Now that I've recovered somewhat from the jet lag, I thought I'd take an inaugural toddle around the Millionaires' Playground. As I weaved past the thawing dog nuts and piles of uncollected rubbish on the pavements, a familiar feeling came over me.
On the one hand the startling beauty and setting of this town in the magic hour when the sun's setting can still take my breath away, just like the first time I clapped eyes on it all those years ago. Indeed, you could see it in the eyes of the hoards of newcomers who were strolling along the prom. You can spot them by the wistful glint as they survey their new manor, and the fact that they've not been dressed from a skip. They've been lured here, no doubt, by the new high speed train link (posters for which have sprung up everywhere in my absence), the Regency and Victorian properties at knock down (before they fall down) prices and the wondrous Thanet coastscape.
Only this week, Ramsgate was yet again named, along with Plymouth, as a national property hotspot, just as it was at the end of 2005, prompting my move here and spawning these feeble jottings, now in their fifth inglourious year. But after five years, the scales have well truly fallen from my eyes, the barker's nest on the cake being our local administration, guided, as it is, by lacklustre, dimwitted yokels who'd roll their trouser leg up and sell their granny, along with a free tube of KY, if there was a quick buck to be made.
But it's not all bad news. Ramsgate Council and the Eastcliff Residents' Association (of which I have never been a member, and of which I am never likely to be now they've had some sort of palace coup and a website revamp which has deleted the link to the eponymous area's most famous resident) have both come up with retorts to the Duffers' planning consultation which goes as far as they can in saying 'up yours' to the airport without being accused of stifling the (non-existent) 'jobs effect' so often touted by its supporters. Remember, more than a decade ago they were promising 10,000 jobs. So far it's created less than 100.
Back to that property report, and one of the stated reasons for Ramsgate being touted as a speculators' paradise is the new (also non-existent) fast ferry link to Boulogne. I see our local good egghead and biblio-bloke Michael Child has been blowing the whistle on this. Well, he may say that, but I couldn't possibly comment, still being held to ransom as I am by the putative operators. Suffice it to say that Visit Britain (the British Tourist Board in old money) thinks they've been running since 14 November (see link below), and that's good enough for me.
Even the high speed trains hardly covered themselves in glory, I hear, during the Big Snow of 2009. As I've been writing this, the sun's gone down, and the tracksuited youths are marching up and down outside, threatening to set fire to a discarded estate agent's sign that's cluttering up the pavement. Oh dear, I feel the old cynicism creeping over me again!
Southeastern high speed trains
Ramsgate tipped as property hotspot on email4property.co.uk
Ramsgate to be 'millionaires' playground' (from 2006)
Latest on fast ferry to Boulogne on Thanetonline
Visit Britain's quarterly update (pdf download)