Archive Article: 2002/07/19 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 2002/07/19

19 July 2002

Straight and level… This two-furrow Ransome plough and Massey 65 tractor helped Tony Horler win the Bicester Vintage Tractor and Machinery Club ploughing match last weekend. Judges said the overall standard of the competition was high but particularly praised Mr Horlers opening split at Whitelands Farm, Chesterton. The Bicester club was founded less than 18 months ago and already has more than 90 members. Club chairman Alan Woodley hosted a barn dance on the eve of the competition.

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Archive Article: 2002/07/19

19 July 2002

Beware, Mrs Beckett, more could be less…

DEFRA secretary Margaret Becket is right to demand a better allocation of rural development funds under the Agenda 2000 mid-term review.

Despite farming more than 10% of the EU area, the UK gets just 3.5% of the total budget.

But theres an inherent danger. The commission plans to recoup all the money saved by modulation and redistribute it according "to objective criteria". Those will include levels of agricultural employment and prosperity, which will favour southern member states.

Unless she is very careful, Mrs Becketts support for the repatriation of modulated funds could result in the UK getting even less of the budget.

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Archive Article: 2002/07/19

19 July 2002

Is the barley brilliant and oilseed rape ordinary? Was your Pearl pleasing and Apex Awful? Let us know by phoning our dedicated Harvest Have Your Say line: 020-8652 2080. Alternatively, e-mail chris.horn@rbi.co.uk or fax on 020-8652 4005 marked "Harvest Have Your Say". Please dont forget to include a contact number.

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Archive Article: 2002/07/19

19 July 2002

F&Mvaccination a welcome move

At last, common sense on the subject of vaccination to control foot-and-mouth. The Royal Societys recommendation that vaccination should be used to prevent disease spread should surprise no one.

The reason vaccination remained unused last year was not, as many politicians and some journalists would have us believe, because of intransigence on the part of farmers and the NFU. The real reason, aside from prolonged government dithering, was that supermarkets refused to promise to sell meat from vaccinated animals.

Vaccination is a valuable second line defence against F&M. First line defences should be much tighter import controls and decisive government action – irrespective of the date of the next general election.

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Archive Article: 2002/07/19

19 July 2002

CORRECTION

CONTRARY to last weeks article (p48, July 12) Agrovista UK is part of Marubenis European agricultural operation, while Fishers Seeds should be referred to as Allied Grain, Fishers, part of the Allied Grain Group owned by Associated British Foods. The two companies have a joint venture in the UK with Proleaf Seeds and co-operate on agronomic research, but there is no shareholding in either company. &#42

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Archive Article: 2002/07/19

19 July 2002

Selling 03 grain now can be good move

Waiting to start harvest? What about selling next years crop now? It may seem crazy, but farmers who did so last year would be better off by up to £20/t, according to the grain trade.

Easy with hindsight, but it reflects the volatility of the grain market and the need to keep your options open when marketing.

If selling at £62/t, ex-farm for November 2003 delivery, currently on offer, is unattractive, then consider the alternative. Locking into a minimum price contract at that level will alleviate risk, while allowing you to benefit from any lift in the trade.

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Archive Article: 2002/07/19

19 July 2002

Cheap grain plus bull calves equals profit

Cereal prices of £55/t are enough to dull the spirits of even the most die-hard arable optimist. But they can offer an opportunity for bull beef producers.

Mix low grain prices with another cheap input – Holstein bull calves – and you could have the ingredients for a profitable enterprise. So, rather than condemn calves to an early death in the belief that they have no market, why not use them to help maintain slaughtering capacity at a time when British cattle numbers are low and make yourself some money?

In a well run system, Holstein bull calves could generate much needed extra income and help to stem the flood of cheap imports.

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Archive Article: 2002/07/19

19 July 2002

July 20 Oxford Down breed society sale at Worcester market featuring 47 registered females and 28 rams. McCartneys (01905-769770)

July 22 Dispersal of the Denning herd of Holsteins (330 head). Also over 1m litres of clean milk quota with butterfat base of 3.84%. Beeston Castle. Wright Manley (01929-262100)

July 24 Summer Spectacular sale of 130 Holsteins from the Medlar, Melrose, Myersgarth, Renbank, Tonian and Winton herds. Kirkby Thore sales centre, Cumbria. Norton & Brooksbank (01285-841333)

July 24 Unreserved dispersal of 775 Suffolk x Scots Half-bred breeding ewes, 15 Charollais rams and 180 mixed lambs. Also grass kit and sheep equipment. Blackpitts Farm, Aldsworth, Glos. Moore Allen & Innocent (01285-648105)

July 24 Dispersal of the Axewater herd of 276 Holsteins – some non-pedigree – and Brown Swiss cattle. Also parlour, tank, machinery and effects. Hills Farm, Kilmington, Devon. Stags (01884-255533)

July 25 Annual show and sale of Charollais sheep at Chelford market, Cheshire. Frank R Marshall (01625-861122)

July 26 Dispersal of commercial Holstein Friesian dairy herd, Westfalia 14/14 parlour installed 2000, 750gal bulk tank and plate cooler. Also machinery and equipment including egg incubation and hatchery kit. Mill Farm, Maxstoke, Birmingham. Voyce Pullin (01452-880057)

July 26 Production sale from Ardbrack herd of Limousins. Also a dispersal sale of the Norrishill herd of Limousins and a reduction sale of the Westpit herd. Borderway Mart, Carlisle. Harrison & Hetherington (01228-590490)

July 26 Re-organisation sale of Ford and MF tractors, MAN 10t cattle truck, machinery, seed hay and 68 Continental-bred store cattle. Osbaston Lodge Farm, Market Bosworth, Leics. Howkins & Harrison (01788-565233)

July 27 Dispersal of Campsmount herd of Saler cattle (260 head) with Volvo stock truck. Campsmount Farm, Doncaster. Wallets Marts (07803-395331)

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Archive Article: 2002/07/19

19 July 2002

County council unit is a foot in the door

Farming in their own right is still the dream of many young people. But getting a foot on the ladder is hard when you have no inherited land.

For the couple featured in our Farmlife Section this week, a county council holding offered them a valuable chance to farm independently.

Naturally, It will take hard work and determination to make a living from their 30ha (75 acres) but Mark and Judith Bowes are confident they can do it. Follow their progress in our new series, First Farm – notes from a Cheshire county council holding, which will run monthly in Farmlife from Aug 9.

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Archive Article: 2002/07/19

19 July 2002

Britains best guide to harvest progress

Harvest at last. After all the hope, effort and skill invested in producing top-yielding crops, this is the telling moment.

Rest assured FARMERS WEEKLY and our internet service, FARMERS WEEKLY Interactive, will keep you fully briefed about the national and regional trends.

Our dedicated team of journalists will contact growers, advisers and merchants across the country every day, to provide Britains best guide to harvest progress.

So, dont miss out. Read the reports in FW and detailed daily updates on FARMERS WEEKLY Interactive at www.fwi.co.uk

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Archive Article: 2002/07/19

19 July 2002

McCormick has entered the larger compact tractor market with the launch of the five-model F Series which offers outputs from 54hp to 93hp. Transmission choice includes a 12×12 or 24×12 synchro shuttle version or an XtraShift option features a three-speed powershift and power shuttle. Prices, says the manufacturer, are to be announced at a later date.

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Archive Article: 2002/07/19

19 July 2002

The trailed Stubble Buster from Farm Force uses three rows of large spring tines that lift and turn the soil. A row of paddle tines then levels the soil in front of the single row of press rings. For headland turning, the implement is tilted onto the press rings rather than the transport wheels to prevent compaction.

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Archive Article: 2002/07/19

19 July 2002

The trailed Stubble Buster from Farm Force uses three rows of large spring tines that lift and turn the soil. A row of paddle tines then levels the soil in front of the single row of press rings. For headland turning, the implement is tilted onto the press rings rather than the transport wheels to prevent compaction.

Annoyed at the inconvenience of picking up punctures? Air-Products says its new tyre sealant can reduce the risk of punctures by 90% when penetration is no more than 30mm. Supplied in a 20 litre container, the sealant is pumped inside the tyre through the air valve where it clings to the inner casing and bead. The sealant spreads evenly inside the tyre as the wheel rotates, eventually covering all of the inner casing and bead. Price for a 20 litre container is £192.

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Archive Article: 2002/07/19

19 July 2002

City homes not needed by farmers

I recently attended a Milk Development Council meeting in which Sean Rickard gave us his controversial opinions on what we should, and should not do, to make agriculture work. I am not keen to live in an economists vision of the countryside.

Perhaps I am foolish, but I treasure the characters, friendships and so called inefficiencies that I find in British agriculture. Quality of life is important.

I suppose that is why so many city folks need to buy their second homes in the countryside so they can chill out away from the thrusting, dynamic, cost cutting, inhumane businesses they work for. I dont know any farmers who need a second home in the city.

Apparently, Mr Rickard was paid £400 plus expenses for the hour-long presentation, which was his second performance that day. It appears to me that being controversial could be a lucrative diversification that I should try.

Gerald Vennall

Fairview Cottage Farm, Quarry Road, Sandford, Winscombe, Somerset.

Crying wolf not reason

Of all the possible reasons for the current plight of UK agriculture, Oliver Walston (Letters, July 5), puts it all down to the NFU crying wolf. Oddly, he doesnt mention his own contribution to the evolution of official farm policy, namely his high profile criticism of subsidies.

How would his business look today without arable aid? To be fair, neither the NFU crying wolf, nor his own attempts at whistle blowing, have had much influence on the current situation. The cause of our present woes was highlighted a decade ago by less flamboyant commentators, such as Stephen Carr and myself, in Big Farm Weekly, and Peter Parrish in Farming News.

I refer of course to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the World Trade Organisation and the whole ghastly business of creating a global market in food products. My criticism of the NFU is that it didnt look at the historical evidence of the link between free trade and farming depression. Had it done so it might have made a greater effort to kill off the concept of a global food market, before it took root, across the political spectrum.

Malcolm Read

Broadmead Farm, West Grimstead, Salisbury, Wilts.

Vilification not NFUs fault

With reference to Oliver Walstons letter (July 5) concerning the lack of sympathy of the British public and government towards agriculture. I wish to point out that his opinions, not for the first time, do not stand up to even casual investigation. We have only to look across the Channel at our French colleagues, who complain continually. Their farmers union FNSEA has issued dire warnings of doom and gloom and abject poverty of its members with far more enthusiasm than the NFU could ever contemplate. Nevertheless, the French public still look upon their farmers with respect, even affection, and their government is supportive of agriculture to a level unimaginable here.

Unlike France, Britain has suffered more than two decades of relentless vilification of farmers and the ceaseless criticism and denigration of British agriculture by politicians and the media alike.

It is a campaign to which Mr Walston has made his own, not insignificant, contribution. So Mr Walston if you want to point the finger as to who is to blame for the lack of sympathy towards farmers please dont point it at former NFU officials. You should point it at yourself.

Robert Treen

Rob@fwi.co.uk

Support switch way forward

The recent EU proposals to transfer agricultural support from production to an acreage basis, with environmental and animal welfare goals, is the inevitable way forward. It provides the ideal opportunity to reduce future budgets by salami slicing annual payments or by merely refusing to add inflationary increases.

The main EU problem will be in persuading member countries to agree. A much bolder solution would be to accept that the CAP is not common and, therefore, allow each country to set its own priorities on how to allocate its own budget.

Robert Persey

Upcott Farm, Broadhembury, Honiton, Devon.

Assurance is a one-way street

We run a family arable and beef farm and are joining a farm assurance scheme because we are unable to sell wheat to local feed mills. The grain that goes into their compound feed must be assured with full traceability.

But the maize gluten that we buy from them, which also goes into their feed, is only traceable to the port of entry to the UK and cannot be guaranteed GM free. The same applies to imported feed ingredients such as soya.

Similar nonsense applies to the store cattle that we sell at market. Auctioneers tell us it will be difficult to sell stock that is unassured, but supermarkets and processors sell imported meat with no traceability.

Assurance schemes are biased against farmers. We must have a bunded container to transport agrochemicals yet companies that deliver them to us can do it in a van or a curtain-sided lorry.

Our veterinary health plan states all visitors to the farm must sign a visitors book and record any farm they have visited previously. Do we have to put a visitors book at the end of each footpath because ramblers, with dogs, walk where cattle graze? We also have strict controls about what we can do near a river. Yet near us, a sewage plant discharges after treatment into the River Itchen – two miles upstream from where a water company extracts water to supply a town.

We would not have a problem with assurance if there were a level playing field here and abroad. There should also be an advantage for completing the excessive paperwork in the form of a premium over non-assured, with honest labelling for all food such as "Assured from British farms" or "Cheap foreign imports". The latter to include a health warning!

Bruce Horn

Farmers for Action co-ordinator, Shavards Farm, Meonstoke, Southampton, Hants.

Real source of F&M outbreak

I refer to government chief vet Jim Scudamores statement (News, June 28) that the government rejects claims that foot-and-mouth was started by virus stolen from Porton Down in Wiltshire.

It was the authorised release of this virus during the summer holiday period of 2000 which was almost certainly caused of the epidemic. The source of the outbreak was the research centre situated near Newcastle-upon-Tyne and MAFF knew about the possible consequences during the autumn of 2000 because it took precautionary measures and warned foreign governments.

During the past two years no evidence has been made available concerning the import of contaminated meat. Government has taken no action to control either legal or illegal imports of meat.

It is most unlikely that Burnside Farm was the source of this outbreak. But Mr Waugh was a suitable scapegoat. That was borne out at his subsequent trial at Bedlington where he was cleared of all charges relating to the spread of F&M. The pictures published by the media were taken two days after MAFF had entered the farm.

It must be no coincidence that Jim Scudamores report was released so that it could be published on the same day as the Institute of Rural Health held a conference on the effects of F&M at Wetheral, near Carlisle. On that day Mr Waugh was sentenced at Bedlington Magistrates Court. Why could Newcastle Trading Standards Department afford costs of £90,000 to obtain such a derisory conviction?

In the absence of a public inquiry, many questions remain unanswered. Probably the most pertinent is whether MAFF and its agents were conducting experimental work where F&M virus was used in genetic engineering studies? And why were so many animals compulsorily slaughtered which did not have the disease?

Arnold Pennant

Nant Gwilym, Tremeirchion, St Asaph, Denbighshire.

Investing time not money

It is strange how organic production follows a similar pattern to the emergence of free-range egg production many years ago. I anticipate this mirroring effect of the two industries will continue into the future.

During the birth of these two virgin industries, they became fashionable, well publicised and demand outstripped supply, resulting in excessively high prices. Even poor producers could make a fair financial return.

High prices attract more production and, consequently, prices fall. Sadly, the business becomes unfashionable and the hype changes from encouraging production to concentrating on falling prices. That leads to the misconception that lower prices automatically mean unprofitable production. It is the inefficient enterprises that lose money which creates this false view.

In reality, there is plenty of profit to be made by the efficient producer who maximises production and is financially well set up, and who continues to profit at the lower prices.

Lower prices then become the norm which, in many cases, still allows attractive financial returns. Meanwhile, the cynics and critics continue to highlight a depressing picture.

In the developing stages of the virgin industry, supply and demand is difficult to balance. But in time they come into equilibrium and the market becomes more stable.

The demand for organic and free-range eggs, both associated with healthy eating, the environment and animal welfare, will increase. What I cannot predict is a time scale of the percentage growth, and that is the million-dollar question affecting both sectors.

My advice to most farmers is not necessarily to go organic, but educate yourselves on the industry, allocate time, not necessarily money, even possibly experiment. But remember a virgin industry learns quickly. The obstacles of today will not be those of the future.

John Bowler

John Bowler (Agriculture), Ivy Court, Etwall, Derby.

In the end we will get there

I write in reply to Lesley Abrahams letter (June 14). The Rural Payment Agency is responsible for the administration of all CAP schemes in England and for certain schemes, including milk quotas and the over-thirty-month-scheme, throughout the UK. Our office in Carlisle is responsible for CAP payments for the Isle of Wight.

RPA was established on Oct 16, 2001 as part of a wider programme of restructuring MAFFs, now DEFRAs, presence in the regions. The development of RPA is an evolutionary process that will involve the introduction of new information technology systems and the centralisation of its operations to fewer processing sites. That work will deliver numerous benefits in the long term, such as improved cash flow, as claims are processed more efficiently, accurately and promptly.

In the short term, customers may experience some disruption as work is transferred, but we aim to keep this to a minimum. RPA staff are experienced in processing claims and have access to the relevant case histories so that they can deal with queries promptly regardless of their location.

As work has moved, customers have been informed in writing and provided with contact details of the new office dealing with their claims. If the work has moved outside the local area, as in the case of the Isle of Wight, customers have been provided with a local rate telephone number to call.

We would like to assure Lesley Abraham and all our customers that RPA is committed to providing a high quality customer service.

Penny Corkish

Press officer, Rural Payments Agency. Penny.Corkish@rpa.gsi.gov.uk

Waugh images are disastrous

I write following the anonymous letter (July 5) which defended the Northumbrian farmer Mr Waugh and claimed that he was subjected to a show trial. It demonstrates an attitude that every livestock keeper should condemn. The scenes filmed at Mr Waughs farm and shown several times on TV, damaged the livestock industry. The phrase: "Mr Waugh might have been a little behind the times with his husbandry techniques," is nonsense.

The farming industry is in crisis. One reason is that people are buying less meat and an increasing number of those who do are becoming concerned about how it is reared.

The vast majority of UK stock rearers are highly professional, hard working and caring people who are dedicated to the welfare of their animals. We are also lucky in that our climate enables us to raise the best livestock in the world.

But no matter how hard we work, and however good the product, someone has to pay hard-earned money for it. Significant numbers wont if they see scenes like those shown at Mr Waughs farm.

Animal welfare is an issue that will not go away. Scenes, like those shown at Mr Waughs farm, do have an impact. Struggling on with the but weve always done it this way attitude is the certain road to disaster. Shipbuilding, coal mining and many other industries have collapsed with the loss of millions of jobs.

Unlike them, the farming industry is still fighting and has the advantage of a considerable groundswell of sympathy with the public as shown during the foot-and-mouth crisis. Lets not squander that sympathy by defending the indefensible.

Brian Howell

Beer Mill Farm, Beercrocombe, Somerset. bh@portlandsheep.co.uk

Beckett & Co are a disgrace

Reading about Mrs Beckett, Lord Whitty and Mr Morley asserting that farming should be sustainable and that the family farm has a future, while they oversee the demise of as many businesses as possible, makes my blood boil. They must be delighted that farmers have run up the white flag with their lack of resistance to the culling of their livelihoods.

The £500m recommended in the Curry report, but typically delayed, is now said to have grown to £1bn. Who would bet on anymore than a fraction of that money being made available?

The full impact of 3% modulation, never mind 20%, has not been recognised. For example, a 200ha arable unit receiving £227/ha gets about £45,000 worth of IACS payments. And 3% of that is £1362. If net farm income was £5-10k before modulation, an average of £7500 minus £1362 means a reduction of 18%. Although we are promised that agri-environmental schemes will compensate for that, the evidence suggests it is a total deception.

If farmers are unconvinced of the threat to their business they should consider that the John Nix Pocketbook predicts wheat gross margins of £460/ha with fixed costs of £520/ha for this years harvest.

Many dairy and livestock farms are suffering similarly. All disillusioned and non NFU farmers should unite behind the union and dictate positive action to its leaders.

It is time for Mr Gill to take the white flag down and remove the kid gloves while there are enough farmers to make a protest.

J Heslop

Langton Farm, Gainford, Darlington, Co Durham. j.heslop@lineone.net

Arla will study market first

Express Milk Partnership chairman, Jonathan Ovens, is right to question the commercial necessity of recent milk price reductions by Dairy Crest and Robert Wiseman Dairies (Business, July 5). But he is wrong to seek to speak on behalf of Arla Foods.

The decision we arrive at will be based on consultation with our producer groups and careful analysis of the market. Any movement in price will be communicated by us at the appropriate time.

Philip J Wilkinson

Commercial director, Arla Foods plc.

Put TB money to better use

Thank you to Mr Hancox for replying (June 28) to my letter. Im amazed at the large sum of money first MAFF, now DEFRA, continues to spend on killing badgers.

If as Mr Hancox says bovine TB is increasing, and the badger cull is not working, surely the money should be put to better use. More cash could be spent on a vaccine to protect cattle, and higher compensation for farmers.

Or does DEFRA intend to continue killing cattle and badgers in the hope that if you keep trying something will turn up?

Pamela Dean

Brynella, Field Road, Whiteshill, Nr Stroud, Glos.

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Archive Article: 2002/07/19

19 July 2002

WE ARE watching, with interest, the discussion about identity cards in the UK. When we came to France in 1983 we had to apply for a carte de sejour each, which enabled us to work here, and we have to update it every 10 years.

It is a little bigger than a credit card, it has personal details such as date of birth, nationality, sex, address and a photo, and it fits into a little pochette along with my driving licence, and blood group card all of which I carry on me all the time. I am asked to show it in the supermarket when I pay by cheque over a certain amount, for a very large sum they will ask for a second means of identification, like my licence. None of this bothers me at all.

Our social security benefits are taken care of by the Mutualité Sociale Agricole de lOrne (MSAO) and I am covered by Tims insurance as an exploitant agricole. We both have cards to this effect, which are just like credit cards. I have taken them into our regular pharmacy where the details have been put into the computer so now when either of us need a prescription I simply hand the prescription over and collect the medicine, payment is taken care of automatically between the MSAO and the pharmacy.

Last week I woke up with some horrible bites on my neck. As the day wore on they grew so that after work I called into the chemist on the way home to buy some antihistamine tablets. Not available without a prescription. Seeing my downcast face, and glaringly red neck the assistant suggested I popped next door to the doctors (not our doctor). So I rang the bell and walked into an empty waiting room. Ten minutes later a young doctor appeared with a patient, who he showed to the door, then bid me enter. After a swift examination he provided me with the required prescription for pills and cream to take back to the chemist. Asking for my card he used it to put my details into his computer, I paid the usual fee of k20 (about £15) which I can also claim back, and went to collect my treatment, the whole process took no more than 20 minutes.

We are obliged to carry these cards with us, but I think it makes life easier, and that, by the way, is the reason Frenchmen carry bags, not because theyre sweet! Bulging wallets spoil the look of a nicely cut pair of trousers; how well that idea would go down with your average English farmer I dont know.

Still in the European vein, we have just been up to Norway to collect Beth and her boyfriend Pierre Fleutot from Bergen, where they have been studying English for a year, and it was so easy rushing through Holland, Belgium, and Germany on a whistle stop visit (by car) without having to worry about changing the money each time. We bought Swedish krona, but in fact, didnt need them, with no time to shop, and Norwegian krone which we spent. Im proud to be English, but I find Im going Euro!

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Archive Article: 2002/07/19

19 July 2002

Charlie King is a 19-year-

old first year, studying an

HND in Agriculture at

Bicton College in Devon

NO sooner had the first year at college ended than I was called up for work at my summer job.

As my spraying examiner promised, a 24m Bateman is certainly quite different from a tractor mounted "knapsack" sprayer.

I did have a quick "play" in a field of beans, but recent good weather has meant that haylage bales and the associated tedding, rowing up, stacking and hauling have taken priority leaving little time for much else.

Indeed, it is only a wet day that has allowed me to finish at a sensible enough hour to stay awake and contemplate writing this.

Its great to be accumulating, rather than spending money for a change, though this will inevitably be short lived come Sept 16 when college resumes.

Having moaned about accommodation prices, I decided to bite the bullet and fork out for cheaper non-ensuite facilities, though Im still waiting for verification of a place.

Our band Tweka hadnt played since a charity event in March but was revived in a matter of days. Practices on the Thursday and Friday were enough to ensure confidence and a successful gig on the Saturday. We obviously operate better under pressure.

I have a decidedly busier life than a course-mate who got out of his tree one night in the last few weeks at college – quite literally! The 20-or-so foot drop to the concrete below meant that he broke three bones and fractured four toes in his foot.

After almost making it through a year at college, I have received my marching orders from my girlfriend of a year-and-a-half who is studying nursing at Southampton University. Ill let you know how it progresses, if at all.

To add to my depression, I have just realised that in the short time its taken me to write this article, I have earnt the same money I did bouncing up and down in a tractor seat all day.

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