Posted by: maisiegrace | April 12, 2011

Margate’s gappy smile

You may have noticed that everyone in Margate is busting a gut to try to make the place look pretty. A tough call, admittedly, but the TDC bods have been out half-steam cleaning the pavements and putting up banners (which got trashed last night – oops, did nobody tell them it’s a bit windy here?). How many years’ warning have we had that Turner is opening – a few I think? Yet, the beautiful TDC/ERDF project which lights up the harbour (sorry the pic is a bit shabby but my camera battery ran out) now looks neglected and gappy.

Lights missing on TDC/ERDF harbour project

A bit of a summary of Margate, maybe? We are good at gaps, after all.

Tonight was the first of four preview nights for 500 visitors-a-time to see Turner. These 2,000 people are probably the most important opportunity Margate has had to date to show that it can deliver a world-class performance. For the sake of a few light bulbs, it has clearly failed.

I have been given access to emails which show that Joe McCarthy (TDC) was alerted to the many failed bulbs in the handrails on the harbour many weeks ago. NOTHING has been done about it. This appears to be another example of a project which was started and no maintenance budget provided. Whatever happened to the Shell Ladies? (Fortunately, somebody has managed to raid the piggy bank to get them out this weekend, apparently.)

What a shame that, when everyone else is trying their best (Union Jacks out in Westbrook, bunting up in Margate Old Town and flags up on the stone pier) TDC can’t get their act together to deliver a few light bulbs. This lack of attention to detail speaks volumes and unfortunately reflects negatively on the many people in Margate who are putting their hearts and souls into making it such a great place.

Posted by: maisiegrace | March 7, 2011

Margate is revolting

Against Thanet District Council of course! I can’t help noticing that there are some enormous differences of opinion about what is good for Margate between the people, both those who have moved here in the last few years and established Margatonians, and some of the local councillors.


At the moment there are more causes and campaigns than you can shake a stick at, although on examining the evidence it isn’t really surprising, given the frightening dumbness of some recent proposals. It really isn’t OK to neglect the seafront for years then run around like headless chickens when the opening of Turner is round the corner. It’s also not OK to want to waste money on an unnecessary buoy in the middle of a roundabout or some rather horrible designs for temporary gardens in the Old Town. And it’s definitely not OK to paint the lighthouse for no reason with no budget to maintain it, or to build houses all over one of Margate’s remaining attractions, the Margate Caves, for a quick buck. It’s also not OK to go against the Local Plan just because Tesco are waving a cheque book. The list goes on with many issues in Cliftonville and, of course, Hartsdown.

The people are revolting in their droves. There are countless community groups springing up and the council is being inundated with Freedom of Information requests. I wonder if they have ever had to deal with such a deluge of forceful intelligent argument before? It must be quite scary for them. And terribly bothersome!

Posted by: maisiegrace | January 2, 2011

2010 in review

Dear Readers

I’m just sharing this summary that was automatically generated by WordPress. It’s fairly nonsensical considering my lack of activity last year but anyway, I’d like to say thanks to those who popped in and became part of the stats. Happy New Year everyone. I must blog more in 2011………

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 3 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 30 posts. There were 5 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 4mb.

The busiest day of the year was March 24th with 100 views. The most popular post that day was Share the love – sneak preview.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for betty b’s margate, margate, margate old town, betty b margate, and tracey emin.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Share the love – sneak preview March 2010


Margate’s going retro December 2009
1 comment


Margate’s last winter November 2010


I never stopped smelling you April 2010


What is Margate thinking….? February 2009

Posted by: maisiegrace | November 21, 2010

Margate’s last winter

This winter of 2010/11 will, I believe, be Margate’s last. Margate has desperately needed to escape from the all-or-nothing seasonality of the British seaside economy; in recent years the number of summer visitors just hasn’t been generating enough income for businesses to sustain themselves all year round. I think the Turner Contemporary (opening on 16th April 2011 if there’s anyone who didn’t know yet) is more than the perfect tonic for local business, it’s the magic pill.

The benefit of the predicted 130,000 annual visitors to Turner Contemporary is not just in the number. It’s in the fact that those visitors will be spread throughout the year. Tate St Ives is not quite the same in this regard where visitor numbers are significantly greater in the summer. Cornwall is a long way to travel, and people tend to pull in a visit to the gallery while they are on holiday. Margate is different – we’re a quick train ride from London, or indeed a quick plane ride from Edinburgh or Manchester. I’m not saying we’ll get 356 new visitors per day all year round, it’s bound to be skewed towards the summer, but even if we only have 100 new visitors to the town on a winter’s day the effect of that will be enormous.

Smoothing out that summer-only curve will transform the fortunes of local businesses and create sustainable non-seasonal employment. Shops and cafes will be open for more days per week in the winter, and for longer hours. There will be people on the streets with money in their pockets all year round. For the Old Town in particular, there will be no such thing as ‘out of season’.

It won’t stop there. When Margate is truly open for year-round business it will attract the knock-on, non-art gallery visitors – all those local people from Ramsgate and Broadstairs who hadn’t set foot in Margate for years, and visitors who decide to check out Margate for a weekend break instead of going to Whitstable, Broadstairs or Brighton.  I feel sure that those people who have stuck with Margate, those who have invested here and those who have had the vision and courage to start quality new businesses here will be rewarded. Mark my words – this is Margate’s last winter.

Posted by: maisiegrace | April 29, 2010

I never stopped smelling you

At 7 pm on Friday evening, the great and the good will be gathered outside The Droit House to witness Tracey Emin switching on her neon sculpture. There are more events and exhibitions going on in Margate than you can shake a stick at, and it should be a great opportunity to put Margate on the map. However, the tide will be out and the abiding memory of the event may well be the pong of rotting seaweed.

Some of the smell in the harbour is from the seaweed deposited on the surface and of course this ‘natural’ seaside smell is to be expected.  The main problem at the moment is that TDC have a policy of tipping sand on top of seaweed as a short-term fix because they will not prioritise dealing with it properly. This traps the seaweed so that no air can get to it, so it turns into a horrible black sludge beneath the surface which gives off a stomach-turning stink. 

There are lots of discussions which need to be had about harvesting the seaweed, dumping it out to sea, whether the sluice gate should be open, dredging the harbour, etc but TDC is not interested. I think it’s simply ridiculous to have a world-class gallery and a newly regenerated seafront, and for visitors to have walk around with hankies over their noses.

I hope that the smell is a major issue on Friday. Maybe then TDC will take on board how serious the issue is.

Posted by: maisiegrace | March 23, 2010

Share the love – sneak preview

I thought that Tracey Emin’s new piece wasn’t meant to be switched on for another month but we had a preview tonight.

Posted by: maisiegrace | December 12, 2009

Margate’s going retro

I’ve been banging on about the bright future of Margate for ages and finally, finally we’re getting somewhere. I can really feel that Margate is starting to understand its new self, and it looks like retro is the way to go. The emerging theme is celebrating the past. Rather ironic really as Margatians have a habit of harping back to better times and bemoaning the current state of the town. This retrospectiveness though, is fresh and positive, and I like it.

For as long as it has been talked about I just haven’t got the heritage amusement park thing. Maybe it’s just because I wouldn’t find it interesting myself so I can’t see it succeeding (although oddly I’m pretty scathing of that type of view when it’s regarding Turner!). Anyhow, I hope I’m wrong and maybe it will be an important part of an emerging theme.

All of a sudden, Margate Old Town has gone retro, and become home to several great vintage shops.  On the Market Place, opposite the timeless Mad Hatter’s Tea Rooms, Helter Skelter Boutique has two floors of beautiful quality furniture and collectibles from the 60’s and 70’s, and just along from there, Zoe Murphy’s bespoke printed vintage furniture is on sale through the Ingoldsby Gallery. Then there’s Betty B’s, which has just opened in the shop that used to be ‘Arry’s on the corner of King Street and Broad Street, where there’s a fabulous selection of vintage clothes and lots of other original items mainly from the 40’s and 50’s. Tying in perfectly is the new My Old Dutch salon on Fort Hill where the Grosvenor Stamp shop used to be – walk in the normal you and walk out with retro hair and make-up! And finally, filling the pre-40’s gap is the new Old Town Antiques in the old Manning’s fish shop on Market Street – a really tiny shop but full of some greats things at great prices. Maisie also has it on good authority that another vintage shop will be opening up in the Old Town soon.

What was it I said a while ago about a mini-Brighton lanes? I heard you laugh.

Posted by: maisiegrace | October 16, 2009

Smiling aeroplane

Smiling aeroplane

This just amused me!

Posted by: maisiegrace | October 8, 2009

Margate in the winter

Just found my password in the archives so thought I would resurrect the blogging after the summer non-break. I’m afraid the world operates the opposite way round for me. Which brings me to my point.

Why is Margate so crap in the winter? Personally I think it’s far better than in the summer! Not only are there fewer chavs to trip over but there’s a whole different, potentially fulfilling catalogue of stuff! To get you in the zone, walk along the seafront for a few miles then reward yourself with a port and brandy. Nice. 

Anyway (and more pressing, actually), what are you doing tomorrow night? Did you ever think you would be spending it in Margate? Of course not. Well, there are five events all at once, and it will be fab – private views of new exhibitions at Crate, Limbo (Substation) and the Pie Factory, and the Alturnertive crew’s latest exhibition is also open on the Harbour Arm. No, they’re not private – just turn up and you will be made most welcome. Also, I’ve just found out there a special thing going on at the Theatre Royal as well. I’m not a flipping tourist guide so you’ll have to Google the details for yourselves.  Top that off with a visit to Kent’s #1 restaurant, The Indian Princess. Fab. Just get a taxi back as there will be several free glasses of wine involved. By the way BeBeached on the harbour does a lovely Saturday brunch before you collect your car.

The sooner this town breaks away from the old summer holiday mentality, the better. I am sick and tired of being told by the old sticks who ‘understand’ the way it is round here regarding the ‘season’. Bollocks. The various Arts crowds have got completely stuck in and there is some great stuff planned for the winter. They don’t care if the sun shines or not; the natural and architectural beauty speaks for itself, and they certainly do too. (Hurrah for the semi-colon while I think about it.) Some people are actually living here! People really are doing it for themselves…. I think I know a song about that….

Posted by: maisiegrace | May 11, 2009

Margate on the telly

I’m dreading it but it’s a ‘must see’. The Apprentice, Wednesday 9 pm on BBC1. Also, just found this amusing video

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