Seb Reilly: Back to normal

Beer festivals and art and book events. What more do you want. Photo by Adam Dark

The sun is out (when it’s not raining) and life has finally returned to normal. After a week of snow, with Thanet coming to something of a standstill, we are all able to get on with whatever it is that we all do, and I’m sure everyone is glad.

Like many others, I did experience a little cabin fever during the snow. It’s not that I couldn’t leave the house – a few centimetres of snow wouldn’t stop that – it was more the difficulty in trying to find somewhere to go. It’s not like you can go out for a long walk, or pop down the pub, especially when the pavements became ice sheets.

Photo Dan Thomsett

Weather like that must be difficult for pubs. When no one goes out, pubs have fewer customers, and therefore lower profits. At the height of the snow I went to one of my favourite local pubs, the Chapel in Broadstairs, to attend my local writers’ group, and whilst there were some customers it was nowhere near the busy, bustling venue it normally is.

Thanet pubs are varied, wonderful things. The first micropub was just up the road in Herne, and since then many have been opened in the Thanet area. Thanet CAMRA hold an annual beer festival each Easter – an event I am usually found at – and the quality of beer around here is exceptional.

Photo by Adam Dark

I don’t get to visit local pubs as much as I’d like, I must admit, but that’s probably not a bad thing. However, I am frequently found out and about at local events. As one of the benefits of writing a column for The Isle of Thanet News is I am able to ruthlessly plug things I am interested or involved in, today I am going to take full liberty of that.

Last month, before the “blizzard,” I had the pleasure of having some films I directed being exhibited at Dead Hoarse! Festival at the Pie Factory in Margate. Curated by local poet and artist Gary Studley, the week-long arts and culture festival featured paintings, sculpture, photography, film, along with poetry and prose workshops and performances.

It was a brilliant exhibition, and one I was proud to be part of. I was also honoured to be asked to perform a poem at the opening night; an opportunity I embraced.

Local events like Dead Hoarse! Festival are continually happening in Thanet, and it shows how much of a creative scene we have here. Journeys with ‘The Waste Land’ at the Turner Contemporary (plus many fringe events) has been an overwhelming success, and this month, in celebration of International Women’s Day, POW!Thanet are running a huge programme which looks fantastic. I was able to attend and even take part in some of the POW! events last year and am very much looking forward to more.

The Margate Bookie have also just announced a Spring festival, bringing together a wide range of local and national authors for three days of literary events at Turner Contemporary in May. Last year I was interviewed for their podcast, as was my fellow Isle of Thanet News columnist Matthew Munson, and this year both of us are appearing at the festival, on the billing, alongside some brilliant local authors including Catherine Law, Alice Olivia Scarlett, David Stone and Maggie Harris.

The reason I am at the Margate Bookie this year is that local community organisation Thanet Writers – who already offer payment to the writers of Thanet for short stories, poetry, articles and book reviews – are transitioning to a full publisher and releasing their first anthology; a process I have been fortunate to be involved with. Come along, tickets are on sale now.

It really is refreshing to see so many people, groups and organisations coming together to benefit the community; the level of positive creativity in the area is incredible. I’ll be at as many things as I can get to, supporting as much as I can, and enjoying everything Thanet has to offer. Otherwise, as long as I’m not at my desk, you might find me in the pub.