Voices Rant and everyone soon tends to ignore you (a 1936 orator seeking a crowd at Speaker's Corner in London's Hyde Park)

Favoured topics are matters of practical morality, dress sense, litter – that sort of thing

Postcard from... Montejo de la Sierra

Locals sometimes claim that the centuries-old grove of beech trees in Montejo de la Sierra in Spain is the most southerly in Europe or indeed the world. Not true – that honour goes to a beechwood on the slopes of Mount Etna. But even so there is little doubt the  beech grove running alongside the edge of the River Jarama just north of Madrid is among Spain’s most beautiful and ancient, as well as being very rare for these latitudes.

A British Shorthair kitten plays with a toy mouse

People who write about their cats used to make my eyes roll. How things change

The hidden philosophical appeal of cat literature

Badgers being vaccinated against TB near Stroud

Farm minister resolute about badger cull despite death threats

Farming minister David Heath has vowed not to be intimidated by opponents of the badger cull after revealing he has received death threats for his part in the controversial scheme.

Badgers being vaccinated against TB near Stroud

How do you vaccinate a badger? Very, very carefully

A curious Tom Bawden joins David Heath, the Farming minister, on the front line of the battle against bovine tuberculosis

Good hair day: Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman: A whisker away from a superhero

Hugh Jackman's X-Men alter-ego is about to get a solo outing. The Australian actor tells Gill Pringle how he became the Wolverine

Bovine TB has risen dramatically over the past few decades and badgers have been implicated in the rapid spread of the disease

As well as cull, contraceptives lined up for badgers in battle against farm TB

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson pledged to eradicate disease from English cattle within 25 years

Eddie practises in his training pool

Eddie the basketball-playing otter fights arthritis one hoop at a time

Keepers at Oregon Zoo have come up with a novel way for an arthritic otter to improve the movements in his joints - basketball.

Facts that prove life is beautiful

So January's over: and here's why it's now OK to feel chipper. Spring is coming. Maybe tonight's the night you'll break a month long detox. It's Friday. And these facts, collected by Ink Tank blog, will (temporarily) make you feel like the world is a brain-meltingly wonderful place (which it might be).

Jack Harvey, winner of the 2012 World's Biggest Liar contest spins his tale at the Santon Bridge Inn, Wasdale

The World's Biggest Liar: the art of fibbing

“Now you're not going to believe this,” said Glenn Boylan as he took to the stage at the Santon Bridge Inn in the Lake District valley of Wasdale. But, of course, that was the whole point. Glenn was defending his title of World's Biggest Liar in the competition that is held annually in the pub.

July 30, 2012: Niger's Hamadou Djibo Issaka is pictured after competing in the men's single sculls semi-finals of the rowing event during the London 2012 Olympic Games, at Eton Dorney. He finished last by a distance.

'Issaka the Otter' receives huge roar as he finishes 33rd and last in rowing event at Eton Dorney

Niger's Hamadou Djibo Issaka received the roar of a home gold medallist from the Eton Dorney crowd as he finished 33rd and last in the men's single sculls.

Badger cull to halt rise of TB in cattle 'will in fact spread the disease'

Caroline Spelman’s proposed badger cull to halt the rise of TB in cattle will in fact spread the disease, campaigners will tell the High Court tomorrow.

I've been made a pariah says Cairns

Chris Cairns' lawyer has called on the International Cricket Council to censure Indian Premier League commissioner Lalit Modi over "defamatory" comments which he claims have jeopardised Cairns' future earnings.

The incredible journey of an intrepid otter

Discovery on Northumbrian island means animal swam three miles in North Sea, to amazement of naturalists
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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 17 April 2015
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence