Tuesday 31 March 2015

A ramble from Ramsgate

Well as you see McDonald’s has closed, there is a rumour that Burger King are interested in taking over the site, however this is a bit of a tenuous one.

Personally I think that this is part of a much bigger issue that is retail and related to the overheads of shop properties in town centres. The problem being that while all of the overheads (rent, rates, heat, light, wages. Etc) have risen and continue to rise, footfall and shop takings have fallen and may continue to fall.

I am not really sure what the solution is but UK towns take much of their character from the businesses in them and much of the social life of UK towns is based around the businesses in them.

This closure is particularly hard on the Ramsgate’s youth, and I doubt is will improve their behaviour.

I have just finished the proofing stage of Rosemary Quested’s book, The Isle of Thanet Farming Community: An Agrarian History of Easternmost Kent… this is part of the business of turning a 400 page ordinary format paperback, which is not sustainable, into an A4 stapled format which I can print here in my bookshop, making it sustainable.

By way of explanation, I have about 160 local books and maps in print and where I to get them printed by another company, this would mean print runs of about 1,000 to make the cost economical. Multiplying the number of titles by the print run would mean 160,000 books and maps to store, and if they cost £2.50 each to print and investment of over a quarter of a million. 

On the blogging front I have to apologise for the recent lack of contentious posts, the irony here is that with my bookshop being so much busier, I just haven’t had the time.

The Manston Airport site saga goes on, the latest being the current owners new website about it http://yourqa.co.uk/ put together by Pillory Barn.

I guess as a historian one of the questions I ask is, what would Manston be today if the airstrip hadn’t been put there for WW1? Initial research suggests that the soil there was too thin over the chalk and therefore not good enough for profitable farming, in around 1900 Messrs Payne and Thorp came to Margate with the intention of turning the site into housing and by 1916 a large number of plots had been sold but not yet built on when the government cpo-ed them for the airfield.

The Pleasurama saga goes on, as far as I can see the underlying issue here is that the council is selling the site as suitable for building the approved development, I guess the main snag to this is that the council are effectively guaranteeing that the cliff façade will be in a condition suitable for people to live under for the life of the development. I think this will mean a considerable expense to local taxpayers for the next 100 years, because of the costs of maintaining the 70 foot high concrete wall from the base of the 70 foot deep 12 foot wide canyon between the cliff and the development. I guess the main issue from the developer’s point of view was putting pad foundations on the old sand beach without first investigating the structural integrity of the sea defence holding the sand in place, a situation being made more critical by the rapidly denuding Ramsgate Main Sands. All that said, Cardy Construction are a reputable local firm that employ local labour and I am inclined to trust them to produce a good and safe development.

The Thanet South election is still gearing up, we now have a Labour and UKIP shop in Ramsgate and a Conservative shop in Broadstairs, it is a bit hard to tell if they are selling politicians or politics, I presume they are selling something and wonder what the price could be.           

Sunday 29 March 2015

A Pen and Ink sketch inside Canterbury Cathedral, some books for my bookshop in Ramsgate and a minor ramble

A wet and windy day shopping in Canterbury

Here is the pen and ink sketch of inside Canterbury Cathedral, I guess I would need a bigger pad than the A4 one I took with me and a lot more time than I had today (about an hour)

Here is a photo for the art critics who read this blog.

Onto the books I bought for my bookshop, all the pictures should expand if clicked on, and

the books should be in stock by tomorrow apart from: A Relation of the Voyage to Siam: Performed by Six Jesuits Sent by the French King to the Indies and China in the Year 1685, which I intend to read before putting it into stock.  

On to a few photos of Canterbury, if "A Relation of the Voyage to Siam: Performed by Six Jesuits Sent by the French King to the Indies and China in the Year 1685" can be Englished as it says on the title page then I guess in this instance Her most gracious Majesty (in the photo above) can be described as stoned.  

There was some talk of ducklings and swans in the car going there, part of a song was sung and so on so here are today’s Durovernum Cantiacorum anas sunsualis, type of thing.  

Back to A Relation of the Voyage to Siam: Performed by Six Jesuits Sent by the French King to the Indies and China in the Year 1685, from the illustrations I think these monks may have overdone the ginseng.

Saturday 28 March 2015

A few pen and ink sketches of Broadstairs today.

I have to admit to skiving off from my bookshop today and letting the other people who work there get on with it.

The main objective being to finish off the sketch I started on Thursday.

Here it is, unfortunately no people on the beach as it was too windy, so I will probably go back and add some.

The next two sketches are from the new Costa Coffee which has an upstairs, eliminating the problem of someone parking in front of the window while I am trying to sketch.

Both of these are drawings are looking down Albion Street at the Albion Hotel, Posillipo Italian Restaurant, Prezzo Restaurant and so on, I may go back and colour it in.

Here is a photo for the art critics.

I did buy a reasonable local book for my bookshop which more than paid for lunch and the bus fair £2.30 it would have been cheaper to drive, which is stupid, anyway the book Memorials of the Goodwin Sands, here is the link to some sample pages. http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/GoodwinSands/

Friday 27 March 2015

Sarah Stokes & Josephine Harvatt at The York Street Gallery in Ramsgate

The current Exhibition  is by Sarah Stokes & Josephine Harvatt A collection of Stunning colourful abstract works. The exhibition runs -    25th Mar - 1st April Exhibitions change weekly on Wednesdays.

Thursday 26 March 2015

Ramsgate Lifeboat up to 1874, The Tartar Frigate in Broadstairs a pen and ink sketch of Broadstairs, a seagull turns into a dog and a ramble.

Using the very narrow time slot between when it stopped raining at about 12.30 and when my children come out of school at 3.30 I ventured out to Broadstairs today lunch at the Tartar Friggate

The sun came out shining straight into my eyes which rather stopped play, I may go back and try to finish it off.

Since I have started looking out for cold food at lunchtime that I can eat while sketching I am becoming a bit of a connoisseur of the ploughman and this was one the better ones I have encountered.  

For the discerning art critics here is a picture of the view, note the seagull has the shadow of a dog, leading me to believe that it may have been a dark angel projecting a hell hound.  

I bought a few books in Broadstairs, the star buy being Storm Warriors or lifeboat Work on the Goodwin Sands by John Gilmore, click on the link to read some sample pages http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/storm/ or click on this link to buy the reprint of this book that I publish http://michaelsbookshop.com/catalogue/id333.htm

This is one of the star reads among Ramsgate books and comes strongly recommended.
 Not really sure if this a first edition as I haven’t looked it up in Biblioteca Cantina yet, but I think 1874 is pretty early for this book.

Log of a Sky pilot is a Deal book, see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/LogofaSkyPilot/ with a bit of Victorian religious sentimentality which doesn’t really detract from the invigorating read.

The rest of the books were a bit pedestrian in comparison.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Revolution Café opens in King Street Ramsgate

I did pop in here for a snack lunch today, which was very good, I don’t usually eat in cafés this close to my bookshop as I either get something at home or go for a walk while eating a filled roll.

I am curious about any politically motivated business, rather in the way I was curious about the politically motivated bookshops that sprung up in the UK, mostly in the 60s and 70s.

Anyway I tried to work out exactly what this cafe is about politically, but didn't get very far, I made a few politically incorrect statements and and so on, basically it is a very pleasant place with a good atmosphere.     
I only had an hour so the sketch was pretty awful, talking to people, sketching, drinking a large pot of tea and eating mushrooms on toast is difficult in this amount of time and it is the art that suffers.

What is noticeable is the substantial investment in the building and equipment, it seems to be funded by The Reality Party http://www.eastkentrealityparty.co.uk/ and https://www.facebook.com/EKRealityP?fref=ts   

Something that I am sort of getting my head around is that the political situation in Thanet related to the general election, seems to be based on problems related to Thanet District Council, that is either the reality of how bad the council has been over the last twenty years or so, or people’s perception of how bad the council has been.

I guess this peaked when the council’s leader went off to prison for fraud, but the perception of the council is still very bad, the departures of senior officers being the most recent symptom of this.

Various fringe parties seem to see a unitary authority as being the solution to this one and I guess that unless Thanet council taxpayers are going to fund all the roads here, Turner Contemporary and the QEQM hospital then this would mean making a unitary authority of several district councils, probably Dover, Canterbury and Thanet.

Broaching this with various councillors over the years, the Labour councillors seem to be saying that Dover is game but Canterbury not, while the Conservative councillors seem to be saying that Canterbury in game but Dover is not. This leaves me thinking that Canterbury may not be to keen to get into bed with Dover and vice versa.

I don’t quite see how the way we vote in terms of an MP is supposed to help create a unitary, in fact I don’t really think there is much the electorate can do towards creating a unitary. The only thing the electorate can realistically do it to change the leadership of TDC, from the situation we have now where councillors chose the leader to one where we the electorate choose the leader by voting.

What I am not getting in this election much is vote for me – him – her because they are a fantastic candidate and if they become MP – councillor – cabinet member, they will make these fantastic improvements to Thanet – Ramsgate – Thanet South.

I am getting a fair amount of vote for me – him – her to keep UKIP – Labour – The Tories out, because the are dreadful.

I am also getting a fair amount of, vote for vote for me – him – her, to get rid of TDC – KCC, which I don’t really understand. 

Tuesday 24 March 2015

More retail doom and gloom as Morrisons announce closure of their Ramsgate supermarket and a bit of a ramble from the bookshop.

This picture of Ramsgate was drawn by Henry Moses in 1817, I publish a book of his pictures of Ramsgate, here is the link http://michaelsbookshop.com/catalogue/1817_picturesque_views_of_ramsgate.htm  

I guess the main problem for Morrisons was that they opened opposite Iceland and are more expensive as I said in the blog post when the opened http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/julian-lovegrove-exhibition-at-york.html

I guess if you opened a smaller and more expensive bookshop in King Street opposite mine then you wouldn’t last very long. Allthatsaid I am sorry they are closing, with McDonalds closing almost next door this is going to be a bit of a retail black hole.  

Bookshop wise I got permission sometime last year from Rosemary Quested’s family to do a reprint of The Isle of Thanet Farming Community: An Agrarian History of Easternmost Kent…

At the moment I am in proof reading stage of the process of converting it from a 300 page paperback into a 100 page stapled booklet, altogether there is about a fortnights work in this process.

The issue is that it is a key Thanet history book and needs to be available for less than £10 in a way that is sustainable. Anyway it should be out in a few weeks time, but at the moment the work involved means I have little time for anything else. Here is an example of the text in the book:

“It is worthwhile looking at the politico-religious events of the 16th–17th centuries for the light they throw on the development of Thanet’s character. During Henry VIII’s Reformation, the return to Catholicism under Mary and the final shaping of the Church of England by Elizabeth I, most of the Thanet population apparently accepted the changes imposed upon them from above, and at first only a few took sides. ... more recently it has been found that the Lollard tradition survived in parts of East Kent into the middle of the 16th century. There was extreme Protestant, Lollard-type activity at Faversham in 1535, at Canterbury in the 1540s, at Faversham again in 1550-51, and some of the Canterbury martyrs burnt under Queen Mary in 1555 were accused of Lollard-type arguments. ... In 1556 John Alchorne of Birchington denied all the ceremonies of the Church and kept illicit books, though he gave in and agreed to conform.

The vicar of St Peter’s was accused of supporting the Pope in 1537. ... Serles (famous for having maintained that Mary gave birth to Jesus when she was fourteen because the moon comes to the full in fourteen days), was vicar of Monkton in 1552-1561. ...
Later in the century various sectarian tendencies definitely became established here. William Claybrooke, a former lawyer living at Nash Court, owned or had read “all contentious or schismatic books at any time printed” about 1588. The Vicar of St Nicholas, a non-conforming Puritan, preached against other sectaries in 1590. By the end of the 16th century separatist or semi-separatist groups were especially active in Thanet ... In 1617-18, under a moderate Puritan archbishop, St John’s was one of various parishes in East Kent given a new vicar with reforming duties — a “reformed pulpit” as it was called. The Puritan movement is not mentioned again until the 1640s.”

As you see it is pretty concentrated and assumes a fairly high academic ability in the reader. An interesting point about this bit of text is that the Dutch gables in Margate and Ramsgate are the result of the first big influx of immigrants, these were protestant religious refugees, (unless you count the romans, Normans, Hengist and Horsa et al) also responsible for lots of land drainage, including Sandwich.         

One wonders what the then equivalent of UKIP had to say about all those foreigners building houses and draining the land. 

Sunday 22 March 2015

Earplugs @ Turner Contemporary Margate; a pen and watercolour sketch some photos and a possible ramble.

Here is the pen and watercolour sketch drawn in the Turner Contemporary Margate café

As you see they produce an artist’s lunch that you can eat while sketching

Having just viewed the main exhibition “Self” which is self portraits all I really wanted to do was sketch people and as two sides of the café there are glass the light is very good.

The newest of the exhibitions: “Year of Mexico in the UK” by Carlos Amorales is basically cymbals, or perhaps symbols – I don’t know enough about contemporary art to tell – on coat hangers. Children are randomly issued with drumsticks (cymbal mallets) and adults are randomly issued with earplugs, as the symbols become cymbals to the children. I kept my earplugs in which made me feel a bit like a fish in a fish tank. Something I took into the glass walled café.

You are not allowed to take photographs in the main exhibition for copyright reasons, but here photos I did take in Turner Contemporary Margate, click on them to expand.  

And finally here are the books I bought for my bookshop in Ramsgate while in Margate, not many I know, but there is no such thing as a free lunch and the books will more than pay for mine.