Christmas in my family has been the same for years – there are only two places it can occur and it’s always the same ten or eleven people in the attendance. The years have slipped by though and now it’s the children rather the parents who are the ones with the responsibilities and complicated work schedules that celebrations need to be organised around.
By pure coincidence, four of the family’s junior doctors are now working up in the north east, and by some miracle, they all had Christmas Day and Boxing Day off, so we decided to shift Christmas up north this year.
We’ve got pretty strong ties to this area of the country now and it’s always a joy for me to trundle up towards Newcastle, the place I called home for three years while I was at university. I also love it because Northumberland feels like the last truly wild corner of England. There’s a strange contrast in the region where there are pockets of industrialisation – grim Teeside towns that people have never left – and raw, unspoilt countryside.
After a day and a half of glorious binge eating, we decided to take ourselves out east to one of the beaches to walk off the food. Usually we’ll head up to Druridge Bay, or Tynemouth if we want a shorter journey, but this time we headed to Seaton Sluice, which isn’t the most romantic-sounding place in the world, but is all kinds of romantic in other ways.
We caught the last of the day’s light, and headed up over the grassy dunes, down onto the shore. The frost from the previous night was still clinging to the upper reaches of the beach and the sand was etched with paw prints.
The beach was busier than on the average wintry day, but Seaton Sluice is a huge expanse of sand and there was plenty of room for families, pooches and horse riders to potter along the shore and canter through the surf at their own pace.
Various curious noses came sniffing around my ankles as I strolled along taking photos of the changing light, watching my brother skim stones and revelling in the cold air.
I’ve written about the beaches of Northumberland before, but they really are deeply peaceful places. They also usually either have a completely wonderful pub or fish and chip shop metres from the strand itself.
I really recommend if you’re fortunate enough to spend any time in area that you try and take a detour towards the shore. Here are some of my Boxing Day snaps that I hope might convince you!