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.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Smoke stacks

Looking over Shipley from the heights of Northcliffe Park, I was struck by the array of chimney pots on the Victorian terraced houses in the foreground. The roofs of the more modern dwellings beyond look plain in comparison. The blackened stonework that can still be seen on some buildings locally is a reminder of how unhealthy the air must have been when all those chimneys (not to forget the mill chimneys too) were belching out coal smoke. Nowadays we have to be fearful of more hidden pollutants from our vehicles. This area is still a pollution blackspot.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Over my dead body

My habitual local walks are mostly in the valley bottom along the canal and river, or on the north side up towards Baildon Moor. There are two main roads between me and the south side of the valley. Once those are negotiated, however, there are some equally pleasant walks to be had. Some of the area is known as Northcliffe Park: land that was gifted in 1920 by Henry Norman Rae MP to be used as a public park 'in perpetuity' by the people of Shipley. It has gardens, allotments, a plateau of open grassland and a steep-sided wooded valley - varied terrain that makes it rewarding to explore.

My favourite bits are the long tree-lined walk (above) and the path down into and through the woods. That end of the park adjoins a golf course. Golfers cross the ravine on the metal bridge in the picture below.

The news that Northcliffe Park is on a list of potential sites for a new crematorium has caused considerable consternation locally. There have been petitions, demonstrations and many people being very vocal, saying that the park was specifically gifted for recreation and a crematorium would breach that pledge.
"A new crematorium? ... Over my dead body!"

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Christmas shopping?

I had to move fast to catch him, and it's only a phone pic, but look who was at the Peace and Crafts Fair at Saltaire's Victoria Hall. (Clue: It's not Sir Titus Salt, despite the luxuriant beard.) Do you think he was doing some last-minute Christmas shopping?

Monday, 26 November 2018

Salt beard

When I wrote a post about the Salt Beer Factory last month, John commented that 'salt' and 'beer' don't seem to go well together. I wonder what he thinks about 'Salt' and 'beard'?  Every depiction I've seen (statues, busts, paintings) of Sir Titus Salt, Saltaire's Victorian founder, show him with a magnificent, luxurious beard. The gallery in Salts Mill that houses some information about the mill's history holds this interesting portrait. From a distance, it's a not unfamiliar portrayal of the man. Take a closer look though and you will find that it is made of textiles, ripped and teased to suggest the portrait. Rather clever, I thought, since he presided over one of the largest textile manufacturing enterprises in the area.

When I first started writing this blog, so many years ago now, I included a lot more information about Saltaire and the amazing story of its creation and creator. I don't want to repeat old stuff but for more recent readers, suffice to say that Sir Titus Salt was an entrepreneur and philanthropist who ran a large textile business in the city of Bradford in the early 1800s. Concerned about living conditions in the crowded and insanitary city, he consolidated all his businesses by building a huge textile mill, Salts Mill, on a greenfield site with canal and rail links, outside the city. It opened in 1853. He then proceeded over the next twenty years to build a model village around the mill, with homes and superb facilities (dining hall, schools, church, recreation) for his workforce, far superior to anything else that existed locally. He called it Saltaire, combining his own name with that of the river Aire that runs beside the mill.

The mill ceased textile production in 1986, after which it was bough by another visionary entrepreneur and philanthropist, the late Jonathan Silver. He turned it into a thriving hub: a mix of manufacturing, business, retail outlets, art gallery space and restaurants. The village around continues as a modern community with a thriving creative ethos. Click the 'About Saltaire' tab at the top of my blog for more info.