Saturday, August 28, 2010

Squall In The Mind

Reader Richard (good name!) writes to remind me that today sees the start of Ramsgate's first ever Summer Squall festival, packed with more than firty Fannitty fun-filled frolics over the course of the bank holiday weekend and designed to put the Cannes of Kent back on the creative map where it belongs.

Dicky's photo shows artist Ben Parry's, er, sonic junk machine outside the Custom House at last night's launch. Apparently this Heath Robinson device will be floating around the town over the next three days, banging and clanging and whirring away to its electric heart's content.

Other highlights include the world's smallest solar powered cinema (seats eight) showing Thanet seaside promotional films from the 50s, 60s and 70s, the world's biggest percussion band made out of recycled old junk, a heritage treasure hunt on Monday morning, thrilling theatre at the King's Church Hall in the centre of town, and a chance to get your book published with an X Factor style writing competition at the Shirley Temple Yacht Club, also on Monday morning.

What with the weather turning up trumps, and all this stuff going on, it looks like the Millionaires' Playground is the place to be this weekend!

Click here for more details on the yourfannitinnit website
Click here to download full Summer Squall programme

Friday, August 27, 2010

Meridian News

Nothing to do with dear, lovely old Fred Dinenage. No. This is the story of what flies above. Specifically the state of the cargo crates that groan in and out of Chas 'n' Dave Tracey Emin Margate Manston RAF International Airport.

If you recall, Manston regular Meridian was recently banned from our skies for failing safety and technical inspections. although you can still see their logo proudly displayed on the freight section of the airport's website. More recently another Manston freight operator, Egyptair, has come under scrutiny and been warned that it could be banned from flying in EU airspace for 'systemic safety deficiencies'.

Just what Meridian's technical and safety failures consisted of has, up to now, been a mystery. But yesterday the findings of an FOI request to the Department for Transport fell into the old Eastcliff mitts, and it makes terrifying reading.

These are the lowlights:

Four inspections of Meridian were carried out in July, in addition to which the DfT has 'evidence indicating that an aircraft (operated by Meridian) took off significantly overweight on one occasion in July'.

The first CAA inspection on 8 July 2010 discovered, amongst other things, fuel leaks, no information about temporary repairs to No 3 engine, and bags not correctly secured and restrained.

On 15 July 2010 the CAA found delaminated flight deck windows, repair of a deferred defect extended 'well beyond limits', valve caps missing from main wheels, temporary repairs of a panel not recorded, no torque check on wing tank access panel screws, protective breathing equipment for crew unserviceable and a visible fuel leak still unattended to.

On 22 July 2010 the CAA noted flight crew seat covers worn and holed, no fireproof ID plate near the main entrance, a large screw head sheared off on the right hand wing, and seals on the right hand inboard fuel tank panels reused after fuel leak rectification.

A second inspection occurred on 22 July which found interior equipment not correctly secured, borrowed breathing equipment which the crew wasn't trained to use, the cargo locking mechanism not suitable for the pallet in use, a smoke detector in the lower hold unserviceable, incorrect performance calculations (presumably regarding things like weight and power on take-off), the flight engineer lacking an English language proficiency endorsement (and a spare pair of glasses!), old seals used on a fuel leak rectification and a fundamental error in load planning which required re-distribution of cargo.

Flamin' Nora! And to think those things were flying a few hundred feet above my bonce!

I know most Thanetians will probably roll their eyes and mutter about 'elf and safety which, considering some of the heaps you see on our roads, is only to be expected. I, on the other hand, am grateful that you can't buy an MOT for a knackered old DC8 in the local pub!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More Building Shite

Well, this is rapidly turning into Property Week, isn't it?

A reader has pointed me in the direction of Stourbridge architects BBLB's website where you can see full details of the forthcoming London Array fart farm's control and maintenance building which they've designed for our lovely port here in the Ms' P. Click on the pic to read and see more.

The new building is apparently designed to BREEAM Excellent, whatever the fudge that is. Perhaps it's related to the monster bass!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Building Shite

No doubt inspired by my previous item concerning typographical errors, reader Barry writes:

Has anyone else seen the artist's impression of the new development they're proposing for the slipways next to the Maritime Museum in Ramsgate Harbour? I enclose a photo.

It's on public display at the Ramsgate Town Council offices at the Custom House. I see some wag has made an attempt at a critique by scrawling an arrow to the development with the word 'site' above it, but they have surely ruined the joke by accidentally omitting the 'H'?

Haha! Yes, well Barry, if I had jug ears and horsey teeth I might well describe the thing as a monstrous carbuncle on the face of an old friend. As it is, my teeth are (natch) perfect and the old shell-likes a treat to behold, so I'll just say it looks like a crap uPVC conservatory on steroids!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Unintetional Error

Reader Dave writes:

I was shopping at the Westwood Cross Staples this afternoon when I noticed a charity box for a very worthy cause by the till. It's a shame, though, that Read International, whose aim is to collect books and donate them to schools in east Africa to help them to read, couldn't even spell their own name right on the tin! I attach a photograph from my mobile phone.

Well Dave, I agree with you there. I bet whoever proof read that is now feeling like a bit of a silly cut!

Rubbish News

Regular contributor Samantha writes:

Is anyone else fed up with the state of Camden Square in Ramsgate? Every week rubbish is dumped there willy-nilly, not to mention the ever-present seagull problem on bin bag collection days. I have attached some photos of the disgraceful mess this square is almost constantly in.

The residents have been told their properties are not suited to wheelie bins and that they cannot participate in the trial of seagull proof bin bags that is taking place elsewhere on the East Cliff. Emails to councillors rarely receive a response, and I know of one councillor who actually believes that the seagull proof bags are 'ugly' and that the final solution is spraying bin liners with bleach on bin day. How's that supposed to help?

Well Samantha, it certainly looks like a land fill from your photos! I wonder how long it'll be before the entire area is infested with rats and bubonic plague?!?!!??

And talking of rubbish news, I've just been sent a press release from Duffer Central entitled HERITAGE OPEN DAYS COME TO MARGATE. According to our beloved council's spin doctor:

Some of Margate ’s many historic buildings and sites will be throwing open their doors next month (September), as part of Heritage Open Days.

A total of 12 different venues will be taking part in the initiative, which runs from Thursday 9 September until Sunday 12 September. It’s been organised under the banner of Margate Arts, Creativity, Heritage (MACH)
[Who they? Ed], an innovative partnership between English Heritage, the Arts Council and Thanet District Council.

There's more, but it's all about Margate. Yet a sneak peek at the English Heritage website reveals that there are two events in Broadstairs, and two in Ramsgate. So why no mensh of those by Cecil Square? Have they forgotten that our council tax pays their wages too? Or are they just eager to take credit for what seems to be some much needed joined up thinking from outside their bureaucratic box? I think we should be told!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Light Not Fantastic

My spies in our teeny-tiny council here in the Millionaires' Playground tell me that some consternation was engendered at the last meeting when one of their number looked up and spotted the council chamber's substantial chandelier dangling by a thread! Or electrical wire in this case.

Quite why the thing wasn't bolted to a joist is a mystery. After all, as the above clip demonstrates, even Del Boy knows that's the proper way to do it.

You'd have thought that the recent renovation of the Custom House, where the council sits, would have been done to top notch standards, especially given the fact that it was aided by a grant from the Ramsgate Seafront Townscape Heritage Initiative Scheme. Oh well, what do you expect from the people who also accidentally demolished the Grade II listed Marina Restaurant on the front!

And talking of council premises (and backs of vans), another spy has sent me these pics of what looks like period furniture being bundled out of Albion House and into the back of an auctioneer's van early yesterday morning. If you recall, Ramsgate Town Council stuck two fingers up at Thanet Council earlier this year and shifted from Albion House to the Custom House.

I wonder who's flogging what are, after all, our assets? TDC or RTC? I think we should be told!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Plane English

Knowing my, er, penchant for anything to do with the aviation industry, several readers have sent me these pics of the latest livery for Kulula, a low cost South African airline. As you can see, they've painted their plane with all sorts of jolly witticisms!

Ordinarily I'd bin this sort of thing in the sure knowledge that publishing it in the 'social meedja' would only cause moist gussets and trebles all round in some Soho 'creative' agency that charges a million pounds an hour for the pleasure of installing a pinball machine in its coffee area and retro, table top Space Invaders to rest the client's latte on. Fab.

But hey-ho, I'm in a generous mood today! I'll go as far as to say it's a shame Kulula don't fly into RAF Chas 'n' Dave Manston Tracey Emin Margate London Kent International Airport. After all, at only a few hundred feet above the old cliff top mansion, I'd at least get some interesting reading to distract me from the noise!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

EU Scrutinises More Manston Cargo Crates

Please excuse my extended hiatus, but I'm still doing a daily dash up and down the motorway to attend to the poorly pater in Skeggy. Hopefully he'll be up and tap dancing again soon!

Tonight I managed to trawl through the 167 emails that have accumulated in my absence. Most were drivel, but one caught the old glass eye. My informant tells me that EgyptAir, whose cargo flights regularly rattle the roof tiles and windows here at the cliff top mansion, 'has been warned that it risks inclusion on the European Commission's blacklist of banned airlines unless it addresses serious concerns in several areas of its operation.' According to Air Transport Intelligence:

The Commission states that 75 inspections since January last year turned up 240 individual safety findings, including 69 in the highest of the three classifying categories.

The Commission expressed 'serious concern' to the Egyptian civil aviation authority in May, regarding 'systemic safety deficiencies' at the flag-carrier.

It says the 'persistence of serious findings' in areas such as airworthiness, maintenance, operations and the safety of cargo on board has prompted a request for monthly reports, from Egyptian authorities, on implementation of a corrective action plan.

You can read more here. The news follows the recent banning of another Manston cargo carrier, Meridian, for 'technical failures and issues with maintenance'.

So, if I should wake up one morning with a pallet of dates wedged up my aris, I'll know who to blame!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Monster Weekend?

So, a big fish, some fireworks, a bit of an old sing song and a few fairground rides. And some flooded basements and, er, a lot of wind.

Yep, that just about sums up this weekend's inaugural Monster Bass festival for me. But I must admit it did seem to have drawn an influx of visitors to the Millionaires' Playground. The fireworks on the beach were definitely a cut above the usual bangers they let off from the East Pier, and the East Cliff lift, which was open well into the night, was vaguely reminiscent of Covent Garden tube at 7.30pm on a Friday! So at least one out of three cheers for the Thanet Council events team. After all, they can't really be blamed for the weather, can they?

Although on second thoughts, did they have to erect a stage with 'Margate Renewal Partnership' emblazoned right across it? Kuh!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Reds Over Our Heads 2

I asked for photos, and you sent them in their millions! Well, one reader sent millions at least. Here's regular contributor Walter's best shot.

By way of contrast, our local biblio-bloke Michael Child has sent me this pic of the Arrows at Manston in 1968 before, as Michael puts it, 'elf and safety':

Cripes! They must have worn cast iron undercrackers in them days!

Well, we've been treated to all types of military hardware over the Millionaires' Playground today, so I'm just off down the strip to numb my migraine with a couple of bottles of Krug. A bientot!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Reds Over Our Heads

If you're wondering what the noise is in the next few days, it'll be the Red Arrows! The RAF's display team are due to be using RAF Chas 'n' Dave Margate Manston Tracey Emin Kent London International Airport as a base for various air shows in the south east until Sunday (click here for more info).

If anyone gets a decent photo, you know where to send it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Scaffolding News

Reader Barry has sent me this snap of our clapped out Royal Pavilion here in the Millionaires' Playground getting a bit of an old facelift.

If you recall, Rank hopped it with their G Casino to Westwood Angry two years ago, leaving the Pav in a parlous state. Quite why the Cecil Square junta hadn't enforced the repairing terms of their lease over the previous 40 years, lord knows. Still, I suppose it deserves a half-hearted cheer to see they're at last doing it now.

According to the press release from our beloved Duffers, the work will include 'redecoration and work to the roof' which will 'be the start of a process that will eventually lead to further regeneration of the seafront and reoccupation of the building.' I see Rank have also applied for listed building consent to remove three metal screens from the first floor roof deck.

I guess we must be grateful that the place hasn't been Goddenised before now. It would be nice to think someone will come along with lots of dosh and an imaginative plan for the place - anyone for a swimming pool with glass walls? You'd be able to splash about on Ramsgate Sands in the middle of winter! It would have to be better than the monstrous lump that looks like an airport ramp which is being planned for the slipways!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Ramsgate Rocks!

Er, well, no it doesn't actually as I gather that Ramsgate Rocks (the powerboat festival but without the powerboats) ain't happening this year. Instead we're to be treated to two new, slightly more arty events in the space of a couple of weeks.

Whilst the Dickensian east side is currently indulging itself with mass bladder-on-a-stick waving, and the seedy north side gears up to get its baps out with its annual Titty Show, here on the trendy south side we're ramping up for Monster Bass (14-15 Aug) and A Summer Squall (28-30 Aug).

Monster Bass (nothing to do with drum 'n' bass or turning it up to 11, as most locals seem to think) will feature a huge papier mâché fish in a torchlight procession to the sea, along with street entertainers and a market. This is TDC's offering.

A Summer Squall is backed by our very own teeny-tiny council and promises 'events around the town with something for every age - music, theatre, film, writing and even archaeology!' Highlights will include the world's smallest solar powered cinema, a milk float that's been transformed into a 'sonic wind machine', and a percussion group that uses old tut to make a banging sound.

Quite how Ramsgate has transformed in the space of a year from a place where lardy, tattooed pit bull tuggers in nothing but thongs can get down the front with a bag of Stellas and jiggle their lobster coloured moobs to a Gloria Gaynor impersonator belting out 'I Will Survive', to a place where sophisticated DFLs swan around spouting off about 'The Legend of Lomea', art and architecture is quite beyond me.

Perhaps the fast train has something to do with it. Perhaps I've had something to do with it, with all my talk about the 'Millionaires' Playground'. If so, I'm sorry, as I actually quite enjoyed the atmosphere at Ramsgate Rocks. And I'm sure Frank Thorley and the other establishments on the strip enjoyed the tens of thousands it stuffed in their coffers! Maybe next year we could have a bit of both?

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Bloomin' 'Orrible

Well, well, well. It appears to be a week of fine dining and horticulture here on the big blog! Regular contributor Mick has been doing a tour of the Millionaires' Playground with a view to entering it into the Britain in Bloom competition. Here's his report:

One of the key features of Ramsgate is the number of delightful roof and verandah gardens which host some fantastic fauna and flora. Here's a good example:

Moving along, I spotted a rare, sprouting Ramsgatus Urbanus:

Followed by Aerialis Neglectii and some Weedus Ridgius:

Finishing with the common Buddleia Aloftus Thanetii:

The love and attention that's lavished on these aerial gardens is a quintessential part of the town's heritage, and Ramsgate should make an excellent contender for the Britain in Bloom competition. I trust, Richard, that you will use your undoubted influence with your peers to ensure that these horticultural wonders are preserved and displayed for the wider enjoyment of the nation.

Hmmm. I'm not sure you're being entirely serious there, Mick. Still, I will pledge to use my influence with the producers of GQT to put Ramsgate on the bloomin' map!

Meanwhile, if any of you lot are bored rigid by my endless stream of nosh and gardening stories, you could always pop over to the excellent IsleOne and see what I think of the silly folkers!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Something For The Weekend

Apologies for the absence but I've been tending to the aged pater.

Mr Eastcliff Snr fell off the stage at the Derbyshire Miners Holiday Camp in Skegness earlier in the week whilst performing his world famous 'Man with Three Hands' skit. Thankfully he's now sitting up and joking with nurses at the Convalescent Home for Seaside Thespians (where every cardboard bedpan has 'Kiss me quick' round the rim (note position of quotation mark) so you can use it for the, er, usual and as a jolly titfer, preferably not in that order). But it means I've had to dash up and down the motorway every day to take him essential supplies.

So I haven't got the time to tell you about the start of Drunk Week in Boredstares, or what's happening down at Ramsgate's Royal Pavilion, or about the shelter that's being renovated over on our less trendy West Cliff. And no East of the Wantsum this week either (boo!).

That said, seeing as you all seem to have got your teeth well and truly stuck into fine dining following my previous item, I thought I'd share this with you...

So which restaurant here in the Millionaires' Playground would be displaying that outside their premises then? Not one of the Ile de Thanet's two Michelin mentioned restaurants, that's for sure! Could it be the one that the Observer described as 'mediocre', adding: 'Leave ------'s in peace', and which the Torygraph gave 2/5 stars to? I think we should be told?!!?! (This won't give you a clue.)

I'll leave you to chew on that.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Tucker Bush Trial

Sipping a latte and masticating a muffin in Charlotte Court over the weekend, courtesy of the excellent Age & Sons, I couldn't help thinking the ambiance was somewhat lacking. After exerting the noodle to its max, the old 20W bulb lit up. Where had the shrubbery gone? Take a butcher's...

Oh no, wait, there it is...

Hacked off and lying all over the shop! It looks as if the Ramsgate Chopper has been at it again! Tempting as it is to blame our beloved duffers for yet another crime against nature, I gather they're only partly responsible. Apparently they gave the 'Charlotte Court Residents' Association', which seems to consist solely of the chap who rather ostentatiously bought this...

in the full the glare of the BBC's Homes Under the Hammer cameras a couple of years back, permission to prune them.

Prune them? Prune them? That's a bit like chopping off both feet to trim your toenails! Kuh!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

A Word From Our Other Sponsor

As part of my new policy of carrying a modest amount of tasteful sponsorship ('selling out' in old money) here on the island's biggest and best blog, I'd like to introduce you to those nice people at Nice Things.

Based at the newly renovated Custom House in the Millionaires' Playground, Nice Things showcases local arts and crafts from, er, local artists and craftsmen. So if your other half has a birthday coming up or you need a last minute prezzie for that anniversary you've forgotten, or you just want to treat yourself, do pop along and browse their selection of paintings, ceramics, jewellery, trinkets, cards and wrapping paper.

Phew! The things I have to do to earn a wedge these days! If you'd like your name in front of thousands of readers a week, other slots are available. All it costs is less than a bottle of decent fizz a month, stuffed in cash into the customary brarn envelope, and deposited at an address of my choosing. Just email me at