Sunday, 15 December 2013

Ding Dong Benches for Christmas

Here on Paradise Island it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Miggy's busy in the kitchen. We all want some figgy pudding and we want it right now.

We want chestnuts roasting on an open fire. 

Unfortunately, the men of Fribble and Drizzly seem to be having a difficult time bringing in the yule log.

How hard can it be? In Victorian times, the children did it.

Yet in the dark streets shineth the garland guerillas.

They're bringing glad tidings of comfort and joy, whether we want them or not. 

Our little Fribble-under-Par may lie still but it looks like Tinsel Town.

The stockings are hung on the benches with care.

Whether St. Nicholas will soon be there or not, I don't know. At the moment he seems to be benched.

My dog Sit has a very shiny nose. He doesn't look much like Rudolph though, does he?

See amid the winter's snow a great deal of Christmas decorations going up. 

My imaginary husband Mungo is trying to put up the lights on Miggy's house.

We have one or two decorations on our house too. To the earth we give great light. To the electric company we give great cash.

We're trying to bring joy to the world. But Elf and Safety is a nightmare.

Nevertheless, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas with every Christmas card I write. 

I don't write that many now that Royal Mail is charging 85 pence for a stamp. 

But sure enough, it looks like all our Christmases may be white.

Outside the snow is falling and friends are calling yoo-hoo! I can't imagine why.

Snow has fallen, snow on snow. Snow on snow on snow. by Lucy Boynton

I was going to run and have some fun before the snowpersons melted away.

But so it's been said many times, many ways: there's just too bloody much to do.

If we can just get everything done, it looks like we'll have ourselves a merry little Christmas.

But first, we're gone a-wassailing all over town.

Some of the drinks are very good value this time of year.

Then, sleighbells ring. Are you listening? 

On the Lego benches snow is glistening. 

It's a beautiful site.

No, it isn't.  

Yes it is! 

Oh, it's lovely weather for a sleighride together with . . . well, I'm not sure who. 

My real husband, His Excellency, doesn't like the cold. He's not a jolly, happy soul. In fact, he's a grinch when it comes to Christmas.

He was going to go away for Christmas but I stopped him. I said I'd have a blue, blue Christmas without him.

And now I have to find him a present. Yet what can I give him, poor as I am? 

Oh no, not the Christmas shopping thing again. I've already covered that in Black Bench Friday 

The gifts are wrapped and under the tree. If we had any children they would be gazing open-mouthed, taken by surprise.

Yes, I have wrapped up our cats Rosie and Melissa.  That's not them in this package though.

As for Mungo, I've got him an unusual gift this year: myhrr. 

But now Miggy's saying it's not a suitable gift. Apparently its bitter perfume breathes a life of gathering gloom; it's a gift that leaves you cold.

What about an icicle bench then? It comes complete with its own goblin.

The Goblins' Christmas at

In the dark streets of Fribble-under-Par, we hear the angels sing. And there's everlasting light shining upon the benches.

In fact, if you look-ed up, you'd see a star.

And come Bench Monday-before-Christmas it's a candy cane Christmas bench, as sweet as can be.

Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy and cozy are we. 

We're binge-watching Christmas specials, snuggled up together on our benches.

We're walking in the air. We're dancing on the bench-back sky.

©Alan Murray-Rust and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license

Not everyone is decking the halls though. For some people, Christmas is just another day.

Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, is a gentleman farmer so of course his work goes on year round. His cattle benches are lowing.

The shepherds watch his flocks by night, though why they are all seated on the ground I don't know; there are plenty of sheep benches around.

Lady Jessica is Lord Brassica's most highly favoured lady. Here she is on a bench some years ago, when their son Root was a baby. 

No, sorry. I have confused Lady B with Madonna here. 

No, not THAT Madonna. The one who isn't Like a Virgin. The one who actually is a virgin. 

After all these years it's good to see Mary and Joseph in a stable relationship. But I digress.

This is Lady B with Root's wife Innocent. The Holly and the Ivy. As you can see, they're both fully grown.

That's Lady Brassica on the right. She's the holly. And although this Christmas portrait might suggest a loving mother and daughter-in-law, you should know that the Holly bears a prickle as sharp as any thorn. Hmmmm.

Meanwhile, designer Joop has made Innocent a shiny ribbon dress for Christmas Eve.

As Lord Brassica would say, ding dong merrily on high.

This year Lady Jessica Brassica is missing Troy, who has been her constant companion since the summer. But now he's gone back to Dry Heaves, Minnesota and the other night Miggy saw Lady Jess kissing Santa Claus. 

He got on his mobile and told quite a few people about it. 

But as this is the time for peace on earth and good tidings towards all men and Ladies, we'll say no more. Silent night and all that.

Hey, I hear the jingling of bells! Here comes Santa Claus, big fat Santa Claus, right down Fribble Lane! In fact, there are four of them.  

Golly, Santa gets younger every year.

Even so, he still knows who's been naughty and nice.

Santa traverses afar bearing benches. He's left us a commemorative bench to remember him by.

So here we are, Merry Christmas, everybody's having fun.

Especially Tamsin and 
Garçon. They're in love.

And here's Tamsin and The Octopus Girl having a girly night out with some angels they heard on high down at the Dustpan and ipod.

All in all, we're walking in a winter wonderland. Occasionally we stop to sit on a beautifully decorated bench.

It only remains to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

So, from all of us on Paradise Island  . . . 

                              A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Linda Bowman picked up photography while going through chemotherapy eight years ago. It is now a part of her everyday life and reflects how she sees the beauty of the world. I am delighted to see that this includes benches in some very beautiful settings.

You've probably guessed that it's not a yule log being bench-pressed. This is a photo of pararescueman applicants bench pressing a wooden log in a mud pit during a screening process held by the Air Force 306th Rescue Squadron in Tucson, Ariz. In this test the applicants do a timed 3-mile run, 1500- meter swim, calisthenics, and other various tasks. The photo was taken by Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce, U.S. Air Force on April 21, 2006. This image is a work of a U.S. military or Department of Defense employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

If you're fond of yule logs there's a special log bench post at  Warning: this post also contains cake. 

The Victorian Christmas card is from the Nova Scotia archives on Flickr Commons at   It's so great to see all these local archives coming into the Commons. Already I've used Florida, Newcastle and Tyne, Missouri, and some of the Northern Ireland, Canadian and Australian archives. What a treasure trove of stuff there will be from all over the world! 

Mike Cogh lives in Adelaide and photographed the Tinsel Bench in December 2011. It's included in Benches of the World Group. Mike has an extensive set of Humble Bench photographs at

'Making the Empire Christmas pudding' is an artwork by F C Harrison produced for the Empire Marketing Board sometime between 1926 and 1939.   For the really curious, here is the full list of ingredients.

The benched Santa is from Asian Replicas, who make a huge variety of lifesize statues and furniture in the Philippines   Elsewhere on Benchsite you will find their edible benches such as tacos and ice creams. Youll also see their Siberian tiger on Noah's Ark at

Ryde Esplanade in Snow was taken by Lucy Boynton in December 2010. If you've ever had a ticket to Ryde, you'll know this is on the Isle of Wight where, usually, there isn't much snow. Lucy loves taking pictures and there are lots of great ones on her photostream at  I found the Ryde Esplanade snow benches at

You might have guessed that the prettily decorated little gingerbread house was too small to be Miggy's house. It's a Christmas decoration at a shopping mall in Porto Alegre in Brazil. I saw it at

If you ever need a brilliant card for a gay or lesbian wedding, you can find one at Mamamare. They have a whole range of gay wedding, love and romance cards and also this lovely Christmas card of domestic bliss round the Christmas tree. Luckily, there happens to be a little red sofa in the picture, so it's just right for Benchsite.

The dog in the Santa hat is a Merry Christmas dog, photographed by Miki Yoshihito, who lives in Sapporo City in Japan. Miki obviously likes dogs as there are a lot on his photostream, along with many interesting pictures of life in Japan.

Stacy Scissors in Tucson has the best name of all Etsy shops: Running with Scissors. She describes her shop as emo, scene, rockabilly, kitsch, rocker, and hardcore bling, in other words, stuff for the sweet and evil side of every girl. There is all kinds of jewelry, including razorblade necklaces and the bright and blingy Bah Humbug necklace. If you have a look at her shop, you're in for a treat. 

Christmas shopping already has a post of its own. I put it up when there were just 19 benches left til Christmas. It contains lots of great shopping ideas for the bench-centrics among us.

The little winter scene with sleigh ride is apparently not an official Winter village set, in case you need to know that. It's a 109 piece set that was available as a limited-edition for the 2012 holiday season. It was apparently free with the purchase of $100 worth of other Lego sets, or $15 as a stand-alone. So now you know. I saw it on Wikicommons at

Anna Mulhearn in Liverpool likes to relish the ridiculous and highlight the  hilarious. Her shop is Animal Hair Stuff, which sells, well, stuff, especially prints and greeting cards. This includes a set of greeting cards for Christmas featuring a cat wrapped up in green ribbon. No, it's not my cat, but I love the cards.

Back in September when my husbands were slugging it out over the Workbench post, I was lucky enough to find this beautiful Wassail workbench. It's from CuriousArtLab, which is described by its creator, Leah Palmer Preiss, as a wunderkammer of art, oddments and curiosities. There I found what Leah describes as a pair of Santa's elves, toasting each other for a job well done, at the end of a long day of woodworking on a tight deadline ... Their workbench is still scattered with the tools of their trade (inspired by Joseph's tools in Campin's Mérode Altarpiece), along with a generous bowl of wassail. Odd, curious, arty - what a shop!

R. Kurtz lives in Oakland, California  and photographed the blue tree lights in December 2011. This Garden of Delights is presented every Christmas season at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. He also photographed the house lit up with lights, which is not my house but a house in Chesapeake, seen at

Roving Girl loves light and all things that glow. And she has a secret: she loves candy canes so much that she conjured up a magic candy cane vine and now she can have candy canes all year round. Good idea! Roving Girl does a lot of Bench Mondays so there are some great bench pictures on her photostream, as well as many others.

Pop Art Decoration is a young company specialising in decoration and visual design for homes and businesses. They have a whole range of themed products, including life-size animal furniture like the cow sofa.

The sheep bench is one of several bench sculptures called Eastwick Park Farm, made by Rosalie Sherman in 1983 as part of the ongoing Philadelphia Public Art project. It includes a vast array of public art: 846 sculptures, fountains, mosaics, memorials and, of course, benches, scattered all around Philadelphia. There are driving site tours and maps for locating the art. The scale of the Philart project is really quite something and it's being added to all the time.

Madonna and Child on a Grass Bench is a painting from about 1470. I am not sure who the painter was but Dieric Bouts is referred to and he lived from 1450-1499 so you get the basic idea - this painting is old. It is oil and tempera on an oak panel and was acquired in 1928 by the Rijksmuseum Twenthe in Enschede. It's still there so should you find yourself in the eastern Netherlands, you could pop in and see it.

Santa on a bench making a mobile phone call is not something you see every day. Papa Noel was in Distrito C in Madrid when this photo was taken by M. Peinado in 2009. I found it on Wikimedia at

The Four Little Santas on a bench were at the Great Santa Run in Edinburgh in 2009. They were photographed by emusing Emma, who saw, among many others, fat Santa, skinny Santa, running Santa, walking Santa, limping Santa, Santa on crutches, happy Santa, sad Santa, waving Santa, photographer Santa, green Santa, real Santa, Santa paws, Mrs Claus, little elf, little reindeer, sniffly Santa, yawning Santa, eating Santa, drinking Santa, baby Santa, fast Santa, slow Santa, naughty but nice Santas, romantic Santa, solitary Santa, twin Santas, old Santa, young Santa, runaway Santa, drumming Santa, and my cousin Santa! Some of them are on Emma's photostream at

Mandy Parsons took the photo of the lovely white Christmas bench with a wrapped package, which is definitely not my cats. Mandy photographs lots of holidays, concerts, places, and stuff she's made. Her photo sets are at

On the 'icicle bench' two goblins peek over the top of a decorative line. This image is from M.E. (Elizabeth) Anderson's The Goblins' Christmas, published in 1908. Illustrations are by Alexander Sharp. From the Project Gutenberg e-books. This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook at

Jodakila Galang (Jodax) took the photo of the coloured lights in 2008. It was part of a Garden d'Lights in Bellevue Botanical Gardens near Seattle. That's all I know about Jodax but I really enjoyed his photo sets at

Choo Yut Shing from Singapore took the photo of the bench under a red star. It was in the pedestrian mall, Orchard Road, during the festive season in 2010. Choo likes benches and there are some brilliant ones in his photostream at

Balancing Act is a person who appears to be walking on top of a bench in Colwick Country Park. It was photographed by Alan Murray-Rust for Geograph in February 2009.

Little Chameleons in Bishop Stortford make handmade personalised children's toy boxes and furniture. This includes the little blue Naughty Bench. SuperNanny would surely approve.

Christopher Rotter in New York makes lovely little people of all kinds,including the couple on the bench. They might be part of a Christmas Village, or they may be someone I know here in Fribble. To see all these lovely little people go to Christopher's shop Leddy Slack at

Randy Britt (Randiana) lives near Santa Claus, Indiana. Seriously. Randy tells me that Santa Claus is a small town in southern Indiana that was founded some 60 or 70 years ago with one man's dream of building a small "town" specifically based on tales of Santa. Early on it was a very small collection of specialty shops for all-things-Christmas, later to be incorporated as the town of Santa Claus, complete with a US Post Office that hand-cancels mail at Christmas time with an ornate post mark. Many locals carry their Christmas Greeting cards over to be mailed with that post mark. Randy admits that the town goes a little over-the-top with decorations for Christmas!

Abigail Noonan is a graphic designer in Washington DC. She photographs her friends and activities, including the beautiful Christmas bench with a red bow, on her photostream at

Many of the Fribble and Drizzly folk have turned out to wish you a merry Christmas. In the photo below, right to left in the back row is Police Constable Willie Wyme, Mikey the Mariner, Root (Sixth Earl of Drizzly), Tamsin, Angel Angela, Noah, and Miggy's Mum. Front left is Emily and Tonks the horse. Tonks would like it known that he is not lean and lank and he has no intention of dashing through the snow pulling a lot of lazy people in a sled. 

In the middle are Lord Brassica, Lord Brassica's dog Pru, Tamsin's baby Isambard (origin unknown), and, of course, Hello Kitty. Each of these has a story to tell on other Benchsite posts. If you're meeting them for the first time, go to Who's Who in Fribble and that will tell you all you need to know. 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Just 19 shopping benches til Christmas

As everyone knows, shopping is exhausting. It's a nightmare. The food shopping alone is enough to make you start smoking again.

Lady Brassica has her very own replica mall in the basement of Drizzly Manor but even so, she often has to take to her bench after a long day of retail therapy.

To get through the Christmas shopping period we're going to need some solid shopping benches and some sound advice. 

First off, make sure the shops are open.

Take a roomy shopping trolley with you. This one is actually a bench so if you get tired, you can sit down on it.

The shops will bedazzle you. Try to think what you're shopping for before you go out.

With a good list, the shopping just flies by.

Women are easy to buy for. I've already told my husbands what I want.

But gifts for men are tricky. Shops will give you ideas of stuff you don't want. 

Neither of my husbands would be caught dead in this nightie.

I could, of course, buy a bench but that's what I do every year. It's a bit obvious.

Men tend to get socks and ties but this year I thought I'd give His Excellency a bright, trendy Christmas jumper that he can wear all through the festive season. 

This fellow looks really chuffed with his.

Miggy, my imaginary friend:  His Excellency will not thank you for a jumper. Believe me. He will hate it. You'd be better off giving him a subscription to Bench Dude.

No, I don't think so. What about this jumper?

Miggy:  Are those reindeer doing what I think they're doing?

Oh, crikey. I didn't notice that.

Miggy:  I think you'd better give up on the jumpers.What are you getting for Mungo?

Mungo is my imaginary husband; he's easier to please. 

He's going to get this t-shirt that's right in the Christmas spirit.

Miggy: I suppose you chose this because Mungo used to be a maths teacher? 

Yes, I thought it was exponentially witty.

Miggy: But Mungo hates Christmas. He will not wear this t-shirt now or ever.

You could be right, Migs. Maybe I'll just get it for myself.

Miggy: If you get one in double extra large, I'd like one. 

Dream on, Fat Girl. You're getting a subscription to Bench Girl.

Miggy: No thanks. I'll take the bike though. 

Sorry, Migs. I'm getting a bit stressed out with all this shopping. It's hard to know what to do next.

©Graham Horn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license 

I'm just going to sit down on these nice red shopping benches and rest my brain.

I'm watching the Christmas shoppers and I know what everyone is thinking.

These women in Liverpool found everything they wanted in Primark but one of them is worried that she might have bought something stupid.

OK. Deep breath. Ready for more advice?

The apostrophe is missing in heart's. Maybe they couldn't afford one after all that spending.

Dress up to do your shopping trip. A bit of glamour won't go amiss.

Try to do your shopping alone. If you have to, set off in the rain in the dark of night.

Or take your dog with you. Have a seat in the mall and think things through.

Whatever you do, don't take your kids. 

You will end up on a bench doing all manner of childcare.

Either that or you'll spend the whole time queueing to see Santa.

It goes without saying: don't go with a man.

If you have to, find a convenient husband-parking bench and leave him there.

Kids left in a shopping centre ball-pit tend to have a whale of a time. Men, however, tend not to be able to find anything to do. 

This man was sensible enough to bring a book but even so, he's had enough. He's been there ten minutes and already he's holding his head.

He seems to have a lot of problems. Maybe I could get him this?

With all these men hanging around shopping areas it's no wonder shops put up anti-loitering signs.

Wouldn't it be nice if men waiting on benches would tell each other a Christmas Story?

Then we could all return home as happy couples laden with presents.

The truth is, most men will not enjoy the pleasure of talking to each other whilst waiting on a bench.

So all in all, you'll need to be quick with your shopping. You can't just run in and grab a bench for half price.

It's a matter of finding just the right shop, and friendly staff who are eager to serve you.

If you're lucky, helpful staff will pack up the presents.

Then, of course, everything has to be wrapped.

But once the Christmas shopping is done you'll be so pleased with yourself.

You can go and collect your kid that, three or four hours ago, you left on a bench outside The Cookie Shoppe.

You can go and find your man.

With a sense of relief, you can stand on a bench surrounded by bags.

Or, like Innocent, you can sink down into your purchases with a sense of satisfaction.

The control freaks among you can come home and arrange your shopping in alphabetical order.

Hmmm. I can see that you are wondering if there is a way to avoid all this. 

Yes. There are two ways I can think of. 

Like Miggy's mum, you can sit on a bench and make your own presents.

You'd need to plan ahead though. Miggy's mum has been working on these woolly scarves since October. 

Or you can stay in and order stuff online.

Maybe that's the way to do it? 

A harem of friends, wifi access, a hookah pipe, an unlimited credit card, and an elegant banquette where you can put up your feet while the stresses of Christmas roll by. 


Karina photographs Bunches and Bits, including the colourful bench and shopping bags at the top of this post. 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.

Supermarket Shopper is a sculpture from artist Duane Hanson in 1970. It was photographed by Rene Spitz in June 2011.  Rene is based in Cologne and has an interest in design. As his photo sets show, he is addicted to taking pictures in museums and galleries, which is fortunate for me because I am stranded on Paradise Island and never get to see things for myself. Duane Hanson created a number of lifesize, realistic shoppers, including a man on a bench with a paper bag. Ausstellung Hyper Real, Ludwig-Forum Aachen 13. 

Primark Shoppers is a photograph by Jan at The Caravan Gallery  Jan and her colleagues travel all around the UK and elsewhere finding, capturing, and exhibiting fascinating little slices of life. Caravan Gallery photos have featured on Benchsite before and I have been lucky enough to visit the caravan. What a treat!  

Lady Jessica Brassica is the wife of Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly. She does indeed have her very own shopping mall in the basement of Drizzly Manor, from which she has unlimited credit and access to all manner of shoes, dresses, handbags, and Young Male Readers of various kinds. On more than one occasion she has been so exhausted by her shopping experiences that a doctor has had to revive her from her condition of Shopilius Extremis  What's the best thing to buy someone like this for Christmas? Well, one year she was delighted with a throne.

The yellow Patient Husband bench was photographed by Aga Slodownik in Porto Fino, Italy. Aga lives in Warsaw ans works as a Polish polisher; she says she does this work with German precision. Aga's photostream shows much interesting travel and she also has a thing for feet.

I only recently discovered Sign Fail and I'm really glad I did. Sign Fail are funny sign replicas inspired by real-life hilarity, the best of Chinglish & Engrish on handmade funny signs, cards & magnets. The signs are handmade to order in Melbourne, Australia by Michael Bancroft. Some of them seem too good to be true but I've picked out several which are just right for Benchsite.

Etienne Reijnder's Toosh-e is an ex-shopping trolley converted into a bench. It features as one of my Alphabet of Dutch Benches and comes in really handy here as a Christmas shopping trolley. Etienne Reijnder describes himself as '. . . a headstrong designer, who especially loves to walk the road of sidetracks and loves challenges. I believe in simple work. The design and material must fit in with the thought process, so don't make it prettier or uglier than it needs to be. I work very crisp, and pure.'  His website is at

The mens' nightie and other gifts for men is a 35mm slide of a display at Binns Department store at Newcastle upon Tyne in 1966.  The photo is from the Robert Sanderson collection, available through the Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums on Flickr Creative Commons at   The other shop photograph of Christmas decorations is Woolworths in Newcastle, taken in the same year and available through the same collection.

Shop Until You Drop is graffiti by Banksy, photographed by POOP in January 2012.

Paula Picard creates funny magnets, wine labels, and greeting cards like All I want for Christmas is everything.  My sentiments exactly. There are loads of funny ornaments and greeting cards for Christmas. Paula's shop is in Illinois at

The BENCH bench was photographed in Buchanan Street, Glasgow in 2008. The photographer is Steve Gore, who has a photostream full of all things Scotland. Scottish weddings, Armed Forces Day, stunning beaches, The Edinburgh Festival - it's all going on in Scotland.

The silly red dog jumper is 1980s from Stefano International Sportswear. It's sold by Joseph Murawski at Carnival of the Maniac, an intriguing shop full of vintage clothing, vintage paraphernalia, and conjurings. The shop is packed full of ugly Christmas jumpers and a guy who models them in a perfect deadpan way.

Gettemfast has a lot of ugly, funny, cool, custom and geek tee-shirts at his etsy shop in Michigan. I particularly like the reindeer cotton crewneck, which comes in a variety of colours and costs £22.22.  It's not the usual sweater you get from your granny.

Dave Fiorante runs his Classy Whale Tees shop from Toronto. There are all kinds of joke tee shirts in a huge variety of colours. It should be possible to find one for just about anybody you know.

The Next shop and metal benches are in the High Street in Exeter, where I once spent a summer. They were photographed by Graham Horn for Geograph in 2009.©Graham Horn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license   I saw the photograph at

Choo Yut Shing lives in Singapore and has an eye for benches. There are lots of sleek, modern benches in public places, like the red plastic benches he photographed in 2009.

City Girl Night Rain is a fine art print from Agata Lawrynczyk's Art Corner in Ottawa, Ontario. Agata does original paintings, multiple canvas, abstracts, and textured artwork.

The woman with the dog in the mall was photographed by Emiliano in 2007. No clues where this mall was, but it's in the euro zone. He also photographed the man reading a book on a bench in Liverpool. Emiliano is an actor and songwriter from Livorno in Italy. Livorno just happens to be an incredible Bench Place, frequently appearing in the excellent Bunch of Benches. Emiliano has photographed his share of benches too. You can see them at  in his Flickr photostream at

The two women with children were photographed in a palm tree mall in Bristol in 2008.

DressyFlats specializes in greeting cards which are cheeky, sassy, un-PC, obnoxious, and adorably hip. They're made by Jessie in Brooklyn and available through her etsy shop at Please Don't Buy Me Anything Stupid This Year is a 5x7 holiday card, laser printed on acid-free cardstock. The image is a digital collage made from vintage and contemporary magazine images, with hand lettering and cutting. Jessie will put a message of your choice inside the cards so you can use them for any occasion.  

Terry Bell is from New Mexico and has some fantastic photos of the southwest, including a whole set of benches. He took the picture of the yellow bench Shop til your heart's content in the Las Placitas mall.

The little girl visiting Santa is Joan Wilson from St. Augustine in Florida. The photo is from the 1951 Department of Commerce Collection, made available through Creative Commons at the wonderful State Library and Archives of Florida

It's Just Slate is a shop full of hand painted home decor, especially signs like the Shopping with your husband one. It's run by Jessica Beare in Virginia and features yard, door and walls signs which are handpainted on old roofing slates.

The man and woman bearing gifts are from the Netherlands National Archive in 1961.   The well-dressed woman shopper with gifts is from the archives 1950-1960  Both are from the Spaarnestad Photo Collection at

Marji is the Rain City Girl from Seattle. The picture of bags and bench at the end of the story is called Been Shopping and comes from her set of Flickr Bench Monday photos.

Starting Lineup Tees are described as attitude tee's that are sure to propel you to the starting lineup... or at least get you a few high fives on the way into the game. I particularly like I bust mine so I can kick yours.  There are sports tees galore, including bench ones.

The Bench was a play performed at the Delta Stage Theatre in Greenville, North Carolina in December 2010. Written by Larry Larson and Eddie Lee, it's a true modern tale of Christmas featuring the story of two men who meet on a bench at the mall while waiting for their wives to finish Christmas shopping. As the weeks progress, they get to know each other, along with all the other wacky characters who inhabit the mall. They enjoy mall-style entertainment on the nearby stage, including a version of A Christmas Carol performed in under 5 minutes. The Bench is apparently full of singing and dancing and is hilariously funny. It sounds like just the thing for getting into the Christmas spirit; I'm sorry I missed it.

Bench in a Shopping Centre is a watercolour painting by Oliver Lovley in Nottingham. Oliver uses watercolours and coffee to create pretty, fluid landscapes of Nottinghamshire.  I just know these men on the bench are lonely but however long they wait, they will not talk to each other. Oliver's etsy shop is at

The helpful shop assistant was photographed by Roberto Trm in 2011. He doesn't say where it is but Roberto is from Venice and is widely travelled. Guessing from his wonderful travel Sets, including lots of benches, I'd say Bali or Indonesia.

My Dutch is normally just about good enough to work these things out but I can't for the life of me find out who is the painter of Entry of St. Nicholas into the Toy Shop (Intocht van St. Nicolaas). It's a Dutch painting by either A.C. Callenfels of Alkmaar or Gebr. Kluitman. The date, I think, is 1903. I saw it on WikiCommons at 

I would love absolutely anything from Julie's StitchinStash fabric studio in North Carolina. Stitchin' Stash offers the highest quality designer cotton fabrics from Michael Miller, Robert Kaufman, Riley Blake, Henry Glass, Studio e and more. There are colours galore, including the obligatory red, green and candycane stripe for Christmas. I just took a deep breath and chose the Holiday Hostess Fat Quarter Bundle to show in the story but if I had any of these, I'd be sewing forever.

Nikolay Titov took the photo of the two men sleeping on a bench in Taipei City, Taiwan, in 2011. He calls it Exhausting Shopping, which makes sense.

Killing time while Mom shops at the mall kid on bench is from the Fair Use policy of Uncyclopedia at   I am extraordinarily patient in tracking down the original source of images where possible but sometimes, as in this case, you just have to accept that the photograph is Out There. Having said that, I am always pleased to add a credit to the rightful owner if they want to get in touch. 

Shopping in the Harem is by Austrian painter Rudolf Swoboda, 1859-1914. The date of the painting is unknown. Swoboda was one of Queen Victoria's favourite Orientalist painters and she sent him to India to paint scenes from her empire. His Indian paintings now hang at Osborne House, Queen Victoria's summer cabin on the Isle of Wight.

I wouldn't want you to get the idea that I am in any way sponsored by Bench dot or any other company. Far from it. These are my very own purchases from the Bench dot outlet store. None of them fit me and they are all the wrong colours but never mind, they bear the Bench message and that's what's important.