Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Meccano


Meanwhile, back in Saltaire, construction has started on the Jane Hills site that I mentioned a few weeks ago.  It is going to be an orthodontics factory for Ortho-Care (UK) Ltd.  (See article in local paper).  There is actually (so far anyway) quite a wide space left between the new building and the old cottages, which I assume will be a car park.  Even so, the view will be altered forever.  The local residents have put up quite a lot of opposition over the years to prevent an office block being built on the site - but in the end they didn't win their fight.

I think the frame looks like a giant Meccano set.  (Do you remember Meccano? Being a girl, I never got a set but I always wanted one!  When I was a kid, it used to be made of metal.  I think they still make construction sets but these days they're plastic and the firm has diversified into models and suchlike.)

Monday, 30 May 2011

Moo to you ...


On the way back from the Solway Firth coast, we stopped at Wellington farm to buy ice-cream, made from the milk of their herd of Jersey cows.  It was delicious, very creamy.  I had an orangey flavoured one.  It was hard to choose, they had so many different flavours!  As well as the herd of Jerseys they have a small animal enclosure with all sorts of things for children to enjoy - chickens, pigs, goats, rabbits - and these Highland cattle, which I adored!  The view of the Lake District fells across the fields was glorious.

Anyway, I think we'd better say 'Farewell' to the Lake District for now - or I'll be having to retitle my blog Lake District Daily Photo!  (I wonder if anyone does one of those?)  Now that our exhibition is over I might find time to get out again and take a few photos locally.  Let's hope the weather cheers up a bit soon.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

I, the Lord of sea and sky


Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither.
~William Wordsworth, Intimations of Immortality

It seemed appropriate to have a Wordsworth quote alongside this picture of the coast at the Solway Firth, on the edge of the Lake District, Wordsworth's home and his inspiration.  What is it about the sea and sky that make me feel so free and yet so pensive?

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Allonby


In an effort to escape the rain clouds that tend to cleave to the Lake District's mountains (Seathwaite in Cumbria is the wettest place in England with an annual average rainfall of 124 inches / 3.15 m!), we travelled out west one day to Allonby on the nearby Solway coast.  It's officially classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - and you can see why.  Looking north-west towards the Galloway hills of Scotland, seen in the distance, there are miles of sand and mud flats, grassy dunes and rocks.  The tide goes right out leaving the mud exposed and, in consequence, it is an area rich in birdlife.  When the tide comes in it does so in a rather unpredictable way, so one has to be rather careful not to get stranded.  There were blue skies and moody clouds, and all the lovely natural tones of the coast. (Taupe, grey, pale blue, pale green, white: these are 'my' colours and make me feel utterly serene.)  It was a lovely day for photography and a soothing day for my soul.

Friday, 27 May 2011

A basket of flowers


I came across this delightful basket of flowers in the garden of Brantwood, John Ruskin's former home on Coniston (see yesterday's post).  It appealed to me as an artless, natural still-life so I crouched down to photograph it.  When I walked back up the same path a few minutes later it was gone, which - in some funny way - pleased me even more!

BTW, it's the big Arts Trail Weekend 2011 in Saltaire this weekend.  If you live in the north of England do come and visit.  There are all kinds of interesting things - a maker's fair, open houses in the village and exhibitions - including our own photography exhibition: 'Yorkshire - God's Own County', in St Peter's Church, Moorhead Lane, Shipley (take no notice of the brochure, which says Victoria Road!)   Would love to see  you!  Look on the website for a full programme.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Brantwood


This is the view through a window at Brantwood on Coniston, the former home of the eminent Victorian, John Ruskin (1819-1900).  A very talented man, he was an artist, writer, philosopher, critic, social reformer, conservationist - a hugely inspirational thinker.  (His writings had a profound influence on many, including Mahatma Gandhi.)  He lived at Brantwood from 1872 until his death in 1900.  Described as a powerhouse of ideas, this is where he did most of his writing and entertaining in his later years and from where his ideas spread to influence art, economics and social thinking in England and internationally.  (Think what he'd have done with the internet!)

It is in many ways a modest house, though attractive and interesting, full of treasures and lovely watercolours by Ruskin himself, JMW Turner and others.  It sits on the hillside above Coniston Water, giving amazing views across the lake and mountains.  The gardens are a delight.  Ruskin himself oversaw their development, using his land to explore a variety of gardening experiments and engineering projects (including a small harbour on the lakeside)  .  When I visited, the whole place was alive with vibrantly coloured azaleas and the woods full of bluebells.  I wandered around the gardens in a blissed-out state for over two hours!  If you ever visit the Lakes, then Brantwood is well worth seeing.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Coniston Water


Coniston Water is the third largest lake in the Lake District, in the south-western corner of the National Park.  Another ribbon lake, it's five miles long.  The little town of Coniston sits on its western shore.  The area has three famous connections.  Coniston Water was the site of many attempts to break the world water-speed record and on one attempt in 1967 Donald Campbell was killed in his craft Bluebird when it somersaulted at 320 mph and sank.  The lake was also the inspiration for Arthur Ransome's famous children's novel "Swallows and Amazons" and some of its sequels.  (A must-read, if you haven't read it already!)  It is also the setting for the house known as Brantwood, home to the eminent Victorian artist, writer and philosopher John Ruskin.... more on that tomorrow...

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Sheep ... and a funny way of counting


You can't fail to notice the sheep in the Lake District.  They're everywhere, bred to live out on the fells (hillsides) in all weathers.  Now I can't pretend to be an expert but, whilst we were talking to a pair of friendly shepherds who were marking this year's lambs with dye, I got busy taking portraits. The wonders of the internet mean that I have fairly confidently identified these! 

The top left and bottom right are, I think, Swaledale (or possibly Rough Fell) sheep: hardy upland breeds bred for their meat and recognisable by the white mark across the face.  The suspicious-looking one bottom left is,  I'm pretty sure, a Herdwick, native to the Lake District and bred both for their coarse grey wool and for meat. (Apparently they ate Herdwick lamb at Queen Elizabeth II's coronation feast in 1953.)  They have been shaped by the Cumbrian fells and in turn they have shaped the landscape, keeping the fellsides cropped and largely treeless and criss-crossed by the numerous dry stone walls built to contain the flocks.  It's a little known fact that the children's author, Beatrix Potter, who lived most of her life in the Lake District, was a celebrated breeder of Herdwicks.  The lambs, top right, are more of a puzzle but they're not Herdwicks.  Herdwick lambs are pure black and look delightful leaping about in the fields.

My dad used to amuse me as a child by reciting the ancient shepherd's counting system - Yan, Tyan, Tethera, Methera, Pimp, Sethera, Lethera, Hovera, Dovera, Dick is the equivalent of one to ten in the North Lakes! Bumfit (15) used to make me laugh the most!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Nice weather for ducks...


Oh dear, I'm struggling to keep up with my blogging at the moment.  I'm sure everyone has spells like this sometimes.  I arrived back from holiday and, of course, was straight back to work.  Out every evening last week, a busy family weekend (lovely, but busy!) and still trying to do the last minute things for our Photography Exhibition next weekend.  Normal service will be resumed soon!  There's no time to go out and actually take photos, more is the pity.  I still have lots from my holiday that I'd like to share but they do need a bit of prepping and writing about.  This one doesn't need much explanation..... a duck enjoying a puddle in a car park in Keswick.  We'd had a very dry spring until the week I went on holiday!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Pastoral...


Rydal Water is an attractive little lake, nestled between Grasmere to the north and Windermere further south.  The valley in late spring is filled with a hundred different shades of green, with hawthorn blossom, bluebells and wild garlic (ramsons) adding highlights here and there.  These cows seemed to be anticipating rain (and they were not disappointed!) - or is it an old wives' tale that cows lie down when it's going to rain?  Although I didn't get the hoped-for reflections on the lake, nevertheless bits of blue sky added soft toning to the water.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Grot at Rydal


We spent a day exploring around Rydal Water, one of the Lake District's smallest lakes, and Rydal Hall, a historic house that originally belonged to the le Fleming family.  It is now a Christian conference centre and retreat house, run by the Diocese of Carlisle.  It has lovely, formal gardens laid out in 1909 by Thomas Mawson and now restored.  They incorporate a series of natural waterfalls crashing down a ravine.  The little building, called The Grot (grotto) was built around 1669 as a 'window' from which to view the lower Rydal Beck falls.  Nearby is a teashop in the Old School Room, which I can testify had excellent cake!

Rydal Hall is not to be confused with the nearby Rydal Mount, home of the poet William Wordsworth from 1813 until his death in 1850.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Derwentwater


Another classic Lakeland image - this time of Derwentwater, one of the lakes in the north of the Lake District.  Keswick, the main town on its shore, close to where I was staying, is one of the largest towns in the National Park.  It's a magnet for walkers and climbers; every other shop sells outdoor clothing and mountaineering gear.  This weather was typical of the week - dramatic skies with fast-moving clouds, as it was very windy.  When the sun came out it was very bright but there were also frequent heavy showers.  Not the easiest conditions for my little camera but I persevered.  I had hoped to get some wonderful reflections of the mountains in the lakes but the choppy conditions made that impossible.  And, as you can see, there was no-one foolhardy enough to risk a rowing boat! Though the nice old wooden motor launches continued their cruises up and down the lake.

Keswick has a really nice theatre on the lakeside.  John Gravett (who runs Lakeland Photographic Holidays, with whom I was holidaying) currently has a fantastic exhibition of black and white prints showing there.  See here.  His photography is truly stunning.  I came away rather humbled and hugely inspired. (And the proud owner of one of his gorgeous prints.)

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Lake Windermere


Lake Windermere, at the southern end of the Lake District, is the largest natural lake in England, over 10 miles long by a mile wide.  It is what's known as a ribbon lake: a long, thin stretch of water sitting in a trough gouged out by glaciers in the Ice Age, which then filled with meltwater when the ice retreated.  There are three small towns around the lake - Ambleside, Bowness and Windermere - and the area is extremely popular with tourists.  The lake is very crowded with boats - over 10,000 registered there!  In addition there are ferries and pleasure cruisers making frequent tours.

I stopped off there on my way up to the North Lakes, just to have a look around.  As you can see, the sky was dark and there was heavy rain most of the afternoon.  In the end I retreated indoors.... to visit a wonderful house called Blackwell, built in 1900 in the Arts and Crafts style by M H Baillie Scott, as a holiday home for a wealthy Manchester brewery owner, Sir Edward Holt.  It's absolutely delightful, a real joy; wonderfully preserved and exquisite in the detailing. As a bonus, there was an excellent exhibition of beautiful and evocative photos of the house. (No photos on this blog.  I didn't take many because there was no light outside and photography wasn't allowed inside.  I might put a couple on my other blog in time.)  If you're interested, take a look at the website or, better still, visit if you can - I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

A good omen?


I've just returned from a week's holiday in the Lake District, a National Park in Cumbria, in the north-western corner of England.  It's not far from Yorkshire (about a two hour drive from Saltaire), but I haven't visited for years.  I went on a geography field trip to the North Lakes when I was at school (how many years ago?...) and I've had a couple of short visits since, but I have rather neglected this beautiful corner of England.  This time, I went on a photography holiday and it was great fun and very inspirational to be with a group of like-minded people.  We had some very skilled tuition and I learnt a lot - about photography and about myself as a photographer.  I'm going to indulge myself by putting a few photos on this blog. (Even though it's not Saltaire, I think people don't mind seeing other parts of the UK too).  When I have time, I'll probably put some more information and a series of photos on my other blog as well (but first there's the small matter of my club's Photography Exhibition on 27-29 May to attend to).

This was the view from my bedroom window the evening I arrived.  I stayed in Braithwaite, a small village just outside Keswick, in the North Lakes.  I took the rainbow as a good omen - though of course it means rain is not far away and we did see quite a lot of heavy showers throughout the week.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Flight of fancy


The steps on either side of the Half-Moon Café in Roberts Park, Saltaire connect the formal upper terraces of the park with the cricket pitch and grassy area beside the river.  They are satisfyingly grand - wide and decorative, thanks to the pierced stonework.  (If you look back at yesterday's photo of Salts Mill's twin towers you will see a similar little round motif set into them.)   I like to imagine Victorian ladies in their crinolines sweeping down the stairs, though I don't think they would have got a cup of tea from the Half-Moon Pavilion in those days.  We in the 21st century are much better served.  Take a look at the Café's website - they even have a Diners Club now, on the last Friday of each month.  [And a certain jennyfreckles provided the website photo ;-) ].

Monday, 16 May 2011

Favourite


Hello - I'm back from my holiday in the Lake District.  It was very 'sunshine and showers', a bit ironic considering there's been no rain at all for the past six weeks.  I took loads of photos (of course!) and will post some on here as soon as I have sorted them out.  Thanks to everyone for your lovely comments over the past week - I've just finished reading them all and really enjoyed them.  There seems to have been a fault with Blogger's auto-posting - my last Thursday's post appeared and then disappeared, but I have now posted it again.  It lost its comments though.... sorry if you wrote one and it has gone.

Hope to catch up on your blogs, over the next few days.  In the meantime, I've one or two Saltaire shots that I prepared earlier.

This is one of my favourite photos of one of my favourite bits of Saltaire - the ornamental 'twin towers' on the long south frontage of Salts Mill.  At least, I think they are merely ornamental.  They might, I suppose, have been chimneys at one time.  You can see clearly the elborate Italianate stonework, astonishing in its detail considering the Mill was (still is) a functional industrial building.  Set against a leaden grey sky, the honey-coloured stone really glows.  I posted a wider-angle black and white shot of the Mill frontage earlier this year - see here.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

York Gate


'Hot' colours enliven a border at the front of the house at York Gate, Adel, Leeds.

"Always remember the beauty of the garden, for there is peace."

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Sybil's garden, York Gate


Geometric shapes in stone and clipped box make an interesting design in one small part of York Gate Garden, Adel, Leeds.

"One who plants a garden, plants happiness." 

Friday, 13 May 2011

Topiary, York Gate


Yew, box and privet trimmed into topiary shapes in the herb garden at York Gate, Adel, Leeds

"If you want a mind at peace, a heart that cannot harden, 
go find a door that opens wide upon a lovely garden." 

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Canal Garden, York Gate


A pink magnolia tree reflected in the canal-like water feature at York Gate Garden, Adel, Leeds.

"The garden is a mirror of the heart."

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The Old Orchard, York Gate


I'm not around much this week, so over the next few days I'm going to show a series of photos of the beautiful garden at York Gate, Adel, Leeds (about 8 miles from Saltaire).  It's so lovely that it needs few words to explain it and can almost be treated as a visual meditation.  Enjoy!

"A garden is a delight to the eye and a solace for the soul." -- Sadi

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

York Gate Garden


I recently visited the garden at York Gate, near Adel in Leeds - and was charmed.  Created by the Spencer family around their home, between 1951 and 1994, this one-acre garden is a delight. Frederick and Sybil Spencer bought the property in 1951 when their son Robin was just 17.  Frederick Spencer laid down the bones of the garden but after his death in 1963 it was Robin who took on its development.  He was not a trained horticulturalist but clearly had a flair for design and an understanding of plants and natural materials.  The garden is designed as a series of 'rooms' that lead into one another, each with its own character.  There are beautiful views through from one space to another, architectural features and pleasing little details everywhere.

Robin sadly died in 1982 but his mother Sybil continued to cherish the garden.  On her death in 1994 the garden was gifted to Perennial, the Gardeners' Royal Benevolent Society, who continue to maintain it.  It is open on Thursdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays from April to September.  For more details, see the website.

"The man who has planted a garden feels that he has done 
something for the good of the world." -- Vita Sackville-West  

"Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing: -"Oh, how beautiful!" and sitting in the shade.
"
~ Rudyard Kipling, "The Glory of the Garden"

Monday, 9 May 2011

Not so perfect...


Regular readers of this blog will remember me talking about this tree very close to my home, which I always think of as 'the perfect tree'.  It's a type of rowan and has white blossom in spring followed by red berries and then the leaves turn a pretty red before falling.  What makes it special (to me) is its storybook tree shape, so perfectly formed, although no-one trims it. (I'm slightly tempted to chop off that one little branch that is hanging down out of shape!)  I've shown pictures of it before, with berries and then in winter with bare branches.  Michael and Hanne wanted to know what the blossom was like so, as it has blossom right now, I set off to take a photo.  But there is a snag....  For months now there has been this tatty blue VW Beetle parked right beside it.  It looks a write-off to me - the rear axle appears to have failed and the rear wheels are sticking out at drunken angles.  So it needs carting off to the scrap yard, not leaving there to spoil the view!  (Maybe this will shame the owner into dealing with it!)

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Two red tulips


I was idly waiting in the queue for an ice-cream in the Half Moon Café in Roberts Park...  They do very nice ice-cream and it was a warm day, so there was a long queue .... Anyway, my eye was drawn to these tulips, artlessly stuck on a shelf - away from some child's grasping little hand, I guess.  (The vases are usually on the tables). The unconscious arrangement and the colours struck me as rather pleasing so I took a photo - a candid still-life, if you can have such a thing.  I quite liked the photo as it was but then I started playing around with filters in Photoshop... I can easily get carried away!  This is a touch of 'rough pastels' and a bit of vignetting.  Oh, it's fun to play!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Dun't look like much ter me....


I don't usually walk to work along the canal towpath in the mornings but sometimes the morning seems so fresh and the light so lovely that I can't resist it....it makes me late for work, but luckily we work flexi-time so it's not really a problem.  The other morning I was framing up a few photos, just as an elderly man walked past in the opposite direction.  He said: "Are yer tekkin photos....?" - paused for a moment in thought and then delivered his verdict on this strange early morning pastime: "Dun't look like much ter me"!  Ah well, they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder....

(I'll be away for a few days so I hope the auto-post works!)

Friday, 6 May 2011

Canada goose


Another of the birds that frequent the Leeds-Liverpool Canal in Saltaire, this one is a Canada Goose (Branta canadensis).  They are native to North America (in case you hadn't guessed!) and were first introduced to this country in the 17th century, apparently initially as an addition to King James II's waterfowl collection in St James' Park in London.   They are now all over the place, often in large flocks that can be a bit of a nuisance, noisy and creating a mess of droppings.  There are only a couple of birds in Saltaire I think, but they tend to hang around with the little flock of greylags that I wrote about earlier. Not dissimilar in their overall body colouring, the Canada geese have distinctive black heads with a white chinstrap, and a black tail.  Unlike the swans, the geese seem to be happy to 'pose' for the photographer.

This one is going to get its fifteen minutes of fame as an entry into James' Weekend Reflections, over at Newtown Area Photo.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Early morning, Salts Mill


The Leeds-Liverpool Canal where it passes Salts Mill in Saltaire.   Such a peaceful scene early on a spring morning...  The two swans are the surviving cygnets from a brood of eight that were hatched in Saltaire last year.  They are almost fully grown now; just a few brown feathers and their pale beaks mark them out as being 'teenagers'.  I haven't spotted the adult pair, their parents, yet.  It would be nice to see another brood this year.

There is currently the most amazing exhibition of photographs of Saltaire's swans, in the little 'Shipley Focus'd' Photographic Gallery in Shipley's market square.  Taken by local photographer Andrew McCaren last year, they document a year in the life of this family of swans.  If you're in the area, I strongly recommend a visit.  The photos are simply stunning and give a fascinating glimpse into the secret life of the swans. I am all the more envious because I have never yet taken a photo of a swan that I'm satisfied with.  I think they're really difficult subjects - they won't 'pose' and it's difficult to get the exposure right on their white feathers.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Saltaire sunshine


Another photo taken in the spring sunshine, this time in Roberts Park.  On the right you can just see Saltaire's New Mill, built on the bank of the River Aire, on the site of a much older water-powered corn mill called Dixon's Mill.  Sir Titus Salt bought Dixon's Mill in 1850, along with its small estate, to provide the green-field site he wanted in order to begin construction of his new textile mill and 'model' village.  This part of the New Mill is now offices belonging to the Health Service. (For more info and pictures please click the New Mill label.)

On the left of the photo is a new children's playground, built as part of the renovations to Roberts Park last year.  It's rather splendid and includes an area for acrobatic skate-boarding and bike-riding. (I'm sure there's a proper term for that!)  It is extremely well-used, and provides a much-needed play facility for children on the estate on the far side of Roberts Park, as well as those from Saltaire.
____________

Advance Notice:  The late Bank Holiday Weekend 27-30 May this year sees the Saltaire Arts Trail move to a stand-alone event, separate from the Saltaire Festival.  With exhibitions, the Maker's Fair, a Vintage Fashion show and the ever-popular Open Houses, this year's programme looks packed full of enjoyment.  I am exhibiting some photographs in a linked event: "Yorkshire - God's Own County", an exhibition by St Peter's Photography Group.  See the website for full details.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

War Memorial


I took this a couple of weeks ago.  I couldn't resist the blue sky and the colourful bedding plants around Shipley's war memorial.  It is hidden away in a small park, known as Crowgill Park, quite near the centre of the town and more or less opposite the Town Hall.  But for some reason it's not a park that many people use, apart from those who play bowls there, the occasional jogger and a few kids who come to use the skatepark tucked away at the back.  It's a shame more people don't think to walk and sit there, as it's quite attractive - and green spaces in our urban areas are so important.  The park was at one time a small stone quarry, later used as a public dump and then developed into a public park in 1889.  The bowling green was opened in 1914.

(Regular readers of my blog will remember that Shipley is the small market town less than a mile down the road from Saltaire.  Indeed these days Saltaire is really part of the area known as Shipley - all merged into one large urban area, part of Bradford Metropolitan District.)

Monday, 2 May 2011

Family life


Another sign of spring...... I mentioned a while ago that a few greylag geese seem to have adopted Saltaire as their home.  Two of them have produced a family in the last few weeks.  I first noticed the goslings on 18th April.  At that stage they were golfball-sized balls of fluff and there were eight of them.  Two weeks later, when I took this photo, and they are like little tennis balls - but only six remain.  It will be interesting to see how many - if any - survive to adulthood.  Mama seems to be getting a bit short-tempered!

PS: Anyone who wants more Royal Wedding photos (!) should look at the British Monarchy's own Flickr site - effectively the bride and groom's own wedding album.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Bluebells


I've loved reading all your comments about the Royal Wedding.  It's so good to have some pleasant news to dwell on - even though it ran alongside more global natural and man-made disasters.  (The devastation from the US tornadoes looks terrible.)   It's a bit hard 'coming down to earth' - but here we are, the first of May already and that's my favourite month.  And here's another thing this country does well..... bluebells.

Is there anything prettier than an English wood full of bluebells?  Or in this case an English churchyard, since it surrounds the Church of St John the Baptist in Adel, Leeds.  I tried to find an evocative quote to go with the picture, but it seems bluebells don't inspire poets, as I could only find a couple of not-very-good ones.  Isn't that strange?

I was on my way to view a little gem of a garden.... more of that later.... and the walk from the car park took me this way.  I was enchanted.  It's only a 20 minute drive from Saltaire but I had never been here before.