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 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.

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

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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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
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Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable