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

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

A mixture of delights

Around the Kilnsey Park trail you meet various birds and animals, including this rather splendid rooster. The Park has a breeding programme for red squirrels, which are endangered in much of Britain, threatened by disease and competition from the larger and more aggressive grey squirrels. The squirrels are bred and held in large enclosures but, having known nothing else, they seem quite healthy and happy to play. The hope is that one day they can be reintroduced into the wild in this part of Yorkshire. Sorry about the mesh; it was too small to get my lens through and moving too close to the wire frightened the squirrels away.

Since I was on holiday and I'd had a good walk, I felt obliged to indulge myself with rich chocolate tart with my cup of tea - and an enjoyable browse through a lovely book of photos: Working the View, a collaborative project with photos by Mark Butler of the favourite views of various people who live and work in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, interviewed by Sarah Butler.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Gateway to my holidays

I recently had a week's holiday in Upper Wharfedale, a very beautiful area that is close to my heart for all sorts of reasons. It's only about an hour's drive from home but by the time I arrive at this spot I always feel like my holiday is starting. I can feel myself relaxing into the wonderful scenery, fresh air, open spaces and the peace of the Yorkshire Dales.

I often stop off here for a walk and a coffee. I have mentioned it before on my blog - Kilnsey Park. It's a trout farm that provides fishing and a number of other family attractions: various animals and a nature trail. I think this is one of the most attractive views in this part of Yorkshire, with the fishing lake and stone cottages of the village set against the backdrop of Kilnsey Crag, a limestone outcrop that is a renowned climbing spot, with a tricky overhang to negotiate.

Click the 'Kilnsey' tag below for more of my posts about the area.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Lace and lushness

This is one of my all-time favourite gardens in Saltaire.  Belonging to one of the larger houses and benefitting from a slightly larger footprint, this one always looks lush and pretty. It wasn't 'open' but the gate is low and the view from the street is delightful.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Over back walls

Meandering up and down the back lanes, searching out Saltaire's Open Gardens, affords the chance to peep over back walls and discover interesting photo opportunities.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Sneak peek

Wandering around Saltaire village, map in hand, seeking out the Open Gardens, also gives one the opportunity to view all the gardens whose owners are either too shy to parade their achievements or who just don't like the idea of hordes of feet tramping around their little patch. I don't let such reticence stop me from taking sneaky photos!  This display must take a bit of watering. I know from experience how thirsty container planting can be. It's a pretty array of pots, though the house appears to have suffered at some time in the past from someone's decision to square off the distinctive window.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Ghosts of the past

Saltaire Festival Open Gardens 2015: I was less sure of my reaction to these 'floating' sculptures by Cameron Hopkins. They looked like disembodied shirt sleeves and made me think of ghosts of the people who may have lived in the houses.  Each garden that was open had, pinned up, a sheet of information about the house and who was recorded as living there in the past. Members of Saltaire's history club have done a lot of research on the census information for the village. It is often quite astonishing how many people were packed into the tiny two-up, two-down houses in Victorian times. One I read listed a mother, her nine children and a lodger!

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Open Gardens 2015

Whereas the Saltaire Arts Trail in May has 'Open Houses' acting as mini-galleries for artists and makers, the Saltaire Festival has 'Open Gardens'. The main focus is to show how inventive and creative people can be in using and beautifying the tiny gardens and yards that the village houses in Saltaire have. Some of them also host sculptures and I liked these woven metal orbs by Rachel Carter. They were reminiscent of giant alliums and sat quite happily within the planting.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Festival music

More Festival music - though this took place on the first weekend of the Festival, which tends to have a more local and villagey focus than the second weekend. The event was 'Yardfest', a pop-up music venue in someone's back yard on George Street with live, acoustic jazz and blues music. The young guys performing are Chris, Jake and Dave. Given how tiny Saltaire's back yards are, they managed to pack quite a large audience in, with many more stopping in the street outside to have a listen.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Herb Boat

The herb boat is new to me, though I understand it can often be found moored and trading near Apperley Bridge, a few miles along the Leeds-Liverpool canal in the direction of Leeds. The narrowboat Herbidacious is the home and business of Sue 'Bunny' Cotton. She sells a huge range of dried herbs, spices, herb-related kitchenware, books and other curios. She was moored just under the Victoria Road bridge in the centre of Saltaire during the Festival. It was a colourful display and it is always good to see narrowboats being given life and used creatively. Sue trades online too and has a blog and a Facebook page.

Monday, 21 September 2015

The Ruby Stone Sound Collective

The Ruby Stone Sound Collective performing on the main stage at Saltaire Festival on Saturday. The band: Dawn Stebbings (lead vocals); Gareth John (keyboard); Wayne Marshall (guitar); Jerome Dineen (bass) and Tim Gilroy (drums). They describe their style as soul, funk, rock, blues and a bit of jazz. Sounded pretty good to me.
There are one or two videos on Youtube if you want to watch.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Festival food and drink

                                                                                                                                                              Joining the queue for Traditional German Sausages might be the wurst decision you make at the Saltaire Festival.

Joining the queue for a beer could introduce you to a Saltaire Blonde - or you might be more interested in a Triple Chocoholic. The children, meanwhile, will be happy to meet the Aagrah elephant, whilst their parents are probably queuing for an Aagrah curry.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Saltaire Festival 2015

Another day in the busy life of Roberts Park, which has become the main arena for the music on the second weekend of Saltaire Festival. The event has outgrown the small carpark in the centre of Saltaire, which used to hold the stage (and I am pretty sure local residents are relieved that some of the focus has moved to the park). Sunshine brought large crowds to listen and there was plenty available to drink and eat in the park itself, as well as up in the village where there is a three day continental market, with vast numbers of food stalls selling everything from paella to churros. The village itself is not devoid of music either. Caroline's (club) has an outdoor stage and there are various buskers around too. Add to that the Vintage Fair in the Victoria Hall, the fire station open day and a classic car show at the local garage and there is plenty going on.

I have a love-hate relationship these days with the Festival. Unlike the rather more sedate Arts Trail earlier in the year, the Festival is a noisy and brash event (the second weekend anyway). It is good to see so many people enjoying themselves but it seems a bit of a myth that it benefits the village, as people tend to spend their money in the Festival tents and the special markets rather than the local shops. Indeed, I noted that one of the main gift shops has closed for the weekend, citing the unbearable amount of shoplifting they have suffered at the Festival in previous years. Add to that the traffic and parking chaos and can get a bit miserable for us locals. Streets around where I live are packed with transit vans belonging to the market traders. This year there has been a huge HGV parked right outside my house for three days and nights. I have learned never to move my car over the weekend because once you do you can't find another parking space within within a mile or so. So I feel a bit 'bah-humbug' about it all!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Summer evening

Plenty of colour to be found on a summer evening along the canal.  This is just above Bingley's Five Rise Locks, where there is a little café for visitors, with a terrace where you can sit and enjoy doing nothing for a while.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Spot the difference

It's quite a while since I visited Bingley's famous Five Rise Locks, though I've featured them before on my blog, not least when they were being renovated (see here).  There is a bit of a 'spot the difference' going on if you look at one of my earliest photos of this same view, which I've added below. There are two significant differences: one is that the ugly, 'brutalist' modern building in the centre of Bingley that was originally the HQ of the Bradford and Bingley Building Society has been torn down. You can see it in the earlier photo, right behind that tall black chimney. The second difference is that some of the lock gates have been renewed. I think the older painted gates looked rather smarter but perhaps they decided a new paint job was a bridge too far, given the cost and difficulty of renewing the gates themselves.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Lion around

I am enjoying seeing Saltaire's four resident lions newly emerged from the tree canopy, one advantage of the local council's recent but controversial decision to fell the large trees down Victoria Road. They are already looking less green as the sunlight now reaches them and you can see that they are really rather well carved (by Thomas Milne) and very imposing. This one is 'War'. The others are 'Peace', 'Determination' and 'Vigilance'. I think I've shown them all at various times on this blog. (Click the 'lion' label below.)

I love too the backdrop of green fields that you can see at the bottom of Victoria Road, the aptly named Hope Hill rising up above Shipley Glen to Baildon Moor. I gave this image a bit of texture and extra colour. It's an iPhone photo and the sky was irretrievably burnt-out, except that nothing these days in photography is truly irretrievable, unless you delete your photo altogether.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Caring for Life

Caring for Life (CFL) is a Leeds-based Christian charity, set up in 1987 after several homeless men started to attend Leeds Reformed Baptist Church. In response, the church set up a charity to enable outreach to these needy people. The gift of a house enabled them to start a residential project for the most vulnerable young men. Crag House Farm, near Cookridge, was acquired as a base for daytime activity projects and now operates agricultural, horticultural, conservation, vehicle maintenance, art & craft and woodwork projects alongside adult literacy and office skills.

A friend took me to visit - on account of the fact that they now have a very attractive restaurant, The Granary, in a beautifully converted 17th century barn. We enjoyed a huge and delicious 'brunch' of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. There's also a lovely farm shop selling meat, cheese, vegetables and a vast range of mainly locally sourced 'high-end' food products, with gifts and cards as well. There is a garden centre selling plants raised in the farm's large greenhouses. Around the centre there is a nature trail and gardens. It was all very interesting and made for a most enjoyable morning's outing - and chance for a good catch-up with my friend, of course. It seems it's a secret known only to the cognoscenti and I had not heard of it before, though The Granary did get pretty busy as the morning wore on.

Monday, 14 September 2015


I haven't posted a picture of these two gorgeous girls lately. When I go to visit them in their new home there is usually so much going on that I don't find time for photos - and besides, they tend to pull faces when confronted with a proper camera! Their mum, on the other hand, manages to whip her phone out and produce wonderfully natural pictures like this, seemingly quite effortlessly. They had gone into the fields at the bottom of their garden for a picnic in the heather. One of their cats followed them and M started to stroke him and said her first proper word: cat.

She's growing up fast and is no longer content to sit still in one place but crawls around fast so that you now need a lot of vigilance! It will soon be her first birthday. E will be four in a couple of months and has just started to attend a nursery at the little local primary school nearby. She was at nursery in London a few mornings a week but this is more like pre-school and she has her first school uniform... so sweet.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Plotting their escape

The swallows were gathering on the telephone wires, no doubt beginning to plot their escape to warmer and sunnier climes. Who can blame them? It's a ritual that has been going on for hundreds of years but I have seen a huge reduction, in my lifetime, in the numbers of birds. I can only hope that the migration will still be witnessed when my granddaughters are nearing retirement.

(No doubt my friend, the snowbird - Naples and Hartford in Season - is also plotting his escape to warmer and sunnier climes. Who can blame him either? If you've never visited his blog, take a look. Jack takes some great portraits, as well as showing interesting photos of the north and south of the USA - depending on the season.)

Saturday, 12 September 2015


Do you remember the colourful sculpture by Sam Shendi that was exhibited in Saltaire last year at the Festival? (See here) Well, I came across some more of his work in Bradford's Lister Park, surrounding the city's art gallery, Cartwright Hall. I liked this one, called 'Evolution'. Actually it made me smile. Some of his work reminds me of Henry Moore - aged 6 and 3/4 and on a sugar high!

And it's Saltaire Festival time again! 11th to 20th September. I promise some pictures just as soon as I have had time to process them.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Lower Laithe Reservoir

This is something the Brontës would not have known, even though it is only a short hop over the moor from the Brontë Falls: Lower Laithe Reservoir. Built in 1925 to supply water for the nearby towns and industries of the Aire valley, the Sladen valley was dammed and flooded. There are some old pictures here that show the area prior to it being flooded. The mills and expanding towns, from the Industrial Revolution onwards, were greedy for water. The hills and moors of the Upper Pennines are dotted with small reservoirs, so that some call it 'the little Lake District'.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

The meeting of the waters

Here are some photos for all the Brontë fans. This place, above Haworth and close to the home of the famous writers Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë, is now known as Brontë Falls. The sisters themselves apparently referred to it as 'the meeting of the waters', where a tiny moorland stream tumbles down a series of small waterfalls towards a slightly bigger beck. The beck is straddled by a clapper bridge, recently restored after flash floods swept the original away. There is no doubt that the sisters visited it and Charlotte referred to it in her diary.

There were few people about when I visited quite early on a Sunday morning but it is a place of pilgrimage for some. The moorland signposts are in Japanese as well as English!  If you have the stamina you can continue further, up to Top Withens, an old farmhouse which may have inspired the setting for Emily Brontë's novel Wuthering Heights.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Heather moorland

Late August/early September is when the heather is at its peak locally. I wish I could convey the beauty of it: the intense purple, tumbling in tussocks across the hillsides like the swelling of an ocean. Photos never really seem to do it justice, in the same way as photos of bluebells are often a little disappointing. I look for leading lines and foreground interest, in the same way as I do with any photo, but then that fails to communicate the sheer vastness and glory of it. Ah well....

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

'Synchronised swimming'

It is the centenary of the WI (Women's Institute) this year. The WI is the largest women's voluntary organisation in the UK - providing friendship and fun for countless women down the years and doing lots of good charitable work too. For a long time it had a 'jam and Jerusalem' image, supposedly all about making preserves and singing hymns but that has never really been the truth. The WI achieved a much higher profile thanks to the famous nude calendar produced in 1999 by members of a WI in the Yorkshire Dales, to raise money for leukaemia research. That in turn led to the film 'Calendar Girls'. In the last decade new WI branches have been started (among them Baildon, Bingley and Shipley) attracting a much younger age group.

To celebrate the centenary, our local branches held a 'synchronised swimming' event in Roberts Park. Members donned colourful 50s style dresses and bathing costumes to 'swim' in a carefully choreographed spectacular. The sun shone, bubbles were blown, flags waved and lots of fun was had by all. I have never seen so many polka dots in one place!

The bathing belle with the infectious smile (above) is a friend of mine, Helen, who tirelessly involves herself with all manner of community-spirited, creative and occasionally slightly wacky endeavours. You will have seen her leading the team of storytellers at the Saltaire Conversazione in the spring.

Monday, 7 September 2015

The Dew Stones

The objective of my walk was still there though... a pair of carved stones known as the Dew Stones, part of the Stanza Stones project that I have mentioned before (see here and here).  The poem is by the gifted local poet Simon Armitage, and the stones were carved by Pip Hall (remember my piece about her from the Saltaire Arts Trail earlier this year?)  They form part of the Stanza Stones Poetry Trail, across the high Pennine watershed, commissioned in 2012 as part of the Ilkley Literature Festival.

I really loved this poem:
... the touchy fuse-wire of parched grass...
one spark enough to trigger a march on the moors by ranks of flame.
Dew enters the field under cover of night, tending the weary and sapped,
lifting its thimble of drink to the lips of a leaf...
here where bog cotton flags its surrender...

To me there is something deeply satisfying about discovering a work of art and poetry set so naturally amidst the beauty of our lovely countryside, in itself poetic. Well worth the walk, to drink in the words and the artistry that carved them and the view and the fresh air. As refreshing as the dew itself.

[Click on the photo to view it larger]

Sunday, 6 September 2015

A blasted heath

So... I set off for an energetic walk that was going to take me up into the hills and through a lovely forest. The path certainly went up and as I climbed higher, the wind got stronger... (I could barely get a comb through my tangled hair when I got home!) Despite the wind it was a hazy kind of day, though the views up the Aire valley were magnificent even so.  I successfully negotiated a field of cattle and headed over a ridge towards the forest....

Haha! The loggers had got there before me - and fairly recently too, by the looks of it. All there was left were a few stumps, some untidy branches, a lone tree left standing and some piles of logs. A blasted heath if ever I saw one.

I did, however, enjoy the sight of the purple heather coming into bloom on the moorland over yonder.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Taking a stand

A bicycle, a very bright wall... not much else to say really. Spotted (hmm.... striped) in Leeds.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Hip and trendy

The area around the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds has been extensively redeveloped in the last decade or so and has been done rather well, I think. It comprises the old docklands area, where the River Aire and Leeds-Liverpool Canal once provided a navigation for ships to-ing and fro-ing with the trade that an important city generated. The docks themselves no longer exist but some of the historic buildings have been preserved and new blocks built, housing a mix of digital tech-type businesses (my son-in-law's company is based here), residential apartments and the restaurants, bars and clubs that the hip and trendy local community require.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Welcome to Leeds!

This rather alarming mask is the logo of the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds. The original 'horned helmet' was part of the court armour of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, which he presented to Henry VIII in 1514. The Royal Armouries Museum - the UK's national museum of arms and armour - is a lot more fun than it sounds, and well worth a visit (free too) even though I don't think they any longer feature the jousting tournaments that were such fun to watch. (Funding cuts, I guess.)

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Two trees, two horses

Or maybe three horses.... it was hard to tell from that distance. My two favourite trees were providing shelter for the horses, though whether it was shade they were after or protection from the oncoming rain shower, I couldn't say.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Tems Beck, Giggleswick

The River Ribble runs through the valley between Giggleswick and Settle, on its way down from the high moorland to the sea near Blackpool. There is also a meandering stream known as Tems Beck running through the village, necessitating some old and pretty bridges, at least one of which is a slate 'clapper bridge' made out of a single piece of rock.

All in all, Giggleswick is an attractive place to explore. No doubt it has a busier feel outside of the school holidays but it is still one of those places where time almost feels to have stood still. The careful observer can detect many fascinating traces of its past, like the unusual stone stiles known as 'knee pinch' stiles, that separate the village from the (playing) fields around. 

I enjoyed reading the 'conservation area' appraisal - hooray for the internet!