Earlier posts

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

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Sunday meditation: Pearls

My online photo group had 'a modern still life' as its theme for November, so I was playing around with ideas. There's a cherry tree down the road that I noticed had really prettily coloured autumn leaves, so I went and collected a handful. Simply arranged, I loved the glow and texture of them. However, they didn't really look 'still-life-y' enough so I draped a string of pearls over them. It then looked quite sweet, I thought. 

I'm sure there's a metaphor for life in there, struggling to get out! I'm not sure quite what it says but it started me looking for 'pearl' quotes - and there are lots: 

“The world is your oyster. It’s up to you to find the pearls.” – Chris Gardner

“As a pearl is formed and its layers grow, a rich iridescence begins to glow. The oyster has taken what was at first an irritation and intrusion and used it to enrich its value.” – Susan C. Young

“Life is made up of a few moments all strung together like pearls. Each moment is a pearl, and it is up to us to pick the ones with the highest luster.” – Joyce Hilfer

 "The pearls weren’t really white, they were a warm oyster beige, with little knots in between so if they broke, you only lost one. I wished my life could be like that, knotted up so that even if something broke, the whole thing wouldn’t come apart.” – Janet Fitch

"The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." - Matthew 14: 45-46

Saturday, 30 January 2021

The icing on the ....

There are days in this lockdown, since winter has arrived, when the time seems to drag a little if it's too inclement for a walk. My 'go to' remedy is to open up Photoshop and get creative. I never know what I'm going to achieve in advance. Most often the experiment gets deleted. Just occasionally, something quite appeals to me and this image of Saltaire's church with a little 'icing' overlaid seemed quite intriguing. ( It looks best if you click on the pic and view it larger on black.) 

I used a not dissimilar technique on the wintery tree on Shipley Glen. To be honest I could never repeat the processing as I don't really take notice of all the stages I go through when I'm just messing about. 

Friday, 29 January 2021

Waiting for the cricket

A frosty morning gave a new look to the row of benches alongside Salts Cricket pitch. Rather more tempting to the eye than the bum, with that icy coating! I don't think they saw many bums at all last year as there were few matches on these sports fields, though they did play some cricket in Roberts Park across the river. 

When there's such a heavy frost, I am fascinated by the patterns and textures it reveals. Old seed heads and piles of leaves are transformed into something quite magical. 

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Turf research

I find it quite heartwarming, for some reason, that such an august institution as the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) is based, unassumingly, on the St Ives estate in Bingley. You hardly realise it's there, tucked away in some modest buildings with a few fields, below the golf course. It dates back to 1929, when The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in Scotland wanted help to improve its greens. Since then it has become the world's leading sports turf consultancy. Their clients include FIFA World Cup Football, the Olympics, Sport England, the RFU and the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. You rarely see much evidence of activity there but one day, as I walked up the lane alongside, I saw these test patches marked out, apparently seeded, and a technician in a white bodysuit was hand spraying or spreading something in the distance. 

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Random bits of metal

With the dullness of winter on the landscape, some days there is more beauty to be found in random small things. Here are a few bits of metal that introduced themselves to me on recent walks: 

(above) an abandoned weight from a tractor (I think) with a lovely patina of rust and lichen; 

(below) a padlock and a hefty chain on the lock gates:

the finials on the posts of the funny little 'birdcage' gate at the top of one of the paths into the old Milner Field estate;

and a now defunct strip of ironwork at the old mill dam. (I liked its contrast of colour and texture with the moss around it.) 


Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Albert Terrace as night falls

Yellow 'no parking' lines and bright electric lights  - but otherwise not a lot different from how it has looked for the past century or so. Saltaire's Albert Terrace at dusk has a timeless quality. 

Monday, 25 January 2021

'War' tamed

'War' doesn't look nearly so fierce with a dollop of snow on his head! I took the photo when we had a few days of snow a while ago. 

There are four lions that guard the centre of Saltaire, carved by Thomas Milnes originally for Trafalgar Square in London but then snapped up by Sir Titus Salt as a centrepiece for his new village, when Landseer was given the London commission. 

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Sunday meditation: Hidden riches

Here are a few more of those glass or mica pavement tiles that I was playing about with. There are whole worlds in there, waiting to be revealed! I particularly like the 'eye' above. The one below has a Hokusai 'Great Wave of Kanagawa' feel, though in a cherry blossom colourway. 

This one reminds me of sea and sand:

'I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, 
so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.' Isaiah 45:3

Who could resist a pink heart nestled close to an aquamarine jewel? 

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Men at work

Taking the long-but-not-especially-scenic route into Shipley (combining an essential visit to the bank with my daily lockdown exercise), I crossed the River Aire over Baildon Bridge. The riverside footpath here has been closed for a while. I heard there had been a small landslip. There were men at work, either trimming branches or felling a few small trees that are awkwardly sprouting from underneath the footpath. It's always sad to see trees being lopped but I suppose safety has to be the prime consideration. Things self-seed and then just get too big and heavy for where they're growing. Those wood chipping machines that they feed the branches into make a heck of a noise! It was that that alerted me to the work initially, rather than spotting the orange jacket in the tree. Rather him than me, especially hanging over the river! 

A few yards further on, I noticed they have started to level the waste ground I posted about in November (HERE). The plans for a new retail park, including a Lidl supermarket and a drive-through Costa Coffee, were approved by Bradford planners in late November, despite being opposed by our local Shipley Town Council.  

I also note that planners have approved the demolition of an empty industrial works by the canal on Victoria Street, to make way for a 66 bed residential care unit for the elderly. It'll be ready by the time I need it, I guess! Though I don't know if I could bear to spend my last days staring across the road at the dilapidated old red brick British Waterways warehouse (below)! I wish they'd do something about that.

Friday, 22 January 2021

Another brick in the wall

A week or two before Christmas I had an email from someone who said he was a volunteer working with the Countryside Service to rebuild a drystone wall alongside the Trench Meadows SSSI. He'd come across my blog posts about the nature reserve (see HERE) and thought I might be interested. I made a tentative arrangement to walk up there to meet him and perhaps photograph him at work, but then something cropped up and I was sadly unable to do so. I did, however, stop to have a look at his work on a recent wander round through the woods. It appears to be almost complete, with just a few stones to add to the top of the wall. 

For info, drystone walls usually have two rows or 'faces' of stones, set slightly wider apart at the bottom than the top, with through-stones at intervals to strengthen them. Smaller stones (hearting) are used for infilling and the top is finished with coping stones - sometimes flat, as here, and sometimes rounded. They're really common up here in Yorkshire, in fact the Yorkshire Dales are renowned for them. Other regions have them too, with slightly differing styles and appearances that to an extent depend on the type of stone used. 

As always, such walls look like enormous jigsaw puzzles. Held together solely by friction and gravity, there must be a good deal of skill in choosing the right stone for the right place. He sent me a couple of photos taken earlier (left and below), and you can see from them the extent of the work he has done, even including a seat - which has a nice view down over the reserve and the valley. 

Hopefully this rebuilt wall will stand proud for many years to come. There are no vehicles passing by that might crash into it (a common fate for walls at the sides of roads) and there's an extra fence between the wall and the cattle that graze the reserve periodically. Well built, they can last 100-200 years, and can of course be rebuilt again using the same stones, as is being done here. So, with luck, it will be safe. 

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Update - noon today

Although it is still raining and sleeting intermittently, I believe the worst of storm Christoph has passed. I took these photos at noon today, Thursday, some 24 hours after those I posted earlier. The river has risen further but is still bounded by the low wall in the park. The weirs are wild and furious, the new fish pass almost submerged. But the sky is lightening so I think we, in this area at least, have escaped serious flooding this time, as I believe has the Calder valley. It sounds worse over to the west around Manchester and North Wales. Floods are no fun at any time and especially in the middle of a pandemic so my heart goes out to anyone forced from their home or business. 

Teetering on the edge

After the snow came the snow-melt and the rain - Storm Christoph - and our rivers are under pressure. This was the scene at Hirst Weir yesterday afternoon (Wednesday). The river was just about holding the flow but it was still raining so it may have got worse later. The flats and houses around the old mill on the opposite bank appeared to be so far unscathed but, if I lived there, I'd have been watching and waiting with some trepidation. The water was right up to the decking. 

The little footbridge over Loadpit Beck (below), where the beck joins the River Aire, was just passable. (Normally the beck flows under it a good three feet below.) 

The level of the river in Roberts Park is my own 'measure'. On Tuesday it was just hitting the edge of the first strip of grass. By Wednesday, as you see below, it had progressed over the footpath, but there's then a low wall that bounds the cricket field and it hadn't yet reached the top of that. In the worst seasons, it can completely cover the field so there's a way to go yet before it reaches that level of awfulness. Let's hope it doesn't this time, as it only brings heartbreak to people lower down the valley, who then inevitably get flooded. 

The sensitive Calder valley, where my daughter lives, has so far escaped the worst of it too (as I write this on Wednesday night). So, although the rain is still coming down steadily, I pray the rainfall doesn't exceed the rivers' ability to sweep it away. 

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Beauty under your feet

The inspiration for this image was taken directly from one of our camera club members, who showed some of his own photos on one of our Zoom nights recently. (I do like to think, though, that I might have thought of it myself on one of my creative wanderings! I have tried similar things.) 

These jewel-like pieces are actually photos of glass (and possibly mica) slabs set in the pavement in front of some of our old shops. I guess at one time they were meant to introduce some light into the cellars, whilst still being safe for pedestrians along the pavement. Many have been removed or covered over but I found one or two still intact. To the naked eye, they don't have the vibrant colour shown here but all I've done is to boost up the saturation. The colours are all there, hidden. 

There's room for endless 'playing' with these. I may go back to them. 

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Wintry waterways and snowy fields

Snow scenes like these are enough of a rarity round here to justify getting out to make the most of it and capture a few pictures. (It has all disappeared now and we have relentless rain.) The canal (from Hirst Lock) looked really peaceful and pretty.

The river (from the footbridge near Hirst Lock) was a little more swollen and turbulent. From this spot, you can just see the New Mill chimney in the distance. 

A little further out from Saltaire, the scenes looked even prettier. Trench Meadows and the fields around Milner Field farm were white over. There were the usual geese, still trying to graze through the snow and I saw a couple of deer bound across the Upper Coach Road, though too fast for me to get a photo before they disappeared from sight.  

Monday, 18 January 2021

Winter scenes in Roberts Park

Wintry scenes in Saltaire's Roberts Park. It's amazing how a bit of snow transforms the landscape. 

There weren't many people about, though it wasn't particularly early. I saw a family sledging and a few dog walkers, that's all. From the well trampled state of the snow, it looked as though more people had been out the day before. Someone had built a snowman. It hadn't occurred to me before that that's a good thing to do for the environment, as well as being fun. It slows the snow melt and mitigates against flooding. 


Sunday, 17 January 2021

Sunday meditation: Leaf

I'm attempting to make my walks more mindful, 'being fully present', seeking to make an advantage out of the current lockdown restrictions, which mean (for me) an empty diary and no real pressures to do anything or be anywhere. There were plenty of times in my younger life when that thought would have been simply heaven, so I'm doing my best to enjoy the freedom of it rather than chafe against the restrictions. 

I noticed a dead leaf, pierced by a twig and left suspended. You can choose to leave it at that... a deaf leaf... not unattractive. Quite fun to play around with in my photo processing. 

It reminded me a bit of a heart shape though, and my wandering meditations took me to Luke 2:35 - the old man Simeon's prophecy, to Jesus' mother Mary in the Temple, that 'a sword will pierce your own heart too'. That had a particularly difficult meaning for Mary, and yet I doubt there are many of us mothers that have not felt that sword through our heart at times. Such bittersweet mind-ramblings, and I came home feeling very thankful for my daughter and my granddaughters and the privilege and mystery of motherhood. 

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Snowy Saltaire

Two views of Victoria Road in the snow: 
Above, looking south from the canal bridge. Salts Mill is on the left and the stable block on the right, and in the distance you can see the tower of the Victoria Hall. 

Below, looking north towards the river and park. The building on the left is the part of the stable block adjacent to the canal bridge. At one time the road used to continue straight down over a bridge across the river, but the bridge was demolished in the 1950s and that wall built (where the New Mill sign is), and now there's just a footbridge lower down. 

These were taken on Friday morning, after it snowed gently for much of the day on Thursday. Friday dawned dry and crisp, though misty. Normally you'd be able to see Hope Hill above the trees. Only the main through routes are gritted so all the streets in Saltaire were iced over and vehicles were having a bit of bother. The snow was really crunchy underfoot. It was a lovely morning to be out walking and my trusty snow spikes and a stout walking pole meant I was safe from slipping. 

Friday, 15 January 2021

Mono mill

A minimal mono mill image! Although I love the soft yellow stone of Saltaire's buildings, there is no doubt that they also suit a mono treatment, which I think emphasises the decorative features. 

This is the Italianate tower of Saltaire's New Mill. Constructed in 1868, across the canal from the original Salts Mill, the New Mill provided extra spinning capacity. The chimney is modelled on the campanile of Santa Maria Gloriosa church in Venice. Sir Titus intended it as a focal point and a statement. 

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Nab Wood vantage point

I'd an errand to do up in Nab Wood (across the valley from Saltaire) on a beautifully clear day (before the snow and the strict lockdown came), so I decided to take a scenic route that cuts out some road walking and instead follows a little footpath along the hillside. There are lots of trees along the way but there is one point where you have a lovely clear view up the valley towards Bingley and the St Ives forest park on the hill.  It's a pity there wasn't a bench there to rest for a while. I would have enjoyed spending time picking out the various points of interest, not to mention watching the guys doing some roofing work on the house in the foreground. But there was nowhere to sit and the narrow path was muddy and slippery too, so I concentrated on making my way along safely. 

Looking in the other direction, the trees had lost most of their foliage. Through their bare branches, I could pick out Titus Salt upper school - the white buildings in the middle ground - and look up towards Baildon's Lucy Hall estate behind it. Saltaire itself is tucked away to the right just out of shot. 

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

A little light music

The Christmas lights have been taken down but if you're missing their cheery glow, a walk by the bandstand in Roberts Park at dusk will uplift you. The dome glows like some kind of funky rainbow spaceship, whilst downlighters illuminate the platform underneath. The colours change slowly too. It's rather fun. I like to think it cheers old Sir Titus up on these long dark nights. He has a grandstand view from his plinth. 


Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Moody blues

Up on Shipley Glen, the view down into the valley became quite dramatic as a dark cloud passed over. It was odd to see the green fields in the valley bottom being picked out by the sun's rays, when up on the Glen everything was snow-covered, even though the snow wasn't deep.

Monday, 11 January 2021

A snow day

We had another fall of snow last Friday, though it came down as sleet in the valley and didn't settle. I knew there would be a bit more higher up, so on Saturday I walked up to Shipley Glen, and found a light covering, not enough to sink into but enough to wash the world with white and make it look quite pretty. 

The sheep had found a strip under the trees where there was enough grass uncovered for them to graze. In this kind of weather, the farmers often have to provide hay or pellets for their flocks. There were lots of folk out walking, and a few sledging down the fields, though there was barely enough snow for that. 

The lockdown restrictions don't expressly state how far we can go for our daily exercise but there are strong messages of discouragement being made. Police have in some areas fined people for driving to beauty spots. Sadly, it is not really explicit enough what exactly we can and can't do. In an ordinary year, on a day like this, once the roads were clear I might have hopped in the car and driven up to the high moorland to take some 'proper' snow pictures. However, the new variant Covid virus, rampant in London, seems now to be taking hold in this area and it's a lot more contagious. It's rather worrying and home seems the only really safe place to be, so I won't be going far! I'd rather wait for another, safer time to get those pictures. I was especially careful not to slip (I'd put spikes on my boots) as you hear stories of people waiting hours in the freezing cold for an ambulance and I'm sure the medics can do without self-inflicted accidents, on top of the Covid surge.