DEDICATED staycationers have queued for 30 hours and spent a fortune to snap up in-demand beach huts on the south coast.
Hardy beachgoers in Christchurch, Dorset stood, ate and even slept in the queue, all so they could reserve prime positions on Avon Beach for when the summer sunshine comes.
The queue steadily swelled all through yesterday and around 20 people were eagerly waiting when the administration office opened this morning.
Seasoned regular Ken Ryder, 73, was at the front of the line, having left a New Year's Eve party to set up camp on the beach at 2am.
He slept in a sleeping bag on a reclining chair and wore five layers of clothing to fight off the foul weather, but insisted that it was all worth it in the end.
He said: "I had waterproofs, motorcycle boots, an aluminium blanket and a sleeping bag.
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"It was worth the long wait because you always get a good bunch of people in the queue and there is a nice atmosphere.
"I queued early to get a hut that is in the optimum position where the sun lasts for an hour longer because it is in a gap in the trees.
"The main reason I retired here is to be by the sea and having a beach hut is the icing on the cake. It is the perfect retirement for me and my partner. Our grandchildren come down throughout the year."
Avon Beach has 130 huts lining the sand and customers can either buy one privately or rent one out from the owners.
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Some of the private huts sell for a whopping £130,000 and can come with gas powered fridges and hobs inside.
This year, 90 were up for rent at different points of the year, but only 15 were available for the whole summer holidays.
Renting a 7ft by 4ft wooden hut from April to September will set customers back £3,075, while a larger place is almost £4,000.
Another hut enthusiast, Kerryn Foggo, and her daughter Maisie, 29, managed to nab 11th place in the queue after arriving at 5am this morning.
Kerryn, 60, said: "We live locally and we go to the beach almost everyday in the summer. We queued last year so we were quite confident of getting one of the long term huts by arriving at 5am.
"It is a lot of money to pay but it is well worth having for all the family to use."
Laura Huxtable-White, who manages the beach huts, was stunned to find five or six people already at the office when she came in on New Year's Eve.
She said: "We have had a huge number of enquiries this year even despite the cost of living crisis.
"There's also been a huge rise in people looking to buy huts and we have five on the market this year.
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"We've built a new coffee cabin so there's a lot we can offer visitors."
Laura added: "[This] is a relatively untouched part of the coast away from the arcades. People can come here, enjoy family, and take a break from the gadgets and distractions."
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