Friday, August 31, 2007

Seaside Postcard 14 - sea views

The Boss at Ramsgate Time for another old postcard - to celebrate the only-just-in-time return of Summer to these shores. Just enough days left before school, work or Autumn to make the most of the beach and the sea. We'll be Speedferrying to Boulogne tomorrow, so let's hope it lasts!

This Pocket Novelty Card was posted in June 1914, so The Boss was looking out to a very uncertain future. No message, so postage was only a halfpenny, not the full penny for cards with words on.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I can see civilisation . . .

Among the other delights this weekend was a Bank Holiday Monday stroll from Ramsgate to Broadstairs. Sherpas at the ready, families notified, rugged hiking gear prepared... well ok, we just wandered off. Our first time past the end of the Main Sands, so ever so exciting and adventurous. And lovely. It's amazing how the feeling changes as you go round the corner and Ramsgate disappears from view. Nothing but cliffs, sea and sky, plus the occasional walker and a few interesting bits of geology. And a cave or two.

beach walking
beach walking
beach walking
beach walking
beach walking

She-who-must-be-adored likes beaches in general, and decided at first sight that Dumpton Gap was her favourite beach in all the world. Small, friendly, with the two essentials for human (well, hers at least) survival - tea and toilets. And it is really pretty, a proper little haven.

beach walking

And then on to Broadstairs, spectacularly busy on the beach and showing what Ramsgate seems to be missing in terms of sheer numbers.

We even walked back, despite my intention to get the bus. I must be weakening... And I'd completely forgotten the sheer fun to be had staring in to a rockpool, no matter how tiny.

beach walking

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Safely in to harbour . . .

OK, it wasn't exactly likely to have been a dangerous voyage, but there were nice views over the harbour wall this afternoon, two ferries crossing on their regular passage whilst a sailing ship made its steady and elegant way in to Ramsgate. Well not so steady really, once in the harbour - at the lowest tide I've seen in the year I've been here - it took quite a few attempts to get round the central sandbar to get to the berth on the other side. I'm pretty sure she grounded a couple of times, and the harbour master was even out on his balcony waving his arms and shouting helpful advice... Seagulls standing on dry sand in the middle of the harbour - that just doesn't seem right!

The sailing ship is the 1930 Dutch 'schonerbrigg' Jantje. And while I was there, it seemed a shame not to grab yet another shot of the Larkspur, as well as the seagulls enjoying the sandbar.

Jantje and ferries

But all good things (well, good intentions anyway) come to an end. There went the funfair, leaving us poised for the next instalment of the Pleasurama saga...


Monday, August 27, 2007

Perfect Day in Ramsgate

How much entertainment can you stand in a single day? Quite a lot as it happens . . . Starting with the realisation that it was . . . SUNNY . . . the day just got better and better (well, it got cloudy, but then it got sunny again, very sunny).

Many more pictures of the day on my Flickr set "Ramsgate Trawler Races"

First stop, the boat jumble and RNLI station for a nosey around. Avoiding the opportunity to buy second-hand cleats and half-price rope, the boat jumble was a few stalls on the way to the RNLI. And they'd even timed a rescue for our visit, although happily it looked more like a simple mechanical breakdown than a major maritime disaster:
RNLI Ramsgate doing their thing

And then the trawler day.
Trawler Race
The race looked a bit like all the trawlers and a few other boats just disappearing off to Broadstairs for half an hour, but when they came back it livened up in the harbour as a major battle broke out. There'd been a fair amount of hosing out at sea, with the RNLI lifeboat and the Fisheries Patrol vessel clearly releasing a lot of built up tension as they sprayed all and sundry whenever they came within range, but in the confines of the harbour it was mayhem. Fun, fun, fun. Some nicely decorated boats, one very dodgy inflatable figurehead, a fair scattering of pirate outfits and enough water bombs, buckets and hoses to keep everyone happy.
trawlers going mad in Ramsgate

trawlers going mad in Ramsgate

trawlers going mad in Ramsgate

trawlers going mad in Ramsgate

jetskiers in RamsgateNot quite as much fun for the jetskiers that came off just outside the harbour and then struggled for half an hour to get back on, and off, and on, much to the amusement and quite unsympathetic applause of the watching crowd.

The picture sequence here was repeated half a dozen times, and then it became apparent it wouldn't start after its repeated dunkings.

I'd seen them being whistled at and waved off by the beach lifeguard a few minutes earlier as they raced past the swimmers' area on the Main Sands (about 50 yards out, but still potentially dodgy), so sympathy was in quite short supply.

Eventually a rescue boat came for a look, just as a fellow jetskier came to help as well, and towed the knackerd boat and rider home, so that was ok then - they were clearly starting to get tired and drifting towards the harbour wall a little, so it needed sorting, but with about twenty small boats within shouting distance they weren't about to get ignored. But they were about to get in the way.
jetskiers in Ramsgate

A biplane flew over for a look . . .

And then to the Jazz Festival up on the East Cliff. We just saw the Harbour Jazz Orchestra and the John Altman Quartet - who completely looks like the archetypal jazzman - and it was clearly a long and excellent day, supported with beer, food and a sizeable audience all enjoying the funky sounds.
Harbour Jazz Orchestra

John Altman Quartet

With fireworks to round off the day and a final drink in the Foy Boat it's hard to see what else could be added to improve a Bank Holiday Sunday in Ramsgate. Well done everyone, we enjoyed it heaps!! Can we do it all again next Sunday please?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Larkin' About

A first visit to the Lark in the Park up at Government Acre yesterday, celebrating the belated divine intervention in the weather situation. The 3 and 5 year olds went berserk on the bouncy castle, suddenly realising they could - after all - fly. Terrifying, but funny to watch, and amazing more skulls weren't cracked in the process... Still, it was well-supervised, just five little darlings on the castle at any one time, so risks were minimised. Amazing how they go deaf when their time is up though.

Busy weekend ahead - Jazz Festival, Trawler Racing, an auction, the beach and - hooray - fireworks on Sunday. And even, maybe, whisper it quietly, some sunshine. Oh, and a book to index over the weekend as well. Damn.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Day in Boulogne

1904 Art Nouveau building, Boulogne Sur MerOK, apart from the ferry thing, Boulogne Sur Mer is an easy day out. Plenty of lovely architecture as usual in France, alongside some modern nasties, a combination of well-preserved ancient walled city and a modern town with old buildings scattered throughout. This house on the left was from 1904, a classic Art Nouveau style, although the chimney is clearly trying to make a break for freedom.

Nice shopping of course - there are a couple of depot ventes, full of junk and treasures; an antique shop or two (great deco cheese dish, groovy 60s kettle), and finally a couple of hours in LeClerc enjoying the French approach to hypermarkets (you know, quality, variety and great prices and everything so French...).

Funny how they even manage to make the butter, yoghurt and biscuits seem more stylish.

We took a quick look inside the cathedral - very weird visual effect. As you walk up inside the old walled part of the city, the cathedral looks like a lovely, large old church, but not especially huge. Houses are built right up to the sides, so that to get from the frotn door to the side door, you walk round a house on the corner. But from the other side of the river it is absolutely massive, standing - almost hanging - high above the town.

Funny thing, perspective.

And their festival floats could teach our carnival people a thing or two about substance and seriousness. The French certainly manage a combination of religious devotion and civic pride that we seem to have lost somewhere along the way.

religious festival float, Boulogne Sur Mer

Still, it was a very pleasant feeling to get our feet (well, wheels) back on to dry (and still) land. And very pleased we only had the short drive back to Thanet rather than a struggle up a motorway like most of the other passengers. Good day out. Yup.

Speedferries - maybe slow is best

Well we had a nice day in Boulogne yesterday, despite the weather. Passing all those French coaches heading for Margate on our way to Dover, we were keeping our fingers crossed for some relief to the rain and grey skies, both for us and for them. Crossing fingers doesn't seem to work.

just checking they're all there

Speedferries - good or bad? Good - 50 minute sailing, goes to Boulogne, ship looks really sleek. Bad - no cigarette sales on board (claiming tax issues until asked why P&O had a different tax arrangement, then just said "ask the management"), when it's a bit choppy (and on the way back, really rough) it's a horrible experience. Smaller vessels definitely lose their attraction in rough water! The price was ok, and as we only seem to specialise in special offers, it doesn't really matter who we choose, and the extra half-hour on the bigger P&O boat is easily offset by the more stable crossing (and with better shopping to distract us from the weather).

dodging the traffic

And the biggest annoyance (and the pettiest, I know), the buffet wouldn't accept Euro coins! Notes only, change in English currency. Do they not plan/like to deal with foreign travellers at all? Another plus for P&O. It's the coins we need to get rid of!

how they look on a nice day

That last picture is just a publicitiy still from their own web site - far too rough to get a nice external picture yesterday. One or two of the bigger wave-bumps caused a spontaneous (well, hardly) epidemic of sick bag filling. Not by us fortunately, but anouther 20 minutes and who knows?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New book on Pugin- God's Architect

God's Architect - PuginIn case you missed the reviews in both local and national papers this week, there's a new book out on that clever Mr Pugin, who did so much for the architecture of Ramsgate (well, bits of it anyway) and of course the Houses of Parliament.

The book is God's Architect

The Guardian gave it a pretty glowing review on Saturday.

Here's the synopsis from Amazon:

"Pugin was one of Britain's greatest architects and his short career one of the most dramatic in architectural history. Born in 1812, the son of the soi-disant Comte de Pugin, at 15 Pugin was working for King George IV at Windsor Castle. By the time he was 21 he had been shipwrecked, bankrupted and widowed. Nineteen years later he died, insane and disillusioned, having changed the face and the mind of British architecture. Pugin's bohemian early career as an antique dealer and scenery designer at Covent Garden came to a sudden end with a series of devastating bereavements, including the loss of his first wife in childbirth. In the aftermath he formed a vision of Gothic architecture that was both romantic and deeply religious. He became a Catholic and in 1836 published Contrasts, the first architectural manifesto. It called on the 19th century to reform its cities if it wanted to save its soul. Once launched, Pugin's career was torrential. Before he was 30 he had designed 22 churches, three cathedrals, half a dozen extraordinary houses and a Cistercian monastery. For eight years he worked with Charles Barry on the Palace of Westminster creating its sumptuous interiors, the House of Lords and the clock 'Big Ben' that became one of Britain's most famous landmarks. He was the first architect-designer to cater for the middle-classes, producing everything from plant pots to wallpaper and early flat-pack furniture. "God's Architect" is the first full modern biography of this extraordinary figure. It draws on thousands of unpublished letters and drawings to recreate his life and work as architect, propagandist and romantic artist as well as the turbulent story of his three marriages, the bitterness of his last years and his sudden death at 40. It is the debut of a remarkable historian and biographer."

Clearly a great shame that he died so young, apparently from syphilis, and so much potential work was lost. Still, it looks like a book that will be high on the coffee-table and Christmas lists.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Late night action in Thanet . . .

. . . well, everywhere really. The Perseid shower is back again for its annual visit, and - clouds permitting - it has to be worth a look. Tonight and tomorrow are the best nights, from 10.30pm onwards, looking to the North East. With a bit of luck you'll see up to 100 meteors a minute (oops, I mean an hour) in the night sky - more info from the BBC. Enjoy!

Here's one from last year (from the NASA web site):


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Thanet a town in the world of Fair Trade

I just heard Sandy Ezekiel and Tammy Stewart-Jones on the Radio 4 Today programme talking about Thanet achieving (or being about to achieve) Fairtrade Town status. Very good idea of course, but how can a district be a town? Just my little pedantic quibble about an otherwise worthy cause, and despite the slightly mad street comments - "it should be up to the individual, why's the council involved, we don't want to be told what to do" (I don't think they're going to snatch items out of your shopping basket, whilst yelling at you to go back, try again and get it right this time!), a generally positive story on Thanet. Makes a nice change. You've nothing to lose except your inertia. And your cynicism. And a few pence extra on the bill.

Thanet Fairtrade Initiative

Thanet Council Fairtrade Info

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Howling at the The Moon

We seem to have had some lovely views of the moon recently, judging by other bloggers' photos, so here's my contribution to your lunar education...

I just finished indexing the next edition of Patrick Moore's Atlas of the Universe, a fabulous and comprehensive guide to the heavens and beyond. Purely for review purposes, here is a tiny sample - an image of the first quadrant (that's the top-right bit to you and me). Click on this for a larger image, it's worth it! By the way, if your browser automatically resizes the picture to make it fit in the screen (but therefore too small too read), just go to Tools / Internet Options / Advanced, scroll down to Multimedia, and untick the first option 'Enable Automatic Image Resizing'.

More detailed info from many sources of course, including Google (zoom right in for the truth they tried to hide). If you're really into this, then NASA's pages are of course the definitive source of information on lunar and all other extra-terrestrial geography. And if you're trying to explain to younger observers, here's a great resource from Woodland School in Kent (Tonbridge, if you were wondering).

the Moon