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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Christmas shopping

I've been invited by a friend and former colleague to join and small (very select!) online photography club. The idea is that we have a monthly theme, take photos around the theme during the month, select one to put on the club website at the month end and then each add our comments and constructive criticisms to each other's. The idea appeals as a way of breaking out of the creative box I've lately felt I've put myself in. (It's easy to end up taking photos 'to feed the blog' and nothing more.)

December's theme is 'Intersection' so I have been thinking about and looking for subjects that would interpret that. This is, for me, a new way of approaching photography. Though I can often find photos retrospectively that fit a theme, I rarely go out with a specific theme in mind.

Opportunities for photography being scarce at the moment, I ended up taking my DSLR with me when I went Christmas shopping in Leeds.  That was an 'intersection' in itself!  This photo of the new Leeds Trinity Shopping Centre could be one interpretation of the theme - both in the way the walkways criss-cross and in those complicated spider's web Christmas decorations.

If you're wondering what the horse is about, look here. (And that is another photo that could, I suppose, fit the 'Intersection' theme quite well.)

Sunday, 15 December 2013

High Corn Mill, Skipton

Apologies for my absence from blogging. I seem to be very busy with necessary things that have prevented me from going out and about with my camera. It's always harder to find time in the winter. It's still dark when I leave home in the mornings and dark again by the time I come home from work. Weekends in the run-up to Christmas seem to be full this year. I haven't even been out to look at Saltaire's Advent windows yet!

I did take my camera when I went to meet a friend in Skipton recently. We spent so much time chatting over coffee(s) - and cake of course - that I left myself no time for taking photos. We rather lost track of time. (Isn't it delightful when a conversation is so engaging?) Then I suddenly remembered my parking ticket had run out and I had to dash back to the car before a traffic warden got there first! I took this quick snap of the old corn mill beside the canal. It has a water-wheel at the far side but it's not in a spot where you can really get a decent photo.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Saltaire sunset

Sitting at my desk, I could see some enticing wisps of pink suddenly appearing above the roofs of the houses opposite. I grabbed my phone, ran to the end of the road and was rewarded with this lovely show of colour. You have to be quick to catch the sunsets round here and I rarely seem to see a good one. This wasn't the most spectacular but I am always charmed by the pretty effects. I think the iPhone did a creditable job of rendering it. I have not boosted the colour at all.

I'm going to take a break from blogging for a few weeks. I have a lot of other things I need to make progress with. I will be back, no doubt with a few Saltaire Christmas photos at some stage. Don't go away!!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Dales view

I wasn't going to post this one on my blog, though I've put it on Flickr.  A letterbox crop is the wrong shape for the blog really. But since I think it's probably one of my best landscape pictures EVER..... please view large (click on it). It's another view of Langstrothdale, such a scenic and unspoiled place.

Monday, 18 November 2013


Langstrothdale must be one of the most photogenic of the Yorkshire Dales. It's often the smaller dales that are the most stunning, wonderful for walking but less amenable to car travel as the roads are so narrow. The infant River Wharfe rises in this dale, heading south to the village of Buckden, where its valley becomes Wharfedale.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Rainbow over Langstrothdale

'Gratitude is the real treasure God wants us to find, because it isn't the pot of gold but the rainbow that colors our world.' Richelle E Goodrich

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Cauldron Falls

Recent heavy rain has made the waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales rather spectacular. This pretty spot is Cauldron Falls in West Burton. It was sketched by J M Turner in 1816, when he was taking a grand tour of Yorkshire, and from the sketch (part of the Turner Bequest held in The Tate) it seems that little has changed since then. West Burton itself is an attractive Dales village, clustered around a large village green with a market cross.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Coat of Arms

There has been a church in Linton since Saxon times (850 AD) and the present church contains many ancient features such as a Norman font and arches. The church has been modified and extended several times, including a major Victorian restoration in 1861, which created the distinctive squat belfry with its carillon of four bells. I can't find much information about this coat of arms on the wall, but it makes an impressive feature. It relates to King George III. I believe that at one time churches had a statutory duty to display the royal coat of arms as a sign of loyalty to the crown and to the sovereign as Supreme Head of the Church of England.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Linton Church

The little parish church of St Michael and All Angels sits beside the River Wharfe at Linton Falls, just across the river from the village of Grassington. To my mind it's one of the most picturesque places in Wharfedale. We were lucky enough to catch quite dramatic lighting, in between dodging the rain showers. Look closely and you will see this is a self-portrait too, shadows being unavoidable in the low sunlight. Me and my tripod!

There are estimated to be over 10,000 people buried in this churchyard and some of the memorial stones are fascinating. There is one for a two-year old boy who died of pneumonia in 1926, after playing Cupid (in the nude) in a pageant in Grassington.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Upper Wharfedale

Over the next few days I will post some of the photos I took during my holiday at Scargill in the Yorkshire Dales. This is the view across Upper Wharfedale from the track up to Buckden Pike, showing the typical landscape of this area with its drystone walls and limestone barns.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Through the triangular window....

It was raining at the time (!) but I think nevertheless you can see the impact of the glorious scenery viewed through one of the gable windows of Scargill House's chapel... Yorkshire drystone walling and lots of trees on this side, a view across the valley on the other.

I don't suppose many people will remember where my title comes from - did you ever watch 'Playschool'?  When my daughter was small, in the early 1980s, we often watched this children's TV programme. They zoomed in to a film sequence through a different-shaped window each time.

Monday, 11 November 2013

The chapel at Scargill House

I had another holiday! I spent a few days up in the Yorkshire Dales (Upper Wharfedale, to be precise) at Scargill House near Kettlewell. Scargill is a Christian holiday and retreat centre, home to a resident community of some thirty people from all over the world, who welcome all to enjoy a few days being well-cared for in a spectacular environment. The programme I went on was a photography holiday (what else!) so I spent time with a lovely group of like-minded folk, exploring some of the wonderful local beauty spots and being patiently coached where coaching was needed. I think I have finally got to grips with using a tripod, which had always frustrated me before. I'm not saying I will always lug one around with me; I like to travel light on my walks - but at least I now feel I can make proper use of one when I need to.

My photo shows the chapel at Scargill, recently short-listed in the top ten in a competition to find the best churches built in the last 60 years. Built in 1960 and designed by George Pace, the chapel has a soaring A-frame roof in a Scandinavian style. Through the huge, clear glass, gable windows you can see the lovely Yorkshire scenery outside, making it an especially uplifting place to worship the Creator God.

Sunday, 10 November 2013


'They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.'

[From 'For the Fallen' by Laurence Binyon]

The East Window of St. Mary's Church, Kettlewell in the Yorkshire Dales shows the figure of Christ appearing to soldiers in the trenches at the Battle of the Somme, 1916. The window is a memorial to Lieutenant G. Cutliffe Hyne of the Irish Guards, who was wounded in the battle, aged just 18, and died of his wounds later in a military hospital in London. He was buried in St Mary's churchyard. The pile of clothes is his and the faces of the soldiers are reputedly those of his friends.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Golden hour

'The golden hour' is very golden in Saltaire, when the low sunshine lights up the honey-coloured stone. This is the entrance to Salts Mill from Victoria Road.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Golden moment

'Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognise it as such.'  Henry Miller

(New Mill chimney, Saltaire, reflected in the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.)

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Across the weir

New Mill, Saltaire. A familiar viewpoint in a different light.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Shadow play

Roberts Park bandstand, Saltaire. Even in the mid-afternoon now, the sun is getting low and the shadows are long. I waited a while to see if the youngsters would move out of the bandstand but the smooth surface is good for sliding their scooters and skateboards around. In the end, perhaps the rim-lit figures add something. I begin to think I may be a little too impatient to get people-free shots. Sometimes I might give the impression that Saltaire is uninhabited, which is far from the case!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

New England 5: Covered bridge

New England is famous for its covered bridges. Having read 'The Bridges of Madison County' and seen the movie, (yes, I know that's in Iowa), I have a romantic notion of them and was keen to see and photograph some. The limitations of a group tour meant that I wasn't able to see more than a couple and they were not the most authentic versions either, so I didn't really tick that box in the end. However, this pedestrian bridge in Stowe, Vermont was quite attractive. I feel sure it is there primarily as a tourist attraction; it looked relatively new.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Autumn leaves

The Rowan or Mountain Ash tree has leaves that turn a nice shade of magenta in the autumn. Sadly, this year, they have not been able to stay on the trees for long due to the wind and rain we've had.  You have to look down to see the beauty now, not up.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Autumn windfall

There are more leaves on the ground than on some of our trees now - and yes, this is Autumn in Old England, not Fall in New England. (But with the occasional vivid red leaf among the yellow and brown ones, who would know?) Wind, rain and mild weather have combined to ensure that Britain's autumn this year is nowhere near as spectacular as last year's was. It is still possible to find some inspirational images though. This is just how the leaves fell, I didn't arrange them.

By the way, I have not finished with my USA trip photos yet, it's just taking me a while to work through them.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Autumn by The Boathouse

Autumn tones by the River Aire in Roberts Park, Saltaire. And yes, it was raining hard at the time!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

It's a bit damp....

Rainy Saltaire from Salts Mill. A view, perhaps, quite close to what many southerners imagine the North of England looks like. Well, it does.... sometimes. Speaking personally, I think even in the rain it has a certain beauty.

Thankfully, The Storm did not really affect us in Yorkshire. It rained a lot but it has not been particularly windy. It hit much further south and there has been some damage to trees and property across southern England, I think, though it wasn't a hurricane! We generally have such mild weather here that anything slightly out of the ordinary (heavy rain, wind, snow, power cuts) seems to get everyone really excited.

Monday, 28 October 2013

The dilemma

Spotted in Roberts Park when I went for a quick, wet walk on Sunday. (I thought it was funny but I suppose they didn't...)

Saturday, 26 October 2013

New England 4: Pumpkins

The scenery over to the east of New England, in New Hampshire, is pretty spectacular. The White Mountains include the highest peak in the northeastern US, Mt Washington. The area is a climbing, hiking, ski-ing magnet so many of the towns have a definite 'touristy' feel to them. The fall colours weren't quite as developed here as in Vermont, but it was still very attractive.

Everywhere we went there were pumpkins and squashes, in many different colours. The US puts much more emphasis on 'Fall' and 'Halloween' than we do here (though we are catching on!) with bright displays of flowers and pumpkins everywhere - in shops, hotels and on doorsteps. I liked the look of this farm shop near North Conway. The rock outcrop behind is Cathedral Ledge, popular with climbers.

(I cloned one intrusive overhead electricity cable out, left the thinner ones!)

Thursday, 24 October 2013

New England 3: Truckin'

When I first arrived in the USA, I was like a child in a sweet shop, excited about all the 'American' things I've seen in movies.... A fire hydrant - wow! A mailbox - wow! Steam coming out of the pavement - wow! American trucks - wow! Some of those I soon became blasé about, but I have to say that my excitement at the big trucks never did wear off. This was an attractive example, at a cider mill we visited in Vermont. These beasts are very different from British/European trucks lorries, tending to have a lot more bling/shiny bits and those big engines at the front. Most of the trucks we see here have flat fronts, straight down from the windscreen. They're probably just as powerful but they don't look nearly as macho. As for the fire engines - wow and wow again! (I came back with six photos of fire engines.)
The trucks remind me, I guess, of that Kris Kristofferson movie, 'Convoy', that we were nutty about in the late 70s. Ain't nothin' gonna get in their way!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Creepie crawlies

More USA photos in the production line... but this one was taken closer to home, in my own backyard in fact.

We seem to have been overrun this autumn by a veritable plague of creepie crawlies, no doubt due to the warm summer we just had. I have a house full of tiny little black flies, pesky things that are so small I have to put my glasses on to make sure they're not just a speck of something inanimate. Then when I try to squish them they leap up and fly away before I can blink - and, being so small, you can't see where they've gone. So the pantomime repeats over and over.  I guess I need spiders and, believe me, in my 100+ year old house I have 100+ year old spiders - huge, spooky things. The indoor ones, however, are nothing like as beastly as this monster in the garden. A common Garden Spider, it has been there for days, carefully mending and re-mending its orb web. Unfortunately it has made the mistake of being hooked up in large part to the dustbin so when the time comes for it to be emptied (Thursday) he is going to get a rude awakening.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

New England 2: Misty morning in Williamstown

Williamstown is an attractive town in the Berkshire hills, Massachusetts, dominated by Williams College, an elite, liberal arts college. It seems a very prosperous place, full of elegant buildings and pretty, painted houses. I was charmed by the 'New England style' homes, much copied in magazines over here in Old England. They are almost all wooden, clad in shingles or weatherboard painted in soft pastel shades. Many have large porches or wrap-around verandahs. I really want one now!

I like the harmony of colours in this photo.  It was taken in the early morning when it was really quite foggy but the diffused light was pleasant. The only thing that maddened me was all those infernal power-lines criss-crossing every street - often hard to avoid unless I wanted to get myself killed standing in the middle of a road. We have some thin telephone wires here but the thicker cables are usually buried.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

New England 1: The Grist Mill at Weston

After a couple of years of day-dreaming, I finally got my act together to visit the USA - specifically the Boston and New England area. 'Clueless in Boston' and 'Naples and Hartford in Season' both do a great job of showcasing the attractions and I wasn't disappointed. I had two great weeks over there recently and enjoyed every minute. I've come back with around 1500 photos, all taken in RAW format, so it is going to take me a while to work through them all, to process and organise them. I will post a few of my favourites here, just for fun. (Anyway, I haven't taken any local shots for weeks so it's the US or nothing!)

I'll start with this one, taken in a pretty little town called Weston, in Vermont. Just before we left the town I stumbled across this little grist (corn?) mill with its waterwheel. I was so charmed by the scene, with the waterfall and the pretty foliage - and that gorgeous red paint. (I learned to call it Vermont Red, there is so much of it.) I was glad I didn't miss this shot - and, would you believe it, sharing my experiences with Jack from Hartford, we realised he had taken the very same view earlier in the summer. See here (3rd photo) for his version.  Now we just want volunteers to visit in the winter and the spring, for the complete Weston Grist Mill year. Any offers?

Friday, 18 October 2013


We rarely see huge fields of these colourful flowers, but their bright cheerfulness livens up many a town garden. Here they are growing beside the railway line in the middle of Saltaire. Perhaps the seed-heads will attract some goldfinches later on. You can just see, behind them, the golden spike on top of the church peeping above the trees.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Potted history

I don't know what the rear yard of this Saltaire cottage looked like, or whether it was equally well cared for, but the occupants have certainly made an effort with their pretty rows of pot plants at the front. They lift a utilitarian terraced house into something really quite picturesque.  Lovely to think this house has been a cosy home for nearly 160 years.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


George Street, Saltaire. Some garden genius at work here, matching the planting to the paintwork. I think this looks really lovely.

Monday, 14 October 2013

The cat sat....

The cat sat on the mat pavement - and STARED at me. Isn't it unnerving when they do that? It was sitting outside one of Saltaire's 'workmen's houses'. The door on the left is the standard Saltaire front door. The house on the right must have been altered before the village became a Conservation Area (or else someone has been naughty!)  It really shows why the Listed status for Saltaire is important; people do all sorts of bizarre things without regulation... random pebbledash, for instance!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Colour cascade

A bright cascade of colour and pattern contrasted with most of the other exhibits in 'Cloth and Memory. It did suggest a waterfall to me, but also reminded me of those big books of fabric swatches you find in home furnishing shops.

This was the work of another Japanese artist:

Machiko Agano - Japan
One of the foremost textile artists in Japan with an international reputation and work in major museums throughout the world. For C&M her large-scale installation reflects the importance of water in the production of cloth and the revolutionary recycling of rainwater at Salts Mill through her contemporary use of the traditional Yuzen dyeing technique.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Memory boxes

'Cloth and Memory': This artist has displayed a series of beautifully coloured felted books, in the wall cavities originally used by workers to store bobbins. This is just one of a number of memory boxes she has made along the walls.

Jeanette Appleton – UK
A highly experienced artist, her response for C&M will use the 'silencing' context of felt as a metaphor for the absorption of sound and memory. Intimate works based on the original ledgers and sample books are placed in the wall cavities originally used by workers to store bobbins.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Gossamer web

Isn't this amazing? It was my favorite exhibit in the 'Cloth and Memory' exhibition. By a Japanese artist, it is made of individual rice grains threaded on cotton.

Yoriko Yoneyama – Japan
Artist whose installation comprises a suspended web of dried rice threaded on fine cotton. Her intention is to link those overlooked elements which are essential to our survival and our cultural heritage: food and clothing - rice and fibre.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Cloth & Memory (2)

There's a wonderful exhibition on the top floor of Salts Mill at the moment (until November 3). Entitled 'Cloth and Memory (2)', it uses the huge space of the mill's original spinning shed to prompt installations and exhibits by 23 UK and international artists, using textiles as a start point.  I thought I was going to be underwhelmed at first, but in fact I found that by going round slowly, taking the time to see the detail and allowing each exhibit to offer me its story, it proved to be a most enriching experience.

The piece in the foreground of my photo is described in the catalogue as follows:

Kari Steihaug - Norway
One of Norway's leading textile artists whose work has not previously been shown in the UK. Her installation is conceived as a dialogue with sizes: between the body and the room. It comprises of an unravelling woollen jumper, knitted from garments discarded or collected from flea markets. The installation stretches from floor to ceiling - drawing lines in space as the unravelled threads are wrapped around spools on the floor.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

People patterns

I love looking down from the top floor of Salts Mill. People become something other than individuals, as a 'people pattern' emerges, changes, ebbs and flows.


Sorry I haven't been commenting lately... I have just returned from two glorious weeks touring New England and Boston, USA. It was a wonderful trip and the Fall colours were stunning. Photos won't do them justice, but I hope to post just a few later on. In the meantime I will carry on with the posts I have scheduled, as I try to bring myself back down to earth gently!  I have a long 'to do' list, not least sorting out about 1500 travel photos... But I hope to catch-up with everyone's blogs in the next few days, (probably in the middle of the night as I battle my jet-lag).

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Leeds Morris Men

The world of Morris and folk dancing is full of rich history and there many different and arcane traditions. Leeds Morris Men, also dancing at Saltaire Festival, dance in the Cotswold Morris tradition. This is perhaps what most people think of when you say 'Morris dancing'... hankies, sticks and bells and lots of jumping up and down. It's great fun to watch.  These dances are thought to have their origins in pagan fertility rituals, celebrating the coming of Spring and warding off evil spirits that might seek to prevent new growth and rebirth. They also have a 'fool', whose role is to build rapport with the audience, talking to them, introducing the dances, getting people to join in - as this little girl so ably did - and generally fooling about.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Spen Valley Longsword

Spen Valley Longsword were also dancing in Roberts Park. They practise a form of dance that was once common throughout the north of England, and is kept going by some dedicated teams across Yorkshire. All the dances involve intricate figures using the swords, some of the figures symbolising mock executions and resurrection. At the end the six swords are traditionally interlaced and held aloft. These dances are, I believe, all about celebrating the Winter Solstice and the coming of the New Year, new beginnings.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Roll back the carpet...

... and get dancing! Roll Back the Carpet are a Saltaire-based dance group, who practice in the Victoria Hall. Their style is rather different from our other local dance group, Rainbow Morris, as Roll Back the Carpet dance in the Appalachian 'Green Grass' style, which has links to American square dancing. It is called clogging, but in fact they don't wear the leather clogs we are used to seeing. Their shoes have heels and metal taps underneath to make a clicking sound so they need a hard, flat surface like the bandstand to dance on. It's energetic and they obviously have a lot of fun doing it.

They were dancing a 'Day of Dance' as part of the Saltaire Festival, teaming up with half a dozen other dance sides. Roberts Park was a lively place that day!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Festival gardens 7

This little Saltaire garden has a strong Mediterranean influence - lots of colour, some attractive pots and some imaginative planting, including grasses and shrubs in pots. The built-in seat looked inviting too - a good place to curl up with a book. I like the decking pattern, which adds depth and texture to the whole.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Festival gardens 6

Not normally open to the public, the garden around Shipley College's Exhibition Building is another of Saltaire's hidden secrets. As it is surrounded by a tall hedge, many people don't even realise it's there. (Although if you come to the village on a coach trip, as many people do, your coach would probably park in the adjacent road.  From the high vantage point of the bus window you would be able to peep in and see this little delight.) It is maintained by the college's horticultural students and its borders look attractive at this time of year, especially seen against the splendour of the Victoria Hall in the background.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Festival gardens 5

This was until recently a bare and forlorn patch (see here) in the middle of Saltaire village that once housed the Wash House and Baths. Now planted and maintained by volunteers, it has blossomed into a pretty, green garden that is much more attractive and provides a welcoming place to sit and rest as you explore Saltaire on foot. The transformation is remarkable.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Festival gardens 4

More imaginative displays from the same little yard that I showed yesterday.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Festival gardens 3

Another gorgeous gem of a tiny Saltaire yard, making use of ornaments, unusual bric-a-brac and little 'still life' set pieces to offset the planting.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Festival gardens 2

Another corner of the tiny but beautifully planned garden in one of Saltaire's 'workmen's cottages'. I particularly like the pretty little violet tumbling over the wall in the centre, with its heart-shaped leaves flushed with purple.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Festival gardens 1

Saltaire Festival once again featured the popular Open Gardens trail, a chance to explore some of the tiny but fertile backyards around the village.  This was my favourite garden last year and it was equally attractive and lush this year. I love that blue wall. Seeing it last year did inspire me to try a bit harder with my own patch, but the hot summer quickly frazzled the plants in many of my pots.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Live Room

More music with a lovely backdrop. Caroline's, the club on Caroline Street, regularly hosts gigs under the banner 'The Live Room'. It was a natural extension, therefore, to put a stage in the car-park and host a series of singers and bands during Saltaire's Festival. The main festival stage was down in Roberts Park, but I preferred the music at Caroline's, which was mainly the kind of folk-based stuff I enjoy. Performers on Sunday included Love of the Brave, Jasmine Kennedy, Thea Hopkins, Alex Quinn and The Man in the Street.

I note with excitement that The Live Room is hosting Eliza Gilkyson next May. Ever since I heard her music in the soundtrack to 'Case Histories' on TV, I've liked her sound. MUST get a ticket! Have a listen by clicking the video:

Friday, 27 September 2013

The wheel issue

It is good to see that some people chose to travel to Saltaire Festival by two wheels rather than four. The number of cars and vans trying to make their way through all the milling pedestrians in Saltaire's narrow streets is a perennial nightmare. Not to mention the parking issue... I have learned over the years not to attempt to move my car from outside my house for the duration of the main Festival weekend.