Thursday 31 December 2015

Margate watercolour sketch today and some reflections on the year.

First here is the Margate watercolour sketch from Bernie’s Chocolate Café, technically the sky was the problem here as I didn’t want any blue in the lamp and lighthouse so it had to go on after I had painted them.

Funny old year, I guess the biggest local loss was The Royal School for the Deaf, which seems to have been terminated by a zealous government agency, leaving nearly all of the people who were there facing much worse quality of care because the government agency that regulates the quality of care decided that aspects of the care quality weren’t high enough.

The UKIP administration at TDC seems to have just about managed to keep the stuff the previous administrations started going, there doesn’t seem to be any obvious indicator that TDC is performing any better than it was under either Labour or the Conservatives, and certainly none of the problems of previous administrations seem to have been sorted out.

Frankly the lack of any changes or significant activity makes it hard to produce news items for this blog. If you ask what innovative ideas the UKIP councillors have for improving Thanet, the answer seems to pan out as just hang in there.

My take here being that if UKIP want to take more councils, then they should be focusing on TDC the only council they have more councillors in than the other parties.

Perhaps it’s the Manston issue and its relationship to UKIP that has made them seem so ineffectual as an administration, it’s still very difficult to tell which councillors stood because they hold UKIP ideals and which councillors stood because they thought it was the only way they would get elected. Somehow they seem to have lost a substantial majority and are now maintaining a very low profile. Running a business in the town and never seeing any councillors appearing and asking for ideas to improve the town is all rather sad.

Trading in Ramsgate I am certainly aware that a proactive district council could improve things considerably, having previously been a bookseller in the Hertfordshire towns of Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City and Hitchin where the councils were very proactive I find I am at a loss to understand what happens in Thanet. I also regularly visit the adjacent towns of Deal and Herne Bay, both of which seem to have fared better than Ramsgate.

Speaking to Margate traders today, it seem that it is Turner Contemporary and Dreamland that has made the difference, I would say here in Ramsgate it is Pleasurama that has made the difference.

Over the years from moving the town centre rubbish collection to market day to putting the dinghy launching slipway on the wrong side (not the sheltered side) of the groin, oh well…    

The rest of the family went to Dreamland today and had a very good time while I sketched.

Still reflecting on the year, my bookshop seems to have done better than I expected this year, I won’t have all the figures in for a while but overall sales are up and with individual book prices at an all time low, that means we have sold a great many more books than in previous years. 

I think there are several reasons for this and probably the most significant is the cost of postage, which is often greater than the selling price of the book, another reason I think is that in the gradual process of people acclimatising to technology the printed book is finding its place.

On the technology front for me this has been the year of cloud computing, where in the past a document like this one I am writing now would have been stored on my computer and I would have only been able to write it using my computer, now it’s stored on the internet and I can write bits of it using, my computer, my phone and my tablet. This means that chunks of this post were written in the supermarket queue, in the café in Margate and at my desk. This combined with photos and videos being stored on the internet and not on my camera or video recorder makes the whole process of blog writing much easier.

Facebook doesn’t seem to have caught up with aspects of this and in fact even Google blogger doesn’t seem to have got one click video publishing within blog posts sorted.      

Some pictures of the fireworks in Ramsgate tonight

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Belgian Cafe Ramsgate watercolour sketch and meal

 Pencil for scale, one again the size is disappointing
 I had to sketch a bit to get my hand in as I didn't seem to be able to draw at the beginning
 the photo for art critics isn't up to much either
 'am salad
 steak 'nd chips
apple pie all very good.

Excellent atmosphere too

Monday 28 December 2015

Ramsgate Harbour Arches watercolour painting from Miles Café Culture, spot the difference

Here is the watercolour painting of Ramsgate Harbour Arches, even my wife couldn’t spot the difference this time and to be honest there isn’t that much. The problem being the light, there was just too much sun, mostly shining at me, eventually I managed to get a window seat with a bit of shade at one end, splodged in the modern building top right and did a bit more to the arches

Sunday 27 December 2015

Shopping in the middle of a family Christmas, well a watercolour sketch from Chocolate Café in Canterbury.

A happy Christmas to one and all, I have diverted into a long family Christmas due to my bookshop being closed from Thursday to Monday, five days which is about the most it has been closed for since I opened here in Ramsgate in 1987.

I don’t think independent booksellers get much in the way of holidays since the invent of Amazon about twenty years ago, though I have no complaints about this as I don’t work very hard and the work I do do I enjoy. Lying in the sun has no appeal and sketching which is the leisure activity I most enjoy seems to have unpredictable ability factors for me, sometimes I can and sometimes I can’t.

Here is today’s watercolour sketch in Chocolate Café in Canterbury, which I think falls somewhere in the middle of can and can’t paint. The pencil is there for scale, so I suppose you could describe the sketch as disappointingly small. If you want it as a Christmas card, then it’s wise men consuming chocolate on a journey to an epiphany. I don’t think there are any sudden realisations to be had in this post, at least not by me.

Painting people this small, which seems to me to be as good a starting point as any is beyond my travel brushes, so I use Winsor and Newton 7s, mostly the 000 and 1 size at the top of the picture.

If you buy brushes this small I recommend going to a shop like Lovelys in Cliftonville where you can try the brushes before you buy them as each brush has different characteristics when you get below size 1. You may get them much cheaper online, but they man never form a proper point, which is the main point.

Another way is to do a fine pen sketch and colour it in with watercolour, like this. My take being however I go about it, eventually the bigger pictures will get better because of doing the small ones.

Anyway that is my main contribution to shopping in the post Christmas sales, I did actually go into a shop there as my son wanted to buy a camera.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Election of a Councillor for NEWINGTON WARD and a bit of ramble

OK a bit of a rolling ramble here, the first bit of hard to find info is the list of candidates standing as a district councillor for Newington, here is the link

There is also one for the Parish election which actually Ramsgate Town Council, here it is

Dreamland is reprieved for the time being, various stories on the net but basically their creditors have agreed to easy terms for Dreamland so they won’t go into administration and close.

I will carry on writhing this as the day progresses, depending on how busy my bookshop is.

The Manston Airport site next 

I like the rest of us have banged my head agents the brick wall of Riveroak’s latest ploy to acquire the site this time it’s a DCO, something that doesn’t even have it’s own Wikipedia page.

The main stumbling block here seems to be putting a substantial amount of money upfront to even get to stage one of the cpo process, which is making a reasonable offer for the site and showing that you actually have the money that you have offered.

The first stage would have to be making every effort to acquire the site, for around the value of the site, without resorting to the cpo process and critically showing that you actually have the money. 

The site is designated brownfield and covers 700 acres, so working on £500,000 per acre that’s £350m, taking the likely value up down or sideways isn’t likely to get under the 100 mil mark, and from a company that couldn’t put up the cash for TDC to make an offer in the 10 mil ball park it doesn’t look that likely.

Of course there is always the possibility that a cpo could work outside of the normal independent valuation ball park, but this doesn’t seem very likely.

For me, as a local businessman, the Manston issue has always been mainly the problem of uncertainty, I guess if it did happen and Ramsgate wound up at the end of the runway of a busy airfreight hub I would move my bookshop somewhere else.

Pleasurama, with this one I have put in another customer feedback request asking what’s going on:- Did they use the wrong paint on the Façade? Will it have to be sacffolded again for the “final” coat? Have they got a reprt showing it’s safe to build residential accommodation in front of the cliff? Have they got a report saying how far the development needs to be from the front of the cliff? Have they got a report saying why they don’t need a flood risk assessment to build on an EA designated high riswk flood zone?

Same old, same old, and going nowhere as ever.

I spoke to a few council officers, none of them seem to know who if any council officer is responsible for coordinating the project, so I guess we can expect the uncoordinated.

Spoke top Cardys who say:-

“You will need to speak direct with TDC on the specific details of the matter. As we have not been party to the works to the Cliff Face.
We have been advised that completion of the Cliff Face works by TDC have been delayed till the Spring.
Until such time that the Cliff Face works are complete we will obviously not be in a position to commence the Development.”

A one time I would have asked the councillors, leader and cabinet members what is going on, this time I haven’t even bothered as I don’t think they know.

Pavilion and Weatherspoons turning it into the biggest pub in England business, I did ask the council if there was a problem with the plans being invalid and they said no and that the planning consent was going through in the normal way.

The Slipways development.

I sent the following off to TDC customer services.

“Hi I have looked at the new planning application for the Hornby Visitor Centre on the slipways in Ramsgate and while I am happy with the development there and don’t wish to object to it I can’t find any sign of replacement buildings to operate the slipways on the plans.

Could you please tell me the following.

1 Will the temporary building housing the slipways workshop be replaced with something and if so what?

2 Where will the offices for the slipways boat repair business be?

3 Will all of the replacement buildings the be of the same spec building materials design and so on as the new visitor centre?”

Bookshop wise it’s a funny old Christmas this year as Christmas eve falls on Thursday our closing day so we will be closed from the end of today until Tuesday morning.

The upturn in book sales continues steadily, which means a lot of work for us as prices have fallen considerably over the last few years, lots of books going in and out of the shop as you can see from our working day blog posts at I think we are the only bookshop worldwide putting pictures of the books we are putting on the shelves up on the internet like this.    

Saturday 19 December 2015

John Downton Awards for Young Artists at Turner Contemporary Margate

The picture above is “Feet” by Aaron Salter

and here a sort of edgewise views as the picture uses a layered cardboard base.

Below are the rest of the photos I took of the exhibition, if you are particularly interested in young artist’s work all the submissions are available on the internet here

Good exhibition, thanks

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Annual Christmas Exhibtiion featuring work by 36 artists at York Street Gallery in Ramsgate

The current Exhibition  is our Annual Christmas Exhibtiion featuring work by 36 artists. The exhibition runs  16th December - 6th January 2016. Exhibitions change weekly on Wednesdays.

Monday 14 December 2015

Planning Changes, Ramsgate Harbour Slipways to accommodate Hornby Hobbies Visitor Centre.

Above is the nearest I can get to a comparison between the old approved application and the new one which is in the hands of TDC awaiting planning consent or refusal.

The artist's impressions seem ok the main thing that concerned me about the previous one was that it was a bit on the low side from the flood and storm perspective, this time it's been moved up to comply with the flood risk assessment.

The planning application can be found here I haven't had a chance to read it so haven't got anything much to say, apart from I can't find where the shipyard workshop is on the new plan.

Sunday 13 December 2015

Thanet classic car Christmas cruise photos and video

Once again apologies for the lazy approach, of using mobile phone pictures and video, what with the reading glasses and the shaky hands I never know if I should bother.