Travel

Mons is embracing the future as it prepares for its role as next year’s European Capital of Culture, but it’s also steeped in intriguing history. Philip Sweeney explores its two sides

Acts of Union and Disunion, By Linda Colley: Book review - a lively analysis that disentangles the false unities from the real disunities

I first met Professor Linda Colley in 10 Downing St, during those heady days after Blair's first election victory. Cherie Blair had invited the historian to deliver a pre-buffet lecture on Britishness. Exhilarating and erudite, the talk turned into a subtle critique of Cool Britannia, the daft "rebranded" national identity marketed by New Labour.

Belgium's 18th richest man close to £14m takeover at Charlton Athletic

Charlton Athletic are in advanced negotiations with Belgium's 18th richest man, Roland Duchâtelet, over a £14 million takeover of the struggling Championship club.

Marouane Fellaini could be set for a spell on the sidelines should he undergo surgery on his wrist

Marouane Fellaini injury: Manchester United confirm midfielder faces lengthy spell out after wrist surgery

The summer signing could be out until the end of February

A man prays in the CAR; 600 have died since fighting started

French President François Hollande isolated over conflict in Central African Republic

Mr Hollande has pleaded with other EU members to put more boots on the ground in the former African colony

No one really wants to be Belgian: Country doesn’t grant a single citizenship under new laws for 2013

More than 500 applications filed this year are expected to be refused - including French luxury goods magnate Bernard Arnault

Trappist beers produced by Belgium’s Orval monastery

Last orders looming for Trappist beers as Belgium's band of brotherly brewers dies off

The Orval monastery – one of only eight in the world producing certified Trappist beers – now has only 12, down from 35 a few decades ago

Jean-Jacques De Gucht, of the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats, spoke in favour of the proposal

Belgian Senate votes in favour of law allowing euthanasia for terminally ill children

Senators shrugged off vociferous opposition from religious groups

Fruit beers could soon fall foul of French taxes

Postcard from... Brussels

The Belgians’ sweet tooth is not limited to the calorific chocolates and truffles they consume: their famous beers are also often laced with sugar, especially the fruity brews enjoyed across the country.

Kevin de Bruyne has made three Premier League appearances for Chelsea

Transfer news: Chelsea midfielder Kevin De Bruyne set for Stamford Bridge exit with fears over his Belgium World Cup hopes

De Bruyne's lack of first team football under Jose Mourinho has led to the Belgian pushing for a Bundesliga return

Postcard from... Belgium

King Philippe of Belgium has granted royal pardons for 11 people convicted of traffic offence

Anger as Belgium's King Philippe ‘frees’ 11 people convicted of traffic offences

A Palace spokeswoman said the King was simply fulfilling his constitutional obligations by signing the pardons

Guido Gryseels, director of the colonial museum at Tervuren, said
it wanted to become a window on contemporary Africa

Belgian museum faces up to its brutal colonial legacy

The institution dubbed the last colonial museum in the world is packing up its stuffed animals and controversial statues this weekend as it closes down for a three-year makeover aimed at modernising the monument to King Leopold II and his murderous reign in the Belgian Congo.

Merseyside derby: Luis Suarez hit by moment of madness as Kevin Mirallas lucky to escape red card after horrific tackle

Managers agree Everton star should have been sent off for this horror challenge

Kevin de Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne urged to leave Chelsea - by his own team-mate Eden Hazard

The forward has struggled to force his way into the side this season

Chris Coleman could return to Crystal Palace, where he once played

Chris Coleman ends Crystal Palace speculation by signing new Wales contract

There had been uncertainty over the former Fulham manager's future

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'