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.

The point of ... loneliness

BEING lonely is frequently judged an extremely bad idea. Yet we should perhaps learn to appreciate the benefits that indirectly flow from this uncomfortable emotion. There would be no relationships without it. There are no greater romantics than those who don't have anyone to be romantic with. It is when we are in the depths of loneliness, without the distraction of work or friends, that we are in a position to grasp the nature and necessity of love. It is after a weekend in which the phone has not stirred, in which every meal was prised from a can and consumed in the unconsoling presence of a gravel-voiced BBC narrator - outlining the mating habits of the Kenyan antelope - that we can appreciate why Plato should have declared (The Symposium, 416BC) that a person without love is like a creature with only half its limbs.

Country & Garden: A tree is not just for life... ...

...but for several lifetimes. Or it should be, if it isn't murdered in the meantime.

John Walsh on Monday: Lost in the menacing streets of Ledbury

SATURDAY NIGHT in Ledbury, Herefordshire. The handsome old market town has gone all frisky for its annual poetry jamboree. Though established only three years ago, the Ledbury Poetry Festival has grown like a bolted Parnassian cauliflower until it has taken over the town where John Masefield was born. It has, to vary the metaphor, carved such a distinct niche for itself in the huge wall of seasonal literary events that, if you ever think of the words "poetry festival", it is the word "Ledbury" you think of next. And it reaches beyond the ambit of verse readings and versifying workshops to become a celebration of international cultural jollity.

Letters: Ron Davies' courage

Sir: Your report of the resignation of Ron Davies from his Welsh Assembly post again trots out the old chestnut of his alleged "moment of madness" on Clapham Common.

Why a salmon, a horse chestnut and a little old lady in Surrey are the difference between... ...a bank holiday weekend like this, or like that

For the past 50 years or so Jean, a spinster in her seventies who lives in Surrey, has documented a few simple facts about the countryside around her. In particular, she records the dates when four species of tree - oak, ash, horse-chestnut and lime - come into leaf. It's the sort of trivial task that machines aren't much good at, but which humans enjoy. She started doing it as part of a diary. Then she kept on doing it. For decades.

Shopping: Six Of The Best - Incense and incense burners

Aluminium stand, pounds 1.50, and cedarwood sticks, pounds 1.95, Muji (0171- 323 2208)

Gardening: Cuttings

News From The Gardeners' World

Travel for mind, body and spirit: Nose The smells of Italy

There are many reasons to choose Florence in the autumn: the city is cooler, it's less crowded and the hills around are blazing red and gold. But the most irresistible reason of all is truffles. Or rather, the smell of them.

Midweek Money: The Trader - I wouldn't recommend mango with the sprouts

CHESTNUTS ROASTING on an open fire, Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas" on the gramophone, smiling friends and family coming round to wish us good cheer - no, our Christmases aren't like that either. Perhaps you can only have them like that in black and white. Anyway, this year I can guarantee it'll be more like a Bruce Willis film, with snipers and shouting and the occasional explosion. The reason? We're spending the weekend with Uncle Edward and Aunt Julia.

Eating out: Taste of things to come- Hot, happening and opening soon

Belgo, the Belgian-themed group specialising in moules, frites and 101 different beers, has opened its first branch outside the capital. Belgo Bristol (0117 905 8000) is in a 19th-century granary in the old docks area, but inside the design is futuristic, with metal stairs and loos, spot-lighting, communal tables and benches. And the waiters are dressed as Trappist monks, as usual. It may sound off-the-wall, but the London branches are packed nightly.

Gardening: Prickly Characters

As holly comes inside for Christmas, Nigel Colborn traces the dark, pagan roots of this festive symbol, and selects the plants with the brightest berries

Right of Reply: Jeremy Isaacs

A campaigner for a monument to Oscar Wilde replies to Tom Lubbock's criticism of the new sculpture

Travel: Walks - The lane in Spain

Edward Blincoe steps out in pioneering spirit along the unmarked farm tracks and smugglers' trails of Andalucia, returning at night to a feast...and an electric blanket

Racing: Stravinsky's talents in demand

THE BOOKMAKERS were unimpressed yesterday following Raise A Grand's victory in the Solario Stakes at Sandown. Like the thoroughbred racehorse who forms the centrepiece of the action, the modern bookmaker was taking no chances with a prospective predator in in the form of Stravinsky, winner of a York maiden on Thursday and now the 4-1 favourite for the 2000 Guineas next May.

Ringo gets a little help from friends

FIRST NIGHT Ringo and his Pedigree Chums Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
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Day In a Page

A
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 15 May 2015
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?