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Friday, 31 July 2020

Community seven

Seven colourful squares taken in the community garden in the Caroline Street car park, looked after by Veg on the Edge. Herbs: thyme, sage, mint and chives; bright yellow marigolds, perhaps (keep bugs away?), strawberry plants and something cabbagey that might be sea kale. (It has white flowers and I think the orange flowers also visible belong to something else.) Mint is tenacious, isn't it? There is plenty in the beds but also some forcing its way through the wall!

Thursday, 30 July 2020

History lines

I don't know that I've ever consciously noticed before that there are still tram rails embedded outside what used to be the tramsheds at the top of Saltaire Road. Built in 1904, the six bays used to house the trams that ran from Saltaire to Bradford, guided on rails and powered by a pantograph that linked to an overhead cable. Later they housed Bradford Corporation trolley buses, which ran solely along overhead cables with no tracks. Bradford had some trolley buses right up until 1972 (though the Saltaire link ceased before that, I think.)

Since then the building has been repurposed a number of times and for many years now has been a bar and restaurant, at first called The Old Tramshed, then The Hop. Now it is the Salt Beer Factory, opened in 2018 with a micro-brewery and tap room to the rear and the bar/kitchen (restaurant) and beer garden at the front. It has recently reopened again after being closed because of lock down. Testing times for such small outfits but they have been doing local deliveries and selling canned beer to retailers in the interim and, with a loyal following, I guess they'll manage to keep going.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Action on the river

There was a fabulous sky when I was walking by the river.  It was good to see the rowers back in action too, though I was amused to see that this guy (apparently a novice) managed to fall in seconds after I took the shot! He was in the process of turning to return to the bank and I guess there is quite a current right there just in front of the weir. He obviously didn't take it into account! The river at that point doesn't seem too deep so he managed to swim or wade to the bank pulling the boat. Meanwhile various people rushed from the boathouse with ropes in case he needed help. I tried not to laugh.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Four square

Looking for patterns and restricting myself to a square format (using my phone) helped me to pick out some details of Salts Mill that I found pleasing. I like the way the images link through colours, stone, water and foliage.

Monday, 27 July 2020

Banana boat?

I've passed this vibrant yellow barge a few times, as it is usually moored at Shipley Wharf. I've mentally christened it 'the banana boat'! I believe it belongs to a charity, the JAMES Project (Joint Activities and Motor Education Service) which works with disadvantaged and 'at risk' young people to provide: 'an effective, caring and understanding environment where young people and families can overcome disadvantage and lack of provision to achieve their full potential in life through the enthusiastic delivery of relevant education, training and leisure opportunities.' Good stuff. They have workshops in several places and their marine division is based here in Shipley. 

Such bright colours made for equally cheerful reflections. 

Sunday, 26 July 2020

A head for heights

Do you have a head for heights? I certainly don't, so my heart was in my mouth as I watched the tree surgeons at work opposite my house the other day. There were two men leaping about really high up in the trees, apparently as comfortable doing so as the squirrels that I see. They did, admittedly, have some kind of safety harness but it looked pretty flimsy, just one rope looped over a branch. The big ash trees must be almost 100 years old now and one has been shedding large branches of late. When they are in full leaf, they don't like the wind we've been having, especially coupled with the dry spring we had. I'd reported it and was gratified that they actually came to inspect and prune them, though they have left the large sycamore which overhangs exactly where I park my car! They must think that is safe for now.
After so many weeks of being at home inside a lot, it was rather fun to have something to watch from the window!

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Pastel blues

One of the annual borders at Harlow Carr Gardens lent itself, I felt, to a soft pastel treatment.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Up close

It's rewarding to get up close and personal with some of the flowers in Harlow Carr Gardens. There's a wondrous variety of colour and form and some lovely juxtapositions too. 

Blue poppies are fairly rare and difficult to grow successfully. Harlow Carr have some beside the stream, though they were past their best when I visited. 

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Lily ponds

Harlow Carr Gardens has two lily ponds: one a formal, symmetrical rectangle and the other a small pool surrounding by decking, where children can study the pond life. Both beautiful in different ways and both currently full of water lilies, though they were barely out on such a cold, grey day. They need a little sunshine before they will fully show their beauty. 

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Containing my excitement

They do such a wonderful job of planting up containers at Harlow Carr - a masterclass in how to combine planting, and something I never manage to replicate. The secrets seem to be: go big, restrict the colour palette and use a variety of different leaves. Oh - and as any photographer knows, there is magic in threes... 

... though I have four photos I really can't choose between...  😬

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

A visit to Harlow Carr

Visitor attractions are gradually starting to reopen in the UK, mostly with booking systems and social distancing measures. It wasn't a hard decision for me to make my first proper trip out a visit to the RHS gardens at Harlow Carr. It is, after all, one of my favourite places and usually furnishes me with some reasonable photos. Of course, when you book ahead, you can't rely on the weather and it was disappointingly drizzly and cold. Never mind, the gardens are looking wonderful and it was worth making the journey. 

I don't recall seeing the stag sculpture before. I really liked it. On the other side of the path there were similar sculptures of a doe and a fawn but, without the dark background, they didn't show up well enough for a photo.  

The long borders are starting to fill out and the streamside is at its best right now, with huge candelabra primulas providing some colour.  

A moorhen chick had boldly strayed quite a long way from its parent.

There are some new beds full of 'annual' mixes - rather prettily colour-restricted: one predominantly blue and white; another blue, white and yellow; another yellow and purple - all very effective in such large drifts. 

There are attractive little 'set pieces' all around too; I liked the solid pot and the soft grasses together. 

Old stone steps leading up to a bench were hard to capture in a photo as it was a dark little corner, so I am quite pleased with this one after some careful processing. 

Monday, 20 July 2020

In my bones

As a resident of 22 years, I've lived in Saltaire longer than I've lived in any other one place during my life. It's under my skin and in my bones, in much the way that Blackpool is etched through the length of a stick of rock candy. I'd even go so far as to say that I'd be able to identify Salts Mill in most circumstances. It is so iconic and recognisable. (Long term readers of my blog may feel the same! Possibly eternally bored of the same views? There are, after all, only so many photos you can take in a square mile.)

Try these three vignettes: a reflection, the tip of a chimney and a window (though originally, I think, a loading bay to transfer goods to and from canal barges. You can see the opening has been bricked up at the base.) 

Yes, I'd recognise them anywhere.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

OS Maps

I've been meaning for ages to get myself a custom-made Ordnance Survey map. You can order them with your home (or anywhere you choose) right at the centre of the map and customise the front cover with your own wording and photo too. I thought it would be fun, in this age of lockdown, to create one to to help me to explore my own local area even more fully. In fact they stopped making them right back in March when we first locked down, but I noticed they'd started offering them again so I ordered one.

I don't know what the available maps are like elsewhere but here in the UK we are quite proud of the Ordnance Survey. It came into being for military purposes after the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion (an attempt to restore the Stuarts to the throne) led to the need for detailed and accurate maps of Scotland. Attention then turned to mapping the south coast of England, to help with planning the defences against possible invasion from France. They used theodolites to divide the landscape into accurate triangles, fleshed out with detail on the map. It grew and grew, sponsored by landowners who wanted (effectively) aerial views of their land holdings. Ordnance Survey now produce detailed and up to date maps and related data, both paper and digital, using satellite information and other means, that enable government and businesses to plan effectively - as well as providing us walkers with sound information about rights of way and all the features necessary to navigate safely. Ever since I was a child I have found maps fascinating. Now I have my own, custom built, at a scale of 1: 25 000, that is 4cm on the map = 1km on the ground. You can see footpaths and bridleways, roads, rivers and the steepness of the terrain shown by contour lines. There is so much wonderful detail, it's almost as much fun exploring the map as it is exploring the actual territory.

The detail below is just a tiny portion of my map, which stretches from the centre of Bradford in the south up to Ilkley and Otley, west to Haworth, Keighley and Silsden and east to Apperley Bridge and Yeadon.

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Vigilance at dusk

I happened to be walking through the centre of Saltaire at dusk when the sky was still quite light and the floodlights that illuminate the main historic buildings had come on. It all looked rather nice. The lion, Vigilance, still does guard duty, though his name has almost worn off his plinth. The building was originally Saltaire's Factory Schools, opened in 1868 to comply with the 1844 Factory Act that required child workers to be educated for three hours a day as well as working in the mill for 6.5 hours (!)  Children had formerly been taught in the mill's Dining Hall. There was one school for boys and one for girls, in the same building and they took 750 pupils. They had advanced facilities for the time,  including central heating, gas lighting and playgrounds at the rear.  It is now part of Shipley College.

Friday, 17 July 2020

Graffiti abstracts

Unlike in some cities, people don't tend to paint genuine 'street art' in Bradford or the surrounding neighbourhoods (or not that I've noticed anyway). There is, of course, the usual scrappy graffiti, mostly people's names, sprayed under bridges and along walls. Much of it looks ugly and it makes a place look rundown. I've found, however, that some small sections - abstracted from the whole - can make quite pleasing images, abstracts in the best sense of the word.

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Pass times

Salmon chanted evening, you may see a stranger... no, a salmon, leaping the weir at Saltaire. That's the theory, anyway. I mentioned back in March (HERE) that they were starting to construct a fish pass, with the aim of encouraging salmon and other fish to negotiate the weir to spawn in the upper reaches of the River Aire, something they have not been able to do for decades, as the weirs are too long and steep for the fish to leap. It's clearly a bigger project than I imagined and despite the recent rain causing the river to flow deeper and faster than it was doing back in March, they seem to be making progress. The concrete walls seem to be almost finished. There's an impression HERE of how it may look when complete.

In the background, the children's playground remains locked and unused. Such a shame. It would be nice if they could unlock them again for the school holidays. I can't imagine there is too much danger of the virus spreading outside, though I think it's the probability of lots of people touching the same surfaces that is the real issue.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Bramble art

I shall have to gee myself up to make some trips further afield, as I am running out of/getting bored with pictures of the immediate locality. I'm still a little wary of the virus situation, not convinced it's advisable to come out of lockdown yet but I am perhaps too cautious.

In an effort to find some inspiration, on a walk back from Shipley, I decided I'd look for square format pictures, just using my phone. I quite like this one. Bramble throws out exploratory creepers and is really rather a tatty plant, albeit it can produce luscious blackberries in the right spot. I don't think this one will bear fruit but I loved the vibrant colour against the fading graffiti on the wall.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Gearing up to go

After months of lying idle, the Saltaire Trip Boat has restarted its short cruises along the canal. The owner was hard at work washing down paintwork and generally making ready when I passed by one day. For the fairly minor sum of £4 (not much more than the price of a coffee, these days) you can relax and study the grandeur of Saltaire's mills and church from the comfort of the little narrowboat. (The bow end of the boat is open-sided so a ride can be enjoyed safely in the open air.) I keep meaning to sample the trip one day and have never yet done so. Perhaps this is the year to do it. Self-employed entrepreneurs depending largely on tourism must have been very badly hit by the Covid lockdown. It may be a while before tourists return too, so we locals should probably offer our support. Apart from the cars on the bridge, it struck me what a timeless scene this was. A sepia treatment seemed appropriate.

Monday, 13 July 2020


It all started so well, with a pleasant amble down Beckfoot Lane to the packhorse bridge (HERE)
and on to the next little stone bridge over Harden Beck. There's an old mill here, originally driven - I assume - by water power from the beck. I don't know when it closed down but the buildings have been converted into several residential units.

Once over the narrow bridge, my walk took me across Shipley golf course (oddly named, since it is actually on the edge of Bingley). The right of way is marked by large white stones, but you have to be very careful not to get in the way of golfers and flying golf balls. Not being a golfer myself, I find it quite hard to tell which direction they are aiming in. So I walked quite fast across this bit!

Beyond the golf course, the view opens up along the Harden Valley, bounded on one side by the Bingley St Ives estate and on the other by Cottingley Woods. It's all very green and lush. I actually love this gentle little valley, quite peaceful nowadays. There are some old buildings, now very nice houses, nestled in hay and wildflower meadows.

Harden Grange Farm, which you can see in the distance below, is now a riding school and livery yard.

I took the path up into Ruin Bank Wood, climbing steeply up the valley side. I was hoping to find the old ruined folly hidden in the woods.

The woods are mostly larch trees, grown for timber. As I walked up to the main track it all became very muddy and difficult to negotiate, churned up by forestry vehicles.They must have huge thick tyres that had gouged out deep ruts. I came to a junction in the track and went straight on - wrong, as I then came to the other side of the wood. I retraced my steps and turned right, along the muddy track. It was hard going and not at all pretty. I find the straight trunks of pine trees rather forbidding compared to mixed woodlands like Hirst Woods.

Further on there was more evidence of forestry activities, with huge stacks of messy timber. Not the neat log piles you'd expect, these were smaller branches and looked more like waste. You'd think at least they could use it for chippings for mulch. Perhaps they do, eventually.

I never did find the folly! I obviously took a wrong turn somewhere. The track came out into Cottingley housing estate and, to be honest, it was a relief to be on firmer ground. I had then to search for the footpath down to the main road. It turned out to be steep and rocky and more like a river bed, though luckily not muddy here.

I was actually quite glad to get down to roads that I knew and eventually back to my car, on Beckfoot Lane. Not one of the nicest walks I've done...  Rather a folly, in fact. Ha!