Hot water bottles for Loddon cafe customers

In most cafes you might expect to find a newspaper to read while enjoying a pot of tea.

But with the recent plunging temperatures one Norfolk coffee shop owner has gone a step further and is handing out hot water bottles to cold customers.

Caroline Dwen, who runs Rosie Lee's tea room in Loddon, is dishing out the half-size warmers to patrons while they enjoy a drink or a bite to eat, and they have become so popular she has had to order more.

Ms Dwen initially bought the �1 hot water bottles to keep herself and her staff warm.

But they proved an instant hit with customers taking refuge in the quaint tea room from the cold weather outside.

The tea room currently has about eight hot water bottles on the go and yesterday Ms Dwen's friend, Violet Sizeland, was planning to head out to get another six.

Ms Dwen, 54, said: 'One of my kids gave my husband one for Christmas and I thought I would get one for myself.

Most Read

'Initially it was just for me and my staff, but then we started giving them to each other and when people left they gave them to the next person.

'I didn't think it would be a big thing, but they have been very popular. It has just been amazing. Our customers are really grateful, especially if they have come out in terrible weather. They really huddle up.'

Ms Dwen said it was heart-warming when, without any prompting, customers began sharing the hot water bottles between themselves.

The tea room does not charge for the warmers and everyone gets one. People hand them back when they have finished.

'Sometimes the men say no being a bit macho, but they give them to the ladies,' said Ms Dwen.

She added: 'I cannot get over it - I think it is so funny. It is lovely that �1 gives so much happiness. I love to see their surprised faces as they do not expect it. To bring a smile to people's faces after such a bad year is worth every penny.'

Ms Dwen has run the award-winning tea room for 11 years and it is popular with cyclists, walkers and local fishermen.

Customer Tina Kent, 29, from Loddon, said she loved the idea. 'It's a really nice idea, especially on cold mornings like this. If I could carry a hot water bottle around with me 24/7 I would. I have not seen anything like this anywhere else.'

Steve Crisp, of Loddon-based See the Difference window cleaners, said: 'I think it is a marvellous idea in this cold weather.'

Hot water bottle facts

Containers for warmth in bed were in use as early as the 16th century.

The earliest versions contained hot coals from the dying embers of the fire, and these bed warmers were used to warm the bed before getting into it.

Containers using hot water were soon also used, with the advantage that they could remain in the bed with the sleeper. Early hot water bottles were made of a variety of materials, such as zinc, copper, glass, earthenware or wood.

Norwich man Shaun Jones, who goes by the stage name Mrremarkableman, holds the world record for the fastest time to blow up and burst a hot water bottle at just 8.9 seconds, another for doing the same while standing upside down and a third for blowing up five in a row.