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In the middle of the night, hidden beneath the covers, I start laughing at the idea of anyone else finding out what I'm Googling. No, I'm not funding the dark web, I'm not streaming illegal stuff of any kind, I'm not even shopping for kittens; I'm soothing my troubled insomniac brow on frenchclick.co.uk, gazing at things formerly only purchasable in French supermarkets, now brought all the way across the Channel to my London front door – with no delivery charge on orders of more than £35. (More than £35? Pah. I can spend over £35 on biscuits alone in a French supermarket.)

The Lockhart, restaurant review: Brad McDonald has picked up the south-western ball and kicked it out of the park

At the risk of straying into territory staked out by my more lurid male counterparts, I once saw a strip bar in Nashville with a neon sign outside advertising '99 Beautiful Girls! And One Ugly One'. They can get away with that kind of playful hucksterism down in the American South. Here, outraged punters would be demanding refunds and invoking the Trade Descriptions Act.

Travel agenda

From Ben Fogle's shore excursions to a new Hemingway hotel in Madrid, and discounted family rail travel in the UK

The Big Six: French ski retreats

Take your pick in Courchevel, Chamonix, Sainte-Foy, Megève, and Val Thorens

Thirsty at thirty? The Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival is 30 years old. But is it the cultural force it once was?

Titus Clarysse eats at a restaurant in Ghent, western Belgium in 2009; Clarysse was known in and around the university town of Ghent for walking into any restaurant of his choosing, ordering anything for steak to lobsters and walking out without paying

Titus Clarysse: Belgian man who skipped 100 restaurant bills is killed

He was a “happy-go-lucky” guy who was notorious for spicing up life on benefits in the medieval Belgian town of Ghent by strolling into a restaurant, calmly ordering lobster washed down with the finest brandy or some other gastronomic delight and then walking out without paying the bill.

Travel agenda

From a converted railway station in Snowdonia and a new resort to San Diego to Sawdays' sale and Gooey travel accessories

One of the world’s top culinary teams is calling for blood to be used more widely in the everyday food we eat

Gone right off eggs? Try blood (even in ice cream) ... The grisly ingredient is overlooked, say cutting-edge culinary experts

The Nordic Food Lab says blood is nutritious, delicious and could be the solution to the growing problem of allergies

Postcard from... Brussels

Postcard from... Berlin

The 10 best low-fat snacks

New year, new start? Us too. Daisy Wyatt rounds up the best healthy snacks from popcorn and seeds to dried fruit

A baby northern gannet stands next to one of its parents

Gannet chick-eating championships provoke anger from wildlife lovers

The first “world championship” for eating pickled baby gannets, known as “guga”, has sparked new calls for a total ban on the Hebridean tradition of hunting chicks by clubbing  them with sticks.

A tweet showing Russian artist Viktor Ivanov's bear fashioned from cuts of chicken.

The nightmare before Christmas: the terrifying 'Turkey Bear'

The photo of a bear put together using clumps of meat is almost enough to put you off Christmas dinner

Evgeny Kissin, LSO, Tilson Thomas: classical review

Barbican, London

A bin of corks used as evidence in the trial of wine dealer Rudy Kurniawan

US wine dealer who made $1.3m by selling ‘vintage’ stock made in kitchen facing up to 40 years in prison

Renowned seller made fortune from bogus bottles sold to rich American collectors

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
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peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
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Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
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Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
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Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
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The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
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Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there