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Gale's View - Herne Bay 29/03/2018

March 29th 2018

Last Friday, Saturday and Sunday were fun! In support of Visit Kent's ' Kent's Big Weekend' I have visited Dreamland, the Herne Bay Seaside Museum, Beach Creative and ! With my family, Wildwood.

Friday, and a sneak preview of preparations for the grand Easter re- opening of Margate's Dreamland leisure park. The place is humming with people putting the final touches on preparation for a coming season that will offer eight new rides ( I know what they are but they will kill me if I tell you!) and a new entry policy. Contrary to headlines suggesting that " Dreamland is no longer free", implying a ' gate charge' (was it ever really 'free'?), there is a £5 payment redeemable against a ride or meal and which covers access to a wide range of promised exciting performances while the existing wristband charge still covers entry to the park as well as rides.  With five small grandchildren I am pleased to note that there is plenty for small people to enjoy and brave or foolhardy teenagers will, without giving the game away, soon find other attractions to test their nerves of steel. Dreamland's philosophy is now modelled on  Copenhagen's World Famous Tivoli Gardens and I wish them well and fair weather as they seek to position themselves as, once again, an equally famous must- visit attraction.

Sadly, having launched Herne Bay's International Radio Drama Festival last Monday I missed the Prize Giving( the winner was the Lithuanian entry) on Friday evening but was able to catch up with the Beach Creative contribution to the festival before moving on to the preview of the Dambusters' exhibition at the splendid little Herne Bay Seaside Museum. They say that all the best things come in small parcels and this is certainly true of a Museum whose volunteers have, with limited resources, been staging a fresh exhibition once every eight weeks. A visit to the premises at the seaward end of William Street over the Easter Weekend will prove rewarding. In addition to hearing from the grandson of one of those who gave their lives during the Lancaster bombers raids to deliver Barnes Wallis' ' bouncing bombs ' I learned from the Curator and his exhibition much that was new about the background to a project that was, incredibly, put together in just three months.

Then Sunday and Wildwood on Herne Common where my two sons spent happy days working during their university years. Tom, then about six, can still recall when, after the hurricane of 1987, we went up to Brambles, as it was called, to wield chainsaws and try to reduce what was salvable from the wreckage. In the intervening years Peter Smith and his team and Trustees have transformed the Wildwood experience into a major contributor to British Wildlife conservation, education and tourism in The Bay. To be asked to join Peter and Wildwood's DG Paul Whitfield and to formally open, with Suzy , the new wolf enclosure was very special. To see Nuna and Odin from the viewing platform( which also has great wheelchair access on the ground floor - don't miss Donna's two stunning engraved wolf pictures on the walls) is a must. How long before we allow them to return to the wild in the United Kingdom as they have in France and Holland and Denmark?

 

Three generations of Gales also enjoyed seeing Fluffy and Scruffy as they emerged from their winter hibernation. By Easter Sunday they will be fully active and eating again and those who saw these two European Brown Bears when they first arrived from Bulgaria will be amazed. Bred in captivity in horrible cages to then be released and shot as trophies by communist ' sportsmen', they were emaciated. Rescued by Wildwood they are now two handsome and proud animals enjoying a new lease of life. Bears, in a British Wildlife Park?  Yes, there was a time when these animals roamed Britain as well. Sadly no longer, but take a look, perhaps, on Bank Holiday Monday.

 

Visiting Kent has a lot to offer without travelling very far.

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