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Pale skies, bare trees and frosty landscapes

Gina Cowen on the most magical winter gardens to visit

Letter: Lib Dems must seize their chance

Sir: The danger of Paddy Ashdown entering a coalition with Tony Blair is that the Liberal Democrats could face the same decline into irrelevance as the Free Democrats in Germany. The electorate would always blame a small partner for mistakes while handing the credit for success to a larger one. Further, there could be a loss of members who joined the party because it is distinctive - a radical party which has none of the nanny-state baggage of Labour or the Tories' materialistic fear.

My favourite thing

Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, brown-paper packages tied up with string - everyone has their favourite thing. Here, Antonia Fraser, Martin Scorsese, Tina Turner, Max Clifford and others reveal theirs. Compiled by Louise Levene and Scott Hughes

Books: Impotence in Arcadia

THE SECRET LIFE OF APHRA BEHN by Janet Todd, Deutsch pounds 25

Crimplene headscarves and high street grotesques

Charlotte Cory's tale of small-town greed doesn't hit the jackpot for E.Jane Dickson; The Guest by Charlotte Cory Faber, pounds 15.99

CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT : Devilled Blairs ... Labour's weeds ... gym knickers

MY FRIENDS at Conservative Central Office seem rather taken aback at all the fuss generated by their poster depicting Tony Blair as the Devil. Seems a legitimate enough tactic to me. After all, as my colleague Alan Watkins is fond of pointing out, politics is a rough old trade. And a man who will pose naked with an Irish wolfhound for a dog-lovers' calendar, as exclusively revealed on this page last Sunday, is hardly likely to balk at a little Satanism, is he? However, a word to the wise, Dr Mawhinney: change the tune now and then! The central theme of the campaign is spot- on: the Blair fellow is clearly an impostor. But you must sow seeds of doubt in the voters' minds as to the nature of his, er, imposting. The Moonlight dirty tricks department has designed this new series of posters (right) that will explode the Blair image once and for all: 1) The "Creature from the Black Lagoon" - The Thing They Call Tony Blair is actually a man-eating fish-human, from a primordial swamp, eager to snap up floating voters. The Tories, in contrast, are tough on slime, tough on the causes of slime. 2) The "Lone Ranger" - subtly questions the Labour leader's sexual orientation and family man image: he'd rather hang out with Tonto than Cherie. 3) The "Ned Kelly" - Blair is really an Irish-Australian bushranger; if he is elected he will steal all your sheep and shoot you. And the Queen Mum, given a chance.

Royal divorce is a trade for mugs

Divorce: it's a mug's game. Or soon will be, if demand for the one marked "Charles and Di Divorce" is anything to go by.

Women beware women

LA CEREMONIE Claude Chabrol (15) RESTORATION Michael Hoffman (15)

Major brands Labour's plans to reform Lords an 'irrelevance'

Inside Parliament

Six of the best: Purcell tercentenary events

The Fairy Queen Barbican, Silk St, London, 7.30pm tonight (0171- 638 8891) Based on A Midsummer Night's Dream, Purcell's semi-opera is a series of exotic masques set in a magical world - the original stage directions called for swans dancing with fairies, huge fountains and peacocks. What this performance may lack in fantastical excess is more than made up for by the Sixteen Choir and Orchestra, Jeremy Sams's narrative and wonderful lighting and visual effects.

The King's new clothes to be sold after 320 years hy

The honeysuckle-embroidered wedding suit of James II, the younger son of the executed Charles I, is to be sold at auction next month. The brown wool jacket and breeches will go under the hammer at Sotheby's on 2 November for an estimated pounds 200,000 to pounds 300,000.

Not in front of the children

RADIO

Letter: History of the undemocratic City

Sir: I read with interest your article on the way the City Corporation is using its undemocratic powers to block the legitimate election of an alderman dedicated to the much-needed reform of the City of London ("Aldermen accept blackball ruling", 20 September). The City of London has long been run by a small clique of rich City financiers in their own interest.

History in a day and all that

"THE FIRST date in English history is 55BC." So opens that model of scholarship, 1066 and All That. And so, give or take some rough verbiage, opens This Sceptr'd Isle (R4), a series that will fill the sacred 15 minutes after the Morning Service throughout the next year, offering us Memorable Dates and Bad Things aplenty. The rounded, nay spherical, tones of Anna Massey give spurious orotundity to Christopher Lee's bumpy script, filled out, so far, with solemn readings from Winston Churchill and extracts from a remarkably bad translation of Tacitus.

LETTER : Commemorating the millennium

From Dr Richard D Ryder
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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'