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.

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
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.

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.

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.

Wild duck and quince salad

Wild duck and quince salad

Serves 4

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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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
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Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game