Video “ Two Days in Summer”
THE BRITISH ISLES
(1) The British Isles is a geographical term for the group of islands lying off the western coast of the European mainland. The area is divided as follows:
Great Britain is the principal or Great Island of Britain, which includes England, Scotland and Wales;
The United Kingdom – Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Ulster);
The Republic of Eire – the island of Ireland, excluding Ulster.
The three parts of Great Britain are:
England, the capital city is London;
Scotland, the capital city is Edinburgh;
Wales, the capital city is Cardiff.
Although it is one of the world’s largest islands, Great Britain has no mountains of any real height. The principal ranges are in Scotland, North Wales, the Lake District and the Pennines – the latter being known as the “Backbone of England”.
The six counties of Northern Ireland, called collectively Ulster, form. With England, Scotland and Wales, THE UNITED KINGDOM.
Northern Ireland, the capital city is Belfast.
(2) The climate of the British Isles is influences by the GULF STREAM (the north Atlantic Drift), so winters are not as cold as they can be on the continent, but summers are not as warm as they are on the other side of the Channel.
In other words, Great Britain has a mild climate, but because of the length of the British Isles (a direct distance is 970 kilometres) temperatures differ from district to district. The North is usually colder than the South, but in winter the coldest districts are the eastern ones. On the whole the weather changes frequently and there are often cloudy days. Britain has rain in every month of the year. The wettest areas are in the west mainly due to the westerly winds and the mountains. The only predictable thing about English weather is its unpredictability.
(3) English people ought really to be called Britons, but they seldom are. Instead they are most often called Englishmen. This annoys the Welsh, the Scots and the Irish, who dislike being called English, even if they live in England.
The English are mainly Anglo-Saxon and Norman in origin, but the Welsh, the Scots and the Irish are not. They are Celts, descendants of the ancient people who had crossed over from Europe to the British Isles centuries before the Roman invasion. It was these people whom the Germanic Angles and Saxons conquered in the fifth century A.D.
/A.D. –Anno Domini – (in the year) since the birth of Christ/
TALKING ABOUT THE WEATHER
(4) They say, “If you don’t repeat the phrase ‘Lovely day, isn’t it?’ at least two hundred times a day, you are considered a bit dull.”
This is of course an exaggeration; thirty to forty times a day is usually quite enough.
But you must learn to talk about the weather in England. Remember that you are not really exchanging information or opinions; it is a form of greeting. Either the weather has changed or hasn’t; either way you can always find something to say about it.
If somebody says ”Lovely day, isn’t it?” the easy answer is “Yes, it is, isn’t it?” But you can be more adventurous by using a different adjective meaning much the same in your reply. If he says, “Nice day, isn’t it?”, you can reply “Isn’t it lovely?”
(5) London is an interesting and exciting place. It has lost its dull and heavy Victorian flavour of which visitors from other countries were often critical in the past, and it is now fashionable and full of life.
London is also more cosmopolitan today, and this, too, has helped to give life to the capital. People of all nations, races and religions live and work in London; thousands of foreign students are studying at London University and other educational centres; and every year several million visitors from all parts of the world visit London, either on business or for a holiday.
(6) More than three million people live in inner London, and nearly five million people live in the surrounding suburban area, which is made up of formally separate villages that have grown together to form what is now called outer London. Thus, the total population of Greater London is over eight million.
Besides the people living in London thousands of men and women from towns and villages surrounding the capital work in London and travel to their offices daily by train or by car. Most of these commuters live in the suburbs, within about ten to twenty miles of central London; but many live in the country, perhaps as much as thirty or forty miles away. These thousands of commuters stream into London like an attacking army between about 8.30 and 9.30 in the morning; and then they pack into the crowded trains, or their cars, and stream home again between 4.30 and 6.30 in the evening.
London is very busy and over-crowded; There is a continuous noise of traffic in all the main streets; the traffic never seems to stop, even at night, and people always seem to be in a hurry.
(7) London stands on the river Thames, and has a history of nearly two thousand years.
The Romans made London their capital soon after they landed in Britain, in the first century. They built a bridge across the River Thames and opened a small port on the north bank of the river; then they built a small town, surrounded by a wall with six gates, to serve the port.
London, which today is one of the three largest cities in the world, has developed from this small Roman town.
(8) The City of London, founded by the Romans, became an important centre for trade with Europe, and later with other parts of the world. The merchants of the city grew so rich and powerful that even the kings of England did not dare disregard their wishes, and in the eleventh century Edward the Confessor gave them special rights.
By that time London had begun to spread westward along the river, and the King lived in a palace at Westminster, outside the boundaries of the City. When William the Conqueror came from Normandy to England and made himself king, the powerful merchants of the city refused to give him their support unless he allowed them to continue to hold the rights which Edward the Confessor had given them. William agreed to their demands and gave the City of London a separate charter. Thus, the capital became divided into two separate cities – the City of London and the City of Westminster. The City of London became the main centre of Britain’s trade and finance, and the City of Westminster became the seat of government – and they still hold these positions to this day.
(9) The West End, which roughly includes the districts of Piccadilly, St. James’s, Mayfair and Soho, is the main centre for shops, restaurants, clubs and theatres. Mayfair is generally regarded as the most fashionable part of the West End, and in this district there are some of London’s most expensive hotels and also a number of foreign embassies.
A little to the west is Knightsbridge, another expensive shopping and residential district; still further to the west is Kensington, one of the few royal boroughs and one of the most popular residential areas in London.
A favourite district of many people is Chelsea, which lies between Kensington and the river. Chelsea has a character of its own: it was a fashionable residential district in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It has many attractive old streets and houses. Not far from Chelsea, in the Kensington district, is Earl’s Court; this is the residential area popular among students of all nationalities because it is cheaper than Chelsea and other residential areas.
A great many of the buildings in London are Victorian (late 19th century) or Edwardian (early 20th century). Some of them are being pulled down and in their place light and airy blocks of flats, shops and offices are being built in the modern skyscraper style. Some of the modern developments are in the City of London, and it is surprising how well the new buildings fit in with the old architecture.
SIGHTS OF LONDON
(10) It is quite impossible in a few days or even weeks to see everything that London has to offer. The City of London is only a square mile in area, but within its boundaries you will find some of the most famous landmarks in the capital:
St. Paul’s Cathedral towering above the many-storied buildings which line the river-bank. St. Paul’s Cathedral is the work of the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren. It is one of the finest pieces of architecture in Europe. This is the 3rd cathedral with the same name – the first was destroyed in 1086, and the second in the Great Fire of 1666. Christopher Wren, who had already built many buildings, began his greatest work in 1675. For 35 years the building went on, and Wren was an old man before the Cathedral was finished.
(11) The Tower of London on the north bank of the Thames is one of the most ancient buildings of London. It was founded in the 11th century by William the Conqueror. For many centuries the Tower has been a fortress, a palace a zoo, a prison and royal treasury. It is now a museum of arms and armour. The Tower is guarded by the Yeomen Warders popularly called ‘Beefeaters’. Tower Bridge is made of steel and granite. In the 19th century many new bridges were built. Now there are more than twenty bridges over the Thames in London.
Nowadays the City of London is the financial centre of Britain. Its narrow streets are lined with buildings which house the offices of banks, insurance companies and trading companies.
(12) One can hardly find a more historic spot in Britain than Westminster Abbey founded by Edward the Confessor in 1050. Westminster Abbey is a fine Gothic building which stands opposite the Houses of Parliament. It is the work of many hands and different ages. The oldest part of the building dates from the eighth century. It was a monastery – the West Minster. Since the far-off time of William the Conqueror Westminster Abbey has been the crowning palace of the kings and queens of England. The Abbey is sometimes compared with a mausoleum, because there are tombs and memorials of almost all English monarchs, many statesmen, famous scientists, writers and musicians.
Many visitors to the Abbey are attracted to the Poet’s Corner. Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Geoffrey Chaucer and others are buried there. There are also memorials to Shakespeare, Robert Burns, Byron, Walter Scott, Thackeray and to the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, though these writers are not buried in Westminster Abbey.
(13) The Houses of Parliament which incorporate a part of the medieval Palace of Westminster are now the seat of the British Government. The Clock Tower with the famous hour-bell called ‘Big Ben’ is known all over the world. There is also Victoria Tower on top of which the flag (the Union Jack) flies the whole day when the Parliament is on session. The Houses of Parliament can be visited by the public. The entrance is through the door located at the foot of Victoria Tower and next to the Royal Arch. Visitors start at the Royal Gallery and then go to the House of Lords, and then to the House of Commons, where Members of Parliament (MPs) from all over the country meet.
(14) Sooner or later every visitor finds his way to Trafalgar Square with the statue of Lord Nelson erected to commemorate his victory in the battle of Trafalgar in which he was killed.
The broad thoroughfare which runs from the Houses of Parliament to Trafalgar Square is known as Whitehall. Here is the Home Office, the Treasury, the War Office, the Admiralty and other government departments. Opposite the Home Office is the Cenotaph, which commemorates the fallen in two World Wars.
A little street on the west side of Whitehall is Downing Street, where at N 10, resides the Prime Minister of the day.
(15) The residence of English monarchs is Buckingham Palace built in the eighteenth century. You can walk to Buckingham Palace from Westminster Abbey. The walk goes through St. James’s Park. When the Queen is here you can see the royal standard (flag) over the palace. The Palace is open to public. The Queen’s Gallery has special exhibitions from the Royal collection and may be visited every day except Monday.
Soldiers always guard the Palace. At half past eleven every morning the ceremony of the Changing of the Guard takes place outside the front of the Palace. And a large crowd of people gather every day to see this famous and traditional ceremony.
Another of the Queen’s homes is Windsor Castle. Windsor is on the River Thames, about forty kilometers from London. The Queen often stays at Windsor at Christmas and Easter. The Castle is eight hundred years old. Inside the castle there is a lovely old church. It is called St. George’s Chapel.
(16) For such a densely-populated city, London is rich in parks and open spaces. The best known of these are in central London. Hyde Park, Regent’s Park,
St. James’s Park and Kensington Gardens all come under the title of ‘Royal Parks’. They are the property of the crown but the playground of London’s citizens. Hyde Park is now London’s most famous park. At the northern end of the park, near Marble Arch, Sunday mornings are enlivened by the oratory of speakers at London’s own open-air parliament – Speakers’ Corner. It is the debating society, where orators of any creed, colour or persuasion may have their say.
(17) British meals mean different things to different people.
Early morning: Breakfast
Midday: Lunch (used in hotels and restaurants and middle-class homes)
Dinner ( 12.00 – 2.00 p.m.)
Tea: ( mid-afternoon, 4.00 – 5.00 p.m.)
Supper: (7.00 – 9.00 pm)
Dinner: ( 7.00 – 9.00 pm; used in hotels and restaurants and in middle- class homes)
At midday lunch and dinner are exactly the same, and generally consist of two courses.
In the evening, dinner is a large meal of at least three courses.
Supper is like dinner, but less grand.
High tea is a mixture of tea and supper – for example meat, cheese and fruit may be added to bread and butter, cakes and tea.
Britons drink a quarter of all the tea grown in the world each year. They are the world’s greatest tea drinkers. Many of them drink it on at least eight different occasions during the day. They drink it between meals and at meals. They drink it watching television. “JOIN THE TEA-V SET!” says one well- known tea advertisement.
(18) A strange thing about England is that the visitor may notice is that most of the good restaurants in England are run and staffed by strangers – for example there is a large number of Chinese, Indian, Hungarian, Carribean, Turkish and Italian restaurants and to a less extent French and Spanish ones. Go to Soho or Charlotte Street, try food at Italian or Greek restaurants; sometimes it’s hard to find an English restaurant.
In London you can find luxurious restaurants decorated just like they were in Queen Victoria’s days, though rather expensive. Or you can eat out In a small, cosy restaurant in Chelsea.
But if you want something special – go to a pub. Pubs are an important part of life in Britain. People go to the pub to relax, meet friends, and sometimes to do business.
THE HISTIRY OF THE ENGLISH PUB
(19) When you enter an English pub, you step into a piece of history going back almost 2000 years. A doctor serving with the Roman Legions in Britain wrote about the country’s ale houses, which even in those far off days, were much more than just places in which to drink. People used them as meeting places and so, from that day to this, pubs have been first and foremost centres of social life, where people can meet and talk and set the world to rights.
Following the departure of the Romans, British monasteries and churches in the Middle Ages built special overnight houses, known as inns, which offered safe accommodation food and shelter to the traveler. Today the English pubs maintains these ancient traditions. Just as they did in the ale houses of old, so people still gather in pubs today for company, conversation and good cheer. And the stranger who visits a typical English pub can expect to receive the same warm welcome as was offered by the host at the medieval travellers’ inn.
/PUB is short for ‘Public House’ – a building (not a club or hotel) usually containing two or more rooms where alcohol may be bought and drunk during fixed hours. /
(20) In 1971 Britain adopted a decimal currency system in which one pound (₤) is worth one hundred pence (100 p). Under the new system banknotes remained unchanged at values of ₤1, ₤5, ₤10 and ₤20, but a new set of coins was introduced. There are three ‘silver’ and three copper coins. The ‘silver’ coins are worth fifty pence (50p), ten pence (10p) and five pence (5p), and the copper ones are worth two pence (2p), one penny (1p) and a halfpenny (1/2p). The old sixpence (worth 2Ѕ p) has disappeared)
When people talk about money under the value of a pound, they normally use the abbreviation ‘p’ rather that the full word ‘pence’. It is common for both ‘p’ and ‘pence’ to be omitted altogether. Here is an example of the three alternatives:
I’ll have a whisky and a soda, please - That’ll be twenty-five, sir.
That’ll be twenty five p, sir.
That’ll be twenty-five pence, sir.
/ halfpenny – [hґeipni] /
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