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Sunday, 31 May 2015

Saltaire meets the East Coast

Saltaire Arts Trail 2015 - Another of the artists exhibiting in the 'Made in Saltaire' strand of the Arts Trail was Ian Burdall. I've enjoyed seeing his exhibitions over several years and he is another creative whose work has come on in leaps and bounds. Ian started as a photographer and that's really how I got to know him but in recent years he has made the switch to painting in oils. His subject matter is often boats and coastal scenes inspired by Yorkshire's East Coast. His work is bold, colourful and distinctive, often painted on quite big canvases. Stirring stuff!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

An artist's studio

Saltaire Arts Trail 2015 - Ann Davies is a very talented artist who lives in Shipley and has a studio in the artists' community above The Butterfly Rooms shop and gallery on Gordon Terrace in Saltaire. [She also happens to be a good friend of mine.] Ann creates wonderfully intricate watercolour and ink drawings of local scenes - many famous Saltaire landmarks among them. She also writes illustrated stories, makes whimsical sculptures and dolls and will capture details of your wedding in beautiful paintings. The doll in red on the desk is 'The Lady who wore her Heart on her Sleeve' , who appears in pictures and a book too. Ann is probably THE most creative artist I personally know and I've watched her work get more and more confident and exciting over the years. Do take a look at her website - you'll see some familiar scenes in a new way.

She's also generously encouraging of other people's talent. It was Ann who persuaded me to exhibit some of my photos in the Half Moon Café a couple of years ago.

Unfortunately Ann wasn't 'in' when I called, otherwise I'd have taken a portrait of 'the artist in her studio'. She doesn't know I took these pics either... but I'm sure she won't mind me showing them.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Crested tit

Saltaire Arts Trail 2105 - I have an exquisite little new friend - the Crested Tit. It's a 'champagne bird' - made out of the wire from champagne corks. I've seen these before and loved them, so I decided to treat myself to this little fellow. Isn't it adorable? They are made by Beverley Drury, who was a featured artists in one of the Open Houses.  It was really hard to choose from the variety of sculptures on offer, most about life-size like this and lovingly hand-crafted to capture the special 'jizz' of each little bird. There were robins and sparrows, swallows and kingfishers, nuthatches and several different members of the tit family. I might need to collect a flock!
See the 'champagnebirds' website for more details and pictures.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Willow fantasies

Saltaire Arts Trail 2015 - Among my favourites of all the exhibits in the Arts Trail were these willow sculptures by Julia Clarke. They managed to be timeless yet modern, fluid yet solid, suggestive of nature  - both in the materials and in the shapes - yet man-made. I thought: weaver birds nests, a bittern, Camilla's wedding hat (a Philip Treacy creation that, incidentally, I loved)! I enjoyed the way they were displayed in a very simple whitewashed room with a stone hearth and sisal carpet. (Looking in other people's houses is always part of the fun of the Open Houses.)

The only downside was that the room was so compact that even with my camera lens on its widest angle I couldn't quite get the top and bottom in the frame.

There were also some willow sculptures in the nearby garden of the College, looking equally at home outside.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Pip Hall

Saltaire Arts Trail 2015 - I had the privilege of watching Pip Hall at work, one of several artists and craftspeople giving demonstrations of their skill. I have long admired her carving and have visited some of the sites of the Stanza Stones, a project on which she collaborated with the poet Simon Armitage, hand- carving his poems into rocks on the high Pennine moorland watershed. (See left and link here.) I'm not sure exactly why I feel drawn to rock, but I do. I have a line of sea-smoothed pebbles along a shelf in my sitting room and I love them.
Pip teaches short workshops in basic technique - another thing I'd love to try!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Blaze your own trail

Saltaire Arts Trail 2015 - After a break of a year, the Arts Trail returned, straddling the late May Bank Holiday weekend and providing lots of interest for residents and visitors alike. The popular Open Houses provided two distinct strands: the 'Village-wide Galleries' showcased the work of selected artists from across the UK, hosted in homes throughout the village, whilst the 'Made in Saltaire' trail invited visitors into the homes of artists living and working in the village. Add to that a Makers' Fair in the Victoria Hall, some traditional rural crafts (with a modern twist) displayed in Shipley College and a variety of other exhibitions and performances... So much going on that you really needed all three days to see it all and do it justice.

The central area outside the Victoria Hall and the College had lots of activities for children, including print making.

See the link here to the Saltaire Inspired website.  I will also link wherever possible to the artists' own websites in my blog posts in the coming days. Do look them up; there's some inspiring stuff.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Walk the plank

A plank bridge over a small stream that flows down to join the River Aire under the aqueduct at the far side of Hirst Woods. The strong spring sunshine made a very graphic shadow pattern.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Smart school

Even though it has been open about six years now, Titus Salt School still looks pretty smart and ultra-modern. It has such clean, graphic lines that even a photograph looks, to me, like an architect's drawing, complete with those spindly birch trees they always add. (NB: the photo was taken a few weeks ago, so I imagine those trees have a few leaves now). It is a school for students from age 11 upwards and specialises in Maths and Computing, though of course students study a whole range of curriculum subjects. It sits on the far side of Roberts Park, technically in Baildon rather than Saltaire. It's on the Coach Road, at one time the carriage drive to the grand house that Titus Salt Junior built (now demolished). I wonder what he would have thought of this 'on his doorstep'?

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Swanning around

I think this may be one of last year's mute swan cygnets on the River Aire, its plumage still slightly grey-brown and its beak quite pale. Swans mate for life and this one doesn't yet seem to have made a match. It was idly swimming up and down the river - swanning around, in fact!

Friday, 22 May 2015

Something old, something new

Sometimes I feel like I've photographed every square inch of Saltaire and its environs since I started this blog. Even those of my regular readers who've never set foot in the place must know it like your own backyard! So I'm always on the lookout for something new or different, whether permanent or temporary. This glorious tumble of clematis falls into the temporary category (and is it my imagination or does all the blossom seem particularly abundant this year?). The view down Moorhead Lane towards what used to be Saltaire roundabout (now Saltaire traffic light controlled junction, which doesn't quite have the same poetry...) is one I don't think I have photographed before. It is, however, a view that has only changed in the detail since the buildings were constructed in the latter half of the 19th century.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Vegging out

Saltaire's community vegetable and herb garden, in the corner of the Caroline Street car park, is in its second year. The raised beds seem to be coming along well already. Across the far side they have planted rhubarb and fruit bushes. It seems a small thing in a way but, like the Saltaire Canteen giving away food that would otherwise be wasted, it is quite a radical idea to garden a patch of underused land, growing things that basically anyone can help themselves to for free. And, like the Canteen, I imagine the joy lies as much (if not more) in the giving - developing the vision, putting in the hard work - than the taking.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Let there be light

Having chopped down all the trees on Victoria Road, the local council are now 'sprucing up' the area. They've planted a few (a very few) new, smaller trees at the top of the road by the almshouses and are reinstating the pavements where they'd been damaged by tree roots. Now they are replacing all the lamp posts with 'faux Victorian' ones. That has meant getting rid of the original Victorian cast iron lamps and also the concrete ones that were installed at some point in the past to supplement the little Victorian lamps.  (Both types are visible in this earlier shot.) The new ones are much taller, painted green instead of black (I gather they think they were originally green..) and have fancy twisted lighting filaments - perhaps they are 'greener' too? I haven't seen them lit yet but I'm told they have a brighter, whiter light. Of course, the originals were - originally - gas lights, so they couldn't go back to that! I suppose everyone will get used to them in time, though they look to me to be a bit out of proportion with the surroundings - or perhaps with themselves. (Surely with that length of stem the lamp should be a bit bigger?) They don't appear to be replacing the lamps down the drive to the church or those on the station platform, so anyone smitten by nostalgia can gaze at those instead.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Matchfit garden

Here's one of the gardens completed as part of the Matchfit competition - see yesterday.
Turf - check
Tree - check
Shaped and planted border - check
Surprise element - check. This one had a rather elegant dragonfly willow sculpture.

The other gardens looked pretty similar in design and execution, though some of the turf looked more expertly laid than others. The only difference was the surprise element - one had a piece of old tree root, one a plant pot spilling stones and I couldn't see what the fourth plot had... maybe they'd taken it away. Anyway, it seemed like a nice wholesome exercise and hopefully the four little trees will be allowed to remain there and grow.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Are you Matchfit?

I have often said there is rarely a dull moment in Saltaire and that was proven again the other day. I had to pop home at lunchtime to speak to my decorator. (Yes, I'm having lots of work done in the house. It will be nice when finished, though the mess on the way is testing.) I took the scenic route round through Salts Mill yard.  There were lots of people peering over the wall into the allotments and lots of flags too. Your roving reporter is always keen to find out what's going on so I asked someone with a clipboard, who looked as though he might know!

The answer was that this was a competition, under the banner 'Are you Matchfit?'  Shipley College was hosting the final of the Horticultural Skills element. Teams of students from various colleges' horticulture training departments were given a plot of land 4m x 3m and, in four hours, working to a drawing and specification, had to:
lay turf, plant a tree, cut and plant a border, choosing from an array of plants supplied - and add a surprise element of their own.

It was a beautiful day for it and they were all beavering away. I'll have to go back and take a photo of the finished results. (Hopefully they will leave them, at least for a while).

I have looked up the 'Matchfit Skills' website - and there are lots of similar vocational competitions being held throughout Yorkshire and Humberside in various disciplines: Business and IT; Construction; Cultural and Creative Arts; Engineering; Hair and Beauty; Health, Social and Child Care; Hospitality and Catering; Science; Sport and Public Services. They are aimed at inspiring and stretching the students studying vocational courses in our Further Education colleges. I'm sure these folk would be able to take pride in what they were achieving.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Advance Notice - LOTS to see! 23-25 May

Photo © Paul Barrett

After a break of a year, the Saltaire Arts Trail returns over the coming bank holiday weekend: 23 - 25 May. There is LOTS going on, with the wonderful 'Makers' Fair' in the Victoria Hall and the ever-popular Open Houses, where original art and craft of all kinds is displayed in village houses, whose brave owners throw them open to the public (and pray for dry weather!)

For full details please see the Saltaire Inspired website - and if you are anywhere near Saltaire, take it from me.... you'd be MAD not to visit!

Equally exciting is a 'fringe event' (all the best festivals have 'fringes') taking place in St. Peter's Church, Moorhead Lane, 23 - 25 May. The small photography group of which I am a member is holding an exhibition of photos, celebrating our first ten years of meeting as a club. All are welcome, free entry - and again - why would you want to miss that? See here for full details.

The photo we're using to illustrate the exhibition is a wonderful Yorkshire collage by one of our members, Paul Barrett. Doesn't it make you want to explore Yorkshire?

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Music and cupcakes

There was music at the dragon-boat festival too. This is a player in the Hall Royd Band, well wrapped up against the cold. They cheered everyone with some lively tunes and it's always good to see the bandstand being used by a brass band. I'm not sure what the instrument is; perhaps a euphonium but I find them hard to tell apart from tubas...

If music is the food of love, cupcakes are the food of treats. There were some pretty ones on offer in the food market. It's a good job I can't eat such things. (I have to stick to gluten-free). I'd probably have ballooned to the size of a small elephant if I could eat cake, as I have quite a sweet tooth.

Bradford is twinned with the town of Hamm in Germany, and there was a team from Hamm in the dragon boat race, cheered on by their city's mayor. They did rather well, coming second. Perhaps in honour of that there was also a stall in the market selling traditional German sausages, which smelled very good.

Friday, 15 May 2015

More dragons

The dragon-boat festival had lots of fun things for children to do. Most of them seem to love getting their faces painted and there were some particularly artistic efforts on show, painted by volunteers from the Dockfield Road Creative Arts Hub. That's an interesting community venture, with a building that provides practical work space for a variety of artists working in different disciplines, as well as a theatre group called Q20 that specialises in event management and promotional entertainment. They were the group behind last year's Shipley Street Arts Festival, which I gather is planned again this year from 26 - 28 June.

They had a stall where you could make your own paper dragon, so I had a go at making one to post to my granddaughter. It's a long time since I did any colouring-in. I'd forgotten how soothing it is! I omitted to take a photo of my dragon before I parcelled it up but it was similar in concept to the one below.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Tai Chi in the park

As part of the dragon-boat racing festival, there were several other attractions in Roberts Park, including a market and lots of food stalls. I don't usually need to eat and drink 'out' in Saltaire as it's so close to home but I was so cold that warming my hands on a hot coffee was very welcome.

I enjoyed watching a Tai Chi demonstration. It was Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan, to be precise, though I don't know enough about it to understand what that means. I once participated in a short Tai Chi workshop and really enjoyed it. It's a gentle and meditative series of controlled movements, good for promoting suppleness and balance, though it is also a form of martial art for self-defence. Most of the people taking part seemed to be quite mature. I have wondered whether to try it, it seems a good form of gentle exercise for oldies like me!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Here be dragons...

Great excitement in Saltaire last weekend... There was dragon-boat racing between various teams competing to raise money for the Lord Mayor of Bradford's 2015 Charity Appeal. Twenty-two teams took part in various heats over the course of the day and the eventual winners were Appleton Crusaders, a team from a local academy school. 

This was the first ever such event to take place in Saltaire. It was planned to be held on the river in Roberts Park but heavy rain overnight caused flooding and dangerously strong currents, so the decision was taken to hold the races on the canal instead.

Despite the freezing cold (two fleeces, a jacket, woolly hat and gloves! and I was still chilled to the marrow by the time I eventually returned home) and a day that started very dull and rainy, there were lots of spectators. They would not let the general public on to the towpath, so everyone was crowded around the bridge and it was pretty difficult to get a good view.

One of the boats overturned, but I didn't get a photo of that! Thankfully the canal isn't really very deep and all the competitors managed to scramble ashore.

I think this may become an annual fixture as it seemed a really popular event. The total raised for charity is thought to be over £20,000. Another thing to put Saltaire on the map. Never a dull moment round here!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Quack, quack, quack

These ducks were going quackers, paddling in the mud and play-fighting. The mud on the female's neck and back is the result of some amorous behaviour on the part of one of the males! Looks a bit smug now, doesn't he?!

My online photo group theme for May is 'Three' so this could well qualify as a possible entry.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Peerless pieris

It's a case of win some and lose some for the houses bordering Yeadon Tarn. Win because the setting is so attractive, looking out across the lake, lose because on the other side is the airport with its attendant traffic and noise. From a distance I thought this vibrant coral red was an azalea in bloom, but on closer inspection I realised it's a pieris and the red is the new leaves, not flowers. Glorious colour though.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Big bird

An added attraction to Yeadon Tarn is that it lies just at the edge of the runway for Leeds-Bradford airport. Seeing such big planes taking off and landing still gives me a mild thrill. I vividly recall standing by an airport perimeter fence with my dad when I was little, watching planes, in the days when it seemed unthinkable that we'd ever be able to travel in one. I think Leeds-Bradford airport is probably busier with holiday flights in the mornings and early evenings. There were only two large aircraft landed in the hour or two that I was there, though a few smaller planes were whizzing about too. They don't seem to bother the wildlife.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Yeadon Tarn

Typically, on the day my family returned to London, the weather brightened up again. I didn't have time to go far but a trip to Yeadon Tarn provided some sunshine, fresh air and a little bit of exercise. The lake is used for fishing and sailing but sadly there were no boats on the water while I was there. There is a level, surfaced footpath all the way round making an easy path for children to rollerskate, cycle or use those little scooters that are suddenly having a renaissance (adult cycling is prohibited) and it's good for mobility scooters too. In fact it's a great place for families. There have been efforts made to create a wildlife area at one end, with dipping ponds and  the beginnings of some reed beds. There are birds to watch - I saw geese, swans and mallards plus a few coots, moorhens and even a great crested grebe; a nice playground and a BMX track. There were two ice cream vans too, one at each end of the lake. I judged it still too cool to indulge in my first ice cream of 2015!

Friday, 8 May 2015

That rainbow view

That view again... glorified with a rainbow.

Has to be some symbol of hope on a day like today.....

Thursday, 7 May 2015


The April theme for my online photo group was 'Desire...'

It is Election Day today in the UK.

Of course, these two facts are not related.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015


I'm afraid I have no photos of the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race that took place over the weekend. You'll have to be content with my impish little granddaughter... but that's not really a hardship is it?

As I've said, the weather was fairly awful (though it did in fact brighten up a little by the time the race reached Ilkley). So I decided to offer to look after E so that her mum and dad could enjoy a bit of time together and watch the race relatively unencumbered. They had M with them but she sleeps well in a baby sling and even when she's awake she is usually remarkably content. She's still a good deal more portable than a lively three year old. The race wouldn't have been all that much fun for E, especially in the rain. There's a lot of walking and waiting for just a few minutes excitement.

So they enjoyed cheering the riders up the 'Côte de Cow and Calf' in Ilkley... (if you really want photos, see here for some good ones).... whilst E rediscovered the toy box at gran's. When the rain stopped we went across to the Shipley Glen Tramway and had a ride up and down. There used to be fun things to do at the top - a small amusement park - but that has gone, so we just bought some old-fashioned Dolly Mixture sweets in the shop and rode back down again.

A little time in the playground and a few practice runs on her new scooter finished off a very happy afternoon.

Since I don't see the children very often I really notice the differences in them from one visit to the next. I love the way E 'revisits' everything in my house. She always wants to go into every room and often repeats the same patterns of play - rearranging my collection of wooden ducks, taking apart the Russian doll and putting it back together again, pretending to sleep in my bed. I notice she is developing in her ability to play imaginatively; she spent ages playing with a little doll's house set I have. She's also noticeably more confident running, jumping and climbing.

So lovely to spend time with her and I am very happy to think they will soon be moving much nearer to me.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Hardcastle Crags

A rain-washed scene more reminiscent of November than early May, but nevertheless it has a certain beauty. The steep-sided, wooded valley known as Hardcastle Crags is sometimes known as Little Switzerland and has been a popular spot for day-trippers for years. It has tumbling streams, waterfalls, rocky crags and miles of footpaths meandering through the woods. It is now in the care of the National Trust.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Gibson Mill

After a few weeks of settled, dry, sunny (if cold) weather, it has taken a turn for the worse - even colder and very wet... This change came (of course) just in time for the May Day bank holiday weekend, when my family came to visit. We went to see the house they hope to buy when they move back to Yorkshire from London. Their plans are progressing and all being well they should be able to move this summer. We're all rather excited about that. Hopefully much more of that later...

The day was designed to include a pleasant woodland walk and lunch at this National Trust property, Gibson Mill on the Hardcastle Crags estate. Well, we enjoyed a nice-enough lunch but the walk was a very wet and cold trudge... not so nice, especially with a baby and a toddler. I hope we can make a return visit on a better day.

It was a pity, as the valley is beautiful and the mill has a long and interesting history. A former 19th century water-powered cotton mill, it then became a 20th century 'entertainment emporium' with a dance-hall and skating rink and it is now a café and visitor centre. It is 'off grid' - 100% self-sufficient in energy (supplied by water and solar power), water and waste disposal and its only 'wired' connection to the outside world is the telephone line.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Two trees again

Those trees again, in their spring plumage.

See the 'two trees' label for other pictures.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

A bank of bluebells

Despite it still being frosty at night, the sunshine of the last couple of weeks is bringing the bluebells into flower. They seem rather earlier than last year. My photos last year were taken in mid-May; this one was taken on 26 April. The big drifts of flowers in Hirst Woods are only just beginning to show, they won't be at their peak for another week or so. Across the river however, on the sunny south-facing bank, they are well in flower and have a wonderful rich colour this year.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Familiar haunts

With fresh, spring green everywhere and lots of sunshine, a walk along my favourite route is like meeting an old friend again. Less than ten minutes walk from Saltaire village brings me to Hirst Lock, though along this stretch you have to watch out for cyclists, dogs and pushchairs. It's not only me that finds this a pleasant route.