Monday, 10 February 2014

Hearty Heart Benches for Valentine's Day

It's Heart Awareness month. Did you know that?

As February 14th has rolled around again, there are hearts everywhere. This is Fiona, posing on her delicate white bench with her pretty green eyes and a heart to give away. 

Like my imaginary friend Miggy, she is hoping with all her heart to avoid the Bench of the Unknown Husband.

My heart is not in it this year so I have asked for help from Ursula, our Unicorn in Residence here in Fribble-under-Par. Ursula is well qualified, having edited the previous post about romantic white benches.

Today she's all decked out in hearts, but Ursula, I want you to avoid the V word in this post. 

Ursula: People will be very disappointed. They have their hearts set on seeing some lovely Valentine benches. 

I know, but I'm heartily sick of V-Day already. 

I don't know about where you are, but here in Fribble all the benches seem to be wearing their hearts on their sleeves.

Ursula: Some of the benches clearly have a heart.

And some of them go right to the heart of the matter. 

It's all to do with you-know-what day.

Even Mae West is getting into the spirit of red-heart lip benches.

This time of year people just seem to let their hearts rules their heads. 

Everywhere I go I keep seeing heart-felt couples on benches, or les amoureux des bancs publics, as they say in France. 

Some of them seem to be having a heart-to-heart . . .

and some of them rock up on a kissing bench, rocking and kissing to their heart's content.

Ursula: You should take heart from this sort of thing.

I'm long past the point of snogging on a public bench. 

The Spinsters 1927, Erik Henningsen

My heart is set against it. Because last year I poured out my heart about Mungo and His Excellency, my two husbands. Somehow I found it in my heart to tell the story of how I met them, and then later I gave a hearty account of the two of them and their workbenches. 

Now I feel like my balloon is about to burst.

Try not to lose heart. 

What about you, Ursula? Did any hearts come your way on V-Day?

Well, I nearly had heart failure when I got this mysterious download from someone in the 17th century. 

Who's it from? Richard the Lionhearted? Or Coeur de Lion, if you'll pardon my French.

I'm hoping it's from Doctor Skill. He's such a heart-throb! I've fancied him since 1678. 

Dr. Skill from John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, 1678

Be careful here, Ursula. You know that Dr. Skill likes to do a lot of heart-searching; he doesn't like to rush into things. 

Too long a sacrifice doesn't make a stone of the heart in my case.

Mine neither. I have a wooden heart.

Sometimes my heart feels like it has been carved up when I see people defacing benches.

Another way to think of this is that it's a declaration of love. Not vandalism, but love! 

You're very generous, Ursula. 

Daft, but generous.

Let's look at the lovely cards and presents people get for their sweethearts.

You're pulling on my heartstrings here, Ursula. Who's first?

Mikey and The Octopus Girl. Here they are at their wedding last summer. 

I can guess that Mikey the Mariner has been breaking a lot of hearts. He always had a mermaid in every port.

Ursula: Not so now. He got this heartistic bench for his wife when he was in California.

"I didn't leave my heart in San Francisco," he said."It's here with you."


Then there's Tamsin and Garcon Orange

Though he may look menacing, Garcon has a heart of orange gold.

 He put his heart and soul into finding this romantic card for Tamsin. 

By the way, why hasn't Tamsin found a name for her baby yet? He's seven months old and everyone is still calling him Baby. 

If he had a name like Har-T he could join the Fribble Agro gang when he gets older. 

Don't upset yourself about it, Seashell. You'll get heartburn.

I heard that Lord Brassica's horse Tonks has recently lost his heart to a little filly in Drizzly. 

Yes, he bought her this card and learned every word by heart so he could recite it to her at the gymkhana on Friday. 

What about Innocent?  

Innocent received nothing at all from her husband Root, though she didn't take it to heart since no one expects anything from Root. 

I happen to know that heartless Root spent February 14th having a few bottles of champagne, beer, whisky and cider in the garden with PC Willy Wyme.

Meanwhile, Innocent's hart was gebroken not to receive anything from Studio Joop in Overbearing in Holland

With all her hart she wanted to hear from Joop.

He designed this heart-stopping onesie for her.

All this love talk is heart-breaking. 

You can see why I have a black heart about February 14th.

Mark Carroll Photography at

I hope you'll have a change of heart about Valentine's Day.

Benches are close to my heart, of course. 

I would love to have received a bench from my imaginary husband Mungo.

I'll bet this is a bench after your own heart?

Yes, I'd love to have got this from His Excellency but I knew in a heartbeat he wouldn't buy it.

Why not?

Because he's heart-rendingly mean with money. 

In fact, my heart was in my boots when I realised that His Excellency forgot to get me anything at all, not even a card.

My heart goes out to you, Seashell. What did you do?

I couldn't help but remind him what Lady Jessica got from Lord Brassica. 

A garden bench, a basket of flowers, an unlimited credit card, and a week at a fat camp spa. Also a renewal of her yearly subscription to Young Male Readers dot com. 

What did His Excellency say?

"My heart bleeds for her," he said. And then he offered to buy me a week at a spa fat camp.

This has made us somewhat estranged over the February 14th week-end.

"My heart has turned to stone," I told him.

"I think you'll find it's steel," he said.

Either way, we weren't speaking.

Young Man in Black, Girl in White 1919, Nils Dardel

But then he turned up with these exquisite little bench earrings and a heartfelt apology.

So his heart was in the right place all along?

More or less.

What about your imaginary husband? 

Here is what I got from Mungo. 

Lovely! A card and a little white bench. What did the card say?

"Cross my heart, I made it myself."

And what did you say?

I said Eat your heart out, Lady Brassica.


As regular readers of Benchsite will know, I am lucky enough to have two husbands. One is Mungo, my imaginary husband. I lost my heart to him when we met in Las Vegas. It all happened so fast. My real husband is His Excellency and though he kind of messed up Valentine's Day this year, last year he was an excellent Valentine. Both men are excellent in their different ways, as shown through their woodworking skills

Fiona is one of the miniature dolls made at Studio Dada in Sofia, Bulgaria. Isn't she stunning? Studio Dada makes miniature dolls and angels, pin buttons, and other tiny pieces of joy   

Annie Mole photographed the Unknown Husband bench. She is Head of Social Media for Great British Chefs and she lives in London where she keeps the  Annie Mole - London Underground Tube Diary She is webmaster of Going Underground and its companion blog about travelling on the London Underground   Her Flickr photostream is at

Besides being a Valentine girl and an incurable romantic about love and white benches, Ursula is also a peace campaigner. Here she is chanting Peace Bench slogans for International Peace Day last year. 

Addison Berry (add1sun) is very well travelled. Her photo sets reveal great adventures throughout Europe, and a few benches. The hearts one was photographed  along the Sankt Jørgens Sø in Copenhagen in 2009.  

Yay Benches make mosaic concrete benches.   Cats, dogs, bones, flowers, lizards - they make benches of every kind. They're enthusiastic about the art making process and each bench they make is done with a lot of laughter. They have even had to make a rule about no laughing while moving heavy concrete. And they say "Yay!!" all the time which explains the name.  

Janis lives in Vienna  She took the photo of the Styrian heart bench in Bad Gleichenberg, a historic health resort in South East Austria. This is the Green Heart of Austria, which inspired the bench. As far as I can tell with my limited knowledge of German, the bench won a design prize in 2011

What does Ruben Ras make from lego? Anything. Creatures, vehicles, people, spaceships, pubs, steampunk, modular houses and, more to the point, Salvador Dali's Mae West Lips Bench. Ruben is a primary school teacher who works from the heart at his home in Urk in the Netherlands. He's in Lego Dutchies, Lego Freaks, and other appreciative Flickr Lego groups

Kevin Lucius is a graphic designer who runs Lucius Art from a tiny apartment in Chicago. He loves working with old textures, animals, and vintage design elements to produce vintage-inspired animal art and city art. She Thought of Love is an original illustration from a vintage art print.

Maria Stableford is a designer, illustrator, and home crafter. Her designs have been explored through her love of Cambridge, England, especially visits to the Fitzwilliam museum, universities and the Cambridge Botanical gardens. She also loves the boating life on the River Cam, which meanders through the heart of the beautiful city. The Lover's Bench, set in the Botanical Gardens, is an original drawing made into a greeting card.

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

The sculpture Couple on a Bench is from Jalisco in Mexico. This couple have been together a long time - since  200 B.C. - A.D. 500 it seems. They are a burnished red-slipped ceramic sculpture from The Proctor Stafford Collection, purchased with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Allan C. Balch (M.86.296.91). This file is in the public domain because it has been released by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with its "Public Domain High Resolution Image Available" mark.

The bright red Kissing Jim Rocker is by Didi Dunphy in her Modern Convenience studio at Didi likes to bring play and free time into home decor. Her Recess line reintroduces play through sculptural furnishings which bring the free-time concept of Recess indoors. The Kissing Jim Conversational Seat is modelled after the Victorian courting chair, which allows two people to sit face to face comfortably, promoting conversation, meaningful gazing and who knows what else. Kissing Jim is made from powder-coated aluminum or, as we say in Britain, aluminium

Danish artist Erik Henningsen (1855-1930) was a master of Social Realism. In 1927 he painted The Spinsters, long past their own days of young love on a public bench. In other paintings he depicts the difficulties of the poor, wounded, unemployed, and socially isolated. He's one of my favourites among the Nordic Realists.

KPAJCollectibles in Minneapolis make great custom items like the Apple iPhone Custom Case of the Emo girl with a heart balloon and bench.  The case is a white plastic snap-on; it's durable, strong and stylish. Besides a huge assortment of iPhone cases, they also make dog tags and zippo lighters.    

Richard the Lionheart was born in 1157 in Oxford, the son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. At 16 he commanded his own army and in France he was known as the coeur de lion because of his courage and military leadership. On the death of his father, Richard was King of England from 1189 until his own death in 1199. 

Dr. Skill first appeared in the Feelgood Medical Benches last year. He certainly made Ursula feel good. Dr. Skill is from The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, first published in 1678.

The wood bench with the little red heart in the corner is by John, aka MTSOfan.   John is a pastor who says that photography isn't just a hobby; it's his attempt at sanity, a diversion in a life with much responsibility, and also a way of looking at the world. 

RachelEllen is from Michigan. Her photostream contains lovely photos of people, places, animals and plants. And yes, a few benches, including the much-loved wooden bench into which lots of people have carved their declarations of love. Not vandalism - LOVE.

Mikey the Mariner is the editor of the ever-popular Sea Benches post. He has a history of mermaid lovers and a girl in every port. This seems to have changed now that he is married to The Octopus Girl, who has eight interchangeable limbs. For the story of their meeting and marriage last summer, have a look at the Scottish weddings

The gorgeous yellow hearts bench is at the corner of Irving and 6th in San Francisco. It was photographed by Claudya Martinez, who describes herself as a Latina mom blogger. She has a very entertaining blog about what she gets up to on Sundays  This was one of the first romantic benches to catch my eye and I'm very pleased to have it here.  It also featured in last year's blog about how I met Mungo in Las Vegas

Tamsin and Garcon Orange have been together since last summer and they are now engaged. Tamsin was previously engaged to the heartless Root, son of Lord and Lady Brassica, but happily, she saw sense at the very last minute. Tamsin has a baby of rather mysterious origins. It arrived on her wedding day last July and she maintains that the stork brought it. Other Fribble residents aren't so sure: some think it might be a bit Orange while others think it is a future Lord Brassica. Either way, she finally gave him a name after seeing Emily's well-engineered bridge benches.

Vintage Vendor in California makes vintage and antique paper goodies, pretty 1920 holiday postcards, Victorian trade cards and other Victorian paper from the late 1800's. They also specialize in vintage collectible buttons, particularly 1940's realistics, moonglows, kiddie buttons and beautiful antique buttons that are over 100 years old.  

It's the Year of the Horse so I am making a concerted effort to give horses a high profile on Benchsite. The horse couple sitting on a bench look happy but it doesn't end well for them; the next photo shows him sitting alone   Bronwen Hyde, aka bellybuttongirl, is a fine art photographer originally from Australia, currently based in London.  She has had two solo exhibitions in Melbourne, and considerable success in various art competitions. She recently undertook a one month artist residency at Hospitalfield in Arbroath, Scotland, to create images to complete her series interior / exterior, and to find new directions with her self-portraiture and photography in general. 

Chloescrafts in Kelty, Scotland makes personalised papercut greetings cards and wall art for every occasion. The Love Song bench scene kit is a personalised kit with the lyrics or verse of your choice. The printed lyrics are the background to the papercut bench, grass, tree and lamppost. Instructions are given for making this into a highly personal Valentine's, wedding or anniversary gift. 

The Pixel Prince, from Hollywood, Florida, is the creation of husband and wife duo, Kenny and Rene, started in late 2009. They create one-of-a-kind inspirational, funny, customizable original illustrations for homes and offices. Kenny is a self taught artist with formal training in Computer Science while Rene holds the title of Accountant, Organizer, Fact checker, Craft extraordinaire, Auditor etc…etc. The downloadable printable bench art is one of their many products, which includes moustache art prints, world maps, photo pinback , key chains, art prints, buttons, posters, and yes,  digital downloadable printable art    

Root and Innocent were married last summer in a Scottish-themed wedding. Here they are on their not very romantic wedding night.

Root has carried on as before, being drunk and disorderly on every bench in Fribble and Drizzly. Innocent, however, has pursued a career in modelling, having been discovered by Joop from Overbearing in Holland. Studio Joop is well known amongst fashionistas for Joop's avant garde designs, such as the Downton Abbey Servant's Dress modelled by Innocent for the Autumn Collection.  As for marriage, it has to be said that heartless Root and innocent? Innocent are not a very well matched couple.

The black heart bench is from Mark Carroll, who lives in Dallas, Texas. At Mark Carroll Photography he is inspired by architecture and city life and there are loads of beautiful towns and cities in his photo sets.  He likes a good nature scene too, so there are also plenty of skies and sea. And happily, there are benches everywhere

Bart is from Deventer in the Netherlands. He makes affordable, top quality canvas prints, including subjects like chillis, waterfalls, pinwheels, sunsets, cows, and the mosaic bench with a heart.  Bart's etsy profile tells me that there are 3,642 members of the very creative Netherlands etsy community. I am lucky enough to keep meeting them when I find brilliant Dutch images for Benchsite

PhotographyPhreakGirl photographed the twin heart benches. Her photostream contains lots of lovely photographs of cats, and also the King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania. As someone who looks at thousands of images, I can honestly say that nowhere else have I seen photos of the King of Prussia Mall.

Lady Jessica Brassica is the wife of Lord Brassica of Drizzly here on Paradise Island. She has long been a stylish fashion icon but of late she has let herself go. It all started with a new year's eve party and a debacle about a dress

Throughout the Blue Mondays of January Lady Jess consoled herself with the avalanche of chocolates she got for Christmas. As a result, she is now a similar size to my imaginary friend Miggy. Maybe this is no bad thing?

Lady Brassica at Christmas
Lady Brassica now 

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  

The wonderful painting of the Young Man in Black, Girl in White was made in 1919 by Swedish artist Nils Dardel (1888-1943). The girl is Nita Wallenberg, daughter of a wealthy Swedish banking family. Nita met the artist in Japan in 1917 and  they became secretly engaged but her father did not care for bohemian artists and put an end to the relationship. This painting sold for £445,250 in 2012. 

The pretty bench earrings with a little heart are made by Emmanuela Alevizopoulou in Thessaloniki in Greece.  I am partial to Greece, having been there many times, including last year on a bench-finding mission. Her shop, Art in Silver, sells her handmade jewelry, including sterling silver fashion rings, earrings, bracelets, brooches & pins, necklaces, pendants & monogram necklaces. The metals used are silver, bronze and copper. They are decorated with semi precious stones, pearls, corals, leather, feathers, enamel and other natural materials. Whenever the designs and the construction conditions allow it, sterling silver parts are plated with rhodium or 24K gold so they don't tarnish and they are more resistant to shocks and distortions.   

Dmitry Sipety lives in Moscow and works in finance. His photostream contains photos from Istanbul, Spain, New York, Italy, and elsewhere. The black and white ones are brilliant too. Sipety photographed the lovely red bench in front of a house in Brienz, Switzerland in 2010. The house was all decked out with red hearts, which look stunning against the old wood. Seeing this photo really warms the cockles of my heart (as probably no one at all ever says in Ireland). 


  1. Truly enjoyed your creative benches. A subject I really never thought about until I found your blog! Thank you for including my postcard.

  2. Many thanks. Your vintage Valentine's card makes a great contribution to the blog. Glad to hear you are becoming a fan of benches!