Earlier posts

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

Monday 31 August 2020

Lawnswood angels

Lawnswood Cemetery had lots of angels on the older memorials and I loved them all. Take a look at some of these faces...

Quite a few have broken wings, missing limbs or fingers, and many have worn faces. They are, after all, mostly about 120 years old but they are still glorious, to my eyes.

Sunday 30 August 2020

Ethel Preston

Among the more fascinating and poignant memorials in Lawnswood Cemetery is that of Ethel Preston (1861-1911). She stands, life size, in a replica of the entrance to her home, The Grange in Beeston. The door is slightly open and she is said to be waiting for her husband Walter, a manufacturing chemist, to come and join her. In fact he married his 22 year old housekeeper, only a year after Ethel's death, though she did arrange for him to be buried alongside his first wife when he died in 1930. When the monument was first erected it caused quite a stir. People flocked to see it and extra trams and police had to be laid on for the crowds! They even sold postcards of it. Her name, reputedly, passed into local lore, if you're looking sad or pensive, they will say: 'What's up? You've a face like Lawnswood Ethel.'  Even now, people visit and leave roses for her. 

Saturday 29 August 2020

The Columbarium

Lawnswood Cemetery contains this impressive columbarium, opened in 1933, with two colonnaded wings, with niches in the walls containing funeral urns and inscribed stone tablets. I don't know that I've ever seen one before, at least not in this country, and certainly not on this scale. They are not, I think, that common. Nowadays people tend to scatter or bury the ashes and sometimes have a small plaque. In Lawnswood there are plaques along all the edges of the paths, many with vases for flowers. 


Friday 28 August 2020

Lawnswood Cemetery

My camera club had an outing to Lawnswood Cemetery, on the outskirts of Leeds. I was unable to attend, so one day I decided I'd make my own visit. It's a huge site and proved to be very fascinating. When the churchyard of St. Michael's in Headingley was nearing capacity, woodland was purchased and a new cemetery was commissioned from the architect George Corson, aided by the landscape gardener William Gay, who designed Bradford's famous Undercliffe Cemetery. It was originally opened in 1875, and has since been expanded. It is still used. 

There's a large chapel, in the Gothic Revival style popular at the time, originally with two parts: Church of England and Non-Conformist, connected by an open cloister. In 1905 a crematorium was added, its chimney disguised as a clock tower.  

The Victorian/Edwardian part of the cemetery in particular has some notable memorials, some of them listed. The huge edifice below is the grave of Sam Wilson (1851-1918), made of black marble with bronze figures of Faith, Hope and Benevolence. Mr Wilson made his fortune from his family's worsted cloth making business and became an expert in and collector of contemporary British art and furniture; his collection was bequeathed to Leeds Art Gallery. 

I love exploring cemeteries and there were some fine carvings and interesting inscriptions, though some of the graves are inevitably a little worn and damaged. 

Thursday 27 August 2020

Our lost heritage

I have driven past this building many times but I had never really studied it before. It sits alongside the road out of Shipley through Windhill towards Leeds, just past Shipley railway station and not far from the old and now decrepit Carnegie Library (see HERE). Walking past one day, I stopped to photograph it. I was speculating that it might at one time have been a school. Just as I was pondering, I bumped into a former workmate, a life-long Shipley resident. She told me it used to be a railway station. I've looked it up and apparently there used to be a branch line of the Great Northern Railway linking villages to the north-east of Bradford. Passenger services closed in 1931 and goods services on the line ceased in the 1960s. The unit is now used by some businesses but, like the library, it looks increasingly decrepit, though it was once a handsome building.  By contrast, the station only a quarter of a mile away that was part of the Midland Railway is still used, linking Shipley with Leeds, Bradford and Skipton. 

This area is full of history, some of it (like Saltaire) spruced up and celebrated and some of it quietly and gently decaying; our heritage almost lost, apart from in the memories of a few older residents and in obscure books and documents. 

Wednesday 26 August 2020

The Glad Game

'There is something about everything that you can be glad about, 
if you keep hunting long enough to find it.' 
                                                                                 Eleanor H Porter, 'Pollyanna'

When I was young, the film 'Pollyanna' with Hayley Mills in the title role was one of my favourites. Featured regularly on TV, I must have watched it five or six times and it made a big impression on me. I guess it was that film that first alerted me to the practice of gratitude: the Glad Game, as Pollyanna called it. Of course, you can have too much of it but generally speaking it is a principle that I've found helpful, particularly in seeing me through some of the tougher times in my life. 

Many times during this pandemic I've made myself deliberately focus on the good to lift my spirits and keep from getting too down. Being able to get out for exercise, consciously enjoying the beauty in the natural world and noticing afresh the local delights of the World Heritage Site I'm fortunate to call 'home' have been useful strategies to keep me rooted in the present. They stop me catastrophizing and excessively worrying about the uncertain future.  

I regularly walk past the allotments beside Salts Mill and watching the unfolding of colour there through the seasons is always a source of joy. Now the gladioli are in full bloom, tall and stately spikes of colour. Somewhat old-fashioned flowers nowadays, they remind me of my grandmother, who used to grow them. She called them 'gladdies' - so I guess that was what reminded me of the Glad Game. They must surely bring joy to most people? 

I'm lucky that I can bring them home in a photograph and play with them, attempting some creative double exposures. I have not yet perfected the technique but for me it's a good way of 'being in the present', an antidote to the gloom and anxiety in the big wide world. We all need that. 


Tuesday 25 August 2020

Top Withens

Top Withens (sometimes spelled Withins) is a ruined farmhouse high up on the moors above Haworth. In the photo above, the ruin is beside the tree up on the horizon. Its setting is reputedly the inspiration for the Earnshaw family house, in Emily Brontë's 1847 novel Wuthering Heights. Certainly the Brontës would have known it. They frequently walked on the moors and in their day there were many more smallholdings up there (there was a Middle and Lower Withens too) with people trying to eke out an existence, farming a few sheep and oats. Handloom weaving was common and there were stone quarries around the moors too. It must have been a lot busier than it is now! 

These moors can be bleak. I've rarely been up there when it has not been windy and wet. By the time we left the Brontë Falls behind, the rain had started and continued on and off for the rest of the day. There are few trees and those that survive are twisted and bent by the wind. But we made it to Top Withens, where there is a plaque telling of its history and a few benches for footsore walkers. The farmhouse is right on the Pennine Way long distance path. 

The view from up there is magnificent and makes the trek worthwhile. Haworth lies down in the valley beyond the knoll of trees in the middle distance. I'm sure the area of heather cover is shrinking over the years, though the purple flush is very vivid this year. 


Monday 24 August 2020

By the Brontë Waterfalls

The Brontë Waterfalls lie in the valley of a stream called Sladen Beck, two or three miles up onto the moors above the historic village of Haworth. It is known from their writings that the famous literary Brontë sisters: Charlotte, Emily and Anne, used to visit this spot in the early 1800s. At this time of year when the heather is out, it is a very pretty area and attracts a lot of visitors, though it's not the easiest of walks, quite steep in parts and rather rocky. There is a little clapper bridge over the beck, although sadly that isn't the original, which was swept away in a storm in the 1980s.  

The Falls themselves aren't much to look at compared to some, though better after rain (and we'd had a fair bit just before I made this visit). 

This curious stone is known as the Brontë Chair, for obvious reasons. It's said that Charlotte used to sit there and make up her stories... 


Sunday 23 August 2020

Heather moorland

I was hoping the heather would still be in bloom when I planned a mid-August camera club mini outing to the moors above Haworth. We weren't disappointed. The colour was superb and the scent... I wish I could bottle it for you... it smells like warm honey on the breeze. Five of us made the six mile round trek, past the Brontë Falls and up to Top Withens, before returning down the Pennine Way through Stanbury. It's a steady climb up, though easier walking back down the Pennine Way, which nowadays is largely paved with stone flags to prevent erosion of the moor. It was wet and windy, but that didn't dampen our spirits and it was lovely to meet up with friends and enjoy some conversation, much missed since the pandemic took hold. We were careful to 'socially distance' but I'm sure the wind would have blown all our germs away anyway! 

On the hillside to the west we could see a grouse shoot, with lines of men (known as beaters) waving flags to drive the grouse towards the guns. I don't personally like the sport, and there are both pros and cons arising from the management of moors for grouse shooting. I'm told the heather might die out without management, as the land gets taken over by bracken, shrubs and grasses but it also has an impact on species diversity, carbon storage and the way water drains, which may affect flooding in our valleys. 


Saturday 22 August 2020

Trench Meadows SSSI

I often walk around it, rarely through the protected Site of Special Scientific Interest known as Trench Meadows. It lies on the far side of the Coach Road, at the bottom of Shipley Glen. It is an ancient lowland pasture, designated as an 'unimproved species-rich neutral grassland', still maintained by allowing cattle to graze periodically. Judging by the worn path through the middle, other people regularly walk here, though in wet weather it can get rather muddy. Lodepit Beck runs through it, on its way from the small mill dam higher up to the River Aire downstream, and there are other rather boggy areas. 
Every time I do walk through it, I wonder why I don't come this way more often, especially in spring and summer when it is full of wildflowers. 
Mostly at this time of year they seem to be either yellow or purple, like the clovers, thistles and birds foot trefoil in the picture above. I was struggling to identify the plant below. At first I thought it was perhaps an orchid, but even with my amateur eyes I didn't think it quite fitted that label. From my book back home I have identified it as betony - a new one for me. There were lots of them, a wonderful deep, rich purple. 

There are a few lovely old trees around the site and quite a number of oak saplings. 
Along the path I noticed a lot of these cheerful little yellow flowers: tormentil, I think (since it has four petals, not five like the rest of the cinquefoil family.). 
The path rises gently and from the top of the site there's a sweeping view back, with the trees of Hirst Woods quite obvious in the middle ground. Saltaire is tucked around to the left, out of sight. What a lovely walk! I'm glad I did that. 

Friday 21 August 2020

Making a statement

Such a vibrant colour! Neatly echoed, too, by the pink hydrangea in the tiny front garden. This is one of the larger and older houses in Saltaire, built around 1854. I actually love the colour, though I would be surprised if it is a 'heritage' colour. I know there are strict rules about alterations and repairs to Saltaire's listed buildings. (All the houses are Grade II listed.) Perhaps what colour you paint your front door isn't among them. 

Thursday 20 August 2020

Stolen colour

I was chatting to a friend recently who was saying she sometimes wanted to photograph people's gardens and didn't know whether she should. Me... I have no such qualms! If it looks as though it would make a nice photo and I don't have to trespass to take it, my camera or phone comes out. Stolen colour, perhaps. 

These two pictures were taken on a small housing estate bordering Hirst Woods on the western edge of Saltaire. The estate was built, I think, in the 1930s, as 'council housing' though many of the properties are now in private hands. The houses have quite sizeable gardens. Perhaps inevitably, in what has been a relatively deprived area over the years, some of them are just a mass of weeds or have been covered over with gravel or paving slabs. There are clearly some keen gardeners in the area though and some of the gardens are a riot of colour and lush planting. 

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Salts Mill west front


The west front of Salts Mill, opening on to Victoria Road, is the administrative block, where the offices, boardroom and Sir Titus Salt's private rooms were situated. It's only recently that I read somewhere that, when it was built in the 1850s, there was an archway, through which Sir Titus's horse-drawn carriage could pass into a courtyard at the rear. If that is true then you can see where it would have been, now filled in with the double doors.  

Tuesday 18 August 2020

In the nature reserve

The little nature reserve down by Hirst Lock is a riot of colour at the moment. It has been closed for a while because of the coronavirus lockdown but I noticed they'd taken the padlock off the gate so I took the opportunity to wander around and enjoy the flowers. It is a little oasis, transformed over the past few years from an unpromising boggy field marooned between the canal and the road. (See HERE). With a lot of imagination and hard work on the part of the volunteers from the Hirst Wood Regeneration Group, it has become a rich garden with lush growth - flowers, trees, shrubs, a pond, a bog garden and several bird feeding stations. It is much loved and used by local families and schools (at least it was until the schools had to close!) 

I think the bird feeder has the look of a country cottage with the climbing rose beginning to colonise it! (Reminds me of the roses that used to tumble over the gate at my grandmother's house.) The glorious blue flower below is an old-fashioned one too: love-in-a-mist (nigella damascena). Its flowers seem to float (as its name implies) in a misty web.  I don't know that I've ever really noticed all those wonderfully curly bits in the centre. Lots to be said for getting in close to take a photo!  

The cat that often frequents the reserve wasn't there this time but I did come across this scary creature hiding towards the back - a gryphon, I think. I'm not sure of his significance in such a place; he looked menacing enough to scare the birds away! 

Monday 17 August 2020

Blue door, red door

I think I know Saltaire pretty well after 22 years of living here, yet every now and again my attention is grabbed by something that looks new and fresh. I have not consciously noticed these colourful doors before, one blue, one red. Perhaps one or both have had a recent coat of paint. They are the front entrances to houses in the oldest part of Saltaire, built in 1854. These properties are among the mid-sized houses in the village, designed for the overlookers (supervisors) at the mill. Each has a tiny front garden as well as a back yard (originally with an outside privy/loo) and most had three bedrooms, a large sitting room, a scullery kitchen and a cellar.  There is nice detailing in the four-panelled arched doors (either original or reproductions faithful to the originals.) The stained glass panel above the red door will date from around 1930, when the houses were sold into private ownership by the mill company. People 'personalised' them with details that were popular at that time. Some of the houses have had the grime of years sand-blasted from the stone, whereas others are still blackened from the soot that came from mill chimneys and coal fires.  

Sunday 16 August 2020

Yeadon Tarn

On my way home from strawberry picking I decided to call at Yeadon Tarn for a walk. It looks really peaceful in my photo though in fact it's a popular spot. It has a wide tarmac path all the way round, making it a favoured destination for families and dog-owners. It's also a fishing lake so there were several anglers stationed around its perimeter, all taking it really seriously with masses of gear, tents and large trolleys for hauling everything back to their cars. 

The main runway for Leeds-Bradford airport lies at the far end of the lake. The pandemic has led to a huge reduction in air traffic so there were fewer jets taking off than you'd usually see. 

Given all the people out and about enjoying the warm day, you might have thought there would be some public toilets open and I was rather disconcerted to find the block was shuttered. It's one of the things that is beginning to frustrate me about the current situation. The lack of facilities anywhere means one has to be really thoughtful when planning trips out. I don't want to have to go into a pub (or book in a restaurant) with all that that now entails (leaving contact details etc) just in order to use the loos, but it does mean you can't plan on going far or staying out for hours. It looks like being an ongoing problem, since the virus isn't disappearing anytime soon. I do understand there are issues about keeping public facilities clean and hygienic but... (perhaps that's why all the fishermen had tents!!) Anyway, suffice to say my walk was taken at twice the speed I would usually have chosen and I didn't stop anywhere else before heading home! 

Saturday 15 August 2020

Summer, strawberries, sisters

I can't believe I've lived this long and never visited a 'pick your own' fruit farm before. Of course, as children, we often used to visit my great uncle and aunt, who had a dairy farm with a huge orchard behind the farmhouse. We spent many happy hours there picking apples. But since then - nada. 

It was my daughter who suggested we should go and pick some strawberries, so we all tootled off to Kemp's Farm in Horsforth. 

We collected a goodly haul, as you can see. A few were eaten before I got round to taking the picture, but the girls were very good at resisting snacking whilst we were picking. 

I've spent the evening making strawberry crumble cake and a kind of raw strawberry jam/puree, made with chia seeds. 

The girls were in a mood for larking about! Sisters...