Talk:United Kingdom

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Formatting and language conventions

For articles about the United Kingdom, please use the 12-hour clock to show times, e.g. 9AM-noon and 6PM-midnight.

Please show prices in this format: £100, and not GBP 100, 100 pounds or GB£100.

Please use British spelling.

Elderflower juice[edit]

I've been touring the UK as a "Mainlander" and one of the things that struck me is the wide availability of Elderflower juice. I've never seen this as a casual soft drink in any other European country as widely available as in the UK, so wonder why this hasn't been mentioned in the "Drink" section anywhere? It's absolutely delicious!! I'm definitely taking a few bottles back with me on the Eurostar! 82.132.237.47 15:55, 27 March 2019 (UTC)

Feel free to go ahead and write something about it in Drink. Also there is an article for the Cuisine of Britain and Ireland where the juice can also be mentioned. -- ϒψιλον (talk) 16:19, 27 March 2019 (UTC)

Time formatting in the UK[edit]

I see that a formatting box has been added asking that editors use the 12-hour clock in the UK. It has been agreed at Talk:England that the 12-hour clock should be used in England articles, but when I asked at Talk:Scotland#The_time_in_Scotland, I didn't get an answer. As most Scottish articles use the 24-hr clock, I am hesitant to make assumptions. Can anyone confirm that Scotland (and Wales and NI) use the 12-hr clock? Ground Zero (talk) 18:11, 25 June 2019 (UTC)

The UK as a whole uses both the 12-hour clock and the 24-hour clock. In everyday speech, it's "3 o'clock" and not "15:00", but all timetables and many written opening hours use the 24-hour clock. The 24-hour clock is also used in speech by the military, police etc. I would prefer there wasn't a "so-and-so clock should be used in all articles relating to [Wales]" rule for the UK; as long as an article is internally consistent, it's consistent with British usage. And yes, this directly contradicts what I said at Talk:England, but to be honest as long as the same format is used throughout a single article, it doesn't really matter.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 22:30, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
I see the issue you're raising, but I don't think an article-by-article approach looks good for Wikivoyage, or is the easiest for readers. Would we really be happy with different formats in Edinburgh/East and Edinburgh/West based pretty much on the personal preferences of contributors to the articles? And it could lead to editors with different format preferences arguing over which one to use in an article. As I pointed out at Talk:Japan, both formats are used widely in the country, but the 24-hr is more common. At least one editor with more experience with Japan agreed, so we'll use that format consistently. Ground Zero (talk) 23:20, 25 June 2019 (UTC)
My understanding is that the BBC uses the 12-hour clock in advertising their television programmes, though public transport and flight schedules generally use the 24-hour clock. A similar situation exists in the United States and Singapore. At least I have seen more museum and shop opening hours listed using the 12-hour clock when I was in the UK. The dog2 (talk) 21:52, 26 June 2019 (UTC)
I would emphasise that both 12 and 24 hour clocks are widely used. Precise times are usually 24-hour and vaguer times are usually 12-hour. If you say that you will call at my house at 16:15 - I expect that you will arrive between 16:13 and 16:18; if you say that you will call at 4:15pm, I expect that you will arrive between 16:10 and 16:30! I have seen pub websites which give opening hours as 12:00 - 23:00, and then say that food is served 6-8pm - the opening hours are controlled by their licence, and by law they cannot open a minute longer, but you might get food at 20:05 if you ask nicely. Times on the BBC website use the 24-hour clock (22:00 - BBC News at Ten). I would prefer that we used both times, and only tried to be consistent within individual listings, as this reflects what travellers will find when they get here. AlasdairW (talk) 22:59, 26 June 2019 (UTC)
From my memories of visiting England, I remember the 24 hour clock. (At least, when written, that one is used, I think.) But it's been a while. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 23:24, 26 June 2019 (UTC)
Alasdair, the BBC is an international broadcaster based in the UK, but I don't think that TV schedules are really that important for travellers (ITV, Channels 4 and 5, and the Radio Times all use the 12-hr clock, so the Beeb seems to be an outlier). Long ago Wikivoyage decided to use one format' per article, and to follow predominant local usage within articles. I think this was done to make things less confusing for readers. When those readers get to the UK , they will have to deal with the 24-hr cock at train stations, but we should impose two clocks on them here in Wikivoyage. Ground Zero (talk) 03:12, 7 July 2019 (UTC)
I really don't think most readers will notice, or care, that all the times in the Birmingham article use the 12-hour clock, but all the times in the Durham article use the 24-hour clock; as long as all times within an article (or a group of related articles - e.g. the city of Leeds and its districts) are consistent, it doesn't matter, and is consistent enough with the rather inconsistent British usage.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 08:06, 7 July 2019 (UTC)
And there's the rub: Alasdair thanks it's ok to use both clocks in one article, you think that articles in the same region should be consistent, and I think that "predominant local usage" probably doesn't vary across England, so we should try to get all England articles in the same format. (And I'm willing to undertake that task as part of my general copyediting.) I started this discussion with the question about what the predominant local usage is in Scotland, and have not had any response to that. An analogous situation exists in Canada, where the 24-hr clock is standard in Quebec, and the 12-hr clock elsewhere, but as in most countries, you will come across the other clock is many circumstances. In the discussion at Talk:Japan, I noted that my observation was that the 24-hr clock was used about 3/4 of the time, and the 12-hr clock about 1/4, so the 24-hr clock was the "predominant local usage". This was backed up by another editor who I believe is resident there. Ground Zero (talk) 23:17, 7 July 2019 (UTC)
I don't think that there is any variation on this within the UK. Some time ago I looked at the times in shop windows in Edinburgh, and it looked to be about equal. I have a slight preference for using the 24-hour clock, as I would expect to see that for precise times, and it avoids the difference between our use of "AM" and local use of "am". This is a country where you buy a pint of milk and 500ml of cola, so two clocks is not odd! AlasdairW (talk) 23:34, 7 July 2019 (UTC)

History section[edit]

I think this section could do with maybe a bit of expansion. It is pretty long, so parts that are currently there probably need to be trimmed so it doesn't get too long, but some major historical events I can think of that are not there include the Heptarchy (seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms), the War of the Roses and the English Civil War. I will probably cite the English Civil War perhaps the most important since it laid the foundations for responsible government and the current parliamentary system.

Up in Scotland, of course there's the historical King MacBeth, who's of course the inspiration of Shakespeare's famous play, but if you're a Game of Thrones fan, there's of course the Jacobite Uprising and the Massacre at Glencoe that occurred during that conflict. And there's of course the Black Dinner where the King James II murdered William Douglas and his younger brother. Unfortunately, I am ill-informed about Welsh and Northern Irish history, but I'm sure there would be some noteworthy highlights too.

So I think the question here is: What highlights of history are important enough to be put into the main UK article, and what should go into the individual home nation articles? And also, what should make way from the current history section, so we can expand a bit on medieval history? The dog2 (talk) 16:52, 2 August 2019 (UTC)

The history section is long enough as is it. Anyone looking for more history can easily go to Wikipedia. An overly-long history section detracts from our main purpose, which is to be a travel guide. Instead of re-writing the history section, what about making sure that all of the travel content is up-to-date, and meets travellers' needs? Improving the travel content would be a more effective way of making this a better travel guide. (Emphasis added to remind of where our focus should be.) Ground Zero (talk) 19:38, 2 August 2019 (UTC)
I don't think you read what I wrote carefully. I said let's also figure out what we can trim, and I already mentioned not letting it get too long. The UK has a wealth of historical attractions, including medieval era ones, so let's figure out how we can write a history section that sufficiently covers the highlights of different eras of history. And to your point that it's not travel related, you can most certainly visit sites that are connected to important historical events. So I will kindly appreciate it if people stop with the efforts to smear me just because of a personal disagreement. The dog2 (talk) 20:06, 2 August 2019 (UTC)
I did not smear you, and I did not say that history is not travel-related. I'm sorry you're feeling under attack, and I don't mean to pile on, but your focus here is largely on everything but actual travel information, which is the most important part of a travel guide. Yes, you did say that you would trim other parts, but I want to make the point that the section shouldn't expand. If you are able to re-focus the history section without enlarging it, you won't hear complaints from me. I did not see you mentioning connecting the history to sites that the readers could visit. Do you plan to refer to important sites of the Civil War that we cover in our guide? That would be a good reason to work on the history section. Ground Zero (talk) 20:27, 2 August 2019 (UTC)
Of course we should cover important sites of the English Civil War. The Houses of Parliament is one important place, since King Charles I barged into the House of Commons chamber to try to arrest Oliver Cromwell and some other republicans, and the Speaker refused to reveal their location to him. And there's of course the Magna Carta Memorial in Runnymede. These are examples of sites related to the English Civil War that you can visit. In fact, for any Americans who read this, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights draw quite a bit of inspiration from the Manga Carta and English Bill of Rights, which have their origin in the English Civil War. And I just felt that highlights of medieval history are glaringly absent, so let's also figure out what is not so important among what's present there, so it can make way for a little more of that. You can visit the cities of York and Lancaster, where the War of the Roses was centred.
I am aware that this is an article about the UK as a whole, so I'm not sure if those highlights belong more in this article, or in the England article. If you look at the England article, there is no history section, so that should probably be fixed at some point. But I was wandering if perhaps some key highlights of Scottish and Welsh history should also be here so the article won't be too England-centric. The dog2 (talk) 21:02, 2 August 2019 (UTC)
I agree that the History section is certainly not up to snuff. Almost no mention is made of British colonialism, and none whatsoever of mediaeval England, knights in shining armor, castles, Shakespeare, etc. And yes, as you point out, little is said about Scotland, Wales, or [Northern] Ireland. At the same time, there's a lot of excessive and pedantic detail such as citations from historians, quite a lot of concern with specific acts of parliament and their dates (which are often repeated more than once), etc. So it clearly does need some improvement.
I don't want to discourage you so much as refocus you. Your description of what you want to add isn't encouraging, because it doesn't seem to focus on history at all, it seems to focus on "places and things to see". The "History" subsection goes under "Understand" for a very good reason. WV:Country article template summarizes this subsection as "The country's history in a nutshell. When in doubt about including a date or event, ask yourself: Is it relevant to the average traveller?" (emphasis added) So when you write the following, this is how I have to respond:
  • "major historical events I can think of that are not there" --> Some of them are not there because they're not important to travellers.
  • "The UK has a wealth of historical attractions... you can most certainly visit sites that are connected to important historical events" --> Yes, but the History section is only tangentially relevant to that. It only needs to provide a brief overview of important times and events in the country's history. It is not the correct places to talk about destinations and attractions.
  • "we should cover important sites of the English Civil War" --> No, that's what the "See" section is for.
  • "The Houses of Parliament is one important place" --> Then it belongs in the "See" section.
  • "the Magna Carta Memorial in Runnymede" --> Then it belongs in the "See" section.
  • "You can visit the cities of York and Lancaster, where the War of the Roses was centred" --> Then they belong in the "See" section, since they're not big enough to be on this article's list of top 9 cities.
If you want to work some of this into the article's "See" and "Do" sections, that would be wonderful. Many countries on WV have short "See" sections and even shorter "Do" sections, so they could almost all use some trimming of useless and verbose content (this article's "See - History" section is a real turn-off right now because it's suuuuuuch a long wall of boring text), and could then use a variety of fresh content added, and more exciting descriptions all around. That would be much more beneficial to this article right now than filling out the "Understand - History" section with a lot of details that don't help someone plan a trip. --Bigpeteb (talk) 00:01, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
Bigpeteb, your reactions are interesting, but in part, they suggest to me that some of the language at WV:Country article template might need an update (subject to a discussion, of course). Take Germany#History as an example of making a "History" section practical to travelers by connecting the events with specific locations that can be visited, as much as possible. Ikan Kekek (talk) 00:30, 3 August 2019 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────If we're going to mention the Wars of the Roses, you can't do so without mentioning the cities of Lancaster and York, and as we always do, we provide a link to those respective city articles in the text body. For the record, I think we should definitely cover the English Civil War, because its ramifications eventually spread worldwide in the form of the Westminster system of parliament; Canada, Australia and New Zealand maintain many of the traditions that trace their origins to the aftermath of the English Civil War. And yes, you can visit the site where King Charles I was beheaded by the republicans (not the U.S. political party, but the faction that wanted to abolish the monarchy in favour of a republic). The dog2 (talk) 01:10, 3 August 2019 (UTC)

That's reasonable. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 01:13, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
So what should make way so we can add in the English Civil War? That's what I'm having a very hard time deciding. The dog2 (talk) 02:43, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
The civil war is also pointedly relevant to Northern Ireland. Protestant murals in Belfast laud Oliver Cromwell; Catholics curse him for massacring Catholics in Ireland. Ikan Kekek (talk) 03:16, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
Adding to existing text is easy: that's why articles like this one end up very long. This article is already almost as long as the USA article which covers a country with 5 times the population and 40 times the area. Using your judgement to determine what to take out is much harder, and is more likely to cause resistance from other editors. But we can't lose sight of the fact that we are writing for our readers. The longer the article, the fewer the readers, and the less useful it is. Maybe it's best to focus the England article on pre-Union history, and have this one focus on post-Union history. Ground Zero (talk) 04:31, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
One caveat though is that the UK has a much longer history than the US, so that means there is a lot more we could possibly cover for this article's history section, even though the US will have more tourist attractions. By necessity, it's going to have to be more summarised than the history section of the US article. The Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy, Wars of the Roses and English Civil War all take place before the US even came into existence as a country. And as you can imagine, this task gets even harder with a country with an even longer history like China.
I am happy to put most of the pre-Union stuff in the England article, and only cover the most important aspects in the main UK article. As I mentioned, the England article does not even have a history section, and adding one to that article will most certainly be a marked improvement. The dog2 (talk) 04:47, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
And the USA has far more geography than the UK. And China, with 20 times the population and 40 times the area, and a longer history, has an article only very slightly longer than this one. We can make excuses for why we keep adding to articles, or we can prepare a more concise package of information that will be more useful for readers and therefore attract more readers. I agree that not having a history section is a serious shortcoming for the England article. Ground Zero (talk) 05:23, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
The "History" section doesn't seem especially long to me, but it also does seem focused on post-Union history, as only the first 3 paragraphs deal with anything before the union between Wales and England. Ikan Kekek (talk) 05:18, 3 August 2019 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I'm beginning to think that the section may need to be re-written, so I think it is a good idea for us to agree on what the highlights of British history are for a start. Of course, there's Stonehenge from prehistoric Britain, and there's the Roman period that should be covered as well. Perhaps the reign of Queen Elizabeth I should be mentioned, followed by the English Civil War. And of course, the acts of union, colonialism and Queen Victoria. What do people think of that?

I'm kind of on the fence on the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy and the Wars of the Roses since although those are notable and certainly belong in the England article, I'm not sure they belong here. Likewise, in Scotland, there's the Jacobite Uprising, Clan Douglas and the Black Dinner. Those should probably be mentioned somewhere in the Scotland article, but I'm not so sure about here. The dog2 (talk) 06:38, 3 August 2019 (UTC)

Stonehenge and the Roman period took place exclusively in England, did they not? If so, they could be very briefly mentioned here and covered more in the England article. Otherwise, with the caveat that I'm far from an expert on British history, the highlights of British history you mention seem quite appropriate to cover here. Ikan Kekek (talk) 08:45, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
The Romans were also present in Wales, and were at least involved with Scots in battle and border skirmishes: Hadrian's Wall and the legendary lost legion etc.
But I tend to agree that one way to prevent the history section from becoming too long is to only talk about post-Union history (at a strict interpretation, post-1707, or more liberally from James I and VI's coronation) and leave the bits before to the four countries' own history sections.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 10:14, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
Sonehenge is a location in England, but there are related monuments elsewhere in the UK, eg Callanish on Lewis. The Romans were in Southern Scotland for a couple of decades, small traces of the Antonine Wall remain. I don't think that we need a much longer history section here, what we have is a sufficient starting point for somebody arriving in the UK. What we need is more history in the Understand sections of the lower level regions, starting with England, but also at the county and city level. For example Stonehenge is in Wiltshire which has a blank Understand section. AlasdairW (talk) 10:32, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, and brief mentions here of e.g. Stonehenge can be linked to the county article, where they can be expanded upon.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 11:15, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
Don't want to blow my own trumpet too much, but I think I did a good job of writing a local history of York, touching on most things of importance without going nuts on detail or length (including, for the dog's interest, the local Anglo-Saxon kingdom and the Wars of the Roses) - it is still long, admittedly, but could be three times the length of that easily. The more we can get into city and region articles, the less we'll have to talk about minutiae at the country level.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 11:22, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
So from what I've seen from everyone's responses so far, I guess the Heptarchy and the Wars of the Roses belong more in the England article then. And perhaps the Norman invasions should go there too. The Vikings may warrant a brief mention in this article since they founded settlements in Scotland too.
So I guess the only substantial thing to add here is the Magna Carta, the English Civil War and maybe the English Bill of Rights. For the Americans who see this, your Second Amendment was at least partly inspired by the English Bill of Rights, as that bill included a right to bear arms, albeit for Protestants only. I'm not sure if or when that article was repealed though, since gun politics is nowhere near as sensitive an issue in the UK. The dog2 (talk) 14:04, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
If this article is still to cover pre-17th century history, and I'm not convinced it should, I would definitely keep the Norman Conquest. The idea of British history being even remotely similar without the Normans, is kind of farfetched; they were, and remain (to an extent), the aristocracy; they triggered the English language to develop into what it is today; they were the ones who started England's aggressive expansion into Wales and Ireland, paving the way for the UK and British Empire of future centuries; the Normans' claims to vast parts of France were the seed for the Anglo-French hostilities (and conversely for the Auld Alliance against England) through the centuries; the castles and cathedrals that most travellers come to see are mostly Norman in origin, and wouldn't have been needed without an invader wishing to make a statement to the people that they were here to stay; reaction against Norman feudal excess was what caused the creation of Magna Carta and the later Habeas Corpus, Bill of Rights etc.ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 15:16, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
Arguably, the Norman Invasion was the most important event in history ever to take place on British soil. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 17:23, 3 August 2019 (UTC)
I'd say the Vikings definitely deserve a mention. Until fairly recently, Shetlanders spoke a language descended from Old Norse. Ikan Kekek (talk) 18:49, 3 August 2019 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I think the way to do this will be do a very cursory overview of the history prior to the Union of the Crowns, which would include the Norman invasion and Viking raids, as well as a brief mention of Elizabeth I, since to my knowledge, the Elizabethan era is considered to be one of Britain's golden ages (along with the Victorian era). It does seem a bit unnatural if we mention absolutely nothing between the Roman period and the Union of the Crowns. But I agree that the details belong in the England article. I will attempt to re-write it in my user space maybe a little later when I have a bit more time, but in the meantime, please also suggest what can be cut out from what's already there so the section does not get too long. The dog2 (talk) 22:15, 3 August 2019 (UTC)

How would you like to write an alternative paragraph(s) and post it here so we can decide how and what gets placed in the article? --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 22:41, 3 August 2019 (UTC)