Arts and Entertainment
Inside Television

Gardening: Cuttings: Fun with ferns

ONE OF the excitements of a visit to the West Country and Cumbria is seeing ferns growing naturally in the forks and along the branches of trees. In areas of high rainfall the native polypody (Polypodium vulgare) will do it easily. But even in drier areas the effect can be contrived. Set 2-3 square inches of fern in a shady fork now, on a pancake of dung, soil and moss, and tie it on with soft string. The fern will not have made any new growth yet and will put out new fronds in due course. Given a wet year or an occasional artificial soaking it will grow hard next year.

Letter: The original cook-chill

Sir: W. Geoffrey Heath wants to know the point of his mother and others adding snow to their pancake batter (Letters, 24 February). It was in order that the snow, which evaporated as the batter cooked, left a plethora of attractive holes - as in a pikelet - to secrete whatever it was served or spread with. The colder and crisper the snow the better, otherwise it melts too soon.

Letter: An old, cold custom in pancake-making

Sir: Reading Sophie Grigson's recipes (Food & Drink, 20 February), I was disappointed to find no mention of an ingredient that my mother would have regarded as important when making pancakes for her family 60-odd years ago. It always seemed to be in season on Shrove Tuesday in those days, although I haven't seen much of it about lately.

BOOK REVIEW / Singing the blue-collar blues: 'Trilobites' - Breece D'J Pancake: Secker, 7.99 pounds

THESE tales of West Virginia are peopled by folk with nothing to laugh about. A second mate on a tug, whiling away New Year's Eve, might be speaking for them all when he says, having burned his mouth with coffee: 'Nothing ever goes just the way it should.'

Food: This sweet, scented season: Joanna Blythman went along to Strasbourg's famous Christmas fair expecting to hate its kitsch cuteness. She was surprised

STRASBOURG likes to claim it is the Christmas capital of France. In evidence it proudly points to its Kristkindlsmarik, reputedly the finest market of its kind in Europe, held each day through Advent until Christmas.

MUSIC / Notices: English Bach Festival - Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Purcell's Dido and Aeneas is currently at the hub of musicological debate: when was it written and for what sort of performance? One indisputable fact is that it was originally prefaced by a Prologue, the music for which has been lost - with the possible exception of an overture marked in the source 'Overture to Mr P's Opera'. This, together with a number of dance pieces from about the same period (the late 1680s) and a duet from Dioclesian, was included on Monday in Curtis Price's reconstruction. Such an attempt to present Dido in something approaching its original theatrical context is typical of the English Bach Festival's pioneering approach to the performance of early opera. Visually it was very appealing: the costumes were made of gorgeous stuffs of gold and bronze which glimmered and shimmered in the warmly-lit closing tableau, and Sarah Cremer's choreography was convincing and well executed. What a shame, then, that musically it was as flat as a pancake. The only saving grace (and it was a major one) was Della Jones's Dido. She sings a poignant Lament, but she was also made to double, less successfully, as the Sorceress. This can prove acceptable in the concert hall, but was dramatically disastrous here.

Food and drink: The leanest times, the fattest times . . . and all the suppers in-between: 'Roasted flour and water: you try it sometime'

THIS week we print two extracts from Loaves & Wishes, a book about food in all its aspects. It is a compilation of 20 pieces by some of the most successful female writers of our time. Inspired by famine or feast, by fear of cooking or by fun, each shows how central food is to our lives.
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel Shop See all offers »
India and Nepal
14 nights from £2,159pp Find out more
Dutch Masters
five nights from £679pp Find out more
La Robla and Rioja
nine nights from £1599pp Find out more
Classical Spain
six nights from £539pp Find out more
California and the Golden West
14 nights from £1,599pp Find out more
Bruges
three nights from £269pp Find out more
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil