Today’s collocation challenge is based on an authentic text published in the travel section of The Daily Telegraph (a UK newspaper). It starts with some multiple-matching reading questions and goes on to start a series of posts which mine the text for interesting collocations and phrases that could be used in your own writing when describing places.
Let’s start with the reading exercise.
Part 1: Reading
You’re going to read an article about the 10 best places and cities to visit in England. For questions 1-10 below, choose from the places and cities mentioned in the text. The places may be chosen more than once and there may be more than one possible answer to some of the questions.
Once you’ve got answers to all or most of the questions, check your answers at the bottom of this post.
Part 2: Language focus – collocations and useful phrases for describing places
This part of the post starts off a series of posts focusing on some collocations found in the text. We’ll start with the section about Yorkshire and look at the other sections of the text over the next few days
1. sheer + noun (C1 / C2)
When giving reasons why Yorkshire is worth visiting, the writer says that…
The sheer beauty of the county, sometimes as unexpected as a dilapidated mill chimney stabbing up through a leaden sky, has inspired generations of painters
What’s the effect of adding the adjective sheer in the collocation with beauty? Does it emphasise or weaken the noun? What could you replace sheer with and still keep the meaning and effect the same?
Check your ideas with the Cambridge Dictionary online entry for sheer
2. Useful phrases for writing about places
The section about Yorkshire has a few interesting phrases that you could adopt in your own descriptions of places:
Visitors flock to Yorkshire because there is no place on earth like God’s Own County…
Yorkshire boasts more Michelin-starred restaurants than anywhere else in the country
- to flock to a place – go or travel somewhere in large numbers
- to boast – when people boast about something they usually talk about something they can do with a lot of pride – it’s usually considered a negative thing. In the example here however, it is used to talk about something a place has that it deserves to be proud of.
Try to finish these sentence beginnings with your own ideas:
- Visitors from northern Europe flock to the Mediterranean in summer because…
- Tourists flock to my hometown to see/visit/experience…
- A new 5 star hotel has been built in my hometown. In addition to 2 swimming pools it boasts…
- The most famous museum I’ve ever been to boasts… …in its collection. (What makes that museum really famous and special?)
Answers to the reading exercise questions:
- The writer says that the food which is available today in Bath is better than it once was: “Bath’s Achilles heel used to be used to be a surprising dearth of good, affordable places to eat. But that is no longer the case. The foodie transformation of a number of the city’s pubs over the past decade has been the most significant improvement.” Achilles heel = weakness
- The writer mentions opportunities to buy locally produced food in the sections about Devon and Suffolk: “A visit here mixes two of life’s loveliest pleasures: good food and the great outdoors. Devon folk make the most of the rich larder of food on their doorstep. Lamb, venison, pheasant, pork and seafood are staples, and the county’s farmers’ markets are full of artisan producers selling delicious cider, apple juice, cheese and ice cream.” / “Wherever you are, you’re never far from a cosy, pamment-floored pub serving local ales or an excellent delicatessen selling the region’s specialities – pungent cheeses, smoked fish or honey.”
- In the text about Suffolk the writer talks about opportunities for nature lovers to see a diverse variety of animals? “Bird life is astonishingly rich… … while the unique wetlands of the Broads, one of England’s 10 designated National Parks, is home to more than 400 rare species, including butterflies, dragonflies, moths and snails.” Wild animals (seals and sharks) are mentioned in the section about Cornwall but the writer doesn’t emphasise the variety of animals visitors can see.
- The sections on Brighton and London highlight the variety of things for visitors to do as major attractions. Brighton is praised for being a place where “you need never get bored” and a number of varying different attractions are listed as reasons why the city “caters for all tastes.” Similarly, the diversity of activities available to visitors to London is emphasised: “Restaurants, bars and theatres are buzzing and the range of events on offer – from sport to food pop-ups, from music festivals to theatre – is unbeatable. “
- The weather is mentioned in various texts. However, in the section about Norfolk the writer refers to “northerly and easterly winds” keeping “temperatures low” and goes on to say that “even on cold, bright days in winter, the beach car parks can be busy with dog-walkers and hikers” – hiking and dog walking can be considered “outdoor activities”.
- The section about The Lake District best matches the statement that “the area is associated with many artists and writers”: “The Lake District also has numerous artistic and literary connections, most famously William Wordsworth, who was born in Cockermouth in 1770 and drew much of his poetic inspiration from the surrounding landscape.” A reference to only one writer, Jane Austen, is included in the section about Bath and in the sections about Yorkshire and Cornwall only artists are mentioned.
- Surfing is mentioned in the texts about Devon and Cornwall but in the section about Cornwall this water sport is said to “attract a number of visitors”: “Surfing is big draw, for all ages – bodyboarding too – and lessons are available on most north-coast beaches.”
- “The glorious, honey-coloured towns and villages of the Cotswolds look as if they have strayed into the 21st century from another era.” This description matches the statement that “places in this region look like they did in other periods of history.”
- The writer mentions the fact that “even in natural areas you can see signs of an industrial past” in the text about Yorkshire: “The sheer beauty of the county, sometimes as unexpected as a dilapidated mill chimney stabbing up through a leaden sky…”
- The advice that exploring the place on foot can bring you interesting surprises matches to the text about Brighton: “There’s always something unexpected to enjoy – the secret is to roam freely and keep your eyes peeled.”
Language notes for Part 2: collocations and useful phrases for describing places
1. sheer + noun Sheer emphasises or intensifies the noun beauty, it could be substituted by complete or utter. Nouns which frequently collocate with sheer include:
2. Useful phrases for writing about places – possible ways to end these sentences:
- Visitors from northern Europe flock to the Mediterranean in summer because of the good weather / they are almost guaranteed sunshine.
- Tourists flock to Coimbra to visit the historic university.
- A new 5 star hotel has been built in my hometown. In addition to 2 swimming pools it boasts an 18 hole golf course, a state of the art gym and 3 top restaurants.
- The most famous museum I’ve ever been to boasts an amazing dinosaur skeleton in its collection.
You can continue exploring the language in this text by looking at Part 2 in this series of posts.