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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Creased up

'Wrinkles are hereditary. Parents get them from their children'.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013


A gentleman standing up to his thighs in the River Aire drew some interested observers at the Bingley Show. He was demonstrating fly-fishing, and managed the considerable feat of talking into a head-microphone, whilst casting his line in that mesmerising way, so that the 'fly' on the end looped and flicked over the water much as a real fly might do. Fascinating, though I won't be taking up the sport. It's said that fly-fishing was a favourite pastime of the late Queen Mother, though I'm not sure I can imagine her thigh-deep in a river. I suppose she took off her crown.

Monday, 29 July 2013


Ssssh.... can't you see I'm asleep? A prize-winning marmalade-coloured Persian cat seemed to find his litter tray the most comfortable place for a nap.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Portrait of a champion

A star turn at the Bingley Show - this year's Grand National winner, Auroras Encore. The horse is trained by Sue Smith (seen here in the saddle), wife of the former show-jumping legend Harvey Smith, at their stables at High Eldwick, on the moors up above Bingley. Aurora's jockey, Ryan Mania, riding in his first Grand National, guided the 66-1 outsider to a shock victory in the famous race at Aintree in April.

I'm not a great fan of horse-racing in general, but I do usually watch the Grand National, which has a kind of iconic status - and for me also heralds the start of Spring! Now having seen Auroras Encore in the flesh, I can only say what a truly beautiful horse he is.

Saturday, 27 July 2013


Not Puss-in-Boots but Duck-in-Boots, for sale at the Bingley Show. Haven't they got cute expressions?  Their pose (apart from the boots, of course) is just like the real ones on the canal when they clamour for bread. I really liked them. I wasn't so sure about the colourful cocks... They would make a change from garden gnomes, I suppose.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Bowler hats and feathers

As big as Titan the Robot (see yesterday), but much more appealing (to me anyway!) the shire horses returned to Bingley Show. They don't bring stallions, which can be quite a handful, but there were a few mares and their foals. The adult horses, like this mare above, stand six foot at the shoulder. At less than a year old, the foals were as big as your average pony. Even the young ones have the characteristic feathering around their feet, silky hairs which float as the horses trot, making these huge beasts look curiously light-footed.

The judges were very smart in their suits and bowler hats (which you rarely see anymore). I'm not sure why this is the ensemble of choice.... Some readers will no doubt remember Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley, the two bowler-hatted cartoon characters! They advertised the Building Society that at one time had its HQ in Bingley. It eventually demutualised and became a bank but then became a victim of the banking crisis in 2008, resulting in the bank being split and partly nationalised. Its main office building in the centre of Bingley - a concrete brutalist monstrosity - stands empty and decaying. Bought by the supermarket giant Sainsburys, they have so far done nothing with it. There were people with a petition at Bingley Show, complaining that Something Must Be Done - and I tend to agree!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Titan the Robot

Titan the Robot is a huge crowd-puller at Bingley Show, striding through the crowds and entertaining with comedic routines, street-theatre and music. At almost 8ft tall, he's hard to miss and enthralling to watch, delighting and scaring the crowds in equal measure. The children's faces are wonderful to watch. Is he a machine? Is he a man? Well, it's hard to tell .... but he's certainly different. Created by Nik Fielding of Cyberstein Robots Ltd, he talks, dances, sits down and rides around on a special vehicle. He can also spray the audience with water jets if they get a bit too cheeky. He's been on 'Big Brother', performed with Rihanna and even went to Glastonbury this year.  See here for a video on Youtube. I wonder if he'd do my housework?

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

With loving care

A selection of some of the entries into the Horticulture and Handicrafts sections of Bingley Show 2013. As popular as ever, these sections showcase the hobbies of local people - growing vegetables, flowers and fruit, flower arranging, jam making, baking, knitting, sewing and other crafts, and photography too. It's amazing to see what people produce. There's an awful lot of talent out there and I think it's good that the Show still includes these traditional areas. I really like looking at enormous leeks and carefully selected gooseberries. Really.... I do!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Clear round

There are two sessions of horse jumping at Bingley Show, in the morning and then in the late afternoon, when there is a jump-off against the clock. I didn't take much notice of the detail - who the riders were, what the horses were called or which class they were competing in, but I did stand and watch for quite a while. There were some beautiful horses and some very competent riders, although the fences didn't look that high. I think it was a Novice class I was watching and I suppose I'm only used to seeing Olympic fences. (Not sure if the term 'novice' refers to the horse or the rider, or both.)

I wanted to get a lower viewpoint on my photos, so that the horse wouldn't get mixed up with the background, but there were metal fences all the way round the arena and most had plastic banners tied to them too, so I couldn't even get my camera lens through. To do it like the pros you need a long telephoto too, so the background can be blurred - but we amateur bloggers have to make do with the kit we have! Anyway, I was reasonably pleased with some of my shots. (At least they are sharp!)

Monday, 22 July 2013

A bit of best beef

On Saturday, the 132nd Bingley Show returned to Myrtle Park, having been cancelled in 2012 because of the incessant rain. This year it coincided with a heatwave (the crazy British weather!) though in fact on the day there was heavy cloud cover, so temperatures stayed comfortable and I didn't have to worry too much about getting sunburnt, hooray! I had a wonderful day out.

The Show stays fairly true to its roots as a local agricultural show, with classes for livestock and pets, garden produce, flowers, crafts, an equestrian competition and lots of trade stands. But it's also a good family day out, with events to watch in the show arena, a funfair and lots to eat and drink.

I enjoy watching the cattle being judged. This handsome bull was being closely 'hands-on' inspected by the judge and, despite the indignity, remained stoical throughout. His patience resulted in a Silver Medal.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Handle with care

Among Lister Park's treasures, in my view, are the door handles at the entrance to Cartwright Hall. There are several, all (I think) slightly different from each other but all in this elaborate and fluid style. The Hall dates from the early 1900s and I think these brass handles are in the style of Art Nouveau, which was popular in that era. They each feature an elegant lady sitting atop a flowing, leaf-like cascade that forms the handle itself. Little treasures.

(I wish it was easier to arrange photos in Blogger. This was the best I could manage!

Saturday, 20 July 2013


This sculpture - Lady-Hare, by Sophie Ryder - is one of a pair from a series called 'Torsos', which fuse human, animal and mythological forms to create mythical hybrids. Sophie Ryder's work has been the subject of an 'Art in Yorkshire' exhibition at Bradford's Art Gallery, Cartwright Hall, which is in Lister Park. The companion piece is 'Minotaur'. Huge and imposing, these two artworks sit either side of the entrance to Cartwright Hall, like sentinels. The exhibition inside has now closed but these pieces remain in position until next year.

Friday, 19 July 2013

(Hot) Weather station

Among the interesting things in Lister Park, Bradford, is this meteorological station. It's been here since 1908 and has provided weather reports every single day since it opened. According to the sign on the gate, readings are taken at 10.00am in winter and at 9.00am in summer and are sent to the Meteorological Office (Met Office) to feed into their statistics for the country as a whole. I'm not sure exactly what the station measures, but there are several pieces of equipment within the compound - temperature, wind speed and rainfall must be some of the observations recorded.

This week it will have been saying the maximum temperature is around 28-30ºC (low-mid 80ºs F) -  although it feels hotter to me, as it's often been quite humid.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

An old fossil

An old fossil... no, not me! This fossilised tree root displayed in Bradford's Lister Park is something else  that I have long been fascinated by. It was discovered in 1889 in a sandstone quarry in nearby Clayton. In carboniferous times, 330 million years ago, Yorkshire was a hot, steamy, tropical swamp with forests of giant trees. This tree was 40 metres high, with a huge spreading root system. The trunk must have been snapped during a flood or storm. The decaying hollow stump filled with sand, which over millions of years hardened into sandstone rock and the tree stump and roots became a fossil, known as Stigmaria. The outer wood layers became coal and the leaves and stems of plants decayed to form peat which eventually turned into seams of coal. Coal was at one time mined for fuel all around this area but the supply is now exhausted.

(Yorkshire is hot, steamy and tropical again right now... I think it's called summer.  So long since we had one, I can't remember.  I have not noticed any giant trees though.)

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

A little bit of history..

The small stream running through the Botanical Gardens (see yesterday) in Bradford's Lister Park flows out into the Boating Lake - a well-used amenity since Edwardian times. I've found an old photo of the lake on the internet - see here. Nowadays there are only a few actual rowing boats left. Most people use the garish red pedaloes but they still seem to have fun.

There used to be a Lido (an open-air bathing pool) in the park too, in fact I remember using it when I was a student in the early 1970s. It has long since disappeared and little trace remains, except in people's memories and in a few old photos (see here).

I may have caught a little bit of history in this photo. I read in the local news that the night after I visited, the fire brigade was called to the café where a fire had broken out in a storeroom. The building was completely smoke-logged and the firefighters had to break through the security shutters to gain access. By all accounts they saved the main part of the structure, so perhaps it can be rebuilt and re-opened. Such a shame that it happened when we're in the middle of a heatwave. It's important that people can buy a drink and an ice-cream in the park in the hot-weather. But I am sure some enterprising mobile ice-cream van will be on the case very soon!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Keeping cool

We are having a bit of a heatwave here lately (though nothing, I realise, to compare with the summer temperatures some readers are accustomed to). I don't 'do' hot very well; I'm a real 'English rose' and really only comfortable within a small range of temperatures, neither too hot nor too cold. Luckily my house tends to stay cool. It has hefty stone walls and no windows that face directly south. But on the grounds that one really shouldn't stay inside on a rare summer's day in UK I try to head for trees, a park or some water.

Bradford's Lister Park has all three, so a trip there provided a pleasant interlude. This is part of the small Botanical Garden, which has some unusual trees and a little stream running through it, though that was barely a trickle in the heat. The garden's colour comes as much from the foliage as from flowers, but it has some very pleasing vistas. I once posted a Spring picture of this same area but looking the other way - here.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Mouse tricks

I've been at those mouse tricks again! Hover over the picture to see a monochrome version of this rather splendid Saltaire window, in one of the big houses on Albert Road.

This is as good a time as any to mention that the annual display of Saltaire's archive material will be taking place weekdays from Monday 22 July to Friday 2 August (not Saturday or Sunday). It's open 10am to 3pm in the Shipley College Salt Building, admission £1.  They hold some very interesting things and if you're in the area it's well worth visiting.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Open Gardens 5: Eucalyptus

This large, sunny garden has as its focal point these three Eucalyptus trees, with their distinctive 'camouflage' bark pattern. They will be very familiar to some of you but they are not native to, nor common, in this country. They certainly have the 'wow' factor here.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Open Gardens 4: A hidden corner

It was easy to overlook this hidden corner; as you walked up the garden path your eye was drawn to the larger view of the main garden. But I loved the harmonious colours, the textures and the rustic appeal. The rambling rose had tiny pale pink blooms, very pretty. And there's a bird nesting box hiding there too.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Open Gardens 3: Specimen plants

Looking round the gardens this year, I found I was attracted as much to individual specimen plants as to the overall views and shapes of the gardens. The little geranium above was really pretty... It's called 'Angel', I was told.

You can't beat the luminous blue of a delphinium....

Such pretty colours, shapes and textures in these leaves too.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Open Gardens 2: Rockery

I'm quite fond of rockeries. There was a large one across the front of my childhood home and it always had some colour in it. I like the way the plants tumble through the stones like waterfalls. The owners of this large garden have recently undertaken a major re-landscaping, and so the rockery is still a 'work in progress'. But it was a cheerful sight with all the yellow flowers.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Open Gardens 1: Time for tea

As well as enjoying Wimbledon's tennis, another contributor to making last weekend so wonderful was the opportunity to explore some local gardens. It was the annual Shipley 'open gardens' weekend, when lots of local folks spruce up their gardens and open them to the public to raise money for charity (The Children's Society). As I've said before, I am not a keen gardener - though I've made a bit of an effort in my own patch this year. I do, however, very much appreciate other people's hard work and creativity.

The lovely garden pictured belongs to Ann, the lady with the teacup, who is a good friend of mine. She's a very keen gardener and her lovely, shady garden on a steep hillside is full of winding paths and little 'rooms', with a lot of foliage plants and some pretty dabs of colour. As an added bonus there was the opportunity to relax in the shade on a very hot day and sample a good British cream tea: a cup of tea with a scone, strawberries and cream. Yummy.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

RIP Saltaire roundabout

The time has come..... After years of argument and planning discussions, the junction at Saltaire roundabout is to be altered, to try to relieve the traffic congestion. I have mentioned before how dangerous it is. At present six roads converge, three of them main arterial routes.  There are numerous accidents, even more near-misses and I feel that I'm putting my life and my car at risk every time I try to negotiate it.

Starting later this month, they are going to remove the roundabout, close off two of the smaller roads and make the junction traffic-light controlled. The work is predicted to take up to six months - so that will be six months of increased hell for all of us living locally, with the hope that in the long-run it will be better. I doubt it will reduce the congestion and queues at peak times but it might make it a safer junction.

I thought I'd better take a photo for posterity. This view will soon look a bit different.

Sunday, 7 July 2013


What a wonderful weekend! Sunshine and baking hot temperatures here in England - and a brilliant result in the tennis at Wimbledon. I've watched all of Andy Murray's matches in the past fortnight and many of them have been absolutely nail-biting. It's like watching gladiators fighting it out, I always think. So different from watching team sports. The momentum can turn on such apparently small incidents and it really is a mind-game as well as a test of physical stamina and skill. Djokovic played a great game too and he's such a nice guy. I have loads of admiration for Murray; he has worked so hard for years and improved every aspect of his game. He deserves this success. And, 77 years after the last British men's title holder, it's an amazing result for the nation to have a British male champion at our home tournament. I hope Murray will go from strength to strength for a few more years yet...

I've pinched the photo, which is very naughty, but I'm more than happy to promote Adidas on my blog... I think it's a good ad. Says it all.

PS: Feel moved to point out that we've had four (yes, four!) women's singles champions in the last 77 years, a fact which the nation seems to have collective amnesia about.


One of my favourite flowers - the Ox-eye Daisy - is blooming in profusion in the little garden beside Saltaire's rail station. The garden, I think, actually belongs to Shipley College and seems to be planted deliberately with wild flowers. I'm not really knowledgeable about wild flowers but I think there are also Knapweed and a type of Cranesbill visible. There were some other varieties too, though you can't really see them in this view. Such a joy that wild flowers, though they've been purged in many agricultural areas, are nevertheless encouraged in some of our urban gardens.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Leeds old and new

Walking back into Leeds' shopping centre from the waterfront area, I took a route I don't often use and was suddenly struck by the mix of architectural styles. You get so used to focusing on the modern shop fronts at ground level that what is above often doesn't get noticed much. I know there are some lovely old brick buildings in Leeds, something that the Bradford and Saltaire area has very few of. Here, I rather liked the building on the front right (on the corner of the romantically-named Commercial Street and Briggate), which looks to me as though it could almost be in Germany or Austria. I don't think I've ever really registered it before.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Space age?

I was sure I'd shown a photo of this before on my blog, but I can't find it. It always puts me in mind of some kind of space capsule... but in fact the origins of this go back a lot, lot longer. It is actually the central tower at the Royal Armouries museum in Leeds. The articles displayed are swords, lances, daggers and pieces of armour dating back into British history. At one time you had to lie on the floor on your back to take a shot like this, but now there is a very clever arrangement of mirrors.

I only paid a very brief visit this time but now that I realise I haven't shown any photos before, I will either return for a longer tour or dig out some of my previous photos from the musuem. At one time I thought that a museum full of the history of conflict wouldn't be my kind of thing. But in fact the place is packed full of fascinating history and makes a really good day out. It's free to get in too!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Continental market

Leeds Waterfront Festival featured, among other things, a Continental Market, which wound through some of the pedestrian lanes among the new apartment blocks around the wharves. You could buy all manner of fancy food, though it seemed too early in the day for me to really fancy a bowl of paella or tartiflette. It was all rather quiet when I was there, but later in the day the sun came out and I imagine things got a bit busier.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Calls Landing

A slightly more sedate form of water transport than in yesterday's post...

Calls Landing is part of the newly renovated waterfront in Leeds. The former warehouses along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and the River Aire, in the heart of Leeds city centre, have been turned into smart restaurants, bars, night-clubs and digital-age businesses, as well as masses of apartments. It is a thriving area, day and night. The Calls area is the heart of Leeds' gay community.

In the background you can see the 'wedding cake' church tower that is right beside the new Trinity shopping centre that I featured a while back.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Splashing dragon, hidden tiger

One of the teams competing in the Dragon-boat racing at Leeds Waterfront Festival. There was plenty of splashing and yelling going on, as well as the steady drum-beat (that is supposed) to tell them when to dip their paddles. I thought the guy at the back looked pretty cool, considering!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Neck and neck

Dragon-boat racing in the New Dock at the Leeds Waterfront Festival. A dull and chilly morning was enlivened by the colour and spectacle of these amateur races. I've never actually seen this sport before and I don't know much about it. Apparently it originated in southern China and the modern version has only been taken up internationally in the last few decades. It basically involves large teams of paddlers, spurred on by the beats (and shouts) of a drummer. The boat is steered by the guy standing up (quite a dangerous role, I guess... especially when they had to duck under the bridge!) The crews looked pretty raw to it, though very enthusiastic - there was plenty of water flying about. The boats had to be bailed out in between heats! I believe the teams are drawn from charities, groups and businesses in the area. The races have become something of a tradition at the Festival, which showcases the recently redeveloped waterfront area in Leeds, along the canal and river.