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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?