One of the entrances to the Savoy Hotel leads onto Victoria Embankment.
Originally a swamp-like marsh used as a burial ground, the park was enclosed in the 16th century and made a Royal Park by Charles II. John Nash landscaped the grounds in 1820 but, unlike some of London’s other parks, it consists entirely of mature trees and narcissus flowers – a natural parkland. There are no lakes, buildings and only a scattering of monuments including the Canada Memorial, which honours the Canadian soldiers killed during the World Wars.
The station is the busiest in Europe, with roughly 2,000 trains (mostly stopping) and 430,000 passengers passing through every day.
Siberia is a large area of Northern Asia which is part of central and eastern Russia. All in all it covers around 13.1 million square kilometres, which comprises 77% of Russia’s land, but due to its harsh climate and remoteness it is home to only around 40 million people – 28% of the country’s population.
The majority of Siberia’s population lives in cities to the south, where the climate is more temperate, such as Novosibirsk and Tomsk. There are, however, many simple rural villages and tribes who live in the colder northern areas. The climate varies: southern summers can be mild and the grasslands are lush with flowers and crops, whereas in winter temperatures can plummet to -25°C. The north is considerably colder, with around one month of summer every year and recorded low temperatures of -71°C.
Siberia is rich in minerals, oil and natural gas which play a large part in the economy of the area and Russia as a whole. It is home to some of Russia’s most dramatic and famous geographical features such as the Ural and Altai Mountains and Lake Baikal, and is traversed by the Trans-Siberian railway.
Rapunzel is the daughter of a poor couple who is taken away from her parents at birth by a wicked enchantress, as punishment for her mother stealing rapunzel plants from the witch’s garden during her pregnancy. The beautiful Rapunzel is imprisoned in a tall tower with no doors, and the enchantress gains access to her by climbing Rapunzel’s long golden hair to the window of her room. One day a prince riding through the forest hears Rapunzel singing. Enchanted by her beauty, he begins to visit her in secret, also climbing her hair, and they plan an escape together. But the witch discovers him, cuts off Rapunzel’s braid to lure him up and then throws him from the tower. The briars in which he lands blind him. Years later, whilst wandering the country, he hears the voice of his beloved again and they are reunited. Rapunzel’s tears of joy fall on his eyes and restore his sight, and the two marry and live happily ever after.
It appears in several different languages and versions, but the most famous version is the story of a beautiful princess (Snow White) whose evil stepmother is jealous of her beauty. She sends a huntsman into the woods with the girl to kill her, but he is unable to carry out his task and allows her to escape. Snow White stumbles upon a cottage in the woods which is the home of seven dwarves – they look after her but the wicked Queen discovers, with the help of her magic mirror, that Snow White is still alive. The Queen attempts to kill Snow White herself three times – firstly, disguised as a peddler she tightens the girl’s corset so much that she can no longer breathe; secondly, disguised as an old woman, she combs her hair with a poisoned comb; thirdly, she gives Snow White a poisoned apple to eat. This attempt appears to work and Snow White is mourned deeply by the dwarves. They place her in a glass coffin in the forest, which is noticed one day by a passing prince. Unable to resist, he kneels to kiss Snow White’s lips, dislodging the piece of poisoned apple from her mouth. She awakes and the two are married, the Queen receives her punishment and the story ends happily ever after.
An adaptation of the story, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first feature-length animated film to be produced by Walt Disney in 1937 and has since become a cinema classic.
Milan (population 1.3 million) is the second largest city in Italy and the capital of the region of Lombardy. It was founded by the Insubres, a Celtic people, before being captured by the Romans and being made capital of the Western Roman Empire. Milan flourished as a city under Roman, French, Austrian and Italian rule and remains the main business and industrial centre of Italy. It is especially known for its fashion and design houses, and is much-visited for its museums, theatres and architectural gems such as the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which is decorated with Leonardo da Vinci paintings. Milan Fashion Week is one of the highlights of the fashion calendar and the Milan Furniture Fair is the largest such event in the world.
A cabriolet was originally, in the eighteenth century, a horse-drawn carriage with a large folding hood to cover its pair of occupants. As the vehicle was light and required only one horse it became the fashionable choice of transport in large Western cities and was used to convey passengers for a fare. It was soon shortened into ‘cab’, which is still used today to refer to a taxi.
Divided by the North Downs, Surrey is a county in which agriculture has never been the mainstay of the economy (it was important for its cloth, paper and gunpowder industries). Its current population is around 1.1 million and it is the wealthiest county in England. Guildford is the county town and other cultural attractions include manor houses such as Loseley Park, the historic Runnymede and the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens at Wisley.
The Wild West refers to the period and location of expansion into America’s as-yet-unknown Western territories in the late nineteenth century. Up until 1800 the settled areas of America reached the Mississippi River, but expansion began in the 1800s as waves of new immigrants, scientists, explorers and settlers pushed west into new areas. One of the most famous aspects of this was the California Gold Rush, in which thousands of new settlers headed for the mines and the dream of making their fortune.
The Wild West is seen in popular culture as a lawless, hostile environment in which only the toughest and most determined characters could survive. It has also become synonymous with the myth of cowboys, the typical American settler, and the Native American Indian populations of the West. Western movies featuring the adventures of some of these romantic figures are amongst the great classics of American (and world) cinema.