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Sunday, 31 July 2016

More birds

Bingley Show 2016 -  More birds from the Wise Owl display. This attractive creature is an American Kestrel. Smaller than our native kestrels, it has such exquisite colours and markings. This one is called Peanut. Maybe it eats them?

And here is Orville, the Little Owl, again. Cute and comedic, these owls are the only owls that you tend to see during the day. With those big eyes and such a stern look, he reminds me of a teacher! "What are you doing, girl!?"

Saturday, 30 July 2016

The birds

Bingley Show 2016 - The birds of prey on display on the Wise Owls stand were all rescue birds. They rehabilitate them where possible and return them to the wild. Some, for various reasons, cannot be re-wilded. They become tame and used to being handled and are ideal for 'close encounters'. It is particularly good that children are able to get close to them and learn to appreciate them.

The beautiful Barn Owl above is called Bubbles. Barn Owls are native to Britain and the light plumage makes them look like ghosts, swooping silently in the twilight. My (country-living) sister had one that roosted in her barn/ garage. I've only ever seen one in the wild once but they are unforgettable. 

The pretty bird below is a Gyr x Saker Falcon called Ghost.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Encounters with animals 5

Bingley Show 2016 - I'm not sure I've ever bothered to go in to the 'Mice and Cavies' tent before. But the cavies (guinea pigs) are full of personality in their own little ways. When I was a child, my best friend had a hamster. I remember it escaped its cage and was eventually found and rounded up in the coal cellar! Hamsters and mice are nocturnal though, which might tend to make them a bit boring as pets.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Encounters with animals 4

Bingley Show 2016 - My favourite show tent is the one for cats. The pedigrees on show are so beautiful and so varied. I always have a soft spot for the British Shorthair Silver Tabbies, but there only seemed to be one this year and I couldn't get near to take its photo. There were several of the huge Maine Coons (below). They're gorgeous too and very soft and cuddly, like big hearthrugs!  I'm not sure what the breed above is. Its squashed nose suggests some kind of Persian or Exotic Shorthair, with a slightly curly coat? I'm no expert! Anyway, it also was gorgeous and seemed very much loved. I wished I could have got a lower viewpoint but there is always a metal mesh barrier so you can't crouch down and shoot low.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Encounters with animals 3

Bingley Show 2016 - Little girl meets even smaller owl.... a Little Owl, in fact, one of our native species. The birds were being shown by Wise Owl Birds of Prey, a Yorkshire-based organisation that rescues and rehabilitates birds of prey and offers displays and educational 'experience' days.
I have a gorgeous photo that shows more of the girl's face and her delight but I'm not comfortable blogging that one. (I am always wary of showing children that I don't know personally.) And the owl wasn't looking at me either! Never work with children or animals (birds)!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Encounters with animals 2

Bingley Show 2016 - This huge albino Burmese Python is a good deal less strokeable than a donkey (well, I think so!) but still fascinating to a small boy. The reptiles were from a place in Shipley called 'Into the Wild' that offers photo shoots, parties and encounters with various exotic creatures.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Encounters with animals 1

Bingley Show 2016 - It hardly seems possible that a year has passed since the last Bingley Show but it's that time of year again. First day of the school holidays... warm, dry, even sunny in parts - that in itself is amazing! So what better place to go with my camera than Myrtle Park in Bingley for the annual one-day agricultural show.
I visit it most years and it's always fun but it does get harder to find new and different angles to photograph. This year I seemed to be drawn to watching children encounter animals. I love to see their wide-eyed wonder and simple joy. I don't think this little girl was old enough to ride on a donkey but she liked stroking one nevertheless. Even the donkey seemed to be smiling.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Hope in the evening

Walking back from church one Sunday night, I enjoyed seeing the late evening sunshine catching the top of Hope Hill and illuminating some of the honeyed stone of the buildings higher up in Saltaire. Traffic lights have replaced the old roundabout at the intersection of the Leeds and Bradford roads. The busy junction seems far safer now, except when the lights failed and temporary ones had to be brought in!

Saturday, 23 July 2016

We're going on an owl hunt

One of the fun things to do in Leeds is to go on an owl hunt. There is even a map and a trail! Owls feature on the Coat of Arms of the city and the motif is repeated all over Leeds in various guises. The three owls date back to the coat of arms of the Savile family of Anjou in France, who were given large tracts of land in Yorkshire by William the Conqueror after his invasion in 1066. One of their descendants, Sir John Savile, became the Leeds' first Alderman in 1626 and the city Coat of Arms, three owls. three stars and a fleece, was devised at that time.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Off grid

In common with many cities, lots of the newer buildings in Leeds have acres of glass that provide interesting reflections. Sometimes a view catches your eye. Here I was drawn to the colours, angles and grid lines. It can be quite hard to tell what is a reflection and what is a view through glass.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Sovereign Square

Some of the most modern buildings in Leeds city centre are really quite attractive, I think. This is the new office for the large accountancy and financial services company, KPMG, opened in late 2015. It is designed to be environmentally friendly with a green roof. Its expanse of glass has an interesting turquoise tint towards the base of each of the four levels. The award-winning Sovereign Square development is part of the regeneration of this formerly industrial part of the city down by the docks.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Leeds station, south entrance

In view of the regeneration of the Leeds docklands area, south of the rail station, a new entrance to the station has recently been built on the southern side.  It must have made life easier for the many who live in the new apartments and work in the businesses in this part of the city. The River Aire runs through huge culverts underneath the station so the new entrance has had to be built on concrete piers in the river.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

City waterways

You wouldn't necessarily realise if you simply hopped off the train and aimed for the shopping centre in Leeds, but the south of the city centre is threaded though by waterways - the River Aire and the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. In fact the rail station is built right over the river, which flows through culverts beneath. Some of the old dockland warehouses survive and have been converted into apartments, hotels and business premises. In and amongst, a lot of new buildings have been constructed in the last decade or so. Leeds has, reasonably successfully, brought residential living right into the heart of the city and created a vibrant area around the waterfront.  Of course, it meant that part of the city was badly flooded on Boxing Day and, even now, remedial work is being carried out and a huge flood prevention scheme is underway.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Broken wing

'Looking for an angel with a broken wing...' (Jimmy Page)

There is just one angel (or one that I have been able to find) in my local cemetery in Nab Wood. I do, however, think she is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, with such a sweet and sad face. I went back to photograph her again, having not been there since 2011 (see here). It seems she has crumbled a little bit more, although I think she's had a broken wing for a long time. I like her so much that I had my earlier photo printed and framed and she hangs on my wall.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Salty reflections

The golden evening light reflected into the canal off the side of Salts Mill makes distinctive reflections. I'd recognise this anywhere; it's 'home' to me.

Saturday, 16 July 2016


Walking by the river recently, I noticed this curious pattern of tree branches splaying out from a central point. Reflected in the water, it looked a bit like the spokes of a wheel. Seemed like an image to play with... I tried a few different mono conversions using the Nik Collection plug-ins.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Morris dances

Royal Preston Morris Dancers in action...
The costumes are traditional and each dance side has its own livery. They don't usually wear peaked caps (as far as I recall) and I wasn't sure about those!  Made them look rather incongruously like school boys. The dancing was good though. You should hear the sound of eight sets of clogs pounding on a wooden floor...

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Morris men

The Barrowford festival celebrating the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal was only a small event - a few stalls and refreshments, some (very interesting) displays about the canal, a tombola. (Surprise, surprise - I won a box of posh teabags from the famous 'Bettys of Harrogate'). There were also a couple of Morris dance sides - the men's Royal Preston Morris Dancers and a team of female clog dancers (whose name I have sadly forgotten).

As always at such events, there was plenty of dancing but also lots of sitting around chatting - and the occasional glass of beer was consumed (not by me!)

I really enjoy watching the dancing, though it's a complex subject and I don't know a huge amount about it. It's interesting to note the variations between the sides and the types of dances. Northern Morris is quite different from what you see further south (Cotswold). The dancers often wear clogs and many of the dances use sticks rather than hankies. I love that these old traditions are kept alive but the average age of the dancers tends to be 'mature' and one wonders if it will die out eventually.

It's all too easy to poke fun at - but then, some of the jokes are quite amusing:

'Our local Morris group has a team of men, a team of women and a team of children too. They call them Morris Minors.'

'Did you hear about the bus load of Morris dancers that was hijacked? The hijackers threatened to release one every hour until their demands were met.'

And the old adage: 'You should make a point of trying everything once -  except incest and Morris dancing.'

Wednesday, 13 July 2016


There are 91 locks along the 127 miles of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal - and seven of them are in Barrowford. Unfortunately the lock you can see in my picture has some sudden problem with the concrete that supports the lock gates. It was closed and drained to allow urgent repairs. So, if you wanted to travel further east than this you would have to wait. It seems to have scuppered the plans for at least one narrowboat. Never mind, it is a pretty area to while away some time, with plenty to watch - cyclists, dog walkers, fishermen and picnickers abound. When the all people have gone home there would, I imagine, be some wildlife to observe too. I liked the yellow flag iris, growing profusely along the banks.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Peaceful Pendle

One of the reasons I went to Barrowford was because there was an event celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, which was fully opened in 1816. The canal links the two great counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire, enabling the trade and passage of goods that fuelled the Industrial Revolution, servicing the huge mills that produced wool and cotton textiles. Nowadays most of the traffic on the canal is for pleasure rather than business. And what a pleasure it must be to cruise slowly along pretty stretches like this, on the outskirts of Barrowford. In the distance you can see the brooding outline of Pendle Hill, which dominates the otherwise gently rolling countryside in this area.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Pendle Heritage Centre

I bravely ventured across the border into Lancashire recently (!) to Barrowford, a town I have never visited before. The town itself was a bit of a disappointment really. Although it has an interesting history and has some very old buildings scattered around, I thought it fell just short of being picturesque.  It does, however, have this lovely old house on the outskirts. 

Once a farmhouse, Park Hill is now the Pendle Heritage Centre, a museum and visitor centre. It sits beside an ancient crossing point over the river named Pendle Water. Originally the site held a timber house and then a stone building that was enlarged and altered through the years from the 16th century. There are three different building periods visible in the frontage in my photo.  The house was for centuries the home of the Bannister family, whose most famous descendant is Sir Roger Bannister, the distinguished neurologist and athlete, the first person to run a mile in under four minutes.

Behind the Heritage Centre is a pretty 18th century walled garden and the lovely 15th century cruck- framed barn, below, that was rebuilt here in the 1980s after being moved from another site.

Inside the Heritage Centre, much of it has been left in a raw state so that you can see how the building was constructed and altered. There are interesting displays about the history of the area, including the story of the Pendle Witches, who were tried and hanged in 1612.

Sunday, 10 July 2016


Just because.
I think sky can sometimes be the most wondrously uplifting sight to gaze at. These cirrus clouds, which I think are called 'mares' tails', can herald rain (and they did) but I think a sky like this is spectacular. It's one of the reasons I love living in the UK, simply because the sky changes from day to day.

'The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.' Psalm 19:1

Saturday, 9 July 2016


I was meant to be cleaning the bathroom so I sprayed the cleaner I use (nice grapefruit smell!) onto the taps. Then I noticed it had made a rather pretty rainbow pattern like oil on water does. The photographer in me could not resist... Talk about procrastination....
I boosted the colour saturation in the photo. It reminds me of peacock feathers.

Friday, 8 July 2016


This striking mural is painted on the side of the trendy White Cloth Gallery in Leeds, which is a gallery for photography and film and a conference/event space. I've never actually been in... maybe I should...  The character is Raiden, 'a half man, half machine cyborg ninja', from a game called Metal Gear Rising by the Japanese games developer, Konami. Designed by Yoji Shinkawa, the huge mural was painted by mural artists EndOfTheLine.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Giving Voice

Leeds Waterfront Festival - I really enjoyed listening to this choir, Giving Voice, made up of adults with neurological conditions and their carers. The choir was started by Wendy Neill, a speech and language therapist. Apparently singing is very helpful for some people with speech, swallowing and breathing difficulties, as well as being a wonderful social activity and confidence booster.  They meet once a week in the Arts @ Trinity Centre, the former church beside the new Leeds Trinity Shopping centre.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Knit nack

Leeds Waterfront Festival - Is this true in other places, that there is a craze of so-called 'yarn-bombing'? People knit lots of squares and join them together into blankets or scarves and then wrap them round and over things in the street. Around the Bradford rail station where I arrive on my way to work, they have decorated lamp-posts and trees. (However could you improve on a tree?)

In Leeds there was a knitted narrowboat and a knitted ice-cream van. (The van also sold knitted finger puppets, which I have found can provide a useful distraction for fractious toddlers!)

Incidentally the Italianate towers in the background were part of an extension to a factory, founded by T R Harding in the 1800s, that made steel pins for carding and combing in the textile industry. There are three towers, each based on actual Italian towers in Verona, Florence and San Gimignano.  They provided ventilation to filter the steel dust. The factory closed in 1981 and the buildings have been partially converted to office use.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Canoe canoe?

Leeds Waterfront Festival - There was the opportunity to try out canoeing and SUP (stand-up paddle-boarding) in the Leeds canal basin, with tuition provided by White Rose Canoe Club. Plenty of youngsters were having a go and it made a colourful scene.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Leeds Waterfront Festival

You can hardly move without bumping into some kind of festival around here during the summer months. I went over to Leeds on a mission to buy some proper summer walking sandals. (Yes, that's why it's been raining ever since!) My usual walking boots and shoes require two pairs of socks and get hot and uncomfortable in warmer weather. There is a very good shop called Cotswold Outdoor and their staff are both knowledgeable and helpful. Mission successfully completed, I then had time to wander along the Leeds waterfront and enjoy the Festival goings-on. Water sports, music, stalls, refreshments, information about the Leeds waterways and dragon-racing in Leeds Dock, though that was so crowded that I didn't bother trying to fight my way into a good photo-taking position.  The old docklands have been successfully revamped into a mixed residential and business area, with a lot of new digital services companies. Some of the old warehouses and machinery remain; the Leeds-Liverpool canal with its locks and swing-bridges is still a functioning waterway with plenty of leisure boats using it.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Roundabout (work)

Another one for the album of: 'Things you wouldn't see walking round Saltaire'. Again, spotted on a lunchtime walk near my workplace. It seems to be some kind of fairground ride. (If you look closely you can see the leg of a man on a ladder, painting or repairing it).
It was a bit of a roundabout walk...

Saturday, 2 July 2016

The hidden valley

Goit Stock circular walk
This little valley is known locally as the hidden valley. It is popular with walkers but still very quiet. The path passes right beside these cottages, originally built for mill workers but now knocked into two or three larger and very desirable homes.

Further on there is a farm, and a few beehives nestled among trees.

The sunshine encouraged a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly to soak up the warmth. They are common throughout the summer (though not as plentiful as they used to be when I was a child) but they're still attractive to see.

Ivy House Farm, as far as I can find out, is still a working dairy farm. The main building looks quite old, possibly dating back to the 17th century. It sits in a very attractive position along a track not far out of Harden village, with pleasant views over the surrounding countryside.

The lanes are full of cow parsley or lady lace - my favourite time of year!

Friday, 1 July 2016

Goit Stock Mill

Goit Stock circular walk
Once across the bridge, the walking route turns back and goes up the hillside a little, out of the steep gorge that the river runs through. I was a little nervous walking past the cows as they had calves but they seemed more interested in paddling in the cool water on what was quite a warm day.

The hawthorn blossom is really abundant this year - there will be a good crop of berries later.

On this side of the valley there is an old flue chimney, the last remnant of Goit Stock Mill, which had a very interesting history. Built as a cotton mill towards the end of the 18th century (1700s) it was initially water-powered and then converted to steam but cotton production ceased in 1860. In 1865 it became a pig farm, and then in 1919, the landowner William Ferrand sold the land and it became Happy Valley Pleasure Resort. There was boating on the mill lake, a café and ballroom in the mill itself and all sorts of other entertainment on offer for the enjoyment of people from the nearby towns and cities. It flourished until a disastrous fire at Easter 1927, which destroyed the ballroom. Repairs were made but the Resort never regained its popularity and it closed in 1932.