Tuesday, 3 March 2015

My virtual visitors

February's online photo club challenge was 'Time' and the image had to be in monochrome.

I've long been fascinated by the well-worn steps leading down to Salts Mill. They seem soaked through with countless stories of the people that have clambered up and down them in the 160+ years since they were built. Clogs, boots, shoes, trainers and sandals .... mill workers, their bosses, village residents, visitors and more recently shoppers and tourists have left their mark. I thought the image needed something more to strengthen it and to suggest the passage of time... so I suddenly had the idea to have members of my family 'visit' Saltaire. This is my great-grandfather and my uncle.

Sunday, 1 March 2015


Another Spiritual Sundays quotation - one of the prayer cards I made for our church Healing Prayer Team.

I took the photo when I was on holiday in Croatia, inside the fortress overlooking Dubrovnik, which was a stronghold of the local resistance during the Balkan wars in the early 1990s.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Ring O'Bells

I think I've only been in this pub once. It's a fairly traditional town pub, on the edge of Shipley town centre, serving a selection of real ales and some unpretentious 'pub food'. It styles itself as a sports pub, which means it has lots of TV screens and gets pretty busy if there is a good football or rugby match on. I think they also have live music sometimes and quizzes and games nights too. Those things all seem necessary these days for a local pub to survive.

It's aptly named, as it is not far from Shipley's parish church, St Paul's. I am sure you could hear the church bells from here.... though actually I'm not even certain the church has any bells! Or if it does, whether they are rung nowadays.

I chiefly notice this pub for the pretty etched glass in its windows, which sparkles in sunlight. Etched glass was popular in Victorian pubs but I wouldn't like to say how old these windows are. The coloured panels above were more popular in the 1930s.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Local history

On the road between Saltaire and Baildon there is a hamlet of old houses called Baildon Green, tucked under the rocky cliffs of Baildon Bank. The area was once quarried for gritstone and clay. There have been dwellings here since medieval times, built on the edge of the Green, an area of common land used for grazing. Most of the existing houses date back to the 18th and 19th century. In the 19th century a small textile mill, Clough's Mill, provided employment. There's a pub too, The Cricketer's Arms (out of shot to the right). The existing pub was built in 1899 but replaced one on the opposite side of the road, now a house. See also here and here.

Thursday, 26 February 2015


I'm running out of decent photos... I haven't had an outing with my camera for weeks, owing to a combination of bad weather at weekends and being busy with some 'home improvements'. I have had the sliding doors replaced on the wardrobes in my bedroom. The old (very old) ones no longer slid but had to be lifted and coaxed. Now I have smart new ones that swish along at the flick of a finger. I have spent some happy time 'swishing'!

It meant, of course, the moment was opportune to do some clearing out too. I discovered a hitherto unconscious need to squirrel away empty shoe boxes; I must have a dozen of them! I blame my dad for setting me the example of hoarding things that 'might come in useful one day'. Mind you, he lived through the war, when maybe that was more of a virtue than a vice.

I noticed all these plastic trays piled up on the local allotments. I felt sure there was a picture to be had - but I'm not sure I quite found it. I wonder if the allotment holder lived through the war too....

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

National pride

One of the things that struck me when I visited the USA a couple of years ago was how many national flags one sees.  As well as those flying on public buildings, many private houses, at least in New England where I was, had the Stars and Stripes prominently and proudly displayed. It's a much rarer occurrence here in Britain. You will see public buildings flying the Union Flag on certain memorial days, including the birthdays of members of the Royal family. You see red, white and blue bunting here sometimes but it is unusual to see a private house with a proper flag outside. This one is an exception and, from the frayed edge, the flag appears to have been here a while.

I was interested to read that there is a 'Flag code' in the US, covering how and when the American flag can be used. It is, apparently, prohibited to use it in fashion items: 'The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery.' (I'm not sure anyone takes any notice.) The Union Jack, on the other hand, has no such restrictions and has been a prominent symbol on clothing and household items since the 1960s and - as any visitor to London will testify - it is hard to see past it on all sorts of souvenirs and memorabilia. A flag outside a house, however, tends to provoke slight unease and suspicions about far-right politics, quite probably without any justification.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Lording it

In the wintry sunshine, Sir Titus Salt's statue presides over the long promenade terrace in Roberts Park, Saltaire. The statue was erected in 1903 to commemorate the centenary of his birth, and the 50th anniversary of the opening of Salts Mill. The plinth has an angora goat on this side and on the other side an alpaca, the two animals from whose fleece the wool baron, Sir Titus, made his fortune.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Tall order

More maintenance going on, this time repairs to the ornate mill chimney of Saltaire's New Mill. It has scaffolding up one side and a scaffold framework at the top. I don't know what they are doing - pointing the stonework possibly? I wouldn't be surprised if they aren't clearing out all the bird droppings from the lantern at the top. Birds obviously roost and possibly even nest in the tower and there are always some flying in and out. I don't suppose it does the structure a lot of good over a long period of time.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

St Walburga

The local Catholic church, St Mary and St Walburga, is visible for miles around owing to its tall tower, topped with a statue. I had always assumed the statue (seen here from the back) was the Virgin Mary but I realise now that it might just as likely be Saint Walburga. I didn't know she was a woman.

Walburga or Walpurga is an unusual name. She was born in Devon around 710 AD and educated at a convent school in Wimborne, Dorset, where she then became a nun. She joined her brothers to evangelise in the area known then as Francia, which is now in south-west Germany and she later became abbess of a monastery there, established by her brother. She died in either 777 or 779. She was canonised in 870.

Quite why the Shipley church is dedicated to her, I am not sure. It was built in 1962, on a site that had been occupied by a large Victorian house that was demolished. Some of the stone was used in the new church. The new church replaced an older one nearby that had become too small for its congregation, originally mainly Irish Catholic immigrants but swelled by an influx of refugees from eastern Europe and Italy after the war.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Yellow peril

I suppose these yellow speed camera boxes are a necessary evil in built-up areas, though some people maintain they are merely a means to boost revenue (from fines) for local councils. I'm a fairly careful driver and never intentionally break the speed limit, but I find when you're concentrating on so many things on a busy road that it can be hard sometimes to maintain a steady 30 mph (and even 20 mph in Saltaire and some other residential areas). You tend to learn where the yellow boxes are and take extra care but those mobile video patrols they have are often well-hidden! This was a Saturday afternoon and the drivers heading out from the city centre through Shipley were in little danger of breaking any speed limit. Traffic is almost always queued up along this stretch, due to the many traffic light controlled junctions.

Friday, 20 February 2015


Another glimpse of the 'ordinary'....
Nisa could be an acronym for 'Not in Saltaire Actually' - though it is very close! Just across Saltaire Road from 'Bargain Booze' this is a mini-supermarket, selling a wide variety of groceries, drinks, newspapers and seasonal lines - bedding plants in summer, Christmas decorations, fireworks. You can buy a lottery ticket here, get some cash from the ATM (at a price); even, I discovered recently, get parcels delivered here to collect. That's wonderful, as it saves having to wait at home for the delivery or trek into Bradford to collect it from the depot. It's open from 6.30am to 10pm every day - and that includes Christmas Day too! It really lives up to its name as a 'convenience store' and I'm lucky because it is quite close to my home. It has saved the day several times - like when I was baking and opened a tin of golden syrup, only to find it had solidified rather nastily. Does Nisa sell golden syrup - yes they do! Hooray!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The good, the bad and .. the ugly

I tend to try to show Saltaire's 'best face' on my blog - and that isn't difficult because it really is a gem of a place. It is also, however, a living, working community and that inevitably means we have some rather ordinary bits and a smattering of neglected corners. This shop on the main Saltaire Road is just outside the World Heritage Site, in what is called 'the buffer zone'. Had it been in the village itself, I doubt it would have been given planning permission for this garish frontage. It's an off-licence and newsagent and sells a few basic supplies like milk and bread. The shop has been there for a long time but a few years ago it was taken over as a Bargain Booze franchise. So ugly...

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Creative Light

I've been a member of Ilkley Camera Club for a couple of years now. It's a very good club with a high standard of work. We've just come joint 7th out of 200 or so clubs across the UK in a national competition. I can't boast that I'm personally doing much to support that standard yet but it's a great place to learn and be inspired.

Every two years the club has an exhibition in Ilkley's Manor House Museum. This year it runs from 14 February to 12 April and its theme is 'Creative Light'. There are over 200 prints and projected images on show. Additionally, as a new venture for this year, objects from the collections of Bradford Museums and Galleries, which play with light in various ways, are displayed alongside club members' photographs of them. There are also some free talks and workshops being offered by club members on Saturdays from 2-3pm.

I was hoping to submit some prints for the exhibition but unfortunately wasn't able to prepare them last autumn, because of needing to be in London supporting my family when my granddaughter was born. However, I did submit a few digital images so hopefully one or more of them will have been chosen for the projected slideshow.

I must stress that the image above is NOT my own work; it is the flyer produced to advertise the exhibition. If you're anywhere near Ilkley I invite you to visit. The exhibition is always well worth seeing and of course Ilkley itself has lots to interest the visitor. My own visits to the exhibitions in the past were what persuaded me that I should join the club. I was always excited by what I saw.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

A spoonful of sugar

I was somewhat irked to have to make a special trip to Leeds after work yesterday. I had to get my spectacles repaired. I had managed to lose one of the little plastic bridge bits that enables them to rest comfortably on my nose. (I'm sure there's a proper name for them but I don't know it.) I tried a sort of bodged home-repair but it wasn't very successful. Varifocals have to be set just so or you can't focus through the right bit of the lens and that is important at work, faced with a computer screen all day. Plus they were gouging a sore patch on my nose! Although I thought you could get the bits replaced in any opticians, none of the local shops would agree to do it so I had to take them back to the shop I bought them from. An hour and a half's round trip for a few minutes job.

Anyway, job done, I suffered a packed train journey home in the 'rush hour', trying to quell my increasing hunger and keep a lid on my grumpiness! All was forgiven when I had the chance to photograph the beautiful evening sky as I arrived back in Saltaire. The sun sets, of course, in the west and the western sky didn't look especially interesting but the pink and gold reflected light on the cloudscape to the east behind Salts Mill was very pretty. Once again my iPhone did a creditable job. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.