Tales from the A1: The One With The Shrine to Shopping

My new project at work requires a new commute, straight up the A1. 3 hours on a Monday, 3+ hours on a Friday. This road is a fairly maligned road, and people generally don’t have anything much nice to say about it. I thought that, seeing as I have to do this drive no matter what, I may as well liven it up as best I can. To that end, I’ll be stopping at a new place along the A1 each week and writing about what I find there. Sometimes I may choose the place based on careful research and planning, sometimes on a whim. I can’t promise it’ll be interesting. But it will all be true. Also see: {Part 1} {Part 2} {Part 3}

Some things make you take a faltering step and consider humanity, the fate of civilisation and the role you play in it’s downfall. Today was one of those days, because I visited the Shrine to Shopping aka the Macarthur Glen Outlet Shopping Centre. It’s just off the A1 outside York, nicely fulfilling the key criteria for my visit.

The tall, abbey-like glass windows and vaulted ceilings give a sense of grandeur to the place. I realise that, unlike the outlet centres down south, this outlet centre is entirely indoors. Inclement weather happens more up here, I suppose. 

The wide corridors lined with familiar names stretch out before me, and I notice the alterations stand nestled between tailoring behemoths. Sure, your bargain might not fit, but don’t let that worry you. Just pay a bit more and we’ll fix that right up for you.

I decide to visit a high street staple, Next, in the hopes of finding a nice top or something. I’m intrigued to discover that they sell special clothes here, made especially to be sold via the outlet. That seems a bit contrived to me. I find the section of normal but reduced clothes, and eventually find one thing that I might try on. I’m just debating whether it’s worth the effort of getting changed for when I realise that there are no fitting rooms. Well sod this for a game of soldiers. I huffily put the likely-too-short trousers back on the rack and leave.
I wander over to Joules, for which I have a gift voucher. Just as I’ve gathered an armful of nice-looking dresses, I’m informed that I can’t use the voucher here. I can in the other Joules shop just around the corner, though. I begin to question the logic behind this, and then decide it’s probably not worth it. I decide I may as well try on the dresses anyway. At least there’s a changing room…
The dresses either don’t fit or look a bit strange – one notably makes me look like a walking humbug – but this is par for the course when outlet shopping. So I breeze straight on to the next Joules shop. I pick out two things to try on, neither of which work. I now begin to get a bit cross. I have a voucher! I need to spend it here! The voucher won’t stretch to anything in their full-price stores! This is a swindle! Grumble grumble.

I make myself do a second lap around the shop and, lo and behold, find enough navy and stripy things to spend my voucher on. I leave, feeling smug. I beat the Curse of the Voucher! Go me.

Then I realise that I’ve become temporarily distracted by the heady allure of spending free money, and have in fact Bought Into It, this whole outlet shopping experience. As I walk out of the vaguely ecclesiastical vestibule, looking out over sweeping aisles of trees and vast car parks, it hits me. This is the epitome of the materialism that’s probably going to be the death of us all (save some epic virus or the zombie apocalypse) and certainly the death of the planet. Why do we need to buy so much stuff that this kind of facility exists? What do they matter, these navy stripy things I’m clutching triumphantly? How and why did I get so consumed by the need to spend?

And then I got in my car and drove away, because some existential crises are just too much on a Friday afternoon.


Linking up with Bonnie for Travel Tuesday


  1. Kelly Michelle
    31st August 2015 / 12:53

    I find the outlet stores in the UK to be a real disappointment…in NZ and OZ they hold all last seasons goods and it’s great as you can score some great bargains…shopping in the UK is pretty pants. Why would you make crappy clothes just to sell in a outlet store…it makes no sense to me at all?!!


    Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes

    • 1st September 2015 / 11:42

      Yes it was a generally baffling experience. The special outlet clothes was the final nail in the coffin really! Maybe I should hold out judgement until I’ve visited some outlets in NZ and OZ then…!!

  2. 1st September 2015 / 11:18

    I just love everything about this. I love the idea of making the most of a situation. Most of all, I really loved that ending paragraph. Fridays are not meant for such things!

    • 1st September 2015 / 11:44

      I’m glad you liked it! Agreed, Fridays are meant for chocolate, and not much more. Sometimes my brain just needs to learn when to let it go!

  3. 1st September 2015 / 16:32

    I loved this! Actually laughed a few times. I feel myself getting caught up in all this way too much, but always try to sit back for a sec and ask myself…. “do I really need to be spending all this money?” This past year I’d say I’ve definitely converted to spending the majority of my money on experiences and not things! .. Hopefully I can keep that up 😀

    • 2nd September 2015 / 10:50

      I know! Sometimes I just get a moment where I think, how ridiculous is all this?! I’m with you on the money on experiences thing. I have hardly shopped at all this year and it’s been fantastic! I can’t promise I’ll stay off the bandwagon forever but right now it’s working well.

  4. 2nd September 2015 / 01:45

    I like the idea of making the commute interesting by stopping at a new place. I like that idea a lot. I do not have a long commute but think I should put more effort on vising new places. Hope you find interesting stops.

    • 2nd September 2015 / 10:52

      It has definitely made the whole thing a lot more bearable. I always neglect to properly explore places that are actually the easiest to get to, so I thought I’d fix that!

  5. 2nd September 2015 / 08:52

    Hi Rachel. I had recently learned this too, that the most of the outlet clothes are made for the outlet. I wasn’t that surprised because I find it hard to find much nice at outlets, but I agree that it sucks. Still, this looked like a nice stop for you on the A1. York <3

    • 2nd September 2015 / 10:51

      Hello! It’s something I hadn’t even considered would be a thing. It’s just so weird as a concept! It does explain the lack of good clothes, though. It was a good stop (mostly for the food though…) but perhaps I’d do better in actual York next time!

  6. 5th September 2015 / 16:29

    Sometimes I amaze myself by how much I spend on outlet retails too. It’s like the work itself tells you to buy because that is the only place to get the best deals ever, aaaah I’m a victim of my own profession (marketing)

Leave a Reply

Just so you know, I reply to comments via email so we can continue the conversation. Catch you in your inbox!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *