Life and Style Only 3.4 per cent of the Solihull area is covered by housing

It isn’t hard to find an architect who will tell you that vast swathes of the British urban landscape are ugly, grey and unappealing – nor would you struggle to find people who agreed with them. But could it be that the look and the layout of our cities is actually bad for our health?

Statesman or salesman? Why Cameron's speech failed to inspire

The Tories had a good conference – and appear set fair for the general election. But there are nagging doubts after their leader's address

Mary Dejevsky: St Nicholas and Soviet-era brutalism

Potsdam Notebook: Shops and houses have been restored to their former pastel elegance, but vacant plots are everywhere

Inside Cadbury: Kind hearts and chocolates

Cadbury is the target of a takeover bid by its US rival Kraft. Andy McSmith examines the history of a company that is far more than just a confectioner

Pastures new: A garden can be a poignant reminder of the person who tended it

Adrian Padfield made a most generous bid for me in The Independent's Christmas auction. He intended it as a present for his wife, Gillian, a keen gardener and expert flower arranger, but tragically, in early January, she died. The garden became a painful thing for him to confront, stitched through with the plants his wife had chosen (many of them specially for her flower arranging) and which she, over the 20 years they had been in their home, had looked after. For her sake, Dr Padfield wanted the garden to continue. But, though he had been involved in its planning and construction, the actual plants in it were in many cases a mystery to him. Before he could learn what needed to be done with them, he had to know what they were.

Book Of A Lifetime: The Poetics of Space, By Gaston Bachelard

In a tumbledown cottage the wood-cutter's daughter dreams of life in the palace; in the palace the young prince believes that in a forest hut lives the woman he is destined to love and marry. Folk tales – with their Gothic illustrations - endure through the romance of mountain turrets, forest interiors, lonely cottages, magic casements and secret doors. This is what the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard called "the poetics of space", and his highly original study of the magical "cosmos" of the childhood home and its imaginary spaces is one of the few literary texts that architectural students are required to read.

Plan for tourist theme park raises Jerusalem tensions

Demolition orders served on Palestinian homes

Ready to Wear: The term ‘fashionista’ has always been a pet peeve in this neck of the woods

We all know that fashion terminology changes as regularly as, well, as fashion itself. How else would people be persuaded to invest in clothing that, basically, they already own?

Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House, London<br/>Rambert Dance Company, Sadler's Wells, London

Monica Mason's choice of Wayne McGregor as the Royal's house choreographer bears its first fruit

Games Review: SimCity Creator

FDS/Wii, EA, &pound;29.99 - &pound;39.99

Our Times, by AN Wilson

An edgy elegist for our divided kingdom

Design: Logan's run

Why would one of the grandest names in British art choose to live down a dingy, south-London backstreet? Esther Walker finds out. Photographs by Andrew Hayes-Watkins

Janet Street-Porter: Don't blame Kate. It's the fashionistas who love skinny models

Despite all the hand-wringing, nothing has been done to stop women starving themselves for the catwalk. It's all about money

Dr Feelgood: Indian massage - worth the dosha

Your weekly health and beauty check-up
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?