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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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
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11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
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Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
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Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
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Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
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America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone