Just a very quick word here in response to a few enquiries I have had as to my health due to the fact that I have not posted anything new here for some time following my recent little health episode. Those concerned know who they are and I thank them sincerely.
The simple fact is that I have been incredibly busy recently including a bit of travel (not flying yet) and gigging with the photographs above hopefully serving as a bit of a teaser as to where I was. A full report to follow but I now find myself in my habitual state of being about a month behind on my entries here which I am working hard to rectify.
As for my health, I am almost embarrassingly healthy given what I have been through, I really have no right to be in as good nick as I appear to be. As I said to the Practice Nurse yesterday I am probably the healthiest I have been for 20 years or more and I feel fine. I spent most of yesterday seeing the Doctor, the afore-mentioned Practice Nurse, an A&E nurse and Sister and a radiographer in the Royal London Hospital and finally a pharmacist. It was all a bit of a bore but the good news is that I had a call from the hospital this morning to tell me that my thrombosis has been dispatched to wherever it is that good thromboses go when they pass on, if there is such a thing as a good thrombosis. At least that means I do not have to resume the annoying daily injections which I am grateful for although I am still taking so many pills I swear I must rattle when I walk and I will be on them forever apparently. Not a problem.
I am back tomorrow for and ECG and something else I cannot remember as I have lost track of all the tests they give me. I really do not know why I need an ECG as I had one in hospital less than three months ago and which showed nothing other than the arrythmia which I have been aware of for 26 years and which I told them about. For those who have been on at me for years to register with a Doctor, rest assured that I am now under the ever-watchful gaze of Big Brother NHS.
I expect that in light of the test and scan the flying ban may well be lifted although if it is not I have a couple of other little schemes in the pipeline. One of these is spending time exploring the UK which I have done lamentably little of. With Eurostar and ferries, both of which modes of transport I much prefer to short haul flying, I can get to just about anywhere in Europe or Asia without ever setting foot in an airport. A long time pipedream of mine has been to travel from London to Singapore without flying and the way I feel at the minute it might just happen.
Thanks again for all the enquiries as to my well-being and I promise to try and catch up on the blog asap.
The 16th was another day with nothing of note except that I was walking the back way from yet another Beano’s breakfast downtown and noticed that the old Leisure Centre in Alxandra Road is now earmarked to be yet another “escape room” and apparently an offshoot of the one in Northdown in Margate if the name and logo are anything to go by. As I mentioned in a previous post there is already one such establishment in the town in what used to be my bank so what the need is for another one I singularly fail to see. I think it would be far better employed as a leisure centre or some sort of facility for the local youth who tend to roam about creating mayhem in semi-feral packs, especially in the summer months.
Enough of this and we shall pass swiftly on to…….
17th October A (brief) ramble round Ramsgate.
If you have been reading this whole series you will know that I slept in Ramsgate for most of Folk Week this year and have also stayed there on various occasions over the years when I have run out of options in Broadstairs. It is strange the way things go in that of the three main Thanet towns, Broadstairs was always seen as being a bit genteel and old-fashioned with lots of pensioners, Margate was thought to have left it’s glory days as a holiday destination long behind and was regarded as being a bit rough and Ramsgate was seen as more upmarket than Margate but all this is not so now. Anecdotal evidence, including that of a guy on my hospital ward who had been put there by defending one youth from another gang in Ramsgate, suggests that Ramsgate is now getting a lot rougher and Margate is “on the up”.
Whilst I had been to Ramsgate a few times this trip, predominantly for breakfasts in the Pavilion and visits to the laundrette, I decided it was time for a more thorough look round. Nothing too strenuous as I had seen the major attractions round the harbour area but just a general wander to see if I could find anything as I inevitably do.
My bus from Broadstairs runs along the wonderfully named Plains of Waterloo road which I think would be a superb address to have. Not only that but a small road leading off it is named La Belle Alliance Square. La Belle Alliance is the name of an inn near Waterloo (it still exists as a nightclub) where Wellington and his ally Blücher met after the famous battle.
Whilst gazing out the bus window I had often seen one of the numerous blue plaques that litter Thanet stating that Karl Mark had stayed here (number 62) in 1879. Just out of interest I looked up an estimated value for the property today and it is £318k. He could have just about funded the Russian Revolution with that as that amount when he stayed there is equivalent to just under £40 million today. Yes, I do have too much time on my hands!
A little further research shows that he had been to the town many times before including several visits with Frederick Engels. Strange to think that plans for world communism may have been hatched in this most genteel English seaside resort. Engels was not present for the 1879 visit as a letter to him proves but rather Marx was there due to the ill-health of his wife Jenny rather than his own ill-health. He had first visited Ramsgate seeking relief from the boils that plagued him, probably due to liver dysfunction.
With the erstwhile residence of the Father of Communism duly recorded on my trusty compact I walked the few yards to the delightful and very impressive Wellington Crescent where blue plaques seem to proliferate like the boils that apparently afflicted dear old Comrade Marx. It appears that every third house or so was home to some notable or other at one time although some are more notable than others and I suspect there is a degree of “bigging the place up” on the part of the Ramsgate Society.
He got around s bit.
The other number 10.
As you see, I spotted Sir Charles Warren who lives at number 10 behind a door not dissimilar to a much more famous “Number 10”.
I also found Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who also got about a bit by staying at number seven, 28 and 29 at various times and Wilkie Collins, novelist, friend of Charles Dickens and opium addict although the Ramsgate Society do not see fit to mention the latter two facts. He stayed at number 27. Interestingly, Collins and Mark are both interred in Kensal Green cemetery in London, a place I have often been past but never visited, I must get round to it soon.
All in all, Wellington Crescent was “home” (temporary or permanent) to some distinguished people and it is easy to see why with the lovely views over the channel but the most famous visitor was associated with Albion House right at the end of the road where the then Princess Victoria stayed for a few months in 1835 and 1836 to recover from ill-health just over a year before becoming Queen.
It is still rather lovely.
I told you it was posh round here.
The building today is a boutique hotel and as well as the vista over the Channel it also overlooks the pretty Albion Place Gardens which were not there when her Majesty visited, having only been constructed in 1894 from the grounds of the House. Should you be interested in such things the Gardens are home to a rare species of newt and a bat colony. I do like to keep my dear readers informed of such things.
At the same time as the gardens were being laid out an equally attractive if serpentine road named Madeira Walk (pictured) was constructed adjacent to it. Whilst aesthetically pleasing it is a bit of a nightmare for modern traffic but it was all part of the gentrification plan of the local Council at the time who were trying to transform the town from a working port into an upmarket seaside resort. It seems the concept of gentrification long precedes what is happening to most of the inner East End of London where I live these days.
Also close by and again not there during Her Majesty’s stay is the wonderful lift from the Crescent down to beach level which was constructed in 1910 and is one of only five such structures in England still open to the public. It is of such importance that it is Grade II listed, having been thankfully saved from collapse in 1999. As it only operates seasonally I was not able to ride in it but it is yet another reason to return to Ramsgate should I need one which I don’t.
I have mentioned before how much I love the Royal Harbour in Ramsgate and how many images I have of it so this was a perfect opportunity to get another angle on it as you can see above.
The lovely Kent Steps.
You couldn’t make it up.
This is completely mad.
After walking about halfway down Madeira Walk I came to Kent Steps which I had passed many times at both ends but had strangely never either ascended nor descended so time to rectify that and I am glad I did as I was rewarded by discovering on of the strangest homes I have ever seen in my life. Beautifully presented and obviously worth a fortune due to it’s location it boast it’s own name plaque which proudly declares “Rubber Chicken House”. Honestly. Even in my heavy drinking days I could never have come up with something like that. Not only is it just about the craziest house name I have ever heard but it lives up to it as the front window is completely full of the afore-mentioned creatures. Apologies for the images but the light was against me. I hope you get the idea because I have absolutely none and I strongly recommend that the homeowner gets off whatever they are on pretty quickly!
Hot but not ridiculously so.
I do like this place.
Weather report, Fergy style.
Yet another breakfast image.
After that it was a brief walk to the Royal Pavilion for my usual breakfast, image of the prevailing weather conditions on the beach and a leisurely afternoon of catching up on this blog. About ten o’clock in the evening, hunger got the better of me and, it being a Thursday, a curry was called for and I decided to risk the Naga Chicken Vindaloo which was a bit lively to say the least but nowhere near as hot as some curries I have had. If you have ever spent any time in Sri Lanka, as I have, and eaten away from the touristy places and with local people you will know what a hot curry is.
After that decent meal and a bit of a chat with the female door supervisor (lovely woman), it was “last bus back to Broadstairs” time and straight to bed.
My next post will be another compilation effort of quite a few days of nothing much except links to some absolutely excellent music and the end of this particular little jaunt to the Kent coast so stay tuned and spread the word.
In the last post I promised the reader that I would be going for a walk but I shall very briefly deal with Monday 14th October and it will be brief, believe me. The whole day is best summed up in the images above which show my usual excellent breakfast in the Royal Victoria Pavilion, a murky Ramsgate beach in the early afternoon and the full-bore rainstorm that had settled over Broadstairs by early evening and did not let up. I am a fairly hardy soul but it really was too dismal to consider doing anything of note and so we shall pass quickly on.
15th October A (not so long-distance) footpath.
A few posts ago I teased you with the image that heads this page and promised a full explanation in due course, so here it is.
For many years I had seen signposts like this round Broadstairs and never even bothered to enquire what T&D stood for. When I eventually did, I was informed that it was Turner and Dickens although many locals do not even know this as you shall see. T is the famous artist JMW Turner and D the equally famous novelist Charles Dickens. The former had a strong association with Margate and the latter with Broadstairs to the extent they now even have an annual Dickens Festival and it seems you cannot move in the town without seeing a plaque commemorating some Dickensian association.
Despite the fact that their lives overlapped by about four decades and had connections in the two adjacent towns, there is no evidence the two ever met although it is possible as they had mutual friends. I suspect it is just the local Council conflating the two histories to create the route. Whatever the facts, it matters little as this is a pleasant stroll and it is nothing more than that. Over the years I had walked the majority of it without really being aware it was a designated route.
If you do fancy a go at it your first problem will be the conflicting and often inaccurate information available on the internet. I checked the first three websites my search engine threw up and that was an education with the start and end points being given as the rail stations in the two towns (wrong) and distances varying from 6.44 km. (four miles) to 8.7 km. The route starts or finishes at The Droit House Visitor Centre in Margate and the other terminus is the Dickens House Museum on the front at Broadstairs. I would say it is closer to the former distance and it is certainly not onerous. I found this website to be one of the better ones.
I love walking and have completed the London Loop and Capital Ring (150 miles and 78 miles respectively), the vast majority of the Thames Path (184 miles) and the pinnacle of my rambling was completing the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal (100+ miles at altitude) some years ago so what was I doing wandering about four miles mostly along roads I knew intimately? A couple of reasons, really. Firstly, it would give me something to do rather than just sit in the pub all day at my computer and secondly it would “test drive” my poor old body that had been a bit knocked about. I was surprised at how weak I still felt exactly a month after being discharged from hospital. This route was ideal as it vaguely follows the Thanet Loop bus route (or vice versa) so I knew that if I got tired I could easily get to a bus stop which was a reassuring backstop.
I started good and early and the first image I took that day was absolutely nothing to do with the path and was taken about 200 yards from where I was staying. This rather unprepossessing frontage hides the restaurant that had recently achieved Thanet’s first Michelin star. It is run by a guy called Ben Crittenden who transformed the premises from a tiny sandwich bar with his Dad. The only other person involved is his wife Sophie who runs front of house.
STARK is only open in the evening four nights a week, it has twelve covers and no menu, you eat what you are given. The website states, “PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE UNABLE TO CATER FOR ANY DIETARY REQUIREMENTS, DISLIKES OR ALLERGIES AND WE ARE UNABLE TO OFFER ANY SUBSTITUTIONS”. Sorry about the caps, it is a c&p. All this sounded very pretentious to me but I am told by people whose opinion I respect that he is a really pleasant bloke. The rather draconian food policy derives from the fact that he has a kitchen the size of a shoebox which is equipped with one fridge, well, how much kitchen does a sandwich bar need? Gordon Ramsay, eat your heart out.
If you can get a table, and I say if as there is typically a six week wait, it will set you back £60 or £90 with a paired wine flight. Heaven knows where he keeps the wine! Whites in the fridge and reds under the sink presumably. In truth, with some of the weather we were having he could have put the whites on the back doorstep and they would have chilled nicely if they had not been washed away to the sea down Oscar Road. I doubt I shall ever dine there but good luck to them and back to my walk.
Dickens House Museum.
Plaque, Albion Hotel.
It was a mere five minutes walk from STARK to the Dickens House Museum which I have never been in and is said to be the inspiration for the home of Betsey Trotwood in David Copperfield. This would make sense as it is about 10 feet across a footpath to the Albion Hotel which has a Dickensian association as the plaque outside indicates. It also has a Fergian (what a word!) association as I have stayed here and played a gig in the lovely garden with my mate Tim.
I also took the image above of Bleak House which is certainly not the best one I have of it but I took it to demonstrate a point. With a little compact camera (no telephoto lens or anything) I took the images of the Museum and this one whilst standing in exactly the same spot which shows just how compact Broadstairs is for the visitor. About as compact as my camera really.
On then up the High Street and I may as well have been walking to Beano’s for my breakfast as I know it so well. I have walked up and down here literally thousands of times. I thought I would include the images above for a bit of amusement. Not far up the hill is the pretty uninspiring row of shops, with J. Prentis the greengrocer at the far end. I must declare an interest in that I know John who is a really nice guy but his fruit and veg are really good with lots of locl produce. Cobnuts were the seasonal offering with a cobnut being a locally grown variant of a hazelnut.
I looked up as I knew there was another blue plaque there indicating that Dickens had stayed in a house on that site at some point but, as the image shows, it has been changed, very possibly by John to what you see above. I won’t bore you with the details but it is to do with a dispute between him and the landlord of the upstairs premises which are, frankly, an eyesore and have been for years. It certainly made me smile.
On up the hill past Pierremont Hll where the future Queen Victoria once stayed, past the War Memorial and then I stopped briefly to take the image above which indicates much of what is happening in Broadstairs. The two premises shown are both obviously former retail outlets and are both now pubs. The one on the right is Mind the Gap (a reference to the nearby train station) where I have been once or twice and played an impromptu gig with a standing invitation to do so again any time. It is one of the many micropubs I have spoken about in this series of entries. The bar on the left is Houdini’s, which I unusually have never been in. The USP here, as the name suggests is that most of the staff are practicing magicians who will amaze you with their prestidigitation at the drop of a (top) hat. I just hope the rabbit does not jump out.
I carried on past the station and Beano’s which took a serious amount of willpower and then right into St. Peter’s Park Road where I stopped to take a quick image of the rather pleasant Quaker Meeting House which houses not only Society of Friends (Quakers) but also, somewhat oddly to my mind, the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. I cannot imagine there are too many practicing Calvinists in Thanet but apparently there must be enough for a congregation. I live and learn.
The path then follows some quiet residential streets until you get to St. Peters which I also know quite well having played gigs on all four pubs in the village. It is not a big place and I think it is commendable that it supports so many “boozers”. Again, two of them are micropubs (the Four Candles (the smallest brewpub in Britain) and the Yard of Ale) and the other two are more traditional establishments (the Red Lion and the Little Albion). Both the micropubs regularly win awards as the attached websites show and both are excellent. The image shows the Candles on the left and the Albion on the right. When I passed the Little Albion was undergoing a much-needed refurb as you can see by the newspapers in the windows. I could tell you all sorts of stories about it but I won’t bore you.
St. Peters and Broadstairs are now more or less joined and the local Council features both names but while Broadstairs is now the much more important entity it was not always thus. The village has a very long history with the first Church being built here in 1070 to serve the habitation in the area when Broadstairs was merely a few fisherman’s huts. Strange as it seems now, it was reputedly the largest parish East of London in the first half of the 19th century. Nowadays, it is basically a dormitory town with about 20% of the population being retired.
The lovely walkway of mosaics.
A short walk past the pubs I came to the charming set of mosaics pictured above, the work of well-known local artist Martin Cheek and local schoolchildren. See if you can spot which characters are depicted. This is yet another example of the very artistic nature of the area that I mentioned in the previous post.
The two images above are nothing to do with the Turner and Dickens theme other than they are on the path named for them. The first shows a detail of a hedge around a private dwelling the like of which I do not think I have ever seen. It is so thick that it has to be trimmed as shown so as not to obscure the street sign. The people here must really value their privacy! The second is of a large and presumably very old tree that I liked the look of purely because of the numerous trunks.
Another few minutes walk brought me to the Church for which the village was named and which I had been in before, notably for the wedding of my friends Simon and Becky which was quite some event as it happened during Folk Week. Becky is an excellent fiddle player and singer who is originally from the village and who I have played many gigs with and Simon dances with a folk dance side from Northumberland where they now live with their young son.
Being in Folk Week, the logistics were a bit frantic for many of the guests. If memory serves, the wedding was at 1500 and at lunchtime I had a gig with my mate Pete May in the Charles Dickens pub in Broadstairs which is yet another of the Thorley Taverns I mentioned in the last entry. People were somewhat confused by me turning up to play looking semi-respectable as I habitually play in jeans and a T-shirt and Pete was fairly smart as well. We finished the gig bang on, explained why we could not do an encore, set down in record time and then hit the traffic in Pete’s vehicle! We ended up taking a crazy detour and arrived at the Church about two minutes ahead of the bride. We did well as there were other musicians slipping in the back during the service. Everyone knew the score (musical pun absolutely intended) and it was no problem as was the state of dress of many of the congregation. Simon’s dance side turned up in full “morris” gear to provide a guard of honour and many other dancers from other sides turned up in their costumes, having danced out that lunchtime, it was quite a sight.
After the service we all retired across the road to the Red Lion (pictured) for a few before heading the short distance to the Village Hall where the reception was to be held. There was food laid on but Becky had not booked a band, well she had no need to as a fair proportion of the guests were musicians who were under orders to bring their instruments which we did. The entertainment effectively took the form of a ceilidh with a fairly large and constantly changing band including your humble narrator. It was one of the best weddings I have ever been to and the memory of the bride hammering her fiddle with the band whilst still in her bridal gown is one that will remain with me forever.
Lest we forget.
So ,many from such a small community.
Lest we forget.
The names in detail.
As I always do, I stopped to pay my respects at the War Memorial outside the church and take a few images for inclusion in the War Memorial Register. I found it amazing how many men from this small village, which must have been even smaller then, died in the First World War. Lest we forget.
I was surprised to find the church was open on a weekday out of season but I gratefully went in for a look round to find that I was understandably the only visitor. There was a man there “minding” the place which I think is a terrible shame. Churches used to be open all the time as places of sanctuary and shelter but the realities of modern society render this impossible now. He was very friendly and pointed out many things of interest but he did manage to surprise me somewhat when I told him I was walking the Turner and Dickens path and the presence of the mosaics mentioned above, he claimed to have never heard of it despite obviously being a local and a parishioner there. We got to chatting about this and that until he slightly apologetically told me he had to lock up and go for his lunch. When I checked the time I discovered that we had been chewing the fat for the best part of an hour. Still, no harm done as I had nothing specific to do except go for a walk and it was an interesting conversation. I do love never specifically planning anything.
The attached website has an excellent history of the Church but a brief precis is that the nave is the only late Norman portion of the church still extant and dates to 12th century although most of the rest is 15th century. It was extensively restored in the latter part of the 19th century and much of the stained glass, of which I am so fond, dates to this period. A couple of interesting snippets about the church are that the late former Prime Minister of the UK, Ted Heath, who was born in the village, sang in the choir here and the church was used as a naval signalling station in Napoleonic times. The latter fact means that the church retains the right to fly the white ensign (the flag of the Royal Navy) although I am not sure if it exercises this privelege. This interested me as there is a church about 15 minutes walk from my home in the East end of London that regularly flies the red ensign (flag of the merchant marine). I wonder how many churches in UK are allowed to fly naval ensigns.
To the rear of the church is the extensive graveyard which I have visited before and which I found fascinating especially as it has a number of Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) tended graves which I have a particular interest in. I did not spend too much time on them as I had examined them exhaustively on a previous visit but I took a while to look at the Garden of Remembrance and I paused to take one of the images you see above which shows a portion of the graveyard which has been left to grow pretty much wild. I don’t know the reasoning for this. It maybe deliberate policy to encourage wildlife as is becoming popular, it may be that they do not have the resources to keep the whole place up to scratch. Certainly other parts of the site are very well-kept so I really have no idea. The images below are of the well-surfaced path which passes through the rather ornate castellated gate you can see.
St. Peters churchyard.
St. Peters churchyard.
One piece of advice I would give to the visitor is to try to arrange one of the St. Peters walking tours which I have never been on because they are so popular. Three of them involve the graveyard, a general one (including the grave of the Giant!) and one each for graves pertaining to the World Wars. The most popular is the Village Tour when numerous volunteers from the area dress up in period costume to greet the tour with various anecdotes. I think it is a great idea and those that have been on it say it is excellent which is presumably the reason it has won so many awards. I really must get round to it some day.
The churchyard gate marks a boundary in more ways than one. Whilst in the precincts of the church you can see houses nearby and know you are in a reasonably built up area but as soon as you walk outside you are in open fields. Certainly there is constant traffic noise from the nearby A255 which is always busy but it certainly looks rural enough although utilising modern farming techniques i.e. huge fields which neither Turner nor Dickens would have recognised. Frankly, it is fairly flat, featureless and boring, especially on a cold and damp October day. The path here is called St. Peter’s Footpath and remains so until you are well into Margate.
Whilst on the Footpath I passed an area known as the Shallows for which various suggestions are given as to the origin of the name. What is not in dispute is that this is where the poor old Baptists had to meet to worship in the 17th century when they were being persecuted for being Non-Conformist. That is probably pleasant enough on a warm, summer Sunday but not much fun in the midst of winter.
I kept walking and was glad to note that I was not flagging too badly although my knees were making their presence felt a little, and were to do so a bit more the next day, but it was flat and easy walking. Whilst I had walked under the railway line in Broadstairs I was to walk over it on a footbridge on the outskirts of Margate. The various websites make much of the local youth, under supervision, being encouraged to turn their aerosol graffiti habits to positive effect by decorating this structure. Whilst this may have been true when the websites were constructed the “artists” have either reverted to type or their less altruistic brethren have been at work as it is just a mess of ugly “tagging” graffiti now which I did not even bother taking an image of.
Dane Valley Woods.
Too muddy fr my white trainers!
Just beyond the vandalised footbridge is the entrance to Dane Valley Woods which is marked by the rather pleasant carved sign you can see above. I would ordinarily have liked to explore that a little but a look at the muddy path (also pictured) and my still relatively pristine white trainers put paid to that notion. That was a bit of a shame as a look at XXXX the attached website shows the woods to be a very creditable project to “be a sustainable, community-owned wildspace in the heart of Margate encouraging participation in creating and managing the woods for enjoyment, health, learning and wildlife”. Fair play to them.
Past the woods and I was into Margate with settlement springing up as suddenly as it had disappeared in St. Peters although my way was still named St. Peter’s footpath. I knew I was due to come upon a windmill called Draper’s Mill fairly shortly as I had seen it signposted from the other direction previously and I could just see the top of the sails from a way off. I wasn’t actually expecting it to be open (if indeed it ever does open to the public but I suspected it must) although I probably wasn’t expecting what I saw which was a cherry picker and a gang of workmen dismantling the sails. Routine maintenance I suppose.
The mill was constructed in 1845 as one of a set of three on a site where a mill had stood since at least 1695. It worked in the manner intended until 1916 when the sails were superseded by a gas engine although I singularly fail to see the point of a “wind”mill that does not utilise the wind. In 1927 the disused sails and fantail were removed completely. In 1965 the mill was threatened with demolition but the Headmaster of the primary school opposite founded a charitable Trust and saved it thankfully. I am so glad he did. Just in case you are interested, those sails span 66 feet (20 metres).
I kept on walking, still on St. Peter’s footpath and then things started to unravel a bit. I don’t know Margate anywhere near as well as I know Broadstairs but I know it well enough not to get lost. Whilst I did not get lost per se, what I did lose was the path. It had been signposted well thus far and, indeed, for a long portion of the path it was the only visible route but the signage just petered out with the post above which is the same one I teased you with before.
I kept going in generally the correct direction but could find no sign of a sign if that is not appalling English. I quartered about but still nothing. Ah well, no problem and I made my own way into town. I suppose that theoretically it would have been possible to look up the route on my ‘phone but that is all a bit technical for me. Pausing briefly to take the image of yet another dead pub for the Lost Pubs website I headed down Ramsgate Road into town.
When I got into town I debated walking down to Droit House which is the official start / end point of the path but I had walked far enough and decided to jump on a bus back to Broadstairs. I knew that I could still manage a bite of brunch in Beano’s although it would have been just as easy to walk five minutes down the hill to Beano’s in Margate but back to Broadstairs I went. I know it is unusual for you to get my “breakfast” pic so late in the piece but here you go. I know you would not think it was not a proper page of mine if there was not an image of a fry-up on there somewhere!
It had been a great day in terms of me learning what I was capable of as I recovered and I was well pleased with my progress but the day was not yet over. As I have mentioned before, Jackie manages to get some great acts in the Wrotham despite it being a relatively small venue and this evening was a case in point. She had booked a guy called Keith Kenny from New Jersey and he turned out to be excellent not to mention a really nice bloke when I chatted to him afterwards.
I had noticed on his cartoon promo material that apart from a caricature image of him there was a red suitcase which I took to be merely indicative of him being a travelling muso butit is not. As you can see in the image above (again, I did not want to use flash and annoy others) it is onstage and actually hides an electronic drumkit and between that, his pedal board and his loop machine he manages to sound like an entire band all by himself.
Of all the excellent music I saw during this trip he really was one of the most impressive acts and I would definitely go to see him again. He does a short tour in the South of England every Autumn and I believe this was his third year in the Wrotham. It is a measure of how well Jackie runs the music here that not only does she get returns from international acts but I know he has already asked to play next year because he loves it there. Do yourself a favour and check out his website.
After the busy day I did not stay too long and it was a relatively early bed for Fergy.
In the next post I mange to get further than the Pavilion in Ramsgate and discover a few hidden and not so hidden gems so stay tuned and spread the word.
Sunday the 13th was another fairly dreary day in terms of weather but I was quite excited as I was to play in the Pavilion, locally known as the Pav which has a wonderful position overlooking the harbour and Viking Bay. It is a big place, used for functions a lot and is one of the hubs for Folk Week. It is probably best known for the late night ceilidhs, many of which I have attended and some of which I even remember! Whilst I remember a couple of impromptu jams in the garden during Folk Week I had never got to play onstage there as that is reserved for proper musicians but this was the day I was going to get my chance.
I had been asked by my friend Ginny some time before if I would play in a scratch band at a charity fundraiser for the local Pilgrims Hospice in memory of a guy called Chris Rozee. Of course I would. The band was to be named “Ginny’s Motley Crew” and indeed it was, mostly refugees from the Folk Club held every Wednesday at the nearby Tartar Frigate. I should mention that both the Pavilion and the Frigate are Thorley Taverns, just two of the six drinking establishments Frank Thorley owns in Broadstairs alone with dozens more elsewhere. I had popped into the George (another Thorley Tavern) for a while and then made my way the 100 or so yards down the hill to the Pav, where the band were just setting up, great timing.
Ginny had given me a potential setlist and I knew most of the songs on it. The tunes were no problem as the band included my friends Michaela on the accordian and Graham on fiddle, both of whom are excellent musicians and whom I have played with before. All that needs to happen is Michaela shouts key changes at me as we go and I merely jam along behind what they are doing. Simple. It was all a complete busk and I was just harmonising on a few choruses but Ginny had asked me previously if I could take the vocal on a song called Fiddler’s Green. That was easy enough as it was one of the first folk songs I ever learnt and I have been signing it for over 40 years now which is a bit scary. It seemed to go well enough and the good people assembled there were kind enough to applaud and at least they didn’t throw rotten fruit!
When I had first been told about the gig I was a little apprehensive, not about the playing but about filling the hall as it is a fairly large space and there is nothing worse for performers or audiences than trying to create an atmosphere in a half empty barn of a venue. I need not have worried as it was certainly not full but there was enough of a crowd to make for a good gig. The charity had a stall set up with a raffle etc. and I have not heard the final figures but I hope they raised a few £££.
Sadly, I didn’t have time to lumber anyone with my camera so I have no images of this momentous event (well, momentous for me anyway) but I’ll see if anyone else has and post them if I get any.
There had been a couple of bands on before us and when we had cleared down Michaela did not have to move far as she was part of the last act, a band called Fat Tuesday and one of two bands she is in. They play mostly cajun music and I do rather like them. They had a guest artist who has one of the best stage names I have ever heard. He is a trombone player (yes, a trombone in a cajun band, strange I know) and his name is Marty so he goes out under the name of Marty Boneidol which I think is pretty clever. He is in Michaela’s other band which is called Beggars Belief who are also very good. They describe themselves as a reggae roots fusion band if you can believe that. Honestly, there is no style that lady cannot play. Incidentally, that is Ginny you can just about see playing washboard behind the speaker stand and the significance of the “instrument” is that the late Chris, whose memorial it was, often used to guest on it with the band.
It has taken me over 30 years but I can now put my hand on my heart and say I have played the Pav. I can finally hold my head up amongst Tim and Krista and Chris and all my other mates who have been on this very stage.
After making my farewells I headed back to the Wrotham as the day was not over by a long shot. There was a band playing the 1600 – 1800 slot and I watched their set which was very good but, for the life of me, I cannot remember what they were called even though I had a chat with a couple of them afterwards. Sorry lads. OK. so that was played one, watched two and still more to come.
Bob Kenward leads the Woodshed session.
The Woodshed session.
Sunday evening is normally quiet there and Jackie will often close the bar a bit early as she is there on her own but once a month there is a gig called the Woodshed run by the excellent Bob Kenward. He is the guy in the images with the red T shirt playing the guitar. Bob is yet another mate who I have known for years and is an excellent folk musician who has run the Woodshed for many years. During Folk Week it runs every afternoon between the lunchtime and evening acts and is immensely popular. The only difference between this gig and a regular Folk Club is that every month there is a theme which on this occasion was “time”. The next month it was to be “parts of the body” although the themes are fairly loosely interpreted and it is a nice relaxed atmosphere as Bob is very good at making even inexperienced performers feel relaxed, he is a charming man.
I was asked if I fancied doing a bit but I didn’t bother and just sat at the bar, sipping my “ciderwater” and enjoying the music. If you look closely at the image above, you may just recognise the hairstyle and instrument of the lady with her back to the camera. Yes, it is the lovely Michaela. Not content with having played in two bands in the afternoon she was back for more here. She really is a glutton for punishment!
When everyone had disappeared after the Woodshed, Jackie and I were sitting having a quiet drink and chatting about this and that but mostly the music scene around Thanet, specifically Broadstairs, which never ceases to amaze me. There is a local listings publication called W3 and every edition is completely full of gigs not to mention quiz nights, karaoke and just about everything else.
Apart from the music, there are a number of art galleries in the area, several decent theatres and one of the quirkiest little cinemas you will ever see. It is called the Palace and is in between the George and the Pavilion as mentioned above. That is another great thing about Broadstairs, none of the places I have mentioned in this post is more than ten minutes easy walk from any other. I know I go on about it a lot but the town really is an almost perfect spot if you are a bit bohemian, it certainly suits me down to the ground.
In the next instalment, I go for a walk which does not sound very exciting but it is quite a specific walk so stay tuned and spread the word.
This is another of my two for one special offers merely to keep you from having to keep clicking from page to page. Never let it be said that I do not care for my dear readers
11th October. What a waste of time.
Friday morning was another fairly dismal one and I headed back to the Pavilion in Ramsgate for breakfast when my mobile (cell) ‘phone decided to relay a voicemail message to me that had been sent on Wednesday. I should explain that the signal in Broadstairs is notoriously bad and it is not uncommon to see people in the oddest looking positions trying to get their devices to work. Thankfully, I ensure that I am not so reliant on mine as to make it a serious issue although in this case it was to prove to be a major inconvenience. My provider (Vodafone) is notoriously sketchy here and although it is improving I regularly used to get “welcome to Belgium” messages as it could pick up a signal from the Continent better than one from a few miles up the road.
The message was from the haemophilia clinic at Canterbury Hospital telling me that if I could get to the QEQM hospital on Thursday afternoon (i.e. the day before) the haemophilia and thrombosis nurse who I had seen previously could supply me with a prescription for a further supply of the anti-coagulant syringes which were by now running low. That had obviously been and gone and so I ‘phoned the clinic which proved less than simple as the signal kept dropping out even in Ramsgate and I ended up standing virtually on the beach to maintain contact. The upshot of it was that I had to go all the way to Canterbury to get my prescription and I decided it might as well be that afternoon so I walked back up to the Harbour and caught the bus.
Ramsgate pier after a wind.
Queen’s Head hotel, Ramsgate.
On the way to the bus stop I took a couple of images which you can see above. One is of a scaffolding fence on the pier that had fallen victim to the recent high winds and taken out a lamp post in the process and the second was of the Queens Head hotel and it is another example of why it is always good to look up as I mentioned in an earlier post. Some of the architecture along the seafront in Ramsgate is stunning. Whilst there has been a pub here since 1773, this incarnation only dates to 1921 although I must admit I thought it was earlier than that but it just goes to show how little I know about architecture!
I said I had to go “all the way to Canterbury” and this may seem odd to anyone who has looked it up on a map as it is only 18 miles but it is a nightmare as the bus takes the most circuitous route imaginable and stops at every hole in the hedge. It took me nearly and hour and a half to get to the bus station which is nowhere near the hospital but I decided to walk anyway on the principle of trying to get a bit of exercise when possible as medically advised. That was a mistake. It was all uphill and the rain came on when I was far enough away from the bus station that I reckoned carrying on was a better option than turning back and getting a bus up.
On the way I spied a decent looking little pub which I marked for a possible visit on the return journey although it didn’t happen as I shall explain and also spied the sad sight of another pub that I was not going to have a chance to visit. I fear the Two Doves will soon be another of my submissions to the Lost Pubs website I have spoken of here before. A little research shows that the owners applied for planning permission early in 2019 to turn it into flats (apartments) and so would have died another community pub which has been serving that purpose since the 19th century, which really would be a disgrace. All is not lost however as, in a fit of common sense not normally associated with local authority planning departments, the application was refused hence the for sale sign. Anyone fancy taking it on?
I eventually made it to the hospital and started on a further ramble as the signage seemed to indicate everything, including quite prominently the private health company that in my opinion have no business in NHS premises but gave no clue as to the location of either reception or the haemophilia clinic.
I finally got there.
After wandering round for what seemed like an age in the drizzle I eventually stumbled on the reception desk and they directed me. After a short wait I was seen by Jeanette, the lovely haemophilia / thrombosis nurse and who took no more than two minutes to write me out a prescription. The new regime prescribed had the advantage of being double dosage so I would only have to inject myself once a day for which I was very grateful. In nine weeks or so it had gone from being slightly uncomfortable to being pretty painful with me having to use the same limited area over and over again. My stomach was considerably bruised and, frankly, I felt like a second hand pin cushion!
A couple of steps outside the clinic informed me that I was getting the bus back into the centre as the weather had gone from miserable to bloody evil, it was tipping down with rain. Fortunately the bus came fairly quickly and cost another £1:80 so I was now down £9:30 not to mention the four hours of my life I won’t get back and all for a piece of paper they could have issued at the QEQM hospital or the Health Centre if they had agreed to take me on. Of course that does not count the £9 for prescriptions which are free for the over 60’s but I had to take ill a few months shy of that milestone birthday. I could have saved myself a fortune had I waited.
There is a shopping centre right beside the bus station and I had seen a large Boots on the way to the hospital. Again for non-UK readers, Boots is one of the largest retail pharmacists in the UK. When I say it was large I really mean it, it was about the size of an aircraft hangar and easily the biggest branch I have ever seen and I thought I would have no problem getting my prescription filled. Wrong, they did not have it but told me I could come order it and come back in a few days which was little use to me. I didn’t get my prescription filled, didn’t even get to stand in line with Mr. Jimmy and if you understand that little deliberately cryptic reference then you are probably as old as I am or possibly your parents are!
I thought I would brave the elements as I had time to kill before the next bus so I set off in search of another pharmacy and found in the form of a fairly sizeable Superdrug (another large pharmacy chain) only to find their pharmacy was shut with no reason given. Brilliant. I managed one quick image of the clock tower which is all that remains of the 15th century St. George’s Church where Christopher Marlowe was baptised. The actual clock is positively “modern” dating only to 1836 and the reason only the tower remains is that the whole centre of this historic city was bombed severely by the Germans on 1st June 1942. This raid can only be viewed as wanton destruction and terrorising the civilian populace as there was little of military importance there. It was one of the so-called Baedecker raids which were reputedly planned using a pre-war German tourist guidebook of that name and which targeted historic cities. York, Bath, Exeter and Norwich also suffered.
Nothing for it then but to head back to Broadstairs and resume my search for medication in the morning as I didn’t think the small Boots in the town would have what I needed, they are notorious for being very poorly supplied. A recip (surveillance term) of the tortuous route on the bus in the rain with the gloom turning to full dark and the widows steamed up was hardly high on my list of great things to do in Kent but I got back in one piece, had a quiet night and off to bed.
12th October. Another quiet day.
Obligatory breakfast images from Beano’s in Broadstairs.
Saturday was another fairly dismal day when I did very little. I decided on a Beano’s breakfast which was as tasty as ever and justified it to myself, were any justification needed, that I could pop into Payden’s pharmacy a couple of doors up which I did with complete success. I had always thought that this was a fairly local concern as I knew they had a branch in Margate but a quick check shows that they are a fairly large outfit. Still, they got the job done and I was fully drugged up for another while. Sorry, I should have said that I had sufficient prescribed medication to fulfil my health requirements. That sounds better, doesn’t it?
Two images of modern small town Britain.
On my way back down the town I took the first image above which shows why I have to hump my laundry on a bus to Ramsgate. The second really pains me as it is what is left of the Lord Nelson pub where I have played so often I have lost count a long time ago. It was one of the centres of Folk Week where the lunchtime playaround sessions were held for a long time. I know the last landlady who had the rug literally pulled out from under her (she lived upstairs) when the brewery sold it off to a property developer to turn into flats (apartments) as if any more were needed in Broadstairs. It has lain like this just rotting away for some years now with all sorts of problems about planning permission and a host of other issues but it appears that at long last something is happening if the bricks outside are anything to go by.
I have included these two images as they show exactly what is happening to villages and towns all over the UK. Local retailers are being squeezed out of business and banks, pubs and post offices are closing hand over fist. Broadstairs used to have three major banks. One is now a chain coffee shop, one a pizza joint and one a bar / escape room (bloody stupid idea if you ask me) which is about par for the course. Add to this the fact that over 3,000 bus services in Britain have been axed in the past decade and the life is being squeezed out of smaller communities. If you are elderly or disabled or, like me, you choose not to drive then you are in real difficulties in many parts of the country now.
The next post is packed to the rafters with music and I fulfil a long held ambition so stay tuned and spread the word.
Sunday 6th October. Not Hagibis but pretty hurricane like.
As I mentioned in my last post I am going to quickly run a few days together on one post here as not very much of interest actually happened. I was doing much the same things every day and slowly regaining what health and vitality I may have once possessed and, apart from the inconvenience of self-injecting an anti-coagulant subcutaneously into my abdomen twice daily, my recovery was coming along nicely.
A quick glance out the window on Sunday morning showed that it was a pretty miserable day and I was glad I had visited the Food Festival the previous day when it was not exactly tropical but not too bad but all that was to change. I decided I might as well get the most out of my rover ticket on the bus and took myself off for a day in the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate again. My day is effectively summed up in the three images above – excellent breakfast, awful weather and then an evening meal of a small Hawaiian pizza. I am so glad Wetherspoons have introduced this 8″ pizza as even with my recovered appetite a full sized offering after a large breakfast would still make me struggle, I reckon.
I decided on a quiet night in the Wrotham and was regaled with tales of how a mini hurricane had just about obliterated the Food Festival, blowing down tents, reducing the ground underfoot to a quagmire and generally wreaking havoc. It was so bad that the Festival had to close early which is a shame. During a later conversation with one of the Directors I found out that they had no option as, apart form their own safety consciousness, they were not insured for winds of the strengths being recorded. I was a mere four miles along the coast and whilst the weather was bad it was nowhere like as severe as Broadstairs which only reinforces my point form a few posts ago that Broadstairs really does have it’s own microclimate.
At the same time as this was going on, Typhoon Hagibis was creating complete devastation in Eastern Asia, disrupting the Rugby World Cup although that is unimportantin view of the 86 lives lost which somewhat puts a sporting contest into context. It also demonstrated the fundamental goodness of rugby people as both the Canadian and Namibian squads were out helping with the cleanup operation. One of the Canadian players said that they had been hosted so wonderfully that it was the least they could do to lend a hand. Well played, lads.
7th October Laundry, ladybirds and a late lunch.
Monday came around to start yet another week in Thanet and I decided to do some laundry or rather it decided for itself as it was approaching the critical and so off I trotted to Ramsgate again to the laundrette. Like the A&E (ER) or outpatients at the local hospital, I always take a book with me as it can be mind-numbingly boring otherwise. I was reading said book (a Simon Scarrow if memory serves) and breathing deeply as I love the smell of laundrettes, when I felt something on the back of my right hand. Looking down, I saw the tiniest ladybird I have ever seen quite happily doing whatever it was doing. I knew I had to take a picture but that was to prove to be easier said than done.
I did not want to move my right hand at all lest the fragile little critter took off. My camera was in the front right hand pocket of my jeans and so it was a bit of a feat of dexterity to get it out, turn it on, adjust the zoom and take the images whilst trying to remain perfectly still but I managed it. Above you can see the shot “as is” to give an idea of just how tiny the little insect was and also with a bit of cropping to give you a better look. It even went for a bit of a wander round my hand before taking off. I have often heard that a ladybird landing on you is lucky and although I am not superstitious I must confess I felt very happy and probably had a big soppy grin all over my ugly mug.
Having missed my now customary breakfast I was getting a bit “esuriant” to use that lovely word as featured in the wonderful Monty Python cheese shop sketch and I fancied a bite to eat so back to the Pavilion where the grub is always good, served quickly and not expensive. Although I would eat breakfast at any hour they only serve an all day brunch which I didn’t really fancy but a look at the menu suggested a beauty of an option, namely steak and kidney pudding. This is not to be confused with steak and kidney pie, which is fine, but there is not much to beat a proper suet pudding. That was decided then and I was promptly presented with the very tasty looking offering you see below.
I have a bit of a problem with this dish as it is served here, however. I am not a huge fan of gravy at the best of times but with chips (fries for my American friends) it is just wrong. OK, I have had poutine in Canada as it is virtually impossible to visit there and not sample what is effectively their national dish and I quite enjoyed it. At least JDW have the decency to serve it in a proper boat and so a small amount on the pudding and the whole lot disappeared p.d.q.
I spent the rest of the evening in there trying manfully and failing miserably to get this blog up to date (I swear it will never happen) and by the time I got back to my digs you wouldn’t believe it but that appetite of mine had kicked in again. Much as I love staying in the Wrotham, and I do, my cooking facilities are limited to a kettle so I have to box a bit clever in that respect and frankly I am getting a little tired of pot noodles! However, I had been to the Food Festival and laid in supplies as you will know if you read the last entry here and after the idiotic attempt at an arty image you can see with me “posing” the tomatoes, I did knock up quite a pleasant feed. A scrubbed out pot noodle container served as a small mixing bowl and some halved vine cherry tomatoes with balsamic vinegar accompanied by two wonderful Ashmore cheeses (chilli and mustard) was a decent enough supper for me prior to sticking yet another damned needle into my abdomen then having a few chapters of my book and off to sleep.
8th October. Not a lot to read about really.
According to my images, what happened today was not a thing
Not a single thing, nothing at all, nil, zero, nowt, zilch, you get the picture and so we shall pass swiftly on to……………..
9th October. Were did the summer go?
OK, I know I spent mid August to mid September in hospital but the autumn seemed to have set in quickly and severely as one of the images above shows. It was an overcast horrible day and I didn’t much fancy doing anything until the evening when I had promised to be at the Wrotham again for Griff’s open Mic Night. I enclose the obligatory breakfast image above with the comment that the black pudding Wetherspoons use is very tasty, I wonder where they source it.
Nothing much more to report until the evening when I duly turned up for Griff’s do which is held once a month and which I really enjoyed. Griff is one of three excellent resident sound engineers who all hang out in the Wrotham, it really is that sort of a place. They all drink there even when they aren’t working. In addition, Griff and Brian are both excellent musicians and, amongst other projects, are half of a band called Snake Oil Trading Company who I look forward to seeing tomorrow afternoon as I write this in late October 2019.
I was offered an opportunity to do a few numbers but the truth is that I was pretty exhausted albeit I had done nothing much all day. I am not sure if it is the effects of my illness, the sea air, advancing old age or a combination of any or all of them but I do feel tired quite a lot and regularly take an afternoon doze. I did not actually need to do anything as there were plenty of willing volunteers including a drummer who can have been no more than about 12 sitting in with the house band and a very talented young lad singing and accompanying himself on keyboards who was not much older. I am constantly amazed at the quality and quantity of musical talent in this fairly small area and long may it continue. Obviously I did not have far to go to crash out and so ended another fairly quiet but very enjoyable day.
10th October. Still not hot enough.
Again, very little to report on the 10th of the month which was another day in the Royal Pavilion in Ramsgate vainly trying to get this blog somewhere under a month in arrears. Yes, I was in a rut, yes, it is very boring reading which is why I am whizzing through it as quickly as I can and yes, it seemed to be doing me good or at least it wasn’t doing me any harm. The number of people that were telling me by then that I was looking so much better surprised me even though very few had thought to tell me I was looking awful when apparently I was. I suppose they were just being polite.
As to the tagline at the heading of this section, it is something of a double entendre in the proper and non smutty sense of the phrase. Firstly, the weather was certainly not hot enough for my liking and I was increasingly trying to work out how to get somewhere warmer that did not involve flying as the thrombosis ruled that out completely. Morocco and Turkey overland were both suggesting themselves and still are and the Lebanon has been a place I have wanted to visit for as long as I can remember but getting there overland at present might be difficult unless I go through Cyprus on ferries. I must look into that.
My usual Southerly migration to Asia is feasible at ground level but I’d like to leave such a major undertaking until I am in a more settled situation healthwise. By that I do not mean physically stronger although that is a consideration but moreso logistical matters like sourcing my medication, some of which I shall be taking for life, in far flung places. I am definitely not contemplating leaving UK until I am finished with the injections as the thought of taking relatively bulky syringes and sharps boxes through borders does not really appeal although I know it can be done. These are all things to be looked into and I have plenty of time.
I think this says it all, really.
Apart from the weather, the “before and after” images above should give you a clue as to the second part of the double entendre and that was a good old Ruby. UK readers will probably know what a Ruby is in this context but for others I should explain that a Ruby is rhyming slang for a curry deriving from Ruby Murray = curry. Ruby Murray was a famous singer and actress from the place of my birth and adolescence – Belfast. I am amazed and humbled when I occasionally check my stats page here and discover I have readers all over the world so thank you all so much and I shall attempt to explain any British colloquialisms as I go along but back to the Pavilion and my Ruby.
Every Wetherspoons in the country, which is over 1,000 outlets and increasing, has a “Curry Club” on a Thursday night and they boast in their promotional material that they are Britain’s biggest curry house that night of the week. Frankly, I can believe it. They have even gone so far as to have their own branded mango chutney produced for them which I do like as it is a little spicy and certainly stands comparison with any of the popular branded products. They rate their curries with chilli symbols from one chilli (mild) to five chillies (extremely hot) and I opted for the lamb madras which is the sole four chilli (very hot) offering and which I have enjoyed greatly before. As the image shows, each curry is served with naan bread, basmati rice and poppodum and I have tried most of the range which have all been very good. You can also add samosas and / or onion bhaji if this is not enough for you.
I like a fairly well spiced curry and even the milder ones are tasty without being volcanically hot although I have had some fairly lively offerings, specifically in Northeast Thailand and in my friend’s home in Sri Lanka. I will accept no argument, my dear friend Treshi makes the best curries on the planet bar none.
My beef madras is described on the menu and the attached website as “Tender pieces of diced beef, in a spiced tomato sauce, with onion, coconut, mustard seeds and chilli” and damned tasty it is too but what it is not is “hot, hot, hot” and I now have that irritating 1980’s disco song in my head having written that! I am in no way Mr. Asbestos Mouth as some of my mates seem to be, ordering ridiculous things like vindaloos and phalls in proper Asian restaurants where they really do mean hot when they say it but whilst this had a pleasant “afterburn” it was nothing like as hot as I can eat enjoyably. I certainly would not have put it at four on a five chilli scale. I think the “after image above says it all really.
I’ll take a break here as this post is getting a bit long and the next one will be another multiple where I take a trip to Canterbury and don’t do a single piece of sightseeing. If you want to find out what exactly I was doing, stay tuned and spread the word.
Strange as it may seem, I had a vague plan for the Saturday after all those days of doing very little and that was to do with another Festival that was taking place in Broadstairs, indeed it was taking place about five minutes walk from where I was staying. Instead of Folk this Festival is dedicated to Food and has been going for a number of years now. Indeed, it seems to get bigger every year.
Kent is known as the “Garden of England” and with good reason as it is an absolute treasure trove of produce from the orchards with the associated ciders and perries to the hops and the beer they produce to excellent lamb, cheeses and all manner of fruit and veg. Add in such seafood delicacies as Dover sole and Whitstable oysters, to name but two and you really cannot go wrong food wise. On my five minute walk from bedroom to festival site I actually passed the restaurant which has very recently been awarded the first Michelin star in Thanet and which I will deal with in a future post.
If you are a regular reader all this will explain the rather cryptic message I left in the last sentence of the previous post about napkins, knives and forks. I decided to go on the Saturday and was glad I did not wait for the Sunday for reasons I shall explain in due course and it was absolutely packed as the images attest even though the weather was anything but glorious. I have actually been here before and sat outside drinking in a T-shirt. All this in early October, it was great but sadly no T-shirts this year and I was well wrapped up.
Cider, cider everywhere nor yet a drop to drink!
I have to say that the Festival was very frustrating for me this year for a couple of reasons. Firstly, due to my medication I could only stand and look longingly into the numerous beer and cider tents, the Gin Palace, the champagne bar and even at the miniature prosecco wagon you can see in one of the images. OK, I am not really much of a one for drinking prosecco except mixed with Aperol and soda in my mates bar in Rome but it is the principle of the thing.
My meagre purchases.
The second reason for my frustration was that much as I love where I am staying in the Wrotham, the sum total of my cooking facilities is a kettle. OK, I had cutlery and a tin opener with me as I always carry such things for emergencies but it somewhat limited my choice of purchase. What could I possibly do with a lovely rack of Kentish lamb for example? In the end I limited myself to a couple of excellent pieces of locally produced cheese and a bag each of red and yellow cherry tomatoes on the vine from the massive agrocentre called Thanet Earth which I have mentioned before and who had an extensive stall. I was glad to see that they were selling their produce in paper as opposed to plastic which was a good sign. I’ll show you what I did with the toms in a future post. I also bought a couple of pieces of cheese from the Cheesemakers of Canterbury
I do like the way they name all the “roads” on the site with local place names as you can see in one of the images. I picked this one as the Festival site is right beside Louisa Bay where there used to be a pub of that name that I played a gig on the first year I played Folk Week which is a very long time ago. There is a block of flats there now which seems to be par for the course in Thanet, indeed in the whole of the UK.
As I was taking this image, I heard my name being called and it was my mate Jo who is one of the Festival Directors. She is the lady who used to own what is now the Magnet micropub, formerly the Reef, and who I have known for many years. I met her about a week later and she told me that she had one of those wristbands that tell you how far you have walked amongst other things like the time of High tide in Cape Town or whatever and that she had walked something ludicrous like 12 miles that day. I told her to cancel her subscription to the gym!
Broadstairs Food Festival.
Jo was not the only person I was chatting to as it seems I know an awful lot of people round Broadstairs and they all happened to be at the Festival at the same time I was. It probably took me twice as long as it should have done to get round the site as I kept bumping into people, many of whom I had not seen for a long time so there was a lot of catching up to do.
I took myself considerably less than Jo’s 12 miles back to the Wrotham for another quiet night and was sitting minding my own business when a lovely dog decided to just make itself at home on my feet which sported only a pair of flip flops (thongs). I thought dogs were meant to have a keen sense of smell but apparently not. Try as I might, I could not get the beast to turn round even slightly so I could get anything other than a back of the head image and it is not centred properly but I quite like it.
Upstairs then once again to my bed, leaving my purchases by the slightly open window by way of refrigeration and off to sleep.
The next post will be another several days rolled into one as I really had slipped into a very comfortable routine of doing very little but I’ll let you know as soon as anything good comes up so stay tuned and spread the word.