Travel
 

This millennium, Britain’s dragonfly contingent has been in the throes of revolution. Several sparkling species have crossed the sea to start colonising the UK. In this ambitious itinerary, you might see up to seven magnificent dragonflies unknown in Britain two decades previously.

New York plans to cull wild mute swans

The birds' beauty belies their often menacing and destructive nature 

The War Behind the Wire by John Lewis-Stempel; book review

Colditz; the Great Escape; Bridge on the River Kwai and, recently, the Railway Man. Parodies of them by everyone from Beyond the Fringe to Russ Abbott. All second world war. Memoir after memoir. And yet with the single, powerful exception of the French classic La Grande Illusion, the prisoners of the Great War have gone largely unchronicled.

Beak season: Pink-footed geese are found inland

Wildlife Weekend: Wintering birds in the Kingdom of Fife

Spend most of the first day in Largo Bay, south-west of Kirkcaldy. There may be no finer location to watch the wintering seaduck for which Scotland is renowned. If the tide is high and the sun shining, start with the light behind you at the bay’s eastern edge, Ruddon’s Point. Look westwards for dense black rafts of scoters, mainly common scoter. A flash of white wings draws your attention to velvet scoters secreted among them. Check the flock carefully and you could even see surf scoter. There is no more regular British site for this North American visitor.

Christmas TV review: Mel Smith: I’ve Sort of Done Things was a spirited tribute to a hell-raising comic who was a master of playing it by ear

Mel Smith was a gambler, a smoker, a drinker, a liver of a life. As such, Christmas Eve’s tribute to his work, Mel Smith: I’ve Sort of Done Things (BBC2), was less a maudlin tribute to a man who died young– whatever his excesses – at 60 in July than a tribute to his powers of imbibition (they called it “getting Smithed”).

An Edwardian gazebo in Kingston, passed as you meander along the river Thames

Walk of the month: Kingston upon Thames - Red bricks and boxes on the riverbank

The Thames Path combines history with nature as it forges towards the capital from Hampton Court Palace

Anthony Rose: 'A magnum is the most generous way to celebrate'

Is there anything more festive than a magnum? Apart from a double magnum perhaps, a magnificent magnum is the most generous way to celebrate a great day with friends and family. It also keeps better than a bottle, so squirrel one away.

HIV positive predatory paedophile and his accomplice who led 'double lives' sentenced to life for abusing boys as young as thirteen

The pair used social networks, such as Bebo and Facebook, as well as specialist gay websites to groom boys

Crispy cheek and dandelion salad with roast pork

James Moore: Young and old can take heart – at least it’s not as bad as in Mexico

Outlook: Only way of being certain of a retirement in relative comfort is to join the public sector

Meat detector that distinguishes between beef and horsemeat is unveiled

Retailers will soon be able to distinguish almost instantly between beef and horsemeat in products, thanks to a bench-top device built by British engineers.

Cate Le Bon: 'Toko Yasuda has the voice of a beautiful ghost'

Fantasy band: Cate Le Bon

'Toko Yasuda has the voice of a beautiful ghost'

‘Pearl’, £75, The Meadham Kirchhoff Collection, amazon.co.uk

iStyle: An unusual tie-up - silk scarves

London label Meadham Kirchhoff has created a covetable collection of silk scarves for  Amazon. Get clicking, says Rebecca Gonsalves

£129, zara.com

iStyle: Caped crusaders

There is a certain undeniable theatrical element to wearing a cape; the exact amount of swashbuckling, however, is entirely up to the wearer, says Emma Akbareian

iStyle: Easy does it: Workwear with Californian roots

Banana Republic has come a long way from its adventurewear origins, says Rebecca Gonsalves

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Independent Travel
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
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'