It was Kate’s birthday last weekend, and when we asked her what she wanted to do she said she would like to go and stare at the sea. So that is what we all did. We didn’t tell her where we were taking her, just that she needed to wear lots of clothes. I don’t know if you’ve ever spent much time by the North Sea in January, but it isn’t exactly known for being temperate. In fact the forecast for that day predicted rain, sleet, snow and high winds. So not the ideal day for standing and staring at the sea. But we had a mission, and we live in the North of England dammit – no weather should faze us.
First we headed to Tynemouth Market. A North East institution selling everything from Space Invaders and old Beano manuals to curious driftwood sculptures and paintings of stereotypically Northern scenes. But crucially selling all of this under the shelter of the metro station. After spending a while drinking coffee, hiding from the rain and browsing through boxes of old Star Wars memorabilia, we headed to Riley’s Fish Shack: a beautiful little restaurant in an old shipping container right on the beach. We ate fish soup and steaming hot empanadas, and huddled around the wood burner like people recently rescued from a sinking ship. Then we walked down the beach in the driving rain and stood and stared at the sea. It was about as bleak as it’s possible to be, but it was so beautiful. The waves were wild and raging, but in a range of such soft colours that it made each glimpse in the viewfinder of my camera look like a painting. When we could no longer feel our fingers, we headed back up to the shelter of Riley’s, and the hot chocolates that were waiting for us. Leaving Kate happily staring out at the sea.