Saturday, 19 August 2017

Packwood House

Packwood House is a National Trust property in Warwickshire, which began life as a timber-framed farmhouse in the late 1500s.  Built by William Fetherston, it was passed through his family of yeomen farmers for more than 300 years, being adapted and extended as time went on. In 1904 it was bought at auction by Alfred Ash, an industrialist. His son, Graham Baron Ash, a bachelor with a perfectionist streak, meticulously restored, decorated and furnished it as a Tudor mansion, where he delighted in holding lavish and legendary house parties. In 1927, Queen Mary visited for tea. He sounds a fascinating character - you can read more about him on the National Trust website. He eventually gave the house to the National Trust in 1941 but continued to live there until 1947. At his request, the house is preserved almost exactly as it was when he lived there.  

Friday, 18 August 2017

Love birds

I've had a few days away, staying with some wonderful and generous friends and then catching up with my dear sister. It's been really lovely. Now I need to spend some time processing all my photos! I love living in Saltaire, in Yorkshire, but it's also very good to explore other parts of our beautiful country - and a constant delight to have the time now to do that.

Here's a starter... little love birds, spotted in the garden at the National Trust property of Packwood House. More to come...

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Ilkley Tarn

Craig Tarn, above Ilkley, was developed by the Victorians in 1874 from a moorland pond and bog into the small lake we see today. A gentle walk up from the town, the tarn has a central island that used to have a fountain, and a wide and level perimeter path, around which you can well imagine Victorian ladies promenading. Apparently it was at one time a popular spot for ice-skating in winter. See here for a photo taken in the 1920s.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Famous rocks

I didn't find the standing stones known as the Twelve Apostles during my walk on Ilkley Moor, but I did find the huge piece of gritstone (above) known as the Pancake Stone for the way it lies flat and balanced on the edge of a ridge.

A little further along the moor edge lies one of the area's most famous and enduring attractions: the rock formation of Hangingstone Rocks, more commonly known as the Cow and Calf Rocks. They get their name from the small lower stone (the calf) close to its 'mother' (the cow).  Sitting on the edge of the moor just above the town of Ilkley, they have been enticing day-trippers since the glory days of Ilkley as a Victorian spa town. Nowadays the spot is popular with dog-walkers, families having picnics, bikers who come to the café and climbers on the gritstone rock face, which apparently offers a wide variety of climbs including some challenging routes. 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The inglorious Twelfth

The moorland heather is in full bloom, perfect for a ramble, provided one avoids the grouse-shooting areas. The shooting season officially started on August 12th, 'the glorious Twelfth'. It seems that Ilkley Moor is now the only remaining public land on which grouse shooting is licensed. Everywhere else, the shoots take place on private land. I hear there was a protest march on the moor this year, as well as a large wildlife protection march in London. Video has emerged, to widespread condemnation, of marsh harriers, a relatively rare species, being killed on a Yorkshire grouse moor. Bradford Council are under pressure not to renew the licences next year.

That aside, the moors are beautiful and I enjoyed my walk, although the huge network of paths means that I never seem to find the same route twice! I set off to look for the Twelve Apostle Stones (see here) but I didn't find them this time.

Monday, 14 August 2017


This is all that is left of Saltaire's fire station. See here for what it did look like, though I never thought to take a proper record shot of it. When you pass something every day, you take it for granted really. Well, it is here no more... Life will perhaps be quieter without all the sirens of the fire engines and paramedics constantly going up and down the road, though the comfort of having them doors away has also gone. If there's a fire now, we will have to wait for the appliance to make its way up through the traffic from Canal Road, where a new Shipley station has been built, amalgamating the Saltaire and Idle crews. The cleared site on Saltaire Road will be used for new family homes to be built by Bradford's social housing landlord, Incommunities.

Sunday, 13 August 2017


'Hops... good for what ales you.'

I seem to have been to several places lately that have been liberally decorated with bines of dried hops. They look very attractive. I thought these made a pretty still life, especially when I added a texture layer. Hops are the flowers of Humulus lupulus and are, of course, the traditional flavouring for beer, as well as being used in herbal medicine and as a sleep aid.

My own recollections are a bit less benign... Years ago, at primary school, we used to be marched in a 'crocodile' down to the Victorian swimming baths. The walk took us under the darkly dripping arches of a railway viaduct and past the brewery, where there was an acrid stench of hops. I hated swimming lessons, I hated the walk and I hated the smell! I've never quite got over it - and I still can't swim very well!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Heather in the rain

The weather, now that the school holidays have started, has turned changeable and unpredictable. (Wouldn't you know!) I make arrangements in advance to meet with friends to go walking and sometimes we have to have a Plan B because of the weather. One day this week, the forecast was for a fine start followed by light cloud or drizzle, so we decided to stick with Plan A and set off, hoping for the best. We hadn't gone very far when the drizzle started and then turned to proper rain. We ploughed on regardless and walked nearly 11 miles. I was pretty soaked and muddy when I got home, but satisfied, having walked further than I normally would and in such testing conditions too. I actually enjoyed it.

Part of the walk crossed a little patch of heather moorland, reminding me that the heather is in peak bloom right now. I must make time for a trip to Ilkley or Haworth, where the moors are stunningly beautiful at this time of year. The scene above is typical of the moors around here, with stone flagged paths that were at one time well-used by travellers and even packhorses going from one settlement to another.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Danger money

There is currently some development work happening at Salts Mill. I believe it's in order to create some more retail and visitor space, though I may be wrong. Whatever they're doing involves some work on the inner wing that runs north to south. There is lots of scaffolding and it appears they are overhauling the roof, among other things. On the canal side, scaffolding on the top storey overhangs the water. I happened to be walking that way yesterday and saw these workmen installing (perhaps replacing) a drainpipe down the side of the building from the roof. Two of them were abseiling down as they added pieces and a third was rowing to and fro across the canal in an inflatable dinghy, passing marked lengths of plastic pipe up to them via a pulley system. I reckon they should get danger money for that!

Thursday, 10 August 2017


Two boats: a colourful traditional narrowboat, moored on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal at East Riddlesden, and a small motorboat. Motor cruisers of this type are very rarely seen on the canal. I'm not sure whether there is a reason you don't see many but I did notice that, even though it wasn't going very fast, the wake behind it was much more powerful and possibly more destructive than that of the more sedate narrowboats. Either way, on a hot day it looked tempting to be cruising on the water rather than walking in the blazing sunshine beside it.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

East Riddlesden Hall

A friend and I had a wander along the canal path and ended up visiting the National Trust property, East Riddlesden Hall, a 17th century manor house. I've always liked it. It is small enough to feel cosy and to get a feel for how a relatively ordinary, though well-to-do, merchant family lived in the past. The Murgatroyds were staunch Royalists and there are Royalist symbols in the stonework on and in the house. It has been altered many times over the years and all that is left of one wing is just the front wall punctuated by windows. The small gardens are attractive too, with a large duckpond at the front and beds of unusual herbs that were grown for culinary and medicinal use and to make dye. The hall is reputed to be haunted but it always feels a warm and friendly place to me.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Audley Clevedon

I went to visit a friend who lives in Ben Rhydding, a village near the spa town of Ilkley. Although it was a dull and drizzly day, we went for a short walk up to Audley Clevedon, a luxury retirement complex. I'd actually never heard of it before but it is set in a stunning location, high up on the edge of the moor and with wonderful views across the valley. It consists of about 90 new houses, cottages and apartments, all built to a high specification. Properties are sold on a lease, with maintenance of the property and the surrounding gardens all taken care of. At the centre of the complex is an older building, which used to be a preparatory school. Now it is a clubhouse with a luxury hotel feel. It has a restaurant/bistro, bar, swimming pool, gym, spa, library and comfortable lounges for use of the residents. The restaurant and bar is also open to non-residents so we enjoyed a coffee in elegant surroundings, looking out over the terrace at the lovely view. 

This retirement lark has its perks! Although I couldn't afford to and would not wish to actually live in a place like Audley Clevedon, I can see its attractions. 

Monday, 7 August 2017

Hewenden Viaduct (3)

The objective of our walk was Hewenden Viaduct, which you see from roads in the area but which I'd never seen up close. It's an impressive stone structure, built between 1881 and 1884, with 17 huge arches. Its foundations had to be half as deep (62.5 feet) as the height of the bridge (124 feet) because of the soft shales and clays it is built upon. The viaduct was part of the Great Northern Railway, linking the industrial towns of Keighley, Bradford and Halifax. The railway closed in 1963 but the route is now being re-opened in stages as a cycle trail.

Our walk wasn't intended to take us across it but, encountering a herd of cows and bulls in a field, we decided to take the safer option of a shortcut along the viaduct! It actually proved very interesting, with scenic views over the parapet.

The reservoir, seen below, was there before the railway. It provided a water supply for the nearby City of Bradford. The city Corporation objected to the railway's originally planned route, fearing it would pollute the water. The revised route necessitated building the huge viaduct.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Walking with friends (2)

Part of our walk around Cullingworth (see also yesterday) took us along the Millennium Way, through Goitstock Woods and past Goitstock Falls. I described this on a walk last year (see here). Despite our spring having been very dry, there was still plenty of water going over the falls, which I think are rather pretty with those three separate cascades.

A little further upstream, the beck (stream) is dammed. At one time this provided water power for a cotton mill. The mill is now converted into residences and the mill dam has become a garden pond, full of waterlilies.

Wildflowers are out in profusion, among them a few orchids. I'm not good at identifying them but I think this is a Common Spotted Orchid - not rare but still good to see.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Senior Way (1)

I recently took a walk with some friends around the nearby village of Cullingworth. The first part of it followed a footpath signposted Senior Way. The name is not, as might be expected, because it is aimed a senior citizens (such as me!) It is named after the late Ron Senior, a local man who helped to get the walk recognised and signposted.

I always love this valley. It's so lush and green; you could be miles from civilisation although it is not at all remote. My eagle-eyed friend spotted a heron skulking in the grasses. Harden Beck runs along the valley bottom and it tends to be a bit marshy in some parts; fertile territory for a heron looking for frogs, I guess.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Oranges are not the only (orange) fruit

Jumping back a month, the theme for my online photo group for June was 'orange'. I didn't really come across anything that seemed to fit when I was out and about on my travels and by the last week of the month I'd still not had any inspiration. I thought about photographing an actual orange... but then I noticed the apricots I'd just bought and realised they were more interesting, with their subtle colour variations.

I've recently acquired a soft box, so lighting still life arrangements is a bit easier. This needed my tripod, the soft box, an umbrella to reduce unwanted reflections from ambient light on the shiny blue plate and a small reflector to bounce light back into the shadows. It was hard to get the apricots to stack and not tumble about... maybe I should have used a bowl rather than a plate but I liked the rich blue contrast.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Black and White Cropped Square

Also taken at Bingley Show, this is my entry for the July theme for my online photography group: Black and White Cropped Square. I noticed the shadows of the guy ropes on the sides of the canvas marquees. They looked like something I could play with a bit in an image. In the end, I think this picture has more the feel of some kind of torture chamber than a tent!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017


So colourful, I could not walk past without taking a photo. Just looking at them makes me smile.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017


Another category in Bingley show is for plants and flower arrangements. I've lately started to appreciate the beauty of bonsai and I was rather attracted to this graceful little tree. I also liked the way the bonsai was displayed on round, red mats that referenced the Japanese flag. 

Among the cut flowers, sweet peas always delight me - for their glorious colours and their heavenly scent.