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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.