I HAVE CLOSED DOWN THIS BLOG. Please click the photo above to be REDIRECTED TO MY NEW (continuation) BLOG.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Awake and dreaming

Here's a fun one.... I got up and drew back the bedroom curtains the other morning, and noticed the early sun backlighting the tree across the road. It looked so pretty, its leaves just beginning to be tipped with gold, that I snapped it with my iPhone and then spent a happy five minutes playing with some of the photo apps I have. It was gorgeous, though it didn't glow in real life quite as much as this finished image suggests. I think, however, that sometimes it's OK to play around with photos. It's a creative endeavour in just the same way as anything else. Two minutes later and the sun had moved round and the richness was lost - so it's good to have captured and made the most of it.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Four Hundred Roses

Saltaire Festival 2104 - This lovely lady is one of the dancers from Four Hundred Roses. The group, made up of dancers from all over the North of England, first came together in 2005 to explore the possibility of combining traditional UK folk dance with tribal bellydance, itself a fusion of Indian, Arabic and Gypsy style dances. Sounds unlikely - but their dancing is rhythmic and both graceful and energetic. Check out one of their videos on YouTube. Though far from a traditional Morris side, they have gradually found acceptance within the established folk dance movement, which all goes to prove that although it has long-established and historic roots, UK folk dance is continually evolving in interesting directions.

Sunday, 28 September 2014


Saltaire Festival 2104 - there is a competition for the best Open Garden and this one got my vote this year. It's only a compact space, mostly container planting, but crammed full of plants and interesting objects with a cohesive colour scheme that seems to hold it all together very well. 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Cock of the North

Saltaire Festival 2014 - Another of the quirky and colourful sculptures displayed in Saltaire's 'Open Gardens' this year. Created by Morwenna Catt, this wonderful cockerel was made of embroidered and embellished fabric and felt. The artist is wonderfully talented and creative and the detail in her work has to be seen to be believed. That said - and although this piece seemed bright and cheery - there is often a dark undertone to her work that I find faintly disturbing.

Friday, 26 September 2014

One vibrant sculpture

Saltaire Festival 2014 - this year the 'Open Gardens' event was enlivened further by having sculpture of various kinds displayed in the gardens and back yards. I loved this one, super shiny steel and very colourful. It reminded me of those liquorice allsorts sweets. (I think you can still buy them though I haven't had one for a long time.)  Called 'The Bow', it was created by Sam Shendi, who was also showing a wonderful pink and black horse in another garden.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Two buskers busking

Saltaire Festival 2014 - A narrowboat moored in the centre of Saltaire provided a convenient stage for 'Buskin on a Barge', raising money for Words, a charity (I think) supporting people to learn to read. One of the singers (above) was Eddie Lawler,  a local songwriter, poet and playwright known as 'The Bard of Saltaire'. I didn't catch the name of the guy below - but I did catch his song. His rendition of 'Delilah' resulted in the song playing, annoyingly, on a loop in my head for several days. Payback for sneaking a photo, maybe?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Three choirs singing

Saltaire Festival 2014 - the 'Saltaire Sing!' event saw several groups of singers from Bradford Voices and Queensbury Singers cheering up a rather dull and overcast day with their lively songs.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Four rows of plant pots

Saltaire Festival 2014 - the 'Open Gardens' event seems to have become a fixture on the first weekend of the Festival, even if its timing - as autumn begins - sometimes means the gardens are bit past their prime. It's a lovely opportunity to see what lies inside the little yards, enclosed by high walls, at the back of Saltaire's village houses. Many people have bright rows of plant pots. I can only admire their patience in watering them throughout the dry spells over the summer.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Six (sets of) ladies dancing

Saltaire Festival 2014  - This annual late summer celebration soon seems to come around again. The first weekend this year was a chance for lots of local people to show how creative they are. Saltaire's Rainbow Morris dance side had invited some other dance groups to join them. I managed to catch up with them just as they were doing their final dances. It seems to be a tradition at such group gatherings for everyone to join in together, after they have each danced their own sets, for a good old knees-up. (And yes, there was at least one male dancer too!)

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Heather tones

I do love the way the late summer heather gives the landscape a soft mauve tint, much as bluebells colourwash our woods in the spring. The heather uplands of Yorkshire stretch for miles, broken by valleys, woods, rocky outcrops and, in many places, tracts of bracken that compete with the heather. The heather seems to have bloomed fairly early this year. By the time I took my ramble (I like a Brontë moment every now and again) it was almost past its best, faded in many places from purple to a rather pretty shade that I'd describe as rose madder.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Ilkley rocks

Taking a break from the RHS Gardens... for a quick trip up on t'moors to see the heather. To Ilkley Moor, to be precise (and yes, I was wearing my hat because everyone one knows that Ilkla Moor bah't 'at is a dangerous place!)  Right up on the edge of the moor, above the town of Ilkley, these famous rocks are known as the Cow and Calf. They have been a popular destination for walkers, novice climbers, families and courting couples for decades. In fact I gather my aunt and uncle did much of their courting round here, when she was training to be a teacher in nearby Bradford.

Further up on the moorland plateau, there are mysterious standing stones. The ones pictured below are part of a prehistoric circle known as the Twelve Apostles. Some of the flat stones hereabouts have markings known as 'cup and ring' marks, thought to be art or religious symbols dating back to prehistoric times.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Pom poms

RHS Harlow Carr - Not sure what these are but they look like purple pom-poms.

Thursday, 18 September 2014


RHS Harlow Carr - Of course, no English garden is complete without a robin. (Looking slightly the worse for wear - perhaps now the breeding season is over, he no longer has to look so dapper for his mate.)

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Dappled sunshine

RHS Harlow Carr - Some of the large garden is mature woodland, marvellous in spring when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in bloom and inspiring in its autumn colours, but still lovely in high summer, when sunshine dapples through the leaf canopy.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Pink and grey

RHS Harlow Carr - another exuberant planter and another example of a sensitive arrangement of colours, with pink and rich aubergine shades against a dove grey wall. They take as much care over their colour choices in the planting as an interior designer would over fabrics and paints. I love wood that has been allowed to turn silvery, like that bench.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Wild flower mixture

RHS Harlow Carr - at one time our meadows used to be like this. Now we are encouraged to plant wild flower mixtures in our gardens to encourage bees and butterflies. There is something sweetly innocent about daisies and cornflowers.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Harey Bikers

RHS Harlow Carr - Anyone with a finger on the pulse of popular British culture will appreciate this. It is, of course, a tribute to the recent Tour de France; the first day's stage finished in Harrogate. The title of the sculpture also references a popular TV programme featuring 'two northern blokes with a passion for food, cooking and motorbikes'- The Hairy Bikers.  There were several willow sculptures around the RHS Garden. I really liked them.

Saturday, 13 September 2014


RHS Harlow Carr - some of the colourful herbaceous planting in the long borders. I thought the juxtaposition of colours and shapes was inspired.  Look at those tall, wispy grasses in the background, forming a screen. Taken altogether, it reminds me of fireworks.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Soothing greens

RHS Harlow Carr - It's not all about colour. There are huge vistas of soothing green - every shade of green under the sun.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Purple haze

RHS Harlow Carr - A close-up view of some planted tubs in the modern garden. So simple and yet very effective. I love that purple wall too!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The story of O

RHS Harlow Carr - The most up-to-date garden in the 'Gardens Through Time' series is this very modern space, designed by Diarmuid Gavin. He is a renowned garden designer, well-known from various television series. 'Reflecting the aspirations of the modern home-owner', the garden features sculptural planting and clever use of glass, strong colour and shapes and reflective surfaces. It showcases the garden almost as another room of the house. I loved it, loved the harmony of colour and the pleasing curves.... though unfortunately it would look very odd if I tried to replicate it around my little Victorian house!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Regency urn

RHS Harlow Carr  - 'Set pieces' are everywhere - plantings in tubs, urns and other containers adding height and complementing the planting in beds and borders. A few years ago the BBC commissioned a series of small plots for a TV programme: 'Gardens Through Time', to show how the gardens of middle-class homes have evolved and how garden fashions have changed through the years.  This planted urn was part of the Regency garden, harking back to the early 1800s when ordinary people (not 'the landed gentry') started to actively cultivate gardens.

Monday, 8 September 2014

The kiss of the sun

RHS Harlow Carr - an apt verse by Dorothy Frances Gurney, a Victorian poet and hymn writer, etched on a stone in the streamside garden.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

A Garden of Delights

I spent a blissful day recently at the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Garden at Harlow Carr near Harrogate. Lucky enough to live not far away, I try to get there at least a couple of times a year. It's a delightful place, and over the years I've seen it grow and develop very imaginatively. It's a showcase for different plant cultivars and gardening techniques. They often run trials there - seeds, plants, gardening methods. If you were so inclined, I'm sure you could learn a lot. As I've said before, I'm not a keen gardener. I just love enjoying the results of other people's skills and hard work.

The weather was perfect for wandering around the huge garden, taking in the sights and scents. The planting, especially on the long borders, is glorious. It was like walking around inside an Impressionist painting.

I know how much I enjoy seeing pictures of gardens on other blogs so I make no apology for scheduling quite few photos from my day out, with few words necessary. With my daughter due to give birth anytime soon, life is getting busy. The series will enable me to step back from the discipline of regular blogging - though I might interrupt it sometimes. Saltaire Festival is coming up soon and if I'm around I will probably get a few snaps there. The garden series will take us through to the autumn, but it will be good to hang on to the summer just a bit longer, even if only in photos.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Cat among the plant pots

First colour match your flower display to the drainpipes, then add in a black cat for good luck. What more do you want?

Friday, 5 September 2014

Double bracket

Another bracket fungus, this one a little closer to home, spotted on a recent walk up the riverside near the Rowing Club.  I really haven't a clue what type this one is; there appear to be several not dissimilar examples. Aren't fungi amazing things? Very other-worldly, I think. Sadly, I suspect it means this tree is on its way out. The fruiting body is the outward and visible sign of decay and rot to the heartwood of the tree.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Green peace

A few yards up-river from Hirst Weir on the River Aire, the scene looks very peaceful. It's not always quite as undisturbed. This is where the Bradford Amateur Rowing Club has their clubhouse, so often there are sculls out on the river practising.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Join the queue

Britons have a reputation for waiting patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) in queues. But it's not often that you see a queue for the lock at Hirst Wood. There is just room for two narrowboats side-by-side, though it is a tight fit and requires some careful manoeuvring. The first of the two boats was registered in Deal in Kent, so they had travelled a long way.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Little boxes

Does anyone remember that song: 'Little boxes'? It was recorded by Pete Seeger in 1963 - and I can still sing it! So that does age me, but it is one of those tunes that really sticks in your head. 'Little boxes on a hillside.. and they're all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same'. Well, Saltaire's little houses may fit the description up to a point, but anyone who has carefully toured the village will know that in fact they are not 'all just the same'. There are big ones and small ones, two storeys, three storeys, some with rounded windows, some with square, some with gardens, some without. But still, a pleasing sense of harmony overall.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Dancing in the street

Well, dancing on the promenade in Roberts Park, anyway. You never know what you'll find in the park; there is usually something happening at weekends during the summer months. A couple of Sundays ago, I came across our local morris dance side, Rainbow Morris, sharing the afternoon with an Appalachian dance group.  There were lots of spectators enjoying the sunshine and Sir Titus Salt appeared to be enjoying the proceedings too.