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     Volume 4 Issue 18 | October 22, 2004 |

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City slicker or Country bumpkin? Do you prefer the city or the country?
How often do you go out into the countryside?
Which of these words do you associate with the city? Which do you
associate with the country? Put them into two columns.

alive    artificial   boring   cement   chaos     company   crowds   dirt   exciting   flowers   hunting   lake   muddy   natural   nature   new   noise   old   parks   peaceful   pollution   poor   rich   rocks   smog   solitude   space   traffic   trees   unemployment   wind


Use a dictionary to check their meaning, then add any other words you can think of to the columns.
If someone tells you that their parents live in the country, what do you think?
a. They are probably quite rich.
b. They are probably very poor.
c. That this person is an uneducated country bumpkin.
d. That this person is a farmer.
e. Nothing at all.
Complete these sentences…
For me, the countryside is a place where…
For me, the city is a place where…

1. See how many of these questions you can answer.

1. In September 2002 there was a big demonstration in London organised by a group called the "Countryside Alliance". How many people do you think came?
a. 40
b. 400
c. 40 000
d. 400 000
2. What were they demonstrating about?
a. the loss of public services in rural areas
b. the crisis in agriculture
c. the government's proposed ban on fox-hunting
d. all of the above
3. What is the "CAP"?
a. what farmers always wear
b. the European Union common agricultural policy
c. the "Countryside Alliance" political party
d. a limit on the number of people who can live in the countryside
4. Agriculture and farming in Britain are…
a. a hobby for rich people
b. in serious crisis
c. a major source of employment in Britain
d. growing, profitable industries
5. In the countryside in Britain today….
a. it is expensive to buy a house
b. you can still go walking on public footpaths
c. it is difficult to find public transport
d. none of the above
e. all of the above

2. Now read this article and see if you were right.

When 400 000 people went to London on a demonstration organised by the Countryside Alliance in September 2002, a lot of different messages were sent out. For a lot of people, the demonstration was about the current government's attempts to make hunting foxes for sport illegal. And while this was certainly one of the things that made a lot of people come, the organisers insist that fox hunting is only one of the issues that they were protesting about.

The British countryside, famous for its natural beauty, is in a state of serious crisis. While the hills and mountains described by Wordsworth and painted by Constable are not actually collapsing, the people who live in those hills and mountains are finding life more and more difficult. The BSE (or "mad cow") epidemic and the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease were the final blows to an agricultural industry that was already in crisis. Now, according to the Council for the Protection of Rural England, 10% of people living in rural areas are under the poverty line. Unemployment is high in many country areas. The optimism of the 1950's (when everybody thought that use of machinery would make farming easier and more profitable) has disappeared. Some farmers have changed to "organic" farming (not using any pesticides or chemicals), but others say this is only a passing fashion.

Moreover, privatisation has changed the face of the countryside in many ways. Now, if services are not profitable, they are stopped. This means that public transport in areas where very few people live is now almost impossible to find. Services like post offices and even schools are being closed in many country areas.

Added to this, there has been a movement of rich people out of the cities and into the countryside. Now, big houses are not owned by farmers and their families, but by wealthy businessmen from London who go out of town to spend the weekend in the fresh air. This has made house prices even more expensive, so people who are not wealthy find it difficult to buy houses, and some even end up being homeless.

Others blame the CAP the European Common Agricultural Policy. The CAP has given money to farmers to grow particular crops. At first, many farmers welcomed this, but now some say that too much of certain crops have been produced and have damaged the environmental balance of the countryside.

It is this situation, and not just the strange tradition of fox hunting that made people demonstrate in London. The Countryside Alliance is not a political party, but they have a lot of supporters (some of them powerful and influential) who say that the city people who run governments do not understand the way of life in the country. Maybe they're right. Conflicts between the city and the country are as old as cities themselves.

Whatever, remember there is one good thing about the British countryside that hasn't changed. It is still possible to go walking in the same places that Wordsworth wrote about and Constable painted by using one of the hundreds of thousands of miles of public footpaths which cross the whole island. Just don't expect to be able to get a bus back home again!

3. Think of a particular place that you know that's special to you for some reason.
* In one minute write down a list of words to describe this place. It doesn't matter if they're not spelt correctly or grammatically incorrect, just don't stop writing for 60 seconds!
* Now go back and look at what you've written. Select the words you like the most and write them out again more clearly. Next to each word, write an explanation or reason of why you chose that word or what it refers to.
* Now look at any nouns. Write an adjective to describe each one.
*Write down the date and time of the last time you were in that place (as far as you can remember!) Write down how you felt at the time.

1. 1-a, 2-d
3-b, 4-b


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