Travel

My stomach has endured the full scope of awful foods this planet has to offer Trying adventurous food is a big part of travelling, but India, where I'm travelling through now, has more problems with [food] hygiene than anywhere else in the world. It's a cultural problem, as eating meat is a rarity in rural areas, so they treat it like a vegetable, keeping it in a cupboard. So when the occasional Westerner passes through, by the time it's pulled out, it's been in there for a few months. When travelling across poorer parts of India now, I try to survive off rice and dahl.

Rainforests aren't faring too well with the rising temperatures

Climate change: Rainforest absorption of CO2 becoming erratic

For each 1C rise in temperature, tropical regions now release about 2 billion extra tonnes of carbon-containing gases

What bliss it is to be detoxed and McKeithless

It’s day nine of my 10-day Italian detox, and I have to admit to feeling seriously blissed out. I’m so relaxed that it actually makes me uncomfortable, it being such a rare thing in my existence. I spoke to my wife and kids on Skype, and watched them bickering away back in my normal existence. I told them to calm down and not talk to each other in that manner. Something in my new spiritual persona jarred with them and they all stopped arguing with each other and stared at the screen.

Donald MacInnes: The fact that there were no headstones in the garden was genuinely pleasing

In my previous dispatch from the traumatic home-hunting frontline, where regiments of estate agents fire broadsides of scorn at our hilarious budget-to-square-footage aspirations, I detailed how one such know-it-all had been forced to tell us – just as we were about to enter – why the house was unsellable, due to the all-pervasive stench of chemicals from the dry cleaner down below. Needless to say, we weren't inordinately tempted.

David Cameron visited East Anglia at the times of the floods to see the damage and meet members of the local emergency services

Parts of East Anglia could be abandoned to the sea forever after recent floods

Repairing or improving flood defences is so expensive that areas of countryside which are still under water could be deserted, says Environment Agency

A vintage tractor drives through flooded Thorney

Villagers tire of island life on flooded Somerset Levels

For nearly a month, residents of Muchelney and Thorney have been cut off from the ‘mainland’  after heavy rains

Phantom cruise: The MV 'Lyubov Orlova' was cut adrift in Canada last February

Ghost riders: An unmanned Russian ship full of rats is adrift in the Atlantic - so, just how many other vagrant vessels are out there?

In happier times, the MV Lyubov Orlova was a pleasure ship, a cruiser accustomed to taking well-heeled Russian holidaymakers on adventure tours around the Arctic. Today, that same 295ft ship is bobbing somewhere off the coast of Ireland, its only passengers a horde of disease-ridden rats.

Passengers on a short excursion as they waited for the release of the Akademik Shokalskiy in December

Communication breakdown on board the Akademik Shokalskiy blamed for the ship being stranded in Antarctic ice over Christmas

A failure to respond to an order from the ship's captain may have played a critical role in the operational fiasco that led to the stranding of the Akademik Shokalskiy in thick Antarctic sea ice on Christmas Eve.

Japanese fishermen transporting slaughtered dolphins in Taiji harbour; the water of the cove is red with the blood of dead animals. Locals brand criticism of the cull 'cultural imperialism'

Taiji Cove dolphins: This slaughter must stop

Those of us who are sickened by what’s happening can be part of the solution

The ECB could be given greater control by the ICC
Five bedroom new property for sale at <a href=The Square, Dringhouses, York YO24. On with Hudson Moody for £575,000" title="Five bedroom new property for sale at The Square, Dringhouses, York YO24. On with Hudson Moody for £575,000" width="80" height="60" onclick="location.href='http://www.independent.co.uk/property/1-in-4-people-plan-to-move-into-a-new-home-in-2014-9074252.html';" class="" />

1 in 4 people plan to move into a new home in 2014

Meanwhile, the number of young adults living with their parents has increased by 25 per cent

Japanese fishermen transporting slaughtered dolphins in Taiji harbour; the water of the cove is red with the blood of dead animals. Locals brand criticism of the cull 'cultural imperialism'

Taiji Cove dolphins: Japanese government defends 'lawful' slaughter as hunters prepare to kill 200 animals

Hundreds of dolphins are killed in a remote Japanese bay during hunting season. The town argues it is an important tradition, but conservationists maintain the bloody practice is inhumane

Maldives beach becomes sea of stars thanks to bioluminescent phytoplankton

Trick of nature creates spectacle

The Nathusius’ pipistrelle weighs just 7.6g and is the size of a human thumb

English pipistrelle’s record journey to Europe proves bats can fly across seas

A tiny bat the size of a human thumb has become the first to be recorded crossing the North Sea from Britain to mainland Europe – before meeting an untimely end in the Netherlands.

There may be more catastrophic effects on different parts of the world, such as wildfires in Australia, if scientists are correct

Extreme El Niño events could double over next 100 years, climate experts warn

During an extreme event, countries in the western Pacific experienced devastating droughts and wild fires

Taiji Cove: 250 bottlenose dolphins await slaughter or captivity as selection begins

Conservationists warn the captive selection process will begin again tomorrow

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'