<b>5. Carluccios Beuno Festa</b> This is the first year Carluccio’s has produced an advent calendar and it was worth the wait. Besides the beautiful packaging, inspired by the colours of Bologna, each window reveals high-quality, foil wrapped chocolate in the shape of fruit, animal or something Christmassy. At 250g, there’s no skimping either. £10.95, www.carluccios.com

Rejoice, the Christmas chocolate calendar is upon us

People, I think it’s time we took a long hard look at this tradition, and ourselves

Fiona Stewart, founder of The Green Man Festival

'It's nice to go bonkers in a field': The Green Man music festival's founder is teaching the world to rock

Fiona Stewart has been able to secure major headline acts without being able to offer the huge fees which they can command at other events

The Sanssouci Palace

Fresh cuts: There are lots of pluses in Prussia

Adrian Mourby takes in Christmas markets with a gulp of glühwein and a dash of history

Yule love it: seasonal stalls at the Grote Markt in Bruges

A winter's tale in Bruges

This medieval Belgian city provides the perfect setting for Christmas markets and other festive activities, says Katy Guest

Travel agenda

From new non-stop flights and 'Place Pins' to photo workshops and air bridges

PS4 goes on sale in the UK as Sony disables online features

Sony's rival to the Xbox One has now launched worldwide; the two titans of home gaming will now go head-to-head over Christmas

A petition wants James Arthur dropped from The X Factor. But I can spot a homophobe - and this man isn't one

The barrage that greeted Arthur's warped remarks isn't helping anyone

Puffin Billy endured a spring of underachievement

Puffin seeks to regain perch among top hurdlers

Newbury’s Hennessy Gold Cup meeting opens on Thursday with the unusual spectacle these days, when Saturdays have long since commandeered almost all worthwhile jumps races on the way to the Festival, of an informative contest that has moved in the opposite direction.

Star turn: Cue Card and jockey Joe Tizzard outstay the chasers at Haydock Park

Cue Card leaps into Gold Cup reckoning

To his already numerous proven positive qualities, Cue Card has now added the priceless one – for a chaser aiming for the greatest glory come March, anyway – of stamina.

On the agenda: Batkid; Rob Ford; Breaking Bad; All Saints reunion; Christmas gifts

Middle-class problems: Christmas presents

Paul Nicholl's 12-year-old Tidal Bay can add the Betfair Chase to his winning tally

Veteran Tidal Bay can floor top chasers and have his day as punters’ best friend

He has won 15 races and amassed total prize-money of more than three-quarters of a million pounds.

Veteran Tidal Bay can floor top chasers and have his day as punters’ best friend

He has won 15 races and amassed total prize-money of more than three-quarters of a million pounds.

Iveson and comrades: he always wore a white scarf in case he was shot down over Germany. 'I
don’t want them to think we’re scruffs,' he would say

Tony Iveson: Second World War pilot who served in the Battle of Britain in a Spitfire and helped sink the 'Tirpitz' in a Lancaster

Tony Iveson flew Spitfires in the Battle of Britain and later the Lancaster Bomber, in which he was part of the group which sank Hitler's flagship, the Tirpitz. Serving as a flying instructor for two years after the Battle of Britain, he then flew many missions over Germany as a member of the 617 Squadron – the "Dambusters". His love affair with the Lancaster continued for the rest of his life and he flew the last remaining Lancaster at the age of 89. He then wrote Lancaster – the Biography (2008) with Brian Milton in 2009. But nothing in his life became him more than the memorial for which he campaigned tirelessly in his final years for his comrades in Bomber Command, around 55,500 of whom gave their lives to keep Hitler from these shores.

One in four unaware of Help to Buy option

The Government hoped to give a serious jolt in the arm to the housing market and the building industry by rushing forward the second part of its Help to Buy initiative from next January to last month. But its message appears to be failing to get through to the people who really matter: potential home-movers.

Album review: Robbie Williams, Swings Both Ways, Island

Those who endured Williams’s recent X Factor performance need not fear: this brassy sequel to 2001’s big-band LP Swing When You’re Winning, is actually rather listenable. Not to say it’s great: he’s a karaoke kind of crooner and some of the covers here – such as “I Wanna Be Like You” with Olly Murs – should have remained the preserve of some celebrity charity ball.

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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
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada