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Last night games:

It's a quiet life in Benidorm

Cheap, warm and quiet, Benidorm isn't so bad out of season. And when you tire of the third-rate entertainers you can always escape to the nearby mountains. Matt Fletcher joins the fiftysomethings on the Costa Blanca

Woman dies in `satanic ritual'

A BELGIAN woman aged 35 died near the town of Alicante in southern Spain after being subjected to ritual satanic abuse in her own home, Spanish police said yesterday. Her Spanish husband was among four suspects detained in connection with the death, apparently caused by a ritual attempt to drive evil spirits from her body.

Letter: Battle of smoke

Sir: Jean-Marc Evans (letter, 10 October) complains that not paying one's fare on a bus incurs only a pounds 10 fine, whereas smoking is penalised with a pounds 1,000 fine. He ignores the fact that cigarette smoke, unlike fare- dodging, can be fatal to other people as well as the smoker.

Letter: Cannabis trials

Sir: In the 1960s, when I was in bed with flu, four of my sixth- form pupils arrived to ask how I was. They put four large, beautifully rolled joints on my bedside table and wished me well.

A pair of playas

One traveller, two trips. Simon Calder visited the Costa Blanca's star resort as a package tourist, and independently

Shena Mackay

It's crushingly hot, 40C, and the children look like little legionnaires in their pink-and-yellow caps with flaps to protect the backs of their necks. We are staying in one of a row of six blindingly white Moorish houses on the beach, with pillars supporting the flat roofs over the tiled verandas. There are six of us, Gill and Juan, their bilingual daughters Gabriela, 5, and Rebeca, 3, another friend and I. Gill and Juan, who live at Rocafort, a few kilometres from Valencia, have rented this house on the Playa Almarda for a couple of weeks. Three steps down from the veranda, and you are on burning sand glittering with mauve flowers, sea holly and white, empty snail shells so light that a breath blows them from your hand. A prickly pear, succulent and spiky, sprawls its fruit and orange- red tufts against a wall at the back, and palm trees catch the setting sun. The sea, shelving sharply from smooth oval pebbles of purple and agate, pulls to the left, so that anything it takes is cast up farther along the shore. At least, beach balls, flip-flops and plastic detritus are; my spectacles, falling when I bent to wash sand from my legs, seem lost for ever. Gabriela, a video buff and word-perfect on The Little Mermaid, thinks a mermaid has got them - so, somewhere on a rock off the Spanish Main, there is a person with a scaly tail in a pair of Varilux lenses.

city slicker Valencia

Valencia is currently celebrating the annual Fallas Festival, one of Europe's most important festivities. There are parades and fireworks, with the climax tomorrow night at midnight

Leading Article: Valencia's message to Brighton

Britain's political parties, not to mention its bemused voters, may wish that the tortuous issue of a single European currency would simply go away. Until this weekend that outcome seemed possible. Amid German fears of losing the mark's stability, French difficulties in meeting the requirements of monetary union and British Euro-scepticism, time travel a la Stephen Hawking might seem as likely as sterling's disappearance.

Hijack ends

Three Algerian policemen who hijacked an airliner to Spain yesterday to get out of their own country surrendered to authorities after almost five hours of negotiations, officials said, Reuter reports from Alicante. The Alicante civil governor, Alfonso Chave, said the three men would face normal legal procedures for their actions. Because of international agreements there was no question of them being given political asylum in Spain, he said.

Travel: Seatless down in Alicante: Last week Simon Calder got lucky. This week the bucket-shop bogey took revenge

IT WAS too good to last - and, sure enough, the bogey of bucket-shop travel took a swift and harsh revenge. Frank Barrett's column last week reported my surprise and immense good fortune at having a wad of crisp pounds 20 notes pressed into my palm by British Rail. I had missed my flight from Stansted to Paris because of a substantial train delay - and the money was BR's immediate response.

Valencia crowd cry 'Bully for Gitanito'

MADRID - 'Once upon a time there was a little white bull . . . ' Anyone old enough to remember Tommy Steele's tear-jerking hit will be happy to know that, even in real-life Spain, a bull can sometimes walk away if not victorious, at least with a noble draw, writes Phil Davison.
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Day In a Page

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
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
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?