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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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
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
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Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
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Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
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Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

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Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

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Girl on a Plane

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Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent