My Suffolk - Alesha Gooderham

Australian born Alesha Gooderham is a director and marketing manager at Snape Maltings. She talks to Anne Gould about her life in Suffolk

You originate from Queensland – how did you end up in Suffolk?

I was working in London at the Intercontinental at Hyde Park Corner and a friend of mine had got a job doing the cooking at the Plough and Sail and 18 years ago she invited me to a party. It was held in the house where I live now and it’s the same house that my husband Johnny was born in. That weekend I got to know Snape, did the river trip and walked to Iken. It was a real discovery weekend – when you get here you have no idea what you are coming to. I went back to London and came back to Suffolk on weekends to see my friend and then I met Johnny – he was the skipper on boat and that’s what I thought he was. I had no idea his family owned the Maltings.

What do you particularly love about the county?

Well I grew up by the coast and am used to big wide spaces and Suffolk is like that – the skies still dazzle me. We don’t have any street lights here and at night the stars are lovely. I make my children go outside at night just to look at the stars – it’s part of the beauty of Suffolk.

Where do you like to go for a family day out?

We are only a hop, skip and a jump here from Aldeburgh and my four girls love going on Thorpeness Mere. There are so many good things to do as a family here and talking to my friends I think you can manage to keep your children younger for longer because there’s the space here for them to ride a bike and climb trees. We are lucky on this coastal strip – you really do not have to travel far to get to Southwold or anywhere really. We cycle a lot and because of the farmers markets, the children know the county through the food producers.

Where do you like to eat out?

The British Larder is a real treat and we will go there en masse for an early evening supper. It’s also great if Johnny and I can get some babysitters and go there for dinner alone. We also like The Crown at Southwold and The Crown in Woodbridge and The Regatta in Aldeburgh. All these restaurants really care about what they do and produce great food.

Do you like to walk?

I love walking and we are really lucky along the coast with excellent walks up to Dunwich and I love the Heritage Coastal Walk and the path to Iken through the reeds. However we cycle a lot more than we walk because our youngest daughter is only two. We cycle to Orford from Snape on the back road, half through the forest and half on the road by High House Fruit Farm. It’s about six miles and we stop at Pump Street Bakery for lunch.

Where do you go to be quiet?

The church at Iken, the Sailors Path to Aldeburgh, it depends on the time of the year. I also like to go to the Martello Tower at Aldeburgh early in the morning if it’s crisp. With four children I am rarely alone though.

Where do you take your Australian visitors when they come to stay?

I have an aunt staying at the moment and we’re going to Lavenham, it’s so different from the coast. Every time I go there I think that I should explore that area more often. But I’ll also take her to Southwold, we’ll go to The Mere in Thorpeness, have fish and chips in Aldeburgh, go to Orford Castle and Framlingham Castle too. Framlingham is one of my favourite market towns. I’d also advise visitors to explore the River Alde by kayak or canoe – even when the tide is low you can explore the reed beds. It’s like the M25 for wildlife.

What do you do to relax?

Spend time with friends and my children. We go to the Jill Freud Theatre, which is always great and this year we went to Halesworth Festival – a friend told me about it and I loved it because it took me out of my comfort zone. I also go to the Concert Hall – it’s amazing that you can hear world-class music somewhere like Suffolk. Sometimes I’ll take the children and we’ll listen to the first half and then have an ice-cream and go home. It’s like having the Sydney Opera House in your back garden. The Literary and Documentary Festivals at Aldeburgh are excellent – they really make you think out of the box. Although they are small scale events they deliver something that’s really big.

And how about exercise?

One of my daughters trains with Ipswich Harriers twice a week, so I go out for a run with her i-pod while she’s at the track. I don’t know where I’m going and I don’t always know the music I’m listening to but I always make sure that I take a different route every time. It saves me having to go to the gym and it keeps me fit.

Living and working at a busy destination like Snape do you ever feel like going somewhere different?

Well we go down to London four times a year to get ideas and see what’s going on. I love it but the best bit is coming home to Suffolk.