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.
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
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Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
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Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
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Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
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i100
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Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
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L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
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Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
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Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
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Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
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Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

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