Travel

Featuring a chic rooftop poolside, antique-inspired interiors, a former cinema, diner-style eating, a Korean restaurant, and an all-service spa

Top Tories fear a return to 'nasty party' image

Rhetoric about benefit "scroungers" and "skivers" used by the Conservatives will be toned down after a backlash from their own ministers and MPs, who fear the attacks could revive the Tories' image as "the nasty party".

Gay weddings are 'just the same as everyone else'

Dos and Don'ts for gay Bishops in the Church of England

The Church has opened its doors to gay - but celibate - bishops

Five-Minute Memoir: Andrew Kaufman recalls the day a friendship went wrong

The trip wasn't about celebrating Cinco de Mayo. I wasn't even sure what Cinco de Mayo was. Few people in south-western Ontario, the industrial heartland of Canada, did. All I knew for sure was that it was both American and Mexican, which seemed like an odd combination, interesting but potentially volatile.

Harriet Walker: Whatever happened to New Year karma?

I never know what I'm going to do on New Year's Eve. That is, I can take a very vague guess: what I presume I will do is lie around for most of the day, then go somewhere, get drunk, wonder what all the fuss was about and go to sleep fully clothed round my friend's house.

Was £168, now £79.95. Add a touch of spring to your bedroom with this Esperanza quilt, anthropologie.co.uk

Time to bag a bargain

Fancy upgrading your interiors? Brave the cold – and the other shoppers – and you could find your dream sale item. Trish Lorenz explains how

Why have the Tories rejected the spirit of 2012?

The Conservatives’ new tactic is a betrayal of all that Cameron stood for when he became leader

Simply divine: ‘Belief’ presenter Joan Bakewell

The Week In Radio: Joan, Jimmy and
Julian know how to lift the spirit

At the tail end of Christmas Day many of you, like me, will have found yourself reflecting on life’s big questions.

Come Dine With Me, University Challenge, The Hoarder Next Door and Graham Norton

Our pick of the best on the box this festive season

Sussex-based Nessie Maclay designs beautiful handmade greeting cards and stationery for her company Thisisnessie
Sussex-based Nessie Maclay designs beautiful handmade greeting cards and stationery for her company Thisisnessie
Don't be a lonely snowman this year

Single at Christmas. Is that such a bad thing?

As a single girl myself I know that all too often singles can be pitied because they’re on their own at Christmas. Even that sentence, ‘on their own’, sounds wrong. They’re not on their own, they’re just not in a relationship at that particular time. Besides, why should being single at Christmas be so miserable? It’s a great time of year whatever your age, whatever you relationship status.

<p><strong>Fizz Foam Fold Out, £189.99</strong></p>
<p><em><a href=argos.co.uk

With its deep, plump pillows and jet-black cover, you'd never guess that the Fizz Foam Fold out costs less than £200. Even less so, when you see it fold out, which it does with unusual ease, and turn into a comfy occasional bed.

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Fizz Foam Fold Out, £189.99

argos.co.uk

With its deep, plump pillows and jet-black cover, you'd never guess that the Fizz Foam Fold out costs less than £200. Even less so, when you see it fold out, which it does with unusual ease, and turn into a comfy occasional bed.

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The 10 Best sofa beds

Got the relatives coming to stay this Christmas? Put them up in style with one of these stylish (and comfy) couches

'Call The Midwife' and 'Downton Abbey' will not go head-to-head this Christmas

Broadcasting: Telly rivals call a truce for Christmas – you can, too

With the much-publicised trouncing of The X Factor in the ratings by Strictly Come Dancing, the rivalry between ITV and BBC is as healthy as ever. But have the networks called a Christmas truce?

Harriet Walker: Winter food should be snuggly

I very nearly ordered a veal's head in Paris last weekend. I couldn't help it – I've been conditioned by so many trendy new London openings into thinking that eating out should be an experience akin to going to a theme park, with the point of ordering like the slow ascent up the initial climb, and the presentation of the dishes that heady, brief pause before you whoosh into the om-nom-nomming of stuffing your face, as if your mouth were bagged open on the descent by G-force.

<p><strong>Explorers Club, Franschhoek</strong></p>
<p>An hour’s drive from Cape Town leads to the vineyards of Franschhoek. Here, adventurer and antiques collector Jo Sinfield has designed a group of stylish self-catering rentals dotted throughout the town. The main one is Explorers Club which sleeps six adults and four children in a mixture of doubles and bunks. It has vintage maps on the walls, recycled furniture and subtle African accents throughout. Three other properties – The Library, Cook’s Cottage and The Map Room – are available for smaller groups.</p>
<p>Explorers Club, 18 Wilhelmina Street, Franschhoek (00 27 72 464  1240; <a href=explorersclub.co.za). Nightly rental R5,900 (£415). Sleeps 10.

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Explorers Club, Franschhoek

An hour’s drive from Cape Town leads to the vineyards of Franschhoek. Here, adventurer and antiques collector Jo Sinfield has designed a group of stylish self-catering rentals dotted throughout the town. The main one is Explorers Club which sleeps six adults and four children in a mixture of doubles and bunks. It has vintage maps on the walls, recycled furniture and subtle African accents throughout. Three other properties – The Library, Cook’s Cottage and The Map Room – are available for smaller groups.

Explorers Club, 18 Wilhelmina Street, Franschhoek (00 27 72 464  1240; explorersclub.co.za). Nightly rental R5,900 (£415). Sleeps 10.

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The Big Six: South African villas

From the Explorers Club in Franschhoek to Wilderness Haven in the wild coastal town that is known as a top whale-watching spot...

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine