<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
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

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Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

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10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

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While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

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Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

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Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

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Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

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People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

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Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

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