Exercise 1

A. You are going to listen to an interview with John Bigos, the managing director of London Duck tours limited. This company use ‘Ducks’, renovated World War II amphibious vehicles which can travel on land and water. Listen to part 1. Answer the questions.

1   What are the advantages of Duck tours compared with other tours?

2   What happens if a Duck boat breaks down?

3   Who do they sometimes have to rescue?

4   What was the problem with the lady in a mink coat? What happened in the end?


1   You go both on land and on the river in one tour. There are only 30 people on each tour so it is quite intimate.

2   They have to drop the anchor and then wait to be rescued, sometimes by another Duck.

3   People who have fallen or jumped off one of the bridges.

4   Her coat got wet and she complained, and wanted the company to have it cleaned for her. Luckily she had to return home soon after and so there wasn’t time to have the coat cleaned.


I = interviewer, J = John Bigos

I   John Bigos is the managing director of London Duck Tours Limited. This company uses Ducks, renovated World War II amphibious vehicles, which can travel on land and water. What makes a Duck tour better than a normal sightseeing tour?

J   What makes Duck tours more interesting in terms of the tour as opposed to other tours is the ability to be able to go on the land and the river in one tour at the same time. That has a great benefit for all our clients. We also have a very small vessel which only takes 30 people and that allows you to have much more intimate relationship with your clients, which makes it a wonderful experience, which you don’t get when you go on ordinary, pre-determined computerized tours.

I   Some people might say that taking tourists on such a busy river is a bit dangerous. Have you ever had any accidents?

J   In terms of accidents, we have had breakdowns, that means that we have to drop the anchor in the river which is similar to having to use the brake on the land and we’ve had to recover both our boat and our passengers, but that fortunately is quite a rare thing, but it adds to the fact that the tour is unique and no one else can do it. It’s an experience, which can include being recovered by another Duck.

I   Do you ever have to rescue other people on the river?

J   When we are on the river, we are one of the most frequent users of this part of the river and people will often fall or jump off Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge… or indeed Vauxhall Bridge and therefore we will be within the vicinity and will often have to rescue people who have neither fallen off or who have deliberately tried to commit suicide, so in terms of the river it is a very serious river with a very fast-flowing tide and we treat it with the utmost respect.

I   Do you have many difficult customers?

J   We do have people who come in a very unprepared manner, for example a lady in a mink coat who then gets wet she asks for the mink coat to be specifically cleaned, which would cost us a whole day’s revenue, the coat was very expensive and the good news is she was travelling abroad back to her homeland and unfortunately we were unable to get it cleaned within the time that she asked, and in the circumstances, it didn’t cost us any money. So those sort of people can be difficult as well as your normal customers who either don’t think they’ve had the service they requested or the tour was not up to a standard that they thought they would like, probably because they’re afraid of water.

B. Listen to part 2. Answer the questions.

What does he say about…?

 Nelson Mandela’s statue

 Trafalgar Square


 the Houses of Parliament


 200 different cultures

 standards of service

 travel and congestion


1   It’s one of the most popular sights. It’s in Parliament Square. It’s the first statue that has been erected while someone is still alive.

 It’s another very popular sight. People like the fountains and Nelson’s Column.

 It’s another popular sight and is the place where the Duck boats go into the water.

 This is one of his personal favourite sights – he thinks it’s a beautifully designed building.

 They year when women got the vote – quite recent, he thinks. He mentions this is the context of the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst.

6   He thinks the fact that there are over 200 different cultures is one of the best things about London.

7   The standard of service in London isn’t as high as in other big cities. For him this is one of the worst things.

8   An example of the bad service which needs to be improved – there are a lot of delays.


I   What are the most popular sights?

J   The most popular sights that get people really excited are Parliament Square, where we have the new Nelson Mandela statue, and that’s the first statue that I’m aware of that has been erected while someone was still alive, and that’s very exciting. Additionally we have a number of heroes in our country and Trafalgar Square with all the fountains and Nelson and Nelson’s Column, really excite people, and finally we obviously have M16, which is where our vessels go into the water and it is also where film The Living Daylights and The World is not Enough started when the boat came out of a second floor window and as a ‘Duck’ we replicate that in our own style.

I   What are your personal favourite sights on your tour?

J   I personally like the Houses of Parliament, because I think it is a beautifully designed building and it’s got some very interesting features. I also favour the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst because that is quite interesting in so much as it was only in 1928 that women were given the vote and yet it seems so many years ago, and then in terms of large sights, obviously things like Buckingham Palace and Horse guards are very interesting as well, because of the history.

I   What do you think is the best and worst thing about London for a tourist?

J   I think the best thing is the fantastic variety and depth of culture that we have in our capital city here. We have over 200 different cultures and nations who live here in the centre of London, and it makes for a fantastic cosmopolitan city with so much variety that it is impossible to get bored. It is a fabulous capital to come to as a tourist.

In terms of the worst things for tourists in London, I don’t think our capital has yet reached the standards of service that a lot of other cities have, where you don’t get good quality food at a reasonable price on time quite often and you have a lot of delays in terms of travel and congestion and therefore there are many things that can still be done to improve the quality of service for a fantastic capital city.

Exercise 2

A. You’re going to hear five people talking about their favourite cities and a city they would like to visit. Write the number of each speaker next to the two cities they mention. Who only mentions one city?

1 Theresa   2 Anne   3 Agne   4 Matandra   5 Harley

Barcelona ___

Cape Town ___

Casablanca ___

Delhi ___

London ___

New York ___

Rome ___

Stockholm ___

Sydney ___

B. Listen again.

 Who especially likes the contrasts between their favourite city and the UK?

 Who is only interested in cities for one reason?

 Who has recently changed their mind about their favourite city?

 Who talks about how the city makes them feel?

 Whose favourite city is in fact their home town?



Barcelona 2 (Anne, would you like to visit)

Cape Town 1 (Theresa, would you like to visit)

Casablanca 4 (Matandra, would you like to visit)

Delhi 2 (Anne, favourite)

London 5 (Harley, favourite)

New York 3 (Agne, favourite)

Rome 4 (Matandra, favourite)

Stockholm 1 (Theresa, favourite)

Sydney 3 (Anne, would you like to visit)

Harley only mentions one city.


1   Anne

2   Harley (for shopping)

3   Theresa (it used to be Prague)

4   Agne (it makes her feel alive)

5   Matandra


I = interviewer, T = Theresa, A = Anne, Ag = Agne, M = Matandra, H = Harley


  What’s your favourite city?

T   I would have said Prague actually, but I’ve recently been to Stockholm a couple of times and I loved it. Stockholm is fantastic. It’s built on 14 islands, lots of water, which I love, lots of interesting museums, Stockholm’s lovely.

  Which city would you most like to visit?

T   I went to Cape Town earlier on this year and we were only there for five days and there was so much that I didn’t see that I would love to go back to Cape Town and see Robben Island and some of the apartheid museums and learn more about Nelson Mandela.


I    What’s your favourite city?

A   Probably Delhi, because of the difference in culture and the monuments that are there and the people, and looking at the cultural differences of how we live and how they live. And I just find everyone so nice and so friendly.

I    Which city would you most like to visit?

A   I would most like to visit Barcelona because I’ve heard the shopping’s very good.


I     What’s your favourite city?

Ag   It would be New York. I like the hustle and bustle and the ‘busyness’ and just the overall feeling of being in that city – it’s just really nice, it just makes you feel really alive all the time, lots and lots of things to do and it just goes on, it just doesn’t stop.

I     Which city would you most like to visit?

Ag   I’d like to go to Sydney, see what that’s like.


I     What’s your favourite big city?

M   My favourite big city. I risk sounding partial but it would have to be my home town, it would have to be Rome. I think it’s, you know, a lot of the reasons are… no need to explain. I think it’s very happening, more than people think and it’s the right compromise between a laid-back lifestyle and a, you know, the positive aspects of living in a metropolis.

I     Which city would you most like to visit?

M   Either Casablanca or a place like that. I’m just fascinated with that part of the world.


  What’s your favourite city?

H   Em. London. Because it’s got all the shops. So I can come here and go shopping.

  Which city would you most like to visit?

H   Any, really, any, I’d like to go to Australia, anywhere hot, anywhere with shops. Anywhere.

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