Coastal Capers

Here in Northumberland we have the most beautiful coastline, with glorious sandy beaches, expansive mud flats and romantic rocky shorelines. Somehow I can never stay away from the sea for long so we had a couple of trips along the coast this week. It’s so much quieter since autumn arrived and the tourists left.

The first took us to Sugar Sands. which I’ve blogged about before. It’s a hidden gem, reachable down a gated farm track. It was pretty deserted apart from a few seabirds and a lone seal that came in quite close to shore.

It was day of showery rain with sunny intervals which led to some moody clouds.

Buddy and K dodged the rain and had a good walk.

Our second trip began early in the morning and took us to the north of Budle Bay. We parked by a gate with a good view towards the coastal mud flats

K and Buddy set off for a walk, but before long I had some visitors.

They soon lost interest and wandered off.

We at the peak of the bird migration season right now and the coastal flats and fields are filling up with geese and ducks. You always hear them first, then look up to see the V-shaped formations or skeins of geese far overhead.

We’ve seen Brent, Barnacle and Pink-footed geese recently. They have been spending the summer in Siberia and Northern Scandinavia and have arrived to spend the winter here.

My next visitor was a hare, than ran up the field towards me.

Hares are common here and we see them often. They are easily distinguished from rabbits by their larger size, black-tipped ears and because they run rather than hop. Hares also have the most beautiful big hazel eyes when you see them close up. They seem to stare straight through you and it gives then a strange mystical quality. It is no surprise therefore that the hare features strongly in myth and legend. It is associated with witchcraft, fertility and the moon in folklore from many parts of the world. It is one of my favourite animals.

I also saw this young roe deer.

The roe deer is also very common in Northumberland. They seem to be present in even the smallest piece of woodland. We see them more often in winter when they venture into the fields to feed. They can be quite a hazard on the roads at night. Several times I’ve had to brake hard to avoid hitting one. I’ve learnt to drive off very slowly and carefully when this happens as there is always another one! This one eventually left and bounded through the undergrowth on the field margin.

We set off back down the coast, next stopping at Budle Bay. The tide was out leaving a huge area of mud.

This is an important site for birds, especially waders and waterfowl, that feed on invertebrates in the mud.

We saw various ducks and geese, swans, gulls, oystercatchers and redshanks. There were huge numbers of shelducks further away. From Budle we headed for Bamburgh andNorthumberland White Hart Rock.

The image of the deer is repainted regularly. Looking south, Bamburgh Castle looked stunning.

Out to sea, Inner Farne was clearly visible.

Our final stop was at Howick. The sea was calmer than it had been, so we did wonder if we would be able to spot any dolphins, but there were none about. We enjoyed watching a group of gannets feeding.

It had turned into a beautiful day. It’s such a privilege to live in such a stunning part of the world.

A Posh Picnic

I seem to have lost my blogging mojo recently, but had to post about my lovely evening last night. We were celebrating our 33rd wedding anniversary yesterday. In more normal times we would have gone out for a nice meal somewhere, but with all the restaurants still closed we had to be a bit more inventive. Some places are operating a takeaway service so we ordered food from The Potted Lobster in Bamburgh. It’s a lovely place that we’ve visited before, serving delicious food, with an emphasis on fish and shellfish. Their takeaway service is operating at weekends and the menu and ordering details are on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

We packed drinks, glasses and cutlery, picked up our order and drove to a lovely spot overlooking the sea and the Farne Islands to enjoy the view while we ate. You can just make out on the horizon what appeared to be parts of an oil rig or drilling platform being towed by a tug.

There were also stunning views of Bamburgh Castle

We unpacked our posh picnic and it certainly didn’t disappoint! Everyone was well packed in mostly recyclable boxes. We started with chilli squid and spicy pheasant, the moved on to the main course: lobster salad and cod goujons. The portions were generous, so I saved most of my dessert for later. I had passionfruit Eton mess and K had strawberry and white chocolate cheesecake. All very delicious.

We sat and enjoyed the evening sunshine. It was a far cry from the weather earlier in the week. Then the view was obscured by thick coastal fog, which we call sea fret round here.

What a lovely way to celebrate our anniversary.

Have you found alternative ways of celebrating special occasions during lockdown?