a thing we had done before, totally out of our realm of experience, so it was something we just made up, employing people who had never done it before either but were smiley and welcoming. We thought, "surely we can just learn the rest!" ...Were we mad?
What I love most is living by the sea and being near the woods. I love being in the countryside and sharing all the things we love about it: the best beaches and walks, how to make a fire without paper or fire lighters and only one match (mostly). I love the changing of the seasons and am slowly learning to appreciate the dark. The dark of night without a moon, the dark of the winter months when we start to slow down and hibernate. But mostly I love the light. To be outside for longer and marvel at spectacular skies.
Thank you everyone for believing in us and enjoying our fforest.