A collection of Asda gnomes has been photographed by thousands of tourists in Kent who say the cheeky characters make them smile.
The ‘gnome house’ in Sandgate belongs to Janet Wilson, 60, and daughters Karina, 18 and Adel, 22, who first bought a single Asda gnome as a joke.
Their collection has grown to include more than 40 gnomes since it began just three months ago – with more being added by the day.
The garden ornaments are housed on a glass balcony facing the esplanade which runs along the seafront in Sandgate, Kent.
They are popular with tourists and locals who visit daily by bike, bus, car and on foot, to take pictures and see if anything new has been added.
Janet estimates more than 3,000 people have photographed the collection and hundreds have knocked on the door to tell her the quirky characters have made their day.
She said: “It started as a joke when me and my daughters saw the bridal gnomes in Asda and thought it would be funny to have one outside on the balcony. We liked it so much we went back the next day for more.
"At the moment I’m trying to find more of the older Asda gnomes if I can. I have been looking on eBay and everywhere. People know us as the gnome house. We get so many tourists it’s gotten to the point where we go out on the balcony and just wave in the photographs.”
The popularity of these mischievous-looking characters led the family to set up @gnomebalcony on Instagram and a ‘Gnome Balcony’ Facebook page, to share their adventures with fans. So far the gnomes have been captured in the cockpit of a plane, playing the harp, hiding in castles and singing in a recording studio.
Since they started posting in May the ‘gnome balcony’ social media accounts have gained more than 350 followers.
Janet said: “We have had so much fun with the gnomes. We were in Greece and I had someone call me and ask me if the lonely gnome we posted about on Facebook had found love yet! People ask if I struggle to make the stories up about the gnomes, but the stories just come to me so easily. I write, so I have lots of creative ideas and we give them all names. We sometimes take the gnomes back into Asda to see their friends. When it was the heatwave the other day, one of them was in the freezer cooling down!”
The family has now started a ‘forever gnome home’ for old, unloved gnomes which might be searching for a seaside retreat to retire to. Lucky gnomes who are adopted by the family might even find themselves in sunnier climes, as they plan to take one of them away on an exotic cruise.
“We can’t tell you where we’re going, because we want it to be a surprise for our followers, but we can say that a gnome is going on a cruise to distant shores,” explains Janet.
The family plans to post a video to show followers the gnome family tree, with a big Christmas display in the works to include Santa hats, festive gnomes and lots of lights.
“Everyone just laughs when they see them,” says Janet. “I haven’t ever known anything make people smile so much. They just bring so much happiness.”