Romantic novelist Katie Fforde describes a recent writing retreat spent by the Pembrokeshire coast, and how the ebb and flow of the sea can calm the spirit. Interview: Alex Reece

My favourite part of the coastline is West Wales. We used to live in Mid Wales, which also has lovely beaches, but I recently went to Pembrokeshire with a friend and it reminded me how much I like that part of the world and how beautiful the coastline is.

My friend and I were supposed to go to Crete for a writing retreat (as she was writing a book about Crete). But our flight was cancelled. As she has a little static caravan in West Wales, my friend said, ‘Shall we go there?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely lovely.’ Then she kept saying, ‘Oh, we should be in Crete!’ And I’d say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m quite happy here, thank you!’ We were staying by Parrog Beach in Newport. I think what was so nice about it was that there’s a lot of ‘in and out’. There are curves, and as you walk around, you see a different vista. You’re looking at little inlets and coves with a lot of green grass as well. The farming seemed to go right down to the edge of the sea in a rather lovely way. It was so beautiful, and so conducive to work.

My nearest ‘coast’ now, from where I live in the Cotswolds, is the River Severn. Although it’s not really the coast, it feels coastal because it’s a great big estuary, and where we walk along it, it’s still pretty wide.

My novel, A Country Escape, is set in the Cotswolds. I set it on a farm about a girl who’s a very distant relation [of the deceased owners, from whom she inherits], to see if she can actually cope with running it. I've written stories about the sea in the past.  A Summer at Sea, was set on the Argyll coast, and I’m planning to go up that way again soon.

There is something wonderful about the flow of the sea. It’s quite a spiritual feeling: the sea goes in, the sea goes out, and it changes, but it stays the same. It does calm you quite a lot.

A Country Escape is out now in paperback and eBook (£7.99, Century).

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