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Fancy nature bathing?

It's been proven that taking time to 'bathe' in nature will improve your mood and health. And this literary festival celebrates all that...pass me my loofah!

Heard of ‘Forest Bathing’? It’s the trendy phrase that’s been bandied about a lot of late. And, just in case you’re unsure, no, it doesn’t literally mean having a bath in a wood. The phrase, which originated in Japan, simply means immersing yourself in nature. Sorry, put your bathrobe away!

Reseach has proven that ‘shinrin yoku’ or ‘forest-bathing’ the calming, restorative power of simply being in a forest, out in nature or among trees is one of the most effective things you can do to improve your mood and health. Seeing as modern life is often a tangle of traffic, technology and stress the theory makes obvious sense (even if the name might be daft). And how better to immerse yourself in all things wholesome than a literary festival that celebrates the natural world?

The Wealden Literary Festival, pictured above, is a chance to unearth some of the magic of the natural world and celebrate our relationship with place through literature, arts, crafts and food as well as creative workshops and hands-on outdoor activities. Set in the enchanting Boldshaves Garden, near Tenterden in the Weald of Kent, this is a real family-friendly event – with FREE entrance for all children under 14 – woo-hoo! There’s loads to keep the kids happy – from storytelling and art classes to woodland-based activities such as bushcraft, foraging and wildlife spotting. Let’s lather up and take a look (yup, still running with that theme).Basically the festival brings together renowned authors, poets, artists and makers who look first and foremost to nature, wilderness and the spirit of place for inspiration. Celebrating its third year this year, the festival is run by young husband and wife team Laura and Andrew Willan.

Can they sum up the event for us? Sure can, Andrew says: ‘We hope, through the programme at Wealden Literary Festival, to nurture the links between people – and in particular children – and nature. We believe that nowadays all too many people lack the means to engage in any meaningful way with the natural world. We also believe that with improved access to nature comes a desire to cherish and protect it. The natural world provides a wealth of opportunities for learning, creativity and discovery which the Festival embraces.’ Hear, hear, we say. And, can you point me in the direction of the nettle gin tent, please?

The author line up includes Diana Henry (award-winning food writer, journalist and broadcaster) and Lucy Mangan (author of Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading which discusses the best-beloved books that shaped our lives and who will no doubt inspire a future generation of bookworms) – worth going just to see these inspiring women alone. The festival offers a programme of talks, click here to see, lots of opportunities for all ages to take part in creative writing and art workshops, as well as all the interactive outdoors activities. It also showcases the best of local craftspeople and food producers through a pop-up market, art exhibitions and displays.

So, screens down. Time to soak your soul in a bubble bath of all things nature-related (accompanied with that nettle gin obvs). Get tickets here.

Tickets start at £10 for a workshop or £45 for an All Day Pass on Sat or Sun (children under 14 go free). Boldshaves Garden, Woodchurch, Ashford, Kent TN26 3RA, Tel: 01233 860302, wealdenliteraryfestival.co.uk

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