Matilda Battersby: The ice cream man that just keeps on giving

The ice cream weather may have lapsed into a drizzly greyness, but a little rain won’t put off a man who has set himself the sticky mission of giving away half a million ice creams.

The call of the wild: Robert Twigger on the true spirit of adventure

Those who argue that exploring the world's most extreme places is the preserve of solipsists and maniacs are mistaken, argues Robert Twigger. The desire for adventure is within us all – and to ignore it is to deny the most basic facts of human nature

A Gate at the Stairs, By Lorrie Moore

The landlocked Midwest is an uncompromising place to live. In this novel by Lorrie Moore, there's a sense that she has wrung every last drop of mirth and meaning from dispiriting surroundings. The author of three celebrated short-story collections and two previous novels, including the memorably titled Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?, Moore returns after an 11-year intermission with a masterly work that examines how Americans have educated themselves to endure the unendurable. The novel's narrator, 20-year old Tassie Keltjin, has just enrolled at Troy university, "the Athens of the Midwest". The daughter of a Lutheran farmer and a Jewish mother, she's hungry for enlightenment. Engaged by her classes (Intro to Sufism and a module in war-movie soundtracks) and happily scandalised by her roommate's warped jokes, Tassie has never eaten Chinese takeaway or seen a man wear a tie with jeans. Her life gets yet more piquant when she accepts a child-minding job with a glamorous local couple. Sarah and Edward are only part-way through the adoption process – her charge is yet to exist - and Tassie comes to understand she's a witness to a stage-managed act whose true complexity will only revealed as the novel progresses.

Minor British Institutions: Half Man Half Biscuit

Half Man Half Biscuit, or HMHB, are a band from Birkenhead that constituted a sort of dessert for the strong meat served-up during the punk era. Formed in around 1984, they seem to be still going, and there has never been a finer group of musical, social and political satirists (unless you count the Barron Knights).

Saharan countries' bid to fight terror

four sahara desert nations opened a joint military headquarters yesterday in an unusual joint effort to combat terrorism and trafficking in north-west Africa.

Travel By Numbers: Mali

A trip to the fabled city of Timbuktu really is possible, says Peter Harmer. And while you're at it, head into the Sahara for an overnight trek

France exposed troops to radiation

Leaked report says soldiers were told to advance into heart of mushroom cloud

Album: Tamikrest, Adagh (Glitterhouse)

The "spiritual sons of Tinariwen" says the press release, which is one way of putting it.

Top chef aims to raise £12,000 in Sahara race

A Michelin-starred chef is swapping his whites for running shoes to embark on a 151-mile race across the Sahara.

Winter rhubarb ice-cream

Serves 8

The Sketch: The West Saharan question

They are focused with a laserlike concentration, we are told. The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition are bearing down on our greatest concerns. On the economy. On public services. On how well they can insult each other. Yes, they are finally putting the work in where it counts. The lamps burn late as satirists, ironists, flyting dialogue-writers and every manner of publicly funded sarcasticiser hones his barbs and shafts.

Philip Stevens: Aid alone will not help

Despite record levels of foreign aid for health, almost no progress is being made in improving child mortality in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Many countries are going backwards.

Caterer denies using eggs in Sikh banquet

A caterer was ordered to pay £415,000 damages to the widow of a man who died from anaphylactic shock after eating a dessert at a Sikh wedding, Court of Appeal judges were told today.

Damson sorbet

Serves 6

Spotted Dick goes back on the menu

The traditional pudding Spotted Dick was restored to a council canteen's menu today, after complaints about its politically correct replacement - Spotted Richard.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

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