James Marston: Birthday gifts do show your age

James Marston

James Marston - Credit: Lucy taylor

As you can imagine good wishes and celebrating notes came in from all corners of the globe.

Well mostly Suffolk and a friend in Cambridgeshire.

Several people even, somewhat enigmatically I thought, said I don’t look my age.

Anyway as I celebrated my 39th birthday last weekend in the Edwardian spa town of Felixstowe where I have a flat with sea views (distant) I could almost feel the countdown ticking in my head to the big 4-0.

Lucy my-plain-speaking-photographer-friend presented me with a vegetable chopper, a useful gift carrot wise.

And my sister Claire bought me a trio of cake tins, so obviously the late 30s is when you get interested in cooking.

As I peer into the future I imagine that my 40s will be full of gardening gifts – trowels and the like – and my 50s perhaps the odd travel rug as, I suspect, I might sit down more.

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Despite being still young, I am already considering membership of the National Trust.

This, is something Paul Geater – the newspaper’s political editor – assures me is because of my age, but then he’s always liked steam trains.

Anyway, this week I was at Ickworth, one of the Trust’s most impressive properties in the area to look at the unseen parts of the place.

A behind the scenes tour is one of the great advantages of being in my trade and I much enjoyed looking in the parts of the rotunda others don’t reach. It was fascinating to stumble into unfinished rooms, furniture stores and all the little nooks and crannies and see how, behind the great display rooms, the servants lived and worked in a warren of passages and corridors.

As well as the west of the county, Lucy and I found ourselves in Aldeburgh meeting some of the team that volunteer at the town’s lifeboat station.

They are a friendly bunch and were very welcoming. Also they are all highly dedicated and clearly enjoy the camaraderie the station’s community engenders with many following fathers and grandfathers in their commitment to helping out others in trouble.

I have to say it was an enjoyable morning, topped off with a coffee and slice of cake – they didn’t do cheese scones – in the town afterwards.

Lucy even captured the moment for posterity.