Today we practise English conversation and the topic is light nights, the last time we talked about light nights was way back in the spring of 2016. We talk about the sun, and its effects on us British and everyone in northern Europe.
Although this spring come summer has been challenging for all of us stuck at home, the weather here in the UK has been almost perfect, lovely sunny days with little or
no rain or clouds for almost 2 months in a row. I’m sure this has made the challenge a little easier for some of us, the sun makes such a difference to our wellbeing.
So, wherever you are in the world, why not take 10 minutes of your day and a pleasant drink, find a quiet place with some sun and listen to the latest Adept English English lesson and improve your English listening skills?
It’s a bank holiday here in the UK so I hope to find some time later today to sit in the sun in my little garden and get some Vitamin D, it's not like I'm going to be able to go wild swimming but maybe one day soon.
Cheep Blackout Referrals
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Hi there and welcome to this podcast from Adept English. You’re learning English and you want to get to the point where you can understand and speak English more easily, without it being such an effort and without translating? Adept English is here to help and today’s podcast is one of those where I’m just chatting, sharing my thoughts and experience, as I might in a conversation. Feel free to talk back to me as we go, in English of course! So this is a good way to practise English conversation!
Now if you’ve been following Adept English for a number of years, you may remember a podcast I did in June 2016 called ‘Light Nights’. In this podcast, I talked about how in northern Europe in the summer, the sun is still shining through the evening and that for some parts, it never really goes properly dark in May and June. And this is so, especially in the north of the UK. In the ‘Light Nights’ podcast, I talked also about the concept of twilight, T-W-I-L-I-G-H-T. So that means the period of time when it’s getting dark or it’s becoming light – the start and the end of the day. ‘twilight’ is quite an atmospheric, almost poetic word in English, but in the podcast I described how actually there are different types of twilight, and these are technical terms – ‘civil twilight’ and ‘nautical twilight’, which are degrees of lightness and darkness, depending upon how far the sun is below the horizon.
A photograph of Cefalu in Sicily at twilight, as this English lesson discusses twilight in Northern Europe.
The horizon, H-O-R-I-Z-O-N means where the land meets the sky or the sea meets the sky, I guess. So ‘civil twilight’ and ‘nautical twilight’ have different definitions. In the ‘Light Nights’ transcript I also included a table of times the sun sets and sun rises in different places in northern and southern Europe – and I was talking a little about the cultural influences in northern Europe of having a sunset late at night in the summer. Of course, there are also the cultural differences of it getting dark early in the winter too.
If you’d like to listen to this first ‘Light Nights’ podcast, then it’s available as part of our podcast download service. You can access previous podcasts, including this one, by using our podcast download service on our website at adeptenglish.com. Being able to download hours and hours of quality English language listening is excellent practice and will improve your English conversation. Our podcasts can be downloaded in groups of 50 for a small fee.
If you live in a part of the world where the time of year doesn’t make much difference to the length of the days, then perhaps it’s difficult to appreciate why this makes such a difference to our lives here. If you live somewhere like Singapore for example, the difference in the length of the day between 21st June and 21st December is only 9 minutes. The sun rises around 7am and sets around 7pm all year round. But in the UK, there’s much more difference.
I’ll give you an example – if you live in Aberdeen in the north east of Scotland, on the 21st June, the length of time between sunrise and sunset is 17h 55 minutes. But if the date is 21st December, the length of time between sunrise and sunset in Aberdeen is only 6h 40 minutes. So in the summer, if you’re lucky you might have nearly 18 hours of sunshine – and in the winter, you’ll perhaps get 6 hours of dark cloud and rain. That’s an extreme because it’s so far north – but perhaps it helps you appreciate why this affects us so much!
So in the UK, even south of London where I live, we are again in that period of the year where the days are nearly at their longest. As a child, growing up in the north of England, I remember the evenings being particularly long and sunny, especially in June. Well past bedtime, the sun would still be shining. The nights are quite so long here in the south of the UK, but what is noticeable is the sun being up early in the morning. Now I’m not so much a morning person, but the sun shines into the bedroom and it’s really hard to keep it out, even with what we call ‘blackout blinds! ‘Blackout blinds’ are what you use to completely cover your window, so that no light gets in at all – ours don’t seem to achieve this, unfortunately! And as well as the light, what’s also been happening lately, which is disturbing to sleep – some birds have decided to make a nest in our roof.
We’re not quite sure which part of the roof they’re in, we can just hear them! The birds aren’t actually in the loft, so they’re not inside the house. The word ‘loft’, L-O-F-T in English means the place directly underneath the roof of your house – and another word for this is ‘attic’, A-T-T-I-C. I did go up and have a look for these birds and they’re not inside the loft, but they’ve have obviously found a good site for a nest, somewhere in the roof. So every morning we get ‘cheep cheep cheep’ as the little birds get very noisy, presumably because the parent bird is coming back to the nest with food for them. Now this may sound quite sweet and endearing even, but please bear in mind, it must be a very good nest site because by my calculation, we’re on our third set of chicks, our third set of baby birds in there.
We’ve been relieved twice before because the baby birds had obviously grown big enough to leave the nest and there’s been silence in the morning for a short time and we’ve thought ‘Ah good, that’s it for another year!’ The trouble is that each time a new bird family then seems to have moved in and the noise starts all over again! Nobody in our family is very good with heights – so going up a ladder, that’s L-A-D-D-E-R – going up a ladder to have a look at the roof and block up the hole is not something anyone here is brave enough to do! When life returns to normal, maybe we’ll have someone to come and do the job for us!
So with the birds and the light, sleeping in can be affected on some mornings.
But an interesting thing I notice. In my main job as a psychotherapist, I tend to notice how many referrals I get each month. A referral, R-E-F-E-R-R-A-L - that means a person making an enquiry, asking whether they can come and see me for therapy. Of course, my referrals are down at the moment anyway, because we’re still all forced to stay home because of the virus, and not everyone is happy to do therapy online. But what I also notice every year in May and June is that the number of people asking to come to therapy goes right down.
My theory is that there are so many more hours of daylight that people on the whole feel happier. Their problems seem a bit less and they’re benefiting from being outside in many more hours daylight. And it helps that the sun has been shining for weeks on end here. Again if you go back to those day length figures for Aberdeen in Scotland, the ones I gave you earlier – it’s makes complete sense that you would feel better if you’ve had nearly 18 hours of sunshine in June than you would if your day in Aberdeen consisted of 6.5 hours of dark clouds and rain in December! And of course, our skin makes Vitamin D in sunshine and this may make us to feel more positive too.
There’s an interesting suggestion that Vitamin D deficiency – which means a lack of Vitamin D – may play some part in the current situation with the virus and our need to stay safe and stay at home. Maybe I’ll do another podcast on that too – it’s a fascinating topic and knowing about that may be really important. That’s another podcast for another day!
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Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.