Sunday 28 February 2016

Sketch of La Trappiste from Chocolate Café in Canterbury

Here is today’s sketch of La Trappiste from Chocolate Café in Canterbury. I think I am trying to develop a style with art, not an easy thing as I don’t have a mental picture of what I want to achieve.

The group on the right got nearer to what I wanted to express, but unfortunately I didn’t have time to colour it in.

Trying to capture looking down onto what you are painting is a tricky one the most glaring error being the writing on the window which should have sloped down.

Saturday 27 February 2016

Manston Airport DCO, CPO update.

Once again I don’t think it matters which side of the fence or fences you sit on with this one, with all of the information it is difficult to keep up with what’s happening.

As I imagine most of you know the American firm RiverOak and TDC tried to reach a position where TDC would use the CPO process to buy the airport site at Manston so that RiverOak could then run it as an airfreight hub.

What eventually happened was that RiverOak were unable to meet the criteria that the council wanted and so RiverOak were dropped by TDC as an indemnity partner (firm that finances a council to do something).

The next stage as far as RiverOak were concerned was to start the process using the UK government instead of the council that could eventually lead to RiverOak acquiring the airport site via a CPO, this process is called a DCO and the CPO would eventually become part of the DCO.  

The prayer for the DCO published on the UK government’s website at is:-

“About this project

The upgrade and reopening of Manston Airport primarily as a cargo airport, with some passenger services, with a capacity of at least 12,000 air cargo movements per year.”

About three weeks ago I published what the government’s planning inspectorate have said so far about the project on this blog, here is the link, if you haven’t already read it

Yesterday RiverOak published an update on their website:-

“RiverOak Investments update – 26 February 2016

The RiverOak Investments senior team met with key officials of the Department for Transport (DfT) in London on Tuesday morning and, separately, met with the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol, for a second occasion, on Tuesday afternoon to discuss our intended Development Consent Order (DCO) application in respect of Manston Airport.

In addition, RiverOak is pleased to announce that it has completed the selection of its professional advisory teams for the DCO process. We will be working with internationally recognised professionals in the fields of airport master planning, town planning, environmental impact, valuation, financial accountancy and audit.

These firms will be supported by the UK’s leading legal specialists in the field of Development Consent Orders, by an aviation industry-recognised team of researchers and statisticians and by leading public affairs and public relations consultancies.
Full details of these consultancies and their senior advisors will be published in the coming days.”

Here is the link to their news website

For the first time RiverOak have put this press release up in an interactive form, where you can leave comments, see

There is comment moderation and so far no comments have appeared, I left a comment there yesterday, asking if comments there form part of the statutory DCO consultation process, my comment and their response haven’t appeared yet.

TDC’s response to the breakdown of the CPO with RiverOak as an indemnity partner has resulted in TDC seeking a a new indemnity partner.

Here is the latest from TDC :-

“The council recently carried out a soft market testing exercise to seek interest in becoming an indemnity partner for the compulsory acquisition of Manston Airport.

A Prior Information Notice (PIN) calling for expressions of interest was published in the Office Journal of the European Union (OJEU) on Friday 15 January.

Parties had until Tuesday 9 February to register their interest. A total of five expressions of interest were received by this deadline.

The interested parties then had until Friday 12 February to submit responses to a follow up questionnaire. These questions were posed to operators in the market to establish the extent of their interest, capacity and capability. A total of three valid submissions were received.

The findings of this exercise are to be reported to Cabinet.”

My own thoughts on this one still go along the lines of I don’t think an airfreight hub will cut the mustard in terms of viable commercial location and environmental compliance.

I also think the CPO compensation, which isn’t based on the value of the airport as a business, like the last sale was, but is based on an independent land valuation i.e. 700 acres of brownfield in southeast England, would be too high to make viable as a business, given that the money would be sourced from investors in RiverOak.     

This time instead of using old pictures of Manston to illustrate the post I have used a couple of pictures of some of the aviation books in my bookshop today, the photos should expand if clicked on and then clicked on again after they have expanded once, you may even be able to read some of the titles.

Friday 26 February 2016

Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School Students at The York Street Gallery in Ramsgate

The current exhibition is by CCGS Students Ramsgate Exhibition runs 24 Feb - 2 Mar Exhibitions change weekly on Wednesdays.

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Terry Pratchett and a slip in my reading, wading towards bookseller reviews, a ramble from the bookshop.

When it comes to the English comic novel and LOL or anything else for that matter my favourites are Terry Pratchett, David Lodge, Tom Sharpe, P G Wodehouse and Richmal Crompton, also because of Good Omens, Neil Gaiman has to come in somewhere too.

Back in the days before the internet and out of town shopping, we, my family that is, had four independent bookshops in Hertfordshire and one of our jobs, my brother, father, stepmother and me did was to chose what we thought were the best new books for these bookshops.

Easy with established writers, but with new writers the only way to decide if you are going to buy a lot or a little of a title was to read the proofs, which we did, back in the day – that is. Back then having bought fifty copies of Watership Down – or whatever it was – basically we then told the customers how good it was, or had red faces and a lot of unsold books.

Nowadays I am a secondhand bookseller living in the world of the internet, so of course if I rabbit on about rabbits, I can’t just order fifty copies, but it occurs to me that in some way I am a professional reader, if not a dear reader, and so I am going to start doing some blog posts in the form of something approaching a book review.

Not only am I a reseller but I am a rereader pretty much all of Terry’s books have been reread by me, the exceptions being Unseen Academicals and Strata neither of which did it for me. Perhaps one of these days, a reread and they will.

Anyway I am halfway through A Slip of the Keyboard inasmuch as I have read the Neil Gaiman forward and The Scribbling Intruder, not sure how I missed reading it before, but I did.

I think it’s a must read for every Pratchett fan, but it is also a book with more about signing sessions in bookshops than I have ever come across before, making it a must read for booksellers.

Back in the day I have been involved in signing sessions as a bookseller, from signing sessions with half mile queues, to signing sessions where major literary figures sat at a desk in a busy town centre bookshop and the only people who approached them asked the questions like, where are the cookery books.    

I Think it was the chapter headed, “Advice to Booksellers” that did it, inspired me to start on this journey which I hope will lead to some book – reviewing isn’t quite the word I am looking for here – but some sort of extension of something I have done for the last forty years, which is help my customers along to the next book.

What I can’t do is ask the first question that I would ask in the bookshop, which is. “What have you read that you enjoyed?” But I can say here, if you have read most of Terry’s novels then you will probably enjoy Slip of the Keyboard, which is as near to an autobiography as you are going to get.            

I can also say we haven’t got it in stock, the pictures are of some of the books by the authors mentioned in this blog that we have got in stock, that’s the way with secondhand bookshops.

But is does lead me on to wondering if there is anything that authors and secondhand booksellers can do together that could promote books and reading, we already have James Patterson Handing out grants to new bookshops and libraries.

At the moment all of it, new independent bookshops, libraries, secondhand bookshops and even the big chain booksellers have been severely reduced in numbers and the verity of available physical books.

For us in the book business this is a worrying trend, a particularly worrying aspect of which is finding a bookseller or librarian who is widely read. Going into a bookshop or library and asking for Terry Pratchett, David Lodge, Tom Sharpe, P G Wodehouse, Richmal Crompton or Neil Gaiman, isn’t likely to get too many “who”s as they are all authors who sell well at the moment, but the situation isn’t good out there.

The next step, which is going into the library or bookshop having read all of the Terry Pratchetts and finding someone there who has also read them all and with whom you can discuss what to read now/next with, is often a step too far.

It’s a completely different question to which authors are like Terry Pratchett? Which is easy to answer with. “None.” 

Sunday 21 February 2016

Batman at Bernie’s, watercolour and felt tip sketching in Margate and Ramsgate.

I started the day with Toast and Marmalade at Miles Cafe in Ramsgate, I had started another picture of this view but couldn't find it this morning, so I started again.

I got some fairly thick felt tips in a charity shop and have been doing some very quick, less than 5 mins sketches with them.

Then off to Turner Contemporary in Margate where I did a bit more to my watercolour sketch of Margate Lighthouse from the gallery's cafe.

Another fast felt tip sketch, this time Margate Droit House

over another ploughman's lunch there, 
not quite in the league of last week's on the vegetation front, but still pretty good.

Eventually my teenage children turned up, the current exhibition doesn't do it for them, like me it's a case of film that doesn't do the box office at the cinema has no place in an art gallery, which should be displaying something you can't/couldn't display on your own technology.

We walked around the TC exhibition for a bit and the conversation moved from aesthetics to chocolate with some rapidity, so on to Bernie's for hot chocolates, where they had an exhibition of Batman related art by Peter Hammond see and with original art you can only see it by seeing it, it aint like film which looks the same at home.