The Boss has a new summer project: restoring an old bench. It’s not the first time he’s applied surgery to this particular piece of outdoor furniture.
Yes, we could have disposed of this falling-apart bench long ago and bought a replacement. But there are reasons why we haven’t.
The Boss and I found this item during a weekend in the Lake District, early in our relationship. We stopped to browse at Cumbrian Rustic* studio in Coniston, where we saw this outdoor seat. It would complement my cottage’s courtyard, we decided.
Could we buy it and transport it home in The Boss’s company car? No, we couldn’t; the bench was already sold and awaiting delivery. Apart from that minor detail, it wouldn’t have fitted in The Boss’s car.
‘I could make you one just like it,’ the artisan said, when we expressed our disappointment. ‘And arrange delivery.’ Ah, yes, but would he deliver all the way to Oxfordshire from the Lake District – a drive of more than 200 miles?
To our surprise, he said that was no problem. We gave him the money and left, wondering if we’d been a little rash in just handing the cash over to someone we didn’t know. We needn’t have worried: the gorgeous, rustic bench arrived by courier, as promised. That was more than 20 years ago, so it has sentimental value.
From Oxfordshire to Rural Mallorca
In all those years, we’ve moved the bench from Oxfordshire to our garden in rural Mallorca. From the cold, damp weather in the UK to the searing, Mediterranean summer sunshine, drenching autumn downpours and even a rare snowfall or two, the seat has experienced it all.
Time and the elements have taken their toll. Over the years, The Boss has performed surgery on the bench a few times, replacing both arms and all the seat slats. Now, the bar across the top of the back is disintegrating, and one leg is rotting. It’s no longer safe for humans to sit on.
Was this old bench worth more work? We considered putting it under the tree just for decorative purposes; the cats would probably sit on it, we mused. Could we find another bench that would be fit for purpose (accommodating our bottoms) and still rustic?
New or Renovation?
Here’s what we discovered: rustic in Mallorca means expensive. Foreign owners of fincas yearn for artisan-made rustic-style gates and furniture to adorn their properties; demand has driven up the prices. Paying more for a two-seater outdoor bench than we had for our oak dining-room table wasn’t going to happen. It’s admirable to support local artisans … if it’s within one’s budget.
So we visited a woodyard in Manacor, bought an untreated wooden post for around 20€, and The Boss has once again begun the slow process of restoring our original bench to functionality and some of its former glory. The heat has stopped all work for now, so he’s sitting on this project (but not the bench) for the time being.
Wherever you are, stay safe and keep cool in this scorching summer.
* We hope the Cumbrian rustic’s back problems will soon be resolved.
©Jan Edwards 2022