Vicky Ewan: Jaunts remind me how lucky we are to live in such a spectacular spot

Torbay Weekly

Weekends have taken on a new meaning since we found ourselves with a puppy in our midst.

Indolent lie-ins, long trips to the shops and lazy coffee-laced chats have faded out and our hours are filled with more active pursuits.

And it has opened up a new side of the Bay to us in the most charming way.

A typical morning on a Saturday and Sunday now begins with a most unceremoniously abrupt awakening at some point around 5.30am, when our ever increasing canine, having decided she can deprive us of her affection no longer, throws herself onto the bed with energetic enthusiasm.

Thankfully, once safely in situ, she is generally of a mind to settle down - albeit somewhat awkwardly for her human bedfellows, who are divested of space, covers and movement thereafter.

At this premature hour, she seems content to bury her Springer Spaniel heritage under the duvet and drift off to sleep again for a couple of hours.

Indeed, the onus is on my husband and me to wake her when we are ready to go out for a walk - which, on these glorious autumn days, we are always happy to do.

We abandon the teens to their weekend dreams, bolster the youngest with breakfast (having issued an invitation to join us, to his habitual refusal - the lure of weekend's screen time relaxation proving too irresistible), and set off in the car to the seafront.

After securing parking in as close proximity as possible, we promenade to the harbourside and back; every trip is a fresh pleasure.

A few weeks ago, on a sunny morning, we had followed this regime and found ourselves strolling along by the sea.

Barely a scrap of cloud disturbed the blue glass sky, and the sunlight skittered in sparks across the ruffled sea surface, a cool clear green near our feet.

Miss Pup lolloped ahead, all rangy limbs and lolling tongue, apparently enjoying the light breeze and the clean atmosphere as much as we were.

That day, we happened upon several parties of friends who were either preparing for or recovering from a plunge into the ocean.

Until then, I had had little concept of the popularity of this pastime, but as we wandered along by the sea wall, I recognised what an ideal location it was for such an undertaking: the steps leading to the water offered a quick, safe submersion, and the high wall shielding sea from land provided a sheltered spot for dressing and undressing, not to mention the partaking of warm drinks that seemed to be a universal indulgence following the dip.

I watched with a slight envy as a host of intrepid swimmers splashed happily in the inviting water, chatting and laughing in their groups.

I couldn't wholly imagine having the inclination to join them - I am decidedly a warm weather swimmer - but I could appreciate how much they were enjoying themselves.

Further around the bay, the beach curved its rich red grains beneath our feet.

The puppy, overjoyed by the sensations and the sea scents, raced over the shoreline, kicking up the sand and attempting to play daredevil chase with willing canine companions; her touching eagerness, tempered by a natural reticence, made for amusing viewing.

Leaving the beach, we climbed the slope to the street-level walkway, and strolled to the harbourside, watching the boats bobbing gently in the calm waters and exchanging smiles and greetings with other folk engaged in their own ambles.

It felt like we had been admitted into a world about whose existence we had been previously ignorant - a strange but not unappealing feeling.

These weekend jaunts remind me anew how lucky we are to live in such a spectacular spot - may I never take it for granted.

Of course, the sun isn't perpetually shining on these excursions, but we enjoy ourselves, regardless.

On one occasion, in less clement conditions, the wind was whipping the waves with wild abandon over the walkway.

Undeterred, my husband and I invigorated ourselves and our pup with frantic racing from one dry spot to the next between the surges of saltwater that were flinging themselves into our path - an exhilarating exercise for the three of us... although I suspect the dog was somewhat puzzled by our bursts of speed, screeching halts, and shrieks of hilarity.

We have experienced very little rainfall locally since becoming dog owners. I sense that we may not be so anxious to brave the harbourside in a torrential downpour, but I like to think we'll carry on regardless, although as Miss Pup loathes getting her ears wet, it may take a little more persuasion to haul her out from under the duvet.

On second thoughts, perhaps we'll indulge in a lazy coffee-laced chat instead.