Catherine Blyth: How to survive your relatives

As yet, conversation has no patron saint. When the beatification committee get around to it, however, I doubt Santa will reach the shortlist.

Comfort and joy: Marcus Wareing's magical Christmas dishes

Whether it's the sweet tanginess of Christmas cranberries or the creamy perfection of a well-cooked parsnip, Marcus Wareing offers his recipes for seasonal good cheer

Tasty treats: Cook up some edible Christmas gifts

Still not done all your Christmas shopping? Then head for the kitchen.

La's Orchestra Saves the World, By Alexander McCall Smith

A subdued McCall Smith hits a totally different note

Beekeepers protest over hive deaths

More money for research demanded as disease, mites and weather wipe out insects

Sheep's cheese, olive and oregano bread

Serves 4-6

Saint-Nectaire with grapes and local honey

Serves 4

Neal Hefti: Celebrated jazz arranger who wrote for Count Basie and Woody Herman – and the theme music for 'Batman'

It is grotesque that Neal Hefti, one of jazz's greatest orchestrators, should be best remembered for a 12"x12" picture of an atomic bomb exploding.

The great honey drought

Winter viruses and the wettest August for years have combined to leave Britain's beehives dry

Chicken with figs and honey

Serves 6
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Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

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Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

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The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
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'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
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New leading ladies of dance fight back

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New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
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Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
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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
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

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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