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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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 30 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee