Leisure

The Beauty of Ramsgate and Margate

by Emma's Kent Adventures, by Emma-Jane Swaffield Friday, October 18 2013

Ramsgate and Margate

Ramsgate and Margate are both seaside towns that are situated on the south east coast of England in the county of Kent. It takes just over one hour forty minutes to arrive at both towns from London, approximately eighty miles in distance. Both towns are situated in idyllic locations on the beautiful coastline, making them a great escape for the city dwellers. Both Ramsgate and Margate are easily accessible via road and rail.

Image courtesy of ©Marcus T Ward (Flickr)

Ramsgate

The main attraction of Ramsgate would have to be its beautiful coastline which attracts many tourists year after year. Ramsgate Main Sands is a particularly popular location. In having a close connection to Northern Europe, Ramsgate has appeared to have developed a continental style culture, an example of which can be seen with its restaurants and bars that are situated along the sea front.

The port and harbour  situated in Ramsgate are certainly both defining characteristics of the town and have their own history attached, for example, when the people of Ramsgate gave King George IV such a loyal welcome in 1821, he gave Ramsgate Harbour the unique title of “The Royal Harbour”. Not only that, it was one of the main embarkation harbours during the Napoleonic wars. This harbour was also where many thousands of soldiers disembarked after escaping from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940 as part of Operation Dynamo; one of the boats, Sundowner, used in the evacuation is kept in the marina today. More information about the phenomenal history as well as more recent news of the Dunkirk Little Ships can be found here.

Image courtesy of ©Nick Traveller (Flickr)

Ramsgate is also famous for its two white chalk cliffs, simply named The East Cliff and The West Cliff. These are both mainly residential areas but there are parks at either end and promenades run between the two. There are various cliff top walks as well as sandy beaches below that attract many thousands of tourists and locals alike.

Along with the stunning coastline of Ramsgate, with its clear, clean and tranquil beaches, the market of Ramsgate is another must see. It is held every Friday and Saturday between the hours of 8.00am and 4.00pm, on the High street, King Street and also on Queen Street.

There are also a few landmarks situated in Ramsgate such as the Hugin in Pegwell Bay. This is a reconstructed Viking long-ship which is a replica of the Gokstad Ship. The Hugin was built in Denmark and sailed to England by 53 Danes as a donation from the Danish government in commemoration of the 1500th anniversary of the arrival on Hengist and Horsa to the country in 449. It landed at Viking Bay in nearby Broadstairs in 1949 before being moved to its current location at Pegwell Bay in Ramsgate.

Image courtesy of ©andyj300 (Flickr)

There are also a few galleries based in Ramsgate such as the Isle Of Thanet Arts gallery, which is based on the harbour front and the Updown Gallery based in the beautiful Victorian era Satis House. There is also the Ramsgate Maritime Museum, which is near the harbour quayside.

The architecture of Ramsgate is simply stunning, most of which is generally a mix from the Regency and Victorian architectural periods and including 900 listed buildings in the town with more than 200 surrounding the marina itself so even the buildings themselves deserve attention.

Margate

Margate is a small seaside town situated in the district of Thanet in East Kent. Margate is a famous, traditional seaside resort which is a popular holiday destination typically for Londoners wishing to find peace away from the hustle and bustle of the city on the sandy beaches, such as Margate Sands.

Image courtesy of ©Luke McKernan (Flickr)

Margate, along with its fantastic nine miles of lovely sandy beaches, is probably most famous for its links with the painter JMW Turner, who created some of his world wide acclaimed art work using the scenery of Margate and is the namesake of The Turner Prize. The world class Turner Contemporary is the focus here in Margate. It brilliantly houses both historical as well as very modern work and showcases many pieces by JMW Turner who was famously inspired by the fabulous scenery and seascapes that Margate has to offer.

Image courtesy of ©Luke McKernan (Flickr)

In addition to its beautiful, stunning coastline, Margate has many other attractions for holiday makers. There are two highly acclaimed theatres in Margate. One of which, the Theatre Royal in Addington Street is the second oldest theatre in the country and the other, the Tom Thumb Theatre is the second smallest theatre in the country. If you are visiting Margate in July, the annual Jazz festival is highly recommended as a must go-to event, more details of which can be found on their Facebook page here.

Like Ramsgate, Margate also has a museum. The Margate Museum represents the town's historical past with a huge range of displays and exhibits.

Another must see attraction of Margate is that of the Shell Grotto. This “building” of unknown age and origin was first discovered in 1835 and the walls and roof are covered in an amazing decoration of well over four million shells, which cover the whole 2000 square footage. The shells have also been placed in elaborate patterns.

Image courtesy of ©Mr Moss (Flickr)

Margate also has many interesting cultural, popular and literary references. It features as a setting in many novels, including Graham Swift's novel 'Last Orders', T. S. Eliot referenced Margate in one of his poems and Margate also featured quite predominately in an episode of British sitcom Only Fools and Horses.

Where to Stay

Well it depends what you are looking for in terms of accommodation. If you are looking for a B&B, Margate has the wonderful and welcoming Hopewell House. Bob and Sandy are extremely friendly and Bob has an extensive knowledge about the history of Margate and Kent in general. If you are looking for a B&B in Ramsgate then look no further than the Glendevon Guest House. Charles and Rebekah have owned this brilliant establishment since October 2006 and are doing an amazing job (just take a look at all the wonderful reviews on TripAdvisor). Charles does a full English breakfast that is not to be missed and Rebekah has a huge knowledge of Ramsgate so can give you more pointers on places to visit during your stay.

Or maybe you would like a hotel instead? Then try the Pegwell Bay Hotel in Ramsgate which is beautiful to look at from the outside and a joy to stay in. If you are in Margate then I suggest The Hussar Hotel which has swings and slides in the garden, this can be helpful if you are travelling with children.

I have to say though, speaking as a travelling Mum, my personal favourite accommodation option is a holiday let. My kids go through fussy stages (like most do) so I love the option of self-catering and cooking food for my family from scratch (to sneak those vegetables in). With this option, there isn’t the worry about noise from other guests and I don’t have to share a bedroom with my kids either, as much as I love them dearly, my daughter talks in her sleep and my son snores so there is NEVER the option of me getting a good night’s sleep when sharing a bedroom with them! Beeches Holiday Lets provide some wonderful, reasonably-priced houses with modern amenities, a full kitchen (as opposed to a microwave and a kettle like some places I have stayed in) and some have lovely gardens that are enclosed so I feel safe in letting my children play outside. They have houses in both Margate and Ramsgate as well as Broadstairs so can be an option regardless of which part of Thanet you are staying in.

Are They Worth a Visit?

Yes, both Margate and Ramsgate are worth a visit whether you are a Kent local or from further afield. As stated above, both are amazing traditional seaside towns which ooze holiday-town charm; with traditional promenades and seaside amenities, a variety of museums to view, as well as land marks to see and theatres to visit.

There is definitely something for everyone in Margate and Ramsgate, with or without children.

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Categories: Curious Margate | General | Holiday | kent | Leisure | Margate | Museums | Tourism | travel

Travel Back in Time in Thanet

by Emma's Kent Adventures, by Emma-Jane Swaffield Tuesday, October 8 2013

The district of Thanet boasts a large number of exciting destinations and attractions. History lovers will find a large number of enchanting towns and villages to explore in Thanet, many of which have preserved their prominent landmarks and offer a wealth of interesting historical attractions. Here is a selection of some of Thanet’s most captivating and vibrant historical attractions.

Margate

Exploring the traditional Old Town of Margate is an uplifting experience that people of all ages are sure to love. Old Town is home to Margate’s first harbour, which was built in 1320 and offers visitors an insight into local life in the 17th and 18th centuries. The area is also home to the Theatre Royal, the second oldest theatre in the whole of England. Culture vultures will want to make sure that they catch a show in order to appreciate the layout and acoustics in all its glory. Many of the buildings around the harbour are from different eras and have been restored and renovated to their former glory so this is a great place to wander around and explore on a sunny day.

Image courtesy of ©Iain Farrell (Flickr)

Ramsgate

The charming seaside town of Ramsgate is steeped in rich history and can be found high on a cliff overlooking the sea. Taking a trip to the Maritime Museum is the perfect way to gain an insight into Ramsgate’s rich maritime history and can be found in the impressive and eye-catching Clock House (which dates back to the turn of the 19th century) at the Royal Harbour. This harbour has the unique distinction of being the only harbour in the UK awarded the right to call itself a “Royal Harbour”. The title was bestowed upon it by King George IV after he was touched by the hospitality and adoration shown by the people of Ramsgate when he used the harbour in 1821.

Other local attractions that should not be missed by local history buffs include St Augustine’s, a gothic era church designed by August Pugin and completed by his eldest son, Edward, who was also an architect. While you are there, be sure not to miss The Grange (aka St Augustine’s Grange). This is a Grade I listed Victorian Gothic style building that was also designed by August Pugin, the interior was designed before the outside which was in contrast to the Georgian style that preceded it and was designed to be his personal family home. The interior of the house was completed in 1850 and Pugin passed away just 2 years later at the age of only 40.

Visitors will be able to check out a range of vintage gaming machines in the Pinball Parlour, which is situated inside a stunning Georgian period Italianate greenhouse.

Image Courtesy of ©andyj300 (Flickr)

Broadstairs

Situated just a few miles along the coast from Ramsgate, the town of Broadstairs is simply bursting with old world charm.

The town enjoys connections with the popular novelist Charles Dickens as it is said to have been his favourite holiday spot. Visitors who are interested in the life and times of the great writer will want to head straight to the Dickens House Museum. In addition to the hordes of prints and photographs that can be found in this well maintained museum, visitors who wander through the streets of Broadstairs’ old town will find numerous other connections to Charles Dickens.

Wandering along cobbled streets in the pedestrianised section of the town really sets the scene for history lovers, while many of the local cafes and restaurants have been restored to their 19th century appearance and some have even taken on the name of famous Dickens characters. Taking a trip to Bleak House is the perfect way to follow in the footsteps of Charles Dickens, as this impressive cliff top building is the place where the writer spent his holidays in the 1850s and 1860s.

Visitors can also take one of the local heritage tours, while the Crampton Tower Museum displays a wealth of interesting machines and is a tribute to Victorian era engineering.

Image courtesy of ©Jon Curnow (Flickr)

Birchington-on-Sea

Take a trip to the tiny village of Birchington-on-Sea to admire the colourful stained glass window that commemorates the burial of poet and Pre-Raphaelite hero Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the Parish church there. His grave is also there and is marked with a large Celtic cross for his gravestone which was designed by his old friend Ford Madox Brown.

Visitors will also want to take the time to wander through the picturesque Quex Park, which is home to a number of interesting historical attractions such as Regency Quex House with its 7 acres of elegant, picturesque, Victorian gardens and natural woodland or the Powell-Cotton Museum, which contains a large number of local curios and one of the most fascinating collections of natural history in the UK.

Manston

Why not visit the tiny village of Manston to discover the important role that Thanet played during World War II? A number of legendary aircraft can be viewed in the impressive RAF Manston History Museum and several of the stories of local airmen are retold here in exciting detail.

Minster

The village of Minster has been an important religious site since 670 and visiting the gently crumbling Minster Abbey is the perfect way to get a feel for this. Minster Abbey was one of the earliest monastic foundations, rebuilt in 1027 after the original buildings were destroyed during Viking raids of the 9th and 10th centuries. It is believed to be possibly the oldest inhabited house in the country and is now inhabited by Nuns who give guided tours giving an explanation of the historic background to this ancient site.

Visitors can also find the St Augustine’s Cross nearby which, according to legend, marks the very spot where St Augustine met with King Ethelbert and preached his first sermon to people of England in 597. There is a Latin inscription on the base of the cross which can be translated as:

 

"After many dangers and difficulties by land and sea Augustine landed at last on the shores of Richborough in the Isle of Thanet. On this spot he met King Ethelbert, and preached his first sermon to our own countrymen. Thus he happily planted the Christian faith, which spread with marvellous speed throughout the whole of England. That the memory of these events may be preserved among the English G G L-G Earl Granville, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports has erected this monument, AD 1884"

Image courtesy of ©Shirokazan (Flickr)

Where to Stay?

There are many wonderful places to stay in this beautiful area to tie in with the rich history that this area has to offer such as Bleak House in Broadstairs where Charles Dickens himself used to stay all those years ago, or how about the beautiful Victorian building that is now the Comfort Inn at Ramsgate? Then there is the Georgian Grade II listed Royal Harbour Hotel, a delightfully quirky 19 bedroom townhouse with magnificent views of the harbour and sea. Or why not take a break from all the culture and history by staying in the wonderful holiday lets provided by Beeches Holiday Lets? These wonderful and functional self-catering houses come in a range of sizes and are “homes away from home” with all the comforts you could ever need. There is a wide variety available across the areas of Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs.

So as you can see, there are many wonderful places to explore a wealth of rich English History in Kent that is fascinating for the young and old alike. You can walk in the same footsteps as many important figures from our past and visit the places that inspired many historical greats. Why not take the children and give them a history lesson they won’t forget?

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Categories: Charles Dickens | Curious Margate | Education | Entertainment | History | Holiday | kent | Leisure | Manston | Margate

East Kent's failed bid - were we not confident enough in what we've got?

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Wednesday, June 19 2013

It was never going to happen.

East Kent’s bid to become the UK’s city of culture in 2017 was as likely as Dover Athletic becoming Roman Abramovich's next project to squander his millions.

Why the negative attitude? Well for the same reason you had a negative attitude. East Kent is not a place.

Imagine for a moment you heard that north Scotland or west Cornwall or south east Norfolk were making a bid. You would scoff.

“That is not even a place” you would say. Have Inverness, Plymouth and Norwich not got enough to offer on their own? Are they are so culturally lacking that they need to invite their smaller, provincial buddies in to the party because they are too scared to step onto the dancefloor of the artistically-enriched on their tod.

That is how your average Joe anywhere else in the country would have viewed East Kent’s bid.

It just sounds daft and is somewhat detrimental, surely, to Kent’s only official city, Canterbury. Why are its quirky streets, fascinating museums, glorious Marlowe Theatre and traditional pubs not deemed suitably cultural to impress the judges at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport?

At least then, the decision-makers would have been able to identify with the ‘city’ they were supposed to be assessing. And would it not have been ok anyway to shoehorn in a mention of Margate’s Turner Contemporary, Folkestone’s Triennial art installations and Whitstable’s oysters, as was surely the aim of lumping together a series of towns which, on the whole, are not really that bothered about each other.

Of course, credit where it is due to Kent County Council for being ambitious enough to put together a bid which, ultimately, did make the longlist.

But are Dundee, Hull, Leicester and Swansea Bay really all that superior culturally to the towns and cities we are already proud of in the county?

Perhaps next time, we should go with what we know and resist trying to reinvent the wheel.

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SALT OR SWEET MOVIE REVIEW # 1 - The Hangover: Part III *SPOILER ALERT*

by Dan Millen Reviews Sunday, May 26 2013

So I went to see The Hangover: Part III today with mixed expectations. The first one broke new ground in the movie arena, bringing a fresh concept to a party style movie with the twist of what happens when the sun comes up the next today. I laughed so much that when the second part was announced, I found myself itching to get in the cinema to watch it. (That was 6 months before its release!) Unfortunately, aside from the hilarious scene in a Bangkok Strip Club, I felt that Todd Phillips and the gang were just reproducing the first outing in a different location. The fans wanted more.

And boy oh boy, in Part III, Todd Philips has shown why he had to make the trilogy and answer his critics (myself included) following the second outing.

First thing you need to know is there is no-one getting married, hence no stag do (batchelor party), no mayhem… yeah right!

The film opens in Thailand where Mr Chow escapes his prison cell, worthy of Andy Dufresne might I add, during a riot. A chase through the sewers leads him to jump from a cliff edge, plunging into the Gulf of Thailand.

Alan has not changed since we left him. He is still immature, brainless and damn right funny. His parents are sick of him because he is a constant disappointment, and when it all becomes too much for his father (quite emotional but funny at the same time), it’s decided by his mom, sister and the Wolf Pack that he needs to go to Arizona Institution for an ‘intervention’.

ROAD TRIP! Phil, Stu, Doug and Alan hit the open road but are quickly side tracked, and rammed off the road, by Marshall, a gangster trying to track down 40 odd million dollars’ worth of gold bullion from Mr Chow. We then find out that subtle little hints have been dropped into the previous two movies to build up to this moment.

Always given the short straw, Doug is held hostage until the three amigos can track down Mr Chow, retrieve the gold and return it to Marshall before the sunrises 3 days later.

Cue the ‘hangover’. What follows is pure genius, with a bit of long windiness to prolong the Wolf Pack’s agony. I don’t want to give too much more away but you’ll be treated to a trip to Tijuana, old faces reappearing, seductive lollipop sucking in a pawn shop, abseiling down Caesar’s Palace and finally the finale just outside of Vegas. Oh, and a happy ending too.

All in all, enough to make you feel as though you’re the one with a hangover.

I am pleased to say that this movie is a good one to see, but do take it with a pinch of salt because after all, it is a comedy and therefore, not meant to be judged on anything more than whether it can make you laugh or not.

Salt or Sweet? Definitely Sweet.  

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Categories: blogs and bloggers | Entertainment | Film | General | Humour | Just Life | Leisure | Media | People of Kent

Small talk!

by The Odd One Out, with Dan Millen Saturday, March 2 2013

So I was sitting discussing with my colleague (JS) various different topics when we stumbled across old films we used to watch as children. There is not a significant age gap between us, only 5 years, but our choices in favourite films does differ quite considerably.

Once we had finished listing our favourite films, JS touched on the main actor in one of her films (The Indian in the Cupboard) and how she used to have a crush on him when she was 3 years old! I was more shocked at the age of her first crush then the fact she had a crush on Henri from the film.

After controlling my laughter, JS added fuel to the fire by declaring two further crushes: the first, Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone and the second, Buzz McCallister from Home Alone. This send me into an uncontrollable fit of laughter, some of the others joined me. JS literally smiled and joined in with us.

The dreaded question fell on me when on of the girls asked me who I had a crush on when I was younger? I could honestly say I went blank and could not think of a single crush at such a young age.

So now I've had time to think about it, I think it only fair I declare my crushes from childhood films:

1. Allie from The Karate Kid Part I (She also appeared in Back to the Future)

2. Andy from The Goonies

3. Jessica from The Karate Kid Part III

So there you have it, my three choice.

Keep reading and I'll keep you posted on my life as The Odd One Out.

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Categories: blogs and bloggers | Entertainment | Family Life | Film | Leisure | Moaning | Moans and groans | Work

Bill Kenwright puts his faith in provincial theatres

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Monday, January 14 2013

If there is anyone who knows how to help theatres up and down the country as they try to weather the dire economic outlook this year, it is Bill Kenwright.

The man at the top of the UK’s largest independent theatre company and the Everton FC chairman – a bit random in many people’s eyes – launches his latest jukebox musical Save the Last Dance For Me in Kent this week.

He gave me a long, in-depth interview earlier this month, in which he stated he loves provincial theatres and actively chose Dartford’s Orchard Theatre to debut his new show.

Here he talks about why he is launching a new production when others are closing – he closed Blood Brothers after 24 years in the West End last year because it was not making any money – and what troubles face theatres at the moment.

Why did you choose to launch Save the Last Dance For Me in Dartford rather than a big West End theatre or one in a larger city?

“I started off 40 years ago as a provincial theatre producer and that is not a derogatory term in my book.

“[I see myself as] a provincial theatre producer who has big Broadway and West End successes. I love the audiences out there.

“The letters and warmth I get are amazing. They seem to appreciate what I am about and they let me know when it’s bad, too, believe me. They let me know when I’ve got something wrong – and so they should.”

When do you know whether a show is going to be a success?

“You know whether it is going to be a flop about 20 seconds after the curtain goes up and you know pretty quickly if you got it right from the audience.”

So after the success of Dreamboats and Petticoats, is a similar type of musical like Save the Last Dance For Me not too much of a risk?

“You never see a show that does not cost half a million, so that is a bit of a risk.”

And how quick do you get the money back?

“It can be very quick but I’ve got some shows that have been out there two years which still haven’t recouped. It can be forever.”

So why do you stick with them?

“Because I think they will recoup one day. It is called a nervous hit. When it is not quite a flop and not quite a hit and just, is there. The audience are enjoying it but you are not making a lot of money and you decide you are going to live with it for a little while.

Was that what happened with Blood Brothers in the end?

“No. Blood Brothers was losing money in the last year but it had made so much money over the years that I didn’t mind.”

Are people stuggling to go out to the theatre now?

“Yes I do think times are very tough financially and now you have got all the colossal distractions of what you can see on your TV, your DVD and you iPads. It is extraordinary what is out there.

For people to go and see shows is an effort. That is why you have got to try to find something that an audience responds to.”

Save the Last Dance For Me runs at Dartford’s Orchard Theatre from Wednesday, January 16 to Saturday, January 26. Visit www.orchardtheatre.co.uk.

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MSN - Male Stalking Network

by The Odd One Out, with Dan Millen Tuesday, January 8 2013

 



Well when you work with a group of women, anything can happen. Everyday brings a new adventure, sometimes a challenge, and as always I am at some point left scratching my head at something one of them has said to the group during the working day... hence this latest post.

Well at the time I was writing this, I was sitting on a leather couch in the suburbs of San Jose, California drinking juice and looking at my notes from previous weeks. I was literally another world away from where I usually am when I encounter my issues as 'The Odd One Out.'

Today's weird and wonderful post is surrounding the inner workings of a colleague of mine when she uses MSN Messenger. (MSN Messenger, for the computer illiterate, is principally an instant messaging service that allows contacts to talk to each other - a sort of text messaging service that is online).

So the women and I were discussing things that annoy us about Facebook when one of them suddenly said 'Do you remember MSN Messenger? We all responded with a unitary nod. 

MSN was great when I first used it, in fact it's how I first began talking with my soon to be wife (She is American and lives in San Jose), but after 4 years we grew tired of the breakages in connection and service and chose to move to Gmail. (Google Mail is awesome).

Anyway... my colleague then proceeded to say aloud to the rest of us "Yeah, did you ever do the sign in, sign out thing?"

I was confused and raised my eyebrow. What shocked me more was that my other colleague said "Oh yeah, I used to do that."

I continued to stay quiet, trying to focus on the invoice I was processing. I didnt want to get drawn into another strange discussion. One a week is enough for me!

Then came another comment "I used to love MSN, I've had some great conversations on there."

The conversation continued, going back and forth across our pod desks. Different pros and cons were listed and they also discussed all the features they enjoyed using. (I can say now, I hated the 'nudges', which shook your computer screen when people wanted to talk to you when you had been idle for 5 minutes or so).

I couldn't take it anymore, I had to interject otherwise I would just look ignorant or worse still, they would draw me into the conversation at a point where it would become uncomfortable for me to back out and they would tease me about it.

"Yes, Jess and I first began chatting on MSN after my holiday to San Francisco in 2007." I said. "But what the hell is the 'Signing in and signing out' thing?" 

Curiosity got the better of me.

The two girls laughed, knowing it would send me into a frenzied rant, as most things do. The others in our group sat silently, waiting to hear.

"Come on what is it?" I persisted.

"The 'Signing in and signing out' thing is where you're already signed in, chatting to other people and you see a guy you like come online. He will obviously look down his contact list and see who is online and talk to who he wants. What I did was to sign out of messenger and then sign back in again." [Cue my long pause and thought] - What the hell for, I thought? "That way, he will see the little notification box that pops up in the bottom right hand corner, signally that I have just come online. That way he is more likely to talk to me."

To say I was thinking of the movies 'Fatal Attraction', 'Obsession' & 'Misery' while she was explaining would be pretty harsh. I was a little disturbed originally but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that this was a pretty clever tactic to get a guy to notice you. In fact, it was bordering on genius.

The good thing to add to that is that my colleague appears to know where the line is and is not hovering over it, ready to hop into the weirdo territory. As long as she stays behind it, I am happy to continue sitting next to her.

So that's the latest from me - keep checking in to see my posts and remember, if your on MSN, either remain invisible or sign out first and stay offline before JS sees you. 



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New theatre is great for business

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Friday, October 7 2011

The Government may not get it, but the exciting new Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury is a great example of investing for growth.

It was a bold decision by the City Council to back a £25m project amid credit crunch and signs of a looming public spending crisis.

Yet it had the faith to press ahead, relying on ingenuity, passion and determination to raise the money from numerous sources without raiding the council tax coffers. Private individuals and charitable foundations injected nearly £5m, and the soon-to-disappear South East England Development Agency chipped in a couple of million.

It could have gone horribly wrong, provoked local cynicism and banner headlines denouncing council profligacy on the “fancy” arts instead of spending on hospitals and schools.

But no – it went ahead with near unanimous backing from all quarters.

And what a good job it did. This is cultural regeneration at its best. It recognises Canterbury as a city of culture and the central role a theatre can play in every citizen’s life. It is also a legacy to future generations. And it will earn big revenue as well as kudos for the city.

It is a civilising symbol – a winning combination of traditional theatre design inside with contemporary external architecture – that will repay its initial investment many times over. Well done to all involved. And also to Prince Edward whose thespian talents were well to the fore on stage on opening night.

There is a lesson here for Maidstone, the County Town which has dithered and dithered over a theatre project for decades. Years ago, it could have shown the boldness that Canterbury has demonstrated in spades. Now it is well behind Dartford and Bromley, let alone Canterbury. It missed its cue, and the age of austerity is hardly the best time to stage a revival.

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I drink, therefore I am

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Monday, March 7 2011

They say if you can remember the 1960s then you weren't there.

Perhaps the O2's new nightclub Proud2 is pushing for a similar slogan, judging by the incredible party they threw for their press launch on Thursday.

Yes Thursday. Four days ago and I still can barely remember anything past 11.30pm from that night. The occassional free bar is a wonderful perk of the journalistic world but they never lose their devastating potential.

And on Thursday, it felt like they caused Armageddon for my liver.

Ok, so I fell fowl of having a few too many glasses of champagne and can barely report on The Bees, Nero and The Mystery Jets, pictured left, who performed on the night to the, shall we say, enthusiastic crowd.

That doesn't make me a criminal but it did make me ponder my attitude towards drinking.

Did I go out with a couple of my mates on Thursday with the intention of getting mind-bogglingly bladdered at the free event? No I didn't. Did we decide we were going to take advantage of the free booze on offer? You bet!

There lies the problem. Although we claim to know our limit, all notion of moderation went out of the window once what was on offer became free.

Was my shaky camera work at the opulently laid out and impressive club a sign of unprofessionalism? Or did I just have a few too many on a night where I was letting my hair down?

Perhaps we deserved the raging hangovers (mine suffered at work) the following day. But should we feel bad about it?

I was still at work at 8am and able to report on what was going on. Work hard, play hard is a philosophy that has served many before me well and will serve many well in the future.

Should I have felt naughty for arriving at my desk bleary-eyed the next day, even though I got on with the task in hand? Answers on a postcard please.

****

In Strictly news, Tom Chambers appears to be the main star set to grace the stage at the New Marlowe Theatre when their first programme of events gets underway in October.

He will don his dancing shoes once again for Top Hat, the first ever stage version of the 1935 film starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Tom was never my favourite Strictly Come Dancing champion. Lisa Snowden or Rachel Stevens should have won that year but no one could deny he was a charmer.

Also Tom made no secret of claiming Fred and Ginger were his dancing idols during his run to the glitterball in 2008.

Which surely means his toe-tapping antics will be a coup for the new Marlowe, who will stage the show before it goes on a West End run.

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She just didn't have the bottle

by kmfm blog Thursday, January 13 2011

I’m so sorry to any of you that were looking for yesterdays blog, but I had to disappear early yesterday to say a final farewell to a good mate’s father, Ted, you will be missed and Zubi, I’m thinking of you mate!

 

It’s Kentish express Thursday so a little look at the papers later on but in the meantime it’s on with today’s game, actually having said that, as I missed yesterday why don’t I give you a top five from then. It was British places in songs and your clue was Jimmy Osmond’s classic ‘long haired lover from LIVERPOOL’

 

5. LONDON calling; The Clash

4. LAMBETH walk (Oi)

3. WATERLOO; ABBA

2. MARGATE; Chas and Dave

1. Cry me a RIVER (Nr Canterbury); Justin Trousersnake

 

Keeping on a similar theme, we went with place names in America and there were literally hundreds, but not enough room so here is the top ten;

 

10. Is this the way to AMARILLO; Tony Christie

 9. 24 hours from TULSA; Gene Pitney

 8. An Englishman in New York; Sting

 7. HARLEM Shuffle; Rolling Stones

 6. PHILLADELPHIA freedom; Elton John

 5. NUTBUSH city limits; Tina Turner

 4. Last train to CLARKESVILLE; The Monkees

 3. MIAMI; Will Smith

 2. Viva LAS VEGAS; Elvis

 1. Blue ridge mountains of VIRGINIA; Laurel and Hardy

 

 Other interesting snippets from today’s show were; Kirstyn’s obsession with trying to get rid of some old out of date cooking oil. I must admit, I didn’t think it could go out of date, but what do I know? She asked my advice and I told her to dig a hole and bury it in the garden, she wasn’t impressed. But I thought we get the oil from the earth so why not repatriate it, it makes perfect sense. But the funniest part of all this was she was struggling to find a word for the container that the oil came in. She was gesticulating with her hands to try to show me the shape, but it wasn’t helping. We were coming up with all sorts of words, but in the end it turned out to be that very under used English word, bottle. That’s right, bottle, she couldn’t think of the word bottle, honestly she’s a one off she really is.

 

My column makes its long overdue return to the Kentish Express after a little rest of the festive season, hurrah I hear you scream. Even if you only buy it just to see the picture of me in one of my biggest fashion faux pars of all time, I won’t spoil the surprise for you. Also there is a great story of one on my neighbours who gave up part of his liver to save his grandson, he’s a top man and its just a lovely happy story (EastEnders, take note). Plus a little story about my little mate Sophie Ashdown, who, as we speak is having breakfast with all the Disney characters in Disneyland Paris and she celebrates her birthday. She deserves all the happiness she can get, the bravest girl I’ve ever met.  

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Categories: Leisure

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