Plain Jane 271213Regular readers of this column (God help you) will know that my final offering of the year has historically been a round-up of my top ten Thanet establishments from the previous twelve months. This usually includes both new ventures and old favourites and generally comprises an eclectic mix of bars, eateries, retail outlets and leisure venues (I’ve also listed Thanet District Council for their continuing entertainment value). It was my mate Mike – seen on these pages when I’m having a lie-down – who suggested that this time around I might go for my top people instead. (“I’ve tried to think of some good places in Thanet,” he explained, with his usual optimism, “but I’ve had no luck.”)

We who get out a bit more, know, of course, that the Isle teems with fabulous enterprises, even if some of them are closed for the duration. E.g.

1) Angela’s Café. Back in the spring, when I put out a call for breakfast recommendations, two different Emmas, a Ryan, a Sam and a Carol all emailed to applaud Angela’s Café in Margate Old Town. I know an orchestrated campaign when I see one, but in a spirit of good-for-them, I have been meaning to visit Angela’s ever since. Unfortunately, by the time I did, it had shut for the winter weeks (reopening February 2014) – so I went next door. My second accolade therefore, goes by default, to…

2) Café G. 1 High Street, Margate. They don’t do breakfast as such, but my son had a Panini he gave the thumbs up to, and the charming girl serving kindly made me some perfectly nice toast. And – a big gold star for this one – they offer a good selection of teas. Most establishments don’t stray beyond the safe-but-dull peppermint and camomile or they have lemon-with-ginger, which I don’t much rate. Café G has green tea with just lemon – a much better option – and also jasmine. I like that.

3) Emma Irvine. (I am taking up Mike’s suggestion and throwing in a few people too). Emma is the powerhouse behind the conversion of ex-council gaff, Albion House in Ramsgate, into a boutique hotel. Search “Albion House Open Day” on YouTube. It is sounding fab.

4) Kate Smith at the Updown Gallery – also in Ramsgate at Satis House, 11 Elms Avenue. I love this! Wonderful space, great exhibitions – so fantastic to see a new gallery in Ramsgate. Go see for yourself.

5) York Street Gallery Ramsgate – in York Street (funnily enough). I’ve only entered this little gem recently but apparently it’s been going nearly two years. I went along for Brian Homewood’s exhibition for quite personal reasons (standing with a glass in one hand, a cheeselet in the other, surveying a large canvas of oneself in the altogether, borders on the surreal) and I liked it. Good range of reasonably-priced greetings cards by local artists.

6) York Street Post Office, Broadstairs  (One thought led to another). I sometimes feel this is my second home.

7) Frank Thorley. There are some who like to mutter (for reasons I’ve never quite fathomed) about Mr T and Thorley Taverns. But let us not forget the huge investment this pub / hotel / restaurant group has made in Thanet over the last 38 years, the number of workers it employs and the huge contribution Frank makes personally to the community in terms of his charity efforts. As one who happened to be the speaker for the ever-amusing chaps of Rotary Thanet (also doing lots of good works) on the night of Frank’s last birthday, I can only hope I am going that strong and achieving that much when I am 78.  Go Frank!

8) Laura Sandys. Round of applause for our (sadly) outgoing (come 2015) Member of Parliament for Thanet South. Whatever one’s political persuasions, it would be hard to refute her credentials as a brilliant constituency MP. Let us hope whoever we get next has even half of her energy, commitment, good spirits and compassion (and his name’s not Nigel).

9) KLM, Ann Gloag, and all who fly in her. I make no apologies for the fact that I continue to adore having a working airport on my doorstep. May Manston go from strength to strength however much flak I get for saying so. Which brings me neatly to conclude with:

10) Readers (the most important people of all) who write to me. I give you Dennis Franklin for the crossest, most entertainingly abusive, correspondent of 2013 and Helen Waddington for the loveliest. Helen often writes to the letters’ page too and is unfailingly positive about Thanet – always seeing the best in every new development. Frankly, groaners, we need more Helens.

But even if you’ve not written yet (there’s always 2014), I thank you, most sincerely, for reading me. Have a very Happy New Year!

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