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 Lot to be said for it

COUNTRY MATTERS

My driver takes the Daimler home at night and leaves me the Mini

FIRST-HAND Jeffrey Archer deplores Rover's plans to redesign his favourite car

RACING : Master Oats gives Bailey memorable double

CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP: First partnership for 45 years to take Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup

Dawn run that fires the excitement

Greg Wood finds that the Cheltenham experience can be as much about early-morning exercise as late-night sessions

FOOD & DRINK: Elbows on the table OK

It's fine to pass on the pudding, but don't forget to pass the port Michael Bateman takes advice from an expert on etiquette

London Walks: A royal retreat to the deer and swans: Michael Leapman escapes the Hampton Court bustle for a peaceful wander in Bushy Park

Hampton Court is popular with walkers, but this weekend they will be impeded by the annual flower show. A good alternative is Bushy Park, just across Hampton Court Road from the palace. This short walk will also provide relief for flower show visitors feeling oppressed by the green-fingered crowds.

Food & Drink: Go with the grain to soak up flavour

There are lots of things you can do with polenta. But unless you're aware of its high slime content, the one thing you're guaranteed is problems.

Travel: Dreamtime on the Dordogne: Simon Vickers and his family bought a wooden boat and floated off downstream for a fortnight of peace and quiet

Everyone said, 'C'est impossible,' about our dream of descending the Dordogne in a gabarot, the traditional wooden boat used on the river since time immemorial. The Dordogne was too fast, the rapids too dangerous and the boat too heavy. Besides which, no one made gabarots any more.

Small ad, big adventure: Three girls, two bottles of wine and a thesaurus came up with the perfect advertisement. Now all they are looking for is a reply, writes Lynette Ross

What are three gorgeous girls like us doing in on a Saturday night?' mused Claudia, pouring another glass of Sancerre and switching off the video.

TRIED & TESTED / Taking a crack at it: We sample seven nutcrackers. The hard shell won when it came to the crunch

Most of us would probably eat a lot more nuts - and they are now sold loose in supermarkets all the year round - if cracking them were made easier. It can be off-putting, when your nutcracker sends minute pieces of kernel flying all over the room, or if you spend more time excavating stubborn fragments from the shell than you do eating the nuts. So to find a nutcracker that is really easy to use, and effective, we asked four regular nut eaters to try out a selection. We gave them a supply of walnuts, brazils, hazelnuts and almonds to test each one against. Read on, to find out which would crack even the toughest nut.

REVIEW / Picking up the fine threads of connection

MIDDLEMARCH (BBC 2) opened with a sort of Cecil B De Mille footnote, a lavish bit of spectacle which suggested that the adaptor had worked from a Penguin edition, or at least one with plenty of helpful essays on social context. A post-coach garlanded with frock-coats and felt hats bowled past the camera which then panned down into a railway cutting full of labouring navvies. Out of a nearby tunnel puffed a replica of an early locomotive. 'The future]' exclaimed Lydgate from the coach, in case you hadn't got the point of this didactic camera movement. For a while it looked like the most expensive adaptation of a Coles Notes pamphlet ever mounted.

BOOKS / Medusa's Ankles: A Short Story

SHE HAD walked in one day because she had seen the Rosy Nude through the plate glass. That was odd, she thought, to have that lavish and complex creature stretched voluptuously above the coat rack, where one might have expected the stare, silver and supercilious or jetty and frenzied, of the model girl. They were all girls now, not women. The rosy nude was pure flat colour, but suggested mass. She had huge haunches and a monumental knee, lazily propped high. She had round breasts, contemplations of the circle, reflections on flesh and its fall.

Rugby League: Books for Christmas: Heretics roast old chestnuts: Dave Hadfield finds old battles still being disputed among the pages of this year's rugby league reading

THERE is little doubt which book the zealots of the traditional school of rugby league history will be roasting their chestnuts upon this year.

Arts: A stack of Christmas crackers: Panto doesn't rule - OK? Jenny Gilbert chooses her Top 10 shows for kids, with a special offer on every one

'LET's take the family to a show for Christmas.' But what kind of show? Once the choice was simple: pantomime or a circus. Recently both have fallen prey to chocolate advertising and gameshow culture. But there are alternatives. More theatre companies are devoting the season to children, and what follows is a selection of the best, plus two unusual circus events. To take up any of the 10 offers, give the relevant password to identify yourself as an IoS reader when making your booking. (Offers subject to availability.)

Letter: Philistine reactions to our city trees

Sir: The new policy of some councils and developers (Section II; 'No place for a tree', 12 November) of removing the old large trees from our cities' pavements is outrageous. The large chestnut, elm and plane trees are a cultural institution in many large towns, and in London are as much part of the city as the Underground or the red buses.
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk