Friday, 15 December 2017

Christmas film quiz

Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar 2017
7 William Henry Street's advent window features this Christmas film quiz. It's beautifully done and nicely makes use of all the panes in these oldest of the Saltaire houses. Just the thing to get people talking and thinking, as they pass on their way home from the railway station. Can you name all the films?

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Tramway window

Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar 2017
14 George Street has this sparkly tribute to the famous Shipley Glen Tramway. 'Santa Specials' run on Saturdays and Sundays until Christmas - details on the website:

More and more of the windows each year feature twinkling lights or even animations. They're fun to see but more difficult to photograph!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A dusting of snow

Whilst much of the country - Wales, the Midlands and the South West - had a huge dumping of snow last weekend, Yorkshire escaped with a light dusting. I was somewhat disappointed. More had been forecast and I didn't have to go anywhere, so I was hoping for the chance of a walk and some snow photos. It's been several years since we had any decent coverage. Saltaire, in the valley, had barely a few flakes but it has been below freezing ever since so the ice hasn't really melted. In the end, I took a walk up Altar Lane in Bingley, which goes high enough for the scene to look passably Christmassy.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Wash like Titus!

Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar 2017
The felling of the huge trees on Victoria Road has exposed the windows of the old Salts Hospital building, which is now apartments. It must have made the rooms much lighter inside - and has also given them an opportunity to join in with the Living Advent Calendar, as the windows can now be seen properly. What pretty windows they are to decorate.
Saltaire Soap was set up by Fiona Smith. She makes handmade, high quality soaps and toiletries from natural ingredients, selling them at craft fairs and markets and through Etsy.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar 2017

Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar 2017
I've made my first foray to view the Advent windows around Saltaire. Regular readers of my blog will recall that each December a new window is unveiled every evening from the beginning of the month until Christmas, as a Living Advent Calendar. It's been a tradition since 2006, with different houses and businesses joining in the creativity each year. This year there were 14 windows opened on 1st December, meaning that right from the start there is an enjoyable walk to be had.

So... wrap up warm, bring a torch (the streets are quite dark) and take an adventure around the village. Or follow the trail via the Facebook page:

I liked the subtlety of this one at 55 George Street. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. The stars are tiny lights that actually twinkle.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Walk this way

Having been blogging for almost nine years, there is little in Saltaire and the surrounding area that has escaped my lens. Indeed, I think regular readers know it as well as I do now! So I'm always looking for new angles and I don't think I've ever posted a photo of this view before. It is taken just beyond the western boundary wall of Roberts Park, looking south-west. The River Aire's course, on the left edge of the picture, runs parallel to the line of trees, so the lower grassy area is its flood plain (and was inundated, almost up to the houses, in the big flood of 2015). The houses are part of the Higher Coach Road development, originally built as social housing in the 1950s.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Kitty North at Salts Mill

There's a lovely exhibition in Salts Mill Gallery 2 at the moment. The canvasses are huge, colourful. exuberant acrylic paintings by Kitty North, who works from a studio in Arncliffe up in the Yorkshire Dales. The work was commissioned in memory of the late Jonathan Silver, who, thirty years ago, ''got the keys and began to fill the mill with art, love and life." The paintings loosely suggest scenes from the life of Salts Mill, both past and present. There are depictions of the mill as it was during the Industrial Revolution and some that reference the cutting-edge technology firms that these days occupy much of the building. There are several that contain both Victorian and modern figures, some recognisable (David Hockney is there, and Jonathan Silver) and some not; past and present meeting in dream-like images. Plenty of lions and alpacas too. The mill's success was founded upon alpaca wool, and the lions were a symbol used by the mill as well as being seen in the four statues at the heart of Saltaire village. I found it very uplifting and unexpectedly moving. Local people, do go and see it if you can.
(Exhibition runs until 15 April 2018.)

Friday, 8 December 2017

Christmas is coming

The huge Christmas trees have been put up in Salts Mill, with very tasteful decorations. It must take them ages to do; there are four or five trees at least, all needing to be substantial to have any impact in the vast gallery spaces. This one is inside the main lobby entrance. Coming in from the chilly outdoors, it is wonderful to step into the warmth, see the bright colours and smell the fragrance of white lilies. Huge vases full of them are always spread throughout the 1853 gallery, in memory (I think) of the late Jonathan Silver, who rescued the mill from dereliction in the 1980s.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Bird spotting

Another day, another walk... It was a sunny but chilly day and there were few people about, but there seemed to be lots of birds. Some I recognised, some I didn't, most didn't stay still long enough for a photo - and my 18-200mm lens isn't really good enough for bird photography anyway.

I was interested to spot a cormorant on the river. I've not noticed one round here before, though I know they do frequent inland waters as well as the coast. Its plumage was quite pale so I think it's a juvenile.

As I returned to Saltaire, I spotted a beautiful jay on a garden wall. They rank amongst my favourites and I see them quite often in woods and large gardens, though rarely near enough to capture with my camera.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Dori and the Outlaws

Talking of entertainment in the park (as I was yesterday), there was a winter concert of music, organised by The Friends of Roberts Park. It featured a band called Dori and the Outlaws: a modern four-piece Americana band playing roots rock country and blues, heavily influenced by the sounds of Nashville, Tennessee. The singer had a great voice and the amplification was so good that I could hear the music when I stepped out of my back door!

The Friends of Roberts Park had a stall offering mulled cranberry juice and mince pies. The juice was hot and delicious and tasted as though it might be alcoholic, even though it wasn't. (I must make some at home!)  It all felt very festive and fun, standing listening, chatting to my neighbours and watching the little ones dancing. I went home with a smile on my face.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

A lick of paint

Astonishingly, it's seven years since the bandstand was reinstated in Saltaire's Roberts Park during a major renovation programme (see HERE). I'm laughing because, in my original post, I said: "I'm looking forward to a retirement enlivened by Sunday concerts in the park. Some way to go yet, but I live in hope!" Well, retirement arrived, happily, and the bandstand does not disappoint. It is well used in the summer for concerts and as a focal point for all sorts of events and celebrations. It was beginning to look a bit faded, with a few rust patches showing through on the metal pillars. I noticed they have just about finished repainting it, so that should see it (and me) through another few years of enjoyable entertainment.

Monday, 4 December 2017


Shipley Christians Together, an organisation supported by most of the churches in Shipley, had a stall down in the centre of Shipley on Saturday. We were providing free coffee and mince pies to passers-by, with gifts of vouchers for hot drinks (paid for by church members) to be redeemed in local shops. Children were invited to make Christingles and decorate biscuits, and there was the opportunity for prayer and to leave a thankfulness or prayer star on the Christmas tree. Plenty of people were stopping by for a drink and a chat. It was a dull, grey day but neighbourly cheer was warmly offered and received, something to be thankful for.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

In stereo

Many of my walks take me along the canal towpath, at least for part of the route. It's easy walking, and pleasant. Even the same scene never looks identical twice. The surrounding foliage changes with the seasons and the sun comes and goes. These two photos, of the towpath bridge on the approach to Dowley Gap locks, were taken last week, in the same week but in different weather conditions. I liked the first one, but it's amazing how a bit of blue (below) makes the autumn colours sparkle. 

The bridge was constructed to allow the barge-towing horses to change sides, where the towpath moves from one bank to the other. 

Saturday, 2 December 2017

In the rain

'Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's learning to dance fish in the rain.'

I braved a dull and drizzly afternoon to get some exercise, taking a brisk walk along the canal towpath.  There were two fishermen, side by side, on the canal bank, both under huge umbrellas. Maybe they could talk without seeing one another... or maybe they didn't talk. But if they didn't chat, why did they choose to sit right beside each other?...  On a solitary walk such musings float through my mind like fish.