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Changing the clocks....

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Alice Alice | 12:26 UK time, Tuesday, 29 March 2011

In the UK we've just put the clocks forward one hour. What is known as Greenwich Mean Time is now British Summer Time. We've lost a whole hour of our lives.

When we change the clocks in spring our evenings are lighter for longer which is very nice - but my toddler still wakes me up too early in the morning, even though it was darker today at 6.30am than it was last week.

Up until the coming of the railways in the UK, people kept time by looking at the sun and the stars. We used sundials to measure the shadow of the sun. In a relatively small country there weren't too many inconsistencies as the sun rises and sets at more or less the same time across the country. In 1880 GMT was adopted across the UK - which stands for Greenwich Mean Time.

The Greenwich Meridian is marked on the ground at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, south-east London. From this point time can be measured relative from one set place on the earth.

While we're on the subject of clocks - can anyone identify these three famous clocks?

Do you change your clocks every year? Why? Do people mind changing their clocks? I'd like to know how it works in large countries which have wide geographical areas but don't change their time zones. Does that mean you always wake up in the dark and always go to bed while its light at certain times of year? In the United States it's called Daylight Savings time. What do you call it? How would you translate it into English?

Some of the words and phrases we've come across today:

toddler - child aged 1-3 years old, has recently learned to walk
sundials - instruments which measure the time by the position of the sun
inconsistencies - here, differences
Meridian - an imaginary vertical line across the earth from north to south pole


  • Comment number 1.

    Hello, Alice!
    I'm Julia from Russia.
    As far as changing the clocks is concerned, we also have to do it twice a year. They say it saves energy. But according to recent research, it doesn't look like that. Besides, lots of people, especially those with health problems, don't feel very well due to the change of the clocks. So, it was decided this March we did it for the last time.
    Personally speaking, changing clocks never had a negative influence on me, but my little daughter finds it hard to get used to it, she has problems with falling asleep at night and getting up in the morning.

  • Comment number 2.

    I like "summer time" whatever that means... Here in Italy started the "ora legale" as well (it sounds in English something like "legal hour"). But after your words this... summertime during my holiday in London I'm going to look at the Grennwich Meridian...
    Find regards.

  • Comment number 3.

    Sorry, I forgot... First clock is the really famous clock in Prague, the third the Big Ben perhaps? The second I don't know... Surely no one of them tick nowadays a good time for Italy...

  • Comment number 4.

    for those who are not successful in googling - the second one is the clock of Spasskaya Tower, Rad Square, Moscow

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Alice !

    As I am French, I had to change my clock the last week !
    How great it is, to be waken by birds which are singing, and to come back at home with the sun :)

    I hate changing the clock in Winter because I feel more depressed! You go to school and you are up before the sun ! Such a sad day which begins like that!

    According to me, sunbeam are very important such as sport to have a good health , and feel good !


  • Comment number 6.

    Here I am talking from India and I am like to see your blog.
    The clock is changing here to summer but it does not sounds great for you.
    As the summer leads boring monsoon and it make us wed and sleepy here at Dharamsala where the Dalai Lama is staying .
    The monsoon reminds me to go away from here but here i can be seen a spring with with deeper laughter .

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Alice,

    Thanks for sharing nice article...

    Thank You

  • Comment number 8.

    I am Maria from Spain. We also change the hour in Winter and Spring. I hate the first one because it means that the days are shorter. However, I love when the change is in Spring. The days are longer and it means that summer is really close.

    It is true that some people specially kids have problems to get use to this changes

  • Comment number 9.

    Dear Alice, only another thing about "summer time"... I've just remembered my mother hated this great and devastating change. She was so angry, mostly about the dark when at dawn she woke up to work, that it seemed each day one lose... an hour!
    Have a nice week.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hello everyone - lovely to read your comments. Well done for identifying all three clocks. Emily I agree with you - I need a few sunbeams to feel alive and well! There is nothing more miserable than going to work in the dark, and getting home in the dark.

    Hooonamdrol - how long does monsoon season last? I imagine everyone feels very lethargic when it is so wet and humid. Does anyone enjoy the monsoon?

    Julia that's very interesting that you will no longer need to change the clocks in Russia. I wonder if there will be fewer accidents in winter because it is not so dark when children return from school. How many different time zones do you have across the country?

  • Comment number 11.


    I think that the ‘time’ changes every year and I also think that the ‘time’ was reducing(?)
    I set my watch a little later than the world clock because I’m concerning about time but if the time keeps changing I wouldn’t be able to adapt myself well enough

    Yolly Suchanan,Thailand

  • Comment number 12.

    Dear Alice,
    Now there are 11 time zones in Russia. But our president suggested to divide the country into 5 zones saying that it's easier and more efficient to govern that way. Anyway, all the consequences should be taken into account before making a decision.
    Yes, I hope too there will be fewer road accidents here.

  • Comment number 13.

    Dear Alice,
    In my faimly, we seldom to change our clock unless it can not work or too old.Our family do not mind to change their clock' time . But I usually set my clock 5 minutes early,in order to avoid I going to school too late. When I was young, I also think that people who live in the large area have the same lifestyle. The answer is absolute "yes". Although their time is absolute the same,their lifestyle is not the same. It probably the same time but some people wake up and the other are not .Because there is still dark outside , even if the time point to the eight AM . I very happy that I do not live like that.

    Thank you for sharing your nice writing about the clock and time


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