Travel Hannah and Chico take the long way round Wales

How one travel-writer's innovative journey round the Welsh coast led to a starring role for her four-legged companion

CHRISTMAS TV: drama The Hour of the Pig

The Hour of the Pig

Letter: How we managed to fail

DAVID Bowen's article "Terminal Failures" (Business, 3 December) presents a dismal catalogue of errors in Britain's attempts to grapple with information technology.

Elbows off

As I think back, it strikes me that much of the time I have spent at table with my family has been spent not on high-minded conversations such as, what is the capital of Bolivia? (when they were young), or, why hasn't one of you got the guts to rid us of the Wilsons, the Greenaways, the Charauds of this world? but on such mundanities as: Will you please get your elbows off the table? Don't speak with your mouth full (darling). Cut your meat properly. The napkin is made to sit on your lap. And (most frequent), What would your grandmother say if she saw you eating like a pig? The grandmothers have shifted, but not the message. And oddly enough, autocrat of the dinner table that I may be, it is not my voice I hear wearily mouthing these imprecations, but that of their mothers: begging, cajoling, insisting; furious, resigned, despondent. So I take it that mothers feel that part of their nurturing duty is that of imposing something called "manners".

word of mouth jaw jaw

So our Tony wants to have a yack with Paddy about policies. Well, he certainly needs to chat to someone, but do they speak the same language? Tony's empty shtick pick'n'mix of the words agenda, community, sensible and forwards - has earned him the epithet "gobshite" in many quarters, while Paddy continues to utter homely words such as "poppycock" (from the Dutch pappekak, meaning soft shit), while staring into the middle distance like Lords Raglan and Cardigan at Balaclava, surely the only military debacle to be commemorated in knitting patterns.

Overdosing on sleaze

Clever or conventional? Paul Pickering explores the sick sentimentality of Gordon Burn's second novel; Fullalove, by Gordon Burn, Secker & Warburg, pounds 14.99

city slicker Whitby

The 30th Whitby Folk Week takes place this week (until 25 Aug), boasting more than 1,000 hours of folk events. Here's how to get the best out of an all-singing, all-dancing week by the sea

The mystery of Apollo's hexameters

THE DOUBLE TONGUE by William Golding, Faber pounds 12.99

In Here: The holiday help

The first thing I do is locate the accommodation comments book - guaranteed to make me feel young and cool and groovily un-English

Taking the donkey-work out of recovery

`It really is coming on well and we've had very few people laugh at us'

Gallipoli Murphy the Anzac donkey

Jan Morris and her cat explore the animal kingdom in search of tigers, bears, foxes and the tuskless Indian elephant

Tuvalu flags torn ... Ken's video nuptials ... royal dieting: DIARY: CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT

A BAD week, you will agree. The Government reeling from disaster to defeat like a drunk in charge of a loaded Purdey. The Queen digging for oil. The RAF carrying out mock bombing raids on a village telephone box. And then Tuvalu and this business with the flag, which has gone rather unnoticed.

Captain Moonlight: You great big donkey, you

EXCLUSIVE: Railtrack junior executive Eric Witherington (on right) demonstrates the company's latest plan to beat the signalmen's strike. These giant donkeys, each with liveried driver, are capable of carrying up to six commuters in comfort for distances of up to 60 miles. 'Once they're up and moving they can get a real crack-on,' said Eric, of Horsham. 'But we do advise bringing sandwiches.' Convinced? Actually, this is a Poitou ass, hailing from that region of France, which is used to cross with the local breed of horse to produce hybrid mules. Matched only in size by the Andalusian ass, the Poitou became almost extinct in the 1980s and is currently the subject of an urgent conservation programme.

Theatre / Dreaming colour: Rhoda Koenig reviews A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford

There is the gossamer and dewdrop sort of Dream, there is the defiantly ugly kind, and sometimes there is the coldly elegant type, the last of which Adrian Noble has mounted in a generally stunning production.

Food & Drink: Eating a Matisse for lunch

The art of presenting (or disguising) food is as old as cooking, though in its most spectacular forms it survives mainly in the monumental (generally tasteless), many-tiered wedding cake, one of which I recall as having been an exact reproduction of the bride's father's turreted and crenellated chateau. (To this day, I add, Number One daughter makes her children's birthday cakes in the shape and colour of a London bus, Victoria Station, the Roman Forum . . .)
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