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Thursday, 28 February 2019

Time for breakfast

When I woke up and opened the curtains last Sunday morning, I noticed the sun was trying to burn through the fog and I could see the conditions were great for photography. So, unusually for me, I decided to forego my cuppa and my usual leisurely breakfast, dressed quickly and set off for a walk. It was wonderfully atmospheric and beautiful alongside the canal and in the woods. As I went down onto the towpath, a boat was mooring up and the smoke from its stove added to the misty effect. When I was heading home after an hour or so, the same boat was passing through Hirst Lock, so I guess they'd just stopped for breakfast before getting on their way again. 

I was ready for mine by the time I got home! 

Wednesday, 27 February 2019


Bradford Cathedral is currently hosting an exhibition called 'Counter-flow' by Eva Mileusnic.

It consists of one hundred pairs of porcelain feet, the shapes based on shoemakers' lasts, decorated with textile patterns from around the world. There are different shapes and sizes and each pair is unique. They represent the feet of migrants, reflecting both current tensions around migration and the artist's own family history. Her parents and her husband's parents were refugees from Hungary who came to Britain in the 1940s and 50s.

The hundred pairs of feet also reference Bradford's rich and diverse communities and the Cathedral's centenary.

Read more about the exhibition HERE.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Bradford Cathedral interior

As I said yesterday, the interior of Bradford Cathedral has a wonderfully intimate and warm feel. Having once been a parish church, it isn't as soaring and grand as many of our cathedrals but it's still packed full of history and interest. The more recent 20th century extension at the east end, where the altar, chancel and chapels can be found, is plastered and is therefore much lighter than the stone nave, so it has the effect of a bright sanctuary, drawing you up towards it.

Like many of our cathedrals, it is visionary in its outlook, having worked hard to reduce its carbon footprint. It is the first cathedral in the country to get all its power from solar panels, neatly hidden behind a parapet on the roof. It has strong interfaith ties, important in a city as diverse as Bradford. There is modern artwork as well as the historic treasures, and an ongoing programme of - often very interesting - exhibitions and music.

I particularly like St Aiden's Chapel, hung with beautiful, rich, modern tapestries depicting, in the centre, the Bradford area in Saxon times (the remains of a Saxon cross have been found and are incorporated in the cathedral's wall) and panels on the left and right depicting Iona and Lindisfarne, both associated with St Aiden.   

The East window is one of several stained glass windows in the cathedral. Known as the Catherine and Jane Wells memorial window, it was inserted in 1863 by a Bradford solicitor in memory of his sisters. It has the theme of 'Women of the Bible'.


Monday, 25 February 2019

Bradford Cathedral

Bradford Cathedral sits on a hillside just above the city centre, and I find it quite a challenge to photograph. It's hard to get an uninterrupted view of the building, though it sits attractively in a peaceful garden close, bordered with parish rooms and houses where the dean and other staff live. The middle section, now the nave, is the oldest building in Bradford, dating back to 1458, though there is evidence of much older church here too. Of course, it has been altered over the years. The tower was added in 1508. Originally it was a parish church and saw some remarkable events, including the Civil War and the sieges of Bradford in 1642 and 1643, when the city was a Parlimentarian stronghold. The church tower was hung with woolsacks to protect it from the artillery of the Royalist troops, led by the Earl of Newcastle.

In 1919, a new Diocese of Bradford was created and the church was upgraded to cathedral status, so it is celebrating its centenary this year, with a programme of events and exhibitions. In the 1950s a large extension was added at the east end, with wings either side of the tower at the west end. Inside, however, it still has a pleasingly intimate feel to it. I love it, actually.

The entrance up from the city centre has an imposing gatehouse structure around the steep steps leading up the hillside.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

City wheel

There's currently a huge ferris wheel outside Bradford's City Hall. I didn't have a ride on it but I expect the view over the city centre and City Park is spectacular. The wheel is massive but the Venetian-style tower of City Hall, 67m high, dwarfs it. I should try and remember to visit one night, when it gets lit up. I imagine it must look spectacular.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

With nail and Hockney

Mounted on a gable end at the corner of Peckover Street and Chapel Street, in the historic Little Germany area of Bradford, there's a large portrait of the Bradford-born artist David Hockney. It is created in the style of his 'joiner' photographs but the interesting thing is that it is created entirely out of painted nails, mounted in marine plywood. Its sculptor is Marcus Levine and apparently it took him 15 months to complete. The last panel was added about a year ago. (See HERE for press article.) It's rather effective and quite astonishing to see the level of detail the artist has achieved.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Reservoir views

It was a wonderful day for taking photos around Fewston Reservoir: sunny intervals with gorgeous reflections of the clouds in the water, and enough good light to bring out the soft winter colours.

It's odd how some trees (beech mostly) seem to hang on to their leaves all winter. The touches of rusty colours are rather attractive, especially when the sky is blue.

Bright stems of willow and cornus add highlights against the evergreen trees. In the woods, the dappled light was very pretty.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Fewston Reservoir

Fewston Reservoir looked stunning in the sunshine. I had a very pleasant walk round the perimeter path, which is wide, smooth and largely flat. It's about a four mile circuit and then I went in search of the snowdrops in the woods, so I walked about six miles altogether, very satisfying. The reservoir is a popular attraction for runners, dog walkers and those of us oldies wanting an easy constitutional. I passed a lot of people on the way round, some twice - haha! Most were friendly and said a cheery hello. Many of the dogs were friendly too, one so much so that it jumped up with its muddy paws on my coat. That does annoy me, that people can't control their animals. (Reservoir dogs - yikes!)

The reservoir, built in 1879, is one of four in the Washburn Valley. It was good to see it more or less full, though Lindley Wood, further down the valley, looked a bit low. I don't know whether the water stocks have been replenished this winter or not. We've not had much snow and I'd say the rainfall has been somewhat less than usual. After the dry summer we had last year, there is always the possibility of water shortages if we have similar weather this year.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019


A friend, who is a keen walker, tipped me off about a stunning carpet of naturalised snowdrops, in the woods above Fewston Reservoir in the Washburn Valley, so one day I had an expedition to find them. They were all around a ruined building that might once have been a cottage. It seemed rather pleasing to think that a few snowdrops planted in (perhaps) a gamekeeper's garden should spread and naturalise so abundantly, lasting long after the cottage disappeared. They made a magnificent display.

The 'native' snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, isn't actually native to the UK at all. It is believed that it was first cultivated in 1597 and first recorded in the wild in the 1770s, but snowdrops are now naturalised throughout Britain. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, they are much loved because they are the earliest bulbs to flower after the winter, often pushing their blooms up through actual snow. I think my photo below amply demonstrates why they are called 'snowdrops'. They look just like a light dusting of snow on the woodland floor.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Halifax Minster

The Minster Church of St John the Baptist in Halifax dates to the 1400s, though there is evidence of stonework from earlier periods. It has, of course, been altered over the years, though it still contains wooden box pews from the 1600s. Most of the medieval stained glass was removed during the Puritan Commonwealth period (mid 1600s) and there are several leaded windows with plain glass from this period. Most of the stained glass that now exists, including the East window, is Victorian.

It's a large church and quite dark inside, full of dark stonework, heavy wooden pews and a dark panelled ceiling, that is actually painted but difficult to see the detail. It has, however, a friendly and cosy feel despite its size and it's full of beautiful and interesting features, including two lovely side chapels (see one below).  The sun was shining through the windows when I was there, casting coloured light onto the walls and pews, and I chose to capture random aspects that suggest the play of light and colour in the dark interior.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Old and new in Halifax

I'm impressed with the way they have renovated Halifax's Georgian Square Chapel and the spire that is all that remains of the adjacent Square Church, cleverly incorporating them into a brand new library building and the restored Piece Hall behind. 

The Square Chapel (below) was opened in 1772, a place of worship for a thriving congregation led by Titus Knight, the minister, and James Kershaw, a leading chapel member. By 1850, the chapel was so popular that people were being turned away due to lack of space, so they bought the adjoining land and built a new church in the decorated Gothic style. At the time, the spire made it the tallest building in Halifax and it soon grew to be the largest congregation in the area.  

By the middle of the 20th century, the congregation had dwindled and the church closed in 1969. Sadly, in 1971, the roof and interior of the Gothic church were destroyed by fire. It wasn't until 1976, however, after a lot of argument, that demolition took place, leaving only the spire and a fragment of the church wall with a rose window intact.

This has been beautifully incorporated into the new library, and airy glass sections have been built to link the buildings with the Georgian Square Chapel, which is now a theatre, cinema and arts centre. You can get more idea of the whole complex HERE.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

The Blanket

The central courtyard / piazza of Halifax Piece Hall is a massive space of 66,000 sq ft, ideal for events, concerts, markets and exhibitions. They are currently displaying a large sculpture: The Blanket, by David Murphy, their first visual arts commission, in partnership with Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Its steel tubes create a magnified weave of overlapping warp and weft. The intersecting lines (and the strong shadows on the day I was there) give the impression of a large picnic blanket. It is intended to reference the Piece Hall's history of woven cloth - an effect more obvious when viewed from one of the higher levels of the building.  

I'm not sure whether I really liked it but it's an intricate and fascinating piece. It was hard to know how best to photograph it. I tried lots of angles and different points of view, trying to work with its shadows to incorporate them in a pleasing way. It would look different again on a dull day. 

There's a gallery of related sketches and drawings too. It looked interesting through the window, though it wasn't open when I was there. The sculpture is on display until April 7th.

Saturday, 16 February 2019


Halifax's Piece Hall has several cafés and bars to choose from. I decided to sample the brew in Loafers, a cosy venue that combines a coffee bar and vinyl record shop.  Good choice! The coffee was excellent, though I wasn't quite brave enough to sample the more exotic blends. You have good music to listen to whilst you sip your drink... double the pleasure. They also sell music-related art prints (by Matt, Vinyl Soul Images), which make a colourful display around the walls.

I had a lovely conversation with another photographer, a young man sitting at the next table. He was taking photos of the coffee and the view. With the sun streaming in, it was too good a shot to miss, though I should have taken mine before I drank my coffee! I also chatted to the owner, Mark Richardson, who seems a lovely, friendly guy and was very welcoming. He and his wife not only run the busy shop, which has been open about 18 months, they also have a young baby too. They must work hard! 

(I'm resolved to be braver about asking people for portraits. It's 'a big ask' for a deaf introvert like me! So far, no-one has objected...)

Friday, 15 February 2019

Return visit to the Piece Hall

I returned to Halifax to visit the Piece Hall again, taking advantage of a brilliantly sunny though very chilly day. The arched south entrance beckons you in. It's a wonderful and unusual Georgian building, opened in 1779 originally as a cloth hall where they sold 'Pieces' of handloom woven, woollen cloth. (Click the Piece Hall label below for more photos and information on its interesting history.) Since they have spent vast sums (£19 million) renovating it, it has a new lease of life. They hold regular events - markets, festivals, food stalls, entertainment - in the large square inside. There are more and more shops and cafés opening in the old cloth rooms that make up the four sides.

One can happily spend a couple of hours browsing around and it was good to explore it when there weren't too many crowds (though some of the shops close on Mondays and Tuesdays).

Renovations have included the adjacent Square Chapel and the Square Church spire, now incorporated into a new library. The exit from the Piece Hall towards the Library has lovely views of hills and mills. The old warehouse on the left is now Calderdale Industrial Museum, though I'll have to go again to visit that. It's only open on Saturdays.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Neon reflections

I've a couple of apps (Enlight, PhotoSplit) that do interesting things with multiple layers, mostly using actions pre-set by the app developers. You can do much the same thing with Photoshop and with a little more control, so I set myself the task of learning to do it 'the hard way' (not using pre-sets).

Here, I was using a couple of images of reflections in the river (actually people standing on the terrace of the Boathouse Inn, with their colourful clothing reflected in the water). Cropped, blended and with the saturation boosted a little, it produced quite a pleasing image, I thought.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Enjoying the small things

One of the best things about getting older is that I seem to have learned to 'live in the moment' more fully and to appreciate and be grateful for all the ordinary small things that make up a day. There are many: the freedom to take a mug of tea back to bed some mornings, savouring it at leisure; being able to make the most of the sunny days, to get out for a local walk or an adventure further afield (how I longed to do that when I was walking to work each day!); a milky morning coffee and a quick look at 'the newspapers', albeit read on my iPad these days. So many small pleasures to enjoy...

I had my eldest granddaughter 'sleeping over' last weekend. She is seven and is really good company. I like, as far as possible, to let her set the agenda, and she is usually happy to do quite ordinary things. A visit to the craft shop for the purchase of some new stickers is often top of her wish list. Then she will spend ages carefully drawing a scene incorporating the stickers; we had mermaids in the sea this time. She helped me chop and cook, and enjoyed playing with the toys I keep here, just a bit different from the things at home (and most passed on to me by a friend whose grandchildren have outgrown them, such good recycling!) Just before we were leaving to deliver her back home, she said to me: "Gran, your whole house smells like your hugs, all warm." I thought that one of the nicest compliments I have ever had, as well as a sign that she too is able to appreciate the small things that give life meaning. 

Even though she is no trouble at all, attending to her minute by minute leaves me astonishingly tired. I can take a good 24 hours to gather my energy again! I did, however, take advantage of the sunshine the next day to have a short walk and was pleased to see the first crocuses, as well as the snowdrops that are now in full bloom. The yellow crocuses often get pecked by birds (though they don't seem to go for the purple ones so much) so it's best to appreciate them whilst you can. 

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Squirrels and snowdrops...


and snowdrops 

and bright cherry berries...

sound like something from the song  'My Favourite Things'. In fact, they were all things that caught my eye on a recent walk round Golden Acre Park in Leeds. Contrary to the weather forecast, it was a rather dull and cold day, so I didn't get many photos at all.