Thursday, January 31, 2008

Seaside Postcard 55: Spot the Difference

Great disappointments in life: discovering when you play a Pinky and Perky LP at 16 r.p.m. it's just two blokes singing; discovering that not everything you read on the Internet or in the papers is true; realising that MPs are just as greedy and selfish as everyone else; that belief in the tooth fairy and Santa are neo-orwellian parental behaviour control techniques; oh and that not every Ramsgate postcard was hand-crafted by a local artisan in an attic somewhere near the harbour.

OK it's not really a surprise - the last one, I mean, I'm still in denial over most of the others. Here's just one example of efficient product distribution, from 1906. One postcard design, overprinted (or simply redesigned), in this case quite elaborately, with the crest and name of the location. It's quite obvious from many of the cards I've listed that normally it's just the name that gets changed, so quite a simple printing job - this is one of the more elegant ones...

Yarmouth postcard

Ramsgate postcard

I still like 'em though. Pinky and Perky, that is.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Happy Landings

We're all relieved and impressed at the recent narrow escape at Heathrow, testament to training, airframe strength, good timing and sheer luck. But that doesn't mean there's no room for suggesting improvements, perhaps for our own local airfield, used as it is by training flights, presumably with pilots who may just have a slight doubt as to where to stick the wheels down. Here's the answer (from

Monday, January 28, 2008

Queen Charlotte

Queen CharlotteA quick visit to the newly-reopened Queen Charlotte in Addington Street on Saturday (it only opened, after a short break between managers, on Friday). Now run by Sam Braganza and family, it's definitely a local pub run by local people - friendly and lively atmosphere guaranteed in this small, authentic local hostelry.

Sam says she's got great plans for Quiz nights, curry nights, Karaoke nights, just as a starter, so hopefully this pub should quickly get back to where it should be, at the heart of a local community. Addington Street has lost too many pubs, with the Falstaff seemingly gone for good quite recently, and the Duke of York some time ago, so I'd reccommend a visit.

And if you like the history and architecture of Addington Street, Images of England describes the pub as part of the redevelopment of the street in 1801 by James Townley. The "small painted overmantel of Napoleonic war period" is worth a look as well, a lovely and well-preserved bit of history in its own right. The interior is just classic small pub, an open fire, slightly random collection of tables and chairs, and above all a cheerful normalness you just can't get in the larger places.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Harbour of Sand

Here's a view from around 1850. Nothing new about sand in the main harbour, clearly. And yet, when management of sailing ships was the norm, they seemed to manage...

Ramsgate Harbour

Seaside Postcard 54: More Fishy Tales

Ramsgate comic postcard
Another fishy-themed card, this one posted in 1924, by someone who hadn't read the instructions. As well as the Ramsgate postmark on the back, there is a franking mark saying "Liable to Letter Rate" and a Red 1d Postage Due stamp. The crime? The sender had written a message, which turned a card in to a letter. Naughty, naughty. Still, it was addressed to someone in Bayswater - I expect they could afford the extra penny. The message reads "Dear Doll & Sam, Just a card, we are having a nice time. Perhaps Sam would like this for breakfast. Love from Amy". Well worth a penny...

The fold-out strip of photos shows Ramsgate at its best - Ellington Park as an elegant place to promenade in Edwardian times, a crowded Main Sands, a West Cliff Hall looking beautiful, the Promenade Pier and of course many sailing ships crowding the quayside in the harbour. Aaah..

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Seaside Postcard 53: Happy Arrivals

Ramsgate comic postcard
Another cheerful postcard welcoming new arrivals to Ramsgate. With all the new flats nearing completion - Sea Bathing Hospital, Royal Crescent, Addington Street etc etc we'll certainly need some new people from somewhere. With enough money to buy a small flat for the price of a larger house with character (oops, letting my preferences show again...). Still, if you build it they will come. Apparently.

And as for the Channel 4 Food season (to pick a topic at random). Chicken programmes - good, worthwhile, might make a change. Jaime's one on the food you eat, complete with the mad German guy slicing up dead bodies to show what fat people do to themselves (we know, really, honest we do) the same - it seemed to have an effect on the audience, and you could see why it was done.

But then Gordon Ramsey last night - what was the point?

The idea was you cooked along at home, quite a nice idea for a cookery programme, if you really think steak and chips is worth the effort. But after 10 minutes of Gordon shouting hurry up, keep up and showing his expertise in slicing and chopping then shouting at his fellow presenters to keep up I abandoned the TV completely. I can't believe that did anything except demonstrate what an arrogant pillock he is. Maybe you enjoyed it, in which case, sorry. But as an exercise in helping the audience to cok real food it was a total waste of effort. Ego triumphing over education.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Shops and towns and things...

I was wandering around the Kent County Council web site this morning when I noticed the Town Centre Audit for Westwood cross was published yesterday - just a simple summary of floor space and vacant premises. Quite an interesting comparison with the other (real) town centres though:

Town CentreDate PublishedTotal Space% VacantTotal Units% Vacant
Westwood Cross16.01.0834,3858.7%395.1%

Broadstairs seems to be more or less unaffected, but the huge percentage of both units and square footage vacant in Ramsgate and Margate should make someone in business planning stop and think about local amenities, quality of life, urban environments and all the rest. Westwood Cross may be a roaring success, but it still has to work where we actually live... And surely there's a limit to the number of estate agents that can take the vacant premises. Surely...

To be fair I haven't found or compared older audits, so maybe it's always been like that, and it's very unfair of me to presume it's the Westwood effect. But I doubt it.

And if a new extension to Westwood Cross replaces the demolished ShoeFayre building, it doesn't look like easing the pressure any time soon. Anyone know if that's just going be another 'street' of multiple stores? or is it all for Primark (if recent rumours are to be believed, and God knows it sounds likely enough)?

Seaside Postcard 52: A Dog's Life

ramsgate comic postcard Another delight from the 1930s, with pull-out images of the Sun Terrace at the Harbour, the Winterstoke Gardens and the diving boards at the Swimming Pool.

And as for dogs... well there's no shortage of them in Ramsgate. Mostly well-behaved and well-managed, they clearly enjoy the seaside, the fresh air, the bracing walks to be had here.

Mind you, the dog in this card clearly has a few issues . . .

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Seaside Postcard 51: Wonderful...

Ramsgate comic postcards
A blustery day, severe gale force winds predicted and disrupted ferry services on the cards. Flood warnings are starting to pop up as well... Maybe not ideal conditions for a wonderful day, but we can hope...

And if you feel like scaring yourself, pop over to the Environment Agency Flood Warnings page. Nothing much for the South-East, which is a relief - we just get the wind here. But there are severe weather warnings for our region from the Met Office, with a 60% risk of disruption - and today's weather for the South-Eastfrom the Met Office.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Counting chickens . . .

image of a day old chickSo we were in Asda yesterday, looking at the total lack of free range chicken in the cabinets, and unable to see even the shelf labels where they should be. She-who-has-decided-to-take-a-stand went to Customer Services to ask about it, and the lady there said they must be sold out, as sales had risen since this week's programmes on Channel 4 about the chicken industry. Fair enough, except . . .

There followed a surreal little chat that showed Hugh and Jamie still have a long way to go... "I was shocked by the cruel way they're killed" and "But you know Hugh has a shop where he's selling chickens for £20 or more". And those two facts completely negated the whole principle in the (admittedly clearly tiny) mind of the customer services lady - she'd watched the programmes, and managed to entirely not understand the words being spoken.

Although killing animals doesn't look cute, it was actually humane - they are stunned before their throats are cut, and how else would you kill them? And Hugh's shop (just one shop in the whoooole country, so it's not like we're going to drive to Axminster to get a shockingly expensive bird) was just not relevant, although to be fair it was catastrophocally bad PR to open it in the same period, because there are always those desperate to find a conspiracy or ulterior motive.

And she just hadn't got the whole principle that it's how they live during their compressed lives that is the issue. And the flavour. Sigh. I'm not sure I saw anything that I hadn't been aware of, although watching day-old chicks being gassed on Jamie Oliver's show (which was a bit too cheery and celebrity-laden to have a major impact, I think) brought out the sentimentality in the audience very effectively. I don't think those two programmes will change the world just yet, although it does seem to have prompted several of the supermarkets to publish positive-sounding policy promises. I don't think Asda is one of them though.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Seaside Postcard 50: Centre of the Universe

Ramsate comic postcards
Ramsgate has clearly always been the centre of the known Universe. You can go everywhere from here! Perhaps that explains the mobile population... But you can get here from just about everywhere as well. And yes there's plenty to do while here, but we don't want to get too insular, do we?

Anyway, one of our multiple New Year's Resolutions is to take full advantage of the proximity of the outside World this year - day trips and weekends to France being high on the list. The ability to have an overseas jaunt without using up precious annual leave is a real plus, and there's a lot to do and see within a couple of hours' drive from the ferry ports. All we need now is the sea to stop going up and down quite so much...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Seaside Postcard 49: The Bear Facts

ramsgate comic postcard A cute little image from 1920, with a happy visitor looking a little like a big bear refusing to come home...

Oh and I got offered - and accepted - a new job this week. At my advanced age of 48, this is my first substantive (permanent) contract EVER, after a lifetime of self-employment and short term contracts. Even though I was at my last employer for 11 years, I was always on short term contracts (and this was a university), about 18 in total, although I lost track after the first 10. I don't really have a problem with short-term contracts - nowadays you get all the same leave, sickness and other protections anyway (including redundancy!), but there is a definite psychological difference in the way you see your employer and the way they see you.

And I'll be a Librarian (kindly note the capital L, it's important). A Clinical Librarian in a hospital. Woohoo. A proper professional post, doing something properly useful (mostly staff training and helping doctors and other colleagues learn to search for information, certainly not just issuing books, which is soooo last century, albeit essential and valuable), finally using my qualifications properly and all the fun of getting to grips with the corporate culture of the NHS. Can't wait. Although I have to, for a month or so anyway. Even looking forward to the daily commute.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Seaside Postcard 48: A New Light Dawns

ramsgate seaside postcard A lovely card from 1920, showing a slightly random, but nevertheless beautiful lighthouse, shining light on the beauties of whatever town is overprinted, and whose photographs pull out.

These include a picture of Pegwell Bay with landscaped gardens below the cliff, sailing smacks leaving the harbour, the fountain in Ellington gardens and the 'West Cliff Pavilion and Parade' looking very elegant indeed.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Seaside Postcard 47: Not as funny as it could be...

OK, so it's not a hysterically funny seaside postcard, but I need all the help I can get today, of which more in a day or two...
Luck from Ramsgate

Monday, January 07, 2008

Seaside Postcard 46: What a handful . . .

Ramsgate comic postcards
I'm not quite sure who has their hands full in this card - the two cheeky chappies chatting up the girl, or the girl with a boy in each hand. They all seem quite happy though, so best not to worry.

Maps of WarMaps of War And one of those entirely pointless moments of excitement on Saturday - a visit to Waterstones in Canterbury, a look at the latest large glossy books and there's my name in print. Woohoo! OK, it was only for compiling the index, and I'm not exactly mentioned on the cover, in fact my name makes up the two last words in the entire volume, but it's still a cheap thrill to see "Index by..." inside a real book in a real shop (rather than on the printers' proofs that are usually all I get to see).

And it's a lovely book, very large format with full and double page illustrations of maps used in warfare over the centuries, cunningly titled Maps of War. If it's your sort of thing, you'll love it. Anyway she-who-needs-to-be-impressed seemed suitably thrilled when I casually pointed it out to her.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Seaside Postcard 45: Sunny Days Are Here At Last

Well it looks bright and cheery, so we might just drag our sickly selves out of the house today and spread some germs around the shops. Sorry, but it has to be done... Just a cold, not the dreaded ChuckingItAllUpVirus, so no need to panic.

ramsate comic postcards

Friday, January 04, 2008

Seaside Postcard 44: Splashin' About

Well it was only a light snow shower and bit of cold rain, so no great meteorological thrill yesterday. The sea looked interestingly wild against the harbour wall at teatime though - it must be winter, Ramsgate style.

comic seaside postcard Ramsgate

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Cold, cold, cold

Being blessed with a (very) large external outline, I rarely feel the cold, but I am currently afflicted with a nose-throat-head disturbance that is completely horrible. 3 hours sleep last night before an important meeting this morning didn't help at all, and walking a few hundred yards through the first snow flurry of the season didn't help things very much. Luckily I'm not susceptible to earthly diseases, so I'll soldier on uncomplainingly (that wasn't me complaining, simply reporting facts, in case you were confused).

The Christmas tree is now outside and all the deccies packed away so that's that over and done with. I expect there'll be a couple of old postcards up here in a day or two as soon as my illness, disease, pain mild discomfort has gone away. Lucky I'm so brave or it'd be whinge, whinge, whinge...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Seaside Postcard 43: Bad day for driving

Ramsgate postcards

This may be how I drive to work today, so beware! There are likely to be a lot of drivers out there on their way back to work after the break, very few of them happy about it, and one or two still recovering from New Year's Eve. So be careful...

Oh well, it'll soon be Easter. And predictions of snow for tomorrow, just to cheer us up.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


of all the things you don't want to see from your Blog, this must come out pretty high. OK, it went away after a couple of minutes, but I just don't need this sort of shock today. Far too busy getting ready for going back to work tomorrow. New Year's Resolution Number 18 (approx): Don't panic. Ever. Even if you should.

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Happy 2008 - Hearty Greetings to All