Following on from my last post, in which Mum and I went for a clifftop walk (safely away from the surf and sand) followed by sundaes in Broadstairs' classic ice cream parlour, here's another little love letter to the area I grew up in.

We have never been much of a beach family, despite living only five minutes' walk from the crumbling chalk cliffs of Botany Bay. Whilst most families would probably spend every scrap of sunshine on the sand, we tended to go elsewhere during the summer holidays - visiting pretty towns, walking in the countryside etc. 

However, the first time we took our pup Bertie to the beach three years ago (which means he is definitely not a pup anymore), we realised we'd need to start spending more time by the shore from that moment onwards. He fell head over heels in love with the beach (quite literally) - he tumbled onto the sand, pounced on it and yapped and then started careering about, kicking the beach up beneath his paws. Whilst he was tentative as he dipped his first paw in the sea, he was soon leaping through the waves and we could barely drag him away.

(If you like pictures of puppies jumping around in the sea and generally misbehaving, click here).

We've started taking him for beach walks fairly regularly now and I think it's given us a new appreciation for the amazing natural world on our doorstep. That being said, it's hard to come across a day that seems warm enough for a sea swim in the UK but for once, we were blessed with one. So we decided to go swimming with our dog!

(My sister, who looks infinitely more glamorous than I do in a swimming costume).

We headed to Dumpton Gap, a lovely bay surrounded by chalk cliffs. After playing around in the shallows for a bit, Jess and I waded out into the water, she with Bertie in her arms and I with my phone held high above the water in a vice-like grip. Then with a splash, the dog (and thankfully not my phone) was released into the sea and he swam happily through the waves.

The beach at Dumpton Gap has become one of our favourites since Bertie came into our lives. It's open to pooches all year round (unlike many of the main sands surrounding Thanet) and it has a great little cafe serving toasties and jacket potatoes and salads, with tables and chairs all along the sea wall. Not a bad spot for lunch and a quiet read of a good book.

Dumpton Gap sits between Broadstairs and Ramsgate (and admittedly, doesn't have the most romantic of names). Our local beaches, however, are Palm Bay and Botany Bay. These are limited to dog walkers during the summer months but after 6pm, anything goes! Including this little chap:

It's not hard to see why so many people are flocking to Margate. There are so many things to do in the town now that it overwhelms me. On one hand I feel sad that this has all happened since I left to live in Exeter for university (I honestly think Margate now has more going for it than the "city" of Exeter). On the other, I am so grateful that the development didn't occur when I was a penniless schoolgirl! What I find interesting though is the way that most of the visitors stay in the central Margate area, without much exploration happening further down the coastline. Whilst there might not be much to do in terms of shops and restaurants further down in Cliftonville and Kingsgate, I think the nature of the shoreline is more than enough reason to make the trip.

On this particular evening, I forced Mum out to take a walk with me. We'd already spent some time walking around Broadstairs during the day but I was just so very much in the mood to get out and about still that I didn't take no for an answer. I hope she appreciated it in the end - I feel like time spent walking along the coast together is infinitely more special than time spent slumped on the sofas in front of a screen. 

JMW Turner said once that the skies over Thanet were the loveliest in all Europe. And somehow, by some strange quirk of nature, he was right - I have never quite seen a sunset that can beat the ones that perform across our bays each evening.