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

Country Matter: Old Brock stars in set piece

THE FIRST vixen could not wait for dark to fall. There she stood, hovering on the edge of the shrubbery, lured, no doubt, by the smell of peanuts, which had been liberally scattered over the lawn. Inside the house, about 30 watchers clustered at two large bay windows, one upstairs, one down.

Travel: Holidays made to measure: Some agents still tailor travel to the adventurous client

ON PAGE 24 of the new Aito Directory of Real Holidays is a listing of the 'Really Unusual Holidays' offered by its members. This selection includes an Amazon paddling expedition, donkey-riding in the Cevennes, treks in the traces of the Cathars, stage-coach driving and wildebeest migration.

The Way I Was: Riding for a fall on old Neddy: Richard Dunwoody tells Nicholas Roe how he dreamt as a child of winning at Aintree

MY FATHER tells the story that when I was three - about the age I am in the photo - he led me out on a donkey called Neddy, and while he was doing the gate he let go and the donkey ran off across field, bucking and kicking, with me on the back. As we say in racing, he buried me half-way across the field.

Abused donkeys lose sanctuary in debt fight: Jonathan Foster reports on a charitable venture and its colourful founder at the centre of legal wrangles and an official investigation

SADDLED with some heavy emotional baggage, a string of abused donkeys have become pariahs on the frozen uplands of Derbyshire.

BOOK REVIEW / Donkeys and billiards: Jonathan Keates tackles a tempting feast of operatic work. 'The Viking Opera Guide' - Ed. Amanda Holden, Nicholas Kenyon and Stephen Walsh: Viking, 60 pounds

One of my favourite silly games is imagining the operas that might have been created by the great masters from the fictional and dramatic successes of their respective eras. How about Rossini's Pride and Prejudice, for example, full of impossibly roulade-encrusted arias for 'Elisabetta' and 'Darci'? Why didn't Mozart turn The School For Scandal into La Scuola delle Pettegolezze, with Sir Peter Teazle singing 'Contessa, perdono]' to his wronged wife in the last act? Little Dorrit would have given Verdi a splendid opportunity for one of his great father-daughter duets. As for that unwritten meisterwerk, Wagner's Middlemarch, with Casaubon as a sort of Beckmesser, Bulstrode doing a Victorian Alberich and Dorothea yodelling to Ladislaw over a Bayreuth-sized band, I leave this to your consideration.

A critical Guide: A Critical Guide: For children

Cinemagic (cinemas across Northern Ireland, 0232 232444, to 16 Dec). Unique film festival for six to 17-year-olds: 35 films including Tarka the Otter, ET, Emily's Ghost and the UK premiere of Free Willy, an adventure story about a boy and a whale.

Racing: How and Why Pat Eddery will be the next champion jockey

Pat Eddery will secure the Flat jockeys' championship at the end of the Turf season a fortnight tomorrow. It will be the 41-year-old Irishman's 10th title since he rode his first winner, Alvaro, back in 1969. He notched up the 2,000 Guineas on Zafonic and the Irish Derby and Oaks double on Commander In Chief and Wemyss Bight, and he has not only ridden more winners than any other jockey in Britain this year but has comfortably the best strike rate, around 21 per cent.

Donkey man jailed

A seaside donkey owner was jailed for three months after he admitted causing suffering to his animals. Blackpool magistrates also banned John Gardner, 49, from keeping animals of any kind for the next 30 years.

Leadership based on what the papers say

JOHN MAJOR's sensitivity to the press has often been commented on. He is reputed to scramble for the first editions every day, like an actor after a first night. But an actor who had so little success in convincing his Fleet Street critics would soon end up playing third peasant in regional rep. Once again last weekend, the Prime Minister's fascination with newspapers must have been an appalled fascination.

Education: An outside chance for the unsporting: Susan Elkin thinks pupils should be let out of classrooms for better reasons than mere fun and games

THE END of another warmish summer term, my 25th in teaching. Sports Day arrives as inexorably as Christmas.

Scarborough: postcards from the edge: Once golden sands and donkey rides were the big attraction. Now visitors come to watch the town's only four-star hotel fall into the sea. Sandra Barwick reports

A PINK washbasin with a mirror above reflected back blue sky. A white net curtain stirred above a void. 'Nice curtains]' said a woman, watching avidly. 'I could do with some of them]'

He just didn't give a damn: Alan Clark's unattractive self-portrait masks a complex nature, writes Michael Cockerell

IN HIS scandalous diaries, published this week, Alan Clark reveals himself as a man covered with warts. But, as I discovered when making a television documentary about him, his self-portrait is misleadingly incomplete. The case against him is formidable. He is a social elitist, a white supremacist, who cheats on his wife and betrays the confidences of his friends. If there were nothing more to him than that, he should be pronounced guilty and consigned to oblivion. But he is a more complex and interesting figure.

Football: Beating the world with a clenched fist: Jeered by opposing fans, cheered by fellow professionals, Tony Adams is considered by some to be the very face of English football. Richard Williams reports

THERE'S a man in front of me, an Arsenal season-ticket holder, and he's wearing a pair of huge plastic donkey's ears. They're attached to a piece of wire, concealed under a baseball cap. He's sitting in the front row of the main stand at Highbury, and the ears waggle as he jumps up and down. Anybody who goes to football recognises these ears for what they are: a weird tribute to Tony Adams, the Arsenal captain and centre-half, 'The Donkey' to opposing fans, a player who inspires unusual extremes of affection and distaste.

Country Matters: The hills are alive with the sound of muck-spreaders

THE HARASSMENT of poor Corky the cockerel, who had to be deported from his home in north Devon after a neighbour had complained about the power of his crowing, made me pay particular attention one day to the sounds emanating from our own farmyard and its environs. How long, I wondered, would a newcomer to the countryside stand the rural racket before seeking a noise abatement order?

The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold: Sic transit gloria Garrick

I WAS so livid I couldn't get the sentence out. 'W-w-what is happening this to once of great country ours?' I spluttered. I took a deep breath and tried again. 'Th-th-this once what country of ours to happening great is?' Again, no luck. My blood was boiling, albeit proverbially. 'I'm terribly sorry,' I said. 'You'll have to bear with me.' At last, after a couple of stiff whiskies, I managed to stammer it out: 'What is happening to this once great country of ours?'
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Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
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New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

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Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
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By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

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Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

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Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
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New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

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The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes