Gastropod

THE VEXED question of tipping has been discussed in this column before, when the Restaurateurs' Association of Great Britain advocated legislation to levy a standard service charge on all meals served in restaurants (as in other European countries). That way there would be no doubt about how much one should leave, or who benefits from the arbitrary surcharge that many restaurants slap on top of the bill.

Where shall we meet?: Fungus Mungus, SW11

This grunge bar on the way to Wandsworth has the dubious distinction of being more easily seen in the daytime than at night; its rather garish frontage fades at dusk. The interior, hung with bits of 'art' of the sling-a-frame-in-front-of-something-painted-on-the-wall variety, is inhabited by the less coiffed of south London's beautiful people, preening their beards and having those intense conversations that only beautiful people can get away with. The garden has a table that would do well in a college dining hall and plenty of little nooks where you can gaze in a glazed sort of way at the stars. Open late.

Foresters warn Dutch elm disease is back: Epidemic halts return of the tree that once defined rural England. Steve Connor reports

DUTCH ELM disease, which destroyed more than 20 million trees at the height of its last epidemic 20 years ago, is making a comeback by reducing the majestic English elm to the status of a stumpy shrub.

Curiouser and curiouser: A legal oddity allows access to some 'natural' drugs but not others

After Glastonbury and other free festivals several plaited-haired friends of mine have been prodding ceaselessly through the deer droppings in Richmond Park and among the finer grasses of Hampstead Heath. They are looking for magic mushrooms, Psilocybe semilanceata, which, they claim, even thrive amid the police horse droppings of Wormwood Scrubs.

Ancient forest set to share its secrets

TED GREEN inspected the corpse of an ancient oak which flourished for 600 years in Windsor Park. It died last summer, finished off by the drought, but its massive trunk will be left as the home for generations of insects and birds.

Iceman's fungus awakes 50 centuries on

(First Edition)

Closure of hospital lab was ordered after fungi accident

A MICRO-BIOLOGY unit at a leading London hospital medical school has remained closed for five months after an accident involving dangerous fungi, on the order of the Health and Safety Executive, writes Celia Hall.

Friendly fungus

MANY of the chemicals traditionally used as wood preservatives are now known to cause environmental damage when the wood is discarded. Some chemical preservatives have been restricted and total bans are possible in the future.

Microbe of the Month: Friendly fungus to grass, but poison to grazing animals

Anyone driving around Kentucky and adjoining states is bound to notice the lush green of much of the turf and pasture land. It is the colour of tall fescue, a grass that grows vigorously to produce stunning green swards and is exceptionally resistant to attack by insects and nematode worms. It also survives well in areas subject to drought and in soil depleted of nutrients.

Shopping News: A Mushrooming Interest

TAKE a trip to the New Forest this weekend and you will see scores of eager mushroom-pickers, bent double in their efforts to locate a tasty cep, Shaggy Parasol or Horn of Plenty. This month is the peak of the mushroom season - and with more rainfall than usual this autumn, enthusiasts expect a bumper crop.

Country Matters: Fat, white, big as dinner-plates

DOWN IN the meadows by the stream there is a fair scattering of what I take to be shaggy ink-caps - elegant, tall, slender mushrooms which come up beautifully white but in a day or two turn black in the gills, and then sink down to become puddles of slimy liquid dark as pitch.

Out of Albania: Invasion of the mushroom bunkers

KAVAJE - Albania is the sort of place that makes surrealists weep for joy. It is possible that in other countries waiters park their bicycles in hotel restaurants, but surely not when the restaurant is indoors on an upper floor? Such, however, is the practice at the Hotel Tirana in Albania's capital.

Good day for the squirrels

KATHRYN BRAHAM, aged three, was walking her dog Hilly, a five-month-old spaniel, in Oxleas Wood yesterday, writes John Arlidge. Her parents, Alan and Lynne, had told her that the planned route through the wood had been scrapped.

Letter: Drug danger in a mushroom

Sir: I can ony presume that your home affairs editor temporarily lost control of his senses to publish Michael Prestage's expose of the 'magic mushrooms' season (26 September).

Recipe: Picking caps and parasols

STOP PRESS. In the same spirit that each and every cigarette packet and American wine bottle must carry health warnings, it is not only prudent to repeat cautionary words before we print this week's column on cooking with mushrooms: it is necessary.
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War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?