- Hornby A.S. Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current English, Oxford Un. Press, 1996
Audio tapes analysed:
- Accents, Glossa Melit, M., 2000
TV program analysed:
- Holiday in the Southwest, the channel “Discovery”, 2000
The principal industries here are farming and tourism. There are some very big farms, but most are small family farms with a mixture of cows, sheep and crops. The main emphasis is on dairy products - milk and butter. On Exmoor and Dartmoor, two areas of higher land, conditions are ideal for rearing sheep and beef-cattle.
Industry is centered on three large ports: Bristol in the north, and Portsmouth and Southampton in the south-east. In Bristol, aircraft are designed and built. In Portsmouth and Southampton, the main industries are shipbuilding and oil-refining.
- Holiday time in the West Country.
The countries of Devon, Cornwall and Somerset are often called the West Country. They have always been popular with holiday-makers, so there are a large number of hotels, caravan - and camping-sites and private houses and farms which offer bed and breakfast. There is a beautiful countryside, where people can “get away from it all”, and the coastline offers the best beaches and surfing in England. Also, the weather is usually warmer than in the rest of the country.
- West Country Food.
The national drink of Devon is a cream tea. This consists of a pot of tea and scones served with strawberry jam and cream. The cream is not the same as that found in the rest of the country. It is called clotted cream, and it is much thicker and yellower than ordinary cream. And there is another national dish called a Cornish pasty.
Pasties used to be the main food of Cornish miners fishermen about 150 years ago, because they provided a convenient meal to take to work. They were made of pastry which had either sweet or savoury fillings, and were marked with the owners initials on one end. This was so that if he did not eat all his pasty at once he would know which one belonged to him!
Somerset has always been famous for its cheeses. The most popular variety is probably “Cheddar”, which is a firm cheese. It usually has a rather mild flavour but if it is left to ripen, it tastes stronger, and is sold in the shops as “mature Cheddar”. It takes its name from a small town, which is also, a beauty-spot well-known for its caves, which contain stalagmites and stalactites.
A West Country famous drink is Somerset cider or "Scrumpy" as it is called. Cider is made from apples and is sold all over the United Kingdom, but scrumpy is much stronger, and usually has small pieces of the fruit floating in it.
The country of Wiltshire is most famous for the great stone monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury, and the huge earth pyramid of Silbury. No written records exist of the origins of these features and they have always been surrounded by mystery.
Stonehenge is the best known and probably the most remarkable of prehistoric remains in the UK. It has stood on Salisbury Plain for about 4000 years. There have been many different theories about its original use and although modern methods of investigation have extended our knowledge, no one is certain why it was built.
One theory is that it was a place from where stars and planets could be observed. It was discovered that the positions of some of the stones related to the movements of the sun and moon, so that the stones could be used as a calendar to predict such things as eclipses. At one time, people thought that Stonehenge was a Druid temple. The Druids were a Celtic religious group who was suppressed in Great Britain soon after the Roman Conquest. Some people believe that they were a group of priests, while others regarded them as medicine-men who practised human sacrifice and cannibalism.
Because Stonehenge had existed 1000 years before the arrival of the Druids, this theory has been rejected, but it is possible that the Druids used it as a temple. The theory is kept alive today by members of a group called the “Most Ancient Order of Druids” who perform mystic rites at dawn on the summer solstice. Every year, they meet at Stonehenge to greet the first midsummer sunlight as it falls on the stones and they lay out symbolic elements of fire, water, bread, salt and a rose.
Another interesting theory is that the great stone circle was used to store terrestrial energy, which was then generated across the country, possibly through “ley lines”. “Ley lines” is the name given to invisible lines, which link up ancient sites through out Britain. They were thought to be tracks by which prehistoric man travelled about the country, but now many people believe that they are mysterious channels for a special kind of power.
- The sea-ships and sailors.
The coastline of the Southwest of England stretches for 650 miles (over 1000 km), and has many different features: cliffs, sand, sheltered harbours, estuaries and marshes. It is not surprising that much of the activity in this region has been inspired by the sea.
Side by side on the south coast of Hampshire are the two ports of Portsmouth and Southampton. Portsmouth is the home of the Royal Navy, and its dockyard has a lot of interesting buildings and monuments. There is also the Royal Naval museum, where the main attraction is Horatio Nelsons flagship, the “Victory”.
Southampton, on the other hand, is a civilian port for continental ferries, big liners, and oil and general cargo.
Many great sailors had associations with the West Country, for example, Sir Walter Raleigh, the Elizabethan explorer, and Horatio Nelson, who lived in Bath in Somerset. The most famous sailor of recent times, was Sir Francis Chichester, who returned to Plymouth after sailing round the world alone in “Gypsy Moth”.
In Bristol, to the north, one of the largest Victorian steamships, the “Great Britain”, has been restored. It was the first iron ocean - going steamship in the world and was designed by a civil and mechanical engineer with the unusual name of Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859). He not only designed three ships (including the first transatlantic steamer, the “Great Western”), but also several docks and a new type of railway that enabled trains to travel at greater speeds. He also designed the first ever tunnel underneath the Thames and the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Unfortunately, this coastline, in particular that of Cornwall, is famous - or infamous - in another way too. The “foot” of Cornwall has the worst of the winter gales, and in recorded history there have been more than fifteen shipwrecks for every mile of coastline. There is even a shipwreck centre and museum near St. Austell where there is an amazing collection of items that have been taken from wrecks over the years.
There are a lot of stories about Cornish “wreckers” who, it is said, tied lanterns to the tails of cows on cliff-tops or put them on lonely beaches when the weather was bad, so that ships would sail towards the lights and break up on the dangerous rocks near the coast. The wreckers would then be able to steal anything valuable that was washed up on to the shore.