Colds, coughs and flu could strike up to 77 per cent of UK households over the next month, experts advising GPs warned yesterday.

The Benylin Forecasting Service, which obtains health data from family doctors, pharmacists and school staff around the country, said the next three to five weeks could see the start of a bad spell of winter illnesses.

and some snow: People dreaming of a White Christmas could wake up to find it a reality with forecasters predicting a 30 per cent chance of snow falling in time for the big day in the North and East of the country.

on track to riches: A toy train, believed to be the longest and rarest in the world, was sold by Christie's of London yesterday for almost £114,000 making it the most expensive toy bought at auction in Europe. The Gardiner Marklin American Market Gauge V steam passenger train is more than 11ft long and nearly 96 years old.

paris blaze: British tourists were rescued from a Paris hotel that was engulfed by a fire killing four people yesterday. Police arrested a man with a criminal record for arson seen running from the small Hotel du Palais overlooking the Seine.

notable honour: Nineteenth century prison reformer Elizabeth Fry is to feature on the new English £5 note, it was announced last night.

at risk from man:

Scientists who worry about the spread of nasty germs from animals to people have found the opposite also can happen. Canadian researchers have documented 16 cases of dangerous infections in horses, cats and dogs thought to have begun with owners or vets infecting the animals.

in the clear: Charges have been dropped against the Latvian teenager who attacked The Prince of Wales with a flower last month as he toured Riga, the former Soviet republic's capital. Alina Lebedeva, 16, was protesting at the war in Afghanistan.

euro 'on way': A clear majority of Britons now expect the country to join the euro within a decade, according to a poll in The Guardian today. The survey found that 62 per cent of people thought Britain would be in the eurozone after ten years, double the number who believed it would happen when the same question was asked last year.

coup fails: Gunmen mounted what appeared to be a coup attempt when they stormed Haiti's presidential palace yesterday. But, a few hours later, they fled the building in the capital Port-au-Prince, killing two bystanders as they sped away in pick-up trucks.