Arts and Entertainment

Given our national obsession with property prices, Tim Walker’s novel is bound to hit a nerve. His fictional couple, the Manvilles, bought their large north London home at a knock-down price in the 1990s, and it became the key to two aspects of their family life. Jerry, a successful advertising executive, undertook all the original plumbing, electrical and redecoration work; Pen devised a series of popular children’s books, The House on the Hill, whose “cheeky brat with the ridiculous schemes” is modelled on, and named after, her real-life son Conrad: 15 years on, they have done a loft conversion, and divorced.

Bluebells are usually one of the first indications that spring is on the way

Kate Humble: Signs of spring are everywhere, even in the chill

Spring has been a long time coming this year, a feeling exacerbated, I suspect, by the fact that we have barely seen the sun since last March. Remember last year? Spring made a tentative start in January and by the end of March the bluebells were out, most of us had had at least one barbecue and we were looking forward to a long hot summer. Then April came, and with it, the rain, which didn't stop.

Woman found alive after disappearing while swimming in sea off the Lincolnshire coast

Coastguard watch manager says 23-year-old 'has been very lucky'

Seasick Steve, Hubcap Music (Fiction)

Album review: Seasick Steve, Hubcap Music (Fiction)

Hubcap Music – so titled because one of the guitars he uses was made from “two hubcaps and a garden hoe” – finds Seasick Steve back on form, with an album steeped in gritty boogie and even grittier attitude.

Beardyman: Seasick Steve

Seasick Steve: I'll keep playing till the wheels fall off

Seasick Steve was an overnight success at 65. He tells James McNair how he's adapted to life in the musical stratosphere

Lonrho hit by £3.4m loss

The African conglomerate Lonrho suffered an underlying loss of £3.4m after a year beset by fishing problems and late deliveries of tractors.

Paperback Review: One Million Tiny Plays About Britain, By Craig Taylor Bloomsbury £7.99

Craig Taylor's playlets, which began as a column in The Guardian newspaper, are so exquisitely observed that they often read like snatches of real-life conversation.

Whitehall puts Ranulph Fiennes' latest trek at risk – with a couple of tractors

A pioneering British expedition to trek 2,000 miles across the Antarctic in winter led by veteran explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has been made more risky by the interference of the UK Government, a key team member has warned.

A tractor cuts down corn in a field designated as zero yield on a farm near Terre Haute, Ind., on July 31. Bloomberg News photo by Victor Blue

Bloomberg's best photos for 2012

Time after time in 2012, Bloomberg photographers came through with striking, pointed, poignant and just plain beautiful images, from the dire impact of Hurricane Sandy to the people voting on Greece's role in the European Union, from Facebook's IPO fiasco to the Fukushima Dai-Ichi meltdown.

Two killed in 140-vehicle pile up in Texas

Two people died and more than 80 were hurt when at least 140 vehicles collided on a Texas highway in dense fog.

Asian broadcasters buy Peppa Pig rights

Entertainment One, the media firm, has sold the broadcasting rights for some of its most popular children's programmes, including Peppa Pig, to major broadcasters in Asia.

<p>1. Whipsnade Zoo, Bedfordshire</p>
<p>Adult £20.50, child £15.50, org/zsl-whipsnade-zoo </p>
<p>This is the UK's biggest zoo, with lions, elephants, et al. There's also a special family festival aimed at under-10s.</p>

The 10 Best country days out

From fossil hunting to forbidden corners and the golden age of steam

Stephen Foley: Zuckerberg's long-term view is not enough to calm short-term worries

US Outlook: Mark Zuckerberg kept Wall Street guessing, right up until the start of Facebook's maiden results conference call with analysts. Would the social network's founder and chief executive deign to appear on the call, or would he leave it to his lieutenants, Sheryl Sandberg and David Ebersman, to walk everyone through the numbers?

Album: Beak>, >> (Invada Company)

With its out-of-phase arpeggios, unrelenting metronomic beats, muffled, indistinct vocals and an approach to recording (no overdubs, only edits) which approaches Dogme, Bristolian band Beak> – the brainchild of Portishead maestro Geoff Barrow – are clearly admirers of the Germanic experimentalists of the early 1970s.

The inventions that are stranger than science fiction

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have unveiled a device that delivers needle-free injections. Instead of a painful jab, it uses a jet to administer medicine doses from a gun-shaped gadget. And, as other commentators have pointed out, it looks a lot like the machine Bones McCoy used for a similar task in Star Trek. However, MIT's is far from the first technological advance predicted by the sci-fi serial.

Ile De Re, ridden by Jim Crowley, wins at Chester yesterday

McCain proves local hero with Cup one-two

It may take Wayne Rooney a little longer to get the point of the Roodee, having peered through a deluge to see his first-ever runner finish last in the opening race here yesterday. When his trainer warned that Pippy was "in at the deep end", the Manchester United striker could not have realised how literally that prediction might be construed. For other local heroes, however, even so soggy a first day contrived only to intensify the addiction of this meeting.

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Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee