We've just come out of a mini-heatwave where the UK had its hottest autumn days for a hundred years. The UK has just had a disappointing cold summer, so we were all surprised when the temperature started rising when it should have been getting colder. Last weekend the temperature was 29.5C in the South of England, which meant beaches and parks were packed with people enjoying the sunshine.The heat has also attracted unusual moths to the country, including the Death's Head Hawk Moth, which was featured in the film The Silence Of The Lambs.
The British tradition of afternoon tea seems to be back in fashion. We are buying more of the things needed to bake cakes and biscuits, such as cake tins and biscuit cutters.And the old-fashioned meal of cake and cups of tea is back in fashion. Sales of special cake stands, which are like a stack of three plates with a handle to display and hand round small cakes, have risen by almost half. Special tea sets are also selling more. This is a matching set of crockery suitable for drinking tea and eating cake, biscuits, or little sandwiches. Tea sets usually include cups and saucers, small plates, and a teapot, milk jug and sugar bowl.
The books of Charles Dickens have been read all over the world and have had a huge influence on what people think the UK is like. The UK has changed enormously since Dickens wrote his famous novels, including Oliver Twist and Great Expectations. Don't expect to find fog in London or people being cruel to small children.But the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens next year will be celebrated in the UK and all over the world. The British Council is organising events in more than 50 countries, and there will be many more events in the UK.
Every year the Times Higher Education magazine publishes a league table of the world's top universities. Last year five UK universities were in the top 50: this year there are seven. We also have 32 universities in the top 200. Only the US has more.The top UK university in the table is Oxford, in fourth place, up from number six last year. Cambridge is at number six. The others in the top 50 are Imperial College London (8), University College London (17), Edinburgh (36), the London School of Economics (47) and Manchester (48).The tables are judged on factors including the university's research income, reputation, number of international students, collaborations, links with industry and how good the teaching is.