All posts by Marie-Louise Karttunen

Florence’s Footwear – Friday 3rd April

Text and pics contributed by Florence

Since I stopped teaching on March 19th, these beloved shoes have been on my feet every day while I have painted ceiling and walls; sawed up a big sheet of plywood and made it into a floor; varnished door treads, hammered in nails, drilled holes, dug the vegetable plot, planted potatoes, done some weeding and even washed a floor or two.

I also enjoyed a solitary walk by the Deben as night was falling ten days ago.



Simon on the Sandlings – Thursday 2nd April

Text and pics contributed by Simon F.

Having worked long hours for a few days I gave myself Thursday afternoon off and headed out for a walk to get my Government Approved daily exercise. I wasn’t expecting to see too many people out and about at 2pm on a Thursday. I wanted to abide by the 2 metres separation rule so that was fine by me, yet it was eerily quiet as I walked off the housing estate and headed towards the countryside.

I initially followed one of my favourite local walks, heading out along the Sandlings Way. Where the official route headed towards a popular wooded area with a boardwalk path I decided to go a different way. On that path it would be impossible to keep 2 metres away from anyone coming from the other direction, so instead I ventured off along some other tracks and paths I wasn’t familiar with.

I hadn’t seen anyone since stepping out of my front door. For 2 hours I walked without seeing a living soul. I could have been the last man alive. It was slightly unnerving. I did see horses and ponies in fields. I surprised some muntjac deer and rabbits, which were not expecting anyone to venture onto their turf. I watched a hovering kestrel dive down into the undergrowth to catch its next meal. But still no people.

Having completed an improvised circular route I returned to the Sandlings Way to head back home. It was now about 4pm and at last people started to appear on the path. It felt reassuring to know they were there. The peace and quiet was shattered by yapping dogs, joggers and lycra-clad men on bikes. At last it started to feel a bit more ‘normal’, only with everyone quite rightly giving everyone else a wide berth.

This seems to be the way it will be for a while. Walks alone or with fellow housemates will replace our sociable days out in the countryside. But this can’t last forever. I am looking forwards to seeing the rest of Ipswich Outdoor Group when the current crisis subsides.

Stay safe everyone.


M-L’s Day – Wednesday 1st April

Pics and text contributed by M-L

Starting the series with an overview of a really pedestrian day; things can only get better from here. It would be great if people who have access to countryside walks would share the coming of spring with those of us who cannot get so far afield, as well as novel ideas for killing time indoors.

Still, while ordinary, my day was not sad, deprived or lonely and, well larded with WhatsApp, phone chats, shared humour and concern for buddies and family, I think it is sustainable. It helps hugely that I can go to my allotment for as long as I like each day – getting plenty of productive exercise, the pleasure and anticipation of crops to come, and rather more serial natters than usual – albeit spaced 10 metres or more apart – as allotment holders are turning up more consistently. [It’s not too late in the season to take one on!]

I also fit in a near-daily visit to my nearby ancient relic (90-year-old dad), ringing his doorbell, depositing a bag of cooked meals and treats on the mat and stepping back four paces to chat. He’s rather enjoying the service – especially as his next food delivery slot is not for another fortnight! At 90, with heart failure and a recent near deadly bout of pneumonia, the UK Govt and NHS do not consider him ‘vulnerable’ and therefore he is ineligible for preferential treatment!

Anyway, I love cooking for my three geographically closest family members – father, mother and sister (who cautiously picks up and delivers to the old mum in Woodbridge) – knowing that they are eating my food, even if not at my table. There are many roads to comunality. Let’s explore them all.


Wells-next-the-Sea Weekend – 13th-16th February

A large group of IOGers took over the Wells youth hostel for this weekend – the last for a while due to Covid-19 – with further groups in private accommodation around this pretty north Norfolk coastal town. Weather was variable, but the walks lovely and the conviviality was as good as ever – once again, the last of this for the foreseeable future. People took good memories from this one to store up until we are all back together and out and about.

Stay well, everyone, and stay in touch.

Simon’s Cley-next-the-Sea walk: bus to Cley and a hike back along the coast.

Sarah’s walk to Holkham deer park.


Claire’s Suffolk Constabulary Museum Visit – Wednesday 11th February

Text and pic contributed by Claire V.

I can’t remember how I found out about this museum, which is open only to groups, but I was pleasantly surprised. As a result, sixteen of us were escorted by three retired police officers around its exhibits.

Our visit lasted an hour and a half during which time we could view (and in some cases handle) historical handcuffs, breathalysers (unfortunately no alcohol supplied to test these with), various uniforms and truncheons, to name just a few items. There were also historical photos on display. In summary, the museum is an interesting collection of police memorabilia from various decades.

Thank you to everyone who came along.


Bob M.’s Alton Amble – Sunday 8th March

Text and pics contributed by Bob M.

There was a good turnout of members and new faces for the re- run of a walk that was blighted by awful weather last year. Although we did not escape rain and hail showers,  the elements were considerably  kinder this time round.

Led by a freshly certified, award-winning leader, the party crossed Lemons Hill bridge from Alton Water car park and walked southwards down the western bank of Alton. While the main group turned off after an hour of walking, a small group continued onwards, choosing to do the 8-mile option that involved circumnavigating the reservoir.

Having suffered disappointment at finding the community cafe at Stutton closed, the main group of 15 progressed cakeless down to the shoreline at Stutton Mill, observing the black swans and guinea fowl in the ornamental garden pond. Lunch was taken at Grahams Wharf overlooking Holbrook Bay, with great views eastwards up the river towards Parkeston Quay and Felixstowe Port. The route then cut back inland towards Stutton giving a view of Crowe Hall and its extensive grounds.

At Stutton another small group elected to take  the 12-mile option and headed off towards the reservoir cafe. Clearly the atmosphere and refreshments were most convivial as this group only just managed to beat the main party back to the finish.

The remaining nine walkers headed on past Stutton church and back down to the river, passing the lovely country home of a well-known comic actor. Sadly GRJ did not invite us in out of the rain which is a bad show when we all pay our TV licence fee. Leaving his llamas behind, the group moved along the shoreline past the impressive frontage of the RHS to Alton Wharf then followed the stream to Holbrook Mill, past the waterworks facility to join the reservoir path at the north end of the dam wall. The last leg followed the path northwestwards around the reservoir back to Alton Water car park.

As the full 15-mile walk took far less time to complete than had been estimated, it was felt necessary to while away a little time at the White Horse where a senior IOG member was discovered shamelessly nursing a pint and watching the rugby in front of the welcoming log fire.

Thanks to all the walkers for your company and to the landlord at the White Horse for the warm welcome and the gratis roasties.


Ian’s Dunwich Health Walk – Sunday 26th January

Text and pics contributed by Christina.

Ian’s 12-mile trek around Dunwich Heath and Dingle Marshes had all the necessary components to please the 22 IOGers who drove the 50 mins or so to meet him at the spacious Dunwich Beach car park with café facility. From there Ian pointed out the Dingle Hill Team Rooms where he intended to stop for lunch. A few new people joined us, including Malcolm, who lives nearby and had made a last minute decision to come along.

It was a varied walk, offering great views onto heath land, reeds and marshes. Ian expertly led the group along the Dunwich cliffs, then to the old lifeguard station which is now run by the National Trust. We stood in front of the only gravestone left in All Saints Church Yard; sadly, the remains of the church finally disappeared over the cliff in November 2019. According to legend its tower bells can still be heard ringing on a very calm night.

At around 12.30 we arrived at Dingle Hill Tea Rooms. Some of us secured a table whilst several people sat outside enjoying a coffee and cake or their sandwiches. It is a lovely place and it can be expected to attract many visitors in the warmer months.

After a good break we followed a bridleway for few miles before turning east through Dingle Marshes to the shingle beach. The final mile and a half proved a challenge.

No matter where we walked, whether alongside the angry waves, which leapt at our feet, or higher up the beach, there was no escape from the shingles; my boots sank deep into the ground and each step felt a little bit harder. It was probably felt a great relief for most when the car park appeared in the distance, shrouded in mist. As we approached our destination, Kate and I spotted four deer grazing in a nearby field.


Many thanks to Ian for leading this very interesting and varied coastal walk.


Big Chateau Weekend – 17th-20th January

Pic contributed by Kari and others; text added by M-L

Towards the end of January, to lift the post-Christmas lethargy, 24 IOGers convened at the Chateau d’Hallines – a magnificent house about half an hour south of the Channel Tunnel and 10-minutes drive (or slightly longer by bus) from the market town of St Omer, heavily bombed during WWII. With 12 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms, not to mention numerous entertainment spaces, the self-catering accommodation was a steal, with cost per person ranging between £90 and £140 for 3 nights. And what a lot of fun we had for that!

High on the list of ‘must-dos’ were the team dinners, which gave everyone considerable entertainment – even the cooks!

A nightly source of workout and huge hilarity was provided by the trampoline room – where even old folk in their 60s hopped and flopped and shrieked with laughter. There were a few injuries of the torn muscle variety, of course, but the less said about that the better…

There was plenty of opportunity for quieter indoor entertainment, however.

To be fair, people also cycled with the bikes provided by the chateau…

… walked a charming coastal route mapped out by Lou called Sentier des Crans:

… or a much more ambitious 18-mile round trip to Agincourt led by Francis …

… or lunched in splendour at La Sapinière, a 10-minute drive from the chateau – fabulous food, wonderful views. It was quite a weekend, providing clear evidence that a trip abroad need not call for an airport ordeal – or an overdraft. Thanks to everyone who made it so memorable!