Arts and Entertainment

chances are that you have spent the past two weeks wrapping, unwrapping and wolfing down the stuff brought to you by people like the cheerful rating whom Horatio Clare calls "N".

Pirates threaten to kill children

Pirates holding three children and their parents have said they will kill them if any rescue attempt is made.

Pirates captured on 'mother vessel'

The Indian navy has captured 28 suspected Somali pirates from a Thai fishing vessel after a brief exchange of gunfire in the Indian Ocean.

Mauritius: Two men 'confess to hotel murder'

Two of the three hotel employees who were arrested in Mauritius for the murder of a Northern Ireland woman on honeymoon have confessed to the killing, the country's commissioner of police has told Irish radio.

A Disastrous History of the World, By John Withington

The publisher seems to be pushing its luck by describing this haul of the "nastiest things to have afflicted humanity" as "compulsively readable and entertaining". Weirdly enough, this is spot on. Withington's eye for detail enlivens what might otherwise be a morbid litany.

Maldives – home of rising sea levels and the green elite's new meeting place

As environmentalists head for Cancun, the President pioneers a new type of eco-symposium

Tough new rules on marriage vows in Maldives

The Maldives has set new rules for conducting marriage ceremonies for tourists drawn to the islands' beaches, after being embarrassed by a celebrant who heaped abuse on a Swiss couple renewing their vows.

Travel Agenda: Ski and Snowboard Show; NuBeginnings' luxury bootcamp; A Hedonist's guide to Marrakech; Trou aux Biches resort in Mauritius

Today: The Ski and Snowboard Show is in full swing at Olympia in London, with a Quebec husky lodge, ice-driving experience and Snowbombing after-party; the show runs until tomorrow ( metrosnow.co.uk).

Scientists explain parting of Red Sea

One of the most dramatic episodes in the Old Testament, the parting of the Red Sea, may actually have happened, research has shown – although the event described in the Book of Exodus was more likely caused by freak weather conditions than the hand of Jehovah.

Teenage sailor's mother drops opposition

The mother of a 14-year-old Dutch girl who wants to sail solo around the world said in an open letter published today that she has given up her opposition to her daughter's trip.

Coral: Lost at sea?

Coral reefs support a quarter of the world's marine life, but rising ocean temperatures are killing them. The impact of their decline could be huge, says marine biologist Olivia Durkin

Glenn Moore: The view from the beach

It really does not get much better than this. Fifty yards in front of me the waves break from the Indian Ocean onto Durban’s shoreline.

Somali pirates free UK-flagged ship after ransom

Somali pirates have released a British-flagged ship they seized on 1 January, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said on yesterday, and the European Union Naval Force said the release came after a ransom was paid.

The Maldives: Enjoy the splendid isolation while it lasts

My eyes are stinging from the salty water which is seeping into my snorkel as I navigate the shallows. The odd fish flits past. I’m heading, I hope, in the direction of the renowned house reef at the Lily Beach resort at Huvahendoo in the Maldives. So far so pleasant, but unspectacular.

Leaking oil rig ablaze in Timor sea

Australia promised an investigation today after a massive fire erupted on an oil rig that had been leaking into the Timor Sea - the latest drama in a 10-week saga to plug the hole.

The Big Six: Indian Ocean villas

From Creole style and contemporary opulence to a five-bedroom villa that is ideal for guests who don't want to share the sand with anyone else...
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Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect