Is life on the coast better than in a city? 7 writers from across the UK explain why they love living by the seaside

“Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside…oh I do like to be beside the sea!”

That’s how the classic music hall tune goes – and it couldn’t be truer for the people below.

To celebrate the launch of new TV show Fantasy Homes By The Sea – which airs on Really weeknights at 8pm – we’ve asked seven Mirror journalists who live on the coast to explain why it’s so wonderful.

They’ve all opened their hearts to reveal their favourite spots, with some reliving cherished childhood memories which were forged beside the waves.

So read on to find out where the best beaches, finest foods and incredible views are around the edge of the UK.

And don’t forget to tune in to Really weeknights at 8pm to catch the new show Fantasy Homes By The Sea, which is presented by Michelle Ackerley (seen above).

Portishead, North Somerset – “The sunsets are a photographer’s dream,” writes Holly Thatcher

Holly aged eight at the beach with her dad and brother

My father clasps my tiny two-year-old hand as I toddle down the slipway, peering gingerly over the edge at the expanse of thick mud below.

He hands me a shiny pebble. “Throw it.”

The pebble lands beneath me, making a delicious plop. I look up at him expectantly – it’s his turn now. I laugh and clap my hands as his pebble hits the mud with grown-up force, producing a satisfying splat before sinking out of view.

That’s my earliest memory. Thirty years on, the game hasn’t lost his appeal – and neither has the North Somerset coast, which I’ve been lucky enough to call home for most of my life.

Growing up, I never fully appreciated how lucky I was to have an unspoilt sea view from my bedroom window. Neither did I realise that barbecues on the beach every weekend during summer isn’t the norm.

Holly says the sunsets in North Somerset are simply stunning

It wasn’t just me. None of my friends realised how fortunate they were either. If anything, it was a standing joke that we lived in one of the few places where the sea wasn’t blue, but brown. Instead of sand, we had mud and pebbles. If you wanted a ‘proper’ beach, you headed south to Cornwall.

It was only after heading for the bright lights of London as a teen – and for a brief spell, Hampshire – that it dawned on me that this particular stretch of coastline is one of the best the UK has to offer.

North Somerset offers the advantages of coastal living without many of the downsides. We don’t get hordes of tourists descending in the summer; a house with a sea view is actually affordable, and the rocky, seaweed strewn beaches are unspoilt and tranquil.

And then there are the sunsets, which are a photographer’s dream.

There might not be shops selling sticks of rock and homemade fudge. There might not be rows of beach huts and deckchairs, and there’s not much call for a bucket and spade.

This stretch of coastline is really just for the people lucky enough to live here. It’s ours, and we don’t have to share it.

The North East – “We’re blessed with some of the best beaches in the UK,” says Francesca Craggs

Longsands beach in Tynemouth evokes childhood memories for Francesca

BREATHTAKING, mesmerising, cosmopolitan, historic, evoking…

Words that perfectly describe my coast. From cityscape to seascape in as little as 15 minutes, the North East coastline is unique and second to none.

Tynemouth, dominated by its stunning Castle and Priory, evokes childhood memories of day trips with my grandmother. Fish and Chips at Marshall’s on the Front Street and rolling down the grassy castle moat, giddy on ozone. Then to nearby Whitley Bay and Cullercoats to feed the penny machines in its famed arcades, just like my grandmother did as a child. Queuing for hours at Newcastle Central station for a train, a trip to the coast proved a rare treat during the 1920s.

Here in the North East we are blessed with some of the best beaches in the UK, many of which are designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. On a warm day you’ll be hard pushed to find a spot on Tynemouth Longsands, with every inch of its mile-long stretch enjoyed by families and surfers alike. While King Edward’s Bay, in the shadow of Tynemouth castle, is the perfect spot to enjoy freshly made lobster and chips on the sand.

With its ever changing skies, Bamburgh beach in Northumberland enjoys the most dramatic and beautiful of settings. With Bamburgh Castle standing majestic in the distance, the world famous Farne Islands and historic Holy Island in its midst, it is both captivating and thought provoking.

The North East coastline is peppered with fishing villages, each with their own unique charm. The aroma of smoking kippers in Northumberland’s Craster village is heart warming on the coldest of days, while the legendary crab sandwiches at The Jolly Fisherman pub are not to be missed.

A family walk from Craster along the coastline to Dunstanburgh castle provides an opportunity to explore the never ending stretch of rockpools, and spot the odd dolphin or seal if you’re lucky.

Tynemouth village with its many pavement cafes, restaurants and independent shops, is a hive of activity and a great place to watch the world go by. For a more traditional seaside experience, Seahouses in Northumberland is a popular choice with children.

You’ll find a fish and chip shop on every corner, as well as crazy golf and amusement arcades aplenty.

From recalling old family memories, to making new, the North East coast will always have a special place in my heart.

Cornwall – “The seas are crystal clear and sparkling blue,” explains Andy Pyle

Beautiful Cornwall attracts millions of visitors each year

What’s not to love about Cornwall? It’s a truly unique location that’s adored by everyone who’s lucky enough to live here… and even more by those who don’t.

It’s home to amazing land and seascapes, wonderful wildlife and the world-famous Cornish pasty (no imitations accepted!).

Attracting millions of visitors each year, the county’s warm current supplies a temperate climate that is ideal for human habitation and for verdant rich growth – while the hard rocks ensure the seas are crystal clear and sparkling blue.

This results in some of the best beaches in Europe, partly because when the granite breaks down it makes the finest white sand.

You only have to go to Great Bay on St Martins in the Isles of Scilly to see the dazzling enigma. The sand is the whitest and finest to be found anywhere – so fine it was sold to soak up ink before they invented blotting paper.

Andy says Cornwall has some of the best beaches in Europe

Other white beaches can be found in many places around mainland Cornwall – and the beauty of the whiteness is that it shows off the ultra-marine seawater at its very best.

If you want to see evidence of this, go to the Minack Theatre perched above Porthcurno and look east along the shore where the granite cliffs curve around to Pedn Vounder, considered by many to be the best beach in Britain.

There are countless other shores that fit the Caribbean-style genre, but mention of both the Minack and Porthcurno brings us to the cultural side of what Cornwall can offer.

The theatre, of course, is world famous – but equally renowned in some circles is the Telegraph Museum at Porthcurno which offers a fascinating look into how this nation became a world-leader in international communications.

Indeed, Cornwall is full of wet-weather things to do at times when that warm oceanic current decides to make the hills and dales a little bit greener. You could, for instance, spend an entire day in the National Maritime Museum at Falmouth or, of course, at the world-famous Eden Project.

In fact, if you enjoyed all the great days out the Duchy has to offer, you’d need a holiday lasting months! Now there’s an interesting idea…

Devon – “It’s becoming as famous for its award-winning food and drink as it is for its stunning coast,” says Charlotte Gosling

Sidmouth showcases Devon’s beauty

With two national parks, two historic cities, two dramatic coastlines, five areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and plenty of quaint villages and charming towns, Devon is one of the most wonderful places to live and visit anywhere in the UK.

Anyone can discover the great Devon outdoors with a wide range of country and seaside activities, including watersports, cycling, adventure sports, walking, climbing, fishing and riding.

The county, which offers beauty in abundance, is also well-known for its fantastic food – indeed, the exceptional quality of food and drink produced in Devon means that it’s becoming as famous for its award-winning, Michelin-starred restaurants, food festivals, markets and vineyards as it is for its stunning coast and Devon countryside.

Create your own ‘food trail’ and explore these outstanding restaurants, excellent foodie pubs and welcoming tea shops – all serving, great local produce including the world-famous Devon clotted cream in some deliciously indulgent afternoon teas.

And there are plenty of luxury, boutique hotels all over the southwest to spend your time in while exploring these impressive surroundings. From the modern and bespoke to beautiful manor houses and castles – there’s something for everyone.

Here, you can be at one with nature as, being the only county in England with two separate coastlines, those who live in and visit Devon are lucky to have the seaside always in easy reach. There are hundreds of miles of golden sands as well as luscious pastures with gorgeous, green hills, vast moors and pretty woodland to be enjoyed.

Devon is encased in history and culture – a popular attraction is that of the recent Damien Hirst Verity statue in Ilfracombe – a small harbour town on the North Devon coast.

It’s the perfect spot for art buffs with the 66ft bronze-clad pregnant sculpture on the edge of the fishing pier on loan to the local council for the next 20 years.

But if you’d rather escape the crowds and take it easy, driving up to Dartmoor on a clear evening could be the answer. Not only do you get to see unparalleled sunsets but you can gaze at the stars. For big city dwellers who are used to light pollution, this could be a real novelty.

With all this and much more, there is no doubt you will fall for its individual characteristics and endearing charm. Why would you possibly want to be anywhere else?

The Wirral and Liverpool coast – ”It’s stunning beauty is enough to stop the senses,” writes Gemma Sherlock

New Brighton Lighthouse is found at the mouth of the River Mersey

A place of serenity. A place of reflection. A place of hope.

Wirral’s 25 miles of coastline offers remarkable views like no other.

You can feel comforted yet insignificant at the same time as it’s stunning beauty is enough to stop the senses.

Wirral has always been my home but I’ve always longed to live near its coast. The Liverpool skyline across the River Mersey has always offered inspiration and a perusal of dreams to one day work in the big city.

Now that I do, I find myself looking back more the other way, back to the Wirral coast, back home.

When it comes to the Wirral coast it’s all about the views – placed between the River Dee and the River Mersey, the coast overlooks both the Welsh Hills and the Liverpool skyline.

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of life Wirral is the ideal location.

There are plenty of walks and cycle routes to choose from, including the Wirral Way which takes you from West Kirby to Parkgate, through Thurstaston Beach.

Once more there are plenty of parts of the coast to choose from to live, West Kirby offers landmarks such as Hilbre Island which often has guests including seals and the rare dolphin.

Meanwhile, on the Hoylake coast, you can play a round of golf at their…course.

Over in New Brighton, you can have all the fun of the fair as there are plenty of arcades and games suitable for all ages – and even a cheeky ice cream.

New Brighton and its neighbouring area Seacombe also offers the best views of the Liverpool skyline, which features the two cathedrals, the Liver Bird Building and more.

The Wirral coast is also a great base for watersports as the Dee Estuary on the west coast of the Peninsula, has flat, sandy beaches and brisk breezes – great conditions for windsurfing and sailing.

Also if you want to live near an award-winning coast then Wirral is for you. Four boast the highest ‘Excellent’ rating in the 2016 Good Beach Guide, based on water quality, and Wallasey has been rated as a Blue Flag beach (the only one in the North West in 2017).

The smell of the Mersey air will resonate a lot with residents, awakening an old memory each time.

Wirral was good enough for James Bond star Daniel Craig who grew up in the area, so maybe it’s good enough for your new coastal property.

If there is one place which says home to me it is the Wirral.

Wales – “There are always people on the seafront taking in the air….and the view,” says Chris Peregrine

Chris loves to go out walking whatever the weather

In estate agent speak, we have got a sea view from our house.

It is not the best, but it is there, a glimpse of Mumbles in the distance from our landing. Leaving home, though, is a different matter. Swansea Bay, the one likened to the Bay of Naples, opens up in front of us at the top of the hill.

It is a stunner and demands close acquaintance. I am always happy to oblige. In fact, I take this relationship quite seriously. I love my walking, so as often as I can I get my kit on and head down the hill for the sea.

The seasons don’t matter, there is weather every day. It is just more comfortable sometimes, but get the gear on and get going is my motto. Hitting the sea front is always special. It is left to the marina and right to Mumbles, my favoured route.

I don’t hang around when I walk, but it’s hard not to glance left even when the tide is out. At Blackpill you might come across bird-watching enthusiasts poised with cameras and binoculars, and then Mumbles beckons.

‘Get the gear on and get going’ is Chris’s motto

There are always people on the front because that is where they want to be, taking in the air, taking in the view.

I normally walk through, maybe via the pier, and then head for Rotherslade on the spectacular Wales Coastal Path. It is a bit up and down, but that is called variety. Waves crash onto the rocks below and the Surfside Cafe is not far away, a cosy retreat after seven miles or so on the hoof.

Outside poems on pebbles can be found, the work of Jim Young, whose love of the sea draws him in for a dip in the bay every day of the year. The calendar doesn’t interest him.

I may walk back home or get a lift from my wife. It may depend on whether or not I am in training for the Gower Macmarathon. The September Macmillan Cancer Support fundraiser perfectly illustrates the enchanting multi-terrain cocktail before you, all 22 miles of it from Rhossili, home of that picture postcard view which has gone around the world, to Mumbles Cricket Club.

I have done it five times, and keep going back, like many others who are drawn to a coastal trek that gives you a personal appointment with nature at its rugged best.

North Wales – “It’s an Eden perched on the very edge of Wales,” writes Zara Whelan

The location simply begs you to slow down and relax

With miles upon miles of golden sands met by tranquil waters you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in a tropical paradise.

But this little snippet of bliss is tucked away in our picturesque corner of the world – North Wales.

And it’s a place to behold.

An Eden perched on the very edge of Wales you’re certain never to be far away from a picture perfect view.

I’m not sure if it’s the constant supply of fresh sea air or being surrounded by nature, but the area has its own pace, culture, its own heartbeat.

The location simply begs you to slow down and relax and embrace the unrefined charm of the area.

Zara is proud there are 19 Blue Flag beaches in her area

It’s easy to lose yourself with sand between your toes aside the lapping waves upon the shore or be reminded of the enormity of the earth at the foot of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon).

Or be humbled, by one of the many magnificent historical castles and fortresses dotted along the coast, built for the great monarchs of the past.

The crystal clear waters of Trearddur Bay are the perfect place to dip your toes into the water or to take on the waves themselves.

Or venture down the Llŷn Peninsula to Cardigan Bay and watch dolphins frolic without a care in the world.

Experience the sun set in Abersoch as boats sail idly by and watch the stars emerge brighter than you’ve ever seen them before.

Or watch it rise again across Snowdonia adding splashes of a whole spectrum of colour to the imposing peaks.

Enjoy a locally-sourced dinner at one of the many top-rated restaurants overlooking the sparkling waters of the Menai Strait.

After ambling around the historical town and its independent boutiques, of course.

Explore one of Anglesey’s hidden beaches and bays waiting to be discovered, perfectly forged by a millennia of waves offering the ideal location for mindful relaxation and a return to nature.

There’s a total of 19 Blue Flag beaches in our area too, ideal for those that don’t want to stray too far from the beaten track.

The serenity of a semi-rural coastal existence calls many to the North Wales shoreline – be it weary travellers in search of a break away from the everyday rush, to those who want to leave it all behind and embrace a life less-restless.

Those looking for their own hidden gem.

I, for one, wouldn’t change it for the world.

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