Actress and Strictly Come Dancing star Ali Bastian reveals how she fell in love with the west coast of Ireland, and why dancing at Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom is so special. Interview: Alex Reece

I’m a real Pisces and I love to go to the seaside whenever I can. I'm completely in love with the west coast of Ireland. I've got friends who live in Sligo, so I tend to go over there once or twice a year, and my boyfriend’s family have a home just outside Cork. It’s so beautiful and you can see why that area is used so much as a film location.

Strandhill Beach in Sligo is really special. It’s a surf spot, and has a laid-back feel. There’s a wonderful little beach café, called Shells Café, which is a family-run business and a great place to go for a coffee or for breakfast after a long walk. And in Cork, Barleycove is one of the best beaches. Every time we go, we wish we could take the dogs, Molly and Mable – they’d love it – but we usually fly. Molly’s always liked the beach, and I tried to get her to swim, but neither of them are swimmers – they won’t go in past their knees!

I love swimming in any kind of natural water. My family live in Salcombe, Devon, which is another place I tend to go every year and I love it down there. They’re very sporty and constantly kayaking and paddle-boarding – my cousin, Emma, teaches SUP yoga, which is yoga on a paddle board. We’re a family of water babies, definitely!

I was aware that Blackpool was a very special place for ballroom dancing, but nothing really prepares you for how beautiful the Tower Ballroom is. I did a Viennese waltz there on Strictly Come Dancing, and got out onto the ballroom floor, put my head back, looked at the ceiling and literally, it took my breath away. I was just turning and turning, in hold, taking in all the beautiful architecture.

I could definitely spend some more time in Cornwall. My family originate from there, so I’d like to explore that part of the world a bit more. I’m always drawn to the water. I find the seaside an excellent place to sit and think, or clear your mind.

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