Christopher Hirst

Christopher Hirst is an award-winning food writer and freelance journalist.

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The Wisdom of Trees by Max Adams, book review: An obscure branch of knowledge, quirkily laid bare

Max Adams, a biographer of Admiral Collingwood, is also “a teacher of tree history” and a woodland manager.

Welcome to Just a Minute! by Nicholas Parsons - book review: 'Brilliant, superbly enjoyable…' – just not in book form

Despite its in-built defect – the interdict on hesitation, repetition and deviation frustrates any but the briefest joke or anecdote – Just a Minute is a classic example of Radio 4's strange power. The chairman Nicholas Parsons, now, amazingly, in his 90th year, admits that the show "disregards the basic rules" for telling funny stories. "Instead, [its] success is based on improvisation and ad-libbing by bright, intelligent and witty people sparking off each other."

Gin Glorious Gin, by Olivia Williams - book review: How mother's ruin became the toast of London

Even a decade ago, this lively historical cruise round the ocean of gin would have been a publishing non-starter. Towards the end of the last century, London's traditional spirit – neutral alcohol re-distilled with various flavourings and spices known as "botanicals" – was approximately as fashionable as the celluloid collar and the Marcel wave. According to Williams, London Dry Gin was "associated with Betjeman's twee vision of England – of golf clubs, tennis matches and dinner parties". You still encounter red-nosed Sixties types, who, though far from averse to other mind-altering substances, find the very mention of gin to be repugnant.

Travel books round-up: Wonders of the world, from cow wee to the 'waria'

Surely no country offers richer pickings for a cabinet of curiosities than India. The diverting assemblage in Sam Miller's A Strange Kind of Paradise: India through Foreign Eyes (Cape, £18.99) ranges from the putative appearance of St "Doubting" Thomas in Kerala to the mutilation inflicted on 300 British soldiers imprisoned by Tipu Sultan in the 1780s. "Terribly alarmed for our foreskins," wrote one colonel.

The Star Inn the City, restaurant review: This All-Day Menu plays the Yorkshire card with a heavy hand

The Star Inn the City, Lendal Engine House, Museum Street, York (01904 619208)

Christopher Hirst travels to Puerto Rico to test-drive their national cocktail, the piña colada

The exotic rum, pineapple and coconut concoction was made Puerto Rico's 'official beverage' in 1978

My Scotland, Our Britain by Gordon Brown, book review: Homage to home country reveals more of the man than the manifesto

"This is not a political manifesto," insists Gordon Brown at the conclusion of his predictably slanted contribution to the referendum debate. This is true. Perhaps his argument for Scotland staying in the UK would have benefited from a bit more political grit. His book is, however, heartfelt, well-informed and persuasive – if you can stay the course. Unfortunately, its relentless didacticism will have limited appeal, especially among the 98,000 16 and 17-year-olds whose votes may be crucial.

The Westwood occupies a wing of the former Georgian courthouse in Beverley, East Yorkshire

The Westwood, restaurant review: 'A lump of grilled halibut might have come from the creature that housed Jonah'

The Westwood, New Walk, Beverley, East Yorkshire (01482 881999). Around £120 for two, including wine. Set menu £22.50 for three courses (Tue-Fri)

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Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

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James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
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Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

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Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

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Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
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New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

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Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
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How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

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