Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The village..coming to a town near you?

We are all stuck in a sort of strange Limbo Land down at Whitstable Harbour and its not just festival fever.

It’s like Waiting for Godot or Waiting for Tesco is probably nearer to the truth.

We can’t expand, improve or invest in the village while we wait along with everyone else for the “comprehensive re-development” of the South Quay. If you thought this was a dead idea think again all harbour lovers- it is alive and well but just sleeping gently over at military Road in Canterbury.

Options need to be kept open by our dear friends at the council. That big deal could be just around the corner.

So if we can't get on with things, we are going to look elsewhere.

We now have 23 local businesses earning their living from the village, most operating from their own fisherman’s huts which I still think is quite a cool idea first suggested by Mark and Ann Pardoe.

Visitors to the town and locals can spend their money with people who live and work in the local community. It acts (partly) as a showcase for local arts and crafts. It attracts visitors to the town and adds some life to what was an ugly section of the harbour. It now generates over £¼ million every year for the local economy and of course, pays rent to the harbour and rates to the council.

There is not a big downside that I can think of.

The only problem is that the village is full and we would like to expand and improve. But all that’s on offer is what is effectively a six month lease. Just in case that big money development is just around the corner the council can kick our little huts out, and move Mr Tesco in.

Doesn’t make you feel all that welcome to be honest.

So if we can’t expand in our own home harbour, we are going to look at taking the harbour village idea to another Kentish seaside town near you. Explore Kent’s creative coast and the pleasures of Margate, Ramsgate, Deal, Sandwich or Broadstairs?

Any Kentish town out there like their own village?

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Oyster Festival Fever

The Whitstable Oyster Festival is about to commence this week-end and you can already feel the frenzied excitement reaching boiling point across the town.

Festival fever grips the people of Whitstable in different ways of course but for so many it is an opportunity to wear pink and explore their feminine side.

Indeed many people in Whitstable don't need a festival about a shellfish as an excuse to dress up in strange clothes and exhibit themselves in public places, most notably in Whitstable Harbour.

You might think that a town famous for fishing and commercial diving might have a gruff and macho edge to it but you could not be more wrong. For every gravelly voiced oystermen has his camp side and the festival is the time to celebrate it in public. So join the party...

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Saturday, 10 July 2010

Hot Hot Harbour

It's over 30 degrees C and the harbour is hotting up this summer with lots of interesting news and great music from Whitstable's own radio station, Red Sands Radio on 87.7 FM.

Malcolm is setting a new trend in pink as harbour men explore their feminine side and visitors treat their sunstroke with chilled juices and smoothies from the Whitstable Juice Company and cold strawberry tartlettes from Cocoa and Spice.

Rob Morris and Steve Randall at the new Harbour Smiths have made a strong start with their stunning range of hand crafted silver jewellery. Romney Marsh Arts and Craft Gallery have a leading ceramic artist on hand for the next few weeks. Enmanual Moldonado (right) is from Nicaragua and has been involved in ceramic arts for over 15 years. Meet him and check out his amazing work in Hut 9.

Frances at the Craft and Teddy Hut is now stocking the toys from local children's author Emma Thomson. Each special toy animal has a secret associated with the corresponding book.

So tune in to Red Sands Radio, get down the harbour and make the most of the summer. It won't last forever.
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