Source: Finsbury Food Group and ThorntonsGrowth in Finsbury Food Group’s retail sales have been offset by ‘expected weaker trading’ in its foodservice division, which continues to be impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.Sales in Finsbury’s UK foodservice division fell by 27.4% while retail sales grew by 1.7% in its core UK bakery division and 0.6% overseas, it revealed in a trading update today (14 January).The business had previously stated that it was confident its foodservice performance would remain robust providing public sector (education) and takeaway channels remain open.Finsbury delivered what it described as a ‘resilient trading performance’ against a continued challenging backdrop with total sales of £152.9m for the six months ending 26 December 2020. This represents a 4.1% decline against a ‘strong comparative period’ in 2019.“This continues the strong progressive improvement since the initial lockdown in March 2020, where post lockdown actual sales from March to June, the final quarter of the 2020 financial year, were 18.9% lower than the equivalent period the year before,” the business stated.The business said it had further reduced its debt with period end net bank debt of £21.5m – down £5m from the year end.“Notwithstanding the challenges that remain as a result of the pandemic, given the Group’s resilient performance in the first half, the ongoing operational improvement initiatives, and especially the avoidance of a no deal Brexit outcome, the board remains confident in delivering a full year performance in line with expectations,” it added.Finsbury manufactures cake, bread and morning goods. In December, it announced a three-year extension to its existing long-term partnership with chocolatier Thorntons.
By Jim MidcapUniversity of GeorgiaThe bright leaves of fall too soon discolor and drop, leaving bare stems. But then we discover the clusters of jewels still hidden among the plants. The ornamental fruit and berry season is upon us.Bright reds, oranges, yellows, purples and whites suddenly jump to the forefront. Among the most delightful of these appearances is the stunning purple fruit of the beautyberry.Our native American beautyberry produces dense clusters of lavender-purple fruit at every leaf at the ends of the stems. Long, arching branches are covered with leaves and fruit. And as soon as the leaves drop, the spectacular fruit is exposed.BeautyberriesAmerican beautyberry grows 4 to 6 feet tall or higher and has coarse foliage and rank growth. Oriental beautyberries have smaller leaves, fruit and growth habit. All can be cut back heavily in early spring and still produce berries.Plant beautyberries in full sun and well-drained soil for good growth and heavy fruit set. There are selections that produce white fruit. The white-fruited types are attractive early, but they discolor and lose their charm long before the purple-fruited types do. All can be used indoors as cut stems in flower arrangements.The hollies are the aristocrats of the fall berry producers.HolliesBurford and Foster’s holly produce bright red fruits all over the plants. The contrast of the dark green foliage and bright red berries makes a perfect show.Burford holly develops into a 15- to 20-foot, rounded tree, while Foster’s holly is pyramidal and reaches 40 feet tall. Dwarf Burford is smaller in size, leaf and fruit, yet still reaches 10 feet tall.Other evergreen hollies with attractive fruit include Savannah, Emily Brunner, yaupon and Mary Nell. The yaupon hollies have bright, translucent fruit. The selection, “Shadow’s Female,” is covered with lustrous, dark green leaves and masses of bright red fruit in fall. Deciduous holliesThe deciduous hollies, possum haw and winterberry, can be spectacular, with bare branches loaded with red or orange berries. Winter Red winterberry holds its large red fruit the longest. Like most hollies, a male pollinator is needed for fruit set.Many yellow-fruited hollies could brighten up our landscapes. The Chinese holly, “D’Or,” looks like a Burford with gleaming yellow berries. Some yaupon hollies also have yellow fruit. Yellow fruits often last late into the season because the birds don’t see them and they remain uneaten.PiracanthaMany other plants can add colorful fruit to our landscapes, too. The pyracantha or firethorns are spectacular when espaliered on a wall and covered with dark red or bright orange berries.Our tall nandina provides shining red berries against the evergreen foliage. Long canes can be cut and used in winter decorations without harming the plant.These fall- and winter-berried plants add a sparkle to the garden just when we were ready to settle in for the winter.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Beware of spoilers!!For Game of Thrones fans, the phrase “All Men Must Die” has served as a brutal reminder that death is inescapable—whether the unlucky soul is a king, a knight, a hero (one of the few in Westeros) or a miscreant-turned-member of the Knight’s Watch.But the prophetic phrase isn’t interpreted—at least by the ideologues among us—to include pre-teen girls being immolated at the behest of their fathers, or a revenge-fueled kiss of death planted on an innocent bride-to-be. Neither did we ever believe it justified enlisting a small boy, barely knocking on puberty’s door, to strike a dagger into a young man’s heart, effectively dealing the death blow (or so we’re led to believe).Et tu, Olly?Goodbye, Jon Snow. Farewell, Shireen. Good knowing you, however briefly, Myrcella.The devastation heaped on characters in the recently completed season of Game of Thrones did not go unnoticed. Sure, our brains have become desensitized by the endless amount of gory films and gruesome shows on television, but the savagery this time around was intensely blood-curdling.And it wasn’t only death that had us sleeping with one-eye open at night. There was enough other atrocities to go around, even if they didn’t involve spilling copious amounts of blood.As we bid ado this season 5 of GOT, let’s take a brief look back at the ruin it unleashed.Sansa Stark (R) and Theon Greyjoy (L) form an unlikely alliance in the face of great danger. (Photo credit: HBO)This was gut-wrenching. Sansa Stark returns home to Winterfell after an incredibly distressing time in King’s Landing, only to be betrothed to the bastard Ramsey Bolton, a particularly hideous human who somehow found a way to supplant Joffrey as Westeros’ chief deviant—dead or alive.And did we mention it was Ramsey’s father Roose Bolton who betrayed the Starks? (Recalling “The Red Wedding” still gives us chills.) Upon her nuptials, Sansa was brutalized once again, raped by her new husband while Reek, formerly known as Theon Greyjoy, was forced to watch. We did not see the chilling rape on screen, instead we witnessed the horrific attack through the eyes of Reek, a battered shell of the man he once was. Disgusted fans levied harsh criticism on the series’ creators, some going as far as threatening a boycott. It was yet another rape perpetrated by a power-hungry man in a show full of such wretched misogynists. How many more are we supposed to take? Revenge can’t come soon enough. The season ended with Sansa’s fate up in the air, so to speak.Melisandre convinces Stannis that sacrificing his daughter will give him good fortune in the battles to come. (Photo credit: Helen Sloan/HBO)Poor Shireen. I can still hear the pitiful child’s ear-splitting screams. Her cries for her father remain fresh in my mind, and may haunt GOT fans for seasons to come. Why, Stannis, why?Well, we know why: Melisandre, seeking guidance from the Lord of Light, had prophesied that a human sacrifice—an individual with king’s blood, to be exact—would propel Stannis to victory in the battle for Winterfell. Stannis, consumed with Iron Throne glory, and bruised by the fiery cloak-and-dagger attack on his camp perpetrated by Ramsey, finally wilted. After a heart-warming exchange with her father’s trusted advisor, Davos, Shireen told her father that as his dutiful daughter she’d do anything to help him in his quest. She shouldn’t have. They hugged. He apologized. Then she was burned at the stake—her guttural cries falling on deaf ears. All for naught.Jon Snow flees Hardhome after white walkers slaughter hundreds of wildlings. (Photo credit: HBO)We finally got a glimpse of what winter looks like, and it’s nothing we’ve ever imagined. White Walkers, led by the Night’s King, descended on Hardhome, a Wildling camp north of the wall, and unleashed frozen hell on its inhabitants. The poor free folk had no chance.Jon Snow, the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, provided the only silver lining, shattering into pieces a frozen demon with a swift slice of his sword, Longclaw, forged with Valyrian steel. Prior to this we were led to believe that only dragon glass could kill those awful walkers. That theory was expunged rather quickly, though it appears Westeros is going to need plenty of dragon glass if it has any chance of survival. Despite the small victory, the scene was horrific in its lopsided resolution. Hundreds of wildlings were murdered, only to be risen by the Night’s King as blue-eyed zombies, adding more bodies to the largest single army in the seven kingdoms.The Sons of Harpy, an underground rebel group in Mereen, try but fail to assassinate Daenerys. (Photo credit: HBO)The Sons of Harpy, an evil cult lurking in the shadows inside Mereen, massacred dozens of Unsullied and even took the life of Daenerys’ loyal adviser, Ser Barristan Selmy. He had fought valiantly alongside Grey Worm, the commander of the Unsullied who miraculously survived the vicious assault. The Sons of Harpy, a rebel group disguised in gold masks, sought to overthrow Daenerys’ rule by following up the slayings in the narrow streets of Mereen with a well-planned attack as slaves dueled in the fighting pit. If not for Ser Jorah, whom Daenerys had banished, she may have been a goner, because he defeated his rival and plunged a spear through a rebel about to murder her from behind. Things got worse for Khaleesi and the gang, Tyrion included, but their luck turned when Daenerys summoned Drogon—her fire-breathing savior. She rode off into the sunset—only to wind up surrounded by a horde of men on horseback who may not have her best intentions in mind.“On, no. No! NOOOOO!!!” If I remember right, that was my reaction when Olly—Jon Snow’s earnest young steward, and now perhaps the second-most hated character on the entire show—lured the Lord Commander into a fatal trap. The gut-wrenching betrayal started with Olly storming into Jon’s private quarters and spewing a fake story about a Wildling possessing information about Jon’s lost uncle. Rushing outside, Snow ran right into an ambush, as one-by-one several members of the Knight’s Watch stabbed their commander with a dagger, each time telling him, “For the Watch.” Horrifically, it was Olly who dealt the final blow. Shades of Julius Caesar! Jon Snow fell to the ground as his thick blood flowed into the snow near a makeshift grave with a headstone reading “traitor.” Now we can only hope that one of the theories promoted by the books’ readers come true: that Snow is “warging” (like Bran) into his direwolf Ghost and will then be reborn with the help of the red witch Melisandre, who conveniently rode into Winterfell moments before the treacherous coup.Oh, season 6 has so much to answer for.