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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