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Conservative halve Labour’s poll lead

Mischief-makers, misfits and mums: the bloggers who'll keep us plugged in

That guy. The one opposite you on the train, hunched over his iPhone, stabbing away at the virtual keyboard and making ssllp-spittle noises. He's probably at it. That other guy, the one in Starbucks with the black Moleskine, the MacBook Pro, skinny latte, Oliver Peoples spectacles and intermittent finger-to-chin pauses for "thought": he's at it. Cube Girl over there is at it, and the Mumsnet brigade are at it, both on and off Mumsnet.

Errors & Omissions: Animals aren't human, much as we like to pretend otherwise

There is nothing wrong with a striking opening, but the attempt to grab the attention of the supposedly somnolent reader can become silly. Here is the opening of a news story published on Wednesday: "The common toad may be ugly, warty and squat, but it is blessed with an extraordinary gift. It has an uncanny ability to predict earthquakes several days before they occur."

Toads with a super sensitive side hopped it before L'Aquila quake

Colony of amphibians vanished from Italian lake five days before disaster, then returned to breed when it was safe

Matthew Bell: The <i>IoS</i> Diary (21/03/10)

First cuckoo of spring

Dress code: Erin O'Connor

What are you wearing right now?

Some black leather shoes with brass toe caps by Miu Miu, funky frog Topman socks, black tailored trousers from Acne, a vintage Russian sailor’s top with a metallic polka-dot jacket by Victor and Rolf, and a classic Jaeger handbag.

Minor British Institutions: The MG Midget

They haven't made any of these for more than a quarter of a century, but you still see a few around, they are all cherished and seem set to be with us for ever.

Extreme safari: Rhino, wildebeest, whistling frogs &ndash; there's a new species to discover around every corner at the Phinda game reserve

The adrenalin coursing through my body takes me back to the feeling I had jumping out of a plane – only this time I'm not at 14,000ft but firmly on terra firma, sat in the back of a car. The hairs on the back of my neck are on end, my pupils dilated and my heart thumping over the rustle of the breeze.

Letters of Ted Hughes, Ed. Christopher Reid

In dreams, as another poet wrote, begin responsibilities. Whatever else happens in the lurching trajectory as poet, critic and national icon that these addictive letters record, Ted Hughes stays a serious dreamer.

Travel challenge A new year get-together in England

Every week we invite competing companies to give us their best deal for a specified holiday. Today: a self-catering break over the new year. Prices are for seven nights' rental (commencing 28 December) for properties that sleep at least 10 guests.

Pandora: Former Sun editor to pen parable of booze

David Yelland, the former Sun editor turned high-flying publicist, is to try his hand at fiction. He has announced his intention to publish a children's novel, telling the tale of a boy with an alcoholic father.

Red alert: scientists identify 17,000 endangered species

Conservation groups warn of 'alarming' loss of biodiversity as thousands of animals face imminent extinction

Gadget of the week - Philips Wake-up Light, &#163;130

As winter darkness – and seasonal affective disorder – looms, bring a bit of light into your mornings with this clever device, which is a combined bedside lamp, alarm clock and digital radio. It can be programmed to wake you up by simulating dawn (by slowly illuminating), along with a chorus of natural sounds, from chirping birds to croaking frogs to the gentle crash of waves on the shore. Having tested it out on a very heavy sleeper who hates stirring before 11am, I can confirm that this is rather a splendid way to be woken up. Shop.philips.co.uk

Rodney star to play his father in prequel

Nicholas Lyndhurst is set to play his own dad in a prequel to Only Fools And Horses, it was announced today.

Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Panama
Languedoc Roussillon
Marrakesh & the Atlas Mountains
Bruges
The Jura Mountains
Dubrovnik & the Dalmatian Coast
Prices correct as of 17 September 2014
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments