I'd been looking forward to Christmas for quite a while. To put it simply I was knackered. All I wanted to do was spend some quality time with my partner Lucy, kick back, put my feet up, watch some crap telly and when my feet weren’t up take my dogs out for walks. To insure we didn't get distracted from relaxing, we'd booked a cottage up in Belford, Northumberland - for those of you who don't know where Northumberland is it's up on the north east coast of England, sandwiched in between Newcastle and Berwick upon Tweed. It's one, if not the least populated area In England and has, for me at least some of the best beaches you'll find anywhere.
As you've probably worked out I'm a huge fan of "The County" as its affectionately known, as is Lucy who once worked as an outdoor instructor teaching climbing and kayaking there. The company she worked for was based in Belford, next door but one to Lily Cottage our home for Christmas. We'd stayed at the cottage before, so we knew it had everything we needed and more importantly it's Dog friendly.
Another of the "selling points" Lily Cottage has to offer, at least for us, is the fact its only a 2 minute drive from Bowden, one of the best climbing crags Northumberland has to offer (there are quite a few within an hours drive) in fact add another 30 seconds and you could be climbing at Back Bowden just over the hill, or a 10 minute drive will take you to Kyloe in the woods another fabulous spot, known more for its bouldering perhaps than its lead climbing.
The weather over the Christmas period was predominantly dry, no snow which was a shame, quite windy and ridiculously warm for the time of year, in fact if the wind had dropped I'm sure I could have gone about my business wearing just a long sleeve thermal, as it was I just threw a windproof over the top and I was almost sweating!
The evenings sat in the garden under huge skies were crystal clear and only a few degrees colder than the day. The days were a mixture of hill walks and my personal favourite; beach walks along the never-ending beaches of Beadnell, Bamburgh, Seahouses and The Holy Island.
On the last day of the trip I finally took my camera out of its bag where I'd deliberately left it. We went up to Bowden to boulder and solo around on some easier routes and predictably as soon as I reached for it the beautiful day became 100% overcast, ah well. We climbed a bit more but in the back of my mind I had a photo plan and as luck would have it (or was it good planning) when the sun finally peeped its head out from behind the clouds I was ready for it - Grab Lucy, get her to climb Russett Groove an easy but classic line wearing a bright top, shoot virtually straight into the sun exposing for the clouds, fire one SB900 at full power zoomed to the max 200mm setting and off camera straight at Lucy, change the body position a few times, sun goes back in, result one cool shot.
Northumberland + Lily Cottage + Lucy + Great Weather = One relaxing Time.