Sport Lizzy Yarnold is among the brightest hopes for Team GB in Sochi

A minimum target of three medals has been set - with as many as seven a possibility

The Francis is the latest hotel to open in Bath. Set in a string of townhouses, it sports Regency-inspired design with modern flourishes (mgallery.com).mgallery.com).

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What a dish: It all looks great at Hawksworth, Vancouver
Students demonstrate against austerity cuts

How the world fell out of love with Europe

With the eurozone crisis showing no signs of waning, people around the globe are looking to less traditional models, a new poll shows

Jenna Talackova (right) was born male

Pageant expels sex-change finalist

Beach shots depict her as a curvaceous beauty queen. But 23-year-old Jenna Talackova was born male and that has led organisers to disqualify her as a finalist in the 61st Miss Universe Canada pageant.

Whistler, Cajun Country, Bilbao

Now... Canadian Ski

A week-long ski break in Whistler is £969pp, with Air Canada flights from Heathrow to Vancouver via Montreal on 7 March, transfers and a fully catered stay at the Chalet Whistler Mountain House. Skiamericaonline.co.uk

Something to declare: Oyster cards; Vancouver; Australia; pet travel to Europe

Bargain of the week: The Oyster is your world

Raising cost of drink shown to cut abuse and illness

20-year study reveals significant social benefits follow a 10 per cent rise in the price of alcohol

Mounties stage a horseback parade through downtown Vancouver

Who would be a female Mountie?

Canada's police force has been rocked by a spate of allegations of sexual harassment against male officers

Occupy protesters block US ports

More than 1,000 Occupy Wall Street protesters have blocked cargo trucks at some of the West Coast's busiest ports, forcing terminals in Oakland, California, Portland, Oregon, and Washington state to halt operations.

Glaciers in retreat around the world

Millions of people who rely on water from the glaciers of a mountain range in Peru are experiencing what scientists have called "peak water" - the point at which the runoff from the glaciers becomes progressively weaker even though the ice continues to melt.

Ski British Columbia prize draw terms and conditions

1. This prize draw is open to residents of the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland aged 18 years or over, except employees of The Independent, Ski Independence and Tourism British Columbia, their families, agents or anyone else professionally associated with the draw.

The Big Six: Cool campsites

Shale gas set to supply half of America's gas needs within 10 years

Shale gas is energy's "game-changer".

Mounties get their man (and wife) as 'lost' honeymoon couple are found

At nearly one million square kilometers of pristine wilderness and with a burgeoning population of grizzly bears and cougars, the forests and mountains of British Columbia are not a good place to get lost.

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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
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'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick