News

Retailers enjoyed a "spectacular" Christmas, official data showed, with total sales growing at their fastest rate in years.

The News Matrix: Wednesday 3 October 2012

Plan for 'poor' to go to private schools

The Jimmy Savile abuse scandal means men across Britain will sleep uneasily, remembering past 'conquests'

Instead of faux-outrage and arse-covering about history, I’d be happier to hear strident plans to protect and listen to young women in the future. More of that, please

The Metro front page showing women removed from Ikea images

Ikea airbrushes women from its Saudi catalogue

Swedish furniture giant criticised for removing images in bid not to upset Arab customers

Winckler's Wacky World: All ears

Did Deep Blue have a bug?; why men bond with 007, bin head, magic allergy-curing cow, holocaust tattoos and Ikea: not so ethical, after all.

Step into my office

More of us are working from home than ever before, but it doesn't have to mean documents on the dining table or conference calls over the cornflakes.

My Edinburgh: Mark Watson, Comedian

I've been to the past thirteen Edinburgh Fringes as a punter, student, director, aspiring stand-up, actual stand-up, 24-hour marathon man and - my current incarnation - jaded old veteran. There are various tricks you learn, when you've been in the game as long as I have.

Ikea to launch budget hotel chain in Europe

Best known for its budget flat-pack furniture, Scandinavian retailer Ikea is planning to launch a chain of budget hotels in Europe.

'Are you a Gypsy?' Ikea tells camper van owner that Travellers are barred from its car parks

Furniture giant Ikea has been caught up in a racism row after insisting it was lawful to employ security guards to stop Gypsies entering its car parks.

Ikea aims to provide all the features of a home entertainment system, but without the fuss

Design: Tangled cables be damned

Ikea's foray into the world of home entertainment is not just an attempt to change the market, but it could also spell an end for that most modern of problems – dastardly cable tangle.

<p>1. GLTC Fire Engine Toddler Bed</p>
<p>£124, gltc.co.uk</p>
<p>Few toddlers can resist a fire engine, so what better way to persuade them that bedtime is fun?</p>

The 10 Best children's beds

Sweet dreams, whether they're in a bunk cot or with an MP3 docking system

Ikea accused of using East German political prisoners to manufacture furniture

The Swedish flat-pack giant Ikea is today reeling from potentially scandalous allegations that it used scores of political prisoners in former communist East Germany to manufacture its affordable furniture products in the years leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Julian Baggini: Is Osborne's dad worth a £19,000 desk?

The one thing you would never do at the desk Sir Peter Osborne has his eye on is write at it

Ghostly: The dining-room is a whiter shade of pale

Adam Simmonds, Danesfield House Hotel and Spa, Henley Road, Marlow-on-Thames, Bucks

Late-night visitors to Marlow have often been shocked by the chilling apparition of the Grey Lady of Danesfield Park, a solemn-faced ghost holding a lantern, who glides around where the chapel once stood, before disappearing. We had a broadly similar experience on driving into the hotel grounds – seeing the chilling apparition of Danesfield House, a great white whale of a late-Victorian Gothic folly looming in front of you like Moby Dick. It's an extraordinary sight, with its tall chimneys, its clock tower and elaborately terraced gardens, and it carries an air of melancholy – the result, perhaps, of too many owners, speculators and changes of use. It was built in 1899 by the heir to the Sunlight soap fortune, who sold it the moment it was finished. It housed evacuees in the war and was requisitioned by the RAF. It was once home to the Hellfire Club of Medmenham, a bunch of crazed desperadoes from the nearby village. Since 1991 it's been a hotel. And in the past four years, it's picked up a reputation as home to one of the country's finest chefs, Adam Simmonds.

From Pasty Tax to Bubbly Tax: After a strange week in the news it wouldn't be at all surprising if readers fell for this Daily Mail effort. It claims: 'The Government is planning to mitigate the damage caused by adding VAT to pasties by introducing a new ‘green’ tax on chilled champagne.' - and quotes, amongst others 'Frank Beers', MP for Theakston South...

Were you fooled? The best of the April Fools' Day jokes

The newspapers have outdone themselves with an eclectic collection of April Fools' Day japes, but were you taken in?

<p>1. John Lewis Winter Snow Goose Down</p>
<p>£150, johnlewis.com</p>
<p>A supremely comfortable pillow using down from geese native to Russia's glacial mountains.</p>

The 10 Best pillows

1. John Lewis Winter Snow Goose Down

£150, johnlewis.com

A supremely comfortable pillow using down from geese native to Russia's glacial mountains.

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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
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot