Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Reasons to be Cheerful

I can't recall being this busy since before the start of the recession and I'm hearing much the same message from other small businesses.

Market confidence is visibly returning and companies are starting to spend money again. In the last week, on the flying side of my work alone, I've had bookings from Samsung,  the Eastbourne Airshow, British Motocross GP and Snetterton circuit, adding to the work already stacked in the diary for the next two months and not including separate projects in both Kiev and Barcelona.  This Friday through Sunday, I've six jobs to do all over the place, including a display run down the July course at Newmarket at 6:30 pm on Friday.

I hate to appear political but it does rather look as if George Osborne's economic strategy is starting to show signs of success, however painful the medicine to get the nation back on its feet again, having being left with the largest debt and 'emptiest treasury' of any European nation by the profligate last Government.

On a different note, I forgot to tell readers that two different standards complaints made about my online presence, to Thanet District Council have been thrown out. One alleged that I was libelling one of our regular visitors by declining to publish remarks about former councillors who served well before my time and the other, involved a complaint surrounding a personal comment on ThanetOnline, where I made some kind of remark about a photographer taking advantage of vulnerable women.

Of course both of these standards complaints will have cost the Council time and money to investigate and like my black-humoured Twitter remark about Harriet Harman a week or so ago, mirrored by another in the Daily Mail the next day, risks being whipped-up to a frenzy by the fringes of the left and those who have nothing better to do than be offended. Wishing a for nothing more than bland, anodyne politicians who speak in politically correct sound bytes and recycle their spaghetti. That's not for me I'm afraid.

It's increasingly hard for the public to believe in such colourless politicians, both local and national when the actors themselves either have no strong beliefs or opinions to measure them by or are absolutely forbidden to express any view which risks upsetting one vocal minority or another. As is very much true in Thanet at present, we get the government we deserve.

So that was a quick public broadcast break and I'm back to work. Thursday evening it's the Dreamland CPO appearing at a full Council meeting. A conclusion in sight after so many years of attempting to bring the famous amusement park back into use.

Disappointed in University of Kent at Canterbury. I call up the archaeology department and offer them the high-resolution photos of the site shown in the last blog entry.  I struggle to make it clear that I'm offering them the photos for 'Free.' Eventually told that someone will call me back but they never did!

Update: that rattled the right cages and the University now have the photos!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Camera Angles

New Archaeological Site at Canterbury
I promised readers a photo of the large new Iron or Bronze Age archaeological site in front of the University of Kent at Canterbury and its huge as you can see from the photo at the side.

I've taken quite a few so will give Kent Archaeology a call this week and ask if they would like some.

Today, I've been filming with the BBC's One Show since breakfast time and I'm sunburned and shattered. It never ceases to amaze me how long it can take to deliver exactly what the producer wants, when and where. With aircraft involved, that can prove a bit of a challenge at the best of times.

The results of today's little exercise, I'm told, should appear around September time.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

No Surprises There

No surprises for anyone, I suspect in the result that Will Scobie has been selected to fight Laura Sandys in South Thanet at the next General Election.

I have been predicting this might happen, pretty much since Will was selected and promptly elected as a Councillor in 2011, with his supporters on other weblogs, jumping through hoops, attempting to dismiss such a rumour as malicious gossip.

By anyone's standards, his rise has been meteoric and only in the North-east of England or perhaps even, North Korea, could such dynastic nepotism take-place unremarked. This does however illustrate Labour's own poverty of local candidates but I do wonder which Trade Union will be sponsoring him?

I'm sure we can now look forward to seeing Will being interviewed on the BBC's Sunday Politics show on his own plan for South Thanet. A TV debate with the very capable Laura Sandys would indeed be something to look forward to and would illustrate the enormous chasm in experience between them. I'm sure the people of South Thanet must feel very privileged today at Labour's choice on the heels of Pleasurama and TransEuropa.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The One

Spotted overhead my house in Westgate this evening, a motorised paraglider. These normally fly from a farm near Herne Bay but if you can put-up with the slow speed, they are a very civilised way of getting about and enjoying a view on a summer's evening.

Pilots are somewhat wary of these man and a fan machines, if only because the people who fly them frequently, if not  regularly, appear unconcerned by the danger from fixed-wing and rotary aircraft. if they climb above 1,000 feet in an area close to an airfield.

While we are expecting a storm on Saturday, the heatwave looks set to return again on Sunday and in weather as good as this, I would much rather be outside enjoying the rare miracle of an English summer, than inside blogging for an audience that is quite probably outside having a glass of wine.

For any aviation enthusiast, the BBC's One Show will be filming at Rochester airport from 0830 on Sunday morning. They were over at the Shuttleworth collection, near Luton, today, filming footage of the last remaining WWI flyable SE5A fighter for some historic background and there's an attempt to do something quite unique on Sunday morning if the weather permits. Blue skies required.

This project has been a year in the planning with the BBC and nobody quite knows if we will be able to pull it off. It's still a bit of a secret but I will be taking my own cameras with me to record some of the behind the scenes footage to share with you later.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Over the Top

That was quite a thunderstorm we had this morning and I ended-up with two frightened dogs sitting on top of me!

Given the sultry conditions, I wouldn't be surprised if we had another series of thunderclaps overnight but we need it to clear the air, as the smog layer is really quite visible over the south of the country after this last week's heat wave.

I've a piece of paper in front of me that tells me that I'm properly authorised to photo survey nuclear power stations tomorrow but that I must not forget to inform the security chain what time I will be over the top. On a previous occasion, there were problems with the chain of command passing the message on and I really don't want a Eurofighter appearing on my tail and firmly instructing me to land or else!

It's far too sticky to discuss politics this evening which will come as a relief to many readers I'm sure. I will leave that until next week. However and following last week's BBC Radio Kent report, I have kicked the fuss about the terrible delay in processing X-Ray result times at QEQM and Canterbury, up to Sir Roger Gale and suggested that unless the software problems are remedied very quickly indeed, that the Minister should become involved. I think this is my fifth week now waiting for the results of a routine X-Ray and if any readers have similar stories to share, do let me know.

Perhaps I should have mentioned 'Cambridge minor' today but then the press and the TV are doing a far better job than me and there's no shortage of Americans outside Buckingham Palace to interview either. I'm showing my age in clearly remembering the marriage of Charles and Diana and I wish this new Royal Prince and future King, every good fortune, in what is likely to be a very difficult world to grow up in.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Marching Moments

Just a couple of photos from the Tolpuddle Martyrs Rally this afternoon in deepest tropical Dorset.

The South-west is still basking in Mediterranean-like heat as you might notice but the weather changes past Ashford to a much cooler climate indeed.

Listening to the radio traffic, I gathered that a light aircraft has crashed in the English channel some fifteen miles from Dungeness, with no sign of any survivors. At the moment it remains a mystery and I can only hope the Coastguard searchers from France and RAF Wattisham, find something in the next three hours as both daylight and hope fade.

More news later I hope but here's a passing photo of HMS Victory.

HMS Victory

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Marching Season

Descending back towards Sheerness at lunchtime today, I noticed two tugs nudging a large container ship around the wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery. Whether this was a normal procedure or the ship was a little off course for the port, I don't know but I grabbed my camera none the less.

Readers may recall the story of the Richard Montgomery, a WWII munitions carrier that sank off Sheerness with enough explosives to cause the equivalent of a small nuclear explosion. Today the wreck site is clearly marked, the explosives are regarded as being hazardously unstable and the good people of Sheerness, go about their daily business, largely oblivious to the threat of oblivion only a few hundred metres from the shoreline.

If you had heard about some of the more extraordinary events and outbursts of the July 11th, Thanet Council meeting, then the video is now online and you can judge for yourself what actually took place that evening as opposed to hearsay. This covers the controversial topics of both the Pleasurama Royal Sands Development and the TransEuropa debt and several, rather 'hot under the collar' exchanges.

I haven't been writing much of late' partly because its been too hot and partly because I have been too busy or dodging the British Airways A380 coming and going at Manston every day.

Everywhere I'm seeing positive signs of business coming out of recession and spending money, Ryan Air spending advertising money with me today and Lawyers4U last week, which appears to support what the Government is saying in regard to the latest OECD figures.

While austerity is very much still with us, we are not suffering anywhere near to the same degree as countries like Greece, even though we had the biggest debts. These haven't been dented in real-terms just yet and we can be thankful that we have our own currency and not the Euro. That said, printing money; Quantitive Easing if you want to hide the fact, is not without risk and can't carry-on with low Bank of England interest rates indefinitely. Crawling out of recession, even in tiny steps, is just enough, like a struggling man with his nose just above the quicksand, to keep the European-style recession from our door. But of course, some readers might prefer to hand the keys back to Ed Balls to see if he's learned any new tricks since Labour was last in power?

Tomorrow, it's the annual Tolpuddle Martyrs Rally and Trades Union rally in Dorset. As you might expect, yours truly, Margate's closet Marxist, with two supporting aircraft is providing some of the opening entertainment at 2pm as the march begins. Irony at its finest hour.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Big Visitor at Manston

BA A380 at Manston Airport
If you hadn't noticed already, British Airways' brand new A380, 'Super Jumbo' is at Manston today.

The giant passenger jet is due to take-off again in the company of two Red Arrows for filming at 3pm over Dover or so I'm told by Manston ATC.

If you plan to have a look, then I reckon the best vantage point is the end of the runway near the Minster roundabout as Manston's runway 28 is presently in use and that way, you may get your hair parted by the A380 as it leaves.

Good luck!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Lost at Sea

The heatwave is predicted to stay with us for at least a week and at the same time, I really don't expect many people to be inside reading Thanet's local weblogs as they make the most of our short summer.

Southend Pier
I haven't really been encouraged to write over the last week, if only because I'm completely losing patience with the state of local politics. We now have UKIP and Cllr Tom King's independents, peddling a conspiracy theory, which also includes a 'Green' Ian Driver, who simply can't understand that a £3 million TransEuropa debt was a loss and not a loan to the company and that the priority always remained one of keeping the port of Ramsgate open.

In the Council chamber, the one evening that the Thanet Gazette, should really have been present, there was nobody to record the remarkable personal attack, the Council Leader, Clive Hart, directed at a member of the public, who had tabled a question to the Council. While I might recognise Cllr Hart's exasperation at the subject, attacking the 'In Touch with Thanet' Facebook page and its author, is neither clever nor acceptable from the Leader of the Council when the focus of such an attack has no right to reply. I'm sure the video of Thursday's Council business will be the most popular to date.

Lost in all the background noise on Thursday, was Cllr Dr. Jack Cohen, lovingly known as 'Rowley' by his colleagues, taking over as the leader of TIG, Thanet Independent Group, from Cllr John Worrow. He made a fine speech, congratulating Cllr Worrow on his many notable achievements to date and was generous in his praise of the work of the present administration. Let's not forget of course that we are where we are today in Thanet's sad political history, exactly because Cllr's Worrow and Cohen obediently raise their hands in support of each and every vital Labour vote. Not quite the Pavlovian reflex the good people of Birchington had in mind when they voted for them in the first place.

If I'm frank about it all, Thanet's political process is now drifting aimlessly, without any oars and with rather a lot of wind to push it around in circles.

Consensus Politics in Thanet
Between them, UKIP, the Independents and the other Independents, have control of the balance of power and here you have a bizarre mix of agendas, left and right wing politics, daft policies and wacky conspiracy theories from individuals you really would not want in charge of your lifeboat or indeed, a shopping trolley in Tesco.

Leaving aside District politics, County politics appears to be faring no better, with UKIP visibly lurching so far to the right in Thanet that in Ramsgate, even Trevor Shonk may feel comfortable with its trajectory. Domestic politics now reminds me vaguely of Germany in the 1930s and I'm not alone in expressing concern.

I've put up a picture of Southend Pier from yesterday, recalling, with nostalgia, that when I was a boy, Margate had one too. I had a marriage proposal to fly over the end of the pier yesterday in addition to a RMT Union banner over Bob Crow at the Durham Miners Gala at noon. There's an irony there I'm sure.

Other than filming the new Lawyers 4 You TV advert on Friday, I've been asked to do some advertising for Ryan Air. I asked if I had to pay them first and how much hand baggage allowance I might take with me in my own aircraft!

Finally and for the individual who is energetically searching my weblog for the address of a brothel in Broadstairs, you won't find it here I'm afraid but should you find one, I'm sure that some readers might be interested in your customer feedback comments. I'm not sure that TripAdvisor caters for this quite yet though!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

One Battle, Then Another

Battle Abbey
With my aircraft on a regular maintenance cycle at Hastings yesterday, I wandered over to the ruins of Battle Abbey, nearby and the site of '1066 and all that.' The  CH4 Time Team has an alternative site for the battle nearby and here's the programme link.

If you haven't visited this historic spot before, then beware, it's expensive and yesterday appeared to be packed with school parties and groups of visiting Russian teenagers for some unknown reason. Getting in, cost me £11.00 and the carking is £4.50, so it's not a family day out for many in these times of austerity.

Looking Towards the Saxon Line
Walking the battlefield in the hot sunshine was very pleasant as the land has been left in its natural state but with local tradition and now, a little modern research, suggesting that the actual site of the Battle of Hastings, was actually nearer the windmill outside Battle, I was left wondering if this was really the best location for a long Norman cavalry action against the Saxon shield wall on a hill.

Next time around, I plan to take aerial photos of the alternate site if I can fix it exactly and will share these with you  here. A first perhaps.

Real Site? See Windmill Centre Top of Picture 
Tonight, there's a full meeting of Thanet Council, with once again, lots of questions from the public on the Pleasurama and Royal Sands Development in Ramsgate. I did see and hear some of the footage of this week's most recent public meeting and it's very obvious that the Council's Deputy Leader, Alan Poole, has been choosing his words very poorly in dealing with a concerned local community.

Tonight, no doubt, we will once again hear that all is fine, transparent and under control as the present administration stumbles from one crisis to the next, firm in their absolute conviction that they are doing the right thing and equally reluctant to listen to the opinions of others.

It's going to be a long evening. That I'm pretty much certain of.

Monday, July 08, 2013

A Brutal Architecture

Dreamland and the Arlington
Two very different photos to share today. The first being the 'brutalist' architecture of Margate seafront and the second speaks for itself.

As you may have guessed, I'm in an experimental photography phase.

It's the time of year when I'm constantly flying, with a ''First4Lawyers' TV advert to shoot this week. Today, is a day off of sorts while I try and catch-up with everything else and in particular, the papers for this coming Thursday's Council meeting.

From the visit recorder on my sidebar, it's clear that either people have lost interest, are on holiday or perhaps both but that's mostly true of most local blogs at this time of year.

If you live in Westgate, then there's a social dance, ballroom Latin and Social Sequence evening at the Community Centre at 7.30pm this Saturday. I will try and drop-in for a brief twirl!

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Sittingbourne Blaze

Sittingbourne Blaze - Copyright Airads
A huge blaze at a warehouse unit in Sittingbourne this afternoon, with the town under a pall of thick black smoke. It's been blazing away for some hours now and from the look of it, it's hundreds of burning tyres.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Big Wheel

Brighton's Big Wheel
It's hot, as everyone will have noticed and I'm flying pretty constantly this weekend.

So with very little time and even less energy remaining to write a blog post of any significance today, here's a passing photo of the Big Wheel on Brighton's seafront this afternoon.

Perhaps we could organised a clever overnight commando raid, directed perhaps by the Thanet Gazette's new 'Political Mastermind'  Will Scobie and 'borrow it' for Margate seafront or even better, the Pleasurama site, where it might look rather nice and perhaps attract a few more tourists and votes besides?

Any volunteers with access to cutting tools and a small fleet of flatbed trucks? Just for the look on the faces of the members of Brighton Town Council when they find it's gone.

Battle Abbey - Hastings
This afternoon I was operating from Eastchurch airfield on the Isle of Sheppey. For a while there, you might have thought that the world had ended without anyone telling me; not a soul in sight anywhere, that is until I took off again and spotted the hundreds of caravans that line the shoreline as far as Sheerness.

The other passing photo today shows Battle Abbey and the site of the Battle of Hastings in 1066 with Senlac Hill, where the Saxons stood, quite visible.

Another even hotter day promised for Sunday. Make the most of it!

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Through the Back Door

Avoiding Cllr Driver at All Costs
You may have noticed some interesting 'goings-on' in Margate this morning and I was watching it all happen below me from 1,000 feet over the Turner Contemporary Gallery.

The Prime Minister, cleverly avoided our local anarchists, diversity champion, Cllr Driver and the handful of assembled anarchists, animal rights and socialists, protesting bravely outside the front of the gallery and the other VIPs, the Qatari's landed at Margate football club.

A Small Protest
You may notice that the large crowd of welcoming protestors, referred to by Cllr Ian Driver on his weblog, isn't really that large and impressive from above.

More photos later if you pop in as I'm processing them now. The internet has been very slow today. Putting-up the high-resolution shots might take days at the present rate of upload!

VIPs Land at Margate FC

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Gin Lane

Gin Lane by Hogarth 1751
A visitor to Margate's Cecil Square last week, commented that what she saw there, reminded her of the iconic 1751 print, 'Gin Lane' by the artist William Hogarth in support of what would later become the Gin Act.

That a visitor to the town should immediately think of William Hogarth, rather than William Turner, came as a personal shock but also perhaps as a rude wake-up call. Too often perhaps, we attempt to point at regeneration in one direction and ignore or dismiss the equally valid perceptions of others, who leave the town with the opposite impression of the many positive changes, people are working so hard to deliver.

Tomorrow, Thursday, if you believe the press and social media, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, will be visiting the Turner Contemporary Gallery in the morning, seeing for himself, evidence of that same positive influence, the gallery has had over the town's regeneration since it opened.

However, the spectre of Hogarth won't be too far away as anarchists and left-wing political activists from far and away are being encouraged to descend on Margate and 'Get Cameron.' Here's an example of one of their more tasteful posters which labels 'Tories' like me as vermin.

Reading through some of their materials, this all appears to be coming from Thanet's 'usual suspects' intent on 'Saving Our NHS' and proving 'The Myth' of austerity. A welfare state in perpetuity and at any cost, even if the huge sum of money to pay for what we have become used to over the last thirty years, no longer exists.

Simple economics or indeed, history remains a mystery to many of those contributing to the 'Get Cameron' debate. Very few people realise that before WWII and the global introduction of wider income tax rates across the developed nations that followed it, countries normally lived within their limited means. This was broadly a consequence of income tax receipts and the amount of Gold held in central banks.

Without going into a history lesson, what happened after the war, was the idea that the Government of one generation could borrow almost indefinitely and in unlimited sums from the Government of the next, to support capital expenditure, the growth of the public service and huge welfare-related projects such as the NHS.

Such government borrowing, much like any pyramid investment scheme, was predicated on indefinite economic growth of at least 2.5% annually; forever with consistent taxation to match the burden of having half the population dependent on welfare payments of one form or another.

Liam Byrne's Famous Note
There was of course one big flaw in the this economic model as we have all subsequently discovered since the crash of 2008 and Labour Treasury Secretary, Liam Byrne left that famous note about the money having all been spent; we inherited the worst deficit in the G20 from the last government. The assets that any nation or business borrows against must have a value and in Europe's case, with plummeting GDP, there's very little left to raise money on and Greece, Portugal and Ireland are fine examples of the catastrophic consequences of out-of-control government borrowing.

There's a much bigger picture of course so I will ask readers to forgive the over-simplification but what I'm trying to argue is that the protestors, are dreaming of some socialist Albanian utopia. One of long state holidays and unlimited welfare, where jobs are for life, State pensions forever and medicine is free. They are deceiving themselves, as they have done since George Orwell wrote Animal Farm.

Even the Labour Party, has now conceded that it too will have to take a much harder line on welfare but consistently declines to say what its own plans for austerity might be. What is true however, is that any Government of any colour, after the General Election of 2015, is going to have to cut even deeper than today because we have still only scratched the surface of austerity regardless of what the 'Get Cameron' protesters might believe. when I have spoken with their like before, I've found them to be quite uninterested in economic facts but class-obsessed with a fantastical sense of social entitlement, which lies at odds with my own. Step no further than a conversation with Labour's Cabinet Member, Cllr Fenner and you'll know what I mean.

On reflection. It would be nice if the event of our Prime Minister visiting Thanet and in particular Margate tomorrow morning, was seen as a recognition of the efforts of many hard-working people, in making steady and significant progress towards the regeneration of the town. I do however fear that any visit will be spoiled by those intent on making a point on a political argument which has all the relevance today of the famous Luddite protests at Rawfold Mill in 1812.