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Sunday, 31 January 2016

Winter boating

The mild weather has meant more boat movements on the canal than is often the case in winter. When the canal ices over, they are forced to stay put but that hasn't happened yet this season. This narrowboat, moored temporarily by the towpath in Saltaire, seems to be someone's permanent home, not just a leisure craft.

The Leeds-Liverpool Canal through Saltaire was mercifully unscathed by the recent heavy rain and flooded river. It runs through at a level higher up the hillside than the river level. Though it is pretty full, to some extent they can regulate the amount of water it holds. The Rochdale Canal in the Calder valley was not so lucky. The Calder overflowed and merged with the canal and there were narrowboats left strewn like toys and stranded at odd angles all down the canal.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Riffing on a bench

When the days are short and the weather dull I have to work much harder to find subjects worthy of photographing. I was drawn to this wooden bench in Lister Park. It seemed to present a few possibilities in terms of structure, texture and colour (or not). Variations on a theme...

Friday, 29 January 2016

Three leaves

I noticed this rather pleasing natural arrangement of leaves on the ground in Lister Park. I didn't compose it, this is just 'as is'.

Thursday, 28 January 2016


I've been looking the photographs of Eliot Porter recently. Inspirational stuff. He takes a lot of photos of trees and 'little landscapes' - lichens on rocks, pebbles and suchlike. Many of his photos are in portrait format with something (water, a tree, rocks) that makes a roughly vertical 'slash' through the image. I had a go... but I think I have a bit to learn.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Under starter's orders

Milling around at the starting tape, three Canada geese...  Actually the starting tape is, in reality, a line marking the limit of boating on Lister Park lake. I was hoping the geese would actually line up for me but, though I waited a while, they just swam round in circles. They don't take any notice of the line, happily criss-crossing it.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

A pinch of Salt

Lister Park is also 'home' to a few influential men. The ornate monument at the northern end of the park (shown here from the back) holds a statue of Sir Titus Salt. See here for an earlier photo I took of the statue itself. The castellated gatehouse behind commemorates a visit of the then Prince and Princess of Wales, Edward and Alexandra, in 1883.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Lister Park and its ladies

After a few days of crisp, bright, chilly weather we are back to mild, dull and damp. Country walks are muddy so a walk in the park seemed more sensible. This is Lister Park, in an area of Bradford called Manningham. Once the home of wealthy Bradford industrialists, Manningham is long past its glory days. It became a student haunt (those huge Victorian houses made excellent bedsits and I roomed here myself in student days) and it now has a sizeable Muslim population. The park is well-used and at its centre has Bradford's art gallery, Cartwright Hall (in the background of my photo.)

I popped in to the gallery see an excellent exhibition of photographs called '100 Leading Ladies'. The photographer Nancy Honey has taken portraits of a hundred of Britain's most respected senior (all over 55 ) women: academics, entrepreneurs, scientists, politicians, lawyers, doctors, actors, artists, architects, designers, journalists. They are engaging views of women who in the main are not 'celebrities' though greatly respected in their own fields. They are photographed in a variety of settings, chosen as meaningful and inspirational to each individual. The pictures are wonderfully colourful, which seems to say quite a lot in itself. I was also struck by how beautiful these women look, though not necessarily conventionally so. Their confidence and personality seems to come from them sitting comfortably in their own skins. Maturity has some benefits, it seems. The exhibition runs in Cartwright Hall until 10 April - well worth seeing.  I was tempted to buy the book, which also has interviews with each woman, but at £30 it seemed a little more than I felt justified in spending on myself!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

My latest project

Pack 1

The Boxing Day floods seem to have dominated life here, especially since my office is still closed and I am working from home (which has its own joys and difficulties). A close friend of mine is the Secretary of the Bingley And District Allotment Association, and you may remember photos I took at their Garden Party last summer (see here and the subsequent few days postings). The river runs right alongside their plots and sadly the allotments were completely wrecked by the flooding: sheds, greenhouses, cold frames and fences destroyed and planting washed away. Such a mess.

I spent some time wondering how I could help. The practical work needed people with some strength (ie: not me!) to get stuck in clearing debris. Then I had the inspiration to have some greetings cards made, from the photos I took, to sell to raise funds to help them recover from the devastation. I had them made by a local Saltaire firm (The Dandy Arthouse) who were brilliant to work with. I collected the packs yesterday and I'm so thrilled with the results. They look really professional, I think. Selling at £4 for four cards (a choice of two different mixed packs, as in the photos) that's less than you pay in the shops for a greetings card and they are very good quality cards (blank inside) with lovely, brightly coloured envelopes.

Of course, with hindsight, if I'd known what I would want the photos for, I'd have taken fewer people shots at the Garden Party and more scenic views. But I did manage to find eight images that I think make attractive cards.

Pack 2

Friday, 22 January 2016

Wide open spaces

Another moorland shot, taken when there was just a light dusting of snow. The journey between my home and my daughter's is a dangerous drive: narrow roads, steep hills, lots of twisty bends and a long, isolated section across the high moorland plateau. There was yet another car wrecked and lodged at a nasty angle in the ditch as I passed, a reminder to drive slowly and carefully and to watch out for ice and water on the road. The beauty, however, makes it worth it and there are a few places where you can pull off the road and safely enjoy the views.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Hebden view

This is one of the views of Hebden Bridge that you often see in tourist brochures. It is taken from a bridge over the Rochdale Canal, looking east. Hebden Water flows into the River Calder just behind where I was standing, crossing under the canal. The river then flows around the park to the right of the picture. With all that water around and the town sitting low in the valley, you can appreciate why it tends to be very vulnerable to floods.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Cool beauty

Just on the edge of the busy little town centre of Hebden Bridge is a far more tranquil scene. It was a very cold day and the towpath was icy but I thought the muted, misty colours were very pleasing. This is the Rochdale Canal, at one time an important waterway for transporting raw goods and textiles to and from the cotton mills in the Calder valley.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016


Perhaps a gathering of ducks like this ought to be called 'a puddle', after Beatrix Potter's famous Jemima Puddle-Duck. They certainly looked like one, pooling around the feet of this man and his child, who had a bag of food for them.  The bridge is the one that gives Hebden Bridge its name; a 500 year old packhorse bridge over Hebden Water, which flows down to join with the River Calder in the centre of the town.

Monday, 18 January 2016

One way to get warm

Despite the temperatures being barely above freezing on Saturday, the amazing Drum Machine were playing around Hebden Bridge as part of the floods fundraiser. I find the effect of the massed percussion really thrilling; you can feel it viscerally as well as hearing it. Quite extraordinary. For a video with sound, see the post I uploaded the first time I ever saw them - here. It's impossible to listen without picking up the beat - and jigging about is one way to keep warm!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Hebden rising

I travelled over to Hebden Bridge (where my daughter lives) on Saturday to support a fundraising event after the Boxing Day floods devastated the town. The fundraiser had all sorts of brilliant activities for children: face-painting and dressing up as pirates, a toddler 'rave' (disco!), lots of food and lots of music of all kinds for all ages. Great fun.

It is shocking to see the extent of the destruction in the valley. There is hardly a business in the centre of the town that is still able to function, let alone the countless families forced out of their homes. It is, however, heartening to see the community spirit and the determination to get back to normal. Some of the cafés are open and serving food and drinks, even though you can see the damp on the walls and the damage that will have to be put right. Some of the shops are operating as 'pop-ups', selling salvaged stock, or as market stalls, or online.

You can see in the pictures above that many of the shops have tracks for inserting flood barriers across the door. They had been designed to take care of the extent of flooding in the past - but see here for a photo showing the level of the Boxing Day floods along the main street. The barriers and sandbags were simply overwhelmed. Even some premises that had been 'tanked' (sealed) to five feet high were inundated.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Snow Moon

First dusting of snow over the high Pennine moors, on my journey between Hebden Bridge and Saltaire. It is snowing again down in the valley here tonight.

Hirst Wood Nature Reserve

The recently created nature reserve beside Hirst Wood locks wasn't affected by the Boxing Day flooding and appears to be going from strength to strength. It's only a small area but they have packed it full of interest. I think the pond already existed as a boggy area but has been made deeper and better and there is a lovely boardwalk to it. There are bug 'hotels', bird feeders, nest boxes and a basic but adequate viewing hide. Seats, paths, walls - all represent a lot of hard work but already connections have been made with local schools and I am sure as everything settles in it will really benefit the local area. I'm afraid they have suffered some vandalism already, which may always be an issue in the location it is situated. It would be nice if people would learn to respect others' efforts to improve the neighbourhood.

This is what it looked like exactly a year ago, see here for my post about the beginning:

Friday, 15 January 2016

I'll go no more a roving...

I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised to find that my favourite little footbridge was washed away in the floods....

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

And she's off....

We are fortunate that the town of Halifax is almost equidistant between my daughter's new home and mine - and even more fortunate that it holds the fabulous National Children's Museum: Eureka. The museum was in its infancy when my daughter was a child but is continually renewed and re-envisioned and has gone from strength to strength. My granddaughters love it - and so do we adults, as it is a wonderful place to take them when the weather precludes outdoor play. With both children still being under school age we can go during the week when it's quieter. It gets packed, as you can imagine, at weekends and holidays.

On our recent visit, E, who is four, was captivated by the workshop devoted to transport. She 'drove' a lorry, took a car through a carwash, filled up with petrol and then donned overalls to change the tyres. A future in Formula One looks assured. One-year-old M was curious at first ... 

but then decided the smooth floors were perfect for getting in some walking practice. She is so proud of her new-found skills and balance.

Up...  steady...  and off she goes.....

The museum is not government funded; it's an educational charity and to continue it relies on the entrance fee (fairly hefty, but it allows unlimited visits on an annual pass), profits from the shop and café and donations. The galleries are devoted to how we live and work, how our bodies work (there's a wonderful bit explaining about pregnancy, complete with an ultrasound scan where you can hear a baby's heartbeat; also some useful stuff about teeth and dentists), sound, other environments (desert, ice) and many other exhibits designed to get children exploring hands-on, dressing up, creating things, imagining and thinking. If I won the lottery I'd give them a huge donation. It's such a brilliant place for 0-11s.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Après le deluge 3

Although the rain has lessened off to a fine drizzle interspersed with heavier showers it is still incredibly wet - and very mild too, so that spring bulbs are coming up and the willows have a fine sheen of spring colour already. It looks like we are about to be shocked by a colder spell starting this week though...

Not to be deterred by the weather, I set off along the canal towards the aqueduct, intending to walk back on the riverbank, and just interested to see what damage the recent floods did along that stretch. The river, as you can see above, is still very full indeed (those trees are normally on the bank) and the current is very strong. The poor ducks were being taken on the equivalent of a rollercoaster ride if they ventured into the flow.

To see more or less the same stretch of river in February 2014, click here. I thought it was full then!

There are a lot of trees down. I can't remember it being really windy but maybe the force of the water brought down some vulnerable ones. This one blocked the path and I had to climb over it.

There are new waterfalls coursing down the hillsides.

In parts, the riverside path is all but washed away.

And at this point I gave up and retraced my steps, not being inclined to risk trying to balance on those wobbly little stones without anything to steady me. The current, even in this small side stream, is strong and the water deeper than it looks. With my camera and iPhone, I didn't want to risk dropping several hundred £s worth of equipment in the water! I should have worn wellies but I had my hiking shoes on and they are not fully waterproof.

This is where the Aire flows under the canal aqueduct. There is a huge amount of debris clogging up the watercourse and I don't suppose that makes things any better. Some bridges in some areas have been very badly damaged by the force of water and debris hitting up against them.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Après le deluge 2

I'm not sure that I have ever shown this view of these houses on Hirst Mill Crescent before. It's an interesting old row of very disparate cottages and larger houses, with an old mill converted into flats right at the bottom of the lane. The hamlet is tucked in between Hirst lock on the canal, with access over the swing bridge, and on the other side of the mill the River Aire goes hurtling past over the weir. (See here for a view from the other side). Some of the houses date back to the 1860s, when there was a farm on the opposite bank of the canal and a lock-keepers cottage on this side. There has been a mill at the end of the lane since 1740, at first a corn mill, later converted to paper making. The mill and hamlet were bought by Sir Titus Salt in 1872 and let to tenants. It was used by a firm who washed industrial cloths (their sign is still visible on the brickwork), then a mattress maker and finally a textile combing firm. It closed in 1968 and was made into flats in 1970.

With so much water surrounding them, it is hardly surprising that some of these properties were flooded in the deluge on Boxing Day. Skips full of soggy furniture and ruined possessions are an all-too-common sight round here at the moment. Heartbreaking.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

... and again

Same tree, a black and white experiment this time.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

That tree again

Possibly one of my favourite trees in the whole world... It's such a graceful shape. The only pity is that taking enough steps back to get the top branches in the photo is impossible (at least with the only camera lens I have). One encounters the twin hazards of a tangle of overhanging branches from the trees on the opposite side of the path - and a sharp drop in the ground level.

Friday, 8 January 2016


Looking like something out of a murder mystery... the junction of Albert Terrace with Victoria Road in Saltaire at night. Now we have the new streetlights, the few old ones that they decided to leave standing don't seem to work. But it would be a great shame if this particular lamp were to be taken down, I think. Even unlit, it adds something to the sense of timelessness in this part of Saltaire.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Every cloud...

More subtle reflections, this one in the window of ArtParade, the art shop and gallery at the corner of Albert Terrace and Victoria Road. I am not quite sure how it is possible (miraculous diffractions of light) but the reflection is of the New Mill chimney at the bottom of Victoria Road.

Normally you would not see the shop window looking like this, with one blind down and the other up, so that is what made it interesting to me. (Every cloud has a silver lining...) Sadly, the shop appears to have become a victim to the incessant rain. Water must have been leaking in above the window. They had had to put buckets and towels along the window sill to catch the water and strip away some of the window surround - to see where the leak was coming from, I assume. Leaks tend to be difficult to trace in these old buildings, as I know to my cost!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016


Another reflection in a shop window on Victoria Street, which catches the south frontage of Salts Mill and the mill chimney too. The frosted glass gives a pleasing subtlety to the image. Adriana furniture is not (apparently) a retail shop and I have not been able to find any information about it online, so the exact use of these premises remains a mystery.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Dot spot

Saltaire's shop windows, particularly those down on Victoria Road opposite Salt's Mill, are wonderful catchers of reflections. Here, the elegant south front of the mill dominates, whilst snowflakes appear to be falling from the clouds. Dot the Jewellers make beautiful bespoke rings. It would be the first place on my list to visit if I ever won the lottery!

Monday, 4 January 2016


There's a shop on Caroline Street in Saltaire that has had a number of incarnations in recent times. Once a Co-op, it was also a launderette and a design consultancy, and then latterly a vintage shop. Now it has been unveiled as the home of Louise Perry Bridal. One hopes that may do better. Bridal shops tend to rely more on word of mouth and advertising and less on 'passing trade' so its rather out-of-the-way (these days) location may not be problem.

I was taking 'reflection - but not in water' photos for my online monthly group theme.  Here we have an interesting mixture of reflections in the window glass and reflections in a mirror inside the shop. I like how the shoes appear to be resting on the street's yellow lines.

Sunday, 3 January 2016


You only have to look at this photo to realise how much money was spent and how much thought was expended in the original design of Saltaire. Taken from the rear of what was originally the Factory schools (now part of Shipley college), it shows - from left to right - the chimney of Salts Mill, now plain but originally crowned with an elaborate top, the school bell tower and the Saltaire Institute (now Victoria Hall) tower, interspersed with the ornate ventilation cowls that top the school building. Add to those edifices the distinctive rounded windows and the overhanging roof with its little stone props and you can see why the buildings are 'listed' and treasured as fine examples of Victorian design and craftsmanship.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Northcliffe Park Meadow

Such mild weather just before Christmas. Walking in Northcliffe Park in the midday sunshine, it felt like an early spring day apart from the very long shadows, the bare trees and the mud. It was saturated underfoot even then and that is part of why the Christmas night rainfall had such a devastating effect. The keen-eyed may be able to see the tip of Salts Mill chimney, almost central in the photo. The park meadow is allowed to grow wild and is only mown a couple of times a year to encourage wildflowers and insects.

Friday, 1 January 2016


As well as the 'official' windows that make up the advertised trail of Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar, it seems that more and more households are taking the time and trouble to dress their windows attractively, either with lights or pictures or more. I loved this one, though the photo does not really convey that it is a 3D scene rather than simply a flat picture. I can't really guess at its exact meaning but it is perhaps some kind of tribute - a love message of some kind. There's more to it than meets the eye, I think. It seems a fitting illustration to welcome in the New Year.

Hoping 2016 is a happy, healthy and enjoyable year for us all.

Once again, many thanks to all those who take the time to look at and comment on my blog. It is a privilege to read your thoughts and a joy to hear from so many people right across our beautiful world. A special commendation too for all those who comment in English when that is not your first language - much appreciated! I find it difficult at the moment to keep up with regularly visiting and commenting on other people's blogs, though I do try and it is a delightful pastime when I can find the time. Hoping retirement later this year will help with that! I often wish Blogger would instigate a 'like' button, as in Facebook. At least then we'd be able to say 'I visited'!