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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Two trees in spring

'Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.'
Kahlil Gibran

I seem to take a lot of photos of trees and these two on the hill near Dowley Gap are among my favourites.  Another lovely sight on my walk...

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Bluebells and willows

A little further along my canalside walk....
You can see the bluebells here, carpeting the woodland between the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and the River Aire.  At this spot, the river is bordered by weeping willow trees, which are such a pretty shade of light green at this time of year.  I think this is actually part of someone's garden - lucky them!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Through the woods

My favourite walk goes from Saltaire out towards Bingley along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal towpath.  This stretch of the canal, just beyond Hirst Lock, passes through the ancient woodland of Hirst Wood.  It can often be quite dark here, because the trees block the light and keep the path in deep shadow.  This particular morning though, with the sun still in the east and few leaves yet on the trees, there was a rare brightness and sparkle to the scene.  You can't really see it from my photo but the woodland is carpeted with a haze of bluebells too - very pretty.

I've posted some more photos of the Haworth 1940s weekend on my other blog, 'Seeking the Quiet Eye' (two posts: here and here) - showing many more of the wonderful costumes and uniforms people were wearing.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Sculpted grandeur

Over the next few days, I'll take you on one of my favourite walks, enjoying some lovely spring sunshine. I actually took the photos three weeks ago but haven't had time to post them. We have a few more leaves on the trees now due to the recent rain and then sunshine.

The walk starts here, on the canal towpath, just beside the Victoria Road bridge, with a view that I never tire of - Saltaire's historic United Reformed Church.  On this particular morning the sun was striking the scene in such a way that I suddenly noticed how the strong shape of the tree finds an echo in the pillars of the church's portico.  Funny how you can look at a scene again and again and still find something new in it....  I rather like the juxtaposition of natural and man-made sculptural forms.

The keen-eyed might spot the greylag geese and their current flock of goslings on the lawn.  I counted nine little fluffy ones then.  There were at least 24, all of different sizes, yesterday!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Fone fling 1

So, I finally got myself an iPhone ('big 0' birthday present!) - mainly to keep up with the rest of my family, but just think what it will do: calls, messages, emails, diary, calendar, 'to do' list, web surfing, music, news, ebook reader.. oh yes, and camera too.  OK, it's a bit of an indulgence but I'm hoping it will become a real help to me especially because I'm deaf and find ordinary phones nigh on impossible to use.  For one thing, it means I can talk to my family (free) via 'Facetime'.  My daughter and I tried this and it was great - super clear picture, I could lip-read her and see her gestures.  It was actually better than Skype, which tends to break up a lot.

I have yet to fathom 99% of it but I did attempt a few photos during the week.  I thought it might be fun to 'dump' them on my blog every so often.  You can see whether I get more skilful with it as time goes on.  Since I'm used to a big heavy DSLR, it feels really weird.  So far I've taken at least five photos of my finger!

1. Indulgence at work on a hot day  - rhubarb pie and ice cream, thanks to my generous work colleagues
2. Spare action plans...that'll be Plan C then....
3. Exuberant little azalea in my tiny front garden
4. A reminder on a postcard
5. Building works at Salts Mill, making a grander visitor entrance
6. Family of geese on the canal, spotted as I walked home from work

Come on...!

I'm thinking I might print this out and put it on my desk at work.  We could do with a bit of this wartime spirit there!  There will be plenty of patriotic bunting around next weekend though, as we celebrate Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.  She's given us an extra day off work.  God Save the Queen!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Kiss (Haworth 40s weekend)

Every nice girl loves a sailor soldier.....

Friday, 25 May 2012

Evacuees (Haworth 1940s weekend)

It's well known that during WWII some 2 million children were evacuated in a very short time from London and other major cities to lodge with families in more rural parts of Britain, considered to be 'safer' from enemy attack. On arrival in rural villages they were simply lined up and billeting officers invited potential hosts to take their pick! Many brothers, sisters and friends were separated.
The children of Haworth re-enacted this at the weekend, arriving at Haworth station by steam train and being bussed (on a vintage coach) up to the village to be collected by the villagers.  They all had their gas masks in little cardboard boxes, a small bag of clothes and possessions and a label with a number.  
All rather charming in the 21st century but in reality in the 1940s, it was for many evacuees an unhappy and frightening period in their lives - and a time of desperate anxiety for their parents left behind in the cities.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

A couple of spivs (Haworth 40s weekend)

No wartime re-enactment would be complete, either, without a couple of spivs.  A spiv was a petty criminal who peddled stolen or black-market goods of dubious authenticity.  These two slickly dressed gents fitted the stereotype perfectly and had an amusing line in banter.  And no, I was not persuaded to buy....!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

'History will be kind to me for I intend to write it' (Haworth 40s weekend)

"We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."  Sir Winston Churchill

No prizes for guessing who this distinguished gentleman is.... but I guess no 1940s tribute would be complete without Mr Churchill.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Home Guard (Haworth 1940s weekend)

Members of the Home Guard - 1.5 million local recruits, mainly older men ineligible for military service, whose role from 1940 -1944 was to act as a secondary defence force in the event of invasion by hostile forces.  They also carried out other essential tasks, guarding our coast, our military stores, airfields, carrying out patrols and fire-watch duties. Initially called the Local Defence Volunteers or LDV, they were much-maligned. (Look, Duck and Vanish!)  Their role has been made famous by the hugely popular TV series 'Dad's Army', portraying them as a likeable but rather inept band who get involved in some hilarious exploits in the name of civil defence. One episode (see here) has one of my favourite comedy scenes in it... ("What is your name?"   "Don't tell him, Pike!")

Monday, 21 May 2012

Haworth 1940s weekend

I went to Haworth yesterday to enjoy their annual 1940s weekend.  The whole village puts up the bunting, gets out the sandbags and dons uniform or authentic 1940s outfits to give the village a wartime feel.   Over the years the event has got bigger and better, and these days lots of the visitors turn up in costume too.  There are parades, a marching pipe band, a Spitfire fly-past by the RAF, vintage vehicles, concerts, tea dances and swing jive and lindy-hop dancing in the park.  'Sir Winston Churchill' drops in and usually makes a speech.  It has a fantastic atmosphere - great fun... though braving the crowds is not for the faint-hearted.

Sunday, 20 May 2012


I pass this almost every day - a scrubby little patch of earth beside some garages.  I don't give it a second glance normally.  But suddenly, in the morning sunshine, Cinderella was revealed, dressed for the ball... with beautiful golden leaves and a burst of bluebells.

Saturday, 19 May 2012


Dramatic skies over Salts Mill, like a witch's bubbling cauldron - but it didn't actually rain!

(Though it's been raining plenty lately!)

Friday, 18 May 2012

Saltaire's roofs

Another bonus of making the long climb up to Salts Mill's roofspace (see Wednesday's post) is the amazing view you get of Saltaire village.  With the railway station and the stone setts of Albert Terrace in the foreground, you can look out over the slate roofs, right up the Aire valley to the hill (the St Ives estate) overlooking Bingley.  From this viewpoint the roofs look more higgledy-piggledy than you might imagine, given that the streets are laid out in an orderly grid pattern.  Many of the rows of houses contain both two and three storey dwellings, which makes the streets less uniform and more architecturally attractive.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Still life

Salts Mill's roof space has apparently hardly been touched since the textile works closed.  The other public spaces have been cleaned up and painted, whilst still retaining many features of their industrial past.  But the roof space, which is rarely open to the public except for a few exhibitions, remains full of the ghosts of the past.  I liked the arrangement of colours and shapes here.... but it all poses as many questions as answers, I feel.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


[Mouse over for black and white version]

Although not, I think, part of the 'official' Saltaire Arts Trail, the Salts Mill roofspace was once again open for the weekend.  It's a fairly rare occurrence but it's well worth climbing the stairs to see it when it is on show.  It's an unbelieveably big space - see here and here for other posts that I've done about it in the past.

Last weekend, the climb was rewarded with chance to see the annual exhibition from Leeds Photographic Society, which was founded in 1852, making it (according to their website) the oldest photographic society in the world - and a year older than Salts Mill itself!  It's a large and thriving club, affiliated to the Yorkshire Photographic Union.  Although the club caters to all, from semi-professional photographers to beginners, the quality of the exhibits was high and they maintain a consistently high standard, doing well in inter-club competitions. They won the 2011-12 Inter Club competition between Yorkshire camera clubs.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Arts Trail 8 - The team

The Saltaire Arts Trail is organised each year by Saltaire Inspired, a not-for-profit organisation run almost entirely by volunteers, and financially and practically supported by sponsors, local people, business organisations and other local agencies.  Over the three day event, there are many more volunteers helping and supporting, which is especially important given the number of venues involved and the fact that many of them are local residents' own homes.

I just happened to be going into the Victoria Hall when a (presumably professional) photographer was organising a photo shoot on the steps.  I believe these smiley people are the core team of event organisers.  Kudos to them!  They did a very good job.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Arts Trail 7 - Sunlight on closed lids

Another exhibitor in the Saltaire Arts Trail's Maker's Fair, this young illustrator's work really caught my eye.  Her name is Kate Holliday and her business has the delightful name 'Sunlight on closed lids'... 'stationery, prints and creations to light you up'.  Her prints and cards were eye-catching, bold and colourful, hand-drawn using nostalgic and natural imagery combined with neat little vintage patterns.  It can only be a matter of time, surely, before someone commissions her to illustrate a children's book.  Her work is the kind of thing my daughter - and most probably my granddaughter when she's old enough - would really love.  Although it's not in the same style, there was a strength and simplicity to her work that put me in mind of Mabel-Lucie Attwell.

I was surprised to find that she knew who I was too!  'The Saltaire blog lady' apparently has a fame I didn't even suspect!!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Arts Trail 6 - Weaving

Once inside the Victoria Hall, it proved hard to hang on to my money!  There were over 60 artists and craftspeople exhibiting, in the biggest Makers' Fair the Arts Trail has ever hosted, three large rooms full of stalls.  The products on display were of the highest quality - exquisite and unique pieces of work.  There were jewellers, handwoven textiles, woodworkers, leather workers, ceramics, printing and bookbinding and hosts of other specialisms.  Some of the artists were also demonstrating their craft too.  My picture shows Agnis Smallwood, a talented young textile designer, using a vintage handweaving machine with which she was making a lovely, slubby scarf.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Arts Trail 5 - Outside Victoria Hall

With the grandeur of Saltaire's Victoria Hall as a backdrop, the exuberance of the dark pink cherry blossom as its focal point and the fun and bustle of the Arts Trail children's activities going on in the foreground, this is an action-packed scene.  The children's activities - assisted by relatively warm sunshine last Sunday - were popular and very innovative.  A 'Garden of Easels' allowing the kids to paint outdoors (no mess!), an old-fashioned coconut shy, making hobby horses and painting your own duck to attach to an intricate string web were some of the delights on offer.  I especially liked the idea of building a whole camp of 'dens' made from sticks covered with sheets and decorated with bunting.  As the programme said, the art of building 'secret dens' has all but died out in this age of flat-pack wendy houses and fold-away tepees.  Some of my happiest childhood moments were spent in my 'tent', made from my mum's wooden clothes-horse draped with a sheet!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Arts Trail 4 - Traditional signwriting

You know how much I love the colourful narrowboats on the canal, with their distinctive hand-painted signs, decorations and pictures.  It was lovely therefore to meet Bradford-based Craig Ainge, who was demonstrating the art of traditional signwriting in the back yard of one of Saltaire's Open Houses, as part of the Arts Trail.  Craig is the only signwriter in the north of England to be accredited by the Waterways Craft Guild and he also uses his skills and experience to produce hand-painted signs, murals and restoration work for a variety of other commercial and heritage projects.  He was busy here with a painting incorporating the lovely roses that so often feature on boats, but there were examples of many more different styles of traditional writing.  I particularly liked one that said 'Dress Circle' with a finger-pointing hand, the kind of sign that would have been commonplace in old theatres - just the thing to put at the bottom of the stairs!

 (My current header shows more of Craig's work.)

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Arts Trail 3 - David Starley, artist

Follow the bunting trail to the far side of the village and you arrive at one of the large houses on Albert Road, displaying amongst other things colourful oil paintings by David Starley.  David is a Saltaire-based artist, who now works from a studio above The Butterfly Rooms on Gordon Terrace.  His subjects are mostly Saltaire and local landscapes.  He recently did a series along the Dales High Way, a long distance walk from Saltaire to Appleby in Westmorland. In what is perhaps a slight departure from his usual work, he has done an endearing series of paintings of Saltaire's cats, which can be bought as a calendar for 2013.   He had set up an easel in the garden and visitors were privileged to be able chat to him and watch him at work, whilst enjoying a cup of coffee and a slice of his wife's delicious fruit cake. (See what I have to suffer for the sake of this blog!)

(NB: The picture of cows seen in the first photo is by a different artist, Desmond Pattison, also displaying as part of Saltaire's Arts Trail.)

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Arts Trail 2 - Look for the bunting

How do you find your way round Saltaire when the Arts Trail is on?  Why, look for the bunting, of course!

Much of the artwork on display on the Arts Trail is shown in the ordinary houses around the village, each decorated with bright strips of red flags.  Brave residents open their homes for three days, come rain or shine (this year it did a bit of both!) and smile a welcome whilst hundreds of visitors tramp through their sitting room, kitchen and in some cases even bedrooms.  It's central to this Saltaire event's undeniable charm, and part of the fun is in seeing inside the village's historic Victorian cottages, which of course are not usually open to sightseers.

In many cases too, the artists and exhibitors themselves are there and it is so interesting talking to them and finding out what inspires them to create the pieces on show.  This year I was delighted to bump into Joy Godfrey, an Ilkley-based painter, sculptor and printmaker.  I've never met her before but a silkscreen print of hers - 'Hebers Ghyll' - was the first 'proper' piece of original artwork I ever owned, way back in the mid 1970s, when she was just out of art college.  I still have it and I was pleased to discover she continues to produce beautiful and distinctive work inspired by local landscapes.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Another weekend, another festival..

Hot on the heels of the World Heritage weekend, this bank holiday weekend has seen Saltaire's 2012 Arts Trail, when the village hosts artists and creative people, both locally based and from further afield, in its houses and exhibition halls.

For the first time, the programme has received funding from the National Lottery through the Arts Council England, as well as support from other organisations and individuals - a significant step in that it recognises the growing importance of the event and has allowed investment in new art and exhibitions.  I think some people don't really like the increasing 'professionalism' of the event which is perhaps moving it away from its earlier 'local community based' feel.  On the other hand, it is recognisably a good thing for putting Saltaire on the map, with coverage in the national media and hundreds of visitors descending on the village over three days.

Personally, I love it and find it really inspiring.  I've had such an enjoyable time exploring the various exhibitions.  Most of the work on display is of very high quality and - as far as I could see - pretty reasonably priced on the whole.  There were at least three paintings that - if I had the wall space and the cash - I might have bought (one by Hebden Bridge based Kate Lycett, shown above) as well as fine art photographs, ceramics, textiles, jewellery and all manner of small gifts.  It's a great place to pick up very special and individual greetings cards (I always stock up) and this year I've also ordered an unusual little side table for my newly decorated sitting room.

It's interesting to see what grabs my attention (not always what I might have expected) and I often have uplifting, 'stop me in my tracks' moments, when a particular work really engages my emotions.  This year I was almost moved to tears by a photograph of an elderly lady holding her own wedding dress.  It was part of a project by Jessa Fairbrother in the exhibition 'Interwoven: Photography, Cloth and Memory', curated by Pippa Oldfield and displayed in her own apartment.  If you'd like to see it, it's image no 5 in this 'Telegraph' article  (though seeing the actual large photo had more impact on me than the web image does).

Incidentally, the programme with its engaging artwork of a Saltaire street (above) was designed by Firecatcher.

Monday, 7 May 2012

What are you doing?

From this to this (above) in six months!  Sorry I haven't been dropping in on anyone's blogs this week.  I've been in London on granny duty.... though it is proving to be a huge pleasure and not a duty at all, as I'm sure many of you could have told me.  This is my granddaughter's: 'I'm not sure if I know that lady - and what is she doing poking that camera into my face?' expression.  After a few hours I began to be treated to the most delicious smiles and conversational gurgles, quite delightful... but by then I was too busy enjoying her company to think about taking photos.  Note the tiny drip on her lower lip... being six months old seems to involve a lot of dribbling!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Vote for Love

Last Thursday was a local council Election Day in Britain - each year a third of local councillors have to be re-elected.  The Shipley area, which includes Saltaire, has elected councillors from the Green Party for several years now.  In this country that's still quite unusual, as the Green Party doesn't yet have a huge following here.  They are the only Green councillors in Bradford.  (Jenny Jones, the Green Party candidate in the elections for the London Mayor did very well to come third).  I think in local politics, more than at national level, people are more likely to vote for the person rather than the party.  If councillors are perceived to be effective - which our three Green councillors certainly are - then they are likely to be able to hang on to their seats. Thankfully Martin Love was re-elected with a sizeable majority, getting 2323 votes.  The nearest rival, the Labour candidate, polled 862.  Bradford Council still doesn't have one party with a majority and has been 'hung' for many years, which perhaps means that things tend to get a bit bogged down.  But our Green councillors seem to do a sterling job for Shipley, understanding the local issues very well, and they have a good influence overall on the local council, I think.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Spring's soft colours

Like a lot of places across the world, England seems to have been under a deluge of rain this last week or two.  Ironically, shortly before that, hosepipe bans were introduced due to the prolonged drought... I think hosepipe bans must be a kind of rain dance!  Anyway, the rain does help nature's Spring growth spurt and, in the brief bright interludes, everywhere is looking rather pretty.  Here is Saltaire's church, peeping sweetly through the blossom.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Free range eggs

I've mentioned before that Saltaire has a regular Farmer's Market on the 3rd Saturday of the month on the Caroline Street carpark.  Well, I'm pleased to announce that I have finally shopped there!  I bought some of these lovely brown eggs, two types of cheese (a lovely salty Cheddar and some creamy Yorkshire Blue, which I have enjoyed with pears) and some veg from 'Brickyard Organics' - including carrots, still with soil on (and a real carrot taste!) and some purple-sprouting broccoli.  I love that; my dad used to grow it in our garden but you rarely see it in the supermarket and, when they have it, it is classed as a premium veg and is expensive.  The market isn't cheap, but it feels one step closer to the earth and therefore somehow good for you.  It was all a bit of a nostalgia trip.  My grandma used to keep chickens and I haven't had an egg with a little fluffy feather stuck to it since then!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Tramway Tim

I usually find that local volunteers are only too happy to chat about their interests and pose for photos and those on the Shipley Glen Tramway are no exception.  This gentleman is Tim and he was our 'driver' when we rode up the tramway.

The tramcars - one on each track - are hauled on steel cables over pulleys.  The tramway was originally powered by gas and then oil but since 1928 has been driven electrically.  Tim showed us the huge powered wheel at the top of the ride, housed in a recess behind the operating controls.  The corresponding guide wheel at the bottom is visible behind glass in the little museum at the base station.

Tim was working with an interesting mixture of old and modern on his console - they've had to spend a good £50,000 to update the mechanisms and comply with modern safety regulations.  Most of the money has been received from grants but they rely on public donations too - another reason why locals and tourists need to be encouraged to visit.  They are still looking for volunteers too, to greet visitors, sell tickets and staff the shop and help with maintenance and engineering work.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Shipley Glen Tramway

After a long period of closure for repair and renovation, I'm pleased to report that the famous Shipley Glen Tramway is regularly open again... though on the day I took these photos there seemed to be few other visitors. We had the ride to ourselves but it's a lot more fun when you can wave to the people riding in the opposite direction when the cars pass!

The Tramway was originally opened on 18 May 1895, built by a local entrepreneur, Sam Wilson, who developed a large area of Shipley Glen with a series of pleasure rides to draw and amuse the Victorian crowds.   In those days Shipley Glen was 'a good day out' for hundreds of working class families from Bradford and the surrounding area.  It's still a lovely area for walks and picnics but the tramway is the only surviving ride.  It has the distinction of being the oldest working cable tramway in Britain and runs up and down a pretty little track through woodland, replete with bluebells at present.  It saves the exertion of a steep climb up from Saltaire to the moors and open spaces of Shipley Glen.

Provided the volunteers can be found to operate the tramway, it should be open every Sunday in 2012 from 12 noon til 4.15pm - details and information on their website.  It has two 'toast-rack' tramcars at present, though there are plans to add two more, to restore it closer to the original.  It's great fun but it's no good unless people use it - so come on local folks, take your kids and grandchildren for a ride!  It's not expensive and you can buy a family season ticket for £12.50, which gives unlimited travel.  I'm looking forward to taking Elodie when she's old enough to appreciate it.

My blogposts from November 2 to 6 2009 had some old photos of the rides on Shipley Glen and there is a wonderful piece of film archive from Easter 1912 here, which always amuses me.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

'After the War was Over'

Saltaire increasingly seems to attract some very creative people and is quite a hot-bed of artistic and literary talent.  Hattie Townsend is a writer who has a long association with the community.  She has created characters and dramas for Salts Walks, as well as being herself one of their guides.  She has also written and directed four short productions for different events in Saltaire.  The latest of them, 'After the War was Over', was performed several times over the World Heritage Weekend.  It was scheduled to be in the North Shelter in Roberts Park, which would have added an authentic touch as the play was set in a park.  In the end, the weather forced it inside, to the Victoria Hall, though that did mean it was much easier to hear (for deaf old me!)

The play was set in Spring 1919.  The Great War had shattered people's lives but also brought new opportunities... an ambitious lady journalist is pursuing a story about a lurid local murder trial but chances upon other equally fascinating stories along the way.  The stories were based on true local events (the murder was connected with Sir James Robert's family - see my earlier post) and were researched with the help of the History Club and World War I group.

My photo shows the journalist Mrs Ada Forrester (played by Kate Breeze) in conversation with Sister Beatrice Milson (Sheila Lansdell) outside the Victoria Hall.