Thursday, 26 March 2015

Victoria Hall

This is a picture that I couldn't have taken a few weeks ago. It's Saltaire's Victoria Hall from the north-west. Previously it was pretty much obstructed from view by huge horse chestnut and copper beech trees, planted in the 1950s. The original design for this part of the village was very much that it would be a spacious central area, a focal point, with the Victoria Hall (then the Saltaire Club and Institute) on one side and the school opposite. The trees were added later and became very large. Some felt they added beauty and softened the architecture but the Council eventually decided they were too big and were becoming a nuisance so there has been an extensive and controversial tree felling operation in recent months. Though it's perhaps a pity they took the smaller trees as well as the horse chestnuts. I rather liked the pink blossom (see here).

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Bum numbing

It doesn't look at all comfortable and I can't imagine many people have cared to sit on it for long, at peril of a numb bum, as we'd say here. Nevertheless I was attracted to the curves of this metal bench outside Ilkley's Manor House Museum. The yellow flowers in the border add a welcome hint of spring, though in truth it was a freezing cold day.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Through a glass brightly

Playing with my iPhone again... Some of the glass in the windows of Ilkley's Manor House Museum appears to be very old; it's thick and flawed but I love the effect it creates. I've bumped up the colour in this one a bit.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Shadow play

In the lulls between visitors to the exhibition (see yesterday) I had fun being creative with my iPhone. The occasional bursts of sunshine through the pretty arched windows of the Manor House Museum made lovely patterns. I hasten to add that the scratches are a texture I've added to my photo and the wooden floor of the building is not damaged!

Sunday, 22 March 2015


I spent much of Saturday in Ilkley's Manor House Museum. My camera club is showing its bi-annual exhibition there, this year entitled 'Creative Light'. Of course, many volunteers are needed to act as stewards, welcoming people and keeping an eye on things. Once my shift was over, I stayed to attend a short workshop run by one of our club members about Adobe Lightroom, the photo processing package that I now use most often. I am fairly proficient with it these days but, like most software, it has many facets that I have hardly explored yet. It's always interesting to hear someone else's ideas and I always learn a bit more.

The exhibition is well worth seeing; we have some amazing photographers in the club. I didn't manage to submit prints (the run-up to the deadline coincided with my granddaughter's birth) but I have four images in the digital slideshow that runs on a loop in one of the rooms.

I love the museum too. It's only small but the simply whitewashed rooms and old beams have a lovely quality. Unfortunately, when our exhibition closes on 12 April, the Museum is also closing. Bradford Council say they can no longer afford to run it and the future of the building and its associated cottages is in doubt. (See here).

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Canal marker

This canal marker post is beside the Leeds-Liverpool Canal quite near the centre of Saltaire. It would be a day's hike (for me) to Leeds and it would take me more than a week to get to Liverpool. I gather that a horse pulling a loaded barge could manage a speed of about 2.5 miles an hour, plus extra time to get through all the locks on the canal. They would work for long hours and change the horses frequently but it was still quite a slow mode of transport. Modern day narrowboats with engines still cruise quite slowly, partly out of respect for other users and also to avoid eroding the banks with the wash of water in the boat's wake. Even walking fast, however, I can rarely keep up with one for long. (I've tried!)

Friday, 20 March 2015

Wasted land

This is another view of the area in Shipley where a proposal has been made to build a supermarket and housing. It used to be the line of a canal spur that branched off the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and made its way down to the centre of Bradford, so that supplies could be carried by barge into the city and wool textiles shipped out to the docks at Liverpool. Long since filled in, the area is now just wasteland. I think at one time there was a small mill along here but any such buildings have now disappeared. It is a pity it remains in limbo, neither used constructively for much needed housing (it may have a flood issue but surely that could be overcome?) nor developed into an attractive area for recreation. They are gobbling up 'greenfield sites' for development and yet they leave 'brownfield' areas like this to deteriorate.

Thursday, 19 March 2015


It seems that if you can find an 'eco-argument' against a development, you're more likely to succeed in delaying or preventing it than if it comes down to mere economics. For months now there has been a three-cornered fight between rival proposals for supermarket developments near the centre of Shipley (despite the existence in Shipley of a large Asda, an Aldi and several other superstores within driving distance).  I understood that the proposed Morrisons development, including a store and housing behind Shipley rail station, had been approved by planners - but now there is an appeal.

Personally, I think it would be good if the land earmarked (below) was used for something. It is very much an eyesore of wasteland and plagued by fly-tipping. If there are valuable species there, then maybe it ought to be developed into a park....

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


To London for a few days enjoying my granddaughters' company.... The three year old is quite a chatterbox now and is very protective of her little sister. At five months and growing fast, the baby is quite simply adorable (though I am admittedly biased). She's calm and alert and seems a sunny-natured little soul. Her smile would melt anyone's heart. It's hard in all the busyness to get them both to pose for a photo. Pictures are snatched rather than taken. This was the best of the bunch.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Zen blossom

More pretty blossom, this time an early flowering azalea. It has a bit of a Japanese look to it, I think.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Let's pretend to be a castle

The Wentworth Castle estate holds a number of monuments and structures, including this sham castle known as Stainborough Castle, on the highest point of the grounds. Finished in 1731, it was built by Thomas Wentworth as a ruined folly and inscribed 'Rebuilt in 1730'. It originally had four towers, named after his four children. Now only two remain. You can climb a (mercifully sturdy, steel) spiral staircase to the top and the views from up there are lovely.

And right at the top, there's a dragon!

It's all rather nice and I could well imagine the household gathering there for picnics and fun, much as visitors do now. You can almost hear the laughter of those four children.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Lenten rose

Another personal favourite, the hellebore, is known as the Christmas or Lenten rose, flowering as they do in late winter/early spring. They come in a variety of colours, from purples and pinks to white and even astonishing pale green flowers. The 'petals' are actually sepals and the spiky bits in the middle are the modified petals or nectaries. They are low growing plants and like dappled shade under shrubs and trees. Many of them droop their heads shyly and are hard to photograph but this one smiled at me.

Saturday, 14 March 2015


The beginning of March was, I suppose, a bit of a silly time to visit a garden. Nature has hardly begun to stir from winter dormancy - though I do like to see the structure and shape of trees without their leaves. Nevertheless there were a few hints of spring around, with snowdrops and pretty little pink and white cyclamen nestled under the trees. Wentworth Castle Gardens holds National Collections of rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias - meaning that in a few weeks there will be spectacular blossom to see. (I might go back!) I spotted this one early flowering camellia. They are such delicate blossoms and flower so early that they are nearly always browned and burned by frost. This beautiful bloom was, however, pretty well perfect.

Friday, 13 March 2015

The Blackamoor

This Georgian lead sundial depicting a slave, The Blackamoor, sits in the conservatory at Wentworth Castle Gardens. It was a popular subject for sculpture in the gardens of grand mansions, initially because of the wealth generated by the slave trade. Later, these sculptures became a symbol adopted by the abolitionist movement: 'Am I not a man and a brother?' A notice beside this particular sundial said that it had at one time been painted white as a protest, by students from the college. They have recently removed the white paint and restored it to its former colours. Personally, I find it a powerful and moving reminder both of our not-always-glorious history and of the fact that things can change when brave people speak out.