Life and Style

Is there anything more festive than a magnum? Apart from a double magnum perhaps, a magnificent magnum is the most generous way to celebrate a great day with friends and family. It also keeps better than a bottle, so squirrel one away.

Festival Guide 2012: A spotter's guide to festival excess

Smug Tweeters. Gurning Techno stilt loons. Naked am-dram mums. Bewildered teens. Key parts of any festival, says Nick Moore

Book Of A Lifetime: A Confederacy of Dunces, By John Kennedy Toole

So I had left Istanbul with its colourful chaos and ended up in a place in America where the wind blew hot as a hair dryer, huge thorny cacti greeted newcomers and Spanish was the official language. What was I doing in Tucson, Arizona? Teaching, writing a new novel... The part of me that couldn't settle down, always a nomad, an outsider, East and West, and yet precisely because of that at home everywhere, that stubborn part was holding the reins. It was as if I had taken a plastic globe, given it a real good spin, and randomly put my finger on a spot.

Starling numbers fall fast

The number of starlings seen in people's gardens has fallen by almost four-fifths in the past three decades, the RSPB says today.

When the Killing's Done, By TC Boyle

Conservation thriller with no end of rats

Goldfinches are now found in 58% of gardens, up from just 12% in the mid 1990s

Goldfinches thrive in UK gardens as song thrushes dwindle

Goldfinches are now found in almost five times as many gardens as they were 16 years ago, latest figures from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) show.

Honey-roast duck with flowering chives and black fungus

Divine duck: Mark Hix cooks with the most succulent of birds

It's the perfect ingredient with which to create these warming winter dishes.

Slow-roast duck leg with bashed neeps and haggis

Slow-roast duck leg with bashed neeps and haggis

Serves 4

Honey-roast duck with flowering chives and black fungus
Population numbers for the robin have increased by 49 per cent since 1970

Robins revel in warmer winters

Populations of the festive favourite soar, but not so for its fellow red-breasts

<p><strong>Chateau D'Angles La Clape Classique Rouge 2008</strong></p>
<p>Robust, herby red, from typical southern French varieties of syrah, grenache and mourvedre. Good with all roasts. </p>
<p><em>£9.99 Wine Rack (down from £11.99)</em></p>

Wine: Reds for roasts

Terry Kirby picks three wines to accompany the best meal of the week

Roast duck with apples and cider brandy

Festive feast: Mark Hix's tempting Christmas roasts will amaze your guests

It's time to start thinking about what to prepare and serve to your family and guests on Christmas Day. As many of you will have discovered over the years, I am somewhat resistant to cooking a turkey for the main meal. The principal reason is that because the legs take longer to roast than the breasts, the latter invariably end up getting a bit dried out and the whole thing can become a logistical nightmare.

Scrambled egg and smoked salmon crumpets

Toast of the town: Mark Hix's crumpets with a twist

Elevate these toasted treats to an altogether higher level with a variety of luxury toppings.

Wild duck and quince salad

Wild duck and quince salad

Serves 4

Use good-quality butter puff pastry for quince and cinnamon tart

Quince charming: Mark Hix celebrates this under-appreciated fruit

We don't really grow quince in this country on a commercial scale, so it's always nice to get a call from friends who have quince trees and want to see the fruit go to a good home.

Super soups: Mark Hix whizzes up some warming and thrifty autumn broths

I love making warming autumnal soups and broths – they cost next to nothing, they're a great way to use up leftovers and they are healthy, too. By this I don't mean chucking a load of leftovers in the blender and hoping for the best, but you may have a few vegetables in the drawer of your fridge for example, or a bit of your Sunday roast left, or game bird carcasses; for me, it's a culinary sin to throw them away.

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Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum