Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Impressions of Bruges #2

When I say 'Bruges', perhaps you think of the other large square, the Burg. Called after the castle that once stood on the site, it now holds the flamboyantly Gothic City Hall (late 14th century) and the Old Recorder's House (with beautifully gilded details) which was built in 1534-7 in Flemish Renaissance style. Both buildings are currently in use as law courts and for council business.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Impressions of Bruges #1

I recently visited Belgium for a few days, staying in the tourist hotspot of Bruges, a city I have never visited before.

Like most people, I had a vague idea of what to expect and I enjoyed wandering the streets with my camera and my guide book, seeking out the famous sights and the lesser known and quieter streets. I wasn't disappointed; it's a lovely and very interesting city. I've put together some posts summarising my impressions.

When I say 'Bruges', perhaps you think of the vast market square, the Markt, the heart of daily life in the city past and present, and a real tourist magnet. The huge Belfry, one of three imposing towers in the city, was built between 1280 and 1350, making it 700 years old! The octagonal tower was added in 1486 (and yes, it leans a bit!). I'm used to living with history but the age of some of Bruges' historic buildings is mind-boggling.

On another side of the square, the neo-Gothic Provincial House, originally a government building, dates back to the 1880s.

You're going to get rather a lot of holiday photos this year. This is simply because I have so much on the go during July so it is convenient to use the photos I have rather than trying to find time to go and take more. Salt & Light is temporarily decamped, therefore, to Belgium...

Sunday, 5 July 2015


'By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower.' Rabindranath Tagore

Or do you...?  I was inspired to 'play' by seeing the fallen petals of rhododendrons.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Markenfield's gardens

Markenfield Hall
The charming gardens, still being restored and restocked, complement both the ancient hall and the surrounding countryside. You can see right across to the North Yorkshire hills and moors from the terrace.
The moat is home to a number of ducks; their ducklings were dashing around as though they were battery-powered! There are also two resident black swans, which are unusual in this country. Beyond the moat and accessed across a footbridge is a lovely orchard, filled with exuberant lady lace at this time of year. The whole is encircled by farmland, with both crops and cattle evident. All utterly idyllic....

Friday, 3 July 2015

Rose-covered entrance

Markenfield Hall
Lord Grantley died in 1995. His widow, Lady Deirdre, has since married the writer Ian Curteis. Theirs was the first wedding in the Hall's chapel since 1487. Together they continue the restoration of this lovely estate. (See here for an interesting article.) Lady Deirdre apparently takes a close interest in the beautiful gardens, which are also being restocked and improved. She is a charming lady; we were fortunate enough to meet her as we looked around. The main entrance is covered with a tumble of wisteria and climbing roses, unashamedly romantic.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Markenfield's interior

Markenfield Hall
The entrance hall is one of the oldest parts of the building. I understand that it dates back, probably, to 1230. It was originally the Undercroft for the Great Hall above and consisted of three vaulted rooms, similar in design to the Cellarium at nearby Fountains Abbey. The fireplace (photo above) was originally in the Great Hall and now houses a range, used for cooking when this was the farmhouse kitchen. Some of the vaulting survives in rooms either side of the entrance hall, creating what must be one of the most unusual utility rooms in existence.

On the floor above the entrance hall is the Great Hall, the heart of the house, recently restored and now a library and drawing room. It would originally have been accessed via an external staircase. Its fireplace is a faithful replica of the medieval one that had been moved downstairs some 400 years before. The Great Hall has a vaulted ceiling with huge wooden crossbeams, one of which, unusually, has an enclosed wooden gutter running alongside that drains water from the roof to the moat. A bedroom (the original medieval solar) and the chapel, which is regularly used for services, are also made available for visitors to see. It is all fascinating and there is a wealth of information displayed about the house, its restoration and the family. It has a most warm and welcoming feel, a real family home. It was a great privilege to see it.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Markenfield Hall

I had a wonderful birthday treat recently, when a friend took me out for the day to visit Markenfield Hall. It is a secret gem: the most unspoiled early 14th century fortified house in England and still a private home. It is only open to the public for a few weeks each year, though it is sometimes available as a venue for small weddings. Such a romantic setting... It is set in open countryside just south of Ripon in North Yorkshire (not far from the much more famous Fountains Abbey) about an hour's drive from Saltaire.

The estate was mentioned in the Domesday book but little is known about it prior to 1310. It retains a moat, gatehouse and crenellations (battlements). From 1310 to 1569 it was the home of the Markenfield family. In 1569, members of the family led an unsuccessful Catholic uprising against the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I, who then confiscated the house and land for High Treason. For the next 200 years the house was occupied by tenant farmers and, ironically, it was this that preserved it, as the tenants had neither the money nor the inclination to alter the buildings. In 1761 it was bought by the lawyer and MP Fletcher Norton, a descendant of the original Markenfield family. He maintained it but continued to let it to tenant farmers. He later took the title Lord Grantley and the house was passed down through generations until the 1980s when the 7th Lord Grantley began a programme of restoration that would see the house become their family home once more. The surrounding farm is still tenanted and the current farmers, the Fosters (whose family have been tenants there since 1882) now live in the modernised East Wing.

Do look at its website for detailed information about its history, as I can only hint at it here.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015


I'm still involved in my online photography club, which consists of ten of us (living all over the UK and further afield) who post an image a month onto Flickr. We have a theme each month and then comment on each other's pictures, which is always an interesting exercise and a nice way to share. The theme for June was 'Green' and this was my offering. I thought that the stone and wood offset the greenery quite nicely.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Horsing around

I rarely have close encounters with horses. There must, however, be a riding school or livery stable in the Tong/Fulneck valley as there were fields full of horses. The footpath ran right through a couple of their fields and the horses were quite friendly. (I never find them as threatening as cattle sometimes appear.) Maybe they thought we had apples... some of them were following us around, looking hopeful. I thought the one above was a very attractive animal. The little brown shetland pony below was pretty too.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Summer meadows

A couple of pictures taken on my walk in the area between Tong village and the Fulneck Moravian settlement, south of Bradford. It's my favourite time of year, with an abundance of lady lace, buttercups and red campion in the meadows and hedgerows.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

A walk - Fulneck and Tong

I enjoyed a most pleasant walk with some friends recently, around the villages of Fulneck and Tong, south of Bradford. It's an area my friends know well as they lived there for many years, but despite it being only a few miles from here, I have only had a walk there a couple of times.

Fulneck, where we started, is technically in Leeds. It was founded in 1744 by a group of settlers from the Moravian church, descendants of the old Bohemian/Czech Unity of the Brethren. Housing and a school were built, as well as a chapel. The school continues as an independent day and boarding school for students and has taken over many of the buildings in the settlement, so that really Fulneck is now all about the school. The chapel, seen here with the clock tower, is a Grade 1 listed building.

Fulneck lies on the side of a pretty valley, through which runs Pudsey Beck. The historic village of Tong is on the opposite side. You can just see Tong Hall among the trees on the horizon, in the picture above. The whole area is subject to a planning battle at the moment, with developers wanting to build thousands of new homes in this area, which is at present designated 'green belt'. 'Green belts' were set up in the 1950s to protect green spaces and prevent urban areas sprawling out to swallow them up. With an urgent need for new housing, there is pressure on local councils to waive the rules.

The walk was circular and the village of Tong was a pleasant stop-off point half-way. There is an excellent tea-room, Goodalls, selling their own farm-made ice-cream. Cinder toffee flavour is to die for!! There's also a pretty cricket field; a very English scene, with cricket and the village pump.

Friday, 26 June 2015


Whilst you've been enjoying (I hope) Saltaire's colourful mini-scenes, I've been away on holiday. I'm also studying an online Photography course with OU (the wonderful Open University). The course continues for another six to eight weeks of hard work (though most enjoyable and instructional so far). I'm not doing much commenting on other blogs, I'm afraid. Apologies, I will resume when I can.

Added to that, my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters are moving house in the first week of July, from London back to Yorkshire. I'm delighted of course. I hope I shall see more of them, albeit for shorter periods of time. I'm interested to see what that means in practice for my accustomed rhythm of life but it will be lovely working it out so that it suits us all. I shall certainly be in demand during the 'moving-in' week for cleaning and childcare.

I have some holiday photos to share here and quite a few pictures from various lovely days out with friends. I might also share some of the photos I am taking as part of the course. But if I am 'quieter' than usual you'll at least understand why.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Saltaire Colour #11

Mono with a pop of colour.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Saltaire Colour #10

Quite subtle colours and strong shapes here.