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.

Take a turn around the magic circle

Walk Of The Month: The Somerset Levels - This county, on a sunny winter's day, offers great scenery and stunning wildlife, says Mark Rowe

Busaba Eathai, 8-13 Bird Street, London W1

Does Alan Yau's Busaba chain still offer the same comfort 10 years after its launch?

The Lake poets' Cumbria: Wander lonely – and happily – as a cloud

Not all writers loved the Lake District. In his A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain, published in 1722, Daniel Defoe said he found the Cumberland and Westmorland hills "high and formidable" with "a kind of unhospitable terror in them". They were, he said, "all barren and wild, of no use or advantage either to man or beast".

The Yuck Factor: How disgusting became the last word in luxury

Bird droppings, snail slime, excreted coffee beans – there's no substance so vile that it can't be a must-have product. Gillian Orr explores a world of (very) gross profits

Brawn, 49 Columbia Road, London E2

Remember the fuss that London foodies and critics made about Terroirs when it opened just off the Strand in 2008. Everyone loved its wine-bar vibe, its groovy "sharing plates", and its indescribably smelly vacherin mont d'or, which ponged out the basement. Well, the owners have moved on. Brawn is a high-concept, low-overheads place in Columbia Road, home of the flower market, and is currently the trendiest eating-house in town.

Kopapa, 32-34 Monmouth Street, London

Our cover is blown – but we'll be back for more of Peter Gordon's fantasy fusion food

Heat treatment: Kick-start the new year with Mark Hix's healthy yet flavourful winter soups

After all the excesses of the Christmas festivities there's nothing like a healthy winter broth to get the year off to a good start. But I'm not talking about just bunging a load of ingredients into a pot and hoping for the best – a truly delicious winter soup requires a careful balance of different tastes in order to create a fresh and flavourful soup. Here are four recipes to get your new year off to a great start.

Duck and ginger broth

Serves 4

Toast, BBC1, Thursday<br/>Just William, BBC1, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Other channels used the hiatus between holidays to serve up turkeys. But the Beeb had two treats

Duck liver p&#226;t&#233;

Serves 4-6

In a pickle: Mark Hix's easy-to-prepare potted and preserved New Year dishes

Potted foods make a refreshing change from leftover turkey and are a perfect snacking food

South Korea culls poultry as bird flu is confirmed

South Korea, already battling a serious outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in livestock, yesterday confirmed an outbreak of bird flu at poultry farms.

Business Diary: Death is no escape from junk mailers

You'd think in the era of electronic communication that the volume of junk "snail" mail, and the problems caused by it, would be on the wane. Not so. The Deceased Preference Service, which performs the useful service of deleting the names of dead people from mailing lists,says that 5.2 million pieces of direct mail (junk mail to you and me) will be delivered during the festive period to those who have departed this mortal coil. Quite apart from the pain these unnecessary letters might cause to recently bereaved relatives, that's enough rubbish to fill 245 dustbins. An awful lot of landfill.

Peter and the Wolf / Tales of Beatrix Potter, Royal Opera House, London

Even for Christmassy ballet, this is a show with a high sugar content.

Paul McDonald: Heard the one about the oldest joke in the world? It's a cracker!

Why do we still groan at the gags over Christmas lunch? Our writer delivers the punchline
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?