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Monday, 31 October 2011

Serene green

I've mentioned before that there is a lovely walk from Skipton town centre, up along the Springs (or Thanet) Canal, behind the castle and up into Skipton woods.  It was especially nice to walk there in the dappled shade on what was quite a hot day.  The branch canal, built to load limestone from local quarries to take down to the cities of Leeds and Bradford, is only half a mile long.  Beyond that the walk passes between a natural stream known as Eller Beck and a channel that carries water from a mill pond (just visible in the background of my photo), which I think used to power a sawmill and corn mill near Skipton Castle.  The woods are alive with birds.  I once saw a kingfisher up here - but sadly it wasn't apparent on this recent walk.

Of course, the leaves will now be looking much more golden and autumnal - but let's enjoy that brief 'Indian summer' (only a month ago) while we can!

Sunday, 30 October 2011


I could spend all day watching the reflections on the canal, especially when there are a few narrowboats bringing some good colour.  I spotted this pattern alongside the moorings in Skipton.  The red blobs were moving mesmerisingly from right to left in a continuous stream, like some kind of lava lamp on speed.  I only had my small camera with me so it was tricky - with the shutter-lag - to catch the pattern.  This was the best of four or five efforts.  It said 'rock and roll' to me (though you'll have to imagine the rolling effect of the water).

Saturday, 29 October 2011


As I'm sure you'll understand, I haven't had much time or inclination for taking photos in the last couple of weeks, so I'm falling back on a short series I took a few weeks ago, during that brief "Indian summer" we had.  I took a trip up the valley to the little market town of Skipton.  The place was full of people (mainly retirees) enjoying the sunshine - and what better way to do that than a trip on a boat up the canal and back.  These people were just disembarking and there was a queue of folks waiting to replace them.  I think the late summer weather must have been a wonderful bonus for those who make their living from tourism.

The canal basin is always a busy, colourful spot.  The old canalside buildings have been successfully adapted into shops and restaurants.  They have retained some of the original features, like the big wooden hoists that at one time were used to winch cargo from the holds of the canal barges.

For more photos of Skipton please click the label below.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The times they are a-changin...

'Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.'  Albert Camus

I haven't had much time or space to look out at the world this last week, but it seems suddenly to be fully autumn here.  The sun makes everything shine gold.  Autumn can seem like a time of endings, of harvest, with a sense of 'drawing in' - and there is a lot of cosy pleasure in that.  But for me it has always felt like a time of new beginnings too.  Maybe that has its origins in it being the start of a new school year - new teachers, new classes, new books. I used to love getting new exercise books with their clean, blank pages.  It's a long time since I was in school (!) but that promise of potential has never gone away.  This year of course - and suddenly - I have real potential to enjoy in my tiny granddaughter's new life.

I am happy to report that my daughter has been allowed home, though now she has a long commute to the hospital every day which will be tiring for her.   The baby seems to be thriving, snuggled in her incubator; each day brings a small step of progress.  I am just so thankful - and especially so when I heard tonight on the news about the two-week old baby, her mum and grandma pulled from the wreckage of their home days after the Turkish earthquake.  My heart goes out to them.

I've used this photo on my blog before but it's one of my favourites for this season.  I took it in my local woods, Hirst Woods.  So sorry that I haven't been visiting or commenting on your blogs lately.  I will catch up one day, I'm sure.

Friday, 21 October 2011


As Margaret Thatcher so famously reported some years ago: "We are a grandmother"! 

Elodie Grace was born by Caesarian section on Tuesday 18 October at about 4pm.  After my visit last Sunday, my daughter became increasingly unwell and it was clear by Tuesday that they would have to deliver the baby quickly.  I got on a train for the 3+ hours trip and arrived at the hospital just about the same time as my granddaughter was delivered.  She is almost 8 weeks early, weighs only about 3lb (1.4 kilos) but is breathing unaided and seems healthy.  My daughter's blood pressure is still not stabilised but she is improving and she has been taken in a wheelchair to visit Elodie several times now.

I stayed with them all until Thursday evening and then felt confident that I could safely leave them; they are in good hands.  The hospital staff have been fantastic and my son-in-law has been amazing (as indeed has my daughter herself).

I hope to go down again when my daughter is discharged from the hospital.  I imagine the baby will have to stay in for a few weeks, until she gets a bit bigger.  Because of infection control measures, only the parents themselves are allowed into the Special Baby Care Unit so I will have to be content with photos for now. (This one was taken by my son in law.)  But isn't she beautiful?

It has been a worrying few days.  I am thankful for her safe delivery and pray that both my lovely girls continue to recover well and my son-in-law finds the strength and energy he needs to support them both.

Many thanks for all your encouraging comments.  Premature babies are by no means uncommon and it is so heartening to read that others have gone through similar things and thrived.  I won't be giving too many updates on my blog as it isn't really a personal journal, but I imagine that some snippets of grandmotherhood will find their way onto here!  It will be quite an adventure....

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Look up ...

As a founder member of the Victorian Society, the poet Sir John Betjeman ought to be happy to be on the Saltaire blog!  The statue, as I'm sure you know, is not in Saltaire, but proudly stands in London's St Pancras International Station, which in the past he lobbied to save.  It's a sculpture by Martin Jennings and I love it.  It has such a sense of presence, life and lightness even though it's cast in bronze.

I have to confess I don't know many Betjeman quotes and none that seemed apt here.  But the way he's looking up reminds me of a little prayer card I have that simply says: "Look up when you're feeling down".  Wise words.

Monday, 17 October 2011


Made an unscheduled day-trip to London on Sunday.... There are signs that the city is anticipating the Olympics in 2012.  The Olympic rings hand proudly in St Pancras Station, ready to welcome our European visitors as they disembark from the Eurostar train.  I tried every which way to get the clock properly in the red circle but there's a wide stairwell in the way and I couldn't get any higher or further to the left so this is my best effort!

My daughter, whose baby was due in early December, is unfortunately in hospital at the moment, with some complications.  Hence the flying visit, to lend moral support.  She is not feeling particularly unwell, but they are carefully monitoring the baby's progress and it looks very much like she may have to have an early Caesarean delivery, perhaps as soon as next week.   We are all inevitably a bit anxious, but the sense of anticipation is growing....  I'm sad that she is being cheated of those last few weeks of preparation, both physical and emotional, and we won't have our planned shopping trip together to buy baby things, at least not this side of the birth.  But all that matters is that she and the baby stay safe and healthy.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Book Barge

Two things to intrigue me in Saltaire on Friday... the old car I showed yesterday and this narrowboat.  The ice-cream boat has disappeared from its mooring on the canal.  I suppose the weather is getting a bit too autumnal for anyone to want ice-cream.  Last winter it remained moored there but was vandalised, so perhaps they have decided not to risk that this winter.  Anyway, in its place was The Book Barge, doing exactly what that suggests - selling books.  And - isn't Google marvellous? - I have found out all about it here.  If you read their blog here you'll discover they had quite an adventure on the way to Saltaire.  Unfortunately I didn't have time to hang round in Saltaire on Friday to chat to them - but if the barge stays around for a few days, I'll see what I can do.  Meantime, we can enjoy the thought of people doing innovative things on boats - hooray! - and also make the most of the lovely autumn colours in Roberts Park, all golden in the evening sunshine.

Friday, 14 October 2011

A quick snap!

As it was such a pleasant sunny evening when I left work (a welcome change from the incessant drizzle we've had for days) I walked the long way home tonight, along the canal and up Victoria Road.  I was just in time to see this lovely old car, doing a U-turn outside Salts Mill.  I had my compact camera in my bag so I snatched it out and caught this very quick snap.  I have no idea what kind of car it was - it was round and off almost before I had registered it properly.  I did note that it was a left-hand drive model, unusual in this country.  But isn't it gorgeous in that cream and red livery?  Somehow, it looked entirely at home, there on the cobbles in front of the old mill buildings.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Fund raiser

When I joined St Peter's Church in Shipley, quite a few years ago now, I had not expected the upturn in my social life that quickly followed!  There's always something going on: regular meetings of all sorts (including the Photography Group that I belong to) and numerous one-off events.  One of my friends recently offered to get me a ticket for a charity fund-raising evening.... another Vintage Fashion Show.  The next thing I knew, I had been persuaded into being a model for the event. (They obviously needed some vintage models to go with the clothes....)

Last night was a 'trying-on' session - rather fun, sorting through piles of clothes to see what would fit and look 'cat-walk appropriate'.  I have ended up with five different outfits, so I will have to manage some quick changes.  I have to say that vintage is not something I generally buy (apart from the items I own that have become vintage!) but it is interesting trying shapes and colours you perhaps wouldn't normally be drawn to.   All I need to do now is practise that model walk!

The show is this Saturday 15 October at 7pm and it's in a good cause, raising funds for The Zephaniah Trust, a local Christian organisation working with children, mainly within Bradford's schools, using creative means to communicate the love of God in simple but effective ways.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Saltaire's Winter Bandstand

Throughout the summer, there is a regular programme of music on Sunday afternoons in the bandstand in Roberts Park - an  electic mix of big and small bands, choirs, jazz, folk...  It's very pleasant to laze and listen.  This year, the Caroline Street Social Club has arranged to continue the music throughout the winter.  Every second Sunday of the month, the Club is hosting a free concert from 2-4pm.  The first was this last Sunday, so I went along just to see what it was like ... and I was very glad I did.  The bar is open, so you can enjoy anything from Saltaire Blonde through diet Coke (me) to tea or coffee (at very reasonable prices).  The audience was small but appreciative and the atmosphere very genuine and friendly.

The performers this time were four young jazz musicians from the Leeds College of Music: Ben Powling - sax, George Birkett - guitar/leader, Sam Dutton-Taylor - bass and Finn Booth - drums.  Now, to be honest, I don't know that much about jazz but I did enjoy the concert.  It was obvious that they were individually very talented and I enjoyed watching the way they they worked together, very sensitive and responsive to each other and to their music.  I do love watching people engaged in doing what they love.  And I liked the way that jazz can be enjoyed as a kind of wave flowing over and through you or in a more focussed way, concentrating and watching.   I took along the Sunday paper, got myself a drink from the bar and relaxed into their music, sometimes paying attention, sometimes letting myself drift.  A good way to spend a wet and windy Sunday afternoon.  I shall do it again.  Thanks guys.

The concerts through til Christmas are:
13th November - Arcomnia / The Broken Hearts Club
11th December - The Delvaux

and they continue monthly until 13th May.  So if you live in or near Saltaire, get yourself down here, enjoy the music and support our local Club.

Monday, 10 October 2011


No comment..  (Except to stress that this is not my clothing!)

Sunday, 9 October 2011


A few weeks ago, Martin at 'Square Sunshine', one of my favourite blogs, wrote a thoughtful little piece about the power of the place where you were born, how it can soothe and calm one's soul.  I hope he won't mind me quoting from it: "Years ago, I unconsciously planted my flags of reminder. They still fluttered in the lanes and cast shadows on the flint.... There can be only one true place where my body and soul feel perfectly at ease. It's a force of attraction that's impossible for me to deny, an invisible, unbreakable tie that holds me fast as the world changes around and about. It may not be where I live, but it's home all the same."

Well, that (though I could never have expressed it so poetically) is exactly how I feel about north
Nottinghamshire.  Whenever I go back and see again the mellow old brick - so different from Saltaire where I live now - and the little alleyways between the houses, I am transported back to the comfort of my childhood.  I had a great aunt and uncle (on my mother's side) who lived in Southwell, in a red-brick terraced cottage across the fields from the Minster.  Whether it was the attraction of their dog, a wire-haired fox terrier; the fact that they still had an outside loo across the yard or the quaintly old-fashioned cottage with its real fire, rag rugs and three flying plaster ducks on the wall, I don't know - but I loved to visit them when I was a child.  Uncle Jim was over 100 when he died and Auntie Hilda was 97.  I'm glad I knew them.

The Southwell yard above is not the one where they lived but it reminded me of it.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

A doll's house and a cooking apple

Southwell itself is an attractive little town, full of fine Georgian and Regency buildings (1700s - early 1800s) like this house on Church Street, opposite the Minster.  It reminds me of a doll's house, so symmetrical - you almost feel you could unhook the front wall and start re-arranging the furniture inside!

The town also prides itself as the birthplace of the Bramley cooking apple.  The story goes that sometime between 1809 and 1815, a young woman named Mary Ann Brailsford grew an apple tree seedling from a pip from an apple grown on a tree at the bottom of her garden.   The seedling went on to produce good fruit and in 1837 the house's then occupier, Matthew Bramley allowed a local gardener, Henry Merryweather, to take cuttings and register it as the Bramley Seedling.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Detail in stone and wood

I loved the textures of the stone pillars and carved wood of the main door into Southwell Minster. The pattern on the wood was almost like quilting. I think if I was a knitter (which I'm not) this might inspire me into creating a chunky scarf or jumper!  It reminds me of an Aran pattern.

Thursday, 6 October 2011


I was enthralled by the patterns of light cast by the stained glass windows upon the honey-coloured stone floor inside Southwell Minster.  You weren't supposed to take photos without a permit but I couldn't resist balancing my camera on a handy chair and taking a quick snap.

I am deeply saddened by the news of the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs at the age of 56.  I have always used Apple computers, even from the earliest days and my current iMac is probably my most treasured possession.  His vision and drive to innovate have touched all our lives.  Isn't it sad that so often it seems that those with the most talent die young?  One wonders what they might have achieved with a longer life.... Sir Titus Salt himself was 50 when he built Saltaire and gave leadership to it for another 20 odd years.  In contrast, his son Titus Jnr ( a great innovator) died at 44.  Jonathan Silver, the entrepreneur whose vision and drive saved Salts Mill (and thus Saltaire) in 1987, died ten years later at the age of 47.  Great men, all of them.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Southwell Minster

I'm a bit late in posting this next series of photos, taken when I went down to visit my mother over the August Bank Holiday weekend.  It's always good to go back 'home'.  I tend to forget how attractive much of the Nottinghamshire countryside is.

One of the jewels in its crown is this wonderful old minster church in Southwell (pronounced by the locals as Suth'll) - the Cathedral and Parish Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It stands on the site of a Roman villa and an Anglo-Saxon church.  The present building was begun in 1108 so in parts it is over 900 years old.  It's a lovely solid church, grand, with huge Norman arches inside, but also intimate in feel.  Its lead-covered 'pepperpot' towers are unique in England.

We went to see an exhibition of landscape photography in the Minster - 'Masters of Vision' - which was well worth the visit.  The photographs, by a number of 'emerging' British photographers - were rich and varied, from virtual abstracts to almost chocolate-box perfection.  Looking at other photographers' work both inspires and slightly intimidates me!  It's plain to see that technical excellence, a great eye for composition and sheer good fortune with the lighting conditions all play their part in making great photos.  We can learn the first two with a bit of effort, but when all three come together... well, I think it's the quest for those moments that makes photography such a seductive endeavour for me.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Summer's last gasp

The lovely weather is slowly ebbing away, with rain and cooler air moving in from the north.  At this time of year, an Indian summer was never going to last long.  It's the last chance to enjoy summer's colour and brightness, as we move into the gentle mists and russets of autumn.  I took this photo a couple of weeks ago.  Even in the short time since then, the tubs and hanging baskets have drooped and died.

You can tell from the photo that this house, whilst in Saltaire, is not in the conservation area of the village.  It has a uPVC window frame and door.  That is definitely not allowed throughout most of the village as the houses are 'Grade II listed' and subject to stringent planning regulations.  But there is an area of land that was not developed by Sir Titus Salt as part of the village masterplan.  Under the leadership of Titus Salt Jnr, the governors of the Salts School built a new building (now known as the 'Exhibition Building' and forming part of Shipley College) to cater for Arts and Science.  They hoped to recoup the cost by staging a huge exhibition as part of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887.   The new building and the twelve acres of land surrounding it were used for trade stands, concert halls and all manner of exciting activities, including a 'pleasure ground' of rides and stalls.  When the exhibition was dismantled the land was sold for housing, so these houses behind the Exhibition Building are dated later than the rest of Saltaire, are different in design and style and are not included in the World Heritage Site.

Sunday, 2 October 2011


'The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.'        
Habbakuk 2:20

Early morning sunshine lights up Saltaire's United Reformed Church.

Saturday, 1 October 2011


It's officially autumn but, after a disappointing summer, the UK is experiencing a brief but glorious "Indian summer" (why is it called that, I wonder?) of sunny and hot weather.  Perverse!  But we are all making the most of it.  The early mornings have been wonderful: misty and still, with that sense of anticipation in the air that I tend to associate only with holidays in the Mediterranean.  I took a day off on Thursday to enjoy it but I had to go in to work yesterday.  Choosing to walk the long way round by the canal, I was rewarded with this beautiful scene.  OK, it's an industrial unit at the back of Salts Mill but the light made it look rather special.  And it was all so peaceful.

PS: Do you think the BBC reads my blog?  They've helpfully answered my question about 'Indian summer' here.... and interestingly the answer relates to North American Indians and not, as I would have thought, India.