Category Archives: The Newsletter

This is the new venue where members and potential members of the Ipswich Outdoor Group can read about recent events, share news that is relevant to group interests but not appropriate for group emails, write about group initiatives – anything from charity fund-raising to activism aimed at keeping our footpaths open – present opinion editorials on issues close to their hearts, post classified ads, cartoons, pictures or anything else that occurs. Unlike the old Newsletter, it will be updated as and when new material comes to hand and, as this is a work in progress, it will be formatted as we go along and get an idea of what is required. Feel free to offer suggestions if any occur to you.

For the moment, content is divided into three categories: reports of past doings; announcements about upcoming events or issues of note, whether IOG instigated or particularly related to IOG interests; and classifieds, where you can advertise items for sale, for rent, or wanted. Follow the links to the right to filter.

Please send all contributions to Marie-Louise Karttunen for prompt posting.

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.

6a

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!


 

Sam’s Isolation Diary – Saturday 11th April

Story and pics contributed by Sam

Most of you have probably been reading highly intellectual and informative material during the isolation period. I must warn you now, that this contribution is certainly not that. It’s more like a trashy celebrity magazine, without the pictures of attractive, scantily clad ladies.

Of course indulging in cakes, coffee, alcohol and chocolate have been enjoyable ways to pass some of my time during the current isolation period, but physical exercise has been keeping me feeling positive and upbeat throughout my time alone in isolation.

I am very fortunate to be close to Christchurch Park and have briefly seen some friendly and familiar IOG faces during social distancing.

We all know how marvellous the great outdoors can make us feel, so I have been rising early to beat the crowds, for peaceful runs in the morning sunshine. I can’t help but notice how wonderfully loud and varied the birdsong has become since the cars have stopped and how beautiful the flowers look in bloom.

Along with running or walking daily, I have been partaking in some indoor, online fitness workouts including Joe Wicks PE at 9 am on Youtube every week day and regular video call dance classes run by my seven-year-old niece dressed as a princess asking me to pretend I’m dancing with a handsome man in my lounge (one can dream). I have to admit I am slightly concerned that one morning I may land on my neighbours’ lap as I fall through their ceiling during one of my indoor exercise sessions.

5u

Having been blessed with some unexpected spring sunshine, I have been enjoying the courtyard, despite the odd items hanging on my neighbour’s washing line.  I’ve also been painting fences and made my first floor pouffe. It may shock some of you to hear I have even been cooking meals from scratch most evenings, and I even baked some healthy banana and peanut butter flapjacks this week.

Humanity is the greatest gift we have in life. Friendships and kindness have always been very important to me, but never more so than now. Keeping in touch with friends, family and those who may be lonely via voice and video calls has been invaluable, and a great source of some much needed laughter and company.

Music has been another fantastic mood enhancer for me. Listening to radio and podcasts has been a great way to start the day.  Elizabeth Day’s “How to Fail” podcasts have been really thought-provoking and uplifting for me and I thoroughly recommend you check them out.

If you need some visual stimulation but are fed up with TV may I recommend relaxation videos which are available on YouTube; I found a great one that turned my TV into the ocean.

5e1
5f1

Many celebrities have been posting on YouTube, some of my favourites being Mylene Klass teaching music and piano and, for a Saturday night, Gok Wan live-streaming DJing 90s anthems on Instagram – which gets me dancing like a crazy lady.

A new sense of community has sprung up nearby. A WhatsApp group has been created for those living in my road, where valuable local information is shared, along with offers to go shopping for the vulnerable and self isolating. It has felt comforting to virtually meet new neighbours I was never aware of prior to Covid 19.

Every Thursday feels like a blessing, as it is the one day of the week that you can identify as different from the others. At 8 p.m. on my road we all stand outside banging saucepans, clapping and cheering in gratitude to the NHS. As I’m sure most of you know, I’m quite good at making a lot of noise.

This whole situation feels very surreal, almost like an awful horror movie, but I frequently remind myself to count my blessings and take comfort in the thought that this will not last forever.

Challenges, uncertainty and death are definite in life but Covid 19 has been a stark reminder of this, and the fact that good health is priceless. I am missing my friends and family, so please take some time to give yours a call (if you can), tell them you love them, call old friends and most of all look after your health. Let’s cherish a time when money is of no value, nature can heal, life is slower and free time is plentiful.

I’m missing you all, I can’t wait for our walks, games nights and social evenings to commence. Until we meet again, take care one and all, stay safe, stay home and stay sane.

Sam



 

 

Walking from Home into Belstead Brook Park and beyond

Text and pictures contributed by Sarah

I’m lucky to live on the edge of Belstead Brook Park, so I can go down there for a wonder to get some exercise. It’s odd not to be able to go further than a few miles from home at the moment but it’s been great exploring this area again. I’ve found new paths that have sprung up recently that I haven’t used before. I’ve been going for walks some days after I’ve finished working at home and I’ve worked out where the quieter paths are so that I don’t pass too many people.

4a. A New Path I’ve Found

I went for a couple of slightly longer walks over the weekend, heading through the tunnel under the A14 towards Copdock and Belstead. I have a few different options from home, so I shouldn’t get too bored over the coming Easter weekend and the coming weeks.

4c. Signs of Spring – Daffodils

 

4d. Signs of Spring – Blossom

I’m also enjoying coming across the different messages that people are leaving dotted around. My particular favourite was the wool rainbow tied in a tree with the words “Try to be a Rainbow in someone else’s cloud.”

4e. Wool Rainbow

I’m looking forward to seeing all my IOG friends on the other side of this and getting out for longer walks. Stay safe in the meantime everyone.

 


 

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! https://www.ipswich.gov.uk/content/renting-allotment]

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.


 

All Ipswich Outdoor Group events are suspended indefinitely due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) restrictions

Hi everyone,

With regret, I have to formally announce that all IOG activities, meetings and events on the programme are suspended indefinitely with immediate effect. I have asked Lou to update the online programme with this news and we will be updating our social media to reflect this too.

This has been a difficult decision to take and, on behalf of the committee, I want to express how heartbreaking it is for us to have to do this for, as far as I know, the first time in the history of the group. Events truly are unprecedented.

I do not wish to waste time justifying the obvious, but for comparison – both British Orienteering and parkrun have suspended all events, and The Ramblers have ceased all group-led walks until the end of May. Our group is popular enough that every walk attracts a large enough number of people that we cannot continue the group’s regular activities, without risking the safety of members or the public.

I’d like to thank all the event organisers who will be impacted by this decision for their patience and understanding.

Does this mean we should all be imprisoned entirely? No. The latest published advice states that, apart from people who are in households with symptoms or who have pre-existing health or age conditions that put them at increased risk of contracting COVID-19, going for a walk or cycle independently can continue and is an excellent way to maintain health and well-being – provided independent walkers, in very small numbers, stay over two metres away from others. I also want to draw attention to the risks of car-sharing – whilst this is usually a good thing for the environment, it really should be avoided at all costs, for now.

We all have many other IOG members contact details and I would encourage members to stay in touch, follow the Public Health England guidance [1] which will be continually updated, and also check on each other. The IOG social media will remain available and is going to be a good way of keeping us all from getting cabin fever.

Please can I request members not use the IOG social media to co-ordinate unofficial events, however.

Formal group activities will be resumed as soon as we can be sure it will be safe for all to do so. If you have any spare time, do consider donating some of your home time to The Ramblers efforts to secure old footpaths, with their Don’t Lose Your Way campaign.

Many thanks for your understanding, I hope all of you and your loved ones stay healthy and get a tonne of jobs done at home in the meantime!

Peter.
Ipswich Outdoor Group Chair

[1] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public