Dylan Jones: 'Anyone who’s ever got drunk on Pina Coladas never wants sugar in their drink again'

Many an idea begins in jest. Especially when you're abroad, in a bar, the sun is setting, and you've just finished work for the day. There were three of us, in the Los Angeles outpost of Trader Vic's, opposite CAA, one of the biggest talent pools in town.

Album: Tara Nevins, Wood and Stone (Sugar Hill)

A member of roots-music group Donna the Buffalo for 20 years, the fiddler/accordionist Tara Nevins chose former Dylan sideman Larry Campbell to produce her first solo outing in over a decade.

Melon sorbet with mint crush

Serves 6

Fig and vanilla jam

Makes approximately 1 litre (1¾ pints)

Melon with ginger caramel

Serves 2

Cherry granita

Serves 6-8

Blue-eyed Boy, By Joanne Harris

An online obsessive known as "blueyedboy" is the narrator of this creepy pyschodrama. The 42-year-old "BB" lives with his mother in the small Yorkshire village where he spends long hours glued to his computer.

Best crop of strawberries in 20 years

The spring heatwave has led to the biggest and best English strawberry crop for 20 years.

The Sugar Barons: Family, Corruption, Empire and War, By Matthew Parker

The historian Arcinegas once wrote that the discovery of the New World was as significant as the passing from the third to the fourth day in Genesis. And, as Matthew Parker documents in The Sugar Barons, for 200 years after 1650 it was the wild and lawless islands of the Caribbean, not the more prosaic settlements of the North American mainland, where the drama of that eventful age unfolded. The West Indies, Parker points out, "held out the promise of freedom and opportunities for social mobility unknown in Europe".

What a carrion: plant lovers flock to see a rare and smelly flower

Thousands of plant lovers have flocked to the northern Swiss city of Basel to see a giant, foul-smelling flower bloom for the first time. The Basel Botanical Gardens expects 10,000 people to have filed past its Amorphophallus titanum, or corpse flower, standing in its full glory before the bloom wilts.

Smarter ways to snack

Britons consume more crisps, biscuits and sweets than any other European nation. But eating between meals needn't be a one-way ticket to weight gain, says Alice-Azania Jarvis

Album: k d lang and the Siss Boom Bang, Sing It Loud (Nonesuch)

Sing It Loud is k d lang's first work with a band of her own since her original albums with The Reclines two decades ago. But compared to the sprightly tone of those breakthrough recordings, this is tough going.

The Blagger's Guide To...'The Crimson Petal and the White'

'Downton Abbey with fellatio, really'

Sweet beetroot tart

Serves 4
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links