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A green and very pleasant land

From Stonehenge and the Jurassic Coast to The Shard; from sailing on the Norfolk Broads to hiking in the Highlands, cream teas in the Cotswolds or literary trails in the Lake District… the British Isles offer an incredible diversity of landscapes and experiences.

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English -

English is generally spoken in England, although being a cultural melting pot it is possible you will also hear Polish, Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Arabic, French, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, Tamil, Turkish, Italian, Somali, Lithuanian, German and Romanian.

There are also many regional dialects, including Cockney in London, Geordie in Newcastle, Scouse in Liverpool and West Country in the, er, West Country. Additionally, there’s Welsh English and Scottish English.


Leaving around 10% of the bill is normal in British restaurants where a service charge has not been added to the bill. Taxi drivers also expect a small tip, especially in London.

Population and size

The population is 63 million, slightly less than France’s 65 million.

At 24,2900 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is half the size of Spain.


Pound -

Despite being part of the European Union, Britain has resisted adoption of the Euro and still retains Sterling as its currency.


The United Kingdom is proud of its multi-cultural society, so you’ll find a diverse mix of cultural influences. Each country has its own set of customs and national pride.

Britain is, of course, a cultural superpower and has given the world:

  • Chaucer
  • Shakespeare
  • Mr Darcy
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Heartbeat
  • Susan Boyle
  • The Beatles
  • Tom Jones
  • Aled Jones
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber
  • nursery rhymes
  • Christmas carols
  • Winston Churchill
  • roast dinners
  • fish and chips
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Charlie Chaplin
  • Britain’s Got Talent
  • Tommy Cooper
  • John Constable
  • Bobby Moore
  • the BBC
  • Sean Connery
  • The Krankies
  • Helen Mirren
  • Judi Dench
  • James Bond
  • Harry Potter
  • Wallace and Gromit
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Mr Kipling
  • Bridget Jones
  • Andy Murray
  • Alan Partridge


Travellers to London may wish to brush up on their Cockney rhyming slang…

Baked bean – Queen

Ache and pain – rain

Near and far – bar

Bees and honey – money

Currant bun – sun

Dog and bone – phone

Bob Hope – soap

Hank Marvin – starving

Ruby Murray – curry

Scotch mist – drunk


Clocks read the same in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands.


Mains voltage is 230 volts AC (50 cycles) and sockets take 13-amp plugs with three rectangular pins.


Brits are obsessed with the weather – but when it changes as often as it does it’s not surprising!

Climates are influenced by the Atlantic, so regions closest to the Atlantic Ocean, such as Northern Ireland, Wales and the western areas of England and Scotland will be milder, and experience wetter and windier weather.

To the east the climate is drier and cooler. There is a north/south divide when it comes to weather, with the south enjoying generally warmer temperatures, thanks to the continental tropical air mass from the European mainland.


There are no serious health threats to people holidaying in the UK, although it has been known for women to catch a slight cold and men suffer from the male equivalent, a condition known as ‘man-flu’.

Passports and visas

You can enter the UK with either a valid passport or national identity card issued by a EEA (European Economic Area) country.

Travellers from other countries must have a valid passport for the duration of their stay and will require a visa.


Smoking is banned in all enclosed public places and if you are caught you can expect a minimum of six months in the Tower of London.

Flight time

Flying is a great time-saving alternative to road or rail when travelling around Britain, and aeroplanes are particularly useful if you want to reach the more remote parts of Scotland and the Channel Islands.

For instance, it takes just one-and-a-half hours to fly from Gatwick to Inverness, a journey of 468 miles.


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