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There's still time to snap up a crafty gift for Christmas that will look great and keep little ones busy in the holidays

Shopping: Tea time

China cups, cake slices, silver spoons - afternoon tea is an elaborate ritual, and all the better for it.

Indoor: Flowers good enough to eat

The stuff of ... cakes. Sally Staples discovers the delicate art of sugar craft

The Weasel: My eye was taken by the interior of a nuclear reactor (`Please keep off the core')

"We were spinning out of control in space at 3-4,000 mph," yelled the American astronaut. Despite the excitement of his yarn, yelled against a hubbub of milling schoolchildren, his audience steadily dwindled. Even the thrill of exploring the infinite cosmos cannot overcome the far-from- limitless attention span of the modern child. The voice of the spaceman - in fact, an actor in a spacesuit - was reduced to a husky bellow by the effort. "If anything goes wrong," he croaked, "you dehydrate within seconds..." I felt in need of a drink myself while visiting the Science Museum during the Christmas rush, when attendance more than doubles to 4,000 a day.

Rather odd fairy cakes, ladies ...

"It Is high time our party stopped talking about 'the women' as if we are from another dimension or another species," said Mrs Peta Buscombe, the grandly titled Conservative Party Vice Chairman with Responsibility for Women.

City: I work for Julian Metcalfe

Beaky Evette works for the chairman of the Pret A Manger sandwich company

Chancellor must avoid boom and bust policies

The first working day after both the CBI and the TUC called on Gordon Brown to do something about the uncomfortably strong pound, lo and behold, the level of sterling falls sharply. An amazing demonstration of the possibility of talking down the pound, if only the Chancellor would make the effort?

Brass Eye wins over watchdog

The watchdog for television standards has gone out of its way to praise the controversial Channel 4 satire Brass Eye despite upholding complaints from two Tory MPs who were fooled into appearing on the show to criticise a fictitious drug called "cake".

A fish cake named desire

SIR CHARLES NAPIER: Spriggs Alley, near Chinnor, Oxfordshire OX9 4BX. Tel: 01494 483011. Open Tues-Sat 12-2.30pm and 6.30-10pm, and Sun 12-3.30pm. Table d'hote lunch menu Tues-Sat, pounds 14.50. Average a la carte price, pounds 30. Credit cards accepted

Two by two in Charlotte St

PIED A TERRE; 34 Charlotte Street, London W1P 1HJ. Tel: 0171 636 1178. Mon-Fri 12.15- 2.15pm and Mon-Sat 7.15-10.45pm. Three-course set lunch pounds 22. Set dinner, three courses pounds 29.50, seven courses pounds 46. Credit cards accepted

Guy Fawkes strikes again

Tim Stein meets a firestarter extraordinaire

Books: Concrete and cakes in Cavan

THE BEND FOR HOME: A Memoir by Dermot Healy, Picador pounds 16

Baker grabs a slice of the action

Tea for two? Chris Arnot finds a burgeoning cake maker who has attracted Fortnum & Mason

I Stole Freddie Mercury's Birthday Cake by Malcolm Hardee with John Fleming, 4th Estate pounds 8.99.

What could a man who has built a career around the public display of his genitalia (albeit occasionally shielded by a hard-pressed balloon or three) possibly have left to reveal? A fair bit, it turns out. This characterful and not overly ghost-written autobiography contains a feast of scabrous reminiscence. It is also a great deal more fun than Malcolm Hardee's act - but then again, so is having your appendix removed.

The chocolate test

You put down the phone and panic: six unexpected guests for dinner this evening. Two obvious puddings to turn to are chocolate mousse, and a rich chocolate cake - both are comparatively quick and simple to make, and everyone loves them.

Pick of the Week: Scottish Food Proms

When the musical Proms come round each year, they invariably provoke a wide range of foodie metaphors. So what can one say about the Fifth Scottish Food Proms? It's a high note in Glasgow's cultural year, beautifully arranged, and the list of tastings, kitchen tours, exhibitions, will be music to the ears of all but the
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3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
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No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

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Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor