Visiting The United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is located at the north western coast of Europe. The island of Great Britain consists of 3 countries England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland is just across the Irish sea sharing a land border with the Republic of Ireland.

The UK is a sovereign island country with it’s own monarch Queen Elizabeth II who ascended to the throne after her father King George VI passed away in 1952. The pomp and ceremony of the monarchy is a part of the British heritage and attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world to the UK every year.

The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace in London the capital of England is always very popular with tourists from within or outside of the UK. Other London attractions include The British Museum, Shakespeares Globe and the more modern London Eye.

Great historical places to visit outside London are Stonehenge, the walled city of York and Edinburgh Castle. Apart from the United Kingdom being rich in history and culture you will find only a short distance from any town or city in the British Isles beautiful and vibrant landscapes with a wealth of history of their own. Visit the Yorkshire Dales, the Scottish Highlands, Snowdonia in Wales, Ballintoy in Northern Ireland or skip across the border to Eire to visit the Giant’s Causeway.

Surrounded by the North Sea, Atlantic Ocean, the English Channel and the Irish Sea the UK is only connected to another country France via the Channel Tunnel. There are many busy holiday resorts and ports along the rugged and varied coastline and inland with something for everyone to enjoy. For pure relaxation and fun you might try seaside towns like Great Yarmouth, Brighton, Blackpool, Scarborough or Rhyll.

Although currently part of the European Union but due to leave, the United Kingdom retains it’s own identity and currency which is called Sterling. £1 or 1 GB pound is equal to 100 pennies or 1ps. The coinage is 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 – paper money: £5, £10, £20 and £50. Scotland and Ireland print their own banknotes which have equivalent value to English money and is legal tender throughout the UK. The only difference is that Scotland have higher value £100 notes.

Recently Great Britain introduced new practically indestructible plastic £5 notes in an effort to reduce forgery and give them a longer life. Some people have had fun trying to destroy them by giving them a clean in the washing machine. Unfortunately it has been found out that the ink can be rubbed off with a pencil eraser, not something that I’ll risk trying. Collectors have been causing a frenzy paying hundreds of pounds for some of the new £5 notes with certain serial numbers.

412px-topographic_map_of_the_uk_-_englishBritish people are known for their friendliness and helpfulness, especially in Yorkshire where I live. We are polite and like to queue, be it for buses, in shops, trains, tickets or entry into functions or events.

British weather is often the subject of jokes because it is changeable but it isn’t that bad. Great Britain used to have a reputation for fog and rainy weather, however fog has been rare since the clean air act of 1970. It still rains, but rarely bad downpours and we need rain to grow plants and fill the reservoirs. We get sun mostly between the months of April and September, though it was sunny last weekend in the middle of October. We get snow in the winter, but nowhere near as much as we used to before global warming.

I’ve had some great vacations in the UK and if you’d like to learn more about these beautiful islands check out the Lonely Planet Travel Guide

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