News Demonstrators protest against the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad outside the UN offices in Geneva during the talks on Friday

At first the talks were delayed for 24 hours, then Syria’s foreign minister threatened to walk out. But last night the two sides agreed to be in the same room. Kim Sengupta reports from Geneva on the UN mission to end the bloodshed

Simon Usborne: £50 premium saved me a bill for £10,000

The pain was bad enough – I'd broken my back in a fall while skiing off-piste – but it could have lasted much longer. The helicopter rescue didn't come cheap. Nor did the morphine, the Swiss hospital, the six seats converted as a stretcher on the flight from Geneva, or the fee for the doctor sent to bring me home.

A back door to beauty: Sion offers a surprising approach to some splendid Swiss skiing

The recorded welcome and safety-instruction message on National Express airport coaches ends with the invitation to "sit back and enjoy the ride". It occurred to me as the 7.05am service left Golders Green Tube station for Stansted that nobody wanting an enjoyable ride would head off around the eastern part of the North Circular Road, with its grim monoculture of retail-park architecture. Certainly it became evident on this trip that the only passengers having a good time were those whose eyes were closed and mouths open.

Airlines boosted by business fares

Airline balance sheets have improved this year in part because of a sharp increase in business class fares, the International Air Transport Association said yesterday.

Warning over 'superbug' strains of TB

A TB time bomb could explode on the world without major efforts to curb drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis, experts warned today.

The science of gardening (as explained to renowned physicists)

It has been described as probably the most important garden in Europe but is open to the public on only one day a year. Now, however, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation developed by American-born landscape architect and historian Charles Jencks may be replicated at the Geneva-based centre of CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.

Hadron Collider II planned for Circle Line

[ Added at noon on 1 April: Before you read, check the date! ]

London Underground is in talks with the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) about the possibility of using the 23km tunnel of the Circle Line to house a new type of particle accelerator similar to the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.

Leading article: High maintenance

The search for the "God particle" will have to wait a while longer. The Large Hadron Collider in Geneva is to be switched off for a year at the end of 2011 in order to correct a design problem.

Skoda shows sporty Fabia vRS at Geneva

Skoda has introduced a new high-performance version of the Fabia. The vRS has a 1.4 litre petrol engine fitted with both an engine-driven supercharger and an exhaust-driven turbocharger, a combination that is good for some 180 horsepower. That's enough to propel the vRS, in either hatchback or estate form, to 100km/h (62mph) in just 7.3 seconds. VW's second-generation seven-speed DSG gearbox is fitted, and there are a variety of cosmetic tweaks that distinguish the vRS from other Fabias.

Cadillac expands CTS range

Cadillac introduced the new coupé version of its mid-range CTS to European customers at the Geneva Motor Show this week. The new car shares its wheelbase with the standard four-door saloon but has a lower roof-line and is slightly shorter overall; most of the bodywork is unique to the model. The coupé's standard engine is the 3.6-litre V6, which is the larger of the two options available on the saloon.

Nissan shows the new Micra at Geneva

Nissan has shown its fourth-generation Micra at the Geneva Motor Show. The new car is somewhat more conservative in design than the outgoing model and has echoes of the second-generation "bubble" Micra that was such a strong seller in the Nineties.

Alfa announces new Giulietta for Geneva

Alfa Romeo has released the first official pictures of the Giulietta, the replacement for the Golf-sized 147, which will be shown to the public for the first time at this week's Geneva Motor Show.

Porsche to unveil its new Cayenne at Geneva

Porsche has released details of its second-generation Cayenne SUV. This moved was expected as Volkswagen has already announced a new version of its Touareg, a sister model of the Cayenne. As in the case of the Touareg, the emphasis is on weight reduction, and improved performance and economy.

Vauxhall Ampera to be shown at Geneva

A prototype Vauxhall/Opel Ampera will be displayed at the Geneva Motor Show next week - that's if its electric drive train and range-extending petrol engine prove reliable, because it's being driven to the show from Opel's European headquarters in Rüsselsheim near Frankfurt, a distance of some 370 miles.

Audi to show off Mini rival at Geneva

Audi will launch its Mini-rivalling A1 at the Geneva Motor Show in early March. Unlike the Mini, Fiat 500 and Volkswagen Beetle, though, Audi's new small car won't be a retro design – mainly, perhaps, because there isn't much of a tradition of distinctive small Audis to draw upon.

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Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

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Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
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Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

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