IT seems that living rooms in British houses are getting smaller.

The Guardian newspaper outlines research by LABC Warranty, which provides warranties for new-build homes, which reveals that living rooms are nearly a third smaller than equivalent homes built in the 1970s.

The average living room in a house built since 2010 was 17.1 square metres (184 sq ft), compared with 24.9 sq m (268 sq ft) in the 1970s, a 32 per cent contraction.

And modern-day master bedrooms were on average 13.4 sq m (144 sq ft) in size, compared with 14.7m (158 sq ft) in the 1970s.

“Overall, Britain built the biggest houses in the 1970s,” said a spokesman for LABC but from the 1980s onwards “Britain’s houses started to regress.”

The research also showed a reduction in the number of bedrooms, which peaked in the 1980s at an average of 3.6 compared with just under three bedrooms today - the first time the figure has fallen below three.

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Whilst on the subject of small properties, fancy owning an entire village, complete with Manor House, churches and shops in the beautiful Cotswolds...for just £595,000?

Well you can, reports the Daily Express, the only snag being that Bourton-on-the-Water is a one-ninth scale replica of the real village.

The miniature village has been attracting thousands of visitors since it was built in 1936.

But now owners Julian and Vicki Atherton, who bought it in 1999, but have put it on the market because they plan to retire.

Vicki said: “It comes with an unusual job description. You can do as much or as little as you like. I enjoy making the shop windows, the signs and gardening.”

The model village is one of the oldest in England and the only one to win Grade II-listed status as recognition for its rarity, craftsmanship and historic value.

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Edward Fraser, from Norwich, is so enamoured with puzzles that he decided to propose to girlfriend Rachael Herman via a cryptic crossword.

The Daily Express reports that Edward spent three months crafting coded clues which popped the question for inclusion in his local paper.

One clue was 'The Black Prince begins untangling odes and seeks her final response to 27 Across' - which has the answer 'Edward does ask R'.

The clue to 27 across was 'It's a question of love' - which answered 'will you marry me'.

Edward said: “I was looking for something different and wanted to make it special because she is a special person. It was quite hard initially as I was trying to think of really cool clues.”

And Rachael sat down to do her weekly crossword on their seven year anniversary with little knowledge of what was in store for her.

She commented: “I had no idea it was coming, it was such a lovely surprise and Edward played along really well.”

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 It's not looking good for two species of butterfly in the UK, says the Daily Mail, focussing on the annual UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme.

They say that conservationists are concerned that grayling butterflies and grizzled skippers, which were already in decline, suffered their worst year on record last year as they struggled in difficult weather conditions.

They had hoped that butterfly numbers would bounce back after the summer of 2016, the fourth worst year in 42 years of records.

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 Still on nature, the Guardian tells us that hundreds of bird watchers from Europe flocked to Britain after an American bittern was spotted for the first time in almost a decade.

Apparently the bird was first sighted on Saturday evening above the reeds in Carlton Marshes in Suffolk, the first time it has been recorded in the county.

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Reference list:
The Express (www.express.co.uk)

The Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk)

Daily Mail (www.dailymail.co.uk)