Sport Richardt Strauss could return to the Ireland squad for the Six Nations following his rapid recovery from heart surgery

Schmidt coached Strauss at Leinster and believes that his return is a bonus for Ireland ahead of the Six Nations campaign

Rant & Rave (09/12/12)

Rant

Anthony Rose: 'Maurizio González Gordon is sherry royalty'

An invitation to join in the blending of González Byass' new Palmas range doesn't come along every day, so when Martin Skelton, who heads up the UK office, invited me, it didn't take me long to say yes please. Imagine a game-loving monarchist being invited on a shoot at Balmoral with the Queen. Maurizio González Gordon, who runs the traditional family Jerez firm of González Byass, is sherry royalty, so the opportunity to join in the blending was not to be missed.

Five-minute Memoir: Michael Holroyd recalls a mischievous feline lodger

I grew up in a house that was crowded with dogs. Most of them belonged to my aunt, though a few of the less popular ones were passed on to my grandmother. As head of the household, my grandfather had to summon the vet from time to time, an excruciating business as he did not trust the telephone and, being unable to see whom he was speaking to, would raise his voice, making him sound very rude.

Legal highs... Jimmy Greaves - a meal of roast and veg

Need a boost? Try glands and brandy on the menu

England clearly needed a pick-me-up in Poland. Steve Tongue looks at what history has to offer

Grounded: Racing's Olly Barkley is tackled by Doug Howlett of Munster

New boy Barkley puts the boot into Munster

Racing Metro 22 Munster 17

Eric Hobsbawm

Further to yesterday's obituary of Eric Hobsbawm, in 1952 and 1953 it was my privilege - a word he often used in various contexts – to be supervised by Eric, as an undergraduate, a raw youth straight from a tank crew in the British Army of the Rhine. Unlike a number of distinguished don colleagues, he required one's essay to be delivered to his rooms at least three days before the submission date. The result was that he had time to read it more than cursorily and knew exactly the points he thought it was worth pursuing. No tutor could have been more dismissive of irrelevance or cant, and more direct in getting to the substance of any historical issue.

The spectacular New York City skyline

The travel agency of mum & dad

Recession-hit adult children are being forced to holiday with their parents, survey shows

Mandela Trilogy, Cape Town Opera, Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Since its foundation in 1999, Cape Town Opera has heroically fostered the growth of opera in South Africa, while spreading the word internationally about the wonderful voices which thrive in that country’s soil. And its close connection with the Wales Millennium Centre made this the perfect venue for the European premiere of Michael Williams’s biographical ‘Mandela Trilogy’.

Baked potato Madame Fort

Baked potato Madame Fort

Serves 4

Ireland head coach Declan Kidney

Uncapped Irish trio earn chance

The Ireland head coach, Declan Kidney, is set to finalise his 29-man squad for the New Zealand tour after tonight's game against the Barbarians at Kingsholm.

Solear Manzanilla, Barbadillo, £4.99, half-bottle, Waitrose, Tesco.com

Sunshine in a bottle: The freshest, lightest vintages to sip this summer

Solear Manzanilla, Barbadillo

Terence Blacker: Time to put email, Twitter and texts in their place

The landline telephone rings only occasionally these days and, when it does, it often brings a call-centre hustle of some kind. Yet every day passes in a blur of staccato communication with the outside world: can you do this? Have you seen that? Nudge, link, like, follow. The rhythm of online correspondence provides an easy sort of company, and can sometimes – not always – make life more convenient, but there is a price to be paid. We are losing the art of conversation.

Terence Blacker: Don't confuse talk with genuine conversation

The landline telephone rings only occasionally these days and more often than not, when it does, it brings a call-centre hustle of some kind. Yet every day passes in a blur of sustained, staccato communication with the outside world: can you do this? Have you seen that? Nudge, link, like, follow.

Pizarro says: 'I have a problem, which is that I love alcohol. I really like a glass of sherry'

José Pizarro: 'People ate anything they could get their hands on under Franco'

My earliest food memory...Seeing my mum and grandmother cooking – although growing up as a boy in rural Spain at that time, you weren't supposed to be in the kitchen. If there's one thing that evokes childhood for me, it's partridge. My grandmother would cook it at Christmas, and I still remember the smell of the burning feathers.

Anthony Rose: 'Something is happening: it's called the tapas bar revolution'

I was propping up the bar at José's eponymous tapas bar in London's Bermondsey when before you can say Rozinante, the barman offered me two red wines to taste, a bobal and a mencia. Not rioja, please note, but two relatively obscure yet delicious Spanish reds each with their own distinctive personality. I couldn't resist a glass of Gramona, a cava that's so refreshing it almost single-handedly redefines Spanish sparkling wine.

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