Monday, 31 May 2010

Grey Heron

The river Aire, which runs through Saltaire, has two weirs within the space of about half a mile. One is right beside Saltaire's New Mill; the other is upstream at Hirst Wood. Almost always when I have passed, I have seen a grey heron standing or paddling about in the flow of the weir. I'm not sure if each weir has its own heron, or whether the same bird flies between the two. Either way, it/they are not really scared by human company. They will come quite close to the bank even when I'm standing there, and they only get jumpy if I move quickly. One of the largest birds resident in the UK, they are a common but still spectacular sight. I love to see them fly overhead, when they tuck in their necks and fly with a lazy, floppy wingbeat that is very distinctive. They nest in trees, in large and untidy nests, often in a community or heronry alongside others. I'm not sure whether Saltaire's herons are breeding birds, as I haven't noticed a local nest. But that may be me being unobservant...

Sunday, 30 May 2010

A glimpse of wisteria

The season when the wisteria blooms in England is very short indeed, which is a pity as it's such a pretty blossom. I love the colour - it's a more delicate mauve than lilac blossom. So I always make a point of peeking over this gate when I'm down in the centre of Saltaire, to see the brief show of flowers climbing up this stone wall. Very occasionally the gate is open and you can see the whole shrub, but I rather like the peephole effect when it's closed (though I have to stand on tiptoe to see it!) The building is the Stables, beside the canal and right opposite what was at one time Sir Titus Salt's private quarters in the Mill. I featured the Stables before - click here if you want to know a bit more about them.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

At work

Amidst all the bustle in Saltaire last Saturday, when the place was thronged with people attending the celebrations in Roberts Park - and in the hottest temperatures of the summer so far - I had to feel sorry for this guy painting the iron gates at Salts Mill. So I thought the least I could do was to give his business a plug on my blog... J Hawksby Race & Son, Decorators & Painting Contractors, of Bingley. Deserves a medal for endurance.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Jim Laker

Alongside the opening of the park and bandstand last Saturday, there was a cricket match going on - Saltaire's First X1 team v Bankfoot, which Saltaire won. Saltaire Cricket Club have played on the Roberts Park ground since 1869 (even before the Park was officially opened by Sir Titus Salt.) The Club has a very proud history and has produced some very good players. Possibly the most famous name to be linked to the club was Jim Laker (1922-1986) who famously took 19 Australian wickets for 90 in a test match at Old Trafford in 1956 - a feat that remains unmatched to this day. (The inset in my photo shows a plaque in his memory affixed to the scorebox - click on the pic to read it.)

Another great cricketer, Sir Learie Constantine, wrote: “Some of the loveliest grounds I have played on are Perth in Western Australia, Todmorden (Lancashire League) and Saltaire”. It is indeed a most attractive ground, set alongside the river Aire and with views of Saltaire in the background (see my post of July 5 for a photo taken in that direction). Since the restoration of the park and the Half Moon Café, which is run by the cricket club, it has become an even nicer place to relax with a drink to watch a match. I intend to do a bit of that, if this summer continues to be a good one.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Alice and The Mad Hatter

Many of the attractions in Roberts Park in Saltaire at the grand opening on Saturday had a link back to Victorian times, appropriately enough. The children's book 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' was written in 1865 by Lewis Carroll. This famous story of a little girl called Alice, who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world, includes the bizarre 'Mad Hatter's Tea Party'. A group of local actors, dressed as the main characters, re-enacted the tea-party as a sort of everyone-join-in drama. My picture shows Alice with the Mad Hatter. The March Hare and the King of Hearts were also walking around, but I didn't manage to photograph them. Interestingly, Alice seems always to be dressed in a blue dress with a white pinafore - and yes, an Alice Band in her hair - which is how she appeared in an illustration by an American artist, Peter Newell, in 1890. The original drawings in the book were in black and white, I believe.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The littlest dancer

I presume this little girl's mother was dancing with the Rainbow Morris (see my post yesterday and also 13 September). She was kitted out in a replica outfit (including bells on her shoes) and although I didn't see her dancing, she was tapping out the rhythm. I think she'll probably grow up to be a dancer, just like her mum.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Rainbow Morris

There was lots going on at the commemorative opening of Roberts Park, Saltaire on Saturday. The Rainbow Morris dancers gave a lively display (despite the heat). Sir Titus Salt - on his plinth - watched over them with a benevolent eye and appeared to enjoy it! There were various activities for children including a circus skills workshop, traditional Punch and Judy show and a climbing wall (hard hats and safety ropes provided). It also happened (apparently) to be the International Day for Biodiversity, celebrating the diversity of life on earth, so there were some displays related to that ...including a stall where you could build yourself a nesting box for birds.

I was discussing it with a friend and we agreed that one of the things that made it all seem especially good was how kind of 'wholesome' it was. Families were out picnicking, all generations were present from tiny new-borns (lots of them! Was there a power cut nine months ago?) to great-grannies. No commercialism (not even an ice-cream van on site, though the volunteer-run café was reported to be out of ices by the end of the day), nothing tacky at all. Just lots of fun, family-orientated activities, good quality entertainment - music, dancing, drama, comedy, cricket - and a real 'local community' feel to it. There was plenty for everyone to enjoy - though the glorious weather was the star attraction. All rather old-fashioned really... Sir Titus would have been delighted.

Monday, 24 May 2010

The band plays ...

Phew, it's been the hottest weekend of the year so far, with temperatures around 27°C. (OK, I know that's cool compared with the temperatures that some are acclimatised to - but the whole point is I'm NOT acclimatised! I haven't even had my sandals on yet this year!)

The sunshine happened to coincide with the grand opening of the restored Roberts Park in Saltaire on Saturday, providing a grand day out for hundreds of people. Most visitors were local - I bumped into lots of my friends and at least half of my church congregation!
Many people took picnics and the newly refurbished Half Moon Café was thronged and doing a roaring trade in drinks, ice creams and BBQ food - well done Wendy and Hazel!

The official opening was performed by the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor John D Godward.
Afterwards The Hammonds Saltaire Band (see my blog of 28 December) christened the new bandstand, which replaces the original Victorian one that was demolished long ago. They played a specially commissioned fanfare, composed and conducted by Bradford composer Jonathan Brigg, before moving on to a lively selection of more traditional brass band pieces. (Oh, I do love a bit of brass band music!)

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Boatmen's cabin

Thanks to an interesting display at the Skipton Festival by the Leeds-Liverpool Canal Society on the barge Kennet, I gleaned quite a lot that I didn't know about working life on the canals. Most of the working boats on the Leeds-Liverpool canal were 14' wide barges and not the narrowboats we are used to seeing. They were crewed by two men - a Captain and his Mate - who lived aboard during the time it took for each journey (about a week for the return trip along the whole length of the canal, 127 miles). Their families mostly had permanent homes, many around Burscough in Lancashire. The barge's living quarters, shown above, were tiny but cosy, with a warm stove. They were only used for eating and sleeping as it was important to keep the boat moving.

Interestingly, to illustrate just how hard it was to get agreement (between Lancastrians and Yorkshiremen!) about the building of the canal, the locks from Liverpool to Wigan are longer than those from Wigan to Leeds so that there were long boats (70') and short boats (60'). The barges could carry 40-50 tons and originally they were pulled by horses. Gradually steam engines took over (from 1871) and then diesel - and the last working horse retired in 1961.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Leo

Whilst I was in Skipton, I met up with some friends and we had a walk along the Springs Canal. This is a short branch attached to the main Leeds-Liverpool canal. It was built in 1797 by Lord Thanet, who lived in Skipton Castle, in order that limestone from the Yorkshire Dales could be brought down by a tramway to load onto barges. It's a quiet, pretty little canal these days (a far cry, I imagine, from its noisy heyday as a working canal). The path goes right behind the walls of Skipton Castle and then on up into Skipton Woods, which is a lovely green oasis full of birds and wildlife.

The narrowboat Leo, in my photo, does regular short trips up the Springs Branch and back to the canal basin - for £3 you can spend a very pleasant half hour watching the world drift past. The boatman is a neighbour of my friends - cue for a certain amount of waving and banter as the boat slid by!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Living next door to Alice

Time flies by - it seems only minutes since I went to the Canal Festival in Skipton but actually it was three weeks ago! Held every year, the three-day Festival is a colourful event, as narrowboats congregate in the canal basin from all over the place. They are all decorated up with flags, flowers and lights and make a cheerful sight. There are various stalls and sideshows, and live music playing most of the day. I haven't stopped singing "Living next door to Alice" since then! Some of you may remember that catchy little song from 1976. It was a hit for Smokie, a local Bradford band. I haven't figured out how to put sound on my blog but click on the Youtube video if you must... (Oh, do check out those amazing flares!) I don't think it was Smokie playing in Skipton, but someone doing a cover version - pretty good though!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Blue sky and blossom

Spring in Saltaire....There's blossom everywhere. It's interesting how everything had a slow start because of the hard winter we had in these parts - but once the weather improved it's as though everything is racing to catch up. Isn't Nature marvellous? And not only is there blossom, but also pollen and lots of those tiny little flying wisps of seeds. The canal is covered in them and there were mounds of them along the driveway to Salts Mill, looking like cotton wool... or like my house when I don't dust for ages (often!) The only trouble is, it's all making me sneeze!

I like the way the gentle spring light softens the stone of Salts Mill - and the counterpoint of the delicate blossom against the chiselled architecture.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Spring garden

Long after the village of Saltaire was established in Victorian times, housing development continued to grow up the valley side, into the areas now known as Moorhead and Nab Wood. But instead of the compact terraced houses found in Saltaire, much larger mansions were built for business and professional people, followed later by estates of modern detached houses, semis and bungalows. It has always been a desirable area to live, and at one time Nab Wood was considered vastly superior to Saltaire as an address. I am amused these days to see the tables turned and estate agents selling houses in Nab Wood by quoting their proximity to Saltaire!

Many of the properties in this locality have beautiful spacious gardens (whereas our homes in Saltaire just have pocket-sized plots). I am fascinated to see other people's gardens, from all over the world, pictured on the many blogs I follow - so I thought I would share this wonderful back garden, pictured above, which belongs to some friends of mine. Rising steeply to woodland, it has a little (man-made) stream and pool, and terraces that are filled with colour and interest all year round. It's a delight and testimony to their many hours of hard work, as well as their vision. Having not a green finger on me, I can only marvel - and enjoy visiting the beauty they've created. I think the blue painted wall is a lovely touch and somehow gives it a Mediterranean feel.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Interior, 1875

There are no 'museums' in Saltaire and - apart from during the annual Saltaire Arts Trail - you can't visit inside any of the village houses, as they are all private dwellings.

On a recent visit to Bradford's Industrial Museum, I had a look into the row of Victorian back-to-back houses that were moved from their original position in Bradford and rebuilt on the Museum site. Back-to-back houses are literally that... two houses built back to back, each having one entrance, one downstairs room and two bedrooms upstairs. There are none like that in Saltaire - its houses are terraced and have a front and back entrance, so they are bigger than the ones at the Museum.
Nevertheless, this picture will give you some idea of what the inside of a millworker's house looked like around 1875.

The houses were lit by gaslight, oil lamps and candles. You can see the black coal-fired range that was used for cooking - it has an integral tank for heating water to use for washing and bathing (in a tin bath). The scullery would have had running water from a cold tap. If you click the pic to enlarge it you can also see, resting by the fire, two 'flat irons' that were heated in the fire to iron clothes, a pottery hot-water bottle and the very necessary bellows used to get the fire roaring. Although spartan by modern standards, Saltaire's cottages would have been cosy and luxurious compared with the prevailing living conditions in the city at the time. Most of Saltaire's Victorian residents worked in the mill or had other jobs in the locality so most would have been able to afford reasonable food and furnishings.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Overlooker's cottage

Here's a pretty little Saltaire house on George Street. I do like the distinctive rounded windows that are found throughout the village. This is one of the small houses known as overlookers' cottages, understood to have been built for the supervisors at the mill. It would have had a living room and a scullery kitchen downstairs, a cellar and three bedrooms (I think). There was originally no bathroom - they would have had a private lavatory in an outhouse in the back yard, possibly a washstand in the bedroom with a pottery bowl and water jug, and a tin bath in front of the fire on bath nights! But of course, nowadays, the houses have one of the bedrooms coverted into a bathroom.

The 1871 census lists this house as being occupied by 32 yr old John Lambert, a mechanic, his wife Jane and their one year old son Joe. It doesn't say if John worked in Salts Mill - but with all that machinery they would surely have needed mechanics?

A new book has been published about Saltaire: " Saltaire - The Making of a Model Town" by Neil Jackson, Jo Lintonbon & Bryony Staples. I have not read it yet but I am told it explores the design and construction of Saltaire through its different phases. Apparently the authors' research leads them to argue that the different sizes and styles of housing have more to do with the architects' design processes and decisions than with the social structure of the village. If that's true, it would present a fundamental shift in understanding of the history of Saltaire.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Inside out

Saltaire's historic Congregational Church (now known as the United Reformed Church) is undergoing extensive renovation at the moment, to make safe the canopy and steps. Though it remains open to visitors in the afternoons, it is shrouded in scaffolding and screening and looks externally rather unattractive. No pain, no gain, as they say! More information about the church and its restoration can be found on its website.

Meanwhile, I have been doing a bit of demolition work on it myself... experimenting with merging some images of the church. This idea is, I have to confess, not original to me. I have seen several examples of photographs of buildings that use this 'cut-away' technique to suggest the interior view. I've just learned how to do it, on my photography course, and there's nothing like a bit of practice to help to understand and embed the principles! The interior of the Grade 1 listed church is as breathtaking - in its inimitable Victorian way - as the exterior, and I think it's rather intriguing to see both at the same time.

The church was built in 1859 by Sir Titus Salt, as part of the 'model' village he had constructed round his vast mill complex to house his mill workers. A staunch Christian himself, Sir Titus saw it as his duty to ensure the spiritual wellbeing of his villagers. Later, he decided to add an extension to act as the Salt family mausoleum and he and several other members of his family are interred there.
Designed by the architects Lockwood and Mawson, the church is in the ornate Italianate style that characterises Salts Mill and the World Heritage Site village of Saltaire.

For more detailed photos of the interior see my blog 22 June 2009, 24 October and 26 October.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Appetiser

This is a promise...one day I'll take you to York and really show you round this beautiful city. It's about 30 miles from Saltaire and I went there on the train recently to see the annual exhibition of photographs from the Yorkshire Photographic Union (which represents all the Camera Clubs and Photographic Societies in Yorkshire). The show was well worth a visit....inspiring and daunting in equal measure! Afterwards I did a little sight-seeing and some gentle shopping in York's lovely shopping centre. The light wasn't great for photos - it was a terribly dull, cold day - and I had only taken my compact camera as it wasn't a day for serious photography, just for looking. But this snap, taken from the front step of the Art Gallery, gives a taster of this historic city.

The county town of Yorkshire (of course), York is a walled city with some ancient streets and the wonderful York Minster (cathedral). You can see the twin towers of the Minster and part of the Walls on this photo. (Click the pic to view it larger.)

Friday, 14 May 2010

Leeds station

(Best viewed large)
The more you keep your eyes open for photos the more you find, sometimes in the most unpromising of places. I was passing through Leeds railway station on my way to York the other day, and as I was waiting for my train I noticed the strong graphic effect of the metal staircase on the opposite platform. I would have liked there to be fewer people in the picture but I had to take it quickly as there was a train coming in! Maybe one day I'll go back and try another improved shot of this. Though I have heard of a photographer who was summarily ejected from the station by the security guards for taking photos, so it could be hazardous. (I guess a middle-aged woman with a compact camera attracts less attention than a bloke with a massive DSLR and a long lens, unfair though that may be!
)

I have converted this to black and white and 'posterized' it in Photoshop but it was almost a mono image anyway.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Bluebells

You can see the faintest tinge of blue on this photograph of Hirst Woods, Saltaire, taken from the side of the Leeds-Liverpool canal. We are right in the middle of bluebell time here, and I think the haze of bluebells in a spring woodland is one of the prettiest sights there is. But you have to know where to go for the best pictures and you have to find a day with the right lighting - too sunny and it doesn't work, too dull and it doesn't really work either. The bluebells in Hirst Woods don't form a really thick carpet - Middleton Woods in Ilkley is generally a better bet for photos, but I haven't had chance to venture over there yet this year. Nevertheless, Hirst Woods, just on the edge of Saltaire, is my local patch of ancient woodland and I am fond of it. For a photo of the woods at the other end of the year, click this link.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Blue mood

Since the beginning of May, we seem to have been edging closer to winter again rather than to summer! The tower of Saltaire's United Reformed Church, however, looks splendid against a moody sky. I just love all those blue-grey tones with the honey coloured stone. I think the dome is covered in lead - thankfully it's too high for thieves to strip it! (Though you may remember I said in an earlier post they'd managed to plunder the roof of the Salt Family Mausoleum attached to the church.)

To see more photos of the church, click the 'Saltaire URC' label.


And by the way, for those who asked to see more of my portfolio for my course, this is one I'm thinking of using.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

All Terrain Cycles

Following on from what I was saying in yesterday's post...we don't really need a Cycle Point in Saltaire. We have some storage now (albeit not much) - and the shop and repair function is already here, in the shape of All Terrain Cycles, another of the retail outlets within Salts Mill. A cyclist's paradise, it has hundreds of different bikes.. including, as you can see from the inset picture, a modern penny-farthing in case nostalgia grips you! As well as the bikes, it sells everything you could ever need to repair, prettify or make your bike safer - and plenty you've never even thought of, too. Plus the neon lycra outfits so beloved of some of the more vigorous afficionados. If your cycle needs repair, head for the big mill chimney - the store is right beside the base of it and is open every day including Sundays.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Saltaire getting greener

Talking of zeitgeist.....Waiting on Saltaire station for a train, I suddenly noticed, tucked away round the back of the rain-shelter, this brand new rack of cycle storage. How gratifying that we are inching that bit closer to being 'green'. It will, I hope, encourage some of the many commuters who travel from Saltaire station to Leeds or Bradford each day to come on their bikes rather than in their cars. I think it all looks quite attractive too, built into this little green garden. The building glimpsed on the right is the back of the Saltaire Dining Hall, now part of Shipley college.

At Leeds station they are going one better and building a Dutch-style Cycle Point with storage for 300 cycles, plus a shop and repair facility. Jolly good, I say!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Blue bicycle

Another object among the many casually scattered around Salts Mill, Saltaire - this time outside in the yard. Although this does have an ulterior motive, being advertising for the boutique called 'Joules' upstairs in the Mill. That's where my daughter bought her lovely red wellies! Round the other side of the mill they have a blue VW camper van as similar advertising.

(The company recently had a competition to win Pashley bikes. Since my daughter also has a pretty blue Pashley bike, it seems either she - or they - have caught the zeitgeist!)

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Hello

One might have hoped we'd be saying 'hello' to a brand new era in Britain this weekend - but it seems not... just another load of political horse-trading and confusion!

My photograph is another of those apparently random exhibits in Salts Mill, Saltaire - this time a 1963 poster by the artist Roy Lichtenstein. It's titled "Cold Shoulder", and the original is in the collection of the
Los Angeles County Museum of Art - but I imagine the print is hanging right here on the stairs at Salts Mill because it says 'hello' to welcome visitors. It makes a striking image against the painted wall.
I have slightly cheated and swapped the actual cream wall for a white one, because I thought it had more impact.

Friday, 7 May 2010

I agree with Nick

"I agree with Nick" probably has to be one of the most memorable phrases to come out of this year's election campaign - spoken by Gordon Brown during the first of the televised debates. The TV debates were a first for this country, and rather shook things up in an interesting way, as Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader (oh! ha! I just typed Demoncrat - I really did!) came out of them rather better than expected, making the election a three-horse-race (as they say) and raising a strong possibility of a 'hung parliament'. Whoever 'wins', they will be sure that more people didn't vote for them than did. Such a strange system!

By the time you read this, it may well be clear what the new shape of government in the UK is to be. As for me, I agree with Nick (well, he's the dishiest of the three anyway!) but unfortunately in this constituency that won't get me very far. Shipley is traditionally a Tory seat, though by no means as strongly so now as it used to be.

Whatever happens, I am just so grateful that I can potter along to vote in the local Methodist church hall (shown above) - a modest building, staffed by helpful and smiley people. The young Labour activist outside was courteous when he asked me for my registration number. There were no armed guards, no need for purple-inked fingertips, no suspicious packages or car bombs reported anywhere (as at 6pm Thursday anyway!). The UKIP leader was almost killed in a plane crash - but it seems to have been caused by a tangled banner rather than anything more sinister. I thank God that I live in a democracy like this, even if it does look a bit wonky sometimes.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Windows & taxes

The evening sunshine on the south face of Salts Mill, Saltaire makes the honey-coloured stone really glow.

If you look closely, on the left you can see some scaffolding - proof that maintenance work and development of the building continues even now. Keeping such a huge building in good order must be a never-ending task.
I wonder if anyone has ever counted the number of windows it has? And who cleans them all?

Salts Mill was opened in 1853. Was it pure coincidence that the Window Tax in England was repealed in 1851? The Window Tax was introduced by William III in 1696 (apparently under the 'Act of Making Good the Deficiency of the Clipped Money' - which must be the most fun title for an Act of Parliament ever dreamed up!) It was charged according to the number of windows your house had. There are still properties in some areas where you can see the bricked-up windows that were a way of avoiding the tax. I don't think the tax was imposed upon buildings other than dwellings - but I suppose by 1853 windows would have become very desirable again. I think the real reason for all the windows in the Mill was that the worsted-making processes demanded very good light. The quality of the light is very noticeable inside the building.

And, whilst this has
largely been an 'election-free' blog, today is Polling Day, when things in UK might change - for better or worse. Though as Alan said recently on his brilliant 'News from Nowhere': "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose". Whoever leads the country, I reckon they might need another 'Act of Making Good the Deficiency of the Clipped Money'!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Oops, sorry!

Walking home through Saltaire on Bank Holiday Monday teatime, I happened upon this collision at the junction of Victoria Road with Saltaire Road, the main road to Leeds, just beside the Salts Hospital building. Not the first to happen here by a long, long way... and it won't be the last I'm sure. It looked fairly minor but there was an ambulance parked and somebody apparently being treated inside - even in a crash like this you can suffer nasty whiplash and shock.

Traffic is one of Saltaire's biggest problems. There are plans afoot to try to improve congestion at the junction of the two main roads at Saltaire roundabout, but I'm concerned that the measures there (traffic lights and blocking access to some roads) will only serve to make the minor roads through the village busier and more dangerous. There really ought to be traffic lights at this junction. It's a nightmare trying to pull out of the top of Victoria Road, waiting for a gap in the traffic. Vehicles on Saltaire road often drive far too fast (at least, when they aren't stuck in a traffic jam there!) So people do take risks, as possibly the driver of the cream car was trying to do. I'm sure that wasn't the way anyone wanted their day out to end....

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

History in stone

Salts Mill Chimney, Saltaire
I'm having to do a portfolio of twelve photographs for my Photography coursework, demonstrating some of the Photoshop techniques we've been learning. I started this particular project with a very unpromising picture of Salts Mill chimney, taken with my compact camera, set - for some unaccountable reason - with the white balance to tungsten... I'm not the most technically minded person! Anyway, after much playing I ended up with this, which I do quite like. I'm not generally a fan of heavily doctored images but on occasion they can 'tell a story'. I think the backdrop of stone here and the sepia toning allude to Saltaire's history and character.

For more conventional photos of the chimney, see here and here.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Blossom bonanza

What a difference a week or so makes... Suddenly the blossom (buds virtually invisible to the eye before I went on holiday) bursts forth in a riot of exuberance. This is the scene about 100 yards from my house. The colour makes a very ordinary urban scene look quite rural and pretty. The low building is not a barn (ha!) but a row of garages. These are a much sought-after commodity in Saltaire. One was for sale recently and I imagine it fetched a price reminiscent of a beach-hut on the south coast!

I do love this time of year, and always enjoy seeing this row of (I think) cherry trees in bloom. There are two sorts: dark pink and light pink, and the combination is very attractive. Their blossoming is usually a cue for a bout of wild and windy weather. In a week or two, the whole street will resemble the street of a thousand weddings, as all the petals drop to the ground like so much confetti.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Skywatch Saltaire

There have been some dramatic skies in the last few days over Saltaire - that lovely combination of sunshine and rainclouds that is so characteristic of April in England. (OK, it's May now, I do know that!) I took this scene from my own doorstep. It's more or less the view I get from my bedroom window when I'm sitting up in bed. The window faces east and I do love those weekend mornings, when I can open the curtains a little and enjoy the sunshine streaming in. Time to gaze at the sky, watch the busy birds and contemplate the beautiful trees. I relax against the pillows, hugging a mug of tea and planning how to fill the precious weekend hours. It's lovely to ease into a new day like that, instead of leaping out of bed at the behest of the alarm clock.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

BBC Antiques Roadshow in Saltaire

(Click the pic to make it bigger)
The BBC Antiques Roadshow came to Saltaire's Victoria Hall on Thursday, causing great excitement and long queues of people, clutching all manner of boxes and bags containing their treasures. The Roadshow has been running for 33 years on BBC TV and has become a much-loved treasure in itself. The format is that members of the public bring their family heirlooms to be appraised and valued by antiques experts, with the hope that every so often some real 'find' is unearthed or somebody realises they're richer than they thought.
The programme is hosted now by the popular Fiona Bruce, and many of the experts have become household names through their appearances on the show.

As always, your intrepid reporter jennyfreckles was on the spot to record the event (with grateful thanks to Pamela and
Julie for providing me with a pass that meant I didn't have to join the queue.
) It was a fascinating day, and opened my eyes to the amount of work needed to arrange and record the programme - there were staff and stewards everywhere. What you'd describe as organised chaos!

Images from top left, clockwise: a fraction of the queue to get into Victoria Hall; ceramics expert Lars Tharp casts an experienced eye over a piece of a dinner service used by Titus Salt Jnr at Milner Field; Fiona Bruce discusses teddy bears with a young collector; Hilary Kay gets enthusiastic about a carriage; 'sshh' says the sound man; make-up; George Archdale (I think) values a poster - and in the centre, one of the big trucks parked beside the Victoria Hall.

For a different view of the event, the Telegraph & Argus local paper has some articles and video.