James Marston: Jaywick really was my kind of place

James Marston takes a look at the real Jaywick.

James Marston takes a look at the real Jaywick. - Credit: Lucy taylor

I don’t know what happened.

One minute I was mooching about Felixstowe where I enjoy the benefits of a small flat with sea views (distant) in ill fitting shorts – regular readers will know I have now lost just over a stone so I’m able to squeeze into them next year – and all of a sudden I’ve got the heat on and the curtains drawn. I’m even getting the chimney swept. Autumn is here.

Now Autumn brings with it, of course, the predictable run up to Christmas. I’m already trying to suggest things to my sister Claire, who wants to marry a farmer and enjoys jigsaws, to avoid asking for too many receipts on the big day. I suspect I’ll end up with my usual quota of knitwear.

Over the weekend I was flitting all over as I then dined over in Cambridgeshire with an old friend Victoria who somehow manages to combine life as a top London lawyer and mother of four – and I thought I was busy – though I suspect she has help with the dusting so that must make a difference.

By the time Sunday came round all I was good for was Downton Abbey and a lie down.

Anyway in a bid to stem the tide of the onslaught of the festive season, I motored south with my plain-speaking-photographer-friend Lucy to the Essex village of Jaywick. Lucy caught the moment as we promenaded the promenade on the lookout for a cheese scone outlet.

Thankfully the weather held off but Jaywick, it is accurate to say, rarely gets a good press. I went along to find out if the perception is quite the same as the reality.

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And it turns out Jaywick isn’t all bad at all. In fact everyone I met seemed to love living there, there’s plenty going on and the community spirit is notably strong – everyone seems to know each other – something not everywhere can boast.

Aside from Essex I also visited Ipswich’s Cranfield Court – the red brick block of flats on the Tuddenham Road/Valley Road roundabout – to chat to some of the residents there as the charity that runs it celebrates its 75th anniversary.

While I was there I met Bernard Sharp a 95-year-old Dunkirk veteran. He was most charming and it was quite an honour to come face to face with someone who was there when Britain stood alone.

Perhaps I shouldn’t moan about the changing seasons after all – so many of Bernard’s generation didn’t have the chance.