Monday, 27 June 2016

A load of cobble(r)s

I noticed that they have closed Victoria Road in Saltaire to through traffic and dug up the tarmac and I wondered why. Walking down the road the other day, the mystery was solved. They are reinstating the cobbles in front of the Victoria Hall. (Actually the oblong stone blocks are called setts; cobbles are, strictly speaking, round pebbles.) I'm not sure why, except that I assume it is part of the overall refurbishment plan that saw many of the trees felled, new streetlights erected and so on.

The road would originally have been paved with setts, as all Saltaire's streets were. The only bits that remain are the famous length of Albert Terrace and a short stretch outside the Saltaire Dining Hall, by Salts Mill. I imagine reinstating this area outside the Victoria Hall is partly for aesthetic reasons, since this is fundamentally the heart of the village, and partly as a traffic-calming measure. It is uncomfortable to speed over cobbled roads. They are hard to walk on too, and dragging a suitcase becomes a chore! Luckily it is not on my route from home to the rail station, though part of Albert Terrace is.

Sunday, 26 June 2016


Cat-chy creatures in the cat category, spotted around Saltaire

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Can't decide... 2

Narrowboats at the moorings on the Springs Canal in the centre of Skipton.

Another decision to make... do I prefer the longer view with the lead-in and the nice reflections - or the close-up detail of the boat and the bike? 

Friday, 24 June 2016

Can't decide...

A circle... or a whorl?
Shadowy mysteries and reflections beneath a canal bridge in the centre of Skipton.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Painted roses

You can't get far along a canal in this country without stumbling across examples of the traditional 'Brightwork' that is used to decorate the narrowboats and barges. Here, the window of the office from where boats are hired out in Skipton is decorated with roses - a very common emblem.

The art developed during the industrial revolution, at a time when other traditional crafts were fast dying out. The new canal network, started in the late eighteenth century, made transporting goods much easier as the industrial revolution got underway, taking over from the packhorse routes that had served until then. At their peak, however, they were threatened by the rise of the railways and investment was diverted. The canal system carried on but was less prosperous. The boatmen, who at one time could employ crew (you needed a person on the boat and a person with the pulling horse) often found they could no longer afford to house their families in canalside settlements. It became more common to have wife and family living on the boat, sharing the cramped living quarters. Being itinerant, they could not educate their children and they became a travelling community isolated from and feared by many on the land.

It is thought that the traditions of decorating the boats with colourful paintwork, brightly painted tinware, crisp lace curtains and gleaming brassware may have developed as a response - a statement of separateness and distinction, to confound the perception of 'dirty bargees'. (See here for more information).

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Skipton in the evening

The small camera club that I belong to at my church usually ends our yearly programme in June with a trip out and a meal. It's fun and sociable but it traditionally rains! I thought this year was going to be no exception, as it was pouring when my friend and I set off from home. When we arrived in Skipton, however, the clouds had cleared and we enjoyed a lovely walk around the town in the early evening sunshine. The traditional fish and chip meal was pretty good too!

I've posted so many pictures of the town on my blog that you will know its beauty spots as well as I do. This is a favourite view, at the point where the Springs branch canal joins the Leeds-Liverpool. It looked especially pretty in the golden evening light.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Birthday portrait

Like many photographers, I'd far rather be behind the camera than in front of it.  There are very few photos of me that I really like - including this one! But it is probably a fairly typical expression of mine, sharing a wry joke with my daughter, who was valiantly attempting to get a decent picture of me on my birthday.

Monday, 20 June 2016

With love

Without doubt one of the best birthday gifts I have ever had, and one I shall forever cherish. This canvas collage was painted and glittered by my four year old granddaughter, Elodie (with just a little help from her mum, I guess). There she is, making a heart with her hands. She wrote her name herself too, though apparently the first attempt produced a barely readable 'Elo' in the middle oblong so that the finished word just appeared to be 'Die'... Probably not the best message for your 64 year old gran! Oh dearie me, haha!  A second attempt at 'Elo' down at the bottom left was more readable, thankfully. As I say, one to treasure. ❤ ❤

I also received a book from my daughter ('Reader, I married him' edited by Tracy Chevalier) which is a collection of short stories by various writers, celebrating the life and bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë - a spot-on choice, as I almost bought this for myself when I visited Haworth Parsonage recently. From little Madeleine (aged nearly two) I received some artisan chocolates; she had carefully chosen each one herself from the display. I feel so very thankful for such a lovely and loving family.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Heigh ho!

My local Asda are selling these cheery garden gnomes and have them lined up on the windowsill - I think they're hilarious! (Someone must be buying them, as the line is getting shorter week on week). On Friday night there was a small boy, aged about six, sitting on the windowsill at the end of the row. He was sitting very still and had one hand raised, palm out, just like the gnomes. So cute, made me smile - made my night, in fact. (Though I didn't dare take a picture of him.)

Today's resident ear-worm (annoying song in my head!) is alternating between 'Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to work we go..' (despite the fact that it is Sunday and I'm not working) and 'Will you still need me... when I'm 64?' It's my birthday. Hmmm...

Saturday, 18 June 2016


Back in Wakefield... The Hepworth sits on an island between the River Calder and the Calder and Hebble Navigation (a canal). It ought to be picturesque but somehow it doesn't quite manage that. There is a boatyard and many of the boats are old industrial barges in varying states of repair, rather than pretty narrowboats. There is still evidence of the December floods too. The area of water immediately in front of the gallery (see here) usually provides an interesting reflection of the building but at present it is filled with an enormous hunk of concrete: some kind of wharf that has been swept in by the floods, overturned and marooned.

The fella on the left appears to be made of various bits of trash. Very creative, but he adds to the general sense of clutter that sits rather incongruously with the very minimalist gallery.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Blackbird singing...

Not quite in the dead of night (as the song goes) but in the evening as the sun's last rays lit up the tree. Beautiful - and we need to notice the beauty in a world that seems far too aggressive and painful at the moment.

I've been deeply upset by the senseless assassination of the young Labour MP, Jo Cox, on Thursday, just a few miles south of here. She had children the same ages as my own two granddaughters and, although I didn't know her, she looks and sounds to have been intelligent, passionate, committed to making a positive difference in the world and full of the best kind of life, not unlike my own daughter. Such a tragedy. Maybe we all need to pause and consider whether we need to recalibrate, make sure we have our priorities right.... My thoughts and prayers are with her husband, children, family and friends as they try to deal with their loss.

Thursday, 16 June 2016


I find the building adjacent to The Hepworth very interesting too. It's an old mill, I think now disused. It is constructed in reddish brick and the windows are blocked up by black wooden screens. Somehow it has a sculptural quality in itself, which is emphasised, I think, in black and white. I enjoyed how the young, lacy trees counterpoint the heavy solidity of the building.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

'Common Sense'

Everything in The Hepworth is worth seeing but I especially went along to view the current exhibition of the photographer Martin Parr's work. It is entitled 'The Rhubarb Triangle and other stories'. At its heart is a new commission of photographs of the famous 'rhubarb triangle', an area near Wakefield that specialises in growing the sweet and delicate Yorkshire forced rhubarb, grown in dark sheds and harvested by candlelight. Alongside were many of Martin's other photographs, among them his documentary series focussing on the seaside and the middle classes in the 80s. If you don't know his work, do look him up. He manages to be both funny and poignant, and some of his images are a scathing commentary on life in Thatcher's Britain towards the end of the twentieth century.

The wonderful collage shown above is called 'Common Sense' - highly saturated images of 'bits and bobs' of life in the 90s, wonderfully kitsch and quite bizarre but somehow a fascinating archive.
The four people were watching a video about Martin Parr, listening through headphones. Every now and again they'd all guffaw with laughing, which added to the slightly odd feeling, since you didn't know what they were laughing at.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

In pursuit of art

It's a while since I visited Wakefield so I treated myself to a day out there  - in pursuit of art. (It was a few weeks ago. Been so busy...)  I've mentioned that I belong to a camera club and every year the Yorkshire Photographic Union, which is a collaboration between all the Yorkshire clubs, holds an exhibition. It is considered very prestigious to get your photograph chosen for the exhibition. (I don't even try, the standard is so high.) This year the exhibition was held in Wakefield Town Hall so I went along to be impressed (and I was!)

I also took the opportunity to revisit The Hepworth gallery, which has a permanent collection of Barbara Hepworth's sculptures, as well as showing other artwork and temporary exhibitions. The building itself is very sculptural and exciting, inside and out.