Earlier posts

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

Friday 31 December 2021

Past, present, future

Despite the plethora of electric lights around Saltaire at night, which are hardly authentic to the original Victorian period of Salts Mill and the surrounding streets, nevertheless I often feel even closer to the past at night than in the day. When mist is closing in and night falls, I could almost expect to find myself dressed in a long skirt, cloak and bonnet, hurrying home along the cobbled streets. Maybe I've read too many novels by Dickens or the Brontë sisters... 

These are just phone shots, which initially rendered the sky an apocalyptic brownish orange. It may have been the sodium glare from nearby Bradford, though it didn't look orange to my eyes. Never mind, a few clicks of my mouse in Lightroom (which now has a 'select sky' function) and I have turned it into a more believable blue-ish shade. Now, you couldn't do that in the 1800s! 

As another year ends, we not only look back but also forwards to the New Year's blank sheet, wondering what is in store for us, both individually and collectively. I could not have predicted the turmoil of recent years, politically and in relation to the global pandemic. It's been 'interesting' to say the least! We can only hope that 2022 holds better things for ourselves and our planet.  

Wishing you all a peaceful and healthy New Year. 

Thursday 30 December 2021

Industrial Museum details 4

Here are a few more details that I was drawn to during my visit to Bradford Industrial Museum. These are all taken around the weaving looms, showing the intricacies of the threads. I learned something too, in writing this post... The thin wires holding the warp threads are called heddles. They are fixed to movable shafts and their purpose is to separate and lift the warp threads to allow the weft thread to pass through.  

This loom is programmed by punched cards, a kind of digital data input (the presence or absence of holes in specific positions) and effectively the precursor to our modern day computers. 

Again, in composing these images I was more concerned with shape, form and pattern than in what the items actually are. 

I sometimes think punched cards might be more effective than Blogger at correctly lining up and formatting my uploaded images. I can't get these to line up straight! 

Wednesday 29 December 2021

Industrial Museum details 3

More from my visit before Christmas to Bradford Industrial Museum: 

Bobbins and spindles - details of the machinery used to draw and spin wool fibres into strong thread for weaving worsted cloth. 

Tuesday 28 December 2021


Saltaire Living Advent Calendar 2021: #10

The artist David Starley always produces a stunning mini-masterpiece for his Advent window, this year being his tenth window. He creates an original oil painting, then photographs it and prints onto acetate to make the backlit window screen. This year's subject (as I am sure I don't need to explain to my regular blog readers) is the bandstand in Roberts Park, along with one of the cannons that stand beside it. (For more about those, please see my earlier post HERE.) 

That's the last of this year's windows (though there were many more that I couldn't feature) and I hope you enjoyed them. It's a lovely tradition and we can be proud of our village and its creative community. 

Monday 27 December 2021

Starry starman

Saltaire Living Advent Calendar 2021: #9

No prizes for guessing which famous artist inspired this Saltaire Advent window, at 58 Titus Street. If you look closely you can also see Santa's sleigh careering through the sky above the Victoria Hall, the church and Salts Mill. This is another window that I really enjoyed seeing. The artistry and imagination of our village residents is astonishing. 

The one below (at 55 George Street) is also inspired by an artist, of a very different type: David Bowie, who died five years ago. The lyrics are from 'Starman', one of Bowie's most iconic and influential songs, from his album 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars', which - horrifyingly for those of us of a certain age! - was released in 1972, making it 50 (yes 50!) years old next year. I'm just going to have a lie-down now...

Sunday 26 December 2021

From Stromness

 Saltaire Living Advent Calendar 2021: #8

In recent years, not only has Saltaire created our own Living Advent Calendar but we have also helped other places to start their version of the idea. We've even partnered with places in other countries and now exchange windows with them, so that for several years we have hosted a window from Rydals Museum in Sweden and sent them one in return. 

We've done the same with Stromness in Orkney. Their window is shown above - a creation by children at the primary school, showing their town and a lifeboat. It is perhaps not widely known that Sir Titus Salt funded Stromness's first lifeboat, built in Bradford and sent to Orkney in 1867. She was named 'Saltaire'. 

Saturday 25 December 2021

Christmas Day

'The light of the Christmas star to you.
The warmth of heart and home to you. 
The cheer and goodwill of friends to you. 
The hope of a childlike heart to you. 
The joy of a thousand angels to you. 
The love of the Son and God's peace to you.

(Irish Blessing)

The picture above was painted by a talented artist, Christine, who is a member of my church congregation. It decorates the noticeboard outside our church, bringing a reminder of 'the reason for the season' (as they say) to all who pass it. The star, below, shines from the window of Saltaire's URC church. 

With my best wishes for today and the coming year, to all those who read my blog. 

Friday 24 December 2021

Singing in the rain

Saltaire Living Advent Calendar 2021: #7

This sweet window picture at 38 George Street is not Gene Kelly (though perhaps inspired by the famous film). It's a child enjoying twirling an umbrella in the rain. Its creators believe that life isn't always about waiting for the storm to pass. It's learning to dance in the rain - to enjoy life and see it as a child sees it, full of colour. It's an attitude we could probably all do with adopting a bit more, as the Covid pandemic rumbles on and life seems even further away from 'getting back to normal' than it did a month or two ago.  

At 44 Ada Street, there is another movie-inspired window: Miracle on 34th Street. I don't think I've seen that film - maybe I should seek it out? Whatever the film is like, the window is a classic of its genre, beautifully crafted and full of impact. Like the window above, its message seems to be 'Never mind what's going on out there in the big, wide world, let's just enjoy Christmas - and carry that spirit out into life in general.' I agree with that. 

Thursday 23 December 2021

Cat and dog

Saltaire Living Advent Calendar 2021: #6

Another couple of Saltaire's Advent windows, which seemed to fit together. The cat, at 33 Albert Road is, I believe, modelled on Lucy, one of the gorgeous kitties that appear on the 'Cats of Saltaire' Facebook page that I so enjoy reading. The village cats have so many adventures! I was a bit stumped as to what Jólakötturinn meant, but a quick Google reveals it to be the Icelandic Yule Cat: 'a huge and vicious cat who lurks in the snowy countryside at Christmas and eats people who have not received any new clothes to wear before Christmas Eve'!  Eek! Better go and and get that Christmas jumper then! 

I'm not sure which is more disturbing, the Yule cat or (at 27 Ada Street) the dog that sipped eggnog... Don't try this at home, folks! Though one year I did see that Aldi were stocking 'Pawsecco' for dogs and cats. Honestly! 

Terrifying subject matter aside, I think both of these are really successful Advent windows, being relatively simple and graphic, but cute and comic too. Great fun. 

Wednesday 22 December 2021

Double spread

Saltaire Living Advent Calendar 2021: #5

You get two decorated panes for the price of one in the windows of Saltaire Methodist Church Hall. I think they are created by the Art Group that meets in the hall. Sometimes their pictures are linked in theme. This year they look quite different and separate, yet both are simple, effective designs that work well. 

Tuesday 21 December 2021

Nature notes on a foggy morning

We had a couple of mornings last week when we woke up to thick mist. It always amazes me how such weather can transform familiar scenes, so I enjoyed a walk with my camera, seeking to capture the experience. There were few people about at first and everything seemed muffled and still. 

Droplets of moisture on twigs, a few autumn leaves still hanging on, countless spider webs covered in dew (and, oh, they are hard to persuade my camera to focus on!): 

Assorted fungi on a tree stump, looking like continents on a globe; several goosander on the river, seeming less inclined than usual to dive under the water... 

and another ragged spider web: 

Beauty in the small things. 

Monday 20 December 2021


I stopped to take this photo as I was passing the Hirst Wood Nature Reserve, where a group of people were busy hanging a banner and decorating the reserve for Christmas. I assume they are members of the Hirst Wood Regeneration Group (HWRG), who manage the reserve and were responsible for its inception. As well as the banner, they have decorated some of the trees in the reserve itself with Christmas baubles - and the invitation is there for people to add their own decorations. It is all looking rather festive down there. 

Since setting up in 2000, members of HWRG have worked really hard to improve the Hirst Wood estate and the surrounding area. Despite setbacks from vandals, they keep going and are certainly making a difference: providing seats along the canal, turning wasteland into gardens, litter picking, being instrumental in getting the children's playground installed, lobbying about residents' concerns and generally keeping an eye on things. 

The banner, in case you can't read it, says 'Re-think, Re-fill, Re-kindle, Re-deploy, Re-cycle, Re-generate, Re-new, Re-pair, Re-use, Re-furbish, Re-vive, Re-store, Re-vamp, Re-create, Re-joice'. A good list that is very appropriate both for the season and the times. 


Sunday 19 December 2021

Merry and bright?

It may be nearly Christmas and everything's urging us to be merry and bright... but the current Covid situation in the UK is worrying, as the new Omicron variant is causing cases to increase exponentially. It seems too early to tell what that will mean and how it will play out in the coming weeks. We can only hope for the best, personally and collectively. Let's at least hope that it doesn't translate into more very sick people and an increasing death rate. 

I chose this photo of one of Saltaire's back alleyways, as being a suitably gritty and gloomy illustration. As I've been working with it though, I've realised that to me this is not a gloomy scene. Instead it's oddly comforting.  It says 'home' for one thing. There’s something reassuring to me about all these houses that have been cosy homes for countless people in the 160 odd years they have been standing. Of course, the scene has gradually changed. We now have long lines of plastic wheelie bins; where there was earth along the alley, concrete has been packed down; there's an electric streetlight further up and I imagine none of the houses remain untouched inside, most now having fitted kitchens and a proper inside bathroom. Our Victorian forebears would, I'm sure, revisit the scene with interest and pride. They'd remind us that they too - and those that followed them - stayed resilient in the face of all sorts of hardships, difficulties and frightening circumstances. There is real community here and that in itself is powerful. When I'm tempted to be anxious and downbeat, I remember the wonderful slogan adopted for a while by Northern Railways and emblazoned on their trains: 'We are Northern; we are fearless'!

Saturday 18 December 2021

Oh Christmas tree

The snow we had earlier in the month soon disappeared but Saltaire's Christmas tree still twinkles festively in front of the Victoria Hall. Even the thin sliver of moon appeared to be looking down enjoying the sight. 

Friday 17 December 2021

The Snowman

Saltaire Living Advent Calendar 2021: #4

A perennial Christmas favourite, Raymond Brigg's 'The Snowman', which was made into an animated film in 1982, is illustrated in this bright advent window at 39 Caroline Street. 

'The snowman takes the boy by the hand, running through the garden until they take flight. They fly north along the coast of Norway. They continue through an arctic landscape and into the aurora borealis. They land in a snow-covered forest where they join a party of snowmen.'

Isn't this lovely? 

Thursday 16 December 2021

Prehistoric parcel service

Saltaire Living Advent Calendar 2021: #3

At 8 Amelia Street, the advent window shows some imaginative thinking, as well as competent window dressing skills. Here is Santa soaring through the sky on his sleigh... but wait, what happened to the reindeer? His trusty steed here are dinosaurs! He appears to be losing some presents off the back of the sleigh too. (Perhaps delivery has been subcontracted to UPS? 😂Useless Prehistoric Santa?)

Many of the houses in the narrower streets in the village end up with cars parked in front of the windows. Sometimes that can make them hard to photograph but in this case the reflection in a car's roof added another dimension. 

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Sleepy creatures

Saltaire Living Advent Calendar 2021: #2

The second of the Saltaire Living Advent Calendar windows that I'm choosing to show is a strong example of the genre. Bold, simple, graphic shapes and colours work best (in my opinion, anyway) and this window at 68 Victoria Road is a great illustration of that style. It's the residents' ninth year of entering, and this year they have chosen to depict some of their favourite animals having a Christmas snooze. A robin redbreast has popped in too. 

Tuesday 14 December 2021

Wandering after dark

Saltaire Living Advent Calendar 2021: #1

It's at this time of year that I (and countless others) start popping out for half an hour or so as dusk falls, for a wander round Saltaire village. I always love to see Salts Mill after dark when it is still open, when all the floors of shops, galleries, cafés and offices still have lights on. I'm fascinated by the multitude of different warmths in the lights, so that some windows appear bluish, others are golden and some even have a pinkish tint. It must depend on the type of lighting within and whether there are blinds. I think it looks really inviting and attractive. 

It's not really the Mill that we go out to see, though it's a pleasant sight. Long-time readers of my blog will know that Saltaire has for many years turned itself into a 'living advent calendar' during December. Each evening, new windows are unveiled around the village, decorated and lit with a variety of innovative and seasonal artworks. I like to show some of them on my blog as we move towards Christmas. They can also be viewed on Facebook as they are revealed. See HERE.

Here's my first one, at 10 Fanny Street - a reminder of the importance of family and community at this festive time, with Salts Mill, appropriately, in the background. 

Monday 13 December 2021

Santa came to town

I noticed that Santa was appearing on a canal boat through Saltaire again this year, so I popped down to enjoy the festivities. Last year was the first time this happened, and it was a welcome bit of light relief in the midst of the Covid pandemic and the lockdown restrictions. Who'd have thought that we'd still be in this predicament another twelve months on? It did seem like things were getting back to 'normal' until the Omicron variant appeared and now there is a lot of angst again, wondering just how this will play out. Anyway, Christmas lights and music and the welcome sight of Santa (and Mrs Santa too, apparently!), promising that once again he will get through to bring his gifts, brought some much-needed cheer.  

This year the event was scheduled at dusk, which made a pretty sight with all the lights but it was much more difficult to photograph! It's surprising how fast a narrowboat can travel and most of my shots were blurred as I couldn't balance the exposure with a high enough shutter speed to freeze its movement. Don't look too closely at this one.... it'll do! 

The event is organised by the Gallows Bridge boatyard in Shipley, so thanks to them for their hard work in decorating the boat and making this happen. Hopefully it is on the way to becoming another lovely local tradition. 

Sunday 12 December 2021

Industrial Museum details 2

More images that I made recently at Bradford's Industrial Museum. 

These are taken around the machines that processed wool from its original 'straight off the sheep' state, by disentangling it and arranging the fibres more or less parallel, into long slivers of wool. These were then 'combed', which sorted the long fibres (tops) used for making worsted cloth, from the short ones (noils) which couldn't be used for cloth. The machine in the picture below is a 'Noble comb'. 

I've taken a fair few photos of waterfalls lately - and these cascades of wool reminded me of waterfalls. The processing needed to show up the fibres is similar to how I deal with processing long exposure shots of water, too. 

Saturday 11 December 2021

Industrial Museum details 1

I like to keep fit by walking regularly, enlivening those walks by taking along my camera (or phone) just in case I see something interesting. In the winter, of course, it's not always feasible, since we have more than our fair share of rain and I'm not really one for getting soaked unless it's unavoidable! On those days, I'm grateful that we have some interesting museums and galleries locally. One of my favourites is Bradford's Industrial Museum, housed in a redundant textile mill built in 1875. 

To be honest, I'm not that excited by the exhibits on display in themselves. My heart doesn't beat faster on seeing a steam engine or a spinning machine, though the history of Bradford through the Industrial Revolution and the development of our textile mills and associated industries is quite fascinating. I'm glad these things are preserved and, in many cases, kept in working order. I'm also impressed by how they are curated and the various special exhibitions woven (forgive the pun!) around them. There is currently one about 'Literature in mills and factories' exploring the activities of Victorian mill workers as writers and readers

What truly inspires me, as a photographer, is the abundance of photogenic detail to be found - the shapes, colours, textures, light and shade - and the challenge of seeing compositions and executing them well. So I'm going to post a few little collections of the details that caught my eye during my most recent visit to the Industrial Museum. I'm not going into explanations of what the items are - sufficient, I think, to enjoy them as artistic objects. 

Friday 10 December 2021

The bird man of St Ives

I enjoyed a beautiful walk around the Bingley St Ives estate, through the woods and around the Coppice Pond. I feel really fortunate to have all these lovely places nearby that I can explore. 

As I was circumnavigating the lake, I came across this gentleman feeding the swans. He was giving them 'proper' swan food and not bread. He said he came up nearly every day, and the birds were obviously so used to him that they were feeding from his hand. There were two mature mute swans and the rest (about seven altogether) appeared to be younger. The five in the photo that are still sporting brownish plumage will be this year's cygnets. Two with white feathers but pale beaks might be last year's brood. They all looked quite big but when the adult pushed in a few minutes later, that was even bigger - and had a much more orange beak. It was quite amusing. It seemed to be holding back for a while letting the younger ones feed and then, deciding they'd had their fair share, muscled in and kept nipping them on the neck and pushing them out of the way! 

It was heart-warming to see them, and the feeding routine might be helping them survive, who knows? I don't think you often see a clutch of as many as five survive to adulthood, though maybe having the island in the middle of the lake gives them a safe sanctuary, compared to the swans that nest along the canal. 

Thursday 9 December 2021

The rainbow and the rabbit

I wanted a walk, though initially it wasn't a promising forecast. Bolton Abbey is a good place to head on such a day, with plenty of places for coffee and lunch and a choice of scenic walks. The early morning rain soon abated, to leave a chilly but sunny day - perfect for enjoying the winter woodland and the fast-flowing River Wharfe, sated after the storms of the previous week. As I arrived at the Strid, where the river churns dramatically through a narrow gorge in the rocks, a rainbow revealed itself. At the same time I noticed the rabbit - not a real one but a patch of lichen or perhaps scraped rock on a boulder across the river. Do you see it? It put me in mind of 'Alice in Wonderland' and the White Rabbit: "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late." I didn't follow him and I wasn't late for anything... because how can you be when you're just strolling along on a Sunday morning?