Wednesday, 24 December 2014


Photo courtesy of Julia Claxton

Our pilgrimage through Advent has finally come to an end at beach hut 395.  It's been an amazing journey this year with bigger crowds than ever, a wider variety of wonderful artworks and pretty good weather apart from a few slightly wet and windy evenings.

Photo courtesy of Julia Claxton

Tonight we joined the wise men in their journey following the star to Bethlehem as we sang As With Gladness Men of Old.  The carol speaks of the joy they found as they were guided by the star to the manger bearing the light of the world and that in that brightness they'd found the source of all divine light.

The hut beamed with light both inside and out as a giant glitter ball was spinning above the hut to guide people to the evenings festivities.  Inside a golden crown was suspended in the middle of a silver decked hut with lasers emanating from the crown and reflecting on the mirrored floor and walls.  All of this was enhanced by the smoke being produced inside the hut reminding us of the frankincense brought by the wise men as one of their gifts.

Photo courtesy of Julia Claxton

Suspended ethereally above the crown was a suggestion of the babe who is to be born on Christmas day.

There were many other things to remind us of light tonight.  At 5.30 Santa passed overhead in the form of the International Space Station, a bright light traversing the sky for all to see.

During the evening the Mayor of Brighton & Hove, councillor Brian Fitch, presented Revd. Martin Poole with an award from the Prime Minister entitled a Point of Light award.  This is given to individuals who have developed projects which are volunteer led and which promote community spirit. It is wonderful to have this work recognised in such a way and it was fitting that it should be awarded today as we welcome Jesus, the light of the world, into our lives.

That's the end of the Beach Hut Advent Calendar for 2014.  If you would like to be involved next year either as a hut owner, and artist or a volunteer please email  Beyond does more than just beach huts and we are currently running a series of monthly events on the first Sunday of every month.  The next one is 4th January and you can read about it here  

Photo courtesy of Julia Claxton

Tuesday, 23 December 2014


Tonight was a special night as the theme carol was O Holy Night, a beautiful carol which has gained great popularity in recent years but is quite hard to perform well.

The opening lines are:

O Holy night,
The stars are burning brightly
It is the dawn of our dear Saviours birth.

Hut 418 was a vision of that starlit light come to earth in the form of sparkling lanterns that lit up the darkness of the night in homage to Jesus, the light of the world.

The simplicity of the light was enhanced by a fairly strong wind tonight which gently rocked the hanging lanterns, giving us a constant reminder of the creativity of God.

The next hut is the final one for this year and there will be lots going on.  In particular the Mayor of Brigton & Hove, Cllr. Brian Fitch will come to the hut to present Martin Poole with a Points of Light award from the Prime Minster.  More of this to follow later.

Monday, 22 December 2014


The wind was up again tonight so it was quite blustery down on the seafront but that didn't stop over 100 people coming to see the hut and share a mince pie and some warming drinks.

We were in hut 449, the most Westerly of all the huts in this year's calendar and right up at the darkest end of Hove Lagoon.  The hut was a beacon of light in the darkness and the scene inside had a ethereal quality almost as though the shepherds were floating on a cloud, which they probably were when the heard the angels good news.

The theme carol was 'While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night' and the hut came complete with rustic shepherd, a couple of sheep, a herald angel, a small town and a signpost telling us that we were three miles from Bethlehem and 25 miles from Jerusalem.

We're getting close to Christmas now with only two huts left.  The next hut is number 418 and our final hut on Christmas Eve will be a great night with a visit from the Mayor of Brighton & Hove to make a special presentation.

Sunday, 21 December 2014


Hut 79a tonight featured the three kings challenge as the hut not only looked nice but there was a series of interactive challenges which people could take part in.

The carol theme was We Three Kings and the hut decoration consisted of three silhouetted kings making their way towards the star.  The kings were displayed on large pockets which contained a series of instructions for further play or rewards.  These worked a bit like a lucky dip as attendees were invited to take something from the pocket behind the first king.  This would either give them an immediate prize - a chocolate coin or similar, or would lead them to take a further token from the second pocket with the chance to win an ever more extravagant gift.

This helped people to focus on the aspect of gift giving which is such an important part of this advent season.  One of the benefits of the Beach Hut Advent Calendar is it's non-commercial nature and the respite it gives to those who want to get away from the constant pressure to shop for the perfect gift.

The gift of Jesus at Christmas is the exact opposite of so much of what has become the Christmas spirit.  The gift from God to humankind on that first Christmas was totally free and unexpected.  We hope that your gift giving will be in that same spirit this season.

Next hut is right at the other end of the line of huts at number 449.

Saturday, 20 December 2014


Tonight was unique for the Beach Hut Advent Calendar as this was the first time in seven years that we've been able to use one of the brick built huts that are on the seafront close the the Hove Bowling Club.  There are only 30 or so of these and they are owned by the council and leased to people who want to use them for a period of five years.  Maxine has just begun her tenancy and was very keen to be involved in the calendar.

There are a number of differences between the brick built huts and the regular 'sheds on the beach' that form the vast majority of the beach huts in Hove.  The brick huts are slightly bigger, their doors open outwards and they have electricity and water.  That is a big luxury for those of us who have done the advent calendar for years with batteries and generators and candles.

Janina was the artist creating the hut tonight and her theme was The Calypso Carol.

Throughout the evening we listened to calypso versions of well known carols and Momma Cherri, who used to run the Soul Food Shack in Brighton and now appears on the Good Food channel, brought some of her own recipe fried chicken for people to taste at the hut.

The hut was decorated with toys and brightly coloured decorations and the toys were given away throughout the evening to any children who wanted to give them a home.

The next hut is right beside Hove Lawns and is number 79a and we are led to believe that there will be interactive games and a chance to win some prizes.

Friday, 19 December 2014


Tonight was one of the most extravagant huts we've seen this year and maybe in the whole history of the Beach Hut Advent Calendar.  Not only was the hut decorated beautifully but the art experience extended across the seafront almost to the edge of the promenade.

Inside the hut 305 were tiers of paper houses made from a template produced by Mary and her team at the Metropolitan Church.

The theme was O Little Town of Bethlehem but this felt more like a city as giant cardboard houses were arranged outside the hut, each with its own light and crisply cut windows and doors.  The children really enjoyed themselves dodging in and out of these houses that were perfectly child-sized but too small for adults.

In the midst of the circle of houses was a spiral path of light, arranged on a large square of astroturf.  This formed a labyrinth and the children (and anyone else who wanted to take part) were encouraged wend their way into the middle of the spiral and collect a light in a glass and cary it with them to the outside.

Labyrinths are an ancient form of meditation and this version helped people to focus on reaching for the light inside ourselves in order to enlighten the world.

A choir sang a variety of carols during the hour that we were open and there was quite a crowd joining in, admiring the hut and getting involved with the singing.

The next hut is the first time we've ever been able to use a brick hut with all the facilities that this provides, in particular electricity.  It's number 1a and is between The View and the King Alfred leisure centre.

Thursday, 18 December 2014


It was pretty windy on the seafront tonight but still people came out to see hut 403.

The song for tonight was a very different take on the Twelve Days of Christmas.  The hut was put together by teenagers in care as part of their art therapy group and the task they were given was to write their own version of the well known song featuring things that were important to them about Christmas.

Each of the new items in the song were represented by boxes which the children had created to illustrate the new line which they had written for the song.

We all sang the new version of the twelve days which goes like this:

1 Seagull in a Christmas tree
2 Chimps a chatting
3 Lego dragons
4 Santas Hats
5 Chocolate Coins
6 Crackers popping
7 Stars a shining
8 Racing Reindeer
9 Christmas Jumpers
10 Hot Chocolates bubbling
11 Bad jokes
12 Dollies sleeping

We also had some poetry from one of the children.

The next hut is number 305 and will feature all sorts of interactive art experiences.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


Last night the hut contained a whole town, tonight hut 177 contained the massed choirs of the faithful.

O Come All Ye Faithful was the carol and Sam and friends portrayed this with rank upon rank of Christmas themed singers peeping out from behind a set of red velvet curtains, making the hut look like miniature theatre with an impressive performance going on inside.

During the evening we had an impressive, impromptu performance from some of the children who came to see the hut and decided to liven up proceedings by putting on their own show.  They sang a whole range of modern Christmas songs which told the story of Christmas and the birth of Jesus.

We were all a bit surprised by the weather which turned rather wet about halfway through the evening.

The next hut is number 403 up by Hove Lagoon.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


Hut 362 tonight contained a whole city in miniature as the children of Aldrington school created their own version of O Little Town of Bethlehem.  The hut contained a whole city of little houses, each burning with a little light.

Floating serenely above the whole city was an enormous star, marking the spot directly above a stable which glowed with a heavenly light.  Behind the star was a simple backdrop of sparkling stars, glittering in the gloom of the night as they reflected the light from all around.

The weather was calm as well and we had another clear, calm evening which matched the peace and simplicity of hut 362.

The stillness and quiet really enhanced the singing of the school choir who performed a number of Christmas carols.

The next hut is close to the King Alfred leisure centre and is number 177.

Monday, 15 December 2014


It didn't feel as though we were In The Bleak Midwinter tonight at hut 341 despite that being the theme carol for the night.  It was a beautifully calm and almost warm night with hardly a breath of wind and no hint of the showers that haunted the opening of hut 225 last night.

In previous years Carrie has created hut sized artworks using layers of tissue paper and glue which when lit from behind formed a stained glass window effect.  This year she created a nativity scene using tissue paper on glass which hung at the front of the hut.

Behind this was a genuine stained glass window with a snowflake-like design on it lending an air of antiquity and authenticity to the hut.

The peaceful weather and the calmness of the figures in the nativity scene gave the evening a very special feel of peaceful meditation.  A definite antidote to the commercialism of Christmas and the rushing from one event to another that so many of us get caught up with at this time of year.

The next hut is a little further to the west at number 362 where we'll gather together to see art from Aldrington school.