Monday, 1 August 2016

Rio 2016 - Brazilian Bench Olympics

It's the Rio Olympics! 

This is Brazil, land of magnificent beaches . . . 

"Bench on beach at sunrise" by Jonathan Wilkin / CC BY-SA 3.0

. . . and football

. . . and glorious sunrises . . . 

"Sugarloaf Sunrise 2" by Donatas Dabravolskas / CC BY-SA 4.0


It's the home of carnival . . .

. . . and anteaters . . .

. . . and, um, Brazilians.

And great benches, of course. 

Rio 2016 runs from August 5 through to August 21st. Then there's the Paralympics from 7 to 18th September.

This year's Olympics promises to be one of the best Bench Games ever. 

The Bench Cycling event looks terrific!

There are challenging bench jumps.

It will be interesting to see if athletes can go the distance. 

It's winter in South America and there's no cherry blossom just yet.

People are arriving from all over the world. 

Mafalda has come from Argentina.

Grete made the long journey from Snowvenia.

Drida Kivera and Friego Rahlo are on the Road to Rio from Mexico.

The Irish lads, Sean and Seamus, have driven all the way from Singapore in their campervan.

And since Pele is unwell, Diego Maradona is here, lending a hand with the futebol.

But before we got to Brazil, we were home on Paradise Island limbering up on our benches.  

Oh yes, we don't just sit there on the bleachers like pumpkin heads: we like to take part.

This is Rawl, our personal trainer. 

He knows how important it is for athletes to get the right bench to press.

And to get the right trainers. 

And the right attitude. 

It's no good sulking when the going gets tough.

But now to Rio where Vinicius, a friend of Rawl's, will be our guide to the Games. 

Bom dia, Vini. E aí?

Vini: What's up? 

Rio Olympics of course! 

Vini comes from the Santa Marta favela in Rio.

Apparently he's a great fan of Beach Volleyball. 

He's right behind the Brasilian team.

Coincidentally, Vinicius is the name of Brazil's mascot for the Games. 

It's also the name of Brazil's great musician, Vinicius de Moraes. He was chosen as the mascot because he has the agility of cats, the sway of monkeys and the grace of birds.

Rawl: A musician of many talents.

So, Vini, we know that Rio is fabuloso. What have you got to show us?

Looks like you're pretty good at benchpressing.

Rawl:  Yes, I have been coaching him.

Vini: I show you around Rio.

I'd like to see the colourful favelas.

Vini: First we go to Copacabana beach.

Excelente! What will we see there?

Vini: Beautiful ladies on bench. Tall and tan and young and lovely. 

Rawl: Rio is famous for its beaches. 

Vini: Yes, also for beautiful ladies. Like Girl from Ipanema. 

Rawl: When she walks she's like a samba that swings so cool and sways so gentle that when she passes each one goes ahhhhh. 

Is this her bench?

Vini: Every bench is ladies' bench. 

I'm getting the feeling that Vini and Rawl like Ladies. 

Rawl: I have just spotted a Lady on the beach. 

It's Lady Jessica Brassica from Paradise Island. Looks like she's going for a Bronze.

Rawl: Very nice suntanning. I'm going ahhhh.

Vini: I invite her to my favela.

Well, Vini, she's married to Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly. He's the wealthiest man on Paradise Island. Probably best to leave her alone. 

Vini: At hotel last night she welcomes me. 

Vini: Our benches were on fire! 


Rawl: And here's Ursula, our Unicorn in Residence from Paradise Island.

Vini: A little bit pretty. Quite strange. Maybe better without glasses.

Ursula is very keen on ice cream. She's also a history boffin so she's here to witness the historic XXXI Olympiad. 

Ursula: Yes, the Games this year are groundbreaking because this is the first time they've been in South America.

Ursula: South America is a continent of 12 countries, most of them south of the equator and

I came here for sport, Ursula, not a geography lesson.

Ursula: How about history then? Here is a vintage poster of the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul, created by a Danish artist. We wouldn't use the word handicappede now, of course.

The Rio Paralympic Games are from 7th to 18th September. These include all the usual sports, plus events like sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketballAnd for the first time, there'll be a Paralympic triathlon too. 

Ursula: You see? History in the making!

I just hope there's no hurdles though. I have a phobia about hurdles. I just can't get over it. 

Rawl: The Games are about to start. We need to get to the arena.

Wow! What an arena!

Vini: This is no arena. This is art museum.

Ursula: Yes, this is the Museu de Arte Contemporanea. It is one of the architectural triumphs of Rio, along with the natural wonders of Sugarloaf Mountain and the spectacular setting of Guanabara Bay.

How clean is the bay? Can I swim in it?

Vini: No problem. Bench fishing is an Olympic sport.

Where is the River of January? Maybe I can swim in that?

Ursula: There is no River of January. That's a misnomer. The Portuguese explorers who arrived here in January 1502 mistook Guanabara Bay for the mouth of a river. 

OK, Ursula, I think we're getting a bit bogged down in history again. 

Ursula: Of course the wildlife of Brazil is very interesting too.

Eeeeek! These look like rats!

Vini: This is capybara. Nice little guys. Very cuddly.

Ursula: There are still wild jaguar benches in Pantanal. Brazil has the largest wetlands in the world.

Vini: And caimans and anteaters and tapirs and snakes.

Obrigado, Vini. That's enough Brazilian wildlife.

Then Vini sees a girl on a bench. She's tall and tan and young and lovely.

Vini: I know this Inglaterra girl. She's like a samba. I go ahhhh. 

Rawl: It's Innocent. She's travelled to Brazil from Paradise Island.

Which is weird because Innocent is the least sporty person I have ever met.

Which sport are you doing, Innocent? 

Innocent: I'm here to support Team GB.

Rawl: Why are you waving a Greek flag then? 

Ursula: Why are you wearing a Mexican hat?

Innocent: I always wear what looks good.

Vini: Looks very good! I go ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Rawl: I think we'd better get on and watch some sport. 

Yes, there are 42 sports in 306 events to get through and there are 33 different venues across Brazil. In September there are 528 Paralympic events. 

Rawl: If we're going to see everything we'll need to watch some matches back-to-back.

photo by Sheila B

Vini: Tennis, anyone?

No, tennis is a racquet.

Ursula: I prefer table tennis.  

Rawl: Table tennis is just a lot of whiff whaff.

Yes, this activity doesn't ping my pong.

Innocent: I like rugby. Some of those rugby players are very scrummy looking.

Fortunately, Rugby Sevens is in the Olympic Games this year. 

Seven players, seven minutes each side. 

Sweat, muscles, black teeth. What's not to like?

Innocent: I quite like water polo. 

Who can resist a bench full of fit men in bonnets? 

Now I'm going ahhhhhh. 

Definitely it's hotting up here in Rio. 

Rawl: I think we all need a break from the court.

Ursula: I could do with an ice cream cone.

Rawl: I think you'll find this is the Olympic Torch.

Vini: I've carried quite a few torches for women.

The less said about that the better I think.

We sit on some benches down by the water. My bench is lime green, a hot, tropical colour which I associate with Brazil.

Apparently Innocent does too. 

Vini: Very nice Bossa Nova skirt. Swings so cool and sways so gentle.

Can we stop with the Ipanema thing now please. 

Ursula: Bossa Nova is a fusion of samba and jazz, which originated in the 1950s and was very popular into the 1960s. Nowadays samba is the dance associated with Brazil but retro bossa is also very cool. 

Innocent: I prefer zumba.

Vini: Next Olympics, you win Zumba Gold!

While we sit on our bench an event seems to be unfolding right in front of us. 

Vini: Bench punching. Olympic sport.

Rawl (who happens to be an ex-lawyer): Is this legal?

image from

Vini: In Brazil, yes. Very popular spectator sport.

In the Bench Destruction event, it appears that anything goes. 

Vini points out that the athlete from Krappistan is choosing to kick rather than punch the benches.

It's Blogda! We know her. She visited us from Krappistan a couple of years ago and caused chaos with our European benches.

Blogda reduces the benches to a stack of sticks. But she's not as good as the competitor from Japan. With just a couple of moves he demolishes the bench, sets fire to it, and kicks away the ashes.

Innocent: This sport is too violent for me.

Ursula: Me too. I'm a peaceful creature.

I don't approve of the destruction of benches but when I say so, Vini gets a bit Latin tempered.

Rawl: The mood is getting too weighty. Can we lift it somehow?

The Bench Lifting event is held at Baia do Sancho, which is said to be the best beach in the world. 

We make a quick flight to Natal and then head down to the beach, where the first benchlifter is Troy, an American from Dry Heaves, Minnesota. A man of letters, Troy is better known for winning the Poetry Olympics. 

We cheer him on and Troy lifts the bench with great elegance.

Further down Copacabana, The Beach Volleyball players are having a quick fag between matches.

Vini knows them, of course.

Vini: Meus amigas bonitas.

After too much Beach Volleyball we race for the cycling, which is just getting started. 

Saddle up . . .

On your bikes . . . 

Get set, GO!

The velodrome is rather overgrown isn't it?

Vini: No, this is Tour do Amazon.

One cyclist makes it as far as the edge of the forest. 

One of Us On a Tricycle by Stephen Gregory

And then a couch bike catches him up. 

Rawl: It looks like a two-way race.

By then the humidity of the rainforest wears heavily on the cyclists so in the end it's a very special athlete who wins; he's one who's used to wet conditions.

Fish on a Bicycle by Stephen Gregory

Meanwhile, at Maracaná Stadium a man is vaulting over a horse. 

Innocent: I don't see a horse. Is this equestrian or what?

No. It's gymnastics. 

This man is hanging in there over his bench sofa.

And an athlete from Team GB is well-balanced on the balance beam.

Then it's the skateboarding event.

We are very lucky that on Paradise Island we have our very own Olympic team. 

Ursula: Paradise Island is well represented by the Fribble AGRO gang, which includes Hood-D, Sk8T, Biff, and Lord Brassica's son Root. 

Vini: They are at Olympic Village, where they make some damage. 

Yes, the Agro are not known for their gentle ways. At Fribble-under-Par our benches are frequently demolished. 

Rawl: I coached this team. Both Hood-D and Sk8T are excellent competitors.  

Not knowing her flags, Innocent accidentally supports the Swedish guys.

Then, waving flags for the USA and Greece, Innocent changes into an outfit to inspire Team GB.

Vini is certainly inspired. At lunchtime he invites her back to his favela for a little doce de leite.

The rest of us go down to the beach for feijoada stew. 

Ursula: They put everything into this stew: black beans, sausages, and all bits of pork, like trotters and ears. 

Miggy tastes something a bit porcine with a hint of bench.

Afterwards she falls asleep in a deck chair.

At 5 o'clock we're back at the stadium for the skateboarding. 

From the looks of the seating, it isn't going to be a big event.

We break out the sparklers and cheer on our team.

Hood_D is practising but he can't quite make it over the bench.

Rawl suggests that his hood isn't aerodynamically suited to the job. 

The competition is bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Rawl: Looks like one of those capybara fellows.

But then a proper skateboarder leaps forward. 

One jump and it's over. 

Hood_D feels the agony of defeat but there's no arguing with Olympic judges.

It's all so exciting! No wonder I always fancied being an Olympic swimmer.

Not in a pool though. 

Too much concrete.

Call me fussy but I don't care for grass swimming either.

Rawl: I agree with you. Dryland swimming is for athletes who don't like to get wet. 

Me, I'm an open water swimmer. This is me at five fathoms, swimming for the starfish bench.

Vini: I like to watch women swimming. Costumes are lovely.

Innocent: I find I'm a better swimmer without my costume.

Golf is back in the Games this year. In Fribble-under-Par we don't go in for golf. Being constantly reminded that you are under par isn't good for competitive spirit. 

Rawl was going to join Team GB but unfortunately he left his clubs on a bench somewhere.

We stop at a beach shack for Caipirinha, the Brazilian national cocktail. Then we have some beer, pão queijo (cheese and bread), and a delicious condensed milk flan called pudim. 

 After another plate of cassava chips no one feels like sport.
image from

It's evening and the sun is setting over Rio. Christ is in the clouds.

"Jesus in Clouds by sunset 2" by Donatas Dabravolskas / CC BY-SA 4.0

It's the end to a perfect day. 

All is quiet in the Santa Marta favela.

Ursula treats herself to an ice cream soda at Ipanema and imagines herself as the Girl. 

In the Baia Guanabara Lady Brassica and Troy enjoy a serene sail and a bit of poetry.

At Copacabana Beach the Agro are celebrating their epic fail. 

Innocent, on the other hand, seems to have landed Olympic gold. 

In Rio's overheated gyms the benchpress teams are getting warmed up for a big day tomorrow.  

Bench pressing is hard work; the women's benchpressing team is completely worn out already.

Rawl suggests that as an athlete you need to be determined. So, even on a busy day like today, I keep practicing my swimming.

And you need to stay optimistic about what you can achieve.
Good advice, Rawl.

In tonight's race in The River of January I think I might just have the edge.


Stephanie Goins and her husband Michael have a store called My Wonderful Walls.  Most of their products are designed by Michael but they license many pieces as well. The  art for the Brazilian flag was done by artist Bruce Stanfield

Jonathan Wilkin took the beautiful photo of a bench on the beach an sunrise. The photo was taken in July 2008 at the Guaratiba Resort, Southern Bahia in Brazil. It is on wikimedia under a creative commons license. 

Donatas Dabravolskas took two stunning photographs which appear in this story, both of which are available through Creative Commons license 4.0 International on Wikimedia. These are categorised as quality images on Wikimedia Commons (Featured pictures) and you can see why. The first photo is Sugarloaf Sunrise, taken in April 2016 and showing Rio and the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain as seen from Tijuca Park.   

The second photograph by Donatas Davravolskas is Jesus in the Clouds, an amazing capture of the statue of Christ the Redeemer, known in Portuguese as Cristo Redentor. The photograph was taken in March 2014 at sunset. Completed in 1931 and 38 meters high, Cristo is the largest Art Deco statue in the world. It is frequently struck by lightening and in a storm in 2014, suffered a lost thumb. In the swirling clouds of a Rio sunset, the photographer does it full justice.    

There are two photos in this story from the GTSA Gateway to South America website on Flickr. One is the colourful orange carnival photo from Rio's 2013 carnival. The other is a player from the Brasil Beach Volleyball team, photographed (rather closely) from behind.   For a gateway to South America, have a look at their beautiful photos. 

In 2012 Peter the Anteater was on a bench at the University of California at Irvine. He's apparently checking out UC Irvine's Facebook Timeline, taking it all the way back to 1957.  If you knew someone at Irvine you can probably find them at  Otherwise, you can check out UCI's photostream at

I love decals and the Decal Trend shop has all the decals you could ever want, including the Brazilian wax. What could be more Brazilian than a hot wax? There are also fantastic sportsmen and women posed over a beautiful white sofa, and some other sofas too. I chose the gymnast, but it would have been any sport or dance you can think of. Other categories include history, animals, animation, music, movies and even yoga.  Decal Trend shop is an affordable way to have a unique home.

The artesanato (handcrafted bench) was photographed by Márcio Cabral de Moura in 2012. It was seen on Ilha de Italmaraca Island at Nova Cruz, Pernambuco, Brazil.  

We've done bikes on Benchsite before. There was some confusion about a bike being a bench and/or a bench being a bike. We've done sports before too. My best imaginary friend Miggy picked out all the good sport benches, including some that made their way to Brazil. 

Simon James (Bearpark) likes a bit of high jinx on Flickr Bench Mondays. He's the guy attempting a trackstand on a park bench (August 2010) and then feeling light as air after losing a pound on a diet in September. and Simon lives in Gateshead UK with his lovely wife Claire and his dog Alfie. He mostly works from home (research and consultancy) which means he can listen to  music all day long and also make forays out to photograph benches. 

Niccolo Caranti is a student from Trento in Italy. The guy riding his bike on a bench was at Morecombe Bay in 2007. He certainly is getting A Look from the passerby. The photograph is from the photostream of Niccolo Caranti at

Keary O. is a musician, photographer, DJ and drinker of orange juice, now living in Portland, Oregon. That's not him riding the bike across across the picnic tables though; it's Howie. Keary O's photostream is at  For a more conventional take on picnic tables, see Lord Brassica's guide

What is the law on benches anyway? Is riding a bike on a bench legal? Do you need a driving licence for that? You'd be surprised. Let Rawl, an ex-lawyer, give you the lowdown on legal benches

Spring's Invitation is by Samuel Yoo and yes, it's cherry blossom but it's not from springtime Japan. It's October 2012 in Extrema, Minas Gerais in Brazil. Why is there cherry blossom in Brazil? In researching this story I found that around two million Brazilians are of Japanese decent. I didn't know that. Sao Paulo, Brazil is Samuel's hometown, though he currently lives in Seoul.

HP Jen has one of those photostreams that takes you around the world. There are albums of quality pictures from, well, just about any place you can think of. In this story there are two of her photographs from her Argentine Adventures. One is Mafalda, who is sitting on a bench in the San Telmo neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.  Mafalda is a well-known, much loved cartoon character throughout Latin America and elsewhere in the world. The other is Diego Maradona 

Drida Kivera and Friego Rahlo are Mexican artists who moved to Paradise Island a couple of years ago. They caused a lot of trouble with their noisy fiestas but some of our neighbours loved them. Best of all though, Drida and Friego guided us through the amazing benches of Mexico, including the incredible avenue of benches in DF (that's Mexico City to most of us).

As the marvelous Internet Archive Book Images shows, bench pressing goes back a long way.  
The man bench pressing dates from 1916. It's an image from page 266 of "A manual of physical training and preparatory military instruction for schools of the United States; a modified Swiss system intended to provide for the strong common national defense of America. The man limbering up is also from this archive (1917)  
Benchpressing might have been the spirit that built America. Or maybe it was wild west benches

The pumpkins on benches look like serious sport spectators to me. They were photographed in 2008 by Valerie Everett, who has lots of lovely bench photos and has been on Benchsite before. Think autumn and then fall for some autumn benches. Valerie lives in Tuscumbia, USA.  

Our benchpress trainer here on Paradise Island is Rawlings Benchleigh-Preston, who used to be a barrister in London. He also funded the witty Trainers benches in Fribble park, which appeared only last week and will take some time to break in. The park benchpressers are not what they seem. One guy is benchpressing. But Root, son of Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Frizzly, is not actually benchpressing; he got drunk the night before and passed out like this and is just trying to get up.  Find out all in the ins and outs of bench law at

Pararescuemen applicants were bench pressing a wooden log in a mud pit during a screening process held by the Air Force 306th Rescue Squadron in Tucson, Ariz. In this test the applicants do a timed 3-mile run, 1500- meter swim, calisthenics, and other various tasks. The photo was taken by Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce, U.S. Air Force on April 21, 2006. This image is a work of a U.S. military or Department of Defense employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

The planker (that's a p, folks, not a w) is the man face down on the bench, who is one of the incredibly talented sports men, women and indeed children, from I've had this link for several years and it appears that iplanking may be for sale, so I can't vouch for it.

Summer at Salty Creations Design does original watercolours and paintings, including the pretty watercolour map of Brazil in shades of blue and green. It's just in time for Rio 2016. She has also done a colourful watercolour map of the world in two sizes.

Vinicius is a popular name in the Portuguese language. It dates back to Roman times and in 2016 it's the name of the Olympic mascot, as well as Brazil's famous musician Vinicius Moraes. In Zalau, Romania Andi crochets exquisite amigurumi animals, crocheted tiny dolls, miniature dogs, teddy bears, tiny bunnies, small mice, mini characters, fairy tale critters, soft toys and animal dolls. Her Vinicius mascot is just in time for the Olympics.  

Like many cities around the world, Rio has a lot of informal housing which, in Rio, are called favelas. Rio’s 1992 City Plan defines a favela as a “predominantly residential area, characterized by occupation of the land by a low-income population, precarious urban infrastructure and public services, narrow lanes and irregular alignment, plots of irregular shapes and sizes, and unlicensed construction, in violation of legal standards.” In Rio 95% of favela homes are built of brick, concrete, and reinforced steel and 75% of them have tile floors. Residents put decades-worth of income and physical labor into the construction and consolidation of their homes. Though favela homes may look basic on the outside, they often have electricity, running water, indoor plumbing, large-screen televisions and,in over 44% of cases, a computer. Sadly, over 22,000 families in Rio were evicted in preparation for the Olympic games.  

The Girl from Ipanema is indeed tall and tan and young and lovely
and when she goes walking she's like a samba that swings so cool and sways so gentle that when she passes, each one she passes goes ahhhh. Written in 1962 with Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes, the English version by Norman Gimbel was made famous by Frank Sinatra and won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965. A Brazilian bossa nova jazz song, The Girl from Ipanema was a worldwide hit in the mid 1960s and is still the epitome of Brazilian cool.  Here is the 1962 original   Amy Winehouse did a jazzier version (2014)  

At Gunness Creative, based in New York, designer Kim Gunness-Reece produces handmade sketches, remastered on the computer, printed on specialty fabrics, then used for creating unique products. Kim grew up in Trinidad and is a seasoned designer, illustrator, foodie and mom. Her academic background at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NYC built a solid foundation in art and design. Her art print Favelas de Brazil is a digital download which reflects the vibrant colours of Brazil's informal housing. Other products at Gunness Creative include infinity scarves, throw pillows, tea towels and all kinds of brilliantly designed downloads.  

Rio is Barbara Eckstein's Other Town. She photographed the Copacabana girls on the bench at Garotas do Leme back in 2012. Barbara has whole albums of lovely pictures from her frequent trips to Brazil.

Whenever Dylan Passmore visits a new city he brings his camera along and that helps him to get to know it better. I know what he means; you notice lots of little stuff when you're walking around with a camera. Dylan is an urban planner based in Toronto. He visited Santa Catarina, Brazil in 2014 and there he photographed a mosaic blond on a mosaic bench.   No, it's not the girl from Ipanema. 

Lady Jessica Brassica is a fashionista and former model with Studio Joop from Overbearing in Holland. Now she has her own fashion house at Ballyfrumpy in County Offhand in Ireland. (By the way, we've got some great Irish benches for celebrating St. Patrick's Day). She loves shopping at her replica mall and having poetry read to her by Young Male Readers dot com. She is happily married to Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly but last summer Lady Jess  spent rather a lot of time at her beach hut with Troy

The joke about getting a bronze medal in Suntanning is by Tim Vine, a master of the one liner. It was voted one of the best jokes of the 2012 Edinburgh Festival. 

Ursula Makepeace is our Unicorn in Residence here on Paradise Island. She's extremely knowledgable about history, as shown in the story about romantic white benches. She can tell you the history of ice cream benches too. She knows all hearty heart benches because she has a heart. But most of all she's a peaceful creature who campaigns for Benches Not War. Just imagine it's World Peace Day.

artPause, based in Coventry in the UK, is full of contemporary art and canvas prints by artist Michael Tompsett. There are maps from all sorts of places around the world and also very interesting sheet music maps. There are skylines and cityscapes, world and country maps, city maps, text maps, and each of the US States in watercolour. The map of South America shown in the story is watercolour on a vintage background. 
There are also watercolour maps of each of the South American countries and, shown previously on Benchsite, a Cat Map of the World - just the thing for World Cats Day.   

You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find good images of the Paralympic games. Morten Hoffmeyer runs Out of Copenhagen, an original vintage poster shop.  There he is selling an original vintage poster from the 1988 Paralympic games in Seoul.  The poster is signed and dated by the artist, Bjørn Wiinblad, who is one of the best selling Danish aritsts, though lesser known in other parts of the world. He is (among other museums) represented at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Wiinblad wrote on this poster "Olympics for the disabled" and the graphical design is made of three racing athletes in wheelchairs. According to Hoffmeyer, the craft of Wiinblad is often colorful, lush and full of humor. He was inspired by the sumptuous oriental style far from the Nordic stylish line. This poster (and other Wiinblad work) is available through Out of Copenhagen at 

Netty & Di create colourful lifestyle designs, such as the vibrant art print of Rio's Oscar Niemeyer Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum. A key architect of his time, Neimeyer designed over 500 structures, including the iconic buildings of Brazil's capital city, Brasilia. Netty and Di, based in Manchester, are a design duo creating contemporary and colourful prints for the modern home and family. London, Paris, Sydney, Barcelona, Rio, or indeed, Manchester  - their products make home a special place, wherever you live in the world.

Loose Petals shop  in Chicago has THE most wonderful city art prints, posters, note cards and canvas prints.  Artist Karen Young is a classically trained fine artist and designer from San Francisco, where she began her career and learned her trade. If,like me, you love travel and cities, you'll appreciate the retro-inspired style and colours of this work. And there are sooooo many cities to choose from! We'll start with Rio and go from there.  

There have been many concerns about water quality for aquatic events at Rio. Would I swim in Guanabara Bay? Maybe not. However, the bench fished out of the river was the river Mystic in Connecticut, not in Rio. The photograph, taken in March 2014, is by Eric Heupel at  Eric likes photographing wildlife and birds and other living creatures at

Aidan Wakely-Mulroney is extremely well travelled in Canada, the US, Europe, Brazil and other parts of South America. He has lots of albums from places across Brazil so if, like me, you're curious about Brazil, here's the place to look. Apart from Brazilian buildings, he photographs landscapes and wildlife, such as the Capybaras (Capivaras) by a park bench at Campo de Santana, Rio de Janeiro in 2014.

The jaguar is one of the many amazing animals still in the wild in Brazil's vast forests. Steve Wedgwood lives in Oakland, California and is retired from the US Postal Service. This gives him time to spend in galleries and museums, which he did in 2010 when he visited the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco. There he photographed the Jaguar Bench, a 1993 work by Judy Kensley McKie (born 1944).

Innocent is Lord and Lady Brassica's daughter-in-law because she unwisely married their numpty-but-very-rich son Root. She has emerged from her convent nursing dress into something of a fashion icon, becoming a world class fashion model for Studio Joop, from Overbearing in Holland. But just how innocent is Innocent? This trip to Rio gives us some clues I think. 

The Tennis ball bench is by Tejo Remy and Rene Veenhuizen at in Utrecht. The two designers studied together at Utrecht School of Art and at Department 3D-Design; they have worked together since 2000 and have a worldwide profile.  'By making everything our material, the world is our toolkit. We transform the familiar and incorporate the circumstances. By applying this as a kind of design rule, we create our own freedom.'

What a racquet! The Bulldog tennis bench is at the Mississippi State University tennis courts in Starkville, photographed by Morgan Harrison in February 2010. 

A bench on an outdoor table tennis table? Why? I saw loads of these when we were desperately seeking benches in eastern Germany last summer. This one was in Lippstadt, photographed by Andreas Levers back in 2008. Andreas lives in Potsdam where I was lucky enough to be staying.  

In my view, Rugby Sevens is a welcome addition to the Olympic Games. The seven puppies are from the wonderful Internet Archive book Images photostream. More specifically, it's an image from page 113 of "The new book of the dog : a comprehensive natural history of British dogs and their foreign relatives, with chapters on law, breeding, kennel management, and veterinary treatment." The book's author is Robert Leighton (1859-1934), published by London New York: Cassell in 1911. The puppies are six week old Great Danes, otherwise known as The War Dog of the Danefolk, well worthy of men. Call me naive but these puppies don't look particularly warlike to me.

In 2006 Sebastian Adel took a brilliant photo of the Croatian Team reserves on the bench at the Junior Water Polo Championships in Velenta, Bihor. That's in Romania, where Sebastian is a marketing manager. The Croatian team didn't win that day though; the Hungarians won. 

Do It Tennis make tennis court equipment, including benches and chairs. Of course you need a bench on a tennis court because you'll need a break from the court.  I found this bench on Flickr at

Sue Amaral is a native New Englander whose family tree dates back to the 1600's and includes both the Mayflower Pilgrims and Native Americans.  Her ancestry-inspired art includes slab built pottery, driftwood signs, sea inspired jewelry and cottage furniture. She especially loves incorporating sea glass or sea pottery with quality settings to create one-of-a-kind keepsake jewel. Sue's delightful Road to Rio Olympic torch is a ceramic handmade pottery ornament which is hand-painted with underglaze, gloss glazed and kiln fired. It's a great way to celebrate the 2016 Olympics.

Guilherme Tavares is The Egg Man. He is the Walrus. He is a graphic designer from Pelotas, República dos Pampas, in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. He photographed the lime green bench at Pelotas back in 2011. His photostream is worth a browse for its unusual subjects and vibrant colour. I loved his series of Errorscapes.  

I'd like to say that no bench was harmed in the making of this blog but I'm not at all sure if this is the case. The guy punching a bench is from Epic Fail, a site which features pranks, weird stuff, shocking news, and a lot of humour which can win or fail. Humour/Bench/Punch was shown on 15 January 2013 and had 542 Fails and 88 Wins. It seems to have failed quite a lot but probably that's what it's supposed to do.

The spectators in glasses are watching the 2006 eclipse in Side, Turkey. This brilliant photo is from The Exploratorium, a museum of science, art, and human perception located at Pier 15 in San Francisco, California. They believe that following your curiosity and asking questions can lead to amazing moments of discovery, learning, and awareness and can increase your confidence in your ability to understand how the world works. They also believe that being playful and having fun is an important part of the process for people of all ages.

Blogda came from Krappistan to help me with the Europe Day benches. The idea was to illustrate European diversity by showing one bench for each of the 28 countries in the European Union. It should have been easy.

Darumas are hollow dolls which are often given as gifts because they are seen as symbols of perseverance and good luck. They are often sold in the vacinity of Buddhist temples. The daruma in a pile of ash was photographed in Japan in 2014 by Beggs, aka Brian Jeffery Beggerly. Beggs describes himself as a code monkey, who now lives in Singapore. He has some brilliant photos from his travels in Japan.

Troy breezed into Paradise Island last summer. He's normcore and his occupation is Pilgrim. He has a strong sense of Thanksgiving and knows a lot about Turkey. 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 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.  

Alexandra Xubersnak is a natural redhead and basically an unduly decent British girl exploring a few suppressed and narcissistic sides of her inner self through Secondlife and Flickr. Oppositional Benches is a stock oddity: back in 2011 she did a summer clean-up to reduce her stock of leftovers.The two women smoking on benches are for her own pure fun (and ours).

Scarabike in Japan makes bikes mostly. They're beautiful, bespoke quality bikes which bring together Japanese craftsmanship, engineering excellence, first-class materials and elegant, understated styling. Designer Hiroshige Koike also made the Scarabike Bike Bike Stool, seen at Tokyo Design Week in 2009. 

Jeremy Petrus (born 1973) is from Montreal. His MishMash bench was made in collaboration with Italian bike saddle maker Selle Royal ('selle' is Italian for saddle). The designer explains that "Mishmash is the result of the combination of two designs: Nelson's 'marshmallow' sofa and Castiglioni's 'sella' stool . . . Mishmash is more of a functional sculpture than a comfortable sofa. My goal was to study and apply basic principals through a classic exercise, and of course, to pay tribute to some of the greatest." His website shows the wide range of his work: objects, interiors, graphics, performance art, moving images, etc.

The Big guy is One of Us On a Tricycle. He and the Fish on a Bicycle are both sculptures by Stephen Gregory, photographed at Cass Sculpture Park in West Sussex in 2009. For more about bike benches and my bike trip down the Danube with my best imaginary friend Miggy, see 


Mark Stosberg from Richmond, Indiana seems to work a lot with bikes. Most of his photos on Flickr are about the topic of bikes-as-transportation, especially the Yuba Mundo, Big Dummy, bakfiets and the bikes-at-work trailer. Bike guys will no doubt know what this means. In the story Mark is pulling the girl and the couch. This trailer can apparently pull up to 300 pounds so might be suitable for hauling Miggy to the cake shop. It was photographed in 2009 and appears on Mark's Flickr photostream at 

The bike facing both ways is of course not a real bike, not in the sense of riding down the Danube anyway. It's called Art Bike II and is . . . um . . . an art bike. It was shown at the Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco in 2006. the photographer is Todd Lapin at

Aloha Stickers in Hawaii makes all kinds of decals; animals, sci-fi, fantasy, religious, place names, etc. There are lots of sports decals and the gymnastics guy vaulting over the horse just had to be in this story.  It's also, of course, in the Year of the Horse Bench story. 

The Fribble Agro gang consists of Root Brassica, Biff (the purple snarling one), Sk8T, and Hood_D. They hang out at the bus stop and believe it or not, they know a thing or two about bus stop benches. 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, as became apparent in my Bus Stop benches blog last year. Biff, on the other hand, came into his own when we had a purple Christmas.  Well he would, wouldn't he? 

Recycled skateboard benches are everywhere.  Lollefee photographed this one in Wellington, New Zealand in 2008.  Lollefee must live nearby, judging from the albums of New Zealand people, cities, and food. 

Bugsy Sailor is a web geek in Lansing, Michigan. He photographs stuff for his Flickr photostream hometowninvasion. This includes lots of skateboards and the farflung travels of Rice the squirrel. In 2007 it was Rice on a skateboard in New Mexico looking bright eyed and bushy tailed.

The pig bench was seen outside the Healdsburg Charcuterie in Healdsburg, California. The photographer was Niall Kennedy, a software developer currently living in San Francisco. He likes hiking, dogs, food, travel, and scenes around his home and work in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

Yes, I was at Hayling Island on England's south coast and yes, I did have a doze in a yellow deckchair. But no, this isn't me. It's someone who was painted on a beach hut. I hope I wasn't the inspiration for the painting. 

Robert Galloway is a noob that takes photos, listens to music, likes to skate, film, draw -- anything that he can have fun doing and expressing himself. His hometown is Emo, Ontario and he currently lives in Regina. Back in 2009 Kenny Westover photographed him at Fort Frances skate park jumping over a bench.  Whether it's an Olympic style jump I couldn't say.

She may be a bit too young to be an Olympics judge but I love this girl's dirty look! She makes the disapproving rabbits look . . . well, approving. Her father photographed her in these woodshop safety glasses in 2013.  -

If you follow Benchsite you'll know that I am a committed swimmer. Maybe not as committed as some people though. See my tribute to serious swimmers and the swimming benches that support them. My Swimming Bench is well documented on the post called, not surprisingly, My Swimming Bench. You've seen the bench, you've heard the story, now read the poem. It's at   

The lovely starfish bench appears throughout Benchsite because there are lots of sea stories here. Try Mikey's Marine Boat Benches (they rock!) or his naughty, much-loved Sea benches for World Oceans Day, always a Benchsite favourite. 

I have always been fascinated by swimming pools, whether empty, full, or green with slime. I tend not to swim in the latter. This pool was at a campground in Agen in France. The water was there, the diving board was there, it's just not very appealing when there is scum all around the edges. OK, fair enough, it was almost November and the campground was closing the next day. But still.

Mike Cogh from Adelaide has nearly a thousand Humble Bench pictures from his travels around the world and he is featured regularly here on Benchsite.  Mike has an eye for public art and also, luckily for me, an eye for benches; he finds them everywhere. The swimmer shown here in her brightly coloured bathing cap is a mosaic bench at the Marion Aquatic Centre in Sturt, Adelaide in 2014.

The Swimmer appeared in London parks in May 2011 as part of an advertising campaign for the London Reality Show's London Ink. The Swimmer is 46 feet long and 10 feet high. He was photographed in Greenwich Park by Chris and Karen, who have loads of swimmers in their photostream at I am fascinated by The Swimmer's realistic feet though concerned that he has his mouth open a little and is swallowing too much grass.

The Vasa Trainer Pro machine is used by Olympic gold medalists, professionals, and champion swimmers for their dry-land workouts. Developed in 1990, it provides 200 functional exercise choices which help people get fit for swimming and other physical activities. The Vasa Trainer costs $899 and is available  Based in Vermont, the company's products include training machines, accessories, upgrade kits, replacement parts, apparel and training materials. 

The woman sitting on the post is modelling a two piece swimsuit in 1946 in Tampa, Flordia. The photograph comes from the State Archives of Florida, available at

Derek A saw some abandoned golf clubs, bag and all, on a bench in Akishima-shi, Tokyo in 2007. Hmm. Makes you wonder. Maybe some golfer got  p'eed t'eed off with the whole thing and left them there.   Golf clubs are not the only thing left on benches though; lots of stuff gets lost and found on benches

Over-indulging is a hazard at all ages. The little cake eater was photographed in 2008 after eating too much birthday cake. Thanks to Scott Whigham for the photo. Other photos of  Whigam family activities can be seen at   For more cake and more than enough log benches see  

The woman collapsed from the exhaustion of either ironing and/or bench pressing is from  Craig Lötter writes a personal blog about life, travel, parenting, programming and fanboy pursuits. In 2015 his website Dad and the Code won the Best Personal Blog category in the African Blogger Awards. Craig is a 35 year old South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. He's husband to a wedding cake baker and father to two little girls. Back in 2011 Craig's blog featured a joke about the double standards of Iron Man and Iron Woman. Two completely different things, as the photo of the exhausted Iron Woman shows.

The Baby Barbell Deadlift is a photo I saw on the website of Dai Manuel, who is a  Cool Dad, Husband, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Author, Blogger & Digital Influencer. He is achieving a "FUN"ctionally Fit Life through Encouragement, Education and Community. That's what his website says.


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