James Marston: Impressed with the newly-opened, smooth A11 bypass

Thetford Roundabout A11

Thetford Roundabout A11

This week I finally get Christmas out of the way. The Felixstowe-based book club of which I am an erstwhile member – I sometimes read the book but only if it’s a thin one – is having its festive evening meal at last because everyone was too busy in the run up to Christmas.

I’ve opted for a chicken parfait – whatever that is – and a loin of pork. I think we are drawing the line at paper hats.

Anyway, I seem to have a lot on at the moment. I’m barely in my small Felixstowe flat with sea views (distant) to enjoy the sea views (distant) and I’m behind with the housework – I’ve put off shampooing my hall carpet for months, well years.

But it’s not such a bad thing to be busy. I am swimming one night, entertaining a couple of friends to a kitchen supper and a game of Cluedo another and – no doubt – taking my parents out for a drive.

My mother recently said to me she enjoys the heated seats my car has to offer and reminded me she “often used to take her parents out for a ride.” I was tempted to remind her that, in those days, driving was pleasurable, petrol was even cheaper, and the A14 was neither the gridlocked-rubbish-strewn highway it has become, nor was she travelling up and down it every day. But I desisted. I do wonder though if the National Trust membership I received for Christmas may have had an ulterior motive.

Talking of roads, last week I popped up the newly opened, finally cone free, and very smooth A11, which now bypasses Elveden, and found myself in Thetford within a matter of minutes. Lovely.

In the meantime I have visited the Martlesham Heath control tower museum to find out more about its role in the Battle of Britain. While there I got chatting to 88 year old aviation enthusiast Alan Smith who was evacuated from Clacton during 1940. He remembered the battle itself and could clearly recall the glow in the sky that November which he saw from the farm he was staying in near Kidderminster, as Coventry burned.

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I also visited the Orwell Observatory in Nacton to chat to members of the Orwell Astronomical Society about the solar eclipse in March. They mentioned that no one really knows how the (above) telescope’s huge and weighty cast iron base – built by Ipswich firm Ransomes in the 1870s – was installed in the observatory building – they didn’t have hydraulic cranes in those days. Does anyone know? Do drop me a line.