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Thursday, 10 December 2015

The mystery of the 1600-year-old olive tree from Aleppo

The last thing I expected to find at the end of a walk along the Wandle River in South London was a massive tree stump, mounted like a sculpture, with a plaque proclaiming it was part of a 1600-year-old olive tree from Aleppo, Syria. It’s inside a secure fence on Smugglers Way, and almost opposite the Wandsworth Waste transfer station. It looks very recent - a shiny plaque says it was donated by Karim and Ahmed Massarani. But how did it get here – and why? Is there a link??
I'm intrigued. I’ve searched in vain on the internet for any reference. All I can find is an entry about a classic 2010 bike ride in Syria with a Road Captain called Karim Massarani that passed rows of olive trees and concluded in Aleppo. Is this the same person as the donor? And who is Ahmed?
If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. There were half a dozen of us on the walk, and we would love to find out more.