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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The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
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Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
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A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
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Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
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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
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone