Voices

I love Christmas but don’t worry, I’m not going to proselytise about it. I won’t pretend it’s any more than an excuse for gluttony and for corporations to sell people tat they don’t need. I go into the festive period with my eyes open, thanks very much, and I’m more fascinated than I am fanatical. But I do love it.

Rare feat as online sales tumble at Laura Ashley

Laura Ashley managed to achieve a rare feat for the High Street today, recording a fall in online sales.

The home page of the website ask.fm

Ask.fm 'will be safer from online bullying' as owners introduce new features

Website owners have introduced a range of new features that aim to keep users safer from abuse

British sales at Cath Kidston rose 21 per cent in the year to March

Bags of money: Why the world just can’t get enough of Cath Kidston’s bright ideas

Covet it or cringe at the thought of it, it’s Britain’s most unstoppable brand

Invisible Ink: No 181 - Saved from Obscurity

I’m not the only one creeping around charity shops and church bazaars looking for forgotten novels (this is not an age-specific occupation, but something I began at the age of eight – dare to be different, kids).

Invisible Ink: No 180 - L P Hartley

Many authors are specifically remembered for one beloved book. L P Hartley is recalled with a single phrase: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” It has achieved the status of a British proverb.

Pour it on: It's even possible for a watering can to embrace chintz. Wild & Wolf watering can, £34.95, wildandwolf.com

iStyle: Chintz charming

Laura Ashley is celebrating its 60th birthday by looking back to the 1970s. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Patterns, florals and faux Victoriana are big again, says Trish Lorenz

The Business Matrix: Friday 14 June 2013

Monarch takes flight

Laura Ashley fashion is frozen out

Laura Ashley has blamed the cold weather in March and April for weak fashion sales, which took the shine off a healthy performance from its home furnishings.

Victoria Holden wearing a Laura Ashley frock
Home grown: Kate Clanchy says her first novel is a short story 'which got out of hand'

Kate Clanchy: Scot free among the English

The prize-winning poet and dramatist has written her first novel. She tells Suzi Feay how it recalls her own journey south

Laura Ashley defends decision to ask suppliers for price reductions

Retailer Laura Ashley has mounted a vigorous defence of its decision to ask suppliers for price reductions, as strong sales of home furnishings produced a leap in annual profits.

Alexis Barrell spring/summer 2013

Floral prints for Spring: In the night garden

Spring florals are given a dark edge this season with an inky palette and a grown-up flavour

Laura Ashley celebrates as sales soar

Laura Ashley has cemented its status as one of the high street's best performers with a leap in sales ahead of the crucial Christmas period.

<p>1. Marks and Spencer</p>
<p>£17.60, marksandspencer.com</p>
<p>Unlike many coats, this is nice and flexible to move around in, with none of that stiff-armed, Michelin-man look and feel.</p>

The 10 Best children's coats

Keep the kids warm as the mercury drops this winter with 10 cosy, cute, and stylish jackets

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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 15 May 2015
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada