Tom Boonen enjoys his victory

Cycling: Boonen takes title as rivals crash out

Belgium's Tom Boonen won the Tour of Flanders for the third time yesterday, beating Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan in a three-way sprint.

Sir Lancelot Errington: Civil servant who helped found the Welfare State

Happily married to the same lady for 70 years, Lance Errington – it did not occur to us to call such an unpompous and witty man Lancelot – was a hugely effective civil servant who devoted his working life to welfare and his social life to keeping friendships in first-class repair.

450 days after the election there's still no government in Belgium

Belgium hit a new milestone today — 450 days without a government — but still no one appears to be in any big hurry to resolve the situation.

The Invention of Murder, By Judith Flanders

Reading this epic dissection of 19th-century murder and the fascination it held for the Victorian public, you are reminded of the odd ways in which the names of perpetrators and victims continue to resonate. The expression "Sweet Fanny Adams" stems from a grisly case of 1867 when the dismembered body of nine-year-old Fanny Adams was found near Alton, Hampshire. Myles-na-Gopaleen, the pen-name used by Flann O'Brien, was a character in Dion Boucicault's drama The Colleen Bawn - derived from the real-life murder of 15-year-old Ellen Hanley, drowned in 1819. Thomas Hood's poem "Eugene Aram", repeatedly used for comic effect by PG Wodehouse – in Bertie Wooster's mangled recollection, it goes, "Tum-tum tum-tumpty mist (I think it's mist),/ And Eugene Aram walked between,/ With gyves upon his wrist" – concerned a Knaresborough man hanged for the murder of a shoemaker in 1749.

Cycling: Nuyens sees off Flanders favourite

The Belgian Nick Nuyens stunned pre-race favourite Fabian Cancellara to prevail in a three-man sprint and win the Tour of Flanders yesterday.

Belgians 'celebrate' 249 days of indecision

John Lichfield reports from Brussels on a new world record for political failure

Belgians celebrate 'world record' for political indecision

What would be a humiliation for many turned into a party for Belgium today as the country's citizens marked 249 days without a government, a figure that they are treating as a world record in political waffling.

Belgium – eight months with no government

A new world record is about to be set for political indecision

Travel challenge: A last-minute winter weekend in Bruges

Every week we invite competing companies to give us their best deal for a specific holiday. Today: a luxurious pre-Christmas weekend break in Bruges, departing on Friday 17 December. Prices are per person, based on two people travelling together for two nights.

Jelle van Damme leaves Wolves in £2.5m deal

Wolves defender Jelle van Damme is returning to Belgium in a £2.5 million move to Standard Liege.

Leading article: Earlier each year

The wearing of poppies, like the preparations for Christmas, seems to start a few days earlier every year. The artificial red flower was already adorning many a BBC presenter's lapel on Saturday, more than three weeks before Remembrance Sunday on 14 November. By then, almost no public figure will want to be seen without one.

The odd couple who hold key to Belgium's future

Election sees unlikely partners begin talks on coalition – and splitting country in two

Flemish party ahead in Belgium

The Flemish separatist N-VA party claimed victory after yesterday's general election in Belgium, as projections showed them on course to gain the most seats in the lower house.

Voters ponder Belgian break-up as polls open

Belgians are going to the polls today in general elections that are widely seen as a vote on an orderly break-up of a country where 6.5 million Dutch and four million French-speakers are locked in a quarrelsome union.

Belgium votes in election that could split the nation

The flag tugs at the wrought-iron balcony railing as if to reach out to the other tricolore across the road.

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
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Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
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Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
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Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

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The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
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World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

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Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
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Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

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Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

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Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

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Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

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Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
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