Friday, 13 January 2012

An apple tree

I'm planning for most of the planting on our allotment in March after I get back from Greece, but on Wednesday Robin, on the plot across the way, and I, arranged a joint delivery from A & D Aquatic and Garden Centre in Oldbury. It included a five foot James Grieve Eating Apple.
Robin's got more fruit bushes; we share some compost; I've bought some seed potatoes which I'll store in dry semi-darkness for getting into the soil in March. Robin and I sat under the veranda of the shed warmed by the sun, reading a book on planting a fruit tree; also discussing his litigation - a civil action between him and the NHS.
"The Judge is quoting Department of Health advice that there is 'no evidence of harm from dental amalgams' a constituting a policy. That suggests they're immune from suit.  Yet it's logically impossible for a statement of science to be a policy."
Following instructions I'd already soaked the root in a bowl of water. Now, while Robin got on with planting his black currants, I dug a hole about two foot square, two foot deep, laid some manure I'd bagged up from the  community plot and spread at the bottom of the hole and topped it with compost, sprinkling about a pound of bone-meal which I covered with more topsoil mixed with compost. I drove a small stake into the middle of the hole then stood the tree against it and filled in around it with more compost and topsoil.
I poured two buckets of water into the hole; gently dug in more earth, heeling it in until all was level. Then I peeled back the black plastic, cutting it to surround the sapling.  Robin returned to see my work.
"Is that all you've done?"
"Heck Robin there's near £30 gone into that hole, not to mention my labour."
I repeated my aim to have all the vegetables on our table next Christmas from the plot."
"Unlikely" he muttered "certainly not apples"
"No. Spuds, sprouts, turnips, carrots."
"I doubt it."
*** *** ***
The policeman in charge says he has no proof there's a connection between the murder of his parents in Friary Road, less than a mile from us, and the fact that their son was part of a police investigation of gangs in the city:
Posted: 13 Jan 2012 07:01 AM PST
Following the senseless and violent murder of Mr and Mrs Kolar on Wednesday 11th January, West Midlands Police have released the following appeal for information: We would appreciate if you could share this message with family, friends and your local community. Independent charity Crimestoppers have offered a reward of up to £10,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in connection with the murders of Carole and Avtar Kolar.The couple, who had been married for 40 years, were found dead on Wednesday morning at their home in Friary Road. The police investigation continues at a very fast pace with a team of 60 detectives pursuing several lines of enquiry following numerous calls from the public. Detective Superintendent Richard Baker, who is leading the murder investigation, said: “This has had a truly devastated affect on the family; they now need to be given space and time to grieve. I am confident we will catch those responsible for this terrible crime which has devastated the family and community. “I would like to thank Crimestoppers for offering this reward and say again that local people hold the key to finding who is responsible for this terrible tragedy. If you believe that you have any piece of information that may help our enquiries, I would ask you to call us or Crimestoppers as soon as possible.” West Midlands Regional Manager for Crimestoppers, Pauline Hadley, said: “This is a vile crime where two people have been murdered and their family and community have been left in shock. “Those responsible for this must be brought to justice and I would urge anyone with information that might help to contact Crimestoppers anonymously. Ring 0800 555 111...The reward of up to £10,000 is available to anyone providing information to Crimestoppers, which leads to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for this crime. Rewards can only be claimed by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Rewards cannot be claimed if giving information via the online form. Yours faithfully, West Midlands Police
***** ******
Lin and I had called a meeting of Handsworth Helping Hands. Lin reported on her visit to Barry Toon's Selly Oak Handyman project; on the selling of the tipper; the general solvency of 'our' project - the extra money we now have in the kitty. We agreed to sell the Timberwolf chipper
"We're not in the business of chipping. or are we?"
"No, no."
"OK?"
"So where do we go from here?"
Lin cooked as the meeting continued. As Amy, Guy, Matt and Liz trooped in for supper, we'd agreed I'd contact Jo Burrill at Midland Heart in the morning; ask her to pay us to clear out a skip-load of detritus strewn, since last spring, across an entry in Westminster Road and another at its junction with Turville. "We'll do that in early March. A try-out".
We cleared the table of papers and laid it for supper, the comfortable smell of roast beef and Yorkshire suffusing the kitchen. I found a couple of crackers from Christmas to go with the presents for us that Matt and Liz had brought down from Edinburgh.
"Where's Oscar?" said Amy
"We've been trying him out staying three houses down at John's" I said "I took him round this morning. John said the first five minutes is worst. He asked me to leave, to let his Dieter and Oscar sort things out between them."
Oscar and Dieter in John's garden
Dieter wore a muzzle at first. That's how I left them; heading for the allotment. When I got home Lin was working through a pile of paperwork.
"John rang. 'Peace reigns' he says"
I went round. Indeed they'd sorted things out. Now, through John's kindness and the social skills of the two dogs, we've an alternative home for Oscar when we're not able to look after him.
Amy went through the baby presents from her grandmother and Sharon in the Highlands, holding up items one by one, so we could 'ooh' and 'aah' together in happy anticipation.
*** *** ***
Friday late afternoon. I'm packing, running through scribbled checklists, imagining all I've got to get into my 5 kilo allowance on Ryanair tomorrow morning. I catch a train at 0545 to meet a bus at Derby to East Midlands Airport. It's impossible to imagine I'll be on my own in Venice by lunchtime Saturday. I took the family - Richard and Emma and Lin and Matt and Liz - to Cafe Soya in the Chinese Quarter. Lin as ever seeks to monitor my spending - even tho' we're just in time for a lunchtime special. We tease her and choose the special plus some extras.
*** ***
(Reuters NEW YORK | Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:27pm EST) - Standard & Poor's stripped France of its top AAA rating on Friday and carried out a mass downgrade of half the nations in the euro zone, a move that may complicate European efforts to solve a two-year old debt crisis. Germany, the bloc's largest economy, was spared. Nine of the 17 members of the euro area had their credit ratings cut, with Austria joining France in losing its AAA status. Those two, along with Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia had their ratings cut by one notch, while Italy, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus suffered two-notch downgrades. S&P said it feared that initiatives European policymakers have taken to tackle the debt crisis "may be insufficient to fully address ongoing systemic stresses in the euro zone."....

Athens News (same date) Talks between Greece and its creditor banks to slash the country's towering debt pile broke down on Friday, with the government warning of "catastrophic" results if a deal to swap bonds is not reached soon...

Daily Telegraph: S&P downgrade and debt crisis: as it happened January 13, 2012

Press Statement from the Co-Chairmen of the Steering Committee of the Private Creditor-Investor Committee for Greece
Athens, January 13, 2012 — Charles Dallara and Jean Lemierre, Co-Chairs of the Steering Committee of the Private Creditor-Investor Committee (PCIC) for Greece, continued discussions today in Athens with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on a voluntary PSI for Greece, against the background of the October 26/27 Agreement with the Euro Area Leaders. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of Greece’s leadership, the proposal put forward by the Steering Committee of the PCIC—which involves an unprecedented 50% nominal reduction of Greece’s sovereign bonds in private investors’ hands and up to €100 billion of debt forgiveness— has not produced a constructive consolidated response by all parties, consistent with a voluntary exchange of Greek sovereign debt and the October 26/27 Agreement.
Under the circumstances, discussions with Greece and the official sector are paused for reflection on the benefits of a voluntary approach. We very much hope, however, that Greece, with the support of the Euro Area, will be in a position to re-engage constructively with the private sector with a view to finalizing a mutually acceptable agreement on a voluntary debt exchange consistent with the October 26/27 Agreement, in the best interest of both Greece and the Euro Area.

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