On a previous visit to Glastonbury last year I had seen the signs to Clarks Village but assumed it only sold Clarks shoes. Further investigation this year revealed it was more than an outlet selling shoes and was in fact a factory outlet village. The Village is well signposted and there are car parks at various locations around the centre. Because it is always busy you may have to look for a place to park plus you have to pay for parking which in my eyes is a no no for an out of town location. There are well known brands and shops represented with plenty of restaurants and cafes to take a break, which you will need if you are into retail therapy. There is a play area for small shoppers and a carousel. If you are in shopping mode then this is a place to visit which is open 7 days a week.
There is, is there not, an ever-ongoing Celtic revival? In fact I believe we are currently living through the revival of the last revival's revival. Personally I have long been particularly partial to things celtic - well, up to a point. I admire Celtic artistry and design, am in awe of the beautiful Lindisfarne Gospels, am too polite to mention the ancient Celt's predilection for sacred headhunting but am aghast that so many Americans seem to think they are born of Republican Catholic 'fighting Irish' stock. My own ancestry does indeed go back to mediaeval Ireland (so there!) but our chums across the water ought to be aware that the majority of Irish emigrants who ended up in the USA were in fact Protestants. But I digress...
If you like things Celtic then you'll love this. There are celtic books, celtic bookmarks, celtic teatowels, celtic t-shirts, delightful celtic hats that your average woad enrobed tribesman would not have been seen dead in, and absolutely grim celtic baseball caps that in one fell swoop have united both the cultured and philistine in one unholy alliance. Basically there is something for everyone and rather more attractive items than one might expect.
THERE IS HOWEVER ONE TEENSY WEENSY PROBLEM. The lady owner has now relocated to the Isle of Iona in Scotland. Start swimming now chaps!
What to buy: A train ticket to Scotland and a swimming costume.
Clarks shoes are well know in many areas. The original factory for Clarks was near Glastonbury in the town of Street, just to the west. Now it is an outlet store mecca.
The main attraction is the Clarks store. Here you will find a mother lode of shoes for women, children and men at discount prices. They have a regular shoe store also for current items at regular prices. If you like Clarks shoes and are in the area, this stop is very worth your time.
The outlet mall has may other shops as well. My wife picked up a purse she loved at Tula at a good price.
What to buy: Shoes and just about anything else.
It's the name that gives it away. This rather charming shop front hides an array of stones; not perhaps the Rolling Stones although some of the stones within would undoubtedly roll if they were sanded down and given a slight nudge. No, this is the shop for semi-precious gemstones, crystals, and the jewellery which encompasses them. If you are a pedant for a pendant or have a crush on crystals then this is the place for you.
I was particularly delighted to see a number of crystal-hewn wands. Rather attractive in a smartly stumpy way but perhaps an item for the more well-to-do wizard as they are dotted around and above the three figure mark. Perhaps your first spell should be something to do with the turning of base metal into gold? An excellent choice of craft items on display including angelic stones and eggs! I wasn't actually aware that angels lay eggs but as they have wings perhaps I should have investigated further...
What to buy: A crystal-clear purchasing choice!
One of the things I really love about Glastonbury is it's marvellous array of curious and quirky shops. Needless to say, much of what's sold isn't readily available on your local High Street (not unless the accursed Tescos has introduced a 'buy one get one free' offer on love potions) and each shop door brings a fresh opportunity for the visitor to experience unblemished delight or bemused cynicism...or quite possibly both at the same time. Some shops verge on the seedy, others on the gaudy, others can even exude a certain mysterious malice but this one has it just right. In my opinion it is, without doubt, the most enchanting shop in the village.
Doubtless this is down to the intriguing and artistic displays of handlabelled jars, packets and candles on offer. For there is something attractively alchemical about it all. Almost as if Boots the Chemist had been taken over and consumed by the Harry Potter franchise. It's all beautifully done and the scents and soft music that fill Star Child simply combine to make it a perfect package. I was also taken by the rather accurate description of my good and bad character traits on my starsign candle. Well, me and all the billion other Sagitarii on the planet!
Incense, herbs, infused teas, essential oils, gums and resins - it's all here. Also tinctures. Yes, tinctures. A favourite word of mine.
What to buy: Something that comes in jars.
What to pay: How much can you afford?
There are some shops whose names are a disappointment from the word go. Woolworths for example is not overflowing with worthy skeins of wool and W.H Smith's has very little to offer the modern farrier. However the Goddess and Green Man breaks the mould by offering up exactly what it promises on the shopfront. Of course you wont find a couple of gods serving behind the till - well they weren't cashing up on the day I was there - but you will find the place staggeringly stuffed with almost every other kind of manifestation of their image. Diaries, books, cards, statuettes, and various ornamental and ritualistic objects. You know, I'm pretty sure that the place used to be Goddess-free but as Glastonbury is World HQ for the Goddess movement, the poor chap was bound to have to make room sooner or later.
Personally I have always had a soft spot for the Green Man ('er, purely platonic of course!), and for reasons even I don't quite understand, I purchased a mask representation of said spirit from a talented American craftsman last year. Alright, I do have my 'odd' moments so feel free to flip through to snap number three to share my wife's sheer disbelief...
What to buy: Possibly avoid saying 'Have you got anything that doesn't feature the Goddess or Green Man please?'
What to pay: From little to much
There are many many shops in Glastonbury that cater for your inner or outer witch but this one is rather delightful. The scattering of gothic garb is enough to make of those of us who lived through the New Romantic period beam with recognition. There are of course the usual array of candles (Glastonbury would be hellish for anyone with a wax allergy) cauldrons and staffs, a smattering of do-it-yourself spells (mostly the love potion variety, so nothing likely to frighten the vicar), and plenty of modern 'aged' receptacles and deeply symbolic jewellery not yet available from H. Samuel. Best of all the lady behind the counter actually thanked me when I left...and I hadn't even bought anything! This is normally the sign of a splendid establishment but she might simply have been glad to see the back of me...
Delightful little shop within the grounds of the Chalice Well Gardens. Selling everything from water to remedies, stained glass to jewellery...and chocolate.
What to buy: A bottle of Chalice Water for it's spiritual and magical properties - or for the sceptical but thirsty amongst you, simply purchase for an unusual but quenching mouthful. In addition there are some rather nice gift items hidden amongst the normal array of tasteless bits and pieces. Everything from water to chocolate, stained glass to jewellery and chakra flower essences to Holy Thorn remedies. Each to his own...
What to pay: Nothing for the well water, pence for the bottles, pounds for the remedies etc etc
I despair at the advent of the plasticized mass-produced shop fascia. It's blandness appalls and persuades me that everything within will be mind-sappingly tedious. It is normally so.
On the other hand I delight in the preservation of individual shop fronts and characterful shops - Courtyard Books certainly has that appeal. The trouble is, there are so many odd shops in Glastonbury even the extraordinarily individualistic starts to blend into a haze!
What to buy: Probably best not to go looking for "Offroading - get your 4x4 and go!" or "Fast food - the misunderstood industry". I'm not saying you wouldn't stumble across them (please God, don't let them really exist!) but this really isn't the place to look. What should be perusing are series on spellcasting and incantations, papers on the paranormal, chapter and verse on corn circles, encyclopedias of the esoteric.
Obviously this isn't the only place for odd and occult books in Glastonbury, and here I shall insert a word of warning. For aongside those of us charmed by books on fairies and folklore there are others seeking serious volumes about witchcraft and demonology; not subjects I'd personally wish to explore. If shops have them they often put such tomes in separate 'protected' sections - in case they don't and you have inquisitive children with you, do watch what they pick up!
What to pay: From little to much...
There are CDs aplenty in Glastonbury - the odd specialist shop, some shops with odd specialist bits within, some odd shops with special CDs you cannot be without.
What to buy: If you are into the unusual or the ethereal you have come to the right place. From digeridoos to wind chimes they'll have it. From plainsong to whalesong this is the place to find it. From recordings of old folk music to recordings of odd folk musing - look no further! You could spend hours gazing at countless CD covers wondering what extraordinary stuff awaits discovery within. I did, but my wife stopped me in the nick of time...
What to pay: Normal CD price for abnormal CDs. More for the obscure, most for the rare and collectible.
It would take me many years to list all the shops that sell crystals within Glastonbury. In fact it is easier to name those that don't sell 'em - Woolworths, Alliance Pharmacy...dash it, they sell bath crystals!
What to buy: If you love crystals you'll love Glastonbury for they are as much a part of the New Age enlightenment as the oft played whalesong cd. All types and sizes are on display, some simply ornamental, others for affixing to your magic wand and yet more astrally tailored to suit an individual buyer or a particular purpose. For a Gift of Nature they are surprisingly expensive. Go hopefully but with supplies of cash...
What to pay: It is hard to be crystal clear. From the cheap and cheerful to the especially extravagant.
This is a selection of shops in a little courtyard found off by going through an opening off the main high street. The shops consist of many really pretty crystals, candles there's a little bookshop & a small cafe. It's a really nice place to have a browse around.
Glastonbury with all its "vibes" is a mecca for those looking for New Age things. All along the High Street are shops selling books on anything from native tribes in North America to how to heal your budgerigar. The smell of incenses and the sound of bells comes against you wherever you open a door :))) If you are the slightest interested in your star sign or just need a book on how to relax in your hectic life, Glastonbury is where you will find it all. Walking around town, you will also see many B&Bs specialised in organic food or even whole retreats where you can book yourself in for a week "finding yourself" or getting massages.
Lots of shops selling merchandise and festival related goodies at inflated but not rediculously inflated prices. Many weird and wonderful items that you'll never find in the street.
Many shops also sell legal highs. If you looking for a less than legal high you should note that drugs are not allowed and you can be kicked out for having them (although in reality you take take as many drugs as you like in full view of the security and nobody will care...it's a bloody festival!) If you're after some don't worry, someone will offer you something soon enough.