Tuesday 3 April 2012

Thanet Council omit key beaches and bays from visitor guides

Leafing through the newly published Isle magazine, a publication aimed at visitors to Thanet, I was left perplexed by the visitor guide maps at the back on pages 74 and 75.

Isle is funded by Thanet District Council and the European Union.

There are individual maps for Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate and the villages. There is a glaring omission: Most of Thanet's key beaches and bays are not on these visitor maps. These same maps are on the Visit Thanet website: http://www.visitthanet.co.uk/maps-and-travel/

This is the list of bays that aren't featured:
Minnis Bay
Grenham Bay
Epple Bay
St. Mildred's Bay
Palm Bay
Botany Bay
Kingsgate Bay
Joss Bay
Dumpton Bay
Pegwell Bay

Many of these bays are Thanet's key beaches. I've long bemoaned the fact that the towers at Reculver are missed off Thanet's visitor maps because it lies within Canterbury's jurisdiction,  which makes no sense at all for a visitor setting off to walk that glorious walk from Minnis Bay to the Reculver. But it hadn't even dawned on me that there would be visitor guides published without even including Minnis Bay or any of the other bays between there and the adventure golf at the Nayland Rock on Margate's main sands.

How does this make any sense?

The Margate map is from the Nayland Rock to Walpole Bay. There are helpful directions indicating 'To Hornby Visitor Centre'. No mention of Quex or the Powell Cotton Museum.

Broadstairs is shown from Stone Bay to Louisa Bay. Even Thanet District Council's own policy of promoting the 'seven bays of Broadstairs' isn't adhered to.

Ramsgate is shown from the main sands to Westcliff Bay.

Birchington is depicted without a coastline at all. The centre of the map features mostly the dual carriageway the Canterbury Road. Not exactly the most appealing part of Birchington to promote to visitors to the area. And where is the sea?

They simply don't depict the coast that connects the towns. Thanet District Council really need to get to grips with what information is relevant to visitors. Marketing by postcode makes no sense at all. Omitting whole swathes of key beaches is a misrepresentation of Thanet's offering for visitors.

After trawling through Visit Thanet's website I find there is a beaches and bays leaflet available as a pdf. Referenced in the main text not as a menu item. This has the map that really should be pushed to the forefront. it shows the whole coastline with all the bays. Those of us who live here know how close the bays are to the individual areas, a visitor doesn't. They rely on advice.

Sunday 1 April 2012

What did the Romans ever do for us?

Well, they brought us here on the Kent coast plants such as Alexanders and wild fennel. As such Alexanders that we find growing around the coastline are a relic of the Roman Empire.

Until the 16th century, Alexanders was well used as a herb and vegetable when it was superseded by celery, which at that time underwent cultivation to become much milder root vegetable than it had previously been. Celery then overtook Alexanders, but it was still popular in kitchen gardens until the 18th century.

On one of my regular walks close to Margate the whole of the cliff top area is currently in full bloom with Alexanders.  They can grow up to 1 metre tall. They're at their best in April. The whole plant is edible. The stems can be blanched like celery, the flower heads treated like broccoli. The seeds remain on the plants into the winter and they can be roasted and ground. These black seed heads help you mark out where the plant will be for the coming spring.

Leaves are twice pinate, with dark glossy green final leaflets with fine toothed edges. You can't mistake them in flower with their yellow umbellifers.

Kent based Miles Irving's excellent handbook The Forager has a detailed history and recipes and also mentions that they are such an invasive plant and they as a company are currently engaged by Thanet District Council to remove them along the Kent coast!

My daily walks around Margate and its nearby bays and countryside have been the most positive aspects of moving here. Within minutes of my home I'm able to explore and more often than not find some hidden treasure. I paddle in rock pools in wellies on a daily basis. I highly recommend this pass time if bored of the gym or in need of meditation!

More info on cooking Alexanders: http://www.tracingpaper.org.uk/2007/04/15/alexanders/