SANTA MONTEFIORE, author of The Summer House and The House by the Sea, shares why she loves the British coast.

The seaside is massively important to me for many reasons. First of all, I feel very nostalgic about the coast. As a child I spent many summers in Cornwall. The roar of the waves, the fascinating way the tide goes in and out, the large variety of seabirds and of course the crabs and shrimps hiding in rock pools have always made me wistful, in a nice way. I love the English coast. There’s something rugged, wild and exciting about it. The wind whips of the ocean, the waves are always huge and dramatic, the horizon vast and the water a deep, navy blue – and the sand is always good for building. I adored the drama of Polzeath beach in Cornwall where our parents always took us. It hasn’t changed since I was there as a child, forty years ago – and the ice cream van still drives onto the sand and the ice cream tastes exactly the same.

As a young woman I fell in love on beaches. They were romantic places. We’d picnic by day, sit around fires in the evenings, camp at night – and kisses on the beach always seemed to be more tender.  At university in Exeter the beach was our refuge from studies and lectures.  We’d lunch in pubs on terraces that looked out onto the harbour or take brisk walks up the sand in the afternoons. They were always escapes – even now, as a grown up, I feel the excitement of being on holiday when I’m by the sea. One day I’d love to have a house by the sea. I see myself growing old by the sea.

On a deeper level the sea puts me in touch with who I really am, beneath the ego! When I gaze out onto the vast horizon there’s something about the eternal nature of the sea that resonates with the eternal part of me. It draws me away from my daily troubles and turns my mind to the big questions of why I’m here.  I need that spiritual connection in my life and the seaside provides it. I think we all need to feel that expansion – to gaze in wonder at the magnificence of nature and know that there is something far bigger than us out there, a higher purpose to what we’re all doing down here.  It puts me in touch with my heart – with the things that are really important: Family and friends, really – after all, love is the only thing that matters, isn’t it!

Santa Montefiore is supporting the Family Holiday Association, the charity which helps struggling families who may have suffered sudden illness, bereavement or separation, take a much needed break away together to the British seaside. You can see a unique scrapbook of #seasidememories from Santa Montefiore and many more personalities from the beginning of July at