BRITAIN

  • warning: file_get_contents(http://www.worldweatheronline.com/feed/search.ashx?q=London&format=json&num_of_days=2&key=930b03e98e233825112001): failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized in /home/tripink/public_html/sites/all/modules/blueplanet/blueplanet.module on line 90.
  • warning: file_get_contents(http://www.worldweatheronline.com/feed/search.ashx?q=Edinburgh&format=json&num_of_days=2&key=930b03e98e233825112001): failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized in /home/tripink/public_html/sites/all/modules/blueplanet/blueplanet.module on line 90.
  • warning: file_get_contents(http://www.worldweatheronline.com/feed/search.ashx?q=Glasgow&format=json&num_of_days=2&key=930b03e98e233825112001): failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized in /home/tripink/public_html/sites/all/modules/blueplanet/blueplanet.module on line 90.
  • warning: file_get_contents(http://www.worldweatheronline.com/feed/search.ashx?q=Newcastle%2C+United+Kingdom&format=json&num_of_days=2&key=930b03e98e233825112001): failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized in /home/tripink/public_html/sites/all/modules/blueplanet/blueplanet.module on line 90.
  • warning: file_get_contents(http://www.worldweatheronline.com/feed/search.ashx?q=Liverpool&format=json&num_of_days=2&key=930b03e98e233825112001): failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized in /home/tripink/public_html/sites/all/modules/blueplanet/blueplanet.module on line 90.
  • warning: file_get_contents(http://www.worldweatheronline.com/feed/search.ashx?q=Manchester&format=json&num_of_days=2&key=930b03e98e233825112001): failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized in /home/tripink/public_html/sites/all/modules/blueplanet/blueplanet.module on line 90.
  • warning: file_get_contents(http://www.worldweatheronline.com/feed/search.ashx?q=Birmingham&format=json&num_of_days=2&key=930b03e98e233825112001): failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized in /home/tripink/public_html/sites/all/modules/blueplanet/blueplanet.module on line 90.
  • warning: file_get_contents(http://www.worldweatheronline.com/feed/search.ashx?q=Cardiff&format=json&num_of_days=2&key=930b03e98e233825112001): failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized in /home/tripink/public_html/sites/all/modules/blueplanet/blueplanet.module on line 90.
  • warning: file_get_contents(http://www.worldweatheronline.com/feed/search.ashx?q=Plymouth&format=json&num_of_days=2&key=930b03e98e233825112001): failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized in /home/tripink/public_html/sites/all/modules/blueplanet/blueplanet.module on line 90.


WestminsterT
he rain patters against the ancient window panes in the little country pub, immediately becoming conversation fodder for the locals propping up the bar with their pints, and you know without a doubt that you are in the UK. OK, so it’s a cliché but it really does rain on average 1 in every 3 days, the locals really do talk about the weather a lot, and, well, British social occasions do tend to run on alcohol.

River CamThe 60.6 million inhabitants of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (incidentally the world’s longest country name in English – a fact gleaned from that most British of pastimes, the pub quiz) need no introduction. Anyone who has ever turned on a television has probably laughed at British comedy (Fish Slapping Dance anyone?), while the BBC World Service has informed and entertained generations of radio listeners across the globe.

 

  

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REGIONS:
      1. SCOTTISH ISLANDS  2. SCOTTISH  HIGHLANDS  3. NORTH EAST SCOTLAND  4. CENTRAL SCOTLAND           5. EDINBURGH  6. GLASGOW  7. SOUTH SCOTLAND  8. NORTH WEST ENGLAND  9. NORTH EAST ENGLAND  10. YORKSHIRE  11. EAST MIDLANDS  12. WEST MIDLANDS  13. EAST ENGLAND  14. LONDON  15. SOUTH WEST ENGLAND  16. SOUTH EAST ENGLAND  17. NORTH WALES  18. MID WALES 0. SOUTH WEST WALES  21. SOUTH EAST WALES


 

Gone are the days of ‘Rule Brittania’ when Britain ruled the waves, but Britain still makes waves in the fields of music, fashion, media, literature, and science. The British are thinkers, innovators, and great eccentrics and yet so much of British culture is still bound up in the past: Tourists generally visit for the cobblestone kiss of history at Buckingham Palace, Edinburgh Castle, or the quaint ‘Ye Olde’ streets of York not to experience the dynamism and cultural mix of Britain today; class is still an issue despite the occasional well-meaning protestation otherwise; and most obviously, despite being a representative democracy, Queen Elizabeth II is still the constitutional head of state and a direct descendant of King Egbert, who united the land in 829 AD. 
 
The United Kingdom, made up of England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and a number of smaller islands, is quite varied geographically. In England there are stunning mountain regions in the northwest that include the Cumbrian Mountains of the much poeticised Lake District and the Pennines, which stretch through the sloping green pastures of the Yorkshire Dales, while the south has the daunting limestone hills and boggy moors of Exmoor and Dartmoor. Scotland is divided into the lowlands and highlands, the latter which have long captured the imagination of travellers with their lonely, craggy beauty and mountain lochs. Wales is particularly mountainous and possesses some beautiful waterfalls. Northern Ireland has some unique geographical attractions with curious rock formations along the coast that were the result of volcanic activity. The Giant’s Causeway there has long been the subject of folk stories.

“Orright?”, “Ay-up”, “Yo, Bruv”, “Hey”, “How do you do?”:  there are many ways to say “hello” in the UK, which is still a symphony of a fantastically diverse range of accents and dialects despite about 80 years of mass media. RP or Received Pronunciation, the traditional BBC accent, is no longer held up as the gold standard and, these days, regional accents can be heard on radio and TV. Added into the mix are the cultural differences among immigrant groups: the UK today is home to people from India, Pakistan, Poland, China, as well as the usual contingents of young Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and Americans. However, class and regional prejudices still have their effects. In England, for instance, the North–South divide is evident even in the country’s road signs: Begin driving on any of the main arteries and you will see signs that simply say “The North” or “The South” depending on which direction you’re heading. This divide is felt in resources, education and job opportunities, and in wider UK culture. One of the joys of being a traveller in the UK is discovering the variations between regions and classes.

Travel in the UK is expensive but this is largely due to the strength of the British Pound. Although the British transport system is well developed (despite the complaints of locals otherwise!), the costs of transport can be a major drain on the wallets of most tourists as bus, plane, and train tickets generally need to be booked far in advance to secure a good deal. Still, online bargains can be had by canny travellers. Food need not necessarily be expensive either: particularly in large urban centres, there is a wide range of restaurants, pubs, and cafes and many of them do great lunch or dinner deals. However, tickets to many tourist attractions are prohibitive: entry to the Tower of London for example will set you back £17 for an adult ticket, so it’s a good idea to pick and choose what it is that you really want to see and do your research into memberships and other special tickets. That said, the UK possesses some of the finest galleries and museums in the world, many of which are free.

Traditional British food is gloriously stodgy. At first it’s hard for the visitor to understand why anyone would want to eat this way but after a few months of a British winter (which does seem to go on an extraordinarily long time), chips and curry sauce, baked beans, mushy peas, bangers and mash, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding all make sense. While restaurants with cuisines from all over the world are forever opening up and supermarket shelves are stocking ever more exotic fare, you still don’t have to walk far to find traditional British food. Try deep fried anything for a laugh or Haggis in Scotland, fish and chips (mushy peas included) in England, Northern Ireland’s Ulster Fry and the Welsh Laverbread. Wash it down with a pint and settle back in the pub for a cosy, entertaining visit among the British. 

 


Writer:  Leah O'Hearn

 

Hominids have been living in the area we now know as Britain for 750,000 years, but we cannot say that ‘Britain’ itself was born until around 6500 BC when water levels rose dramatically and the English Channel flooded into existence. People were hunter-gatherers here for many years, following the seasons around the island until farming practices gradually began to catch on around 5000 BC and they made the slow transition to more settled, agrarian lifestyles.

The Bronze Age brought the so called ‘Beaker’ culture from the Iberian Peninsula in 2300BC. These new techniques in pottery came alongside changes in burial practices, in language, and metallurgy.  The ‘Beaker people’ may have contributed to the later phases of construction on Stonehenge during this period, the results of which we can still see today. Society at the time was formed around chiefdoms and tribes which traded with each other and with Europe. Archaeologists today have found a number of metalwork hoards dating from the mid-late Bronze Age and the Iron Age. These include objects such as daggers, axes, pins, and brooches.

In 55 and 54 BC, Julius Caesar, eager for yet more military prowess, invaded Britain, defeating the local tribes in battle. However, significant forays into colonisation did not occur until later under the reign of the emperor Claudius in 43 AD. The Romans revolutionised Britain, establishing Londinium or London among other towns, as well as building roads and generally bringing the fruits of their civilization to the ‘woad-painted’ Britons. However, their rule was not without its problems: Boudicca, widow of Prasutagus, king of the Iceni tribe, famously led an army in revolt against the Romans in AD60, after a local governor attempted to seize more land than was promised to the Emperor Nero in her husband’s will. She destroyed Camulodunum (Colchester), Londinium (London), and Verulamium and a great many Roman soldiers before she and her armies were finally routed.

By the 5th century AD the Roman Empire was beginning its long totter towards collapse, leaving Britain on her own to fight against repeated invasions by the northern Picts, the Irish, and various tribes from Europe such as the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. It was during this time of resistance that the figure of King Arthur arose, though whether he was based on a real person or was a fictional standard to rally round is still debated. The invaders eventually settled down and by the 800s, the inhabitants of Britain were known as Anglo-Saxons abroad and as the Angli or English among themselves. In 829 AD, the land became united for the first time under King Egbert, an ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II, the present reigning monarch.

The Bayeaux Tapestry gruesomely depicts the death in 1066 of King Harold, shot through the eye by William, Duke of Normandy, during the Battle of Hastings. The Duke became known thereafter as William the Conqueror and his reign changed Britain considerably. The previously Germanic and Northern European mix that was English was washed over by an influx of Norman French and Latin, and this linguistic change was reflected in the customs of the people, particularly the aristocracy, who were largely replaced by the Normans.

The next 400 years brought successions of monarchs (think Richard the Lionheart), wars (The Hundred Years War, for example), and disasters such as the Black Plague that reached Britain in 1348 and in two years had killed almost a third of the population of England, Scotland, and Wales. This caused a considerable shake up in attitudes to religion in Europe, and in England certainly helped to pave the way for the English Reformation in the Tudor Period under the reign of the famously fickle Henry VIII. Although this was part of a wider process across the whole of Europe, in Britain this breakaway from the authority of Rome was based upon the king’s desire to annul his first marriage, an action forbidden by the Catholic Church. Through his political manoeuvring the Church of England broke away from Rome and Henry himself became head of the church.

The Elizabethan Era that followed (although Elizabeth I was strictly part of the House of Tudor) was a time of more general prosperity and relative peace. Shakespeare entertained the crowds with his plays as theatre-going became a popular pastime during this period. Literature and music flowered and the realm of exploration made great progress: Sir Frances Drake circumnavigated the globe between 1577 and 1581 and Sir Walter Raleigh’s travelled in search of the fabled El Dorado in South America.
 
Although the monarchy was briefly abolished by Oliver Cromwell after the English Civil War, the centuries rolled on in Britain under a succession of kings. Britain’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Victoria, came to the throne in 1937. Her rule saw the Industrial Revolution, which changed the face of the country: alongside developments in manufacturing technology, railways began to criss-cross the island, scores of people moved from the countryside into the burgeoning cities to find work, and the British Empire came to dominate the globe. At its height, the British Empire covered one fourth of the globe in pink and dusk light of its domination can still be seen in the Commonwealth, a loose grouping of countries and colonies that once came under the sway of this tiny island.

Since the close of the Victorian Era, the UK has been beset by two World Wars, the second of which took a great toll, not only upon the people but upon the architecture and infrastructure of the capital London. After 1945, the makeup of Britain changed dramatically: improvements in life expectancy, increasing levels of immigration from the West Indies, South Asia and Eastern Europe, and changes in lifestyle have had incredible impacts upon British society. The 1960s, particularly, saw a sharp break with the culture of the past, as popular music heralded the rise of youth culture: The Swinging Sixties were a world apart from the culture of the 40s and 50s which were essentially a continuation of the social values of Victorian and Edwardian Britain.

Apart from other military engagements throughout the years, in 1969 Britain sent troops to Northern Ireland because of the ‘Troubles’, violence arising partly from Irish nationalism, that did not find peace until the 1990s. In Wales and Scotland nationalism has not been so extreme and in 1997, these were granted more control over their affairs.

Britain has faced issues of nationalism on a larger scale too as it has navigated the uncertainty over the extent of its involvement in the European Union. Finally, in the past 40 years there have been a number of economic issues challenging the UK: since the 1970s there has been a decline in manufacturing as well as a rise in consumerism, the service sector, and borrowing; and in 2008, the UK was heavily hit by the global financial crisis and is still striving to reinvigorate its economy, while all the time gearing up for the 2012 London Olympics.


Writer:  Leah O'Hearn