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.

How the horse chestnut conkered Britain

It is sometimes pointed out to the British that they have wonderful things growing wild which they completely ignore. We read about French chefs combing our woods for rare fungi. We see fishermen catching langoustines and spider crabs to be exported to places where they like eating these things better than we do. The Romans introduced the sweet chestnut tree into Britain 2,000 years ago, and we are still not particularly grateful for its fruit.

Paperbacks: Reviewed by Emma Hagestadt and Christopher Hirst

Blake by Peter Ackroyd (Minerva, pounds 7.99) The assiduous Ackroyd has conjured up a wonderful life of the ''Cockney visionary'', as vivid and eidetic as the work of Blake himself. Biographer and subject are ideally matched, both ardent believers in the ''infinite London...seen within mundane London''. This impassioned portrait of an angry, transcendental genius will send enthralled readers to Blake's vast poetic output - but how many will make it to the end of Vala or the Four Zoas is a matter for conjecture.

A coming-together of ensembles

The way people write menus evolves as fast as the way cooking evolves, perhaps even faster.

Racing: Branston Abby equals record

Branston Abby equalled the post-war British record for the number of wins by an equine female when gaining her 22nd career success in the listed Dallmayr Delikatessenhauses Grosser Sprint Preis at Munich yesterday.

Where have all the woodlands gone?

Britain was once covered in trees. But today natural forests occupy a tiny proportion of our land area.

BOOK REVIEW / Suburbia's lonely hearts club band

Emma Hagestadt enjoys a spooky tale of mating rituals and dating nightm ares; Dance with Me by Lousie Doughty Simon and Schuster, pounds 9.99

Christmas dinner: facing up to the uncomfortable facts

It really is possible to enjoy all the trimmings without succumbing to unhealthy overindulgence. Sarah Edghill explains what not to eat. Right: expert advice on how to deal with a hangover

Solitary joys and crosswords

THE BURNT CHAIR 5 Duke Street, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1HP. Tel: 0181-940 9488. Open for dinner Mon-Sat, 6-11, and for lunch by arrangement. Two-course set menu, pounds 12.50; average a la carte, pounds 18 for three courses. Access and Visa accepted

A waxy crassula isn't just for Christmas

Anna Pavord suggests presents for the green of finger

Escapes

Nuts; It began with the pilgrimage to the sweet chestnut tree...

A little local trouble

A weekly round-up of rural rumpuses

Conkers plonkers

First there was the sprinkler ban, which reduced grown gnomes - sorry, men - to tearful mourning for their raddled lawns. Then the car's weekly wash and polish had to go, turning Saturday morning into an empty wasteland of waiting for the start of Grandstand. Now the long hot summer of '95 has made a final assault on masculine pleasures: the nation's supply of conkers is in crisis.

Harris the guiding light for a revelation named Vindaloo

When he goes into Vindaloo's box, Jimmy Harris can tolerate the gelding nibbling at the tyres of his wheelchair. He has had worse. "I used to have this thing called Pollock Fair," he said. "When I wasn't looking the bugger used to grab hold of a handle and tip me out."

Pennies from heaven: Golden Hand brings Devon townsfolk news of the season's first fruit

Joseph Lake (above, right), the town crier of Honiton, Devon, carrying the Golden Hand through the streets to the start of the Hot Pennies ceremony, in which heated coins are thrown from upper windows of the town's inns (above left) in a tradition dating back to the 13th century.

Portrait of the artist as a young horse

KINGSLEY AMIS: A Biography by Eric Jacobs, Hodder & Stoughton pounds 17.99
Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
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The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
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A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
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Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
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Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
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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
Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup