Thursday, May 31, 2007

At last

harbour and sun
At last, the sun has reappeared and the harbour is looking like it ought to. It doesn't take much to cheer us up, does it?

Ramsgate Library makes an entrance

new gate at the library

Well it's started, work seems to be under way at the library. I was wondering how they were going to get everything through that tiny gate with the metal arch, and now I know. Make a new gate. There's a big orange digger thing in there looking ready for action, so shortly we should see clouds of dust and mess, just to show that it's all happening. You'll be fascinated to know I have a librarianship qualification, but one thing they didn't teach us was how to rebuild listed buildings - fingers crossed for this one.

Going, going, gone

Off to the auctions yesterday, at Pettmans in Margate. Usual variety of curiosities - the bidders as well as the items for sale! - and a few bargains. A couple of hundred seaside postcards made up part of my favourite lot, although the large early Victorian family bibles and the hand-painted Persian hunting scene also made my day. I'd like to think there was some subtle psychology involved in bidding at auction, but of course all you really have to do is hold your hand up till you win. All I have to do now is turn some of the winning items into profit on Ebay and elsewhere, and find a place in the increasingly cluttered home for the rest. And then there's Westgate Auction on Sunday. So much to buy, so little time...

We're well served for auctions here: as well as Margate and Westgate, there are regular sales in Canterbury and Folkestone. Reports from them to come soon... Ebay is great for collectors and bargain hunters, and it's also an excellent marketplace for sellers, but the live auction definitely wins for atmosphere, excitement and immmediacy.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Belgian Bar, the return!

Well it looks like, after a short absence, the Belgian Bar will be open again by the weekend, if not earlier. Phew. Lovely though the other cafe-bars in Harbour Parade are, there's always a worry that I might be not quite cool and groovy enough one day... no danger of that at the Belgian Bar, at least not yet. The lights are on, so we're watching with bated breath.

Seaisde postcard 4 - Classy Resort . . .

Camera PostcardToday's card is another 'pull-out' with 10 lovely photos of Edwardian Ramsgate hidden beneath the flap. 'Everything is First Class in Ramsgate' is of course the truth, and the excitement on the faces of the visiting family is only to be expected! More period names, this card was sent from Florrie to Miss May Smith in Tooting, postmarked July 15th 1919.

And the excitement may well have been because the train was pulling in to the Sands railway station, just yards from the beach. Also another example where the post card rate applies where - as here - the sender only writes her name (Florrie) on the left hand side - anything else at all, and it's letter rate. So the picture has to convey the entire feeling of 'lovely place, wish you were here...'

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Taking it all in

Royal Crescent from the airAnother lovely view of the West Cliff, this time from the air. Dating back to the 1970s (perhaps the 1960s?), the card is titled "The Regency Hotel and School of English", and shows Royal Crescent in all its glory (i.e. without its usual scaffolding). The central section, which was the language school and hotel, is in the finishing stages of conversion to luxury flats, the Crescent presents a fabulous facade to the clifftop walker. The ends of the crescent have larger properties, and it's fascinating to look at the 'back' view now, from St Augustine's Road, to see just how varied the properties are, when they all share the same frontage.

On the extreme right of the picture, you can see the West Cliff Concert Hall, with its windows intacts and overlooking the sea - long beforethe ferry port approach road was built - the cliff is just that, a cliff and then sea...

And at the other end, you can make out the former model village, and the green area at the top of the card is now covered by housing.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Seaside postcard 3 - Snapshots

Camera Postcard

Another lovely old postcard, this one dates from 1923 and is a 'pull-out', that is there is a strip that drops out from behind the camera with 10 photographic views of Ramsgate.

And the most enchanting thing about this one is the names on the back: Dear Daisy . . . love from Fanny. Not often you see those names nowadays!

Ambling around the West Cliff

Ramsgate Illuminations Continuing the Ramsgate Now and Then theme, today's card is of Ramsgate Illuminations. Not sure of the date - there is a reference on the card - R1941 - but this seems very unlikely, as the blackout regulations in the height of the blitz would have been sorely tested! The location looks like Nelson Crescent, on the grassy bit opposite the Royal Harbour Hotel.

Whether this was just for the Carnival, for the Summer (or Christmas) or the whole year round, I wait to be informed by someone who knows. Either way, definitely something to revive!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Give us a lift...

Eastcliff LiftNice to see the lift operating on a very grey Saturday afternoon. Seems like it knows it's Summer too... And I do enjoy the idea of a 102-year-old lift still fulfilling its original purpose, however intermittently.

Shame about the weather as the East Cliff bandstand event was just getting in to its stride. Just one desperate shortage though - catering! On a (comparatively) cold day like today a mug of tea would have kept us there another half an hour at least, and on a hot day ice cream and cold drinks will be just as essential. Easier said than done, of course, but everything else seems set fair for some fun occasions up on t'cliff.

Summer's here

Isle Summer issueSummer's finally here - well, the Summer issue of Isle anyway. I do like this magazine, nothing gloomy in it, just a good listing of all the fun to be had in Thanet over the next few months.

There's a lot to read and listen to if you wish to keep up with local life, culture, history and the bits in between: Bygone Kent, Kent Life, the local papers - free and paid-for - and KMFM and BBC Kent to name just a few, and the general sense I get is that there is a lot happening here. Which is a good thing.

Here's the list of festivals I've spotted so far: I'm trying to build a comprehensive list of these so if I've missed any out please let me know - any annual and (loosely) cultural event qualifies!

Addington Street Fair, Big Sky Kite Festival, Broadstairs Dickens Festival, Broadstairs Folk Week, Planet Thanet CAMRA Beer Festival, Thanet Gay Pride, Margate Jazz Festival, Margate Big Event, Ramsgate Carnival, Ramsgate Jazz Week, Ramsgate Powerboat Grand Prix, Ramsgate Regatta Week, Thanet Music and Drama Festival, Thanet Walking Festival.

And of course there is life off the island (so rumour has it), including Herne Bay Festival, Canterbury Festival and Folkestone Literary Festival. Just got to find the time to see them all . . .

Friday, May 25, 2007

A bit less buzz

Disappointing news in this morning's paper: apparently the much-heralded high speed train through Kent will benefit Ramsgate by half-an-hour and Margate by a measly 11 minutes off the existing London schedule. Not quite the benefit promised by every developer, property programme and futurist for the last year or two. . .

Seaside postcard 2 - On The Rocks

1928 postcard
Another classic card: this beauty is from 1928, and who could resist?!? And quite a racy costume to complement the golden locks blowing in the sea breeze.

A question for the postal historians: on the reverse is the instruction "If not more than five words of conventional greeting are written here, only halfpenny stamp is required". Well that seems a little mean to me, just what was the rationale for charging more for extra pencil usage? You can't even fit in "weather fine, wish you were here" in to five words . . .

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Introducing themes: Ramsgate Then and Now

WestCliff HallOK, I know there are other sites and blogs that do this, and I'll try to complement rather than duplicate. However, I seem to be building up piles of pictures books, guides and so on that show Ramsate and Thanet in the glory days. and I do believe that you appreciate what you have now even more when you understand a little of its past. And there are some favourite views in the area that feel so... well... forlorn, especially when you see what they used to be.

So today's favourite spot is West Cliff Concert Hall. Previously the Motor Museum, but closed and fading for the last couple of years (and deteriorating for a while before that it seems). Soon to be refurbished, if the news is to be believed.

From the 1936 Ward Lock guide: "The West Cliff Concert Hall was formed by the Corporation in 1914 on the site of the Italian gardens. A hollow has been scooped out here, terminating in a stone balcony in the cliff face which commands fine views across to Deal and Dover and even to the French coast. That portion of the hollow beneath the West Cliff Promenade has been enclosed by glass partitions and forms an attractive hall that will seat 1,000 persons. Orchestral and other high-class entertainments are given here throughout the year, and the hall is also used for Badminton and dancing". The view from the balcony was a little lovelier before the port was developed perhaps...

Here are a couple of other West Cliff Hall pictures on Flickr.

And have a look the Old Ramsgate blog and Michael's Bookshop.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Introducing themes: seaside postcards

1924 postcard from RamsgateAmongst other things, I'll be sharing a few classic cards from times past. This one is from 1924, and the sweet message on the back is "Dear Daddy, thank you so much for letting us stay longer. I am enjoying myself". Polite, grateful and of course happy to be at at the seaside. Altogether now, aaaaahh...

And I'm always looking for more of the same.

Day One...

Welcome to Zumiweb. Yet another Thanet-based blog. There's a lot happening in Ramsgate and Thanet that is encouraging to those of us that have recently relocated here - and hopefully interesting to those about to make the move. And if you've lived here longer than us, then you already know it's a good place to be! In the last 48 hours we've heard of 1,000 new IT jobs with Chinese firms setting up in the next year or so, a creative arts network (ThanetCAN) is just pecking its way out of its shell (more of this soon) and the sun has reappeared (the most important development of all).

I've been looking at the amazing range of blog activities on the Isle over the last few months, especially various councillors, millionaires and others. All good stuff, and I won't even attempt to compete. Still, feel free to comment, challenge, contribute if you can raise the energy...

A little display of air and sail yesterday as the Grand Turk went for a sail, as two vintage US fighters gave a display over the bay. This follows hard on the heels of the Heineken tall ships race that appeared earlier on the month, a nice reminder of Ramsgate's importance as a port over the last few centuries.

And I've put a few more pictures up on Flickr.