News A pedestrian makes their way along a snow packed street in Indianapolis

Much of the United States is currently in the grip of a polar vortex, a system of dense air producing plummeting temperatures and swathes of freezing weather, bringing some parts of the country to a halt and causing chaos in others.

Last Night's TV: Harry's Arctic Heroes/BBC1<br />Random/Channel 4

You don't get to meet people like this very often," said Harry Wales, describing the four disabled Afghanistan veterans whose trek to the North Pole he was briefly going to join. Well, I don't, Harry, I thought... but surely it can't be that much of a rarity for you? It goes with the job really, doesn't it? All those hospital visits and hearts-and-minds tours, all those occasions when a royal handshake is assumed to be a sovereign remedy for the riot-struck and the dispossessed. It's partly what a prince is for these days. The old role, of being inaccessibly distant and more special than anyone around them, lingers on. But to it has been added the new duty of being ostentatiously less special than certain commoners. Prince Harry – regal rugger bugger and honorary squaddie – is actually quite good at this. As he said in Harry's Arctic Heroes: "I like to think I'm just one of the lads, whether I am or not."

Book Of A Lifetime: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, By Jules Verne

One of the books I have read and re-read with unfailing pleasure and interest is Jules Verne's 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea'. I can date my first reading precisely, as I still have my copy, given to me by "Mummy and Daddy, Christmas 1948", when I was nine. This edition was published in 1946 in Cleveland, Ohio, and has beautiful illustrations of sea creatures and seascapes, and of the brave adventurers who travel with Captain Nemo in his spacious submarine, the Nautilus. As a child, I liked the pictures of the narwhale and the kelp forest best, but now I also admire the narrator and his manservant Conseil, portrayed in handsome nakedness. Illustrated books were a rarity in that post-war period, and all the more to be cherished.

Melting polar ice creates a new challenge for British adventurers

The retreat of sea ice in the Arctic is not just opening up the fabled North-West Passage to shipping. It has made it possible for explorers to row to the North Pole.

The Stars: May 2011

The much-loved Plough is riding high in the heavens.

Video: Prince Harry sets off for North Pole

Prince Harry is starting a trek to the North Pole with a team of soldiers who were wounded in combat.

The Still Point, By Amy Sackville

Winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys prize, Sackville's debut novel marries the story of a doomed polar expedition with the story of a modern relationship in stasis.

North Sea oil rig deal will create 1,000 Tyneside jobs

A £150m oil rig deal between US oil group Apache and engineering contractor Offshore Group Newcastle (OGN) will create 1,000 jobs in the North-east over the next 20 months.

My life in snow travel: Ben Saunders

'I'm not a sociopath, but I'm happy on my own'

DVD: Beyond the Pole (15)

Two hapless environmental crusaders set off on the world's first unassisted, carbon-neutral, organic, vegetarian trek to the North Pole.

Their awfully big adventures: Teenage globetrotters

What is driving children to take on ever-more risky expeditions across oceans and polar ice caps? As another teenager sets out on a record-breaking trip, Simon Usborne investigates

Happy holidays &ndash; without Santa Claus or pumpkins

The Grinch stole Christmas back in the days of innocence, but today climate change and sexual alarmism are doing just as good a job as Dr Seuss's mean critter.

Premier snaps up Oilexco's North Sea fields for $505m cash

Premier Oil wants to buy the North Sea assets of the troubled Canadian exploration group Oilexco for $505m (£347m) in cash.

Replenished ice team head north again

After nearly a month in arctic conditions of minus 40 degrees Celsius, the Catlin Arctic Survey team are finally provided with supplies

Polar explorer sets off on Arctic survey

Polar explorer Pen Hadow will set off today to begin a 746-mile scientific survey of the floating ice in the Arctic Ocean.

DVD: The White Planet (E)

Replete with breathtaking footage of the North Pole's animal inhabitants, the French-Canadian director Jean Lemire's documentary snapshot of life in the Arctic tundra over the course of a year is mercifully light on global-warming preaching, but painfully heavy on anthropomorphising commentary.

Life and Style
life
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
Environment
environmentCrop pests are 'grave threat to global food security'
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone