Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Summer bench days are here again

It's summer here on Paradise Island and the sun, for once, is shining. 


No longer do we have to suffer fifty shades of grey. 

There are bright, sunny colours of sun and sea.

my photo, Lyme Regis, Devon 

Though choosing a colour for the benches can be a problem.


The valerian is out on the seawalls and there's a fine sea mist.

my photo, Ventnor, Isle of Wight

The bright, warm sunshine benches are spurring everyone to action. 


I am doing my daily swims, though the sea is still pretty cold, especially in the depths around the starfish bench. 

My imaginary friend Miggy has moved her house down to the beach for the summer. It's rather too close to the tide line again this year but she seems not to mind a bit of flooding.

She says she's there for the sea view . . . 

. . . but really she just wants to stay close to the ice creams.

With Migs, an ice cream bench always melts her heart.


If there's no ice cream, a popsicle bench will do.


Our Irish friends Sean and Seamus have set out for a world of adventures in their campervan.

Hopefully they'll have some new dances when they come back for St. Patrick's Day next year. 

The Esplanade Hotel has put out its purple benches to welcome visitors.

Jeff the Chef has cooked up some special treats . . . 

. . . and thoughtfully provided a bowl of water for the dogs.

Down on the esplanade the beach shelters are freshly painted. 

The picnic benches are out just waiting for Lord Brassica to come and eat his fish and chips. That's a large cod and chips for him, not any of that pollack or haddock or rock salmon rubbish. 

And the chips must be fat and barely fried, so that they're still white inside. In fact, Lord B doesn't mind if they've gone cold and greasy; it reminds him of the good old days at boarding school. 

School's just about out for summer, though here in England there are a few weeks to go. Kids are running around like headless chickens children, eager to make a start on summer.

Like all of us, they want to be free.


They want to go to the park to play. 


Our playground here in Fribble is fairly basic . . . 

photo by Sheila B

. . . but at least we're very, very green.

photo by Sheila B

As soon as school's out, the kids will grab a spade and head for the beach.

It'll be fun for a while and then in a week or two they'll be bored and looking for something to do.


Next thing you know they'll be lounging around on the sofa all day.

Fortunately, there are lots of watersports on Paradise Island.

photo by Sheila B

And plenty of opportunities for a bloody freezing bracing refreshing sea swim. Here's Mungo and I coming out of the sea this afternoon on a low tide. We left it rather late to come in and got beached. 

Tamsin and her fiance Garçon Orange were enjoying themselves down by the rocks.

This couple hadn't thought to bring something to sit on so they made themselves a little bench.

photo by Sheila B

Ursula is our Unicorn-in-Residence. She's on a staycation right now, enjoying some chill time here in Fribble.

Eddie, my Inner Editor, is back from Mexico, where he picked up a habit of sunbathing. It's Factor 500 for him though. 

Lady Jessica Brassica is also fond of sunbathing.

Lord Brassica surprised her with a beach hut this year.

Though it still has a rustic feel, the inside of Lady B's beach hut is rather grander than most.

She has a replica mall in the basement of Drizzly Manor but this summer she's intending to spend a lot of time at the beach hut. 

For one thing, she wants to get away from the football. The World Cup is fine but for heaven's sake, why does Innocent have to dress up? 

It's not exactly clear from her outfit who Innocent supports.

"That's a Greek flag you've got there," Miggy told her. "Are you supporting Greece?"

No. Innocent just wanted the flag to match her outfit.

Unfortunately, Greece drew with Japan and then lost three nil to Colombia.

For the next match, Innocent tries again. 

Hmmmm. An England top but a Mexican flag and a Mexican sombrero. What can this mean?  Especially as England are already out of the Cup.

Maybe try Sweden?

There's a new fellow down at La Casa Amarilla watching the football with our Mexican amigos, Drida and Friego. He speaks fluent Spanish and appears to have travelled all over the world.

"I'm from the USA, Ma'm," he tells Innocent. "I'm very proud to say that the US beat Ghana two goals to one. And we held our own against Portugal. But in Group A I'm supporting Mexico."

Innocent is suddenly very keen to support Mexico. At half-time she comes back like this. 

And sure enough, Mexico beats Cameroon one nil. 

Miggy is telling me that's enough World Cup now. She reminds me that people are looking at this blog to see benches. And not football benches either. 

During all this World Cup bit half of them have fallen asleep.

This chap looks rather serene to me. A bench can be a nice place for a summer snooze.

The more mature ladies of Fribble tend to prefer the benches along Fribble seafront.


The shyer ones use a Victorian bathing machine to get themselves into the water.


Here is Miggy last summer with my dog Sit.

This summer she has really let herself go.

photo by Sheila B

Some local residents are shocked.

They have asked me if I could have a quiet word with her and persuade her to cover up.


I suggested she go up on the Downs and walk off a couple of kilos. I'm not sure what the ski poles are for. 

In contrast to poor old Migs, Innocent looks great in anything, especially a six hundred pound jeans jacket. 

But she doesn't waste time and money on swim suits.

Hurrah for independence I say. 

Speaking of which, in the USA all the patriotic benches are out for the 4th of July.



Even the birdhouses are decked with flags for Independence Day.


And it's Canada Day on July 1st so the maple leaf is much in evidence too. 


There were forty maple leaf benches on just one street. 


On the other side of the pond there's more red, white and blue for Bastille Day. 


British people are boarding the cross Channel ferries to enjoy ze way of life Normandie en France.

The weather isn't always brilliant.

Fortunately though, there are some very nice benches on the deck of the ferry.

Innocent is thinking of learning French. Apparently she loves France and all things French.


For the time being though, she is dressing all in white which, according to fashion rules, can only be worn between Whitsun and the August Bank Holiday. 

Some of Innocent's white fabrics can be flimsy and quite revealing.

photo by Sheila B

"She's just flaunting herself," Miggy says scornfully.

Meanwhile, Lady Jessica has been getting ready for the Glastonbury festival. She goes glamping every year in one of those luxury tipis. Unwin the butler goes with her to make sure the mini-bar is well stocked and to keep the toilet bench in order.


Lady B has her Glasto outfit all sorted: wellies, tie-dye prints, and the obligatory festival hat. 

But then there's a change of plan. 

The night before Lady B is ready to leave for Glasto, a very special Young Male Reader arrives, as usual, from Young Male Readers dot com. 

His name is Troy.

Troy arrives at Lady B's beach hut in casual gear and carrying his skateboard and a manbag full of books. He explains that he never wears shoes. He's extremely polite and calls ladies Ma'm. 

Lady B has ordered a lot of young male readers over the years but she has never met anyone like Troy. Yes, he's tall, dark and handsome like all the rest. But he's got glasses and a bag full of books. And he can actually read. What a reading voice! 

"I'm from Dry Heaves, Minnesota, Ma'm," he tells her. "In Dry Heaves we grow up reading poetry and putting a lot of feeling into it."

They settle down on the reading bench and Lady B is mesmerised. 

When Troy comes around the next day for another chapter, Lady B is wearing her special Fourth of July dress.

The effect on Troy is star spangled. He feels extremely free and brave.  

Later that evening most of us are down at Miggy's. 

There's a BYOB party, though no one has brought their own bench. 

Some Americans and Canadians and French people are around and something is being celebrated. Whether it's July 4th or Canada Day or Bastille Day, we're not sure. 


But whatever it is, there are definitely fireworks over a certain beach hut. 


Sunny days are headed your way. That's the title of the first photo by Karina's Bunches and Bits. A stay-at-home-mom who isn't home very much, Karina lives in Pennsylvania. She loves Bench Mondays and there are glorious photos of Karina and her family doing all kinds of things on benches, chairs and brick walls. Like me, she is amazed by the talented, creative people who share their photos on Flickr. The sunny days photo is from a Bench Monday in 2010 

The mosaic sun and wave bench was photographed at Lyme Regis in Devon in May, 2016 on a rare occasion when the sun was brightly shining. 

The rainbow bench is in Yachats, Oregon. It's by Mike Krzeszak, who is an aspiring photographer in Portland, Oregon. Mike's photostream is aka Photos by Mavis at https://www.flickr.com/photos/portland_mike/1089097578  Mavis is a nickname Mike started using in college as a pen name: it's the name Margaret uses in Judy Blume's Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret when she writes in her boy book. Mike loves rusty things, black and white photography, old buildings and grafitti.

Craig is the Salinas poet. He's originally from New York but currently lives in Maryland. Before that he lived in California. He was working but then retired and now is working again. I think. Anyway, he photographed the bright and sunny bench in downtown SLO. Sorry, I don't know where SLO is. But I love the benches in Craig's photostream at  https://www.flickr.com/photos/salinaspoet/1143285677

My Swimming Bench is well documented on Benchsite. There's a post specifically about it called, not surprisingly, My Swimming Bench. You've seen the bench, you've heard the story, now read the poem. It's at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/my-swimming-bench.html

The beach shelters, spade, green bench and other seaside pictures are from trips to Minehead in Somerset and Southsea in Hampshire. Both are popular old-fashioned bucket and spade beaches, though Southsea is stone (which I prefer as it's colder and clearer for swimming). I also like to be in the water when the huge cross channel ferries come into port at Portsmouth, just down the way. Swimmer versus ferry: who will win?

Here on Paradise Island we all scream for ice cream benches. The delicious ice cream bench is among a huge variety of food furniture from www.asianreplicas.com in the Philippines. You could also have pizza bench, a cake bench, or a chicken and chips bench. Miggy says she'd definitely go for the ice cream. Their extensive catalog is at http://www.ardt.biz/ARDTCatalog2013/ARDT_Catalog_2013.zip

The popsicle stick bench was photographed by Loren Javier at Princess Dot Puddle Park at Flik's Fun Fair in 2009.    https://www.flickr.com/photos/lorenjavier/3716635389

Sean and Seamus are from County Offhand in Ireland. If you don't believe in Wee Folk, you should see the great Irish benches they showed us for St. Patrick's Day.

Mike Cogh from Adelaide is a constant source of inspiration. He is a prolific finder and photographer of all things interesting, including the Free and Used sofa. He has zillions of brilliant bench photos on his photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/13139888185

Sheila B lives part time in dreary England and part time in sunny Cyprus. Her photos appear in many Benchsite stories because while in Cyprus, she kindly photographs all kinds of benches for me, capturing the light and colour of the Med, along with daily life and quirky statues at the Cyprus School of Art. 

Patrick at Art California painted Hide and Seek with the three kids on and around the bench. It reminds me of late summer in my own childhood, by which time we were getting restless and feeling ready to go back to school, see our friends, and have something to do besides hanging around benches. He also painted the serene man asleep on the bench. Patrick's work is at www.etsy.com/shop/artcalifornia It includes animals, flowers, nudes, and places that he loves; check out his Brazilian work. He paints what he sees with a magnifying glass and plays with colors. He loves painting on large size canvases, and  produces only when he's happy.

Lady Jessica Brassica is Lord Brassica’s wife. She is well known for her intellectual pursuits, especially shopping and sunbathing. She is very interested in fashion and was once dressed by Studio Joop from Overbearing in Holland. Recently, however, she started her own fashion house in Ballyfrumpy in Ireland. The good parish ladies of County Offhand crochet Lady B's special designs, such as her pretty dress for Easter.

But Lady Jess is also very literary. Most evenings when the Paradise Island ferry comes in there is a young man on it who has been ordered online from Young Male Readers dot com. This time it just happens to be Troy. Oh happy summer days are here again . . . 

Lord Brassica is a gentleman farmer who loves his 1947 Land Rover, his horse Tonks and his dog Pru, pretty much in that order. He's very keen on picnic benches too. And of course he loves his wife. This Valentine's Day he bought her a throne. Is a throne as good as a bench? Have a look at Lord Brassica's Right Royal Benches

Wenche Horvath makes miniature dreamscapes, like the pretty little bird park with the bench and the patriotic cottage. She does birdcages, birdhouses, tiny landscapes, and exquisite little cottages I'd like to live in. Her shop is at www.etsy.com/shop/littledreamscapes  If you're a fan of miniature, find out just how cute a small bench can be at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/big-bench-small-bench-cute-and-tiny.html

Smadar Gerlich in Israel makes delightful and colourful paper mache art such as the two plump ladies. They are made of paper mache, painted with acrylics, and with beaded earrings. Smadar has lots of whimsical designs and art sculptures, including quite a few people at the beach. Her shop is at   https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SmadarPaperMacheArt

Bathing machines were used in Victorian times as a way of making swimming acceptable. Queen Victoria loved to swim off her private beach at East Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The photograph is from Hartlepool Museum, made available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/hartlepool_museum/5981676992/   The heavily clothed people are at Seaton Carew beach in the late 19th century.

The elderly ladies at the Congregational Church Sunday School Picnic held at the fair grounds in Nantucket in 1916. The photo is from the Nantucket Historical Association, whose aim is to preserve and interpret the history of Nantucket Island and foster an appreciation of its historic significance. They maintain over 20 historic sites and a collection of 50,000 photographs, as well as archival documents such as ship's logs, account books, family papers, and scrapbooks. Like many historical organisations, they are making this terrific archive of material available online


Tennyson Down is on the western tip of the Isle of Wight. It's a stunning view from high up on the chalk down. On one side you can see across the English Channel and on the other, you can see across the Solent to the Hampshire and Dorset coasts. At the top there's a monument (and benches) dedicated to Alfred Lord Tennyson, the Poet Laureate from 1850 to 1892. That's most of Queen Victoria's reign, so if you're interested in Victoriana, Tennyson's your guy.

Stars and Pipes is the American flag bench, photographed by Moon Man Mike outside the George Bush Sr. Presidential Library in Dallas, Texas in 2012. - https://www.flickr.com/photos/22875869@N02/7468970906   There is a Flickr group for this at  https://www.flickr.com/groups/bushlibrary/

The second American bench is at the Tinley Park Art Bench Tour in Chicago. Each year Tinley Park commissions artists to paint the benches along Oak Park Avenue in the downtown area. This bench was photographed by Frank Rossi from The Pointe at Kilpatrick https://www.flickr.com/photos/thepointeatkilpatrick/5926937889  The Pointe at Kilpatrick is a Supportive Living residence for those 65 and older located in the south suburbs of Chicago. The Illinois Supportive Living program offers all the amenities and services of Assisted Living at an all-inclusive rate.  It's a unique community and has its own website at www.thepointeslf.com  

If you're keen on American benches, there are some very wild Wild West Benches at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/wildest-west-benches-of-usa.html

The Canadian flag and the bright coloured seats are by Canadian Bear, aka Peter Kolkman, aka peetje. He's been living and working in the Netherlands for several years. The bench chairs were photographed in 2011 in Canada.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/peterkolkman/6199474865/in/photostream/

Tony Dude from Buffalo, New York makes benches, including this bench for the Forty family. That's one family I think, not forty. And I'm guessing that the Forty family might possibly come from the other side of the border https://www.flickr.com/photos/98777704@N00/4795327633

Gisela Giardino lives in Buenos Aires, so she is probably not French but she supported France and took this French flag face photo. She gets on well with herself and is with herself all the time. She is pretty clear who she is, as shown by the long list on her Flickr profile.   https://www.flickr.com/photos/gi/185133107

The lovely all-things-French collage poster print is by Karen Young. She loves France too. As do I. As do many, many people, especially the French. Karen runs Loose Petals, an etsy shop with original skyline art for all sorts of rooms and occasions. They offer wall art as horizontal posters, vertical prints, canvas prints, and note cards.  If France isn't your thing, there are 160 other places on offer, all of them bright and beautiful.  www.etsy.com/shop/loosepetals

The whitely clothed models were in the window of Selfridges on Oxford Street one day when I was passing. I don't know the date but it was definitely sometime between Whitsun and August Bank Holiday.

The beautiful Hatria G-Full toilet bidet bench is from Cersaie in Italy. It has a gorgeous wood top which conceals both a toilet and a bidet, with storage underneath. I want one! It was exhibited in Bologna in September 2013 and photographed by Mariana Pickering for houzz.com at http://www.houzz.com/photos/5904768/Hatria-s-G-Full-toilet---bidet-bench---CERSAIE-2013-contemporary--other-metro For a short history of toilet benches here on Benchsite, click here. 

The Bastille Day fireworks were in Montchavin in 2011. The photo is by  Charlene G at https://www.flickr.com/photos/80465922@N07/14462705242

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