Arts and Entertainment

chances are that you have spent the past two weeks wrapping, unwrapping and wolfing down the stuff brought to you by people like the cheerful rating whom Horatio Clare calls "N".

Painful hurdle ahead in Vendée Globe

Thirty six hours of pain face the leaders in the Vendée Globe singlehanded non-stop round the world race, but 3,000 miles of jangling nerves are in prospect for two of the eight boats on the second leg of the Volvo race from Cape Town to Kochi, south-west India.

Broken boom slows Green Dragon's Volvo progress

A smashed boom in 50 knots of wind slowed the progress of the Irish entry Green Dragon on the second leg of the Volvo round the world race yesterday.

Somali pirates 'seize tanks'

Pirates have seized a Ukrainian cargo vessel carrying T-72 tanks off eastern Somalia, an official said today.

Spas, stars and the two Rs: what's new in the Maldives?

Only about 200 of its 1,196 islands are inhabited – which leaves room for more upmarket resorts, says Simmy Richman

The Complete Guide To: Zanzibar

The exotic name says it all: these islands off the east coast of Africa are a heady mix of coral beaches, weird wildlife, spicy history – and voodoo, says James Palmer

The Travel Issue: Maldives in December

The pale sea stretches below, punctuated by flashes of green and gold where reefs and sunlight collide. As the plane tumbles forwards, pockets of land, so tiny they are barely visible, emerge from a blanket of blue.

O'Neill plans January raid on players to take Villa into Europe

The manager of Aston Villa, Martin O'Neill, will present his wish list of players to the new owner Randy Lerner next week but will only sign players on long-term contracts in January who have a good chance of restoring former glories to the Midlands club .

Hope/MacGregor/Britten Sinfonia, Assembly Rooms/Pavilion, Bath <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

The violinist Daniel Hope spent his infancy in Yehudi Menuhin's house, and East Meets West, his new CD, echoes Menuhin's collaboration with Ravi Shankar, West Meets East, of four decades ago. Hope now commissions new works, and rescues undervalued old ones, so it was no surprise to find him doing both at the Bath Festival. With piano accompaniment, he started his first concert, also called "East Meets West", with the lusty rhythms of De Falla, then moved eastwards via Ravel and Bartok to Takemitsu, before new-minted musical tributes to Menuhin and Shankar with a North Indian ensemble.

Orange pledges free broadband for bigger spenders

Orange pledged to give its high-spending mobile phone customers free broadband access yesterday, while its smaller rival Plusnet cut prices to under £10 a month as competition in the UK's broadband market intensified.

Art Deco house

A bold new extension has transformed this Art Deco house into a statement home for the 21st-century family.

Five Best: Spas with a view

Every scrub-down needs a perfect setting. By Rhiannon Batten

Robinson gambles on Stevens to shake up England pack

Matt Stevens, born a stone's throw from the Indian Ocean but schooled as a professional rugby player on the banks of the River Avon, will make his Six Nations Championship debut for England in Dublin this weekend, having beaten his similarly out-sized Bath colleague Duncan Bell to the No 3 shirt. Like most of the tough decisions made by red rose management of late, this is something of a gamble. Stevens is one hell of a prop forward, but he has yet to demonstrate that he is one hell of a tight-head prop forward.

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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
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen