They trusted us... and we turned them into sausages!

The plan is: they'll keep a pair of male pigs, of the Gascon Noir variety, which they'll feed and nurture and give a good year of happy life to, before killing them and filling the freezer. 'One thing we discussed only briefly,' Yallop writes, 'because it seemed self-evident: our pigs would not be pets. They would be reared for their meat.' She and Ed are going into this with 'hard noses and clear heads'. Also, they decide before getting them that they don't want the pigs to be subjected to the trauma of abattoir slaughter: 'We will kill them ourselves, at home. How difficult can it be to kill a pig?' And the reader thinks: 'Uh-oh!'

Raw fear. Ruth Fitzmaurice feels it each time she prepares to dive into the Irish Sea from the stone steps of her hometown of Greystones in County Wicklow.

The festival, which takes place at venues across Henley-on-Thames from October 2-8, features more than 160 talks, workshops and performances for both adults and children.

Cuttlefish are proving useful for those wanting to create more effective camouflage gear. Leading fashionistas are also showing interest in fabrics that alter their designs as the model moves.

Our top critics choose their best summer reads

Our top critics have chosen the best books for the beach this summer, from amazing children's fiction to terrifying thrillers, erotic chick lit and historical gems. There will be a book for everyone as our critics deftly span the genres, so pick the volume that appeals most, lie back on your sun lounger and get reading.

Brian Viner says John McEnroe's autobiography 'deserves to be seeded No.1' as an 'acutely vulnerable side' to the bullish tennis star emerges from its pages.

Sweetpea (Jane) Slight's memoir explores her famed boss, Thelma Holt, as well as her own life in this behind-the-scenes account of the vodka and cigarette-fuelled life with the London luvvies.

When Nell Stevens, 27, told her friends she was going alone to a remote island in the Falklands to write a novel, she got a mixed response. A lawyer envied the peace and quiet: 'You can do yoga.'

This book tells the inside story of the Volkswagen scandal. The car maker had steadily built up a reputation for automotive excellence over many years, business writer Jack Ewing explains.

Before you get all 'eeurgh!' about the idea of eating insects, remember that honey is, in fact, a kind of bee vomit. And that the red food colouring in sweets is often crushed cochineal bugs.

This book tells the final chapter of Operation Relentless, a huge international collaboration to catch one of the world's most wanted men, also known as the Merchant of Death.

Six moving, real-life stories are told in this gripping slice of social history by psychologist Corinne Sweet, who addresses the poverty of life in 1930s Britain and follows individuals' stories.

The title of Julie Welch's engagingly vintage book sums up precisely my response to the tales inside. Reading it was to be transported back to my days at boarding school.

French Foreign Legion soldiers were toughest in the world

A new book by Jean-Vincent Blanchard examines the legendary, vicious (and racist) French Foreign Legion, whose soldiers - aristocratic gamblers, murderers among them - routinely marched in 50C heat till their boots filled with blood. The band of outcasts were fearless and had 'no families, no ideals' and 'no loves'.

Steve Casner has written a book recommending ways to proof your lives against everyday dangers, such as banning bunk beds and trampolines for children because they're too risky.

Admission free... When you next read those words at the entrance to one of our national museums, thank Hans Sloane (1660-1753), whose collection formed the core of the British Museum.

A plaque outside the house where, on Wednesday, June 21, 1815, a wealthy socialite, Mrs Edmund Boehm, was giving 'a soiree' attended by the 52-year-old Prince Regent, later King George IV.

This book takes surgeon Henry Marsh into his own ageing, with a degree of disillusion and anxiety about the state of hospital organisation, and his decision to retire.

The world's deadliest diamond!

The Koh-i-Noor diamond, which weighs 105 carats (or 21 grams), currently resides in the Queen Consort's crown, kept under guard in the Tower of London. The Queen Mother wore it to State Openings of Parliament during the reign of George VI, and its last public outing was upon the cushion on the coffin at her state funeral in 2002.