Urban gardener: Norman conquest

As a lapsed Catholic, I haven't had the urge to light a candle for anyone for quite some time, but I've just made an exception. A couple of weeks in France was made infinitely better by spending time listening to the French-language CDs of Michel Thomas. So impressed was I by the confidence they gave me to have a go (regardless of whether or not it sounded a load of bolleaux), that I was going to send a letter of gratitude to M Thomas, before someone told me that this Second World War veteran and genius of a language teacher had died three years ago. A candle, therefore, in a small seaman's chapel at the picturesque town of St Vaast-la-Hougue, would have to do instead.

Album: Grantura, In Dreams and Other Stories (Ruffa Lane Records)

As if to prove that Lucky Soul's debut album was no fluke, the charmingly independent Ruffa Lane Records now invites us to put pop prejudice to one side and welcome a self-proclaimed Americana group from the wrong side of the Atlantic.

Magners on thin ice as its popular Irish cider becomes a fashion victim

Success story turns sour – profit warning issued and sales slump 10 per cent. By James Thompson

Eat your greens... after you've grown them

What could be better than eating fruit and vegetables grown in your own back garden? It's easy to recreate The Good Life at home, and you'll be joining a growing trend

Bacon chop with Tewkesbury mustard

Serves 4

Higher prices for cheap alcohol

The price of some alcoholic drinks is to be raised as part of the Government's attempts to get to grips with Britain's addiction to binge drinking.

Shops and supermarkets to take strong drink off shelves

Supermarkets and off-licences are joining forces with council officials to tackle street drinking by taking super-strength lager and cider off their shelves.

C&C suffers as taste for Magners ebbs

The Irish beverage maker C&C said that its revenues were down 15 per cent yesterday as an ebb in Britons' taste for cider ate into its bottom line.

The Lady Of Leisure, Playhouse, Livepool<img src="http://www.independent.co.uk/template/ver/gfx/threestar.gif" height="1" width="1"/><img src="http://www.independent.co.uk/template/ver/gfx/threestar.gif" height="10" width="47"/>

"It's amazing the amount of force a mollusc will use to do nothing when it would be so much easier to do something." It's amazing the amount of force a theatre director will use to revive a light summer soufflé, a long-forgotten play originally titled The Mollusc. Now called The Lady of Leisure - for those who can't make the effort to remember what a mollusc is - it brought its Cheshire-born author Hubert Henry Davies considerable success at London's Criterion in 1907.

Spanish farms make good family holidays

Where's a savvy summer choice for a family with young children? Down on the farm in the cooler pastures of Asturias, says Chris Birkett

Preview: Comfort Me With Apples, Hampstead Theatre, London NW3

No more cider for Rosie

Book Group: John Walsh reviews the June book - Dry, by Augusten Burroughs

Self-absorbed, but a brilliant read

Food &amp; Drink notes

It's all going pear shaped; birth of a legend; you herd it here first; meet my mate biscuit

No Pain, No Gain: Excellent performance fails to meet expectations

Merrydown, the little cider and adult soft drink group, this week failed to excite the stock market and, I suspect, left many shareholders a shade disappointed. True, its year's results were excellent. Well up to expectations. But an even better performance had been anticipated by some of us.

Career Services

Day In a Page

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