Harriet Walker: 'I'm heading home for the holidays - household tips at the ready!'

It still feels odd not to have a proper "end of term"' before the Christmas holiday. The way I separate work from the gluttonous hiatus these days is with the journey from London to my parents' house in Sheffield.

Michael Sharvell-Martin: Perennial supporting actor who worked with Benny Hill, Dave Allen and Les Dawson

The actor Michael Sharvell-Martin was the perennial supporting player, most often seen in television sketches alongside comedians such as Benny Hill, Dave Allen and Les Dawson – and on stage as a long-running pantomime dame.

Starter's orders: A beginner's kit of plants and bulbs for creating your first garden

When I was young (despite Freud's credo), the thing that I most envied my brother was his Meccano set. The first kit contained most of the basic struts, screws and other components necessary for simple skeleton constructions. Subsequent sets added cogs, axles, wheels and arcs to fill in the gaps and put together more complicated creations.

Dennis Skinner backs David Miliband for Labour leader

David Miliband's Labour leadership bid received a boost today when he was backed by veteran left-winger Dennis Skinner.

First Night: Simon Rattle / Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Albert Hall, London

A rapturous response to Rattle's return

Strange fruit: The secrets of the River Cottage garden

As head gardener at River Cottage HQ, Mark Diacono grows all kinds of things you can eat. But it's in his own backyard that he really branches out, as Anna Pavord discovers.

Sucker Punch, Royal Court, London

A swipe at the legend of the ring

Ah, the Clary Sage, I presume: On the hunt for the rarest plants

You don't need to be a snob to take a delight in plants no one else has ever heard of. Emma Townshend heads to the spring fairs to search out the weirdly wonderful

Star players: Anna Pavord looks back on the gardening trends and treats of the noughties

Whenever there's a new nought in the year, retrospection takes over: the best of the decade, the worst of the decade – B-listers rush to tell us what they remember of the past 10 years. I remember very little, but that's because gardeners are hard-wired to look forward, not back. My impression is that we've been force-fed with grasses and green roofs, that grow-your-own has a new gloss on it and that there has been a lot of rain. Shrubs have got less and less attention while hellebores, dahlias, alliums and snowdrops have reinvented themselves in surprising and lucrative ways. Who would ever have thought that a single snowdrop bulb would sell for £100?

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Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
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Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
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Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

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The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
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Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

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Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

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Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
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10 best high-end laptops

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Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

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Homeless Veterans campaign

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