As a child, when I read, heard and watched fairy tales it was always with a British accent. Mostly English, but occasionally Irish or Scottish. I was convinced, and movies seemed to back me up, that when Europeans congregated they all spoke English with an accent straight from Oxford. With that in mind, I assumed that all fairy tales were from the British Isles. From the Grimm Brothers to Hans Christian Andersen, all of them were from the English countryside. It stood to reason. Castles were in Britain. The Queen was in Britain, so it had to be true. Years, schooling and research have disabused me of that belief on an intellectual level. But in my heart, fairy tales have an accent.
So, it was with great joy and more than a touch of whimsy that I set off on my vacation to the Lake District and Edinburgh (also the reason that I’ve been so negligent with my blog. I don’t believe in internet in fairy land) hoping to have a fairy tale adventure. The countryside did not disappoint. I walked fells and through pastoral scenes that would make an shepherdess feel at home. I trudged through forests and scrambled through ghylls that held perfect hiding places for the fairy folk and maybe a wolf or two lying in wait for Red Riding Hood. I even walked through the world of Beatrix Potter, who although isn’t strictly a writer of fairy tales, is still a staple from my childhood reading menu.
Edinburgh was more gothic and therefore more Grimm, but in the nicest way possible. I climbed castle towers and ramparts almost expecting knights to lay siege. That may have been the whiskey haze, but I could see it. Swords, spears, and a stone of destiny were mythic, yet close enough to touch. Mary, Queen of Scots was like Rapunzel in the tower at Holyrood.
This was not my first trip to the UK, but since starting my blog and committing to being a writer, it felt like a new place. Every corner was a literary opportunity and I could understand why I thought Britain was Fairy Tale Land as a child. I’ll admit that this post sounds like a long digression on how I spent my summer vacation, but I thought it was important to share the most important thing about fairy tales. Why we love them. Why we read them. Why they’re the stuff of dreams and nightmares. Please remember, dear reader, what matters most about fairy tales…