Until 1954, undergraduates (students studying for the first degree) had to wear cloaks, called gowns, after dark, but now they are only obliged to wear them for dinner and some lectures. This tradition is disappearing, but one which is still upheld is that of punting on the Cam. It is a favorite summer pastime for students to take food, drink, guitars (or, alas, transistor radios) and girl friends on to a punt (a long, slim boat, rather like a gondola) and sail down the rive, trying very hard to forget about exams. Many students feel that they have not been christened into the University until they have fallen into the River Cam. This has almost become a tourist attraction.
Students also have an official excuse to “let themselves loose” once a year (usually in November) on Rag Day*.
On this day, hundreds of different schemes are thought up to collect money for charity, and it is not unusual to see students in the streets playing guitars, pianos, violins, singing, dancing, eating fire, fishing in drains for money, or even just lying in beds suspended over the street swinging a bucket for money to be thrown into.
On May 21st every year, Eton College and Kings College, Cambridge, honour the memory of their founder, Henry VI, who died very suddenly, and was almost certainly murdered, in the Tower of London on that day in 1471. he is generally supposed to have been killed whilst at prayer in the Oratory of the Wakefield Tower, and here, on the anniversary, the Ceremony of the lilies and Roses now takes place. Representatives of both colleges walk in procession with Beefeaters and the Chaplain of the Tower, and the short service is conducted by the latter, during which a player composed by Henry himself is said. A marble tablet in the in the Oratory marks the place where the King is believed to have died, and on each side of it flowers are laid - lilies from Eton bound with pale blue silk, and white roses from Kings College, bound with purple ribbon. They are left there for twenty-four hours, and then they are burnt.
Transport in Britain
You can reach England either by plane, by train, by car or by ship. The fastest way is by plane. London has three international airports: Heathrow, the largest, connected to the city by underground; Gatwick, south of London, with a frequent train service; Luton, the smallest, used for charter flights.
If you go to England by train or by car you have to cross the Channel. There is a frequent service of steamers and ferry-boats which connect the continent to the south-east of England.
People in Britain drive on the left and generally overtake on right. The speed limit is 0 miles per hour (50km/h) in towns and cities and 70 mph (110 km/h) on motorways.
When you are in London you can choose from different means of transport: bus, train, underground or taxi. The typical bus in London is a red double-decker. The first London bus started running between Paddington and the City in 1829. It carried 40 passengers and cost a shilling for six kms.
The next to arrive were the trains; now there are twelve railway stations in London. The worlds first underground line was opened between Baker St. and the City in 1863. Now there are ten underground lines and 273 underground is also called the Tube, because of the circular shape of its deep tunnels.
Great Britain gave the world a lot of talented people. Many famous writers and poets were born in Great Britain.
One of the best known English playwrights was William Shakespeare. He draw ideas for his tragedies and comedies from the history of England and ancient Rome. Many experts consider Shakespeare the greatest writer and the greatest playwright in England language. William Shakespeare wrote 37 plays which may be divided into: comedies (such as A Midsummer Nights Dream), tragedies (such as Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth) and historical plays (such as Richard II, Henry V, Julius Caesar, Anthony and Cleopatra).
Robert Burns represents the generation of Romantic writers. In his poems he described with love and understanding the simple life he knew. Among his well-known poems are Halloween, The Jolly Beggars, To a Mouse.
George Gordon Lord Byron. His free-spirited lie style combined with his poetic gift makes him one of the most famous figures of the Romantic Era. His famous works such as Stanzas to Augusta, The Prisoner of Chillon, Childe Harolds Pilgrimage, Manfred draw readers into the passion, humors and conviction of a poet whose life and work truly embodied the Romantic spirit.
Sir Walter Scott wrote the first examples of historical novel; Lewis Carroll became famous when he published Alices Adventures in Wonderland.
Places of Interest in Great Britain
Britain is rich in its historic places which link the present with the past.
The oldest part of London is Lud Hill, where the city was originated. About a mile west of it there is Westminster Palace, where the king lived and the Parliament met, and there is also Westminster Abbey, the coronation church.
Liverpool, the “city of ships”, is Englands second greatest port ranking after London. The most interesting sight in the Liverpool is the docks. They occupy a river frontage of seven miles. The University of Liverpool, established in 1903, is noted for its school of Tropical Medicine. And in the music world Liverpool is a well-known name, for its the town of “The Beatles”.
Stratford-on-Avon lies 93 miles north-west of London. Shakespeare was born here in1564, and here he died in 1616. Cambridge and Oxford Universities are famous centers of learning.
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument, presumably build by Druids, members of an order of priests in ancient Britain. Tintagel Castle is King Arthurs reputed birthplace. Canterbury is the seat of the Archbishop o Canterbury, head of the Church of England.
The British Museum is the largest and riches museum in the world. It was founded in 1753 and contains one of the worlds richest collections of antiquities. The Egyptian Galleries contain human and animal mummies. Some parts of Athens Parthenon are in the Greek section.
Madam Tussauds Museum is an exhibition of hundreds of life-size wax models of famous people of yesterday and today. The collection was started by Madam Tussaud, a French modeler in wax, in the 18 century. Here you can meet Marilyn Monroe, Elton John, Picasso, the Royal family, the Beatles and many others: writers, movie stars, singers, politicians, sportsmen, etc.
Sports in Great Britain
British people are very fond of sports. Sport is a part of their normal life. The two most popular games are football and cricket.
Football, also called soccer, is the most popular sport in the United Kingdom. England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own Football Leagues and national teams. Games are played on Saturday afternoons from August to April. In addition to the FL games there is a competition called the Football Associations Cup. The Cup Final is played at Wembley Stadium(London) in May.
Cricket is considered to be the English National game. Its rules are very complicated. Two teams of eleven men each play it, the player at a time tries to hit ball with a bat.
Golf is the Scottish national game. It originated in the XV century and the most famous golf course in the world, known as a Royal and Ancient Club, is at St. Andrews.
Lawn tennis was first played in Britain in the late 19th century. The most famous British championship is Wimbledon, played annually during the last week of June and the fist week of July.
Those are the most popular kinds of sport in the UK. But there are many other sports such as rugby, golf, swimming, horse-racing and the traditional fox-hunting.
Scotland is a country in the north of Great Britain. It is a part of the United Kingdom. Scotland is divided into three natural regions: the Southern Uplands, the Central Lowlands and the highlands and islands. A lot of places in Scotland are a natural paradise, still untouched by man.
The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh, well known for its castle. Glasgow is the industrial capital of Scotland. It us the third largest city in Great Britain. The typical products of Scotland are timber, whisky, salmon. Golf is the Scottish natural sport it seems to have originated in this country.
The thistle is the national emblem of Scotland. This is how, according to a curious legend, this plant came to be chosen as a badge, in preference to any other. Many years ago the Vikings once landed somewhere on the east coast of Scotland. The Scots assembled with their arms and took their stations behind the River Tay. As they arrived late in the day, weary and tired after a long march, they pitched their camp and rested, not expecting the enemy before the next day. The Vikings, however, were near: noticing that no guards were protecting the camp, they crossed the Tay, intending to take