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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Saltaire Archive

Saltaire's archive of photos, documents and memorabilia is usually opened to the public once a year and this year it's from 1st to 12th August (presumably including the weekend, though the poster doesn't specify.)  It would be well worth a visit if you're in the area.  There is a permanent display in Salts Mill but it shows only a fraction of what is stored.  There are new treasures arriving all the time too.  Our local paper's write-up promises the 1897 diary of one of the village residents.

I like the poster.  The main picture shows the Saltaire boathouse and the pleasure steamer that used to give people short rides on the river.   The school may be Saltaire's factory school or the primary school on Albert Road, then there is the old postcard of Salt's Mill (you can recognise the New Mill's chimney) and finally Sir Titus Salt himself - with a splendid beard!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Heavy horses

Perhaps the highlight of Bingley Show for me was seeing these 'heavy horses' in the show ring.  Also known as shire horses, they were at one time very common in Britain.  In fact one of my great-grandfathers made his living as a blacksmith in Sheffield, shoeing these beasts.  They used to be used for ploughing, logging and as cart horses.  Immensely strong, they were also used to pull barges along our canals. A few breweries still use them to haul the drays used to deliver beer barrels to pubs.  The city of Bradford uses its team of heavy horses to pull a water cart, watering the floral hanging baskets around the shopping centre - and, when they're not working, you can see the horses at the Industrial Museum.

Sadly they are dying out as working horses, overtaken by mechanisation.  (It was recently announced that the Bradford horses are likely to be sold as part of budget cuts, though there has been quite an outcry about that.)  Most of the remaining horses are kept as pets - but at six feet tall at the shoulder, weighing as much as a family car and costing about the same to keep (about £80 a week and a new horseshoe alone can cost £60) they're not the kind of thing you can keep in your backyard.  They are considered to be at risk - there are said to be less than 1500 breeding mares alive today (globally I think that is, not just in the UK) but I gather that numbers have begun to increase again in recent years, thanks to a few specialist breeders here and in the USA.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Are you trying to make me look like an ass?

Meet Warrior and Cheyenne - a much more cuddly pair than their names would suggest.  They were two of about six donkeys providing rides for children at this year's Bingley Show.  It's an English seaside tradition to have donkey rides along the beach.  I can still remember the feel of their warm, rough hair against my shorts-clad legs as a child, and the sound of the bells on their harness.  Sadly, I'm too old for rides now... but I was pleased to see the tradition continued at the Show and there were lots of happy kiddies laying down memories for the future.

[Yes, I know this photo would have been better with a bit of depth of field blur on the cluttered background.  My camera won't do that.... but my new one might!  ;-) ]

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Prize vegetables

It warms my heart to know that there are still people in this land who can be bothered to grow and tend their potatoes, beetroot, onions, carrots or cabbages in the fond hope that they might be able to produce and exhibit three perfect specimens!  This was the horticultural tent at Bingley Show.  A wonderful antidote to the madness of phone hacking, drink and drug-ruined celebs and the mindless violence we've seen on our news screens lately.  (Though who knows what plotting and skulduggery goes on behind the scenes before a local show....)

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Herding geese

You've heard, I'm sure, the idiomatic saying about herding cats... well, here at Bingley Show there were dogs herding geese - and it looked about as difficult as herding cats would be.  It made everyone laugh!

I do love border collies though.  They are the traditional British 'sheepdog', highly intelligent and athletic and, I think, very attractive dogs.  One of my friends once told me she thought if I was a dog I'd be a border collie, as she said they often have one ear cocked.... and, being very hard of hearing, I often tilt my head to one side trying to hear better!  So I think that was her reasoning, rather than the fact that I'm intelligent, athletic (not!), attractive and good at herding cats...!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Bingley Show

Bingley is the next town up the Aire valley from Saltaire and every year it holds a one-day agricultural show  - a surprisingly large event for a small town.  This year was the 131st show.  It is a wonderful mix of traditional and modern, tasteful and tacky.  The focal point has always been the chance for local farmers to show their livestock, and local people to enter handicrafts, flowers and vegetables into the show's 'classes' to be judged.  There are numerous trade stands; it is a place for farmers and local businesses to network.  But it also provides a fun day out for families, with lots to watch in the show arena - from show-jumping to clowns, stunt bikes to sheep-shearing.  There is usually some kind of highlight like sky-diving too.  This year there was to be a fly-past by a Lancaster Bomber from the RAF memorial flight (the same one that flew over London after the Royal Wedding) - though I didn't see that, as I had to leave before the scheduled time.

I never find it easy to get photos; the crowds mean you often can't get close enough to the action and the background is always cluttered, but I keep trying every year to somehow capture the essence of the event.  At least it was a dry and bright day this year.  It traditionally rains on Show day and often the park meadow is a sea of mud!  I was rather taken by these cattle (Herefords, I think).  I'm not sure if it was a family group or the winners in each class - but there was an enormous (though seemingly quite docile) bull, a couple of heifers and a cow with a calf.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Another cream tea!

I couldn't miss the opportunity for another cream tea this weekend!  Some friends of mine opened their garden to raise funds to buy an 'Event Shelter' for our church's young people's groups to use when they go to summer festivals.  (I didn't know what that was.  I'm told it's a kind of gazebo where the group can gather to chat, pray and worship together.)  Coming soon to New Wine - so look out for it, H!  And if you want to know what New Wine is, then keep an eye on H's blog, Little Sealed Packages, in a couple of week's time.

Since it was a lovely day, it wasn't a great hardship to go along to support the cause.  It's a beautiful garden, cleverly laid out to make the most of the very steeply sloping site.  I've posted a photo of it before and it looks just as gorgeous in the summer as in the spring - full of colour and interest.  I'm totally happy to sit in my friends' gardens, chat, enjoy tea and cakes - and listen (in this case) to some live music played by a couple of members of 'Hot Aire'.  No hardship at all.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

A spring of water

Another view of the round pool and statue at Parcevall Hall.  There is a biblical quote etched into the paving stone, from John 4: 'A spring of water welling up to eternal life'.

The full quote is:
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

I have always found time spent at Parcevall, whether a few hours or a few days, has been a refreshing experience for me.  I go back to normal life feeling more grounded, spiritually nourished and with a better perspective on things. I guess we all need to find places we can go to, or activities we can do, that have that effect on us.  What is yours?

Saturday, 23 July 2011


I don't do a lot of macro photography as I have never figured out really how to use my camera's macro function.  I don't think it's anything like as good as a DSLR macro lens would be.  Nevertheless I quite liked this close-up image of a dragonfly and its shadow.  I don't know much about them - from 'googling' the species I think it is some kind of Hawker (Aeshna) but that's as far as I've got.   Any dragonfly experts out there?

Isn't nature amazing though?....so many wonderful varieties of flora and fauna, each exquisite down to the tiniest detail.  I've just been watching part of a David Attenborough programme (he's one of England's 'national treasures'!)  about Madagascar on TV, and wow, the variety of life there is incredible. Such weird and wonderful creatures. You couldn't make it up!  80% of the island's animals and plants are unique to Madagascar. (Not sure if the TV link will be viewable outside UK but you could try.)
I'm shocked at the dreadful scenes in Norway and send my heartfelt condolences to anyone affected by those horrific acts of violence.  My thoughts and prayers too to all of you suffering the extreme heatwave in North America (much as I wish it was a bit warmer here, I don't like it hot - and that heat and humidity must be literally a killer).  Hope you can find ways of staying cool.

Friday, 22 July 2011


There are several ponds and water features around Parcevall Hall gardens, and one had these pretty pink waterlilies -  nymphaea - though I don't know what variety they are.  Such exotic flowers to find in a windswept and remote location.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

What a view!

Parcevall Hall's gardens extend over 24 acres on a steeply sloping site.  Some of the area is orchard and woodland but around the house there are formal terraced gardens, whilst behind is an interesting rock garden, carved out of the limestone bedrock, and a pretty rose garden.  There are magnificent views across to the hill known as Simon's Seat and down towards the valley of the River Wharfe - and happily there are plenty of benches strategically placed to make the most of the scenery.

Originally laid out by Sir William Milner from 1927, the gardens became neglected after his death until a restoration programme was started in the 1980s.  Now back to their former glory, they are carefully managed to provide interest all year round (though the site is remote and can be difficult to access in winter.)  The hall and gardens have been featured in films and on TV and though not attracting hordes of visitors (thankfully it retains a peaceful feel) they are of great interest to garden enthusiasts.

I was pondering John's comment yesterday about my photos having 'balance and serenity'.  I think I do very much seek out those qualities in my lifestyle and environment - and I suppose, by definition therefore, my photos.  Working for a large public sector organisation that, despite its protestations to the contrary, seems hell-bent on demoralising its workforce and making it impossible for us to give the public the good service they deserve - and then coming home to the media stories of greed, corruption and "couldn't care less about others, only seeking to serve myself" in high places... I really need beauty and peace and I find it most easily in nature (though that also has its harsh side).  Today's good news is: my daughter's 20 week scan is fine - and it's a girl.  And my mum's treatment is working as hoped and she is doing well.  Praise God - and thank you for your kind thoughts and comments on both matters.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A little bit of heaven on earth

Up in the Yorkshire Dales, just over the hill from Trollerdale (see yesterday) this lovely old manor house nestles into the hillside.  It's known as Parcevall Hall and was built as a farmhouse in about 1584.  Sensitively extended into a hall over the years, it became the home of Sir William Milner, who bequeathed it on his death in 1960 to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham (an Anglo-Catholic shrine and place of pilgrimage in Norfolk).  Now leased by the Diocese of Bradford (Church of England) it is used as a conference and retreat centre.  I think it's one of the most beautiful places I know.

I have several times stayed here, both on retreat and running several training conferences (in my previous self-employed life).  It's a really peaceful, serene place. The old building is beautiful and full of lovely things.  I once slept in its grand four-poster bed - and some of the cast-iron Victorian baths are nearly big enough to swim in! (Sir William Milner was 6'7" tall so that perhaps explains the size of the baths.) The house is only open to guests but the extensive gardens are open to the public to enjoy.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Here be trolls.....

I had a day out recently up into the beautiful and wild scenery of the Craven area of Yorkshire, in Lower Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  It's less than an hour's drive from Saltaire but the scenery is very different.  This is limestone country - with rocky outcrops, disappearing streams, potholes and caves.  Here is the little valley called Trollerdale that leads up to a narrow limestone gorge called Troller's Gill.  Look carefully and you can see a few walkers and people picnicking.  They need to be watchful...  Legend has it that the valley is populated by trolls who hurl rocks down on unsuspecting travellers.  The ravine is reputedly haunted by the Barghest, the terrifying ghostly black hound of Craven, said to be the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story, 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'.  It's a very beautiful spot but also quite isolated and it does have rather an eerie feel.  I wouldn't choose to walk up there on my own!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Sunday bridge

Looking back to a time when it wasn't raining....sigh!.... this is Barden Bridge - across the River Wharfe up in the Yorkshire Dales.  It's my entry for the Sunday Bridges theme hosted by Louis La Vache.  It amazes me just how many variations there are on the simple idea of a bridge.  After all, they all have the one purpose: to get from one side of an obstacle to another - and yet the ways mankind has dreamed up to do that are myriad.  This is a good solid stone bridge, but it has a narrow roadway - designed I think for the days before cars were common.  It has little niches for pedestrians to step out of the way of vehicles.

Barden Bridge is on the Bolton Abbey Estate, adjacent to the ruin of the sixteenth century hunting lodge known as Barden Tower.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Saturday story

Wet weekends are a pain for a dedicated photo blogger.... two precious days off work and no chance to get out and take photos... The only solution is to try an idea pioneered by my lovely and very creative blogfriend, Betsy, over at 'My Five Men'  and document my day's activities.  I'm sure she won't mind being copied - it's fun to see how other people spend their days.

Click to enlarge

1 Oops, a late start... a Saturday lie-in is a treat (Note special vibrating alarm clock for deaf person assumes person also blind... has numbers 2 inches high)  2 First cup of tea is the best!   3 Yup, it's rainin'   4 Breakfast: Puffed rice, some of 'Betsy's granola' (she's a star, that girl!) and some juice   5 Shower, wash hair, paint toenails   6 Load the washing machine   7 Get the Marigolds on and clean the bathroom   8 Wrap gift for a friend   9 Change bedding; love the way it looks all clean and love even more sliding into clean sheets at bedtime   10 Still rainin'   11 Lunch: homemade mushroom soup, ciabatta with blue cheese and more tea   12 Off to help celebrate a friend's retirement   13 Sneaked a peek inside the church where friend has been vicar for 25 years   14 Wishing you a long & happy retirement, Gordon & Lis   15 Negotiating the Bradford inner ring road (the lovely old building opposite is the Paper Hall, the oldest house in Bradford, built in 1640) - note sudden but short-lived blue sky  16 More traffic lights   17 Supermarket shop on the way home   18 Sit down with a cup of frothy coffee and a chapter of my book  19  Take out trash and check how the garden looks after all that rain   20 Watch tea-time TV News   21 Catch up on the ironing   22 What's for dinner? Chicken curry   23 Old-fashioned washing-up   24 Time for blogging :)

Friday, 15 July 2011


Have you ever 'swished'?  Well, neither had I until the other night but I tried it and it was fun!  According to the fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, 'Swishing' refers to swapping an item of clothing, shoes or an accessory with friends or acquaintances.  I'd not heard of it before, but some of the young women at our church, St Peter's in Shipley, decided to hold a 'swishing' party to raise funds for our youth work. (We employ a full-time youth worker and run holiday clubs, community events and regular youth club nights, all paid for by our congregation.)

The idea was that you took along some clothes that 'you would be proud to hand on to someone else' (ie: not your oldest tat!) and something to drink, plus a monetary donation if you wished.  All the clothes were displayed and for the first hour you were free to browse and try things on.  After an hour, the Swish was declared 'open', at which point you could claim the item or items you had set your sights on... provided no-one else had the same idea.  I was very fortunate to gain a lovely easy-fitting cotton twill jacket in a soft sage green (see inset pic), which is as comfortable as a second skin.  From The Earth Collection, it's ethically made too, so I can feel doubly happy.  I managed to offload a pair of rather nice taupe shoes which I'd worn twice and which pinched unbearably (bad shopping error), and a silk chiffon skirt that I wore to my daughter's graduation but that I have quite simply grown too fat for.  (Middle-aged spread!)  It's kind of heart-warming to know your well-loved things have gone to good homes.

Thursday, 14 July 2011


More garden treasures: this time a collection of stone jars, jugs and shells tastefully arranged on a little table under a willow tree.  This too was one of the 'Open Gardens' though it happens to belong to a friend of mine.  I may not be a gardener myself, but some of my best friends are!

I played around with this photo, following the 'recipe' given in a camera magazine.  I subscribe to a couple of magazines and wish I had time to experiment a bit more with their suggestions (as well as all the tutorials on the internet) as there are some good ideas within them.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Bird spa - and a stone face

No apologies for having a garden-themed week this week...  Nab Wood's 'Open Gardens' were so beautiful and deserve a wider audience.   This is another of the terraces in the garden I featured yesterday.  The owner showed me some photographs of how the garden looked when they bought the house - and it was literally bare earth and rubbish.  To have turned it into this little oasis in (I think he said) 11 years is nothing short of a miracle.

One of the interesting games you can play when looking round the open gardens is to spot the half-hidden, quirky little treasures that people have placed.  Here, the bird bath takes centre-stage and I'll bet the birds love to splash in it.... but can you see the stone face in the corner of the border, a bit like one of the Easter Island statues?

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Herbaceous border

All those keen gardeners out there will correct me if I'm wrong but I think this is what we in England call an 'herbaceous border' (and in North America, a perennial border?)  Whatever, I thought it looked magnificent, even in the small space of this back garden.  One of my favourite gardens from this year's 'Open Gardens', it was a steeply sloping site cleverly arranged into three level terraces.  Each little 'room' was delightful.

Monday, 11 July 2011

The beauty of a rose...

....needs no explanation.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

An English garden

Every year in the Saltaire/Nab Wood area there is a weekend when a number of local families open their gardens to the public, to raise money for The Children's Society charity.  There are usually about 12 gardens in the scheme, all within an area of about a square mile, so it's easy to plan a delightful walk that takes in several in an afternoon.  The weather was warm and damp but the occasional rain showers didn't curb my enthusiasm.  I'm not a keen gardener but I do like looking at other people's efforts! And, with careful planning, I managed to arrive at one that was serving cream teas (scones, strawberries and cream, with a cup of tea) at just the time when I needed a brief sit-down and a drink.

The gardens vary in size but most are quite modest, belonging to the detached and semi-detached houses that make up the Nab Wood area.  Nevertheless, it is wonderful what keen gardeners are able to do with quite small plots.  In the one in this photo, they were growing fruit and vegetables happily alongside the very pretty flower borders.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Hunkering down..


Just as parents-to-be need to do a lot of preparing and 'nesting' in the months leading up to the birth, so (it seems) do grannies-to-be ... or is it only me?  I find myself looking with new interest at babies in general and noticing shops that sell baby things and adverts for 'nearly-new' sales that I've never taken any interest in before. I know it's no good indulging my yearning for little baby clothes - my daughter tends to be rather particular about things and I doubt my taste would concur with hers.  But I did have a good idea (I think) to start a collection of books, to keep at my house, that might provide some amusement for my precious grandchild in years to come: books I loved as a child, books my daughter loved and selected modern children's classics.  However reliant we all are on computers and electronic gadgets, I still think there's a place for books in the life of a child.  And even if (horror) my own grandchild(ren) turn out to be book-averse, as some are, it will serve to amuse me!  (I don't know why I don't have any left over from the early days but I don't.  Obviously too ruthless in my decluttering in times past.)

I even found a lovely place to start a wish-list: http://www.librarything.com - where you can search for titles, start your own lists and link in to reviews and sellers too.  A lot of fun.  Needless to say, all suggestions for additions to my list will be gratefully received and enjoyed.

This photo has very little to do with all that!  But I decided to post it simply because I like it.  It fits well with the Weekend Reflections theme and if you like reflections in all guises, then do have a look at the other entries this week - here.  This attractive spot is a few miles along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal in Riddlesden.   It would be a gorgeous place to hunker down for the afternoon with a drink and a book - though perhaps not the best place to settle with a toddler in tow!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Working on the water

This is something you'd never get me doing!  I can't stand climbing ladders and I especially couldn't stand being on a ladder with its feet in the canal!  It looks like these are painters with quite a demanding task ahead of them - though the canal isn't very deep really.  I featured this lovely little window before on this blog.  It's an office, with a very attractive outlook onto the canal.  I don't think I'd get much work done if my desk was there.  It's right beside the overnight moorings for boats at Salts Wharf and there are usually a couple of narrowboats tied up.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Waiting for a train

To me, there is something vaguely exciting, unsettling and romantic about places of transit: airports and railway stations in particular.  Saltaire station looks especially romantic right now - the little waiting shelter is covered over with a mass of the palest pink roses.  I have no idea what variety they are... some sort of climbing rose with very dense, small petalled rosettes of flowers, and very pretty.

The station itself used to be a lot more attractive than it is now (see here for an old photo).  The railway pre-existed Saltaire (and was one of the reasons Titus Salt chose this site for his mill) and the  station opened in 1856.  It was closed by government cuts in 1965 but thankfully reopened again in 1984.  It is now a busy commuter line with links to Leeds and Bradford; both cities can be accessed in less than 20 minutes. Having a station so near at hand is great - Leeds is a very good shopping centre and both Leeds and Bradford have some excellent theatres and other cultural venues.  As you can imagine, when my daughter was in her teens the bonus of being near the station meant I didn't have to worry about transport when she went off on (frequent) nights out with her friends.

The building behind the station is the old Saltaire Dining Hall, which used to provide meals for the mill workers and is now part of Shipley College. Beyond that you can see the top of the New Mill's chimney.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Evening's shadows

I walked home the long way round after the evening service at church on Sunday.  The day had been sunny and warm and the evening was delightful with its golden light and long shadows.  In many ways it's the best time in Saltaire, when all the crowds of visitors have gone home and the village settles down quietly for the night.  Meandering along Albert Terrace, negotiating the uneven stone setts ( I had high-ish heels on, not a good idea on that road!) it struck me how leafy this part of Saltaire looks in summer.  Maybe the trees have grown a bit since the 1850s... nevertheless, I fancied I saw a Victorian crinoline swishing round one of the corners....

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Sunday praise

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while will have become familiar with the square mile of northern England that is the World Heritage Site of Saltaire.  I have covered most aspects over the two years I've been blogging, so I can't show you much that is new.  You've seen this bandstand in Roberts Park before - not the original Victorian one, which was demolished years ago, but the new one that was introduced when the park was refurbished in 2010.

What you won't have seen before is this choir:  it's the choir and music group from my church, St Peter's in Shipley, who filled the regular 'Sunday Concert in the Park' slot this afternoon, along with a local band called 'Hot Aire'.  It's been a glorious day, bright sunshine and pleasantly warm, so the park was full of people strolling and sitting.  I think most enjoyed the music, which was a mixture of traditional hymns and modern worship songs.  I'm sure Sir Titus Salt, staunch Christian that he was, would have been delighted to hear godly praise in his park on a Sunday afternoon.  Well done, St Peter's folk!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Happy days

Well, hello.... I think it's time to start blogging again after my short break.  I've had some busy, happy days:

❀ celebrated two birthdays - mine and my mum's.  No big fuss, but some laid-back celebrations with friends.  You may recall me saying my mum has not been well for several months.  I'm pleased to report she is responding well to treatment and I'm not nearly as worried about her as I was a while ago.

❀ did some necessary chores in the house and garden... I have herbs! I'm really pleased. As I've said before, I don't have a green finger on me, so anything that grows in my tiny patch is a bonus.  I just need to remember to water it as we are having some very dry weather again.

❀ ate lots - strawberries (and cream sometimes) and rather too many M&S Rocky Road mini-bites, a delicious confection of marshmallow, raisins, crunchy biscuit pieces and chocolate. Only 50 calories apiece.  If only I could just eat one...

❀ watched some tennis.  I've loved Wimbledon since I was a schoolkid, when for one glorious fortnight a year we were allowed to watch TV in our PE lessons, instead of doing unspeakably awful things running around with balls outside. (Hockey, tennis, no matter - I was terrible at everything and hated PE with a vengeance!)

❀ spent an exhausting but fulfilling few days in London, helping my daughter and son-in-law to move to a new flat - their first purchase after renting for several years.  They're thrilled and it was a pleasure to be able to lend a hand.  I packed a van-load of boxes and gave the new flat a good clean before all their stuff arrived.  As J now carries a neat little baby-bump, I was keen to spare her the effort of scrubbing floors and washing tiles down.  Pity it was the hottest few days in London since 1996... Phew!
There were a few teething problems - one involving 'the washing machine of doom' as my daughter termed it, which had been left behind by the previous owners.  It flooded the kitchen with stinky black water, which then proceeded to drip through the ceiling of the flat below - not a good intro to your new neighbours!  However, thanks to fervent prayer, a charming plumber and some very good-natured removal men, the problem was solved satisfactorily.

Now life is resuming its more usual rhythm and I hope to be able to get back to taking photos and posting blogs.  I have changed the blog name, mainly so I can escape the pressure of daily posts, which was becoming a bit too demanding.  I don't think you'll see much significant change but I am giving myself a wider scope than 'Saltaire Daily Photo' allowed.