I'm still immersed in wedding preparations - less than 4 weeks to go now and still a lot to do. Mostly it's working out what to feed people, and making sure that there's enough of whatever we choose, that and people keep asking me what I'm going to do with my hair (no clue) so busy times ahead.
As well as browsing through endless recipe books and reading around a few commitments for other things that also have deadlines looming I've managed to read Storyland over a couple of weeks' worth of lunch breaks. This is a remarkable book that I've really enjoyed, and can't stop recommending (happily that's literally my job so...)
It's also ideal for reading in small chunks. The chapters are short but give plenty to think about, it's not a book to race through, not least because so much of what I read was unexpected. Storyland is a collection of Britain's foundation myths, mostly pulled from Anglo-Saxon and medieval sources, retold, illustrated, and discussed by Art Historian Dr. Amy Jeffs.
What made the collection so interesting to me was how many of these stories are more than half-forgotten. I'd maybe come across a few fragments outside of the King Arthur and Merlin section, but really not much, including the connection between King Lear and Leicester - apparently he's credited with founding the city (there's no proof he was a real person) and is buried somewhere under the river that runs past my flat. I love this for Leicester, it does not need to be true - or at least the fact that the city has an origin myth matters more to me than the truth of the myth itself.
Where we see Jeff's skill as an academic as well as a storyteller is in the way she convincingly argues that although they've been mostly forgotten these stories are so deeply ingrained in our sense of who we are as a people that they still affect the way we think and see ourselves. There are unexpected delights too - dragons that turn into pigs, giants - begot by demons and exiled Syrian princesses, the magical doings of Merlin, traces of the Picts, classical roots, Scandinavian roots, Germanic roots, and Biblical allusions. Truly something for everyone.
Jeff's has another book out this Autumn - 'Wild' which I'm really looking forward to, and meanwhile, if you're interested in folklore and mythology 'Storyland' really shouldn't be missed.