Saturday, 31 January 2015

The soft shades of winter

A pleasing harmony of soft colours and shapes - trees and flower beds at the entrance to Shipley's Northcliffe park.

Friday, 30 January 2015

A pineapple welcome

Rather lovely ornate iron gates and carved finials like pineapples adorn the entrance to Shipley's Northcliffe Park. Pineapples are apparently a symbol of hospitality and that is why they are often found on gateposts.

Thursday, 29 January 2015


I had a delightful walk on a crisp, cold but reasonably sunny day in nearby Northcliffe park in Shipley.

The park was gifted to the town by a local businessman and MP, Sir H Norman Rae in the 1920s. He bought the land at auction, from the Fifth Earl of Rosse. It consisted of fields and woods around a deep ravine formed by melting ice at the end of the last Ice Age, further eroded by open cast mining for coal in the early 1800s.

Sir Norman Rae had the foresight and generosity to offer it 'as an open space for recreation and benefit of the public, forever.' Nowadays it is a nice mix of a conventional park with a few formal flower beds, children's playgrounds, allotments, sporting facilities - tennis, bowls and football and a large area of natural woodland and meadows, now cultivated as wildflower havens.

It makes a delightful circular walk of an hour or so from my home. If only Sir Norman Rae could have known how his gift blesses me, nearly 100 years after his bequest.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Shampoo madame?

How do you get your car washed? There was a time when everyone seemed to wash them by hand, legions of people out at the weekend with buckets and sponges (or power-washers now, I suppose). Then came those automatic washes with swirly plastic brushes and conveyor belts to pull you through the system, quite terrifying! They seem to have all-but gone out of fashion round here, and now everyone goes to a 'hand-wash' centre like this, where an army of young men rush round with hoses and chamois cloths, spraying, shampooing and mopping. I suspect they are all on minimum-wage zero hours contracts and sometimes I feel I am exploiting them, but I suppose they might be glad of a job of any sort. Qasim's is the one nearest to me, situated in what used to be a petrol station. They do a pretty good job. It's worth it to me at £5 a wash. I don't own a power-washer and life's too short for a bucket, sponge and numerous trips through the house to the kitchen tap and back. Anyway I park my car on a narrow street, so doing anything at the edge of the road is pretty hazardous.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Let there be light

You may recall that back in July last year (here) I reported a plan to fell all the mature trees along Saltaire's Victoria Road. Well, that plan has come to fruition and the sound of chainsaws was heard all last week. They have probably felled about ten trees so far. The orange bollards show where they were. This is the upper section of Victoria Road and they will shortly move down the hill to deal with those in the centre of the village.

They were lovely trees, horse chestnuts and copper beeches, but they had grown way too big for the area in which they were planted. They were not original to the Victorian village, having been planted as recently as the 1950s. But they weren't really the right species for their situation. Their roots have badly damaged the pavements and all those pretty almshouses were getting absolutely no natural light into their little rooms, even in high summer, because of the dense leaf canopy. (I bet they'll all have to redecorate now. They'll be able to see the grime of ages!)

Work will take place to further improve the area, relaying pavements, replacing the street lights with attractive ones more in keeping with the village and planting a few smaller specimen trees in the areas where there is room in the ground (too many services and cables underground in much of the street, I gather.)

Monday, 26 January 2015

Root and branch

Out walking in Northcliffe park, I happened to notice how the shadow of another tree wrapped itself around this one, almost looking like its roots. A rather nice effect, I thought.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

It's a knockout: 4-2

Apologies for the blurry pictures. I wasn't there; these are taken from the TV. They show scenes of jubilation at Chelsea's football stadium at Stamford Bridge. Our local League One side, Bradford City, beat top of the Premier League Chelsea 4-2 in the fourth round of the FA Cup yesterday. 

'Bradford City became the first team ever to put four goals past a [Jose] Mourinho side in a home game, despite being 49 places below Chelsea in England's football pyramid. "I repeat a word I used before this match - it's a disgrace for a big team to lose to a small team from a lower league." said Mourinho, who won the FA Cup during his first spell at Chelsea in 2007. "Frustration is not the right word, embarrassed would be more appropriate." '

It's hard to understate what a win like this means for a smaller club, in sheer joy for the players and fans, many of whom have supported Bradford City through thick and thin for years, and also in terms of publicity and finance. Win or lose, they stood to gain something like £350,000 from the fixture. Now they will have a match in the next round too, possibly with an equally big club.

Critics have said that the big Premier League clubs aren't interested in the FA Cup these days (the real money is in their League performance and in Europe), with the implication that Chelsea and the other big clubs knocked out so far aren't really trying. But I don't think Mourinho and Chelsea would willingly invite the embarrassment they have suffered this weekend. BCFC's website reports that Jose Mourinho personally visited the Bradford team's dressing room after the match and congratulated every player and staff member. That shows class, I think.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Rock-a-bye baby

I was thrilled to see this old coach-built pram outside one of the vintage shops in Saltaire. I can't quite remember the experience but I know I slept in a similar one as a baby. Those were the days of rigid timetables, four-hourly feeds and baby left in a pram at the end of the garden in all weathers! I don't think it did me a lot of harm. In fact, arguably, one of these is cosier and more comfortable than today's modern buggies. Look at the sprung base. As well as the substantial rain hood, you can get huge sunshades for them too, much bigger than those useless little umbrella things you find these days.

The Saltaire Vintage shop (formerly Rose and Brown) on Victoria Road has been through a number of incarnations but it seems to manage to keep on trading, full of all sorts of treasure: clothes, jewellery, textiles, homeware and ephemera. See their Facebook page for lots of pictures of things that (if you're as old as I am) you will almost certainly recognise from your past! Just browsing, I noted a pot that is exactly like one I acquired from somewhere in an earlier life. I use mine as a plant pot holder... turns out to be Hornsea Pottery. Who knew..?

Friday, 23 January 2015

..S'no snow here...

Well, if I expected to see a white and pretty landscape when I opened the curtains I was sadly disappointed. As predicted, the snow that fell overnight did not linger here in the valley (we're only about 80m above sea level). Instead, it was a damp, foggy, grey morning. You can see snow lying on the surrounding hills though, and at even higher altitudes there has been quite a significant snowfall.

The mirror-like canal (hardly a breath of wind to ruffle the water) reflects the old wharves where cargo would once have been unloaded into warehouses. Nowadays there are businesses, a waterside restaurant and a gym, as well as some permanent moorings for canal boats.

The photo is taken from the Victoria Street bridge in Shipley. (Not to be confused with nearby Victoria Road in Saltaire. The dear queen had a lot of places named after her.)  My favourite - 'that view' - is from the same bridge but looking in the opposite direction.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Snow? Let's stay cosy

It's snowing again. We've had a few flurries over the past week or two and there has been more in some hilly areas. Now it seems to have decided to try a bit harder and has been snowing on and off here for hours. It is wet stuff with big flakes but it seems to be settling. I've been tucked up at work so no chance to get out for photos so far. If it does stay a while, I will hope to get out with my camera.

Anita was asking me what our winter weather pattern is. The answer is that there isn't one, at least not a predictable one. Some years we get quite a lot of snow (by our standards - which is really not much compared with the US or Scandinavia or Russia). But it rarely stays more than a couple of weeks continuously. Last year we had no snow at all in this part of the country, but lots of rain instead. Two winters ago we had an unusually long, snowy spell at about this time of year. The pattern this winter has been rain and gales for a few days followed by dismal, grey, quiet spells and then rain and gales again. There have been very few cold, crisp, sunny days. It all depends what the jet stream is doing across the Atlantic, where it is sitting and what weather it pulls in. I've known snow in November and snow in April but that would be unusual, it's more likely in January/February. In a way, it's quite interesting never knowing what's going to happen but it does mean we are often unprepared and it's hard to plan anything with any degree of certainty.

Anyway, lack of snow pictures means I'm showing this cosy night shot of the bar in Saltaire called 'Don't tell Titus'. (Titus Salt didn't allow pubs and bars in his village!) Since Christmas when I took this, it has closed temporarily for refurbishment and redecoration. So it may or may not look the same when it opens again in a few weeks. I always think it looks inviting and warm at night. Just the place to seek refuge if you get caught in a snow shower.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

No more wet feet

This is part of my regular lunch-break walk, along the canal towpath between the mills. For a long time now there has been one stretch of the path that floods right across after heavy rain. (A frequent occurrence here, of course!) One has the choice of: a hazardous balancing act along the edge of the stone sill next to the canal, undignified skeetering along the other edge whilst hanging on to the railings or simply ploughing on regardless, through the deep puddle.

All that has happily come to an end, thanks to a man from the Canal and River Trust in his natty little digger. Workmen have dug a drainage channel along the offending portion and relaid the stone chips. All is dry once more! Hooray!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


A threatening sky (it started to sleet a few minutes later) and the Half Moon Café in Roberts Park was illuminated by a sudden shaft of winter sunshine. The café is normally open until 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays in the winter but they must have decided to close early. The usually busy park was rather quiet, just a brave runner and a few dogs walking their people, so I don't suppose they were doing much trade. I find the park is beautiful in all seasons. Even when the wind is howling and sleet is stinging my face, I can enjoy a walk there. It is just far enough from home to make it feel worthwhile. There are plenty of paths, so you can vary the route a bit and there is always something new to see - an explosion of red branches in the shrubberies, a few brave green shoots beginning to poke up from the earth... Good to be out and about; just as good to get back home for a comforting, warming cup of tea and a slice of toasted fruit loaf.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Chocolate and cream

What do you do when it's blowing a gale, freezing cold yet you're determined to get some fresh air, exercise and photos? Answer (if you're me anyway) wrap up warm and take a brisk walk down to Roberts Park to see what's happening. Actually, there wasn't a lot happening... the occasional hardy jogger, dog-walkers who can't make bad weather excuses and lots of water rushing over the weir beside the New Mill. That's always good for a photo... but then it started sleeting so I gave up. An even brisker walk home; the outing certainly 'blew the cobwebs away'. Then there's a fine excuse for some playing with processing, back at home in the cosiness.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Two's company

I rescued these two cuties. They were upside down in a bin in Aldi, looking forlorn. Something about their sweet little faces appealed to me, so they have a new home here. Being from Aldi, they weren't expensive and in fact seem very well made. Just like my granddaughters, one is fair and one is dark-haired. I think my little girls will enjoy playing with them when they visit gran's. It gave me enormous pleasure to realise that I had an excuse to buy two!

I shop at Aldi every other supermarket trip. (Alternating with Asda). Aldi is markedly cheaper for most things but you can't always get everything there and it is a matter of luck sometimes whether they have what you want. On the other hand, if you keep your eyes open and are ready to deviate from your shopping list you can often get a really good deal on random items. I found a jar of cherries in syrup recently that were absolutely over-the-moon delicious. The trouble is, I haven't seen them since. Perhaps as well... they had such sweet syrup it no doubt cancelled any health benefits from the fruit!