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Why we’re still feeling the economic pain despite the recovery

Here's why, despite the fact that the economy is growing relatively strongly and the cost of living ...

Labour’s cuts really would be less deep

Disregard the conventional wisdom. The Coalition’s penciled-in plans entail considerably more auster...

UKIP seen as more left wing than Tories

Voters see the UK Independence Party as being to the left of the Conservative Party, according to a ...

Alex James: Goodbye, 'Star Wars', hello, Florence

There has been just one CD in the car CD player for the past two and a half years. I've got about a million songs in my phone but I like listening to music in the car, and in the car there is a choice of just 14 songs. That seems to be enough.

Alex James: What to do when confronted by a bull

When it comes to the countryside, despite all I've learned. I still rank as an idiot, a novice. I've only just discovered the difference between a swallow and a swift. (Swallows have red throats) However, I can and always have been able to spot a puffball at half a mile because they are delicious. It's about the right time of year for them and as there has been some rain I thought it would be worth extending my runaround to come back through the field where they grow.

Alex James: What a shame to miss bat man's visit

The trouble with leaving the farm is that it always means missing something. The bat man came while we were in Bournemouth and his report was a beautifully written, fascinating document. I knew it would be. He did a really excellent job. You could tell that he was an expert just from his name. There were so many letters before and after it. I really wanted to see if he looked bat-like, too. But we missed him.

Alex James: Sometimes, I long to be beside the sea

I landed, blinking through lack of sleep, for a three-day job, a fashion shoot in Hastings. Hastings is the other end of the world from the Cotswolds, not just the wrong side of London, another country altogether. As I arrived I was struck by the sight of large groups of men playing football in the middle of the day. Men as idle as the empty shops along the esplanade, as hopeless as the pier, the focal point of the place, derelict and slightly sinister, waiting for someone or something to come and breathe life and meaning back into it all.

Pizza perfection, here I come

Forty acres of wheat rising in the middle distance behind the cheese factory: I worked out a little while back that with the wheat and the cheese situation in hand I was in control of two of the three vital ingredients for making my favourite thing in the world, from scratch: All I needed for the perfect pizza now was a source of tomatoes.

Alex James: The rape of England

Notebook

Alex James: My irrational fear of the woods at night

I inadvertently discovered a new adrenaline sport a couple of weeks back: probably the oldest one of all – running through the woods at night. I've been basking in the long evenings, especially enjoying the calm of twilight but I mistimed it, set out on my rounds too late and got completely caught out, plunging headlong into darkness with, it has to be said, a certain amount of glee. I knew it was going to be a close-run thing when I set out so I had a head torch on but it was nothing at all like I expected.

Alex James: Play football, but don't watch it

Notebook

Alex James: Fox chase leads to a wild swim adventure

Rural Notebook

Alex James: No longer any need to emigrate to Provence

Rural Notebook
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Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect