Saturday, 25 April 2015


A picture of nothing, in a way, just the corner of a car park beside some apartments. I am, however, trying to train myself to be more aware of shape and composition and I found something pleasing in this. Does anyone agree?

Friday, 24 April 2015

Magic beans

Conversazione 4: For the price of a few magic beans (£1 a bag!) you could buy yourself a story from a red-hatted storyteller, assuming you could find one in the warren of rooms that make up the Victoria Hall. I was lucky enough to discover them all in one place, having a photo taken in the lobby, so they gave me their best smiles. The storytelling activity was inspired by Settle Stories, a charity set up in the Dales 'to promote the power of storytelling for individuals, communities and organisations'. It is a wonderful way to preserve our oral history, helping people learn through diverse stories originating from individuals and different groups in our communities but often containing universal truths.

Thursday, 23 April 2015


Conversazione 3: At the other end of the technological scale, but no less astonishing to me, was an exhibit showing lace-making, a craft practiced by women through the ages. It was a traditional skill that became associated with boatwomen: the wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of the men who worked on the cargo boats on our canal and waterways. Many of the boats were decorated with lace inside, as well as the colourful painted 'brightwork' and some of the towing horses apparently even had lace ear 'hats' to protect them from bothersome flies. The lace-making tradition is continued by some and was shown as part of an extensive exhibit about the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, which included a visit from the restored barge 'Kennet', moored down by the park. The coloured threads (top photo) are used to help people to learn, so they don't get their bobbins in the wrong order!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

3D printing

Conversazione 2: One of the most enthralling exhibits in the Saltaire Conversazione was this 'Maker Bot' - a 3D printing machine. I have, of course, heard about these but it's the first time I have ever seen one. It melts plastic and then extrudes it through a print head as a very fine thread, which it then builds up, layer upon layer, into an object. In this case it was making a nut and bolt, which fitted together perfectly and could easily be screwed and unscrewed. There were also little chains and a circular 'bracelet' that it had made. What surprised me was the intricacy of the layered plastic; it actually looked quite attractive with a sort of textured surface. Of course, these things are as yet in their infancy but I can imagine this may in future be as commonplace as all our other gadgets. The possibilities seem quite exciting.

It left me reflecting how the changes seen by, for example, my grandparents are matched if not surpassed by the developments I have seen in my lifetime. I can vividly recall my father (who was a telephone engineer) talking about the far-off future when we might be able to see each other as well as talk to one another on the phone. Fast-forward relatively few years really and I regularly have 'Facetime' calls with my daughter and granddaughters. Frankly, it still amazes me that I can also see, almost instantly, photos and videos of what they are doing at that moment hundreds of miles away.

Perhaps THE most astonishing photo (and I am sure my grandmother would sit up in her grave if she knew!) was the one I received last year from my daughter showing her 20 week scan. Imagine that... a photo of a tiny foetus (upturned nose and miniature hand, waving and readily visible) still well tucked up inside her mum, in a hospital in London, beamed direct to Gran in Yorkshire within minutes! I still can't quite grasp that, it seems little short of miraculous.

Monday, 20 April 2015


I'm getting a lot of pleasure from having vases of flowers around the house at the moment. It seems a simple, inexpensive way to add beauty to life, as well as holding the anticipation of warmer and more colourful days to come. Cut tulips don't last long but I do love their vibrant colours and elegant shapes. I don't have a black wall to show them off against (!) But the TV screen, with a bit of judicious cloning in the corners, provides a useful backdrop.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Spring comes to Saltaire

A few sunny days have seen the apple blossom bursting into bloom and a definite feel of Spring in the air. Though I am still finding it quite cold and have not yet shed my padded jacket, others apparently disagree. There were many folk enjoying the sunshine in Roberts Park, clad only in shorts and T shirts.

Salts Mill chimney has developed a strange, white, powdery look to its stonework after a longish spell of dry weather. It must have to do with the type of pointing they used when the chimney was repaired a few years ago. I don't think it has really improved its looks. Though it's quite probable that a bit of repointing wouldn't improve my looks either, at this stage...

Saturday, 18 April 2015


One of the reasons I like living in this part of Yorkshire is that the majority of the old houses are built of stone rather than brick. Those that have been stone-cleaned are a mellow honey colour. Others are still sooty black. But they have character. I'd like to know how old this little row of cottages is. They look like good, solid homes, plain and unpretentious. I'd like to bet they are at least as old as Saltaire and perhaps even older... early 19th century? Though they have quite a villagey feel about them, they are actually very near to the centre of Shipley, just along the road from the big Asda supermarket. Convenient, but not quite as picturesque a location as you might imagine from the photo. I could have obliterated the TV aerials but I chose not to. Plastic drainpipes, UPVC windows... but the end one has been very sympathetically treated, I think.

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Lion, the Witch...

... but no wardrobe.

I'm not generally someone who 'sees' animals in clouds or faces on vegetables, and I certainly wouldn't keep a piece of toast for eternity, even if I suspected it showed an image of the blessed Virgin Mary.  Such a tendency is apparently called Pareidolia: the psychological phenomenon whereby a vague and random stimulus (usually an image or a sound) is perceived as significant.

That didn't stop me suddenly seeing a lion and a witch on a concrete wall in Shipley!

Thursday, 16 April 2015


The weather is getting better (slowly!). Though it's still pretty cold, especially first thing in the morning, we've had some dry, sunny days of late. It was enough to entice me out again on a lunchtime walk, anyway, and the canal towpath has dried out a bit so a stroll up to Saltaire and back made a nice break from desk-work. The sculpture is a slug and a salt-pot... one of the quirky artworks that make up the Aire Sculpture Trail. I've been feeling a bit sluggish lately so it's good to get some exercise.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

More blossom

More pink blossom, this time in Saltaire. It's so pretty, so frothy looking but it soon gets dashed by the wind and we have quite a strong wind at the moment.

By the way, if anyone is nearby this coming weekend, it is Saltaire's World Heritage Celebration weekend, now an annual event but with a different 'spin' each time. This year sees the return of the Saltaire Conversazione, a concept popular in Victorian times, introduced to Saltaire in 1878 and that continued here until 1964. The original idea was an event where science, art, culture, innovation, technology and entertainment mingled, a place where people could go to enjoy themselves, talk and engage with ideas - read here for more about that. And here for a full programme of events.

Hopefully there will be lots blossoming this weekend....

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A shimmer of pink

We still have bare trees, with just the faintest hint of a green haze. A single blossom tree beginning to unfurl its buds provides a splash of colour in Bradford's Lister Park.

Monday, 13 April 2015

An eye on the clock

Bradford City Hall is shrouded in scaffolding and plastic sheeting for some renovation work to the imposing Victorian facade. The clock tower, which still rings a peal of bells every quarter hour, rises from the midst as if trying to free itself and escape heavenwards. The ferris wheel or 'Bradford Eye' is a temporary addition, until 19 April, so that you can get a bird's eye view over the city. It would be interesting on a better day but the rain and the open gondolas meant that there was little point in taking a ride when I was there.  The local paper is showing some photos taken from the wheel, here.

Sunday, 12 April 2015


Not a bad view from the front of the Media Museum either, even though Bradford these days (and particularly in the rain) is far from being the most beautiful of cities. It must have been much more imposing in its glory years, late Victorian and Edwardian times. The most lovely buildings date from then, including the fabulous City Hall, designed by Saltaire's architects Lockwood and Mawson and opened in 1873. You can see its ornate clock tower, top right. They pulled many Victorian buildings down in the 1960s and 1970s to build ugly, modernist, concrete buildings, many of which have also since been replaced, though not necessarily by architectural masterpieces.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Rainy day pattern

Rainy days and bank holidays (combined) always get me down.. so at Easter I took myself off to the Media Museum in Bradford to see an excellent exhibition: 'Drawn by Light', showcasing the archive of the Royal Photographic Society. See here for a review, if you're interested. It's fascinating to see the equipment photographers used in the early years and the quality of softness and grain in some of the early prints is beautiful. Quite different from what we're used to seeing today. The exhibition is well-curated and shows early photographs juxtaposed with more recent work from some renowned photographers like Martin Parr and Don McCullin, which in itself is thought-provoking.

A glimpse through a rainy window out of the back of the Museum provided quite an interesting pattern of lines.