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

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.

Hot news... there's more sunshine on the way

Much of the UK is expected to bask in glorious sunshine today as the hot spell continues.

Rite of spring: Mark Hix creates a feast for Easter with these old-fashioned cuts of lamb

I've been cooking a lot of mutton over the winter months – so it makes a refreshing change when tender new-season lamb starts to reappear on the shelves. It's sometimes hard at this time of year to know whether you're buying new or old meat. One of the best indications can be the price – prime cuts of lamb sell for ridiculous prices around now. But as usual, I'm recommending avoiding the common cuts that everyone else buys. A shoulder of new-season lamb, for example, will give you flavour which is equal to that of a leg; and neck fillets are almost as tender as the best end.

There's more to Scottish food than innards, stodge and deep-fried Mars bars...

It contains the heart, lungs and liver of a farmyard animal and is bound together with stomach lining. Such a mixture might appear in many people's worst nightmares. But the Scottish people have made haggis their national dish.

Rising Star: Jen Hadfield, poet

As the youngest winner of the T S Eliot Prize, at 30, Jen Hadfield is also a relative newcomer. The £15,000 cheque that she collected on Monday has previously been awarded to Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy and Ted Hughes – though never to Andrew Motion, the chair of this year's judges.

Earthquake hits Shetland Islands

An earthquake measuring 3.3 on the Richter scale hit the Shetland Islands today, the British Geological Survey confirmed.

Poetry enters remarkable new territory

Glitzy readings, throngs of fans – verse has never been more vibrant. John Walsh works the crowd at the TS Eliot prize, and witnesses the birth of a star

Simon Calder: The hungry ghosts of polar Christmases past

The sun, when finally she shines, beams benevolently on Sergei Vavilov. Not Stalin's favourite physicist, comrade Vavilov, but the ship that honours the scientist, presently edging south of west at a dozen knots, destination the end of the world.

Motorists warned of downpour danger

Much of the UK was braced for a major downpour today that is likely to create hazardous driving conditions.

Nigh-No-Place, By Jen Hadfield

The work of Ted Hughes has only recently begun to influence poets in significant numbers, most notably Alice Oswald and now Jen Hadfield, whose Nigh-No-Place is in the running for this year's Forward Prize. Not that Hadfield's restless eco-poetics sound especially like Hughes. There is a backpacker feel to the volume's twin locations of Canada and Shetland, yet the writing is rooted in both places because, for all the comically unflattering self-portraits, the poet usually faces outwards, on to landscapes dazzling after rain or blurred by mist.

Dominic Lawson: Don't believe obesity figures – they're spun for a purpose

You can run, but you can't hide: a wave of contagious obesity is, apparently, sweeping the country from top to (ever-expanding) bottom. Yesterday's Guardian declared that "Obesity epidemic spreads to new areas in the south", while simultaneously pointing out that "the worst obesity hotspot is Shetland". Meanwhile the Financial Times warned, rather in the style of a Meteorological Office alert, of "a belt of obesity stretching across Wales, the north Midlands and northern England".

Former farmer wins leadership of Scottish Lib Dems with rallying cry

The former Shetland farmer Tavish Scott swept to victory as leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats yesterday, immediately launching a stinging attack on the Nationalist administration at Holyrood.

Middle East to fund Scotland's £5bn power grid

Holyrood in talks with sovereign wealth funds to build offshore network to transmit wind, wave and tidal energy to the UK

Killer whales blamed for decline of Scottish seals

Attacks by killer whales may be helping to drive the sudden and mysterious decline of seals around the northern coasts of Scotland, new research suggests.

World's first organic cod farm battles to stay afloat

Intensive negotiations are going on to try to save the world's first organic cod farm, based on the Shetland Islands, which has hit a funding crisis and gone into administration.

Shetlanders force climbdown on Burmese woman's deportation

Squads of Vikings, wielding axes and flaming torches, will take to the streets of Shetland this month. They will march, singing and chanting, through the islands' towns, cheered on by crowds of thousands before setting fire to a huge Norse ship.

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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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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
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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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Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
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Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
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Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
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X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
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Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
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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'