Sunday, 31 December 2017

Saltaire by night

I rarely wander the local streets at night with my camera and tripod but, when I do, I am always struck again by how the character of the village changes in the dark. In the winter months when darkness comes early, the lights twinkle out from the shops and businesses down Victoria Road, still busily working after nightfall. It's not a view the early Victorian residents would have recognised. Candles, oil and gas lamps would have provided a much gentler glow. But the plethora of modern electric lights - tungsten, fluorescent, halogen, LEDs - all have different warmths and the effect is, I think, quite cosy and attractive.

My photo shows the junction of Victoria Road and Caroline Street, right at the heart of the village.

If you're venturing out tonight to see in the New Year, take care.

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and safe New Year.  I hope 2018 will be a good year for all of us personally and will herald change towards a better, safer, more equal, more peaceful world. (We can but hope!)

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Golden light on the URC

I seem to make a habit of photographing Saltaire United Reformed Church from the canal towpath somewhere between Christmas and New Year. The light is always tricky, as this is the north side of the church so it is backlit by the low sun. The main advantage is that the ice-cream boat that is usually moored right at this spot and (for me) spoils the view, is moved for a few weeks in the low season, leaving the scene to be enjoyed as a very picturesque part of our village. There are still a lot of fallen beech leaves on the lawns and they add a lovely russet glow.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Saltaire's Victoria Hall

As the Christmas season slips away, here is one last look at this year's Christmas tree outside the Victoria Hall. I think they did a good job with it this year and the way it reflects in the Hall's windows provides an added bonus. It really is a magnificent building, isn't it? Wandering Saltaire's streets at night, looking at all the Advent windows, made me realise afresh just how lucky I am to live here.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

'Everytime a bell rings...

Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar 2017 angel gets its wings.' Such a pretty, twinkly window at 16 Ada Street, with the added bonus of more twinkles from the reflections in the car parked outside.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Winter is coming

Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar 2017

Some of you may be more clued up about this one than I am. I think it's a reference to Game of Thrones but, since I've never seen that, I am more 'in the dark' than the window was! This dramatic offering can be seen at 57 Albert Road. I hope they didn't rely on dragon's breath to cook their turkey, though.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Santa over Saltaire

It's not one of the official Living Advent Calendar windows but nevertheless Rance Booth Smith Architects, in the centre of Saltaire, have a classy Christmas panel in their window every year. I loved the detail in this year's offering, which depicts the west facing elevation of the Victorian almshouses on Victoria Road, drawn in a suitably 'architectural' style. It looks like they might have had a visit from Santa...

Monday, 25 December 2017

Merry Christmas

Wishing all my friends, wherever you are, a very happy Christmas. Whether you celebrate the festival or not, I wish you a joy-filled and peaceful day.
All Hail! Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning.
O come, let us adore Him, 
Christ the Lord.

Weather permitting, I shall be celebrating with my family over in Hebden Bridge. There will be two very excited little girls and an avalanche of wrapping paper and noise, I expect. I count myself very blessed.

For some mysterious reason, robins and snow are traditional Christmas symbols in the UK. Is that the same everywhere? It's a little hard to understand, since our robins are resident all year round and we rarely have snow at Christmas - and neither bears any relationship to the real reason for Christmas, celebrating our Saviour's birth. But never mind, it's a cheery scene! I love the way robins look like little round fluffballs when it's cold.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Mog's Christmas

Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar 2017

'Mog's Christmas' by Judith Kerr is a much loved children's picture book that my two little granddaughters both enjoy having read to them. Poor Mog, the cat, doesn't like the Christmas preparations and takes fright on the roof when she sees the Christmas tree, refusing to come down...

The windows at 51 Albert Road tell the story. The stars and baubles were made by children in the Reception class at Saltaire Primary School,  which is just across the road. I think these are my favourite windows this year, though they're all so good that it's hard to choose.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

The Nutcracker

Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar 2017

The window at 44 Whitlam Street is a colourful homage to The Nutcracker ballet, much-loved and performed at this festive time of year.

My daughter and I had a delightful evening out together recently, when there was a live screening of the ballet, performed by the Royal Ballet Company from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden (see HERE for a glimpse of it) . We sat in the cosy surroundings of Hebden Bridge's Picture House, with a drink, and enjoyed the spectacle as much as if we'd actually been there. I love the Tchaikovsky score, and know it well enough from the past that my brain can supplement the little that my poor hearing these days picks up. It was wonderful.

Friday, 22 December 2017


Saltaire's Living Advent Calendar 2017

The alpaca sculpture in the park that I showed yesterday has found a new fame, immortalised (well, temporarily anyway) in one of the Living Advent Calendar windows in the village. They've donned reindeer horns to get into the festive spirit. Rather cute, I thought.

Thursday, 21 December 2017


This statue of two alpacas, outside the Half Moon Café, was installed in Roberts Park during the refurbishment seven years ago.  It references the importance of alpaca wool in the history of Saltaire, since it was through working out how to spin it effectively and incorporate it into lustrous cloth for Victorian ladies' dresses that Sir Titus Salt made his fortune. The statue is loved by countless young visitors to the park and it's rare to see it without a few children climbing over it. Throughout the rough and tumble, the alpacas remain implacable.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Beckfoot, Bingley

There was a lovely quality to the light the other day when I walked down to the ford at Beckfoot Bridge and then crossed over the ancient packhorse bridge itself. The stream is Harden Beck and there has been a ford and bridge here for hundreds of years, part of a packhorse trail along the Aire Valley. The present structure was built in 1723 (and the fencing added - or perhaps replaced - more recently for safety reasons). The ford can get much deeper and more dangerous when there's been a lot of rain. I love how those wizened beech leaves still cling on, adding a splash of colour to the wintry scene.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Bright lights in Saltaire

The traditional Christmas tree outside Saltaire's Victoria Hall looks much better this year, as it's absolutely covered in lights. They've been a bit sparse in previous years but I think I read that this year someone has sponsored it in order to provide more. It's quite a big tree but still dwarfed by the huge bulk of the building. I wasn't able to go to the 'grand switching-on' event, so no pictures from that, I'm afraid. It was on a Sunday evening and I had to be at the evening service at church.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Disease in the forest

All the work they did in clearing rhododendrons (see my post HERE) last winter, up at Bingley St Ives, appears to have had little effect. The fungal disease (Phytophthora Ramorum) must have spread to the conifers. Now there is a massive programme of felling trees. The main car park is closed, all but for a small section, to allow access; machinery and diggers are up in the woods.

Sunday, 17 December 2017


In the recent spell of bitterly cold weather, the Coppice Pond at Bingley St Ives froze right over. There were a couple of patches of clear water at the edges, where trees and vegetation had trapped some slightly warmer air. The ducks congregated on those but the swans were slipping and sliding on the ice and looking fairly bemused.

I'd had a long and chilly walk so it was wonderful to find the little café on the estate was open. A hot, sweet latte fortified me enough for the return leg home.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Homeward bound

Homeward bound on a winter's evening and the lights on Saltaire's Albert Terrace glow warmly in the chill air.

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.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Storm clouds

A familiar view of Saltaire's URC church tower, with the Dining Hall (now a college building) and the rail station in the foreground. Familiar - but different when low sunlight against stormy clouds highlights the stonework and brings out the autumn russet tones. (This was taken a week ago; now the trees are almost bare.)

Thursday, 30 November 2017

It's beginning to look a bit...festive

I'm trying to hang on the the mellow days of autumn a little longer, whilst others, it seems, cannot wait for Christmas. I spotted this festive wreath outside a house in Hirst Wood.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Autumn reflections

Though it's probably technically winter now, I'm loathe to let go of autumn, just as some of the trees seem loathe to let go of their leaves this year.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

End of season

The Ice-cream Boat is still moored in its usual berth on the canal beside Saltaire's church. Its season is surely over now - or maybe they are just continuing in business by serving hot drinks and bacon butties. It looked a bit sad, covered in autumn leaves.

Monday, 27 November 2017

The mill in autumn

That iconic view of Salts Mill again. The scene looks a bit messy at this time of year. The allotments in the foreground are well past their best and full of random bare twigs and piles of rotting leaves. But the silver birch tree seems to be hanging on to its golden sprays. I like the way the leaves tone with the honeyed stonework of the mill.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

River Wharfe at Addingham

Addingham walk
The stretch of the River Wharfe from Bolton Abbey to Ilkey is really pleasant so, once I accessed The Dalesway path, it was an easy stroll back to my car, parked in Addingham. The sun played peek-a-boo behind a bank of low cloud, which was a bit annoying. When it came out, the colours in the water and autumn trees were beautiful. There were a few birds about, although had I stopped and watched awhile I'm sure I might have seen more. I saw some grey wagtails bobbing on the rocks, a few mallards lazily cruising and a female goosander. She was busily diving for food; they stay underwater for ages and then pop up again, sometimes quite a way from where they disappeared.