News Hop to it: The penguin parade has been of the daily highlights at Edinburgh Zoo since the first one happened by accident in 1951

They remain one of its most popular attractions

Dunelm Mill coastal living: £19.99,, pale blues and stained wood help to give this space a coastal feel. A Dunelm Mill Cool Lagoon cushion finishes off the scheme

Window shopping: A wave of designers are being inspired by the seaside

What do mermaids, anchors, sea horses and shells have in common? Apart from their watery heritage, they all feature large on fashion collections for spring/summer 2012.

Stormy seas batter the stricken container ship Rena which has been wedged on a reef off New Zealand’s North Island for the past three months

Oil spill disaster threatens New Zealand

New Zealand braced for a new oil spill last night after a storm broke up a cargo ship that has caused the country's worst maritime environmental disaster.

The mysterious bird deaths inspired Hichcock's film, The Birds

Mystery behind Hitchcock's Birds is solved at last

Scientists link eerie avian suicides of 1961, which inspired cinema classic, to poison in the food chain

Anna Calvi says of Wild Beasts: 'Their album Smother is great. It's full of subtleties; chords are implied rather than over-emphasised, and the drums are integral to the melodic interest of each song.'

The sounds and songs the stars fell in love with in 2011

Anna Calvi, Ghostpoet and Leslie Feist all made great albums this year. Here, they and others pick the music that rocked their year

Gripping yarn: Katherine Parkinson

'I prefer a less polite laugh'

Katherine Parkinson stars in a Dickens spoof over Christmas, then takes on Ayckbourn. Cosy comedy's not for this cerebral soul, as Alice Jones discovers

Gripping yarn: Katherine Parkinson

'I prefer a less polite laugh': Why cosy comedy's not for cerebral soul Katherine Parkinson

Parkinson stars in a Dickens spoof over Christmas, then takes on Ayckbourn.

DVD: Mr Popper's Penguins, For retail & rental (20th Century Fox)

When Jim Carrey inherits six penguins – don't ask – his children adore the flatulent little critters, so Carrey agrees to keep them, even if that means filling his swanky apartment with ice, snow and bird droppings.

DVD: Mr Popper's Penguins (PG)

Back in the mid noughties, you couldn't move for marching and dancing penguins, so there's something vaguely out-of-date about this Jim Carrey kids book adaptation.

Wild and wonderful: Scotland’s snow-capped peaks

Scotland: The perfect winter getaway

It's St Andrew's Day, a reminder that Scotland is now at its atmospheric best. Here's how to enjoy the majestic scenery – and stay warm at the same time

Football league round-up: LuaLua signs for Brighton

Kazenga LuaLua has joined Brighton on a permanent basis from Newcastle, having been on loan with the npower Championship side for the first part of the season.

E Jane Dickson: Some 'gay rights' just can't be infringed

Notebook: Who's to say Pedro and Buddy are not happy to bat for the other side?
Once more unto the beach: Massimo Vitali's 'Il Ciolo, Puglia' (2010)

Massimo Vitali: The seaside snapper who's making waves

When Silvio Berlusconi won the Italian election in 1994, Massimo Vitali packed his camera and headed to the beach. "I wanted to see who had voted for him," says the photographer. "It was such a shock for me when he won." Vitali, 67, has been working on his beach series ever since – setting up his large-format (11in by 14in) camera on clifftops or assembling 20ft-high scaffolding to shoot his "sociological" seaside panoramas.

Editor-At-Large: Seems we'll use any word today except a word of kindness

Ricky Gervais is smart – not a bully or a bigot, even though recent events might indicate otherwise. Now he's apologised for using the word "mong", let's get the affair in perspective. Sure, he was naïve, and posting oafish pictures on Twitter was dumb. They attracted a storm of protest – and Gervais was even accused of ramping up the controversy to promote his new television series. But after Nicola Clark, the mother of two teenage girls with severe autism, cried on the Jeremy Vine radio show as she described the insults she's had to deal with from the public, Ricky contacted her and they talked privately and he said sorry. He then offered her a "very public thank you" on Twitter. Unlike Frankie Boyle, with his revolting comments about Katie Price's disabled son Harvey, Ricky knows when to admit he got it wrong.

A patter of Happy Feet – and an emperor returns to the sea

He needed a little push before speeding backward down a makeshift slide.

Maggot, By Paul Muldoon

With sounds like these, who needs understanding?
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NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own