This week's UK news: 9 December 2016
9 December 2016

Every week, we summarise the news to give you some insight into what is happening in Britain, and what people are talking about.

This week, people are getting ready for Christmas, records outsell music downloads, Big Ben's factory to close and we find out about the woman who flew thousands of miles with birds. 

Getting closer to Christmas in the UK

Here in the UK we decorate homes, shops and pubs with special trees, lights, and glass baubles to celebrate Christmas. Lots of people have now got their decorations up and there is lots of talk about presents. 

This week we learned that ten per cent of parents spend GBP 25 on presents for their child's teacher at Christmas (but 20 per cent don't buy the teacher a present at all). The most popular presents for teachers were chocolate, alcoholic drinks and personal items like hand cream. Presents made by children or parents were also popular. 

Another study of parents found that children liked small cheap Christmas presents more than expensive ones. A thousand parents were asked how much their children had played with presents they had the previous year. The cost of the toy was then divided by the number of times children had played with it.

Games consoles were used the most, but because they are several hundred pounds, each time a child played it cost around GBP 1.30. The best value were bats and balls, water pistols and hula hoops. Each of those was played with around 53 times a year, costing around 42 pence each time they were used. Games were used around 25 times a year. Big garden toys like trampolines and play houses cost around GBP 1.05 each time they were played with. 

One father said: "Getting the simple stuff is the best, although my children wouldn't be without their PlayStation - they'd be on it all day if I'd let them."


More music sold as vinyl records than downloads

Until the 1990s, people used to buy music as records - flat black plastic discs which were played with a needle. Then CDs replaced records, then downloads replaced CDs.

But now something odd is happening. Last week in the UK, sales of music on records was worth more than through downloads. The value of record sales has doubled in the past year, and has grown steadily for the last 8 years. 

Experts say the change is because there are now a lot more shops selling records, they are on sale in supermarkets, and because they make good Christmas presents. 


Human swan comes back to earth

A woman has been explaining how she spent 10 weeks flying with swans. The Bewick's Swans arrive in the UK in the autumn from northern Russia, but numbers have dropped in recent years.

Sacha Dench made the journey with the swans this year. She flew in a motorised paraglider, through freezing temperatures and thunderstorms. She injured her knee, and was sick, exhausted and cold. She now understands the problems facing the swans better. 


Factory which made Big Ben's famous bell to close 

The world's oldest bell making factory (called a foundry) is closing after 500 years. 

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which is based in London, will complete all its current orders before deciding what to do next. It will probably move, and probably close.

The foundry made Big Ben, its largest bell, in 1858. Most people call the clock tower on the London Houses of Parliament Big Ben, but that's the name of the bell inside.

The foundry also made other famous bells. They include the Liberty Bell which is now in Philadelphia, and bells for St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney and the US National Cathedral in Washington. 




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