Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Lion the Witch and Ramsgate Harbour and other Sunday ramblings.

The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe is probably the best known of titles of the books, and in some cases the films that comprise C S Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.

Putting my bookselling hat on for a moment, this is one of those series where the order the books were written in isn’t necessarily the order you read them in, in fact like so many things that seem simple, in this case the order to read a series of children’s books in, the subject is open to dispute, see the Wikipedia article about it,

Anyway the third or the fifth book in this series and the third film is called “The Voyage of The Dawn Treader” and The Dawn Treader is a sailing ship that will be in Ramsgate Harbour for most of next week.

Well actually this is not exactly the case, the ship is really a replica of “The Matthew” that first sailed to America in 1497, see this, the replica sailed to America in 1997 and was later modified to being the “The Dawn Treader” and was used for the film.

Well I suppose you are beginning to get the idea here, I think the point here is that a ship of international significance will be in Ramsgate Harbour for most of next week.

In some places the council would have made a big fuss about this, it would have been a major tourist event, however looking at the council’s various tourism related websites, they seem to have missed, forgotten about this event, perhaps it has been the subject of a government cut.

I have been trying to get across this problem to councillor Simon Moores by commenting on his blog, see I think the difficulty here is about making the best of what you have actually got.

In other words we are already paying for the council, to either have or contract out numerous websites to promote Thanet events. We are also paying for a whole tourism department in the council and because of this, these various websites, are the obvious place that anyone looking for an event in this area would look for it. This produces a situation where if an event doesn’t appear there prominently then people are inclined to think that there is no event.

This is partly about trust, a difficult commodity to find on the internet, where there are so many rouges already promoting things that don’t exist, something that makes people cautious and inclined to believe official websites like the council’s.

The most prominent of the council’s various webpages is their main homepage and this has a section called “Events”, now a normal person could be forgiven for thinking that the main Thanet events would be listed there and as the three of the ten events listed there are walks round one of the local churchyards in April, May and June most people I think would consider that things in Thanet are going to be a bit, well dead, for the next few months.

The fact that today there are beach motorcycle races in Margate isn’t mentioned there, nor is next weeks Dawn Treader visit, suggests an element of confusion within the council.

Staying with Thanet Life for a mo, Simon’s latest post is about the earthquake in Japan, see and as I am forbidden mention of the P word there I will add some thoughts here. The major loss of life in Japan because of the earthquake, has actually been caused by the resultant tidal wave and not the earthquake itself.

Here in Kent we have a history of occasional earthquakes, fortunately much less significant or frequent than those in Japan, I think the last Kent earthquake of any significance was in 2007.

Historically we have had larger earthquakes and when one delves back into the early-confused period there is mention of catastrophe from associated tidal waves, legend has it that Isle of Lomea destroyed by earthquake, the remains of this fertile island part of the estate of the Earl of Goodwin is thought now to be the Goodwin Sands.

What we do most certainly have in this part of Kent is a history of catastrophic sea damage by tidal surge storms, the last big one of these was about 60 years ago and the loss of life was counted in the hundreds not the thousands. Update, please excuse the error 2,400 people were killed in the 1953 tidal surge storm.

All of the subsequent buildings on the foreshore take this into account and have to have flood risk assessments, this results in the Turner Contemporary, or the new building on Granville Marina in Ramsgate being raised up and behind more substantial sea defences than one would expect.

You can’t predict what will happen on any given part of our foreshore without a flood risk assessment, the exception to this rule is the Royal Sands Development on the old Pleasurama site in Ramsgate.

The Environment Agency say there should be a flood risk assessment, see but the council say they have ticked the boxes and there won’t be one, as though fulfilling a series of bureaucratic rules will somehow hold back the sea.

One of this week’s great spats in the council that has leaked out onto the local blogs, has been about sandwich’s and drinks after full council meetings. For those of us with an interest in the Thanet Labour Group’s internal battle and what Labour councillors would do to improve Thanet if they get elected in May, this is something of a comedown.

Anyway two posts about this on From One End of Kent, see and a response on Thanet Life

Talk about fiddling while Rome burns, oh well they will probably soon be saying that they can’t tell us what their polices for the next four years governing Thanet are because of the pre-election purdah. Vote Labour for less sandwiches or vote Conservative for more, sounds about like what we will actually get, after four years of wasted mismanaged assets, incomprehensible websites, etc. one side will be able to say. “At lest we had more/less sandwiches.”

The Big Bignews post this week is about Margate Caves, see this is a bit of a weird scenario, when viewed from outside, it looks like a comedy of errors.

Obviously from the outside one can’t really tell what has happened here, so here is a little work of fiction about what could have happened.

The council of Spamit owns some caves and these are held by Mr Bloggs on a long lease, provided Mr Bloggs pays the rent then the lease can be renewed indefinitely, being a tourist attraction the caves produce very little in terms of money for anyone.

The land with the entrance on would produce some money if sold to a developer and ultimately if that development was residential even some council tax from the people living in it.

So Spamit council arrange for a health and safety inspection, dangerous places caves, underground gasses, think Davy Lamp, firedamp could be a problem venturing into tunnels, particularly as for over a hundred years of flatulent tourists have been there before you.

Expensive solutions caves closed no money to pay the rent, mysterious figures about the cost of gas inspectors, extra portions of beans and beer after council meetings.

More health and safety now caused by the caves being closed, dodgy people have been getting in there, so the council blocks up the entrance by filling it with rubble, how will the tourists get in, no problem say council, we have found an imaginary entrance in the wardrobe.

Sorry I got a bit carried away there it wasn't like that at all.

An interesting post on my press release blog about the closing to Ramsgate Age Concern, see it sound a bit as though Thanet District Council may be on another of their bizarre schemes to save money. In this case charging the charity to use one of the halls in Ramsgate to look after the old people in Ramsgate.

I expect that it’s another tangled Thanet web with Ramsgate being the eventual loser.

Several local blogs have mentioned the article in the Independent saying that Margate is now a cultural hotspot, see this seems to be due to The Turner Contemporary, below one of the videos The Turner Contemporary has posted online, just to give you a feel of what this new arts culture encompasses.

Sea Shanty Sing Song 11.12.10 from Turner Contemporary on Vimeo.

I will ramble on as the day progresses


  1. Sorry Michael, Thanet Tourism etc not at fault. I didn't tell them 'til the same as as I told you. Getting the ship from Bristol has so many variables in timings, etc that I kept it between myself (the organiser) and the Harbour Office. In December, the ship was due to arrive and the Council were going to put on a show, but the film company cancelled the trip at the last moment for budget reasons, so this time I was being cautious. I have had great help from the Harbour authorities, and Roger Latchford. Just for the record!

  2. The Matthew is one of the most significant ships in the history of European colonisation of North America. The arrival of the replica; and we're not talking about a film company mock up - this one actually sailed from Bristol to Newfoundland; should be a matter of great interest to all in the area. Not sure that I understand the need for caution - I'm sure everyone would have understood the vagaries of the sea - we do live next to it after all.

    It won't interest the Great Communicator because:

    a) it's in Ramsgate and therefore not a vote winner in Westgate
    b) it doesn't fly and is therefore archaic
    c) it doesn't involve IT and is therefore not cutting edge

    MBE only got interested because his neighbour told him to be so!

    The Council website is a shambles and needs a serious dose of sorting out. It took me forever last week to find out how to report an untaxed car and when I did find the link it was wrong - KCC gave me the correct information in the end. Given that we have a world-renowned IT expert on the Council (and that description is not meant to be ironic Simon) I would have thought that we could have something a bit better.

  3. Thanks for the info David, perhaps the council can be persuaded to put something on their websites, before the ship leaves, we could certainly do with a few more tourists in Ramsgate at the moment.

  4. I often use the webcam on the harbour east arm to show off Ramsgate. I did suggest adding a second camera pointing towards the central portion of the harbour might be beneficial, but doesn't seem to have been judged worthwhile.

  5. Love the fiction bit - or is it? Satire is always the best weapon against the pompous.

  6. Chris Huhne has said he is requiring nuclear experts in UK to look at lessons to be learned from the tragedy befalling Japan.

    You were kind enough Michael, as a fellow electronics engineer, to have commented on blog how technically competent my reports were, that I copied to you, concerning unreliability of backup power (at UK nuclear power plant and hospitals etc).

    My MP submitted my indexed technical report of some 150 pages to the Home Secretary.

    In 2007 the NHS introduced new security of electrical supply regulations for hospitals. These included the change from ordering all types fit all back up generators to ordering bespoke. The ordering hospital providing a harmonics profile and the manufacturer deisigning to it.

    I will see to it that my report ios forwarded to Chris Huhne MP with the request that he instruct Institute of Electrical Engineers for expert report.

    When the head of engineering standards at IEE was Dr Moisewitz I know he had a team looking at the issues I raised of general situation of unreliability of emergency backup generators a part of which was due to sabotage consistent with Stage 3 of the IRA Garland Plan.

    You already know that in 2003 Gen De Chasterlain sent a report of concern to the Northern Ireland Secretary that the sabotage terrorism planned by IRA had not been included by Tony Blair in Good Friday Agreement as a terrorist weapon system for declaration and decommissioning.

    I think there can be no doubt now about what I was saying. If backup power fails after an emergency shut down of nuclear power plant they go critical as the essential coolant circulation fails.

    In Japan it may have been earhquake which caused such a failure. But in this country we have come close (Hunterston B, Dounreay and Bradwell B) due to unreliability of the backup power systems for whatever reason.

    If there is any development in public sector I will let you know.

  7. Andrew definitely a fiction.

    Retired my understanding is that it was the failure of the diesel backup generator to start automatically that caused the first of the Japanese power station reactors to overheat.

  8. More joined up thinking by tdc, seeing the harbour is run by the council you would have thought someone would have the nous to let the tourism side of the council know.


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