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Friday, 31 December 2010

Fanny's by night

When I featured Fanny's Ale & Cider House last summer, Bob suggested it would make a good subject for a night shot.  So.....ta dah!....what do you think?   I think it looks very warm and enticing, especially on a cold winter's night.  But tonight you'd better get there early because, being New Year's Eve, it will be heaving with people. Its website has some nice photos of the inside.  It's a really cosy place and my daughter and her friends all love it - great atmosphere, great beer (and cider) and a really friendly ambience.  And when you've done drinking, you can get a decent Chinese takeaway from The Rainbow next door.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Lady Blantyre

One of my Christmas rambles took me up to the St Ives Estate above Bingley, a mile or two up the Aire valley from Saltaire.  The estate and house once belonged to the Ferrand family, though the house is now a residential home for young adults with disabilities.  I passed a large stone dedicated to the memory of the mother-in-law of William Busfeild Ferrand. The dedication is typically Victorian in its sentimentality but nevertheless reads rather touchingly:

The Dowager Lady Blantyre for nearly 30 years was accustomed, in Summer to sit under this rock reading and enjoying the scenery.  In 1857 St Ives was altered and enlarged from plans entirely drawn by herself and her daughter the Honr'bl Mrs Ferrand. The Terrace and the flower garden were also designed by them. Her Ladyship ended her last visit on the 21st November 1874 and died resting on the Rock of Ages at Lennox Love in East Lothian on the 19th of the following November, in her 84th year with facalties uninpared, and most deeply lamented. Mr Ferrand her son in law mournfully dedicated this rustic monument to her beloved memory, and with confidence requested the future owners to preserve it as an affectionate Memento of the best of Mothers and the sweetest of women. 

In addition to the rock, there is now this wooden carving of Lady Blantyre reading her book.  Sadly, all these years later, the view she must have enjoyed looking over the valley is blocked by tall trees but it's still a peaceful spot.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Bird's eye view

There are a few points around the Aire valley where you can get a good view down onto Saltaire - especially in winter when the trees are bare.  This is taken from the aptly named High Bank Lane.  The landmarks, from left to right, are: the tower of Saltaire URC, St Peter's Church, the Italianate tower of Saltaire's New Mill and the long bulk of Salts Mill with its chimney to the right.  You get a good impression of the size of Salts Mill, compared with other things around.  High up on the far hillside you can see the village of Baildon.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010


The birds must be getting a bit desperate as this long cold snap shows little sign of abating.  This Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) on the canal seemed to be trying to chip through the ice to the water below.  The photo shows very clearly the bird's curious feet, with its long toes, well adapted to walking on soft uneven surfaces.  They do swim but they mostly inhabit the vegetated margins of lakes and rivers.  Resident in the UK, they eat water plants, seeds, fruit, grasses, insects, snails and worms - most of which must be in short supply in this weather.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Walking off the pudding

There were a few people out for a good, healthy walk after all that turkey and Christmas pud on Christmas Day.  This was the scene along the canal bank in Saltaire, approaching Hirst Lock.  The canal is frozen over in all but a few places where there is running water, such as the side channel by the lock. The ducks were very grateful for the patches of open water and had congregated there.  If you look carefully you can see someone standing on the ice - definitely not recommended!  There were also a number of big rocks strewn across the canal - stupid people thinking they might try to smash the ice, I suppose.  All that will happen is that, when the thaw, comes the rocks will sink and add to the debris in the canal, which has to be drained every so often to clear it out.

Sunday, 26 December 2010


Ho ho ho .... what have we here?  Oh dear, oh dear..... sorry children everywhere....it looks like a very special person had an unfortunate encounter with white-van-man on our street.  Oh dear, oh dear!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

A child is born

The angel said: 'I bring you good news of great joy.  
Today a Saviour has been born; he is Christ the Lord.'   
Luke 2 10-11

It's Christmas Day!  And I sincerely wish you and those you love - wherever you are and whatever you believe - a very joyful and peaceful day, full of blessings.

My photo shows the crib scene at my church - St Peter's, Shipley.  I am not sure of its history or exactly how old it is but it has been brought out each Christmas for as long as I can remember. I like the old pottery figures, the donkey and the ox lying in the straw, the shepherd boy playing his pipe.  I am always especially touched by the figure of Mary, kneeling in silent prayer before her son.  

Thanks be to God.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Virgin snow

I'm getting bored with 'ordinary' snow pictures.  (Oh dear, that could be difficult if the winter carries on as it has begun.)  For the sake of something a bit different, I started playing with this image - gave it the mono treatment, a minor crop and a bit of experimenting with blending modes.  Can anyone guess where I might have taken it?

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Fifth Advent Window

"On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Five go-old rings!"

Well... we won't tell them that the old traditional folk song refers to the twelve days after Christmas, from Christmas to Epiphany, not Advent.  Nevertheless, the fifth window that was unveiled in Saltaire's 'Living Advent Calendar' has this simple but attractive design of five gold rings, an angel and little sparkling white lights.  It is one of the few windows (in my opinion) that look equally attractive by day as by night.  It can be seen at 1 Lockwood Street. (Most of the streets in Saltaire are named after members of Sir Titus Salt's family, but Lockwood Street and its neighbour Mawson Street honour the architects who designed Saltaire in the 19th century.)

I may yet feature a few more of these decorated windows (though I need to get out and photograph some first - and it's really too cold at night to venture out with my precious camera).  If you want to see them all on one page, then do look at the dedicated webpage.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Snow magic

The Saltaire Boathouse Inn (bar and restaurant) seen from the footbridge across the River Aire between Saltaire village and Roberts Park.  For the difference the seasons make, see here.

According to the media, this country is paralysed because of the snow.  (What that really means is it's snowy in London and the south-east.)  There does seem to be all sorts of chaos in the transport systems and I must say I'm very glad I don't need to get anywhere in a hurry.  But - hooray! Someone has actually cleared a path down the pavement on the main road through Saltaire.  It makes my walk to work a good deal safer.  Thank you, whoever it was.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Lion window

Some of you want more of these 'Living Advent Calendar' windows!  Each year different people (to a large extent anyway) participate, which is why it's such fun hunting for the windows.  You never know where the next one will appear.

The window at 68 Victoria Road this year shows this striking portrait of one of the stone lions that sits just outside the Victoria Hall, guarding the centre of Saltaire.  There are four lions - and I think this is the one called 'Determination'.  I showed photos of all four of them in a post in the early days of my blog (see here).  I am amazed at the skill and imagination shown by those who decorate these windows.  I'd never have thought of doing that.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

My world

This was what we woke up to on Saturday morning.....more of the cold white stuff.  It's not as bad here (so far!) as in other parts of the country (and other parts of the world for that matter) but, given that lots of people are hoping to get away for Christmas, it's not very welcome.  The last lot had only just melted too.  My daughter is up from London for the weekend, and was hoping to go and see her grandfather in County Durham.  The same planned Christmas visit was cancelled last year because of the snow - and it very much looks (at the time of writing) that this year's will go the same way. Families all over the country will be similarly affected - but unless you really have to travel it's simply not fair, on the emergency services and those whose journeys are imperative, to clog the roads up unnecessarily.  My photo shows the main road through Saltaire - what was the old turnpike route from Leeds.  It's well gritted and traffic was flowing freely but the side roads are nasty and the pavements soon get packed down and icy.  Brr.  I'm curling up with the newspaper and a hot drink!

Saturday, 18 December 2010


I was out with my camera and tripod taking photos of the Living Advent Calendar windows and then I got a bit carried away!  Saltaire looks different and slightly mysterious at night - especially against the eerie sodium glare from the city street lights that casts a golden glow across the night sky.  This is a view of the New Mill seen from Roberts Park, across the river.  The reflected lights make it an obvious choice for Weekend Reflections this week. (For more interpretations on the theme of reflections,  please go to James' Newtown Area Photo).  I'm still a novice at night photography but it produces some interesting images so I shall resolve to get some more practice.

For a view of the New Mill from a similar vantage point but in the daylight, please see here.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Festive concert

There's so much going on in Saltaire in the run-up to Christmas!  Unlike my daughter, I'm not keeping a tally of how many mince pies I consume (I think she's up to 17 now!) but had I wanted one, there were mince pies and mulled wine for sale in the Half-Moon Café on Tuesday evening - and a Festive Concert with the Hall Royd Brass Band in the Roberts Park bandstand. The snow has all gone now (though it may be back soon) and, despite a light drizzle, it wasn't a cold night so it was quite pleasant standing listening to the music.  I'm sure Sir Titus enjoyed it - his statue overlooks the bandstand and his spirit was with us!

PS: For a view of the bandstand when it was unveiled earlier this year, please see here.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Window number 9

Another of Saltaire's 'Living Advent Calendar' windows, number 9, is at the Methodist Church.  It was designed and painted by members of Saltaire Methodist Art Group, a thriving group that meets on Wednesday mornings in the Methodist Church Hall.  You can't really tell from my photo, which was taken at night with the windows lit from within, but the side panels have little squares showing very intricate Celtic patterns.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Another tradition...

My church, St Peter's Shipley, staged our second 'Walking Nativity' on Sunday afternoon (another event that might well become a tradition).  For those not familiar with the concept, it involves a walk of about a mile through the local streets, starting at our church and ending in a large farm barn (which happily belongs to some members of our congregation.)  We stop every now and again to sing a carol and watch actors (mostly members of our Youth Group) enact a scene from the Christmas Story ...with a modern twist.

We saw Joseph packing his rucksack for a long journey with Mary, pondering what the angel had told him about the child soon to be born.  We heard the Innkeeper's tale and the Shepherd's tale, we saw the Magi carrying gifts for a King and finally we watched the magical scene in the stable as everyone came to see the baby.  Wonderful!

"For to us a child is born... and he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, 
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Advent calendar

Five years ago, a couple living in Saltaire had the idea of getting people to work together to make a 'Living Advent Calendar' throughout the village.  The initiative proved very popular and has now become a tradition. (And isn't it good that new traditions continue to be invented?) So each year, 24 windows in 24 houses or businesses scattered around the village come to life with a festive scene.  One is 'opened' each day from 1st to 24th December.  There is a map but it's rather fun just to wander round the village and see how many you can spot.

I loved the one above, number 7 at 20 Jane Street.  It's a glorious blue and I liked the idea of a star and an angel hovering over Saltaire.  If you look carefully at the base of the window, you can see a silhouette of Salts Mill with its chimney and twin towers and, I think, the church on the right.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Black & white brass

It was late-night Christmas shopping in Salts Mill, Saltaire last Thursday.  Shoppers were serenaded with seasonal music played by Hammond's Saltaire Band (who are very good!)  The sound really soared through the vaulted 1853 Gallery - and the fragrance of mulled wine and lilies scented the air.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Christmas tree

We saw its reflection yesterday - and here is the Christmas tree itself, in the majestic setting of the 1853 Gallery in Salts Mill, Saltaire.  In the background, photographs of the artist David Hockney survey the scene.  He was born in this area and has strong personal connections with Salts Mill.  The 1853 Gallery holds the largest permanent collection of his artwork in the world.  And yes, I confess, I was doing some late-night shopping in the bookstore in the Mill!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Christmas lights

The lights of the Christmas tree in the 1853 Gallery, Salts Mill, Saltaire are reflected in the window - and outside, the Victorian mill looks rather ghostly in the snow.  Part art gallery, part shop selling art books and artists materials, the 1853 Gallery displays a large collection of paintings by David Hockney (originally a local lad, born in Bradford).  There are all sorts of interesting artefacts scattered around, including a lovely collection of ceramics made in the 19th century at the Burmantofts pottery in Leeds.  This large planter is one of them.

Weekend Reflections is hosted by James at Newtown Area Photo.

Friday, 10 December 2010


Mallard ducks lined up alongside the canal basin in Skipton.  They were fluffed up because of the cold and looked a bit sleepy.  I think we should all be able to hibernate in this weather.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Skipton Canal basin

I think I've mentioned before that the Leeds-Liverpool Canal has a branch off it, in the centre of Skipton.  Called the Springs Branch, it was built in 1797 to transport lime from quarries.  Now it's a sleepy but pretty little backwater.  Where it joins the main canal it provides a spacious basin, where boats can turn.  It's always a busy spot and has a boat shop and chandlery where people can pick up supplies.  Several of the boats moored there were obviously in use and had stoves going full blast.  I like the way the smoke from their chimneys caught the low sunshine.  The Cray is one of Pennine Cruisers' hire boats, and the small boat behind that is, I think, Leo - the one that does short pleasure cruises up the branch behind Skipton Castle.  Beyond that is one of the big barges that were the original working boats on this canal.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010


I visited Skipton again recently and found it overrun by sheep.  'Flock to Skipton' is an art trail of 26 decorated Dales sheep, scattered throughout the town, with the aim of attracting visitors and celebrating this Dales town's long association with the woolly wonders.  The sheep sculptures have been painted by local artists, schools and community groups.  As you can see, there are some colourful and interesting designs, linking in to Skipton's heritage and landmarks in unique ways.

There has been a rash of such projects in various towns - I think it all started with 'Superlambananas' in Liverpool in 2008.  It's a fun way of injecting some extra colour and interest into the town.  I wonder if we'd do this in Saltaire?  There is a story that the lions outside the Victoria Hall roam the village at night! - so perhaps we could have lions.  The Skipton flock is in town until 19 December.  I suppose then they'll be put out to grass!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

National Media Museum

The National Media Museum, Bradford, is housed in a concrete 1960s complex that also holds the ice skating rink and Bradford Central Library.  The tower block was once part of Bradford University and is now student flats.   The museum frontage has been modernised by the addition of a glass atrium and the former library theatre has become a cinema, part of the Museum, which also boasts a gigantic IMAX cinema screen.

I found the following, quoted in 2005 by Dr George Sheeran, of the University of Bradford's Pennine and Yorkshire Studies Unit:
"A lot of the stuff (regeneration) that was done in the Sixties was done on a big wave of optimism about the future, and it did produce some things which unfortunately haven't lasted. If you look at Bradford Central Library, opened in 1966, then it was the biggest library (in terms of the number of books it had) in England which is an astonishing statistic when you think about it. It had a small art gallery, a cafeteria and it had a theatre and people were willing to put their money behind that sort of thing then, and some of the things done in the 1960s were very good.
On the other hand, the architecture was dire. It was on a scale nobody had seen, it was of a design nobody in Bradford had experienced before. I think there was this ideology behind it which saw everything modern as progressive - that was a big word in the Sixties, whether it led to social progress or not, and there was a deep, deep hatred of everything in the Victorian past. In about 1960 there was a Dutch chap who taught planning at Leeds School of Architecture, I can't remember his name, but he called Bradford, 'a city designed by the devil' which I think was an attitude of mind amongst planners. I know which (Bradford) I would rather have."

He speaks for a lot of people. A lot of us mourn the loss of some of the Victorian buildings.  Those that remain have been transformed by stone cleaning and sympathetic renewal.  But it's good to see these 60s buildings being used in a creative way even if they aren't too pleasing to the eye.  There is always a huge poster on the front of the Media Museum and I like the impact of this particular image of the young boy.

(This has had a bit of work in PS - desaturated it, popped the colour back on the poster and added some grain to emphasise the gritty concrete.)

Monday, 6 December 2010

Christmas pud?

I spotted these balled topiary box trees in the city centre - with a dusting of snow on top, they reminded me of traditional Christmas puddings.  I have one of these (tree, not pudding!) in my back yard, but it long ago ceased to be perfectly spherical.  The red box behind them is a small modern mail box, outside the National Media Museum.  I suppose it's handy for tourists to post their postcards: "Just visited Bradford's National Media Museum... it's great! Really interesting..."

When I'm in Bradford I usually try to find time to visit the Media Museum.  I consider myself very lucky that, of all the national museums, Bradford has the one in which I'm most interested - Film, Photography and TV.  This time I saw an exhibition: 'Land revisited' by Fay Godwin (1931-2005), one of Britain's greatest landscape photographers.  Do click the link to see some of her incredible black and white images.  The exhibition is well worth a visit if you're in the area - if not, explore the website, as there's some interesting stuff on there, including photos and some biographical material about Fay Godwin.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Brown, Muff & Co

I made a rare visit into Bradford city centre on Saturday, to visit a 'pop-up shop' styled in the manner of a 1930s grocer's shop.  It’s part of a BBC TV Learning Hands on History project complementing the series Turn Back Time – The High Street, currently running on BBC1.

The shop was sited in part of what used to be Brown, Muff & Co's department store - known as 'the Harrods of the North' because it was one of the classiest stores in the region in its hey-dey. The roots of Brown, Muff can be traced back to 1814, when a room shop was set up in Market Street by Elizabeth Brown.  In 1834 it was taken over by her son, Henry, who married Betsy Muff, an Ilkley girl. The department store was founded in the 1840s (I'm sure Sir Titus Salt's wife, Caroline, must have shopped there) and thrived for many years, eventually being taken over by Rackhams in 1978.  It closed some years ago, a victim of the move to shopping malls rather than department stores and also to Bradford's decline as a centre for 'middle-class' shoppers (who now favour Leeds).

I have my own fond memories of Brown, Muff's.  When I first came to Bradford as a student in the early 1970s, the store was still the place to shop - full of beautiful clothes and other goods, with gleaming wood and brass shop fittings and an air of solid good taste.  I vividly recall one bright sunny day when a friend and I, in the middle of preparing for our exams, decided we needed a treat.  We went to Brown Muff's delicatessen, situated right on the top floor of the store, and bought olives and cooked meats and all sorts of other yummy luxuries, plus a bottle of sparkling wine, then went back to my bed-sit.  We sat on the bed in the sunshine, surrounded by revision notes, and scoffed the lot!  Revision went a lot better after that!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Snowy Saltaire

This is nothing more exciting than the gateway into the carpark in the centre of Saltaire, but a frosting of snow and a few red berries against a blue sky transformed the scene into something rather pretty.  These Victorian railings are among the few that survived WWII without being turned into armaments.  Behind the shrubs you can see Salts Mill, with the morning sunshine just lighting up its facade.  This might have to be my Christmas card next year!

(Again, this photo was taken before the heaviest snow fell. We have had no more here since Wednesday and everywhere has started to look a bit grey and dirty now.  I soon get fed up with it!)

Friday, 3 December 2010

Yorkshire Landscapes Competition

Well, the results are finally out - and my picture of Salts Wharf made it into the last ten, though not into the prizewinners.  I still think that's a good achievement though.  Thank you again, everybody, for your votes.  I was really encouraged by all your positive comments and support. The final ten photos were printed in the Telegraph and Argus newspaper today, though it hasn't filtered down to their website yet.  If you want to see the winning photo, please click here - nice bit of work in Photoshop, perhaps?  And the runners-up are here and here.  To go back to my original post about the competition, see here.

Snow joke ....

This section of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, down by the entrance to Roberts Park in Saltaire, is a popular spot for visitors.  There is usually someone there feeding the ducks and pigeons, so the birds have learned to congregate there.  With snow on the ground and ice floes in the canal, they were probably hungrier than usual - but there were few visitors about.  The ducks were milling around, more in hope than expectation.  Perhaps standing on the snow was warmer than swimming in the water.  Not much trade for the ice-cream boat either! When it's raining we say "Nice weather for ducks" - but this.... it's snow joke!
(The photo was taken before the latest snowfall.  The canal is completely frozen over now.  In fact pretty much the entire UK is covered in snow, as this satellite picture shows.)

Thursday, 2 December 2010


I interrupt the run of 'pretty' snow pictures to show you the latest development.  This was taken from my office window yesterday at about 1pm.  You can just make out Salts Mill chimney in the background.  It snowed on and off all day but, even so, here we have a good deal less than those unfortunates who live nearer the east coast.  My sister, in Lincoln, was unable to get home from work on Tuesday and spent the night in an hotel near her office.  The snow now seems to be covering much of eastern and central England and Scotland, to a depth unheard of at this time of year.  Because we're not used to it, it causes severe disruption to transport, businesses and schools.  It's probably no worse than 'in the olden days' but most of us have forgotten those times, as we've had a succession of mild winters until last year - and in the olden days we all lived much more local lives.  Now there are just too many people trying to get around on the roads.  I'm very thankful that I only have a short walk to work and that most of the things I really need are very localised.  Though I worry a bit about my mother, as neither my sister nor I could easily get to her in this weather.  I spoke to her last night and so far she seems fine, though she has not been out for over a week now.  It all shows little sign of letting up.  It might be a long winter!

(The most bizarre thing was that, even as it looked like this outside, inside we were in short-sleeved T-shirts with the desk fans blowing, as the temperature in the office rose to 27℃ (80℉)! The building is hermetically sealed and somehow they never can seem to get the heating right.)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


The switch-on of the Christmas lights in Saltaire will happen on Friday 3 December.  There is a bit of a celebration in the Victoria Hall from 6 pm that evening so come along and join in the fun if you live locally.  In the meantime, who needs lights when there are these glorious red berries brightening up the Victoria Road shops?

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

First snow

Snow has the power to transform English churches into something magical and its effect on Saltaire URC always pleases me, even though the church is far from a quintessential country church.  We woke up on Saturday morning to a couple of centimetres of crisp, sparkly white stuff and even though I had a 'To Do' list as long as my arm, I couldn't resist a walk.  The sun was not very high so the shadows were long but the snow around the church was virgin.  No-one had yet walked or driven down the drive - and I didn't go and spoil it either!

[After the great but inconclusive size debate, would it be very eccentric of me to post 'landscape' format images in Blogger's X large size and 'portrait' format ones in its Large size?  This one certainly looks better bigger.]

Monday, 29 November 2010

Another view


Taken a couple of weeks ago (before it snowed!) Tee hee! You'd have laughed, watching me trying to take this!  I have long been convinced that there is a good photo to be had by framing Saltaire's famous United Reformed Church in its own wrought iron gates. It's not the easiest project.  For one thing the gates are often open and I would not like to be caught closing them without permission.  But it's a tricky prospect mainly because of the contortions I have to get into, to get the framing right.  There are two gates, so neither of the round holes shows the church exactly in its centre when viewed square on.  Standing up I'm too high, kneeling down I'm too low - so I have to adopt a very awkward and unbalanced twisted half-crouch... must look hilarious.  This was hand-held but even with my tripod, I doubt I could get it to the right height.  I've tried once or twice to do this - this is my best effort so far.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Technical question!

Diane has asked me why I don't post my photos larger.  Partly it's because the template I use needed stretching as larger pictures lap over the sidebar.  (I've done that now). Also, I have a very large screen on my iMac so I can view a whole photo even if it's quite large.  But I'm not sure what the effect is when you have a laptop with a much smaller screen.  Can people view a large image in its entirety?  I don't know if there's any advantage to posting large if it means people can't see the whole image at once.  The size Diane uses is comfortable on my screen but sometimes those Karen and Carolina (for example) use fill my whole screen.  What do they look like on a smaller screen?  I've never viewed a blog on a laptop - does what you see adjust to the size of screen?  What I mean is, do my usual pictures look very small on a small screen or do they look the same size as they look on my large screen (about 10x8 cm)?  I'm not very techy-minded.  Am I missing something here?

I have put today's picture again at the larger size here - which on my screen is 16x12 cm. And I can see the whole picture but only about 4 or 5 lines of accompanying text.  What does this look like to you?

And does it matter to you whether you only see a photo and have to scroll to read the accompanying words - or do you prefer to be able to look and read at the same time?

Hebden Bridge's bridge

Hebden Bridge was named after the packhorse bridge in the centre of the town. The stone bridge has just celebrated its 500th anniversary.  Before it was built in 1510, there was a wooden bridge over Hebden Water, which in medieval times was a meeting point of packhorse routes from Halifax to Heptonstall, Burnley and Rochdale, all centres of the handloom cloth trade.  During the English Civil War in 1643, an important battle between the royalist Cavaliers and the Roundheads took place here.  The Roundheads won a significant victory, forcing the Cavaliers, who on horseback were ill-equipped for the steep terrain, down into the valley and back across the bridge.

Nowadays the bridge - only wide enough for pedestrians or horses - forms an attractive focal point in the heart of the town centre.  The town is notable for the number of independent shops: it has lovely cafés, galleries and some interesting craft and clothes shops.  The area also has a rich literary history. The Brontë sisters wrote their famous novels just a few miles away in Haworth, the American poet, Sylvia Plath is buried at Heptonstall on the hill overlooking Hebden Bridge and the late poet laureate, Ted Hughes was born in Mytholmroyd, two miles away. 

For more Sunday Bridges, courtesy of Louis La Vache, please click here.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Hebden Bridge

This photo shows quite clearly how the town of Hebden Bridge had to use the steep valley sides to sustain its rapid expansion in the 1880s & 90s.  This resulted in one of the town's most distinctive features: the "top and bottom house", an architectural curiosity virtually unique to the town.  These are four-storey houses that are effectively two houses built one on top of another.  The front door on one side leads into the lower house, made up of the bottom two floors of the building.  On the other side and higher up the hill is another front door accessing a separate house that is made up of the top two floors and the attic of the building.  You can see terraces of these in the photo above.  I think they cause the local postmen and delivery men a bit of confusion.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Knit wit

One of the solid old stone Victorian buildings in the centre of Hebden Bridge is reflected in the window of a (rather smart and trendy) haberdasher's shop.  Hebden Bridge is full of arty, crafty, interesting, independent shops.  For many years the area has been a bit of a magnet for creative types.  Since the 1970s it has had an increasingly lively population of artists, photographers, writers, musicians, alternative practitioners, teachers, green and New Age activists.  The surrounding area (being within easy commuting distance of Leeds, Bradford and Manchester) is home to some fairly well-heeled folk, who have snapped up the interesting old buildings dotted around the moors and hillsides and converted them into lovely individualistic homes.

This links in to James' Weekend Reflections - see here for more.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Rochdale canal

Since the weather is a bit wintry right now and I am running out of photos (!), this seems like a good time to revisit some sunshine and show some pictures I didn't have the opportunity to post over the summer.  This was taken in August in Hebden Bridge - just over the moors, about 15 miles from Saltaire, in the next valley of Calderdale.  It's appropriate timing too, as the town has just won an award for the Best Town in Britain. The canal that runs through its heart and helps make it a very attractive place is the Rochdale Canal, winding its way from Manchester through to Sowerby Bridge.  The town is sited in a narrow valley and grew up around a river crossing over Hebden Water, becoming industrialised when wool and cotton mills were developed in the 19th century.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


(Best viewed large)
I find it odd that I am so drawn to this view of Salts Wharf with Salts Mill in the distance.  It's hardly the most beautiful view in the world, yet somehow it enthralls me.  I see it most days, as my habitual walk to work takes me over the canal bridge from which it is taken.  That means I get to see it in all weathers and all seasons.  I suppose that's one of the reasons I am so fascinated - different lighting and different weather conditions radically affect the way the scene looks.  Yesterday I was passing just before the sun rose above the surrounding hills.  It was light but not fully so and, as you can see here, the sun was catching Salts Mill in the background before it touched the buildings in the foreground.  As an added bonus, there was a full moon still visible and reflected in the water.  A crisp, cold morning gave a crisp, cold image.

Those of you who are awake (!) will recognise the view as the one I entered into the Yorkshire Landscapes Competition.  I still haven't heard the results of that (they seem to be taking ages over the final judging).  I will of course let you know if and when I hear anything.  If you want to see my other photos of this view please click 'that view' in the labels.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Christmas is coming...

Advance notice of a Christmas shopping night at Salts Mill.  Might be worth going, as there are discounts available in most of the retail outlets.  Do your Christmas shopping in delightful surroundings, cheered on with drinks and seasonal nibbles - and a free concert by Hammond's Saltaire Band in the 1853 gallery at 7.30 pm. For more details, please see the Saltaire Village website.

(Funny...  I haven't seen fairies round Salts Mill chimney since the last time I was at the cooking sherry!)

For a photo of the real chimney, see here.

Monday, 22 November 2010


Alongside the Christkindelmarkt in Leeds (see yesterday's post) was a small traditional funfair with all my favourite attractions, including dodgems and an old-fashioned carousel.  I love these brightly painted horses that glide up and down their brass poles.  Riding these as a child, I used to really feel as though I was galloping on the dream horse I longed for.

In fact, the rides are properly called 'Gallopers'.  The one in Leeds is owned by James A Crow and Sons, and they travel with it round all the major fairs in the UK.  It really is beautiful.  All the horses are individually painted - works of art in their own way.

I didn't find it very easy to photograph.  I had to go in close, as it was hemmed in by other stalls and I couldn't stand back to photograph the whole carousel.  But all the lights and colours mean that the individual horses don't really stand out from the background.  I tried selectively darkening the photo, to emphasise one horse.  Now I can't decide which version I prefer!

Sunday, 21 November 2010


(View large)
Well, it's the weekend... but I'm afraid here in Saltaire it's grey, damp, dull, lifeless - the sort of weather that England does so well.  I was hoping for a few photos (my cache is rapidly shrinking!) but honestly it isn't good for much. So yesterday I headed to Leeds, our nearest big city, to make a start on my Christmas shopping.  Leeds Millennium Square holds an annual German Christkindelmarkt Christmas Market.  It started on 12 November this year and runs through to 19 December.  The stalls are housed in pretty wooden chalets, decorated with lights and greenery.  There is a traditional Bier-Keller at its heart (with live traditional German music sometimes, no doubt involving men in lederhosen) and you can buy food (German sausages, stollen, gingerbread, chocolates and amazing marshmallow concoctions - oh yes, and poffertjes, which I thought were Dutch?) as well as festive decorations, toys, clothes and all manner of trinkets.  I was rather tempted by a reindeer fur hat (proceeds to support Sami herders) but a faint reindeer fragrance seemed to linger around it, so I decided not!  I came away with some marzipan stollen, which I adore, and a nice Christmassy sense of good cheer.  Now then... off to write my Christmas cards.

Saturday, 20 November 2010


(Click photo to view large for best effect)
I've been playing, adding textures to some of my photos.  I am not very skilled at this yet, to say the least, but it is something I'd like to carry on experimenting with until I have developed more of an 'eye' for this way of working.  I'm always impressed by those creative bloggers whose photos have a 'fine art' feel to them: Chasity at The Road Less Traveled and Lisa at Red-Willow Photography are two whose work I really admire.  They each have their own styles but both take stunning photos and their processing skills are superb.  I really enjoy visiting their blogs and I urge you to take a look at them too.  I've linked this to a little project at another very talented photographer's blog: What Karen Sees - so why don't you have a wander over there too?  We're all in this together, encouraging and learning from each other.  That's what I like about blogland.

Anyway, here's a scene that will be very familiar to my local readers and probably to those further afield too.  It must be one of Saltaire's most photographed views, looking down Albert Terrace from Victoria Road.

Friday, 19 November 2010

The Victoria

From Queen Victoria to The Victoria.... This is my 'local' - The Victoria public house on Saltaire Road.  It's on the opposite side of the road from Saltaire village itself, so not actually within the village's boundary.  Just as well, since Saltaire's founder, Sir Titus Salt, would not allow the sale of alcohol in his village.

I think this is a lovely pub - it's friendly and cosy and serves good beer. (For a picture of one of the beers try 'Blonde - Saltaire' - albeit snapped in a different pub - by someone who has a blog entirely composed of photos of drinks!)  The Victoria suffers a little in being just across the road from the popular and crowded 'Fanny's Ale House' (see my post of 11 August 2010 ) but in many ways I prefer it.  I just read a comment on 'The Culture Vulture' blog that said: "Across the road from Fanny’s, which is fine but can get terribly busy at times, is The Victoria Hotel, a good honest pub with an excellent range of real ales including many of Saltaire Brewery’s range. The Victoria is often seen as being an overspill for the competition across the road but as a place for a quiet pint or two of decent beer with friendly, down to earth service it can’t be beaten. Not in Saltaire, anyway!"  And one of the managers, Gemma Aaron replies: "Thanks...... we are working really hard to make the Victoria a friendly, welcoming community pub, supporting many local breweries."

Incidentally the Culture Vulture site has a fine write-up about food and drink in Saltaire, with a great photo too - well done, my friend Richard from them apples.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

For his eyes only.....

Britain is consumed in 'Royal Wedding' excitement, following the announcement of Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton. (Me too, actually. I think it's lovely, a welcome change from gloom and budget cuts - and they both seem such nice young people.)  It seems a good moment to look back to another royal love story.

This is a well-known painting of the young Queen Victoria by Franz Winterhalter. Described by Richard Dorment in a review in the Daily Telegraph as  "... a love letter. In 1843, Victoria commissioned Winterhalter to paint her portrait in an oval format as a birthday present for Albert. In it the 24-year-old Queen is shown in what looks like her nightdress, with her loosened hair falling over one bare shoulder. In case the recipient missed the point, her eyes are raised in adoration, and her lips are slightly parted. We recognise at once the private signals a wife gives to a husband. This is how only Albert will see her."

When I was privileged to see this in an exhibition at the Queen's Gallery in Buckingham Palace, I did find it an astonishing painting, picturing Victoria as I have never though of her before.  It was touching to see her portrayed as an
open-minded young woman, passionate - sexy even. We so often see her as the older matriarch, dressed in her widow's black. The more I find out about Victoria and the Victorian era, the more intrigued I am. We sometimes think of it as a restrictive, stuffy, overblown period of our history and there are many aspects that we seem to feel (perhaps rightly) ashamed of. Yet it was also a time of enormous change and social and economic development that has bequeathed us a heritage to be proud of - in Saltaire and elsewhere.  It would be good to think that we might have another such creative time - under King William and Queen Katherine perhaps?

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Coffee break

I caught this candid shot of the security men at the entrance to Salts Mill, Saltaire, just having a coffee (smoking?) break.  I assume they patrol the Mill complex but they also act as an unofficial information point for tourists trying to find their way around.  Possibly their most important job (which they do every few minutes at the end of each working day) is to open the security gate for people leaving the Mill car park and trying to avoid some of the almost permanent traffic jam on the main road. (Using the 'proper' car park exit means you have to join the queue some half a mile further back!)

According to the press reports about the accident on the railway line on Monday, the Salts Mill security men were heroes, running along the tracks to stop the trains. So this is my tribute to them - they clearly did a great job.

The old fashioned blue 'Police' sign is not an affectation.  The little office here is used as a police contact point for the Saltaire community and is staffed on Wednesdays from 10 am to 1 pm for people to 'drop in' and share with the neighbourhood police team any concerns they have.  I think that's a good idea and a valuable local service.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Dusk's pink

(Best viewed large)
Yesterday evening I had to pop over to a friend's house just as dusk was approaching.  It had been a very cold day and as I travelled on the bus I could see the mist slowly creeping down the river and filling the valley bottom.  By the time I arrived on the hill where my friend lives, it was all looking very pretty.  The picture is hand-held and taken on my compact camera, so it's very 'soft' - but in a way I think that suits the subject.  Sometimes you just have to take a chance on a shot.

On a more sober note, there was a serious accident in Saltaire yesterday, when a car crashed onto the railway lines just outside Saltaire station.  Thankfully it seems no-one was hurt.  The Telegraph and Argus newspaper carries full details here.  (Sorry, your own intrepid reporter was stuck in the office at the time!)