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22 December 2016

The busiest time for Christmas shopping in the UK

UK supermarkets are preparing for Friday December 23. This is two days before Christmas, a day when lots of people get paid - and it's also peak food shopping time as people prepare for Christmas lunch.

Around 10 million people are expected to go food shopping on that day, spending GBP 894m. That works out at GBP 865,158 a minute!

Another bit of research this week found that the busiest time for online shopping in the UK is 20:00 on a Sunday evening. That is the time when the highest number of items are sold. But online shoppers spend more overall at 11:00 on a Monday morning. This is probably because they have seen something in a shop at the weekend but buy it from a website later. 

More strange Christmas stories

Here in the UK lots of people like wearing Christmas jumpers at this time of year. They are usually knitted, with bright colours and pictures of snowmen, Father Christmas or elves. They are mostly worn for a joke.

This week we learned that some pubs don't serve people wearing these jumpers, or don't serve them after 20:00. This is apparently because sometimes people wearing the jumpers have already drunk too much and sometimes don't behave well. 

This week we have also learned that a little zoo in Shropshire is using llamas, not guard dogs, to make sure nobody steals the Christmas trees at night. 

We have also learned that almost half of people here think the TV is a "must-have" on Christmas Day. Four out of five people like to watch TV programmes as a family. Only 20 per cent of people use streaming services like Netflix. This year's Christmas Day TV shows include Dr Who, and a speech from the Queen.

UK's new child wizard

You've heard of Harry Potter. Soon you will hear about Mildred Hubble, the star of a new BBC/Ntetflix/ZDF series called The Worst Witch. This is a new series based on UK children's books which will be shown on a children's channel here in January before going on to Netflix.

Mildred Hubble is studying at Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches, where she is noticed for being clumsy. The actor playing Mildred is Bella Ramsay, who has also appeared in Game of Thrones as Lady Lyanna Mormont. Bella is 13 and her parents do not let her watch Game of Thrones.

The UK's best house of the year

If you are studying in Edinburgh, you could go and look at the house which has been voted the best in the UK this year. It was built by architect Richard Murphy for himself, and is full of little surprises.

For instance, the bath is hidden underneath a panel in Murphy's top floor bedroom. If he wants, he can press a button to open the ceiling up and push out the outside walls so he can enjoy his bath under the stars. The walls move in other parts of the house, too, and there is a secret hatch where the letters are posted.

The house is built on a tiny space in Edinburgh's New Town but is so cleverly designed it includes three bedrooms and three shower rooms. One of Murphy's friends has called it the Rubik's Cube house because it is built like a puzzle. Other people have said it is like something from a Wallace and Gromit cartoon. 

Big Ben's bells stop

Big Ben, the famous clock on the Houses of Parliament in London, needs a lot of repair work. This means that the famous "bongs" will only chime on the hour at special times like New Year for up to three years while GBP 29m of repairs are done. 

Big Ben's "bongs" are not only popular with tourists. They are also part of the introduction to many news programmes on the radio and TV. 

One little girl wrote to the public service broadcaster the BBC this week offering to record her own replacement for the "bongs". She got a letter back explaining that this would be very hard for her to do after she got in from school every night. The letter has been shared on Facebook many times.


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