Sunday, 1 February 2015

Frozen! Ice cold benches from Snowvenia

Quick question: do you ever get the feeling that someone's icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter? 

Here on Paradise Island it's cold. It's freezing. It's a snowpocalypse.

photo by Kelly Riley

Our benches are covered in snow. 

Many have turned to ice.

photo by Lynne Woodward

You can't even sit on them. 

The eve of Saint Agnes was particularly cold:

St Agnes' Eve - Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;

And St. Hilary's Day, January 31st, is said to be the coldest day of the year. 

Winter has been around so long that some of us are feeling like caged birds. 

We could let it go but we're not going to. We need to send someone out on an epic journey to stop us being frozen. Anna is just the person to do it. 

She's going to need some help though. How about a rugged iceman and his loyal reindeer?

Meanwhile, here on Paradise Island our friends Stanko and Darko are visiting from Snowvenia. 

They are a couple of cheerful fellows, despite coming from a snowbound country. That's Stanko on the left, who looks very much like a penguin. And Darko is on the right looking, um, not very dark.

Welcome, guys. I guess you're used to this weather. 

Stanko: The cold never bothered me anyway.

Darko: Me neither.

OK, I believe in you. I guess you've got some good benches to show us from Snowvenia?

Benches? I didn't know anything about that, did you Darko?

I didn't. But we're going to show you some fun things to do on a freezing cold bench!

Yes, here are some very good ideas for celebrating the wonders of winter! 

1. Have a picnic!

Why would I want to do that? The benches are knee-deep in snow.

Yes, they're perfect for a picnic! 

Remember to bring bags of ice to keep your food cold!  

Or here's a tip: chip icicles off your bench to put in your snowcone! 

Hmmm. Any better ideas?

Slushpuppies are also good for winter picnics!

Or just a bowl of ice cubes covered with shards of ice! 

2. Go down to the seaside and enjoy the view!

WHAT view? It's absolutely bleak! I can't think what I'd do there.

3. Bring your swimsuit for a dip!

This idea leaves me cold.

Wait a minute, Stanko, it says No Swimming here!

You're right, Darko. Maybe better to swim in the lake!

Look, guys, I'm a very keen swimmer. But I draw the line at swimming with icebergs. 

Or polar bears.

I'm also not keen on all these exclamation marks.

We are trying to light up the dark days of winter!

Call me unenlightened but an exclamation mark doesn't do it for me. 

We feel very sorry for you, Seashell, you are so miserable! You know what they say: you're frozen when your heart is not open. 

You need some friends to warm your heart! Don't sit on an ice bench alone!

photo by Lynne Woodward

In Snowvenia we have many friends!

I suppose you sit together on benches in the snow?

Of course! And we fall in love there!

I already have two husbands, thank you very much. The last thing I need is another man, especially a snow man. 

Though actually this one looks kind of like His Excellency when he sits on the couch watching rugby.

Mike Lobb at 

Stanko, we are having such fun that we are forgetting to make our list of fun things to do in winter! 

You're right, Darko! I'll do the next one!

photo by Lynne Woodward

What's this? Someone collapsed in the snow from the sheer misery of winter?

No, this is ice fishing! What a delightful sport!

And ice skating is also jolly good fun! 

And ice hockey, Darko! Don't forget ice hockey!

If it's so much fun, why can this woman barely manage a grimace?

You are letting the storm rage on, Seashell. 

Well, maybe this will all make sense when I am older. 

Did you know you can make a bench from ice hockey sticks?

I did know that. And from skiis too!

photo by Kelly Riley

And also from sleighs!

Wheeeee! Winter is downhill all the way! 

Maybe that's why I'm snow bored. 

Very funny, Seashell! So you do have a sense of humour after all!

Our list, Stanko! We need to get back to our list!

4. Keep warm!

But do not run into the fire!

So how do I keep warm then?

How about a nice bowl of pumpkin soup?

Or a lovely latte?

Dress warmly. Wear a cardigan . . .

. . . and gloves . . .

. . . and a woolly hat with a smiley face on it! 

No offence, guys, but clothes like these are not going to keep me warm, with or without a smiley face.   

Just look at this bench in Fribble town centre: with one glove and a happy hat I'm not going to survive it.

Even Lady Brassica's woollen creations from her studio in Ballyfrumpy won't cope with weather like this. 

This Yak Coat is very attractive!

Tamsin is all wrapped up in her greenery but she's still freezing.

Maybe she needs a bench scarf too?

Beautiful! What an opportunity to embrace winter!

5.  Which reminds me, you could sit on a bench in the park and eat an ice cream! 

6. It's been snowing all over the globe!

You could take your family out to play in the snow!

7. There is loads of wildlife to draw on this time of year!

That's number 7, Stanko. I was going to do number 7.

Sorry, Darko. I'm getting ahead of myself. I didn't sleep very well.

Maybe that's because you're staying in the Ice Cube Hotel?

And we got up very early to go to church!

photo by Lynne Woodward

What fun! We had to dig our way in! 

We got there a little late but they still said Take a pew!

photo by Lynne Woodward

And then we couldn't get a taxi! We waited at the bus stop for ages and the bus never came!

The roads were too snowy I think!

We didn't mind. There was a lovely gang of lads having fun at the bus stop!

You know what, guys, you haven't really shown anything fun about winter. All you've shown me is a load of exclamation marks. 

I wonder how you survive there in Snowvenia. 

And by the way, where is Snowvenia?

It doesn't look particularly snowy on the map.

OK, now I'm convinced. 

Hey, look what we've got in our basket!


Exclamation marks? 

We have brought along some refreshment so we can all enjoy ourselves!

Wow, champagne! Thanks guys!

I notice you used an exclamation mark here, Seashell!

Yes, I allow myself one exclamation mark per blog. Champagne seemed an appropriate use of it. 

Old Noah and I tucked into a bottle earlier!

Looks like our police constable has helped himself too.

What a jolly fellow he is! Wyme the Crime really knows how to enjoy winter!

Well, one day when I'm old and wise I'll look back and realise that these were all completely normal events. 

But just now we've had a phone call from our friend Troy in Minnesota. He's keeping himself nice and warm in his big knitted sweaters from Ballyfrumpy in Ireland.  

I notice he has bare feet! 

Yes. Glasses, sweater, bare feet - it could only be Troy. 

Or could it?

This is a very good looking sweater! 

Bring on the winter! 

Bring on the snowflakes! 

Look, it's getting really cold.

And a lot of snow has fallen! 

Well, rugged Kristoff and brave Anna have failed to halt the Snow Queen's icy powers. So here you go, Darko, here's a bench for you to clear. 

As for you, Stanko, you can clear the snow off our new penguin bench. 

And then you can dig out my house.

photo by Kelly Riley

But we didn't come here to shovel snow!

We're visitors! We shouldn't have to do this!

I hate shovelling snow!

If I get sweaty my arms will melt!

So winter's such fun is it? OK then, guys. Get shovelling! 

That's another exclamation mark, Seashell. Just saying.


If you've been living in Antarctica in a snow hut without any communication with the world you may not know that Frozen is the original Disney movie, loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen. To cut a long story short, Elsa's icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter. And now in 2019 there's Frozen II, so we're feeling colder than ever. Let the Storm Rage On! 

For reasons which aren't entirely clear, her brave sister Anna sets off for North Mountain to try to persuade Elsa to warm up. The weird thing is, Anna wears a flimsy pink cape for this extraordinary journey. Anna doesn't travel alone of course.

She's accompanied by Kristoff, the rugged iceman, and Sven his loyal reindeer. (Any similarity between Kristoff and Troy is purely coincidental.) Please note also: the reindeer pictured is chocolate. There is also a snowman involved, name of Olaf. Apparently Darko tried out for the part of Olaf in the Snowvenian version of the film but didn't get it, which is why he's here shovelling snow for me.  

Kelly Riley is an artist and musician in Bend, Oregon. She took the photo of the first snow-covered bench near Bend in 2013, and also the bench made from skiis. She's a keen cross-country skiier and often skiis in the Seven Sisters mountains near Bend. The last photo is not my house but the Swampy Lakes Ski shelter. Kelly makes delightful wool sculptures from her own wool - well, I mean wool belonging to her own sheep. Nora featured earlier in The Year of the Goat and Baaaaaad Sheep Benches

The message Sit on a snow bench was seen by Lauro Maia in Urbana, Illinois back in December 2006. Lauro is a music producer from Pelotas in Brazil and apparently does a good imitation of himself.

The cold owl of St. Agnes's Eve appeared on Benchsite last time, when we did the Great British Bird Bench survey. St. Agnes Day is on January 21st, which means that the Eve is on . . . you do the math. In Aristotle's Last Legacy (1711) the instructions for St Agnes Day are that you should urinate on sprigs of rosemary and thyme, put the sprigs in your shoes, place your shoes at the head of the bed and repeat an incantation to the saint. I haven't tried it but if you do, let me know how you get on. 

The woman in the bird cage is a photo made by Kathryn (Kat B) on January 28, 2010. It is Day 246 out of 365 she took that year. Kathryn explains it like this: I wanted to personify winter and spring. I'm so sick of this cold, dark, and deary winter! Spring feels like it's just around the corner but I can't get to it just yet. *sigh* I miss the spring time. Anyway, everything you see in this picture is a brush. I created the room last night (yeah I cheated a little) using nothing but brushes I found on deviantart. Then I took a picture of me today, put on the dress using a brush and walla.  Kat B's photography is well worth checking out. 

Stanko and Darko claim to be from the snow-bound republic of Snowvenia but despite the map, I'm not convinced. In a future story I shall be checking out whether Snowvenia actually exists. In the meantime, find out why we all scream for ice cream benches  and Snowvenia's important role in the history of snow cones. 

Some confusion here I think. The wooden bench with inscribed arms is from Slovenia. That's Snow with an L. The bench was photographed by Miggy at Lake Bohinj. 

The first picnic table under deep snow is in the Wiehen Hills near Nonnenstein Mountain in Rödinghausen, District of Herford, North Rhine Westphalia, Germany. It was photographed in January 2010 and put onto Wikimedia by TUBS.

Cube Test is a photo by Irish Eyes, taken in Cashel, Tipperary in December 2010. For one solid week, this bench had two bags of frozen ice cubes--day and night  Irish Eyes is also known as Irish Typepad. He comes from Lancaster, Pennsylvania but currently teaches college courses in media writing, media studies, public relations and multimedia programming in Cashel, Ireland. And top o' the mornin' to ye if you're interested in Irish benches  

The Cold Seat is the bench with icicles. It's a photo by Joe De Souza from Ontario, taken in 2013. Just going by his albums, Joe likes vintage cars and trucks a lot, and also waterfalls   If you're interested in stuff that falls, see

Stefelix is from Italy and his profile shows an interest in spontaneous art. His album covers home, religions, plants and trees, modes of transport, Syria, and the beaches, including the bleak blue beach in Jurmala, Latvia. It was photographed on Christmas Day 2009.

 If you're a regular reader of Benchsite you will know that I'm a very keen swimmer. I even have my own swimming bench. I pay tribute to other people's swimming benchesThe sign says No Swimming but Chad Cooper says I don't think that'll be a problem; that's the title of the photo. Chad Cooper took it in January 2013. He lives in Buffalo and has a lot of gorgeous photos in his photostream

Then again, you always get someone who's prepared to break the rules. Andrey Papko is from Murmansk in Russia. He's an Extreme Winter Swimmer. On the day this photo was taken the air temperature was -15°C  and the water was a balmy  2°C 

The polar bear swimming is Patches, photographed by Valerie Engelleiter, who is a volunteer at the North Carolina Zoo (USA). She also works for Polar Bears International. If you look through her photos and sets you will see her love of bears. In November 2010 she was invited to Churchill, Manitoba by Polar Bears International and for her, seeing polar bears in their natural environment was a dream come true. Valerie's stunning animal photographs are at

Thanks to punctuation geeks like myself on Flickr, I was lucky enough to find a snowy exclamation mark! Isn't life great! It's by Peter Prehen, photographed in Leavensworth in January 2010. Here is Peter's comment on the photo: Somehow, imperfections from a knot in the grain of the wood, provided a slightly more gravity overcomeable place to cling and aggregate, thus further weathering this spot more intensensely than the surrounding grain which is probably more porous and dryer...

The lit up LED bench is from Led Furniture in Shenzhen, Guangdong in China. is a factory to produce LED illuminated furniture. Their LED products include a dance floor, an illuminated waterproof  ball, disco furniture, bar counters, chairs, cubes, tables, sofas, ice buckets, flowerpots and, of course, benches. I saw their products on Flickr at They also have a website at

The snow couple sitting on a bench were in the Edinburgh Botanic Garden in December 2005. They were photographed by Magnus Hagdor,_Edinburgh,_Scotland-5Dec2010.jpg?uselang=en-gb

Jim Henderson photographed Ice Hot Passion in Madison Square in New York City on February 11, 2010. Whose passion? Well, the snow woman stares coldly ahead as her mate loses his head (neck not reinforced by twigs) smooching with a warm woman on a sunny afternoon.   For some hearty Valentine benches, see

Yes, I have two husbands. One is Mungo, my imaginary husband and the other is His Excellency, who has a reputation for destruction, even when he means well. He's a philosopher and, to say the least, not a very practical person. You can appreciate his difficulties if you know his history. Mungo, on the other hand, keeps a good workbench. Read about both of them at

The snow man on a bench alone was a weary winter walker, according to photographer Mick Lobb at Geograph, who saw him on January 6, 2010 at Llantwit Major in the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales.  Mick decided that the best thing was to leave him there, overlooking the Bristol Channel. 

The blue person face down on the ice is my friend Lynne Woodward, who lives in Kiruna in Sweden. And she really is ice fishing. That's her sitting on an ice bench. She also took the photo of the beautiful church in Kiruna, and the icy pews inside the Ice Church. Lynne and Rolf run a very friendly B&B and know a lot about local customs and events.  Oh, that B&Bs were always like this! Lynne writes a lively blog at  It's Everything You Want to Know About Sweden and some gorgeous photos as well. 

The painting with the ice skaters is Szene beim Schlittschuhlaufen by Fritz von Uhde (1848-1911). Its source is  and it is in the public domain  

Benched. The Canadian hockey girl is from 1904 and is part of the Canadian Copyright Collection held by the British Library for the Picturing Canada Project (copyright number 15498).  It's Series no. 2, photo no. 2, photographed by William Elisha Maw.,_photo_no_2_(HS85-10-15498).jpg?uselang=en-gb

Nedra is a reading teacher who lives in Utica. She is a proud mom of two; she and her son saw the hockey stick bench outside a shop. Now that the kids are grown, Nedra has got herself a good digital camera and is back to taking nature photos. And hockey stick benches too.  Actually, you can make benches from all sorts of sports equipment, including brilliant bikes.

Maddy took the photo of the snowboard bench outside the Totally Board shop in Truckee, California. That was in 2011, when Maddy said she's a total beginner with photography. In the meantime, she's a dinosaur tamer and originates from Noneya. I wonder if she means Narnia? Maybe I've got the wrong lion, witch, wardrobe. 

Tigloulou's photo albums show that she is very well travelled but her special place is Chamonix in the Alps. She photographed the lovely sleigh bench there in February 2006.
I get high on mountains too; see my alpine bench adventure at

The brilliant cardigan-wrapped chair is called Chairwear from  Originally from County Cork in Ireland, Claire-Anne O'Brien lives and works in London producing textiles for furniture, space and product. Specialising in constructed textiles, material properties and textile technique are explored through hands-on experimentation. With a sculptural approach, Claire-Anne investigates form, construction and scale through textiles. Shows include London Design Festival, Milan Furniture Fair, Wool Modern and Spinexpo. In 2011 she received the Future Makers Award from the Crafts Council of Ireland.

Looking for company - alone and left behind. That's the single glove with dew droplets on it, left on a bench  (or put there to be found) in Bern, Aargauerstalden in Switzerland. Karsten Seiferlin from Neuenegg, Switzerland took the photo for a Happy Bench Monday in February 2012. There are quite a few snowy benches in his photostream

The little hats were photographed by Mungo at the Brighstone Christmas Tree Festival on the Isle of Wight in 2013. 

James Forsyth from Geneva describes himself as an amateur enthusiast. He photographed these very icy benches in 2012 at Versoix near Geneva. He has photographed many icy things which are well worth a look. For more lovely benches from Switzerland see  You will see my friend Heidi there and may recognise her; she's much prettier than the frozen Anna. 

Lady Brassica's Yak coat is from her AW2014 collection. Her designs are made at Studio Ballyfrumpy in County Offhand in Ireland, where the good ladies of Ballyfrumpy hand knit and hand crochet each quality item. Lady B is a fashionista and former model with Studio Joop from Overbearing in Holland. She loves shopping at her replica mall and having poetry read by Young Male Readers dot com. She is happily married to Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, a gentleman farmer and expert on both cows and picnic benches. But this summer Lady Jess has been spending rather a lot of time at her beach hut with Troy

The Bench scarf was given to me by my dear friend Sheila B, who takes many pictures for Benchsite. This particular picture was taken by me. For real warmth, you need a log bench fire though. Maybe also a comforting piece of cake

On January 4, 2004 storm chasers Patrick Cool & Tom Stefanac documented a major lake effect snow squall, which produced snowfall rates as high as 15cm per hour. The squall dropped 60cm of snow in the community of Wasaga Beach, Ontario over a 12 hour period between 9 am and 9 pm. In this image benches and tables located on the Pizza Pizza patio in Wasaga Beachare buried by 60 centimeters (24 inches) of snow shortly after 9 pm. For more images and a full account please refer to The file is reused under the Vaughan Weather License Agreement from  

Tamsin Pink is wearing the woolly green coat in a snow-blanketed town. The town, apparently, is Parry Sound, Ontario. It was coloured by me from the best-ever adult colouring book Fantastic Cities by Steve McDonald. Tamsin is the mother of the stork-delivered baby Isambard Kevin, who appeared in 2013 on the morning of Tamsin's wedding. That was a long time ago and now she has a different fiance altogether. That's Garcon Orange, a formidable fellow from France. Tamsin works here in Fribble-under-Par in the Not Quite Good Enough pharmacy. She has a rather odd perspective on life, as shown in the post she helped me with about big and small benches. If you think size doesn't matter, you ought to see it. 

The Visitor is the person on a bench and a pony in the snow.  It was digital challenge #163 for Ruby Blossom back in 2010.
Ruby gives thanks to the following:  Source photo#1# Ochileer  and Source#2~Sammydavisdog~    The pony is from Marilynjane at  and the bench comes from Ruby's own stock. 

The two ice blocks are not beds but benches. And they're not in the Ice Hotel but in a shop in Munich (Kältekammer (Globetrotter-Filiale) zum Austesten von Kleidungsstücken). The author is Mattes at

The bench under a snowy awning is apparently not a bus stop after all. It's called Winter in Kharkiv, photographed in January 2010 by Корниенко Виктор. The Source is  собственное фото

The Fribble Agro is as near as we come to a gang here on Paradise Island. The Agro consists of four n'er-do-wells. Root is the son of Lord and Lady Brassica of Drizzly.Whilst Lady B is gorgeous and Lord B is wealthy and personable, Root has none of these qualities. In fact, he has no qualities whatsoever. Biff is a purple menace and Sk8T is well, interested in skateboards. Finally, there's Hood-D, a strange character who looks like a halfwit but actually has an MA in Fine Arts. The Agro mostly hang out at the Fribble bus shelter but they actually have some hidden talents as critics, which became apparent in my Bus Stop benches blog last year.

The man pointing to a map is William J. Young of Drouin, Victoria in a photo taken in 1944. Drouin is obviously not Snowvenia; he's pointing to a map in Australia. The photo comes from the National Library of Australia on the glorious Flickr Commons site at

Old Noah dates from biblical times and has a history of saving animal benches. Here in Fribble he saved all our animal benches for World Animals Day. There are all the favourite animals, of course - tigers, camels, pandas, giraffe - but Noah also managed to get some lesser loved creatures - wombats, even a preying mantis - onto the ark. 

Police Constable Willie Wyme just about keeps the peace here on Paradise Island, though on one occasion Willie himself was jailed for an illegal smile. In his defence, there were a lot of interesting smile benches; it's just the one that was illegal. 

Troy is a very nice guy and showed us some terrific Turkey benches at Thanksgiving. He breezed into our town this summer. He's normcore and his occupation is Pilgrim. Apart from that, all we know about him is this: 1) he comes from Dry Heaves, Minnesota, where he learned to read poetry in a particularly alluring voice  2) he never wears shoes  3) he is extremely polite and calls ladies Ma'm  4) he speaks a lot of languages fluently 5) he carries a manbag filled with books, a violin and a ladder in case anyone needs to be rescued. Isn't it a coincidence that Stanko and Darko know him? And doesn’t he look great in his lovely sweaters from Studio Ballyfrumpy? 

Innocent is Lord and Lady Brassica's daughter-in-law, married to their numpty son Root at a festive Scottish celebration last year. Innocent has emerged from her convent nursing dress into something of a fashion icon. She has become a world class fashion model for Studio Joop, from Overbearing in Holland. How innocent Innocent is has yet to be determined. But I have to say, she makes a beautifully icy Elsa. 

The Brrrrrrrilliant Brrrr bench was photographed in Decatur, Illinois in December 2006. The photographer is Tim O'Bryan, who now lives in Chicago.

The Penguin Bench is the latest in a long line of community benches here in Fribble-under-Par. Normally they are commissioned by Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, in honour of something or other. On this occasion the people of Fribble just wanted to mark the visit of Stanko and Darko, and perhaps to show their gratitude for all the champagne. 

If reading this has made you feel cold, why not warm up with two of my hottest blogs - Dogs Days of August and

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