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It is Strandkorb season

The aristocratic beach chair has emerged from hibernation.

This is the time of year that tourism boards from the northern coasts of Germany start to cover their websites with images of one particular piece of outdoor furniture: the Strandkorb. If you don’t know what I am referring to, then see the lead picture on our Facebook page.

There’s no direct translation for Strandkorb – ‘beach chair’ isn’t sufficient – because they don’t exist in English-speaking countries. On UK beaches, we tend to erect flimsy plastic windbreaks and then cower behind them, but the German solution for cold, wind-blown beaches is far more effective; a substantial adjustable wickerwork half-hut which can be rotated like a sunflower to catch the rays, whilst protecting its occupants from the wind.

Proper Strandkorbs have room enough for two in the padded and lined interior, plus a protective hood, a sun visor, fold-out foot rests, stowable tray tables and compact storage behind your ankles. Give them a set of wheels and a decent motor and they’d probably keep up with most traffic on the autobahns, too.

They have a proper lineage, having been invented in 1882 under Emperor Wilhelm I by Wilhelm Bartelmann, chief basketmaker to the imperial court who came up with the design after an elderly aristocratic lady suffering from rheumatism asked him to build a seat that would protect her from the wind and sun on the beach.

You don’t have to be elderly or rheumatic to get the best out of them. Strandkorbs are usually for rent for around €8/10 per day, and you can buy them (in Germany) for around €3-400. Transporting them elsewhere in the world will be costly, of course, but if you take the plunge and invest, you could be the envy of your neighbours, sitting snug in your back garden, tanning gently whilst the cold wind howls all around.

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