Christopher Hirst

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

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Paperback review: Strands, By Jean Sprackland

The poetry of marine flotsam makes a perfect beach read

Paperback review: Walk the Lines, By Mark Mason

“The running total is 171.1 miles, not quite halfway,” groans Mason after the District Line, though this reader had the thought that no one forced him to do an overground trek of the Underground.

Paperback review: The Road Not Taken, By Frank McLynn

Frank McLynn's exploration of why British revolutions go pfft! is packed with interest. The collapse of Wat Tyler's rebellion is a mystery, though Richard II reacted “with a viciousness that always characterises elites [after] a narrow squeak”.

The Talbot Hotel, Yorkersgate, Malton, North Yorkshire

Following a deafening dinner at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen a few years ago, when twenty-somethings maintained a roundelay of "Happy Birthday" for much of the evening, I've steered clear of restaurants run by TV chefs. So it was with trepidation that I entered the refurbished mansion (Pevsner: "probably c.1840") that houses the Talbot Hotel in Malton, North Yorkshire, since the owners Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland and his son Tom have installed local boy James Martin, an ornament of Saturday Kitchen and other televisual bonbons, as executive chef.

The Great Gatsby, By F.Scott Fitzgerald

Brevity and greatness, minus Beyoncé's vocal distractions

Voices of the Old Sea, By Norman Lewis

A great travel writer painted wild Spain just before tourism

How to Sound Clever, By Hubert van den Bergh

It can safely be said that no Independent reviewer will need a collection of "600 English words you pretend to understand… when you don't".

The Juice, By Jay McInerney

"On my 55th birthday," the novelist muses, "I was astonished by the beauty and depth of wines fermented the year I was born."

The Green Road into the Trees, By Hugh Thomson

Though he has written books on Andes, Himalayas and Mexico, Hugh Thomson is not sure anywhere is "quite as strange and foreign as England".

I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, By Sylvie Simmons

Though it's a big book, this closely observed account of a counter-culture bard might have benefited from being longer still.

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Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn