Earlier posts

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

Sunday, 31 July 2022

Down by the river

The walk along the river from Burnsall towards Hebden suspension bridge is famously scenic. I was attracted to this view, enhanced by the blue-grey storm clouds.  The river level being so low meant there was quite a lot of algae in the water, which in some ways doesn't improve the scene - and yet, as I looked, it seemed to me to add a certain painterly quality. That impression was strengthened as I moved to the river's edge. The composition below has a Japanese feel to me, for some reason! I've worked on it to add a bit more soft painterliness. 

Saturday, 30 July 2022

Burnsall and Hebden

Burnsall is a pretty village on the River Wharfe, with stone cottages and a wide green alongside the river.  It's a popular spot for visitors and there's a well-placed coffee shop on the green and a couple of outlets to buy ice cream, as well as a decent pub. It can get busy with families in the school holidays but one of the advantages of retirement is that we can enjoy these lovely spots when they aren't too crowded. The river is broad and shallow here and the bridge is distinctive, with large arches. These tranquil scenes make it hard to imagine what it was like last February, when Storm Franklin caused the river to flood right across to the cottages. This summer we are praying for more rain, as it has been so dry for weeks! 

Upstream, the village of Hebden (below) sits above the River Wharfe, with Hebden Beck flowing down through the village into the river - again, little water in it when I took the photo. (Incidentally, this Hebden, in the Yorkshire Dales, is no relation and nowhere near to Hebden Bridge where my daughter and family live, which is west, over towards the Lancashire border.)

I noticed that Hebden's post box was gold. This was a tribute to Team GB's gold medal winning athletes at the London 2012 Olympic Games, who each had a post box in their home town repainted gold. It was the first time post boxes had been anything but the traditional 'pillar box red' and was intended as a temporary measure but they proved popular with the public and have all been allowed to remain gold. 

It has a plaque linking it to Andrew Triggs-Hodge, one of the rowers in the Men's coxless four. 

Friday, 29 July 2022

Parcevall's pleasures

A few more pictures from my visit to Parcevall Hall Gardens. In one of the ponds on the formal terraces, the waterlilies were superb, a wonderful combination of both yellow and pale pink flowers. 

The more rustic rock garden behind the house (below), created on the natural bedrock limestone, also has a pool, fed by a waterfall from a small stream: 

There are some beautiful specimen plants, since Sir William Milner was an avid plant collector (and a founder member of the Northern Horticultural Society at Harlow Carr Gardens near Harrogate, another garden that I love to visit.) I loved the vivid purple of this clematis. 

Alliums are sculptural and photogenic in most of their stages, from bud though flower to seedhead. 

Another view of one of the formal ponds in front of the house. One of the paving stones is engraved with a Bible quote: 'A spring of water welling up to eternal life'. (John 4) 

I do find Parcevall's environment very refreshing and restorative. I have led workshops and courses, had retreats and 'away days' in the Hall itself in the past, so it holds some very special memories for me. 


Thursday, 28 July 2022

Parcevall Hall Gardens

Because of the pandemic, it must be three years since I last visited Parcevall Hall Gardens. It's one of my favourite places, so it was a delight to return and enjoy a gentle wander around the estate. It's tucked away at the head of a small valley off Wharfedale, near to the village of Appletreewick. The Hall itself, a Grade II* listed manor house, serves as the retreat house for the Anglican Diocese of Leeds so it isn't open to general visitors, but you can explore the gardens. They extend over 24 acres up the steep hillside, with woodland, an orchard, formal terraces in front of the house, a rose garden and a rock garden, making use of the exposed limestone around a small stream behind the house. 

The gardens were laid out by Sir William Milner in the 1920s, when he decided to rebuild the derelict 16th/17th century hall.  After his death in 1960, the gardens gradually fell into disrepair but have been extensively restored since the 1980s and are now a wonderful testament to the experienced plantsman's dream. 

One of the things I love about Parcevall is how it sits within the landscape, the gardens seeming to blend into the surrounding woods and moors. 

A view from one of the roads leading to the Hall, below, shows how it nestles into the hillside among the trees, with typical, wild, limestone scenery just beyond. 

From the top boundary of the garden, there is a gorgeous view up the picturesque limestone gorge known as Troller's Gill. 

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

How are you feeling?

On a scale of 1 to 8, how are you feeling?   😂 😂

This is a collection of faces that I have gathered on my travels recently. Sometimes I think I go through all those expressions in a day. I don't know about you? 

Tuesday, 26 July 2022

Through the glass brightly

Saltaire was looking good through the windows of Salts Mill the other day. Good skies and nice light showed off both the structure of the Mill and some of the main sights in the village. 

Above is looking north west, towards the green of Roberts Park and Shipley Glen, with the administration block of the Mill (which fronts Victoria Road) in the middle and the original combing shed with its ridged roof in the foreground. That's now a business unit. 

The view below, looking south, frames the Victoria Hall, with its distinctive tower - and some allotments in the foreground. 

The third window view, looking north, shows the ornate tower of the New Mill, with the combing shed in the foreground again. 

Monday, 25 July 2022

Long dog

I almost entitled this 'Too Late' or 'Missed Chance'. I spotted this enormous dog in Roberts Park at the Dragon Boats event. I think it's a Great Dane (though it looked for all the world like a cross between a dog and a small pony!) Just prior to this moment, there was a tiny chihuahua making tentative nose-to-nose contact. By the time I raised my camera for a photo it had darted back to hide behind its 'mum'. That's why I'll never be a good street photographer! 

Sunday, 24 July 2022

Bolling Hall

I mentioned Bolling Hall in passing yesterday and it just so happened that a friend and I recently had a drive over there. It's just a mile south of Bradford city centre. It's one of the oldest buildings in Bradford, originally being a medieval stone pele tower, a fortified defensive structure, common in the North and Scottish borders. (The stone tower can be seen on the left of the photo above.) The tower has been added to over the years as the property became a manor house, owned first by the Bolling family and later the Tempests. It's now in the care of Bradford Council, as a museum, and is used extensively for school visits.   

The surrounding gardens are small but attractive, with box hedging and an avenue of cherry trees that look amazing when in blossom. 

Inside it is furnished to give an idea of the different periods in the house's history. The upper room in the pele tower would have been the solar, the main living space for the owner. It's a soaring room, but simply decorated, with a large fireplace, wonderful beams and plain wooden furniture.  

There is a small exhibit showing the type of clothes a Norman yeoman like the first owner of the hall, William de Bolling, would have worn. The hall at that time would have been a wooden structure. The stone tower was built, I think, in the late 1300s. (On the table was an array of armoured helmets from different periods.)

Extensions were added to the hall in later years and the large central room was the 'housebody', warmed with a roaring fire in the big fireplace.  This was where the household came together to eat, chat, sew, play games and entertain visitors. 

One of the bedrooms upstairs is known as 'the ghost room'. It was here, in 1643 during the English Civil War, that the Earl of Newcastle is said to have slept, prior to leading his Royalist troops to attack the Parliamentarian sympathisers who had been holding out, besieged, in Bradford. A white lady is said to have appeared to him, asking him to 'pity poor Bradford', so that he rescinded orders to kill all the townspeople. 

The room has a magnificent fireplace and an ornate plasterwork ceiling, believed to have been added by the Tempest family in the 17th century. It's decorated with the Bradford symbol of a boar, red Lancastrian roses (the family were Lancastrian sympathisers during the Wars of the Roses - Lancaster v York - in the 15th century) and vines to signify wealth. 

The most recent addition to the hall was a wing added in the 18th century, designed by the architect John Carr (who was involved with the much grander Harewood House). The amazing red bed on display was originally made for Harewood House by the celebrated furniture maker, Thomas Chippendale. 


Saturday, 23 July 2022

Matron Sarah Turner

More from our camera club outing in Saltaire...

This is 'Matron Sarah Turner', the first matron of Sir Titus Salt's Hospital, which was set up in 1868 to provide medical services to workers at Salts Mill who were injured at work. It later expanded to provide treatment for those in the local community. Matron was a 'Nightingale Nurse', trained at St Thomas' Hospital in London in accordance with the philosophy and practice of the founder of nurse training there, Florence Nightingale.  She seemed a very no-nonsense character, as you might imagine an old-style matron to be. She says her mantra is 'to purge or not to purge'! She was quite willing to dole out the laudanum, as you can tell! 

In real life, Sheila is an actor and singer, and also plays historical roles as 'Mrs Moore', the mill manager's wife at Bradford Industrial Museum, and 'Frances Tempest', wife of Sir Richard Tempest, Colonel in the Royalist Army during the English Civil War 1642-1649, who lived at Bolling Hall in Bradford.  

More information on Saltaire Village Experience and the Walks can be found HERE

Friday, 22 July 2022

Pollie Toothill

I organised a summer outing in Saltaire for my camera club. We were joined by two of the local costumed guides from Saltaire Village Experiences and we all had a lot of fun, trying out different locations in the village for photos. The guides are well used to conducting groups of people on walks around Saltaire and sharing its history, mostly real but occasionally somewhat 'embellished', I think. So not only did we get some photos but we also got a few interesting snippets of info. 

This is 'Pollie Toothill', wife of Sylvester Toothill. If she'd known what a rum character her husband would turn out to be, she may not have married him. His father, Edward, was the curator at the Saltaire Institute (now Victoria Hall) so they lived in the basement flat there, with her in-laws. Sylvester was often mentioned in the local press; seems he led Pollie a bit of a dance, living in different locations and having several scrapes with the law! She seemed cheerful enough though, and was apparently a bit of a chanteuse, entertaining villagers with performances at the Institute.

In real life, Joanne is also a bit of a chanteuse, working as a singer (aka Lucienne de Ville) specialising in French chansons, jazz and swing. She also works in schools promoting science and engineering via exciting and fun projects. She's a lovely, bubbly character and I'm happy that I caught some of that life in my portraits of her. 

More information on Saltaire Village Experience and the Walks can be found HERE

Thursday, 21 July 2022

Evening stroll

A summer's evening stroll down to Roberts Park invariably produces some interesting sights. 'Saltaire Shakespeare' are once again offering free performances of a Shakespeare play on some weekend afternoons and evenings. This year they are showing 'A Comedy of Errors', which isn't a play I'm familiar with. They seemed to have much better sound this year than in the past but sadly I'm so deaf that I'm still unable to make sense of it. The plays are always performed in modern dress and with a minimum of props, using the natural amphitheatre around the bandstand. They seem to be attracting some reasonably sized audiences, and everyone looked as though they were enjoying it... 

... with the possible exception of one rather restless doggo. 

On a warm wall on the road down to the park, I spotted Chappie, the very antithesis of a restless doggo, being a very chilled-out kitteh. He was apparently exploring the meaning of 'different strokes from different folks', with lots of people stopping to give him a quick scritch behind his ear.  He's something of a star in the village, often seen out and about. He has even been known to hop on a train in the station and thus disappear for a few weeks! His owners kitted him out with a GPS tracker but he seems to keep losing them. I personally think he must be a reincarnation of Sir Titus Salt himself, given that he strolls around as if he owns the place, and everyone knows him! 

Finally, that old familiar view of the New Mill across the weir. What isn't familiar is the ultra low level of the river. It's so low that almost half of the weir is now dry, the water held back by a low sill. You can't see from the photo but the resident heron was sitting hunched up on the dry slabs, looking rather forlorn. I've never seen the river so dry in all the years I've lived here. It is apparently revealing all sorts of 'long lost treasure' like submerged cars! Stretches of the canal are also closed to boaters because of the lack of water. At this rate we will almost certainly have water rationing soon - hosepipe bans and they'll maybe even resort to standpipes in the streets if the drought continues. I can only ever recall that happening once before in my lifetime, in this area.  

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

All the greens

It's rapidly reaching that stage of the summer where all the greens start to look uniform and a bit dull. Thankfully, where the sunlight breaks through, that wonderful, bright, fresh, chartreuse green can still sparkle. This is the path through the lower valley in Northcliffe Park. It could be anywhere... it feels very far from its actual, fairly urban, setting. 

After the past two days of unusually hot (for here) weather, I thought this was a cooling image. Here in Yorkshire we have had temperatures in the high 30Cs (up towards 100F) for the last two days, which is unheard of. Near to where my sister lives in Lincolnshire, it broke all UK records yesterday at 40.3C! That's 104.5F. Thankfully, being retired means I can just flop about and drink water! My old stone house with its fairly thick walls also stays relatively cool, as long as I close the curtains and keep windows and doors shut. It's something we are probably going to have to get more used to. The focus in the UK has always been how to cope with winter, not summer, and we are slow to adapt to the environmental changes we have collectively brought about. 

Hopefully, 'normal service' will be resumed here in a day or two, though we desperately need some rain to replenish our rivers and reservoirs. Some of the rivers and falls in the Yorkshire Dales have dried up completely. I sympathise with all those who have to endure similar hot temperatures more regularly and for longer. 

Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Queen's Baton Relay

The city of Birmingham (UK) will host the 2022 Commonwealth Games from 28 July to 8 August. Just as the Olympics have a flame, so the Commonwealth Games have a baton. Last October HM the Queen launched the Queen's Baton Relay from Buckingham Palace, which is taking a symbolic (and hi-tech - see HERE - it's fascinating!) Baton, containing a special message from the Queen, to visit all 72 nations and territories of the Commonwealth, over a total of 294 days and covering 140,000 km. Its journey will conclude at the opening of the Games on 28 July. 

After its tour around the world, it is now travelling through the UK and arrived in Bradford on 12 July. A team of baton bearers carried it from Lister Park to Saltaire's Roberts Park, so I was fortunate to be able to see it. The baton bearers include athletes and people noted for their work in the community, though I haven't been able to find a list of names of the local people involved. 

Along with quite a few other spectators, I positioned myself outside the Victoria Hall, which happened to be one of the handover points for the baton. The baton bearers, in pink tops, were guided and protected by a squad of runners (in orange tops), for security I guess. The baton must be worth a fair bit! 

In the park, there were dancers and a squad of cyclists that had preceded the baton procession, along with a crowd of spectators. Some of the baton bearers were having their photos taken with the baton. It was all good fun, but they were clearly working to a tight schedule since, quite soon, an official took the baton and placed it in a protective bag, and then the orange crew all ran off out of the park with it. I'm assuming the baton and its crew would be transported to their next venue in Leeds. There were several vehicles around with Baton Relay signage. In Leeds, the baton was due to be carried from Leeds Dock through the city centre to Millennium Square, held aloft by the triathletes Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, among others.