The Knowledge: Animal magic

It's Friday – and our experts are here to tell you how to get the most out of your weekend. Jayne Dawson talks to them

Visit it

Meanwood Valley Urban Farm in Leeds is the place to visit to get up close with lots of different animals, even if you don't live in the countryside. There are rare breeds, an organic market garden, a nature area, bird feeding station and ponds. You can also visit the shop selling farm produce and enjoy snacks or lunch in the caf.

Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, Sugarwell Road, Leeds LS7 2QG, Tel: 0113 262 9759. Adults 1, Children (12-17) 50p, Under 12s free.

Read it

THE WAY OF THE PANDA: THE CURIOUS HISTORY OF CHINA'S POLITICAL ANIMAL

HENRY NICHOLLS

Following the success of his first book Lonesome George – which focused on the story of the last remaining Galapagos tortoise – Henry Nicholls returns with an enthralling study of one of the world's most popular animals.

The Way Of The Panda provides a detailed history of the lovable black-and-white creature and also explores the cultural and political significance of giant pandas throughout history.

The level of research undertaken by the author is hugely impressive and he is successful in dismissing several common misconceptions about his subject matter, most notably the notion that pandas are ill-equipped for survival in the wild due to evolutionary failings.

Although the book is highly informative, Nicholls is able to retain a light and often humorous tone throughout.

And the result is a hugely enjoyable read that will surely delight any animal enthusiast, particularly fans of the panda.

Profile Books, 15.99.

Listen to it

THE LADY KILLER

CEE LO GREEN

A recent scientific study showed that 99.9 per cent of the population had accidentally found themselves humming the chorus of Cee Lo Green's recent number one Forget You in the last month.

Estimates suggest most followed up by blushing and chastising themselves for being lured in by the crass commerciality of the Motown chorus.

Thankfully, while that song's sense of fun remains throughout The Lady Killer, there is plenty of real quality to balance things out.

Bodies takes Green's sweet voice into refreshingly sinister waters, while Please is an off-centre, bass-heavy offering reminiscent of Tricky. At times the processed Northern Soul horns grate, but mostly the approximation is affectionate rather than brazen.

Elektra

Get fit

Each week, trainer Richard Hill, of Iverudge Health Club in Rothwell, Leeds, is recommending one lifestyle change to help you become healthier without much effort. Your aim is to adopt the changes week on week until Christmas.

This week, it's get healthy week when you can swap a few of your bad habits for better ones. Try these three:

1. Reduce alcohol intake. There is sure to be enough consumption around the corner.

2. Reduce white bread and white pasta and try more potatoes and rice. These are less processed.

3. Try to get plenty of fresh fish, fruits, nuts and vegetables. The nutritious value in these four food groups are second to none.

Recommended by Richard Hill. For information on Iveridge health club, visit www.iveridgehealthclub.co.uk or call 01132 887 666.

Eat it

ROASTED SHALLOT, CRANBERRY AND GINGER CHUTNEY

Makes approximately one kilo

Preparation and cooking time: up to 1 hour

Standing time: up to 6 months

You'll need:

l 450g shallots

l 2 tbsp of rapeseed oil

l Sea salt and black pepper

l 250g soft brown sugar

l 250g fresh/ frozen cranberries

l 250g eating apples (i.e. Cox's or Pink Lady) peeled and cut into small chunks

l 2cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated

l 1 cinnamon stick

l Zest of one orange

l 200ml red wine vinegar

l 200ml cider vinegar

l 50g raisins

What to do:

1. Peel the shallots, leaving on the root end to hold them intact. Halve the shallot length wise and place on a baking sheet.

2. Drizzle the rape seed oil over the shallots, season with the sea salt and black pepper and sprinkle with one tbsp of the soft brown sugar.

3.Roast the shallots in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes turning occasionally, until soft and caramelised, remove from the oven and set aside.

4. Sterilise the kilner jars by washing in warm soapy water, rinsing and placing in a moderate oven for 5 minutes.

5. Meanwhile place the cranberries, apples, ginger, cinnamon stick, zest of orange, red wine vinegar and sugar and bring slowly to simmer, stirring gently until the sugar has dissolved. Slowly simmer for 10 minutes until the apple and cranberries are soft.

6. Add the cider vinegar and raisins and bring to the boil and cook for 10-15 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally. If it is still runny, simmer for a further five minutes or until thick. Stir in the shallots and then spoon the chutney into sterilised jars.

7. Seal and store in a cool dry place for up to six months, once opened, store in the refrigerator and use within one month.

This chutney is great with cold meats, especially ham and Christmas turkey and also with cheese.

For more recipes visit www.UKShallot.com

Nestbuilding

If you're feeling the chill even though the central heating's on and the thermometer says it's warm enough, maybe it's time to make your home look cosier – after all, seeing is believing.

One way is by adding a rug – particularly if you have wooden flooring. While wood provides a beautiful, hard wearing and gorgeously natural finish, sometimes it can feel cold to the touch.

Adding rugs and throws to make your living space look cosier can have a surprising effect on how warm you feel too – without even touching the thermostat.

For gorgeous rugs and throws visit one of Barker and Stonehouse's stores or look online at www.barkerandstonehouse.co.uk

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