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Friday, 30 September 2016

Retired - more fun

The classic picture postcard shot of Salts Mill. I've shown this elevation several times before but it is the iconic Saltaire image. Always pleasing, whatever the weather, but especially so on a sunny summer's day: blue sky, white fluffy clouds, honeyed stone glowing in the sunshine and all framed with roses. Even though I am so familiar with it, it still astonishes me that Sir Titus Salt had such a magnificent edifice designed and built as a working mill. It could be a palace! I'm really pleased that much of the building has been 'retired' from the noisy mill work that it used to hold and now hosts much more fun leisure activities - shops, galleries and restaurants.

From work to fun; I'm hoping to do the same... I'm pleased to confirm that TODAY is my LAST DAY at my working mill office. Not nearly as picturesque a place to leave behind as Salts Mill  - and no, I didn't end up moving back to the building that flooded at Christmas. There were IT issues unresolved and the move has been put back a week so I didn't make it back before I retired. I will have to go in one day and collect all my belongings though, so that will be a bit weird. Anyway, fun - here I come!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

A paint job

It is traditional in this area to paint the stone windowsills of the houses. I'm not really sure why, or whether they would have been painted when they were first built in Victorian times. Many times you see the sills and also the inside edges of the walls surrounding the window are painted white, which I can understand as it reflects a little more light into the room. Some have sills painted in brighter colours to match the front door and some in black.

My own house has white sills but over the years the paint had flaked, cracked and generally become very shabby. It's not a job I could do myself as I'm not keen on ladders but it was one of those jobs I kept thinking I should get done...  and never took action on. Then, the other day as I returned home, I noticed decorators were painting my neighbour's sills. I realised this was the chance I'd been waiting for and requested a quote for doing mine. It seemed a reasonable price so I asked them to do it. They sanded and wire-brushed the old, flaky paint and painted the sills there and then, flitting backwards and forwards between my house and my neighbour's as they added coats of paint and waited for them to dry. My house certainly looks smarter now.  Lovely when something just works out easy like that!

I haven't gone as far as this householder and added decorative elements but I did think these pretty blue and white pottery jugs were a lovely touch.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016


I am not at all creative or green-fingered with plants, so I do appreciate the skill that goes into creating floral displays. I liked this cascade of white and green, sitting on the font that is used for infant baptisms at my church, St Peter's in Shipley.  The oak panelling behind provides a rich backdrop.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Flower Festival

The floral displays at St Peter's, Shipley, celebrate the life of the church and the many groups and organisations that find their home within our church community and buildings. The tea set display above commemorates our 'Marthas and Arthurs' group who provide refreshments on Sunday mornings between the church services.

The white flowers celebrate our Healing Prayer team, who are available to pray individually with people after church services and at other times. 

The cheerful yellow display celebrates our Cub and Scout groups that have run regularly for generations in our church halls, as have the girls' Brownies and Guides.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Believe in Shipley

Another festival! The Christian churches in our local area have joined forces to put together an ambitious ten days of events celebrating our Christian faith, from 23 September to 2 October. The 'Believe in Shipley' programme includes a big picnic in Roberts Park (Sat 1 Oct), a scratch gospel choir singing in various places, a rugby skills masterclass with a top player from Leeds Rhinos rugby league club (Tues 27 Sept), an evening with the Archbishop of York (Mon 26th) in Saltaire's Victoria Hall and many other events at various venues. There's an art exhibition in Saltaire's Methodist church and a flower festival and photographic exhibition in my own church, St Peter's.

Sunday, 25 September 2016


Saltaire Festival 2016 - The longest queues in Roberts Park seemed to be for the candy floss, though maybe that simply reflected the time it takes to twirl one huge ball of the floss on a stick. It is really like magic watching it grow, caught from little wisps of what look like smoke (but are in fact sugar candy) being blown from a machine. It is variously called cotton candy, papa's beard, dragon's beard or fairy floss. In Britain it is generally known as candy floss but the trade name for this seller was Fairy Floss - and it came complete with sparkly sprinkles if you really wanted the extra bling. It's a long time since I tasted any. My vague recollection is that it is a bit like sucking on shards of glass until it softens in your mouth!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Street food

Saltaire Festival 2016 - There are booths set up either side of the entire length of Exhibition Road that sell international street food, confectionery and savoury things like olives and cheese. You can take your pick of dishes cooked in huge shallow pans: paella was on offer here, or you could have had tartiflette (potatoes cooked with reblochon cheese), moules mariniere or a Provencal tomatoey stew that looked pretty good. If you've a sweet tooth... maybe an ice cream, churros dipped in chocolate, massive slabs of chocolate 'rocky road' or a huge pink meringue?

Friday, 23 September 2016


Saltaire Festival 2016 -  A trio of buskers were serenading the crowds on the way down Victoria Road. I couldn't see anything that told you who they were, unfortunately. They played nice, folk-based music though.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

A bit crowded

Saltaire Festival 2016 - The second weekend of the Festival has a very different character from the first and seems to attract people from much further afield. It's less creative and artsy and much more commercial. There is a live music stage and lots of food and drink stalls in Roberts Park, plus a market selling all manner of things. Then in the heart of the village on Exhibition Road there's another lot of tents, mostly selling street food, with live music from a stage in the carpark of Caroline's (the club) plus a few buskers scattered around the streets.

I can't say that it appeals to me a great deal. It all seems rather excessive, mostly designed to part people from their money! It is always very crowded though, so obviously a lot of people do enjoy it. This is the line of people trying to get into the park. I've been laid low with a heavy cold so I didn't feel like going out at all really. The weather, however, was unusually perfect - sunny and warm. (Annoying to feel so ill on such a lovely weekend!) I did dose up on paracetamol and venture out for an hour or so, just to get a few photos, though I can never really work out how to capture the atmosphere.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Sea shells?

Saltaire Festival 2016 - This was a lovely early autumn back garden, full of soft shades of pink and gold. It is much bigger than the Saltaire yards because it belongs to a house on the estate adjacent to Saltaire. They were built as social housing in the 1920s or 30s, I believe. Anyway, it is really nice to see participation in the Festival spreading beyond the World Heritage Site boundary into its 'buffer zone', as the surrounding areas are called. This little oasis was surprisingly peaceful, apart perhaps from when a train passes by on the nearby line, though they are mostly electric trains and thus relatively quiet.

The garden held a couple of resin sculptures by Maddy Smith, reminiscent of sea shells.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

'We only print in blood-red'

Saltaire Festival 2106 - Sally Barker created these ceramic pieces, each made from individual pieces of clay squeezed and pinched to capture the fingerprints and then glazed blood-red. They explore 'the mark we make and our complex and often difficult relationship with the world, on an environmental and psychological level, using the intimate to reflect a global perspective'.

They seemed to ooze out of the wall like fungus or maybe wasps' nests. I found them both repellent and fascinating in equal measure.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Organic forms

Saltaire Festival 2016 - More of the sculptures exhibited in Saltaire's back gardens during the Festival. The bronze metal sculpture above is by Joanne Risley, whose work is inspired by the sculptural forms, repeating patterns and internal structures which occur in nature. This one references pollen grains, I believe.

The curious tubes below are made of recycled fabric cast in wax. They almost looked as though they were growing out of the earth. The artist is Sophie Giller.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Flooding leads to hanging

Saltaire Festival 2016 - You will recall the dreadful flooding that happened in this area on Boxing Day 2015. Thankfully my home was fine but my workplace was inundated and it is only now, exactly nine months later, that we are able to move back to occupy it again. Ironically, we are moving back just two days before I retire! Hardly seems worth it, really!

The theme of the floods played a part in this year's Saltaire Festival, with a performance: 'Too much of Water', drawing on people's experiences. There was also an exhibition on the top floor of Salts Mill. 'The Power of Water' displayed colourful artwork by the children in our local schools and photographs taken by local people. Two of my photos were chosen and I was chuffed to bits* to see them printed and hanging on the wall.

* 'chuffed to bits' means 'very pleased, with slight overtones of surprise or embarrassment', for those who don't speak the dialect!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Salma Patel

Saltaire Festival 2016 - Salma Patel is a talented artist who carves cast plaster and different types of stone and marble. Her work draws on her cultural heritage as a British, Indian, Muslim woman and references architecture, nature and landscape as well as the rituals and rhythm of everyday life. She showed some bigger pieces at the Arts Trail in May but I enjoyed seeing these smaller motif pieces, which fitted nicely into the garden setting. She's a real enthusiast and was well on the way to encouraging me to try carving for myself!  It does rather appeal, though I think you have to be quite strong to do it so I'd need to build a few more muscles.

I really liked these smooth, curvy leaf shapes - very tactile.

Friday, 16 September 2016

The Good Life

Saltaire Festival 2016 - The tiny backyard featured here was advertised with the strapline 'The Good Life in miniature'. The Good Life was a TV sit-com in the late 1970s that revolved around the antics of a couple trying to become totally self-sufficient in their suburban garden. This Saltaire yard was packed full of edible plants: herbs, fruits and vegetables. I noticed tomatoes of different varieties, including some luscious-looking deep purple ones, yellow courgettes (zucchini), beans, potatoes, salad leaves and even sweetcorn growing in pots (almost as high as an elephant's eye!) The edible plants were interspersed with splashes of colour from pretty flowers, including cyclamens in many shades, but many of the vegetables were attractive and colourful in their own right.

There were also some small sculptures exhibited: 'Guardians of Time' by the Austrian sculptor, Manfred Kielnhofer. These were miniature versions of the hooded, monk-like figures that he suggests are watching over mankind. 

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Open gardens

Saltaire Festival 2016 - It is perhaps not as brave as opening your house to visitors (which happens during Saltaire's Arts Trail every spring) but it still takes courage and a lot of hard work to open your garden to all comers. People who have never actually visited Saltaire might be surprised to realise how tiny our gardens are. Many of the small terraced houses in the main part of the village have small yards only about 4 or 5 metres square, often with an outhouse that was once the 'privvy'.

It is always amazing to see what people have managed to pack into them. The longer I spent in this yard the more I noticed: old buckets used as planters and even a WWII air raid warden's tin, that may once have held a gas mask or first aid kit, artfully planted with campanulas.

Spot the little mouse peeping out from behind a pot in the photo below... and the table looks as though it may have been an old treadle sewing machine. So much to look at ... but you have to tear yourself away to let the next lot of visitors in. The yards will only comfortably accommodate two or three people at a time!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Willow wildlife

Saltaire Festival 2016 - This small boy seemed to believe the little prancing foal was real... and indeed, it looked very believable. The sculptor, Anna Turnbull, seems to have a knack of capturing the essence of an animal using only woven strips of willow. There is something about willow art that I really love, and it's interesting how different artists use the willow differently. These are constructed more loosely and with broader strips than those I saw in Wales recently (here and here) but were just as effective. Anna had also made the rabbit below, displayed in a pretty backyard with an Alice In Wonderland theme.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Dancing in the street

Saltaire Festival 2016 - Dancing in the street was happening all over Saltaire. The Four Hundred Roses belly dance group were hosting several other folk dance sides so there were many opportunities to watch them, at different sites around the village. It's interesting to see the different dance traditions. The ladies above are a Cotswold Morris group (hankies, bells and sticks) from Hebden Bridge called The Hill Millies. Their unusual dress of aprons, hair rollers, headscarves and orange dusters is not as traditional as their dances!

Our local, Saltaire-based Rainbow Morris team were also out and about, dancing in the North-West clog tradition that developed around the cotton and woollen mills in the Pennines.

Monday, 12 September 2016


Saltaire Festival 2016 began at the weekend, promising ten days of events and festivities throughout the village. The first weekend always has a 'local' community feel. Many residents open their gardens to visitors and there are 'pop-up' happenings all over the village, with people offering food (Asian style street food, Portuguese delicacies, cakes and coffee were on offer at various places) and music. This yard was hosting live music and there really was dancing in the street.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

The sand man

Wandering through the Broadway shopping centre in Bradford, I came across some sand sculptures. Commissioned as a summer display, they were created by the 'Sand in your Eye' team, who are based locally. The figures were impressive and there was also a montage of some of the most prominent Bradford landmarks that was extremely well done. I tried a picture of that but it was a poor image, proving hard to isolate the sculpture from the cluttered background of shops and people.

This figure represents the magician, Dynamo, who comes from Bradford.

Saturday, 10 September 2016


Heathcote, in Ilkley, is a large, Grade I listed, neoclassical villa situated just below Hebers Ghyll on the road into town. This is a prime residential area with some lovely homes but this house must be the biggest and best of them all. Built in 1906-08, it was commissioned by John Thomas Hemingway, a wealthy Bradford wool merchant. It was designed by the famous Arts and Crafts architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. No expense was spared, inside or out. There is a stunning black marble staircase and the gardens were planted by Gertrude Jekyll. Lutyens is said to have remarked: 'This house was for a very rich man who could not spend money, until he met me'. It was a private house until 1958 and then became a corporate headquarters. Recently back on the market, the guide price is/was reduced from £2.9 to around £2 million.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Hebers Ghyll

A silkscreen print by an artist called Joy Godfrey'Hebers Ghyll' - was the first 'proper' piece of original artwork I ever owned, way back in the mid 1970s, when Joy was just out of art college.  I still have it. Joy has her studio in Ilkley and continues to produce beautiful and distinctive work, mostly inspired by local landscapes.

Hebers Ghyll (named, oddly, after a Bishop Heber, who wrote hymns but appears to have had no connection to Ilkley) is one of several areas of woodland that edge Ilkley Moor and protect the town. A stream off the moor tumbles down the steep hillside here and the path crisscrosses it via wooden foot-bridges. It's dark under the trees and always damp but somehow the area has a peacefulness that makes it a lovely place to walk and think. The foliage is still green but there begins to be a hint of gold in the green; autumn is on its way. (Note to self: Do the walk the opposite way next time, as it is such a steep climb up this way.)

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Ilkley Moor

We're having very mixed weather, one minute it's warm and sunny and the next it is grey and raining heavily. Confusing! My camera club had a nice idea that people should go out on a 'photo hunt' one weekend (like a treasure hunt but taking photos) and provided a leaflet full of clues to sights around Ilkley. I only had one possible day to do it and it was really dull and damp for most of the day but by late afternoon it had brightened up a bit, so I set off. Had a really good circular walk, through the town and up onto the edge of Ilkley Moor. The heather is beginning to bloom but this part of the moor, so close to the town, only has a few patches. I somehow missed a large chunk of the walk by taking a wrong turn but it was still fun to explore.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Georgiana Cavendish

This stunning portrait hangs in a gallery at Chatsworth House. It depicts Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806), painted in 1785 by Thomas Gainsborough.

Georgiana was a socialite, style icon, author and political activist. Her own family were the Spencers (she is an ancestor of Princess Diana) and she married William, the 5th Duke of Devonshire in 1774, aged just 17. He was one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the land at the time, though emotionally reserved, serially adulterous and with little in common with his new young wife so that the marriage was difficult.

Georgiana became close friends with Lady Elizabeth Foster, who was destitute, having separated from her husband. Elizabeth came to live with them at Chatsworth and in their London home. In time she and William started an affair, thus establishing a love triangle. Whilst affairs were common, such a live-in 'ménage a trois' was unusual and gave rise to much speculation. Wives were not allowed (!) to take lovers until they had produced an heir, and Georgiana had two daughters before finally giving birth to a son. She then took a lover, Earl Grey and had an illegitimate daughter (while banished to France in exile) whom she was forced to give up to the Grey family (despite having had to raise her own husband, William's, illegitimate daughter!) Not surprisingly, the complicated arrangements of her high-profile life caused Georgina some pain and she sought consolation in an extravagant lifestyle of addictions (gambling, drink, drugs), affairs, socialising, fashion, politics and writing - gathering around her a large circle of influential literary and political figures. She died of some kind of liver complaint, aged just 48, with debts equivalent to over £3m. When these debts were revealed, the Duke is reputed to have remarked: 'Is that all?...'

After Georgiana's death the Duke married Lady Elizabeth Foster.

Georgiana's story was made into a film in 2008 : 'The Duchess' starring Keira Knightley. Such a colourful life but such a sad story really.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Chatworth's gardens

The gardens and parkland surrounding Chatsworth House are celebrated - though unfortunately far from their best when it's chucking it down with rain! The wider park was landscaped between 1760 and 1764 by 'Capability' Brown, the renowned garden creator who pioneered the 'natural' landscaping of so many of Britain's great country estates.

The gardens themselves have evolved over time. The yew maze, below, is built on the site where once stood a huge glass conservatory constructed in 1840. It required vast amounts of coal, brought in by an underground railway, to fuel the heating. During WW1, when coal was in short supply, the plants all died and eventually the building was demolished in 1920. Astonishing!

One of a number of gravity-fed waterworks in the garden, the Squirting Willow Tree Fountain is unusual and quite effective. The original was made of brass in 1695 and the present fountain is a 19th century copy. 

One of the most famous features in the garden is the 300 year old Cascade, where water tumbles down a series of steps, all of slightly different heights so that the sound changes as the water flows down. Currently the Cascade is enlivened by a buxom reclining nude sculpture, though I wasn't able to discover the artist.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Treasure house

Chatsworth House is chock full of treasures; the largest and most significant art collection in Britain apart from the Royal Collection. Much of it dates back centuries, although the current Duke and his more recent forebears have continued to commission and invest in contemporary art so that there are modern paintings and sculptures dotted around.

The gilded bronze statue, above, is a work by Damien Hirst: St Bartholomew, Exquisite Pain. Holding scissors and a scalpel, the figure has his flayed skin draped over his arm.

There are a number of paintings by Lucian Freud (1922-2011), who was a friend of the 11th Duke and painted many Cavendish family members over a period of about 20 years. (Apologies for the harsh reflection on the glass).

 I liked this painting by the Flemish painter, Cornelis de Vos (1585-1651): a portrait of the artist's daughter.

I was also astonished and intrigued by the marble sculpture below, by Raffaelle Monti (1818-1881). 'The Veiled Vestal' (Virgin) was commissioned by the 6th Duke and features Monti's trademark illusionistic veil. It looks for all the world like a piece of gauze thrown across the statue but is in fact an integral part of the marble carving.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Piles of pillows

I adored the Guest Bedrooms at Chatsworth House., so cosy and comfortable looking. These reflect the Regency style, and their decor dates from the 1830s when 'country house parties' were fashionable. They retain much of their original furnishings and hand-painted Chinese wallpapers. The guest spent their days hunting, riding, reading and playing billiards, followed by evenings of formal dinners, after which there would be music and games of charades and the men would retire to smoke. Ladies had to change their outfits several times a day. Luckily the bedrooms provided seemed very luxurious.

Perhaps a later addition but I loved the idea of a bath hidden in a cupboard.

Queen Victoria slept in this bed, when she visited with Prince Albert in 1843.