Thursday, 14 August 2014

Dog Bench Days of August

It's August and the dog days of benches are upon us.

It's hotter than a hot dog.

Everything is bone dry.

You certainly don't need a scarf in this weather, even if it looks cute.

My dog Sit is on holiday, so I asked Lord Brassica's dog Pru to help me with this post. 

Unfortunately, Pru declined. She said she didn't want to be a dogsbody. Just as well. She'd have probably made a dog's dinner of the story. 

I was going to ask these guys but I was afraid they'd be full of bull.

Everywhere you go in these dog day afternoons, people are sitting around on benches with their dogs.

And dogs are sitting on benches. 

Standing on benches in this weather makes you feel dog tired.

It's certainly too hot to be out in the sun holding up benches.

Some dogs are so hot they have melted into the benches.

A dog bench this hot will have his tongue hanging out.

In hot weather it's important that dogs get enough to drink, though this guy feels that Mountain Dew isn't ideal.

Everybody's looking for shade. Under a bench will do.

But some benches are off limits to canines.

Ignore the signs and you'll find yourself in the doghouse.

On the other hand, you don't want to leave your dog out in the barking lot where it's hot.

Dogs are resourceful. If there's no bench, a dog will seek shade under another dog.  

The dog days of August are especially tough for working dogs. Though people in summer get tense and up for a fight, police dogs just want a long cold drink.

In August everybody - people and dogs - need to paws pause.

This is no time to be racing round a dog track like a greased whippet bench. 

It's the wrong time of year to be working as a dog bench too.

You don't want to have to support a lot of weight in this heat but you do need a good stretch.

If you're a dog, what you don't want is to be on dog watch, wearing a dog collar.

If you're employed as a pet animal companion, you don't want to be left tied to a bench somewhere.

And you don't want to sit doggedly while someone tries to take your picture.

Yes, I am familiar with the dogma of dog philosophy.

But in August the last thing you want is to fetch sticks . . . 

. . . or run around on a bench chasing a frisbee.

In this kind of weather, you don't want to go wild.

PG Palmer at

Just thinking about all this activity gives you a hang-dog feeling.

Sure, if you're a dog, you don't mind being treated like one . . . 

. . . but in August you don't want to sit, or stay, or heel. 

Or heal either, for that matter.

Every dog needs a little lift at times.

Don't worry about the carpet. Someone will come along and clean it up.

Although, it could be that the Dog Poo Fairy is on holiday right now.

image by Joanna Michalak

A dog might just want to curl up with a dog-earred book.

Give a dog a break! It's National Dog Day on August 26th.

Benchdogs shouldn't be working in August.

Every dog should ask for time off.

Even indoor dogs need a holiday from holding up benches. 

After all, they have been working like dogs all year.

Yes, the best thing to do in the dog days of August is to let sleeping dogs lie.


If you love animals and want to see lots of brilliant animal benches, see which ones Noah saved on the Ark. 2014 is the Year of the Horse, of course, of course. If you like dog benches, then you're looking in the right place and there are more small, large and faraway dog benches at  On the other hand, if you prefer cats, let Meredith show you some great feline benches. Maybe you like rabbits: bunnies are not just for Easter you know. Sheep? We've got some Baaaaaad ones here on Benchsite. And monkeys? We've got those too. And finally, for the Cream of Bovine Benches, let Lord Brassica show you his cows. 

The papier-mâché dog was seen in London fields in 2012 and photographed by acb, who is from Melbourne but currently lives in London. acb's albums are full of art and music events, and travel all over the world.   

The little dog in the hot dog coat was photographed by Linda Wanless.  It was the dog's Halloween costume in 2008. Linda is a self-confessed Flickr addict. Her site is called a pieceofheaven, which gives you a clue how much she loves photography. 

A dogbone bench comes in handy when you have a lot of hungry dog benches to feed, as I did when I wrote the Noah's Ark story on Benchsite last year. The Tenino Dogbone bench is from Marenakos in Preston, Washington. They make a variety of granite dogbone and other types of benches.  And who'd have thought a dog bone bench would be so useful? There are some very nice medical dogs on Benchsite at

Paul Lovine is a corporate ninja from Manila, currently living in California. He photographed his dogs Senna and Nickell when they were hanging out on a bench in the park on a Sunday afternoon in San Francisco.

Pru is Lord Brassica's faithful friend, along with his horse Tonks and his beloved 1947 Landrover. Another dog here in Fribble-under-Par is my dog Sit. Sit is a brilliant swimming companion as he guards my swimming bench. He's also well known on the footpath along the river Par. You can find out who's who in Fribble-under-Par at

Jay Melnick lives in Colorado and he photographs a lot of dogs as ArgosPaw's. This includes the brilliant Bulldog Reunion, taken in 2014. It's not easy to get dogs lined up on a bench so it's great to see this.

Jonah photographed the man and dog sculpture in Vancouver in 2001 Jonah, aka afrowolf, has an eclectic collection of albums including toys, animals, canned fruit, health rubbish and what he calls afrocrap. 

The statue of a man on a bench with a large dog beside him was photographed in 2009 by Ruby Blossom
Ruby is a wife and mother in a small town in the UK. Her passions are photography, photoshop, and her two Jack Russells.  Her albums show her love of animals, among other interesting things. 

Snoopy is a very famous dog who doesn't work for peanuts; it looks like he gets paid in chocolate chip cookies. The photo was taken by Thom Watson in 2009 at the Charles Schultz museum in Santa Rosa, California  Thom is from Virginia but now lives in California with his partner. There are lots of cats in Thom's albums.

Wonderlane from Seattle is one of my early contacts for benches. She is simply wonderful. In this story I have used a photo of her lovely dog Rosie, who is standing on a bench in Seattle. Wonderlane travels widely in places like Tibet and Nepal and her work is an inspiration 

The Dog Bench is a mixed media sculpture by Roy DeForest, an American painter (1930-2007). The dog bench was made in 2000 for the University of California Davis, where he worked.

Of course the dog bench is not melting; it's mosaic dogs, which look to be highland terriers. It was photographed by Ann Fisher in Chiciago in 2010 at the Block 37 building.

Mike Cogh lives in Adelaide and photographed the thirsty dog bench at Hove, Adelaide in the bright summer of January 2015. The bench is a public art piece by Rob Garrett.    Mike has an extensive set of over 800 Humble Bench photographs at 

Zoomar lives in Seattle and likes pugs.  His albums are full of them, including Roscoe. He took the photo of the pug with the empty drinks bottle on a bench way back in 2006. And in 2009 he took photos of an intriguing Hippo Pumpkin Event. The mind boggles.  

OxOx lives in Portsmouth in the US and photographs a lot of animals, including dogs. The dog asleep under a bench was in Thailand in 2009,  Flickr has a group for every kind of photograph: this photo is in the Let Sleeping Dogs Lie group. 

Terry Ross, aka qnr, is a retired military man now living in Corpus Christi, Texas. He describes his work as 'a little photo dump' which is not art, but just his way of inconveniencing electrons. He loves to take photos with little concern for technique and they come straight off the camera/scanner. This includes the photo of the bench with the no dogs sign

The cat in the doghouse is Billy, who should probably not be here, since it's a cat picture rather than a dog one and we already have a Cat Bench story on Benchsite.  The photo is by CelloPics in 2010 at  I know nothing about Billy or CelloPics but I have to say that I have rarely seen such a collection of beautiful cats, all beautifully photographed. And I am reliably told that the doghouse is now occupied by a rather splendid beagle puppy.

The barking lot sign, the dog philosophy sign, and the German shepherd dog having a photo taken are all from MTSO fan 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.      

Mexican Xoloitzcuintle dogs have been around for 3,500 years. The trio of Xoloitzcuintles was photographed by Christiano Oliveira in Mexico City in 2009  And elsewhere on Benchsite there is a fabulous fiesta of Mexican benches.

The police dog drinking through a straw was something I found in a window of a shop in Sandown, Isle of Wight. You don't often find objects d'art in Sandown so it was lucky I had my camera with me. Strangely, I saw another dog like this in a window in Barcelona some months later.

The pawprint benches were photographed by Kate Robertson from Idaho Falls. Kate is the Queen of Creativity. She describes herself as a painter, mixed media artist, weaver, spinner and writer. Besides that, she photographs all kinds of stuff wherever she goes on her creative pursuits. She is a Kaizen-Muse creativity coach and she has loads of ideas on how to get your creative mojo working. She has various blogs; I first saw her at

Régine Debatty from Liege claims to make money, not art, but nevertheless her Flickr site is full of art. It's the kind of Flickr site where I get distracted and waste vast amounts of time looking at pictures and following up artists and exhibitions I've seen there. I can't blame Régine for this, can I? There are several whippet benches around, mostly with the same whippet ends as this photo by Régine  at

The long and skinny person on a dog bench is an image from page 104 of The union Bible dictionary, for the use of Schools, Bible classes, and families (1837). Its author is Frederick Adolphis Packard (1794-1867) and it was published by the American Sunday-school union. It comes from The Library of Congress at

The two elegant guard dogs wearing collars were photographed outside a house in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. It used to be a chapel, now it's a lovely house with a lovely garden and I guess these dogs keep the vandals away. We don't have vandals here on Paradise Island. Do they have vandals on the Isle of Wight? I'm not sure. 

The stone dog benches are at Kok Lok Si Buddhist temple in Georgetown, Malaysia. These and the monkey benches are very popular photographs for visitors such as David Clarke, who is a retired farmer, photographer, greeny, and bush philosopher from Clare Valley, Australia. His albums are full of travel to Vietnam and Malaysia and life in the bush, including bushfires, animals and eucalypts.

I love the photo of the patient dog and the coloured seats. Kay Gaensler from Germany took it at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein in 2012.  Kay says that the dog was tied to that bench while the owner was inside the building and the dog was targeting the entrance to the building to see if the owner was coming back. Beautiful dog, beautiful photo!    

Michael McCauslin is a well travelled fourth grade teacher in San Francisco. His albums are full of travel to all sorts of places. The little dog drawing on a bench with a stick was photographed in 2007

The African Wild Dog was photographed by Kieran Palmer, a writer and nature photographer from Australia. He takes gorgeous photos of all kinds of creatures at in 2013. It's not wild though: it was photographed at Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo in New South Wales Australia

The painted dog bench with the frisbee was taken in Chicago 2005 by Mo Morgan Mo lives in London and has albums of Iceland, Palma, Chicago, Pembrokeshire and his brain. 

Joe Connolly from Wales has some beautiful basset hounds, including this one with a hang dog look. Joe took this photo in 2007. His site, so far, is still lifes, and life stills

Wombatarama from Wales is a freelance writer and unemployed zookeeper. She loves pugs. Oh yes, she certainly does. Her own pugs are Rose and Lily but she goes to Japan as a pug herself and her album is full of them. The three pugs on a bench are at

bcgrote lives in California and has way too many interests, including animal photography. Sit Stay Heal is a bench from the Gaslamp District of San Diego, where she comes from. It was photographed in 2008 in front of the Gaslamp Hilton

The lifted leg dog bench is actually a table: it's called Bad Table. It's one of many flabbergasting designs made by Judson Beaumont at Straight Line Designs Inc. in Vancouver.  None of these designs are straight lines; each one throws a wobbly in an entirely different way   This amazing work has already appeared on Benchsite when the dogs on Noah's Ark didn't behave themselves.

There's no such thing as the Dog Poo Fairy appears on stickers all over the Isle of Wight, and probably elsewhere. This one was photographed by Joanna Michalak. 

The dog reading a dog-earred paperback book is by Paul Locke, whose albums are full of sporting events and marathon   Paul claims that the book the dog is reading is poetry by ee cummings: I'll have to take his word for it.

The woodwork benchdogs are old clip art from my two husbands' workshop and there's quite a story about woodwork benches here on Benchsite.  Mungo did O Level woodwork (grade C) but His Excellency's workbench wonders are about as successful as his attempts at chemistry. You can read all about it at

The shiny black dog bench is from Mito, the capital city of Ibaraki Prefecture in Japan. The photographer is Mayu Shimizu, who comes from Tokyo and San Francisco and is a graffiti explorer. Next time I have a free day I'm going to spend it looking at Mayu's albums  

The two stately Labradors were chosen for Noah's Ark. They were made by Stephen Huneck, a self-taught sculptor who carved by hand. The Stephen Huneck Gallery is at Dog Mountain, in St. Johnsbury, Vermont  Dog Mountain is set on a 150 acre private mountaintop and is always open to people and their dogs. Its unspoiled haven is covered with hiking trails and dog ponds. There is no leash law on Dog Mountaindogs are not just welcome here, they are cherished! Dogs are free to run, play, swim and best of all meet other dogs! Stephen's artworks, include paintings, sculptures, books, and a Dog Chapel, "A place where people can go and celebrate the spiritual bond they have with their dogs. It is the largest artwork of my life and my most personal." Stephen died in 2010 but his love of dogs lives on in his artwork.

The dog sleeping on a bench in the black and white photograph at the end of the story was seen in Bangkok. It was photographed by Ronn, aka Blue Aldaman in 2010.  Ronn currently lives in Thailand and has albums full of beautifully photographed portraits and slices of life in Thailand, many of them in black and white. 

Friday, 1 August 2014

Getting High on Alpine Benches

It's easy to get high on benches. Miggy, Mungo and I were in the Alps for a few weeks looking for benches, and also camping, swimming, climbing, and having a mountainous time. 

I left my husband, His Excellency, at home. He has a phobia about yodelling and is also quite nervous around alpine horns.

When we got back I contacted animal editors dot com and they sent Heinrich, who's from Slapbummel in Bavaria. And apparently he's a vegetarian so we fear the wurst.

But Heinrich is an amiable alpine man, who is well qualified to guide us through some glorious benches from the heart of the Alps. 

Welcome, Heinrich. Love the lederhosen. 

Heinrich: Guten tag. I am looking quite awesome in these lederhosen I think.

Indeed you are. Now I'd like to show some of the benches we found in Switzerland, where we started our search in the Poschiavo Valley.

Heinrich: There is an alpine region in New South Wales I believe. 

There is, but this blog is about the Alps in Europe. 

Heinrich: I am finding this very boring already. I live in Slapbummel so I am already knowing the Alps in Europe. 

Yes, but this blog isn't for you. It's for Benchsite readers who are interested in seeing lots of benches around the world.

Heinrich: There is an alpine region in Nova Scotia. 

Let's be clear then. This story is about the Alps in Europe. We're starting with Switzerland. The little red Bernina Express train spirals up and down and through the mountains most impressively.

Heinrich: I am riding the Bernina Express many times. It is four hours to travel seeing only mountains. There are 196 bridges, 55 tunnels and a height of 2,253 metres at the top of the Bernina Pass.  

My imaginary friend Miggy isn't interested in the Bernina Express either. To her, Switzerland means just one thing.

Heinrich: Ja, chocolate is a gut thing.

On our annual bench-seeking trips, in addition to finding benches, each of us, Miggy, Mungo and myself, has our own agenda. 

For example, my imaginary husband Mungo is a quiet person who likes to sit and observe what's going on. 

Heinrich: Mountains at St. Martin in Kafel looking at mountains in Martelltal. Not interesting to me but Herr Mungo looks like he's enjoying himself. 

Yes. He tends to sit in the sun and forget that these trips are all about looking for benches.

Remember, I told him, you need to find at least one good bench in each place. At least ONE.

Miggy, however, is more problematic. She has a habit of going off to look for ice cream or chocolate. Or men. 

Such looking for men is verboten in alpine regions. 

In Poschiavo she fell for this woodcutter.

Or as Miggy put it, What a hunk! 

And it's true: he had thighs like tree trunks. He hacked off one of his legs there and then and made her a log bench.

I guess he was trying to impress her.

We moved on to St. Moritz, where Miggy fell for this wine waiter.

Heinrich: This fellow has no physique for lederhosen. 

In his spare time he's apparently a great yodeler though.

We didn't know what to make of Switzerland. 

The Swiss are interesting people but sometimes wooden in character.

I knew a Swiss family once. Name of Robinson. Used to live in a treehouse at Disneyland.

There was nothing wooden about them.

Even the tree.

It was concrete. 

Anyway, the wine waiter gave Miggy this fine wine bench.

We were confused by all the languages in Switzerland. Heinrich explained about French, German and Italian-speaking parts of the tiny country. When she was given the wine bench, Miggy didn't know whether to say danke schongrazie or merci.

I wanted to take the wine bench home as a souvenir for His Excellency.

Unfortunately, Heinrich got there first.

In the Alps we are having a culture of celebration with a drink.

I would like to have a drink with my friend Heidi, who lives somewhere in the mountains. I haven't seen her since we were kids.

I hope Heidi hasn't got stuck with some yodeler and a couple of goats kids. 

Heinrich: She has done well for herself. She is out standing in her field.

Meanwhile, I thought St. Moritz was supposed to be an ultra-sophisticated place for jetsetters. 

Call me critical of fake brick, but I don't find the St. Moritz Hotel too impressive.

Miggy, on the other hand, was so taken with St. Moritz and/or the wine waiter that she started looking to buy a house down by the lake. 

This one had pretty lupins but it was too pricey.

"I wouldn't be able to afford any furniture," Miggy said. 

"Not even benches," said Heinrich. 

This house was cute but rather small.

And this one was pristine clean with a bench outside and the obligatory geranium boxes.

"Too boring," Miggy said. "Too Swiss clichéd."

So back to camping. 

Mungo said the trouble with camping is that it's intense. 

And the weather in Switzerland was not great for camping. It was six degrees. The clouds clung to the mountains all day and it poured with rain. 

Our little tent was barely up to it.

We were going to get a hotel but we noticed that the upstairs bedroom is outside. Also that the bed has collapsed. 

"I can't make sense of Switzerland," Mungo said. "Or Swiss people either. I don't know how they can tolerate this climate."

These Swiss folk are hardy. But a little shy.

We met a fellow having a picnic by himself in the mountains; he didn't say a word.

Heinrich: He is maybe from another alpine region.

Heinrich explains that in his part of the Alps people are more outgoing. In Slapbummel they have a good sociable Oktoberfest and lots of dancing where they smack each other in the leiderhosen. 

"Anyway, we're not here for anthropology," I reminded Miggy and Mungo. "We need to find some benches."

The three of us held a round table discussion about what to do.

Eventually we decided to go deep into the forest and keep a look out. 

There was plenty of wildlife.

The ants were enormous.

"Everything is made of wood," Mungo noticed. 

Even the bulls. 

Even the gorillas.

But then he happened upon this marble Swiss woman. 

"The nudism is verboten in Switzerland," said Heinrich. 

Mungo didn't care. In his view, the trip was shaping up. 

Miggy wasn't happy though.

"It's just cuckoo spending our holiday looking for benches. We're wasting our time."

Miggy and Mungo sneaked back into town to look for more houses. Mungo didn't think much of this one.

"The words box and room come to mind."

This one had a nice bench in the living room but its walls were worryingly open plan.


"It would be no good with the snow blowing in," Miggy said to the wine waiter. He accused her of being too soft and said she would need to toughen up if she wanted to be a mountain woman.

Meanwhile, I was toughening myself up by trying to swim in the icy waters of the river En. 

Swimming is verboten here.

Indeed. The last person who tried this ended up chained to a rock beneath the covered bridge.  

You can just about see him, still clinging on.

I was so cold by the time we got back to camp that I didn't know whether I'd be able to bounce back.

"It's time to leave Switzerland," Mungo suggested. 

At the tiny town of Martina we took an extraordinarily twisty mountain pass which delivered us, seven kilometres later, into Austria. 

Heinrich: An Austrian's home is his schloss.

Migs immediately found two lovely houses and stood there with her handbag wondering which one to buy.

This one's very fine, she thought. 

And this one would do nicely too, but unfortunately it was already in use as the toilet block for our campground.

The first thing I did was to find a warm lake to swim in. 

I had just taken the plunge when a policeman and his dog came along and ordered me out of the lake. 

Dummkopf! Swimming is verboten in this lake. Didn't you see the sign?

Well, yes, Heinrich. But I don't understand German.
It was unfortunate that someone had written another sign, in English, just behind me.

What with the Swiss policeman on my case, I knew I was in a jam.

Luckily, Miggy came to my rescue. 

"I think I know you," she said to the policeman."Didn't you used to work in Euro Cave in Geneva?"

Indeed he did. But then he is becoming a police officer and putting on a little weight.

Heinrich and the policeman had a conversation in German in which the words Swiss and Army were mentioned.

I feared the knife might include a pair of handcuffs but as it happened, the policeman just wanted to give Miggy a little package. He invited her back to his police box . . . 

my photo, Devizes, Wiltshire

. . . but then there was an unpleasant uproar coming from the mountain.

An alpine horn lesson. 

It's cheaper if you do it in a group.

While the policeman was distracted by the sound of Edelweiss, we hit the road.  

Just before the Reschenpass, we slipped over the border into Italy where Miggy was much impressed by the stylish and very fit cyclists whizzing past us.

The sun was shining in South Tirol so we dried out our soggy tent in the park.

This activity is verboten in all nations of the EU.

We noticed that the Swiss policeman was still after us. His chase car was a dead giveaway.

Mungo remembered that Swiss mountain dogs can find anyone, even in huge drifts of snow. 

"What if they send the dogs in after us?"

Having decided that a disguise was needed, Miggy put on traditional dress. 

It suited her pretty well.

In the Vinschgau Valley we decided to ditch our car by the side of the road and make a run for it.

At Latsch we caught a cable car high into the Sonnenberg mountains.

St. Martin's church clung precariously to the side of the mountain. We considered taking sanctuary there but it was too scary.

The valley was wide and the hills were steep.

"That policeman will never find us here," I said.  

But what is coming up must be going down. 

And true enough, we realised we had to get ourselves off the mountain before nightfall. 

Mungo started wandering, his knapsack on his back. 

Valerie, Valer-ah. Valer-ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha . . .

Please don't sing, Heinrich. It reminds me of yodelling. 

We walked for hours and the path got steeper and rockier. In places it was dangerous.

Ja, many persons are meeting their doom here. 

At a crossroads, Miggy got out the parcel the policeman had given her.

Energised by the emergency chocolate, we walked as fast as we could, aware that the weather in the mountains can change suddenly.

We crossed bridges and forded streams before they turned to ice.

We rested only briefly at the stations of the cross.

At last we could see a glimpse of civilisation between the trees.

An Italian's home is his schloss.

We're in Italy now. Why don't you use the Italian word for castle? 

In South Tyrol we are speaking mainly German

So that explains the Laas swimming pool in South Tyrol, where the lifeguard's bench sign is in both German and Italian.

"That bademeister is a bit of alright," said Miggy.

"A relationship with the bademeister is verboten," said Heinrich.

Miggy was thinking maybe the bagnino was Italian though.

That relationship is verboten also. 

Finally, at dusk we descended into Latsch where, in the town square, a couple of people were chatting behind the benches. 

One of them was the Swiss policeman. He was asking if anyone had seen Miggy. 

He wanted to give her this.

Miggy had one more house she wanted to see. The estate agent's description called it An Alpine Fantasy. And so it was.

When we got there the door was opened by someone who looked strangely familiar. 

"Do I know you?" I asked.

Yes, it was Heidi. 

Her goat herd had expanded to the point where she needed another mountain so she was selling her house and moving on to a bigger valley, greener pastures, a higher Alp. 

She told me all about chocolate-making and showed me the shop where her chocolates were sold. Thirty-one flavours eat your heart out!

After several bars of chocolate, she told me everything the Robinson boys had been up to since I last saw them at Disneyland. Old man Robinson had passed on, and his wife Elizabeth too. The older boys Fritz and Ernest had moved on to an alpine region in Slovenia. But Jack was living just down the road in a little log cabin.

And young Franz was right next door. 

He looked very fine in his lederhosen so Miggy sat on Heidi's bench and admired the view.


Heinrich, my guest editor for this post, is from Slapbummel in Bavaria, which has a lively tradition of dancing and appears in my Alphabet of Dance Benches.  I met Heinrich through animal editors dot com. I have used animal editors before, not without problems. Meredith the cat helped me with the St. Helier post, and also World Cat's Day. It didn't go well. Worst of all is Eddie, my Inner Editor, who just happens to be a primate. Dragons, oranges, red and blue benches  - Eddie has ruined helped with so many of my posts. Much better to stick with amiable Heinrich, or Ursula, our Unicorn in Residence. I'm not sure if she counts as an animal though. 

As Heinrich so helpfully points out, the word alpine is difficult to define. The simplest definition refers to a location above the tree line, at high altitude. Immediately I think of the Alps, but there are Alpines in Canada, in Australia, and in fourteen US states. There are also alpine cars, and alpine meusli and a host of other things deemed alpine. 

Martin Fisch from Wiesbaden travels a lot and his photos of the Poschiavo Valley were better than anything I managed to take when we were there. He has photos from many places and his animal photos are brilliant too; I spent quite a long time looking at Frankfurt Zoo.

The 2007 photo of the two alpine horn players at the start of the story is from Liz Dawson at Geograph at

The group of alpine horn players later in the story was uploaded by Paebi to VAls 06     

We stayed at Camping Boomerang in the Rhaetian Alps, which is part of the magnificent Poschiavo Valley in the Graubünden area of Switzerland. It was the night of the Switzerland Argentina world cup game and we were welcomed by the family Priuli-Bondolfi, who gave us strawberries and crisps while we watched the game. Sadly, Switzerland lost but we had a lovely evening and the next morning we drove over the Bernina Pass.

The Bernina Express was photographed by Hans-Rudolph Stoll , who lives in Zurich and is interested in trains and tramways. The Bernina Express is a World Heritage Site, connecting the towns of Chur (or Davos) in Switzerland with Poschiavo and Tirano in Italy. The metre gauge of the line is 1,000 mm or 3 feet, 3/8 inch and it's a four hour railway journey involving 196 bridges,  55 tunnels and a height of 2,253 metres at the top of the Bernina Pass. 

Santosh Puthran is a well-travelled technology enthusiast, gadget lover, Internet and photography addict, and fun loving person who speaks his mind on iWaant. He took the photo of the Swiss chocolate bar, shown in his photostream at

We visited St. Moritz on a very drizzly day. People were jogging around the lake wearing expensive clothes. I noticed a sign saying it takes 60 minutes to swim around the lake, however as the air temperature was only six degrees, I decided to photograph wine waiters instead. Also benches and houses and wine boxes and wooden men with their dog who looked like they might be Swiss policemen. The St. Moritz Hotel, however, is not in St. Moritz. Not even close. It's in Sandown, Isle of Wight. 

The empty wine bottles were photographed by Monika in 2005. Monika, aka nahlinse, is from  Hannover, Germany. Her photostream includes, among other topics, interesting albums of Switzerland, people, and things in a row.

The little wooden girl on a wooden bench is in Brienz, near Berne. She was photographed by stephengg in 2010. Stephen lives in the UK but he's also rather keen on photographing Vienna, Germany, Switzerland and his dog Yankee.

The Swiss Family Robinson is a novel about a shipwrecked family, first published in 1812. It was written by Johann Wyss, a Swiss pastor, who laces the adventure story with moral lessons for children. There are four sons: Franz, Jack, Ernest and Fritz, who help their father built a beautiful treehouse home on a tropical island. Walt Disney recreated this treehouse at Disneyland in California, which I saw for the first time when I was eleven. While there were many wonders at Disneyland, I was spellbound by the treehouse, especially the fact that its massive trunk was made of concrete and the leaves were made of plastic. 

The Vintage Read in Greenville, South Carolina sells vintage childrens books, vintage cookbooks, Little Golden Books, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, vintage prints, vintage sci-fi, vintage readers, classics and more. I was raised on Little Golden Books, including Joanna Spryii's Heidi, which was my introduction to the Alps. By the time The Sound of Music came along, I was well prepared. It's a great pleasure to see so many Little Golden Books available at

Merrill is bent on bringing more beauty and happiness into daily life, in a way that helps the planet. Ivy Lane Designers is her imaginative outlet (etsy shop and blog)  Merrill can up cycle almost anything into environmentally friendly toys, games, jewelry, and unique journals and mini jotters.  The Merry Yodeler is a vintage record album cover of Austrian folk music, which Merrill has made into an eco friendly journal notebook.And you know those old crayons that collect in schools every year? You'd be amazed at what she can do with them. 

In a remote part of Switzerland's Lower Engadine is a national park, founded in 1914, which is the oldest in the Alps. The visitors' center is at Zernez but we drove on to Scuol, where we crossed a very pretty covered bridge over the river En (or Inn, as in Innsbruck). It was only later that I saw a bronze man chained to a rock in the middle of the river under the bridge, a bird by his head. The icy turquoise water raged around him and I wondered how long he had been there. At Camp En Sur we found an amazing sculpture park spread across the mountain. We followed the tracks through the forest for hours, enjoying strange and wonderful creations amongst the trees. People, animals, airplanes, computers - everything was made of wood. But then we found some marble sculptures too, and some stone, and some bronze. Gorillas in the Alps? You can probably work out in the story which photos came from the sculpture park. 

Speaking of logs, there are some very nice log benches here in Benchsite. Let Miggy show you her log benches. Just logs. And cake, of course.

The lonely panda at a mountain bench was photographed in Grindenwald in 2006. The photographer is Qabluna, who does not explain why he's there but anyway, it's nice to see an animal in Switzerland which is not made of wood.  Qabluna explains that she spent a summer working in the Canadian Arctic a few years ago, and 'qabluna' in the Inuktitut word for 'white person' or 'outsider,' and since her usual nickname (Kanuck) was already taken on flickr/yahoo, this is what we get.

Speaking of cold, the people of Snowvenia are frozen. How do they endure it? See the good advice from Stanko and Darko at

Cuckoo clocks were made in the middle of the 18th century and their technology has not changed since. My grandfather had one which he wound up faithfully every night before he went to bed. These clocks were photographed by Churchil Angelio in Luzern in 2010  Churchil is from the Philippines but currently lives in Singapore. 

St Johann in Tirol is one of the many beautiful ski towns we visited in summer. I'd love to see them in winter too, but our little tent wouldn't cope. In St Johann in Tirol we stayed at a camp which had a rather splendid Heidi-house toilet block. From there we took a cable car into the Kitzbuhel mountains and walked down, stopping first in glorious wildflower meadows. 

Kecko is from Rorschacherberg, currently living in Switzerland at Rheintal, the border valley between Switzerland and Austria. He took the photo of the Swiss Army chocolate at Furkels in St. Gallen in 2011. Apparently Swiss Army Food is now available in the canteen of the privately operated former military fortress Furggels, above in Pfäfers, St. Margrethenberg, Switzerland. And you thought Swiss Army only made knives.

Should you ever have the notion to visit three countries within one hour, try Martina in Switzerland and then take the seven kilometre shortcut which straddles the border with Austria. The road is technically called the 187b, which drops you across the mountain into Nauders in Austria. 'Road' is rather stretching the point though; it is mainly a ribbon of twists and turns. From Nauders it's just a matter of minutes through the lovely valley to the Italian border. 

The Reschenpass is in Italy, just over the border from Austria near the lovely town of Nauders. The Reschen See is a beautiful gleaming lake and up ahead, as you move south, are magnificent snowy peaks. At the foot of the pass in the Vinschgau/Venosta Valley is a whole alpiney German-speaking world, though this is Italy.

The Swiss policeman's Bench dot car was photographed in Salzburg in 2009 by Caleb Maclellan. Caleb's photostream is at  Caleb is an extremely well travelled freelance programmer who lives in Colorado. His photostream includes glorious photos of the Alps in Germany and Switzerland.

The Swiss mountain puppies appeared on Benchsite in a previous post about big and small and cute and tiny. How do you get ten puppies to stay on a bench so you can get their photograph? Gini managed it when Arlette and Hoss had their litter of ten Greater Swiss Mountain puppies in 2000. They're not Swiss;  they're from Brushcreek Farm in Philipsburg, Missouri. Gini's photostream is at  For more delightful dog benches see

The woman on a bench in traditional Swiss dress is an unused antique postcard from Starpower99 at Etsy Her name appears to be Roserl. The shop is run by Ben, Michel and Tony Starpower in New York, selling photographs, coins, beads, jewelry, buttons and vintage textile clothing. There's a lot of interesting Swiss stuff, and a lot of Swiss people on benches in some very splendid vintage photographs. Miggy would like to make it clear that Roserl is a little older than Miggy is, or perhaps it's just the costume that makes her seem so.

At Latsch in Italy we took a cable car up to St Martin, at 1736 metres. From there we were told it was a two and a half hour walk back down the mountain but two and a half hours later we were only part way down and the paved road had turned to a narrow, steep path which left us clambouring over rocks on precipitous ledges. It was four hours before we limped into Latsch and caught the train back to the swimming pool at Laas, where the lifeguard's bench was curiously empty. For the importance of swimming benches see  

The Swiss Army knife shown is a Victorinox,  photographed by James Case in 2010.  Swiss Army knives were founded in a cutler's workshop in 1884 by Swiss pioneer Karl Elsener. The original Swiss Army Knife is now legendary and comes for different purposes: pocket, household and professional. The Victorinox knife shown is a small 'Officer's Knife' which is highly recommended for picnics. Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, is an authority on picnic benches. I wonder if he packs a Swiss Army knife in his Harrod's Hamper? 

The icy bench on the wintry lake front was in Nyon, in the Canton of Vaud in Switzerland, photographed by Yves Merckx in 2012. I am fascinated by ice benches and there are others already in Benchsite. Yves's albums include fetes and festivals around Europe, nature, panoramas, and beautiful wintry scenes.

The Heidi chocolate bars were photographed by «R☼Wεnα», who lives in Lecco in Italy. I have not personally come across these Heidi bars but I certainly like the look of them.  Rowena writes a lovely blog. I've copied her delicious vegetarian lasagna with courgettes, peas and mint. If you're into pasta there are plenty of tasty Italian benches, including The Mozzarella Bench, at

The chocolate shop which is chocka with chocolate bars is in Gstaad in Switzerland. It was photographed in 2011 by Oleg Sidorenko, aka oksidor, who is a publisher from Moscow.   His albums are full of Portugal, Spain, Thailand, Italy, Croatia, Las Vegas . . . Oksidor gets around. 

In 2015 we were desperately seeking benches in East Germany, Poland, the Baltic and the Netherlands. Traffic, crowds, blazing rows - I don't always get a good service from Miggy and Mungo on these trips. In 2013 for example, our trip to Greece was a bench mission impossible. Our bench-search in 2014 included Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. It wasn't all Alps. We also managed to find some tasty Italian benches, though ice cream was just as much of a priority. 

Here on Benchsite there are many fabulous European benches and much diversity. Twenty-eight EU countries, twenty-eight benches: how hard can it be? There's a whole alphabet of Dutch benches, and if you want to go beyond Europe, have a look at the fiesta of Mexican benches or the lovely benches of Las Vegas or Japan.