I can’t find this up on thisiskent.co.uk despite the invitation at the foot of the printed column – if you can, please do send me the link! So here it is, for those that care, my take on why Broadstairs is a fabulous place to live – as spotted last weekend by The Times. Thoughts and comments welcome…
This is Why We Love Thanet
As those of you who read a quality newspaper will know, Broadstairs has been named by The Times as one of the 30 Best Places to Live by The Sea. The newspaper cites as its high points: good schools, blue flag beaches and the fact that London is 80 minutes away by train. Can’t dispute any of that, but those of us who live here can surely do better. As a long-time resident of what the Times refers to as this “genteel” town (they weren’t here on a Friday night, then), may I offer my own top reasons why Broadstairs in particular, and Thanet in general, is a fab place to live.
1) The Ahhh factor. When skipping among the dropped litter, dodging the dog poo or sighing sadly at boarded up shops, it is easy to forget how totally gorgeous Thanet can be. Look at the sweep of Margate Beach from the harbour arm, take time to stop and stare at Ramsgate’s glorious marina and feast your eyes on Viking Bay, twinkling at night or picture-book pretty by day, fishing boats bobbing. I can still wander the twisting pathway behind Bleak House, down past the 18th century Tartar Frigate and think: Wow.
2) Independent shops. Glossing over the lapse in taste that brought Iceland to Broadstairs High Street – most of the outlets here are small or quirky. Never underestimate how entirely fortunate we are to still have butchers and bakers and greengrocers and traditional stores like Harrington’s the ironmongers, the Bottleneck, York Street Post Office (or a post office at all!) and Peters Shoe Repairs.
3) Pubs. They may be under pressure but we can still boast as fine an array of timeless hostelries as you’ll find anywhere. Consider not only the lilies but the White Swan or The Brown Jug. And with 5000 boozers having closed across the country – the fact that we have bars opening. Check out the new wave of real ale micro pubs and rejoice.
4) Old Buildings Steeped in History. The bijou Palace Cinema in Harbour Street, the tiny Dickens Pantry and mullioned windows of Serene Place, York Gate, The Theatre Royal, the Tom Thumb ETC.
5) Old Codgers steeped in controversy. Credit where credit is due – we have the most entertaining local council in the land. Where else could you boast a set of elected representatives who have variously been put away for forgery and corruption, hauled up for brawling, played fancy dress with Arab sheiks, been dressed down for abusive phone calls, accused of homophobia, animal neglect and drink-driving… and just know in your heart, there’ll be more laughs to come ….
6) Interesting locals. An eclectic, eccentric bunch ranging from the old school, dyed-in-the-wool stalwarts of middle England to the arty dilettantes to the campaigning, table-thumping thorns in the council’s side. Millionaires shuffling along in hand-me-downs. Flash Harries with personalised numberplates on their third bankruptcy. All life is here!
7) Calendars and customs. Annual events that soldier on. The Dickens Play, Dickens Festival, Folk Week, town carnivals, Water Gala, Ramsgate Week… A shame the bank holiday punch-up on Margate seafront petered out but still lots to enjoy.
8) A proper local paper. With a letters page. (And Smudger). Take a look at the rags in other necks of the wood. See what I mean?
9) A local airport to take you pretty much anywhere. Hurrah for KLM and daily flights to Schipol. Am I the only one excited? The Loop isn’t bad either.
10) Being safe. Yes, Thanet has its moments but overall crime is relatively low, and residents mostly decent. If you fall over in the street, someone will usually pick you up. There’s an A & E up the road, police to be seen, the bins get emptied (eventually) and it could all be worse. At least it’s not Dover.