The Conran Shop, Brompton Cross, London SW7

What it is: An upmarket interior decor emporium for the richer children of the Habitat generation.

Where it is: A quite gorgeous location. The old Michelin Building, complete with Art Deco flourishes and mosaics, sympathetically converted with the addition of a wall of glass.

Inside: White tiles, white walls: all the better to set off the yellow and imperial purple that seem to be the rage in drapes.

Stock: Gorgeous, but not cheap. A blue suede chaise longue is pounds 1,350, a curly lacquered steel bedrame, without base or mattress, pounds 1,095. But there are flourishes of wit everywhere - a terracotta brick sofa at pounds 3,000; a chandelier made of a white china teapot and three cups and saucers at pounds 205 - and there is mercifully little of the ubiquitous verdigris.

Staff: A touch on the snooty side. Only the children's department seemed keen to offer help.

Possible reasons not to shop there: Everything is just that little bit too tasteful. All furniture has very clear, deliberate lines - no fuzzy edges anywhere. All this definition could end up making you paranoid.


Top 10 UK biscuit brands

In the UK we eat 11.4kg of biscuits a year each, more than any country in Europe. We clearly like our choccy biscuits, but the big surprise of this list is Rich Teas, which, amazingly, are more popular than Hob- Nobs

1 Kit Kat (Nestle)

2 Chocolate Homewheat. (McVitie's)

3 Digestive (McVitie's)

4 Penguin (McVitie's)

5 Club (Jacob's)

6 Mini Cheddar (McVitie's)

7 Jaffa Cakes (McVitie's)

8 Rich Tea (McVitie's)

9 Rocky (Fox's)

10 Wagon Wheel's (Burton's)

Good thing

The trake, pounds 19.95

A useful gadget this, particularly with bulb-planting season coming up. The "trake" is an all-in-one rake, trowel, seeder, bulb planter and soil depth measure. So, ideal if you don't want to lug about six different implements in your gardening jacket; particularly as it only weighs 1lb. They also come in bright colours, so you won't lose them among the weeds. Well-known in America, the trake is only imported into this country through Wadham Trading, Wadham House, Southrop, Nr Lechlade, Gloucestershire GL7 3PB (01367-850499 for catalogue).

What can I do about my cat's fleas?

Cat fleas are at epidemic proportions. A few sensible measures will ensure you get rid of them and keep them away.

The expert's view: Dr Maunder, Medical Entomology Centre, University of Cambridge: "Fleas have increased remarkably over a decade. It is more related to a long series of mild winters than to hot summers. The good news is that dog fleas are rare these days, but the bad news is that cat fleas have moved on to the dog as well. The increase is also related to the way we keep our houses; we have more efficient heating and less efficient ventilation. What we want is a really hard winter!"

The vet's view: Colin Vogel, Gillhanhouse Veterinary Group, Fakenham, Norfolk: "A lot of problems occur when people use pet shop products as the sole means of controlling fleas - my view is that flea collars and flea powder are not particularly effective. You can spray the animal with a drug which stays on the coat and kills fleas, or give it a drug which is absorbed through the skin (each time a flea bites, it gets a bit of the drug). Fleas lay eggs on the animal which drop off into the house, so you need to kill fleas in the environment. You can use a spray around the house which kills the fleas and prevents larvae maturing. A longer-term treatment is to put the fleas on 'the pill' - a liquid formulation your pet eats which makes fleas sterile."

The treatments: (prices may vary)

Instant protection: A spray to kill fleas on the pet - Nuvan Top, pounds 4.55 (only available from vets). A drug absorbed through the skin: Tiguvon (for cats pounds 7.38, medium dogs pounds 8.39, large dogs pounds 8.68, on prescription only).

To kill fleas in the house: Flee Guard, pounds 6.39.

Long-term protection: "the pill for fleas" - pounds 17.50-pounds 18.60 for a six- month course (on prescription only).

The Definitive Flea Guide will be published in two weeks. To receive a copy, send an A5 sae to: 40 Berkeley Square, London W1X 6AD.

Julie Aschkenasy

Mad thing

Cake fireworks, pounds 4.50 for 3

Most of us, when confronted by the need for birthday cake candles, buy those weedy pink, blue and white ones that break when you jam them into the candlestick. The only variation is the ones that won't go out, and set your house on fire after you've thrown them in the bin. Well here's something a bit different: cake fireworks. More roman candle than rocket, they shower sparks over the icing for about three minutes. From Summerill & Bishop, the imaginative kitchen shop, at 100 Portland Road, London W11 (0171-221 4566; mail-order available).