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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee