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Saturday, 30 April 2016

Salts Spring 3

The trees are coming into leaf in the grounds of Saltaire's United Reformed Church but you can still enjoy a good view of the stable block. As summer progresses, these cottages become more hidden behind the canopy of trees. It looks as though the ornate chimney might belong to the houses but in fact it is the huge tower of the New Mill, behind and lower down Victoria Road. As I've mentioned in the past, the stables belong to the early days of Saltaire when most transport was by horse and cart and so there needed to be somewhere for horses to be sheltered and fed.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Salts Spring 2

Another glimpse of the wonderful south elevation of Salts Mill, this time viewed from Caroline Street, across the allotments. It is wonderful to see the blossom appearing and the fresh spring green flushing through gardens and countryside. It is still very cold (we had recent hail and snow) and some hard frosts are making things suffer; the camellias seem mostly ruined already. But there is a bit more warmth in the weak sunshine and a promise in the air some days, so very welcome.

Seems Blogger has decided to change our blog backgrounds from a gentle gradation to solid blocks. I do not like. :(

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Salts Spring

I haven't shown a 'full frontal' photo of Salts Mill for a while. It stands there solidly, its south frontage little changed since it was first built over 160 years ago. In contrast, the adjacent allotments change with the seasons: flowers are now bursting out and the fresh bright green of spring is creeping through the shrubs and hedges.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Birch trees

Trees in Strid Wood at Bolton Abbey. The woodland is very ancient and full of sessile oaks but there are a few areas of younger trees like these birches. I think birches are very photogenic and I liked the darker trunk next to the light one. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Strid

The River Wharfe winds its languid way through the Bolton Abbey estate, a broad and shallow river with a few areas of scree and rock outcrop where it tumbles into gentle waterfalls and rapids. There is, however, one unusual natural feature known as The Strid. Here the channel narrows dramatically, from about forty feet wide to just four feet, forcing the water through at great pressure, churning through the rocks and twisting through a series of bends. The noise is deafening. No-one knows just how deep the channel is, as the force of the current makes it impossible to fathom and there are probably subterranean channels under the rock too. It has drawn many visitors, since Victorian times when a railway was established to bring day trippers to Bolton Abbey from the nearby cities. Some of those visitors are tempted to try to leap the gorge. A few have succeeded but, of those who failed, none have survived and in some cases their bodies have never been found. The most recent fatalities were in 1998 when a couple on honeymoon were swept away in a flash flood. There are inevitably many folk tales linked to the area. A spectral white horse is said to rise from the river to claim its victims.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Barden Bridge

I had a day out with some friends recently, walking alongside the River Wharfe on the Bolton Abbey estate. It was the 60th birthday of one of my friends so we had a picnic, complete with prosecco, resulting in quite a merry meander back! Thankfully the rain held off, although it was a rather dull and cloudy day. We had planned to hike up Simon's Seat, a rocky outcrop that overlooks the estate. What we had not realised is that, for some strange reason, dogs (even on leads) are banned from that walk. As we had two with us, that made it a no-go area. It seemed rather an unnecessary restriction but it is private land belonging to the Duke of Devonshire and (like Sir Titus Salt in Saltaire) the gentry seem to like 'rules'. So we walked along the riverside path from the Cavendish Pavilion tearoom to Barden Bridge (shown above) and back.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

A miscellany

A few more random shots taken around Saltaire during this year's World Heritage Weekend. There was busking on the barge. A good festival always needs a bit of music...

In Roberts Park, some lovely Border Collies almost seduced me into thinking I could do with a dog! They were from the Freedom of Spirit Trust (FOSTBC) in Bingley, which rescues and rehomes Border Collies. (I know the dog at the back isn't a Border Collie!)

And finally, the opportunity to indulge in some genteel croquet, one of the pastimes that was apparently promised when Saltaire's park was first planned, though it seems doubtful whether it actually took place. However, one of the park's top lawns seemed ideal for this game. It is harder than it looks, judging by rate of failure to get the ball through the hoops... at least during the time I was watching.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Archery Tag

Here's a novelty - 'Archery Tag'.  As part of the World Heritage Festival's Leisure theme, there were various activities on offer. On Thompson's Field, beside the tramway, people were enthusiastically trying out this relatively new game, played a bit like Paintball but using light bows and foam-tipped arrows. The idea is to try and eliminate the opposing team by hitting their target or even their players! While I was watching, they were mostly trying to get used to their bows and arrows and there was not much on-target hitting going on! It did look fun though, and an easy way to have a go at something different.

Friday, 22 April 2016

The Glen Tramway

The only remaining attraction from those Victorian pleasure grounds is the Shipley Glen Cable Tramway, a funicular (cable railway) with two carriages that takes people up and down the steep hillside from Saltaire to Shipley Glen.

It was lovely to see people flocking to use it. It is maintained and run on a shoestring by volunteers. It unfortunately suffered badly in the devastating rainfall on Boxing Day, when the valley was flooded and water cascading down the hill washed away a lot of the track and meant extensive repair work has had to be undertaken to restore and make it safe to use again.

The staff were dressed in Victorian costume, entering into the Festival spirit. I would have liked a ride to the top but I had woken with a migraine and wasn't feeling anything like my usual self, so it was a short visit just to take a few photos.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Festival time!

There were lots of people about in Saltaire last weekend... What's going on?...

The educational barge 'The Kennett' is moored on the canal. That usually indicates a festival - and, yes, the year has properly kicked off now, with the first of the big annual festivals. It was World Heritage Weekend, celebrating this beautiful and historic community's World Heritage Site status. The theme this year was 'Leisure' and you could join a guided walk through Saltaire and up to Shipley Glen, exploring the wonderful stories of how Saltaire's park and the countryside around used to be (still is!) a magnet for people seeking to escape the crowded city. There are still traces (if you know where to look) of the Victorian pleasure grounds that used to draw crowds to the amusements and fairground rides.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Bird Cage

I can't remember if I've posted a photo of this before. The oldest part, on the right, is an elaborate metal 'kissing gate' known as The Bird Cage (for obvious reasons). It dates back to 1872, when it formed part of the development of the Milner Field estate, a large house that was built by Titus Salt Junior but which was demolished in the 1950s. Kissing gates are designed to let people through but prevent livestock escaping.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Up hill and down dale

Walking through Trench Woods at the bottom of Shipley Glen, there is a very different view depending on whether you look up... to the rocky millstone grit outcrops and twisted trees on the hillside - 

or down... to the stream known as Load Pit Beck. This is (I believe) named after the Late Bronze Age lode pits or 'bloomeries' found in the area, where axe heads were cast. There is a small mill dam, built in 1911 to supply clean water for the Salts Mill dye works. Then the stream flows out and forms this attractive little pool and waterfall, a popular spot for local families to picnic and children to paddle. Look carefully and you might be able to spot a Golden Retriever wading into the pool.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Salts in the sunshine

Some days when I am coming home from work, the late afternoon sunshine just catches Salts Mill, leaving the foreground in shadow. It gives rather a magical effect. It's one of those scenes that I feel I could embellish a bit, so I am going to continue to play around with it. You may see it again in a slightly different guise.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Welcome Spring

We can hardly complain that it has been a bad winter around here; there has been very little snow and it hasn't even been very cold most of the time. The main problem is the endless rain, culminating in that disastrous flooding just after Christmas, but continuing on and off ever since. At one time I thought spring would come very early and I wondered about the consequences of that - but it seems that actually many things are unfolding much as usual, perhaps a week or so earlier but not markedly different. There are a few bluebells out already though. They are early and are very spindly specimens.

I visited my sister in Lincolnshire, which is a hundred or so miles south-east of here and it seemed that nature was a little further on there. The magnolia here is still in bud but there it is fully out. She has just moved from the old mill house that has been her home for 30+ years, to a smaller - but delightful - bungalow in the next village. There is an attractive old church nearby and the churchyard was full of wild flowers: primroses, celandines and these rather pretty violets.

Saturday, 16 April 2016


I bought some purple tulips. I love tulips at every stage, from upright buds through to when they go drunkenly floppy and blowsy. Somehow even when they are dying the colour seems to deepen. I added some texture layers and I really like the additional glow that gives.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Daffodil cheer

More daffodils clustered around the Half Moon Café, which is still closed for repairs after the floods. Looking up to the upper terrace of the park you can see the bandstand - which will soon come alive again when the summer concerts begin. You can also just see Sir Titus skulking behind a tree! It was such a gloomy day with no light for photos but the daffodils cheer up the scene immensely. Just what we need after a long winter.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Story time

A rare picture of me! Looking a bit silly with my mouth open but I was speaking at the time... These are my favourite times, sharing story books with the girls (even if you do have to read the same ones over and over). It was a unexpected treat that my family called in one evening on their way home from a day out. They wanted to get the girls into their pyjamas so that they'd fall asleep in the car on the way back. It works better than trying to keep them awake beyond their usual bedtime.

E is hugging her current favourite toy cat, which lives at my house. She remembered where it was and climbed all the stairs up to the attic bedroom especially to retrieve it so she could cuddle it. Its nose lights up and it purrs when you stroke it! M is busy signing to me what she can see in the picture book. Bless her, she is a super little communicator these days. She has limited words as yet at 18 months, but she signs a lot of things (her mum has counted that she knows at least 57 signs now) and it's fascinating to see what she notices and wants to tell you about.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Briefly transformed...

Another snapshot from a lunchtime walk.  There are some scrubby trees alongside an industrial unit. Quite suddenly they have burst into blossom... well, catkins I suppose, to be more precise. It seems they are some type of willow tree, briefly transformed from tangled nothingness to something rather pretty. I love the bright yellow against that dark grey background.  Although the angle I used to get the maximum of yellow in a pleasing arrangement has sent the vertical panels into a rather drunken slant...!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Sleight of palm

The area where I am currently working is seriously weird!  There was an old, empty industrial unit with half its windows smashed and very neglected. It seems someone has bought it and is 'doing it up' as a Banqueting Suite (of all things!). They have put in new window glass, with rather ornate gold swirly patterns on it. For some reason they seem also to have decided that a few huge plastic palm trees will create the ambience they are seeking. Mmm.... But 'each to his own', as they say!

Monday, 11 April 2016

A post from a post (box)

'Monday Murals' regularly showcases the varied and wonderful graffiti and artwork to be found in cities all over the world. I don't think this is quite in the same league but I found something oddly pleasing in its swirls and spots. It has a slight feel of Japanese lettering or something similar.  It is just a scrawl on the side of a mailbox. Yet another thing that caught my eye on one of my lunchtime rambles near my workplace.... It is quite surprising how many things I've found to snap, in what at first appears to be a deeply unpromising area photographically.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

An empty park

A host of yellow daffodils - but hardly a person to be seen in Saltaire's Roberts Park early in the morning.  The cricket field (right) is fenced off to allow it to recover after the extensive flooding in December.

Saturday, 9 April 2016


Reflections and shadows - irresistible. Adriana's Furniture premises again, with Salts Mill reflected.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Foundation Stones

I pass these two massive stone statues every morning on my commute-walk through the centre of Bradford. I've been waiting for a good day to photograph them but where they are situated they rarely seem to catch the light. I've had to apply a bit of an HDR effect on this iPhone photo, to show up the detail in their faces. I rather like their solidity.

They are called 'Foundation Stones', an early work by sculptor Gordon Young (who specialises now in large-scale public art and was once the curator at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park). The plaque with them says: 'The two figures, carved from Mansfield stone, represent the original personal relationship between a Provident insurance agent and customer. The sculpture took nine months to complete and was unveiled on 18 July 1986 at the former location of the Provident Financial Head Office on Sunbridge Road in Bradford.'

So there is a personal connection for me. I was born in Mansfield, where they quarried the stone.

'Insurance agent' is a bit of a euphemism, I think, because what the Provident company were set up to do in the 1880s, and have always done, is to provide affordable consumer credit. Their agents used to call regularly at people's houses to collect the instalments due on loans, in the days before you could make bank transfers online and most folks were paid in cash. I believe they still operate in the home credit arena, lending to people who may have difficulty getting loans. At one time they held an estimated 60% share of the home credit market in Britain. They still have a Bradford Head Office.

The sculptures have been moved from their original location and now stand between the Law Courts and the new Broadway shopping centre.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Car - verley!

The final few steps of our 5 mile Calverley circular walk, back to my little red car...  This will not be my little red car for much longer as I am buying myself a new one - though the new one is also a very cheery red. I will be sad to say goodbye to my trusty friend. It was my mum's car until she died a few years ago and although it's now 15 years old it still has less than 50,000 miles on the clock. It has never given either of us a minute's trouble and, with that reliability in mind, I am buying another Toyota Yaris, but this time a Hybrid model. I only hope it proves to be an equally wise purchase and will last me a good many years.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Calverley walk 5

I always think this is a very fine building, situated on Calverley's main street (now unfortunately a busy through road) and right next to the church. It is a pair of semi-detached townhouses, built in the mid 1700s and unusual for their time. It appears that the building may be empty now, which seems a great shame if it is.

A few blossom trees in the churchyard are a welcome reminder of Spring coming - and it did feel like it in the warm sunshine. Across the road from the church there are more old buildings that give an idea of what the village used to be like. This short and winding little lane is called The Wicket, though I don't know why. An old sketch (here) suggests it has changed little on the face of it, in many years. But the modest semi-detached cottages dating back to before1755 are now worth a cool £250,000.

There is some fascinating information about Calverley in this document if you are interested in social and architectural history.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Calverley walk 4

The church of St Wilfrid in Calverley has parts dating back to the 11th century, making it one of the oldest surviving buildings in the village, though most of it was rebuilt in the 1800s.

There is also a medieval hall, Calverley Old Hall (which I didn't see on my walk). In 1604, its owner Walter Calverley suffered a mental breakdown and murdered two of his three children. Fortunately he fell from his horse whilst trying to reach his infant son, who was with a wet-nurse. He was caught and jailed. Perhaps he regained his sanity because at his trial he refused to plead, an action which meant his infant son inherited the property. Walter however, was sentenced to death by pressing - a horrible torture which involved him being laid on a strong oak table with a wooden door on top of him, onto which heavy stones were piled until the life was crushed from him.

This sad tale was written up as a play: 'A Yorkshire Tragedy' in 1608. At one time it was attributed to Shakespeare and supposedly performed at The Globe Theatre but there is now doubt about this.

The churchyard is well-kept and attractive with spring bulbs. I was surprised to find goats and a few sheep roaming around.  They apparently act as very efficient lawn mowers around the gravestones.

The church yard also holds 'The Calverley Angel', a 30 foot high chainsaw sculpture, carved from a beech tree that is still rooted but was damaged in a storm in 2011. The sculpture is by Yorkshire-based carver Shane Green, who also created the Olympic Trail of wooden sculptures of athletes in London's parks during the Olympics in 2012.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Calverley walk 3

Nearing the end of the towpath stretch of the walk at Apperley Bridge, Woodhouse Grove School can be seen across the fields. Originally founded in 1812 for the education of the sons of Methodist ministers, it is now a fee-paying co-educational boarding and day school.

The walk route doubles back at this point up the interestingly named Parkin Lane and crosses a bridge over the canal. There are a few old properties and a lot of very new townhouses being built in this area. It is a popular residential area, located very conveniently for commuting to both Bradford and Leeds, especially since a new rail station has just opened nearby.

The photo below shows some very desirable Victorian houses, on a quiet lane leading to Calverley Wood. One of them - a five bedroom semi-detached dating back to 1860 - is currently for sale (see here) at around £850,000.

The route then enters Calverley Wood, which surrounds some old stone quarries that perhaps supplied the sandstone for some of Bradford's buildings.  Apparently there was once a WWII Prisoner of War camp here and then later, a fireworks factory which in 1957 suffered an explosion that killed three workers and injured others. Nowadays it is a peaceful wood, with a well-marked path that was at one time a packhorse route, so I didn't get lost this time. 

At the southern exit of the wood there is a lodge house, which suggests there must at one time have been a larger house in the area. It seems there were grandiose plans in Victorian times to build a small estate of fine houses, but it never came to fruition.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Calverley walk 2

This stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, between Calverley Bridge and Apperley Bridge, is incredibly popular with walkers (and their dogs), runners and cyclists. It has recently had improvements to the towpath which is now broad and smooth and makes for very easy walking.

The fields on the left belong to Calverley House Farm.  The swing bridge below seems to be only for use by the farm, to get from one field to another. It remains open most the time, which must come as a relief to boaters.

The canal has been quiet for a few months but the spring weather has encouraged boaters to venture out, as well as walkers and cyclists.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Calverley walk 1

Spring flowers again, right beside where I parked my car. They get a walk off to a pleasant start.

The village of Calverley sits halfway between the cities of Leeds and Bradford. It has medieval origins and there are a few buildings that are very old, but the majority date from the 1850s onwards. The village's location, within easy reach of Bradford's woollen mills but pleasantly rural in character, led to it being a popular residence for some prominent industrialists in the late 19th century and there are some rather grand houses. The one below is now The Calverley Arms, a pub restaurant with some accommodation.

From this high point there are good views over the northern suburbs of Leeds but we will cross the field (it's OK, no cows!) and drop down to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal nestled in the valley.

The canal crossing, Owl Bridge, is one of the many swing bridges along this stretch, useful for walkers but a trial for boaters, who have to stop to open and close every one. I didn't see an owl though.