Earlier posts

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

Sunday 28 February 2021

Sunday Meditation: Snowdrops

I've been looking out for snowdrops but I haven't found many locally yet. These were in Roberts Park. (It was only after I processed the image that I noticed someone has been doing a little 'gardening', cutting some of them at the front. Tsk, tsk!)  I used to work in an old mansion that had a large garden with an orchard. At this time of year the orchard was a mass of white snowdrops, very beautiful. The land was sold for development and the snowdrops will have been wiped out - rather sad, as they take a long time to spread so densely and prolifically. 

'Dead sleeps the winter, 
Cold, wet and grey; 
Surely all the world is dead;
Spring is far away.
Wait! The world shall waken;
It is not dead, for lo, 
The fair maids of February
Stand in the snow!'
Cicely Mary Barker

'See, the winter is past; the rains are over and gone. 
Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come.'
  Song of Songs 2:11-12

Saturday 27 February 2021

Nabbed in Nab Wood

Saltaire's housing was built between 1854 and 1868, mainly for workers at the mill.  It was a time of huge expansion in industry and population and, just as Sir Titus chose to move his workforce from the slums of Bradford, so the middle classes also desired to move to more spacious properties outside the city. There were some fine, grand Edwardian houses built in the Moorhead and Nab Wood areas, across the turnpike road from Saltaire. The area was then steadily infilled in the 1920s/30s and onwards. It's now a pleasant residential suburb, still retaining some of the large detached properties, though some have been converted to flats and residential care homes, and some of the land has been been sold off for smaller houses in and amongst, with a few low-rise apartment blocks too. 

I spent a happy time exploring the 1911 census records for Nab Lane and Staveley Road, their large houses then newly built and occupied by the likes of engineers, chemists, merchants, works managers, a surgeon, a dentist, a bank manager, a master dyer, a solicitor and those 'of private means'. Most of them list domestic servants: housekeepers, cooks, housemaids and several of them record visitors staying - relatives from Canada, a musician from Australia, a jeweller. Fascinating glimpses into a bygone time. 

It's not the best area for taking general 'view' photos - lots of foliage and high walls obscure the houses. I came across some rather grand gates (not the originals, I don’t think), and a delightful Edwardian porch, which I took the liberty of 'nabbing' in photos. 

As I discovered from the 1911 census records, the initials above the door of this semi-detached Edwardian house are those of Isaac Lindow, a clerk aged 54, who lived here with his wife Jane and his son Edwin. 

Friday 26 February 2021

I'd like to be here... #2

I wish it was Spring! I wish I was here... This is the village of Arncliffe, in Littondale. Littondale is the sheltered, fertile valley of the River Skirfare, which flows down to join the Wharfe. Most people go past on the way to Kettlewell and upper Wharfedale without noticing or exploring this picturesque limestone dale, up a narrow side road. It is well worth a visit, with a few picturesque villages and some lovely old properties dating back to the 17th century. The church of St Oswald sits prettily on a bend in the river. 

Travel up Littondale right to its northern end and you can skirt the flank of Pen-y-Ghent, one of Yorkshire's Three Peaks and drive over into Ribblesdale. 

Thursday 25 February 2021

A glimmer of hope

My goodness, I have rarely looked forward to Spring with quite the fervour that I feel this year! Despite last year being more than averagely pleasant weather-wise, the winter has felt long and miserable, compounded by the lockdown and gloomy Covid statistics. It was with a great deal of pleasure, therefore, that I spotted these crocus pushing up through the leaf litter, just by the roadside at Cottingley Bar. 

Idly wondering, as I wrote this, why the area (the junction between the Shipley to Bingley road and the road up to Cottingley village) is called Cottingley Bar, I looked it up (as you do!) It turns out there was a toll bar here in times gone by, where road tolls were collected from travellers using the turnpike road from Bradford to Skipton. (See HERE). The Bar House was demolished in 1913. Fascinating, 


Wednesday 24 February 2021

All the Bs

I'm reduced to taking photos of really quite ordinary scenes these days. There is little colour or beauty to be found. Doesn't everywhere look rough just after the snow has melted? 

This is a view from Dowley Gap Lane where it passes over the Bingley Bypass. When our lockdowns first started last year, there was a sudden huge drop in the amount of traffic. As time has gone on, the amount has increased but, even so, I think it's not up to normal levels. It will be a big shock when the roads become congested again. 

The Bypass skirts the clubhouse and pitches belonging to Bradford and Bingley Rugby Club (right of photo).  'The Bees' are a class outfit, in the top 10% of English Rugby Clubs. They have a proud history. The world famous Barbarian FC, an invitational rugby club, was founded in Bradford in 1890 and there is memorabilia in the Bees clubhouse.   

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Sunday stroll

I spent a lazy Sunday watching the Australian Open men's singles tennis final, my lethargy only redeemed by clearing a pile of ironing at the same time! It was rather late in the day when I popped out for a short stroll and by then the clouds had gathered, promising rain later. I just had a quick circuit of Roberts Park. There were plenty of people about, though not much new to see. The river levels have dropped a lot since the snow melted. 

I rather liked the dome-shaped cloud above the bandstand, echoing the shape of the roof and surrounding trees. And no, I didn't get wet! 


Monday 22 February 2021

Bathing beauties

Humans, animals and birds seemed to breathe a sigh of relief as the sun came out, radiating a little warmth into the air after weeks of icy, wintery weather. I was amused watching the geese and a pair of swans. They were perched on the edge of the ice still covering part of the canal, preening their feathers as though it was a beauty parlour. In the melted water, a swan was having a really good, prolonged bathe, obviously thoroughly enjoying the sensation. 

Sunday 21 February 2021

Window art

I spotted these rather lovely and very well executed small paintings in a window in Saltaire village. The little sign said: 'National Gallery - The Great Big Art Exhibition. Put one of your paintings/drawings in the window. 1st fortnight - animal theme. Tell your friends and neighbours. Janet - no 17'. Well, that's something I'd not heard about before... but it is apparently 'a thing' - launched at the end of January (see HERE) As you know, Saltaire's residents are an arty, creative lot and LOVE putting stuff in their windows, so hopefully I shall spot some more lovely little artworks on my meanderings. 

Saturday 20 February 2021

Drama in my mind

I was blinded by the sun as I walked up Victoria Road past Salts Mill. It was very dramatic light so I took a phone pic, despite the fact that I couldn't see a thing! A bit of processing brought out some detail and I quite like the gritty look that resulted. The man walking down was totally innocent but in my mind I have him with a cowboy hat on and guns slung around his hips. Playing in the background, the theme tune to 'The Good, The Bad and the Ugly'!

Friday 19 February 2021

I'd like to be here... #1

Our lockdown continues, so we have to stay at home except for essential journeys (work, food shopping, medical needs) or for daily exercise. Exercise must be local (people have been fined for travelling too far) and taken alone, with your own household members or with just one friend. It is (intentionally) quite limiting. Consequently, I don't feel justified in driving anywhere but I'm getting really rather fed up with the same old local walking routes, lovely though they are. Added to that, the weather has been uninspiring: cold, wet and dull. We had a little snow again recently but only enough to make everywhere slippery, not enough to make it pretty! 

The end result of all that is that I am running out of photos, inspiration and motivation. I considered having a short blog break (and I may do) but then I thought I could look back and enjoy my archive photos of some of the lovely places a little further afield that I would like to visit right now if I could. 

I'll start with this one: Bolton Abbey, on the banks of the River Wharfe, within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It's a ruined Augustinian priory, set in a beautiful landscape that has belonged to the Dukes of Devonshire since 1755.  With acres of estate to enjoy - not only the ruins but also woodland, moorland and the river (with its stepping stones and, further upstream, the dramatic Strid gorge) - it really is a wonderful place. It gets terrifically busy, especially in summer, so best to enjoy it out of season if you can. 

Thursday 18 February 2021

Ice, ice baby

After days of freezing, icy weather we got sunshine, blue skies and a swift rise in temperature. The ice on the canal slowly responded. I liked the broken reflection of the New Mill in the water. Also thankful that the lad walking past was wearing a sky blue jacket! If I'd had my big camera I could have zoomed in a bit on the reflection but this was taken on my phone. 

Wednesday 17 February 2021

Prehistoric traces

Saltaire's local woodland, Hirst Wood, developed on a glacial moraine made up of till or sediment deposited by a glacier some 200 million years ago.

I'd heard talk before of an Iron Age (pre-Roman) hut circle, believed to be in the wood, though I'd no clue where it was. The archaeological report I mentioned yesterday marks it on a map so I worked out where it was supposed to be - actually near the highest part of the woodland, which I guess makes sense. (The existing woodland, of course, is only up to 150 years old though the area may well have been wooded for centuries.). Anyway, I had a look around and I think (not being an archaeologist I could never be sure!) that these mossy stones must be part of it. They lie roughly in a large circle - the report describes 'boulder walling'. 

It doesn't really matter to me whether this IS it or not, though it's interesting. I just like the sense that there are so many layers of history here; so many people who've enjoyed this area that I love so much, from Iron Age tribes to the generations who've lived in Saltaire village since the 1850s and worked in Salts Mill.  

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Hidden in the woods

I recently read an interesting report of an archeological survey that has been carried out in Hirst Woods. (See HERE). It highlights the remains of New Hirst Mill, established in 1745 as a fulling mill (where wool was cleaned of dirt and impurities), probably built on the site of a 16th century iron smelting site. A mill dam was made across half the River Aire to power the mill. Looking at the scene today, you'd hardly realise anything had been there, though turbulence in the river indicates roughly where the dam/weir was sited.  
Anyway, I was intrigued enough to go and have a root around. Poking around in the undergrowth on the riverbank revealed a few bits of ironwork and stones. The iron post below is likely part of a turbine within the stone and brick-lined sluice/waterwheel pit.

Nearby you can see a chunk of what was originally the cobbled surface of the mill's ground floor:

There is some evidence of stone walls and metal parts:

Behind the mill there was a line of workers' cottages. You can just about make out some walls, though I'm unsure if what I photographed was the back wall of the mill or part of the cottages. 

The mill was in operation right up until the 1920s. Some of the sandstone it was built with must have come from the small quarry not far away, beside where the canal now passes through. When the buildings were demolished, most of the stone must have been removed and perhaps reused elsewhere. Many of the familiar paths we walkers and dog-walkers now tread were the lanes and holloways surrounding the mill and cottages. As I say, unless you're very observant, nowadays you'd hardly realise this had once been a busy little industrial settlement. 

Monday 15 February 2021

Goodbye blue sky

Of late, the most colourful skies have been at sunrise - and I'm rarely up and never ready to go out at that time of day, being an avowed night owl rather than a lark. I had a late walk around the park one evening. There wasn't much of a sunset but the sky was certainly interesting above the cricket field, with fluffy little clouds in a blue sky, settling into a band of heavier stuff and even a little rain shower happening, somewhere over Bingley way. It looked almost as though the sky was draining away down a plughole! 

Sunday 14 February 2021

Sunday meditation: Hello Kitty

Does it happen to all parents, that you end up with a stash of minor possessions that actually belong to your long-flown-the-nest offspring? I've a couple of boxes of bits upstairs that I feel reluctant to throw away. One box furnished me with some material to construct a 'modern still life' recently, when I was playing around with the idea. A Hello Kitty (used to be a lip balm, I think) and a few bright tops from the tubes of Smartie sweets! Colourful, at least. 

For a few weeks I've been using Sunday posts as a meditation, finding quotes to go with whatever the picture suggests to me. There turns out to be not one single mention of cats or kittens in the Bible. That in itself is worth pondering .... 

Today is, however, Valentine's Day or the Feast of St Valentine in the Western Christian Church, a celebration of love in many parts of the world.  I did find a Valentine's Hello Kitty:

I'll give you a 'Fact of the Week' too: Smarties are oblate spheroids. (So is the earth... but the earth isn't a Smartie.) Now you know. 

Saturday 13 February 2021

Big, bold, colourful

I've been reviewing my 2020 photos and came across this one that I didn't post at the time. It was taken in the entrance lobby of Salts Mill, before the pandemic lockdown closed the Mill and its shops and galleries. The painting on the left is well-known, I guess: David Hockney's colourful depiction of Salts Mill towering over the surrounding streets. A lot of artistic licence in it! But it's a memorable image and you often spy prints of it hanging in local houses, so a lot of people must like it. Hockney, as most of my readers know, was a Bradford lad and a friend of Jonathan Silver, the entrepreneur who rescued Salts Mill. The Mill has galleries devoted to the artist's work. 

It was the other big, bold picture that caught my attention. It's called 'Mojave' by Ann Graves, depicting the week or so in the springtime, after winter rains, when the dry Mojave desert in California bursts into life with a riot of colourful blooms. Ann Graves (1941- 2017) and her husband David were friends of Hockney. She was one of his muses/models from the 1960s and David worked as an assistant to Hockney in the 1970s/80s. Hockney photographed their wedding. 

It's interesting to find out the 'back story' of artworks.. It's not difficult to do these days, thanks to the internet. Indeed, I can spend many happy hours disappearing down rabbit holes into the web! 

Friday 12 February 2021

Finding colour

There isn't a lot of colour around at this time of year so the (rather old) mural under one of the canal bridges is a bright splash in an otherwise dismal scene. I don't know what it is... some kind of tree sprite, I suppose. I do quite like how a real tree has rooted itself somewhere in the concrete and given her some proper 'hair extensions'. 

A little further on, someone has liberally sprayed red and yellow paint all over a drab wall. Not a particularly artistic work but I found the colour and texture of small sections of it to be quite pleasing. 

This particular stretch of the canal, where it passes under Otley Road, is a mess of concrete and derelict buildings. I can never quite decide if the graffiti improves it or or not... RedPat finds some amazing murals in her native Toronto (see HERE), as do other bloggers. We don't seem to have the same kind of talented artists around here, or maybe they have to be commissioned? I don't know how it all works. 


Thursday 11 February 2021

Joined-up thinking

The late afternoon light on Salts Mill was lovely. I'm so glad I live near to this amazing, historic building that people come from far and wide to see and explore. I do, however, have more than enough photos of it, in all lights and in a variety of weather conditions. So here I tried something different. It's my first attempt at this kind of 'joiner' photo. I need more practice! 

And here's a layered, impressionistic image, taken from the spot where everybody stops to photograph the south frontage. I think these tend to look better seen bigger. Too small and they just send your eyes funny! (You can click on it to make it a bit bigger.) 

Wednesday 10 February 2021

Froglet Art

I'd never heard of Froglet Art until, walking past the decrepit Carnegie Library in Windhill, I noticed it had some fresh murals on the boarded-up windows. You will recognise Saltaire's URC church, though I'm unsure where the angel statue on the left is. The ones below depict Shipley's Modernist clock tower and Shipley Glen Tramway. 

Of course, I had to look up Froglet Art, which turns out to be a muralist and signwriter called Jenny Tribillon. I've almost certainly seen her work before without realising, as I've noticed a few shop windows around the area painted in this kind of style. 

It brightens things up, though to be honest nothing can really redeem the disgusting state of the old library building.

Tuesday 9 February 2021

Windhill buildings

There are one or two quite interesting old buildings in Windhill, around the bottom of Leeds Road. I've talked about the old Carnegie Library (HERE) before.                                                                                                                                                            Less ornate but constructed in an interesting flat-iron shape at the junction of two roads, the one above is now (I believe) residential apartments for young people through the Key Living Project, providing supported accommodation and helping them into training and work. The building is not as old as you might think; according to the datestone above the door it was built in 1928. I can’t find out what it was originally, whether industrial or residential.
A little further down the road, there is Windhill Manor (below), originally, I think, a Victorian school building. It is currently for sale as offices with a caretaker's house. In the 1980s it housed 'The World of Sooty', a museum honouring the glove puppet bear, made famous in the 1950s on children's TV and created by Bradford-born Harry Corbett. It is, I think, rather a nice old building but sadly it's location isn't great. It's at a busy junction and the whole area is now a bit run-down and needs investment.  

Just opposite, there's a pub: The Traveller's Rest, sadly closed at present because of our lockdown. Because Windhill isn't a conservation area, there is frustratingly little information online about its history and buildings, but the pub and attached cottages must date back to the early 1900s, if not older. 

Monday 8 February 2021

The Jesus hedge

In search of 'paths less travelled' locally, I found myself on a circuitous route that skirted the edge of the Windhill district of Shipley. Yes, it's on a hillside and yes, it's probably quite windy quite often around there but there was little breeze to bother me that day. One of the more deprived local parishes, it's not an area I know well, nor is it especially beautiful or photogenic but there's always something interesting to see, wherever I wander. 

I found this hedge, carefully trimmed to declare the name of Jesus to all passers-by. There are LED lights in the letters too, so it must be illuminated at night. Googling 'Jesus hedge Shipley' rather wonderfully turned up a couple of newspaper reports about it, though, confusingly, they each attributed it to a different person. Whoever dreamed up the idea and now maintains it, they aren't afraid to declare their faith. As a non-demonstrative Anglican, I can only applaud them. 

It reminded me that I saw - for the first time in years - a man walking through Shipley the other day wearing a billboard with a religious text on front and back. I didn't feel cheeky enough to take his photo, but again, could only applaud his boldness. I imagine such initiatives garner as much abuse as plaudits these days. 

Sunday 7 February 2021

Sunday meditation: Twigged

More Photoshop fun... I followed a tutorial on flipping and rotating images and (once I'd twigged what to do!) it produced some order out of chaos. Fascinating. You can try the technique on any image really and it creates patterns that you'd never expect.  Snowy twigs are woven, rather surprisingly, into a wondrous cathedral-like vaulting. 

I'm by no means the first to link cathedrals and trees. There are many, many such quotes:

'All churches are an echo of this - the Cathedral of Nature.' Seth Adam Smith

'Of all man's works of art, a cathedral is greatest. A vast and majestic tree is greater than that.
Henry Ward Beecher

'The forest is for me a temple - a cathedral of tree canopies and dancing light.' Dr Jane Goodall

Saturday 6 February 2021

Sky replacement

My updated photo processing software now comes with a nifty 'sky replacement tool' - so I thought I'd try it. You have always, of course, been able in theory to import a new sky into a photo but it was a fiddly process, impossible unless there were clean lines to the sky space and it usually looked plain daft. This new tool is actually pretty impressive in the way it uses algorithms and sliders to blend in the new sky. There are a few 'skies' provided but it feels pretty important to me to build up your own portfolio of skies to use if you're serious about making use of the tool. 

Having said that, for this trial I used one of the supplied images. I think it has worked reasonably effectively. Of course, you also have somehow to blend in the foreground too and, with the reflections, that proved a little more tricky. The 'before' image is below, with a blank grey sky. The 'after' is above. It perhaps looks a little more interesting but I'm not convinced it looks entirely realistic. I don't think it's something I'll use a lot. I'm not keen on 'doctoring' my photos and pretending it's real, though I do enjoy creative manipulation of images where that is a deliberate and obvious process. I know a lot of people really like heavily filtered images these days, as seen on social media. Each to his own. I suspect the debate will rage and we may see many more images where we wonder how 'real' it is. 


Friday 5 February 2021

Colour grading

Having treated myself to a new computer late last year, I was able to upgrade my photo processing software to the latest versions of Lightroom and Photoshop. They are much, much better - quicker and slicker - so that's a joy. There are, however, various new features to learn. One of them is 'Colour Grading', which has replaced the old Split Toning tool. I didn't use that a lot as I found it hard to decide if the colourised versions were better than the originals. The colour grading seems a lot easier and more intuitive. An image of Saltaire's church has become a bit spookier with blueish highlights and warmer shadows. 

Thursday 4 February 2021

Gothic horror

I love most of the architecture in Saltaire - the arched windows and Italianate detailing of the mill, public buildings and the housing stock. The almshouses, at the top of the village, were among the last to be constructed, opened in 1868. As with the rest of the village, they were designed by architects Lockwood and Mawson. By this time, public taste had veered towards the Victorian Gothic style. The almshouses and hospital, whilst still having an Italianate influence, show significant movement towards the Gothic, with pointed arches and chunky rock-faced stonework. Personally, I find this all a bit much! It is amazing how much fanciness the Victorians lavished on ordinary buildings. Here we have not only the stonework, arches and detailing but also a bell tower inscribed with the date (Opened September 1868) and the carved and intertwined initials of the founders, Sir Titus Salt and his wife Caroline, set among much fussy carving - the Salt family motto: Quid Non Deo Juvante  - What not (is not possible) by the help of God - and an alpaca, above palm and oak leaves.