A (brief) ramble in Ramsgate.

16th October.
Another nothing day.

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.

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What a great name for a road.

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.

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”.

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Another famous temporary resident.

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.

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It really is rather grand.

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.

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.

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Try driving a bus down this!

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.

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East Cliff lift, Ramsgate.

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.

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Yet another view of the harbour I love so much and the chimneys are great too.

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.

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!

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.

Roaming and return to Ramsgate.

Special offer – two days for the price of one.

Thursday 19th September was another lovely day although I did not do much with it and so I shall content myself with a brief entry here and post the whole thing on the 20th as it seems a bit pointless making a post for so little otherwise.

Having gone to Margate the previous day, I thought I may as well utilise my Loop Bus pass to go the other way and return to Ramsgate for another day. A quick wander round town where I checked out the numerous charity shops as I ten to do. My beloved old DPM (Disruptive Pattern Material aka camo) jacket had fallen hors de combat (get it?) with the zip giving out and the weather, whilst beautifully sunny still, certainly wasn’t warm. Having set out on this trip with only the one top coat, it was obvious I was going to need something to replace it.

Street scene, Ramsgate.
Street scene, Ramsgate.

The urban decay I spoke of at length in the previous post in Margate is also evident in Ramsgate as you can see although not perhaps to quite the same extent and there is no shortage of charity shops to choose from. In one I found a decent quilted waterproof jacket which fitted nicely but there was just one problem. It had a Saracens rugby team logo on it and they are not my team so I just could not bring myself to do it. A little further down the hill I found a brilliant leather motorcycle jacket for £15 (absolute bargain) and I tried it on. It fitted like a glove. What prevented me from buying it there and then I will never know but I didn’t and carried on with my unzipped camo. Luckily I had plenty of layers on as the wind was pretty raw and I do feel the cold a bit, probably because I have no meat on me! Still, you can’t fatten a thoroughbred as they say.

By then it was time for breakfast with my newly refound appetite so I decided to head for the Royal Victoria Pavilion, the JD Wetherspoons place I have mentioned before. OK, I am a creature of habit really and people do scoff at JDW but I am not going to go over the arguments again here, I like them.

Royal Harbour, Ramsgate.
Are you tired of it yet?

Of course, it would not be as simple as me just walking there as I have to skirt round the Royal Harbour to get to the pub and so I had to stop for yet another image of it. I swear that body of water is to me as a shoe shop is to Imelda Marcos – I just cannot pass it so you are going to be “treated” to another one. Be fair, it is very pretty and I remember when my mate Richard had his boat moored here. I had some great afternoons just sitting on it watching the harbour life, it was most pleasant.

Breakfast, JD Wetherspoons, Ramsgate.
Very tasty but why did I go for the diet option?

Hungry as I was, my image shows that I perversely opted for the small breakfast which was lovely as always but hardly a “breakfast of champions” in terms of size. I must have been planning to eat another three meals that day or something.

If I have a slight criticism of Wetherspoons it is that they have taken it upon themselves to ban vaping in all their premises as have many other establishments. This is despite the fact that vaping is perfectly legal in public places although I wonder how long that will last. British misgovernments (that is not a typo) of both political hues have been working for some time now on the “nanny state” system of ruling us and if I were a betting man I would put a small wager that they will legislate against vaping in the same way as tobacco within ten years. Strange to think that only about 18 months ago the NHS were debating prescribing vapes as an aid to smoking cessation!

Ramsgate beach.
View from a pub door.

However, in the way of clouds and silver linings and so on, look at the view I have when I do step out the door to boost my nicotine levels up from the critical. Not bad, eh? I spent a few hours in the Royal before heading back to Broadstairs for another quiet evening and early bed, well early by my standards anyway.

Revolutions (non-violent), rinsing and retail in Ramsgate.

Friday 20th September was another decent day weather wise but that did not really matter to me as I was pencilled in for a day of domestics, well half a day at least. I always pack light despite experience telling me that I was quite likely to stay in Thanet for some time and to put no too fine a point on it I was running out of clothes. I knew that the one laundrette in Broadstairs had closed down (like most of the premises in town) and a quick internet search showed the nearest to be either Ramsgate or Margate. I knew the bus ran right past the Ramsgate premises and so I decided on that. Besides, the Ramsgate option gave me another chance to go and look at that bike jacket which I had been thinking about on and off.

In the same way that I know a good book is required for a hospital waiting room, so I know that a laundrette is much the same scenario although it is a long time since I used one. As I walked from the bus stop I noticed something vaguely familiar three or four doors along from where I was headed, a Beano Cafe. More of this shortly.

I went into the laundrette where I was the only customer and spoke to the very friendly lady there who was most helpful and fetched me washing powder got me the correct change and set the machine for me (she was later to do the same with the drier). Although I had not paid for a service wash, it might as well have been one. I hit on a bit of a plan and asked my “new best friend” if it would be OK if I popped round to the cafe for a spot of breakfast as my washing went round and round. It seemed a better option than sitting there with the book. She told me it was no problem and my kit would be fine and so I headed off to the Beano.

Beano cafe, Ramsgate.
I just knew what this was.

As you can see, there is a fairly distinctive sign here with the word Beano picked out in red and yellow. Those UK readers of a certain age (i.e. mine) will recognise this as the typeface of a British children’s comic of long-standing and when I say that I mean it as it is the oldest British comic, first published in 1938 by D.C Thomson of Dundee. At time of writing in early October 2019 it has just passed it’s 4,000th edition – some going, but back to the cafe.

For years at Broadstairs Folk Week I camped on the official campsite which was at the “top” of the town and I had a daily walk down High Street to where most of my my gigs were. The Beano was not actually the first cafe you came to but it was not far from my tent and it was certainly the favourite of many festival goers. In recent years I had not been in as it was a long walk up that hill and at the “wrong” end of town for me although all that was to change as you shall see in a future post. I was guessing that this establishment must be in some way related to the Broadstairs one and it turned out my surmise was right to an extent but I shall leave the full story for it’s rightful chronological place in this series.

Beano cafe, Ramsgate.
Simple and delicious.

A light breakfast of poached eggs on toast was all that was required and although it was not confirmed at that point, I just knew it was the same operation as Broadstairs with much the same menu, including a great delight for me which is corned beef, egg and chips at a very reasonable £3:50. It was a bit early for that but it was noted for future reference as I simply love corned beef and you just do not see it in cafes any more. For the benefit of my North American readers, this is not corned beef as you know it but rather the stuff that comes in cans or thinly pre-sliced in rectangles and sold loose or packaged.

Grange Road laundrette, Ramsgate.
No I didn’t strip off.

The breakfast was lovely and I was pleased to see that the cafe was full of tradesmen tucking into huge fry-ups and mugs of builder’s tea which is always a good sign. Having finished, I wandered the 50 or so yards back round to the laundrette just in time to transfer my entire wardrobe (for such it was) to the tumble dryer. I had even taken off my combat jacket and thrown it in. I was reminded of the old 1985 Levi’s TV advertisement which showed a young man going into an American laundromat as they are called there and basically stripping off to his underwear to launder his clothes. I caused quite a stir at the time and did the male model, Nick Kamen, no end of good as it launched him on a brief career as a pop star. I did not go quite that far as it was a bit chilly and I thought the local constabulary may have taken a dim view, not to mention the lady in the laundrette and what I took to be her husband in the back office. I couldn’t shake the image out of my head though.

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My new favourite bit of kit.

With the domestics completed and the belly full I headed straight back into town and the Shelter charity shop  hoping against hope that the bike jacket was still there. I would have kicked myself if it had been sold but I need not have worried. I tried it on again and apparently neither it nor I had changed size or shape appreciably overnight so it still fitted like a glove. I know from experience that leather is useless for repelling water but it was well-padded and warm and whilst I should have bought a sensible winter coat, I had to have this. At time of writing I have been wearing it daily and I absolutely love it.

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I reckon I stole this from them!

It is the best £15 I have spent in a long time as I reckon it is worth ten times more than that new but thankfully it is not new.  It is a bit scuffed and battered, obviously well-worn which saves me the bother of “distressing” it. I hate wearing new clothes that look like new clothes. Have a look at the image above and tell me it was not an absolute steal, plus which the charity get a few £££ so it is a win all round I reckon.

 

On my way back to the bus I happened upon a decent sized street market which I had never seen before but which appeared to be doing a reasonable amount of business.  I had a look round but did not buy anything as purchasing a jacket is more than enough retail therapy for me for one day!

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Merely a snack whilst awaiting my next meal.

I eventually headed back to my digs and helped myself to a Pot Noodle before a quick afternoon dozette which is what happens when you get to my time of life. When I awoke I showered and dressed, complete with my newly acquired jacket and headed back to the George for the evening. I mentioned earlier that my appetite had returned with a vengeance so about 2100 I went across the road to the wonderful Seafarer fish and chip shop and ordered fishcake and small chips or so my image tells me.

Fishcake and "small" chips.
Fishcake and “small” chips.

Dave, the manager of the George does not do regular food in the bar (although he is an excellent chef and often produces very tasty bar snacks) but he is quite happy for you to bring your own food in and consume it on the premises. He is that kind of manager and it is tht kind of pub. It is not just because I am well-known there as the staff tell complete strangers who come in enquiring about food the same thing. Not only that but the staff of the Seafarer will actually bring it over to the bar for you when it is ready as they cook everything to order and it is always piping hot and very fresh. How good is that? Table service in a bar that does not even do food. I should mention in passing that this is a small portion of chips (fries) and I can rarely finish it even with my rediscovered appetite. I have seen a large portion and I swear it would feed either a family of four or a hungry sumo wrestler. Sashimi and chips anyone?

Back home after having stuck manfully to my drink and cigarette allowance, a couple of chapters of my book and off to sleep. That is another thing that seems to have sorted itself out to a degree. I have often mentioned in previous posts about my odd sleeping patterns and, whilst they are probably not what would be deemed to be completely normal now, they have certainly settled down into some sort of rhythm. Whether ot is the sea air (which always makes me tired) or something else I do not know but I am usually asleep before 0200 and do not wake up until morning and having said that I am just going to make a liar out of myself.

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Half a midnight (well, 0430) snack.

I awoke in the middle of the night to attend a call of Nature (too much information I know) and having dealt with that I suddenly came to the realisation that I was hungry but how was that possible? I had eaten that huge portion of fishcake and chips at 2100 and it was now just past 0400 (I know because I checked my image time) and I needed feeding again. Fortunately, I always have a few bits and pieces in my room for emergencies like this and so I made some pancakes with marmalade. You can see three here but that was not enough and I eventually finished the pack of six washed down with some fruit juice. That was better and I managed to get back to sleep.

If you want to see what I manage to shovel down my throat when I get going the next day then stay tuned and spread the word.

I can’t keep away – QEQM hospital again.

Entrance, QEQM hospital, Margate.
I know this door better than I know my own front door.

On the 17th September, I awoke after another excellent night’s sleep in my comfy bed in my quiet cosy room and I felt good. I knew I wanted to stay round Broadstairs and Thanet for a while as a) even getting a cab to and from the train stations at either end I was not sure if I was physically strong enough to hump all that luggage back to London and b) it is so much better an environment to aid recuperation. I was still a bit surprised as to how weak I felt but I suppose it is natural. Jackie was happy for me to stay more or less as long as I wanted so everything was set fair.

Unfortunately, there was still the problem of getting registered with a Doctor locally and getting repeat prescriptions etc. If you have not read the previous post here, I had been turned away from the local health centre despite several hospital Doctors telling me they were legally obliged to take me on. The simple fact of the matter was that I needed medication and my only option was to go back to A&E (ER) at the hospital albeit that I knew it was a ridiculous waste of the time of a Doctor already busy in an already over-stretched department. I queued up again, checked in and then sat down for the long wait with another large, good book. I was not too bothered by that as there were other people there obviously in need of much more urgent attention than me.

I was finally shown through to a small room to speak with the lovely Dr. de Giorgio who quizzed me about my current condition and wrote the script out in the matter of a few minutes. She also checked across the corridor where the door to the opposite consulting room was open and asked me if I could just say hello to her colleague, the Doctor who had initially admitted me what seemed like half a lifetime ago. Sure that was no problem until the Doctor explained that her colleague (whose name I still do not know) had spoken of me when I was admitted and said that it was a long time since she had seen anyone looking as ill as I had. I have a mirror in my room and I didn’t think I looked that bad but obviously so.

The Doctor also told me that her colleague had checked with my ward later the next day to check that the surgery had gone OK, just to be sure. I wonder if she does that for every patient she admits. Somehow I doubt it and it was a bit worrying albeit I only found after everything was sorted. Naturally I went to see the other Doctor and cracked a joke about rumours of my demise being greatly exaggerated. She said I was looking a lot better than I had been before and wished me well. Nice lady.

I know of a couple of pharmacists in Broadstairs but my friend had been telling me before how poor even the largest one was when she was trying to fill prescriptions and so I jumped on the Loop bus as I had topped up my weekly card. I reckoned that as Ramsgate was a larger place than Broadstairs I might have had a better chance of success. As it turned out that was a false hope and it was the Enaxoparin sodium syringes that were causing the problem. The first pharmacy did not have them and the second one which was the biggest in the town could only give me 20 of the 30 prescribed which would have meant a return trip so I did not bother as I had enough for the night and thought I might go to Margate the following day.

I was in Ramsgate and waiting for a bus back to Broadstairs and took a couple of images of the harbour although I do not really know why as I already have dozens from every angle and in every weather condition you can imagine. I just love the place and, as is my way, I am going to share a little factoid with you about it. It is the only Royal Harbour in the UK and received the designation in 1821 from King George IV, a German who used to embark here en route to Hanover. He was so pleased with the rapturous welcome he got from the townspeople that he granted the title and allowed his Royal Standard to be flown three times a year, a tradition that continues to this day.

Old Rover car seein in Ramsgate.
What a beauty.

I also took a quick image of the lovely Rover you can see above. I do not know if it is my imagination but there seem to be an awful lot of wonderful old cars around Thanet, I seem to see them everywhere. From the number plate I reckon this was registered in 1970.

I got the bus back to Broadstairs and, more in hope than in expectation, went into the local chemist clutching my prescription. A quick check and the young lady told me I was in luck and that they had everything I needed. Happy days.

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Yes, this is all for me!

I could not resist taking the image above which is my personal “medicine cabinet” on the mantlepiece in my room. Terrifying, isn’t it?

Cinelli Brothers Band at the Wrotham Arms, Broadstairs.
The Cinelli Brothers taken without flash! Honestly, you could see them.

The evening was taken up in the Wrotham where the excellent Cinelli Brothers Band were playing. The brothers are the drummer and the frontman with the hat who are London based Italians and the other two guys are British. They play really good basic blues and do it very well. You can have a look here to get an idea. They are also very friendly guys and I had a chat with a couple of them. Definitely recommended if you get chance to see them. I d not know how she does it but Jackie punches well above her weight with the quality of the music she puts on in what is a pretty small pub.

Having jabbed myself, filled up on various medications and dressed wounds I turned in for a few chapters of my book and another nights sleep.

I am still in Broadstairs writing this in October so if you want to know what I got up to whilst recovering please stay tuned and spread the word.