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Rémy Martin Sales up 10% despite le credit crunch

Sales of Rémy Martin's luxury cognacs are up 10 per cent over last year, despite le credit-crunch, according to Stephen Carroll, global market director for the family-owned cognac house. In the year to March, Rémy Martin recorded a turnover of €818m (£738), holding on to its ranking as the second-biggest cognac brand in the world.

Album: Ron Sexsmith, Exit Strategy of the Soul (Kensaltown)

Ron Sexsmith is usually damned with faint praise as a songwriter's songwriter, loved by students of the form but largely ignored.

Album: Ian Siegal, Meat & Potatoes (Nugene)

Ian Siegal's live shows confirm him as the leading bluesman in Britain. Their sweaty catharsis is hinted at here.

Diary of a Primary School Mum: 'Reading? It's my daughter's top pastime'

Claire has a new party trick. Take any bog-standard four-letter word (and the occasional fiver) and she can spell it. If there were a Reception Spelling Bee competition she'd be a serious contender. My best friend who's a primary school teacher has come round to help polish off leftover mince pies. I brag about my daughter's progress.

Paperback: A Hedonist in the Cellar, by Jay McInerney

Bloomsbury £8.99

Chocolate and chestnut truffles

Makes about 30-35 truffles

Album: Timbaland & Magoo

Under Construction Part II, Blackground / Unique

Obstinate Nixon keeps Kent at bay

Kent 245 and 411 Leicestershire 270 and 255-6 Match drawn

Racing: Williamson gets Cross

NORMAN WILLIAMSON rides Nicholls Cross for Edward O'Grady in the First National Gold Cup Handicap Chase over two miles three-and-a-half furlongs at Ascot on Saturday.

Racing: Equiname in Murphy's

CALL EQUINAME, the Queen Mother Champion Chase winner, will carry top weight in the Murphy's Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Cheltenham a week on Saturday.

Canoeing In France: Messing about on the Charente

Wynn Wheldon revisits the lazy, hazy charms of his favourite part of south-west France with four good friends and three sturdy canoes

The knack: Surviving on tour

"Get the biggest bus you can: some bands get sent on tour in Transit vans. Boredom is a big problem, so don't even think about going on the road without a PlayStation and a bar: we would've split up within a week without them. Your voice wears down, so every now and again don't talk to anyone for a day and drink whisky with honey. Your tour manager might say, `Don't drink or you'll go crazy' - but ignore this; getting pissed every night alleviates the pressure of being cooped up with a bunch of madheads and keeps you sane. Just don't do it too much before you go on stage or you'll play badly.

Racing: Reveley Free-for-all

MARY REVELEY's runners continued in brilliant form yesterday. A Catterick double with Jessica One and Free took her score to seven winners in three days.
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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South Africa
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
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Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

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A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

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After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

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Homeless Veterans appeal

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Ed Balls interview

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From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
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Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

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