Making the best of the good weather, I cycled over to Ramsgate harbour yesterday lunchtime, sitting uncomfortably astride the titanium razor-blade that is my triathlon bike.
It's been in sitting in the cellar for the last three years while the local sea air eats away at the mountain bike I normally get around with and yesterday I wondered how on earth I once managed to race the speed machine with its oversized main gear. It's been a good ten years since I last competed, I think and advancing late middle-age is catching-up as I wondered where the energy in my legs had gone since I last rode it
The first triathlon I competed in was a strange one indeed. The swim was a mile across Dover harbour, the cycle race was from Disneyland Paris and the run was around Regent's Park. The worst swim in any event was without doubt, the Windsor Triathlon, which involved fighting the muddy current of the river Thames and the occasional floating dead rat and I recall that the water for the inaugural London triathlon at docklands was absolutely freezing.
My racing cycle with its narrow tyres isn't really meant for anything but straight routes and I've the scars from two nasty crashes to prove it doesn't like corners or potholes. However, when it gets going it can be one of the quickest ways of moving around bar a motorcycle in this increasingly traffic-congested island of ours.
Ramsgate marina rather reminded me of ports in the south of France yesterday. I sat down at a busy Miles bar for a drink and admired the view and the cosmopolitan atmosphere before wandering around the harbour. It's without doubt one of the island's gems and perhaps illustrates the potential of Margate once the Turner is built and Dreamland resurrected. Both town are of course very different in character and nature but with tourism now increasingly looking inward as a consequence or recession, airline problems and a weak pound, Thanet and our towns, have a tremendous amount to offer, if we can solve the many problems and challenges that face our community within the increasingly limited budgets we have available.
Last week, you may have seen we had a new MP in Thanet South, a change of Leader and changes in the Conservative cabinet. Reflecting in a minor way what also happened at Westminster, this opens a new chapter for the island in terms of style, new ideas and policy. We all recognize that money is going to be tighter than ever before and some difficult decisions are going to have to be made for us to live within our means. There are opportunities and reasons for optimism and those of us involved in the local political decision making process will be doing what we have to do to soften the pain that will accompany the largest public sector deficit in history and leverage any sensible opportunity to make Thanet a better place for everyone who lives and works here.
And while a new Government may stimulate a sigh of relief among many, I'll finish by quoting today's papers:
'The government last night accused Labour of pursuing a “scorched earth policy” before the general election, leaving behind billions of pounds of previously hidden spending commitments.
The newly discovered Whitehall “black holes” could force even more severe public spending cuts, or higher tax rises, ministers fear.
Vince Cable, the business secretary, said: “I fear that a lot of bad news about the public finances has been hidden and stored up for the new government. The skeletons are starting to fall out of the cupboard.”'