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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

That view again

You know, that view that I pass every morning on my way to work and that I often stop to photograph. It was looking interesting, with dark storm clouds over Salts Mill and bright sunshine in the foreground. Some of the geese have taken to sleeping in the loading bay of the old British Waterways brick building, just under that big canopy. It must be a bit warmer and sheltered from the wind. For more views of 'that view', click the 'that view' label, below!

Monday, 30 March 2015


Probably not....  I spotted this small piece of graffiti that purports to be by the famous graffiti artist known as 'Banksy', whose work is now prized by many - but much copied. I suspect the only Banksy connection is the banksy of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, where I found it.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Arrival of Spring #2

Well, the daffodils are coming out, anyway, their yellow trumpets like the first heralds of spring. Here they make an attractive foreground for that classic Saltaire view of the New Mill across the weir.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Arrival of Spring

Whether the weather is playing ball or not, Spring has arrived in Salts Mill. That is to say, the latest exhibition by David Hockney: 33 pictures that are part of the series 'The Arrival of Spring'. The pictures were drawn on an iPad and then printed out five feet high. They depict an area of the Yorkshire Wolds - Woldgate Lane - and were each made on a specific day between May 1st and May 31st 2011, during a time when Hockney was living in his old family home in Bridlington.

I saw them at the exhibition at the Royal Academy a couple of years ago and was captivated then. They look even more stunning in the setting of Salts Mill, where - minus the huge crowds - you can see and enjoy them in a much more relaxed fashion.  The Mill has tight links with Hockney (he is a Bradford-born Yorkshireman after all) borne out of his friendship with the late Jonathan Silver, who resurrected Salts Mill as we know it today.  I am delighted to hear that the Silver family have actually bought these pieces to add to the permanent collection housed in the Mill - so it sounds as if I will be able to enjoy them as often as I like. They are full of life and glow with colour; I find them incredibly uplifting. It moves me that, well into his 70s, Hockney still sees life so vibrantly in full technicolour. There was an excellent documentary recently on TV about him, directed by Randall Wright.

One more good reason to visit Saltaire....

Friday, 27 March 2015

Space and light

The lower end of Victoria Road in Saltaire, beside the shops, seems significantly lighter and more spacious without the huge horse chestnut trees. Many people are still mourning (and angry about) the felling of the mature trees. It seems that the most vociferous are not necessarily those whose daily lives were impacted by the dense dark canopy, the damaging roots, the dripping sap or the fallen leaves... The work is still in progress. The pavements have yet to be reinstated, there is talk of replacing the streetlights with something more in keeping with the historic area and I gather they will plant a few smaller trees that won't take over quite so much.  I liked the trees but I think I like it just as much without them, it's just different.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Victoria Hall

This is a picture that I couldn't have taken a few weeks ago. It's Saltaire's Victoria Hall from the north-west. Previously it was pretty much obstructed from view by huge horse chestnut and copper beech trees, planted in the 1950s. The original design for this part of the village was very much that it would be a spacious central area, a focal point, with the Victoria Hall (then the Saltaire Club and Institute) on one side and the school opposite. The trees were added later and became very large. Some felt they added beauty and softened the architecture but the Council eventually decided they were too big and were becoming a nuisance so there has been an extensive and controversial tree felling operation in recent months. Though it's perhaps a pity they took the smaller trees as well as the horse chestnuts. I rather liked the pink blossom (see here).

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Bum numbing

It doesn't look at all comfortable and I can't imagine many people have cared to sit on it for long, at peril of a numb bum, as we'd say here. Nevertheless I was attracted to the curves of this metal bench outside Ilkley's Manor House Museum. The yellow flowers in the border add a welcome hint of spring, though in truth it was a freezing cold day.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Through a glass brightly

Playing with my iPhone again... Some of the glass in the windows of Ilkley's Manor House Museum appears to be very old; it's thick and flawed but I love the effect it creates. I've bumped up the colour in this one a bit.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Shadow play

In the lulls between visitors to the exhibition (see yesterday) I had fun being creative with my iPhone. The occasional bursts of sunshine through the pretty arched windows of the Manor House Museum made lovely patterns. I hasten to add that the scratches are a texture I've added to my photo and the wooden floor of the building is not damaged!

Sunday, 22 March 2015


I spent much of Saturday in Ilkley's Manor House Museum. My camera club is showing its bi-annual exhibition there, this year entitled 'Creative Light'. Of course, many volunteers are needed to act as stewards, welcoming people and keeping an eye on things. Once my shift was over, I stayed to attend a short workshop run by one of our club members about Adobe Lightroom, the photo processing package that I now use most often. I am fairly proficient with it these days but, like most software, it has many facets that I have hardly explored yet. It's always interesting to hear someone else's ideas and I always learn a bit more.

The exhibition is well worth seeing; we have some amazing photographers in the club. I didn't manage to submit prints (the run-up to the deadline coincided with my granddaughter's birth) but I have four images in the digital slideshow that runs on a loop in one of the rooms.

I love the museum too. It's only small but the simply whitewashed rooms and old beams have a lovely quality. Unfortunately, when our exhibition closes on 12 April, the Museum is also closing. Bradford Council say they can no longer afford to run it and the future of the building and its associated cottages is in doubt. (See here).

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Canal marker

This canal marker post is beside the Leeds-Liverpool Canal quite near the centre of Saltaire. It would be a day's hike (for me) to Leeds and it would take me more than a week to get to Liverpool. I gather that a horse pulling a loaded barge could manage a speed of about 2.5 miles an hour, plus extra time to get through all the locks on the canal. They would work for long hours and change the horses frequently but it was still quite a slow mode of transport. Modern day narrowboats with engines still cruise quite slowly, partly out of respect for other users and also to avoid eroding the banks with the wash of water in the boat's wake. Even walking fast, however, I can rarely keep up with one for long. (I've tried!)

Friday, 20 March 2015

Wasted land

This is another view of the area in Shipley where a proposal has been made to build a supermarket and housing. It used to be the line of a canal spur that branched off the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and made its way down to the centre of Bradford, so that supplies could be carried by barge into the city and wool textiles shipped out to the docks at Liverpool. Long since filled in, the area is now just wasteland. I think at one time there was a small mill along here but any such buildings have now disappeared. It is a pity it remains in limbo, neither used constructively for much needed housing (it may have a flood issue but surely that could be overcome?) nor developed into an attractive area for recreation. They are gobbling up 'greenfield sites' for development and yet they leave 'brownfield' areas like this to deteriorate.

Thursday, 19 March 2015


It seems that if you can find an 'eco-argument' against a development, you're more likely to succeed in delaying or preventing it than if it comes down to mere economics. For months now there has been a three-cornered fight between rival proposals for supermarket developments near the centre of Shipley (despite the existence in Shipley of a large Asda, an Aldi and several other superstores within driving distance).  I understood that the proposed Morrisons development, including a store and housing behind Shipley rail station, had been approved by planners - but now there is an appeal.

Personally, I think it would be good if the land earmarked (below) was used for something. It is very much an eyesore of wasteland and plagued by fly-tipping. If there are valuable species there, then maybe it ought to be developed into a park....

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


To London for a few days enjoying my granddaughters' company.... The three year old is quite a chatterbox now and is very protective of her little sister. At five months and growing fast, the baby is quite simply adorable (though I am admittedly biased). She's calm and alert and seems a sunny-natured little soul. Her smile would melt anyone's heart. It's hard in all the busyness to get them both to pose for a photo. Pictures are snatched rather than taken. This was the best of the bunch.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Zen blossom

More pretty blossom, this time an early flowering azalea. It has a bit of a Japanese look to it, I think.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Let's pretend to be a castle

The Wentworth Castle estate holds a number of monuments and structures, including this sham castle known as Stainborough Castle, on the highest point of the grounds. Finished in 1731, it was built by Thomas Wentworth as a ruined folly and inscribed 'Rebuilt in 1730'. It originally had four towers, named after his four children. Now only two remain. You can climb a (mercifully sturdy, steel) spiral staircase to the top and the views from up there are lovely.

And right at the top, there's a dragon!

It's all rather nice and I could well imagine the household gathering there for picnics and fun, much as visitors do now. You can almost hear the laughter of those four children.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Lenten rose

Another personal favourite, the hellebore, is known as the Christmas or Lenten rose, flowering as they do in late winter/early spring. They come in a variety of colours, from purples and pinks to white and even astonishing pale green flowers. The 'petals' are actually sepals and the spiky bits in the middle are the modified petals or nectaries. They are low growing plants and like dappled shade under shrubs and trees. Many of them droop their heads shyly and are hard to photograph but this one smiled at me.

Saturday, 14 March 2015


The beginning of March was, I suppose, a bit of a silly time to visit a garden. Nature has hardly begun to stir from winter dormancy - though I do like to see the structure and shape of trees without their leaves. Nevertheless there were a few hints of spring around, with snowdrops and pretty little pink and white cyclamen nestled under the trees. Wentworth Castle Gardens holds National Collections of rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias - meaning that in a few weeks there will be spectacular blossom to see. (I might go back!) I spotted this one early flowering camellia. They are such delicate blossoms and flower so early that they are nearly always browned and burned by frost. This beautiful bloom was, however, pretty well perfect.

Friday, 13 March 2015

The Blackamoor

This Georgian lead sundial depicting a slave, The Blackamoor, sits in the conservatory at Wentworth Castle Gardens. It was a popular subject for sculpture in the gardens of grand mansions, initially because of the wealth generated by the slave trade. Later, these sculptures became a symbol adopted by the abolitionist movement: 'Am I not a man and a brother?' A notice beside this particular sundial said that it had at one time been painted white as a protest, by students from the college. They have recently removed the white paint and restored it to its former colours. Personally, I find it a powerful and moving reminder both of our not-always-glorious history and of the fact that things can change when brave people speak out.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Victorian Conservatory

Perhaps the most celebrated feature of Wentworth Castle Gardens is the newly restored Victorian conservatory. It was featured on a TV programme called 'Restoration', which involved various worthy restoration projects competing for funds in a public vote. It didn't win, but nevertheless eventually enough funds were raised and the once derelict conservatory has been beautifully restored and rebuilt. It was dismantled into over 4000 parts, which were taken off site, stripped, repaired and repainted before being faithfully reconstructed on site again, complete with new glass carefully made to look old and flawed. It reopened in late 2013. It's beautiful.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015


There are wonderful views from the park at Wentworth Castle. There is a special, hidden feature: a recessed wall and ditch known as a ha-ha (probably because that describes the surprised reaction experienced when walking out across the lawn, when the feature suddenly becomes visible). These walls and ditches were often used around large country houses. They are designed to allow full appreciation of the view from the house, with no intervening walls or fences, whilst protecting the immediate surroundings from livestock.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Wentworth Castle Gardens

There was a hint of Spring in the air over the weekend, with some warm sunshine despite a stiff, cold wind in more exposed places. I finally managed an expedition, to one of the places that has been on my 'must visit' list for a while...Wentworth Castle Gardens, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire.

It's an interesting place and its mixed use seems increasingly common among our larger heritage estates. The house itself was once the home of the Earls of Strafford. Thomas Wentworth bought the site and an older house in 1711. He dedicated a great deal to rebuilding the house and landscaping the estate, perhaps aggrieved that what he believed was his birthright, the nearby estate of Wentworth Woodhouse, had passed to another relative. The house is not generally open to the public. Nowadays it is run as a residential college - Northern College - for men and women of all ages who, for one reason or another, have no qualifications but are seeking to return to learning.

The wider estate it is set in, Stainborough Park, was at one time beautifully landscaped with carefully planted trees, various follies and monuments and a sinuous lake. The changing fortunes and ownership of the house led to a break up of the estate, and some of the land was decimated by open-cast mining whilst other areas were farmed. In 2002, a trust was formed to restore and preserve what is South Yorkshire's only Grade I listed estate. New trees have been planted, features restored, the lake dredged and the parkland returned to a deer park.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Lost rabbit

This is not mine but.... Has anyone seen a rabbit?  This toy was lost, apparently, on Saturday 8 March somewhere in the vicinity of Salts Mill or the car park. He's 'a classic Pooh rabbit made by Gund, about 25cm tall, brown with a lighter brown tummy'. I do hope somebody has found him and will see this. I saw the appeal on Facebook and I've shared it on there but I know this blog has a good local readership too. If you've found Rabbit, please email me from the profile link.

I can remember when my daughter's beloved Eeyore stuffed toy went missing. She was heartbroken. Thankfully, he eventually turned up... hidden at the bottom of the bed at Nana's house and not at all where we thought we'd lost him! My daughter still has him.

One to print

I've been trawling through my photo library looking for images that are suitable to print. I want them for an exhibition my church photography group will be holding on May Bank Holiday weekend, to coincide with Saltaire's revived and revamped Arts Trail this year. I came across this shot, taken last year in Croatia (in the World Heritage Site of Trogir, to be precise). It's one I'd overlooked at first but some careful work in Lightroom has, I think, brought out the best of it. There's lots of detail there. I think I might get it printed and see how it looks.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

I scream for ice cream

The ice-cream boat is back... It must be Spring.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

J B Priestley

I haven't had chance to see any of the activity but apparently they have been filming again in Saltaire. It is often used as a location for films and TV dramas. This time it is the BBC commissioning a new production of J B Priestley's most famous play 'An Inspector Calls', a detective thriller set in 1912. Our local newspaper provides more detail here. Salts Mill provided the backdrop for scenes taking place in a mill.

It is quite fitting, as J B Priestley (1894 -1984), novelist, playwright and broadcaster, was born and spent his early life in Bradford and much of his work is set against a Yorkshire backdrop. His statue stands in front of the Media Museum in Bradford, looking out over the city.

Thursday, 5 March 2015


Life is a tangle at the moment, a perfect storm of tasks to do that are all both urgent and necessary. Some of it is at work, so that I'm working rather longer hours than I normally would  - and some at home. My plan this year was to get a lot of things done that I have had on my mental 'to do' list for ages, and I am achieving that. It's better to do a lot of it at this time of year too, since the weather has not been conducive to getting out on expeditions, even though I could do with stocking up on photos. I took this on my iPhone during a very brisk lunchtime walk. It seems a good image for what was inside my head at the time! Though a brisk walk does help to clear a bit of brain space.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

My virtual visitors

February's online photo club challenge was 'Time' and the image had to be in monochrome.

I've long been fascinated by the well-worn steps leading down to Salts Mill. They seem soaked through with countless stories of the people that have clambered up and down them in the 160+ years since they were built. Clogs, boots, shoes, trainers and sandals .... mill workers, their bosses, village residents, visitors and more recently shoppers and tourists have left their mark. I thought the image needed something more to strengthen it and to suggest the passage of time... so I suddenly had the idea to have members of my family 'visit' Saltaire. This is my great-grandfather and my uncle.

Sunday, 1 March 2015


Another Spiritual Sundays quotation - one of the prayer cards I made for our church Healing Prayer Team.

I took the photo when I was on holiday in Croatia, inside the fortress overlooking Dubrovnik, which was a stronghold of the local resistance during the Balkan wars in the early 1990s.