Kauno “Versmės” vidurinės mokyklos
11 b klasės mokinė
A city with a difference
London was not built as a city in the same way as Paris or New York. It began life as a Roman fortification at a place where it was possible to cross the River Thames. A wall was built around the town for defence, but during the long period of peace which followed the Norman Conquest, people built outside the walls. This building continued over the yyears, especially to the west of the city. In 1665 there was a terrible plague in London, so many people left the city and escaped to the villages in the surrounding countryside. In 1666 the Great Fire of London ended the plague, but it also destroyed much of the city. Although people returned to live in the rebuilt city after the plague and the Great Fire, there were never again so many Londoners living in the city centre.
These days nnot many people live in the city centre, London has spread further outwards into the country, including surrounding villages. Today the metropolis of Greater London covers some 610 square miles (1580sq. km.) and the suburbs of London continue even beyond tthis area. Some people even commute over 100 miles (over 150 km.) every day to work in London, while living far away from the city in the country or in other towns.
The gradual growth of the city helps to explain the fact that London does not have just one centre, it has a number of centres, each with a distinct character: the financial and business centre called the City, the shopping and entertainment centre in the West End, the government centre in Westminster. Places like Highgate and Hampstead have kept their village-like character – they have their own newspapers and the famous Hampstead Heath is a reminder of country origins.
The City does not refer to the whole oof central London but rather to small area east of the centre, which includes the site of the original Roman town. It is an area with a long and exciting history, and it is proud of its independence and traditional role as a centre of trade and commerce. This tradition is focussed on the City’s Lord Mayor, whose official residence is the Mansion House. Once a year, in November, the Lord Mayor’s Show takes place. This is a colourful street pparade in which the newly elected Lord Mayor travels in a golden coach, which is over 200 years old. In the evening a splendid meal is served in the Guildhall, to which the Prime Minister and members of the Government are invited.
Commerce and finance
The City of London is one of major banking centres of the world and you can find the banks of many nations in the famous Threadneedle Street and the surrounding area. Here, too, you will find the Bank of England. Nearby is the Stock Exchange which is like a busy market, except that here not food but shares in commercial companies are bought and sold. A little further along in Leadenhall Street is Lloyds, the most famous insurance company in the world.
During weekdays in the City you can see the City gents with their bowler hats, pin-striped suits and rolled umbrellas. This is the ‘uniform’ only of those men involved in banking and business in the City, and outside this small area you will probably not see anyone dressed like this.
London Regional Transport
The easiest way to travel around London is by a London Regional Transport bus or underground train. These run from the centre oof the city right out into the countryside.
British people queue up when waiting for a bus (and a lots of other things !). They get very annoyed with queue – jumpers – people who don’t wait their turn in the queue.
The London Underground – or ‘tube’ – has nine lines. It’s very fast, and in Central London you’re never more than a few minutes’ walk away from a station.
Wales is approximately 150miles (242 km.) from north to south. About two – thirds of the total population of 2.8 million people live in the South Wales coastal area, where the three biggest towns are located: Swansea, Cardiff and Newport.
The Welsh are very proud of their language and culture. These are best preserved in the north and west of the country, for in the south and east they have been more challenged by industrialization. The west coast, mid Wales and North Wales are wild and beautiful !
Although visitors don’t need passports to cross the border from England into Wales they soon realise that they are entering a country with its own distinct geography, culture, traditions and, of course language.
Welsh is one of the Celtic languages, llike Scottish and Irish Gaelic. It is estimated that Welsh is spoken by 16 to 20 per cent of the population, although in North and West Wales 50 per cent speak the language. The Welsh Language Act of 1967 said that all official documents should be in both languages, and most road signs are printed in English and Welsh.
Since the 1960s there has been increased interest in Welsh. At secondary schools almost 50 per cent of all pupils learn Welsh as a first or second language. Since 1982 there has also been an independent fourth TV channel broadcasting mainly in Welsh.
Although not many Welsh words are well known in England, the word eisteddfod is understood by almost everybody. This is the Welsh name for an annual competition where people meet to dance, sing and read poems. Usually, only Welsh is spoken and in recent years they have attracted people who wish to protest against the influence of English on the Welsh language and culture.
The Welsh and their words
The traditional culture in Wales has always placed special emphasis on the reading of poetry and the singing of choirs. In the 19th century there was apowerful puritan religious
movement that preached a good and simple life. In the chapels the oratory of the preacher and the strong singing of male voice choirs were used to win the hearts of the people and turn them away from bad living.
This Welsh understanding of the power of words lies behind afine tradition of radical and eloquent politicians who have contributed a great deal to British politics since the beginning of the century. David Lloyd George, although born in Manchester oof Welsh parents, was brought up in Wales. He entered the House of Commons at the age of twenty – seven as a member of the Liberal Party.
After holding various government offices, he became the first Welsh Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1916, a post he held until 1922. His interest in the old and Equally inspired by fairness and justice, Aneurin Bevan, who had worked in the coal – mines of South Wales as a boy, bbecame one of the most powerful speakers ever known in the House of Commons. His battle with authority began when he led the miners in the general strike of 1929.
Dylan Thomas was born in Swansea and worked iin London as a journalist writing radio and film scripts at the same time. One of his most famous radio plays, Under Milk Wood , has been adapted for the stage and performed all over the world.
The National Parks
There are three National Parks in Wales which cover approximately one – fifth of the whole country. These parks are protected by law because of their natural beaity, but ordinary people still live and work there. The most famous of the parks is Snowdonia in the north – west. It covers 840 square miles of some of Wales’ most breathtaking countryside. The highest mountain range in Wales is in this area, with several peaks over 3,000 feet (910m.). The highest, Snowdon, iis 3,560 feet (1,085m.).
Many people travel to the parks each year for special holydays. These include a large number of outdoor activities such as walking, climbing, and riding, or water sports such as canoeing and fishing. People camp and live without all the usual comforts of home.
Winsor Castle is one of the official recidences of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen is Head of State of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and also HHead of the Commonwealth.
The monarch’s direct powers these days are limited: as a constitutional sovereign The Queen normally acts on the advice of her ministers; nevertheless the government, the judges and the armed services all act in The Queen’s name and she is an important symbol of national unity. She is kept closely informed about all aspects of national life and the Prime Minister has a weekly audience with her. The Queen has certain residual ‘prerogative’ powers which include the appointment of the Prime Minister and granting the dissolution of Parliament.
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