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Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Wartime spirit?

Another decorated window, from another near neighbour. This one references Vera Lynn's famous wartime song, meant to keep up the spirits of the nation at a difficult time. We do need a bit of that now, I guess. (Now you're singing it, aren't you?)

Monday, 30 March 2020

Stay at home!

As I mentioned the other day, Saltaire residents have adapted our 'Living Advent Calendar' tradition to this new situation. Encouraging artworks are appearing all over the village. Here are a few I saw on a short walk the other day. There are plenty of rainbows, a sign universally recognised as one of hope.

I loved this one, drawn in a childish hand: Everything will go OK!  We all need to believe and hang on to that, don't we?

And here's a rainbow in a heart - you can't get much more positive than that.

One of my neighbours vows 'No Surrrender' to this awful virus.

My best wishes to everyone, wherever you are. 
Thanks and prayers too for our health workers, emergency services, all our key workers in food distribution and everyone trying to make this awful situation a little better.

Stay at home (if you can), stay safe and well, stay positive!

Sunday, 29 March 2020

See saw?

I spotted this gravestone in Bingley Cemetery. I know I shouldn't laugh... but I did. Humour is so important in these precarious times. I don't know what Marjorie's maiden name was but maybe she should have retained it?
Now I've got the nursery rhyme in my head!

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Bingley Cemetery

One of my friends mentioned how peaceful and attractive the main cemetery in Bingley is. I'd never been before but I decided I'd have a walk there and it was lovely. I've said before how much I enjoy exploring graveyards, probably because I grew up next door to one. I loved playing there and watching the wildlife that lived there. I don't find them macabre places at all, and Bingley's is especially beautiful. It is set on a hillside on the edge of town. I was fortunate to visit when the winter heathers were in bloom, as someone has filled many of the older graves with plants and they looked wonderful.

There are a number of war graves. The one below is that of Thomas Whitley, an 18 year old RAF cadet from Cottingley Bridge, who was killed in action just three months before the end of the First World War.

There is plenty of Victorian statuary, several angels (see yesterday) and some rather impressive monuments like the soaring, slender one below. 

 If I was to have a grave (which I won't), I'd be very happy to have it filled with daffodils.

Sadly, Bingley Cemetery is also known as the place where the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, once worked as a grave digger. He claimed it was here that he first heard the voices that told him to go and kill prostitutes. Tragically he went on to murder at least 13 women in Yorkshire and attempted to murder another seven. It was a terrible period (late 1970s) in the history of this part of the world. I was a student in Bradford at the time and used to get very scared walking home on my own after dark.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Entertaining angels

'Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.'
Hebrews 13: 1-2

I found all these on a recent wander around Bingley Cemetery, a beautiful and peaceful place. I love the character in the angels' faces.

I especially like the one above, she looks like a super hero.

We may not be able to 'entertain strangers' face to face right now, but there are still ways of extending hospitality and encouragement. Let us all be angels - and sunshine!

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Lockdown, Day 3

Yesterday was Day 3 of this strange new world of lockdown due to coronavirus. Our government decreed on Monday that people MUST stay at home. We are allowed to:
- go outside to exercise once per day, so long as we keep a 2 metre distance from others;
- make infrequent shopping trips for essential supplies;
- take care of medical needs and of those who are vulnerable;
- travel to and from work if essential, though most people have been encouraged to work from home where possible.

My own careful isolation has been going on for about a week longer, apart from a trip to the supermarket and a trip to the hairdresser last week. (Glad I did that! The hair salons have all had to close now.) I'm feeling fit, well and quite cheerful most of the time. The novelty is interesting so far. I recognise that I'm in a very fortunate position compared with perhaps the majority of people and I am grateful.

So yesterday I went out for my allowed walk. It doesn't say anything about not being allowed to take a camera, or how far or how long you can walk for! Saltaire was quiet and largely traffic free and it all felt quite weird. The few people about were all careful to keep their distance from each other. Most public places are closed, including children's playgrounds - sad to see them all lying unused. Roberts Park itself is open but there were few people there. There was a police helicopter hovering around, maybe keeping a check on how well the measures were being observed. We were all being good!

As you know if you regularly read this blog, Saltaire has had the tradition for many years of decorating windows in Advent, the month leading to Christmas. Now people are starting to decorate their windows to keep everyone's spirits up in this unusual and unsettling time, as we battle to keep our health service functioning and to save lives at risk from this deadly virus. They are posting one window each day on Facebook - see HERE.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Golden trumpets

At least Spring isn't cancelled. I noticed the recent sunshine has opened up the daffodil buds on the lawn in front of Saltaire's URC church. Rather annoyingly, they all face the church so if you want a photo with the church in the background, all you can see is the backs of their heads! (Oh, I'm so demanding!)  I suppose it must be to do with the sun's trajectory during the day. I'd rather believe the trumpets are sounding a fanfare, joining in with the church congregation. Not that there is one at the moment. A combination of the ceiling collapsing and the coronavirus pandemic has effectively closed the church doors for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Signs of the times

A sign of the times in one of Saltaire's shops, due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. It is very sad that businesses are having to close; hopefully some will survive and re-open when they can. Many are trying to innovate to keep going. Some of the restaurants are now doing take-aways and deliveries. I took this photo on a short walk I did, simply to get some exercise, in the late afternoon. There weren't many people about. The sun was low and there were some golden reflections in the shop windows.

Another day, on the outskirts of Shipley, I saw this sign at the gates to a factory. The company, Carnaud Metalbox, manufactures machinery for the production of beverage, food and aerosol cans. It looks like they are continuing to work, though obviously with some stringent checks on anyone entering.

Both these photos were taken before the announcement on Monday night that we in the UK are on pretty much total lockdown, so these measures may also be changed now. We are only allowed out to shop for food (as infrequently as possible) and once a day for exercise. Some people are still allowed to go to work in vital roles, obviously. I'll bet there will still be people who try to get round the rules. As for my photography, I'm sure I can take a few quick phone snaps when I'm walking for exercise but it's all going to be a bit boring and parochial for a while, I'm afraid.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Winter trees

Winter trees on Shipley Glen.

And one in Roberts Park that is closer to its spring incarnation...  A bit more sunshine and those magnolia buds will unfurl in all their glory:

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Hirst Wood Reserve

HWRG, the Hirst Wood Regeneration Group, whose endeavours I mentioned yesterday, have been responsible for the hard work and planning behind the little nature reserve near Hirst Wood lock. I had a walk around it recently and enjoyed the sight of spring bulbs in flower and hints of buds on the trees. From its beginnings as a boggy field in 2015 (see HERE), and despite some vandalism, it has grown and blossomed (literally) into a very pleasant and fruitful area, enjoyed by the local community and schools. Very much a case of 'from little acorns, great oak trees grow'.

No self-respecting nature reserve is without its own bug hotel:

This one had quite a friendly cat too. It was sleek and well cared for, so I'm sure it has a proper warm, cosy home somewhere nearby and just comes down to the reserve for an adventure. It didn't really want its photo taking!

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Here We Rest Gratefully

The Hirst Wood Regeneration Group (HWRG) are active far beyond the boundaries of their own immediate area. They have for a long time taken care of the area around Hirst Lock, initially planting a garden with a nice seating area, and later taking over a boggy field to create what has since become quite an attractive little nature reserve. They have also installed a series of very solid-looking wooden benches along quite a long stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool canal towpath. I noticed some in Shipley when I walked that way. This one is at the end of the aqueduct, so from it you can see both the canal and the river below. HWRG - Here We Rest Gratefully.

I am beginning to notice more signs of spring. Lesser Celandine shines like little sunbursts on the edge of the canal and in the woods.

There's a forsythia (I think) bush in flower by the rowing club, looking like a firework exploding. I like how so many spring flowers are yellow, as if nature reminds us that the sunny weather is coming.

Friday, 20 March 2020

An abundance of blossom

I love the frothy abundance of white spring blossom but sometimes a straight photo doesn't do it justice. Here I've played with layers and blends to try to recreate that full, blossomy feel.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

A corner of the park

In a corner of Robert's Park, the daffodils are blooming.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020


As the global coronavirus pandemic gathers speed, I wonder how much longer I'll be able to keep up a flow of new photos on my blog. We've been asked (we may be ordered) to stay at home where possible. Attractions are closed. The countryside is 'open' so far but, as my own emotions rise and plunge in hope and despair, I may not always have the motivation to make the effort to get out. I will do what I can and I guess, anyway, that others are in just the same boat. Stay safe and well, everyone.

Talking of boats, there were none on the canal when I walked down there recently, apart from the ever-present ice-cream boat in the distance. I haven't seen that open yet this year and I suppose it will be a long time before it can trade again. There were two swans gliding around hungrily. They were chasing me in the hope I'd provide food but I didn't take any with me.

It's a long time since I did a texturised photo of Saltaire, in this case the classic view of the two mills: Salts on the left and the New Mill on the right. I've added a coloured texture layer and a bit of 'glow' to lift the scene as it was quite a dull day and the original image lacked a bit of oomph. Now, I quite like it.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Inside Skipton Castle

Skipton Castle is remarkably well preserved inside, as it still retains a good roof. You can follow a tour through all the main rooms. The Banqueting or Great Hall, above, was the main living area in medieval times, used for eating, socialising and ceremonial occasions. It is a vast space. Originally, the far end would have been raised for the top table, where the Garrison Commander or the Lord, his family and his guests would be seated when they were resident here. The doorway you can see leads to the Withdrawing Room or Great Chamber (below), where the Lord and his family would have spent much of their time and entertained guests. It is said that Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned here for a time. The window looks out over the valley of Eller Beck (where the Springs Branch canal is now). On this northern side, the castle sits on top of a huge and sheer cliff, which provides an excellent defensive barrier.

Next to the Banqueting Hall is the medieval kitchen (below), in use from 1300 to 1680. It has bread ovens at one end and, at the other, a massive fireplace big enough to roast an entire ox on a spit. You can also see a serving hatch in the wall.

Between 1680 and 1900, the 'new' kitchen (below) was used. It has an old charcoal stove by the window and a Victorian iron range in the fireplace.

One of the exhibits that interests children most (!) is the garderobe containing the privy. It juts out over the steep cliff to the north and simply has a seat with a hole over a long drop down to the water below (actually, the canal nowadays). (Better take your wallet out of your pocket before you try it!!)