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

Five spots for winter rambles

Nothing beats a good, blustery winter walk followed by some reheating by a real fire. Here are five spots to get the blood flowing...

Philip Le Roux: 'I became disillusioned with commercial forestry'

Cape Town is not exactly short of decent views. But the vista from Philip Le Roux's office window is breathtaking. Laid out before him are the sumptuous gardens of Kirstenbosch and the mountains behind as a backdrop, as if in a painting.

Lewis Blackwell: Copenhagen might dither, but the rest of us can get planting

Never mind Copenhagen, we can involve ourselves as growers and volunteers

Border lines: Planning a new garden? Don't bother with pen and paper, get tramping round your plot

Faced with a plot of ground to turn into a garden, a new gardener's instinct is to tackle the edges first, to work round the boundary. Perhaps this is a remnant of some atavistic urge to mark territory. Dogs lift legs. We plant clematis. Whatever the reason, it usually leads to a particular sort of garden layout: borders, generally too narrow to build up any depth in plant groups, all the way round the edge of the plot, a path making another circuit round the inside edge of the borders, or, if money and energy run out, leading up just one side of the plot, parallel with the boundary. There will be a bit of terracing or decking next to the house. Whatever ground is left becomes lawn. The centre of a design such as this becomes a centre by default, not so much a designed shape as a random happening.

Who says it's green to burn woodchips?

Woodchip power stations are set for a boom. But conservationists are increasingly challenging their green credentials. Special report by Graham Mole

At the cutting hedge of conservation

A slice of Britain: The National Hedgelaying Championship is much more than just flat caps and chainsaws. It showcases a unique countryside skill that the older generation is determined to pass on to the young

Look back at history, or get ahead for Christmas in the heart of England

British breaks: Northamptonshire

Legends of the fall: The golden, dying sunlight of autumn makes even drying seedheads look spectacular

Dylan Thomas said we should rage against the dying of the light. Though I can imagine many of us feel like stomping at the very least while the autumn nights get shorter, the dying of the light does have some advantages. As winter draws in, the sun moves through a lower arc in the sky, and light angles in the garden become much longer and more golden, lighting up leaves and drying seedheads as dusk approaches. And as we move closer to the winter solstice, the sun doesn't just travel a lower ' path across the sky, it also rises and sets further to the south every day, narrowing the angle from which sunlight appears.

Investigation under way after dogs die in woods

An investigation is under way after at least three dogs died and more fell ill after visiting a woodland area, Natural England said today.

Album: Darker My Love, 2 (Dangerbird/Strange Addiction)

Deep in the Los Angeles suburb of Silverlake, the long-dormant seeds of shoegazer drone-rock pioneers like Spacemen 3 and My Bloody Valentine are finally bearing fruit through bands including Silversun Pickups and now Darker My Love, whose second album becomes the band's first UK release.

Album: Forest Fire, Survival, (Broken Sounds)

Some bands, you feel, work out what they want to sound like and then strive to capture the idea they have in their head.

The Hacker: For once the chips are down as gin proves the perfect tonic

Admittedly, it wasn't the best chip shot you've ever seen but it certainly didn't deserve the scorn that has been heaped on it over the past few days at Turnberry.

Win a unique stay in the midst of nature

Enter the draw for this fantastic prize courtesy of Forest Holidays and Tate Britain

Beavers return in full force

The mammal's comeback has had an instant impact on the Scottish environment, as Michael McCarthy witnesses

500,000 new customers weekly for Morrisons

Supermarket Morrisons today said it attracted half a million more new customers each week to its stores in the first quarter as like-for-like sales rose 7.3 per cent.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
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Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
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Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

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Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?