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.

Take That, Bob

After staging a coup in toy town, Tractor Tom is set to become top of the tots this Christmas. Jason Nissé reports

Bondi beach prepares for volleyball war

Letter From Sydney

The Investment Column: Low & Bonar

INVESTORS SHOULDN'T feel too sorry for Phil Reeder, the new broom at Low & Bonar, the packager. True, the shares dived again after yesterday's negative trading statement. But with expectations so low, Mr Reeder will have to work hard to disappoint. Moreover, the company's results in February look set to be overshadowed by details of a root-and-branch restructuring.

CONVOY OF THE DAMNED

When Nato bombed a convoy of Kosovar refugees, the world was horrified. But the world had no idea of the true depths of the tragedy. Now, in a shocking tale of coincidence, cruelty and relentless suffering, Robert Fisk uncovers the full story

Gardening: Digging for victory

The better the garden, the more important the tools. Eddie Peeling, head gardener at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire, is charged with keeping some 30 acres flawless. He shares the secrets of his shed with Nigel Colborn

A-Z of Skiing: G IS FOR GROOMING

EVERY EVENING, when skiers have left the slopes, the "piste-bashers" set off for the nightshift, illuminating the mountains with their headlights as they repair the damage done to the ski-area during the day. The most obvious result the fine "corduroy" grooves in the surface of the pistes the following morning; but the piste-bashers - tracked vehicles with a bulldozer blade at the front and sort of giant rake behind - actually carry out a number of different tasks.
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

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After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

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From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
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