Olympics and Great Britain: Literary legends and lore

Literature, legend and history have made Great Britain so familiar to Americans that we almost feel that we know it, even if we have never been there. Photo: Stonehenge at dawn

CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 31, 2012 — Who can say where legends end and truths begin? Where history and culture and literature and other bits of civilization first blended with the present to create the golden rhythms of the past. 

Who knows how myths seep into factual events along the journey of time to form the inexplicable odyssey of wonder and delight that breeds a sense of familiarity within each of us? 

Perhaps there are no answers. Perhaps it doesn’t matter. Perhaps it is enough to know simply that the bridge between man and nature and all that has passed before us as Americans has no greater bond than it does in Great Britain.

Here is a place where mystery merges with myth; where legends live on forever; where dreams dance on unexplored horizons yet remain magically familiar to us all. 

Celtic Cross in Ireland

In Great Britain, legend and landscape echo glimpses of the past to the far corners of our imagination. British culture, literature, legend, and history touch the core of the human spirit as they peer into the past and feel the soul of the nations they represent. 

They whisper tales of adventure, discovery and surprise taking us to old worlds beyond the new. They tell stories that can be heard in distant places that reach back into the centuries. This is a vast human drama that would do William Shakespeare proud. 

North to Scotland. West to Wales. South and east. Wander in any direction and villages and towns yield to meadows and dales before resting where sea winds caress the coast. 

A journey through Great Britain is time travel at its best. But what is so beguiling about this place for Americans that beckons us to draw near and savor its spirit?

Heritage perhaps? Tradition? After all, isn’t this the land of “once upon a time?” A land where the procession of history thrives within its own timelessness? 

Characters; personalities; imagined and real; heroes and villains pass through our minds as voices personified in panoramic parade of poetry and prose.

Macbeth and Lear and Hamlet; Tom Jones and Henry Higgins and Liza Doolittle; Oliver Twist and Ebenezer Scrooge; Phileas Phogg; James Bond; Richard Burton and the Beatles. 

There is an aura of mystery and suspense as well. Stonehenge and the Tower of London and the Loch Ness Monster; Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Jekyll and Jack the Ripper. 

There is royalty too for this is the home of dukes and earls and kings and queens. King Arthur’s knights and Henry VIII; Victoria and Elizabeth; Charles and Diana. 


Truly this is a land for all seasons enveloped by the richness of its history, and literature and legend are the links to these legacies; the bridge that sets journeys of the mind free to connect with a cavalcade of culture so familiar to us all.

In Great Britain we can travel to places where the mist rises and dales are revealed; places filled with magical solitude; a sort of lonely majesty with feelings of primeval nature that one writer described as “the midpoint of creation.”

We can travel to the birthplace of golf on ancient rails that glide past neat fields through a sea of green and tumbling landscapes. We can visit walled towns, haunting ruins and lone farmhouses. 

There is a medieval quality about it all, an ancientness enhanced by a kaleidoscope of colors: heather carpeted hills, mosses and ferns, echoes of untamed vistas.


Great Britain reveals castles, estates, manors and stately mansions. Monuments to the works of man as engrossing in their own way as are the works of nature. 

British town nestle where Romans once bathed in natural spring waters; where cobblestone streets are squeezed into narrow alleyways beneath half-timbered houses; where far-away pastures can be seen through empty archways or, as H.V. Morton noted, “Where every meadow has a valet.” 

This is the United Kingdom as we wish it to be, for this is the way it was, and this is the way it is.

Tour cathedrals with their feeling of infinite space. Meander the countryside where sheepdogs bark in the distance and hedgerows give order to things.

Or taste the traditions. Tea with Devonshire Cream and scones; fresh fish and chips; a chat with the locals at a country pub.

Scotland takes us to places where landscapes rise and fall with muscled peaks, fertile fields and dense woods before giving way to deep lochs or the embrace of the Irish Sea. 

Yes, Great Britain does, indeed, tell tales of “once upon a time.” As someone once wrote, “The past is no ghost at this banquet, rather it sits at the head of the table.”

Who knows if the Olympics will capture the same spirit as the nations where they are played. Time will tell, but Americans have much that bonds us to these games, for here myths do linger and legends and truth become one. 

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC. He played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to Switzerland, France and Italy for groups of 12 or more. Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others. As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 69 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries.

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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