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Raising the bar for the humble 'local'

The winner Oscar Whisky rises with Wonderful Charm at the last in the novice chase at Cheltenham yesterday

International Hurdle: The New One mature enough to turn tables on hurdling’s old guard

The New One, part of a new wave of top-class young hurdlers threatening to swamp the reigning champion, Hurricane Fly, at the Cheltenham Festival next March, will have his credentials properly examined by a high-class yardstick, Zarkandar, in today’s International Hurdle.

Deals of the week - European city breaks, Christmas in the Cotswolds, New Year in New York

Under £200... European city breaks by train

Cresta has a range of deals on January city breaks to Europe. Examples include Paris, where three nights at the Hotel Jardins de Montmartre from 13 January is £175pp; or Bruges, where the Ibis Brugge Centrum from 17 January is £169pp. Both include breakfast and Eurostar. crestaholidays.co.uk

Squeal deal: foodie escapism is the theme of new BBC1 show ‘Nigel and Adam’s Farm Kitchen’

Nigel and Adam's Farm Kitchen: TV review - A townie and a son of the soil grow into a winning double-act down on the farm

The BBC has recently started parking their tanks on Channel 4's front lawn – or rather on Channel 4's building lot and raised vegetable bed. First, The House That 100K Built took aim at Grand Designs, with its more affordable version of Kevin McCloud's construction-site TV classic.

Rocky road: the resort of Banff

Deals of the week

Under £200... Cheap seats to Europe

Eurostar's usual lowest fare of £69 return to Paris, Lille, Brussels or Disneyland Paris falls to £54 for the first few weeks of 2014, for travel in a group of two, three or four. Sales open tomorrow and run until 2 December. Prices are for travel between 6 January and 12 February. eurostar.com

Farewell Twitter. Hello sanity and crossbows

I think it was Ash Atalla, producer of The Office, who said that there was no quicker way to a nervous breakdown than to have a comedy show on television in the age of Twitter. The first show of the new series of Fool Britannia went out last night and the one thing I didn't do was follow the live commentary online. That way only madness lies.

My next book: a dog in a bag, and me. Can’t fail

Slowly, and almost indiscernibly, the taboos of my youth are being shed. The other day I caught myself thinking about attaching some sort of strap to my reading glasses.

Deals of the week - Isle of Wight, West Sussex, Malaysia

Less than £200... Take off for the Isle of Wight over the coming months. WightLink is offering a selection of deals that include a two-night break on 4 October for £118pp, with ferry and accommodation at Gotten Manor, where guests are treated to a hearty farmhouse breakfast. Wightlink.co.uk

The Most Rev Justin Welby declined the invitation from the animal charity as he has

Archbishop of Canterbury turns down RSPCA patronage role

The Archbishop of Canterbury has turned down an invitation to be a patron of the RSPCA.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby turns down RSPCA role

The Archbishop of Canterbury has turned down an invitation to be a patron of the RSPCA.

Boat Race passes without incident after Royal Marine Commandos patrol Thames route and police monitor Twitter in attempt to stop 'copycat' protests

Organisers were anxious to avoid a repeat of last year when the race was disrupted by a protester

A bedroom at Thirty Two

B&B and Beyond: Thirty Two, Cheltenham

This stylish residence is the perfect base for a day at the races or a ramble in the Cotswolds, says James Litston

Jonjo O’Neill has had at least one winner at the last seven Festivals

Taquin Du Seuil takes the puzzle out of Festival for Jonjo O'Neill

The glamour of a "plot" horse has so rubbed off on the Cheltenham Festival handicaps that trainers nowadays need all the artistry of old merely to guarantee a run. Of no fewer than 195 entries for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Hurdle, for instance, even some rated within 5lb of the weights ceiling are not yet certain to make the final cut of 24 runners.

Donald McCain: Musselburgh has met the trainer’s request for a race to suit Overturn

Musselburgh trials lure star turn

Musselburgh trials day does not quite have the same ring to it as Cheltenham trials day, but racing is nevertheless most grateful to the enterprise shown at the Scottish racecourse and those at other venues responsible for keeping the jumping show properly on the road over the next few days.

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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 1 May 2015
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before