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Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Wraysford in 'Birdsong'

The war story that inspired Birdsong

More than two decades ago, Sebastian Faulks wrote for The Independent about a group of First World War veterans searching for the burial places of their fallen comrades. The experience lingered – and ultimately led him to write a novel beloved of millions, now a major BBC drama. This is the piece that inspired a modern classic

Former captain Lewis Moody was accused of putting commercial
activity before the team but you could never say he lacked commitment

David Flatman: England captain must lay down law – and make sure he doesn't break it

From the Front Row: There is a new element to the role now that can't be ignored: commercialism

So, which is the fairest rose of them all?

Yorkshire

Christopher Hirst

There is much to be said for the Yorkshire Dales becoming bigger.

Spirit: Revellers gather in Caffè Florian

Trail of the unexpected: Casanova's Venice

With a month to go until Valentine's Day, Nick Boulos traces the path of Italy's legendary lover

Me Before You, By Jojo Moyes

Listen and learn from an odd couple

Le Cordon Bleu, the French cookery school par excellence, is opening a vast new 'international flagship institute'

Have a delicious New Year: The best foodie events in 2012

From cool cocktails and foodie festivals to hotly anticipated restaurant openings, it's shaping up to be a tasty 2012.

Natalie Haynes: Why water-cooler television still counts

A large chunk of the internet is not that important to most people, it seems. This week we were told that CD sales are still falling fast, while digital album sales are increasing – all of which you might expect. But the actual figures are more surprising: 26.6 million albums were sold digitally in the UK in 2011. Meanwhile, 86.2 million actual shiny silver discs were shifted in the same year.

Natalie Haynes: Water-cooler television still counts

Most of us don't want to learn about Pat Butcher's death the day after it happened
English cartoonist and illustrator Ronald Searle at his work desk in 1956

Ronald Searle: Illustrator and cartoonist who created the anarchic world of St Trinian's

It is tempting to make a casual connection between the horrors that Ronald Searle suffered as a prisoner of the Japanese during the Second World War and the black humour of his most famous cartoon creation, the gothic girls' school St Trinian's.

Jamie's School Dinners, which led to the introduction of nutritional standards in schools

Dinner ladies told to take on the takeaways with cut-price deals

The school meals service was launched some decades after Charles Dickens put the words "Please, sir, I want some more" into Oliver Twist's mouth.

David Cameron has launched his own investigation into the event attended by Aidan Burley, right

Tory MP who attended Nazi stag night faces French inquiry

David Cameron urged to remove whip from Aidan Burley as prosecutors consider charges

Ready To Wear: It's Christmas, of course you can over-indulge the festive style

There are certain occasions in life that bring out the larger-than-life size fashion gesture in even the most sensible dresser.

Cooking for Claudine, By John Baxter

This beguiling book concerns a single meal cooked by the author. No great hardship there since Baxter announces that "a capacity to cook will see you across more frontiers, make you more friends, win you more admiration – love even – than any language or skill."

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner and the editor of the News of the World dined together at The Ivy in London while the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler was missing, official diaries show

Ex-Met chief's dinners with Brooks

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner and the editor of the News of the World dined together at The Ivy in London while the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler was missing, official diaries show

Luke Blackall: Ambassador, you are spoiling us... despite the lack of Ferrero Rocher

They could serve you dinner on a wet white cardboard plate, and because it was the French embassy, you would presume it was correct
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
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Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created