Earlier posts

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

Thursday 31 December 2020

A look back

One of the bonuses of having to stay close to home this year has been that I amassed enough local photos of good enough quality to make a calendar. I've shown all of these images on my blog during the year but I think it's nice to look back at the year as a whole - and forward to the next one, which we hope will be rather better! (I've been inspired by John at 'By Stargoose and Hanglands' who does this exercise every year.)













As we say 'good riddance' to this tough old year, I wish everyone 
A very happy New Year 
and look forward to a 2021 that is healthier, more enjoyable, kinder and less stressful in every way! 
(Even if progress to that goal seems frustratingly slow.) 

Wednesday 30 December 2020

College stories

The floristry students at Shipley College have decorated the windows of the old Dining Hall, now part of the College, as part of the Living Advent Calendar. I think they've excelled themselves this year, creating magical scenes that had me spellbound for ages, taking in all the details. They are on the theme of Christmas presents being delivered. Fabulous. 

There have been so many wonderful windows this year, it's been hard to choose which to show. You can see them all on the Saltaire Living Advent Calendar facebook page HERE


Tuesday 29 December 2020

Remembering a great man

Lovely warm light in Roberts Park on a late afternoon in winter. These are familiar scenes and yet always fresh and different, very dear to me. 

Sir Titus Salt was a successful businessman, a man of vision and apparently a very honourable man. No wonder they erected a statue to honour him. I'm sure he was proud during his life of the legacy he left us: his mill and his village. He might perhaps have been even more gratified to know it is still thriving in the 21st century (albeit in a different way). He died on 29 December 1876, 144 years ago today.  


Monday 28 December 2020

'Special' windows

All Saltaire's Advent windows are special, designed and crafted by the village's residents with so much creativity and care. There are, however, some particular ones to note this year.

Six of the windows at the Victoria Road end of Salts Mill have been decorated and lit, as part of the Advent Windows trail. It's a commissioned work - 'Look Up!' - by Bradford artist Ben Holden. They have been inspired, I think, by the 1930s leaded and stained glass window and door panels you still see in some of Saltaire's houses, which were added after the housing stock was sold off by Salts Ltd in 1929. (See last picture yesterday.) The new owner-occupiers sought to add their own individuality to the properties and followed the trends of the time. 

There's another special window sent to us from Sweden. It's the second year Saltaire has partnered with Rydal's Museum in Mark. 

“Season’s greetings from the staff at Rydal’s Museum and the participants in Living Advent Calendar in the municipality of Mark, Sweden. For the second time we have arranged our own Advent Calendar inspired by yours in Saltaire. We are very enthusiastic to be part of this event. The windows are uplifting and very appreciated during this dark winter time. We, the staff at the museum have mounted a window frame to invite visitors to take selfies in. In the picture you see the staff at the museum, taking our own selfie.”

We've also developed a partnership with The Stromness Community Development Trust in Orkney, who have created their own Living Advent Calendar for the first time this year, and we have exchanged windows with them. It's a growing movement!

Sunday 27 December 2020



There is some rather lovely, delicate artwork in one of the windows down at the stable block, beside Saltaire's church. It commemorates the 70th anniversary of the publication of the much-loved children's classic 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' by C.S Lewis. It also beautifully echoes the Victorian street lamps that line the church drive opposite. I liked the way the artist has left a little hole: Daisy's window. I'm assuming Daisy is a cat (or perhaps a little dog) that likes to sit on the windowsill and look out. 

As it happens, there's another Victorian street lamp featured in the window of a house right at the other end of the village, along with a view of Saltaire's iconic church. It's beautifully painted by one of Saltaire's professional artist residents, David Starley. 

I have been reminded, throughout the coronavirus pandemic, how important symbolism is for many of us - and how helpful it can be. We had rainbows and clapping for our keyworkers at the start of the crisis in the spring. Christmas, of course, is filled with symbols and traditions and this year people seem to have really embraced them. There have been more advent windows around Saltaire than ever before and everywhere you look there are lights and decorations. In Hirst Wood I came across a Wishing Tree (below) and across the road the Hirst Wood Nature Reserve has been adorned with hundreds of baubles (though I couldn't find a photographic composition of them that worked for me). 

I also found this advent window full of robins. I don't think I knew this but apparently many people think a visit from a robin is a sign that our lost loved ones are nearby. Our British red-breasted robins are such sweet, cheery little birds; if they bring comfort too, that can only be good. 

Saturday 26 December 2020

St. Peter's Church, Shipley

This is my spiritual home (well, this and the great outdoors). It's St. Peter's Church, Shipley, looking rather nice in the winter sunshine. Sadly the pandemic has caused mayhem with our regular worship pattern, though the staff team and many within the congregation have worked really hard to hold things together. Initially, during the first lockdown, they rapidly switched to services recorded in their own homes and delivered, by various magic tricks, online. It then became possible to use the church for recordings and then a small number of the congregation were able to gather for services, with very strict protocols. I haven't been attending, mainly because I'm so deaf that I can't tell a word anyone says when they are wearing a face mask - and of course the use of face masks has been mandatory. That doesn't mean I've been 'absent' though, since I've been able to follow the services online and I'm also involved in our church-based neighbourhood support scheme, which has of course expanded and been well used during the last year. 

Many people, including our children's worker, have been active in taking church out to the community in various ways. As well as many activities online, a tree in the church grounds has been decorated over Advent in the old tradition of a Jesse Tree, journeying through the Bible stories in Jesus' family tree and hanging symbolic ornaments on the Jesse Tree.

There's also been a Nativity Trail for children to follow, which starts at the Vicarage and ends at church, with various characters in the nativity story being introduced. 

It will be nice one day to get back to 'normal' as a church family though. Hopefully we will!

Friday 25 December 2020

Madonna of the Cross

This wonderfully expressive sculpture, by Malcolm Brocklesby (1933-2010), is in Ripon Cathedral. A larger version of it stands in the ruins of Mount Grace Priory a few miles away, though there you can walk right round it. The cross is even more apparent when you approach it from behind. The version in the Cathedral may, I think, be a maquette for the larger work. (The face of the larger sculpture is a little less defined and leaves more room for your imagination so on balance I preferred that one, but this is still arresting.)

The dedication by the sculptor says: 'This Madonna is not the meek and subservient figure portrayed in many Renaissance works, but a determined and intelligent young woman who understands the wonder and the importance of her calling as she dedicates her Child to the purpose of her Creator. She is also aware of the suffering that this will entail. The figure of the Madonna is integral with that of the Cross, the stark and terrible symbol at the heart of Christianity, which is an inescapable part of her existence. Her expression, however, is more of serenity than anguish. She is looking beyond Calvary to the Resurrection and the way in which she holds the Christ Child high suggests the subsequent Ascension rather than the immediate prospect of a sacrificial death.'

The sculpture came to mind as I thought about Christmas, aware this year that, for many families in the UK and elsewhere, there will be the anguish this year of empty places at the table, some temporary and some sadly permanent. It's been a tough year. Yet the promise of Christmas is Emmanuel:  'God with us', in all the beauty and messiness of our precious world. Let's not forget that and let us take comfort from it too. 

Do have a listen to this beautiful song, the Angels’ Carol, by John Rutter, arranged and sung by members of my cousin’s amateur theatre group. I think it's sublime. Click HERE

Wishing you and your loved ones every blessing this Christmas

(This is how I've spent much of 2020, on a Zoom screen - though not always with such a festive backdrop!) 

Thursday 24 December 2020

Two sides to Christmas

There's an interestingly eclectic Christmas display in the window of Saltaire's vintage shop on Victoria Road. It's not the kind of thing I'd normally be drawn to but I found I rather liked the plaster figurine of the Virgin Mary with the 'baby Jesus' doll. We'll not dwell too long on the intimation of the cross (ornate and bejewelled). She also had a teddy on her right and a large Paddington Bear to the left - all are welcome at the nativity! 

A little further along, Father Christmas had arrived, bearing gifts and holding his lantern high. I wonder what he brought? Perhaps the baby Jesus would be glad of a box of Lego or some colouring crayons. Much more useful to a kid than gold, frankincense and myrrh, I think. 

 (Apologies for the unavoidable reflections in the glass.) 

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Angels of 2020

This year's been tough for us all in many ways, but there are certainly many people for whom it has been even more challenging. I feel especially sad for those who have lost loved ones, either directly through Covid 19 or for other reasons, when being in the middle of a pandemic must have made the loss immeasurably worse. I also think of all our keyworkers, battling on through their own fears and exhaustion, trying to do their best for us in unimaginably difficult circumstances. Many people are making huge sacrifices. It was lovely, therefore, to see this window on Helen Street paying tribute to all our angels of 2020. (The number 13 refers to the date in the advent calendar that this window was 'opened'.)

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Festive wreaths

An attractive festive wreath decorates the front door at number 71. 

At another local house, they have chosen a brilliant colour combination:

Monday 21 December 2020


Here's another of our Advent windows, this one making the most of the shapes and small panes in the characteristic arched windows that grace so many of our homes in Saltaire. It's based, apparently, on a musical called Hadestown, a version of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. 

Sadly, with the latest bombshell about the rise in mutated Covid infections and consequent but sudden 'cancelling' of Christmas for many people in the UK, dreaming is about all we can do! However, it is the Winter Solstice today so we can start to look forward to longer, brighter days.

Sunday 20 December 2020

It's a wonderful life

It is really, isn't it, despite everything it's thrown at us this year? 

Another simple, graphic and powerful Advent window from the village trail, referencing a classic and brilliant film (which, I note, is being shown on TV again - in the UK - on Christmas Eve afternoon, on Channel 4). 

Giving thanks for all my wonderful friends: those I meet in the flesh, those I haven't seen for ages and those I'm never likely to meet except online. All treasured in different ways. 


Saturday 19 December 2020

Foggy days

Once a week I deliver some newsletters from church to various people who can't currently attend services. There aren't many but they are rather spread out. I'm often tempted to use my car but then I give myself a talking to and remind myself that the exercise (almost four miles in total) is good for me. The 'talking to' had to be extra motivational on this particular day when there was a damp mizzle and low cloud hanging over the area. But there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing (!) so I put on my waterproof trousers, boots and jacket, cosy hat and gloves and - looking less than glamorous - set off on the trek. 

The mist obscured the usual view across the valley. It also has the odd effect, it seems to me, not only of muting the view but also curiously muffling sounds. I've discovered all sorts of little shortcuts in the past year of local walks. This little path ultimately leads to Gordon Terrace where most of the local shops are, and it's the back of the shops you can see. Saltaire is down in the valley, shrouded in mist. Normally from this point you'd be able to see right up to Hope Hill on the skyline but not on this day. 

The playground at Hirst Wood was empty, apart from a few black-headed gulls careening about. You could just see as far as the trees that line the canal - and beyond that, a mysterious blank.  I do like the way they've left the old stone gateposts at the entrance to the recreation ground, a relic of a time when this was just a field in quite a rural area.  

I extended my walk with a loop through Hirst Wood. As so often, the fog seemed less pronounced in the shelter of the trees but there was nevertheless a pleasing contrast between the bluish tones of the trees and sky and the russet hints in the leaves on the ground, now mushed down into thick, squelchy mud. A lone young beech tree still had a few coppery leaves. I felt as though I'd stumbled upon a secret dancer, twirling in the woodland glade. 

Friday 18 December 2020

Merry and bright

There seem to be quite a few of Saltaire's Advent windows this year that look just as good in the daylight as at night. The one above is one of them. At night it has twinkling lights that emphasise the 'snow globe' effect but when I passed by one afternoon I still really liked the simple and colourful design. Since it has been such horrid, wet weather most evenings, I haven't been inclined to go out with my camera and tripod on the slippery streets. Taking pictures of windows in the day means you can't avoid the reflections but on these two I don't think they are too intrusive. 

This second one is a warm and cheerful fireplace - and that looks like Santa's boots just sliding down.  It's designed by Bea (8) and her sister Nuala (6), aided and abetted by their grandparents. I think it may be animated at night but I haven't seen it in the dark yet. On the mantlepiece is a replica of the family's 2015 window, created by their artist mum, the late Elizabeth Chambers, which had the children riding the alpacas in Roberts Park. 

Finally, you may recall I recently showed a photo of some ladies decorating a Christmas tree outside the Methodist Church (HERE). Well, it seems they made a pretty good job of it: 

Thursday 17 December 2020

Saltaire's Christmas tree

There's usually a community event in Saltaire to celebrate switching on the Christmas tree lights. Of course this year no such gatherings are allowed, since under the Tier 3 restrictions no more than six people can meet outdoors in public or private places.  I wondered if they would bother putting up a tree but I see that they have done so, in its usual place outside the Victoria Hall. 

I'm not feeling very excited about Christmas really and yet, I suppose, we need something to cheer us up!


Wednesday 16 December 2020

Homespun nativity

To celebrate Christmas, a family on Bromley Road have erected a rather delightful homespun nativity scene in their front garden, with characters made by various members of the community from plastic bottles and other scrap materials. 

There's an interesting disparity of size among the figures (particularly with Mary and Joseph), with some wonderfully expressive faces too. I also adore the various animals gathered in the stable. My favourite is possibly that black and white cow. 

The angel appearing to the shepherd in the field looks rather excited, causing the shepherd for his part to look, frankly, terrified - but then that's all part of the story isn't it? 

There are also three rather splendid kings or magi. Their camels look, understandably, to be on their last legs and rather diminished after their long journey! 

All in all, it's a splendid community effort. I'm sure it will delight many passers-by and especially the children. There is 'a reason for the season' and one which it is all too easy to forget amidst the commercial imperative and all the other traditions that have grown up around our key Christian festival. Many of our church celebrations will necessarily be pared back this year too, so taking it to the streets is a good move. Quite possibly we need the message of 'love come down' more than ever this year. 

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Tales from the riverbank

Here are a few scenes that appealed to me from a recent wander along the river, on a chilly and misty morning. The water was unusually calm, with hardly a breath of wind to ruffle its surface, so that there was quite a peaceful atmosphere. 

 Breathe... let go... and relax...