James Marston: Mayflower and a mobile library - busy week for James

James Marston at Felixstowe Tennis Club.

James Marston at Felixstowe Tennis Club.

No sooner had I finished my performance in Panama hat and linen jacket as Sir John Betjeman on Felixstowe seafront than I heard someone mutter under their breath: “He looks like a lardier version of the Del Monte man. Do you think he’s got some pineapple juice?” I struggled not to take umbrage, though I was so thirsty in the oppressive heat – despite the sea breezes of Felixstowe, where I enjoy the benefit of a small flat with sea views (distant) – that a pineapple juice would have been welcome.

A drink of such exoticism it used to be a regular on menus as a starter – according to my mother. But haven’t times changed – nowadays restaurants are all sweet chilli and butternut squash. I’m digressing. I want to tell you about the Harwich Mayflower Project, which my plain-speaking photographer friend Lucy and I visited on Monday.

The chaps there are recreating the iconic ship that helped found modern America – did you realise she was built in Harwich? – as well as aiming to regenerate a somewhat over-looked corner of East Anglia. Lucy and I had a fascinating time – even posing for a picture as a sailor – before heading off for a coffee and a slice of millionaire’s shortbread.

On the way back we took the A120 and I swore I saw a sign which said “Felixstowe Caravan Park ? Essex’s Best Kept Secret” – but Lucy said I must have read it wrong – can someone settle the argument?

On Tuesday we were out again, this time up north. Well, Laxfield. What a charming little place that is. As we drove up through Framlingham and into Dennington I took a few moments to stop at the church of St Mary the Virgin and stretch my legs – Suffolk churches are one of my hobbies and over the years I have ticked off quite a number. Outside I spotted an oak planted to commemorate the death of Sir Winston Churchill – something which appealed to my sense of history – and inside I discovered a knight’s tomb from the Wars of the Roses, another interest, so I was glad I stopped. Suffolk has such a rich history.

By the time I got to Laxfield I was just in time to meet the mobile library and Peter, the driver-cum-librarian. The service seems a bit of a lifeline for old and young alike who can’t get to the towns so easily. Considering it is really a converted van, it is well equipped.

We did have an amusing moment when someone tried to nip in and park in the library’s space, when Lucy asked Peter to pretend to arrive again on Church Plain for the purposes of our video footage.

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Anyway, this weekend it’s Felixstowe’s Carnival – another summer highlight.