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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

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.

Baker grabs a slice of the action

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

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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?