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IN THE 17th century, rhubarb - that curious vegetable - was so sought-after, it cost three times as much as opium. Along the way, it got smothered in crumble and tarred with the cruel brush of school dinners, but suddenly it's back! Our vegetable du jour forms the focus of one of a new series of BBC2 shorts, Private Lives, which features the last of a dying breed of rhubarb "forcers", who live in the aptly named Rhubarb Triangle and regard this vegetable with such veneration they harvest it by candlelight. Have your custard at the ready.

`Serious Rhubarb', BBC2, 7.30pm, Friday 9 July.

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BLESS THEIR cotton socks - the folk at Origins have come up with a cheap, easy way to enjoy a good old pampering in the comfort of your own home. Their reflexology socks are printed with a handy map to guide you to the most relaxing points on your feet. Great for DIY use, but if you've got a willing pair of hands to help you, you'll enjoy it a whole lot more.

pounds 12.50 from Origins (tel:0800 7314039).

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IT'S BAKING hot in Bangkok and the water in your hostel has mysteriously dried up - your everyday backpacker's nightmare scenario. Well, The Body Shop's new Eau No Range has been designed to cope with just such disasters - it will have you cleansed, fragrant and moisturised in minutes without the need for water. And the best news is the whole lot weighs only 360g - less than your average guidebook. Plenty of room in your pack for putting your shopping, then.

Dry shampoo/ body talc, pounds 4, all-in-one face, body and hair wash, pounds 3.75, shaving oil, pounds 3.25, mouth freshener, pounds 3.50, cleansing wipes, pounds 2, moisturising bar, pounds 5. From branches nationwide.

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SICK OF bumping into people at barbecues - quite literally...? Perhaps it's time you got some light in your garden, and what could be better, as you tuck into that burnt swordfish steak, than the gentle flicker of candles. Inventory's deliciously scented flares are available in a range of colours and shapes, from sunflowers to starfish.

Inventory flares, pounds 3.50 each (tel: 0171 937 2626).

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IF YOU thought London's Brick Lane was only about curries, it's time to wake up. Next Sunday will see the grand opening of the Arts Worldwide Bangladesh Festival in "Banglatown", commemorating all aspects of Bangladeshi culture from rickshaws, to painting, photography and music - playing throughout the day on three stages. Two hundred children from Tower Hamlets schools will perform Dhabi's Story, a musical adapted from traditional folk tales. For a taste of more modern Asian culture, Deedar Zaman and Dr Das from Asian Dub Foundation will be judging the Banglatown Sounds Competition for unsigned DJs and bands. The party rocks on until 3am at the 333 Club, Old Street, but that's just the beginning - the festival runs to 25 July.

Festival (tel: 0171 354 4141;

www.artsworldwide.org.uk)

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