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Thursday, 31 March 2011

BIG yellow crane

Just had to show you this enormous crane (no, not another bird photo!)  We were watching it from our office window and later, as I walked home, I saw it was still at work.  You may recall a week or so ago I posted a picture of a dredger dragging up mud and rubbish from the bottom of the canal and depositing it in a floating skip.  Well, the crane had come to lift the skips and the machinery out of the canal, setting them onto a series of low-loaders to be driven away.  It's interesting, I think, that hiring this huge crane must be more economical (in money and/or time) than sailing the machinery along the canal to wherever it is needed next.

The crane was sited beside Salts Wharf.  The town of Shipley is on the right. The old mill on the left is now apartments called Victoria Mills and the office block in the centre used to be part of HMRC (Tax Office) until it (the building, not HMRC!) was axed in the recent government cut-backs.  It's now more or less an empty block, waiting to be re-let.  The surfeit of empty office space round here has not stopped developers preparing a site across the road to build another new block!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011


A small flock of Greylag geese - with a couple of Canada goose interlopers - has established itself on the lawns around Saltaire's United Reformed Church, on the banks of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.  The RSPB bird guide is rather sniffy about 'semi-tame and uninspiring' southern British Greylags, saying they don't have the 'special appeal' of the truly wild birds that overwinter in Scotland.  That may be true, but I doubt I could get as close to the wilder birds as I could to this cutie.  S/he was nibbling the grass and roots on the side of the canal and quite unperturbed that I was crouching down with my camera.  At first glance they appear to be 'brownish-grey birds' but close-up you can see the subtle colourings of the feathers, with their white frilly edges.  I think they're very attractive and they have a lovely little head too.

It's just a pity that all the waterbirds round here get filled up with bread that people bring down to feed them with.  It does them no good, and may even kill them.  A lady on one of the narrowboats further along the canal was trying to improve the situation by selling bags of proper food, but she is fighting a losing battle, I fear.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Saltaire in pink and green

Some early pink blossom looks pretty against a backdrop of ivy and a pinkish door.   Spotted on Albert Road in Saltaire.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Men at work .. and a Countess

When I saw this scene I was reminded of those arithmetic puzzles we used to be given at school.... 'If it takes two men three days to fill in a hole in the road, how many days would it take five men to fill in the same hole, starting on a Sunday?'  I never could work them out.  Anyway, it was a Sunday and, in theory, the infamous Saltaire roundabout was a little quieter than usual.  So this gang got to work with their tarmac and brushes and a roller.  I think they were probably filling in a pothole.  The bad winter we've had here has left the roads in a terrible state.  I am using my mum's car at the moment and I have found you really need to keep your wits about you when driving, even on the motorways, as there are some dreadfully big holes around and they don't do your car a lot of good!

In the background, you can see the pub now called The Countess of Rosse. It seems to change hands with regularity and tries to appeal to a younger crowd with live bands, quizzes and Sky Sports.  Not my scene!  I am far more interested in the Countess herself, Mary Rosse (1813-1885) - a Yorkshire lass who was an accomplished blacksmith, pioneering amateur astronomer and photographer.  She sounds a remarkable woman.  She also found time to give birth to eleven children, though only four survived to adulthood.

PS: Found a bit more about Mary Rosse here.  Fascinating.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Angel face

 Make yourself familiar with the angels and behold them frequently in spirit; 
for without being seen, they are present with you.
-- St. Francis De Sales

I passed this angel headstone on one of my walks, and thought she had such a lovely face.

It's not that I spend my whole life wandering around cemeteries...  (even though it's not long since I shared photos of Undercliffe Cemetery in Bradford.)  But I do find them fascinating places, as well as havens where I can find a sense of peace and calm; a few minutes of quiet in the midst of busyness and pressure.  I don't find them at all morbid.  One of the Bradford area's main cemeteries and crematorium is just along the road out of Saltaire, in Nab Wood.  It's a pleasant walk through the cemetery and then, via a gap in the wall, up through Hirst Woods and back to Saltaire along the canal.

Carve quiet spaces in your life and in the silence you will hear the angels.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

It must be spring!

If yesterday's photo showed a popular spot for an outing in the early 20th century, then today's shows the modern equivalent.  I don't suppose the early residents of Saltaire would have had any notion that one day the village would be designated a World Heritage Site and would become a real draw for tourists.  This is the approach along the canal towpath, with the church on the right bank and the New Mill ahead.  The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted today's refreshments.... yes, the red and yellow ice-cream boat is back, so it must be spring - even though it doesn't look very spring-like!  (After being warm and sunny all week when I've been stuck indoors,  it's cool and cloudy again now it's the weekend.)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A tight squeeze

Here's the narrowboat that yesterday's young lady was waiting for.  Once a boat has negotiated the single lock chamber at Hirst Wood (and as you can see it's quite a tight squeeze), it enters a little canal basin.  It then has to pass through the swing bridge, which pivots sideways to allow boats to proceed up the canal.  Unlike some of the locks, Hirst Wood is not 'manned' so boat owners have to do all the running about and winding sluice gates for themselves. It's quite hard work.  But it makes interesting entertainment for passers-by strolling along the towpath.

Below is the same boat going through the swing bridge, which then has to be closed again behind it to allow traffic and pedestrians to cross the canal.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Hirst Wood Regeneration Group

Adjacent to Saltaire on its western flank there is a small estate called Hirst Wood, after the area of woodland of the same name about a quarter mile along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.  It is fair to say that compared to the surrounding areas it has for years been a little pocket of relative deprivation, hidden and largely forgotten.  (At one time my church used to run a youth club on the estate, which I like to think bore useful fruit.)

In 2000 a group was formed: the Hirst Wood Regeneration Group, dedicated to improving facilities in the area and 'restoring a sense of pride' in the community.  They have been very active and pretty successful in lobbying the local council and in fund-raising.  The estate now has a very nice children's playground and sports field for local youngsters. A more recent project involved 'The Triangle' - a small area adjacent to the lock on the canal at Hirst Wood, which was originally just an unattractive piece of bare earth.  It has now been landscaped, turfed and planted and some seats added.  It still looks quite 'new' but will soon mature to provide a pleasant area to sit and watch the activity around the lock and swing bridge.  Well done and thank you to HWRG!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Diamonds and setts

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder - and though a humble manhole cover may not be the most obviously photogenic feature on a Saltaire street, nevertheless, nestled among the granite setts I find it has a certain attractiveness.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Spring garden

A neat and simple display in a Saltaire garden - but one that brings a welcome reminder of spring.  I love the miniature daffodils.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Birds in a blue sky

Something about a blue sky with a few fluffy white clouds makes my heart sing.... and never more so than when it forms the backdrop to the sunlit stone of the World Heritage Site of Saltaire.  Here you can see the tower of the New Mill peeping up above the administrative block of Salts Mill.  The Pace logo, of the telecommunications company that now occupies much of the mill complex, reminds us that this is not just an old historic site 'pickled in aspic' but a living, working community with several very successful businesses at its heart.  The birds flying overhead are mostly gulls - not the seaside type but the ubiquitous black-headed gulls that can be seen all over the UK, including right here in the middle of the country in Pennine Yorkshire.  They like to sit on the mill roof in the sunshine and every so often they swoop off in flight - just, it seems, for the joy of it.

This is my contribution to Skywatch Friday.  For more skies from all over the world, click here.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Spring cleaning

Not the best day for a photo (it was raining at the time) but I spotted this dredger at work when I was on my way home one evening.  This is how they go about spring cleaning the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, to make it ready for another busy season of holidaymakers and the small amount of commercial traffic that the canal still supports.  It gets silted up with mud and all sorts of other rubbish (I wonder if anyone missed the road sign you can just see in the skip.)  I wonder what they did before they had these wonderful little crane gadgets?  The canal isn't really very deep so they must have had to clear it out periodically, even in Victorian times.  Men in waders, with shovels, do you think?

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Parking in Saltaire is a perennial problem. The big main car park, which visitors are supposed to use, is sited behind Salts Mill and thus a fair walk from the village itself.  Those in the know make for one of the two small car parks near the centre of the village, or attempt to park on the streets.  The problem with that is that nearly all the streets in the village are resident-only permit parking.  You might think that, for a short stay, you might risk it... but as my photo shows, there are several 'Parking Services' officers (traffic wardens) who patrol the village - even on a Sunday.  One of these cars, or maybe both, is going to get a ticket. (Perhaps not such a smart car after all!)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Who are you looking at?

Like most villages, Saltaire has not only a community of people but also a community of cats.  I am sure they each have their preferred territory.  I've been lurking around corners trying to snap a few of them.  This handsome ginger was sitting watching trains by the station - at least until I started messing about with my camera.  He didn't look too amused at that and soon stalked off.  The sides of the railway line have a lot of vegetation and are probably fertile hunting ground, though I have many times been alarmed to watch cats nonchalantly strolling across the lines when a train is due.  I imagine they can feel the vibrations along the rails - hope so anyway!

The black one above was also near the railway - a very friendly cat.  I was framing up a photo and he twined himself through my legs, purring!  But then I found one sitting as still as the Sphinx on a windowsill, almost hidden by the shrubs.  And he just stared and stared... not the most handsome of cats, it was rather eerie!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Salts Mill from Albert Terrace

Late winter sunshine illuminates one of the most famous views in the World Heritage Site of Saltaire, often seen in magazines and tourist information.  It is also the first view you get if you arrive by train, as the railway station is in a cutting just to the left.  Looking up the cobbled roadway of Albert Terrace, towards Victoria Road, you can see Salts Mill on the left and its large chimney straight ahead.

See here and here for more pictures taken in the same area.

Oh dear, sorry - I failed to remind those with access to BBC TV that the Antiques Roadshow, filmed in Saltaire last year, was shown last night. It is on iPlayer if you want to catch it (the first three minutes of the film are about Saltaire in general and are worth watching - click the arrow on Fiona Bruce's picture!) - and there is a second episode next Sunday evening too.

Sunday, 13 March 2011


A pause to remember all those throughout the world... Japan, Australia, Libya and countless more places... whose lives have been touched by tragedy and violence in the last few days and weeks, and those, like my own dear mum, facing battles of their own.  May you know the peace of the Lord, which passes all understanding.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

The Monkey Puzzle tree

This large Monkey-Puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) is an exotic addition to a small Saltaire garden.  Native to the south-central Andes in South America, the trees nevertheless grow well in northern Europe's temperate climate.  The genus can be traced back 250 million years to the Mesozoic era and its spikey leaves probably developed to fend off grazing dinosaurs. (It seems to have worked well in Saltaire.  I haven't noticed any dinosaurs lately.)

The tree was first brought to Britain in 1795 and was grown as an ornamental specimen tree in botanical gardens, becoming popular with the Victorians.  It is believed to have come by its name when a visitor to a garden in Cornwall remarked that "it would puzzle a monkey to climb that".  This tree in Saltaire, the only one in the village as far as I know, must be quite old and was probably planted quite early in Saltaire's history, in the late 1850s.  It must have had a great deal of novelty value at the time; the trees are still quite a rarity in domestic gardens.  It looks a beautifully healthy specimen.  If the Health and Safety people don't have it felled (as the needles are believed to be 'as sharp as syringes' and therefore a danger to children) then it might last a good few years yet.  Some of the native trees are thought to be 1200 years old!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Riverside walk

There is a pleasant riverside walk along the bank of the River Aire through Bingley.  It's quite a while since I passed this way and I was pleased to see that they have tidied it all up considerably.  The river runs parallel to the town's main street.  Behind the shops and down to the river there is a warren of old houses and commercial premises, which at one time were a bit run down.   Some have recently been converted into apartments and some new apartments built too, all with an attractive aspect onto the river.  Far from spoiling it, it seems to have done a lot to improve the area.  There is still a lovely pathway to walk too, right from the church down in the oldest part of the town up to Myrtle Park, a large open park where the annual Bingley Show is held.

It's a while since I entered James' Weekend Reflections - I think this photo will fit the bill nicely, don't you?  For more interpretations of the popular Reflections theme, please click here.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Purple patch

The next town along the Aire Valley from Saltaire is Bingley - quite an attractive little market town, much improved a few years ago by the building of a by-pass that diverted some of the traffic from the town centre.  I had a wander along the riverbank and through the town square and passed this bank of crocusses, such a cheering sight and a reminder that spring is on the way.  No doubt certain of my readers would have preferred to see more of the pub in the background - The Ferrands Arms, named after one of the local gentry families. (See this post for another mention of the name).  The pub serves 'real ale' and appeals largely to a late-night crowd of youngsters - or so I gather, since I don't frequent the centre of Bingley late at night, as a rule!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Here, there, everywhere...

I passed these narrowboats when I was walking by the Leeds-Liverpool Canal at the weekend enjoying the sunshine.  It's still pretty cold here but there was a promise of spring in the air.   It brought out walkers, joggers, people exercising their dogs - and of course photographers like me.  There is a small marina and boat repair yard a few miles along the canal from Saltaire, and lots of boats moor there for the winter.  On a sunny Sunday, it seemed like quite a few boat-owners had decided it was time to do a bit of preparation for the summer season: cleaning, painting and generally tidying up.

How could I resist taking this picture?  It provides a wonderful introduction to another of my favourite blogs: cieldequimper's Here, There and Everywhere - random pictures.  She's another skilful photographer with a good eye for composition.  Her blog features photos from all over the world, and she also has two more: Versailles Daily Photo and a new one called Artsy Versailles.  You've got to admire someone who can keep three great photo blogs going!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

iPhone art

Images © David Hockney (these were originally available for free download )

David Hockney's latest exhibition in Salt's Mill in Saltaire is called 'Fresh Flowers'.  It shows paintings he has made using his iPhone and iPad.  A series of images - mostly paintings of flowers - are dramatically projected onto three large screens in a darkened gallery, so that the colours are vibrant and you can see the 'brushstrokes' ... made using his thumb and an iPhone app called 'Brushes'.

“After all, this is a medium of pure light, not ink or pigment, if anything more akin to a stained glass window than an illustration on paper.”

They do look very soft-focus, as in this photo, no doubt on account of being enlarged so much from the original iPhone size.  But the colours are wonderful, the paintings deceptively simple and - as with much modern art - you kind of feel that you might be able to create something similar, at the same time realising that really you couldn't!  (I did, however, create a very satisfying impressionistic photo made up of three of the images - only fear of litigation prevents me posting it here!!  The two above are by no means my favourites but they were available to download whereas the others are all copyrighted.)

There's an interesting article by Lawrence Wechsler from The New York Review of Books that explains this new development in Hockney's work.  One of the things I most like about David Hockney is his willingness to experiment and to embrace new technology, and I am always fascinated to hear him talk about his thought processes:

"It [ie: the iPhone] is always there in my pocket, there’s no thrashing about, scrambling for the right color. One can set to work immediately, there’s this wonderful impromptu quality, this freshness, to the activity; and when it’s over, best of all, there’s no mess, no clean-up. You just turn off the machine. Or, even better, you hit Send, and your little cohort of friends around the world gets to experience a similar immediacy. There’s something, finally, very intimate about the whole process."

(The artist David Hockney was born in Bradford, studied at Bradford College of Art and currently lives on the Yorkshire coast at Bridlington.  Salt's Mill in Saltaire holds a large collection of his work.)

Monday, 7 March 2011

Café into the Opera

I wrote recently about Salt's Diner, the main restaurant in Saltaire's Salts Mill, but there is a second rather less well-known restaurant on the third floor,  known as 'Café in to the Opera' (I think because at one time you had to pass through it to get to the exhibition of David Hockney's Opera Sets, which has recently been dismantled).  Its décor is rather theatrical, with a striped awning and bright archway.  It gives it a cosy ambience, which is almost surprising in the vast space of the Mill.  It's also much quieter than Salt's Diner.

Meals are mainly fish-based dishes, but they also do snacks and drinks.  For a review see here.  It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and open from 10am until 4 or 5pm on other days (see the Mill's website for up to date info and menus.)  It sits beside a little florist's shop, which seems equally surprising in the context of the Mill.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Retail therapy

Any visitor to Salts Mill in Saltaire risks leaving a few pounds (£s) lighter of wallet and with a few pounds (lbs) more to carry. (Ask me... even though I visit a few times a month, I rarely leave without a new kitchen gadget, a book or at the very least a couple of greetings cards).  They will give you a paper carrier bag or a plastic one, but now they are selling these durable, reusable calico (unbleached cotton) bags. (And - oh joy! - the handles are long enough to put over your shoulder but not so long that, hand-held, the bag hits on the ground.)

They are made in India by re-wrap, a not-for-profit manufacturing enterprise concerned with social and environmental change, which supports several fair-trade co-operatives.  The company was founded in 2002 by Jangri Triveldi after an earthquake in 2001 devastated the region of Kutch (Gujerat) and left its people struggling.  Re-wrap aims to join the traditional skills of craftspeople with modern designs to make attractive, affordable, ethical products.  Its website is really interesting, and has a couple of touching stories about the people they provide work for.

The bag has an image of Salts Mill screen-printed on both sides, designed by Yorkshire artist Simon Palmer.  Simon's work is quite distinctive, marrying what at first glance look like traditional landscapes with wonderfully surreal imaginative touches.  His pictures always tell a story.  The Mill itself is depicted fairly true to life, with a suggestion of chimneys and village houses in the background and there are lots of birds and people animating the scene.

I don't think Salts Mill sell online, so you would have to visit to buy a bag - but what a great idea. A useful, foldable bag that promotes two very worthwhile enterprises in Yorkshire and in India.  What's not to like? ... as they say!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Cheese & Chutney

'Cheese & Chutney' is a great little delicatessen on Gordon Terrace in Saltaire.  I popped in to buy some blue cheese.  Spoilt for choice, I ended up with some Jervaulx Blue, made in Wensleydale (one of the Yorkshire Dales) to a recipe perfected by French monks who settled in the valley and founded Jervaulx Abbey in the 1100s.  Very delicious it is too - creamy, smooth and mellow.

'Cheese & Chutney', founded by Matthew Coxon about three years ago, was originally called 'Coxon's Kitchen'.  A trademark clash with a TV chef with the same name forced the shop to change its title last year.  The resulting publicity was, I think, no bad thing in the end.  The delicatessen seems to have gone from strength to strength and they seem to have benefited from focusing on cheese and chutney as their two main selling points.  They even supply wedding cakes made of cheese!

It's one of those shops you can happily browse in. You can select from over 40 UK and continental cheeses and 50+ chutneys and also buy artisan breads, cakes (try the wonderful chocolate brownies), olives, antipasti, cured meats, interesting store-cupboard ingredients and cookware.  They make up beautiful gift hampers too.  Matt has recently started supplying gluten-free products to order, sourced from a supplier in Leyburn in Wensleydale.  If you're in the area, I highly recommend you visit the shop, drool (though not over the produce!) and take a bag full of yummy things home with you.

I just happened in when Matt was rewriting his signboard and he happily smiled for the photographer.  I'm counting this as number two in my 'be brave and get people you don't know to pose for a photo' challenge! (The first being the KWVR train-driver last month).  Thanks Matthew!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Perfection revisited

Some of you may remember that a long time ago I posted a picture of what I always think of as "the perfect tree".   It's a type of rowan and has white blossom, followed by red berries and then the leaves turn an attractive red before falling.  But more amazing is that it retains a neat 'storybook tree' shape, without being trimmed or pruned.  I love it, and I like its location with Saltaire's Salts Mill in the background.  Being stripped bare of leaves, winter reveals its inner secrets - not just one bird's nest but three, hidden deep in the branches.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Saltaire Rouge

I like the juxtaposition of the red letter box and the red door here.   Situated at the corner of Albert Road and Caroline Street in Saltaire, this post box is marked EIIR (for Queen Elizabeth).  It's obviously a late addition to the village as these houses were completed in Queen Victoria's reign.  At a meeting of the Saltaire History Club, an elderly gentleman, who has lived in the village for much of his life, told me a tale of how someone once inadvertently left a briefcase beside this postbox.  The police and then the bomb squad were summoned but the briefcase, when investigated, proved to be just a ... briefcase!  Whether true or not, it was a funny story and I can just imagine the excitement.

Another favourite blog - the one that gives rise to my title 'Saltaire Rouge' - is Virginia's blog: 'Paris Through my Lens'.  V shows, daily, wonderful pictures of Paris, its well-known bits and hidden secrets too.  She has a regular slot within it called Paris Rouge. V is a skilled, versatile, consistent photographer and I would rate her photos as some of the best around.  She has a breadth of subject matter, including some great portraits, and her blog keeps my attention, week in, week out.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


This was the lovely sight when I opened the bedroom curtains yesterday morning (at just after 6.30 am - yawn!)  I'm fortunate that my house overlooks a school playground rather than other houses.  There is a veritable tangle of tree branches and a distant view of Shipley, looking almost due east.  The sunrise was quite fiery for a few moments.  That's not usually a good sign ('red sky in the morning' and all that...) but in fact the day turned out to be most pleasant: warm, bright and springlike.  (Pity I was in the office for most of it.)

I was prompted to post this picture as a link to another of my favourite blogs: Vicki Lane Mysteries.  Vicki hails from the Appalachian mountains in western North Carolina in the States.  Her writing (as befits a novelist) is wonderful: thought-provoking, beautifully descriptive, funny, interesting and educational.  She writes about the countryside around her and the farm on which she lives, as well as astute observations on the business of writing itself.  Her photos are lovely and she regularly features the view from her home looking east.  It's a rather more open aspect than mine and she catches some amazing skies - click the label 'Sunrise' and marvel.

I've recently got hold of one of Vicki's novels - 'The Day of Small Things' - and thoroughly enjoyed that too - 'a lyrical, evocative and haunting portrait of life in the Appalachians' as the book jacket puts it.  It was a good mystery, full of suspense and masterful characterisation - one of those books I was reluctant to put down.  In fact I found myself thinking about its characters long after I'd finished the book - always a good sign!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Rone Design

This is the attractive building in Saltaire that yesterday's lighted window came from.  The building, once a house (or two) and now an office, is situated at the junction of Victoria Road and Saltaire Road, opposite the Salts Hospital building.  It is beautifully cared for, kept very smart and the tiny garden is nicely designed too.  It gives a me a little lift of pleasure everytime I pass by - day or night.

I suppose if you are an architectural consultant and interior designer, then you would want your home-base to do justice to your brand. The company, Rone Design, has occupied these premises since 1989.  I don't honestly know much about them but they obviously work in partnership with architects and other professionals on new building projects and renovations, acting as project managers, quantity surveyors and consultants.  Read about them on their website.  It's vital that Saltaire continues to attract and keep businesses, as well as being a residential area.  An architectural consultancy seems to fit neatly within the ethos of Saltaire as a creative, arts-based community.

Thanks to Stacy at 'Microcosm' for your kind words and link to my blog.  I think it's time listed a few more of my favourite blogs, so where better to start than 'Microcosm' -  'a blog that explores the beauty that can exist in restricted circumstances'.  Given that I tend to focus much of the time on a very small patch of the globe here in Saltaire, Stacy and I - for different reasons - share something in common, looking at the detail close round us rather than at the bigger picture.