I see Age & Sons, Ramsgate's premier eatery, has yet again won plaudits in the national press. Restaurant reviewer Tracey MacCleod gives the joint four stars out of five for food and service in today's Independent. However, she's less than complimentary about the island's premier town. She writes:
The once-thriving royal resort of Ramsgate should, in theory, be the perfect destination for a daytrip to the seaside, thanks to the imminent high-speed rail link from St Pancras. I had it all planned: a blustery walk on the beach, fish bought straight from the boat, perhaps a little antiques shopping, before a hearty lunch eaten in sight of the sea. I was thinking, it turns out, of Whitstable. Ramsgate is not, nor could ever be mistaken for, Whitstable.
The short taxi ride from station to harbour (courtesy of a driver with 'Love' and 'Hate' tattooed on his knuckles) took us past boarded-up shops and repossessed properties. It was clear that the flood of wealth which washed over south-east England during the last decade has largely by-passed this far easterly corner. As my fellow day-tripper Harry said, taking in the blighted landscape, 'Suddenly I see the point of Brighton'.
'Blighted landscape'? 'Boarded-up shops'? The knuckle-tattooed taxi driver didn't take you gullible DFLs via Margate, did he? And as for a 'blustery walk on the beach', 'fish straight from the boat' and 'antiques shopping', you could have done all those things here if you'd bothered to toddle a few yards, love. Not only that, but our beautiful Blue Flag beaches are sandy, not rocks/mud like those other places you mention.
As for Whitsta-bloody-bubble, I should jolly well hope Ramsgate could never be mistaken for the place, which these days is so crammed with middle class escapees from the smoke it resembles nothing more or less than an ethnically cleansed Islington-on-Sea. And last time I looked, Whitstable didn't have almost 1,000 listed buildings. Just a few tatty wooden shacks! Kuh!
Click here to read review of Age & Sons in the Independent
And click here to watch a repeat of Homes Under the Hammer on BBC iPlayer, in which the old Ramsgate police station, next door to Age & Sons, is given the makeover treatment by an accountant (Series 12, Episode 20)