It’s hard to know what to do right now. After three months (or more) of being confined to our homes most of us are desperate for a change of scene, but international holidays are risky and some areas of the country are so overwhelmed with visitors that they aren’t being that welcoming. I thought I’d write a post for those of you are thinking of coming to Glastonbury, illustrated with some more of my series of portraits of Glastonbury shopkeepers.
Glastonbury is welcoming visitors!
Glastonbury has been welcoming pilgrims for a millennia, most of our High Street shops and businesses depend on our visitors to survive. Many of you come back again and again and have become part of the family. You will find a warm welcome here, providing you treat others with respect and kindness.
The shops, cafes, pubs and bed and breakfasts are nearly all open. The last couple of weekends have been busy, but not so busy that you will find yourself queuing for hours to get served. We have less international visitors than we would normally expect in August, so it should be possible to find accommodation. Bear in mind that if you book direct with accommodation providers you will make a substantial saving over booking with Air Bnb or booking. com. I suspect that the ‘summer season’ will be extended this year so do consider coming after the school holidays.
You will most likely find buskers on the High Street and busy pub gardens, sadly you won’t find the colourful processions and big gatherings for which the town is famed, however, there’s still plenty to keep you entertained here. The town’s attractions are mostly open and observing social distancing, you can go up the Tor or into the Abbey, St Margaret’s Chapel and Almshouses and Chalice Well Gardens, while the Rural Life Museum is reopening on the 12th of August. If you feel like venturing out onto the beautiful Somerset Levels you’ll find the Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath nature reserves open – a flat and easy three mile cycle ride from the town. The Glastonbury Information Centre in Magdalene Street is open to give you help and advice on your visit. The White Spring remains closed presently. Best to check individual websites for updates as things are changing daily. The public toilets in town are open and there’s a couple of handwashing stations too.
The Glastonbury business people I’ve spoken to are taking their responsibility to keep our visitors and their staff safe seriously. Shops have been arranged to facilitate social distancing, there’s screens and bottles of antibacterial gel everywhere and everyone is doing extra cleaning. The Mendip district has seen comparatively few cases of the virus, so we are probably at more risk from visitors than you are from us. Because many of us haven’t been personally affected by the virus, visitors from parts of the country where vigilance has become the norm may find the town a little too relaxed, while others will appreciate the places that are trying to create a vibe that is a bit more ‘normal’. It’s a case of doing your own risk assessment and choosing which places you feel comfortable frequenting.
The rules are the same in Glastonbury as they are in the rest of England, the shops will appreciate you wearing a mask unless you are medically exempt. Some are choosing to wear masks outside as well, others aren’t. I have heard reports of people giving their unsolicited opinions regarding mask wearing (pro and anti), sometimes rather forcefully, this is unfortunate and really rather rude. Personally I find refusing to engage in such conversations the best approach.
There are plenty of walks you can enjoy in the countryside all around the town, they’re in the fresh air and they are free!
Getting here and getting around
We had a lovely couple of weeks where the High Street was pedestrianized and parking in most of the Town’s car parks was free, sadly this did not last, so I am afraid we are having to do our best to not get too close on the pavements while remembering not to step out into the road. Until Sunday August 16th there are road works on Bere Lane (A361) and Magdalene Street which is making the town difficult to navigate by car. However, you can still park in St John’s, Butt Close and Silver Street Car Parks. Please don’t park in residential areas, you may save a few pounds but you cause enormous difficulties for residents. The Tor Bus is not running at the moment.
I hope you’ve found this information helpful and perhaps reassuring. If you would like more information on visiting the town please join We Are Normal For Glastonbury for access to the Visitor’s Guide I’ve prepared. I haven’t updated it for these Covid times, as things are changing so quickly, but you will find the vast majority of the advice in it still relevant.
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If you can’t come to the town right now but want some Glastonbury magic in your life please buy a copy of my book of mostly amusing, sometimes serious, observations of life in the Town. Now available in paperback for £9.99 or as an eBook for £3.99. (Almost) guaranteed to have you laughing out loud. Makes the ideal gift too! Find out more.
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