News Hundreds of schools were closed today, because of a teacher strike

Workers strike over increases to pension contributions and cuts to the size of payouts

Overturn and Ahern run rings round rivals

As though provoked by the sudden, impudent opposition of the Punchestown Festival, this place pulled out all the stops yesterday. The Roodee spread out lazily beneath the sunshine, its gorgeous crush of humanity cooled by a breeze curling between the river and Chester's city wall. Out on the track, meanwhile, a filly from Ireland volunteered herself as a highly plausible Classic winner, and a trainer from just down the road achieved genuine distinction even in the oldest racecourse annals in the land. These, compounding all the benedictions since 1539, made it hard to imagine that anyone might rather be anywhere else on the Turf.

Kempes to spoil Punchestown party for Kauto

Big Zeb turns the tables on Sizing Europe to claim honours on first day of Irish jumps Festival

Titchmarsh named and shamed as peat compost row cuts up rough

A survey of some of Britain's leading gardening experts, including the former Gardeners' World presenter Alan Titchmarsh, shows less than half use peat-free compost.

A tale of two city marathons

One week and two of the world’s biggest city marathons – training for the challenge was about to step up a gear.

Dominic Lawson: Are you worried about memory loss? Join the club

With the whole world of knowledge so readily available at the click of a mouse, we decreasingly need to make the effort to remember

Trendy tea parties with Ella Doran

How Ella Doran’s 93-year-old Granny inspired Habitat’s new collection, says Annie Deakin

Ten...Easter days out

1 Edinburgh: Witness a world-record attempt at making the longest glow-in-the-dark necklace, one of the events at the Edinburgh International Science Festival (sciencefestival.co.uk) until 22 April.

McGillvary helps Giants climb to top of tree

Huddersfield 29 Warrington 10

Dureau pounces to pull off shock Dragons win

Warrington 20 Catalans Dragons 22

Betts keeps Widnes's feet on ground after Super League party

There will be a mood of celebration at Widnes tomorrow afternoon, but the York City Knights will be the first of a series of guests bent upon spoiling the party.

Widnes win ticket to the promised land and pledge to back local youth

At Widnes railway station, there is a plaque that reveals the unlikely nugget that it was there that Paul Simon wrote his ode to exile and estrangement, "Homeward Bound". That is where Widnes feel they will be next season – home.

Widnes lead the way in race to reach Super League

Denis Betts' side look poised to get new licence but Barrow and Halifax have not given up hope. All will be decided today.

Watkins' four tries for Leeds break Warrington hearts

On a weekend of multiple try-scoring in Super League, Leeds' Kallum Watkins broke Wildcat hearts with four in the second half at Wakefield. Trinity led at half-time through Greg Johnson's try, but Watkins, in an unfamiliar right-wing role because of injuries, ripped them to shreds after the break for a 28-6 win.

Myler has the last say in Wolves' triumph

Wigan 6 Warrington 24
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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
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Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
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Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
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Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
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Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
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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
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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'