I HAVE CLOSED DOWN THIS BLOG. Please click the photo above to be REDIRECTED TO MY NEW (continuation) BLOG.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011


I'm in the process of 'tweaking' this blog a bit.  Normal service will be resumed shortly!

If you want photos, have a look at my other blog: 'Seeking the Quiet Eye', where I have posted some from my recent holiday in the Lake District.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Reflections... in more ways than one

This is a repost of a picture I posted way back near the beginning of this blog - but I still like it.  It shows Salts Mill on the left and the New Mill on the right, from the towpath of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, which cuts between the two.  It's one of the iconic views of Saltaire; similar photos appear in most magazine articles about the village.  But it's atypical because there was no wind and the reflections were mirror-like.  This corridor acts like a wind-tunnel, channelling the prevailing westerlies.  Sir Titus Salt placed the mills on this side of the village of Saltaire so that the smoke from the chimneys would be blown away from the houses.  In the distance you can see the sole remaining green, covered walkway that connects the two mill buildings.  At one time there were three bridges.

It's a good photo for Weekend Reflections this week.  For more entries please click this link.

I'm choosing a 'blast from my past' as today marks the second anniversary of starting this blog.  I only meant to do it for a year.... but then it turned out to be so much fun, not least because of the wonderful fellowship of fellow bloggers.  Many, many thanks for all the lovely encouraging comments you've left over those two years.  I'm going to carry on blogging but I'm considering a slight tweak to the blog.  To be honest, the daily format is proving a bit of a constraint as lately I seem to have more demands on my time. And that will (happily) get 'worse' rather than better in the future... my first grandchild is expected in December this year.  I'm thrilled to bits, of course!

I'm going to take a short break, to relax, reflect and regroup - and celebrate another birthday next week too.  I'll be back soon. Don't go away!  (In the meantime I might put some photos on my other blog. 'Seeking the Quiet Eye' so keep a look-out there.)

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Mr & Mrs Swan and family

Well, I won't be beaten!  Having complained the other day that swans won't 'pose' for me, I managed to catch quite an attractive grouping of Saltaire's adult pair with their two surviving cygnets.  To add to the fun, the adults had their wings up in that elusive posture they sometimes adopt, enjoying - I imagine - the warm sunshine on their backs.  I say 'elusive' because in my experience they immediately retract when they spot a camera (or maybe just MY camera!)  In this case they hadn't seen me because I was hiding on the bridge above - ha!  And although there is a bit of shadow on two of the birds' heads, I managed on the whole not to blow-out the highlights on their feathers.  I'll give this one 7 out of 10, which is a big advance on previous attempts!

I was interested in Dianne's comment on my previous swan post that she only sees Black swans in Adelaide.   Black swans are only seen here in collections or as escapes.  The swans above are our native Mute swans.  We also see Whooper swans and Bewick's swans but only overwintering in our estuaries and wetlands; they don't breed here.  I have loved these amazing birds ever since I saw the amazing spectacle of hundreds of Whooper swans flying in at dusk, at one of our bird reserves in Cambridgeshire - moving, beautiful and reminiscent of a ballet; one of those lifetime 'must-see' experiences, in my opinion.  So strong yet so graceful, swans often mate for life and are celebrated in folklore and myths.  But at one time they were bred here for food and were so valued that they were marked by their owners.  All unmarked birds were considered to be the property of the Crown.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


This is not one of the best photos I've ever taken, but I'm posting it because of a little happy accident.  I took a short walk last Sunday morning (taking advantage of the early sunshine before it rained) and noticed this narrowboat moored opposite Saltaire's church.  It's fairly usual to see some boats fastened up there but I noticed this one particularly because it was newly painted and smarter than average.  There didn't seem to be anyone on board - or maybe they were having a Sunday morning lie-in.  Anyway, I didn't really take much more notice and discarded the photo later as being a bit below my quality standard for the blog. (It's a tricky location, as it's heavily shaded by the trees.)

I subscribe to 'Google Alerts' for Saltaire and some time later an alert popped up indicating a blog entry mentioning Saltaire.  To my delight, the blog - Narrowboat Tacet - is about this very boat and has a post about their journey through Saltaire.  So we'll say hello to Ian and Karen (and Jumble the dog).  They're rather bravely having a 'grown-up gap year' adventure, living on their narrowboat and exploring the inland waterways of Britain - and blogging along the way.  I've a secret yearning to do the same really, so I can only envy them, and I'll be following their exploits with interest from now on.  I wish them all the best and hope it's lots of fun.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Growing your own

Part of the original plan for Titus Salt's model village of Saltaire included areas of allotment gardens, because the houses have no gardens to speak of.  'Growing your own' vegetables never went totally out of fashion but in recent times it's enjoying a huge resurgence in this country - thanks in part to the recession but also to its popularisation by TV chefs like Jamie Oliver and Nigel Slater.  I was struck by how neat this allotment is.  Rows of potatoes, beans and onions appear to be growing vigorously despite the dry spring we had.  (I must point out that it's not mine....  I haven't a green finger on my body and all my veg comes in plastic bags from the supermarket!)

Monday, 13 June 2011

The yellow rose of.....

No, not Texas; this yellow rose is in Saltaire, blooming in the allotment gardens in front of Salts Mill and offering a pretty foreground and a good contrast to the regular lines and industrial grandeur of the Mill.  As I walked past, its fragrance was noticeable - the scent of roses is one of my favourites.  (I'm hooked on 'Stella' perfume at the moment because it smells of roses.)

Incidentally, for years I thought the song 'The Yellow Rose of Texas' was about yellow rows of taxis - and that was even before I went deaf!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Brick and rust

Not everything in Saltaire is well-preserved.  A half a mile or so along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal there is an old canal-side warehouse, built of brick (unusually for this area; most buildings are stone).  It has been empty for years and is gradually being reclaimed by nature - plants, birds, rain and frost.  I think it's kind of beautiful in its own way... mellowed.  The other day I noticed this old barge temporarily resting alongside and I was attracted by the harmony of colours.  I've seen the barge at various points up and down the canal.  It belongs to British Waterways and is presumably used from time to time for some kind of 'dirty' job - maybe fishing old supermarket trolleys out of the canal?  There's not a lot to spoil on it, but its rust is not unpleasant for those with eyes to see.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Water splash?

Somewhat surprisingly, this image was taken very close to Saltaire, just across the river.  Close by but out of shot to the right is a housing estate.  Perhaps there is a small clue to its urban setting in the photo... do you see the blue rope hanging from the tree?  It seems that childen still enjoy hanging on to a rope and leaping a stream - no doubt many of them go home with wet clothes, but happy!

Friday, 10 June 2011


I'm still trying to take a picture of a swan that I consider successful.  They won't 'pose' for me at all!  I thought this was really unusual though.  Taken on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal alongside the industrial units at the back of Salts Mill in Saltaire, the foliage and lines of the buildings make this very jazzy reflection.

It is one of last year's cygnets - its brown feathers have almost disappeared.  Two of the 2010 brood of seven or eight survived to adulthood and are still hanging around Saltaire.  I am happy to report that I saw its parents with two 2011 babies the other day.  This year, the Canada geese have reared seven goslings to quite a respectable size, which seems a considerable achievement.  There are so many hazards and predators, not least the sizeable local cat population.

I'm entering Weekend Reflections again this week - click the link to see the other entries, hosted by James at Newtown Area Photo.
I've also started to put some more photos of my recent Lake District holiday on my other blog.

Thursday, 9 June 2011


As regular readers of my blog will know, the Belwarp lion (yesterday) isn't the only beast to grace Saltaire.  There are four splendid stone lions guarding the centre of the village, outside the Victoria Hall and what were the Factory Schools (now part of Shipley College).  This lovely chap is called 'Determination', though its name on the sandstone plinth has almost worn away.  I always think it fitting that 'Determination' should be at the entrance to the school.  In the late 1800s, those small children who first came here to be educated, after a long shift working in the mill, must have needed every ounce of determination to survive their harsh life.  Perhaps today's students, in their own ways, need to show equal determination to progress in their studies.  Many will be sitting examinations at the moment. I'm so glad that's not me!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Salt's Belwarp

Salts Mill used to be a thriving textile mill, from 1853 when it opened right through to 1986 when closed down.  During that time it had various owners and the company had various names but the Belwarp logo, with its lion and bell, was used for much of the time.  It is immortalised in the fabric of the building, carved in stone on the south face, above what is now the All Terrain Cycles shop.

Belwarp Serges were advertised as being "guaranteed in fast colour and unshrinkable to a greater degree than any other serges on the market. In England and on the Continent these serges are preferred before all others.  No lady's wardrobe is complete without a 'Belwarp' serge dress."  Serge is a high-quality woollen twill cloth.  The heaviest versions were used for military uniforms.  There is a poster advertised for sale on Amazon, from a newspaper of 1890, which shows the Belwarp lion advertising Belwarp serge made by John Maddocks & Co.  John Maddocks was one of the businessmen who took over Sir Titus Salt, Baronet, Sons & Company Ltd when it went into receivership in 1892, so it's possible that the lion logo came along at that time.  I don't know for sure.  I've also found a snippet in the Sydney Morning Herald 1903 which speaks of a Sydney tailor, Mr D T Grant, using Belwarp serges so it sounds like they were exported right across the world.

I took the photo of the poster above at a Christmas event in the Victoria Hall (which explains the bells!).  It is part of the Saltaire Archive held by Shipley College and I believe this advert dates from the 1950s.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Detail of Saltaire's Victoria Hall

(Click picture to view detail)

A close-up view of Saltaire's Italianate Victoria Hall and its tower.  You can see the elaborate Corinthian columns and all manner of carved faces and detailing.  It seems no expense was spared on what was one of the centrepieces of Sir Titus Salt's model village - the Saltaire Club and Institute.  Completed in 1871, it provided leisure and learning facilities for Saltaire's residents and the workers at Salt's Mill.  For more information and views of this magnificent building, please see here or click the Victoria Hall label below.

There are community events, concerts and fairs most weekends in the Victoria Hall.  I've been asked to mention one coming up soon: the Rawfest Natural Living Festival, 'Yorkshire's finest natural, organic and raw fair'.  It's on Sunday 3 July from 10.00am - 4.30pm.  Sounds good: lots of stalls of food & drinks, natural beauty products, natural cleaning products, organic gardening and some children's activities.  I think many of us are keen to avoid nasty chemicals and artificial ingredients; this is a chance to learn more and to sample some products.  Click the link for more info.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Zumba Party in the Park

Such a joyful scene in Roberts Park, Saltaire on Sunday when lots of young women got together for a 'Zumba Party in the Park' to raise money for The Haven in Leeds, an organisation that provides support and counselling for women with breast cancer.

The mass zumba workout was organised by the proprietor of Shipley dance school 'The DM Academy', Deana Morgan, who was herself diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006.  (Zumba, for those who don't know, is the latest fitness craze, fusing dance moves with Latin rhythms. "Ditch the workout, join the party!")

I must say it looked like lots of fun.  There was a great atmosphere in Roberts Park, enlivened still further by the arrival of the local Shipley fire crew! (Who could blame them for coming along to lend support..?)

(Click on photos to view them bigger.)

Sunday, 5 June 2011

I is for Information

The Tourist Information Centre in Saltaire closed in 2007.  It was privately run by Roger and Anne Heald from their thriving little Gift Shop at 2 Victoria Road (where Magic Number 3 is now) and was a really friendly and homely place, offering a warm welcome to visitors from near and far.  When they retired, the business closed down and since then there has been no central place in Saltaire where visitors could get help or information about the village and its history... a sad state of affairs for what is now a World Heritage Site.  There has been talk for a while of Bradford Council opening a Visitor Information Centre in the village and on my evening walk the other day I noticed this big blue  'i'...... so it looks like it's happened, hurrah!  The Centre is housed in what used to be Sir Titus Salt's private quarters in Salts Mill, at the bottom of Victoria Road; rather appropriate I think.  I will make sure I go and visit it soon, and report back further!

(BTW you can see yesterday's window up there - but the sun was fading fast.)

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Liquid gold

I'm desperate to replenish my stock of photos to post on my blog - running really low since I've been otherwise occupied.  I set out at 'the golden hour' to see what there was to see in Saltaire... but, before I'd got very far, the sun had slid behind a bank of clouds and that was that!  I did, however, catch this window in Salts Mill reflecting the golden stone, made warm in the evening light.  The original old Victorian glass is so flawed that it looks more like a reflection in water than glass.  This was a window in Sir Titus Salt's former office annexe.  He must have had a romantic and rather soft-focussed view of his creation through that window!

This is my contribution to Weekend Reflections - click here to see thumbnail pics of the other entries; there are always some great images.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Sky food

I'm joining in Skywatch Friday this week - click here for more glorious global skies

Between Saltaire village and the nearest small town centre of Shipley, a distance of less than a mile (1.6 km) is a stretch of what I can only call 'urban corridor'.  It's a fairly nondescript hotchpotch of blocks of flats, offices, small industrial units, a garage and a few pubs, shops and restaurants.  Nothing special, not especially smart, just the kind of scene repeated in our towns the length and breadth of England.  However, because the main road running through is quite wide, somehow what I always notice here is the sky.  The other morning, as I walked to work, it was full of promise of the sunny day to come; something to feast on to sustain me through another day spent indoors.

'The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.'  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Not much of a view from inside...

This shot just about sums up my weekend as far as my reporting on the rest of the Saltaire Arts Trail went!  For much of the time I was inside, busy chatting to people and keeping an eye on our exhibition at St Peter's.  I did try and find time to venture out - but everytime I went out it rained and it was so dark and grey that none of the photos I took came out well.  Furthermore, the Open Houses in Saltaire (which, being Saltaire houses, are mostly quite small inside) were so popular that they were packed with folk.  Even when you managed to get inside you could barely see the exhibits for bodies!  That seemed to be my experience anyway.

This was the view through the window at Number 19 and as far as I can remember, the exhibits here were quite nice.... I think one was a teatowel that said "I must not hang my washing in the street", which was reputedly one of the rules that Sir Titus Salt insisted upon. (The Rules are actually believed to be mythical.) 

Martin at 'Bradford, my town' has a much better series of photos and reports than I.  Check his out, several days starting from the link I've given.  I even missed another photography exhibition in Salts Mill roof space - didn't even know that was on!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Our exhibition

So much hard work involved in mounting an exhibition! But I think it was worth it... The exhibition, entitled "Yorkshire - God's Own County" was part of this year's Saltaire Arts Trail.  We showed about 100 photographs (of Yorkshire of course) and an AV sequence, all taken by members of St Peter's Church Photography Group, of which I'm a member.  The church is a lovely space to show an exhibition like that, and I was really delighted with the way it looked.  We had a steady stream of visitors throughout the three days, even though the church is uphill out of Saltaire and thus a bit of a walk.  We received some very encouraging comments, especially pleasing since most of us have not exhibited our photos before.  We range from beginners with fairly basic compact cameras to more experienced DSLR users but none of us think of ourselves as 'pros'.  It's amazing how good an image can look when enlarged, well-printed and nicely mounted.  Well done everybody!

Just leave it a week or two before you suggest to me that we do another exhibition though.....!