Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Even if I'm only saying it to myself, Happy New Year one and all. 2010, mmm, new year, new decade, no idea what to call it - the tens, the teenies, or simply that bit just before the new twenties... who knows.

And then there's the resolutions.

No.1 No New Year's Resolutions. Damn. Failed already, oh well...
No.2 Don't list them, just do them, that way they'll be more of a suprise if I catually achieve any of them.
No.3 No more resolutions.
No.4 OK, just one, do more blogging. We'll just have to wait and see, won't we.

There, I feel much better after that, I hope everyone feels even better after midnight.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Northdown Road Fire

One of my Margate-living colleagues pointed out that the properties destroyed by this fire included an arcade owned by... drum roll... a certain owner of fire-susceptible amusement properties. If this is true, is there seriously no-one in the fire, police or insurance industry that can put a list together and come to the conclusion that most normal people came to years ago, that fire is seen in Thanet as a normal property redevelopment solution?

Should the HIPS pack needed to market a property include a Godden-proximity-search, as well as the council, environmental and water searches?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring has sprung . . .

Like Rip Van Winkle awakening from a long and deep deep sleep, the weekend brought glimmers of hope and pleasures to come. Beautiful weather despite forecasts of rain, optimistic stories about the housing market despite a background of gloom, and above all 4 days simply not at work - hurrah!

A wander through Westgate Gardens in Canterbury gave a chance to unwind, feed the ducks and just enjoy being outside in lovely surroundings - and all on a Friday. Enjoy the pictures below, and just feel the relaxation wash over you...

Canterbury in Spring

Jolly punting weather, too...
Canterbury in Spring

Surely the gnarliest tree in the area...
Canterbury in Spring

And a baker's dozen of pure aaahhhh...
Canterbury in Spring

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Not the seaside...

arrived at Canterbury
Not exactly a humorous seaside postcard, this gem from 1915 was sent all the way to Mount Pleasant, Liverpool. A pop-up flap reveals 10 photographs of the cathedral and its environs, as presumably that was all that was worth seeing here back then. A little unfair, as there was considerably more medieval architecture (and Victorian for that matter) before the bombs did their best to remodel the city in the 1940s.

Still, this is clearly how every visitor is greeted at Canterbury's two stations - cheering crowds, civic dignitaries, brass band, flags and all... in the current economic dip, that's certainly how we should greet tourists to the area!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Seaside Postcard 106: Away with the ferries

Ramsgate seaside postcards

LD Ferries have started services from Dover, and Euroferries may be about to start from Ramsgate. A bright new Spring for ferry travellers heading for Boulogne, and a welcome boost to Ramsgate's ferry terminal.

Just one point to watch with their timetable - the LD schedule provides for day trips with outward sailings at 7.00, 12.30 and 18.00 - however the return is only 10.45 and 16.15 - except for Saturday when there is a sailing at 18.00. Maybe that is the best combination, as they have presumably calculated that the majority of day trips would be on a Saturday, and the rest of the week is dedicated to freight and onward travel. If you want a slightly shorter day trip it's fine, returning on the 16.15, so maybe they've got it just right. That still allows you about 6 hours shopping and eating. They are talking about adding a second ship to the route in the Summer, so there may be some developments in that timetable.

And Euroferries still just has a one page web site with no genuine contact details, just email. A schedule, the ability to check prices and a means to make advance bookings will be a real sign of progress - fingers crossed.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Seaside Postcard 105: postings...

If you're expecting the appropriate affectionate response on Valentine's day morning, you'd better get your skates on and get down to the postbox. And as all our local postman are as smart and efficient as this handsome chap, you're sure to get your love token delivered promptly on Saturday.

This card dates from the 1900s, with a set of drop down pictures showing the usual - the new Royal Victoria Pavilion, beach heaving with sunseekers, the harbour crowded with sails. Happy days, and not a cargo plane, dodgy developer or knife-wielding hoody for miles around. Mind you, I expect we had as much TB, diptheria and smallpox as we needed, women weren't trusted to vote, employment rights and state pensions and unemployment benefits were but a distant dream - but still, they were the days...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Seaside postcard 104: in the week of luuuurv

Ramsgate seaside postcard In the build up to Valentine's Day, here's a very sweet and romantic postcard from 1905, published by The Cynicus Publishing Co., Fife. And a reminder of changing fashions for names as the message says simply "Tell Ethel a letter is following. Yours truly, Albert".

Time to go and batten down the hatches for what can only be described as a blustery day... or a howling stormy gale... or "when's it our turn for some proper snow?". Sigh.

And just a reminder if you like these, the whole lot of them can be seen on Flickr: Ramsgate Comic Postcards.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Seaside Postcard 103: gone fishin'

Ramsgate seaside postcard Yet another card with fish on it, and also with bears. Not quite sure why, but bears seem quite a regular theme on cards.

This one was sent by Elsie in August 1913 to Dad in Upper Holloway, London. "I am fine and this is how I am situated. My face will soon be as red as my hat, but it is sore. I am going to Margarty tomorrow". Let's all call Margate Margarty, it sounds much friendlier!

We seem to have missed the snow at this end of the week, and with councils running out of salt and grit, it's just as well. So that's just the icy roads to worry about now then...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Trains and snow

A fine crisp morning, with heavy snow forecast. Interesting to see how that affactes the trains and roads as usual. What type of snow is it? Is it the right kind? Can we cope? Why is snow in February such a shock?

canterbury whitstable railway 1830

Here's a nice card from earlier train days - almost the earliest in fact! This commemorates the Opening Day of the Canterbury to Whitstable railway on May 3rd 1830. Given that the Stockton-Darlington railway only opened in 1825, the sheer speead and scale of the spread of this new technology muct have been breathtaking at the time, and obviously was good cause for local celebration (apart from those who were sure that speeds over 20mph would be fatal due to inability to breathe...).

And given that this weekend saw the maiden journey of the new A1 steam loco Tornado from York to Newcastle, it seemed fitting to celebrate the early days too.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


I'd forgotten what fun driving on little country roads could be - coming back from Folkestone we diverted towards Elham due to an accident on the main road. So there we are, trying to maintain traction on an uphill snowy surface, and there's a car coming down hill. So my wheels are locked as we carry on sliding up the hill; the land rover (towing two huge bales of sileage), wheels locked, gently sliding in our direction coming down the hill... oh what joy. Anyway disaster averted, except I'm now stationary pointing uphill, wheels spinning madly inching up at 0.001 miles per hour - can't go back as it's a valley, so it's just as bad the other way. Still, got there in the end.

The other treat was on a steep downhill stretch, gingerly heading downhill at 10 miles an hour, brake full on (ABS not helping, pumping brakes not helping), but still sliding, then trying reverse gear with enthusiasm, but still sliding downhill. Again, it worked, but she-who's-not-keen-on-driving-excitement was a little quiet (in that slightly menacing way they have) for a few minutes.

And that was the day of 'light snow showers'. Heavy snow tomorrow should be a right laugh (luckily I only have to drive half a mile across town).

Take care out there...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Zavvi . . . going going...

Despite hanging on for a while, the Canterbury branch of Zavvi was on yesterday's list of 15 stores to be closed immediately. Another 13 local jobs, another gap in a shopping centre to join USC, Adams and one or two others (and Woolworths of course). And the Canterbury branch of Whittards is now closed and empty, following the purchase of the chain by Past Times (just 100 yards away). With the snow whirling in from the East next week, it's looking like it's going to be a cold hard February in the high street.

And yet Subway has announced 6,000 new jobs at 700 new stores across the UK and Ireland. Oh I see, "if it can find willing franchisees" - so it's not their money at all. Still, there may be some people with redundancy money and enough energy to make a go of it... And Asda is opening 14 new stores this year. We'll still need to buy food, clearly, even if DVDs and teapots are superfluous...

Seaside Postcard 102 - grizzling

Ramsgate seaside postcard Yet another slightly sad postcard, almost reflecting how we felt last October - I say almost, because we were looking forward to Canterbury, but we'd certainly enjoyed living in Ramsgate.

This card was sent by Rene to her Aunty and Uncle in Fulham in August 1920. Obviously a classic seaside holiday: "A line to let you know I am having a fine time. Motor and donkey rides also boat rides. Thanks for photos, writing on sands. Love to all." And designed by the great Donald McGill. What more could you ask from a postcard?

And the 5 day forecast on the BBC shows a sunny Saturday, then snow on Sunday, heavy snow on Monday and Tuesday. Brrrr...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Canterbury - and so it starts

Well we've been in Canterbury for 3 months as of today. So to mark the occasion, here's a postcard. Very few comic postcards here (it's not at the seaside, and it's not funny, the card as well as the city!) but I'll do my best. Obviously visitors to Canterbury are expected to have higher matters on their agenda, although of course day trips by charabanc were a regular part of the seaside holiday too.

Canterbury Bus

This Valentine's pop-out card was sent by Phyllis on June 10th 1953, so presumably both the sender and recipient were basking in the glow of the coronation just a week earlier (June 2nd). The 1976 on the card is just the printer's code rather than the date. Sent all the way to Dover, it's a classic: "The weather is lovely. Having a nice time. Be home Sunday if alls well". No riotous larks here then. A nice set of black and white photos (mostly of the cathedral of course) make it a good souvenir of the trip.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Seaside Postcard 101 - same old story...

Ramsgate seaside postcardAnother gap, another posting. It's suprising how moving house interrupts the mental processes. I've still got quite a few seaside postcards to share, and I'll try to get themmup more regularly. One thing I've noticed since our October move to Canterbury - Thanet is much better served for blogs and papers. We seem to have just the single local paper now (plus an occasional AdScene) on Thursday, as well as the Wednesday freebie. And as for blogs, well I'm still looking for the Canterbury blogging community...

Anyway, here's another sad-looking card, sent to Lily in Lowestoft in 1913. Well we all know that feeling don't we...

And work is very quiet due to all our open access PCs being off for 10 days. How hard can it be to keep virus protection up to date when you have a full time team whose only job is to keep a network operative. Sigh.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wondering at the Waste of Woolies

The last Woolworths store has now closed, leaving a gaping hole in the high street. I think it caught many people by surprise to realise how much they would miss a shop in to which they rarely ventured.Somehow just knowing there was a Woolworths nearby was weirdly comforting, even if we had mostly switched our allegiances to Wilkinsons, HMV, Peacocks and the supermarkets.

More to the point, was the closure necessary? Offers were made and rejected that would have taken over the whole chain, although presumably some stores would still have closed in that process. But look at the astonishing fees that the administrators pay themselves (£50 million was one figure I saw before Christmas, one article reporting that Deloittes are charging £22,000 per hour). And the banks that lent money to Woolworths not only get all their money as they were secured creditors, but they will get penalty fees on top - legal, but maybe an incentive to hasten the closure rather than look for a trading solution.

Add that to the cost to the economy of the loss of business taxes, the cost of support and benefits for the newly unemployed staff, the costs of those businesses that will now struggle or collapse with the loss of such a major outlet (not to mention the write-offs of their unpaid bills to Woolworths) - add that lot to the best of the offers received when the chain was open, and if the total is higher than the final value realised by selling off the leases piecemeal, then the administrators should be made to pay the difference. It's quite hard to see how it is in their interest to find a quick and tidy solution when they're being paid hundreds of thousands of pounds a day to evaluate, consider and reject offers as all the options evaporate one by one.

Sadly it feels like the people who we imagine were trying to rescue the chain - administrators, banks etc - have their snouts too deep in the trough to even consider anything other than their own winnings. Just my opinion...

Iceland had made an offer for the whole chain in August, rejected as insufficient. So now they are left with cherry-picking 50 or so sites to turn in to their own outlets - Broadstairs, Herne Bay and Whitstable included. But what a wasted opportunity. And Margate, Ramsgate, Canterbury, Faversham and all the others will just have to live with the uncertainty of what will happen to that gap in the high street.

The picture below shows Canterbury's store on its last day. Tragic.
Canterbury Woolworths

This is the full list of the stores bought by Iceland: Alton, Barnsley, Belper, Bethnal Green, Bexhill On Sea, Bicester, Billericay, Blandford Forum, Bodmin, Boreham Wood, Bow, Braintree, Broadstairs, Devizes, Exmouth, Fraserburgh, Frome, Greenford, Hackney, Hailsham, Harold Hill, Haverhill, Herne Bay, Hexham, Highgate, Honiton, Kilburn High Road, Leyton, Malvern, Matlock, Mill Hill, Minehead, Monmouth, Morpeth, Morriston, Newtownards, Palmers Green, Pinner (Rayner's Lane), Palmers Green, Plumstead, Pontypool, Poplar, Portslade, Ringwood, St Neots, Stoke Newington, Strood, Sudbury, Swaffham, Wakefield, Wallington, Whitstable

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Seaside Postcard 100 - grandad's trousers

ramsgate seaside postcard A nice card this, posted by Eileen in 1925 to her Grandad with the message - "Dear Grandad, I found these trousers on the sands are they yours. They are not very smart so I do not think they are. I am going down to bathe in a minute. Thank you for the money you sent me." There, properly respectful (she know's he's smartly turned out), properly grateful (he's obviously a generous type) and generally lovely. Aaah.

And this is the 100th (but far from the last) card in my seemingly endless series of Ramsgate comic postcards. Watch this space.