Tuesday, October 30, 2007
And in a typically non-sequitur type of link, from Sportsman to game, here's an amazing picture of a butchers in High Wycombe from Christmas 1937, proudly displaying the game birds and other assorted slaughtered flesh and fowl. Now THAT's what I call a shop display!
For a third treat, back to our locality with another old image (from a less old Kent County Libraries postcard - I can't claim these are ALL genuine antique photos): this time of the donkey stand at Newgate Gapway, near Margate. The idea of a donkey stand being as familar then as a bus or taxi stand is today is very appealing.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Second-year economics undergraduate Sam Dobin finished the sprint in 42.77 seconds last week, inside the previous record of 43.1 seconds set by Olympic athlete Lord Burghley 80 years ago. The attempt is normally restricted to first-years, but apparently he was granted a special dispensation due to being ill in his first year and so unable to have a go. He seems better now though!
Sebastian Coe beat the record in tersm of time running, but it was disallowed as the clock had been wound the day before, so it chimed more quickly and he failed to beat the chimes, even though he ran faster. Shame. Ho ho.
And the point? Well Sam is from Herne Bay, so with that tenuous local connection we can all feel impressed at a near-local lad achieving something magnificently pointless but mildly interesting.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
First, the Pavilion, here shown by night in a lovely image showing the pier (and obelisk, and even the toilet block) all lit up, and most importantly of course, throngs of people enjoying the amenities. The windows are now all blocked in, but this card shows just how it could be brought back to life given half a chance:
The second card, from 1911, shows the elegant Hotel St Cloud, before half of it vanished. A lift down to the pier, delightful gardens in the foreground, and a little inset of the view of the harbour from the hotel. Who wouldn't want to stay there?! Note the small tents on the beach - are these poor folks' bathing machines? Or posh folks temporary beach huts, maybe rented from the hotel? Or just a wandering troop of scouts (a newish thing in 1911)? More information about the hotel and its history in this publication from Michael's Bookshop (of course)
I know it's a little sad always wishing we could turn the clock back to some mythical bygone era when everything was nicer, but then again . . .
Friday, October 26, 2007
And the Christmas present I am fully expecting (it's not even priced yet but the 72" was only $45,000 so this shouldn't be more than twice that):
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Ramsgate main post office - with all the problems post offices currently face, you'd think making life easier for customers would get some attention. Here's my main peeve - good location, nice staff, but not a single form available in the public area. You have to queue just to ask for a Special Delivery form or Passport Renewal or whatever, then fill it in and either rejoin the queue or (as I did yesterday with my four parcels) simply step back to the counter, feeling the enormous queue staring at me in fury as I looked like I had queue jumped.
Every other post office I've ever used has a rack of forms so you can fill them in before or while queuing. Not a biggie, but it would improve my life a little...
Below is the letter to the Times on October 17th that alerted us to this catastrophe:
Sir, I am writing to mourn the passing of the Crusha lime milkshake. This is not a trivial regret.
Fifty years ago a milkshake was a very rare and wondrous treat, to be savoured slowly, through two straws, to the last noisy slurp of the frothy residue which clung to the sides of that unique glass. I can still remember as a child in the 1950s, perched on the high, chromium stool in the seaside café, the almost unbearable anticipation as the syrup, milk and ice-cream were whisked noisily to produce that marvellous nectar.
Now, lime milkshake is no more. When last it made a rare appearance on the shelves of my local supermarket, I bought six bottles, not knowing when next it would be available. I am down to my last 50cc. I cannot bear to use what remains, knowing that the sensory link with my childhood will be for ever lost. I will keep it always for a rare sniff and perhaps a tiny taste to take me back to a long lost, more innocent era.
GB, Chandlers Ford, Hants
However the Crusha web site proudly lists Lime among its current 8 flavours. So is the letter writer just unlucky that his local superstore has not ordered any? Has it really been withdrawn? Do any of you care?
A follow-up letter rather removes the excitement:
Sir, Reading about Crusha lime milkshake (letter, Oct 17) invoked an intense longing for the very same. However, having looked at its website, I not only find that lime is still available but a white chocolate one also. The mix of past and present, old long-forgotten things and technology, is delightfully eclectic. My task now today will be satisfying a craving that I did not know I had.
So it seems I panicked over nothing, and I'm not sure I think it matters. Someone does, at least enough to find a bottle and put it on eBay!
Is there really a shortage or withdrawal (two conditions likely to cause panic in many local citizens)? Is just a repeat of the great Spangles, Aztec and Wispa panic? Did you know that Wispa is back, allegedly due to 'public demand'? The world of confectionery retailing and PR is a curious place - maybe the letter writer works for Crusha and needs to boost sales. Who knows. Who cares. You decide.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Risking life and limb to bring you the latest breaking stories as they happen . . . well, ok, I was having a cup of tea at the beach cafe and noticed it was our turn for the big Tonka toy to pile up the sand for winter.
An excited crowd - well, us three and a few pigeons. It's like a building site, there's always something very therapeutic watching blokes working big machines, whether they are cranes, piledrivers or diggers. Today it's diggers.
Perhaps the most boring pictures ever . . . but I like 'em, and news can't always be exciting. They were also lowering the slipway to receive a ship in the repair yard - I nearly filmed that too, but I came to my senses just in time.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Let's hope the architect is as good at estimating, procurement and cost control as he is at design. If we can just get it built then at least we can start to see the benefits, even if they take a little longer than promised so breathlessly in all the publicity materials. But as a design, it gets the thumbs up from me.
This quote from the press release that accompanied last night's launch at Margate Theatre: "Our building will look out to the sea, connect itself to the town and capture the same unique light that inspired Turner".
Monday, October 15, 2007
"Three multi-million-pound proposals have been supplied by developers. One envisages a mixture of holiday lets and a large supermarket, another foresees the replacement of the wooden shed currently hosting the fish market with a large glass and steel restaurant and the other, put forward by Kent brewer Shepherd Neame proposes a themed pub next to the cockle plant."
English Heritage are holding a conference this week on seaside heritage - 'Colourful Past, Bright Future': "we have lots of evidence to show that people and businesses flourish in places where local character and distinctiveness are being revived, often through physical renewal and reuse of historic buildings."
The key words here are DISTINCTIVENESS, RENEWAL and REUSE not DEMOLITION, DEVELOPMENT and DITHERING.
Margate, Ramsgate, Folkestone and Whitstable (amongst others) - their attraction? The historic nature of the architecture, seafront and harbours. The councils' solutions? Let the developers have their way. Aaaaaarrrrrrgh!
"Yes - my name is Igglepiggle,
Igglepiggle, wiggle, niggle, diggle!
Yes - my name is Igglepiggle,
Igglepiggle, wiggle, niggle, woo!"
If you have very young children watching the BBC's 'In the Night Garden' then this may be (a) delightful, (b) soothing or (c) driving you mad! Hugely popular, from Ragdoll, the same people that brought us Teletubbies, this series has caught the imagination of the toy makers (imagination being represented by pound signs, obviously) to such an extent that Igglepiggle is apparently the Number One Toy this Christmas. This means a guaranteed shortage, as it's caught the makers Hasbro slightly by surprise. So get your stock in now... And Upsy Daisy and the Tombliboos too.
I haven't actually become a toyshop, I'm just experimenting to see if just one post here can get me seen on Google for a highly competitive subject. I'll report back soon...
Sunday, October 14, 2007
It's past mid-October, the clocks go back in a couple of weeks, and the rest of my lot are all down on the beach on this sunny Sunday afternoon. Lovely. Just as lovely is this card from 1913, sent to someone in Peckham, South-East London. I can't promise my lot are dressed quite as elegantly as these smart young ladies, but they'll be having just as much fun.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
In honour of our new wet fish shop, this card dates from 1913 and contains 12 photographic views of Ramsgate. I expect the fishing was a little easier then - no limits on catches, perhaps a harbour with a bit less sand, certainly more fish shops to supply in town.
Just as an example of how things change, here are the fishmongers listed in the 1957 Kelly's Directory, no less than 14 of them:
Clements Sidney Jsph, 5 the Centre, Newington
Goldfinch Wm, 22 Plains of Waterloo
Hall A & Co, 93 King Street
Ideal Fisheries, 20 Addington Street
Janes A H & Sons, 7 Southwood Road
Johnston Wm., 27 & 29 Margate Road
Lycett, Eric L, 105 Southwood Road
Moore R.W., 70 King Street
Munday Geo., 16 Grange Road
Nunn J.T. and Sons, 55 Albert Street, West Cliff
Tuttle, Stanley, 152 King Street
Whitwell L., 3 Bellevue Road, East Cliff
Williams, Geo. J., 105 High Street
Wright Wltr Wm & Son, 104 King Street
Nicely spread between the town centre and local shopping for local residents, this just shows how retail patterns have changed. And Yellow Pages now? Just the two - M & P Penn on Southwood Road and the new one, Eddie Gilbert's, 32 King Street. Maybe it's not all the fault of Tescos and their competitors - but maybe it is...
Friday, October 12, 2007
"Aged six, Chloe signed up for the fundraising race in memory of her grandmother Wendy Parrish who died of breast cancer the previous year, aged 56. Only weeks later Chloe was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, but still wanted to complete the race. She started chemotherapy and even underwent an operation three days before the event. Chloe collapsed with exhaustion during the race but was determined to cross the finishing line, which she did with the help of her family.
Chloe's mother Kelly told Cancer Research UK: "When she collapsed, she was devastated. She laid in my arms begging me not to make her go back to the ambulance. She had already collected the sponsorship money and didn't want to let anyone down. It seems like such a small amount but it was really important to her. She was very close to her nanny. She was a huge part of both of my children's lives and Chloe was going to do it for her come what may."
Since then Chloe has completed a sponsored swim to raise money for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and ran the Race for Life again, raising £850."
You can read the full story here.
Three cheers for Chloe, happily in remission after 27 months of treatment. Sheer determination should be noticed now and again.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Representing the fractures in society seems a little bit too obvious, but that's why I'm not an artist. Half the fun is working our how they did it - is there a false floor, have they dug out the original Turbine Hall floor, is there actually a geological fault line running through the South Bank? You decide.
The work is called Shibboleth - this explanation is from the Tate's press release: "The word shibboleth commonly refers to a test of membership to or exclusion from a particular group or social class. Its meaning originates from an Old Testament story which describes the largest massacre recounted in The Bible. The Gileadites, having defeated the Ephraimites in battle, challenged any survivors to pronounce the word ‘shibboleth’. The Ephraimites were identified by their inability to form the discerning ‘sh’ sound and 42,000 were killed." You really didn't want to have a lisp in those days...
Doris Salcedo who created the crack did a fabulous work in Istanbul in 2003, called - excitingly - 1550 chairs - clearly drawing inspiration from the yard besides Scott's antiques in Bath Street, Margate (the picture below is the Istanbul installation, in case you've seen Scott's and can't tell the difference):
And whilst I'm on the subject of the Tate, "Maman" which was on the landing inside the Turbine Hall a while back is now outside - if you know an arachnophobe, this is sompletely kill or cure!
Now if we could just get the Turner Gallery debate past the shape, location and cost of the building and on to the potential excitement of the displays we might just be getting somewhere...
I feel a trip to London may be in my near future.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Amongst the slides were a large collection on Western Australia, mostly gold mining in Kalgoorlie but also some farming life images. Here's my favourite, some well-behaved horses waiting and looking both ways at a railway crossing, because the sign tells them to...
I expect these are all heading for eBay shortly, but they're nice to have and look at even for a short while...
Sunday, October 07, 2007
ELECTION FEVER - very funny to see David Cameron ranting on the news last night about Gordon Brown "cancelling the election". Well not quite Dave, you can't cancel a decision that was never announced and you just got so caught up in the combination of Brown's apparent dithering and pretty obvious spinning and the inevitable poll bounce that follows a moderately successful conference that you thought you were in with a chance. Although Gordon Brown has come out of this looking a bit (a lot?) indecisive, and spinning just as dizzily as his predecessor he now knows several key Tory policies which he can either demolish or steal in the next few months. I expect everyone will be hopping up and down for a week or two, but then we'll be back to business as usual - and the idea that Gordon really needs a mandate is of course rubbish - at an election we elect MPs to represent a constituency, it's not a Presidential election system just yet (although Blair did his best to make it one, after the huge strides in that direction by Margaret Thatcher).
RUGBY - not normally a big fan, but the two matches yesterday, England-Australia and New Zealand-France were as exciting as you could possibly hope for. Damn. Now I'll have to watch the rest of the World Cup.
PROPERTY - house prices are finally starting to fall, mortgage lending is down 11% on the same period last year, HIPS has had some effect with fewer 3 and 4 bed properties coming on to the market, and repossessions are bound to increase as the end of two and three year deals sees a big bounce in monthly payments for many, and renting is officially cheaper than buying for the first time in many years. And yet the rush to build 2 bed flats across the whole of England seems unstoppable. I really want Margate's Sea Bathing Hospital and Ramsgate's Royal Crescent developments to succeed - lovely old buildings, nicely done up, and of course we should welcome the spending power of new residents, but surely there's a limit to the number of new flats that can be sold. Or is there?
LOCAL DEVELOPMENTS - ok, I'm a newcomer to Thanet (hey, it's been over a year now), but it's still a little depressing to see things apparently under threat all over the place. Unique local cinemas threatened by the forthcoming multiplex; harbourside cafe culture in Ramsgate threatened by a likely endless stream of construction traffic; grammar schools under threat without promising an obviously better solution; Dreamland under threat along with its cinema. The Up-side? Well local support for better alternatives is heartening, if they can just get past the apparently remorseless barriers of council and big business interests.
SOLUTIONS - oh that's easy. In no particular order (and no claims to originality for these of course): a combined heritage and modern amusement park for Dreamland with just enough housing around the edges to make it a viable development; site access to the Pleasurama (sorry Royal Sands) construction site through the old railway tunnel; West Cliff Hall returned to public use; Royal Pavilion also returned to the public for creative and cultural use, incorporating an indoor arts and crafts market, performance and gallery space, cafes on the terrace and windows you can look through - and a camera obscura on the terrace too; an initiative to bring in some quirky and mainstream retail to both Ramsgate and Margate to keep the town centres alive whilst allowing Westwood Cross to sell the boring stuff - peppercorn rents for a period to allow fledgling businesses to have a go and do for King Street (Ramsgate) and the High Street (both Margate and Ramsgate) what North Laine and Old High Street have done for Brighton and Folkestone; get Ramsgate town council up and running and pray TDC don't use all their powers (including the mighty power of indifference) to sabotage it; keep the post offices open if the subpostmasters (not the PO) think they're viable businesses; oh and dredge the harbour.
With the high speed rail line (and maybe those shiny new trains to service and maintain), all the jobs from that big greenhouse complex and the planned windfarm, not to mention the inhabitants of all the new flats, the Chinese tech employers on the industrial estate (haven't heard much about that recently) there should be some sort of financial inflow due in the next year or two - if we can just combine that with a lively and interesting cultural, architectural and retail environment then it'll be just luvverly.
That's that solved then. Still no sign of daylight. Sigh.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
And the awful possibility...
Friday, October 05, 2007
Another classic postcard, sent in the late 1920s from Bertha to Vera in Wembley. A slightly manic smile on the face of the little girl, but maybe she's just overwhelmed with excitement to be in Ramsgate... And it's such a good place to make friends, after all.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
With all the luxury flats nearing completion at the bottom of Addington Street and in Royal Crescent, where will all the newcomers from London spend their time and money?
Either there's a huge gap in the market or there's not enough business to keep a shop viable. I wish I knew which it was. It'll make shopping for Christmas presents so much harder...
Much as I love seaside architecture, piers and so on, I can't help thinking that the sandy beach is probably an improvement on these ones. Especially Palm Bay where it seems the entire beach was replaced by the great hulking contruction. Still, handy for tea and toilets, so shouldn't complain too much perhaps.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Finally, after hunting around the web for a couple of hours, the BBC has the full list - these are the Thanet ones (listed by constituency, which is how the Post Office lists them):
- Approach Road, 63 Approach Road, Margate
- Westbrook, 101 Canterbury Road, Margate
- Dane Road, 55 Upper Dane Road, Margate
- Minnis Road, 137 Minnis Road, Birchington
- High Street, 3 High Street, Herne Bay
- Grange Road, 34 Grange Road, Ramsgate
- Bellevue Road, 13 Bellevue Road, Ramsgate
- Cliff's End, Cliff's End Village Hall, Ramsgate
Kent County Council has launched a campaign to support the post office network in the face of the closures, with information, a petition and an impact questionnaire. Good.
And here's the full list from the BBC
According to this morning's local paper, Ramsgate stands to lose the post offices on Grange Road, Bellevue Road and at Cliffsend Village Hall, but I'm keeping an eye out for the definitive list on the Post Office web site. Or perhaps they have a cunning plan to launch the consultation without actually revealing which offices are listed for closure, which would match the style of a company that has been threatening subpostmasters to keep them quiet over the last few months...
Of course, like most people, I generally only use the post office to send things I can't fit in to a letter box (which is quite often given that I wheel and deal on eBay a bit). Stamps, foreign currency, benefit payments, pensions, banking saervices etc can all be got elsewhere; the TV Licence is now dealt with by someone else, and even Car Tax can be dealt with online.
So the solution? Use it or lose it. Support your local subpostmaster!
National Federation of Subpostmasters