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NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST
Britain is only a small country, but every part is different. Scotland is a land of mountains, lakes and romantic castles. The winters are cold, with plenty of snow, but the summers are often warm and sunny. Most farmers keep sheep, and there are many small factories which make fine sweaters from their wool. In some parts of Scotland, there are very few people. Deer live in the hills, and rivers are full of salmon. But Glasgow and Edinburgh are both large and busy, with all that is good (and bad) in modern cities.
Northern Ireland has its problems, but it has beauty too. In the warm, wet climate, the grass grows a brilliant green, and much of the land is farming country. Belfast is a large industrial city with many fine buildings and a big port from which ships come and go to Scotland and England. But Belfast has had many difficult years, and it is not the busy place it once was.
In the north of England there are many old industrial towns. Now, a great number of factories have closed and thousands of people have no work. Some have moved to the new towns, built in the 1960s and 1970s, where the industries are more modern. Outside the towns, much of this part of England is beautiful countryside, with green hills, lakes and sandy beaches. Fishing is an important industry in the North East, and every night (except Sunday) the fishing boats go out to sea.
The centre of England (the Midlands) is also an important industrial area, especially near the huge cities of Coventry and Birmingham, the centre of the car industry. But everywhere, even in the heart of a modern city, there are buildings from an older Britain – cathedrals, castles, and houses built hundreds years ago.
Wales is a special place, a country of high mountains and pretty valleys. But Wales has plenty of industry too, with many factories and coal mines. The people of Wales are very musical. Every year they have a festival of Welsh music and poetry called an “Eisteddfod”.
The west of England is rich farming country. It produces milk, cream, butter, cheese (especially Cheddar cheese, Britain’s favourite), and apples, which go to make cider, a popular drink in the villages. Country people often grow their own fruit, vegetables and flowers.
Some areas of Britain are very crowded. Around Manchester, in north west England and Glasgow, in Scotland, are large city areas of houses and factories. The south east of England, too, has many towns and cities, including London, the giant capital. But quite near London there are some quiet villages and peaceful farms.
Britain is an island, of course, and you are never too far from the sea. Some of the coast, especially in the west, is wild and rocky, with small sandy beaches, and romantic old harbours. Other parts are industrial. The east coast of Scotland, for example, is busy with oil rigs and fishing boats. The most popular beaches are near the many holiday towns on the south coast, where the weather is usually warmer. It is here that Londoners come to relax.
Answer the following questions:
1. Can you say that Britain has a varied landscape?
2. In what parts of Britain is the climate favourable for agriculture?
3. What problems do old industrial towns have?
4. What part of Britain is the industrial centre of the state?
5. The Welsh are musical people, aren’t they?
6. What products are produced in the west of England?
7. What are the most populated areas in Britain?
8. Would you prefer to spend your holiday on the west or south coast of Great Britain? Why?
London has been a capital city for nearly thousand years, and many of its ancient buildings still stand. The most famous of these are the Tower of London (where the Crown jewels are kept), Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral, but most visitors also want to see the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace (the Queen’s London home) and the many magnificent museums.
Once, London was a small Roman town on the north bank of the Thames, but slowly it grew into one of the world’s major cities with more than seven million people. Fewer people live in the centre now, but the suburbs are still growing.
Places now in the heart of London like Westminster, once stood in the middle of green fields. Many small villages, like Hampstead, Chelsea and Mayfair, became part of London, but they still keep some of their old atmosphere. Different areas of London seem like different cities. The West End is a rich man’s world of shops, offices and theatres. The East End is the old working people’s district, where there are many small flats and houses, some of them old, some new.
London is always changing. New buildings go up and old ones come down. Poorer areas become fashionable and people with more money move into them.
A hundred years ago, the river was crowded with ships, leaving for Java and Japan, New Zealand and New York, but now the port is nearly empty. People travel by air, and London’s main airport Heathrow is one of the busiest in the world.
Like all old cities, London has streets and concrete buildings, but it also has many big parks, full of trees, flowers and grass. Sit on the grass (you are allowed to!) in the middle of Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens, and you will think that you in the country, miles away.
Many people live outside the centre of London in the suburbs, and they travel to work by train, bus or underground. Every day, nearly half a million office workers travel into the “City”, the business centre of London, a small area full of banks and offices. Some people come from far out of London, even from the coast, and spend up to four hours travelling every day.
Working hours are from 9 am to 5 p.m. From 8 until 10 every morning, and 4.30 to 6.30 every evening, the trains are crowded with people, and after the morning “rush hour” the shoppers come.
By day the whole of London is busy. At night, the City is quiet and empty, but the West End stays alive, because this is where Londoners come to enjoy themselves. There are two opera houses here, several concert halls and many theatres, as well as cinemas, and in nearby Soho the pubs, restaurants and night clubs are busy half the night.
Many people think that London is all grey, but in fact red is London’s favourite colour. The buses are red, the letter boxes are red, and the mail vans are all bright, bright red. London is at its best when people are celebrating. Then the flags, the soldiers’ uniforms, the cheering crowds and the carriages and horses all sparkle in the sunshine – if it is not raining, of course!
Answer the following questions:
1. What are the oldest buildings in London?
2. On what bank of the river Thames did London originate?
3 Many people prefer to live in the outskirts of London, don’t they?
4. What districts of London were once villages?
5. Why has the port lost its importance?
6. What is characteristic of the City?
7. Where can Londoners spend their evenings?
8. What colour is London’s favourite?