Monday 31 August 2009

Food Market in Margate Old Town - what a great day!

It started off a bit windy just before the market officially opened, but it blossomed into a glorious day of sunshine. the stalls looked fantastic and there as a lovely selection quality produce. The Benedictine Monks from Ramsgate sold a record number of pots of honey which just goes to prove that specialist quality products do have a place in Margate. Pictures from the day below and a video by Tim Spencer. Thanks, Tim!

We had to share the Market Place with the visiting Chinese delegation. TDC kindly chucked us off the pre-booked Market Place on the morning of the market. Nice one, TDC! But let's not let this blip spoil the day. Here's looking forward to possible food markets to come.

Thursday 27 August 2009

Saving Britain's Past

Nice programme on the history of the system of listing buildings and conservation. Interesting section of the programme on how much tourism is created by historic buildings in Bath. Obviously on a much smaller scale, but Margate could, if it is careful, create a similar scaled down draw for the Old Town.

It is utterly shocking not only the destruction of swathes of fine buildings, but the replacement with utter rubbish. Personally, I'd like to see more good quality modern architectural proposals backed up with enforcement so that historic buildings that remain are not left to rot.

Tuesday 25 August 2009


getting very excited now about next Saturday's food market that's coming to the Old Town. There's a great selection of Kentish food stalls and coupled with it being bank holiday weekend, it should be a great and delicious day. Then on the Sunday there will be a mixed market and up in Cliftonville the Farmer's Market at the bandstand.

It's on Saturday 29 August 11am – 4pm, as part of the Summer Markets organised by the Old Town Action Group. The market begins outside The Visitors’ Information Centre running down Duke Street and into Market Place.

Let's hope it's the first of many markets to come.

To get your tastebuds going, here's a selection of the stalls that will be there:

1. The Indian Princess – if you haven't yet eaten Dev’s food, come and see what all the fuss is about. They’ve been on BBC South East, and are about to be filmed as one of the best restaurants in Kent (if not THE best)!
2. Quex Barn – taste their succulent sausages, barbequed in front of you on the day. Local meat – what could be better?
3. Windmill Community Allotment Project – if you haven't yet bought “organic” fruit and veg at their Tuesday stall by the allotments (12-4pm), here’s your chance to taste what they and other allotment holders are growing in our local soil
4. O’er the Moon – for those of you with a sweet tooth, Simon sells scrummy sweets and fudge
5. Fairtrade – we’re now acknowledged as a Fairtrade Isle so buy your biscuits, and packs of teas and coffees here. Let’s send a supportive message to those who are feeling the credit crunch even more than we are!
6. Benedictine Monks at Ramsgate – sample their own honey, and make yourself and your house beautiful with their Organic Beeswax lip balms, hand & skin creams and Beeswax polish
7. The Market Garden – to feed your soul … The Chelsea Flower Show has arrived in Margate! Beautiful and high quality garden plants. Rose specialist.
8. German Sausage Man – one of our new local businesses, bringing you genuine, hearty German sausages, schnitzel and sauerkraut
9. Paul Hollywood Breads – who are supplying Harrods & Waitrose, so why not stock up on their speciality breads?
10. Ellie’s Dairy & Ashmore – delicious local cheeses from cows and goats, as well as chutneys to bring out the flavour and apple juice
11. Chai Stop – buy your Indian spices and taste the delicious and affordable Indian food they cook
12. Stylish Ice Cream – luscious old-fashioned, traditional ice cream scoops, with no additives, chemicals or colourings

Sunday 16 August 2009

Arts Regeneration in British Seaside Towns

Very interesting article on arts regeneration in The Guardian within various British seaside towns including Margate. The statement from Nick Ewbank, creative director of Folkestone's Creative Foundation is really inspirational:

"Our first priority has been to make Folkestone a better place to live. Education is at the heart of that. If more tourists come, too, that's a happy byproduct. But this is a long-term commitment. These are 125-year leases at zero rent." His advice to other towns: "It's not that there is a finite capacity for museums and galleries; it doesn't work like that. But you need to trust in local communities to be distinctive. It's not about parachuting stuff in. Nor is it about copying someone else's model."

My experience of living in Italy where the model of the Centro Sociale is prevalent in many towns and cities has shown me that real people and real projects can flourish if they are given the space and a roof over their heads in which to work. Ideas that foster exchange of skills and development of creative ideas have to be in place for anything like a real creative quarter to come into existence. Then living in Hackney for 10 years through its key regeneration phase where vast amounts of money were spent on developing a creative quarter, which I experienced that to really be in name only.

We saw artists that had made Hoxton and Shoreditch an interesting place to live and work then forced out by high rents. Instead of moving to Hackney Central near the Town Hall, the area designated by the Local Authority as the "Cultural Quarter" they ended up populating Dalston and Hackney Wick in an organic process. Again fueled by affordable large available studio space in unused industrial buildings and shops. Whereas in the ten years of living in Hackney Central, despite there being proposals that identified the need for affordable studio space, little were forthcoming. In the end when I looked around the Cultural Quarter, all I saw was The Hackney Empire, which was already there and had had to achieve funding itself. The ill fated Ocean Music venue which cost in excess of £20m and went into administration after 18 months and remains a venue that is under used and limps along. There is a Whethersoons pub. In reality the real regeneration that Hackney underwent was driven by what I would term as real activity by real people. I don't know much about Folkestone, but it seems that finding a way to turn vacant property as an appealing resource to encourage real creatives to move in and function long term is a sensible idea.

It's really great to read that a journalist has great affection for Margate and can see the potential and the past quality of the town. It would be great if Margate can shake off this idea that it is lying in wait for the Turner and show that it is really able to provide a supportive environment for creative industries and people who wish to move and work here.