Welcome to Britain! We at Adeo Travel are chuffed to hear you’ve got your bespoke holiday sorted.
Didn’t understand that? Let me translate for you – what I meant was ‘We are happy to hear you’ve got your custom-made vacation organised.’ Congratulations, you’ve just had your first lesson in British slang!
That’s right, even though we may speak English, there can often be a language barrier in every day conversation during your stay in Britain – this blog will aim to make you an expert in British slang!
Below is a list of our 20 favourite British slang words and their definitions:
Biscuit – Cookie
Bloody – Damn
Blimey – My Goodness
Chap – Man
Chips – French Fries
Dodgy – Suspicious
Fancy – Like
Fortnight – Two Weeks
Fiver – £5
Fit – Attractive
Knackered – Tired
Loo – Toilet
Lorry – Truck
Mate – Friend
Mobile Phone – Cell Phone
Motorway – Freeway
Nicked – Stolen
Pants – Underwear
Petrol – Gasoline
Plastered – Drunk
Quid – Pounds Sterling (£)
Rubbish – Garbage
Shambles – Disaster
Telly – TV
Tenner – £10
As you can see this is quite an elaborate list and these are only our favourites! Of course, we are exaggerating slightly – conversation with British folk will be a breeze. British people are renowned for being welcoming and polite individuals so there is no need to worry!
With more historic fortresses per square mile than any other country in Europe, it is little wonder that Wales is known as the “Land of Castles”. In fact, the mountains, borders and coastlines of this small but varied nation were once home to more than 400 forts; whilst many are vanished remaining only as ruins or earthworks,today there still exists more than 100 historic monuments, fortresses and manor houses. And for the modern traveller they make for a trove of historic treasures just waiting to be discovered. Here are our top ten Castles of Wales!
10. Carreg Cennen Castle
A site dating back to 1300, Carreg Cennen Castle makes for an impressive sight towering some 900ft on a limestone precipice overlooking the Preseli Hills on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park in mid-Wales.
9. Raglan Castle
Unlike many of the Wales’ other medieval Castles, this Norman fort has a unique design, styled to appear like an elegant French chateau. But don’t be fooled, it still offered fierce defences with its hill-top position and moat tower.
8. Powis Castle
Dating back to circa 1200, this castle in mid Wales evolved over the following four centuries and today is home to exquisite interiors and antique collections to include paintings, sculpture, furniture and tapestries. And all surrounded by stunning grounds of classic Italian and French-inspired manicured gardens.
7. Chepstow Castle
Chepstow Castle is an imposing border fort overlooking the scenic estuary of the River Wye in South East Wales; the town where JK Rowling grew up, it is possible to see how the fortress may have influenced her works of fantasy and potentially inspired parts of Hogwarts Castle.
6. Castle Coch
Commissioned by the 19th century coal baron, the Marquess of Bute, Castell Coch is far more recent than many of Wales’ forts and offers a stunning Victorian gothic-revival, fairy-tale castle of spires and turrets scenically set amidst thick woodlands on the outskirts of Cardiff.
5. Harlech Castle
A UNESCO World Heritage Fortress, Harlech Castle perches on a hill-top on the North Wales coast overlooking the Irish Sea and offers a unique history; originally constructed to oppress the Welsh the Castle later fell to Welsh ruler Owain Glyndwr who held a parliament here in the early 1400’s.
4. Caerphilly Castle
Second in size only to Windsor Castle in Britain, Caerphilly Castle near Cardiff covers a site of 30 acres and demonstrates sophisticated 13th century military design with concentric ringed walls and extensive water defences.
3. Caernarfon Castle
One of Edward I’s “ring of steel” around North Wales and with unique polygonal towers, Caernarfon is a beautiful and well-preserved 13th century fortress which received more recent notoriety as the venue of Prince Charles’ investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969.
2. Conwy Castle
“One of the greatest fortresses of Medieval Europe” Conwy Castle today holds UNESCO World Heritage status. Impressive and imposing, the fort remains linked to the Conwy town walls which almost completely encircle this beautiful medieval market town to this day.
1. Cardiff Castle
An utterly unique castle located in the heart of Wales’ bustling capital city of Cardiff and overlooking acres of open parkland, Cardiff Castle combines Roman history, a Norman Motte and a glorious mock gothic Victorian manor complete with clock tower and opulent living quarters.
To explore the beautiful landscapes, cities, coasts and castles of Wales why not do so on the Wales Explorer self-drive itinerary as featured on our website here. You can add the CADW Wales explorer pass which offers free admission to dozens of castles and historic sites across Wales.
The British economy has weathered the international downturn fairly well, and in recent years has shown some promising signs of recovery. Whilst this was great for us Brits as we headed off abroad on our holidays with a strong pound (£) buying lots in other currencies, exchange rates have not always been so great for people coming here. Whilst the value of holidaying in Britain has never been in question, it now looks like this year it is only set to get better! As other economies catch up with the UK, for the first time in several years, exchange rates with the US and Australian dollars (amongst others) have swung distinctly in favour of visitors to Britain. Indeed in 2015 our international guests are now going to get, to coin a classic American phrase, “even more bang for their buck!”.
Experts in British business and in the British travel industry in particular have said that the recent relative decline in the pound sterling is sure to have a great impact on people’s holiday plans and will certainly make the UK an even more attractive destination for international tourism. The appeal to the international visitor is enhanced by the fact that some of Britain’s main attractions include enjoyment of the low-cost, natural environments of England, Scotland and Wales. Visiting Britain’s areas of outstanding natural beauty such as the stunning coastlines of Devon and Cornwall or South West Wales, driving through the Cotswolds, hiking in the Scottish Highlands or enjoying walks in the English Lake District can be experienced at little financial outlay. And service experienced on tours, at attractions and amongst hoteliers is said to be exceptionally high following several years of local competition driving up standards.
In addition to the improvement in exchange rate, the cost of a barrel of oil has also tumbled which has, of course, had a significant knock-on effect to the price of petrol/gas at the pumps. In fact the price of petrol here in Britain currently stands at its lowest price in six years which makes touring the UK on a self-drive tour and getting around between all the sights even more cost effective. Likewise, the competitive cost of fuel has seen escorted coach tours in Britain remain keenly priced for 2015. The savings are enhanced if you choose to cover greater distances on your trip to reach the hidden corners of Britain in the north of Scotland or the South West of England. The price of fuel is set to remain at this recent low throughout the Summer touring season and well in to the Autumn.
So with the exchange rate improved, prices of touring coming down and service at its very best, it seems there is no better time to plan and book your trip to Britain!
It will soon be time to say Happy New Year to all our readers, or as they may say in Scotland – Happy Hogmanay! So Hogmanay is just a Scottish word for New Year’s Eve? Far from it! Hogmanay is an entire festival in its own right – and as with many of Scotland’s cultural events it comes with its own array of unique traditions which the Scottish people take very seriously…! Here we thought we’d answer a few questions about this particular Scottish festival…
So there is a big party, right? The evening of Hogmanay is of course celebrated in the way Scots know best – with lots of music, spectacle, dancing and perhaps a nip of whisky. Edinburgh is a focal point for celebration with an organised ticketed street-party taking place in recent years, however previously an unofficial gathering would take place on the Royal Mile around the old Tron Church – with the clock of ancient tower decidedly unreliable chaos would ensue around midnight with various groups celebrating at different times and on different count-downs!
Is Hogmanay just celebrated in Edinburgh? No, celebrations take-place up and down the country and are not immune to local and regional twists. In Stonehaven near Aberdeen, giant balls of mesh filled with flammable material attached to chains are lit upon the tolling of the midnight bells and swung around the heads of the marchers who parade up and down the High Street. Think that’s strange? On the Isle of Orkney it is said there used to be a tradition where the man-folk took turns to don the remains of a burnt out cow’s head – why, no one is quite sure… The Highland city of Inverness and historic Stirling both opted for more traditional festivities and hosted magnificent music concerts this year.
Is there one thing which is done across Scotland? Wherever the celebrations take place, you can guarantee to hear the familiar tune of Auld Lang Syne! This traditional Scots poem, penned by famed Scottish poet Robert Burns, will be boomed out of every pub and inn throughout Scotland as people link arms to dance and sing-along. And of course this is a tradition not only also adopted in England and Wales but exported across the world! But as the Scots will tell you, it’s only done properly in Scotland.
And after midnight and the singing ends, the festival is over? Not a chance! First-footing is an old custom which remains observed today whereby people go to visit friends and neighbours after midnight. You should of course come bearing gifts and if your first visitor (or first-footer) is a tall, dark man with lump of coal then that is particularly lucky (obviously!).
But you can rest on New Year’s Day, right? Erm, not exactly. Unless you consider going for a swim in the sea relaxing – bearing in mind this is January and you’re in Scotland! Recent years have seen a resurrection of this old tradition known as “Dooking” whereby people gather to go for a nice dip in Scotland’s icy coastal waters on New Year’s Day. The aptly named “Looney Dook” in South Queensferry in Edinburgh is now a recognised part of the city’s Hogmanay celebrations and many swear it is the ultimate antidote for the excesses of the previous night – we’ll take their word for it!
New year’s Day is of course a public holiday across the UK, however, uniquely in Scotland, January 2nd is also a public holiday which means most people enjoy an extra day off work. Some people in England and Wales are jealous of this whilst others simply believe, after all that ritual, they deserve it!
The Scottish know how to have a good party – in Scotland both January 1st and 2nd are public holidays (so as to offer good recovery time from Hogmanay) and the national day, St Andrews Day, is patriotically celebrated. There is little excuse needed then for a further festival which takes place across Scotland on January 25th each year to celebrate possibly the nation’s greatest poet – Robert “Rabbie” Burns – and few festivals could carry with them such intrinsically Scottish tradition!
Taking place on or around January 25th, each year, the Birthday of Robert Burns, “Burns Night” is celebrated widely throughout Scotland as a tribute to the life and works of this great Scottish poet. Robert Burns, who was born in the 1700s and loved in the Scottish Borders region south of Glasgow, was, and still is, revered as a master of the Scots Language as well as writing in English and a Scots dialect of English; his poetry and folk songs are widely known across Scotland and indeed the world and include the famous “Auld Lang Syne” which is traditionally sung at Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) each year and of course, his “Address to a Haggis” a fantastic work dedicated to Scotland’s national dish.
The Burns Night celebration usually takes place as a traditional Burns Supper which can be a formal meeting and meal of a society, club or social group or simply a family gathering. Nowadays this gathering can take many forms however typically the evening starts with contributions from the attendees which could be story-telling, recitals of verse or performances of songs, original or old but most definitely including some of Burns’ work. Then to the important business of food and drink – the main dish is of course Haggis (minced offal and oats cooked with onion and seasoning and served in a sheep’s stomach lining) usually served with neeps and tatties (Parsnips and Potatoes). Traditionally the meal is served only after a recital of the famous “Address to a Haggis” often accompanied by the sound of the bagpipes in the background. The dish is of course washed down with some quality single malt scotch whisky! In more formal quarters the evening is then rounded off with “a toast to the lassies” whereby a male speaker shares his views and words of wisdom on the subject of women followed by what’s now often referred to as the “toast to the laddies” in which a female responds with her insights and anecdotes regarding the male species! And all followed with general socialising, drinking and banter that the Scots are so good at.
If you find yourself in Scotland in January, don’t miss out on a chance to experience a Burns Supper and even if you’re not here for Burns Night itself you can still enjoy a traditional Scottish evening in Edinburgh including the piping of the Haggis.