“ Brand: Funtica / Type: Swinging chair, various colours available „
On holiday in one of the crappier Greek resorts a couple of years ago - this was just at the peak of the European credit crunch, and the summer after the price-of-goods-motivated street riots in Athens - one thing I was quite taken by was an array of hammock-swings, that some enterprising cafe owner (presumably prior to the economic downturn, this would have been) had rigged up on his premises, in addition to a variety of standard conservatory sofa-seats.
It was a shame for this bloke, I thought because hammock swing seats don't come cheap, and in addition to the price of the units, he'd also had to erect - basically a scaffold built of concrete-set iron girders, to hand them off - this being a Cretan street-side cafe with no usefully-positioned nearby trees to do the job instead. He ended up with a rather nice set-up but by the time it was built, there were no tourists coming to frequent it. And hammock swings, even no doubt in the sunny Greek climate have what you'd certainly class as being a finite lifespan also, which means that now, by the time people are starting to take more package holidays again, that first lot he bought will likely have started to wear out. Still, I stole his idea and when we got home, bought a swing-seat of my own off the internet and hung it of one of the trees in the garden.
So, these swinging seats are basically miniature hammocks, designed for people to sit in outdoors in a more-or-less upright position. A quick look on amazon.co.uk told me that they are also known as 'Brazillian hanging chairs' - which presumably gives some idea of their provenance - and they are generally sold by a company called Amazonas for around the £50 to £60 mark. These chairs tend to be available in either plain white or brightly-coloured versions (usually striped, in some vaguely hand-woven ethnic-looking print) and there are various slightly differing construction methods used in making them. Basically the chairs are all made of strong cotton canvas with large metal eyelet holes incorporated round the edges, through which a number of sturdy cotton cords are strung. These cords come together, usually via a horizontal wooden pole that is suspended a foot or so above the seat, to form a thick rope with a metal loop secured to it which enables the hammock to be hung vertically down from some suspension point. Bespoke metal frames just for hanging your chair off are also available via the internet, or you could just string your hanging chair from a convenient tree.
If you look at the customer reviews on amazon.co.uk for these hammocks, you'll soon run across various comments bemoaning how horribly uncomfortable they are to sit in. The ones we tried on holiday were very comfortable however, so we weren't dissuaded - although, of course, I thought £60 was far too much to pay for something like this, and bought a cheaper model for around the £25 mark. This looked very like the other alternatives, but it had a pair of wooden arm-rests incorporated in the design (not shown in the product picture accompanying this review; but I'd say that that type doesn't look much cop either as the style it's just like mine, only, sans armrests).
This, I would say from my limited experience with these seats is a key point to look out for: the hammock seats that have solid arm-rests in them - like what we've got - seem to be the ones that are hideously uncomfortable to sit in. The seat we bought consists of two flat pieces of cloth with padding incorporated into it sewn into a basic, right-angled 'seat' shape. It's brightly coloured, in white, pink, yellow and green stripes and very pretty to look at, but unfortunately the way it's been strung is all wrong; when you sit in it the horizontal 'seat' part tips down so inevitably, you slide forwards out of it. It's not nice to sit in at all, and I haven't been able to fix the problem, because the arm-rests are in the way (the suspensory strings are all very firmly knotted into this part).
The seat we've got is indeed hideously uncomfortable to sit in, but I know from experience on holiday that it is possible to obtain seats of this design that are nice to use. I would advise anyone considering a purchase of one of these seats to 'try before you buy' if at all possible. If not, I think the more expensive 'pocket-like seats you can get - that look like they contain more cloth, and which seem to enfold you a bit more, around your sides - are probably a better bet.
As to durability of the hanging chair - we connected the hammock seat in our garden to a carabima-type clip, that was fixed to a rope tied to a tree branch. We incorporated the clip so that the seat could be disconnected easily from the tree, so it could be taken indoors and protected from the rain. Predictably of course, we didn't get round to bringing it in one showery day last summer and it got wet and after that it never stopped raining - so that was the end of that. This said, it's been outdoors hanging from the tree all winter and though greatly faded and a bit mildew-spotted, is still structurally sound as ever it was. One advantage of it containing less material, I suppose, is that it does seem to dry out relatively quickly once it's gotten wet.