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Thursday, 31 July 2014


The pale mauve, thin-stemmed bell-like flowers of the Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) are a lot tougher than they look.  This little tumble of bells was growing in the corner of a wall in the ruined nave of Bolton Priory. The plants like dry, thin, poor soil so they can successfully colonise old walls. They look rather pretty, nodding in the breeze. They were one of my mum's favourite flowers and I have a bone china mug decorated with them, that reminds me of her every time I use it.

PS: Just read your comments.... OK, Betsy - here you are.... isn't it sweet?

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Bolton Abbey estate

A little closer to our destination and it becomes clearer that we're walking by the River Wharfe, in the Duke of Devonshire's Bolton Abbey estate, heading for Bolton Priory.  It's a well-known beauty spot, only about half an hour's drive from Saltaire, just inside the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Once an Augustinian monastery and dating back to the 12th century, the Priory is partially ruined. Half of the nave is still roofed and is used as a parish church. Very beautiful inside and in a wonderful setting, it is popular for weddings.

A warm, summer evening is perhaps the best time to visit. It gets very crowded during the day but by the time I arrived many people had packed up their picnics and gone home. The stepping stones across the river make it popular with children, though parts of the river can be extremely dangerous.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

An evening walk...

Can anyone recognise our destination?

Monday, 28 July 2014

The Old Glen House

It's a steep walk from Saltaire up the hill to Shipley Glen, though you can sometimes use the Tramway. After all that climbing you may be hungry or thirsty, in which case you can do as countless visitors and locals have done for years - call in at The Old Glen House. If you have children with you, an ice-cream from the adjacent tea room might be more appreciated.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Up hill

This is still Shipley Glen, though looking in the opposite direction from yesterday's photo. Further up the hill, the land is farmed and grazed. There are also a couple of well-hidden caravan sites up there. Beyond that you climb to the top, to the trig point on Hope Hill and the open moorland of Baildon, from where you can venture further, on to Rombalds and Ilkley Moor. But be careful not to go there 'baht 'at' (without your hat.  See here..) I noticed a few patches of heather coming into bloom, but it's a bit early for that yet, better in August.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Ghosts on the Glen

A recent walk was the first time this year that I have ventured up the valley side beyond Saltaire to Shipley Glen. It was a humid, brooding sort of a day but in some ways that kind of weather suits the craggy hillside, strewn with boulders, rough grass and heather. It's not quite moorland, but very typical of the area. You have to walk on and up further to access the real open moorland, above Baildon. The hillside has been used for recreation by generations of families, as I have mentioned in previous posts (see here and here). In fact, compared to Victorian/Edwardian times (when it was the site of the Pleasure Grounds, with all sorts of exciting rides) it's very quiet up there these days... though if you listen carefully, I'll swear you can hear laughter and children squealing.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Hidden treasure

I am often surprised that I can still be surprised in Saltaire, knowing the place as well as I do. Taking my habitual lunch-break walk, I suddenly noticed this... office? shop? gallery?  I wasn't quite sure. It's situated beneath the Information Centre, in the part of Salts Mill that was at one time Sir Titus Salt's private quarters (though he actually lived in a mansion over towards Halifax). It turns out to be the studio headquarters of The Art Rooms, though there is not a lot to give it away.

The Art Rooms is a small company, started in 2007 by Jacky Al-Samarraie. She produces a range of lovely things: bone china mugs, greetings cards, tableware, cushions, notebooks and prints with a range of mostly landscape-inspired scenes. Many are simple, graphic, black and white images married with a distinctive block of rich colour. Some have a more oriental flavour. I have admired them for some time in high end shops and galleries, including our own Salts Mill, though I didn't realise Jacky had found a base in Saltaire.

Some of her most recent designs include a range celebrating the recent Tour De France Yorkshire Grand Départ. Two of the mugs (below) provided a perfect gift for my daughter and son-in-law. She has even done some Saltaire designs.  Take a look at her website, I'm sure you'll be impressed.  She mostly sells to trade (look in the up-market, larger department stores) but also through her website, where you can pick up slight seconds at reasonable prices (if, like me, you can't afford the high end shops very often!)

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Hirst Locks garden

The little garden that was planted by the Hirst Wood Regeneration Group a few years ago has matured nicely and has really improved the area beside Hirst Lock on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.  It's a pleasant 15 minute or so stroll from the centre of Saltaire along the towpath to the lock and the swing bridge - and there is often something to see there. Even if there are no boats, there are usually some ducks.  That makes it a popular destination for families, particularly at weekends, as it is not too far for little ones to walk. You often see kids on cycles too, as the towpath is good and flat.  I'm always glad when local folk take the trouble to make something nice to be enjoyed by others; the garden is attractive and quite well-maintained.

There used to be a small garden centre in that area too, but it is now derelict and becoming quite an eyesore.  Hopefully one day someone will come up with another imaginative use for that patch of land.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Practice makes perfect

A typical Sunday scene on the River Aire just upstream from Hirst Weir. It's where Bradford Amateur Rowing Club (BARC) have their clubhouse, built on land gifted to them in 1893 by Sir Titus Salt. This particular Sunday, those out on the river seemed to be single sculls, and there were trainers on the bank shouting out instructions. All the boats have names with 'Aire' in them - the one most visible in the photo was Solitaire.  Further along there was Heavyaire and Lightaire.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


Oh dear, I'm having one of those spells when every time I'm free to go out with my camera the weather decides to be horrible - and when I'm stuck in at work or otherwise engaged, the sun comes out and all is hunky-dory. On my way to meet a friend the other day, I was held up for ages at a level-crossing during a cloudburst. There are very few level crossings in this area; most of the railways go over or under the roads on bridges. This crossing is on the busy Leeds to Skipton line and every quarter of an hour or so the gates close for what feels like a good five minutes. (Perhaps not that long, but it feels like forever when you're in a hurry!)  Anyway, so desperate am I for pictures that I decided to use the time productively.

Voilà ... we have 'watching the rain fall'  and ... quick wipe of the windscreen, to show.... 'train passing'.

I do hope you enjoyed that. Right, we can continue our journey now...

Monday, 21 July 2014

This is Saltaire

Just on the edge of Roberts Park, across the river from Saltaire, there is a large and well-used playground with activities for all ages from the littlest toddlers to teenagers on bikes and skateboards. It has a curving wall to separate the skatepark from the rest, which has been painted numerous times. My favourite so far was a tiger's eye. The most recent mural was designed and executed by pupils from the nearby Titus Salt School, with guidance from local artist Tim Curtis. It depicts Sir Titus Salt himself and thus reminds visitors approaching Saltaire from the Baildon side of the river that they are entering an historic World Heritage Site.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Feed the birds

The local football pitches at Salts Sports Club have had all the turf ripped up and the ground reseeded this summer. So far I can see no sign of sprouting seed ... but there are an awful lot of fat wood pigeons hereabouts.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Uncle Tacko's Imaginarium

I popped into Shipley one Saturday to take some stuff to the charity shop (one of the many charity shops!)  [Note, I require a round of applause for starting to clear out some clutter, though I haven't got very far.]  Anyway, I found the town centre busy with street artists, musicians, magicians - and Uncle Tacko's Imaginarium. This mysterious tent pops up at festivals and delivers 20 minute family shows, to an audience of 20-30 seated inside, several times a day. And you never know what you are going to be treated to - magic, music, stories, puppets or even a flea circus! (I didn't know they still existed.)

Friday, 18 July 2014


I haven't seen much of this little one all summer - but whenever I do see her, she is never very far from an ice-cream!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Cars I have known # 2

At one point in my life, somewhere in the late 1970s, we had a car just like this, a pale blue Morris Traveller. It was much loved though not in quite such good condition as this one. Ours had moss growing on the window sills!  I can't quite remember for sure but I think that may have been the car that met a very sad end, when some hooligans set light to it outside our house.

For 'Cars I have known # 1' see here.  Isn't it awful when the cars you most fondly remember are 'classic' now (not quite vintage yet!) and featuring in car shows.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Postman Pat

Among the classic cars on display in Roberts Park the other Sunday there was this gorgeous little mail van, just like Postman Pat's, complete with the black and white cat. The notice in its window said that it was first used in and around Keswick in the English Lake District in 1939. (That same area, coincidentally, inspired the fictional setting of the children's TV programme.) Just imagine it pootering along through the pretty little lanes up there. In 1949 it became a milk delivery van, later sold to a farmer. It was rescued in a derelict state from a farm lane and has been lovingly and beautifully restored to an immaculate state.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Roses all the way

There's a lovely, meandering bed of pink roses in Saltaire's Roberts Park, in full bloom at the moment. It's always pleasant to walk along the promenade and see what's in flower in the carefully maintained beds. I imagine people have been doing just that for over 100 years, since the park was first opened. The Sunday I took this picture there was the added attraction of a classic car display drawing the crowds.

Monday, 14 July 2014

A tranquil pursuit

Just beside the cricket field, this gentleman was having a quiet time fishing on the River Aire. Perhaps the choice of spot was an insurance policy if the fish didn't bite. He could always turn his chair round and watch the match. I've seen lots of people fishing (correction, men fishing. I don't think I have ever seen a woman.) But I've rarely seen anyone catch a fish. The other day when I walked along the canal, the water was really clear. It probably hadn't had a boat through for a while. They churn the mud up. There were lots of fish visible, some really large ones too. It's the first time I've ever actually seen them, though you do see ripples where they pop up sometimes and I did once glimpse the splash of one jumping.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Summer cricket

I love walking round Roberts Park at weekends. There is always something going on, and often a cricket match underway on what must be one of the most picturesque cricket fields imaginable. Such a leisurely game, lots of walking about and chatting as well as bursts of activity. I enjoy settling down with a coffee or an ice cream outside the Half Moon Café and watching other people being energetic. On Sundays you can eat, watch cricket and listen to a bandstand concert all at the same time!

Saturday, 12 July 2014


More colourful flowers. These are varieties of chives, growing in the Wash House community garden in the centre of Saltaire village. Not only are they attractive but the leaves can also be used in salads and cooked dishes. (Note to self: Why don't I plant some of these in the backyard?)

Friday, 11 July 2014

Miles of bunting

Meanwhile, back in the village, the church drive is decorated in bunting too. I think it was originally put up for their recent church fête but it seems to have stayed... Perhaps they are also celebrating the Tour de France - or Wimbledon, or the World Cup, or the Great Yorkshire Show or even the Commonwealth Games. So many great events going on, a veritable feast! I was reading about a local manufacturer of bunting and flags. They can hardly keep up with demand this year. They must be delighted that everyone is in the mood to celebrate - and it does look festive.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Saltaire Bookshop

One last Tour de France related post, this time to show that even places not directly on the race route still wanted to play their part in creating a festive atmosphere. Saltaire, though close, didn't feature on the itinerary (they don't know what they missed!) but there was still a bit of a competition to find the best decorations. Saltaire Bookshop won, with this witty series of placards, featuring, among other titles:
'Hard Climbs' by What the Dickens
'Down and Up in Paris and Leeds' by George Orwheel
'A Life on 21 Stages' by Frances de la Tour
'The Girl with the Bicycle Tattoo' by Penny Farthing
'Feel the Gear and Do it Anyway' by Simone de Railleurs

Saltaire Bookshop deserves a mention as being one of those little gems that are a struggling breed - the independent bookseller. Indeed, the owner David Ford put out a heartfelt plea for customers recently when takings dropped to an all-time low, not helped by the ongoing roadworks at the top of the village at the time. Not to be confused with the bookshop in Salts Mill itself, this one is situated near the top of Saltaire Road, in the row of houses called Myrtle Place. The shop is in quite an imposing house that was once a doctor's surgery. Open Tuesdays to Saturdays and occasionally on Sundays. Well worth a visit, they sell second-hand books as well as new titles and it's a great place to browse. They will order books for you too and run an active Book Club, with visits and book signings from authors. David is a keen ambassador for Saltaire and is very active in promoting local shops - a vital part of the village.  

Monday, 7 July 2014

Riffing on the TdF

A few random Tour De France related shots of things that interested or amused me!

 The Black Prince in Leeds City Square, sporting a yellow jersey.  
(He had significant victories over the French at 
the battles of Crécy and Poitiers.... 'Don't mention the war'!)

Yorkshire's 'Hollywood' sign

Rough translation: Now your cycles are mended, get to work guys!

Bonjour monsieur!

In case we need reminding, this is YORKSHIRE!

Never seen so many bikes...never seen so much lycra!

Tour de Yorkshire

We'll wave at anything - we might be on telly!

There were gendarmes from France and police from as far afield as 
Devon and Cornwall - all very cheery and friendly.

Yorkshire Tea, a float in the Caravane giving out free teabags! 
I wonder if that will go all the way to Paris?

Things I heard: 'It were all a bit of a blur!'  Too right.. it was!

I wasn't too impressed with the ITV commentary. Their commentators had clearly never been to Yorkshire before. They were deeply impressed with all the dry stone walls but rarely seemed to know where we were. 'That was a little village there. All part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Not far from the rivers. Nice cheese here...' !

ITV subtitles had this: Watching the race going through Haworth, the commentator apparently said: 'One of the Brontës is not very dead but the rest of them are.' After a great deal of puzzling, I finally decided he was referring to the churchyard and it should have been 'One of the Brontës is not buried there'.

But, when all's said and done.... Eh by gum, we're dead chuffed abaht it all, ent we!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Within touching distance of the peloton

Tour De France - Stage 2 York to Sheffield

Both the first two stages of Le Grand Départ in Yorkshire passed quite close to Saltaire, so I went with some friends on Sunday to see it. The crowds turning out to watch were unbelievable. We opted to walk quite a distance to a moorland road beyond Haworth and even up here the spectators lined the route shoulder to shoulder. It's one of those things where you have to wait for ages - and I mean ages... hours! And then it all happens in a rush, too fast to take in really.

We arrived early, at about 9.15 am. At first the enjoyment came from watching everybody else arriving and seeing how people were dressed (lots of yellow and polka dot T-shirts, some French berets!), watching people setting up temporary camp and even planting flags in the ground. Then cars and motorbikes started to come through, including police from the local force and beyond, who were all extremely jovial, high-fiving people as they drove past. There were French gendarmes too.

Then at about 11.30 am came the Caravane, a parade of all sorts of vehicles advertising things and throwing out free samples to the crowds. (I did think, it being Yorkshire, they might have added a couple of brass bands - but no.) Then came some of the team support cars. And finally about 1.30 pm  - hurrah! - the riders. First came the 'breakaway' of about seven riders (see the photo above) and then after a few minutes, the peloton.

That was actually quite terrifying. There were originally 198 riders (now, sadly, minus Mark Cavendish who was injured yesterday) so that means in the peloton there were about 190 cyclists, all packed together climbing the hill, spread right across the road. They were so close that you almost couldn't see anything except a blur as they sped past. It was very exciting but quite astonishing too. One bad move and the whole lot would have come down like a pack of cards, in a dreadful heap! I should have waited a fraction longer before I took my photo, but I knew I couldn't lean out into the road as they passed so I was being careful. As it was, I had to take a smart leap backwards to get out of their way!

I recorded the TV coverage so I could watch it when I got home - and of course you see a lot, lot more on TV than you do from the roadside - I even saw me! (see below, red top, black trousers!) Actually being there though, the atmosphere was tremendous and I'm so glad I went. I don't suppose I will ever see it again in my home territory.


Saturday, 5 July 2014

Team Sky!

Tour de France - Le Grand Départ 2014
So... I stood for four hours in Leeds city centre on Thursday evening, determined to see Team Sky and try and get a pic for my blog. There was a parade through part of the city centre before the grand opening ceremony at the Leeds Arena. It seemed like the best chance to get a half-way decent photo so I went early, staked out a viewing spot and waited... and waited.... But I was rewarded with this, which at least shows the faces of all nine competitors in Team Sky. There's Chris Froome at the front.

There were thousands of people watching and it's always hard to get a good view at things like this. No chance of an uncluttered background! Helpfully, they were cycling slowly, so they weren't just a blur.
Managed to get a shot of Mark Cavendish too, who rides for Omega-Pharma Quickstep, the Belgian team. As far as I can see, there are only four Brits among the 198 riders.

I'm hoping to see a bit of the race somewhere, but I don't expect to get any more photos worth having, indeed I shall be watching rather than trying to take pics. To be honest I don't really know much about cycling; it's all a bit confusing to me. But it seems silly not to see something of this (probably) once in a lifetime event in Yorkshire, when I'm so close.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Les vélos jaunes...

.... sont partouts.  Allez!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

It's coming...

Le Tour Yorkshire - Le Grand Départ... coming soon to close a road near you... well, if you live in Yorkshire that is. There is a grand opening ceremony at the Leeds Arena on Thursday evening, with a plan for every bell in Yorkshire to be rung at 8.30pm - from church bells to bike bells.  You might hear that if you listen carefully!

The Tour de France race itself begins on Saturday in Leeds city centre, circling up through the Yorkshire Dales and ending in Harrogate. Sunday sees a route beginning in York and ending in Sheffield, round via Keighley, Haworth and Hebden Bridge. Both days the Tour goes through some spectacular countryside. I can't wait to see what they make of the cobbles up Haworth's main street! It passes very close to here, within about eight miles of Saltaire - through Otley and Ilkley on Saturday and Keighley and Haworth on Sunday. It goes through the village of Addingham twice (lucky them!)

Roads will be closed for hours. It may be quite difficult to get to see the race, I think. The real afficionados will be camping somewhere for the weekend. There are some 'spectator hubs' with big screens, food and fun but getting to those will mean a train journey and I imagine they will be packed with people. I could possibly get to Ilkley. However, I don't think it is very realistic to expect to take my first-ever bike race photos of Le Tour and expect to get anything worth having! The race itself will pass and be gone in a flash. I don't think they'll be using stabilisers!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Stewy's Hockney

Stewy, a Bristol-based street artist inspired by the famous (notorious?) Banksy, has created some stencilled art works in local places related to the forthcoming Yorkshire Grand Départ of the Tour de France cycle race. They are of famous artists, writers and musicians with links to Yorkshire - none of them noted for riding bikes but all portrayed cycling.  There is: Sylvia Plath in Hebden Bridge, Jarvis Cocker in Sheffield, the Brontë sisters in Haworth, Alan Bennett in Leeds (though I gather he has already been covered up!) and Saltaire's pride: David Hockney, originally painted on a wall in Keighley. A new picture of (a youngish looking) David Hockney has appeared on the wall of Salts Mill, fag in mouth. I imagine this one might have been commissioned as it is on a canvas, not painted direct on the wall.  Rather good, I think.  You can buy a copy if you want!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

They have to go...

I've mentioned before how dark and depressing I find the upper end of Victoria Road in Saltaire, by the almshouses, particularly in the summer. The mature trees, planted in the 1950s (not original to the Victorian village) have grown way too big for the area where they are planted. Fine trees though they are, the pavements are dangerously disturbed by the roots, the tree canopy takes all the light and they must be damaging the drains and the foundations of the buildings. It must be horrible living in one of the houses underneath, really dark, not to mention the continuous sticky drip of sap from the leaves. Even in the centre of the village, further down the road, the trees make it feel dark (and the lions are green!) At night, I hate walking down Victoria Road. The streetlights are useless, only illuminating the trees, so it's easy to trip up, never mind what nasty characters might be lurking in the gloom!

The trees nearest the crossroads were felled last year on road safety grounds and now there is a proposal to axe the rest. Some people are, predictably, up in arms about it (mostly those, I think, who never have to walk down there and don't live there). Usually I would be wanting to conserve mature trees but in this case I agree with the Council. It would be entirely possible to replant some smaller trees more suited to the location. Perhaps the consultation has been badly handled and the options not made clear but I personally feel they have to go...