'What's not to like?' - Waiting list for beach huts as owners return
- Credit: Liz Coates
As pubs and outdoor eateries rushed to put up canopies and string wind sails between trees, beach hut owners on Gorleston's lower prom have been readying their candy-striped cabins for re-opening.
For some early adopters like Mark Collins from Bradwell it was a well-rehearsed routine as he prepared for his third season of seaside escape.
With owners allowed in from March 29 for maintenance he was settling in for a day of sorting out on Saturday (April 17) the first weekend he could officially enjoy his bolthole.
"It has been long overdue," he said. "My wife would be down here every day. I am born and bred in Norfolk and we love the coast.
"What's not to like?"
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Meanwhile, further along, the doors of 'Bertie' and 'Bettie' were flung open, their occupants setting about boiling kettles and preparing for a day of reading the papers and watching the world go by.
For their owners, mother and son entrepreneurs Michaela and Alex Davies, from Bradwell, it was a momentous day.
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The beach huts had been purchased as a loving legacy in memory of a much-missed brother and uncle Mark Jarvis who died aged 52 four years ago.
Mr Davies, 25, an offshore engineer, said the aim had been to invest in something that embraced his spirit and love of the coastal spot where they spent some special time together.
On Saturday 'Bertie' welcomed his first paying guest, Philippa Collingwood, also from Bradwell, and her family.
She had booked the beach hut for a day of socially-distanced celebration for her mother Jackie Nickels' birthday.
The idea was for it to serve as a base while friends and family who hadn't seen each other for months dropped by in shifts to chink glasses and enjoy seaside-themed baked treats made by Mrs Davies who also has a cup cake business called Cake Envy.
They were also planning a fish and chip delivery.
Mrs Collingwood, a teacher at Peterhouse Primary School, said: "It will be a day of her seeing people who are special to her. It is a bit of a more unusual thing to do. We would rather be here than drive somewhere else. It is such a glorious beach."
Mr Davies said he and his mother were stunned the beach huts were so successful so early.
Even though they were still unfinished, they were 50pc booked through to October, with so many enquiries they were looking to move to a booking app to make it easier.
"It is a real blessing," he said.
"All our hard work has paid off. It is nice to see people finally enjoying the beach huts as we hoped they would.
"I am really proud of mum and myself and everyone who has helped us."
Family friends Maxine Taylor and Tony Whittaker were road-testing Bettie for the duo and said the experience was "amazing."
"It has been a social whirl," Mrs Taylor said, as people stopped to chat and peer inside to see how they had been transformed.
In a statement, Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: “We currently have 30 beach huts along Gorleston seafront, with the ten newest all sold.
"Due to their growing popularity we hope to increase this number over the coming months.
“There is a waiting list for beach hut hire, with another waiting list for those wanting to purchase one, both of which we are working hard to accommodate.
“In line with the most recent government guidelines, the amenity block can only accommodate one family at a time.
“All information on the hiring of the beach huts can be found at www.gorlestonbeachhuts.co.uk.”
The council gave itself planning permission for 70 huts, and despite initial reports of queues to buy those issued under the first phase it turned out only a handful of sales were completed.
However, all 10 available for annual hire up to March 31 this year were sold out.
Weekly hire rates range from £42 to £157.50 in July and August.
Monthly rates range from £144 to £472.50.
Daily hire for Bertie and Bettie is £35. More details available via their Facebook page.