Travel

My stomach has endured the full scope of awful foods this planet has to offer Trying adventurous food is a big part of travelling, but India, where I'm travelling through now, has more problems with [food] hygiene than anywhere else in the world. It's a cultural problem, as eating meat is a rarity in rural areas, so they treat it like a vegetable, keeping it in a cupboard. So when the occasional Westerner passes through, by the time it's pulled out, it's been in there for a few months. When travelling across poorer parts of India now, I try to survive off rice and dahl.

Benteke celebrates his goal for Aston Villa
Dale Steyn took six wickets for eight runs in eight overs last week

The Last Word: Savour Steyn, the virile throwback to a hostile age

Seldom has such speed been hitched to such accuracy – or such ferocity

Paul Gascoigne, who used to be the toast of a nation, needs a counsellor more than a dentist

Oh how we chuckled indulgently at this great footballer's high jinks years ago. Now he desperately needs expert help if his story isn't to have a terrible ending

Ambergris from whales is quite rare

£100,000 for whale vomit? That’s sick

Why is ambergris worth so much money? Simon Usborne holds his nose and finds out

What you can learn at X Factor school

Mickey Mouse degree? Nah, I'm taking the X Factor

Grace Dent on TV: Mrs Brown's Boys, BBC1

Irritating relatives, terrible jokes, mindless banter: the perfect accompaniment to a family Christmas

Robert Green reacts after putting the ball into his own net

Djibril Cisse slams decision making of Chris Foy

Controversial decisions were made in QPR's defeat to West Brom

2012 breakthroughs: Curiosity rover landing system

Scientific breakthroughs: From bone fragments to Higgs boson, the tiny finds with huge consequences

Winners of this year’s best breakthroughs revealed

Burberry Prorsum a/w12

He wore blue velvet

The most tactile of fabrics comes into its own for the party season – just be sure to avoid cheap imitations, says Lee Holmes

Portrait of a Lady: the life and passions of Lady Barber, Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham

This is one of those good/bad exhibitions – good in so far as it tells us an interesting story about the foundation of an important institute of fine arts in Birmingham eighty years ago within the precincts of the university; bad in so far as a fair number of the works on display here – notably the paintings of Lady Barber herself - are of an indifferent quality. Not the lace and the tapestries though.

Bupa in £244m dental deal in Australia

The private healthcare group Bupa has agreed to take over Australia and New Zealand's largest dentistry chain for £244m.

Oscar Niemeyer

Further to the obituary of Oscar Niemeyer by Jay Merrick (7 December), I saw a number of his earlier buildings in 1953, when I was in Brazil with an oil company. I was overwhelmed by his "shock of the new", in Merrick's words. His break from convention was breathtaking. The Department of Education building in Rio was built in the 1930s, before air conditoning. With Rio's high temperatures and high humidity, the conventional approach was a veranda on the ground floor, with mini roofs over the windows on the floors above. This cools the air, but darkens the inside, so that electric light sometimes had to be employed during the hours of daylight.

<p>1. Lakeland</p>
<p>£19.99 for one, lakeland.co.uk</p>
<p>This is vast. It has two party wigs, funny noses, teeth, moustaches, glasses, eye patches, paper hats, jokes, charade cards and balloons.</p>

The 10 Best Christmas crackers

Make sure your crackers don’t put a dampener on your festive feast by picking up one of these sparkling sets

Peter Crouch (L) of Stoke City celebrates scoring his second goal with Michael Kightly (R)

Stoke hopeful Peter Crouch will be fit for Aston Villa meeting

Premier League team news

All the wrong moves: Radio 1 DJ Vernon Kay

The Week In Radio: Vernon Kay is Strictly out of step with this dancing debacle

"It’s saturday morning and it’s just gone 10 o’clock,” bellowed Vernon Kay. “and we are here! We are here! We are live!” Where, Vernon? I bellowed back from my kitchen.

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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 1 May 2015
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before