The climate in Great Britain is generally mild and temperate due to the influence of the Gulf Stream. The south-western winds carry the warmth and moisture into Britain. The climate in Britain is usually described as cool, temperate and humid.
British people say: "Other countries have a climate, in England we have weather."
The weather in Britain changes very quickly. One day may be fine and the next day may be wet. The morning may be warm and the evening may be cool. Therefore it is natural for the people to use the comparison "as changeable as the weather" of a person who often changes his mood or opinion about something. The weather is the favourite topic of conversation in Britain. When two Englishmen are introduced to each other, if they can't think of any thing else to talk about, they talk about weather. When two people meet in the street they will often say something about weather as they pass, just to show their friendliness.
Every daily paper publishes a weather forecast. Both the radio and television give the weather forecast several times each day.
The English also say that they have three variants of weather: when it rains in the morning, when it rains in the afternoon or when in rains all day long. Sometimes it rains so heavily that they say "It's raining cats and dogs".
Rainfall is more or less even throughout the year. In the mountains there is heavier rainfall then in the plains of the south and east. The driest period is from March to June and the wettest months are from October to January. The average range of temperature (from winter to summer) is from 15 to 23 degrees above zero. During a normal summer the temperature sometimes rises above 30 degrees in the south. Winter temperatures below 10 degrees are rare. It seldom snows heavily in winter, the frost is rare. January and February are usually the coldest months, July and August the warmest. Still the wind may bring winter cold in spring or summer days. Sometimes it brings the whirlwinds or hurricanes. Droughts are rare.
So, we may say that the British climate has three main features: it is mild, humid and changeable. That means that it is never too hot or too cold. Winters are extremely mild. Snow may come but it melts quickly. In winter the cold is humid cold, not the dry one.
This humid and mild climate is good for plants. The trees and flowers begin to blossom early in spring.
In the British homes there has been no central heating up till recently. The fireplaces are often used. but the coal is not used as it's very expensive. Britain has no good coal now and imports it itself. Many schools and universities have no central heating either, and the floors there are made of stone. The British bedroom is especially cold, sometimes electric blankets or hotwater bottles are used.
VEGETATION AND WILDLIFE
Britain was originally a land of vast forests. mainly oak and beech in the Lowlands and pine and birch In the Highlands, with great stretches of marshland and smaller areas of moors. In the course of time, much forest land was cleared and almost all Lowlands outside the industrial areas were put under cultivation. Today only about 6 per cent of the total land area remains wooded.
Extensive forests remain in eastern and northern Scotland and in south-eastern and western England. Oak, elm, ash, and beech are the commonest trees in England, while Scotland has much pine and birch. The Highlands with thin soil are largely moorland with heather and grasses. In the cultivated areas that make up most of Britain there are many wild flowers, flowering plants and grasses.
The fauna or animal life of Britain is much like that of north-western Europe, to which it was once joined. Many larger mammals such as bear, wolf have been hunted to extinction, others are now protected by law. There are many foxes. Otters are common along rivers and streams, and seals live along much of the coast. Hedgehogs, hares, rabbits, rats and mice are numerous. Deer live in some of the forests in the Highlands of Scotland and England.
Some 230 kinds of birds live in Britain, and another 200 are regular visitors, many are songbirds. The most numerous are blackbirds, sparrow and starling. Robin Redbreast is the national bird of Britain. The number of ducks, geese and other water fowl has diminished during recent years.
There are many threats to wildlife and ecological balance around the coast. The biggest threat to the coastline is pollution. Even much-loved
Blackpool is not officially asafe. More than 3.500 million tons of industrial waste is pumped into the North Sea every year. "We cannot continue to use our seas as a dustbin and expect our coastline to survive," says Greenpeace. Many other ecological problems may be caused by privatization of the coast. Many of the rivers are "biologically dead", i.e. unable to support fish and wildlife.
1. Why is the climate in Britain generally mild and temperate?
2. What do British people say about weather and climate in their country?
3. What variants of weather do British people have?
4. What main features has British climate?
5. Is the humid and mild climate of Great Britain good for plants and flowers?
6. Do British people believe weather forecasts?
7. Are winters frosty?
8. Does it often snow in winter?
9. Why is it natural for British people to use the comparison 'as changeable as the weather'?
10. What do British people say when it rains so heavily?
11. What do British people do to warm themselves when it is cold?
12. What are the warmest and the coldest months?
13. Was Great Britain originally a land of vast forests?
14. Where do extensive forests remain?
15. What trees grow in Great Britain?
16. What animals are numerous in Great Britain?
17. How many kinds of birds live in Great Britain? Which of them are the most numerous?
18. What is the national bird of Great Britain?
19. Does the country have any ecological problems?
20. What is Greenpeace?
LONDON - THE CAPITAL OF GREAT BRITAIN
When we think of Paris, Rome. Madrid, Lisbon and other European capitals, we think of them as "cities'. When we think of the whole of modern London, the capital city of England and the United Kingdom, that great area covering several hundred square kilometres, we do not think of it as 'a city. not even as a city and its suburbs. Modem London is not one city that has steadily become larger through the centuries; it is a number of cities. towns, and villages that have, during the past centuries, grown together to make one vast urban area.
London is situated upon both banks of the River Thames, it is the largest city in Britain and one of the largest in the world. Its population is about 7 million people.
London dominates the life of Britain. It is the chief port of the country and the most important commercial, manufacturing and cultural centre. There is little heavy industry in London, but there is a wide range of light industry in Greater London.
London consists of three parts: the City of London, the West End and the East End.
The City extends over an area of about 2.6 square kilometres in the heart of London. About half a million people work in the City but only less than 6000 live here. It is the financial centre of the UK with many banks, offices and Stock Exchange. But the City is also a market for goods of almost every kind, from all parts of the world.
The West End can be called the centre of Tendon. Here are the historical palaces as well as the famous parks. Hyde Park with its Speaker's Corner is also here. Among other parks are Kensington Gardens, St.James's Park. In the West End is Buckingham Palace. Which is the Queen's residence, and the Palace of Westminster which is the seat of Parliament.
The best-known streets here are Whitehall with important Government offices. Downing Street, the London residence of Prime Minister and the place where the Cabinet meets. Fleet Street where most newspapers have their offices, Harley Street where the highest paid doctors live, and some others.
Trafalgar Square is named so in commemoration of Nelson's great victory. In the middle stands the famous Nelson Column with the statue of Nelson 170 feet high so as to allow him a view of the sea. The column stands in the geographical centre of the city. It is one of the best open air platforms for public meetings and demonstrations.
One of the "musts" for the sightseer are the Houses of Parliament, facing the Thames, on one side, and Parliament Square and Westminster Abbey, on the other. The House of Commons sits to the side of the Clock Tower (Big Ben), the House of Lords - to the Victoria Tower side.
Westminster Abbey is the crowning and burial place of British monarchs. It has its world famed Poet's Corner with memorials to Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, the Bronte's sisters. Tennyson. Longfellow, Wordsworth, Burns, Dickens, Thackeray, Hardy, Kipling and other leading writers. Only a few however, are actually buried there.
Here too is that touching symbol of a nation's grief. The Grave of the Unknown Warrior.
The name "West End" came to be associated with wealth, luxury, and goods of high quality. It is the area of the largest department stores, cinemas and hotels. There are about 40 theatres, several concert halls, many museums including the British Museum, and the best art galleries.
It is in the West End where the University of London is centred with Bloomsbury as London's student quarter.
The Port of London is to the east of the City. Here. today are kilometres and kilometres of docks, and the great industrial areas that depend upon shipping. This is the East End of London, unattractive in appearance, but very important to the country's commerce.
In recent times London has grown so large. that the Government has decided that it must spread no farther. It is now surrounded by a "green belt" - a belt of agricultural and wooded land on which new buildings may be put up only with the permission of the planning authorities.
SOME FACTS ABOUT LONDON
London has been home of many famous Englishmen. Some were born there. Some lived there all their lives. Others lived in London only for a short time but all gave something to this great city
One of the first names of importance is that of Geoffrey Chaucer, the poet. He lived most of his life in London. He knew the courts of King Richard II d King Henry IV. His most famous work, 'The Canterbury Tales", opens at the Tabard Inn, in Southwark. Chaucer held official posts in London and is buried in Westminster Abbey.
William Shakespeare also lived in London. He lived there for more than twenty years. He acted at the Globe Theatre and wrote his plays in London. But London's famous men are not only writers. Sir Christopher Wren, the architect, spent most of his life in London. He designed many beautiful churches, including St. Paul's Cathedral. He also designed palaces and fine houses.
Music is represented by a very interesting figure. This is George Frederick Handel. He came to London from Hanover in 1710. He lived for a time at Burlington House, Piccadilly, now the Royal Academy. After some success and some failure he at last became famous. This happened when he composed "The Messiah". "Judas Maccabeus". and 'The Music for the Royal Fireworks". Like Chaucer and many other great artists. Handel is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Another famous London figure is one of England's greatest seamen. Admiral Lord Nelson. He has a very special memorial in Trafalgar Square. The monument consists of a very tall column. On top of it stands a figure of Nelson. It is called the Nelson Column. Equally famous is the general who led the army at the battle of Waterloo in 1815. This was the Duke of Wellington. His house stands at Hyde Park Comer. It is sometimes known as Number One, London. Like Admiral Nelson, the Duke of Wellington is buried in St. Paul's Cathedral.
1. Where is London situated?
2. Is London the largest city in Britain?
3. What is its population?
4. What is the role of London in the life of Britain?
5. What parts does London consist of?
6. What can the West End be called? What places of interest are situated in the West End?
7. What are the best known streets?
8. What is the most famous park in London?
9. What is Downing Street known for?
10. What is the name "West End" associated with?
11. Why is Trafalgar Square named so?
12. Where were British monarchs crowned?
13. London is a big cultural centre, isn't?
14. Why is Buckingham Palace so interesting for tourists?
15. What is the financial centre of Great Britain?
16. Is East End of London attractive in appearance?
17. Who lives there?
18. What famous museums would you like to visit in London?
19. What is the symbol of London and Great Britain?
20. If you found yourself in London what would you like to visit first?