Friday, 1 December 2017

Lagom benches for a no nonsense Christmas

Tis the Season again and this year I'm going to get it right.

 I'm just going to show something really simple.

I'm not going to get bogged down in tinsely Christmas benches.

I'm not going to be all trendy by picking up on the latest cultural references to lifestyle choices. I'm going to stick with the Swedish concept of lagom, which is all about balance and simplicity and equilibrium. 

Look how nicely these deer are balanced with the birch trees and the benches.

Lagom is about moderation in all things. Lagom är bäst as they say in Sweden. Enough is as good as a feast.

So one mountain, one chair, one microwave. That will do nicely.

image by Lynne Woodward

There will be no masses of benches this time.

No benches too large 

photo by Helen Danby

or too small

It's about getting everything just right. 

And no wasteful stuff. 

Christmas presents this year will be useful and no nonsense. 

Because Lagom is also about sustainability. 

Here are a couple of upcycled fellows who fit the bill for Christmas.

Golly, they look cold. They could do with a hand-crocheted jumper.

Or a bag of Benches.

As we're talking about Sweden I could introduce some very cute, Christmasy tomtes

I could show a lot of bright, fun, glittery, Christmas stuff on benches, and some red and green benches, and a seasonal elf. 

But no, there will be no gimmicks this year. 

Unlike last year, I'm not going to lure readers in by showing adorable animals. 

I could show you some lovely Swedish dalas but that would be tempting fate.

I don't want to get caught up in a themed story where the theme takes over the story. That's what happened last year when the deer benches came out just in time for Christmas.

Some of the deer were very cool, especially well dressed ones like this splendid fellow.

Everyone who was anyone was putting on their antlers . . .

their furry ears . . . 

photo by Viki Reed Photography

. . . and their best red noses.

But a Christmas frenzy is lagom kul. It's over the top. 

In Sweden going over the top is frowned upon, though apparently drinking a lot of alcohol and coffee and lighting a lot of candles is perfectly ok. 

It's quite tricky being Swedish actually. Here is a brief guide provided by illustrator Daphne for her etsy shop messymydesign.

So, there you go. Swedes sometimes go over the top like snow goes quite near the top of benches.

We're back to the key elements of lagom again aren't we? While we're defining things, here's a clear definition of lagom, displayed with no fuss, in perfect balance on a pretty, modest bench.

Like this bench, lagom is a lifestyle trend simply and moderately framed.

my photo, Besancon citadelle, France

Sweden has been called mellanmjölkThe Land of Semi-skimmed Milk. I'm not sure if this an insult or a compliment. Some people might be okay with the watery blue stuff that is skimmed milk. Me, I prefer the unhealthy luxury of full fat. 

Speaking of which, the Swedes have another concept which is all about coffee and pastries.But it's not just about grabbing a styrofoam cup of takeout coffee that tastes like mud, even though it was only ground this morning.

my photo, Freshwater, Isle of Wight

No, for a proper fika you set aside time for kaffi and pastries and savour the moment with your friends. 

Words like fika and lagom are everywhere this year. Is lagom the new hyggelig? 

In 2016 the Danish Hygge was the word of the year. In case you missed it, just think warm thoughts about benches. Imagine them wrapped in cozy, stylish wool . . . 

. . . or snuggling up under beside an open fire.

Here is my best imaginary friend Miggy's bed. A bed with flannel deer sheets is definitely hyggelig. 

So is gingerbread. Here is IKEA's gingerbread bench.


Last year everyone was buying hygge stuff for their houses. Hygge houses are warm and snuggly with lots of sheepskin rugs and candles and cardamom buns coming out of the oven.

Last year I was also trying to show some splendid deer benches. Antler benches were a big thing.

Miggy had a nice rack specially decorated for Christmas. 

Sadly, in showing the deer benches last year I got carried away. I realise now there were too many deer . . .

. . . too many Santas . . .

. . . and too many reindeer reindogs.

I got caught up in decorating my house for Christmas and before I knew it, the deer wallpaper had taken over.

Every room had deer-centric wallpaper.

Yes, though I love them deerly, for Christmas last year I got altogether too carried away on the subject of cervines.

This year I'm avoiding that, though. 

Of course, I'm well aware that Swedish houses are very pretty and colourful.

Their benches are brilliant too.

There were so many brilliant deer benches to fawn over.

These decorative plates are deerlicious! 

And who doesn't love a bambi bench?

(Spoiler alert: it doesn't go well for Bambi). 

Sorry, I'm not going to make that mistake again. 

No more arty antler benches.

No more cheesy puns about benches that cost a lot of doe. I'm going to take a dose of my own venison. 

So, no more snowflakey ideas that melt into slush.

No more getting in over my head.

image by Kelly Riley

Yes, folks, I'm going to be moderate and stop the Christmas blog here, even though I'm just warming up.

I'm just going to show you how I've decorated my house in two simple colours - red and green.

This year I've kept it very lagom

Here is a Christmas reindeer. It's fully sustainable clipart, and better still, recycled from my blog last year. 

What could be more lagom than that? So, as they say in Sweden, 

God Jul och Gott Nytt År   


Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without some brilliantly Christmasy benches. In 2015 we here dreaming of purple ones. For a more traditional Ding Dong Christmas though, see  If lagom is not your thing, have a look at the full fat indulgence of my 2016 Hygge Christmas deer.

The Christmas house at the start of the story is simply beautiful. Melinda Stuart is a retired historian from Ontario, Canada, who has lots of architectural photos in her photostream.  It's the Vance house at Christmas 2015. The Vances live in Buncombe, North Carolina and the thing about the Vance's Christmas house is that it's low key, a reminder that in the early 19th century the holiday was not yet celebrated in the Victorian way that we do today. There is no decorated tree or commercial activity. Gifts were few and handmade, if they existed.

I like wall stencils and Cindy at Innovative Stencils carries a large selection of nursery and kids' room wall decals, as well as an ever-growing selection of tree and forest decals. I've used her pretty birch tree wall stencil, which can be used with or without the two deer. Vinyl wall decals are a quick and an affordable way to redesign a room and Innovative Stencils also carries a selection of damask stencils that can be used on walls, fabric, cakes and almost anything else.

Lucy Lazarova lives in Scotland where she makes very fashionable invitations for all sorts of events. She also has an assortment of attractive Scandinavian gnomes, including Swedish tomtes, which she will make in any colour you want. Lucy’s dream crafts are well worth a look.

Mike Cogh lives in Adelaide and photographed the gnome bench and many other benches around the world which I have used widely on Benchsite.  Mike has an extensive set of over 800 Humble Bench photographs at 

The lovely Babychamp deer belonged to my dear friend Effie, who had no idea why I loved them. As Japanese people are very fond of benches, the deer featured in a story about Japanese benches a couple of years ago.

Tis the Season is the title of the bench with lovely deer cushions. Cajsa Lilliehook is a photographer from Portland. She runs a number of fashion and photograph blogs, such as It's Only Fashion in Second Life®. Her column at Shopping Cart Disco called What I Like features art and fashion photos of Second Life from Flickr and fashion blogs. On Flickr I found her Tis the Season photo of a bench from December 2015.

My friend Lynne Woodward lives in Kiruna in Sweden and takes amazing photos there, such as the abandoned chair and microwave in the snow. In my Frozen story are several of her photos of Sweden -  ice fishing, 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 crowd of benches is facing the harbour at Seahouses, a town in Northumberland which is halfway between Newcastle and Edinburgh. It's sometimes known as the gateway to the Farne Islands. The photographer is David Lally, who took the photograph in 2008 for Geograph.

In the Nathan Forget photostream  Ian's Antlers is an album of superb antler-wearing. There are brilliant moose, ram, deer, and other cervine creatures. Antlers 2 is the moose antlers and Antlers 8 the buck Both photos were taken in December 2011 in Denver, Colorado and Nathan has a whole album of beautiful elk photographed at his Christmas cabin in 2009.

The lovely dog in red antlers was photographed by Viki Reed in Nov 2012.  Viki Reed is a photographer from New Jersey. She is a former waitress, camel wrangler for Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular, comedy club employee, wardrobe assistant at The Public Theater, film and tv production staffer, writer and photographer who also has serious fine art skills. She has lived in New York (upper east side), Hollywood, The Valley (in LA), and New Jersey. She would love to live in the UK some day and would also love a studio to call her own.

The girl with nose and antlers was photographed in Dec 2015. It's in the photostream of  Shena Tschofen (pronounced Shay-na, not Sheena.)  Here's what I know about Shena: she's originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and now based out of Montréal. She graduated from the National Circus School in 2016 and has been on tour with Cirque Éloize's new production, SALOON, as a musician and acrobat. In her free time she can be found knitting, enjoying the outdoors, or making puns in multiple languages. 

Daphne at messymydesign is a brilliant illustrator and she has an excellent guide to being Swedish in her etsy shop. Being Swedish involves wearing stripey tops and woollen hats, getting intoxicated every day, and lighting candles with every meal. You also, apparently, have to hunt for mushrooms, drink a lot of coffee and hang up stars at the start of winter. Wow, there’s quite a lot to being Swedish. Besides this thorough guide messymydesign has some very cute cards, handmade gifts, and cats. I LOVE her cats. And in case you’re feeling smug about being English, you’d better have a look at the guide for that too.

Carl Drougge took the photo of the bench almost buried in snow. It's from his Winter in Stockholm album and was taken in Hornstull, Stockholm in December 2012.

In Avon, Ohio Joanne is a mum and a graphic designer, among others things. In her Paperieshop at etsy she sells DIY printable templates, instant downloads and wall décor. Sensibly, she has a definition for hygge, and also one for lagom, which is neither excessive nor sparse, but looking, feeling, and being in perfect balance. The wall art digital file with this definition is a very lagom image, in that it is beautifully displayed on an attractive bench that is thoroughly in keeping.

I wouldn't want you to get the idea that I am in any way sponsored by Bench dot or any other company. Far from it. The stuff in the bags are my very own purchases from the Bench dot outlet store. None of them fit me and they are all the wrong colours but never mind, they bear the Bench message and that's what's important. 

The coloured pages (Swedish houses, dala, wallpaper, snowflakes) are all from the wonderful Scandinavian Folk Patterns colouring book for grown-ups. I have lot of colouring books and this is one of my favourites.

Hygge was the word of the year 2016 in the Collins and Oxford dictionaries. There are more than one and a half million #hygge posts and zillions of hygge photographs on Pinterest. So many hygge books were printed that most people got one for Christmas. For a detailed analysis of hygge and its various cultural meanings, see Charlotte Higgins in The Guardian November 22, 2016. She goes so far as to suggest that the Danish hygge was  hijacked into a commercial frenzy that turns hygge into something far less cuddly than it sounds. 

BlueMacaronDesign in Illinois do printable wall art, printable quotations and more. Of course, lagom is one of the concepts they cover and so is Fika. BlueMacaronDesign has a convenient definition for us which is available as an instant download. "From the Swedish kaffi, or coffee in which the syllables are reversed. A coffee break with family or friends where pastries are often served. To savor the moment." Interestingly, there is a little Eiffel Tower in the image.

There are different ways of looking at the concept of lagrom. Some Swedes hate it. For example, it has been referred to as a suffocating doctrine of Lutheran self denial. Novelist and comedian Jonas Gardell called his 1990s standup show På besök i mellanmjölkens land, a visit to the land of semi-skimmed milk. 

Flannel deer sheets are everywhere at Christmas and for some reason I find them hard to resist. Along with the sheets, of course, you can get the matching bedside table and lampshade, and cushions that look like they've come from a Scottish manor house. I strongly suspect that all this deer-themed stuff has a limited life after Christmas.

A gingerbread bench? Brilliant! IKEA have cracked it. The gingerbread couch is one of their hygge-inspired gingerbread house furniture pieces from Christmas 2016. You cosy up to it, then you eat it. What could be nicer?  ikea-gingerbread-house-furniture__1364324118146-s3

The bench in smart grey knit is by Shannon Robalino, previously of California, now living in the UK.   It's part of a set of benches across England using local breeds of sheep to make the wool and knit by local people. Benches are set in the countryside as usable public art. They were all brought together for the Shipley Lates night on crafting in 2010. What a great project! You can see the whole flock of benches at 

I covered burning benches last autumn and there are quite a few benches on fire, one way or another, on the internet. The burning bench shown here is by Valentine Svennson from Stockholm. Photographed in 2003, it is one of several fires in his Retro collection. I'm not going to ask whether Valentine started the bench fire.

Of course you knew that the brilliant shapely girl with coloured lights in her antlers is not Miggy. She's Second Life AvaGirl Deerlicious, featured in the photostream of Lilac Niven back in December 2013. Lilac is from The Netherlands and is owner and designer of AvaGirl at 

The prettily decorated little gingerbread house is a Christmas decoration at a shopping mall in Porto Alegre in Brazil. I saw it at

The Four Little Santas on a bench were at the Great Santa Run in Edinburgh in 2009. They were photographed by emusing Emma, who saw, among many others, fat Santa, skinny Santa, running Santa, walking Santa, limping Santa, Santa on crutches, happy Santa, sad Santa, waving Santa, photographer Santa, green Santa, real Santa, Santa paws, Mrs Claus, little elf, little reindeer, sniffly Santa, yawning Santa, eating Santa, drinking Santa, baby Santa, fast Santa, slow Santa, naughty but nice Santas, romantic Santa, solitary Santa, twin Santas, old Santa, young Santa, runaway Santa, drumming Santa, and my cousin Santa! Some of them are on Emma's photostream at

Coco de Paris is a mixed media designer whose world is a fantasy of prints which feature original artwork, some vintage ephemera, some illustrion, some reality, some past, some future, and a lot of imagination. Every creation is unique, involving hand painting in acrylic on a different page of antique paper, complete with beauty signs through time (spots, corner bends, uneven prints, old grainage, wear and tear, etc). The deer sitting on a bench and deer discussion artworks are printed with Epson DuraBrite Ultra Ink which gives high performance print quality and longevity. The genuine antique paper comes from the famous Parisien magazine La Petit Illustration, a French literary journal of the 1920s.  One of Coco's three etsy shops is at and the website is at

At Daykamp Creative Design and Illustration in Massachusetts, everything is designed by Nicole Anguish (what a great name!) Nicole does innovative gig posters, holiday art prints and cards. Some of her delightful designs feature deer, like the one reading a newspaper on a bench. She also does a Christmas card of a deer with baubles strategically placed. The Daykamp etsy shop is at and the website at

Bambi on a bench was photographed by Tracy The Astonishing back in 2008. What's astonishing is the number of travel albums Tracy has in her photostream.

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

The leather bench resting on deer antler legs is a fascinating and unusual design from Old Goods, a Dutch company run by Raymond van Bijsterveld Jr.
based inside d’Olde Poort in Ulft, Old Goods has an eye for detail and is continuously on the hunt for interesting items, sourced from all around Europe. In their atelier they restore or modify items when necessary, but also work with old materials to create their own unique designs.

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.

The photo of the buried picnic table was taken by Kelly Riley, who lives in Bend, Oregon. It's a snowy place, Bend, and a very beautiful one.

Keeping warm is quite a thing here on Benchsite. We love it! Miggy's mum lives here in Fribble-under-Par and occupies various benches in the town and on the beach. Last year she organised Knit Bomb Thursdays so that we covered all the Paradise Island benches just in time for winter. And it does get cold here. Our benches get frozen   See how we keep them woolly warm at

Deer are not the only animal benches here on Benchsite.  In fact, we have a whole Ark of animal benches. See which ones Noah saved. If dogs are your thing, you’d be barking not to have a look at

Maybe you prefer cats? If so, there are plenty of purrfect feline benches for World Cats Day, as well as more than a few cats playing pianos. We've got farm animals too. The Cream of Bovine Benches.  How about some Baaaaaad Sheep Benches?  There are sunny bunny benches for Easter and poultry benches which are no spring chickens.    We've had horse benches for The Year of the Horse and goat benches for, yep, The Year of the Goat. We've got Great British Birds and even creepy crawlie insect benches for National Insect Week. And monkeys? Of course we have monkeys; Eddie has made sure of that. It's not just The Year of the Monkey. Oh no, we've had plenty of Eddie's monkey business

Monday, 6 November 2017

31 benches for remembrance and peace

A sparrow is resting in the gun barrel of a tank.

It would be nice to see this as a symbol of peace but right now we're on a knife edge.

All around the world the Big Guns are coming out.

And we all know where that leads. 

my photo

A hundred years later, those Flanders fields are still covered with crosses row on row on row. 

In November every year we remember to remember.

Lest we forget, there are plenty of cemeteries to remind us.

American cemetery, Thiancourt-Regnieville, France, my photo

Their crosses come in all colours.

Neuville St. Vaast, France, my photo

All around the world there are bench memorials commemorating those who came not back from wars.

my photo

And there have been so many wars, so much blood spilled.

There are international wars across borders.

There are civil wars where families turn against each other.

There are acts of terrorism that destroy lives.

There are atomic bombs which devastate cities.

We should not forget the past. The beginning of the end of war lies in remembrance.

And yes, there are acts of heroism and tenacity of spirit in the face of adversity.

But war brings immeasurable sorrow and suffering.

Canada mourning her dead, my photo

Who needs war? Isn't it better to be safe than sorry? 

Clearly, peace has a lot going for it.

Sadly, for too many people, peace seems to be an alien concept.

Speaking of aliens, here's a little fellow who looks like Yoda.

Yoda says Wars not make one greatHaving survived all those Star Wars, Yoda knows a thing or two about war. 

Of course freedom is never free.

The path to peace isn't straightforward. It's easy to lose direction.

Michael J. Gargano @

Sometimes a simple reminder is needed. That's where peace benches come in handy. 

Here are 31 of them. 

1. First off, let there be peace.

2. Just imagine there's no war. It's easy if you try. 

They may say you're a dreamer, but you're not the only one.

3.  All we are saying is give peace a chance.

4.  Here in Fribble-under-Par Ursula Makepeace is our wise Unicorn-in-Residence. She always gets festively festooned for World Peace Day in September. She makes benches, not war. 

5.  Being a unicorn, Ursula is quite an old girl; several centuries old in fact. She was a hipster back when the peace sign became hip.

6.  This year is the Summer of Love anniversary. Back in the day it was all peace and love, man.

7.  It's worth remembering that all works of love are works of peace.

source unknown

 8. A groovy peace bench is deffo a work of love.

9.  And a bench is a sign of peace.

10. A brightly coloured peace bench is a great way of spreading the peace message. 

Plus you can sit on it.

You can put a peace bench just about anywhere.

11.  This street is called Prospekt Mira (Peace Avenue) in VladikavkazRussia.

12. Here is a Peace on Earth bench in Nakura in Kenya.

13.  Peace is kind of a slippery thing to define, yet we all know what it means. You know it when you have it. You just have to sit on a bench, enjoy the view, and let it happen.

14. Peace may sound simple - one beautiful word - but it requires everything we have, every quality, every strength, every dream, every high ideal. 

You can quote me on that.

15. We all have our place in history.

16. You must be the change you want to see in the world.

17. Peace comes through the will of ordinary people like yourself.

But keeping the peace requires international cooperation too. 

Català: Pau.
Deutsch: Frieden.
Español: Paz.
Français : Paix.
Magyar: Béke.
Bahasa Indonesia: Damai.
Italiano: Pace.
日本語: 平和.
Bahasa Melayu: Aman.
Português: Paz.  
Română: Pace.
Русский: Мир.
Slovenčina: Mier.
ไทย: สันติภาพ.
Türkçe: Barış.

18.  This is the peace bench in front of the Peace Palace in Den Haag in the Netherlands.

19.  Doves of peace often feature on or near the benches. Sometimes the doves actually are the benches.

20.  A dove has landed on this Surreal Peace Chair in Israel.

21.  Ursula found this beautiful bronze Peace Offering by sculptor Michael Alfano on the Harbor Trail in Newburyport, Maine. The dove conveys hope for peace. Its tail transforms into a hawk, representing hostility. The dove's wings become open hands that can be seen as asking, weighing, or offering, or as belonging to a larger force. The bench welcomes two people to sit down and discuss their differences. Can you think of any two people who might need to do that?

22. The message from this bench in Adelaide is in Latin. Fortunately, Ursula knows Latin. Pax Vobiscum means peace be with you

And also with you, Ursula.

23. These two Buddist monks seem at peace with each other and with the world.

Of course there are different kinds of peace. Many world religions emphasise the need for silence and reflection.

I can think of some world leaders who need some silence and reflection. 

24. A bench is an excellent place to give yourself time for peace and reflection. This memorial bench reminds us of the value of life and the need for precious moments to revere it.

25. But where to find a quiet bench to contemplate?

Ah, Grantchester! Of course. There's peace and holy quiet there, as every poet knows. 

26.  It's time to get back to nature. According to this bench, nature uplifts spirits, heals bodies, delights our senses, touches our hearts, and brings us peace. 

What an uplifting message! 

27. Quakers are opposed to war. This Quaker Meeting House garden in Evesham UK has a bench, a dove, and an opportunity for silence.

28. Fortunately, the notion of peace is already the building blocks of many cultures.

In India, the word namaste is a greeting which suggests welcome and peace.

The Thai word wai suggests something similar.

29.  The peaceful welcome hands-together greeting also seems to apply to animals.

Of course animals are victims of war too.

They have no choice.

my photo, London

30. So let's have no more war, either hot or cold.

31.  Let's have freedom, peace and joy while we still can.

You heard it here first. 

Benchsite says Make benches, not war. 


These are not my first peace benches. I have already made the Peace message in a previous blog for World Peace Day in September 2013. You can see it at  And in November Benchsite commemorates victims of war, both human and animal, with all kinds of beautiful memorial benches. 

Dr. Adam Jones took the beautiful photo of the sparrow in the gun barrel of a tank in Prokhorovka, Russia. This was the eastern front of World War 2, where the Battle of Kursk took place between Russian and German armies in the summer of 1943. The German defeat on the eastern front was a turning point in the war.  

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.

Jonathan Cooper is Casatigeo, who took the stunning photograph of the benches at the Imperial War Museum North. Jonathan is a big fan of street photography and uses a mix of rangefinder cameras, depending on how much weight he wants to lug around. He's a fan of benches so his photostream has some lovely ones

The first  photograph of graves is from a visit Mungo and I made to Flanders in 2008. We visited the Menin Gate in Ypres, where the names of 54,896 soldiers who died without graves are inscribed. Another 30,000 who died without graves are listed on the Tyne Cot memorial outside town. We also visited a few of the 150 cemeteries in the area. The photo is from Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery near Poperinge, where there are 10,000 graves, mainly British but also French, Germans, and Canadians. One Canadian German is buried with the Germans and has a maple leaf flag. Americans, New Zealanders and Australians all have their own cemeteries.

The Delaware Legion cenotaph bench was photographed by TinhutJohn, otherwise known as John P Sargeant. It is one of thousands of cenotaph photos taken for his photostream at The bench is inscribed with John McCrae's famous poem In Flanders Fields. The poem is a rondeau, written during the World War I by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a physician from Guelph, Ontario. He wrote the poem on May 3, 1915, after his friend and fellow soldier died in the Second Battle of Ypres. First published in London in December 1915, it is one of the most popular and most quoted war poems. McCrae survived the WWI battles but died of pneumonia in a military hospital in Flanders in January 1918.

The black and white bench with the poppy wreath was taken in Alrewas, England in 2011. The photo is by foxy, who likes benches and has a lot of them in her photostream at

The cemetery of white crosses is the American cemetery at Thiancourt-Regnieville near Verdun in northern France. There are 4,153 graves, plus a memorial to 283 missing soldiers. 

The photo of black crosses is the German cemetery at Neuville St. Vaast in France. There are 44,833 graves with little black crosses, one cross for four people buried. Over eight thousand unknown soldiers are buried here. 

They came not back from the war is an inscription on a memorial at Sandown, Isle of Wight. 

The glorious field of poppies is from the Somme and Flanders Fields collection of Flickr member boris the boy World War I claimed 37 million lives, including 8.8 million civilians. In addition there were 19.7 million wounded.

The bench with a book and spade is the Confederate section of the American Civil War cemetery in Marietta, Georgia. The photo is by Roger, who describes himself as an itinerate loafer (in a good way, I'm sure). He has a lot of brilliant photographs of his travels and has a knack of capturing my idealistic view of Dixieland where, sadly, I have never been; it's quite near the top of my To Do list. Roger's photostream is at

The starkly beautiful modern benches at The Pentagon are government Defense photos from their photo essay 110911-F-RG147-268 at The photographer was by Tech. Sargeant Jacob N. Bailey, US Air Force, who captured the laying of wreaths on each of the 184 benches representing those killed on September 11, 2001 at the Pentagon. This ceremony was the tenth anniversary of the event.

The photo in Hiroshima in Japan was taken across the river from the atomic bomb dome. It was photographed by Marc Heiden in 2003 and uploaded onto WikiCommons in 2007 by Gorilla Jones.   Little Boy was the codename for the atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Deaths were estimated at 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima, half of them on the first day and others from radiation sickness and other injuries later. The Hiroshima Peace Park and museum commemorates those who died and acts as a reminder of the horrors of nuclear war.

The beginning of the end of war lies in remembrance. The Korean War between North and South Korea took place between 1950 and 1953 and was sometimes referred to as The Forgotten War because of the lack of attention it received. It involved international forces and the loss of millions of lives, including many civilians. The Korean War Contemplative Bench is in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. It is dedicated to the 50,000+ American soldiers who died, and the more than 7,700 soldiers still unaccounted for in June 2017. In addition, more than 3 million Koreans died, including civilians, 1,078 British soldiers, and 900,000 Chinese. The American memorial was photographed by Tim Evanson at and made available on WikiCommons at

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

This autumn Mungo and I travelled to The Somme in northern France and visited some of the many museums and cemeteries in that area, among them the graves of thousands of French, British, Czech, Polish, South African, German and Indian soldiers who died in the horror of World War 1. Canada mourning her dead is a beautiful sculpture at the Canadian Memorial Park at Vimy Ridge in France. This is the centenary year of the  Battle of Vimy Ridge which took place April 9-12, 1917. Canada lost more than 66,000 in World War 1. There are three Canadian cemeteries at Vimy Ridge.

The Sorry badge is from National Apology Day in Australia in 2011. National Apology Day is a day on which Australians remember the Stolen Generations of Indigenous Australians through wearing a native hibiscus flower to show solidarity for remembrance and healing. It was photographed by Mark Binns at butupa, who has full sets of photographs from National Apology Days and and National Sorry Days in his photostream at The next National Apology day will be February 13, 2014.

The photograph of the Peace is kinder, cheaper and more creative sign is by John, aka MTSOfan.   John is a pastor who says that photography isn't just a hobby; it's his attempt at sanity, a diversion in a life with much responsibility, and also a way of looking at the world. 

The friendly orange alien offering the peace sign is a vinyl decal from Matt Smith in San Francisco. Matt makes bright and clever vinyl decals for walls, laptops, flasks, toilets, upper lips - everywhere you might want to stick a decal. His shop is at

The little fellow wrapped in a blanket is not actually Yoda from Star Wars. He's a Florida Scrub Jay nestling, who was being banded for a bird conservation project in Florida. That was back in 2005, at the time of Star Wars lll Revenge of the Sith. The photograph is by Jennifer Benson, put onto Wiki Commons by Daniel Godwin from Gainesville, Florida.

The Freedom is never free veterans' memorial bench is in Hutchinson County Texas. The photograph was taken in 2008 by Billy Hathorn, made available on WikiCommons at

The Peace Path direction sign is at the Mount Irenaeus Retreat Center in West Clarksville, New York. It was photographed by Michael J. Gargano for his website at 

The Let There Be Peace bench was photographed in 2010 by David Schwartz. It's on his photostream at and he also made it available at Creative Commons where I was delighted to find it.

The John Lennon on a bench statue was photographed in 2006 by Dr. Adam Jones, who has a particular interest in peace as he is a professor of political science at the University of British Colombia and he writes books about genocide. His website is at www.adamjones.freeservers.comThe photograph of the John Lennon statue is available at The sculptor of the statue is José Villa Soberón, a Cuban artist who is well known for his sculptures around Havana, such as Ernest Hemingway and Che Guevara. The John Lennon sculpture was made in 2000 and is in John Lennon Park in Vedado, near Havana. For many years Lennon's glasses kept getting stolen so in some photos he doesn't have them on. 

Give peace a chance is a bench message from 2009, photographed by Shawn Rossi from Mississippi. Shawn is fun, intelligent, challenging (but worth it), lovely, witty, well-read, over-educated (hey, they might be connected!) 
and constantly learning more.

Ursula Makepeace is our Unicorn-in-Residence here in Fribble-under-Par. She also serves the neighbouring village of Drizzly. Ursula's job is to promote peace, cooperation and creativity in our community which, it has to be said, is not always peaceful, cooperative or creative. If you've read some of the blogs on Benchsite you will know this. Ursula is a wise and gentle presence in our community though. Back in May she brought us some beautiful romantic white benches. She brought us hearty heart benches for Valentine's Day. As an added benefit, her unicorn horn is said to be an antidote to poison. Every community should have one. 

The simple Imagine bench was photographed by Claire Hintze in 2010 in Santa Cruz, California. Claire also photographed the Imagine mosaic, which looked different on the day from the one shown here because people decorate it in different ways; that's what it's all about. Her photostream is at 

The cool upholstered black and white bench with peace signs is from Hudson Goods, who make industrial style furniture which looks vintage but works like new. Their furniture is meant to be lived in, so it is designed to withstand the wear and tear of everyday living. It's made from natural materials with no composites; wherever possible they use reclaimed wood and repurposed products. I saw the stool on Hudson Goods' blog, (February 2010), where they also had a peace chair in the same fabric as the bench.  The blog has loads of interesting posts so if you're a bench or chair geek like I am, it will make you happy. 

Samat Jain from Las Cruces describes himself as just another amateur photographer trying to make his way on Flickr. He photographed the ying and yang, peace and love log bench along the Osha Trail in Cloudcroft, New Mexico in 2010

*All works of love are works of peace. The quotation is from mother Theresa of Calcutta. I'm still trying to trace the bench and its photographer. 

Liren Chen lives in New York. She has a whole album of 73 Benches on Parade from Rochester and other places in New York. The colourful peace bench shown here is by artist Howie Green and was photographed in Pittsford Plaza in 2010. Its sponsor is EnCompass: Resource for Learning. Lirena's amazing photostream is at

The Coventry peace bench has appeared on Benchsite before, in the Festival blog, which also features messages of love and peace, though in a festivally, hippie sort of way. Nothing wrong with that, is there? The Coventry bench is on Coventry Road, photographed by THD3 in 2011.  I'm pretty sure that's not Coventry in the UK. That's Coventry in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

The red peace bench was photographed in 2008 by David P at Stickware whose photostream is at  He likes shooting buildings, bridges, and nighttime shots and he likes to do realistic-looking HDRs and panoramic photo stitches. And he likes mysteries, I think, because he hasn't said where the red peace bench was. My guess is Cleveland . . . 

The yellow bench without inscription is in Prospekt Mira (Peace Avenue) in Vladikavkaz in Russia. It was photographed in 2008 by Мой снимок (Amikeco) and made available at

How does a bench create peace on earth? The Peace On Earthbench Movement (POEM) empowers youth and community members to clean up the environment, repurpose their trash into a building material, learn natural building techniques, and then create a communal gathering area— a Peace on Earthbench—where they can share music, stories, and life. Peace on Earthbenches ( symbolize their collective desire for a more sustainable, more just, and more peaceful world. The larger vision is to eventually build 1000 bottle brick benches for peace around the world, and retain one bottle brick from each bench.  The photographs shown are from earth benches in Kenya,Ghana, Bolivia and Davis, California. 

Enjoy the view, listen from within, live in love, truth and peace. Nice message. It's on a bench in Vancouver, photographed by Sherwood411

Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999) was a world class violinist who performed and recorded music for 70 years. He founded the Yehudi Menuhin School and mentored many young musicians of different nationalities. This bench with his quotation is at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California. It was photographed by iamsarah in 2008. Sarah's photostream contains all kinds of art, music, cats, dogs, and a lot of interesting views of Oakland.

The Martin Luther King peace bench project produced many peace benches in Austin, Texas in 2008 through United Way for Greater Austin. They describe
Greater Austin as a resilient, innovative, philanthropic, creative and thriving community for all. Their mission is to inspire, lead and unite an eclectic community of philanthropists including individuals, nonprofits, business, and government to overcome barriers to economic opportunities and ensure Greater Austin continues to thrive. You can see all the peace benches and people enjoying making them on their Flickr photostream at

The Gandhi bench with the quotation about change is in the Phinney Ridge neighbourhood of Seattle. It was photographed in 2007 by Wonderlane, whose photostream is at It's great to see this image available on Creative Commons.

Mothers for Peace in London celebrated their 21st anniversary with a bench in Tavistock Square. Their message is clear: World peace will come through the will of ordinary people like yourself. The bench was photographed by Hoxtonchina in 2011.

The beautiful mosaic bench is at the Peace Palace in Den Haag in the Netherlands. The Peace Palace houses the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial body of the United Nations, as well as other institutions of international law.The Peace Palace opened in 1913 and was funded by Andrew Carnegie as a temple of peace. The bench was photographed by Akbar Simonse, whose photostream is at  He has more bench photos than just about anyone I've found. There are amazingly candid shots of people doing all sorts of things on benches. Lots of the photos are black and white; I could write a colourful story about any one of them. 

The surreal peace bench with dove is in Ein Hod in Israel. It's by American Sculptor Dorothy Robbins, made in 1995 when she lived in Ein Hod and taught sculpture at the university in Haifa. It was photographed by Avishai Teicher  (צילום:ד"ר אבישי טייכר) in 2011 and made available at PikiWiki - Israel free image collection.  And it's also available at Wiki Commons:   

 The round blue mosaic dove bench is also in Den Haag. This photo is from Matthias Frank's photostream.  He travels widely and there are stunning landscapes of the Scotland Highlands and many other places around the world. Love the winter pictures of Amsterdam.

Michael Alfano's Peace Offering sculpture is 67"x33"x19" and is in bronze or resin. The first bronze casting is on the Harbor Trail in Newburyport, MA and there are resin benches permanently installed throughout the United States in public locations as well as in private collections, and there are some on temporary exhibit. The sculptor would love to see it at the United Nations, among other places. His website and a gallery of his work is at

Here is the Tao te Ching quotation by Lao Tzu, which accompanies the bench:

Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. 
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it.
The soft overcomes the hard; the gentle overcomes the rigid.
           Everyone knows this is true, but few can put it into practice.

The Pax Vobiscum (Peace be with you) message appeared on this bench in Adelaide in 2011. It was photographed by Mike Cogh and made available on at  Oh, thank goodness for Creative Commons and for people like Mike who allow their work to be posted there. Mike has the most extensive collection of bench photographs of anyone I have found. There are benches from all over the world, all of them beautifully photographed. 

The Buddhist monks were photographed by Very Quiet at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris in 2009. Originally from Flickr, they are also available at

The Buddhist message about inner peace and its accompanying fork peace sign are by Marlo in Utah, who makes surprising decorations from upcycled vintage silverware. You can visit her etsy shop at

The memorial bench with inscription Linger here and reflect is dedicated to those who died as a result of the sniper attacks in the Maryland and Virginia during the Fall of 2002. It was photographed in 2011 by Steve, whose Unlikely photostream has an array of colourful people, places, animals, colours, shapes and seasons.

The bench in Grantchester church yard was photographed by Glyn Baker for in 2005 and available through The lines of poetry are quoted from Rupert Brookes's famous poem The Old Vicarage, Granchester, written in Berlin in 1912. You can see the whole poem at

Nature uplifts spirits, heals bodies, delights our senses, touches our hearts, and brings us peace. Such was the message on a bench at the Tyler Arboretum
in Media, Pennsylvania in July 2012. It was photographed by Jim The Photographer, who is is retired and lives in Pennsylvania. He's been interested in photography since he was a boy and his first camera in the late 1950s was an Imperial Mark XII Flash Camera that used 620 film. 

The Quaker Meeting House garden is in Evesham. The photo is the garden in spring.

The namaste greeting by the beautiful smiling child is from North India. It's from

The Wai greeting is from a temple in Thailand in 2002. The photograph was taken by Wouter Hagens  at nl.wikipedia and available at

The greeting animals are apparently in front of a new stadium in Savannakhet in western Laos in 2011. The French photographer is Chaoborus at

War Horse is the children’s novel, award-winning play, and film by Michael Morpurgo. The story recounts the experiences of Joey, a horse purchased by the Army for service in France during World War I and the attempts of young Albert, his previous owner, to bring him safely home. The War Horse book bench is one of 50 book benches scattered around London in the summer of 2014. The artist is Rae Smiht and it was created by Gerard Strong. It was photographed by Martin Pettitt  and appears in his comprehensive book bench album at

Animals in War is a memorial to all animals in wars with British and Allied forces. Unlike human beings, they had no choice. A sculpture by David Backhouse, the monument is in Hyde Park in London and easily missed amongst the bustle of Park Lane traffic. War Horse has called attention to the plight of horses in war; dogs, donkeys, mules, oxen, pigs, rats, camels, elephants, pigeons, and all sorts of marine animals have also been unwitting victims of war for transport, for bomb detection, or to conceal explosive devices. The memorial inscription reminds us of the misery of war and that animals had no choice.

The colourful Peace blocks at the end of the post are from Daisy Harper, whose work I use regularly on Benchsite, e.g. the lovely sunflower summer island picnic basket for Lord Brassicas' picnic and also her intriguing Red Riding Hood self-portrait of a picnic in the snow.. Daisy makes homemade gifts with good energy and love. Her shop is at

Mara Lee is a creative event producer in Minneapolis. She photographed the snowy Peace message in 2013.

The delightful message Freedom Peace Joy was found on a park bench overlooking Haslingden in Lancashire back in 2009. The photographer is jayneandd

Below:  Ursula and friends gather around for a peace rally on September 21st. Benches Not Bombs!  Make Benches Not War!  The baby (on the left) is there demanding a peaceful future for himself and his generation. Likewise, April (age 6), sitting beside him. On the other bench is Tamsin, who lives in a peaceful dreamworld of her own, and Jovi, a rock chick from the 60s. Oh yes, Jovi knows a thing or two about peace marches! Birmingham (Alabama)? Vietnam? Greenham Common?  She was there. Jovi notes that the marches were long and she could have done with a peace bench along the way.