Life and Style Merry Christmas! Here's a snake in a hat.

Snakes in hats has become the latest pet trend to take online forums by storm, take a look at some of the most stylish here

Frog's-eye view of the campaign

While the general election will be the first to move on to the information superhighway, both Labour and the Conservatives are already cruising in the fast lane with their instant rebuttal computer systems.

Remember origami? It's gone digital ...

cd-rom review; Andy Oldfield and young friends test a program that lets you print out and make 600 paper toys

Rescue plan is launched for the vanishing natterjack toad

A century ago the natterjack toad was still common across much of Britain. You could find it as close to London as Blackheath.

LETTER: Spell it right or the frog gets it

From Master Allie Johnstone

Bellamy puts a brave face on Frogwatch

NICHOLAS SCHOON

A weekly round-up of rural rumpuses

As a novel change from owls falling victim to humans (see above), humans fell victim to an owl last week. Passers-by on a council estate at Kimberworth in South Yorkshire were left battered and bleeding by a dive-bombing tawny owl. One man thought he had been mugged when he was hit from behind and left pouring with blood. After six days the owl was captured by Paul Kettleborough, a falconer. He said: "I've never known an owl act like this before ... I went up with my fishing net and was hit once on the head before it came for my face ... The owl has been hand-reared by someone who knows very little about birds of prey. They've probably got fed up with the noise and set it free."

Virus is blamed for killing off frogs

STEVE CONNOR

If 30,000 newts could vote, John Major would be out

Ken Livingstone detects Tory party machinations behind the threat to a colony of rare amphibians in the Prime Minister's constituency

LETTER: Duck tales

What's this? First the Weasel thinks he's a rodent, and now he appears to think that ducks are amphibians (Up & Down Canary Wharf, 25 March). Is the Weasel a sheaf short of a stook?

Freak frogs catch nature-lovers on the hop

Nature-watchers across Britain have been taken by surprise by the emergence of orange-coloured frogs in garden ponds indulging in early spring mating displays.

Ancient frog

North Korean archaeologists discovered the fossil of a frog which lived about 150 million years ago, proving, officials said, that the peninsula was a cradle of human civilisation, Reuter reports from Tokyo. The remains were found near the north- western city of Sinuiju, near the border with China.

Toads rule road

Safety work at the side of the A40 near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire is being delayed until toads which cross it have finished their mating season. In order to prevent the toads being crushed by cars volunteers regularly patrol the road and carry the animals across in buckets.

Letter: Of frogs and heroines

Sir: Emma Bagnall ('Dear Dorothea Brooke', 20 January) misses the point about Dorothea - and about George Eliot, too.

Letter: Matthew Arnold: man of the people

Sir: Bryan Appleyard grossly misrepresents Matthew Arnold by inventing a tradition of 'ever-more paranoid assertion of the need for an inner cultural priesthood that would protect the highest and the best from the lowest and the worst' and frog-marching Arnold into it. The author of Culture and Anarchy believed

Germans declare a new war on frog foreigners

FROGS and politics are not a familiar pairing. In the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, however, the American bullfrog has, together with a number of other exotic amphibians, been declared an unwelcome alien.
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
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Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us