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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

All Saints, Pavement, York

This attractive octagonal lantern tower crowns the church of All Saints, on the street known as Pavement - one of the earliest paved streets in York.  There has been a church on this site since before the Norman conquest, but the present building dates from the 14th and 15th century.  Part of it was demolished in the late 18th century to allow for the expansion of the marketplace in Pavement.  In medieval times, the lantern tower used to hold a light, kept burning at night, to guide travellers into the city through the wolf-infested Forest of Galtres to the north.  Little evidence of a forest these days - nor wolves! - but the elegant lantern survives and the church remains a haven in the middle of the city's bustle.

(PS: I find it a useful landmark when I'm seeking out one of my favourite stores in York, the Lakeland kitchenware shop!)

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Floral rainbow

I'm not quite finished with the York series of photos...

This display of primulas and hydrangeas, for sale in one of York's markets, provided a splash of rainbow colour to brighten a chilly February day.  I would have bought some but I didn't think they'd survive intact on the train journey home.

Monday, 27 February 2012


Just back from visiting my daughter, son in law and granddaughter in London.  E is growing fast... it's over four months since she was born, though being so premature she is effectively at about eleven weeks developmentally.  I try to visit every month or so and I see huge differences in her each time.  She is much more alert now, and beginning to make those endearing little vocalisations and facial expressions that show she is trying hard to communicate.  It melts my heart to see her smile at her mum, looking so excited to see her.

I'm sure she will grow up very cultured....  We visited the V & A Museum to see a lovely exhibition of portraits by the renowned photographer Cecil Beaton, of the Queen and other members of the Royal Family, including his pictures of the Coronation in 1953.  It is of course the Queen's Diamond (60th) Jubilee this year.  Actually, E slept through the photos but she did enjoy the V&A's fabulous Café - which must have the most elegant baby-changing facilities in London!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Word Verification

I have taken the free 'Word Verification Free Blog' button from Beatrice Banks site.  (Thanks, Jack, for pointing me there.)  I've actually been WV free for ages now, as I found the whole thing so tedious and Francisca encouraged me to ditch it.  The new WV process is even worse!

I have honestly not had a problem since.  Blogger's spam filter works well to catch the adverts and the odd comment you'd rather not show can easily and quickly be deleted (and anyway WV won't stop weird or malicious comments if they're written by an individual).  I have comment moderation on for comments on posts older than 7 days - but that's only so I don't miss comments, as I don't get them emailed to me.

To anyone out there thinking of ditching WV - do it!  You won't look back - and the rest of us will thank you!

View from the top

The views from the Yorkshire Wheel are worth seeing, though it's not too easy to get decent photos owing to the amount of reflection in the glass of the capsules.

This is the vista across the city of York looking towards the south-east, with the huge bulk of the Minster obviously being the main landmark.  In the foreground is York's main river, the Ouse.  The bridge you can see is the Lendal Bridge, an iron bridge built in 1863.  It has stone towers at each end; the one catching the sunshine is the Lendal Tower, now a private residence I believe.  The stone buildings on the riverside to the right are, I think, city council buildings - part of the Guildhall.  On the left edge of the picture you can see the Yorkshire Museum, set in a park.

Looking to the north east you see the River Ouse meandering through the vale. The boat is one of the large pleasure boats that ply up and down, allowing visitors to enjoy a leisurely cruise and perhaps a drink, whilst learning more about the history of the area.  I'm not sure what there is to see on the northern side of the city but to the south of the Lendal Bridge the boats give a different perspective on the centre of York and sail on to the Palace at Bishopsthorpe, the Archbishop of York's residence.  At the bottom of the photo you can just see one of the platforms of York's main railway station.

Saturday, 25 February 2012


First there was the London Eye and now many of Britain's cities seem to be following the trend for a "Big Wheel" visitor attraction.  Actually I've never been on the Eye (I will, one day) but when I saw the  Yorkshire Wheel in the gardens of York's 'Royal York Hotel', I decided to treat myself to a twirl.  Yes... even though it was windy and the capsules were swaying quite a lot!  They are enclosed, so I didn't fear I'd fall out.

Being so sunny and windy, it was a clear day and you could see for miles from the top of the ride.  York sits in a flat plain - the Vale of York - so that means the view goes on forever.  There was a commentary through speakers in the capsule, but being deaf I couldn't hear a word so I just had to guess what I was seeing.  The most noticeable far-away feature was a large power-station with huge cooling towers, which I took to be the huge one at Drax.  You get a lovely view of the Minster too, of course.

I had not realised til I was writing this blog and Googling as I go (!) that the Wheel is so new - it was only opened just before Christmas, though it replaced an earlier structure in the grounds of the National Railway Museum.

Pictures from up top tomorrow....

Friday, 24 February 2012

Newgate Market

In ancient times, York was granted a Charter to hold a market and the tradition of an open market continues to this day.  Nowadays the market is called Newgate Market and occupies a central position near The Shambles.  It has over a hundred stalls selling fruit and vegetables, fish, meat and other goods (fabrics, haberdashery, you name it and you can probably find it!)  Like any market, it is full of colour and life and, set against the backdrop of York's medieval buildings, it is a really interesting area to explore.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Shambles, York

The Shambles in York is a famous old street right in the centre of the walled city.  In 2010 it won the Google Street View award for 'the most picturesque street in Britain' and you can probably see why.  It's also said to be 'the most visited street in Europe' - so it's usual to find it thronged with tourists.  It is York's oldest street, mentioned in the Domesday Book (making it over 900 years old).  The buildings you see date from the fifteenth century and are so crowded together that the overhanging first storeys almost look as though they're touching.  The medieval word 'Shamel' meant a booth or a bench and the street was originally a row of butcher's shops and houses, with produce laid out on benches and hung on hooks outside.  Meat was slaughtered there and the road has a central channel to catch the blood and offal.  Nowadays the shops sell mostly gifts and trinkets to appeal to tourists.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Barley Hall

York is jam-packed full of incredible historic buildings like this one - the stunning Barley Hall.  It is a reconstructed medieval house, once the York townhouse of the Priors of Nostell (a monastery near Wakefield) and then home to a Lord Mayor of York.  Until the 1980s the house was hidden within and under a derelict office block.  When the block was being demolished, traces of the medieval building were rediscovered.  Eventually the site was bought by the York Archeological Trust and the medieval house has been painstakingly uncovered, explored, researched and restored.  Approximately 30% of what you see is original, the rest a painstaking reconstruction using similar methods to what would have been used in the first place.  Barley Hall now functions as a museum and venue for events and weddings.  There's interesting information about the archeological dig and restoration on the website here.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Viking invasion

The Vikings appeared to have taken over York's Mansion House! When I visited at the weekend, the city was in the throes of a Viking Festival, celebrating that part of York's rich history.

York started life as Eboracum, an important Roman city. After the Roman Empire disintegrated, the city was settled by Germanic immigrants, Anglo-Saxons, but little is known about this period. In 866 Vikings from Scandinavia attacked and took York.  They settled in the area, the city became known as Yorvik and it was a Viking city for two hundred years, until 1068 when the Norman king, William the Conqueror marched with his army from the south, determined to subdue the rebellious north.

For some reason York seems to have a particularly rich archeological heritage and there have been many remarkable finds within the city's walls.  The Viking period is explained and celebrated in a famous visitor attraction called the Yorvik Viking Centre, which is well worth a visit.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Another view

Another view of York Minster, this time from the north side, showing the octagonal Chapter House (jutting out left with the pointed roof) and the central tower.  You can climb the tower for an exhilarating view across the city, but I didn't this time as it was so windy.  This side of the church has a pleasant garden, a nice quiet spot in the middle of the busy city.

The building has several times been damaged by fire.  The most recent (as Jack commented yesterday) was in July 1984 when lightning struck the building and a fire broke out in the south transept.  The resulting damage, including the beautiful Rose Window, took over four years to repair.  The Minster constantly undergoes restoration; there is nearly always some part of it shrouded in scaffolding.  There are stonemasons and glass restorers working permanently on site.  At the moment they are working on the glass of the Great East Window, the largest expanse of medieval stained glass anywhere in the world.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

York Minster

A photo to prove that we can also have bright blue sky in the middle of winter!

Ages ago, I promised some photos of York, which is a beautiful and very historic walled city, the county town of Yorkshire.  I have not visited since, so - on the spur of the moment and gambling upon the weather forecast being right - I decided to have a day trip on Saturday.  In fact the weather turned out to be brighter than forecast, though very cold and windy.  It was perfect for showing the lovely gothic Minster at its best.

The Minster/cathedral dates from the 1220s, though there were earlier churches on the site and it has constantly evolved through the centuries.  It is one of Britain's most beautiful and interesting buildings, as lovely inside as out.  Take a look at the website for more information and photos - you can take a 'virtual tour' too (though for some reason they have filmed the interior without any of the chairs that usually fill the nave, so it looks rather unlived-in!)  In my photo, you may be able to see the heart carved into the West Window, completed in 1338, which I think is a lovely feature.

Being so close to neighbouring buildings you really notice how the cathedral towers over them.  Imagine then how much more amazing it must have seemed when it was first built, when dwellings were on the whole very modest.  Life in those days revolved much more around the church (see this interesting piece) and this building must really have seemed like a bridge between heaven and earth, an offering and reflection of the glory of God.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Pictures from the exhibition: Sunny Sunday in Saltaire

Let's have some sunshine.  At this time of year it can feel hard to believe that Spring will come!  It's not so long since I posted this photo the first time but never mind, it's a cheerful one.

A picture postcard view of Saltaire's New Mill with its ornate chimney, modelled on the campanile of the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice.  But who needs the Venetian canals when you can have the Leeds-Liverpool on a sunny afternoon, busy with cyclists and families feeding the ducks?

Friday, 17 February 2012

In search of colour - 11

February is a grey month in England, so I'm still in search of colour - and I found it here in the window of one of Saltaire's village houses...  pretty glass lampshades, pink roses and Saltaire's own little seagull.  Malyss in the south of France (Chronicles from the Shore) regularly has seagulls on her blog, so I am pleased to show her this 'petit cousin' (perhaps).  Furthermore there's an interesting reflection of a corner of the Victoria Hall, and it shows off the decorative stonework rather well.  When you see the whole facade of the Hall, the details tend to get lost in the bigger picture.  I have been rather ambivalent about whether the stone sills of the village houses should be painted - but here the blue is rather attractive I think, and makes a nice feature on the front of this beautifully cared-for terraced cottage.

This is my entry into "Weekend Reflections" this week - and there are lots more images on the theme if you click the link here.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Pictures from the exhibition: Saltaire's New Mill at night

This much-photographed view of the New Mill, taken from across the weir in Roberts Park, takes on a diiferent quality at night.  The Mill sparkles with light from inside and the whole scene is rendered slightly mysterious by the sodium glare from the nearby city of Bradford.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The Green Lion

"A bit green, you say..? And you don't mean in a 21st century, eco-positive kind of a way..?  Hmm... I'm trying to rise above it... Anyway, you'd be green if you'd spent the last hundred and forty years lying under a tree."

The lion called Determination (one of the four guardians in the centre of Saltaire, sculpted by Thomas Milnes) is determined not to let a bit of green lichen spoil his majesty.  I wonder if they get scrubbed every now and again - I think they must do.  I don't think he looked nearly as mucky last time I snapped him.

Apologies to anyone who hoped they were going to read a blog post about a pub!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Corner shop

Ownership of the shops on Victoria Road in Saltaire seems to change quite regularly these days.  This business, with a prominent corner position at the cross roads where Caroline Street crosses Victoria Road, must be one of the longest-lived.  It's a general grocery store, off-licence and newsagent owned and run by husband and wife Karan Singh and Parveen Kumari, who took it over in 1987.

The shop, No 12, was originally the village's chemist shop run by a succession of different people from 1871 to the 1970s - though has also been described as a drysalter (selling a variety of chemical products such as glue, varnish, salt, preservatives and pickles) and it appears to have also sold wines and spirits and other goods for much of its history.  In the 1940s and 50s it was owned by the Richardsons, though I don't think they lived here.  Their son, Tony Richardson (1928-1991), became a renowned film maker and director and was married to Vanessa Redgrave in the 60s.  He was the father of Joely and the late Natasha, both actresses in their own right.

The shop in its present form is one of the few in Saltaire that caters mainly for those living and working in the village, and students from the local college, rather than the tourist trade.  Parveen and Karan are well-liked and, living above the shop, have really put roots down in the village.. literally as well as figuratively!  A recent interview that I read in a local magazine said that Parveen enjoys spending time on her allotment beside the canal.  I think it's lovely that, though change in Saltaire been constant since the village was built, there are also so many ways in which not much has changed at all - and a local shopkeeper's life is maybe not so very different, in essence, from that of her Victorian predecessors.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Pictures from the exhibition: Stained glass light

A quiet corner of St Mary's Church, Kettlewell in Upper Wharfedale.  Sunshine casts soft jewels of colour onto the stone and brings out the richness of the wooden pew. 

Saturday, 11 February 2012


This is another of the cowls that decorate the roof of the Shipley College building, formerly Saltaire's Factory Schools, that I showed yesterday.  It's the kind of detail that you only tend to notice after a while but which, to my mind, adds to the charm and interest of our historic village.  I am not sure but I assume this was a chimney for a fire or boiler in the school.  When they were built in 1868, the school's facilities were advanced, with central heating, gas lighting, fitted cupboards and playgrounds to the rear.  It is another demonstration of Sir Titus Salt's determination not only to provide for his workers but to do so handsomely.  Cynics often point out that within his altruism was a thread of self-interest, as a happy, healthy workforce tends to be more productive.  That's true but it doesn't really explain why he was so keen to see his workers and their children become well-educated, nor why he spent such a lot of money making Saltaire so attractive.

(Picture first posted in September 2009)

Friday, 10 February 2012


Some of Saltaire's public buildings are floodlit at night, and their glow makes the centre of the village seem quite cosy.  This is one end of the building on Victoria Road that now houses part of Shipley College.  It was originally built to be Saltaire's Factory Schools - one for boys and one for girls, at opposite sides of the building - in compliance with the 19th century Factories Acts.  Later it became a High School and now an FE college.  The lighting in reality isn't quite as orange as this but I don't mind the warm effect.  The cowl on the roof is another of my favourite Saltaire details and I shall post another photo of that tomorrow.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Pictures from the exhibition: Two doors, Albert Road

Alike yet different, satisfyingly symmetrical yet each with its own character, these doors - on the 'posh' houses at the edge of Saltaire village - remind me of two shiny conkers.

I wasn't able to choose many 'landscape format' pictures for the exhibition, due to the curved wall in the café.  I wanted to include this one though, as it's one of my own favourites.  I think it subtly sums up quite a lot about Saltaire, and yet it is not an oft-photographed subject.  One of these days I will publish a book consisting entirely of photographs of Saltaire's doors.  They fascinate me.

I can never look at this photo now without remembering Vicki Lane's rather wicked comment, made the first time I posted the photo. ;-)

Just want to say a big thank you to everyone for your encouraging comments too.  I may have been feeling a bit down with a cold (now much better) but I am definitely lifted up by your kind words.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


After four days of a vicious (but 'common') cold, I am feeling much better as the day has gone on; I no longer have a head full of cotton wool and nails.  Hooray!
I began to get bored.... so what better to do than a bit of photo manipulation.  I'm keen to learn how to use textures.  I'm not entirely sure of my ground thus far - it becomes more like painting than photography - but I like the effects.  Still, a bit of soft grunge has improved this rather ordinary bunch of tulips.  (And I assure you my kitchen wall is not as dirty as that!)
I like most flowers but perhaps tulips are my favourite to cut and display.  I enjoy the way they look interesting at every stage, from buds to overblown blooms, and the way the stems sometimes twist into graceful shapes.  These could have done with being a bit floppier, really.  I have had to throw the actual flowers away now, as they died - but it's nice that they can live on in this image.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Pictures from the exhibition: A snowy scene

This view from the 'less-photographed' side of Saltaire's historic church is only really possible in the winter, when the bare branches of the trees allow the detail of the lovely tower to be seen.  Light reflected off the snow illuminates this Victorian gem, opened in 1859 and now a Grade 1 listed building.

Had I been able to get out last Sunday (sneezing and sniffles prevented me) this is more or less what you would have seen.  We had about this amount of snow, but it has all disappeared again now.  Had I been out on Sunday, I might also have tried to get the shot without the railing in the front...  one can always improve things with hindsight.

Jim and Betsy said in the comments that they'd like a closer look at the prints in my exhibition, so I've decided I will take the opportunity to show them here.  I hope that won't spoil it for anyone who intends to call in at the Half Moon Café but it will neatly get over the fact that I have very few 'new' photos stocked up at present - and little opportunity to get out and take some more.  Most, though not all, of them have been on my blog before but some of them were featured quite some time ago.

Monday, 6 February 2012


So here it is! My first solo exhibition of photographs was hung on Saturday, thanks to help from some good friends.  Left to my own devices I would have struggled, as I have been overcome by a very heavy cold and have spent the entire weekend sneezing prodigiously and working my way through not one but two entire boxes of paper tissues!  Bleurgh.  Never mind, I shall soon bounce back, I'm sure, and will then pop along to the Half Moon Café in Roberts Park for a proper look.  It will be interesting to watch and listen to what people have to say....  Thanks so much for all your good wishes.

We had a heavy snowfall on Saturday too, the first of this winter, which didn't exactly help matters.  I would have gone out with my camera later but I really didn't feel up to that.  The promised sunshine didn't happen so there isn't much sparkle and the snow is melting fast now.  On the whole, I think I'm glad it's not staying.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Flying solo

I've mentioned the community-owned Half Moon Café in Roberts Park before; it was attractively refurbished a couple of years ago.  Saltaire Cricket Club, who oversee the running of it, have built it up into quite a successful venture, with the help of a manager and a lot of volunteers.  It has limited opening hours during the winter (Wed to Sun: 10am - 4pm) but seems to remain popular... you often see people sitting outside, even when it's quite cold, though it's very pleasant inside too.

For some time now, they have had a regular programme of exhibitions of work by local artists, which provides a point of interest along the long, curved wall inside.   I'm pleased to announce that the exhibition during February and March will be some photographs of mine... my first solo exhibition.  Sounds really grand, doesn't it?  It helps that the organiser of the exhibition space is a good friend, but I do know she wouldn't have asked me if she hadn't thought my work was up to scratch.  It's been quite a process trying to decide which photos to display (and due to the nature of the space I had to choose mostly 'portrait format' prints).  In the end I decided to use my blog as the theme and to concentrate largely (though not exclusively) on photographs of Saltaire, as I think they will be interesting to most of the folk who drop into the Café.  The prints are all prepared and framed - they will be hung this weekend (unless we get snowed in!)

If you live locally, do please drop in and see them and enjoy a coffee and a cake in the Café whilst you're there.  All the photos have been shown on my blog at some point in the past, so if you're not local you're only missing the fun, not the pictures!

(This has blown my cover now, hasn't it?  But it didn't seem quite right to use 'jennyfreckles', my blog identity, for an exhibition.  In the beginning I was ultra cautious about blogging but I don't think I need to worry any more.)

Friday, 3 February 2012


Final photo in the series from Bingley Five Rise Locks when they were emptied for repair work. Another close study: stone, wood, metal, moss and weed - all provide interesting textures.  Don't be fooled by the scale though... these are huge structures!  The portion of the gate showing in the top photo is about ten feet (3m) high and the whole gate is something like 23 feet (7m) tall.  The men in the photo below were both around 6 feet tall and only just reach the third horizontal beam.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Detail of the lock gates

It was an interesting climb down through Bingley's Five Rise locks.  I was mostly looking out for the best way of capturing the scene as a whole - the height of the walls, the sheer size of the space inside those five lock basins and the steepness of the rise.  In some ways you get more sense of the staircase from further away, down the canal, than you do when close up to it (or in it!)  Along the way though, I also became enthralled by the textures and shapes.  The new wood and metal of the gates was lovely - so solid and beautifully crafted.  The moss and (sea?) weed on the stone walls, usually underwater, also provided some interesting colour and texture.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Inside the locks

It was quite hard to capture, in one photo, a sense of the sheer scale of the Bingley Five Rise locks staircase. This shot, taken from near the bottom looking back up, perhaps comes closest.  You can see the 23 foot (7m) high stone walls of the lock chambers and one pair of the huge new lock gates, with beyond that another two pairs.  There are four pairs of gates being replaced, out of the six. As part of the project, the stone walls are also being inspected and repaired, using traditional lime mortar to preserve the authenticity of the Grade 1 listed structure.

The new gates were made of solid oak at the Stanley Ferry Workshops in Wakefield, one of only two manufacturers in the UK.  There's a photo here of one of the old gates being craned out of the locks;  they are being recycled.  It's all a massive undertaking, costing around £250,000 and involving the hire of a huge crane. In the old days they simply used ropes, an A frame, blocks and tackles and human strength!

I must compliment those responsible for enabling the public to enjoy this rare insight into our local heritage.  Judging by the queues, there were thousands of people as curious as I to see what is normally hidden underwater.   (The local press say 7148 people visited over two days.) I was surprised they didn't charge for entry - they could have recouped some of the cost of the project ... but instead there were collecting buckets for the 'Help For Heroes' charity, which aids our armed forces personnel wounded in recent conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan.