Britain's oldest twins beat odds of 700million to one to reach 101st birthday

Britain's oldest twins have a double reason to celebrate New Year's Day after beating odds of 700million to one - by reaching their 101st birthday.

Betty Richards and Jenny Pelmore were born half an hour apart in Manchester on January 1, 1908 - and have barely been apart ever since.

The sprightly siblings still live a short drive from each other in Cornwall and say the secret to longevity is 'leading an active life'.

They both began to learn Spanish at night classes aged 97 and continue to travel the world - last year visiting Budapest.
Jenny, from Feock near Truro, said: 'We are still in very good health and keep mobile. We are also together which is the main thing.

'We have always been active and intend to remain so. Having a busy life and and not sitting still for too long is the key.'

Betty added: 'The secret is to stay healthy. Live in the moment. Just keep smiling and keep going.'

The sisters were born to parents-of-five Sarah and William Jenkin in the year Henry Ford produced his first Model T car and King Edward VII was on the throne.

Their tin miner grandfather, John Jenkin, had moved to Cheshire from Cornwall in the 1890s to find work.

The family later moved to Beckenham in South London and the Midlands where Betty trained as a secretary and her sister became a kindergarten teacher.

Jenny met her husband Hugh Pelmore, an RAF pilot, in 1941 during World War II and they married in 1947.

Her sister married Brandon Richards in 1936 and had two children, Peter and Gina, and now has two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Both widowed sisters have lived in Cornwall for many years where Jenny is an accomplished painter and Betty only recently stopped keeping bees.

The twins celebrated their birthday with family and friends and are planning a party later in January.

Jenny added: 'We always celebrate every year. We had champagne on our 21st birthday and we hated it.

'I like a gin with plenty of tonic water. Betty likes her brandy and ginger.'

Previously, the oldest known British twins were Ivy Shermer and Olive Tucker from Newcastle who turned 99 in May.

Is this the most fun job in the world? The man that travels the world testing holiday resort waterslides

Surely the envy of any desk-bound office worker, Tommy Lynch has travelled over 27,000 miles this year, for his job testing holiday resort waterslides.

Mr Lynch, 29, works for holiday giant First Choice, checking the height, speed, water quantity and landing of the flumes, as well as all safety aspects.

He said: 'I do have the best job in the world. No-one believes me when I tell them what I do.

'Some people sit in an office all day but I get to fly all over the world and slide down flumes.

'It can be a bit tough when it is chilly and you have to strip off and shoot down the flume but other than that it is great.
'There is so much more that goes into the flumes than people realise. The pools and slides are such an important part of the family holiday so it is vital everything is right.'

In 2008 Mr Lynch tested waterslides at holiday villages in Lanzarote, Majorca, Egypt, Turkey, the Costa Del Sol, Cyprus, Algarve, Dominican Republic and Mexico.

This year he will quality control First Choice's new splash resorts in Greece, Turkey, Florida, Jamaica and Ibiza.

His favourites flumes include the ultra modern design at the company's holiday village in Benalmadna on the Costa Del Sol, and the Aqua Fanasty park in Kusadasi.

Liverpool-born Mr Lynch, whose job title is lifestyle product development manager, was recruited to identify the very best pools to be featured in First Choice's new Splash Resort collection. He also ensures potential new resorts are up to the company's standard.

He said: 'There is a serious side to my job, which carries a lot of responsibility, but getting to check out the flumes is by far the best bit.'

A spokeswoman for the company said: 'At First Choice we understand how important swimming pools are to kids on holiday, which is why we appointed someone dedicated to finding the very best in the world.

'As you can imagine, there were no shortage of applicants for the job.

'Tommy takes his job very seriously and he has left no stone unturned in his pursuit of the world's coolest pools, trying and testing each and every flume, slide and wave machine on the way.'

Pictured: Ginger the goldfish who miraculously survived without water...for 13 hours

When he leapt out of his bowl and onto the floor in the middle of the night, fins looked pretty bleak for Ginger the goldfish.

But unlike his proverbial cousin, this fish managed pretty well out of water - and survived for over 13 hours.

His owner Barbara Woodward had initially been distraught to see her pet lying motionless behind a heavy cabinet when she left for work at 7am in the morning.

Assuming the worst and unable to shift the heavy piece of furniture, Mrs Woodward left for work believing her pet was no more.

But when the receptionist returned home at 8pm, she was stunned to find him alive and 'flapping around' her living room floor.

The 61-year-old then used a wooden spoon to scoop the little fish off the carpet, before dropping him safely back into his bowl.

Experts say most goldfish would have suffocated after just 10 minutes outside of their natural environment.

Speaking from her home in Gloucester, Mrs Woodward yesterday described her pet's tale of survival on December 22 as a 'Christmas miracle'.
She said: 'I just can't believe it - how he survived so long I will never know.

'When I woke up and saw him on the floor I just assumed he was dead. His body was lifeless and he had been lying there for hours.

'As I couldn't move the cabinet I had to leave him there.'

Mrs Woodward was given Ginger in August as a birthday present from her husband Alan, 62, and kept him in a glass goldfish bowl on a wooden cabinet in her living room.

He was swimming away at 11pm when she went to bed - but managed to leap clear of his bowl some time during the night.

When she discovered him lying on the floor, Barbara said she was 'devastated' - and felt guilty for not rescuing his lifeless body.

But she explained: 'It's a heavy chest, and I wasn't able to move it by myself.

'I had planned to wait until I got home and Alan could give me a hand. Then I had planned on giving him a proper burial.'

But a send-off was unnecessary after the plucky fish survived - without a drop of water in sight.

A spokesman for the Association of Midland Goldfish Keepers said: 'Fish can survive quite a while out of the water, as long as their gills remain moist, allowing them to breathe.

'But this is the longest I've heard of a goldfish staying alive. It's quite astonishing.'

Gavin Gurnell, a local vet added: 'They are hardy creatures and will last a little longer out of water than other fish, but I would be very surprised if a goldfish would last more than 10 minutes out of water.

'They need to be moving in water for their gills to absorb the oxygen. It is an amazing story and I have never heard of a goldfish surviving out of water for that amount of time.'

Yesterday Mrs Woodward said Ginger was recovering from his ordeal and would soon be swimming beneath a fish bowl cover.

She added: 'He's still not at his best but we're just delighted he's alive.'

No more than a handful: The adorable newborn animals that can sit in the palm of your hand

Brace yourselves, because the following pictures are so adorable they're likely to bring an emotional tug to the most hardened heart.

From Rupert the orphaned Munjac deer, whose picture of peaceful slumber makes Bambi look like a wizened rhino, to the brood of 13 ducklings clutched in the arms of a carer, these are less than a handful of the 10,200 orphaned or injured animals making their way through St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Buckinghamshire.

From doves to ducks, rabbits to robins, swans to snakes, the whole menagerie of Britain's wildlife make their way through the centre for some tender love and care, hopefully finishing with a happy ending as they return to their native homes.

The catalogue of treated animals is truly tremendous - since January this year they have cared for 2,500 hedgehogs, 1,600 pigeons, 720 ducks, 710 blackbirds, 465 collared doves, 420 deer, 400 rabbits, 230 swans, 200 mice, 192 robins, 180 foxes, 130 badgers, 125 bats, 126 owls, 76 geese, 40 frogs and 31 grass snakes.

Oh and also sandwiched in there is one cuckoo!

The hospital, which bills itself at the busiest wildlife hospital in the world, is always looking for donations - it costs the center around £110 to care for a hedgehog over the winter.

It also offer NVQ Level 2 Animal Care training for people aged 16 to 23.

Big Duke: The shire that keeps getting higher

He tends to thunder or rumble past rather than canter or trot.

But then, nothing Duke the shire horse does is subtle. He stands at just over 6ft 7in high at the withers, or shoulders - a world record - and weighs more than a ton.

Astonishingly, the five-year-old will continue to grow over the next couple of years, so he could yet put on another inch or two.

Duke - who in equestrian terms is a little over 19.3 hands - was rescued in 2006 when his former owner died suddenly.

He has since become a star attraction at The Horse Refuge in Tenterden, Kent, where his new owners have had to build a special large stable for him. He also needs custom-made rugs and collars.
Carer Sara Ross said: 'Visitors can't believe it when they see him. Some joke that he must be crossed with an elephant.

'He towers over me. I go underneath him rather than around him when I'm with him to save time. When I'm grooming him I have to stand on something.'

Duke eats more than £110 of food each week, receiving two large feeds and a bale-and-a-half of hay in a winter week - more than four times as much as a normal horse.

Pictured: What's a nice seal like you doing in a dive like this?

Flippers entwined in a courtly embrace, two seals perform an underwater version of Strictly Come Dancing.

And their graceful routines win top marks from the judges - in this case crowds of Christmas holidaymakers.

The one-year-old pair of common seals arrived at the North Carolina Zoological Park in April and soon became a hit with staff and visitors through their aquatic displays.

Before long they had been nicknamed Fred and Ginger, after Astaire and Rogers.

'When I approached their pool and saw them swimming and dancing together like this I really got excited,' said zoo volunteer Valerie Abbott, who took this picture.

'I just watched their patterns for a few minutes and then started shooting with my camera.

'These two can always be seen dancing together around their exhibit - they are really a lot of fun to watch.'

The secret of the perfect dancing partnership, in this case at least, seems to be a healthy diet based largely on seafood.

'They eat fish and lots of it,' added Miss Abbott.

'They get some in the morning and then in the afternoon they go through a training exercise where they are rewarded with more fish.'

Wave of the future: The dancing spider-like cruiser that can take 12 people on a 5,000-mile journey

It might look like something out of a James Bond film but this is could be the ocean cruiser of the future.

The WAM-V, or Wave Adaptive Modular Vessel, blasts along on two giant inflatable tubes which, according to its designers, let it 'dance' with the waves.

Powered by twin diesel engines, the spider-like craft can be crewed by just two people as it tackles voyages of up to 5,000 miles.

And best of all, designers claim the boat, nicknamed Proteus, is so light that its fuel consumption is 'significantly lower' than other boats of a similar size.

The catamaran has been built by US-based Marine Advanced Research Inc to carry out studies of the world's oceans.

But designers say the vessel could, in the future, be used as a luxury cruiser, a scuba diving boat or a passenger ship for up to 12 people.

They say they have already designed, manufactured and tested 8ft radio-controlled models and a 50ft personal craft as well as the 100ft Proteus.

A spokesman for the group said: 'The WAM-V is a new class of watercraft based on a patented technology that delivers a radically new seagoing experience.

'These ultralight flexible catamarans are designed to allow for a variety of applications and to fit the requirements of specific users, missions or projects.

'A WAM-V does not push, slap or pierce the waves - she utilizes flexibility to adapt her structure and shape to the water surface.

'Instead of forcing the water to conform to the hull, she gives and adjusts. She dances with the waves.'

The spokesman said the WAM-V could even be used for watersports, adding: 'Your WAM-V could be the means to a new extreme sport experience.'

The main structure of the boat is constructed of titanium and aluminium and is connected to the twin hulls by ball joints fitted with springs and shock absorbers.

Two engine pods, containing the propellors and ancillary systems, are fastened to the hulls with special hinges that keep the propellers in the water at all times.

Despite displacing 12 tons when carrying its full load of 2,000 gallons of fuel, designers claim it handles like 'a small powerboat'.

Lucky Wilbur - the turkey too ugly to have for dinner

This is Wilbur, quite probably the luckiest turkey (still) alive.

The Norfolk Black was destined for the dinner table but escaped the butcher's block because he's so ugly.

The dishevelled nine-month-old bird is underweight, has a 'misshapen' body, lacks tail feathers and also suffers a limp. Customers also rejected him for looking 'sad and bedraggled'.

It meant Wilbur was the only bird left unsold from a 50-strong flock at the pick-your-own turkey farm in Totnes, Devon.

Farmer Peter Hayford, 66, said Wilbur will now remain on the farm as a pet.

Grandfather-of-four Peter said: 'This was his first Christmas and it was meant to be his last. But no one wanted him. He might be an ugly old thing, but we think he's lovely.'

Meet the woman who makes her living as a professional MERMAID

She's living the dream of many a little girl.

When Hannah Fraser goes to work, she gets to be a mermaid.

The 33-year-old, who swam at the launch of the Mermaid Lagoon at the Sydney Aquarium in Australia yesterday, has made a career out of her childhood ambition.

She was drawing mermaids before the age of three, and at nine made her first tail out of orange plastic.

She created her second tail in 2002, using two coat hangers, flippers and duct tape inside wetsuit material.

Now onto her fourth tail, her career takes her to many exotic places.

The Australian has been filmed and photographed under water many times, and has swum with whales, dolphins and baby sea lions.

'Although fashion modelling for over 10 years, my greatest passion is to embody the mythical creatures of my dreams in photos and film,' Hannah said on her website.

'I feel the most free and expressive while underwater. I think there has been a dream time when mermaids were part of our reality.

'But with the technological age, we've lost touch with that.

'I'd like to help awaken people to their personal experience of creative play, where the lines of fantasy and reality blend.

'Being a mermaid is my lifelong expression of joy.'

The professional mermaid, who is married to surfer Dave Rastovich, can hold her breath for up to two minutes, and even qualified as a scuba diver while she was wearing her trademark tail.

Pictured: The cosmic Christmas tree with a REAL star on top

Some 2000 years ago, it was Bethlehem’s ‘Christmas Star’ that heralded the birth of Jesus, according to Christian tradition.

But this year, astronomers have marked the occasion with this stunning image of the heavens' very own Christmas tree.

A team from the European Southern Observatory captured the breathtaking picture of the Christmas Tree Star Cluster over more than 10 hours using the Wide Field Imager in Chile.

It shows the swirling gas around the region - known as NGC 2264 - that includes the sparkling blue baubles of the Christmas Tree star cluster.

NGC 2264 lies about 2600 light-years from Earth in the obscure constellation of Monoceros, the Unicorn, not far from the more familiar figure of Orion, the Hunter.

The image shows a region of space about 30 light-years across.

William Herschel discovered the fascinating spectacle during his great sky surveys in the late 18th century.

He first noticed the bright cluster in January 1784 and the brightest part was pinpointed at Christmas nearly two years later.

The cluster is so luminous it can easily be seen with binoculars.

With a small telescope (whose lenses will turn the view upside down) the stars resemble the glittering lights on a Christmas tree.

The dazzling star at the top is even bright enough to be seen with the unaided eye.

It is a massive multiple star system that only emerged from the dust and gas a few million years ago.

There are many other interesting and curious structures, in addition to the cluster, in the gas and dust.

At the bottom of the frame, the dark triangular feature is the evocative Cone Nebula, a region of gas flooded by the harsh light of the brightest cluster members.

The region to the right of the brightest star has a curious, fur-like texture that has led to the name Fox Fur Nebula.

Much of the image appears red because the huge gas clouds are glowing under the intense ultra-violet light coming from the hot young stars.

The stars themselves appear blue as they are hotter, younger and more massive than our own Sun.

This intriguing region is an ideal laboratory for studying how stars form.

The entire area shown here is just a small part of a vast cloud of gas that is in the process of forming the next generation of stars.

And many further interesting objects lurk behind.

In the region between the tip of the Cone Nebula and the brightest star at the top of the picture there are several stellar birthing grounds where young stars are forming.

This picture of NGC 2264, including the Christmas Tree Cluster, was created from images taken with the Wide Field Imager (WFI), a specialised astronomical camera attached to the Max-Planck Society/ESO telescope at the La Silla observatory in Chile.

Located nearly 2400m above sea level, in the mountains of the Atacama Desert, ESO's La Silla enjoys some of the clearest and darkest skies on the whole planet, making the site ideally suited for studying the farthest depths of the Universe.

To make this image, the WFI stared at the cluster for more than ten hours through a series of specialist filters to build up a full colour image of the billowing, flourescent clouds.

Air rage: Residents furious at 'ugly' advertising blimp keep blasting it out of the sky with shotguns

It's a village known for its picture postcard image and well-to-do community, the absolute epitome of Englishness.

But in the skies above Ditchling in West Sussex, a less than gentile state-of-affairs is occurring.

A ‘blimp war’ is raging between villagers and the Big Box Self Storage company who have raised a giant advertising inflatable over their rural idyll.

The garish white, blue and green helium balloon, which can be seen from a mile away, has even been shot down by angry locals who say it is a blot on the landscape.

But bosses who have been granted a six month licence to fly the blimp - named after first world war airships - patched it up and flew it again over Ditchling Common Country Park.

City trader Martin Harris, 43, who lives with his family in a secluded £750,000 cottage overlooking the country park, said: ‘We moved to the middle of the countryside because we wanted beautiful countryside views, but that blimp is a real stain on the horizon.

‘This is a picturesque area, and looking over the country park is a delight all year round - but when that balloon is up, your eye is automatically drawn to it and it really spoils the scene.

‘I recently removed one of our hedges so we would have a better view over the horse fields from our back garden, but now that blimp is constantly front and centre.

‘It's very frustrating that we don't have any say over whether it can remain there. I know some local people have taken pot-shots at it, and they've had to patch it up a few times.

‘Maybe they should get the message and just throw it in the bin.’

And business owner Howard Kemp, 52, who can see the blimp from his office window, added: ‘If I wanted to put up an aerial on my roof, I'd need permission from the council and people would have a chance to object - but they can fly that gigantic thing and no one says a word.

‘It's a disgrace that they can create a revolting blot on the landscape like that, but if someone round here planted a conifer in their front garden, the council would be all over them.

‘The planning regulations are tight round here because we live in a country park. Every little thing needs permission.

'But blimps? Apparently they're fine.’

The 30ft by 10ft blimp first went up earlier this month.

Before granting permission, the CAA consulted with Air Traffic Control at Swanick; the low flying operational squadron at RAF Wittering in Sussex; the Sussex police helicopter support unit and Burgess Hill police.

It was mysteriously shot down days later but undeterred bosses patched up the airship emblazoned with the words Big Box Self Storage.

Ditchling Big Box branch manager, Mike Rayner, said: ‘The blimp was intended to boost our business. After all, the economy is not exactly flying high.

‘We only fly it in good weather, and we did not set out to upset local residents.’

Changing colour of the stoat could signal a White Christmas

The weather forecasters are not expecting a White Christmas, but mother nature may have a different opinion.

For in the grounds of a ruined 600-year-old monastery in North Yorkshire something strange has happened.

The stoats that now inhabit the place where Carthusian monks once dwelt in hermit-like isolation are turning white much earlier than usual.

In winter, the fur of a stoat - a type of weasel - turns from brown to white. To give the creature natural camouflage against predators its entire body goes white as snow, except for the black tip of its tail.

Last year, the stoats of Mount Grace Priory, near Osmotherley, didn't change colour into January and stayed white later than if to predict the late snowfall that followed.

Although the transformation is unpredictable, it rarely happens so soon.

So could the 2008 development be a sign of things to come or just a reflection of the recent icy weather?

Experts who monitor stoat activity at the English Heritage site are watching developments with interest.

Becky Wright, from English Heritage and a member of the Mammal Society, said: 'Some of the stoats went white after the last New Year and stayed that way for much longer than we’d expected.

'Then we had a snowy Easter, showing that they have a sixth sense about these things.

'On that basis, the stoats could be offering a sign that we may need to wrap up warm for quite a few more months. Perhaps they know a white Christmas is on the cards.'

The stoat’s winter coat is called ermine (also a winter name for the animal itself), much beloved by kings and nobles who wore it on their robes to signify purity and high status.

The colour change is controlled by a pituitary gland in the animal which reacts to temperature and day length.

Twelve years ago the priory’s stoats became famous when they starred in a David Attenborough wildlife documentary. They also featured in the landmark Life of Mammals television series.

Another camera crew has been back this year to make a new film about their antics amongst the ancient ruins, set to be broadcast next Autumn.

But the Met Office prefers to trust in science and their radar screens. The stoats may be turning, but forecasters don't believe a white Christmas - apart from a hard frost - is on the cards.

A spokesman said: 'It looks as though high pressure will be firmly dominating at the moment. That would suggest an overnight fog and frost on Christmas Day, but that's about it.

'We might see some showers around the east coast, but there's a low probability of snow at the moment.'

Payment in loo: Toilet paper cheque lands man in court

It was a very British protest - cocking a snook at overbearing authorities while staying within the law.

But Dick Roper's glow of pleasure at using two sheets of toilet paper to write a cheque for a parking ticket was short lived.

Although Her Majesty's Court Service said they would accept the £30 cheque, they demanded an extra £15 to cover the fee for cashing it.

When the 63-year-old grandfather refused, he was dragged to court for non-payment of a fine.

He took advantage of his day in court by reading out a letter he sent to the Court Service in which he described the police community support officer who slapped a ticket on his car as a 'snake'.

Everyone, including the judge, was laughing as he described the man 'slithering' home at the end of the day 'to digest the evil he had done'.

In the end, Mr Roper scored a victory for common sense when District Judge David Cooper asked him if he would mind sitting at the back of Sudbury Magistrates Court for the day as 'punishment'.

The retired businessman agreed, after Mr Cooper assured him it would not mean a criminal record, adding: 'I can't say it will be particularly enlightening for you but it will discharge your debt to society.'

The father-of-two's battle against bureaucracy began on September 30 when he parked near his home in Long Melford, near Sudbury in Suffolk.

The front of his car was in a bay but the rear end was outside.

At 9pm, PCSO John Woodgate - nicknamed 'the Terminator' by locals - gave him a £30 fixed penalty notice.

Mr Roper wrote the unorthodox cheque but in a covering letter said he would pay twice the amount to charity if his ticket was waived - an offer which was refused.

Mr Roper was told not to speak to the press after the sentence as he was 'in custody' but he was released just 70 minutes later.

He said: 'Mr Cooper entered into the spirit of things. I don't consider it a punishment. It's a victory for common sense, really.

'At the end of the day, it wasn't me refusing to pay. It was them refusing to accept it.

'One should be entitled to make a peaceful protest when you think what's happened to you is unjustified.'

Mr Roper, who was not legally represented, told the court he refused to pay the £15 'special presentation' fee for the cheque to be cashed on the grounds that he had always had to swallow the charges imposed when banking and writing cheques on business accounts.

When the district judge asked what he would have done if a customer had paid with a cheque written on toilet paper, he replied: 'I would pay the cheque in and send them a receipt on toilet paper.'

Judge Cooper has a reputation for unusual judgments. In October, he spared a woman from jail after hearing she had bought a box of chocolates for a police officer she had assaulted.

He has also ordered a man who kept pestering women to keep away from a train station and banned a drunken lout from every pub in England and Wales for a year.

From safe to safety: Boy, 8, saved after desperate race to free him from airtight strongbox

As little Cihan Sevinc played with his friends in front of a shop selling safes, the big, dark box sitting on the pavement probably looked like the best hiding place in the world.

But when the eight-year-old was pushed in and the heavy door closed behind him, Cihan and his pals could never have realised the trouble he was in.

An eyewitness, in the Turkish capital Istanbul, said: 'I saw the children playing. Then they put the boy in the vault and closed the door. I rushed and called the police.'

Officers tried to contact the shop owner to get the keys so they could release the little boy, but learned that he was away for the weekend.

The fire brigade arrived on the scene and emergency workers set to work.

First, they tried an angle-grinder.

When that failed to make any impression, a sledge hammer and a giant chisel were produced and the biggest,strongest fireman had a go.

When that didn't work, the firefighters got a hydraulic jack out - the type used to free car crash victims.

With little Cihan's air beginning to run out - and his ears ringing from the emergency crew's increasingly desperate efforts to free him - finally they made a breakthrough.

Cihan could be seen crouching, his fingers stuck in his ears. As cheering onlookers applauded, a firefighter lifted the boy out.

He was placed on a stretcher and carried to an ambulance. Apart from a graze close to his left eye, the eight-year-old was none the worse for his experience.

Only time will tell if he will suffer from claustrophobia - fear of enclosed spaces - in later life.

The cat with purr-fect vision! Almost-blind moggie Ernest has his life transformed by wearing CONTACT LENS

Most contact lens wearers have had trouble putting them in their eyes at some point - so the idea of putting them on a cat might seem ridiculous.

But that is exactly what the owners of Ernest - a 15-year-old black and white cat -
have found themselves doing.

And from these pictures the elderly moggie looks like he has plenty to purr about after the lens have transformed him from a squinting cat unable to see where he was going.

The contact lens, fitted by a vet, have saved Ernest from a life-threatening operation.

The old pet, suffers from entropion - an inward rolling of the eyelids, which causes inflammation and hinders sight.

He has lived at the RSPCA rescue centre in Godshill, Isle of Wight, for 13 years after he was injured in a car accident.

Centre manager Paula Sadler, 56, said: 'Before Earnest was given the contact lenses he was quite squinty and had trouble seeing where he was going.

'Now his eyes have opened up and he has a new lease of life.

'Given his old age it would have been very risky giving him an operation because there is no telling how he would have reacted to the anaesthetic.

'The lenses have worked wonders.'

PICTURED: The Japanese snow monkeys who enjoy nothing more than a hot bath

Most monkeys are happy swinging in the trees of tropical jungles but from the look on the face of this one there is nothing like indulging in a hot bath after a long day.

These incredible pictures are of Japanese macaques relaxing in a hot spring in Yamanouchi, central Japan.

Nicknamed the snow monkey, the cheeky-looking animals live a much chillier existence than their tropical cousins and they appear to like nothing better than keeping warm in steaming-hot pools such as this one.

The inviting-looking spring is in a ski resort town and from the incredibly human-like expressions on their faces they could almost be a group of tourists enjoying a relaxing break.

In the pictures the red-faced monkeys, who are covered in bushy brown fur, cling to rocks as they soak themselves in the warm bath with one looking so relaxed he looks as if he's yawning.

The snow monkeys are the most northerly non-human primate in the world.

Sensibly they spend the winter - when temperatures drop to below freezing and snow covers their habitat - warming up in the volcanic hot springs.

Al Gore: World cares more about Paris Hilton than saving the planet

As key international talks on climate change drew to a close in Poland with little progress on a global deal and anger against the EU for failing to lead the way on targets, the Nobel Prize winner attempted to get efforts to stop global warming back on track.

In a rousing speech to hundreds of delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, the former US Presidential candidate echoed President-elect Barack Obama in calling for change.

"It is wrong for this generation to destroy the habitability of the planet and ruin the prospects of every future generation. That realisation must carry us forward. Our children have a right to hold us to a high standard when the future of all human kind is hanging in the balance."

The star of the Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth called for global targets to cut carbon emissions to be toughened to take account of new scientific evidence that claims the world is warming faster than expected. He called for world leaders to meet regularly over the next year until they achieve a binding agreement on climate change.

Mr Gore said the celebrity-obsessed world had lost its way.

"The political systems of the developed world have become sclerotic. We have to overcome the paralysis that has prevented us from acting and focus clearly and unblinkingly on this crisis rather than spending so much time on OJ Simpson, Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith."

But he was optimistic that Obama's idea of a new "green deal" would be copied all around the world.

"Once he [Obama] is president, the US will engage vigorously in theses negotiations and help to lead the world towards a new era on global co-operation on climate change."

It could be the only hope for a deal on climate change after the EU watered down its target to cut carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 according to environmental groups.

Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, hailed the "historic" agreement that will force the EU to cut emissions but protects the interests of different countries by giving allowances for important industries like coal and aluminium.

However environmental groups said it was a failure for letting these highly polluting industries continue and because two thirds of the cuts could be made by buying carbon "offsets" from abroad.

Traditionally the EU has always led the way on climate change and the perceived fudging of targets, cast doubt over the conference in Poland.

The talks mark the half way point between Bali, where the world agreed that a deal needs to be made on climate change, and Copenhagen, when an agreement must be made to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

But after two weeks of meetings the world has yet to decide the targets needed to keep temperature rises below two degrees centigrade.

Although there has been some progress on setting up an adaptation fund to help poorer nations cope with climate change and halting deforestation, there was also disappointment on the failure to commit more cash to the huge investment needed in new low carbon technologies and other measures to help slow global warming.

Ed Miliband, the climate change secretary, said progress had been made where possible and was hopeful of the US coming on board.

"The world has to raise its game if it is to reach an agreement next year, there is no question we have to up the pace, " he said. "[But] I am optimistic."

However the Tearfund was so disappointed the charity said the £23 million spent organising the conference could have been better spent going directly to poorer nations.

Largest full moon for 15 years to illuminate tonight's sky

If the shortening days are getting you down, be sure to catch a glimpse of tonight's striking full moon.

It will appear 14 per cent bigger than usual and a stunning 30 per cent brighter thanks to a rare, natural coincidence.

Each month the moon orbits the Earth and tonight it will skim by at its closest distance for the last 15 years.

The moon will pass a mere 356,613 km away from us - 28,000 km closer than normal.

The 15-year spectacular will occur as the moon's perigee - the closest point that it passes Earth - coincides with the full moon.

Star gazers will not be disappointed, as long as clouds do not block the view.

If bad weather does get in the way, they will have to wait for another eight years - until November 14, 2016 - for the next close encounter.

And there are other reasons that sets tonight apart on the lunar calendar.

The country will also be treated to a strange phenomenon known as the moon illusion which makes the moon look larger.

As it rises this afternoon, the moon will appear to be bigger as it is closer to the horizon.

Tonight’s event will also see a slightly higher tide as the moon comes closer to the Earth with the water level rising by 0.5m (1.6ft).

This may lead to flooding, particularly along the South-West’s coast.

With the approach of the winter solstice on December 21, combined with the current tilt of the Earth, the moon will also climb to its highest point in the night's sky for the entire year.

And the phenomenon coincides with the annual Geminid meteor shower which begins tonight and continues for two days.

The 'shooting stars' will appear from the constellation Gemini but be seen all over the sky.

But with the brightness of the moon, stargazers are recommended to look away.

Pictured: Schoolboy archer survives after friend shoots an arrow through his eye

A schoolboy archer cheated death after he was shot through the eye by a friend.

The arrow went through 11-year-old Liu Cheong's eye socket, completely through his head and was only stopped by the back of his skull.

He only survived because the arrow had miraculously missed his brain.

Surgeons spent four hours removing the 16in arrow which had sunk more than four inches into the boy's head. They had to break off part of it just to get him in the CT scanner.

The teammate who shot him - a 13-year-old girl called Yan Shin - is being treated for shock.

Teachers at Jiutai City school in China said they believed the youngsters were practicing on their own when the accident happened.

Crouching tufty, hidden dragon: The amazing Kung Fu squirrels

These incredible pictures of squirrels locked in battle on an African campsite reveal fur as well as punches flying.

This furious pair of Cape Ground Squirrels were snapped taking part in a ferocious squabble in Etosha, Namibia.

The images are so vivid that they almost appear to be staged.

But they were taken on December 5 this year by award-winning British photographer David J. Slater.

In scenes reminiscent of the freeze-frame Kung Fu moves performed by Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix, Slater captured the rodents in a series of battle poses.

The squirrels seem almost elegant as they whirl around in the dust, seemingly unaware of their audience.

The Cape Ground Squirrel is found in the drier parts of Africa and lives in colonies of up to 30.

They are poor climbers so tend to live in interconnecting burrows, which they sometimes share with mongooses.

The rodent uses its bushy tail to shield it from the sun and pumps it up and down as an alarm signal to other members of the pack.

Slater, who was born in Blackburn, won the International Wildbird Photographer of the Year award in 2004.

His work has appeared in various newspapers and wildlife and conservation magazines as well as on the BBC.

He has travelled all over the world taking photographs of animals. On his website he said that Namibia, where these photographs were taken, is a 'current favourite.