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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Panama
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Prices correct as of 17 September 2014
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A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
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His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
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Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
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Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
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12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
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Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
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Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
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How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
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Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
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Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
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'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
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Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
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England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
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Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

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‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week