Saturday, 28 May 2016

The Ins and Outs of British Brexit benches

I don't do requests unless I'm asked to. But this is really important. People are asking me to explain all this business about Brexit benches.

On June 23rd British voters have to decide whether they're In or Out of Europe. We're on a knife edge.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdhancock/3772013250


The question is: 




https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BangTidyClothing



Here are the Ins and Outs of it.

Some people think we need to make a British Exit. That's the Brexit people. They argue that we don't need Europe. They want OUT. 

The OUT view is that too many benches from the EU are stacking up on our shores.


photo by Sheila B

Of course here in Great Britain we have a tradition of great benches. We are a seafaring nation so our seaside towns are full of them.


Chris Downer at http://www.geograph.org.uk


So are our gardens.




So are our sitting rooms.




We have benches in bluebells.




We have benches in forests.





We even have benches in phone booths.


http://www.benjaminshine.com/projects_to_use/btboxlounger.html 

In other words, the OUT view is that we have our own benches; we don't need any more.

OUT people have been known for a long time as Euro sceptics. Personally I don't believe in sceptics. 

Anyway, the OUT people want to say goodbye to the European Union.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pollyann/3292683030/

On the other hand, the IN view is that we are a very small country.





Maybe we're better off staying inside the European Union so that we don't end up alone on a very big globalised bench.


photo by Helen Danby

Also, our relationship with Europe is kind of like a marriage vow we made a long time ago; we may not be happy bunnies but, for better or for worse, we're still in it together.

  



Of course we hate being told what to do. We like to sit and ponder in our own British way.




We like to dance to our own tune, or indeed not dance at all. We are quite happy to sit on our bench while the rest of Europe dances around us.






We want to keep our identity, expressed through our benches.





And we want to avoid becoming the Sick Man of Europe.





Anyway, voting day is getting near so let's see how the IN/OUT argument stacks up.




I'm going to ask my friends and neighbours how they'll be voting but first I want to get the opinion of some of our continental friends.

In Austria everyone is on their bar stools talking about Brexit.





It's the same in Germany. Heinrich is from Slapbummel in Bavaria.



Heinrich says he is sitting on the ground because he lost his bench. Apparently he loaned it to Greece last year and hasn't got it back. 

So, Heinrich, what's your view on Brexit? 

Heinrich: You need to keep your hand in.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/vmos/163596195/

But we don't like Brussels.

And we don't like the Euro. The whole thing is so boring that it sends us to sleep on benches.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/97983311@N06/10144848176/

Heinrich: It's not just about money benches though.





Heinrich: We love Britain because your kultur is very British.





If we leave what will you do?

Heinrich: First I will yell OUTsch! Then I will send you a card.



www.etsy.com/BeastCoutureShop


Gee, thanks, Heinrich. 

Heinrich: Yes, here in Slapbummel we will be crying tears and slapping ourselves with grief. 

We'd miss you too, Heinrich. 

We love your alpine benches and listening to your ideas about how to sort out Europe.




Heinrich: There are no problems in Europe.

Are you kidding? It feels like the Slough of Despond.


The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, 1683

Next I travelled to Snowvenia to seek the opinions of two wintry friends, Stanko and Darko.





Hi there, Stanko and Darko. How's the weather there in Snowvenia this summer?


https://www.flickr.com/photos/merlune/6871724209


I just popped in to ask your views about Europe. I didn't want to freeze you out.

Stanko: We are wanting UK to stay with us in Europe.

Darko: Yes, better together.




Stanko: Is always better to huddle together to stay warm than to be out in the cold on your own.

I know what you mean. In Europe you have sex. In Britain we have hot water bottles.

I popped over the border into Slovenia, Snowvenia's less snowy neighbour. 

An elderly woman in Ljubjana didn't even know that Brexit was on the menu.




At Lake Bled, this woman's lips were sealed.





This Ljubjana girl was outspoken though; she thinks the UK ought to remain in Europe and she stood by the Three Bridges yelling STAY.






In Italy I stopped at Pisa to find out which way opinion was leaning.



At the foot of the Alps I found a man named Beppe at his workbench.





I asked him what he'd do if the UK leaves Europe and he said he'd send us a card.


https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ElseeCrafts

Charming.

After that I went off to Lake Como to have a gelato and chat to a little fellow on a blue bench.




When I asked him about Brexit he said Great. Although he may have said grape since that's the flavour he was eating. 

In the Netherlands everyone is talking about Brexit. 





Britain has been trading with the Dutch for centuries. And I myself have a whole brilliant collection of Dutch benches for every letter of the alphabet.


www.viaruygrok.com

The Dutch sit on benches and consider issues carefully.




 They are forthright in their opinions: Europe is the key to UK success. 





In their view, without Europe, the UK won't have a leg to stand on.


 http://studioroex.com


In putting together Benchsite I have had help from lots of Europeans, most notably Jench de Bench, a French chef from Potirons who edited my food bench story.  




Jench didn't care for my Reims wafer bench



He hated my Cafe Noir bench





And most of all, he detested my Mozzarella Boy.





When asked about Brexit I thought he'd give a Gallic shrug.


¯\_(ツ)_/¯


 But he didn't. The thought of a divided Europe made him sick.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/manssandstrom/4044103672/


Two years ago Benchsite featured brilliant benches from each of the 28 countries of the European Union. 


https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/HollysHobbiesUK#

We were united in diversity at that point though already there were fears about losing Greek benches from the EU.

http://www.yatzer.com/Winners-Announcement-Future-Bench-Mark 


I love Greece so the thought of losing its benches fills me with sadness. 




Plus I'd have to change the Benchsite header.



Next I popped over into Switzerland to see my friend Heidi, a goatherdess who is outstanding in her field.  




Switzerland isn't in the European Union so I asked Heidi what it's like living in a country surrounded on all sides by the EU.


https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TheDandyLionDesigns

One person I'd hate to be alone with is Blogda, who came from Krappistan in 2014 to help me show the EU benches. The theme was United in Diversity, though it became clear that there was nothing united about Blogda and me. 

She was bleating on about all kinds of things that annoyed me. 





Blogda seems to have an agenda of getting Krappistan into the EU even though her country is corrupt and very rickety.




So, Blogda, do you think it's good that Britain might leave the EU?

Blogda: Yes. UK out, Krappistan in.

But Krappistan isn't anything like the UK. 

Blogda: True. You very stupid country. Waste money.



https://www.flickr.com/photos/itison/6361426761/

I've got news for you, Blogda. 

The EU isn't going to want Krappistan and all its bleak and broken benches.

photo by Sheila B

Blogda: We get EU money to fix benches. 

She may have a point. Without EU funding, it makes me wonder if Britain's benches might look like this in a couple of years.

Closer to home, I've been asking people here on Paradise Island how they're going to vote.

First is Lord Brassica, gentlemen farmer and Fifth Earl of Drizzly. Here he is at Drizzly Manor with his faithful dog Pru. 




Hello Lord B, are you IN or OUT? What are your feelings about Europe?

Lord B: Europe? Is that the pink bits on the map?



No, you're getting confused with the British Empire.

Lord B: Yes, a splendid place! Cricket on the village green, God Save the Queen, scones for tea. None of that foreign muck. 

Pizza benches and whatnot.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/lirena/


Well, it's true that pizza comes from Italy but isn't pizza a good thing? And spaghetti benches too?


http://www.pabloreinoso.com/

Lord B: You're getting all tangled up here, Seashell. What's wrong with jolly old faggots and gravy I say. With Yorkshire pudding and a spotted dick smothered in custard you can build a smashing empire.  

But if we stay in Europe you can have all that, Lord B. And more too!  You can travel freely in Europe and sample all the delights of the continent. 

Lord B: Continent? Yes, of course I am. 

Let me put it another way: are there any advantages to leaving the EU?

Lord B: Yes, we can keep that Krappi woman out. And that Swiss woman as well. 

Brexitters like Lord B think we need to cover ourselves so that no one else comes to sit on our benches. 


https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2015_US_Open_Tennis


Lord Brassica's wife is Lady Jessica Brassica. She may have a more positive view of Europe since she spends a lot of time shopping in Paris.




Lady Brassica: J'adore Paris. 

Looks like you've spent a lot of Euros.

Lady B: Yes, I treated myself to the most adorable tiara. 



I notice that the flag you're waving is not a European one though. 

Lady B: I've recently been shopping in Manhattan.




Oh. I see you're with Troy. He seems to have a Union Jack. 

Lady B: Yes, he wants to make Britain great again.

He's American though. Doesn't he want to make America great again?

Lady B: It's great enough already.

Lady B runs Studio Ballyfrumpy from County Offhand in Ireland, where she employs the good ladies of Ballyfrumpy to knit for her. Here is one of their creations for St. Patrick's Day. It's worn by Troy, a pilgrim from Dry Heaves, Minnesota.




Lord Brassica: What is this American oik doing here? 

Do you mean Troy?

Lord B: As we told that Osama fellow the other day, you Yanks need to butt out of British affairs.

Golly, Lord B. I can see that Americans really get your goat.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/13010352@N04/2231157710

Lord B: What sort of barbarians are they? It's jolly bad manners to sit on a picnic table what. 

So, Lady B, are you a fan of Europe?

Lady B: Mais oui, bien sur.

So of course you'll be voting to stay in on June 23rd.

Lady B: No, I don't think so. I'd like to leave the European Union. They don't deserve my support.

But you run a business in Ireland; that makes you a partner in the common market.

Lady B: Nevertheless, I'll be saying au revoir.

I hope you won't regret it.

Lady B: Je ne regrette rien.

Speaking of Ireland, Sean and Seamus are Irish brothers who travel widely in Europe with their campervan. Here they are on the Singel Canal in Amsterdam.




Hi guys. You'll be voting to stay in Europe I guess?

Sean: Sure and begorrah we will! 




Seamus: Personally I think Lady B is full of blarney. 


https://www.flickr.com/photos/londonmatt/10040187875



Lord and Lady Brassica's son Root is a n'er-do-well who spends much of his time on benches, where he consumes great quantities of Belgian beer, German schnapps, French champagne, Spanish wine, Irish whisky, Italian grappe and just about anything with alcohol in it.



Hey, Root. You're a real connoisseur of European products. Will you be voting to stay in Europe?

Root: I'm not sure. Where's Europe?

  http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an24190093

Root's wife is Innocent, an ex-nurse and fashion model. Here she is waving the flag for Britain at the 2014 World Cup.





Hmmm. I've just noticed that the flag she's waving is not the Union Jack. 

Apparently she'll wave any flag that goes with her outfit. 

Some people can't decide which way to go. They're stuck and confused.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/d-illusion/4834774836/

Look, people, it's really important that you engage with the debate and vote in the referendum. 

These are voting booths. Just go in and make your mark one way or the other. 




Root: There's no bench. Where am I supposed to sit while I vote? And there's no bar so where can I get a beer? 

Our residents of Paradise Island are well travelled so in order to get their views on the referendum I had to do a lot of moving around. 

I caught up with Mikey the Mariner when his ship called in at Santorini.




What think you Little Sailor: are you IN or OUT?

Mikey: Well, I'm in port but I'm out on deck. 

Yes, but what about Europe?

Mikey: I think I'm in Europe.  

Mikey, you're in Greece. Why are you waving the flag of Sweden?

Mikey: I'm hoping to attract a mermaid.





Oh, never mind.  I'll see who else I can talk to about the referendum.

Tamsin and her fiance Garcon Orange are on holiday at the Grand Hotel in Budapest. 




Looks like a nice hotel. Is this visit helping you form your opinions about Europe?

Tamsin: I don't know anything about Europe. I've never been there.

Well, put it this way: aren't you enjoying the freedom to go wherever you like?

Tamsin: Yes, I love to go out on the patio. 




Garcon Orange: I went to Rotterdam before we came here.

How was it?

Garcon Orange: Orange.




I'm obviously not going to get any sense out of this pair. Let's move on.

Our local girls, April, May and June are on a school trip to Italy.



Ciao girls! You're getting to see a lot of Europe.

April: Yes, we went to Venice and had some gelato.




May: Then we went to Florence.




June: And had some gelato.

Can you tell us which way you'll be voting on Europe?

April: Why should we vote? 

May: What's in it for us? 

referendum is part of a democratic process where you get to make your voices heard.




April, May and June: OK, we'll vote but we want ice cream.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/4162664610/


As things stand, the ice cream has to meet EU regulations and be properly labelled. 

Troy: We have labels like this in the US: This cream is a non-dairy product. Or on a pack of peanuts This product contains nuts

This is exactly the kind of thing the OUT people hate. They don't find legislation about the shape of fruit and vegetables appealing.



www.wamhouse.pl 

Colonel Maize: I find the shape of some vegetables very appealing.





As a farmer, Colonel Maize, I wonder which way you'll be voting in the referendum.





I guess you'll be thinking of your farm subsidies and the European agricultural policies? 



photo by Sheila B

Colonel Maize: No, I'll be thinking of the lovely Carrot Girl and how it's jolly bad luck that she already has a boyfriend.





Golly, these are the kind of carrots that Brussels would hate.

Finally, the Boran sisters are two of our elderly residents here on Paradise Island.





What do you think about Europe, Cora? Should we stay or should we go?

Cora: Oh, I'd love to go to Europe, my dear, but my poor old legs won't cope.

As for me, I'm worried that leaving the EU might mean our freedom benches are taken away. 


http://www.spacehijackers.org/html/projects/guerrillabench



Of course we in the UK love our British benches.


Jan Constantine @ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/



But what will be the consequences of all this IN/OUT business?



https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BangTidyClothing


Leaving the EU would turn our lives benches upside down.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/schnappi/

Would we still be able to travel wherever we like with suitcases full of Marmite and Earl Grey?  






What's going to happen to British bench homeowners in other EU countries? My best imaginary friend Miggy has a beautiful little house in the Netherlands.




Is someone going to carry the house away?





And what about the bench?


https://www.flickr.com/photos/44358614@N02/13585640885


What about UK students who study abroad? What's going to happen to students at the Cyprus art school?


photo by Sheila B

What's going to happen to UK people employed in EU countries?




They'll get a clear message one way or another.
https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/spellandtell

It's sometimes said that the best thing between the UK and Europe is the sea. 

I hope my seashell throne will be ok. 






And what about my cross channel swim?




The OUT people say we can defend the realm without Europe. True enough, there are plenty of guardsmen at the royal palaces. 




But how secure will our borders be? Can we keep our cities safe?





Will we have enough police officers to patrol the streets of Britain?




Will we have enough money to support our infrastructure? I'd hate to see bridges and benches falling down like they are in Krappistan.




Blogda is holding the Union Jack because her country is too poor to have its own flag.


If there are restrictions on employment, where are we going to find good medical staff? 




Already many of our doctors come from other countries in the EU.


Dr Skill from The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan 1683

Our poor old National Health Service is staffed with nurses from all over the European Union and elsewhere. And that includes the bearded hipsters like this male nurse from Portugal.




The IN people predict disaster if the UK leaves the EU. 

The OUT people say we need more of the spirit of Dunkirk.


 http://www.flickr.com/photos/17033839@N00/

The worst thing about this referendum is the uncertainty.

What's going to happen if we vote to leave Europe? 

What's going to happen if we stay?


https://www.flickr.com/photos/saygoodbyetoeverything/8038433151/ 


Whatever happens on June 23rd and beyond, I hope there is peace and stability. 


http://www.flickr.com/photos/snurri/

And most of all, I hope our UK benches don't end up like the benches of Krappistan. 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/lara604/279938667



Credits

The idea of the European Union was formed in 1950 with the motto United in diversity. The EU certainly is diverse: it currently includes 28 nations with 503 million people and 24 languages. And quite a few benches. The first six countries joined in 1952: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. In 1973 they were joined by Denmark, Ireland, and the UK, then Greece in 1981 and Spain and Portugal in 1986. Another nine years went by before Sweden, Finland, and Austria joined. In 1989 the Iron Curtain came down and Eastern European countries began joining. In 2004 there was a huge expansion of new countries, including Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007 and finally, Croatia in 2013. Who's next? Bets are on Iceland and Montenegro. Krappistan's admittance is highly unlikely. 

JD Hancock lives with his wife and two kids in Austin, Texas. He's a hubsand, father, web-slinger, cyborg, photographer. One of the things he photographed is the couple on a knife edge, an image which is straight out of the camera: no tweaking, no color processing, no cropping, no nothing. JD calls it Paring. He explains that a paring knife is a small, plain-edged knife designed for peeling and intricate work. The dull side also makes a great bench for his tiny young lovers, who are part of his Little Dudes series, documenting the Little Dudes who live in his home. Weird, witty, highly recommended. https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdhancock/3772013250

The two referendum t-shirts are from Bang Tidy Clothing, an Etsy shop based in Sheffield UK. They have hundreds of designs on mens & womens tees, including a full range of Brexit messages. Should we stay or should we go? Some of the tees say STAY, some say go. Besides these, they do birthday tees, pocket tees, all over print tees, vest tank tops, hoodies, sweatshirts, polo shirts, aprons, cushions, tablet cases, bags, wallets, babygrows, bibs and even personalised embroidery dressing gowns and Beanbags.  https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BangTidyClothing

Sheila B lives in Cyprus and the UK. She is a brilliant photographer of benches wherever she goes. Colours, angles, interesting settings; she spots them everywhere. You'll find many of her lovely photos throughout my Benchsite stories. There are three here: the stack of off-season lounge chairs in Cyprus, the bench with a broken leg, the Cyprus art school, and the corn on the cob for sale for two Euros. Two Euros - what a bargain!  

These seaside benches were photographed  at Torquay in Devon in 2009. They're on the pier benches, looking along the to the west of the marina, with its continuous line of seating.The photo is by Chris Downer, who is a follower of the snooker circuit. While others are holidaying in Benidorm, Greece, Florida or Italy, he finds himself sampling the delights of Preston, Sunderland, Telford and Sheffield. And Torquay, obviously. Some of his great photos are on Geograph, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Torquay,_pier_benches_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1464815.jpg

The sitting room furnished almost entirely in Union Jacks is by Timothy Oulton at Harrods, photographed in February 2013. It was put on wikimedia by auroredg at  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Timothy_Oulton_at_Harrods_Union_Jack.jpg?uselang=en-gb

If you know anything at all about Britain you'll recognise the iconic K6 red phone box, which was designed in 1936 to commemorate King George VI's Silver Jubilee. In 2012 BT (British Telecom) invited a wide variety of creative people to play around with the design. Designer Benjamin Shine, a graduate of Central St. Martin's, turned the phone box on its side and made it into seating. It's called the BT Box Lounger and it's on his website at 
http://www.benjaminshine.com/projects_to_use/btboxlounger.html  He also does one in blue.

The joke about sceptics is by Tim Binns and features on the list of Best One Liners at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. If there's one thing I'm not sceptical about it's one liners - I love 'em. 

The little goodbye biscuit is a photo by M Kasahara, aka pollyann at https://www.flickr.com/photos/pollyann/3292683030/


Helen Danby took the lovely photo of the little creature alone on a great big bench. The tiny cat on the (medium) bench is Fundy. The lovely bench is from an old Quaker Meeting House on the Isle of Wight. Helen bought Fundy at a charity fund-raising sale, thus the name Fundy. For some purrrfect cat benches, have a look at Meredith's cat blog. 

The bluebells and the forest benches were photographed at the amazing National Trust property Colton Fishacre in Devon. The house is exquisite art deco and you can wander around the gardens all day and then try to resist the many temptations in the gift shop. 

I photographed the Swiss rabbits in the washrooms of Camping Boomerang at Pochiavo in Switzerland.

In 2009 Mungo and I cycled along the Danube bike path from Passau in Germany to Vienna. We cycled on both sides of the river and on a very rainy day we stopped at a pub at Marsbach where the bar stools were decorated with skirts and pantaloons. I regret that I did not get the name of the place but it's on the north side of the river between Weseneufer and the famous Schlogen Meander. 

It is a Benchsite tradition that each summer my husband Mungo, my best imaginary friend Miggy, and I take a trip looking for benches. 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.

Heinrich is from Slapbummel in Bavaria, which has a lively tradition of dancing and appears in my Alphabet of Dance Benches.  Like many other Europeans, I met Heinrich through animal editors dot com.

J, aka VMOS, wrote Stay on his hand as an anti-stress measure way back in 2006.Ten years later, it's still an important message. https://www.flickr.com/photos/vmos/163596195/

In 2010 Joel Kiraly travelled in Germany to cities like Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Nuremberg, and Berlin.The bench under the Euro sign was clearly a nice place for a quick kip. https://www.flickr.com/photos/97983311@N06/10144848176/

Kim Smith owns a dramatic web design company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She photographed the money bench in 2007.  Her photo sets contains lots of friends and family and her landscapes  make Michigan look like a beautiful place. In fact, Mackinac Island doesn't look so different from my own Paradise Island . . . http://www.flickr.com/photos/kimsmith/

The very British kulturfest was going on in the German town of Ganderkessee when we visited in July 2014. As it happens, Ganderkessee has its own kultur. You might have noticed the word gander in the name? Yep, the town is full of geese, all the same size but decorated in very different ways. That's kultur for you. 

My husband Mungo is sitting on a bench looking out at a glorious alpine scene. 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. Five hours later we finally crawled off the mountain. It was worth it for the view.

The Slough of Despond is from The Pilgrim's Progress, written by John Bunyan in 1683. 

Stanko and Darko come from the snow-bound republic of Snowvenia and they visited us in February when, in the depths of my winter despair, I failed to see the sense of their cheerful suggestions for making the most of being Frozen. Try any combination of the words ice, snow, cream, bench and fishing and you'll get the idea. Beware of snowy exclamation marks too! http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/frozen-ice-cold-benches-from-snowvenia.html

James Forsyth from Geneva describes himself as an amateur enthusiast. He photographed these very icy benches in 2012 at Versoix near Geneva.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/merlune/6871724209 He has photographed many icy things which are well worth a look. For more lovely benches from Switzerland see http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/getting-high-on-alpine-benches.html

The snow couple sitting on a bench were in the Edinburgh Botanic Garden in December 2005. They were photographed by Magnus Hagdor  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Snowmen_at_Edinburgh_Botanic_Garden,_Edinburgh,_Scotland-5Dec2010.jpg?uselang=en-gb

The Ljubjana woman, the Lake Bled woman, and the shouting blue girl are all photos I took whilst visiting Slovenia in 2014. What a fabulous place! 

The Leaning Tower of Pisa and Venice are pictures I coloured from the wonderful adult colouring book Inspired Colouring Travel, by Parragon Press. The whole world is in there and you can paint it any colour you like.  I coloured the Tour Eiffel in purple, which maybe isn't very adult. Other pictures of Florence, Spezia, Paris, New York, Chester, London etc. are from Steve McDonald's Fantastic Cities and Fantastic Structures.  These are the most fantastic colouring books EVER! 

The man doing work under a Roman aqueduct is an advertisement for something I saw in Italy. Don't ask me what or where or when.

Louise Clark is from Whitley in England. Her shop is ElseeCrafts, where they make greeting cards, prints, mugs, and artwork in their own unique style. The Good Riddance Luck card seems appropriate for some situations and I think there may be one or two European countries who might be stocking up on these to send to the UK.  https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ElseeCrafts

In Italy Miggy and Mungo and I ate ice cream every day at the unforgettable Lo Scalino in Abbadia Lariana on Lake Como.  At Lo Scalino Camilla Candiani makes home made ice cream every morning in her kitchen and sells it at her front door from 2 to 5 pm. Long before 2 pm we were already waiting for her to open the door. Favourite flavour? Grape! For more tasty Italian benches - not just ice cream - see http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/tasty-italian-benches.html

On one of the hottest days of summer 2010 Mungo and I cycled through the Weeribben National Park in the Netherlands. If you remember, it was a very hot summer and Holland were in the finals of the World Cup. Yes, if you're Dutch, of course you remember. Everyone was noisy. Everything was orange.
Cycling along the canals near Kalenburg we came upon this thatcher having a quiet break on a log bench. He seemed quite oblivious to the Holland-Germany game that was being shown on every television in the Netherlands. Goes to show what a bench can do for you.

In 2013 I gathered a whole alphabet of Dutch benches. And what an amazing lot they are! The Dutch designers use all sorts of materials to make benches you can delight in. As well as the one legged EEB bench, designer Nic Roex has transformed spades and car bonnets into benches. Nic (born 1981) graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague in 2009 and opened Studio Nic Roex in 2010 in Amsterdam. His work also appears on Black Bench Friday. His website is at  http://studioroex.com
and his Facebook is  https://www.facebook.com/StudioRoex 

Marc Ruygrok's XYZ work is actually a table but it is being used here as an honorary bench because I love it. He has created a wide variety of letter benches and furniture. The XYZ table and other works are at www.viaruygrok.com

The Gallic shrug emoticon was all over the internet a couple of years ago. I got this one from http://www.metafilter.com/141115/the-default-Internet-feeling- Its date is 14 July 2014.  

The puking pumpkin is by Mans Sanstrom, who is a software developer in Stockholm. Mans likes Halloween and it's from his 2009 Halloween album. https://www.flickr.com/photos/manssandstrom/4044103672/ He also has a lot of lovely baby photos. If it's Halloween benches you're after, we have some spine-tingling ones here on Benchsite.

Holly Hinton from Staffordshire runs Holly's Hobbies, a shop full of unique cross stitch charts featuring words, characters, symbols and geeky stuff, all available to download instantly. The 28 EU flags are beautifully done and you can't help but wonder whether the UK flag will be taken off. And how long it will be until the Krappistan flag has to be added.   https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/HollysHobbiesUK#

The black and white Athens Benchmark bench comes from the 2010 Athens Benchmark competition sponsored by Bombay Sapphire and supported by design journalists from Yatzer.com  The winning benches from the competition can be seen at http://www.yatzer.com/Winners-Announcement-Future-Bench-Mark   For lots more lovely Greek benches see  benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/greek-bench-mission-impossible.html

Our trip to Greece in summer 2013 was a Mission Impossible benchwise. Mungo was obsessed with boats. Miggy was looking for men and houses. And of course I had my swimming to do between the Ionian Islands. After a full week of hunting, we only found a few benches between us. Fortunately, the lovely harbour town of Assos on Kefalonia provided some beautiful waterside benches, one of which I use as the Benchsite header. 

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.

Rebecca Elliston is from Preston in England. Her shop is The Dandy Lion Designs, where she makes cute cards for fandoms or fun. She's got cards for all occasions. Please don't leave me alone with these people is a Bon Voyage card, or for some other type of farewell, perhaps even one country leaving a union of others. https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TheDandyLionDesigns

Blogda is one of the many stroppy and difficult guest editors I have had to put up with on Benchsite. I first used animal editors dot com, which sent me the lazy cat Meredith and the irritable Eddie, who turned my St. George's Day dragon blog into a primate nightmare. I then tried vegetable editors dot com, who sent me the disastrous Jench de Bench from Potirons in France. Just when I despaired, I found the lovely Ursula, who is our Unicorn in Residence here in Fribble-under-Par. She did romantic white benches and the beautiful peace benches for World Peace Day. Couldn't you just do with some peace? I could. Unfortunately, Blogda comes back from time to time and sometimes she brings her cow, Larry, from Krappistan.

Mark O' Cúlar is from Kilkenny in Ireland, though he now lives in Dublin. He photographed the Euro toilet paper in 2011, when there was apparently a great exchange rate. https://www.flickr.com/photos/itison/6361426761/

Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, is a gentleman farmer here on Paradise Island. He is a descendent, apparently, of a court judge who laid down the law on legal benches. He loves his horse Tonks, his dog Pru,and his 1947 Landrover, in that order. He indulges his wife, Lady Jessica Brassica with a replica mall in the basement of Drizzly Manor, a beach hut on the Esplanade, and unlimited amounts of cash for shopping. However, it has emerged that he doesn't know as much as you'd think about farm animal benches, especially cow benches or sheep benches. He knows a bit more about horse benches, learned from Tonks, and possibly something about dog benches from Pru. What he really knows though, is picnic benches

The pizza bench is by Liren Chen at https://www.flickr.com/photos/lirena/  The Mozzarella Boy and the Reims biscuit Bench are both from a previous story about Edible Benches. It's all rather complicated; I can't begin to explain it. Better just have a look.

The Spaghetti Bench is one of a series by Pablo Reinoso, a French-Argentinean artist and designer. Starting in 2006, Reinoso used public benches, which are anonymously designed and travel across cultures with an out-of-time, old-fashioned quality, as a starting point for his reflections . . . These new creations have multiplied and found homes in very diverse places. The fabulous benches can be seen on his website at http://www.pabloreinoso.com/en/Art-8-spaghetti-bench.html  and at Pablo's postings on Wikimedia.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Double_Spaghetti.jpg?uselang=en-gb 

The person with a Union Jack umbrella was a spectator at the US Open Tennis qualifiers in Flushing, New York. The photograph was taken on 25 August 2015 by Steven Pisano, who is from Brooklyn, New York.  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2015_US_Open_Tennis_-_Qualies_-_Spectator_with_a_Union_Jack_Umbrella_(20918335991).jpg?uselang=en-gb

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. She particularly likes yellow benches; she is no fan of pink though. 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 but last summer Lady Jess  spent rather a lot of time at her beach hut with Troy

Troy showed us some terrific Turkey benches at Thanksgiving. Doesn’t he look great in his lovely sweaters from Studio Ballyfrumpy? He breezed into our town a couple of summers ago. 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.

Goats love benches and they love picnic tables. The white goat sitting calmly on a picnic table was photographed by Jim h in 2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/13010352@N04/2231157710 The photo is one of a Flickr group called goats, antelopes, cows, wild sheep and deer. And that's not the only Flickr goat group: there's another one run by someone called goateatingshirt. If you like goats, 2015 was the Year of the Goat Bench. And if you're interested in picnic benches, our own Lord Brassica is an excellent guide.

Sean and Seamus really are Irish. They travel widely in their motorhome and send me photos of themselves on benches all over the world. They come back every year for the St. Patrick's Day benches though. 

The Blarney Castle bench is outside Blarney Castle near Cork in Ireland. You're meant to kiss the blarney stone, which apparently gives you the gift of the gab. I kissed it back in 1977 and I'm still waiting. The photograph is by Matt Brown, editor of Londonist.com and an all-round Londonophile. 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/londonmatt/10040187875

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   https://www.flickr.com/photos/national_library_of_australia_commons/6174070848   nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an24190093

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 at the 2014 World Cup celebrations she did a gorgeous Mexican wave.

Stay 2010 is the title of the stuck person who is rooted to the floor and cannot leave the sofa. I love it. My Spanish isn't brilliant but it's something to do with financial corruption. The illustrator is d-illusion, a grafista from Malaga in Spain. https://www.flickr.com/photos/d-illusion/4834774836/  

The election booths and the democracy seat are both from The Art of Democracy exhibition at Quay Arts on the Isle of Wight. It was summer 2015 and just in time to commemorate the 800 years of the Magna Carta. 

Mikey the Mariner is a saucy little sailor who sails around the world chasing mermaids and whale tails. He first appeared in a story of benches specially selected for World Oceans Day in 2013 and this is still the most popular post on Benchsite. He came back in September 2014 to rock the boat with some maritime benches. A warning though; he's a lusty little sailor and he doesn't always tell the truth.

Tamsin Pink 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.

April, age six, lives here in Fribble-under-Par with her parallel selves, May and June. They love sunny bunny Easter benches. The girls always turn up together to community events and are among the very few children here on Paradise Island. In March April, May and June travelled Italy on a school trip. Did they enjoy their bench by the Ponte Vecchio? Maybe. But they liked the ice cream best of all. I'm not sure what motivates young people but it makes you wonder if they could be bribed to vote with ice cream. 

Last summer we were all screaming for ice cream benches. Wonderlane from Seattle is simply wonderful. A Photographer Libre, she took some brilliant photographs in Mexico, including a delicious ice cream cup on a multi-coloured bench and a whole fiesta of other Mexican benches. Indeed she has a lot of bench pictures  available on Creative Commons at  https://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/4162664610/

The Zjedzony banana chair looks good enough to eat and indeed Zjedzony means eaten in Polish. The Zjedzony chair comes from Wamhouse in Poland www.wamhouse.pl   Wamhouse was established in 2005 by two people - a graphic designer/photographer and a civil engineer. The company is in Chojnice, a small town in northern Poland which is near the inspirational natural setting of the Bory Tucholskie National Park. Wamhouse creates both interiors and furniture, promoting not only the design and the products, but the region they come from.


Colonel Maize, a resident of a cottage here in Fribble-under-Par, has long been an admirer of The Carrot Girl. Sadly though, the Carrot Girl is rather too young for the Colonel and anyway, she already has a boyfriend. They're both from my Rude Vegetable collection in 2014. 

When Camden Council in London removed some of their public benches it was time for the Guerilla Benchers to step in. They turned up at 7 am armed with 18v hammer drills and two benches to be re-installed. Due to their cunning disguises in high visibility vests, the guerilla benchers were not questioned by anyone as they installed the benches. Unfortunately though, the drills ran out of batteries just after the first bench had been installed so in true workman style they retired to a cafe for a fry-up breakfast and cup of tea whilst the batteries re-charged. The missing benches were duly replaced and all was well with the world. The guerilla benchers would like to make it clear that they have NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with Space Hijackers.org. Have a look at their website and see for yourself. http://www.spacehijackers.org/html/projects/guerrillabench/guerrilla.html

Cora and Dora Boran are twins and life-long residents of Fribble-under-Par, both christened at St. Asphyxia's. If you're new to Benchsite, let Dora and Cora explain who's who and what's what on Paradise Island

The Union Jack heart chair is by Jan Constantine, a British designer, businesswoman and author who is widely recognised for her hand-embroidered cushions, accessories and patriotic interiors. In 2005, she introduced coloured felt wool to her designs (which had previously been created predominantly in cream and white linen), and released the Union Jack and heart design for which she has since become renowned. Constantine is widely credited as the starting point of a Union Jack renaissance in the UK, and is instantly recognisable in interior design for her patriotic themes. The photo at Wikimedia is by Camralphs, taken in 2011. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:9_SQ_UJKS-(9).jpg?uselang=en-gb

I have a habit of using grahamc99's photos because he has an eye for great benches and other interesting stuff. And because he's very generous with his photos. Fortunately for me, he made a trip to México City in 2009 and snapped the Upside Down bench on the Reforma.   http://www.flickr.com/photos/schnappi/ For muy fabuloso Mexican Benches see http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/a-fiesta-of-mexican-benches.html

Don't you just hate it when someone takes your bench away? The two woodland folk carrying a heavy log bench away are raganu kalnas - characters from Lithuanian folklore. They are at Witch Hill in Juodkrante, where a forest trail of sculptures was created in 1979. The photo, Long Bench, was photographed by IceM626 on his visit to Lithuania in 2013. Other albums in his photostream include New Orleans, Poland and Utah.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/44358614@N02/13585640885

If you've visited Benchsite before you'll know that I'm a very keen swimmer and here on Paradise Island I try to get into the sea every day. A cross channel swim is not really on the cards for me though. The no swimming underwater/no drowning sign was something I saw at a swimming pool in Slovenia. It was an enormous pool but no one else was there so I guess the sign put them off.

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.

Jo from Spell and Tell is a graphic artist in the UK. She makes prints, custom designs, downloadable prints and Christmas and winter decor items for her etsy shop. Be nice or leave is one of her retro style prints - she has many! A new one relevant to the Brexit referendum says All will be well. I certainly hope so.  https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/spellandtell

Pasukaru is a regular here on Benchsite, most recently in the story about benches for International Nurses Day in May. Nurses call all the shots so on Day 291/365 in 2010 his clones experienced a slight stinging sensation when receiving their injections. https://www.flickr.com/photos/pasukaru76/4642811593/

Dr. Skill is from John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1678). He's well known in Fribble, where there's someone who fancies him. It's Ursula, our Unicorn in Residence. Did he send her that hearty Valentine bench download? Dr. Skill correctly diagnosed Lady Brassica's Shopilius Extremis a couple of years ago. There's a lot of it about. And remember that Shopping is Not Just for Christmas.

The male nurse does not wish to be called a murse. Nevertheless, he is from the International Nurses Day bench story.

Say goodbye to everything. That's the photo with exploding chairs taken by Smoky from Taiwan. https://www.flickr.com/photos/saygoodbyetoeverything/8038433151/  I don't know what it's all about but I hope it doesn't happen here. 

“It would be the biggest stimulus to get our butts in gear that we have ever had,” said Peter Hargreaves,the billionaire stockbroker bankrolling the Brexit campaign. “It will be like Dunkirk again,” he added, comparing Brexit to the British military’s forced evacuation from Europe after France fell to the Nazis. “We will get out there and we will be become incredibly successful because we will be insecure again. And insecurity is fantastic.” Yeah right. 


The Dunkirk bench depicts The Spirit of Dunkirk, when thousands of small boats were mustered to rescue more than 300,000 troops from the shores of France in May and June 1940. This photograph is from Greg Duce, who saw the bench at the National Arboretum in Alrewas, England, in 2010. Greg has toured many of the battlefields of Europe and has an extensive collection of military, battle, and memorial photographs on his photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/17033839@N00/

The Let There Be Peace bench was photographed in 2010 by David Schwartz. It's on his photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/snurri/  where I was delighted to find it for our World Peace Day benches

The pile of wood shown is a photograph by Lara in 2006. Lara is a casual games artist from Vancouver, who now lives in Seattle. Her albums are full of photos from Canada, the US, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. https://www.flickr.com/photos/lara604/279938667