Inside the battle for Britain’s most desirable beach huts

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Picnics might be a little better – back then, he says, you were lucky to have a ham and pickle sandwich – but otherwise the pleasures of the beach remain the same as in his. childhood: a morning swim in the sparkling blue water, building sandcastles with his wife Helen’s grandchildren (ages seven to four) and watching the sunset from part of the beach to call his own (if only for a few weeks). Each year his family rents the same cabin: number 61. “It’s part of our history,” he says.

They also diligently plan the queue. His wife shares a shift rotation between Roger, his sister and their daughter and her husband, with whom they share a vacation home nearby.

“My wife made a plan and we stuck to it,” Roger says of the night they were in second line. “She opened the baton at 5:10 am. I did a few stints, then relieved our daughter (Amanda, 53) at 4.30am the next day when she was starting to get a little cold, and waited until around 8am. .

Aside from a few “friendly jokes” and “the weird snoring complaint,” at this late stage he says everyone in the queue was just trying to get a few hours of sleep.

Once the reservation was secured, they celebrated with a family roast dinner – but not before they all caught up a bit of kip.

Now in his 10th year of waiting, Roger admits he’s started enjoying it. The queue is as much a part of her family’s seasonal ritual as the beach hut at the end. Plus, he adds, those long dark soul nights taught him a valuable lesson: “To get what you know you want in life you have to be prepared to get angry.”

The rise of beach hutterati

By Jan Etherington

When I moved to the Suffolk coast ten years ago, I should have been convinced the sea was at the end of my road, but I still looked longingly at the row of black beach huts, standing like sentries along the dunes. It took me five long years to get my hands on one.

In my village, you can only ‘ask’ for a hut if you have a permanent local postcode. Your name is added to a list and when someone moves or decides to abandon their hut, it is offered to the requester at the top. No queue skipping or “offers” are allowed!

This is unusual and it is because the land is owned by the village common land charity, so we pay the seller for the value of the structure and the association an annual fee.

But the general rule along most of our coast is that anyone can buy a beach hut – if they can afford it. These are the new Hermès handbags – a limited supply, changing hands for six-figure sums. Those whose huts have been passed down from generation to generation for decades cannot recover from what they are worth now. Forget family money, in coastal hot spots like Devon and Suffolk selling a ‘hut’ (with no electricity or running water) could set you up for life.

Local realtors will tell you that many are geared towards cash buyers, from outside the area, who may wish to rent it out to other vacationers, which unfortunately means that even on a Gloriously sunny summer weekends you will often find very few beach huts. are actually used. Some sit empty for months.

But for local beach hut owners, it’s just a joy to have a place to entertain family and friends – and boy do you make lots of friends if you have a hut.

Mine’s facilities can best be described as basic: a caloric gas stove, folding chairs, towels, trestle table and binoculars are as ‘equipped’ as they can get. However, there are bespoke beach hut designers that will fit a Smallbone of Devizes kitchen, tastefully weathered flooring, and bespoke shelving (all in muted coastal tones, of course) for pockets. bottomless hutterati.

I find it surprising that so many people are willing to shell out a fortune for amenities, when most beach huts are regularly smashed and often inundated by high tides and some disappear completely during nighttime storms.

Of course, gentrification of huts can lead to resentment, which at times turns into break-ins and unnecessary vandalism, leading many hut owners to lock them up like Fort Knox. Yet no one in their right mind keeps anything of value between the clapboard walls, as the sugar gets wet, the coffee freezes, the books curl up, and the locks are rusted with sea salt.

Still, I enjoy strolling along the prom, looking through the open doors, while the owners take in the attention. Oh yes they do. They may sigh and ignore the cheerful greetings of vacationers, but there’s no point in having a beach hut if you can’t be seen enjoying it – and that’s why there’s such snobbery there. where the hut is. The top-notch promotion sites are the most expensive and the most desirable.

I discovered this shortly after moving to the coast when I overheard two women talking in a designer locker room in Southwold.

The first one cooed, “Oh, I didn’t know you had a cabin on the beach honey!” Where are you?”

“Just north of the pier,” was the reply.

There was a pause and then, with the kind of sigh one might give to a friend whose dog had just died, the first woman answered.

“Oh my dear. You must come to our house. We are in Gun Hill.

I quickly learned that it was the chic end of the beach.

As Kirsty and Phil would say, this is ‘location, location’ for any property, even if it’s just a 12 ‘x 10’ wooden shed, where your light comes from a torch and the only running water is the North Sea.

Conversations from a Long Marriage by Jan Etherington is available on BBC Sounds

Britain’s most popular beach hut locations

Porthkidney Sands Beach, Cornwall



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