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Sunday, 30 November 2014


At this time of year the sun (when we get it!) is so low, even in the early afternoon, that walking with the sun in your eyes can become a bit hazardous and photography can be a challenge. Capturing those lovely shafts of sunlight whilst minimising lens flare is quite a juggling act.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Bench with a view

Shipley Glen is scattered with benches, many placed there in memory of someone for whom the area was obviously special and loved. It's a lovely place to sit and rest awhile, to be 'in the moment' and to enjoy the view and the rich autumn colours.

Friday, 28 November 2014

The stick maker

Apologies, this is a technically hopeless photo (taken quickly in low light. I must learn to be more committed and less embarrassed about photographing people!) but I wanted to include it out of interest. I do like the blur on his hands, actually. I went to an exhibition about sheepdogs, thinking there would be some dogs, lovely border collies ... sadly, there was only one. But there were some interesting traditional crafts on display, including this gentleman making walking stick handles from sheeps' horns. Here he is filing and smoothing the rough horn by hand with a metal file. You can see how the finished handles reflect the shape that the horn had in its natural state.

I'm always glad to see people carrying on the traditional skills. It made me think of a question I saw posed recently: If you were forced to take two years out to learn a new skill, what would it be?

Thursday, 27 November 2014


Just a corner of Saltaire's Roberts Park... I thought it looked photogenic in its autumn colours. Gold and silver brocade came to mind...

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in America. Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Second act

The sun arrived late, after noon. The children were still at home, perhaps not yet noticing that a grey, wet morning had suddenly become a beautiful day. The children's playground toys rested silently in the shadows, taking a secondary role to nature's drama playing out on the hillside.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Birds on a wire

Betsy finds creatures in clouds (and vegetables!), RedPat finds colourful murals all over her home city. I did a bit of both when I passed an old rusting shutter. Bird on a wire? Chill to a clip of Leonard Cohen:

Sunday, 23 November 2014

God is love

It seemed rather poignant to come across this bold assertion painted on a rock in a shadowy, damp little valley on the edge of Shipley Glen.  Leaving aside the dubious wisdom of defacing a rock, even with such 'good news', it seemed to me quite a metaphor, especially seeing the bright sunshine up ahead. It brought to mind Psalm 23: 'Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me..' Having been through one of life's little spells of anxious times recently, I know how much the sense of God's love can help us through those valleys. Whether we're in the shadow or the sunshine today, we can rejoice and be comforted by the sure knowledge that God is with us.
Linked once again to Spiritual Sundays.

Saturday, 22 November 2014


The weather here has been incredibly dreary for the past week or so - at least when I have been able to notice it (that is, not stuck in an office with my back to the window).  I'm running very short of bloggable photos so I went out today with my camera. It was a misty, damp morning (of the kind that always gets that Steeleye Span song running through my head. 'One misty, moisty morning...') and the view over the Aire valley towards Bradford was decidedly moody.  Look closely at the skyline on the right and you can see the huge chimney of Listers Mill, as visible as it has been for the past 140 years since it was built... once the largest silk factory in the world.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Red reprise

Here's another photo I took a few weeks ago and never got round to using. It's nice to look back at blue skies...we haven't had one lately. This little rowan tree, which I pass every day on my way to work, has since lost all its glorious red leaves but the yellow berries hung on a lot longer, happily for the birds who like to feast on them.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Floating hotel

Gosh, it's a full three years since I first noticed the Lady Teal moored in Saltaire.  Perhaps I'm not very observant - though I don't spend all my time down by the canal, of course, so I may just have missed her visits. Here she was again, moored alongside Salts Mill. This was back in September, a photo I took on one of my lunch-time walks and then never got round to posting. For those that missed my original post in 2011 (here), this is a luxurious hotel boat that cruises the Leeds-Liverpool Canal from April to September, offering slow-paced tranquillity and a lot of pampering, by the sound of it.  It's still on my wish list....!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


For, behold, I will bring a flood of waters into Saltaire ...

I'm a member of a local camera club and it's a great place to learn new things. At last week's meeting one of our members was demonstrating some software and a few 'processing tricks'. So I thought I'd have a go at manufacturing some reflections. I think the end result is quite effective, though as a first attempt it is by no means perfect. (If you want to know how to do it too, google 'Creating a reflection in Photoshop' for a gazillion tutorials showing different ways of achieving it.)

Anyway, you'll be relieved to know that although we've had a bit of rain in recent days, Saltaire URC is not cut off by a biblical flood (and neither have we had animals entering, two by two). It's all a clever trick.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Spot the boat...

Love it or hate it, Are-Jay Bargie is here to stay and the milder weather has lengthened their trading season too. The ice-cream boat was given retrospective planning permission three years ago, having already traded from this mooring for two years on a British waterways permit. Councillors unanimously agreed that "well-maintained, single, 'traditional-style' trading boats should be allowed" at this spot, which is right in the heart of Saltaire, just in front of the church. I know many people find it very appealing and it perhaps brings visitors down to the canal. I was a bit surprised, however, to see how many 'add-ons' (sweet machines, menu boards and suchlike) have appeared lately - so that it gets a little difficult to spot the traditional boat underneath it all. Ho hum....

Monday, 17 November 2014

Saltaire's hole

I mentioned not long ago (here) the plans to redevelop the gardens belonging to Shipley College, building a teaching block for students with learning difficulties and disabilities. Work has started on laying the foundations. It all looks horribly dark at the moment and huge too... hopefully it will look a lot better when it is finished. I am of the opinion that Saltaire, despite being a World Heritage Site, is also a living community that has to move with the times. Its founder didn't shirk from making dramatic statements. But it's sometimes difficult to see how to marry the new with the old successfully. I hope this development will succeed in that but I am not certain yet. I can't say I honestly have a lot of faith in our town planners when it comes to making sensitive decisions.

They are currently working on a grand 'management plan' for the World Heritage Site with some interesting ideas like opening one of the village houses as a tourist attraction, opening a 'Saltaire Interpretation Centre' in the Victoria Hall, creating an interactive history trial around the village and building a major new community arts 'hub'. The plan is for the next 30 years though - by which time I will almost certainly be past caring!

Sunday, 16 November 2014


The church I attend has a Healing Prayer Team. They have recently asked the church photography group to supply some prayer cards that they can give to people after they have received prayer.  I have never done anything like this, but I thought I'd have a go. It seems there is a certain art in finding a photo that matches with the Bible verse. Some of the verses suggest a picture (straight paths, rainbows) but others, like this one, proved trickier. I've linked this to a blog called Spiritual Sundays where people can share pictures and scriptures, hymns or poems. It provides some inspirational reflections - and not just for Sundays.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Dark satanic mills?

Another iPhone shot, of THAT view (click label below for others), taken on my way home from work. I took the photo because I loved the sky and the reflected lights but in the finished image I like the graininess that the iPhone has rendered. It adds extra moodiness.

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark satanic mills?

'Jerusalem' (words from a poem by William Blake, set to music by Sir Hubert Parry) has become a British anthem and one of the best loved of patriotic songs, played notably on the Last Night of the Proms.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Water, mill

Tranquil reflections give no indication that, just beyond the former mill building, the River Aire crashes over a weir, which I have photographed many times. (Click Hirst Weir label below). Actually I can rarely recall seeing such perfect reflections here before. There was hardly a breath of wind on this day.

Once a corn mill driven by a water wheel, the mill was converted to a paper mill in the 19th century. Intriguingly, it has faded white lettering on one wall that says 'Washed Cloths'.

For more lovely reflection pictures, go to Weekend Reflections, hosted by James.

[As a result of getting some unpleasant spam comments in the last two days, I am temporarily enabling comment moderation before publishing. Once I'm happy the onslaught has passed I'll go back to normal, as I do find moderation tedious and, generally speaking, unnecessary.]

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Over the bridge

If you're 5'5" like me, this is a view of Saltaire's Salts Mill that you never see... To take it, I had to balance my camera above my head on the parapet of the railway bridge and pretty much experiment in order to get the right composition. I guess the bridge has been built so high precisely to discourage photographers from climbing up to take the iconic shot of the Mill's long south frontage. It is, however, a view well-known to millions of TV viewers, since a similar shot appears in the opening video sequence to the nightly 'Look North' local news programme on BBC1.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Book ends

I showed this spot on my blog back in the spring when the bluebells were out (here). It seems fitting to feature it again, almost like book-ends to the year, as autumn brings a golden hue to the foliage, replacing those fresh spring greens. I love Hirst Woods at any time of the year. It's a privilege to have this small patch of ancient woodland, with its rich eco-system, virtually on my doorstep.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Pretty as a picture

The Leeds-Liverpool Canal is a picture of tranquillity on a calm, late autumn day. This is a mile or so out of Saltaire towards Bingley, just beyond the aqueduct and before the Dowley Gap locks. There's an old mill on the left that has been converted into residences and there are a few houseboats moored here most of the time. It looks really pretty on this photo, though in reality I often think this stretch of the canal doesn't quite live up to its potential. The mill conversion is a bit tatty, as are the boats - and unfortunately the pretty scene is somewhat spoilt by the fragrance wafting over from the adjacent sewage works!

Monday, 10 November 2014

A wood in autumn

The woodland floor is covered in beech leaves and beech mast but some of the trees are still surprisingly green, even now in early November. We haven't had much frost yet and it has been an exceptionally mild autumn.  This is my local wood, Hirst Woods: beloved of dog-walkers, children wanting adventure and me. In fact, most local residents seem to relish the beauty and tranquillity of this small area just of the edge of Saltaire village. You are rarely alone on your walks there, though the presence of other people doesn't seem to intrude on the sense of peace.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Pause to remember

Especially as this year marks the centenary of the beginning of the 1st World War, we should pause in our busy lives to remember those who gave their lives or suffered injury, mental or physical, in war - and the many who are still suffering through conflict today. That conflict may be between nations, interest groups or within families, it still damages lives.

I like the idea of taking six seconds a day to make someone's day better. How powerful a smile can be, or holding the door for someone, or helping lift a buggy down the steps. It's about being present and connecting with people. The more we really notice and engage with other people, the more likely we are to defeat the causes of alienation and break down barriers. Or is that just me being idealistic?

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Pennies from heaven

This bright spray of leaves just catching the sun reminded me of coins tumbling from one of those one-armed bandit machines. (Not that I've seen that sight often, I hasten to add! I'm not a gambler - and certainly not a lucky gambler - but have occasionally strayed into a seaside amusement arcade.)

Friday, 7 November 2014

Green, blue and gold

Nature's colours are so gorgeous  - and double the value when there are reflections. Every tree seems to be marching to a different tune this autumn. Some are already bare and some are still resolutely green, with all shades in between. I always like this particular stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, with Hirst Lock in the background, but that prettily shaped tree doesn't always stand out so much. In her autumn dress, she suddenly reveals her good looks.

I haven't entered 'Weekend Reflections' hosted by James, for ages - but this is a good image to include, I think.  See here for more lovely photos from other contributors.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Looking up 3

Possibly my favourite spot in Saltaire for looking up, just to marvel at the size of the great chimney at Salts Mill. Observed from close to its base, it seems to soar upwards right to the heavens. I find it breathtaking - and to think that at one time it went even higher because it was originally crowned with an ornate top, which had to be removed when it became unsafe.
Equally breathtaking is the view from the top.... See my series of pictures posted in October 2012, here.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Looking up 2

Another possible contender for the 'looking up' theme. Some trees have already lost all their leaves and some are still holding on tight. I wonder why? The bare twigs of this one against a cloudy sky reminded me of lacework.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Looking up 1

'Looking up' is the theme of my online photo group this month. That's not a difficult subject for me as I really enjoy looking up and noticing what you often miss when concentrating on the street level. It's not a difficult theme in Saltaire either, as there is a wealth of potential subjects. I rather enjoy the architectural abstract created by the underside of the footbridge that links the New Mill with Salts Mill itself. At one time there were three such bridges spanning the canal, now only one remains. The more usual view of it is here.

Monday, 3 November 2014

A shadow of myself

I had quite a lot of catching up to do this weekend, following another few days on granny duty in London. (Things are not improving there as fast as they might.... Whilst my daughter seems to have recovered well from the nasty infection she contracted after the birth of her second child, my three year old granddaughter now has chicken pox! We're hoping that the baby will have some immunity and will not get it.)

Our autumn weather, however, is so mild and sunny - so NOT like November - that it seemed criminal not to be out enjoying it. So the chores were abandoned in favour of a short walk along my favourite route - along the canal towpath, past Hirst Lock, through the woods and back along the river. Hmm, maybe I've been on granny duty too long. That sentence sounds suspiciously like 'Bears in the Night'. I didn't go 'up spook hill' despite it being Halloween. But I did spot someone who looked just like a shadow of myself.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Seas of red

I was pleased to be able to visit the installation currently being 'planted' in the moat of the Tower of London. Its full title is: Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. Conceived by ceramic artist Paul Cummins to commemorate the centenary of the start of WW1, it will, when finished, consist of 888,246 ceramic poppies, each representing a military fatality during that war. After it is completed, the poppies will be sold to raise funds for charities working with the armed services. It's very impressive, quite breath-taking in fact, literally a sea of red all around the Tower. It was unfortunately hard to get a good photo, what with the huge crowds looking over the walls and the harsh sunshine and shadow. The poppies actually cascade rather beautifully out of a window in the Tower, but you can barely see that in my picture, as it was in deep shade at the time I was visiting. Mo at 'Fresh Eyes on London' had a much better photo of that part of the installation, though there weren't so many poppies when she featured it back in July - see here.
The installation closes on 11 November and I gather the crowds are now considerable: see here for a report and a nice aerial shot.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

People art

Looking down from the upper levels of London's Tate Modern gallery - the patterns people make are as interesting as the art works on show, I think.