Travel Here’s looking at yew: the Borrowdale trees

The continuous ridge of russet, stone-strewn lakeland mountain encircles a valley floor as flat as a paddy field. Lights of farms are beginning to spark and the cries of tawny owls reverberate around the bowl of darkening fells. In the distance, sunset pinks the snow-dusted peak of Glaramara. It is a suitable stage to approach the most notable trees of northern England.

Potato and cauliflower curry

Serves 4-6

The root of the problem: Britain's trees are under threat from a disease that has a dark history

Samuel Muston discovers the deadly past of the pathogen that is blighting our forests

Top tips for cutting costs in the New Year

The streets are littered with the remnants of Christmas – browning pine trees and binbags bursting with tinsel and shredded wrapping paper.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Just another day in paradise

In the necklace of islands that make up St Vincent and the Grenadines, picture-postcard beaches and encounters with turtles are simply part of life

Deck the halls: The best Christmas decorations are to be found in the garden

The most startling snow is the kind that sticks to twigs and branches so that everything in the garden is etched in an unusually graphic way. Along with the rest of the country, we had that snow in the early part of the month and it made a landscape that wasn't completely monochrome, but almost, with thick white lines marking the tracery of the hazels and small scoops of snow piled like ice-cream in the upright, open seedpods of the Regale lilies.

Here's to the early years: The Pre-school Learning Alliance's playgroups are facing an uncertain future

By rights, it should have been Belle Tutaev's three-year-old daughter, Mary, who was credited with the founding of the pre-school playgroup movement. "She wanted friends," her mother, now aged 81, recalls. "We lived in central London in a flat. We only saw children going past our window and on to school." Her elder brother, Christopher, aged seven, was already at school and Mary felt left out. "I tried to find out if there was anything available but I was told that because we were not in a needy family, there would not be much support for us."

Pucker up, it's a bumper year for mistletoe

It may not be around for future generations, so we should enjoy the rites of this native plant while we can, writes Jonathan Brown

Sleight of land: The creator of Painshill was a one-man expenses scandal

Luckily for visitors to this Surrey gem, his deceptions live on

Going with the grain: A new wave of craftsmen is seeking to capture the magic of old timbers and rustic beams

Adrian Swinstead's showpiece table – a toughened glass disk resting on three gnarled and gleaming black oak pillars, broad as elephant legs – exemplifies the delight he takes in making ancient history part of contemporary furniture design. A delight that began 15 years ago when a sculptor friend introduced him to the jet dark bog oak, rarely used by other furniture makers, that has, since, become a "passion" and central focus in many of his cabinets, cupboards, benches and tables .

Dylan Jones: 'One ancient hollow Baobab tree in Zimbabwe is so large that up to 40 people can shelter inside it'

Oh dear. I have fallen in love again. This time with a tree. A deciduous tree. The African Baobab (Adansonia digitata) is often called the upside-down tree, as its branches look like enormous roots. Others have called it the Tree of Life as it's capable of providing shelter, food and water for the animal and human inhabitants of the African savannah regions where it grows. But it will always be the upside-down tree to me.

Longleat Estate: From little acorns, mighty oaks grow

One of my favourite areas of woodland is the Longleat Estate in Wiltshire, near Warminster. It is probably better known for its safari park, but that's not for me. Since January 2009, Longleat has also been home to 200 oak trees planted as a growing monument to the evolutionary thinker Charles Darwin.

Report highlights threat to biodiversity

A fifth of the world's mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians are under threat of extinction, a major report warned today as governments continued to discuss efforts to tackle losses to the natural world.

A magnificent forest. But the Government may wield the axe

Michael McCarthy goes down to the woods, the latest target for the Coalition's cuts

Starter's orders: A beginner's kit of plants and bulbs for creating your first garden

When I was young (despite Freud's credo), the thing that I most envied my brother was his Meccano set. The first kit contained most of the basic struts, screws and other components necessary for simple skeleton constructions. Subsequent sets added cogs, axles, wheels and arcs to fill in the gaps and put together more complicated creations.

Simone Kane: I talk to the trees. Well, now's their chance to answer back

Autumn is an appropriate moment for visitors to take a bite out of the new Talking Trees Trail, an apple orchard tour just launched by the National Trust at Cotehele in the Tamar Valley, Cornwall (nationaltrust.org.uk/cotehele).

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Someone cruising Lincoln MP Karl McCartney's Twitter favourites (as you do) this morning, discovered among tweets about positive goings-on in his constituency, an image of a woman tied to a bed wearing crotchless underwear.

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The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
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Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

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Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
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View of champagne glasses at a beach bar set up along the Croisette during the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 17, 2013
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Sites using the popular Gigya comment platform were attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)

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An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
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Prices correct as of 21 November 2014
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?