Life and Style

Modern London is a city in turbulence, a cosmopolitan cauldron in which more things change than stay the same, where all the world comes to throw a tantrum, get rich through property and complain about schools. Its restaurant scene has generally kept up.

A festive floating island is Mark's version of the classic îles flottantes

Mark Hix recipe: A festive floating island

Serves 6-8

Mark Hix recipe: Little Christmas crumbles

These make perfect festive party snacks or something to go with coffee at the end of the meal. You can use mincemeat or a combination of mincemeat  and Christmas pudding if you need to use it up.

Mark Hix recipe: Moroccan spiced chestnuts

Using argan oil, cumin, ground cinnamon and coriander. Use freshly roasted and shelled chestnuts for this or the vacuum-packed, ready-shelled ones: both yield good results. You can also vary the spices to suit your taste, making them either sweet or savoury.

An Edwardian gazebo in Kingston, passed as you meander along the river Thames

Walk of the month: Kingston upon Thames - Red bricks and boxes on the riverbank

The Thames Path combines history with nature as it forges towards the capital from Hampton Court Palace

Louie Ireland, left, 11, takes on Oliver Simons, right, 13, during the youth final

They came, they saw, they conkered: Briton triumphs at World Conker Championships

Despite fierce foreign competition, Sam Masters sees a British triumph at the World Conker Championships

Broccoli might be good for you, but you won't catch me munching on those miniature green trees

You will look in vain for an ode to broccoli. And that is because broccoli is rubbish

Hotel review: Torralbenc, Menorca

Room service at the hotel is a fine taste of things to come, as Alice Jones discovers...

Mark Leftly: Brewer's fundraising plan is a lot to swallow

Outlook Tactical Nuclear Penguin is a beast of a speciality stout that, at an ABV of 32 per cent, is seven and a half times the strength of the wildly over-rated black stuff that Guinness churns out.

Google chairman Eric-Schmidt has rejected claims that the company is not paying their fair share of taxes

Korean braised ribs recipe

Korean cooking consists of a large number of braised dishes that require considerable culinary skill. Galbijjim is one such dish. In recent years it has grown in popularity among international diners who appreciate the fine taste and, indeed, the health advantages of the dish (the fat on the short ribs is removed before braising)

10 years of Freecycle: Matchmaking compulsive off-loaders with the vaguely needy

I’ve no idea why it takes many sofa suppliers six weeks to deliver a sofa, but it does and as a result I’ve got nothing to sit on in my new gaff except an expanse  of scruffy laminate. The idea  of buying a sofa to sit on while  I wait for a sofa to arrive seems needlessly extravagant, so I’ve turned to the global network dedicated to giving away stuff and getting stuff for free.

This little piggy: a jamoneria in Madrid like the one Ian Irvine visited

The slice is right: Get a taste for Spanish ham

After a taste of Spanish ham in Madrid sent him into raptures, Ian Irvine was determined to learn more about this heavenly jamon – including how to carve his own.

The Croods – an inspired and idiosyncratic tale with a feisty teenage heroine
Did the French invent chips? Or was it the Belgians?

French battle Belgians over invention of ‘les frites’

Neighbours fight for right to be named 'home of the chip'

Jingle smells are an assault on the nose

The smell of the Christmas lunch itself, however, can be better than the consumption

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there