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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

On yer bike, 2014!

2014 - a good year for me, even if it had some very wobbly bits! This rather festive bike, parked outside a house in Saltaire, harks back to the Tour de France Grand Départ that happened in July (see my blog, here). That was such a fun weekend and I have not yet met anyone from around here that didn't think so. Apparently it also brought millions of pounds of revenue to Yorkshire and might well be 'the gift that keeps on giving' as tourist numbers are up significantly. The TV coverage certainly showed Yorkshire at its best, with all those soaring views of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. Some folk down south seem to think it's grim 'up north' and hopefully it went some way to opening their eyes to the truth.

Who knows what 2015 will bring, personally, nationally or globally? I hope that like me you can look back on 2014 giving thanks that, in the end, all turned out well. I wish you everything good for 2015 - a happy, healthy and fulfilling New Year.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

British weather

We had a sudden and unexpected flurry of snow across parts of the country on Boxing Day. It didn't amount to much down here in my valley but higher up and in other areas it was enough to cause a certain amount of disruption. We're talking a few inches rather than feet - but the UK never seems to cope with even a minor amount of snow. Few people have their vehicles fitted with winter tyres and we don't have the equipment to handle it, unlike those places where winter snow is a more usual occurrence. Add in engineering works over-running their schedule on the main railway line from Yorkshire to London, causing all trains to be cancelled into and out of Kings Cross station, and it was hard for anyone to get anywhere just after Christmas. Thankfully I've been cosy at home and my family had a safe journey back to London; the motorways were clear by the time they needed to set off.

I think it must be the unpredictability of British weather that causes it to be such a talking point in this country. If you pretty much know it's going to be hot and sunny, or cold and snowy, day after day then I suppose it ceases to be of interest. I spotted this rudimentary weather-forecasting tool up in the Yorkshire Dales some time ago, but never found a chance to show it on my blog before now.

Monday, 29 December 2014


Several of the Advent windows this year had references to the 2013 Disney film 'Frozen' which is having a cult moment among youngsters here. Even my three year old granddaughter is a fan. She is often to be heard singing songs from the film and was thrilled to go to a Christmas party where she met 'Elsa'. I have so far managed to avoid much exposure to it but I suspect I won't escape it for much longer! This window in one of our local hairdressing establishments, The Strand, not only had a pretty tree but also a portrait of Olaf, the snowman from the film.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

'It's goodnight from me...

...and it's goodnight from him'. Advent window number 10 has this simple but striking design which references The Two Ronnies, much-loved British comedians who had a popular TV show in the 70s and 80s. (It still gets rolled out quite often as repeats).  Those who observe closely will get the reference to one of their most famous sketches, Four Candles.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Shipley Glen Tramway

David Starley, one of Saltaire's best-known artists, always produces a lovely Advent window. This year it depicts the famous Shipley Glen tramway, a legacy from Victorian times that is still kept running by volunteers. I love this window; it almost looks as if one is looking through the glass at the real tramway (albeit with a bit of artistic licence in the tree colours!)

Friday, 26 December 2014


Some local businesses in Saltaire are involved in providing decorated Advent windows this year too. This stylish design is in the office window of the architects Rance, Booth, Smith on Victoria Road, right in the centre of the village.

Look at the website to see all the windows (plus a village map) or follow the Facebook page.

Thursday, 25 December 2014


'For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.... His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.'  Isaiah 9:6-7.

The Nativity - a panel in St Wilfrid's Church, Harrogate. I believe this is the work of Frances Darlington 1880-1939, a sculptor who happened to worship at St Wilfrid's. She was commissioned to produce for the church a series of bas-relief panels depicting the Stations of the Cross, so there is a lot of her work on show. (Apparently some of the faces are modelled on members of the congregation at the time.) A large frieze in the foyer of Harrogate's theatre is also her work.

Thank you all for the Christmas greetings expressed in your comments. It is lovely having connections to so many through blogging. I am only sorry that I can't spend more time surfing everyone else's blogs, though I do try to keep up to date with many of my special friends.

Wishing you all a joy-filled and peaceful Christmas - and let's hope the peace extends right around the globe, even if just for a day. I shall be diving down through all the bustle, food and wrapping paper to find, somewhere in it all, the essence of love that is the real gift of the day, every day in fact.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


Chwech apparently means six in Welsh. We must assume that the residents who created Advent window number six have some Welsh connection. This is another simple but powerful design. Some of the windows have a lot of details visible to the eye but they don't always photograph well. These bold graphics come across better. Anyway, Nadolig Llawen everybody! (Merry Christmas!)

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Oh deer

Here's a cheerful Christmassy theme for one of Saltaire's Advent windows. Lots of reindeer - enough, I think, to pull Santa's sleigh. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen - and Rudolph of course.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Baby, it's cold outside

Regular readers of this blog will recall that one of Saltaire's more recent but now established and well-loved traditions is the Living Advent Calendar, when residents and businesses throughout the village decorate windows for Christmas. One is unveiled every evening from 1st December up to Christmas Eve. (View them all here.) I like to go out and photograph them, though some work better as photos than others. After an hour or so in the chilly night air, I was ready to come back to a mug of hot chocolate and a warm fireside. What I really need for Christmas is some fingerless gloves that allow me to operate my camera and tripod but keep my little mitts warm!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

... in Saltaire. One of the resident lions (aptly, the one named 'Peace') lies quietly in front of the Christmas tree outside the Victoria Hall.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Thursday, 18 December 2014


I came across one of those silly games the other day where, by taking the first letter of your name and the month of your birth and using a key, you could make up an 'elf' name for yourself (should you ever want to...)  I suppose with Christmas just round the corner, Santa might need some more elves. Anyway, I was mildly amused to discover that the given name for my newest granddaughter was Pixie Pickle-Pants. I thought that suited her quite well!

I had hoped to take some decent photos on my latest visit to London but life with two youngsters is so 'full-on' that I scarcely found an opportunity. You will see from this that at two months old she is growing fast; she's a wonderfully clear-eyed little baby and will lie for hours just calmly looking around her. She is also now able to respond with coos and gurgles when you talk to her. I never tire of those lovely baby conversations. It was a brief visit but enough to reassure me that life is settling down and getting back to something approaching 'normal' for them all. My daughter seems to have fully recovered, thank God. I found it shocking to read that sepsis is now the most common cause of maternal death in the UK and is increasing. But even so, it only affects a tiny fraction of women, so she was very unlucky.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Hollywood comes to town

Just dashing to the station the other day on my way to London, I was confronted by all these white vans parked outside Salts Mill on Victoria Road. I didn't have time to investigate (hardly had time to take a photo!) but I have since found out that they have been filming parts of a new Hollywood movie in Saltaire and Salts Mill. The local paper says it is 'A Hunter's Prayer' starring Sam Worthington, a thriller about a solitary assassin hired to kill a teenage girl. Instead they form a bond and are hunted across Europe. Sounds like a good story... no doubt we will all be trying to see which bits were filmed in our locality!

The Bradford area has always prided itself on its creative links to film, so much so that it was given the accolade of the world's first UNESCO 'City of Film'. There are organisations very active in finding locations and enticing film-makers to Yorkshire, and of course Bradford hosts the National Media Museum too.  So, if you like film - come!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Sow seeds, carry flowers

Posting on this blog is going to be intermittent for a while but stay tuned....

Friday, 5 December 2014

Close to home

Close to home... I count myself lucky to be surrounded by lovely mature trees, even though it's an urban area. The leaves are more pleasing when on the trees than when on my front steps, it has to be said, but hey, you gotta take the rough with the smooth.

It irritates me that there is so much litter left in the playground. I must be getting middle-aged if not downright old... but I taught my kid to bin it or take it home and I wish others would do the same. Thankfully we have a gem of a man in Saltaire whose job it is to pick up rubbish left in the streets, empty the litter bins and sweep up leaves and he does an excellent, if unsung, job. One of my local heroes... (Pity my front steps are my concern, not his; he'd do a better job than me, I think!)

Wednesday, 3 December 2014


Long before we had Chinese takeaways, curry houses, kebab shops, McDonalds or KFC, the fast food of choice for most Britons was fish and chips: haddock (or cod) deep fried in batter with a large portion of thick-cut chips, often accompanied by a carton of 'mushy' peas, all drenched in plenty of salt and malt vinegar. It used to be a regular Saturday dinner-time (ie: lunchtime!) treat for our family when I was a child. We'd walk down to the nearest 'chippie' and queue, hurrying the treasure home wrapped in greaseproof paper overwrapped with large sheets of newspaper. It was hot and heavy and smelled enticing. We'd hope it hadn't gone cold by the time we got it home, because the batter went soft if you had to reheat it.

When I first came to Yorkshire as a student, I was taken as a treat to Harry Ramsden's fish restaurant in Guiseley. Dining on humble fish and chips (accompanied by bread and butter and huge pots of tea) under beautiful chandeliers, seemed somehow thrilling and different. The restaurant, opened in 1928, thrived for years, a regular stop-off for coach trippers. They even had a resident pianist 'tinkling the ivories' while you dined.

In the 1980s the business was sold and expanded, developing franchise operations in the UK and abroad. By 2011 however, the original Guiseley restaurant had hit trouble and was closed, causing considerable dismay and quite an outcry locally. Happily, it was bought by the Wetherby Whaler group and given a full refurbishment, retaining the opulent feel with wall-to-wall carpets, the 1920s stained glass windows and oak panelling and those glorious chandeliers. They still have a resident pianist playing on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

We had a lunch out from work the other day, to mark a colleague's leaving the team. I can tell you that The Wetherby Whaler's fish and chips are Very Good Indeed! They even do gluten-free batter if you ask, so for the first time for years I was able to enjoy the whole meal and not just pick the fish out from the batter. Yummy - though I was so full afterwards that I didn't need another meal for about three days!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Cat on a hot bin roof

Like most of the people I know, my kitchen sink is in front of a window. Unlike most of the people I know, I have no dishwasher, machine or human, apart from myself. This small fact means that I inevitably spend a certain amount of time looking out of the kitchen window. I sometimes wish I had a view of a pretty garden or trees - but on the other hand one sees a fair slice of life looking out over a back street. There are several cats. This one belongs to the young couple across the road and is an interesting mixture of white, grey and marmalade tabby. It comes and goes from my small yard and lately has taken to sitting on top of my bin. Actually several of the street's bins have a resident cat, sitting atop as though they were statues on their pedestals. I imagine the plastic is drier and warmer than the ground at this time of year, so there is method in it - but I find it quite comical. I do, however, find it rather unnerving to be doing the washing-up whilst subject to an unwavering and hypnotic stare. I wonder what he's thinking? ("Feed me, feed me, woman." Probably.)

Monday, 1 December 2014

All the fun of the fair

Off to Leeds to do a bit of Christmas shopping... and I found the city centre heaving with people. It was 'Black Friday weekend'... Seems to be something we've imported from the USA, only in the last year or two, but as a friend in the States commented: "If you're going to have sale rioting, at least have a giant roast dinner and pie and hang out with your family and friends first." Well, yes, that used to be called the Boxing Day sales.... Do we really need an extra bargain weekend?

The Christkindelmarkt was so packed with shoppers that it was difficult to see anything or even get near the stalls to buy. I had hoped to take lots of photos but in the end I got fed up with being jostled. In another year or two (if my family do achieve their ambition to move back north) I might have a grandchild old enough and willing to give me an excuse to ride the carousel.