AOD May Decimate the Oak Population

Woodland Heritage, a coalition of 10 conservation and business groups, are seeking £10 million over the next five years to find a cure for Acute Oak Decline (AOD), a disease with the potential to change the British landscape even more than Dutch elm disease managed 30-years ago. Both of Britain’s native oak species, pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) and sessile oak (Q. petraea) are affected.

AOD is thought to be caused by a previously unknown bacteria that causes trees to “bleed” black fluid, killing them within five years.

At the moment the disease is spreading to North Wales and is also threatening oaks in the West of England, and is even beginning to attack ancient oaks, some of which have lived for more than 400-years.

AOD is not the only disease that British oaks need help in fighting. Another disease, Sudden Oak Death (SOD), caused by a relative of potato blight, has already been recorded at dozens of locations across the UK and, despite its name, affects more than 100 species of plants and trees. SOD is also killing oak and other species of tree and has had devastating effects on the oak populations in California and Oregon.

But early analysis suggests AOD is far more dangerous, causing multiple oozing lesions in the bark of a tree, before gradually destroying leaf growth and leading to death. It attacks oaks which have lived for 50-years or more.

Scientists at Forest Research, the research arm of the Forestry Commission, the government department responsible for the protection and expansion of Britain’s forests and woodlands, have identified three types of bacteria believed to be the cause of the infection, but the precise mechanism of the disease is not understood, hampering attempts to control its spread.

Oaks are by far the most common deciduous trees in England, accounting for 16 per cent of all woodland – double that of the next most common species, beeches and sycamores.

However, there is no need to panic and put off ideas about building a conservatory or orangery for your home in oak. Many conservatory builders in the UK source their oak from sustainable sources in Eastern Europe, so you have the reassurance that you will not be removing oaks from the UK landscape to have a conservatory built.

AFC West Update and Carson Palmer

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in the AFC West. I may be overly optimistic, but I still think the Chiefs have a chance to make a run for the division title. I want to touch on all four teams for a moment.

But first, how about the Raiders going out and trading for Carson Palmer? A very interesting move. Palmer is a decent quarterback who probably has a couple years left in him. And news reports are suggesting that Palmer is likely to start against the Chiefs this weekend. Wow.

My take? Quarterbacks, even veteran quarterbacks, seldom excel in their first season with a new team. And that’s when they have an entire off-season and preseason to prepare. In 1993, Joe Montana took the Chiefs to the AFC Championship Game, but did so mostly on the back of an outstanding defense. And in 2009, Brett Favre took the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game and posted a quarterback rating of 107.2. A very impressive season late in his career. But do you want to know what’s more common? Last year the Washington Redskins traded for Donovan McNabb who struggled and finished with a quarterback rating of 77.1. The only season he had with a worse rating? His rookie year in 1999 where he posted a rating of 60.1. Carson Palmer isn’t Brett Favre. Heck, he isn’t even Donovan McNabb. He’s a mediocre quarterback who enjoyed his best seasons in 2005 and 2006. The Raiders made a bold move, but probably not a smart move. If they end up winning the division and making a run in the playoffs, then it was a great move. If not, they’ve given up two very high draft picks and have hurt the long-term development of their team.

Now let’s look around the standings in the AFC West.

San Diego Chargers (4-1): The Chargers have beaten Minnesota (1-5), Kansas City (2-3), Miami (0-5) and Denver (1-4). They’ve lost to New England (5-1).

Reasons for optimism: The Chargers have managed to start fast, but that’s been more the result of the teams they’ve played, than how they’ve played. They still have a lot of talent. Ryan Matthews appears to be a legitimate starting running back.

Reasons for pessimism: Antonio Gates has played little this season. Their schedule is going to get much tougher. And Norv Turner is still their coach.

Prediction: Their schedule is going to get much tougher. And they’re going to need to play much better. I have a difficult time finding more than 5 wins on their remaining schedule. I think they end up 9-7, which is right around the record most of Norv Turner’s teams end up.

Oakland Raiders (4-2): The Raiders have beaten Denver (1-4), New York Jets (3-3), Houston (3-3) and Cleveland (2-3). They’ve lost to Buffalo (4-2) and New England (5-1).

Reasons for optimism: Darren McFadden is a stud, and the Raiders are second in the league in rushing. They’ve been the most impressive team in the division so far, and are a legitimate playoff contender.

Reasons for pessimism: The Raiders are ranked #28 in the league in total defense, and are particularly vulnerable against the pass where they’re ranked #30 in the league. Quarterback Jason Campbell was having a decent season before breaking his collarbone last week. It will be a big question as to how Carson Palmer will respond to his new surroundings. I don’t see any reason to think that the team will be better with Palmer than they were with Campbell. And it’s likely that they’ll be worse.

Prediction: The Raiders have a clear shot to win this division, but difficult to see six wins on their remaining schedule. I’m guessing they end up 9-7 as well.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-3): The Chiefs have beaten Minnesota (1-5) and Indianapolis (0-6). And they’ve lost to Buffalo (4-2), Detroit (5-1) and San Diego (4-1).

Reasons for optimism: After two historically bad losses, the Chiefs appear to have righted the ship. And if they can pull off a win in Oakland this weekend, they’re sitting at 3-3, which is exactly where I had them (though I had them beating Buffalo and losing to Oakland to reach 3-3). If Jackie Battle can provide the Chiefs with a consistent ground attack, they’re going to be OK.

Reasons for pessimism: They’re still missing Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki for the season. And they’ve got a tough schedule ahead.

Prediction: Believe it or not, a win this weekend would put the Chiefs in a good position to win the AFC West. They would have their two toughest divisional games behind them with a 1-1 record. That leaves them two games against Denver, and home games against San Diego and Oakland. I think they’ve got 5 or 6 more wins in them this season, which puts them at 7-9 or 8-8. My original prediction of 9-7 looks very difficult.

Denver Broncos (1-4): Denver has beaten Cincinnati (4-2). They’ve lost to Oakland (4-2), Tennessee (3-2), Green Bay (6-0) and San Diego (4-1).

Reasons for optimism: John Fox is in his first year with the team, and he’s a good coach. He just didn’t have a lot to work with. Their schedule does get a bit easier.

Reasons for pessimism: Lots of them, including that they just traded away their best wide receiver. I’m not a Tim Tebow hater, and I have no clue if he’s going to be a good quarterback or not. History has shown us that quarterbacks with bad mechanics seldom have sustained success in the league. But Tebow is an interesting young man and an incredible athlete. He will make it interesting to say the least.

Prediction: Hard to see more than a couple wins left on their schedule. I’m guessing 4-12.

Bristol Attractions

Bristol Attractions

The city of Bristol offers many different diverse attractions. Due to its growth and development, many tourists choose Bristol as their desired destination for a week or weekend break. The Victoria Square Hotel situated in the heart of Clifton village, offers ideal accommodation whilst exploring the numerous attractions available in Bristol.

Bristol zoo

Among one of the many attractions that Bristol has to offer is Bristol Zoo Gardens. Having been awarded “Zoo of the Year 2004”, the 12-acre site in Clifton is an ideal day out for anyone enjoying a weekend break in Bristol. The zoo its self is ran by the Bristol, Clifton and West of England Zoological Society Ltd and has a continuous reputation for excellence, innovation, and dedication to conservation. Excluding the London, Bristol Zoo is the fifth oldest zoo in the world. Why not add this major tourist attraction to your “to do list” when staying in Bristol.

Architecture

An eclectic combination of architectural styles can be found in and around Bristol, the largest city in South West England. From Medieval to 20th century brutalism, a wide range of styles are present along with buildings from most of the architectural periods of the United Kingdom. Large Tudor mansions can be found outside Bristols historical city centre. The construction of the floating harbour has been a pivotal point for industrial development and growth. Some of the structural highlights include the Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed Clifton Suspension Bridge and the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum.

Shopping

When it comes to shopping, you really are spoilt for choice in Bristol. Just outside Bristol City Centre is The Mall at Cribbs Causeway. Consisting of 135 top name stores and 7000 free parking spaces, The Mall is a dynamic, easily accessible shopping venue. If you have chosen a centrally located Bristol Hotel then the newly developed Cabot Circus is idea for browsing the retail stores. After recently being awarded the retail and leisure industry`s BCSC (British Council of Shopping Centres) Supreme Gold Award, Cabots Circus has gone from strength to strength also landing the joint gold for best “In Town Retail Scheme of more than 30000 square feet”. Facilities include over 120 stores, cafes, restaurants and a deluxe cinema.

Despite the recession, the economy in Bristol is sustaining it growth and development. Bristol accommodation and hotels are thriving on tourists looking for weekend breaks in Bristol and professionals looking for business accommodation. This is due to the cities diverse flexibility offering a historic feel along with a developing social and economic scene.