Arts and Entertainment

Given our national obsession with property prices, Tim Walker’s novel is bound to hit a nerve. His fictional couple, the Manvilles, bought their large north London home at a knock-down price in the 1990s, and it became the key to two aspects of their family life. Jerry, a successful advertising executive, undertook all the original plumbing, electrical and redecoration work; Pen devised a series of popular children’s books, The House on the Hill, whose “cheeky brat with the ridiculous schemes” is modelled on, and named after, her real-life son Conrad: 15 years on, they have done a loft conversion, and divorced.

A two bedroom semi detached new house for sale with Seddon Homes for £115,950 at The Tarvin, Mosaic, Off Brackendale, Halton, Runcorn, Cheshire

Materials and skills shortage is damaging housebuilding progress

Bricks and concrete blocks are in particularly short supply.

G4S and Serco could have to pay the government between £3m and £4m in rebates for 'poor performance'

G4S and Serco face £4million penalty over 'substandard' accommodation for asylum seekers

Asylum seekers are being crammed into overcrowded and substandard accommodation by G4S and Serco, according to a watchdog.

Bill Grimsey to advise Labour over high streets and business rates

The former chief executive of Wickes and Iceland Bill Grimsey has been made an adviser to the Labour party and will help draw up the opposition’s strategy over business rates for small businesses – one of the hottest topics for retailers.

The South Downs National Park

Come home to the country

First-time buyers can enjoy village life as commuters, says Ruth Bloomfield

Moving house? Why you should talk to your solicitor earlier than you think

Sellers that instruct a solicitor when they first list their property for sale move on average up to 11 days faster

Benefits Street: House for sale in James Turner Street, Birmingham

It's the street that’s split opinion all over Britain... and now you can buy your very own house on it.

Proposed sell-off of Government land and property could pave the way for thousands of new homes

New property search engine will allow everybody to search the government’s £330 billion property portfolio by town and postcode

Halifax predicts that house prices are set to rise across 2014 at a similar pace to last year

House prices rose 7.5% in 2013 but faltered in December, reports Halifax

Building Society forecasts an increase of between 4-8 per cent across the UK over 2014

The housing market varies greatly across the country

Number of people planning to move home has doubled over the last 12 months

"New Year is traditionally a time for planning and looking ahead, and moving home is again becoming a priority for many people"

He was often compared to The Great Blondini

Henri Rechatin: Tightrope walker who traversed Niagara Falls and once spent six months 66 feet above a supermarket

Henri Rechatin was a celebrated French tightrope walker and chair-balancer who was known professionally as Henry's and was often compared to The Great Blondin. Over a long career he balanced high above the Alps, Niagara Falls and for months over a supermarket in his home town of Saint-Etienne.

Millennium Dome, London: The Dome, now the O2 arena, opened in Greenwich in December 2000. Resembles a large circular marquee or giant 'Big Top'. Supported by 12 yellow towers – one for each month of the year. The largest structure of its kind in the world. Made of glass-fibre fabric, it weighs less than the volume of air inside. Greenwich prime meridian passes through its western edge.

The O2 Arena plans to host a designer outlet which will rival Bicester Village

Could the London-based venue become the new luxury shopping destination?

People outside an estate agent's window in London

First-time buyer numbers up nearly a quarter

Latest figures suggest the largest annual increase since 2001

London named 'best city in the world' for foreign property investors

London has been named the best city in the world for foreign property investors.

Making do: One in three poor families in rented homes live in bad conditions

Back to Rising Damp? One million rented homes in private sector are substandard

Taxpayers' money is going to private landlords who keep their housing benefit tenants in slum-like conditions

Buyers at auction are often in the market for a wide selection of cheaper, quirkier properties than the average estate agents

Majority of people think it's a good time to sell their home

However, one in eleven facing rent or mortgage trouble in January

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project