Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Romantic white benches

Ursula has recently become Unicorn-in-Residence here on Paradise Island. As the unicorn is a romantic mythical creature and we are discussing romantic white benches here, I have asked Ursula to write this post for me. The deal is that Ursula will write it and I will edit it, stepping in only when absolutely needed.

So here is Ursula, nicely presenting herself with a little white bench, on which she has placed some pretty spring hyacinths.

OK, Ursula, off you go. 

Once upon a time in the land of Paradise Island there lived a mythical creature called Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly. He had a beautiful wife, Lady Jessica, and three sons, the eldest of whom was Root. Root was a valiant young knight who became engaged to Tamsin, a beautiful and intelligent maiden who worked at the Best Ever Pharmacy in Fribble-under-Par. 

I hate to butt in here already but there are just a few things I'd like to correct. 

  1. Lord Brassica and his family are not mythical creatures. They are very much alive at Drizzly Manor.
  2. Root can hardly be called a valiant knight. Most nights he is drunk as a lord down at the Dustpan and i-pod. He drives cars onto benches. He hangs upside down. He is anything but valiant.
  3. Tamsin is cute but intelligent she is not. She has a Not Quite Competent Certificate in handing out prescriptions. 
  4. The pharmacy in Fribble-under-Par is called the Nearly Good Enough Pharmacy. It's all in the name.
Lord Brassica descended from the ancient kings of Denmark, who were known to have a throne made of unicorn horn and gold. Here it is, at Castle Rosenborg in Copenhagen.

The unicorn is a woodland creature found throughout the world but especially in Europe. Unicorn horn has magical properties and is known to neutralize poisons.

Sorry, Ursula, I feel we're getting away from the point here. This is meant to be the romantic story of Root and Tamsin and some lovely benches. It seems to be turning into the History of the Unicorn. 

As I said, the unicorn bench was used for the coronations of Danish kings. When Root becomes king . . .

I'm going to stop you right there. Root will NEVER become king. Not in the lifetime of any living or mythical creature. And here we are halfway down a page and you haven't shown us any benches yet.

I have shown you the throne of Denmark and now I will show you a Paradise Island throne.

image by Sheila B.

Yes, well, I can't argue with that. Please continue.

A public bench is the perfect place for romance, or les amoureux des bancs publics as they say in France.  

Here is a bench where a couple called Neil and Crystal had their first kiss in 2002. 

photographed by Crystal Mickelson at

Years later, Crystal was amazed to find that Neil had found the bench and managed to buy it for her as a surprise. What a romantic story! You can read the whole story on the website Giver's Log at   

But let us imagine that it is Root and Tamsin who had their first kiss on this bench.

Nice try, Ursula, but I happen to know that Root and Tamsin had their first kiss on the bench outside the Dustpan and i-pod. Here is the bench in question and here are the lucky couple on a typical night out. 

It's the bench where all the drunks sit to eat their midnight curries after the pub closes. Late at night there are unspeakable pools of chicken biryani around the feet of this bench. 

That's terrible! In my version of the story Root and Tamsin are like this French couple.The bench is strewn with flowers and their love is vintage 1920s.

You'd better check your spectacles, Ursula. They're not rose-tinted by any chance?

As I am a white unicorn, I am going to show you some white benches. There is something magical about white benches. Many of the thrones of the great dynasties are white.  

In my experience a lot of thrones are red.

And what, exactly, is your experience?

I helped Lord Brassica chose a throne for his wife at Valentine's Day. A lot of them weren't white. In fact, the white one we rejected because it had a snake on it.

I think you're getting mixed up with thrones and benches, Seashell. A throne is quite a different thing from a bench. 

No, a throne is merely a bench with a velvet cushion.

Here is a white bench from Polish designer Kamil Kiendzierski, who creates magic with his computational designs. See how this beautiful bench curves into eternity?

Excuse me, Ursula, but I think you should point out that this is called the Undo bench. It is a gorgeous bench but the concept of Undo, if you are applying it to love, suggests that even love can be undone.

I prefer to think of love as eternal. 

Here is another white bench, light and delicate as a butterfly.

A butterfly is not eternal either. Just saying. 

And love is pure. 

Here is a pure white Bench Chair by Thomas Schnur in Germany. It's both a bench and a chair and its lines are simple and elegant.

Yes, I quite agree. This bench is enough to make me fall in love. With the bench I mean.

At the Barbican Arts Centre in London these white benches are beautifully paired off.

image by Janet Wells

This pretty swing bench looks inviting. It was made by Sweet Paul, who cleverly makes all kinds of things.

Paul made this from an old Ikea bench and shows how to do it on his magazine at  Basically, all you have to do is cut the legs off the bench, put the ropes on, and swing. 

We're talking about romance here so I think the less said about swinging, the better.

Here is a very large curved bench in Emmetts Garden at Ide's Hill in Kent. Lovers could sit on this bench planning their future together. 

Or they could walk around Emmetts Garden and look at the stunning Edwardian planting. Or they could question why there is no apostrophe in Emmetts; for an explanation see the credits below.

Finally, here's a miniature shabby chic bench which is perfect for a love nest cottage.

Golly, Ursula, you really are a romantic. No one can afford a love nest these days. The most people could afford would be a Fairy Bench.

Here's one by Linda Dennis from Fantasycrafts. It comes complete with a magic wand.

I'm rather surprised you believe in fairies, Seashell. If I may say so, you come across as rather cynical.

Not at all, Ursula. I am a romantic through and through. I believe in wearing white and sitting on benches on moonlit nights waiting for love.

Moonlit Night 1880, Ivan Nikolaevic Kramskoj

Then I will continue my story. 

So, after this kiss on the enchanted bench . . . 

Ewwww, pass the sick bag.

As I was saying, after the kiss on the enchanted bench, Root and Tamsin got engaged.

Yes. As Fribble-under-Par is a Bench community, Root gave her a Park Bench Lovers ring which, I have to say, is uncannily like the one Mungo gave me in Las Vegas.

Recently they went to Paris with Root's parents, Lord and Lady Brassica. 

I can't help but notice that in this photo opportunity Lady B's bag is bulging with Euros, plus a sizeable credit card which she will no doubt use to buy herself all manner of expensive clothes. I see that Tamsin is trying to copy Lady Brassica's dress style by wearing black and it isn't working because Tamsin just isn't suited to black. And I see that Lord B and Root are wearing ridiculous berets.

During the afternoon Lady Brassica and Maiden Tamsin pop into an exclusive little wedding salon, where Tamsin tries on a haute couture wedding dress and a very pretty floral hat. The dress is designed by Dutch designer Joop, from Overbaring in Holland. As a suggestion of Maiden Tamsin's innocent freshness, Joop has chosen a light fleecy fabric. 

The words lamb and slaughter come to mind. 

Whilst not wishing to upstage the bride-to-be, Lady Brassica cannot resist trying on her own version of Joop's Fleecy Lamb dress.

I am going to resist any comments about mutton dressed as lamb. We had that in the sheep post a couple of weeks ago. 

While all this shopping went on, Root and Lord Brassica were parked on the Husband Parking Bench in Pigalle.

In the evening the family went up to Montmarte for dinner, where they stopped to look at the iconic view of Paris.

I don't mean to be pernickety but they aren't actually looking towards Paris, are they? They're looking at the camera. I see that Lady B and Tamsin are both wearing gold, which looks ridiculous on Tamsin because she has green shoes. And Lord B and Root are still wearing those stupid berets. This is the kind of thing that gives the British a bad name in France.

Romantic man that he is, Lord Brassica bought his wife Jessica an exquisite little bench necklace, complete with a gold man sitting on it.

And he also bought one for Tamsin.

Yes, because he knew Root would never in a million years think of giving Tamsin a gift. 

Yes, he would. In Le Jardin des Tuileries they passed an enchanting French garden bench which Tamsin admired.

So Root bought her the bench?

No. He clipped off a bit of greenery from the shrub behind the bench and stuck it in her hair.  

Then they sat in the garden of the restaurant sipping champagne, where a gentle sprinkle of rose dew settled upon them. 

You mean it started raining and they had to go indoors. 

The next day Tamsin tried on one more wedding dress, which was made entirely of netting. Joop calls it his Tourbillon de filet, which translates as swirl of net. Of course, he made one for Lady Brassica too.

I'm no fashionista but offhand I would say that Tamsin looks like one of those netty things that people use in the shower. A squirt of Palmolive on this dress and you could wash the sand off your feet. 

And call me cynical but Lady B looks like she crawled out of the garlic bin at Tesco's. Isn't this the little bag thingy they put cloves of garlic in?

I am finding it difficult to maintain an ambience of romance in this post when you keep poisoning the magical qualities of the story. 

Poisoning? Well, you've got the horn, Ursula. You should be able to neutralize the poison. 

Have you no sense of romance, Seashell? Have you never fallen asleep in the lap of a loved one?

No. I think that's a unicorn thing. Yes, it definitely is. Unicorns fall asleep in the laps of pure maidens don't they?

Some do, yes. 

And now my Bench dot watch tells me it's time to finish this enchanting story of love and white benches. 

OK. On a bench in Paris, Root fell asleep in Tamsin's lap.

I notice that Tamsin is still wearing a beret. Please make it stop. 

Root was dreaming deeply, already setting his sites on the Seventh Earl of Drizzly.

And they all lived happily every after.

Thank you, Ursula. You told a charming story here. 

And now, though there are no benches involved, I would like to show a picture in honour of Mungo's parents, Robert and Audrey, who were married on May 6, 1943. Aged 98 and 92, they celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary in 2015. 


There are some seriously beautiful and very silly thrones here on Benchsite. Which one did Lord Brassica choose for his wife?  

The Danish Coronation throne is from   It is sometimes known as the Narwahl throne because it is made from the tusk of the narwahl (whale). For centuries the Danish court managed to keep the myth going about the magical and medicinal properties of its unicorn horn.

The Paradise Island throne, aka a plastic chair, was artistically photographed by Sheila B in Cyprus in winter 2013. We don't get sunlight like that on Paradise Island. 

For a fabuous film of love on French benches, accompanied by a song by Georges Brassens, see Les Amoureux des Bancs Publics at

The First Kiss bench photograph was taken by Crystal Mickelson. Crystal and her husband Neil saw this bench when they first met and had their first kiss there. Years later, Neil managed to buy the bench for her. How many men would think of doing that, huh? Read the story in Crystal's own words at Giver's Log is a site by AmberLee, who catalogues her interests in cooking and many other things. I first saw the site with her very impressive homemade truffles.

Isimaya, from Antwerp in Belgium, deals in vintage postcards, trading cards and ephemera. This vintage French postcard is from the 1920s and is hand-tinted. Her shop is at

Yael and Tal's jewelry has become a favourite of mine on this blog. The little bench comes in all different colours and with different people doing different things on the benches. Their etsy store is at  and their facebook page is at

I first saw the delightful Le Jardin French garden bench at http://www/  Maggie also has a shop at

The garden of the restaurant in Montemarte is actually not in France, nor is it a restaurant. It's the garden of my imaginary friend Felicity, who lives here on Paradise Island. Felicity herself got married not long ago and we had the reception party in this garden. This is a rainy winter picture but you can still see how pretty the bench is.

The white throne with yellow cushions is Gaddi-Nizam’s throne in the Chowmahalla Palace at Quil Wath, Hyderabad. It was photographed in 2009 by Kinshuk Sunil, who is from Ghazabad, India and is the founder of Hashstash Studios.  

The pair of matching red thrones are the Royal Thrones of the Ajuda National Palace in Lisbon, Portugal, created in the second half of the 18th century and photographed by Wirdung in 2000. Wirdung is from Lisbon and is doing a great job of providing Wikipedia with reliable information about Portugal's music and history.

The throne with a snake is a Roman throne - not something I'd care to sit on. It was photographed by Mary Harrsch, who lives in Oregon. Mary is a politically liberal, independent woman who is passionately interested in technology, history, and education.

Kamil Kiendzierski is a Polish designer who makes wire furniture with spacial compositions. His prize-winning Undo Bench was made in 2010. He explains that wire furniture allows the designer to make spacial compositions. He was also a finalist in a competition at the Institute of Industrial Design in Warsaw.  For more European designers see a bench from each EU country, grudgingly presented by Blogda from Krappistan. 

German designer Thomas Schnur's Chair Bench is fascinating from all angles. You've seen it from the front. Here it is from the back:

Janet Wells lives in the Barbican in London and has kindly given me some stunning pictures of benches in the area. The Barbican is the largest art centre of its kind in Europe. It was funded by the City of London as a gift to the nation and opened by the queen in 1982. A recent Barbican Newsletter reported an unromantic story of unhappy benches and disgruntled residents. It seems not everyone likes benches in their own backyard.  

Paul Lowe, aka Sweet Paul, made the white bench swing on one of his Crafty Fridays in August 2010. The photo by is Studio Dreyer Hensley. Paul's blog is at and his website magazine is at

The big white bench in Emmetts Garden is at Ide's Hill near Sevenoaks in Kent.  The name 'emmett' does not refer to a person; it is apparently a local word for ant, referring to giant anthills that used to be in the area. The property was purchased in 1890 by two brothers, Frederic and John Lubbock. Frederic was a banker who was passionate about plants while John was the first Baron Avebury and coincidentally a world expert on ants. Together they created an amazing Edwardian garden which now belongs to The National Trust. The photo was taken by professional photographer Adam Swaine, who has thirty years experience of photographing landscapes, weddings, interiors, and features for magazines. I love his landscapes, which I first saw on Flickr. His website is at

The white butterfly bench is from and costs $398. You can also get the butterfly bench in other colours. 

Linda Dennis at Fantasy Crafts lives in Oklahoma and is Cherokee Irish. Now there's a combination. She believes that if you believe in magic, you will find it. She's influenced by Irish fairy tales and 'the little people'  so maybe it's not surprising that she makes fairy garden miniatures, witches, and gothic miniatures. She loves Halloween. Her favourite colour is glitter. And she makes fairy benches in a full range of colours at

Marc, a technical writer from Brighton, is neither anti-royal nor anti-wedding. But in 2011 the Royal Wedding Sickbag made him laugh, so he photographed it.

The beautiful painting Moonlit Night was painted in 1880. The artist is Russian artist Ivan Nikolaevic Kramskoj 1837-1887). An important Realist painter of his time, he created a gallery of exquisite portraits of well-known Russian writers, scientists, artists and public figures. He was known for giving his paintings away for free in very expensive frames

Amanda White photographed the Husband Parking Bench at Fisherman's Cove in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Amanda has photographs on Flickr, writes a blog, and has a website at  

The Park Bench ring is by Bree Dentice at
Bree makes jewelry, does pencil drawings and takes photographs of all kinds of subjects, both real and imagined. You can see her work at

Janet Stoffel in Montana makes all kinds of dollhouse miniatures, including the shabby chic cottage miniature bench. Her husband will make the same bench up in human size. Jan's shop is at

Dale makes exquisite miniature furniture for dollhouses at She has so many beautiful, tiny pieces that I had trouble choosing but eventually I picked out this miniature nursery set for the heir to Lord Brassica's fortune. 

If the romantic white benches aren't colourful enough for you, you might want to see some bright red ones or some sunny yellow ones. Or some orange ones. You might like some silver and gold ones. And if that's not enough, there are some very, very depressing blue ones for Blue Monday and some black ones for Black Friday There are 50 shades of grey and pink benches to coincide with the release of That film.   Pretty purple benches? No problem.  For more uplifting, upcycled benches see the green ones at   Somewhere there must be a colour you like!

There is soooo much romance in Fribble-under-Par! See how I gambled on love in Las Vegas. Then in 2013 my husband His Excellency gave me an excellent valentine. What went wrong the following year? And who does Ursula fancy? See Ursula's guide to hearty heart benches for Valentine's Day 2014. 


  1. Very cute and thanks for the feature! :)

  2. Thanks, Dale. If all goes well with Root and Tamsin I may need to come back to you for more baby furniture. The Seventh Earl of Drizzly will need some of your lovely stuff!

    Best wishes,