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Sunday, 30 April 2017

Saltaire is ready...

Saltaire is ready for the Tour de Yorkshire!  This prestigious cycle race, now in its third year, was started after Yorkshire's magnificent response to the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2014. It's taking place this weekend and the third and final stage, affectionately nicknamed 'The Yorkshire Terrier' starts in Bradford city centre today (Sunday 30th April). The warm-up stage will pass through the centre of Saltaire, before they start to race properly along Otley Road through Baildon. The route then goes through Ilkley and up into the Yorkshire Dales past Bolton Abbey, before coming back south through Skipton, Keighley, Haworth, Halifax and Holmfirth, finally ending in Sheffield. It all has a buzz about it and the whole route is decorated with blue and yellow bunting and yellow bikes. Even the gardens are in the right colours. ;)

Saturday, 29 April 2017

The Iron Men

I had a wonderful holiday with some friends recently, on the west coast just outside Liverpool, a surprisingly interesting and attractive area. They were puppy-sitting for some relatives, necessitating many windswept walks. I took loads of photos!

It so happens that the house we were staying in overlooks Crosby beach, which holds a huge art installation, Another Place, by Sir Anthony Gormley (who also designed The Angel of the North). It consists of 100 cast-iron figures, each weighing 650 kilos, cast from Gormley's own body. They are spread out over 2 miles along the coast and reach more than half a mile out to sea. At this location, across a shallow, sandy foreshore, the tide ebbs and flows with a huge reach, so that sometimes the figures are submerged and sometimes revealed. Some are half buried in the sand as it gets blown around, and each is different due to the gradual weathering of tides and wind. (One or two have even had clothes added, by jokers, but the ripped and trailing fabric adds its own pathos.)

Early morning puppy walks meant I could catch the beach with no-one else on it and the lonely figures staring out to sea have a melancholy, even sinister, air.  It's a little unnerving to see a still and silent figure apparently watching another figure walk under the waves. 

This was another item on my 'bucket list' to see and it is satisfying to be able to tick it off, though I'd love to go back again to see the figures in different lights and weather. It is a powerful and moving sight.

Friday, 28 April 2017

A new view

Sometimes it only takes a few hundred yards detour to give you a whole new view of the world... One of my friends lives about half a mile away, across the main road that holds most of our local shops. We set off for a walk and instead of walking along the busy main road, as I would have done, she took me through a short cut behind the shops, along a little grassy path across a little bit of open land that I didn't even know was there.  Not only was there this magnificent tree full of exuberant blossom to enjoy but I got a whole new view of the church that I attend, seen across the field from its east end. I think it's only recently that this view was opened up, since a large residential care home opposite the church was demolished a while ago. Life is full of discoveries, for those who have eyes to see and a willingness to try new things.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Spring in the park

As you walk down from the Victoria Road bridge towards Roberts Park you get a glimpse into the park that is especially delightful when the trees are in blossom. To the left is the entrance to The Boathouse, now a bar and restaurant. To the right is the path to the footbridge into the park over the River Aire (which you can just see).  The building across the grass is the Half Moon Café, closed since it was badly flooded in late December 2015 - but now, I am pleased to say, reopened on certain days of the week (Wednesdays to Sundays, I believe). It has been much missed in the 17 months it has been closed; it's such a great facility for the many visitors to our lovely park.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Can you believe your eyes?

If you're local, do please consider visiting Cliffe Castle museum to see Ilkley Camera Club's exhibition, starting this Saturday April 29th until July 16th. (Museum opening times here). I have three prints on show. There are also talks/slideshows by some of our members on Saturdays:

6th May – Keith Allen
Planet Earth and its wonderful birdlife – a photographic tour
20th May – Nick Hodgson
Around the World in 80 Images – my passion for travel photography
27th May – Peter Farmer LRPS
Glorious Churches – getting the best from your camera
3rd June – Sharon & Tim Sawyer
Our Workflow using Lightroom & Photoshop
17th June – David Stradling
My photographic journey from Landscapes to Portraits
24th June – Richard Spurdens DPAGB EFIAP/GOLD
Portrait Photography – using Lightroom to process portrait & fashion images
1st July – Len Downes
Band Aid – overcoming the problems of Gig Photography
15th July – Larry James

We've had to move to Keighley as the Manor House museum at Ilkley, where we've always had our exhibitions before, has closed down. Cliffe Castle is a very interesting place in its own right though and well worth a visit. Our exhibition coincides with a display on Fairy Folklore, exploring local tales and beliefs about the fairy folk, including the Cottingley Fairies. The first photo of these 'fairies' was taken in 1917. To celebrate that centenary, part of our exhibition shows photos we entered into a competition called 'Can you believe your eyes?', which includes photos that are not truthful but look as though they are, and some that are truthful but look so odd that you could think they are fabricated.

All welcome

Signs of Spring - all very welcome.
Mr and Mrs Greylag Goose have produced seven goslings. They led them down the grass bank and onto the canal, where they are prepared to do battle with anything that might threaten their brood, judging by the hissing that went on when a curious labrador stopped on the canal bank to survey them.

A song thrush in Hirst Woods. When I was a child these birds were commonplace. Nowadays they are on the RSPB's 'red' (endangered) list, the population having declined by more than 50% since 1970, largely due to loss of habitat. Thankfully, ancient woodlands like Hirst Woods are a sanctuary for all manner of insects, butterflies, birds and small mammals. I'm so grateful that I can enjoy this on my doorstep.

In Hirst Woods too, there are bluebells coming into flower. They are not yet at their peak - I'd say another week to ten days before they are really at their best. Still very pretty though.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Making cushions

You may recall a post on here about a craft shop called The Craft House that's opened in Saltaire? (See here)  
I mentioned that they run a lot of craft workshops and classes. I've been seeking new opportunities to extend my creativity, stimulated by a book I was given when I retired: 'The Artist's Way for Retirement' by Julia Cameron, full of suggestions and exercises that I'm really enjoying working through. As I used to enjoy sewing when I was younger and I have a faithful sewing machine (a 21st birthday present from my parents!), it seems like a useful skill to pick up again. So I decided I'd enrol on a one day 'Cushion Making' workshop.

It was really good fun. The other young women in the small group were friendly, the tutor was skilful (and didn't shout like my school needlework teacher used to!) and the room we were in, in the basement of the shop, was light, airy and well set out. We were supplied with endless drinks - in the colourful ceramic mugs depicting Saltaire that I'd so admired in the shop - and biscuits too. I learned how to put a zip in neatly (which I once knew but had largely forgotten) and how to do corded piping, which I'd never done before. My end result was a fairly neat and smart cushion, although with hindsight I needed perhaps to attempt some appliqué on it to really set it off. It's quite plain: cream with a colourful piped edge. I was really pleased with myself though, and very much enjoyed the day. It was also good to see and be inspired by the lovely cushions created by the others.

I think it's so important that we continue to have enquiring minds and to carry on learning, experimenting and trying new things as we get older. No need to get set in our ways! I'm hugely enjoying having more time to 'play'. I shall keep looking at the list of workshops at the shop, and see if anything else particularly catches my eye. Someone may be getting a new cushion next Christmas!

Monday, 24 April 2017

Pink path

Normally I arrive at my weekly Camera Club meetings after dark but in the last few weeks of the club season, when we've changed the clocks to BST, it is light when I arrive. After a week's break for Easter, I was unprepared for the amazing sight of all these cherry trees in full blossom on the path up to Addingham church. (We meet in the church hall.) I didn't have my camera (!) so this is an iPhone photo. The cherry blossom all around this area is really splendid this year, although a cold snap is forecast this coming week so that may ruin it prematurely.

I'd planned to photograph this last weekend's World Heritage celebrations in Saltaire. I had a prior engagement on Saturday and then a migraine on Sunday! So, no photos - and it's been a lovely sunny weekend too. I feel I am failing in my 'local 'reporter' duties!! Must do better...
If you want to see how real reporters covered it, click here!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

I name this ship...

What would you call your boat if you had one? The names I notice on narrowboats often amuse me. This was a selection that I spotted just in the course of one walk, along a stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal towpath near Skipton.

Saturday, 22 April 2017


St Michael and All Angels church in Hubberholme is quite small, quite dark inside and very old - but utterly charming. It was originally a 12th century (Norman) Forest Chapel, as the area around was a hunting forest. The tiny chapel was expanded at a later date and the rood loft (the remains of which can be seen in my picture below) was installed in 1558, possibly transferred from Coverham Abbey. It would have had a floor to support musicians and is one of only two surviving in Yorkshire. The church also has pews carved by Robert Thompson, 'the Mouseman of Kilburn' in 1934. I found one of his trademarks of a carved mouse, after carefully searching the choir stalls. Legend has it that one of the altars was used as an ale bench in The George pub (which used to be the vicarage) across the road, until it was rescued and reinstated in the church! The George, I have read, also signifies it is open by having a lit candle in the window, in the same way as the vicar would have notified his availability to parishioners. 

The tiny hamlet of Hubberholme, situated where Langstrothdale meets Upper Wharfedale, was a favourite place of the Bradford-born author, broadcaster and dramatist J B Priestley (1894-1984), who described it as "one of the smallest and most pleasant places in the world." His ashes were buried in the churchyard and the church contains a memorial plaque. 

Friday, 21 April 2017


The tiny hamlet of Yockenthwaite sits towards the bottom end of the very pretty Langstrothdale, sliced through by the infant River Wharfe. Its famous red post box is a rather unexpected sight in the midst of all the greenery. I suppose it serves as a reminder than even these relatively remote places are still connected to the wider world. 

The river here is spanned by a rather splendid 18th century packhorse bridge, its high arch again a somewhat unexpected sight in what is nowadays a quiet little dale. It is on the Dales Way, a long distance footpath from Ilkley to Bowness in the Lake District. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Buckden circular walk

Easter Monday was a promising day weather-wise, intermittent weak sunshine but thankfully dry - a fine day for a walk in the Yorkshire Dales. There's a lovely circular walk in Upper Wharfedale from Buckden round through Cray, Yockenthwaite and Hubberholme, about eight miles altogether. The first part is pretty steep, up a fine Roman road on the flanks of Buckden Pike. Once that is conquered the walk is along wide and mostly level footpaths with lovely views, then coming down into the very pretty Langstrothdale, and returning through meadows alongside the river.

The limestone scenery really looks at its best in Spring, the light colours of the rock and walls set off by blue sky, white clouds and fresh spring greens. Primroses and tiny violets were in bloom, I saw my first swallows of the year and delighted in watching the newborn lambs. The one below seemed to think mum made a fine climbing frame.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The best of Bradford

When you say 'Bradford', it conjures up for some people very negative connotations. People still remember the Bradford riot of 2001 (which was later dramatised for TV) and other negative news stories. It is true that the city has an ethnically diverse population; currently about 20% identify themselves as of Pakistani ethnic origin and about 64% as White British. It's also a young city, with 29% of the population aged less than 20 and seven in ten people aged less than 50. (See here).  It is also a relatively poor city, with about a quarter of our children living below the child poverty line in households with less than 60% of average income.

However, despite some areas of the city being largely 'white' and a few being largely 'South Asian', on the whole people rub along together pretty well. Many young Asians are third and fourth generation Bradfordians and more 'Yorkshire' than I am. There will always be those who wish to stir up trouble, but the city has a proud record of coming together to resist those who seek to divide. Tensions, in my view, often have more to do with volatile youth and economic hardship than ethnic differences, although race and religion are always convenient scapegoats.

Art and community events thrive on the vibrant mix of cultures and the Puppet Parade really showed that splendidly. The young ones were excited and awe-inspired; us oldies - including me and the Sikh gentleman in my picture below - perhaps a little more bemused at the hubbub!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


The puppets made by Cecil Green Arts are amazing creations made from (I guess) papier mache and fabric. There is a person inside each one who control the arms and head, quite a skill in itself I think. They're used at various events and parades. CG Arts also hold elaborate illuminated lantern parades, which I have yet to see but hope to catch one day. Their studios at Drummond Mills were destroyed by a huge fire (nothing to do with the lanterns!) last year but the group seem to have survived the disaster, found new workshop premises and recreated much of what was lost. 

Monday, 17 April 2017

I should've gone to Specsavers...

Anyone in Bradford on Saturday might have thought they were seeing things...
There was a Puppet Parade through the streets, featuring some huge puppets made by Cecil Green Arts, as part of the 'Creative Streets' festival.  

The festival is a collaboration between lots of community groups and arts organisations in the city of Bradford, including Cecil Green Arts, The Brick Box, Q20 and Punjabi Roots Academy. They've been putting on a number of events and entertainments over a couple of months in the 'top of the town'. It's an area left with lots of empty shops since so many businesses have moved down to the new Broadway shopping centre. The remaining businesses - including many independent shops and bars - are trying hard to re-invent the quarter and inject some much-needed vibe. The huge empty M&S store has become 'The Wild Woods' - an enchanted forest full of adventures. An adjacent shop seems to have been taken over as a creative workshop space where people were encouraged to make puppets and masks for the parade.

This lot looked a bit sheepish...

I don't need to explain who these two are!

Music to jig to was provided by The Ski Band ('the best street band ever'), certainly fun and lively music on some quirky instruments.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Pasque flower

This pretty plant is a Pasque flower, Pulsatilla Vulgaris, related to buttercups and anemones. I like the way it gracefully bows its flower heads. I suppose the Pasque relates to the fact that it flowers around Eastertime.

I'm using it to wish everyone reading this a very happy Easter. If you don't celebrate the festival, then have a very happy Sunday anyway.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

One, two, three, four...

One swan - heart-shaped.

Goosey, goosey - two sleepy Canada Geese.

 Three mallards - awaiting the starter's pistol?

Gang of four. Mallard drakes gather together (having a stag-do?) whilst most of the females are presumably incubating eggs somewhere. I saw hardly any females on this particular Spring walk.

Friday, 14 April 2017

In memory of...

These artistic engravings on mid-Victorian tombstones caught my eye. They're in the churchyard at St Paul's, Shipley, where most of the gravestones have been lifted and used as paths or propped against walls, to enable the grass in the churchyard to be mown easily. They all say the same thing and yet each is unique.

It seemed as good a photo as any to commemorate what is known as Good Friday, though that always seems a bit of a misnomer for what the day signifies. There will be the usual Good Friday March of Witness by the Christian churches in Shipley but that's a quiet, 'undressed' thing. I often feel we should make more of Easter. It seems to need the kind of ceremony you see in some Catholic countries: flags, icons, robes. Last year Shipley held a Passion Play but that needs an awful lot of work and it is not being repeated this year.

These days it seems that the Easter bunny and chocolate triumphs, and I'm never sure what children understand by that... After all, bunnies don't lay eggs!

Thursday, 13 April 2017


Out on a walk recently, I came across these engineers putting up new telephone lines and/or poles. It was a nostalgic sight for me, as my father was a telephone engineer and, in his working life, did his fair share of climbing poles. Like so many things in modern life, it looks possible that the job is these days 'contracted out', as I could see no evidence of BT branding on the vans.

Then I found myself humming 'Wichita Lineman'... ha! I haven't thought of that song in a long time.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Kildwick church

Despite having a population of less than 200, the village of Kildwick, situated between Silsden and Skipton, has an enormous church, St Andrew's. It is very old. An Anglo-Saxon church stood here before the Norman Conquest and fragments of 9th century crosses have been found. Much of the existing church dates back to the time of Henry VIII. It was lengthened in the 15th and 16th centuries and some restoration was undertaken in Victorian times (1873).  It is now one of the longest churches in Yorkshire and is known as 'The Lang Kirk of Craven' (Craven being the name for this part of Yorkshire, around Skipton).

It has two burial grounds, one on either side of the canal, but burials are only allowed now into existing graves. However, its surroundings are lovely. The church was locked so I couldn't go in but they have made a Lent Labyrinth in the church yard, laid out with mown grass and miniature daffodils. It was good to take a few minutes of quiet, walking and praying the Labyrinth.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

From Silsden to Kildwick

I had to take my car for its first annual service recently. I can't believe I've already had it for a year! I went back to the garage where I purchased it, in Silsden, which is a small town about 10 miles away. To while away the time while it was being looked at, I decided to walk in a westerly direction along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal towpath, since it passes through the centre of Silsden on its way to Kildwick and eventually to Skipton. It's not a stretch I know very well and, even on a fairly dull day, it proved to be a pleasant walk. The river Aire runs in the valley bottom, which tends to get flooded and boggy in this area, and so the canal is constructed part way up the valley side. There are lovely views from the towpath.

The small village of Kildwick is to the right of my photo. It has a long history and some quite old buildings. The stone bridge over the river was constructed in the very early 1300s when Kildwick was part of the Bolton Priory estate.

Monday, 10 April 2017


I had to look this plant up, and it turns out to be Butterbur (Petasites hybridus). They grow in damp places; these were at the edge of the canal. These pink flower spikes grow before the leaves, which can become huge. (I'd have recognised the leaves.) Apparently, they are in the same family as sunflowers. They have been used medicinally for a long time and extracts are known to be an effective herbal treatment for migraine and some allergies, though potentially adverse long-term effects are not well documented.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Soft light

Little to see here, in a way, and yet I thought it a beautiful scene and very peaceful. The diffused light suited the soft colours of the sky, reflected in the water, and the haze of fresh green on the bushes.

The photo was taken further up the valley, alongside the Leeds-Liverpool Canal near Silsden.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

St Mary's Church, Farndale

St Mary's is a Grade II listed church, attractively situated just outside the hamlet of Church Houses in Farndale, in the North York Moors National Park. Built of sandstone, it dates back to 1831 with additions and renovations carried out between 1907 and 1914 by Temple Moore, one of Victorian England's greatest church architects (see www.templemooretrail).  (Aptly named for such a career, predominantly in the Yorkshire moors!) It is thought there may have been an older church or friary here. As in the surrounding dale, the churchyard in Spring is a vision of daffodils, whilst the church interior is graceful yet simple, with a fine stained glass east window depicting Christ's crucifixion. The window is very similar in style to those in my own church, St Peter's, Shipley, and I would guess is from the same maker.