Earlier posts

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

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Spiritual home?

On the way home from Bath, I took a minor detour to the outskirts of Bristol to visit the new HQ of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS). It is housed in a modern building in a new development, Paintworks. Formerly the site of a paint and varnish manufacturer, the factories fell into disuse and deterioration, until the site was bought in 2003 by a company called Verve Properties. They are steadily creating a mixed-use community, with housing, office space, creative businesses and public spaces co-existing. It's bright and vibrant and all rather interesting, though would perhaps appeal rather more to younger generations as a place to live. I found it all a bit 'cold' and hard, somehow. 

It's all very sculptural, including the garden furniture and the lighting!

The RPS have their offices, exhibition space, and a small shop and café in the purple-clad building. I saw an exhibition called 'Squaring the Circles of Confusion: Neo-Pictorialism in the 21st Century'. There were exhibits by eight different photographers. I liked most of their work, though it's about as far from UK camera club photography as you could get! It always frustrates me that what 'does well' in club competitions is often far removed from the creative work that one sees in galleries and magazines, the RPS's own included. 

I enjoyed the work of Susan Derges, whose 'tide pools' were beautiful and colourful. I couldn't work out how they were made, but I think she works directly with light-sensitive papers as well as a camera, and many of her images are composites. 

I also loved the soft focus portraits and nudes shown by Céline Bodin, who takes her inspiration from Renaissance, Neo-Classical and Realist painters. If you put one of these in a camera club comp, I'm pretty sure the judge would say: 'It's blurred'!

In fact, here's one of mine that I took many years ago...and the judge said: 'It's blurred'! Well, yes... It's meant to be! 

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Impressionism in the woods

A wander through the late autumnal woods behind Skipton Castle left me feeling that the reality was better than anything a camera could capture, though I tried to sum it up in an image nevertheless. The best description is 'impressionistic', I think. Bright leaves still hanging on to their branches for dear life reminded me of pointillist paintings, dots of paint quickly applied to capture the essence of a subject rather than the detail. 

A short and sweet burst of sunlight lit up the colourful trees beside the old corn mill alongside the Springs Branch canal. The old wooden mill wheel still works. You can go inside and pull a handle, which brings down a sudden cascade of water (alarming, even though there is a glass panel between you and it!) that sets the wheel slowly turning. The mill wheel isn't powered by the canal, which was built later, but by a goit bringing water from a dam up in the woods, extracted from a stream called Eller Beck. The mill is now shops and offices and has a modern turbine that supplies energy to the National Grid.

The woods are laced with footpaths and some interesting willow sculptures. I've shown this one on my blog before but it is a favourite of mine: The Huntress. She looks a little more fragile every year and I suppose one day she'll collapse and return to nature, which is kind of poetic. 

Walking back into town, I was intrigued by the shimmering rays of light thrown up by the water under the canal bridge; a little light show just for my amusement.  

Monday, 28 November 2022

Murky twilight

After we set the clocks back to GMT at the end of October, it seems that it very quickly starts to get dark by about 4pm. The effect is exacerbated by all the gloomy weather we've been having: drizzle and fog. Some days it hardly seems to get light at all. After a day spent doing errands and boring chores, I decided a short walk was necessary, to stretch my legs and clear my head. Sometimes you just have to ignore the damp and gloom. The school and college students were making their way home so there were plenty of people about and the lights in the shops and offices did lend some warmth and cheer to the scene.

Familiar scenes are rendered differently in the dark... The New Mill (below) was ablaze with light. This end of the mill is now offices for the Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, the body that has responsibility for local community healthcare and for those who have mental health needs and learning disabilities. I'm not sure why the frontage is floodlit in red and purple but it makes it stand out. 

I'm not so fond of the colourful effect from across the river, nor does the scaffolding enhance this iconic view. 

Sunday, 27 November 2022

Autumn beauty at Bolton Abbey

Another day, another autumnal walk at Bolton Abbey... It's one of the real beauty spots that is conveniently close - and on such a damp, drizzly day there are no crowds, meaning in many ways it's the best time to go. The lovely coffee shops are still open for refreshment: excellent coffee, (trying to do without the cake these days!) and/or a warming bowl of soup if the time is right. This time we parked, walked along to the Devonshire Arms to enjoy the luxury of their lounge and a quality cappuccino, walked back along the river to Bolton Abbey itself and then, simply because we could (oh, the joys of retirement and having 'nothing better to do') we extended our walk as far as the Cavendish Pavilion for lunch before returning to the car. Along the way we bumped into two different friends and had a convivial chat each time. Although it constantly threatened rain and the light was poor, it never actually did more than throw a few raindrops at us. I could travel a million miles and still not enjoy myself as much as I do exploring my local patches like this. I feel so fortunate. 

Recent heavy rain has swelled our rivers; good to see and mesmerising to watch them flowing fast and powerful. 

Saturday, 26 November 2022

Fancy a paddle? No!

November has been a wetter than average month and a band of heavy rain moving slowly north-east overnight on 17/18th brought sufficient of a deluge to have an immediate impact on the river levels. It's the first time I've seen the weir in Roberts Park submerged for months. It got to the stage where it was 2/3rds dry over the summer. Looking the other way into Roberts Park, the river has refilled its course and covered over 'the beach' that had emerged. 

Beyond the park, the river current was strong - easier for the ducks but only as long as they want to travel the way it takes them! I always like this view. You'd never know it was in such a suburban area. 

The upper weir at Hirst Wood was fierce. You couldn't see any of the many rocks that litter this area. The original weir has got badly broken down over the years and the stones and rubble have been spread into a wide, rough cascade. 

I was intending to enjoy my usual walk along the river and back along the canal but then found my way impeded. There is a stream that runs down from Milner Field, beside the wood. It passes under a rough, low bridge - except that when I got there, it was passing both under and over the bridge! The photo isn't too clear but the water covers all of the foreground and was swirling about rather fast. I considered attempting to walk on the little parapet on the right but, even had I done so, there was a chasm a couple of feet wide at the far side, too big for me to leap and too deep and swirling for me to paddle through (in boots but not wellies). So I had to turn back; better safe than sorry. At least I was at the near end of the river bank path so I didn't have far to walk back. It's rather annoying though, because at some stage earlier in the year someone (not sure who - landowner? river management people?) spent ages digging out the channel of the stream above the little bridge and widening it, presumably to mitigate a perceived problem. End result is that the stream's flow, in mild flood, has been directed further over and obviously now chooses to bypass the bridge. Water will always take the most direct route! I must just remember for the future that if the river level is up to the top step by the rowing club, then I won't be able to negotiate the path further on. 

Friday, 25 November 2022

Proposed new College building and Heritage Centre

Current view from Victoria Road, looking north east towards Salts Mill

Shipley College are currently consulting about proposals for a new Community, Arts, Heritage and Future Technology (CAHFT) Centre in the middle of Saltaire. It will be situated on the corner of Victoria Road and Caroline Street (see above), where there is currently a car park, public toilets and some waste ground. It would provide extra classrooms and exhibition space for the College; a new home for the important Saltaire Collection archive of historical documents, photos and artefacts; some kind of information point for visitors (sadly lacking at the moment) and some public toilets within the building. 

There was an exhibition of the plans in the College and they are available to view HERE. (Feedback is open until 2 December). The proposal is to start work next year (2023) and have it finished in time for Bradford's City of Culture year in 2025. 

The view of the proposed Centre from Victoria Road looking south-east towards Caroline Street is shown above. At this level it is envisaged as a 'Pavilion' with a lot of glass and timber framing. It has a colonnade around it and is set back from the road, in public gardens. 

This is how it would look from the east looking towards the shops on Victoria Road. You can see from this view that a substantial part of the build is on a lower level (on the part of the site that used to hold the old St John's Ambulance hut). 

This has the advantage (below, view north from Caroline Street) that the sight line from the village towards the main Salts Mill south frontage is largely maintained. 

The photo below shows upper and lower floor plans: 

All very well... I'm very much in favour of smartening up this rather tatty area in the centre of the village and a Heritage Centre for our UNESCO World Heritage Site is urgently needed. My main and significant reservation concerns, of course, the knotty issue of car parking. The car park currently holds 30 cars and is heavily used during the week and at weekends. There is NO provision within the plans to replace these spaces (though they are generously providing some cycle parking!) There is just a rather lame assertion that 'a survey' (presumably done on a wet Monday in the school/college holidays!) suggests there is underused space in the other car parks on Exhibition Road and at the rear of Salts Mill. If that was true (and I think it rarely is) that would assume that people might then seek out these spaces (and be prepared to walk). But you and I know that they won't do that. Instead they'll do what they always do and try and cram their cars into (free) street parking spaces, which are already at a premium around here. If I move my car during the day, then I often have difficulty finding a place to park anywhere nearby and, when I do, I then have to go out later, when all the students, workers and visitors have gone home, to move the car back to near my house. It's a nuisance, particularly if I have heavy shopping to carry in. It's also a nuisance when I have visitors and they can't find anywhere to park. So if this scheme goes ahead, I shall once again be badgering our local councillors, at minimum, to designate surrounding streets as 'permit only' parking, like much of the centre of the village.  

Views from Caroline Street

Just out of interest, the building that was once situated here was the Sunday School, the last of Saltaire's grand public buildings to be erected on Victoria Road, with a huge assembly hall and 25 classrooms to accommodate 800 scholars. Opened in 1876, it was demolished in 1972. (Anyone thinking the newly planned Centre will dominate the site and the view might think again when faced with this massive original edifice!) 

Thursday, 24 November 2022

Postcards from Bath #11

Postcards from Bath #11: Trivia

My last post from the city of Bath is a miscellany of trivia: things I noticed that interested or amused me. There are some wonderful (expensive!) shops. One sold antique collectibles along with a few gift items, and the window displays were quite attractive.

In its corner window, it had a representation of the memorable 'Paddington comes to tea with the Queen' sketch that was shown during the Platinum Jubilee Concert earlier this year - a wonderful reminder of our late Queen's marvellous sense of humour.  If you haven't watched it, I can recommend it - it's on YouTube or there is a link HERE. The  suitcase under the chair says: 'Thank you Ma'am for everything', a sentiment many of us would echo.

I was amused to find some rubber ducks for sale too - including HM the Queen again. (You only have to see a handbag and a hat, don't you?) 

I spent a lot of time in coffee shops, and very occasionally it was dry enough to sit outside enjoying one of Bath's many squares and piazzas. My cappuccino declared its love. 

Spotted some 18th century graffiti - 1781? 

Catering for the tourists, there are signs all over the place in different languages warning people not to feed the gulls. Although quite a long way from the coast, Bath must have a problem with scavenging birds. In our seaside towns they often pinch your fries or sandwiches when you're not looking! They must do the same here. 

I also spotted a listed telephone box, near the Royal Crescent. It is a 'K6' design, designed in 1935 to mark King George V's Silver Jubilee. Although red phone boxes are now cherished, in the early days people didn't like their intrusive brightness so in some areas of natural and architectural beauty they were painted battleship grey with just the glazing bars picked out in red. This one is no longer used but has survived the war and stood on this Bath street corner for many years. 


Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Postcards from Bath #10

Postcards from Bath #10: Twilight details

Here are a few more photos I took in the rain as the night drew in. Bath is full of mews, alleyways and snickets. It must be fascinating to live there and really get to know it. There are layers of history waiting to be peeled back, and endless opportunities for little vignettes or 'set pieces'. I felt that I was only just starting to get my 'photographic eye' properly attuned by the time I had to come home! 

There are any number of 'ghost signs' like these, giving an indication of the previous incarnations of the buildings before they all turned into high end shops.