I HAVE CLOSED DOWN THIS BLOG. Please click the photo above to be REDIRECTED TO MY NEW (continuation) BLOG.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Treating myself

Sometimes I treat myself to a vase of fresh, cut flowers. Tulips are a favourite and these rather fancy ones are a gorgeous colour. I get double pleasure from them, both as something to look at and something to photograph and play with.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Good Friday

Good Friday - a day for reflection and finding some quiet space, as far as I'm concerned.

I visited Jerusalem a few years ago and have memories of walking down from the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane, shown in my picture above. It is still an olive grove, a beautiful and peaceful place, where, according to the Gospels, Jesus prayed and waited on the night of his betrayal and arrest.

We also followed the traditional pilgrimage walk along the Via Dolorosa in the walled city, finishing at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, revered since the 4th century as the site of Jesus' crucifixion and burial. The church is governed somewhat uneasily by several different Christian denominations and many parts of it are lavishly decorated in styles that to my Anglican Protestant eyes seemed rather too opulent. I did, however, find a wonderful sense of atmosphere in the Catholic Franciscan Chapel of the Nailing of the Cross (Station 11 on the Via Dolorosa and situated within the Church itself), which has a 12th century mosaic (pictured below) and a Medici altar from Florence.

Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon the Cross. 

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Class glass

Still at RHS Harlow Carr, but this one taken in the very superior garden centre and gift shop. The whole ambience of the place is class, everything so tasteful and displayed to perfection. Nothing cheap! I'm not entirely certain but I guess these are meant to hold night-lights to make your garden or patio sparkle at night.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018


Oh, let's have some colour! Here's a photo I didn't get chance to post earlier... These are some of my favourite plants - pretty little alpines displayed in a glasshouse at RHS Harlow Carr. I know the pink one is a Lewisia; I love those. The yellow one's label says Morisia. The blueish one may be some type of primula. Alpines are mostly quite small plants but exquisite in form and colour. In a large garden like Harlow Carr, they grow these 'behind the scenes' and bring each one out when it is at its flowering peak. Thus their display always looks stunning and constantly changes, not something you could replicate easily in a domestic setting.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

The way the wind blows

When you get right up to the top floor of Salts Mill, you can see, through the glass skylights, a hazy glimpse of the weathervane that sits atop one of the twin towers on the roof. The glass is dirty and criss-crossed with strengthening bars, so it is pretty much impossible to get a decent photo of the weathervane from there, which is a pity. It is quite attractive, with a nice font and an ornate pointer. I have done some complicated manipulation of this image to achieve this effect! I quite like it. It's not 'the truth' but it's not far off what you can see beyond the dirt and the iron bars. (The N/S axis is all but invisible when it points straight towards you.)

For the purists, here's one taken from the outside, with my telephoto lens on max!

Monday, 26 March 2018


I think English pubs, when lit up at night, look rather cosy and inviting. This is only an iPhone picture and a bit blurry for that. I stopped to take it, on the spur of the moment, when I was on my way to a meeting the other evening.

It shows a long-standing pub that for many years was called The Victoria. Built in 1875, it is on the opposite side of Saltaire Road from the model village itself and thus escaped the original ban on licensed premises within Saltaire. I wrote about in 2010 when it had just undergone a refurbishment. (See HERE)  It has recently been done up again and has been renamed The Salt Cellar. From what I've read, the new owner has also made a significant change in style, away from a traditional pub with TV and pool tables to real ale and craft beers and a specialist gin bar. They are also planning live entertainment and music at weekends and afternoon sing-a-longs around a piano for us oldies!! (I can't wait!)

It is, I think, an attempt to compete with (or work with, depending on one's viewpoint) existing bars such as the ever-popular Fanny's Ale House just up the road, and the increasing number of micropubs and bars in the area. They want people to have a 'pub crawl' route through the area. As far as I can count, this is one of twelve drinking places around Saltaire, in an area of no more than two square miles (not counting restaurants and off-licences). Sir Titus, who was famously opposed to drinking establishments in his village, though he wasn't teetotal as some say, would turn in his grave.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Like a mirror

The canal was calm as a mirror when I went walking along the other day, so the reflections were lovely. This is the scene looking back towards Saltaire from the bridge at Dowley Gap. There are some old mill buildings here, which have been converted into two or three residences. It ought to be (and at first glance looks to be) nicer than it really is. It's all a bit of a hotch-potch and rather tatty. Added to that, on the far side, it overlooks the beautiful  cess pits of the sewage works, which make their presence known odiferously as well as visually. It's not really somewhere I'd choose to live... Maybe you'd get used to the smell, like people living near busy roads get accustomed to the noise.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Bridge shadows

The Three Rise Bridge in Bingley, a pedestrian walkway over the busy Bingley bypass, is not the most exciting or beautiful bridge structure I've ever come across but it does cast quite interesting shadows on a sunny day.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Three Rise Locks

Bingley is rightly famous for its Five Rise Locks on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. A little nearer to the town centre, there are also these Three Rise Locks, just beside the Damart mill. Like the Five Rise, they opened in 1774 and were a major feat of engineering at the time. Both the Rises are 'staircase locks', which means the upper gate of each chamber forms the lower gate of the next chamber up.

The metal bridge rising up on the left of the photo is the Three Rise Bridge, a pedestrian walkway over the relatively recent Bingley bypass road (which, ironically, goes right through the centre of the town, as opposed to bypassing it!). The bridge replaces a much older thoroughfare that went under the railway line, through a dark tunnel, and was known for some reason as Treacle Cock Alley. I do think they ought to have named the bridge 'Treacle Cock Bridge' - much more fun.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

First crocus

After a week or two of bizarre weather, alternating between snow and bright, springlike sunshine, the spring bulbs might have been forgiven for shrivelling up and retreating underground again. These crocus (crocuses, croci?) in the centre of Bingley were putting on a brave show. 

The stone structure in the background is the old Butter Cross and market buildings. Bingley was awarded a market charter over 800 years ago, which gave townspeople the right to hold a market. They would have congregated around the Butter Cross, which indicated where the market was held. Fresh local produce - butter, eggs and milk - would have been laid out around the steps of the cross. The cross itself possibly dates back to the 13th century although the roof over it and the adjacent hall came later, in 1753. These ancient structures have been moved around the town as development occurred and new roads were built. They are now in the open area at the centre of town near to the Bingley Arts Centre, and a regular market is still held beside them to this day. See here for an interesting article about the history of the butter cross and market. 

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

More playing

Just for fun, here is the same image I posted yesterday and I've added some texture, colour and a few 'birds'.

When I was confined to the house by the heavy snow for nearly a week, I kept boredom at bay by reading and by playing around with photo editing. I tried to motivate myself to do some 'spring cleaning' of the house. I managed to do one room!

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

More weather

My online photo group theme for February was, appropriately enough, 'weather' - and this image pretty much sums up most of February's weather round here, until the snow arrived. It's easy enough to capture fog, even rain - but wind is harder to convey in a still photo. I was quite pleased with this depiction, which I think does suggest the howling wind on top of the moor, bending the grasses and twisting the few hardy bushes that manage to survive up there, some 430m above sea level. I'm never sure why the wind doesn't blow the fog away but I suppose you're really inside a cloud up there!

Monday, 19 March 2018

Sophisticated tastes

We were going to have lunch in the garden centre café. It was heaving with people and had a long queue, and there was little on the menu that appealed. (My grandchildren are never very enamoured with the usual fare on the 'children's menus'.) However, M spotted an ice-cream van and so (on the grounds that life with Gran is meant to be an adventure and slightly naughty things are occasionally allowed), we had an ice-cream for lunch! (Plenty of fruit, veg and protein was consumed at other times during the day, no worries.) There were many products specifically aimed at children but, rather to my astonishment, she chose an Almond Magnum. You can see she enjoyed it and not a drop was wasted! She's a surprisingly neat eater for a small child.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Garden centre delights

Last Saturday, when I was over at my daughter's, I took my youngest granddaughter out for a few hours, to allow her mum a few hours of peace with the poorly older one. As it was raining quite heavily, we went to a local garden centre, a huge place full of many things to entertain and delight a three year old. It had trolleys designed as cars that the child could 'drive', so we had an entertaining time walking up and down the aisles with one of those. Once that palled, we explored the tropical fish section and were both hugely amused by the fancy goldfish. They had such funny faces.  There was aisle after aisle of statues, ornaments and toys for kids, dogs and cats, as well as all the actual plants. M was deeply interested in the stone chips used for mulch on some of the big pots. They came in different colours and varied shapes and she very carefully selected one and then proceeded to carry it round in her fist for the rest of the visit.

Outside in the car park there were a couple of vintage steam vehicles with lots of moving wheels, shiny pistons and a very loud steam whistle! The colourful one in my photo appeared to have been brought from Australia, according to its paintwork.

(Thank you all for the lovely comments yesterday.)

Saturday, 17 March 2018

More snow! and a milestone

More snow! We had another flurry of quite heavy snow late last week. It didn't last long but it came just at the time people were trying to get to work and school one morning and so it proved hugely disruptive all across this region. I was shocked to wake up to this view from my bedroom window, but at the same time very pleased to know that I didn't have to go out at all.  Loving this retirement phase of life  :)

I wasn't going to bother to post this photo but since then (and thankfully after the snow went) I've been at my daughter's, caring for the older of my two granddaughters, who finally and feverishly succumbed to the nasty flu-type bug they've all had. She's getting better now, thankfully, but it's rare that children have a fever for six days running, in my experience. Anyway, I hope that my family will get back to normal now that they have all had and recovered from the virus in turn. So far, I don't appear to have contracted it and I'm hoping I don't, despite several exposures to it. We grandmas rock!

I keep thinking winter must be over and I'll be able to get out and take some more springlike shots. I'm running very short of pictures. But no... we now have a forecast for more snowfall over this weekend. Sigh...

I have just noticed that I have now passed the '3000 blog posts' point. This is number 3005. Who'd have thought, way back in 2009 when I started, that I'd still be blogging some nine years later? Certainly not me. I had no idea that I'd find it such fun and such an absorbing hobby. Many thanks to all my blog friends, especially to all my long-term readers.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Warriors all

Although I took lots of photographs of Anthony Gormley's art installation 'Another Place' on Crosby beach when I first visited last year (see HERE), I could not resist a few more shots this time. The iron men look so different in different lighting conditions and according to the height of the tide. They are also being corroded by the sea as time goes on. Some of them are now tilted at drunken angles, as they have been shifted by the currents.

It was somewhat poignant to have seen China's Terracotta Warriors and the Iron Men in the same visit. They were conceived for very different purposes, over 2000 years apart and at different ends of the earth, and yet perhaps there are invisible threads connecting them.

'Courage, above all things, is the first quality of a warrior.'    Carl von Clausewitz

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Seaside shadows

A couple of shadow pattern pictures that I spotted whilst out in the sunshine by Crosby beach, near Liverpool.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Beside the seaside

I stayed once again with some friends near Liverpool, in a house that overlooks Crosby beach. We had a lovely beach walk, in the sunshine, though there was a biting wind. It's a refreshing novelty to have so much sky and light. Living in a valley, I'm used to the horizon being quite high up. You might just be able to see, in my photo, one of Anthony Gormley's Iron Men (see here) as well as the wind turbines out in the Mersey channel.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

62 Falkner Street

Recently on TV (BBC2) there was a wonderful programme called: 'A House through Time', presented by David Olusoga. It traced the history of a house in Liverpool: No 62 (formerly 58) Falkner Street, and the stories of its inhabitants from when it was built in the 1840s right through to the present day. Of course, I went to find the house.

Built as a home for a well-to-do merchant, when Liverpool was a great trading port for the British Empire, the presenter traced its owners and tenants and told their fascinating stories. There was a customs clerk with a taste for fine furniture and a lavish lifestyle, who went bankrupt; a young couple who rose from being servants, through hard work and clever financial deals, to having great wealth. There was a cotton broker who made a fortune from the slave trade, ended up in a debtors' prison and then fled to America, abandoning his family to the workhouse. Then it became a boarding house and there were many tenants, as the house and area (and Liverpool) suffered in the Great Depression. The series uncovered divorce, family violence, honourable people and ne'er-do-wells. The house was almost flattened by a bomb in Liverpool's Blitz during WWII and then almost demolished in the 1970s. Saved by an enterprising group of local activists, the house was converted into a home where creative people lived: a successful playwright and a young, gay restaurateur who died of AIDS/HIV in the 1980s.  Nowadays it is a single dwelling once again, home to a middle-class family, as the area has been cleaned up and gentrified. The research involved was amazing and I found it a most educational and enjoyable programme, a very painless way of learning history.

I hope they do another series about another house somewhere. If you get chance to watch the series, do. I'm sure it will be repeated sometime.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Liverpool doors

There is often something appealing about doors (and windows) and I like taking photos of them. Maybe it's wondering what lies inside or the fact that, although they all serve the same purpose, there are so many different designs. Even among those ostensibly similar, each one is unique. There are some grand old houses in Liverpool with grand old doors on them. Here are a few.

The door above belongs to The Hardmans' House, a property now owned by the National Trust. It is a Georgian house that was the home and studio of a 1950s society photographer. I'd have liked to visit but it was closed for the winter and anyway, as it's so small, one has to book ahead. 

For some reason, I'm particularly fond of yellow doors. I was going to paint my front door yellow at one time - until my mother told me the colour attracts flies and that put me off that idea!

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Art in the Cathedral

Like most of our cathedrals, Liverpool holds some interesting art and sculpture and continues to invest in modern pieces. I very much liked the installation above. It honours former Bishop of Liverpool (and professional cricketer), David Sheppard (whom I mentioned yesterday), and bears the text from Jeremiah 29:7: 'Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you... and pray to the Lord on its behalf.' I've included the full description below, with apologies to those reading on phones! (Incidentally, the former Dean, Justin Welby, is now our Archbishop of Canterbury.)

The towering west 'Benedicite' window is stained glass designed by Carl Edwards. It has underneath it a pink neon sign that reads: 'I Felt You And I Knew You Loved Me.' That is a work called 'For You', by the artist Tracey Emin, first displayed in 2008 when Liverpool was the European Capital of Culture and now a permanent installation. 

On the exterior, above the West Door, is 'The Welcoming Christ', a huge bronze by Dame Elisabeth Frink, installed in 1993 and one of her last completed works.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Liverpool Cathedral

In complete contrast to the bright, light, Roman Catholic cathedral, Liverpool's Anglican cathedral is a huge, solid, sandstone edifice, the largest religious building in Britain. It was designed by Giles Gilbert Scott (grandson of Sir George Gilbert Scott, the man behind many famous structures in London such as the Albert Memorial) and constructed between 1904 and 1978, progress made slow because of the impact of two World Wars on supplies and manpower and the heavy bombing of Liverpool in WWII, which damaged what had been built.

Inside it is dark, majestic and cavernous, with soaring windows, arches and pillars and a gothic influence. It is by no means my favourite cathedral in style but it has the capacity to inspire awe. David Sheppard, who was its Bishop from 1975 to 1997, worked tirelessly, along with the RC Archbishop, Derek Worlock, on issues of poverty and social reform and made a huge and lasting difference to the city of Liverpool. The two cathedrals stand tall on the skyline, at opposite ends of the (aptly named) Hope Street, almost giving the feel of guarding the city.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Modern stained glass

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral holds some wonderful stained glass, designed by the celebrated artists John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens (who also worked together on glass for Coventry Cathedral). The central circular lantern above the altar is particularly breathtaking, designed in three colours: red, blue and yellow, to represent the Trinity.

There are many panels of stained glass between the side chapels and within them too.

Traditional or modern, stained glass always appeals to me. The light patterns made when the sun shines through are sublime. Not much of that on the day I visited though. It was snowing, on and off, outside!

There are also some stained glass (or resin) panels outside the cathedral, lending some colour to the predominantly white concrete and Portland stone building.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

Liverpool's modernist Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, is affectionately known as 'Paddy's Wigwam' as it looks very much like a great 'tent of meeting'. It was designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd and constructed in the mid 1960s. The idea for a great cathedral to serve the large Irish Catholic population of Liverpool had been conceived in Victorian times and various plans were drawn up, some work even started, but each time finance became problematic and the plans were shelved. A design by Sir Edwin Lutyens for a huge building was terminated with only the crypt built, and this modern design sits on top of that crypt. This building itself has suffered from severe structural problems, so much so that the architect was sued. Nevertheless, to look at, if not to maintain, it is pretty awesome both without and within. 

The circular design has the great altar in the centre, under a baldachin like a crown, and there are small side chapels all around the perimeter, each different and boasting some beautiful modern art, stained glass and textiles. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Treasures of China

Here are some more of the artefacts that particularly caught my eye, displayed in the Terracotta Warrior exhibition. The figure above was (as far as I could see) the only depiction of a woman in the whole exhibition.  She and the figure of an infantryman below are from another tomb site, that of a general from the Han Dynasty (China's second Imperial dynasty, 206 BC to 220 AD ). They're about 12 inches high, not life-sized like the Qin figures, but they are exquisite.

The stunning jade disc, below, is also from the Han Dynasty. Its circular shape represents heaven and it is decorated with dragons. Discs like these adorned the coffins of high-ranking individuals, allowing the spirit of the deceased to travel in and out. 

Finally, a beautiful Qin bronze goose (life-sized) from the First Emperor's burial site. It is one of 46 birds discovered alongside 15 terracotta musicians in a pit, thought to represent an imperial garden for the enjoyment of the Emperor in the afterlife.

The Exhibition continues at the World Museum in Liverpool until 28 October 2018 and tickets are on sale online. Well worth a visit, if you can make it. 

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

The Terracotta Army

These are some of the other Terracotta Warriors from the burial site of China's First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. They were handmade by craftsmen, from thick coils of clay, with sculptural detailing added by hand. The life-sized figures were then fired in huge kilns, before being painted. (The paint pigment has mostly weathered away, only traces remain.) Each figure is unique in their facial features and styling. They represent different ranks: infantrymen, archers, generals, cavalrymen, charioteers. They were arranged in military formation in the tomb and originally held real bronze weapons.

Monday, 5 March 2018

China's Terracotta Warriors

The main purpose of my recent visit to Liverpool was to see the exhibition of China's Terracotta Warriors, at the World Museum. I'm sure most people have heard of these incredible treasures, first discovered by chance in 1974 when a farmer, Yang Zhifa, discovered pottery fragments when digging a well in Xi'an. For over 2200 years, the figures have secretly guarded the tomb of China's First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. There were no historical records pointing to them, so their discovery was a complete surprise and the scale of the find is astonishing: more than 2000 warriors and horses, each unique, have been excavated, with another 6000 estimated still to be buried. The burial site covers 56 square kilometres and was intended to provide the Emperor with everything he needed in the afterlife - palaces, an army for protection, horses, chariots, food and entertainment (terracotta musicians and acrobats have been uncovered - and some of the Emperor's concubines were slaughtered and buried with him). 

The jury is out as to whether Qin Shi Huang was a far-sighted and innovative ruler or a brutal tyrant. He followed a philosophy of Legalism, bringing in standardisation, rules and laws and appointing officials on merit rather than hereditary right. He united China after many years of war by defeating the various other warring tribes. He built the original defensive wall along the Northern border that eventually became the Great Wall of China. He is viewed by some to have exhibited tyrannical eccentricities and extreme paranoia. (Remind you of anyone?....)

There are ten life-sized figures from the Qin dynasty (221-206BC) in the display, along with 180 other objects, including jewellery, weapons, armour and other artefacts, covering 1000 years of Chinese history. 

This figure is a terracotta horse-keeper, one of eleven found in an area of the First Emperor's Mausoleum believed to represent the royal stables. They were found with coffins containing the remains of real horses, ritually slaughtered.

The cavalry horse is one of the terracotta army protecting the First Emperor. Cavalry was lighter and faster than horse-drawn chariots in battle and was an important military force in the Qin Dynasty.

The figure below was perhaps my favourite, touching in its simplicity. It is a terracotta kneeling figure of a stable boy, buried alongside the dead horses' remains, together with pottery basins and hay, presumably to care for the horses in their afterlife. 

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Neo-classical gems

So... where have I been? Anyone recognise this famous city?

Another clue.

Yes, it's Liverpool. This magnificent collection of buildings, in the neo-classical style, is known as Liverpool's 'cultural quarter', the William Brown Street conservation area. It is one of six locations in the city that together make up Liverpool's UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. The top photo shows the Walker Art Gallery, affectionately known as 'the National Gallery of the North' for the quality of the works it holds and because it is part of the National Museums Group, rather than being a locally administered gallery. The beautiful rotunda is part of the Liverpool Central Library. The bottom image shows part of the World Museum - which was my destination. The area also holds St George's Hall, Liverpool Lime Street (rail) station and the Great North Western Hotel, all equally elaborate structures that originally date back to the 1850s to 1870s, though with many alterations and refurbishments since then.