Friday 30 September 2011

End of week ramble, lunch at La Magnolia Ramsgate and some thoughts on sketching.

I don’t very often eat out in Ramsgate, but yesterday my wife and I tried the set lunch at La Magnolia, the view of Ramsgate Royal harbour from this restaurant is very good indeed, best from the outside seating which is where we sat.

I did the quick sketch above in between courses, as it was what was straight in front of me where I was sitting, sorry I didn’t get time to include the tidal ball which is the only thing totally missing. 

 I went for the set menu at £8.95 and had half a pint of orange juice, prawn cocktail and a Margherita pizza, this was all above average standard and I though represented good value for money, it also all came very quickly essential if you only have an hour for lunch.
 My wife decided that she couldn’t manage the two courses that comprised the business lunch special and had a Margherita pizza £6.95 and a pint of orange juice, I couldn’t see the price of the soft drinks on the menu and when the bill came the orange juice was £4.50 which seemed a bit on the steep side to me.
I took the picture from where I was sitting after I drew the sketch, mostly for comparison and as I thought I would probably do a post about it.

Painting and drawing in public takes a bit of getting used to, to get anything that looks vaguely ok I find I have to be very relaxed and doing it in public tends to make me less relaxed.

You may have noticed the huge amount of local art that has appeared recently, much of it showing local scenes, and yet you don’t seem to come across people actually doing it very often.

I drew this with a waterproof sepia felt tip (Faber Castell Pitt artist pen size B) you can get a packet of four different sizes of these in WH Smith, as with their black ones you can watercolour straight onto this without the ink smudging.

The sketch pad is from The Works at Ramsgate Garden Centre, it is just a little bit smaller than A4 has an elastic band to stop the pages blowing about and the paper is just thick enough to watercolour without going all crinkly and spoiling the pictures. I think they are either 2 or 3.99.

The brushes Winsor and Newton reversible ones (the brush bit goes in the handle so you can put them in your pocket. I got a set on ebay for about £10.

A set of paints, with a pot of water that will all go in your pocket is easier than you would think.. 

Turner managed to achieve this in the 1700s.

Decent paint is expensive, if you want the colours to look ok you need to use artists quality, it comes either in lumps called pans or half pans or in tubes and costs between about £4 and £8 a colour.

You don’t however need many different colours, I think turner used about five or six and so do I. Frankly if you try to use a lot more you will just get confused and not be able to repeat what you have done, so you don’t actually learn much. 

The rest is mostly for my ten year olds who have just received watercolour painting equipment. 

The basic techniques with cheats for anyone who can’t paint or draw are as follows.

Sketch it in with a pencil, rubbing out the bits that are wrong, until you get something that you are happy with. A propelling pencil is easier as you don’t need a sharpener and the ordinary W H Smith rubbers seem to work ok, a lot of artists use putty rubbers, I can’t get on with them.

Go over the sketch with the felt tip and then rub all the pencil out, or just paint around the pencil depending of what sort of effect you want. You can of course miss all of this out and just paint straight away onto the plain paper like the sketches of Turner and Warhol I did the other day. I can do this with faces, something I find easy, but need a few cheats for things.

Get the paper wet all over with your largest brush.

Mix up a browney yellow with some water, I used Yellow Ochre, slosh it about all over the paper so it gives it a bit of a tinge, if there were any bits you wanted to leave white it is best not to get them wet in the first place, this doesn’t work too well in sketch book where you can’t stretch the paper and things tend towards the crinkly and runny.

Mix up some blue with water, I generally use cobalt blue, and slosh this about where the sky is going to be blue, then eat your prawn cocktail. By this time things should be drying off a bit. Go over the bit that isn’t sky with some more of the yellow, if the paper is still a bit on the wet side you should get the hazy effect where the things meet the sky.

Eat your pizza, by this time the thing should be pretty much dry, so you can add some detail, the brownish bits were dark brown paint I used sepia watercolour paint, I think Turner used sepia ink watered down, probably not the wisest think to carry around in your pocket. The red bits are rose madder, which is expensive. The black bits are black watercolour paint, you can use India ink or an India ink felt tip.   

I will ramble on about this if I get time.       

Wednesday 28 September 2011

The strange and peculiar story of Thanet District Council reorganisation

The council leaks information like some sort of giant sponge, both officers and councillors tend to be reluctant to say much about what really goes on in the council but somehow the information slowly leaks out.

One gets a sense of people desperately spinning plates to maintain or enhance their position. Despite all of this I am slowly forming the impression that the council – normally perceived as a bit dysfunctional – is reaching a point where it is unable to function properly at mid and higher management levels.

The main problem appears to emanate from government cuts, this has meant that some officers have been made redundant, some have left voluntarily due to the uncertainty of the stability of their continued employment and there are even some rumours of some being pushed rather than jumping ship in a way that could perhaps be contestable.

This means that some of the council departments are being run and staffed by officers on a temporary basis, with the added cloud hanging over them of uncertainties about the stability of their continued employment.

In many cases we are talking about officers with remuneration in the region of £1,000 per week or more, so what they are doing or not doing is costing us dear.

What appears to be happening is that important decisions, that are normally made at officer level, have often been postponed while departments wait to find out who will be running them and working in them.

There is a very real sense that officers don’t know where they stand and are just biding their time rather than achieving a properly run and efficient council, there is also a sense that some officers are having more in terms of work and responsibilities heaped on them that they could possibly cope with.

I am not sure how the new chief executive stands in all of this, nor do I understand how combining the position of chief executive and head of finance is supposed to work. My understanding is that a council chief executive should be the person with the innovative ideas and that the head of finance should complement this by applying the restraint of what is actually viable and affordable. This begs some questions about one person holding both posts.

I am also uncertain how other councils are coping with this situation and whether the situation is particularly bad here in Thanet, on thing is certain and that is that delays to making beneficial things happen locally and weak slow regulation of major local projects will cost us dear.

I am sending this one to the leader of the council and the chief executive the council in the form of an open letterof for any comments or corrections before I publish it at the end of the working day i.e. 5.30 pm. 

 This is what I said to them as well as sending the above:

“Hi Bob, Sue I am sending you the text of this blog post as a matter of courtesy before publishing it later today, please send me any comments or corrections for incorporation in the post.”

Here is the response to this post:

Dear Mr Child,

In response to your open letter sent to myself and the Leader today.

I am unable to respond to most of your comments as they lack any specific detail. 

The one specific issue you raise is regarding my combined role of Chief Executive and Chief Financial (S151) Officer. Prior to the restructure, an opinion was sought from the Council's External Auditors regarding combining these roles, who raised no objections and indeed there are other authorities where this combined role is currently working successfully.

I can tell you that the majority of the council restructure has been implemented successfully. There remain a couple of teams which have outstanding issues yet to be resolved due to changes in the circumstances in which their services are delivered but we expect these to be fully implemented within this calendar year.

In conclusion, we have not noticed any increase in formal complaints regarding any of the issues you have alluded to but would be pleased to address any specific complaints that you have through our formal complaints process.

Yours sincerely

Dr Sue McGonigal
Chief Executive & Chief Financial Officer

Ramsgate Firefly Fiesta Fireworks Photographs

Many thanks to Malc - a bloke with a long lens - for sending me these pictures, business and family commitments meant that I couldn’t go myself.

Click on the link for the rest of the pictures   

Monday 26 September 2011

Monday Ramble Art Chair Pictures Margate Kites Camera and so on.

As I have mentioned before I have taken up painting and drawing again after a gap of about forty years, unfortunately this isn’t like riding a bicycle inasmuch as when you try to do it again things do not go that well and I am finding that I am pretty much having to learn again.

This means that most of my spare moments are spent painting or drawing and not blogging and most of the results are pretty awful.

On the whole I suppose the question is, why would I want to paint things or draw them when it is so easy to take a photograph of them, or find a better picture of them on the internet? I am not really certain that I have an answer to this one, but it is what I am doing and I seem to enjoy doing it.
One thing that I find quite strange is that I can’t seem to do it standing up, so the pictures are of a rucksack that unfolds into a chair, it also holds an A3 sketch pad which is very handy. Although this is strictly fishing equipment, I will go on about art equipment for a bit. I did go down the road of buying student quality watercolours but this didn’t work out so I have now had to do this again with artists quality.
The trouble is with these things you can’t try before you buy, and this means that every colour that you want to try you have to buy a tube of to see if it does what you want it to. I generally paint with only about ten different colours but it is getting the right ten, that is the problem.

Onto the pictures on the camera card, I went to Margate last Thursday to have another look at the new exhibition in the Turner Contemporary and do some more sketches, the pictures are a bit obsessive as I am trying to get the way I paint reflections a bit better.

I can thoroughly recommend the Puffin Café on Margate harbour arm, both for a civilised pot of tea and a ploughman’s lunch, and of course the view, probably the best value for money in terms of a snack in Margate.

The café at the gallery is good too, my wife and I had steak baguettes there, it is fairly expensive though, frankly if it wasn’t I think it would be too busy.

So here are Thursday’s pictures.

Back to the try before you buy problem, and this time it is a pocket camera, my previous one expired after considerable use and as I use reading glasses I have to have a conventional viewfinder, I just can’t see the screen well enough.

Asking around the family for any redundant pocket digital cameras that I could try and then buy for the going rate if I liked one of them, I have been trying out a Cannon PowerShot G9.

I usually use a digital slr camera but like to have a small camera always in my pocket, first impressions with this camera set on auto and just pressing the button are fairly good and I think this is the one I will opt for it.

Here are the pictures.

I went back to the Turner Contemporary on Sunday morning to look more closely at one of the Turner Watercolours, photography isn’t allowed but I have manage to find a small reproduction of this one on the Tate’s website.

I should like to place exactly where in Margate Turner painted this one, I think the building with all the chimneys is a tin plating factory, although you can’t see them in this picture due to the low definition, Reculver towers are clearly visible on the end of the headland on the horizon.

This picture dates from the mid 1780s.

Here are the pictures I took while I was waiting for the gallery to open.

Saturday 24 September 2011

Despicable business at the Turner Contemporary Margate

I am afraid to say that the unhealthy side of contemporary art has reared its ugly head in Margate, contemporary artist Andy Warhol appeared to be handing something wrapped in silver paper to Margate schoolboy Joe Turner and it appears that money changed hands.
Fortunately I had my brush handy so sketched the miscreants, this is the second such incident witnessed in Thanet in two days see

Both Andy and Joe are exhibiting paintings at The Turner Contemporary’s exhibition “Nothing in the World But youth” which is on at the moment, see although both of them have produced exceptionally good exhibits, it is such a shame when gifted young people behave in this way.   

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Paintings of the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery in Margate

 As we have a major new art gallery designed by an internationally renowned architect, I wondered what artists had made of this civic ornament adorning Margate seafront.

I have to say that I have Googled in vain, trying to find paintings of this architectural gem.

Like Turner I keep a sketch book, there the resemblance ends unfortunately, however ts amuses my children, so here are possibly the first two paintings of the gallery.

One of the gallery, and one a notion of how it may have arrived.
The pictures should enlarge if you click on them.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Business expansion in Thanet

Thanet Earth have announced that they have made a profit for the first time and that demand for their produce is exceeding supply, as they have only built three of the planned seven huge greenhouses I would think we can expect the construction of another one soon. To put this in context, the made a loss of £5m the previous year, however in the trading year to April 2011 they made a profit of about a quarter of a million.

It does seem to me to be a great shame that this food factory that doesn’t use soil, takes its water from the water mains (apart from the rain collected from the roof) and produces liquid waste that has to go into the main sewer – in other words it could be built on a brownfield site – is built and will expand on prime agricultural land. It is however very fortunate that they were not allowed to pump water from the Thanet aquifer or drain their liquid waste into the ground or Pegwell Bay.

It is difficult to say how much Thanet Earth benefits the local economy or the environment, but at least it is now making a profit.

The other main business expansion in Thanet recently is the Marks and Spencer at Westwood Cross, what they have done here is to double the size of the shop by adding a second floor. This creates 70 jobs, which as far as I can see are part time and full time for local people and reduce local unemployment.

Once again though we have M&S at WC at a terrible cost to our town centres what the difference in the number of jobs would be between one big shop at WC and two smaller ones in Ramsgate and Margate I don’t really know.

There is of course a fine balance between what large companies are allowed to do in terms of damage to the local community and damage to the environment, and how they benefit the local community.

Whatever the answer to this one there is no doubt that for us as a family, buying a pair of trousers from M&S involves a motorised journey that is harmful to the environment.

I think another big problem here is how much money stays in the area, by this I mean if the higher paid, executive staff are living and spending their money outside Thanet and the majority of the company profit is going out of the area, we need to be careful in weighing the balances.

I know that this is partly down to the nasty modern world and it is not so very long ago that most people working in provincial towns lived in them too. I do wonder if the higher paid local government paid staff lived in the towns they are supposed to serve how much better things would be.          

Sunday 18 September 2011

Nothing But the World of Youth at the Turner Contemporary Margate

I visited this exhibition for the first time today and it is very good indeed, I had my nine-year-old daughters with me and we had all afternoon, it just wasn’t long enough and we will need to go again.

Photography is not allowed at this exhibition so they took pencils and sketch pads with them, so they could copy any pictures they liked.

The four watercolours by Turner that are hung together, were painted when he was nine (according to the sign on them although my memory of his biography tells me they were done when he was eleven and they do look like the work of a talented eleven year old) so these were of special interest. Art gallery signage is in this instance is inadequate for the enquiring nine year old, what colours did he use daddy?

I gave my best guess on this one, Indian ink, sepia ink, chrome yellow, yellow ochre, rose madder, cobalt blue, burnt umber and a pencil. Any better information on this one would be appreciated, it was an off the top of my head in the gallery answer and my guess would be that Turner added some sort of opaque white to his watercolour paintbox in later life and that was about it.

Much subsequent discussion about how a ten year old boy could have only five paints in his box and some practical experiments have ensued. If you are wondering how a nine year old managed to get hold of something as precious as rose madder, mine managed it today.

Frankly I am finding it very difficult to be critical of this exhibition, so I will stick to my childrens criticism, this was mainly that the four Turner watercolours were pretty much the only pictures that were not done by people who were a lot older than they are. Frankly these were the pictures in the exhibition that they most identified with, two of them are of Minster Church and I have had to promise my children that we will go there so that they can have a go at painting it.

As I said photography is banned at this exhibition, although a great many people were taking photographs while I was there, partly I think because there isn’t anything in the way of clear signage and partly because in this digital age the ban is almost impossible to implement. I did take a few pictures before I saw any indication that you were not allowed to.

I also took some pictures of Margate today, here are the links

The main problems with the gallery still haven’t been resolved, which is a shame, see if you don't know what I am talking about.

One thing that does surprise me is the lack of news stories and reviews about this exhibition on the internet, it may be that people only want to write negative things about Margate and the Turner contemporary, something that it is very difficult to do after visiting this exhibition.

We genuinely had a good day out in Margate today and I honestly think that the other people who visited the exhibition will come back again, not to make any particular point about art but just because it was enjoyable, you could tell from the smiles on the faces.. 

Friday 16 September 2011

Ramsgate and Margate arts this weekend

I think tomorrow (Saturday) is the big day for both towns, the new exhibition “Nothing But the World of Youth” opens at the Turner Contemporary in Margate and the Firefly Fiesta is on in Ramsgate.

Starting with “Nothing But the World of Youth” this is one I am looking forward to, with work by lots of artists including Henry Moore, Peter Blake, Sarah Lucas, Andy Warhol, Mark Leckey, Jim Lambie and David Hockney.

Photography is not allowed at this exhibition, however I will do what I can to cover it on the blog, perhaps I will take my sketch pad along as it would seem unlikely that art would be banned in the gallery.

Exhibition tours
Free, just turn up
Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays 11-11.30pm

The times seem a bit late to me with the gallery now closing at 6pm, perhaps this is just another example of contemporary art that is a bit elusive, or perhaps it is a good old fashioned typo.

Anyway if you get to the gallery after 6 tomorrow and find that everyone has gone home the Firefly Fiesta is on in Ramsgate from midday until 10.30pm which should just give you time afterwards to pop over to Margate and see if the Turner contemporary are giving a guided tour.

More information about the Firefly Fiesta here 

Neither the Thanet District Council website nor the councils vist Thanet website are making much of either event, nothing on the TDC website which has the following events on its website homepage:
St. Laurence Church Harvest Holy Communion
St. Laurence Church Harvest Barn Dance
St. Laurence Churchyard Tour (October)
St. Laurence Church Quiz Night

The best you can say about the visit Thanet website is that you can find both events if you already know that they are on.

Considering that the whole of the regeneration of Margate hangs on the success or failure of the Turner Contemporary and the Ramsgate event poster says the event is produced in association with TDC it makes one wonder what they think they are up to.

I suppose it would be funny if we weren’t all paying the bill for this sort of nonsensical behaviour.  

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Winsor and Newton artists watercolour tubes, a testament to longevity.

Last Sunday I bought some tubes Winsor and Newton artist quality watercolour tubes that dated from before 1971, as they were all over forty years old – I could tell this because they had prices pencilled on them in old and new money – so they had been sold then, I didn’t expect them to much practical use.

One had split and had gone completely hard, several of the rest had a small plug that had gone hard just behind the cap, which I had to pick out, but to my astonishment they all contain usable and very high quality watercolour paint. 

I don’t usually aspire to artist’s quality paint, so this is a gift from the gods as it were. There were also about seven Rowney tubes from the same period only two of these hadn’t gone hard

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Smith Jones, Thanet District Council and the no flats Polly Se, a rant.

When it comes to planning in Thanet I often find that I am confused, and now with the new localism bill in the offing I don’t think I am alone.

On several occasions recently it seemed that the planning inspectorate had had their claws cropped, teeth pulled or whatever the right euphemism is, when some government department ceases to have a purpose – because of legislation – i.e. the paper keeps coming out but no one reads it anymore.

This is partly about HMOs, Houses in Multiple Occupation, something that causes various problems in Thanet, the whole business of living in town centres is a difficult one. I know about this as I live in King Street Ramsgate and frankly nowadays venturing out my front door of an evening is something that requires a strategy, not something I would have expected in an ordinary English town, although I gather from the other shopkeepers I know in other ordinary English towns, that this is becoming the rule rather than the exception.  The ordinary codes of civilised decent behaviour have worn a bit thin, of an evening, I wouldn’t want to take my children for an evening walk in a lot of English towns and subject them to groups of people communicating with each other in a string of obscenities, something I take as low level verbal child sex abuse.

This brings us to the problem that ordinary decent people don’t want to live in the middle of many of our towns town anymore, it just isn’t very nice. People of course have to live somewhere and this means that it is easier to get accommodation where it is very noisy at night, so long as you don’t mind Bruv and Gees shouting at each other incoherently, punctuated with only too coherent obscenities for most of the night.

The solution to all of this is the HMO, I think the simple principle being that even with the 24 hour drinking laws, and recreational drug problems, Bruv and Gees have to have somewhere to pass out periodically and rooms in areas made uninhabitable for normal sleep, by the general level of behaviour, are ok for the comatose.

Anyway the council are trying to find a solution to the problem, which appears to be not passing anymore planning applications for flats, I think the idea is that perceived flat dwellers living in houses will behave differently. As a flat dweller I am not so certain that they are on the right track, the problem is a national one and the council is in more of a no win situation than usual over it.

I think that eventually the problem in Ramsgate will sort itself out, with the new road and rail connections, climate, architecture and so on it is a very desirable place to live and I think this will squeeze out a large proportion of the people with social and behavioural problems, many of whom only arrived due to different types of social engineering.

Anyway this is what the planning inspector had to say about Smith and Jones’s new flat thanks to Gerald for pointing this one out to me. So you see it seems that the planning inspectorate still have some bite.

For me of course the real planning issue was that the Smith and Jones building obtained planning permission for change of use from an indoor market to yet another drinking establishment.

One of the great problems that needs addressing in many English towns now, is the absence of real retail shops, where you can buy tangible goods from people engaged in a real business.

It is worth considering that this is the reason that all the other businesses went there in the first place, the trade in real goods by real businesses, that is. Having your hair cut, teeth pulled, getting drunk, getting fed, getting robbed, consulting a lawyer, gong to church all happened because of the real trade in tangible goods. Take this away and it is unlikely that the rest will survive and all we will have is housing with nothing much to do, once we have eaten and drunk our limit. 

Monday 12 September 2011

Margate Heritage Open Day pictures of The Tudor House, Margate Museum and Walpole Bay Hotel.

We had already done the historic buildings open in Ramsgate with the person who was saying with us over the weekend so we did Margate yesterday.

This may be my warped impression but is does seem that Margate’s council owned iconic buildings are getting better use and public accessibility than the Ramsgate owned ones. It would have been nice to have Albion House and Ramsgate Maritime Museum open for national heritage day. Where the new localism bill will take us with our iconic buildings I don’t really know, my understanding is that local groups will be able to take them over from the council and run them for some benefit to the local community. It is a difficult to tell what the real situation is with the council and the iconic council owned sites in Ramsgate, to have one major site closed, falling into dereliction or having developers playing some sort of waiting game while the council fails to implement agreements would seem to be a misfortune two possibly carelessness, however having as many as we have here in Ramsgate seems like a deliberate strategy to bring economic ruin to the town.

When it comes to local government the way people perceive what is being done with their money is often as important as what is actually being done with it.  

Anyway that said we did the Tudor House first. To get this into some sort of historical perspective The Tudor House is probably about 500 years old. There is very little in the way of historical record relating to Margate that predates about 300 years ago.

In terms of written history relating to this area and period the main source are the letters from the reigning monarch to the lords warden of the Cinque Ports, these give the impression that Margate in the 1500s was a prosperous small town.

At this time outside of food which was mostly sourced locally, the main commodity that was traded and therefore generated wealth was wool, the various stages that turned it into coloured cloth was where the money was to be made. I would seem likely that the Tudor House would have been related to this trade in some way. Dealing in wool cloth, weaving dying and so on, in the early 1500s was on the money, this would have been a substantial house probably owned my a wealthy merchant. Three hundred years later in the early 1800s the Tudor House was owned by Frances Cobb the Margate brewer, and there is an exhibition of pictures related to local pubs and brewing on the walls of the Tudor House. Within the limitations of photography I have tried to photograph as much of this exhibition as I could.

Here are the links to the pictures

Then into Margate Old Town for lunch at Cup Cake, my children ate theirs without complaint, which is about the highest accolade that can be bestowed.

Here are the pictures

My cheese on toast, £1 for an extra slice, recommended for fat men, was excellent. There were various stalls selling bric a brac and I bought some tubes of watercolour paint, a major attraction here was that they had been priced during the period of currency decimalisation in 1971. this meant that a tube of paint priced at 2/6 had also been priced at 12p or one priced at 5/- also at 25p. artists quality watercolour paint sells for about the same price as a UK paperback, now between about £5 and £7.50 a tube depending on the pigment. I am not sure if any of the paint in the tubes will still be usable after forty years, I will try it and see.

Next to Margate Museum, this is housed in the old police station and court house and I was particularly please to find that the courthouse that had been closed last time I visited the museum was open this time.

The court, police station and prison cells show clearly the localised justice system that worked so well in England for so long. The key to this was having policing and courts localised so that the police and magistrates were part of the local community and the maintaining of civilisation was dealt with as part of the local community.

Much of the museum relates to regulation of local trading in terms of weights and measures, as always though in costal towns there is the added dimension of seafaring and tourism, at the moment there is an emphasis on the part that mods and rockers played in the history of Margate, when they descended on the town for a brawl.

Here are the pictures

Then on to the Walpole Bay Hotel cream tea for us and ice cream for the children, the museum within the hotel although not part of heritage open day – it’s open and it’s free anyway – is an important collection illustrating English domestic life over the last 100 years.

The cream tea was excellent as usual, I always recommend this one to visitors to Thanet who are trying to understand how our seaside towns functioned as resorts.

Here are the pictures 

There were some ships sheltering off Margate and I took a few pictures from Walpole Bay, not sure how the pictures will come out, I think it depends on how steady my hand was as this is zoom and crop, here they are

As usual I have published all the pictures on the camera card and am yet to look at them myself, so I expect some of them will be pretty awful, it in fact, may be best not to look. 

Saturday 10 September 2011

Views of Ramsgate from above, Heritage Open Day the vertigo option

My children were very eager to visit St Georges Church in Ramsgate today, as it is the day you are allowed to take a tour up the church tower.

Here are the links to the pictures

One part of St Georges Church you can’t see because of the asbestos contamination is the crypt, unusual because it still has the lead coffins there, essentially tinned people, click on the links for the pictures.


Thanet bathing water quality

After the loss of several of our blue flags due to pollution incidents I have been keeping an eye on this issue. Late august was not a particularly good time for bathing water quality in Thanet, as you can see from the EA maps.

The Environment Agency interactive maps are available at and let you know about local bathing water quality pollution incidents and so on.

Playing about with the various interactive maps it looks as though there may have been some sort of sewage discharge in the area at the end of August.

This problem seems to be as much to do with poor communication between the agencies involved than a particularly bad problem with pollution locally.

I will endeavour to add to this one as I get time.  

Friday 9 September 2011

Friday Ramble and some pictures

Despite the invent of the Kindle and competition from the internet my bookshop is extremely busy today, I suppose the bottom line at the moment is that for a lot of books my bookshop is still the cheapest option.

With paperback fiction where the Kindle comes into it’s own, the price of an average download is still about twice the price of a secondhand paperback and when you take into account the exchange value for books brought back to the shop when read, the secondhand paperback cost of reading is closer to a quarter of the price of reading the same book on a Kindle.

The first batch of pictures on the camera card – I have been very remiss about getting much in the way of pictures online recently – are of the Royal College of Art Exhibition in the Monkey House Gallery in Ramsgate.

This was one of those contemporary art exhibitions where it was a bit difficult to tell what the exhibits were, and what where just things that happened to be there. The danger of venerating the wrong objet d'art only to find it was objet d'lunch or objet d'piano, there were for instance two pianos there, one that normally lives in The Monkey House and would only have been an objet d'art had it had a label on it saying “this is not a piano” the other piano however was part of the exhibition. The artist had gutted it on arrival and paddled it across the boating lake before displaying it. The truth is often stranger than fiction. 

Anyway here are the pictures

Picaso had a bit of thing about pianos, so doing things with pianos I suppose is strictly more modern art than contemporary art, I will endeavour to add a video of what I mean.

I suppose that expressing things via musical instruments has always had a bit of a bizarre side, I noticed during this mornings ablutions that the youf of today was strumming Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” as an epitet to last night’s curry.

Something that  has interested me is the rebuilding of 1 Granville Marina, this is the project that TDC turned down the planning application for and the planning inspector passed. I have to say that the end result is looking very pleasing and as the project is nearing completion I wandered inside and took some pictures. Here is the link to them

The other eastern undercliff projects are not moving on so well, the one down near where Nero’s was has been turned down by the TDC despite having the support of Ramsgate Society and the town council. One wonders how the new localism bill will effect this sort of thing. The question really being does localism mean opening up decision making to local people or district councils.

And of course Pleasurama grinds on four men on the site where we expected 200, shallow foundations where we expected pile boring, no public information. The net result of all this is that what should be one of our main tourist areas, behind Ramsgate main sands remains a dreadful mess rather than a boost to the local economy.

The next lot of pictures relate to yesterdays lunch at The Rising Sun, Stourmouth, bar snack and a drink at about £10 good food and a pool table, see

As I said the shop was busy today, this meant I didn’t get a Gazette but for those of you interested, here is the link to the latest one councillor calls the other one a tosser story our TDC councillors seem to have a bit of a limited imagination when it comes to insults. 

Moving on from the disturbing images of onanistic councillors to another IOTG article with typo of the week “At that time I had five children in the house and we could all have been died in our sleep." Here is the link

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Midweek Ramble featuring TDCTV, the airport and anything else I think of.

I have just recovered from man flue, for a while there I had aches all down my hypotenuse and frankly didn’t feel much like blogging or anything else. Anyway I now feel much better and am trying to catch up on the local news.

I will add to this posting through the day, depending on how busy my bookshop is and what comes up delving the internet for local interest and anything else that amuses me.

First, above, this rather unusual offering from Thanet District Council’s YouTube channel, I have to admit to thinking that it should have sound and so went off and tried another computer in vain. Anyway here is the silent epic of Fort Road boutique hotel.

Thanet Labour have removed their post “Councillor Will Scobie - *Statement by Cllr. Clive Hart - Labour Group Leader Thanet District Council * "Cllr Will Scobie is going to study in Paris from Saturday 3rd September………” from I wonder why.

There have been quite a lot of postings about the airport recently most of them on and as always with the airport I have considerable problems visualising the airport operators intent.

This is what the airport operator Infratil’s 2011 company report had to say.

“Infratil’s two remaining European airports continued to experience very
difficult trading conditions. Notwithstanding excellent cost control,
losses grew as traffic continued to weaken.
The airports in Glasgow and Kent represent 4% of Infratil’s assets and
contributed an EBITDAF loss of £5 million (NZ$10 million) for the year.
Management is very aware of this disproportionate value/contribution
aspect and the situation is receiving the urgent attention it warrants.
There are several solutions possible, but regrettably the preferred one,
an improving European aviation scene lifting activity and hence income,
seems the least likely.”

Like many local projects it is the absence of any sort of realistic dialogue with local people that worries me, I find that despite all of the various bits information I have read for and against the airport, nothing seems to show some sort realistic view of a future with a profitable airport operating within reasonable environmental parameters.

I am not particularly anti airport, although I do have concerns about the environmental impact, both in terms of noise and our water supply, my greatest concern however is the occasional very low flight over Ramsgate, something I suppose everone in the town is aware of.  

The Thanet Extra guide to what’s on in Thanet has just popped up on the sidebar and I have just looked through it, makes you wonder when anyone from the paper last visited the area. Apparently Ramsgate market is in Staffordshire Street car park on Saturday, how a local paper can be confused about the day and location of the market is truly mind boggling.

They have also completely missed the heritage open days, all very strange, makes you wonder where they source their information. 

All of the local papers have stories about the resignation of Ian Johnson, principal of The Marlowe Academy, although strangely none of them say why he resigned.

While on the subject of what’s on in Thanet, Isle One now has a reasonably good listing see although I notice it has missed the Jewish Heritage open day in Ramsgate.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Heritage open days in Thanet this weekend

We are once again at that weekend in the year when local people have the opportunity to look inside some of our important local buildings. It also allows you free entry into buildings that usually charge for entry. With some of the venues the opening times are fairly short, or the free opening periods are, so if you want to make the best of this series of local events you need to plan it fairly carefully.

Here is the list from

Heritage Open Days
Thu 8 Sep 2011
Fri 9 Sep 2011
Fri 9 - Mon 12 Sep 2011
Sat 10 Sep 2011
Sat 10, Sun 11 Sep 2011
Sat 10 Sep 2011
Sun 11 Sep 2011
Tue 13 Sep 2011
Wed 21 Sep 2011

I am not sure if this is a complete list, I will try to find out if anything is missing and add it to this post.

In Ramamsgate Montefiore Synagogue Ramsgate is one that is well worth a visit, picture above. If you have a head for heights I can also recommend taking as tour up the tower of St George’s Church. has a slightly different list for Thanet

NameTownOpeningPre-Booking Required
St Peter's Churchyard TourBroadstairs
Saturday: Tour 1400
St Peter's Village TourBroadstairs
Thursday: Tour 1345
Saturday: Tour 0945
Margate 3 Squares' WalkMargate
Friday: dep. 1145
Saturday: dep. 1145
Margate Baptist ChurchMargate
Friday: 1000-1200
Saturday: 1000-1200
Margate Museum: Former Police StationMargate
Friday: 1100-1700
Saturday: 1100-1700
Sunday: 1100-1700
The Tudor HouseMargate
Saturday: 1200-1600
Sunday: 1200-1600
Theatre Royal MargateMargate
Sunday: Tour 1400 & 1600
St George's Church, RamsgateRamsgate
Saturday: Tower tours 1130, 1230, 1430 & 1530
Sunday: Tower tours 1200, 1300 & 1430
The GrangeRamsgate
Friday: 1000-1600
Saturday: 1000-1600
Sunday: 1000-1600
At this point I was a bit confused about some of the entries, so this is by way of explanation.

My questions were is the Powell Cotton Museum doing something different for the heritage open day – free entry or a special event – or does this just mean that it is open as usual? 

Why doesn’t the Tudor House opening appear on the council funded tourism site and is it in fact open?

Margate Museum opening does appear on the council’s tourism website but the link there takes you to a website of few words.

Anyway I went back onto and tried to phone up the tourist information office to check this out, the number given there is Thanet 577577, phoning this number is an education in itself and mostly seems to suggest that one oppresses buttons that eventually lead you to an automated message telling you to look on

As an effort to deter tourists it is a very powerful device that takes one agonisingly slowly through a list of alternatives the very last of which is to speak to a tourist information officer.

Eventually I managed to speak to an officer who told me that The Powell Cotton Museum has free entry but only for the two hours between 11am and 1pm on Saturday and Sunday.