Friday, 13 February 2015

50 Shades of Grey (and pink) Valentine Benches

It's been a really long wait. 

The grey benches will see you now. And the pink ones too.

Tamsin Pink, my sweet and innocent young neighbour: What are they like?

Well, grey benches are polite and intense and smart . . .

. . . whereas pink benches are bright and pretty and cheerful.

Grayson the Cat: I just have a couple of questions. To what do grey benches owe their success?

Grey is really intimidating.  

Tamsin: I'd like to know more.

We'd like to know about you, Tamsin. 

Tamsin: There's not much to say. When I was growing up we used to go to the Pink Park.

In summer we'd eat ice cream on the pink bench. 

Sometimes it was so hot the bench's icing would melt!

And I loved pink benches.

Let's face it, we need something bright and attractive this time of year when everything is so grey.

Miggy, my imaginary friend: Don't even mention grey right now. 

Why not, Migs? I thought you liked grey. Last year you painted your whole house that trendy Elephant Ear Grey colour.

Miggy: This year things are different. That Film has been released. 

Tamsin: Paddington?

Miggy: No, you know the one. 

Grayson: That film does for grey what this blog does for benches. 

Miggy: Those benches had a rough start in life. I'm steering clear of them.

Don't worry, Migs. This story is mainly about pink.

Miggy: So why mention grey then? Why not just get on and show us some nice pink benches?

I'm trying to but I got distracted by Tamsin's life story.

Tamsin: I remember the pink sofa in our living room . . .

. . . and all the lovely pink furniture in our street.

Tamsin: And I went to a Pink Bench School! 

Tamsin: All our pencil benches were pink.

Interesting, Tamsin, but I'm going to stop you right there. You obviously have a rose-tinted view of pink.

Tamsin: Roses! I love roses. Especially pink ones!

Which reminds me, it's getting close to you-know-what day and lovers will be looking for things to give each other. Traditionally they go for red . . .

Tamsin: Are you talking about Christmas?

No, I'm talking about Valentine's Day. That silly, sentimental, highly commercialised shopping bonanza where people spend a fortune on cards and chocolates and stupid underwear.

Tamsin: I LOVE Valentine's Day! My fiancé, Garçon and I like to go and sit on a pink bench and look at the early spring flowers. It's sooooo romantic!

I don't find it romantic at all. Last year I got really stressed out when one of my husbands didn't get me anything. I felt particularly annoyed because Lady Brassica got given all kinds of presents from her husband.

Miggy: If it were me, I'd take the unlimited credit card and run. 

Run where, Migs?

Miggy: Down to the cupcake shop bench for a start.

I'm sensitive about you-know-what-day because last year His Excellency and I were on a knife edge.

We spent our week-end away barely speaking.  

I kept thinking, this is a man who doesn't love me enough to get me a valentine card. Why am I here?

Tamsin: But what about your other husband? I'm sure Mungo got you something?

Yes, Tamsin, he did. He has a natural instinct for what makes a person tick.

That's the handy thing about having two husbands.

Tamsin: I don't have a husband yet but this year we got engaged and Garçon gave me a diamond bench.

Tamsin: It was so sweet what he did. We went into the city on the train . . .

. . . and then we were walking along the street looking at the pink benches.

Miggy: Call me fussy but this bench looks a little bit lavender.

Tamsin: And then Garçon and I met with our friend Kitty. 

There is already a cat in this story. We don't need another one.

Miggy: Especially a grey one.

Grayson: What's wrong with grey?

Miggy: Grey makes me feel fifty shades darker. 

Hello Kitty: I'm all ready for a bright pink Valentine's Day.

Grayson: In my opinion pink cats are ridiculous.

Hello Kitty: It's just a matter of taste I think.

Grayson: My tastes are singular: I like grey.

Miggy: Must be very boring. Like this story. 

Tamsin: I don't understand it.

Let me enlighten you, Tamsin.

Miggy: All this talk of cats is wearing me out. I'm just going to have a little lie-down on this pink sofa.

Tamsin: This year Garçon said to me, Be mine!

That's really romantic, Tamsin. I wonder what other people are getting for Valentine's Day.

Lady Jessica Brassica, wife of Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly: My husband is always a perfect gentlemen. We've come to Paris for Valentine's Day.

Grayson: Not a Last Tango in Paris I hope.

Lady B: Certainly not. I've come here for the shopping. 

Looks like you've got a few presents there, Lady B. Several hundred Euros, for a start.

Lady B: Yes. And a little something to add to my jewellery collection.

Tamsin: That's really romantic, Lady B!

Lady B: I don't do romance. My tastes are singular: I like jewellery.

Miggy: I guess you're incapable of leaving it alone? 

Lady B: You could say that. But I love Paris this time of year. Everything is so beautiful. There are so many shades of grey.

Miggy: I hate grey. I prefer the full colour version.

This is all fascinating but do you think we could get on now please? I want to show you some pink benches. I promise, I will dazzle you with colour.

I want you to Think Pink.

But be aware that there are different shades of pink. 

Tamsin: How many?

Errr. Just guessing - fifty?

Miggy: That's what I'm afraid of.

Oh come on, Migs, we're doing the shades of pink benches. Try to get into the swing of it.

Here's a nice bedroom bench that's shocking.

Tamsin: I don't find this shocking.

It's Shocking Pink - that's the name of the colour.

You can't go wrong with pink. Look at this elegant salmon pink sofa.

Grayson: Did somebody mention fish?

Miggy: Very upstream! 

Yes, it's from the Netherlands. It's called The Rits/Ritz and it's stylish, luxurious and comfortable. 

It also comes in grey.

Miggy: I don't want to know that. 

Lady Brassica: I'm going to order one of these straightaway. It would look very glamorous in my replica mall and give me somewhere comfortable to rest my feet after too much online shopping. 

Here's a pink bench which is maybe not so comfortable but isn't it fun?

Miggy: This pink is really hot! Reminds me of the tropics.

Tamsin: Baby Pink is a nice colour. My son Isambard has a baby pink room. Because he's a baby. 

What about when he's older though? Won't he outgrow it?

Tamsin: I don't think so. Pink is a great man's colour.

Tamsin: Wow! Troy has a lovely Valentine for someone.

Miggy: Hey, I recognise this! It's the same valentine Lady B was holding in Paris.

Tamsin: Golly, Migs, you're right. 

Grayson: Maybe it's a cat perspective but I'm finding this whole grey and pink thing a real rollercoaster. 

 I agree, Grayson. I'd like to fold up this conversation now and go home.

Miggy: Let's see if anyone has given you a Valentine, Seashell.

Tamsin: Ohhhhh, someone has left you a rose! 

James Russo at 

That'll be Mungo. He's my imaginary husband and he's very thoughtful.

Tamsin: Oh look! Here's a card and some earrings!

So His Excellency remembered this year!

Tamsin: You see, you only have to believe in the power of pink!

Or grey. Grey seems to work as well. 

Miggy: That's another grey bench, Seashell. I've had enough of you and your fifty shades. 

You need to control yourself, Miggy. Remember, to be successful you have to exercise control in all things.

Miggy: I'm in full control. And I've heard enough of this rubbish. I'm heading for the door.

You're right, Migs. I can think of a girl in a certain Grey story who should have done the same. 


I'm not going to promote Those Books and Those Films by referring to any shades of grey. But I will point you to some hearty heart benches for 2017 which will show why I Heart Valentine's Day

Elaine is a Cuban-American, native Houstonian, proud Texas A&M Aggie, Spanish speaker, child of the '80s, blogger, Twitterer, traveller, book lover, photographer, salsa dancer, dog lover, VW Bug owner, wife, loyal friend. She photographed the grey bench against a grey wall in Houston in 2010. She calls the photo, very sensibly, Gray Bench on Gray  

The candy pink bench was photographed by Sam Breach in 2012. It's at Hunters Point in San Francisco, more precisely, at the India Basin Open Space that stretches around the cul-de-sac Northern end of Aurelious Walker and up towards Hudson Avenue. I see that this area is up for development so I really hope the candy pink bench is still there. 

Tamsin is a sweet local girl who works here in Fribble-under-Par in the Not Quite Good Enough pharmacy. She has a French fiancé, Garçon Orange, and a baby named Isambard Kevin, who was delivered by stork on her wedding day a couple of years ago. And she has a rather odd perspective on life, as shown in the post she helped me with about big and small benches. If you think size doesn't matter, you ought to see it. 

Dasha Gaian currently lives in Luxembourg and travels a lot. Her goal is to take a photograph which ends up on the cover of National Geographic. The beautiful grey cat was seen by Dasha in Gurzuf, Crimea in 2006. His name is probably not Grayson.  Dasha calls him The Bench King.    Cats and benches have an affinity so it's only right that here on Benchsite we have some glorious cat benches. And somehow cats have taken over our piano benches. And the benches of St. Helier too. 

The minimalist grey bench is in Enterprise Square, Edmonton. It's photographed by Anthony Easton, who explains that it's made from leftover cladding. How's that for recycling? I find the bench a bit minimalist, in a good way. Anthony's photostream has some other benches too. 

The lovely park full of pink benches is in Grand Park, which is the Civic Centre of Los Angeles. Thinking about it, pink is kind of Hollywood, isn't it? They were photographed in November 2013 by Kent Kanouse, who is a software engineer Snap Man from Los Angeles, currently living in Colorado.

The hungry man in a pink shirt on a pink bench is about to enjoy his ice cream on a warm December evening in Puerto Vallarta in 2014. He was photographed by Bud Ellison  Ice cream in December? We'd love that here on Paradise Island, but we had to wait for January and the Snowpocalypse freeze

The delicious melting icing bench is by Lauren Doby in Dallas. Her shop is Neko Dahl, which is a curious little shop. At present it has some hair accessories and an iced donut stool.
The pink bench with Love Amy graffiti in the background was photographed by   Darek Zon in 2008. It's something to do with the Akt Theatre Kleparz and the 21 International Street Theatre Festival in Cracow, Poland. 

Keep Calm and Love Pink is one of the many Inkist Prints from New York. This etsy shop features typography and illustrations of all kinds - skylines, world flags, streetmaps, custom names, geometrics and, of course, a wide variety of Keeping Calm.

The exquisite little sofa is a dollshouse miniature by Joan Walker from Sandbach, England. Granny Yellowjumpy's unique miniatures and little people are lovingly made and brought to life. Granny Yellowjumpy has over twenty years of being in love with miniatures and is still as besotted as ever. You can trust her to bring you something different.  If you're keen on yellow, there are some springy yellow benches around just as we're edging up to spring. 

Daytripper is the name of a pink bench in Tokyo created by Jurgen Beys in 2001. Seven metres long, it's made from fibreglass and printed with white flowers over pink polystyrene. It's based on seven postures (leaning, sitting, lounging, squatting, etc.) which are fixed into the wave-like form of the bench. Normal furniture - chairs, coffee tables, stools - is also integrated into the design. Jurgen Bey's Studio Makkink and Bey, is in Rotterdam and the website features a huge number of fascinating benches. The design team is an alliance between designers, architects and experts from different fields of knowledge and the studio's ambition is to see the role of the designer expanded to the most strategic function possible. Elsewhere on Benchsite you can see other work from these designers, e.g. the amazingly mobile Tree Trunk bench is at 

Amanda Richards is a hobby photographer, currently living in Guyana. She photographed the nursery class on their pink benches in Georgetown, Demerara-Mahaica Guyana in 2011.   This photo has been on Benchsite before since nursery is an important part of school and school benches are really cool.

The brilliant Pencil Bench is a work by British designers Boex 3D Creative Solutions  The pencil bench won a Cornwall Design award in 2007. It also appears on Benchsite World Book Day in 2013 and in the School's Out story. Sam Boex has previously given permission to use images of the Pencil Bench. This photograph is by Simon Grieg, 2008, when he saw the bench in London

The bouquet of pink roses was for a wedding in Southern California in 2007. The photographer is John Mueller, who lives in Camarillo, California and travels widely. His albums are full of weddings, travel, and celebratory events.   J

The brilliant red lips bench was seen on International Kissing Day 2014 at the Baci restaurant, along the Yarra River, Melbourne. The photographer is Andy Blackledge, a hockeyholic who enjoys capturing interesting images, especially flowers, birds, fish, and landscapes. From Scottsdale, Arizona, Andy's travel photography adds to the memory and appreciation of the places he visits 

The two pink benches with orange dahlias in the background were taken by Amanda Slater in 2009, obviously not for Valentine's Day since you don't get dahlias in February. They were at Scott Garden at Ragley Hall, which dates from 1680 and is the family home of the 9th Marquess and Marchioness of Hertford and the seat of the Conway-Seymour family.The hall stands in four hundred acres of picturesque parkland landscaped by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown in the 18th Century, and twenty seven acres of formal gardens laid out by Robert Marnock in 1873. 

Lady Jessica Brassica is happily married to Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, a gentleman farmer and expert on both cows and picnic benches. Lady B's Valentine gifts last year included a pretty garden bench, a basket of flowers, a generous amount of cash, and an unlimited credit card. That was before she was given an uplift on her replica mall in the basement or Drizzly Manor, and a brand new beach hut on Fribble seafront. What did she get up to in that beach hut last summer? No wonder Lord B wasn't feeling very generous when the calendar reached September.

Miggy is the Cupcake Queen and the delicious cupcake bench looks good enough to eat. It's handmade by Fiona Marian Varis from Athens, Greece.  Fiona's shop is full of hand made decorated objects, and bespoke housewares and gifts. A couple of years ago Miggy, Mungo and I travelled to Greece in search of benches. Beaches, benches, blazing rows - we had it all. 

JD Hancock lives with his wife and two kids in Austin, Texas. He's a hubsand, father, web-slinger, cyborg, photographer. One of the things he photographed is the couple on a knife edge, an image which is straight out of the camera: no tweaking, no color processing, no cropping, no nothing. JD calls it Paring. He explains that a paring knife is a small, plain-edged knife designed for peeling and intricate work. The dull side also makes a great bench for his tiny young lovers, who are part of his Little Dudes series, documenting the Little Dudes who live in his home. Weird, witty, highly recommended.

The beautiful angular statue, Couple on Seat, is in Cabot Square at Canary Wharf, London. It's one of many by British sculptor Lynn Chadwick (1914-2003), made in 1984 in the tradition of Henry Moore. Chadwick began his career as an architectural draughtsman but after World War II he took up sculpture. His work is now exhibited at Lypiatt Sculpture Park near Stroud in Gloucestershire. This photograph is by Sludgegulper in 2010 and although I first saw it on Wikicommons, it also appears in his Flickr photostream at  

Benches often have messages but this one is more interesting than most. The I am here out of habit bench was photographed by Julia Webb at Heigham Park in Norwich in 2005.  Julia, from Norwich, is a writer/artist/photographer/daydreamer/mother. Her photos suggest a lot of Mental Play goes on, and it looks like good fun.

I have two husbands. One is Mungo, my imaginary husband, and the other is His Excellency, who has a reputation for destruction, even when he means well. He's a philosopher and, to say the least, not a very practical person. You can appreciate his difficulties if you know his history. Mungo, on the other hand, keeps a good workbench. Read about both of them at  The red paper handmade Valentine is indeed the card Mungo made for me last year. For the whole story about Valentine's Day last year, and indeed the year before, see Hearty Heart Benches. And for the Valentine's Day before that, try an Excellent Valentine.

The pink and black mini bench with an argyle-inspired diamond pattern is from Tosh in Long Beach, California. Her New Vintage shop sells all sorts of upcycled, refinished and handmade vintage items, including furniture, housewares, collectibles, photo art, and garage vintage.

The pink metro bench is from the Tokyo metro, taken in 2004 by Dave McClure  Dave, from Palo Alto, California is the Master of 500 Hats. His occupation involves Geeks, Startups, The Internet Revolution, Act 2. He makes a lot of trips to Japan. Benchsite has been there too: for some creative and brilliant Japanese benches see

The pink benches are street furniture in Toronto; they look a bit lavender to me, but it could be the light. They were photographed along Church Street Parklet in 2012 by Joseph Morris, who is a digital content producer. I don't even know what that means, but I like Joseph's photos  

Hello Kitty is sitting on a pink bench sofa belonging to Lady Brassica. Kitty had the misfortune of being arrested a couple of years ago by our overzealous police constable Willy Wyme. How did Willy Wyme go wrong? The story will bring a smile to your bench face. 

The colourful sofa is the Suzani 2 Pink Fever, one of many colourful pieces of furniture from Name Design Studio in Istanbul. The studio makes exciting one-of-a-kind furniture from patchwork and upcycled materials. The colours are so dazzling that I had a hard time choosing.

The Be Mine banner was photographed for Valentine's Day in 2009. It's by Jen Morgan   Jen's albums show a lot of clever crafty things that she makes. She loves Flickr and photographing Toyota Land Cruisers, cupcakes, her cat Molly, and other randonmess.

The pretty display of antique jewelry on a pink chair is from the window of an antique shop in Freshwater, Isle of Wight. 

The grey park and the same park in colour are papel fotogratico by Blume Fou, made in 2009. Blume Fou  Blume Fou is apparently a human being and his long poem in German suggests that if he had his life to live over again, he would take more risks, have more fun, spend less time doing sensible things. 

The closeup photo of bright pink metal seats is at Upminster station, London, photographed by Matt Buck in 2010.  Matt is a Performance Analyst for the London Underground, having spent 9 years previously at the University of Nottingham. He's a trainspotter, so as you might expect, there are lots of train photos in his photostream. This photo shows pink in all its glory; Matt calls it violent pink. Given the references to the you-know-what film in this story, let's not go there. 

Pink is now associated with campaigns to fight breast cancer. Think Pink is a bench by Shellie Bellinger. This is the back of the bench, which reads in honour of those who have lost the battle to breast cancer and of those who have fought and won. It is one of a series of benches in Auburn, Indiana, photographed by K8 in 2009.

The swinging hammock is by Paolo and the Collective in Masaya, Nicaragua. Paolo and The Collective make high quality Hammocks, CoffeeHammocks ®, Hanging chairs & Macrame Cribs.
These are ethical hammocks handwoven with care in Nicaragua using natural cotton threads. The Collective delivers values, not only items: they take measures to minimize any environmental impact using recycled paper and very few sealing tapes to pack the hammocks. They also buy only hardwood not in risk of extinction (Guazuma wood). Ten percent of proceeds from sales are put back into community projects. 

The bright pink indoor upholstered stool would be just right in a bedroom don't you think? Or possibly in other pinkly decorated rooms. The photographer is Leafy, who took the photo in 2007. Leafy comes from Taiwan and makes or possibly just sells furniture. All kinds of very nice furniture.

The salmon coloured Rits sofa is from Bertjan Pot in the Netherlands and it is sold by high-quality furniture manufacturer Gelderland at Here is the designer's description of the Rits/Ritz: Most sofas are made of voluminous foam blocks to break the fall when sitting down but not necessary for comfort when sitting.The Ritz was seriously downsized and despite her skinny looks, The Ritz really is comfortable in every way. Stretched elastic bands covered with a thin layer of foam assure a soft seat. Upholstering was made simple by using a zipper all around. High legs make it easy to sit down and get up. And off course, like every good sofa, The Ritz is long enough to lie down on and be lazy with the help of a firm and comfortable pillow.  Best of all, it also comes in grey.

The abstract art bench being decorated in bright pink was in front of the historic Cutty Sark ship in Greenwich, London in 2012. The photographer is Dan Mumford, who comes from Bexleyheath near London. Dan likes fast cars, and cats. There are beautiful pictures of cats and cars throughout his photostream.  

Michiale Schnieder offers prints and customised cards from her etsy shop in Toledo, Ohio. Michiale does a good range of bench prints, including the bright pink palm tree bench ones. She also does prints of animals, plants, cars, landscapes and quite a few other subjects.

The overgrown babygrow pink bench is called Pink Dance. It's from the intriguing design shop Ugly Cute in Stockholm. Ugly Cute organizes workshops, lectures, seminars and exhibitions in their office space on Kvarngatan 14 and they produce a lot of interesting stuff. Pink Dance is one of the most unusual benches I have seen for a long time. If you like it, it's not the sort of thing you'd outgrow.

Speaking of babygrows, what on earth is Troy wearing? Troy breezed into our town this summer. He's normcore and his occupation is Pilgrim. Apart from that, all we know about him is this: 1) he comes from Dry Heaves, Minnesota, where he learned to read poetry in a particularly alluring voice  2) he never wears shoes  3) he is extremely polite and calls ladies Ma'm  4) he speaks a lot of languages fluently 5) he carries a manbag filled with books, a violin and a ladder in case anyone needs to be rescued. Miggy suggests that Troy needs rescuing from this pink jumpsuit.

The amazing pink rollercoaster is actually a bed rather than a bench but who's arguing. It's by Havana/Madrid based designers Los Carpinteros (The Carpenters) It has been widely exhibited and in July 2010 it was part of The New Decor art exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London. In 2013 it was at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, where it was seen and photographed by Craig Cook. Craig is a website designer from Emeryville, California and describes himself as a terrible arts person but to his credit, he had the good sense to photograph the rollercoaster bed and put it on Flickr.   

The folded grey bench was photographed by Simon Aughton in 2009 in Appenzell, Switzerland. Simon is a student in North Shields in the UK. He travels a lot and has some great bench pictures  

The single pink rose discarded on a bench was seen at South Street Seaport in Aug 2011 by photographer James Russo. For James, photography is a passion. I love his street photography and he has a nice collection of bench photos too  

Annie from London believes in pink. She runs The Print Design Studio, where you'll find a wide range of prints and posters - from fab retro prints for your kitchen to gorgeously romantic prints for those you love and inspirational words to set you up for the day. There are also quite a few fun and sassy quotes for those  who love them.

The tiny rose earrings on a grey bench were indeed a present to me, but not from either of my husbands, and not for Valentine's Day. I'll say no more.

Formal is the name of the stunning photo at the end of the story. This is grey at its very best: intense, intelligent, smart. It was taken in Dresden in 2013 by Mathias Liebing, whose photostream I could browse for hours. Bright colours, brilliant patterns, exquisite textures - he uses the landscapes and townscapes of northern Germany to great effect. And due to his generosity, I am able to show them here on the Creative Commons licence.  

If pink isn't your favourite colour of bench and you don't like grey, we have other choices here on Benchsite. For example, romantic white benches. And red ones. And orange ones. And even some blue ones. And if yellow benches aren't sunny enough for you, we have sunny ones If you're in a holiday mood, how about  black benches for Black FridayPretty purple benches? No problem.  For more uplifting, upcycled benches see the green ones at  Somewhere there must be a colour you like!


  1. Thank you! I just shared your great post on our facebook page

  2. So glad you enjoyed it and I hope your facebook readers will too. Many thanks for the bright pink hammock!