You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘lost promenade’ tag.

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Sadly this time, the TV on the ferry over to the Isle of Wight had no cock-headed man of Brading Roman Villa for us to snigger at. You can’t have everything, and as it’s a sunny day on everybody’s favourite retro-racist holiday utopia, we won’t be too disheartened. Off the boat and out of the station, along a long, bleak pier; green with age and almost empty, and at the end of it? Ryde; the town on the other side of the Solent from Portsmouth.

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Like the other bits of the Island we’ve been to, Ryde retains an old-fashioned, slightly musty and moth-eaten air, like velvet curtains in a long-abandoned dancehall, heavy and hushed. There are some lovely old Victorian buildings and plenty of twirly wrought-iron colonnades. A few chotzke shops are creeping in, but they haven’t reached the biddy heights of Cath Kidston yet, just some generic tealights and vague white, driftwoody items. There are also a large number of bad boutiques.

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Victoria Arcade is a fascinating building with a beautiful domed ceiling at its top and a museum of Ryde heritage at its bottom. There are also various independent shops, including one specialising in breweriana and crammed with long-forgotten logos and other interesting ephemera. Sadly, the other shop selling vintage collectibles in the arcade lets itself down by not only selling the IOW’s most popular keepsake, the golliwog, not only selling WWII Nazi memorabilia but also selling contemporary items with Nazi insignia. Won’t bother buying anything from them then.

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From there we move onto the Donald McGill postcard museum. Donald McGill produced some of the best known saucy seaside postcards and is associated with Ryde due to a spate of police raids and seizures of McGill cards in 1953 in the town under the Obscene Publications Act. The museum is tiny and eccentric; at the back of a cafe called The Orrery and through a vintage turnstile. Most of the jokes on the cards are incomprehensible and often revolve around the hilarity of women being overweight. There are odd almost-double entrendres a-plenty (not rude words, but words that just sound as if they should be rude). A fat woman whose child is hidden by her size, says “I can”t see my little Charlie” – since when is a Charlie a vagina? Another buxom lady says,“I’m making curtains for my back sitting room” (She’s talking about her bloomers! ROFL!). Nhung asks “So is her Charlie also her front room?” It’s all very confusing.

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We stop to try and make sense of it all at Le Croute cafe and meet our old Lost Prom friends and Isle of Wight correspondents Ian and Tina, who then accompany us through town for a foray into the charity shops. There’s nothing mega-interesting, in fact Nhung – in a first for the Lost Prom, buys nothing at all. We do spot a funny little Dr Who theme shop and a couple of stores catering for the mod attendees of the town’s regular scooter rallies, including one called Boots and Camo, which mainly sells just that. As we get further into town, the prosperous outer layers seems to flake and scab and we start to see more boarded-up buildings. The town still retains an untroubled-by-modern-concerns air though. A full-scale race riot could occur on the roundabout and the locals would probably still respond with a quiet “tsk tsk” as the petrol bombs whizzed by, pausing only to make commemorative golliwogs to mark the occasion.

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We cut through a residential area back to the seafront, which is fairly featureless, just an unattractive ice rink and bowling alley. There is however an odd little shop on the front, long-closed and abandoned apart from its window display, which seems to have been left in-situ since the 1960s. Plastic novelties almost obscured by thick, grey dust, like a seaside tat shop version of Pompeii, knicker elastic and headless dolls. In some ways it’s an encapsulation of the Isle of Wight . Except it’s probably the only shop on the island not to sell golliwogs.

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Lost

Evacuee paper doll set and Agatha Christie bookmark (would have bought them, but the shop sold Nazi memorabilia so left in disgust)

Nhung’s hat – nearly

Anything for Nhung to buy in a charity shop

Almost the ferry home again (once more we had to leg it down the pier)

Found

Girl comic playing cards

4 vintage postcards

Watneys Red Barrel glass and coaster

Janet Jackson single

Old friends

Lots of shops selling racist knick-knacks

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Ramsgate has developed a continental cafe style culture with bars and restaurants on its seafront parade (citation needed)” – Wikipedia

Oh. That’ll be the same Ramsgate with the roughest-looking pub in England, the throngs of beer-bellied bikers and an epic battle over dog turds will it then Wiki? Too right, citation bloody needed. Let’s start at the beginning…

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After a tediously long walk from the station, almost the first building you see in Ramsgate proper is a hangout of the Kent chapter of the Outlaws biker gang, nestled slightly surreally amongst leafily-fringed properties. However, that aside, Ramsgate is very attractive. Although a large amount of the shops and pubs are closed and boarded- up, there are many lovely buildings and the pedestrianised town centre is livelier than many, with market stalls and a traditional butcher’s shop still thriving.

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But then we go up the road and encounter one of the grimmest-looking pubs we’ve ever seen. Festooned in St George’s crosses (although in 2012, what with the Jubilee, the European Football Championships and the Olympics it’s quite difficult to sort out the fascist from the mere dunderhead) and flanked by furious-looking men who wouldn’t look out of place in a reality show called something like Britain’s Lardiest Wifebeaters, it’s nearly as unappealing as the barbers across the way, which looks like the ideal venue if ever you fancied hosting a flick-knife vs nunchucks convention, with Charles Bronson as keynote speaker.  We, probably unfairly, nickname this part of  town “the racist end” and retreat in the other direction which has a shop called ‘Trendy.’ We think about going in so that we can be trendy too, but that’s just too much excitement, even for us.

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We decide to calm down in the usual Lost Promenade way and stop for something to eat in posh-looking Corby’s Tea Rooms. As it’s a sunny day, we sit outside, at the back, overlooking a set of street furniture shaped like a 3 piece suite,on which some teenagers are performing impressive parkour moves. Suddenly a kerfuffle develops; a man is yelling at a woman for failing to pick up her dog’s mess, followed closely behind by another woman hooting plummily, “I’ve got a poo bag if you need one!” They disappear behind a wall for a moment, then emerge in a maelstrom of fury – the man is dragging the dog-owner along by the wrists, apparently making a citizen’s arrest while she shouts and kicks and bites. “You don’t care about the starving poor people all you care about is poo”, she screams, “Your watch is worth more than you”. The teenagers cease leaping and start filming on their phones as the woman gets more and more riled, finally breaking away and making off, with dog in tow, but sans poo bag. A while later the fuzz turn up and the man spends the next ten minutes searching for his hearing aid that got lost in the fracas. Ramsgate – continental cafe style culture at its very best.

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Out along the jetty and all this is forgotten as we finally reach the seafront – another marvellous tangeriney Kent beach of delight. A small girl is practising somersaults in the air and people and dogs hurtle about like hairy pinballs. We take a relaxing boat trip around the harbour, a bargain at £3. The Port of Ramsgate is expanding year on year due to the demands placed on it by the phalanx of clockwork daddy long-legs glinting off in the distance – Thanet’s offshore wind farm, the largest wind farm in the world.

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From the sea we spot an intriguing looking bric-a-brac shop under the promenade arches. A cave-like space stuffed with mannequins, fairground signage, and pianola music, it’s definitely worth a visit, as is Pelosi’s, a gorgeously preserved 1960s ice cream parlour, all pinks and mint greens, chrome and Formica. We walk along the beach past similarly-hued striped storage huts and kids flying kites. More mental than continental, unlike its neighbour Whitstable, Ramsgate is no manicured weekenders’ haven; however, dab a little at its grimy cheeks and underneath is a flawed bathing belle, a few teeth missing but a lovely smile.

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Lost

3 7” records (too scratched to buy)

Brideshead Revisited Audio Book Collection (Nhung considers buying something Brideshead related on every Lost Prom trip but decides against it)

Saturday newspaper (Tamsin forgets to buy it and regrets it during the 50 minute wait at Ashford International for a connecting Brighton train)

“Trendiness”

Concerned citizen’s hearing aid

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Found

Spotting Birds book

YMCA badge

Dark green ceramic pot with the word ‘celery’ on it

Red leather tote bag

Book about matchbox labels

Vintage black & white photo postcard of 2 girls on the beach in Margate

Our first witnessing of a citizen’s arrest

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