Earlier posts

Earlier posts
This blog is a continuation of an older one. To explore previous posts please click the photo above.

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Repeat after me

The Bourse is both the name of a street in Leeds (possibly one of the shortest at just 41m long) and the surrounding office buildings. Tucked away near the station and just off Boar Lane, one of its revamps a few years ago gave it a curved, reflective glass frontage, which produces mind-blowing effects! 

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Looking up in Leeds

Since Covid struck, I have rarely been on a train and rarely been to a city, but there were a few things I needed from the shops and it was a beautiful day so I braved both train and Leeds city centre. Ironically, the main shop I intended to visit was closed 'for the foreseeable future', so that was a nuisance. Never mind, I amused myself by 'looking up' at the wonderful Victorian buildings that grace the city. I often wonder whether the glass and concrete structures springing up all over the place nowadays will age as wonderfully as these have. 

I'm not sure that many of the old clocks actually show the right time these days! Old Father Time on the 'Tempus Fugit' clock is above a building that was once a jeweller's and clock shop. John Dyson, its Victorian owner, is said to have added the clock to the building's facade to mark his wife's birthday. 

The Kirkgate Market Hall's roofline has many domes and turrets. 

Friday, 22 October 2021

River Ribble

It took us a few minutes to locate the right path after lunch in Feizor. Being relaxed and full of good food clearly dulled our wits a little! Eventually we found the route, which follows the Dales High Way long distance path over to the River Ribble at Stainforth. Lovely views again from the top and then a gentle stroll downhill into the valley, punctuated by some rather high ladder stiles and precarious stone step stiles. Those have cantilevered stones right through the wall, and are often slippery and uneven with use. As it says in an article I read: 'All is typically well until you reach the top, when realisation dawns that you will have to pirouette to face the other way before descending the other side, as the stones are the same on both sides.'  Pirouetting feels harder when you're full of Sunday lunch, I have to confess, not to mention the complications of heavy boots, bulky backpacks, a walking pole and my camera!  

Anyway, we successfully arrived at the river in Stainforth, beside the rather elegant old bridge, built around 1675 to span the river instead of the original ford. (Stainforth means 'stony ford'.) People call it a packhorse bridge but it is in fact wide enough for carts, and many true packhorse bridges don't have such high parapets, in order to allow the heavily laden horses to pass across unimpeded.

Below the bridge, the river tumbles over falls known as Stainforth Force. There was quite a crowd of people here and when we neared the falls we realised why. In the autumn, salmon migrate up river to spawn and they leap up the falls in spectacular fashion. We were lucky enough to see several fish attempting the jump, though I found it impossible to photograph them, what with all the spectators and the fact that the fish are very fast and you can't predict where they will appear.  I was frankly astonished to see them, having spent some time here in past autumns and never seeing one. Quite a thrill! 

Downstream of the falls the river becomes calmer, meandering along through meadows. There isn't much autumn colour in the leaves yet, but there are a lot of red hawthorn and rowan berries. 

And so back into Settle, past a couple of old mills that were originally fulling mills and then cotton mills, and nowadays are converted into apartments and small business units. 

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Improbable walls

The Yorkshire Dales are famed for the drystone walls that snake across the countryside. Ribblesdale is no exception and here the local limestone gives characteristically lumpy and quite light-coloured walls. I always marvel at the improbable constructions - tumbling down over crags or meandering round as if built by a drunkard. I often find myself asking... why on earth was that built there? Why is it that shape? Who built it in the first place? How old is it? Those questions never get answered but that doesn't stop me wondering. 


Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Settle Circular

My friend and I were fortunate to have a glorious early autumn day for an eight mile circular walk from Settle, a market town in Craven on the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales. The route took us from the River Ribble, up along Giggleswick Scar and over to the hamlet of Feizor. This is limestone country, with remnants of limestone pavement and the characteristic drystone walls everywhere. There are wonderful views up Ribblesdale. You could see Pen-y-ghent, the lowest of Yorkshire's Three Peaks, in the distance. I rather liked the way the tumbledown wall in the foreground echoed the shape of the mountain.  

Looking down along the valley, the village of Langcliffe sits downstream of Stainforth Scar. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, limestone was quarried in this area by Craven Lime Works and burned in a massive Hoffman kiln to produce lime that was used in agriculture and building (mortar and limewash) as well as in a host of small-scale industries: tanning, textiles, soap and paper making. I once visited the remains of the Hoffman kiln, which was very interesting. (See HERE

On the other side of Giggleswick Scar, part of the Scar has been extensively quarried for building materials. The huge quarry was closed ten years ago and the land is now earmarked for some kind of industrial development. On the far horizon you may just be able to see the distinctive whaleback shape of another peak, which is Pendle Hill in Lancashire. 

Further on, the path meandered through upland meadows, which in summer are rich with wildflowers.

We then dropped down to the hamlet of Feizor, where there is a very popular café: Elaine's Tea Rooms, a real hidden gem, with plenty of outdoor seating. (I think it's still advisable to sit outside in these Covid times, even though it's getting colder.)  It's not often I have a full Sunday lunch halfway through a long walk. It was delicious - though it maybe made for a slower walk onwards, since I was rather full and thus quite sleepy! 

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Baildon Green

I had an errand to do in Baildon so I walked up to the village along the lane through the hamlet of Baildon Green. Tucked under the quarried crags of Baildon Bank, it's a hotch-potch of old houses and small mills, mostly related to the 19th century textile industry. Some are now converted into residences, whilst some are still used for businesses. There's also an historic non-Conformist chapel, all overlooking an extensive 'green' or common. 

Further down towards Saltaire there is what was once an old farm and barns, now converted into residences. 

The view from Baildon Green is pretty spectacular, looking down over Saltaire and Salts Mill... although my photo really isn't, being a grainy crop of a phone pic. Still, you get the general idea. 


Monday, 18 October 2021

Happy birthday

Happy 10th birthday to my beautiful granddaughter. She was sweet enough to pose for some photos last time she visited me. I was grateful both for her patience whilst I fiddled around with my camera and for her amazing ability to strike poses like a real model. I wanted somehow to capture a glimpse of who she is at this significant milestone, as she moves into the 'pre-teen years'. I think I got it! 

She loves Minecraft and Lego (and builds some amazing houses), reads a lot (particularly fond of comic books and graphic novels for kids). She's physically strong and brave, enjoying walking and climbing and yet she's sensitive too, concerned - like a lot of children - about the state of the world and the plight of people less fortunate than herself. She's also a brilliant 'big sister' and it warms my heart to see how well she and her little sis get on, and how kind and thoughtful she can be. 

It seems ages but also bizarrely only like yesterday that she made her appearance in the world, rather suddenly and 8 weeks early. If I'd known then how healthy, strong, brave and bright she would be by the age of ten, I wouldn't have worried nearly as much! 

I love you to the moon and back, my precious first granddaughter, and I always will. ❤︎

Sunday, 17 October 2021

A walk round Bolton Abbey Estate

There are numerous possibilities for walks around the extensive Bolton Abbey Estate. I often walk north along the river, through the woods and past the famous Strid gorge. This time I chose to cross the river and do a circular walk to the south. The bold cross the river on the stepping stones. I opted for the safer footbridge alongside! 

The path climbs steeply and affords lovely views of Bolton Priory, through the trees.

The route eventually drops down, following old trackways, through fields and back to the river. 

Intermittent showers never lasted too long but made for some interesting cloudscapes. 

Saturday, 16 October 2021

Bolton Abbey

I count myself very fortunate to live within a 40 minute drive of the Bolton Abbey Estate, since people travel from far and wide to visit the area. It all belongs to the Dukes of Devonshire, who ensure that the priory and surrounding estate are well-managed, well-maintained and welcoming to visitors (though you do pay handsomely in the car parking fees to enable that!) 

Originally an Augustinian priory founded in 1154, it thrived until 1539 when Henry VIII stripped all monasteries of their assets. Most of the original buildings now lie in ruins but part of the priory nave (to the left on my photo above) was saved, when Prior Moone negotiated to keep it as a place of worship for the local community. It continues to serve as a parish church to this day. 

The Priory church has quite an attractive and extensive graveyard. (There's a well-known photo collage by David Hockney of his mother sitting on a tombstone, well wrapped up against the Yorkshire drizzle. See HERE. )

Another famous Yorkshireman is buried here: Fred Trueman, the cricketer who played for Yorkshire and England in the 1950s and 60s. He's acknowledged as one of the greatest fast bowlers in history, and is equally remembered for his outspoken and often controversial views. His grave has a photo and a couple of cricket balls that have been placed there in memoriam. 

The Priory Church was closed when I visited (though you could peep through a screen into the nave). It had some beautiful flower arrangements on display, probably left from a wedding. Such an attractive and historic spot means that is frequently used for weddings. Indeed, Fred Trueman's daughter Rebecca was married here, amid much fanfare, to Damon Welch, the son of the film actress Raquel Welch, though the marriage proved to be short-lived. 

Friday, 15 October 2021

Bradford street art 2

Fairly recently, some murals have been stencilled around Bradford by the Bristol-based street artist, Stewy. They depict local characters, whose stories are interwoven with the city. Polish Anna (Aniela Torba) was a familiar face around Bradford's markets between the 1960s and 80s. I remember her well; always colourfully dressed with a woolly hat and a huge thick jacket covered in badges, she would chat to stall holders, cadge endless mugs of tea and sometimes sing in a very loud, deep voice. She always had a stick, which she'd wave about and bonk people with if she didn't like what they were doing! Quite an eccentric and no-one seems to know her personal story. There were rumours she'd been in a concentration camp during WWII. There's an article about her HERE

Not far away from Anna, at the other corner of the market, is Barry Roots, a DJ and reggae musician who ran the Roots Record Shop on Lumb Lane in Bradford. 

On North Parade, there is a stencil of Ces Podd, a Bradford City footballing legend who made a record 565 appearances for the side between 1970 and 1984. 

Elsewhere, I came across this cute dog (?) on a skateboard - with an important message to get across. 

Looking up, there's this colourful and emotional face. (Pity about the advertising banner now partially obscuring it.) I'm sure there is much more street art to be found... I'll have to keep my eyes open when I'm down in the city. 

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Bradford street art 1

Confusingly, there are two railway stations in Bradford. The one I use from Saltaire is Forster Square - and it's quicker and easier to take the train (about a 15 minute journey) than to take the car and find somewhere to park. It was a beautiful, blue sky day when I made the trip recently to do a bit of shopping. 

The area around the station, St Blaise Court, is pedestrianised and the arches that support the road alongside are floodlit with coloured lights at night. (St Blaise was apparently the patron saint of wool-combing.) It has sculptures: Fibres, by the artist Ian Randall, which use old rail lines and coloured fibre optic capsules. I quite like them. 

Across the road, there is another sculpture: Connecting the City, by Rick Faulkner. It is like a giant steel needle, which of course references the textile history of Bradford. The fibre optic thread through it lights up at night and symbolises the road and railway connecting people to the city. 

Elsewhere in the town centre, an empty bank building has been used to display large photographs by Carolyn Mendelsohn, a Saltaire-based photographer. These are part of an ongoing and long-standing project to photograph girls aged between ten and twelve, exploring the complex transition between childhood and young adulthood. I've seen several exhibitions of some of these portraits and they are immensely touching (especially for me, being the gran of a similarly aged girl). I'm not entirely sure they translate well to being printed up so big and placed outside but they are nice to see. 

In front of Bradford's City Hall, there's a sculpture that commemorates the Bradford City Fire Disaster, on 11 May 1985. 56 people lost their lives and more than 300 were injured, some horrifically, when fire broke out in the football stadium during a home game. The people of Bradford, me included, will never forget that day. The sculpture is by a German artist, Joachim Reisner, and was presented by our twin town of Hamm to the people of Bradford. By a twist of fate, the sculptor's wife, originally born in Bradford, was actually at the football stadium on the day of the disaster, on a civic visit.  The memorial has on it the name of every person who died. The three bronze figures, in a broken circle that represents the stadium, suggest the divide between life and death and the many rescuers running to offer help - from fire crews to the local residents whose homes surround the football ground; from medics at the hospital to social workers who later were tasked with supporting the traumatised. I find it quite emotional to see. 

Wednesday, 13 October 2021


By far the ugliest building in Saltaire, a mess of prefabricated panels, pebbledash, upvc and flat roofs - and yet, despite appearances, Caroline's Social Club is one of the beating hearts of the community. It started life as a Working Men's Club and has evolved into a pub and entertainment hub, hosting many events: bingo, Slimming World, salsa nights, private parties, regular comedy nights and live music sessions, including the well regarded 'The Live Room' series ('the best all round roots music club in Bradford').  It looks at its best at dusk, when the lighted rooms beckon a cosy invitation, or on a sunny day when the yard and beer garden at the back are packed with people having a good time. (It was busier than it looks when I took this photo.) 

It has won CAMRA awards, for Club of the Year and gets five star reviews: "friendly; helpful staff; good prices; great beer." And its website features one of my photos! (I can't honestly remember if that is with permission or not. I can't say I mind.)

It'd be lovely if a millionaire came along and offered to demolish the pre-fabs and build a replacement, with a similar purpose, that would fit in better with the village's general attractiveness but I don't suppose that's likely to happen.  As it is, I'm sure it's fortunate that they have managed to keep going through this pandemic, with all the challenges it has posed for hospitality venues. It probably all runs on a shoestring and they have to be continually innovative to survive. So - well done, I say. 

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Wuthering Heights

It was a blustery day. The scudding clouds, driven by strong winds, kept releasing intermittent but insistent bursts of rain - but there were rainbows, as if to compensate for the wildness. It was, however, an appropriate sort of wildness since I was intent on walking up to Top Withens again. The pub sign in the hamlet of Stanbury, overlooking Haworth Moor, rather gives the game away. Top Withens is reputed to be the farmhouse that inspired the location of the Earnshaw family house in Emily Brontë's 1847 novel 'Wuthering Heights' - and this, of course, is prime Brontë territory. 

Helpfully, the pub frontage also gives a definition of 'wuthering' - 'a Yorkshire word referring to turbulent weather'.  As I've said, it was certainly that kind of a day, though to be honest I have rarely been up there in anything but wuthering conditions! You kind of expect it, as you almost expect to catch a glimpse of three sisters hurrying along in long skirts and Victorian bonnets!

It's a fair old trek, along part of the Pennine Way, to the ruined farmhouse, with its lonely trees. The information boards point out that the farmhouse itself bears no resemblance to the Earnshaw's mansion in the novel, but it is thought that the location may have been Emily's inspiration. The Brontë sisters would certainly have been familiar with it. 

I always feel a sense of satisfaction when I get up there. The long and somewhat challenging walk is worth it, since the view is awesome, and the cloudscape quite thrilling. 

Then it was back down to Haworth, via the stream, bridge and small waterfall that they call Brontë Falls - another location that the novel-writing sisters, who lived in the parsonage in Haworth, are known to have visited quite often on their walks. 

Monday, 11 October 2021

Peace and sunshine

There was some lovely light on Saltaire's Victoria Hall as I walked past. The 'Peace' lion seemed to be enjoying the warm, late summer sunshine, and was licking his paw contentedly (though he does that in the snow too!) 

The gardens in front of the Hall were looking good as well, with colourful bedding plants and lots of berries on the rowan trees. I'm sure Sir Titus would approve. 

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Canal patterns

I love all the patterns made by reflections on the canal. The area just beyond Bingley's Five Rise Locks is a rich hunting ground for these. There are always boats moored there with different colours to add interest, though I did tweak a few of these to suit an overall blueish theme.