News Arms deals fixer Ziad Takieddine has been refused entry to Britain

A controversial fixer for arms deals linked to an alleged corruption scandal that engulfed Nicolas Sarkozy has been refused entry to Britain.

Spot on: Cath Kidston sales polka past £100m for the first time

The thirst for polka dots and floral prints has pushed sales at “yummy mummy” accessories and homewares chain Cath Kidston past the £100 million mark for the first time, the firm said today.

Lady madonna: Natalya Romaniw stars in I gioielli della Madonna

Classical review: I gioielli della Madonna - Incest and insanity... what an Italian job!

The first British staging since 1926 of Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari's mafiosi opera takes the crown for lurid incident and spectacle

Opera Holland Park - I gioielli della Madonna dir Martin Lloyd-Evans

Classical review: I gioielli della Madonna, Opera Holland Park, London

The action is grittier, the stakes (and skirts) raised higher, and the orchestral noises louder than anything else of its time: if Puccini’s realist operas are verismo then Wolf-Ferrari’s 1911 I gioielli della Madonna is verissimo.

Classical review: Les pecheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers), Holland Park Opera, London

Powered by some of the lushest arias and duets in the canon, Bizet’s pearl-fishers have become synonymous with Oriental chic. But one could argue – as Penny Woolcock did in her 2010 production for ENO – that this opera’s ‘savage’ backdrop has more relevance today than it did in 1863.

Video: The best outdoor cultural events

Watch the videos below for a taster of some of the outdoor events taking place this summer:

New house price figures show London continues to be a driving force

Annual house price increases in England were driven by a 7.6% rise in London and a 3.3% increase in the South East

House prices up 1.3%, says Halifax

Significant regional differences around the UK still apparent

All ears: Michael Volpe’s daughter, Fiora

The birth of a new opera: Children know the score when it comes to songs

In his latest dispatch, Michael Volpe reveals how music is crucial to Alice

The 9-bedroom mansion in London’s sought-after Holland Park area

Hard-up Greece sells house in London for £23.3m

Greece has sold the luxurious British home of its former consul for £23.3m in a bid to reduce its mountain of public debt.

Amanda Echalaz (right) and Kristine Opolais (left) take on the role of Tosca in turn at the Royal Opera House

Highly strung sopranos reach diva pitch

Do you have to be a diva to take on Tosca?

The Holland Park house

Calm down, dear. It's only a £60m mansion

At least, that's what Michael Winner hoped it would be worth. That now looks unlikely

Opera Holland Park, London.

Michael Volpe: ‘I want us to put on an opera – and in we plunge’

The first of a monthly report from Michael Volpe on the trials of staging a show

Why this dated duo are out of the running

Ab Fab is back (again) for an Olympic special but Twenty Twelve is the real comedy winner, says Gerard Gilbert
On the wrong track

Absolutely Fabulous: Why this dated duo are out of the running

Ab Fab's Olympics special trails behind Twenty Twelve

Not always great outdoors: Opera Holland Park

Walk on the wild side

Stag beetles, bats and rainy days are among the many hazards of outdoor performances, says Michael Volpe, of Opera Holland Park

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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine