Thursday, 18 December 2014

Pixie


I came across one of those silly games the other day where, by taking the first letter of your name and the month of your birth and using a key, you could make up an 'elf' name for yourself (should you ever want to...)  I suppose with Christmas just round the corner, Santa might need some more elves. Anyway, I was mildly amused to discover that the given name for my newest granddaughter was Pixie Pickle-Pants. I thought that suited her quite well!

I had hoped to take some decent photos on my latest visit to London but life with two youngsters is so 'full-on' that I scarcely found an opportunity. You will see from this that at two months old she is growing fast; she's a wonderfully clear-eyed little baby and will lie for hours just calmly looking around her. She is also now able to respond with coos and gurgles when you talk to her. I never tire of those lovely baby conversations. It was a brief visit but enough to reassure me that life is settling down and getting back to something approaching 'normal' for them all. My daughter seems to have fully recovered, thank God. I found it shocking to read that sepsis is now the most common cause of maternal death in the UK and is increasing. But even so, it only affects a tiny fraction of women, so she was very unlucky.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Hollywood comes to town


Just dashing to the station the other day on my way to London, I was confronted by all these white vans parked outside Salts Mill on Victoria Road. I didn't have time to investigate (hardly had time to take a photo!) but I have since found out that they have been filming parts of a new Hollywood movie in Saltaire and Salts Mill. The local paper says it is 'A Hunter's Prayer' starring Sam Worthington, a thriller about a solitary assassin hired to kill a teenage girl. Instead they form a bond and are hunted across Europe. Sounds like a good story... no doubt we will all be trying to see which bits were filmed in our locality!

The Bradford area has always prided itself on its creative links to film, so much so that it was given the accolade of the world's first UNESCO 'City of Film'. There are organisations very active in finding locations and enticing film-makers to Yorkshire, and of course Bradford hosts the National Media Museum too.  So, if you like film - come!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Sow seeds, carry flowers


Posting on this blog is going to be intermittent for a while but stay tuned....

Friday, 5 December 2014

Close to home


Close to home... I count myself lucky to be surrounded by lovely mature trees, even though it's an urban area. The leaves are more pleasing when on the trees than when on my front steps, it has to be said, but hey, you gotta take the rough with the smooth.

It irritates me that there is so much litter left in the playground. I must be getting middle-aged if not downright old... but I taught my kid to bin it or take it home and I wish others would do the same. Thankfully we have a gem of a man in Saltaire whose job it is to pick up rubbish left in the streets, empty the litter bins and sweep up leaves and he does an excellent, if unsung, job. One of my local heroes... (Pity my front steps are my concern, not his; he'd do a better job than me, I think!)

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Fish'n'chips


Long before we had Chinese takeaways, curry houses, kebab shops, McDonalds or KFC, the fast food of choice for most Britons was fish and chips: haddock (or cod) deep fried in batter with a large portion of thick-cut chips, often accompanied by a carton of 'mushy' peas, all drenched in plenty of salt and malt vinegar. It used to be a regular Saturday dinner-time (ie: lunchtime!) treat for our family when I was a child. We'd walk down to the nearest 'chippie' and queue, hurrying the treasure home wrapped in greaseproof paper overwrapped with large sheets of newspaper. It was hot and heavy and smelled enticing. We'd hope it hadn't gone cold by the time we got it home, because the batter went soft if you had to reheat it.

When I first came to Yorkshire as a student, I was taken as a treat to Harry Ramsden's fish restaurant in Guiseley. Dining on humble fish and chips (accompanied by bread and butter and huge pots of tea) under beautiful chandeliers, seemed somehow thrilling and different. The restaurant, opened in 1928, thrived for years, a regular stop-off for coach trippers. They even had a resident pianist 'tinkling the ivories' while you dined.

In the 1980s the business was sold and expanded, developing franchise operations in the UK and abroad. By 2011 however, the original Guiseley restaurant had hit trouble and was closed, causing considerable dismay and quite an outcry locally. Happily, it was bought by the Wetherby Whaler group and given a full refurbishment, retaining the opulent feel with wall-to-wall carpets, the 1920s stained glass windows and oak panelling and those glorious chandeliers. They still have a resident pianist playing on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

We had a lunch out from work the other day, to mark a colleague's leaving the team. I can tell you that The Wetherby Whaler's fish and chips are Very Good Indeed! They even do gluten-free batter if you ask, so for the first time for years I was able to enjoy the whole meal and not just pick the fish out from the batter. Yummy - though I was so full afterwards that I didn't need another meal for about three days!



Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Cat on a hot bin roof



Like most of the people I know, my kitchen sink is in front of a window. Unlike most of the people I know, I have no dishwasher, machine or human, apart from myself. This small fact means that I inevitably spend a certain amount of time looking out of the kitchen window. I sometimes wish I had a view of a pretty garden or trees - but on the other hand one sees a fair slice of life looking out over a back street. There are several cats. This one belongs to the young couple across the road and is an interesting mixture of white, grey and marmalade tabby. It comes and goes from my small yard and lately has taken to sitting on top of my bin. Actually several of the street's bins have a resident cat, sitting atop as though they were statues on their pedestals. I imagine the plastic is drier and warmer than the ground at this time of year, so there is method in it - but I find it quite comical. I do, however, find it rather unnerving to be doing the washing-up whilst subject to an unwavering and hypnotic stare. I wonder what he's thinking? ("Feed me, feed me, woman." Probably.)

Monday, 1 December 2014

All the fun of the fair


Off to Leeds to do a bit of Christmas shopping... and I found the city centre heaving with people. It was 'Black Friday weekend'... Seems to be something we've imported from the USA, only in the last year or two, but as a friend in the States commented: "If you're going to have sale rioting, at least have a giant roast dinner and pie and hang out with your family and friends first." Well, yes, that used to be called the Boxing Day sales.... Do we really need an extra bargain weekend?

The Christkindelmarkt was so packed with shoppers that it was difficult to see anything or even get near the stalls to buy. I had hoped to take lots of photos but in the end I got fed up with being jostled. In another year or two (if my family do achieve their ambition to move back north) I might have a grandchild old enough and willing to give me an excuse to ride the carousel.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Sunbeam


At this time of year the sun (when we get it!) is so low, even in the early afternoon, that walking with the sun in your eyes can become a bit hazardous and photography can be a challenge. Capturing those lovely shafts of sunlight whilst minimising lens flare is quite a juggling act.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Bench with a view


Shipley Glen is scattered with benches, many placed there in memory of someone for whom the area was obviously special and loved. It's a lovely place to sit and rest awhile, to be 'in the moment' and to enjoy the view and the rich autumn colours.

Friday, 28 November 2014

The stick maker


Apologies, this is a technically hopeless photo (taken quickly in low light. I must learn to be more committed and less embarrassed about photographing people!) but I wanted to include it out of interest. I do like the blur on his hands, actually. I went to an exhibition about sheepdogs, thinking there would be some dogs, lovely border collies ... sadly, there was only one. But there were some interesting traditional crafts on display, including this gentleman making walking stick handles from sheeps' horns. Here he is filing and smoothing the rough horn by hand with a metal file. You can see how the finished handles reflect the shape that the horn had in its natural state.

I'm always glad to see people carrying on the traditional skills. It made me think of a question I saw posed recently: If you were forced to take two years out to learn a new skill, what would it be?

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Brocade


Just a corner of Saltaire's Roberts Park... I thought it looked photogenic in its autumn colours. Gold and silver brocade came to mind...

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in America. Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Second act


The sun arrived late, after noon. The children were still at home, perhaps not yet noticing that a grey, wet morning had suddenly become a beautiful day. The children's playground toys rested silently in the shadows, taking a secondary role to nature's drama playing out on the hillside.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Birds on a wire


Betsy finds creatures in clouds (and vegetables!), RedPat finds colourful murals all over her home city. I did a bit of both when I passed an old rusting shutter. Bird on a wire? Chill to a clip of Leonard Cohen:

Sunday, 23 November 2014

God is love


It seemed rather poignant to come across this bold assertion painted on a rock in a shadowy, damp little valley on the edge of Shipley Glen.  Leaving aside the dubious wisdom of defacing a rock, even with such 'good news', it seemed to me quite a metaphor, especially seeing the bright sunshine up ahead. It brought to mind Psalm 23: 'Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me..' Having been through one of life's little spells of anxious times recently, I know how much the sense of God's love can help us through those valleys. Whether we're in the shadow or the sunshine today, we can rejoice and be comforted by the sure knowledge that God is with us.
Linked once again to Spiritual Sundays.