This week's UK news: 3 January 2014
3 January 2014

Awful weather affects UK Christmas and New Year holidays

We all know the UK is famous for its unpredictable weather. Lots of people think it rains here all the time, too.

But the weather we have had during the Christmas holiday has been terrible even by our standards. A huge storm which arrived just before Christmas badly affected train services, because it combined heavy rain and very strong winds. It also left floods in some areas and cut off power supplies for 50,000 homes. This caused lots of problems for people who were travelling to visit friends or family for Christmas.

Since then we have had several bad storms, with "exceptional weather" this weekend leading to many flood warnings. This is because there are very high tides anyway, and the rain is falling on ground which is already soaked.

The weather has been so bad that a Government committee which is brought together for emergencies has been meeting this week to make sure the right things are being done to protect people.

Christmas in the UK

Christmas is a big holiday celebration here, and there are lots of things that everybody does. These include a large Christmas lunch, with "crackers". These are cardboard tubes. People each hold one end and pull. The cracker snaps in two with a loud noise and inside are party hats, small toys and jokes.

Cracker jokes are famous for being terrible. This year Julian Reed, whose factory makes crackers, explained what makes the perfect joke for inside. They have to be silly enough for children, and also amuse adults by being terrible. Mr Reed said really funny jokes usually had to make fun of someone -- so they weren't suitable for inside crackers.

Man U book has biggest sales of the year.

Sir Alex Ferguson retired as manager of Manchester United in the summer. The book of his life was published in October and since then has sold more than any other this year.

My Autobiography (which was written by a sports journalist, Paul Hayward) is also the fastest-selling non-fiction book. It may also become the biggest-selling autobiography ever.

Ten million people watch return of Sherlock Holmes

One of the most popular series on UK TV is the recreation of Sherlock Holmes, created by the team behind Dr Who. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, who is also on The Hobbit films.

Each mini-series only has three episodes, and the last one ended two years ago. That series ended in a strange way because Sherlock had fallen off a roof and been buried -- but the viewers knew he had somehow survived.

The new episode showed three different ways in which Sherlock might have faked his own death and also had him return to solve a plot to blow up the UK government. It also included references to the show's huge number of fans around the world, many of whom have been using Twitter and other online sites to exchange theories on how he had faked his own death.


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