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Saturday, 31 December 2011

The long view

The view of the long south front of Salts Mill, taken from the railway bridge - probably the most iconic image of Saltaire (even seen in the video intro to our local BBC News programme).  It looks nice with the honey-coloured stone catching the sunshine - and the red SALTS sign.... our equivalent of the Hollywood sign, I always think!

I don't know why, but it seemed a suitable photo to round off another year.  I guess I've learned to 'take the long view' about a lot of things as I've got older and (possibly) wiser.

I tried correcting the verticals on this (Michael will be pleased to know) but I decided I preferred it distorted.  It emphasises the mill's bulk and length, I think.  And by the way, my current header picture is a night-time view of all these windows.  I like the way the lit windows have different colour temperatures.

Friday, 30 December 2011


I don't think I have posted a photo before showing the close-up detail of a column of the bandstand in Roberts Park. (See my post last Tuesday for a photo of the whole structure.) There was originally a modest bandstand in Victorian times but it was dismantled at some stage.  During the restoration of the park in 2010 the bandstand was re-instated.  On the website of Chris Topp, wrought iron works, I've recently come across a fascinating account of how the design evolved, from a series of drawings made by children at Saltaire Primary School, who combined the two ideas of 'music' and 'park'.  The result was these colourful horns blowing flowers.  Actually there are four different designs for the capitals.  The account is, I think, worth reading and the results worth studying.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Santa Claus

As we say goodbye to Christmas 2011, I leave you with one final window from Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar.  In fact I think this was a 'first' for Saltaire, in that it was not just one static image but a series of projected images, showing different depictions of Santa Claus.   I don't know where the original images came from... perhaps old Christmas cards, postcards or magic lantern slides, but they had a lot of charm.  I am showing a collage of just four of them but there were several more and the website has a short video showing them all.

Santa Claus is of course a person wreathed in myth, legend and folklore, said to relate to Saint Nicholas, a 4th century Greek Bishop with a reputation for secretly giving gifts.  This led via the Dutch elision 'Sinterklaas' to the modern name Santa Claus.  I have to say that I find these old drawings rather more appealing than the popular portly red and white fellow we see these days.

Anyway, I hope you were well-behaved enough during 2011 that he left you some gifts!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

I think I know why the dog howls at the moon

Another of Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar windows - and a rare guest photographer on Salt & Light.  I tried and failed to take a decent photo of this window.  There was a tree in the way, hence the slightly sideways viewpoint.  But more of a problem was that, with my short lens, I would have had to set up my tripod in the middle of Albert Road in the dark.  As I didn't think that very advisable, I am delighted my friend Roy had a longer lens and the generosity to let me use his photo.

The painting reminded me of this music track by Johnny Clegg - 'Dela (I think I know why the dog howls at the moon)'.  It's part of the soundtrack to a Disney movie, "George of the Jungle".  (I know, my mind works funny sometimes!!)

One day I looked up and there you were,
like a simple question looking for an answer.
Now I am the whale listening to some inner call,
swimming blindly to throw myself upon your shore.
What if I don't find you when I have landed?
Will you leave me here to die on your shore stranded?

I think I know why the dog howls at the moon.

I think I know why the dog howls at the moon.

Ah well, put it down to the stress of Christmas....

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

As the sun sets

Isn't it nice how late afternoon winter sunshine makes colours glow?  The statue of Sir Titus Salt in Saltaire's Roberts Park overlooks the restored bandstand, with one of the restored pavilions in the background.  The statue was erected in 1903 to commemorate the centenary of Salt's birth and was commissioned by Sir James Roberts, the Managing Director of the Mill at the time.  The front of the statue can be seen here.

Monday, 26 December 2011


The Christmas tree outside Saltaire's Victoria Hall would have benefited from a few more lights, I think - especially as it has to compete with the floodlighting of the magnificent Italianate facade of the Hall. (Compare with my picture two years ago.) Nevertheless, when I was out with my tripod the other night I felt it was worthy of a photo.  I'm still practising both the use of the tripod and my new camera's settings for night photography.  It always feels bit of an effort to go out, especially on a cold evening - but I do like night shots and it's something I'd like to learn to do well.  I'm fortunate that several of Saltare's public buildings are floodlit at night so there are subjects right on my doorstep.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Santa baby

Big yawn... Santa baby had a hard night!  This photo of my grand-daughter, taken on my daughter's iPhone (amazing gadget) is one that has made me smile so many times in the past couple of weeks.  She's such a cutie. (I know, I'm biased!)  I hope, like me, you feel truly blessed by those things that money can't buy - life, love, family, friends.  And friends for me definitely includes all you lovely folk I've met through blogging. Wishing you all a very happy Christmas Day - with chance for a snooze if you need one!

(And if you need some more cuteness have a look at this:  "How to wrap a cat for Christmas"!)

Saturday, 24 December 2011


‘For to us a child is born…and he will be called Wonderful Counsellor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’
Isaiah 9: 6

Wishing you, and all those whom you love, a joy-filled and peaceful Christmas - wherever you are and whatever you will be doing.  The Nativity tableau that ended my church's 'Walking Nativity' earlier this month seems a suitable picture to remind of the story at the heart of Christmas.

One of my friends had this on his Facebook page. (I'm sure he won't mind me pinching it.)  I thought it a timely reminder:

1 Corinthians 13, the Christmas Version: 

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, friends and neighbours, I’m just another decorator. 
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, friends and neighbours, I’m just another cook. 
If I work at the soup kitchen, sing carols in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, friends and neighbours, it profits me nothing. 
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point! 
Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. 
Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens. 
Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t. 
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 
Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure forever.  Christmas is love.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Number 17

The Advent window unveiled on 17th December, as part of Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar, showed this delightful and masterly painting of Saltaire's historic United Reformed Church, in the snow.  Perhaps it was inspired by last year at this time, when it looked quite like this!  I think I'm right in saying that it was painted by one of Saltaire's resident artists, David Starley, whose bold oil paintings of local scenes I have mentioned before.  Isn't it wonderful how much effort our artistic community puts into these windows?  Each one must take hours of thought and work, each one is a little gem - and all for a brief 'exhibition' through until January 5th.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Bradford Voices

My brisk walk on a decidedly chilly Sunday afternoon was brightened by the festive songs in Roberts Park from 'Bradford Voices'.  They are a community choir based in Saltaire.  I have several friends who are members.  (Singing seems to be something a lot of my friends have taken up in later years.  I might have joined them but I'm too deaf even to hear myself sing, never mind everyone else!  And I most likely sing flat now..)  Bradford Voices meet weekly in the Methodist Church Hall to sing and enjoy music together.  Part of their ethos is that everyone has a voice and is encouraged to sing, whether or not they can read music.  There are no auditions and, though they make a very nice sound, their approach seems to be a lot more 'laid-back' than some choirs.  They do lots of performances and many of them seem to be outside, street-based.  Clearly one of the prerequisites for joining is a good set of thermal underwear!  They had a small but appreciative audience by the Half-Moon Café in the park (funny how no-one likes to sit on the front row) and they managed to keep singing, despite me running around taking photos.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Gnomes need homes

I visited the annual Christkindelmarkt in Leeds Millennium Square on Saturday, hoping to buy some authentic German Stollen cake.  (I bought some last year and it was lovely.)  Sadly, no cake to be seen, though plenty of other sweet treats - marshmallows, chocolates, doughnuts, poffertjes, sticky nuts...  There were many colourful stalls, none more so than this one full of cheeky garden gnomes.  Heigh ho, heigh ho.... Happily, M&S supplied the Stollen!

Sorry I'm not getting around to commenting on many blogs this week.  I will be back as soon as time stretches again!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas shopping

Here's an unusual view of one of the main pedestrianised shopping areas, Briggate, in Leeds city centre.  It is usually thronged with shoppers but on Saturday there was also a fun fair.  I paid my £1 and climbed the helter-skelter to see what the view was like from the top!  Mind you, I chose to return sedately down the steps rather than take the quick route down the slide.  (I had my precious Nikon hanging round my neck!)  Somewhere among the crowds you will see a Salvation Army band playing Christmas carols - and also a fire engine.  The fire crew was in the Victoria Quarter arcade and seemed to be pumping out the basement of a jeweller's shop - I'm not sure why.  It all added to the fun!

11m Britons were expected to go shopping last Saturday, spending something like £1.05 billion. (I wonder how they work that out?)

Monday, 19 December 2011

Saturday morning lie-in?

'The 99%' camped around the Christmas tree in Leeds City Square seemed to be having a Saturday morning lie-in.  When I passed by, there was no evidence of 'Occupy Leeds' protestors, only sealed-up tents.  This is a small section of the global 'Occupy' movement, one of many such camps in UK cities, the biggest and most publicised being the one outside St Paul's Cathedral in London.  They seem to have identified a problem ('all the power and money [is] in the hands of a corrupt and self-serving top 1%')  but as yet I haven't heard any solutions.  Whilst not unsympathetic to them or their ideals, I suspect many of those involved across the country are serial activists - not so long ago they were all climbing trees as 'eco-warriors'. Methinks the 50% of the 99% who have jobs might be contributing to their upkeep (though it's sadly true that a lot of young people who would love to have a job can't get one right now).

The imposing building in the background used to be the main Post Office in Leeds.  Seems to me that we owe the 1% of Victorians quite a debt...

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Glory to God

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying:
'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.'  Luke 2:13-14

To be honest, I find Christmas a time of greatly mixed feelings.  On the one hand, it's chance to reflect again on the beginning of the central story of the Christian faith, that God sent his son to be born among us, to bring us life.  And given my own thankfulness for my granddaughter's recent birth, that story this year has a special relevance.  It was a delight to see it enacted once again by members of our church, including the youth group, in our third 'Walking Nativity'.  You'll see we have some angels among us!

On the other hand, every year I seem to feel increasingly uncomfortable with the excesses with which we are urged to celebrate the festival.  Magazines full of recipes, presents, ideas for decorations seem to make Christmas something of a competitive sport.  I know there are many people who have a real gift for making Christmas special for their families and children and I'm not knocking that.  Nor am I deriding the joy and meaning that comes from dusting off the family's traditions and decorations - and the memories that come with them.  It just seems sad that the Christmas story (to me anyway) holds the antidote to the emptiness that it seems some people try to fill with alcohol, food or lavish spending - and yet time and again we fail to make the connection. 

To use that wonderful American expression... Just sayin'...

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Three kings

The advent window at Saltaire's Methodist Church takes a suitably religious theme, that of the three magi journeying to Bethlehem.  This window was produced by members of the Art Group that meets in the Methodist church halls.  I like the boldness of the kings - such strong graphic shapes suit the medium, I think.

To see more of the windows from Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar, scroll through my blog or look at the web page hosted by the Saltaire Village website.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Festive tree 2011

Salts Mill in Saltaire has at least two Christmas trees each year: one in the 1853 Gallery, which I showed a photo of last year and one in the Book Shop.  I liked this one best this year.  It has candy canes and little toys and lots of 'Hohoho's, all rather jolly.  I'm hoping I get as many big presents as this from Santa... but I don't think there's much chance of that.  Anyway, they're all too big to be an iPad!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Upside down

I recently posted a photo of Saltaire's New Mill, taken from the canal towpath on the Shipley side.  I suppose that's really the iconic view of the New Mill but I guess there have been many photographers who have also noticed and caught this 'upside down' view of the mill chimney, reflected in the water of the canal that runs between the New Mill and Salts Mill itself.  Taken from the Victoria Road bridge, it also shows the sole remaining covered walkway that links the mills.  There used to be three.  To see the same scene the proper way up, look here!

As I've said previously (but will repeat for the benefit of those who've not been following my blog for long) the New Mill chimney is a copy of the campanile of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice, a gesture that took the Victorian Italianate architecture of Saltaire to a new level.  I still feel amazed at the grandeur of these industrial buildings, and indeed of the whole village.  Sir Titus Salt must have wanted it all to be such a grand statement.  He was fifty years old when Salts Mill opened in 1853 and could, I suppose, happily have retired with his wealth intact.  For complex reasons - political, social, economic and personal - he chose to invest his fortune in building the huge mill and its surrounding village.  It brought all his textile manufacturing operations together on one vast site and provided a much healthier and more pleasant environment for his workers to live in, away from the noxious conditions of the time in Bradford.   Salt must have seemed like Father Christmas to them!  (though there was of course a healthy dose of self-interest alongside his paternalism).

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


I love this one, the tenth window in Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar.  It's only small - the transom window above the front door of a house on Rhodes Street - but I think it's really imaginative and rather sweet.  Some of the owls look like mere babies, but it put me in mind of this quote:

'A wise old owl sat on an oak;  the more he saw the less he spoke;  
The less he spoke the more he heard; why aren't we like that wise old bird?'

And - ha! - did you know the collective name for a group of owls is a parliament?!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Row, row, row, row the boat

Here's a rare sight - a rowing crew gliding through Saltaire on the canal.  Bradford Amateur Rowing Club has its boathouse on the River Aire up by Hirst Weir, on land given to them by Sir Titus Salt in 1893.  You can often see rowers practising there, but I don't think I've ever seen them on this stretch of water.  We've had a lot of rain lately and there are flood warnings on some of our rivers so I can only assume that the river itself is too swollen and dangerous to use at the moment.  The canal looks fuller than usual, actually.

I know little about rowing so I can't say for sure what type of boat this is.  The four oarsmen have two oars each so Wikipedia tells me that they are sculling.  They have a cox too though.  They must be dedicated, to be out practising on a Sunday morning in December in the rain.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Reindeer Race

Steady heavy drizzle didn't seem to deter the runners (and walkers) who took part in Epilepsy Action's annual charity 5km Reindeer Stampede in Roberts Park on Sunday.  The rain nearly put me off going out but it seemed a shame not to document the event (I missed it last year).  The light was so dull that I had a bit of a fight with my camera to get shots that weren't blurred!  Note the long lens the pro was using (bottom left) - I think he was probably from the local newspaper.  Runners seemed glad to reach the finish line by the bandstand, to collect their medal and a rather soggy mince pie!  I'm not sure what the resident alpacas thought of all the 'reindeer' running by...  I do salute those who organise and participate in such events, in order to raise money for good causes.  In these times of government cut-backs, volunteer action is even more important to support those whose lives are, for whatever reason, made difficult.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Two by two

It's time for another of Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar windows, I think.  This, the second window, is quite a contrast to the one I showed you first.  It's much more detailed, showing Noah's Ark with the animals going in two by two.  Very attractive and rather magical, I think this would appeal to children especially.  They'd be excited to discover all the different creatures - do you see the sea-horses?  The window can be found on Constance Street.  See my post of 2 December for an explanation of the Living Advent Calendar idea and a photo of the first window.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Star light

Family life has been so exciting of late (!) that I don't seem to feel like I need Christmas on top of it - and I sense that others are finding it a bit hard to get into the right frame of mind too, for one reason or another.  With the global economic gloom and the news from the Eurozone, everything seems rather depressing.  I have to say that I'm glad I'm not a retailer or market trader.  There was a Christmas market in Shipley yesterday but there didn't seem to be many shoppers.  I'm only going to be spending about half of what I'd usually spend on gifts and I guess that's true for others too.  Even the Christmas lights seem a bit sparse this year.  I walked all the way up to Shipley's main square to take a photo of the (very modern) Christmas tree, only to find it wasn't even lit!  Still I did find this star illumination against the background of Shipley's clock tower (the tower a 60's design that you either love or hate).  I did take several photos of the illuminations that were pin-sharp - but perversely preferred this one, where my hand slipped!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Rose & Co

Rose & Co's famous Apothecary shop in Haworth is like a step back in time.  Lit by sparkling chandeliers and always beautifully fragranced, the shop has old-style, rich mahogany and glass display cabinets.  It sells high-class bath, beauty and household products, some still manufactured to old-fashioned formulations.  The shop is a restored Victorian druggist shop and is reputed to be where Branwell Brontë bought the laudanum (tincture of opium) to which he was addicted.  He was also an alcoholic and sadly these addictions masked the tuberculosis from which he suffered, until it was too late to save him.  He died at the age of 31 and his sisters Emily and Anne also died of the disease within a year of his death.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Haworth Couldn't Wear Less

I imagine most people will have heard of the wonderful film 'Calendar Girls', based on the real life exploits of a group of women from a W.I. (Women's Institute) in the Yorkshire Dales, who had the idea to pose naked for a calendar to raise money for charity.  It sparked global interest - and since then several other groups have followed their lead and done similar things.  It seems that Haworth has joined the trend, with their 2012 calendars 'Haworth Couldn't Wear Less' (women only and men only versions!)  Believe it or not, this is part of the fund-raising effort for the restoration of the parish church, which is in a poor state and urgently needs repair.  Christmas present, anyone?

The photo above shows an advertisement for the calendar, behind the village stocks - with a picture of the men actually sitting in the stocks.  Stocks, of course, were at one time a common sight in English villages. Local troublemakers were pinned into them and exposed to the scorn of passers-by who often threw mud or rotten vegetables at the offenders.  No evidence that the calendar models got pelted with anything - but I'll bet there were some ripe comments made at the time.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Haworth in festive mood

When I'm trying to get into the mood for Christmas, a trip to Haworth often helps.  Its cobbled streets and olde-worlde charm somehow seem right for the festive season.  Most weekends in December they have some kind of theme going on.  Last weekend there was a wartime flavour, with a 1940s vintage fair and a Wartime Christmas Ball on Saturday in the Community Centre.  Next weekend will be even more spectacular, with carol-singing and a torchlight procession up the Main Street.  The Christmas decorations are cheery and even the red phone box seems to add a festive touch.

Haworth, of course, was the home of the literary Brontë family.  Patrick Brontë, father of Charlotte, Emily and Anne, was the parish priest of Haworth's church.  Branwell, their brother, used to frequent the Black Bull pub, seen in my photo.  He was a freemason and was the secretary of the local Lodge, which at one time used to meet in the pub.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Day care

I was reminded  of this when I read Alan's blog a week or so ago.  He was saying that his wife's 'default' activity is shopping, whereas his most definitely is not.  I'm sure that's true of a lot of marriages - and an enterprising pub in Shipley has recognised that fact.  Conveniently situated beside the Leeds-bound platform of Shipley railway station, it's ideally placed for a wife to settle her husband in the day-care centre before catching the train to the city shops. I should think it will be busy in the run up to Christmas.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Shadow rings

The window of Dot the Jewellers in Saltaire's Victoria Road provides an interesting play of light and shadow on a sunny day.

Trading from these premises since 2007, the owner John Bradley makes exquisite, modern, bespoke jewellery (mainly engagement, wedding and eternity rings) using computer-aided design.  I've featured the shop on this blog before, when they had a robbery in 2009, but thankfully that unhappy incident does not appear to have affected their trade.

The shop, Number 5 Victoria Road, started life as a general dealer's before becoming, amongst other things: a china shop, a butcher's, a lemon cheese maker's, a tea room, a fish and chip shop and a junk shop.  In 1993 the upper floors became the offices of a photographic agency, owned by Asadour Guzelian, which supplied photos to national newspapers.  It was apparently his intention to develop a photo gallery at street level (I would have liked that!) but that never really happened and the jeweller moved in.  The photo agency eventually moved to larger premises in Bradford's Little Germany.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Winter light

A familiar view of Saltaire's New Mill, with its ornate chimney.  I have featured this several times before on my blog, and yet sometimes I seem to see it afresh - in a new light, as it were.  I like the way the weak winter sunshine picks out the shape and lends a muted colour palette.

Friday, 2 December 2011

In a pear tree

For the sixth year running, Saltaire is sharing its Living Advent Calendar in the run up to Christmas - 24 windows around the village, illuminated with festive scenes.  Every day from 1st to 24th December a new scene is 'opened' at dusk and those so inclined can follow the trail around the village, discovering the wonderfully creative interpretations that our inventive residents put together.  This is the first one, on Titus Street.

Regular readers of my blog will remember me featuring some of the windows in previous years.  I think it's a wonderful 'new tradition'.  It certainly brings me a lot of pleasure as I'm sure it does others too.  It's even featured on The Guardian website already this year.

There are two associated celebrations:  this Saturday 3rd there is an event (featuring Hall Royd Brass Band) at the Victoria Hall at 6.30pm to mark the switching-on of the Christmas lights.  Later, on Christmas Eve at 7pm, there is carol singing round the village, following the Advent Trail.  No excuse not to get into the festive mood!

Thursday, 1 December 2011


Living in such a historic place as Saltaire and keen to showcase its rugged beauty to those who have never visited, I sometimes think I may be in danger of 'talking up' the area as a whole.  There is lots that is genuinely attractive and worthy of photographing - but we have our share of 'ordinary' (and 'horrible') as well.  Oddly enough, I am always pleased to see those aspects of other parts of the world on other people's blogs.  It's interesting to see the similarities and differences and those are often more obvious in the 'ordinary' aspects of our towns and cities.  With that in mind, I am determined to capture a few of the less immediately attractive parts of Saltaire and Shipley.

What better place to start than an enterprise that I pass daily on my walk to work: 'Bubbles', the hand car-wash.  There was time when all car-washes in these parts were those fearsome drive-through type with huge rotating brushes that threatened to tear off your car aerial or any loose bits of trim.  My daughter,  as a child,  always used to get excited when the car was dunked in foam.  These days they seem to be a dying breed, supplanted by armies of young men energetically spraying and polishing.  Supposed to be less likely to scratch the paintwork - but I have my doubts!  Anyway, Bubbles is a cheerful looking place and seems to do a good trade most of the time.  A lot of my neighbours seem to stick with the old-fashioned methodology - a soapy sponge and a bucket or a hosepipe, on the street outside the house.  Much cheaper.  Much more convivial too; someone always stops to chat.