Thursday, 13 December 2018

Sunshine (metaphorical) and pancakes (real) in the park

In a brief break in the storm clouds on Saturday (before my camera was damaged) I went for a quick walk around Roberts Park, just for the sake of some exercise.

The Friends of Roberts Park were holding a Christmas Bandstand concert, though they'd relocated from the actual bandstand to one of the shelters on the promenade, due to the wind and rain.

It turned out to be my friend and local legend, John Froud, performing some songs. So I stopped to listen and had a warming cup of mulled juice whilst I enjoyed the music. I could have had a pancake too (they had some gluten-free buckwheat ones) but I refrained for the sake of my waist-line.

John Froud is the founder of a great little Christian charity, The Zephaniah Trust, who have been working with local schools for almost 25 years, using music and the arts to 'take light into dark corners'. They do assemblies, workshops, events and holiday clubs, and work with churches, community groups and refugee organisations too, as part of Bradford's City of Sanctuary initiative.

Such a pity the stormy weather meant few people were out and about to enjoy the music. I had to hurry home myself when it began raining again but the encounter certainly brought some sunshine into my day.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Ill-fated in Ilkley

I went over to Ilkley to have a walk by the river and to take some photos of the Christmas lights. It was, unfortunately, an ill-fated expedition. On the way back to my car, I managed to trip over a low kerb in the dark. I went flying and so did my DSLR camera, bouncing on its lens hood, which shattered. It's a bit poorly now... Although only the filter glass cracked (not the lens) and it still takes photos, the zoom mechanism is stiff and there are artefacts on the LCD screen. I've taken it to a camera shop in Leeds to get an estimate for repair. It may well not be worth it. (I have insurance but since the camera is quite an old model, it won't pay out enough to make it worth claiming.) Boo.

Never mind, that is only 'stuff' and can be replaced, even if at some cost. Thankfully, I've no broken bones, and just suffered some cuts, grazes and bruises. One of those times when you just wish you could turn the clock back two minutes!

And after all that, none of my photos turned out all that well anyway! These are the best of the bunch but don't give anything like a true idea of the lights, which are in reality very pretty, all strung through the trees.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Smile and say hi

Graffiti 'artists' (if you like to call them that), have been out and about around Shipley lately. One called Rude or Rudeen seems to have been particularly prolific. It wouldn't be so bad if they drew nice pictures but instead they just scrawl their names. 

Someone has also spray stencilled onto the canal towpath, though I suppose 'smile and say hi as you go by' is a reasonable demand with which to cajole the general public. Maybe the world would be a nicer place if we did? 

The blue heart below has little artistic merit, but I found some small beauty in it. It was the mix of turquoise and rust that appealed to me. 

Monday, 10 December 2018

Wandering homeward

The lane once led to Buck Mill, originally the manorial corn mill, powered by the River Aire through a water wheel. Over the centuries, the mill was expanded and diversified, also producing woollen cloth. It was rebuilt in 1800 and extended again in 1860, by which time it was powered by steam. By the 1900s it was disused and eventually it was demolished in 1923. Hardly a trace now remains.

You can still cross the river by the handsome iron footbridge, built by the local town 'boards' in 1889.

It's a tranquil scene looking upstream along the river. You could almost be miles from 'civilisation', apart from the huge electricity pylons that cross the area. But on the right bank a new industrial development has recently been built, an extension of the urban sprawl along the valley through Charlestown, Baildon. There may be more than one business sited there, but I do know that one of the biggest is Produmax, manufacturers of precision parts and assemblies for the aerospace industry.

The ribbon of green between the industrial site and the river is broad and lots of young trees have been planted that will eventually be a shelter belt, so it remains a pleasant walk along a good, level path. One of the other big companies in the area, Denso Marston, make radiators and thermal products for the automotive, agricultural, construction industries. They have a strong environmental policy and for a long time have supported a nature reserve in the green corridor between the factory and the river. It's an attractive area to explore.

Beyond the reserve, as the path got narrower and more difficult to negotiate, I cut up onto the road and walked back into Shipley that way. From Baildon Bridge I joined the river bank again, following the Aire Sculpture Trail, along the river bank.

There are kingfishers along here, though I didn't spot one. I only saw a frog (!) and a jay high above my head.

The Sculpture Trail rejoins the canal towpath right beside Salts Mill - and so to home, welcome warmth and a refreshing cup of tea. I was out for a good couple of hours, a wander of about five and a half miles. Not planned, but not bad, in fact, mostly rather pleasant.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Still wandering

Still following the canal towpath, I arrived at the Dock Lane swing bridge - the first of several on this stretch. It used to lead to a dry dock, now infilled and built on. You might recall that back in February (HERE) I mentioned a new housing development that had just been started here, called Swanside. I was interested to see that it is taking shape and people have already moved into some of the homes that look onto the canal, though the whole development is far from finished. What I'd call 'terraced houses' the developers call 'mews', though they look quite pleasant. 

The photo above is taken from almost the same spot as the first image in my February blog post. There used to be a modern factory building here. Perhaps there is more demand these days for houses than factories, or maybe it is down to what the town planners decree.  

Beyond the building site, there's a railway bridge and then another swing bridge known as Oddie's Bridge. (Boaters work hard on this canal!) There weren't many people about. I passed a few dog walkers and a couple of cyclists and a jogger passed me. 

Some colourful canal boats brightened the scene, perhaps moored up for the winter. This one was for sale, offers over £10,000. Interested?

It's getting a bit more rural now. Looking back, you can perhaps spot the railway bridge in the distance.

Even though most of the leaves have now fallen, it's surprising what colour there is when the sun shines and picks out the oranges and yellows, with the blue sky reflected in the water.

Another swing bridge! This one carries Buck Mill Lane over the canal. Beyond and on the right bank there's an area of protected woodland known as Buck Wood. It has a rich history, explored on the Friends of Buck Wood website HERE. In Edwardian times (1908), an innovative open-air school was built here, to rehabilitate children made sick by the squalor of the inner-city slums. It closed at the outbreak of WWII in 1939, having helped some of the city's poorest children. Read more about it HERE. It's interesting.

From this point, the canal takes a sweeping curve to the right, through the woods, and there is a three rise lock known as Field Locks. But by now, I'd walked for over an hour, so I decided it was time to turn for home. Conveniently, following Buck Mill Lane to the left took me down to the River Aire in the valley bottom.

More tomorrow...

Saturday, 8 December 2018


Sometimes I go for a 'walk' and sometimes for a 'wander', meaning that I set off with no clear intention of where to go. I just follow my nose, rely on the map in my head rather than an actual map and see where I end up. Mostly I start off along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal towpath and this time I headed east towards Shipley, rather than west as is my habit. The first stretch is always nice, passing through the narrow canyon between Salts Mill and the New Mill, looking back at that iconic view.  (The man was a photographer and he took a photo of me as I walked along, so I repaid the favour! I was wearing an image-friendly red jacket though, so his pic is probably more fun.)

Passing Salts and Shipley Wharf, and through downtown Shipley, the buildings are a mixture of old and new. Not much to photograph on a dull day, although I did notice some graffiti artists vandals had been at work, liberally covering most available surfaces. Towards the far side of Shipley, I came to Gallows Bridge, which carries an ancient right of way over the canal. (See also HERE - I did this part of the walk back in February.)

Looking back from the same spot, you can see that some of the buildings in downtown Shipley look a little the worse for wear, at least on the canal side. The one on the left is, I believe, now a dance studio and the brick building on the right used to be a cycle shop but I think it's now empty.

Below is another building that is rapidly deteriorating. It's the old warehouse, boatmen's lodging and tollhouse at Junction Bridge. It seems to have lost all its roof slates, so water will be getting in. I suspect the building will eventually be demolished as unsafe.  It looks too far gone to renovate now, which is a pity.

More tomorrow....

Friday, 7 December 2018

Wreath festival

It's raining!  Come and take shelter with me... Pass through the lych-gate at the entrance to St. John's Church in Baildon and then we'll run up the short path into the porch.

It's warmer (and dry) inside, and the church organ is being played. All around the church there's a wonderful display of festive wreaths.

It's amazing how inventive people can be. Some of the wreaths were traditionally Christmassy, while others referenced popular culture and other themes: 100 years of the RAF, 70 years of the NHS. Some had sparkly lights, and others plenty of blingy tinsel. Some were knitted, some made from ribbons, beads - and even beans!

It was fun and good to start getting into the festive mood, despite the weather. 

There are close views of some of my favourites, below. I think the 'Strictly (Come Dancing)' one was my absolute favourite; I'm a big fan of the show.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

The enchanted wood

Mostly I think nature does a grand job without any enhancement. Just occasionally I feel like experimenting a bit and this is a multi-layered image. I combined a spray of autumn leaves and a texture, overlaid on the woodland image below (which by itself is rather boring really).  The result (above) has, for me, a more mystical and enchanted feel than the original. I appreciate such images aren't everyone's cup of tea but it's fun trying something new. 

I've been reluctant to say farewell to autumn, but I have to accept that it's over for another year and winter is getting well-established! 

Wednesday, 5 December 2018


'Fluid' was the theme for my online photo club for October, so I tried quite a few different images. I was hoping to capture 'fluid' both as a noun and as an adjective in one image. I mentioned the other day that I've become intrigued by ICM (Intentional Camera Movement), slow shutter speeds and generally more impressionistic photography of late. I've done quite a lot of creative playing with my phone and in processing, using various apps and techniques. This image, however, has been created entirely in my camera, using a slow shutter speed, handheld and manual focus. It is, of course, a reflection in water but I like to think I've done something a bit different with it, though I do find it quite hard with these more abstract offerings to tell which images are genuinely pleasing 'per se' and which are just pleasing to me because I've spent time 'creating' them.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Brightening things up

Towards the lower end of Saltaire Road, approaching Shipley town centre, there's a very drab brick building, currently unused. I think it belongs to the local council. (I suspect they may be hanging on to possession of several buildings and a corridor of land in the area. At one time the land featured in a road scheme that I thought was shelved but now seems as though it may be resurrected.)

Sixteen colourful murals have been erected there to brighten up the area. They were designed and painted by pupils from Saltaire Primary School, with help from some local artists and the Hirstwood Regeneration Group. The scenes show various local landmarks and were designed after the children made field trips to study and sketch what they saw.

The scenes will be very familiar to local people, though I'm sure even readers of my blog who don't live locally will recognise many of them. There's the bandstand and Sir Titus Salt's statue in Roberts Park. There's the alpaca statue, the Shipley Glen Tramway and a wonderful view of Hope Hill behind.

There's the Hirst Wood Nature Reserve:

and some of the houses and chimney pots of Saltaire, again with Hope Hill and Shipley Glen in the background:

I hope they brighten your day!

Monday, 3 December 2018

Rainbow, no rain

The forecast was good: a bright, sunny but windy day. I did a load of laundry and hung it out on the line to dry, before setting off for a walk. We've had a spell of very damp, drizzly weather so a dry, sunny day had to be enjoyed. But uh..oh.. just as I set off, the sky darkened and it looked like it was going to rain. By the time I got down to Salts Mill there was a rainbow against the grey sky. (It looks like I've done a botched job on the sky in Photoshop but that's actually what it looked like!) We've had so little rain all year that I haven't seen a rainbow for a long time and it was a joy to see Saltaire's landmarks blessed by the light show. Best of all, the clouds blew over and it didn't rain after all.

Above, the Italianate tower of the New Mill peeping over the rooftops - and below, the church's dome, though the rainbow was fading by the time I got as far as that. 

Sunday, 2 December 2018

My angel

I returned from a recent walk via the local Nab Wood cemetery, and just had to stop to say hello to my favourite angel, she of the broken wing and pretty face. I like cemeteries. It perhaps has to do with the fact that my childhood home was right next door to one and playing among the ancient graves held no fears. It was a place of tranquillity, beauty and abundant wildlife. A family place too, where I could stop by and have 'conversations' with my grandfather and grandmother, both buried there. Their grave had a utilitarian square headstone, no fancy angels - and I'll be cremated when my time comes, so no angels for me either. But there is something about this one that really appeals to me. At her feet it says: 'A tribute of love'. Very sweet. 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all', I guess, as Tennyson famously said in his poem 'In Memoriam A.H.H.'

Saturday, 1 December 2018

The shining

Here's another abstract constructed using 'Enlight'. Again, don't ask me how I did it... Just messing about really. Perhaps as time goes on, and with more practice, I will develop more of an instinct for the kind of base shots that work best using this layering process, as well as exactly how to combine them to good effect. It's an enjoyably creative, if random, process.

It seemed an aptly 'shiny' image as we enter December and the festive season. The shops are already awash with Christmas sparkle and Christmas lights are being switched on in our local high streets. The Saltaire Living Advent Calendar is happening again between now and Christmas Eve. I'll bring you some photos of the windows eventually.

You can follow it virtually, with each day's windows being revealed at:

Friday, 30 November 2018


If I don't feel like reading and there's nothing on TV, I often sit with my iPad in the evening, just playing and experimenting with photos. I've been playing with a new app called 'Enlight'. It has lots of functions, including some excellent processing tools and presets, but perhaps the most interesting and fun element is its ability to combine and blend layers easily, much as you can in Photoshop but rather more quickly and intuitively. It's a bit addictive!

The abstract above started off as a photo of a boat's prow against a brick wall. Don't ask me how I did it though. I was just playing. Unike Photoshop, the app doesn't record your actions and you can't easily go back and undo any but the last action. Still, it's an entertaining tool for an idle moment.