Category Archives: LIVING WITH COVID-19

A Day in the Lock-down Lives of the Ipswich Indoor Group

Social distancing and isolation are very real challenges for all of us – particularly for those whose lives are all about outdoor activity, those who live alone (and there are many of us in the IOG) and those who don’t have strong social media networks. With the goal of maintaining the rewarding social contact so many of us have found in the IOG whilst the group’s outdoor activities remain suspended, we have started this new “Living with COVID-19” newsletter category to welcome photo essays on how we are all spending our days: the funny, the sad, the ridiculous, the achievements of life under COVID-19.

To be clear, all Living with COVID-19 newsletter posts on this website, which will also be linked from the group’s public Facebook page, are NOT from official IOG activities, and should be viewed as reports from our friends within the group making the most of their own private walks, abiding by the relevant coronavirus guidance. They are intended as a diversion for readers, whilst the IOG’s outdoor activities remain suspended.

As editor of our Newsletter, I feel it incumbent upon me to kick off with a pictorial essay on my own meander through another day in lock down, and look forward seeing and hearing about the range of ways we are all muddling through – ‘too busy’ excuses will be met with laughter.

Please send your entries to me at .

The Socially-Distanced Birthday Beer Camp 2020

Text and pics contributed by Lou

With the corona virus restrictions still in force, we were unable to meet up for the usual IOG Birthday Beer Camp weekend this summer. As a substitute, some us tried to recreate the atmosphere in our back gardens.

I took some time to create my camping area complete with tent, IOG flag (a bit on the skew), barbecue / fire pit (with old IOG programmes as kindling), and of course a good supply of homebrew beer. Others joined in whilst keeping to the social distancing guidelines

Amongst our homebrew supplies lurking in the garage, I was pleased to find some “number 30”, the ginger beer that went down so well at the 2018 camp. The BBQ was soon underway: while the local wildlife looked on: Fortunately there were no free-range chickens to contend with this year, although Rachael did have some in a cage.

A local celebrity joined us for a beer at one point.

Kate made the traditional brownies: but I had to wait until the following day for my birthday cake.

And so, as the campfires smouldered away, we bade each other goodnight in the hope that it won’t be too long before we can get together properly.

I slept in the tent (Anne refused). I hadn’t realised until that point that I didn’t quite fit in the smaller-than-usual space so I didn’t sleep too well and in any case got rudely awakened by the dawn chorus. An app on my phone recognised 13 bird species in a 20-minute period.

Cheers, Lou


Raj and Naina’s Stour Valley Walk – Sunday 31st May

Text and pics contributed by Raj

Stour Valley Walk 1 of 6 completed today. The original walk is 11.2 miles / 18 km but we ended up walking 12 miles / 19.3 km. I took a slight detour to stay off the road where possible.

It was a bit hot for the second half but the pub at Cavendish made a good stop. Don’t worry, we observed social distancing and they were only serving people at the door.

Thanks to Andy for organising the original walks. We joined after the first few had already been executed so we’re doing them now.


Lockdown in Manningtree and Dedham Vale – Sunday 25th April

Pictures and story contributed by Phil D.

Greetings everyone and trust you are all staying sane and well in these strange times. It has been interesting to read all the diary entries so thought I would give a Manningtree perspective!

My lockdown has consisted of two totally different ways of life. For the first and last fortnight I have been wrestling with the demands of creating a ’virtual’ Science Department for my school. This has resulted in endless coordination via Zooms and Teams video-conferencing and loads of phone calls as well as creating work for students and finding suitable formats for students to submit work and get feedback. Luckily the school was very organized, planning well ahead, and the response from my team has been incredible.

For the Easter holiday it was a complete change of pace and joining swathes of the country in lockdown activities such as sorting out garages, sheds and piles of junk plus gardening and cleaning the house! I have been enjoying some of the theatre downloads, catching up on books, taking on the computer at Scrabble, practicing the clarinet and trying to avoid the temptation of eating and drinking too much. I have even indulged in the entertaining pastime of trying to cut my hair myself with two mirrors, scissors and a comb! Doing the back is a nightmare but no-one to criticize!

Manningtree has turned out to be a good place for lockdown: big enough to have key facilities but small enough to avoid endless queues and dodging people all the time. I am incredibly lucky as within a couple of minutes of leaving my front door I can enter Dedham Vale and there is also a myriad of paths in the woods and fields above Manningtree and Mistley to the south. I have updated my OS maps and try to invent new rounds most times I get out!

11a. Lawford Church on the hill above Manningtree
11b. Woods near Lawford Church
11c. Spring blossom
11d. Gorgeous bit of river between Stratford St Mary and Dedham

Last Sunday in the beautiful weather I was determined to get some exercise as I had been cooped up all the first week of term getting things going, so I left the house early and walked up to Stratford St Mary mainly following the Essex Way (with a few picturesque diversions I have discovered) and returning along the river. It was a glorious day with blue skies and lovely shades of new green all around. Birdsong could be heard everywhere and I only met about 20 people in total over the whole walk. I enclose some photos as Marie-Louise requested in her original set-up of the diary to remind people what is waiting for us all out there in the future.

11e. Even the cows were feeling hot at Dedham Bridge
11f. Dedham Meadows on the way to Flatford Mill
11g. Flatford Mill
11h. River Stour on way back to Manningtree

Back home in the garden for a well-earned cup of tea while the dinner goes on in the oven! Again I am very lucky to have a green space to retreat to and enjoy the sunshine. Living on my own in these uncertain times, family, friends and colleagues have played a crucial role in supporting me and it has been lovely to see the increased support from neighbours and community organisations such as the IOG.


Even if what people are posting or sharing only affects a few of us it still helps and gives us something to relate to. I look forward to one day enjoying our community again on walks and trips – still look back to our Norfolk trip just before lockdown with fond memories. I finish with a poem I read the other day which seems very apt at the moment. Take care.


Lou’s Back Garden Safari

Text and pics contributed by Lou

I have been spending more time than usual in my back garden recently and it’s been nice to see things bursting into life.


There is even the first sign of something coming up in my vegetable patch.


However, it must be said that the plant doing best at the moment is bindweed.


The garden furniture is looking a little faded.


But wildlife has been spotted.


Now the brown bins are no longer being collected, I have a new solution for the trimmings.


And I can always retire to the garage for refreshments.




Another day in Joyce’s lockdown – Tuesday, 29th April

As a key worker I have to go in every now and then, so yesterday I took my daily walk from my school in Comb, Stowmarket,…..and how beautiful it was.

I decided to stroll down to the historic Badley Church which fell out of use in the 1980s. No road goes within a mile of it so it’s always peaceful and restorative. A field of cowslips nearby was also a reward as I wandered to the famous Badley Walks where a tree lined tunnel was as verdant as I expected.

I then crossed the road to Badley Mill to take the River Gipping Path into Stowmarket. The railway was busy with test trains and presumably all were on time! In my experience,  the River Gipping is usually underwater or under nettles and yesterday it was on the cusp of a nettle invasion so my secateurs were kept busy. As I approached the Muntons factory the vivid smell reminded me of Maltesers and Horlicks! The set of colourful seats were an attempt to add a splash of colour to the former ICI Paints factory.

I left the river bank to walk back to school, counting my blessings on the way.


Ian’s Solo Lockdown Rides

Pics contributed by Ian R.

Most of us seem to be continuing in the traditions of the IOG – getting out and about in the glorious Suffolk spring on foot or bike. But we are doing it alone rather than in our big convivial gangs. So sharing our expeditions remotely is all the more welcome. Ian’s pictures of his bike rides over the past week look like strong competition for the ‘cake box’ prize for best pic taken during lockdown. Come on folks: give him a run for his money. Further contributions eagerly awaited. [ed.]

8a. Bridge Wood (formally Braziers Wood), sunset on the east bank of the Orwell
8b. River Orwell, eastern shore
8c. Griff Rhys Jones’ alpacas near Holbrook
8d. Harkstead harbour
8e. River path between Holbrook and Harkstead, Suffolk
8f. Slow worm spotted near Alton Water, Tattingstone. I am told these are now a rare sight in Suffolk.



Peter’s Weekly Video Party

Text and pics contributed by Sam G.

In an ill-fated 2008 revival of The Prisoner, inhabitants of The Village receive the following daily announcement: “Seen the sights? See Them Again!” I have taken this as my motto in the last few weeks – perambulating frequently around my opulent bachelor pad in Upper Woodbridge, soaking it all in. However, there comes a time when one has to admit that the progress of the ants across the countertops lacks the sweeping majesty of the wildebeest migration of the Serengeti and that whilst my beer-can pyramid may become my mausoleum, King Tut wouldn’t so much as close his eyes in it. And so, to relieve the tedium, I turned to Peter’s Weekly Video Watch Party – for, dear Readers, is not an hour of cinematographic marvel worth a lifetime of travel?

Peter Edwards may be better known to Readers as Slide-Man from the Monthly Social. Such is the dedication and tenacity that Peter devotes to his slideshow, he rarely has time for walks and other merry japes. Every month, he glumly clicks through yet another gallery of other people having fun. This self-sacrifice is greatly applauded by all members, I’m sure. The Monthly Social is curiously missing from the current IOG Programme and your reviewer can only attribute this to Peter’s notorious inability to use IT. Thus spared his Sisyphean task, Peter has turned his energies to coordinating a weekly film screening instead.

I feel the best way of describing the Video Party is by analogy with Renaissance Town Square Justice. The miscreant (read film) is dragged into the square and placed behind the stocks (read streamed or downloaded from a terrestrial catch-up service). The attendees then express their opprobrium through the aerial discharge of vegetables or laud the victim with vigorous applause (read participants critique the film communicating via Facebook Messenger). Renaissance Town Square Justice was known for its erudition – after all did not Descartes expound his theory of Mind-Body Duality to Da Vinci just before pummelling a poor wretch with over-ripe aubergine? In much the same way, watching the films ( The Lost City of Z, The Place Beyond the Pines and Made in Dagenham) has provoked heated debate about whether it is right to force teenagers to wear fake moustaches to masquerade as older men, the merits of different 60s hairstyles and whether rabbits possess emotions.

Whilst initially sceptical, this reviewer is convinced of the latter and is pleased that Smokey The Rabbit has been invited to become a regular attendee at the Video Party. Smokey has many enlightening insights into life: I can reveal to you that rabbits find the bob a more approachable 60s hairstyle than the beehive (but for their tails of course).

Only one thing mars Peter’s otherwise deft and diplomatic handling: the mechanism used to determine the next film. Call your reviewer old fashioned, but he favours arcane but simple rules that, upon closer inspection, subtly benefit one of the participants. If only all elections were run in this way! But it is not to be: Peter presents the attendees with a selection of films from iPlayer and a consensus is formed after lengthy discussion. For this reason, although I think Peter’s Weekly Video Watch Party is amongst the maybe top four items currently on the IOG Programme, I can only award it three and a half stars out of five.

Peter’s Weekly Video Party 7pm Sundays. Contact


Joyce’s walk in Mildenhall Woods

Text and pics contributed by Joyce.


Like a lot of you , during lockdown, my diary looks like this!

Instead, I’m discovering Public Rights of Way that I haven’t walked before and devising walks in ‘new’ areas.


On Sunday we took a late afternoon circular walk of 7 miles. We are fortunate to live in the Brecklands and within a few minutes we can enjoy Mildenhall Woods. My dad worked for the Forestry Commission for 44 years so Scots Pine and Corsican Pine remind me of many happy visits in the school holidays to the Kings and Thetford Forests to watch dad as he was felling trees.


As we passed a field of cattle we noticed the heady aroma of the flowering gorse. Depending on your age, it will remind you of Malibu or a Bounty Bar. It is very fragrant at this time of year.


We crossed a bridge and walked along the Cut-Off Channel. This is a man-made waterway which runs along the eastern edge of the Fens in Norfolk and Suffolk. It was constructed in the 1950s and 1960s as part of flood defence measures, and carries the headwaters of the  Rivers Wissey, Lark and Little Ouse in times of flood, delivering them to Denver Sluice on the River Great Ouse.


It is 45km long but we only walked a mile or so before heading towards the village of Eriswell.


You know it’s a quiet area if the swans deem it safe enough to build their nest.


A green lane home again before a mighty thunderstorm at 6pm.


I hope you enjoy the virtual walk. I’ve a hunger in my belly for more walks as soon as the restrictions are lifted. What a party we will have!

Best wishes Joyce


‘Pub Quiz’ – Wednesday 15th April.

Text and pic contributed by Angela

Several IOG members have been getting together on Wednesday evenings during lockdown to form a ‘virtual’ quiz team, taking part in the online version of the Seckford Golf Club quiz and The Quiz Team online events. Using digital tools including Whatsapp, Facebook and Zoom, we have tried to recreate a pub quiz experience [toasting each other regularly with tipple of choice – ed.], whilst maintaining social distancing. It’s a good opportunity to keep in touch with people we haven’t seen face to face for some time and to ease some of the isolation we are all experiencing at the moment.

[Contact Angela if you would like to join us – ed.]


A Day in Peter’s Lockdown Life – Saturday 11th April

Pics and text contributed by Peter

Like most, this has not at all been the Easter I was expecting earlier in the year! It has now been over three weeks since I had the regrettable task of informing the group that we must cease all activities and encourage everyone to practice social distancing.

Some members might think that this was a good opportunity for me to put my feet up, as group Chair – we can’t get up to much if we’re stuck indoors, eh? 🙂 Well, that’s sort of true – the fun stuff of actually attending group walks and events have now been removed from my calendar, but daily life for me has otherwise continued. I and many others have been racking our brains for online events we can arrange with the group during the lockdown (Sunday night movie night is going down a storm!), whilst the general bureaucracy of the group continues (yes, we had our first ever audio-only IOG committee meeting!), trying to make sure that we reach out where we can to help people through these troubling times. I am fortunate that my day job has remained relatively unaffected – I simply work from home every day rather than going into the office. I am thankful that I am lucky enough to have that option, though it does mean I have yet to make much headway on all the jobs and projects I had high hopes to achieve whilst stuck inside!

My attempts to write up a lockdown day last weekend were stymied when I was forced to work both days, meaning the bank holiday weekend has been my best opportunity for me to write about something other than tapping away on a keyboard at home! It also coincided with a little known celebration – my birthday! I was absolutely determined that today should be different to the past few weeks, filled with group conferences, too much TV and a decided lack of Vitamin D due to my hobbit-like existence! I was all too aware of this sinking slide, having finished that book this week as a bedtime story via regular video calls to a friend’s daughter, way up north.


Unfortunately, I really didn’t have much to hand to change my lot – we’re only allowed out for a brief period of walking or running exercise, and otherwise need to remain indoors at home. My day started well – considering the circumstances: I received an excellent number of birthday cards and even some deliveries, which cheered my spirits no end. I resolved therefore, that if there wasn’t anything else I was allowed to do on my birthday, then at the very least I could wear whatever I wanted! It’s been a while, but I decided to dust off the Superman outfit I had in the corner and head out for a walk around Christchurch Park.

I probably slightly overstayed my allotted exercise time, but as I’d skipped some days prior I’m sure it made up for it as time off in lieu! The sun was out and I had a great wander around – several kids yelled, and I even got a toot from passing car horn. 🙂 There was an incredibly excited dog who was rolling everywhere and barely noticed me, whilst the squirrels were out in fine form in the gorgeous sunshine. A pair of magpies were cavorting, and clearly had not heard of social distancing!

I finished my outing by dropping off a hastily-improvised birthday gift for a friend who shares the same birthday as me. I think the surprise of having Superman deliver it outweighed the simplicity of the present!

Once I made my way home, I spent the remainder of the afternoon and evening on video calls. First with a French friend, currently residing in Switzerland – I was invited to join a very chaotic and noisy call with all her friends spread around the globe. The pair of us also share the same birthday and every year we race each other to see who can wish the other a happy birthday first. 🙂 I stayed for an hour trying to keep up with the whirlwind of languages and jumping in to throw in some of my own contributions where I could, before I signed off in order to join my own local group. Several of us got together, including my other local birthday buddy, to spend a few hours enjoying a virtual party. There was some initial confusion – we started on Facebook Messenger which most people have installed, but discovered that it only supports up to eight people for simultaneous video. If there are more people in your group, you have to look at using Zoom, which we figured out eventually. 🙂

I unwrapped my presents and cards as best I could on video and was gobsmacked by a huge delivery from Suffolk Food Hall that was dropped off early in the evening. I now have more snacks than I can manage for a month! 😀 I also blew out the candles on a specially-made gorgeous birthday carrot cake made by my wonderful girlfriend, the ever-lovely Ana. 🙂

All in all, I had an amazing day; given the restrictions we’re living under, it’s easy to feel uncertain and stressed when stuck on your own. Today I was reminded just what fantastic people I have around me, and that people do care – even if now it’s from the other end of a phone call. We have no clear idea how long it will take, but there will be an end-date when we can all meet up again … and I for one am eagerly looking forward to it!