Travel

Under £200... Capital Christmas shopping

Tune Hotels offers a budget pre-Christmas stay in the English and Scottish capitals, with double rooms for £50 at some London properties and £25 in Edinburgh. These rates apply on a few nights between now and Christmas, with availability good on 23, 24 and 25 December. tunehotels.com

Obituaries: Derek Stanford

I feel bound to add to James Fergusson's scholarly obituary of Derek Stanford (9 January), since I had been acquainted with Derek since the early 1970s, when I joined his Poetry Writing Class at the City Lit in London, writes Julie Whitby. He didn't merely "subsist" in this capacity; as tributes from some of his ex-pupils avow, he was a brilliant lecturer, working by encouragement rather than overt criticism. James Berry (one-time winner of the National Poetry Competition) and dozens more benefited from his inspired instruction.

Betty Freeman: Arts patron and champion of modern classical music

Betty Freeman was a significant photographer, whose portraits of artists, composers and musicians have been exhibited internationally, including a 1996 show, "Music People & Others: 99 photographs from the contemporary music world" at the Royal Festival Hall in London. But she will be remembered by history as a Maecenas, the single most important sponsor of contemporary serious music of the latter half of the 20th century.

Child's play: Austria's scenic slopes are a hit with families

It may lag well behind France in terms of its popularity with British skiers, but Austria's scenic slopes will always have admirers – particularly among parents, says Stephen Wood

Susie Rushton: Know your London tourist

Urban Notebook: Spotted (and lesser spotted) on the Tube

Thomas Sutcliffe: If only they'd listened to me...

Artists and writers justifiably hate it when critics review the work they wished they'd seen, rather than the one they actually did. It's understandable, really. Just imagine it. You spend months carefully crafting a table and then you open the paper to find that someone is moaning that the seat is too high for comfort and there are no arm rests. "It's not meant to be a chair!" you would shriek, "It's supposed to be a bloody table!" And one of the things that aggravates the artist's irritation, rubbing salt into the paper cut, is the sense that critics are betraying themselves at such moments – revealing their envy for the act of creation.

Webb admits his mistake – allowing Poland's goal

In case he was in any doubt as to Poland's sentiments yesterday, the first question fired at Howard Webb came from a Polish reporter who asked the English referee what it felt like to be "public enemy No 1". Speaking for the first time about awarding Austria a last-minute penalty against Poland on Thursday, Webb said that he stood by his original decision and was not affected by death threats against him from, among others, the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk.

The hosts with the least hope to spring surprise on Croatia

Host nations are always nervous, but few have as good reason to be so as Austria. The recent 5-1 demolition of Malta may have lifted them back into the top 100 in the Fifa rankings (they are 92nd, just behind Mozambique) but the Austrians know they are rank outsiders at their own party. That was only their second win in 16 matches.

Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra/Bolton, Cadogan Hall, London

Mozart's music sat well in the Cadogan Hall, particularly performed by the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra. Founded in 1841, this is one of Austria's oldest orchestras. It plays at the full strength of a symphony orchestra, but for this short tour of the UK, numbers were reduced to the proportions of a chamber orchestra.

Norman Lebrecht: The clapped-out legacy of Karajan that impoverished classical music

The centenary of the conductor's birth is no occasion for genuine music lovers to celebrate. Hitler's poster boy offered nothing to art while ruthlessly crushing creativity

One dead in mass pile-up on Austrian motorway

At least one person was killed and several seriously injured in a pile-up of around 100 vehicles on Austria's main east-west highway today, local authorities said.

Ireland happy to break bank to land Trapattoni

Accepting a job to spend more time with your family is not always the greatest endorsement, but with Giovanni Trapattoni being unveiled as the new manager of the Republic of Ireland yesterday it undoubtedly amounted to an astonishing coup.

Trapattoni to take over as Ireland manager

Giovanni Trapattoni is set to become Ireland manager once his contract with Salzburg ends in May after agreeing in principle to a deal, the Irish Examiner reported yesterday.

La Traviata, Royal Opera House, London <br /> LSO/Gergiev, Barbican Hall, London

Overstuffed sets and buttressed costumes do their best to squeeze the life out of Verdi's doomed heroine, but it's worth fighting for a ticket for this Covent Garden revival just to see Anna Netrebko

Editor-At-Large: Natasha may be a nitwit but unlike you, Jack, she's worth it

If you want entertaining and Big Brother starts to pall, I suggest tuning in to television coverage of Parliament. Last week we enjoyed top-notch comedy when John Prescott attempted to justify his two free grace-and-favour homes and hefty salary, by giving MPs the rundown of all the committees he has been ordered to chair. This was Les Dawson-style slapstick at its best, and I can only presume that Mr Prescott had the help of the same nine speech-writers he was alleged to have used to finesse his technique when he had to deputise for Tony Blair during Prime Minister's Questions the other month.

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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
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

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Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

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BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

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Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

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Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

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Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

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