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.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Farfield Friends' Meeting House

Addingham walk
Once out of Lob Wood, my walking route joined The Dalesway long-distance path, following the River Wharfe as it meanders into Addingham.

Beside the road at Farfield, I came across this lovely little Quaker Meeting House and burial ground. It was built in 1689, the year that the Act of Toleration first allowed freedom of worship to nonconformists in England. (Prior to that, dissenters had to meet in secret and were persecuted.) The land was given to the Quakers (Society of Friends) by the Myers family of Farfield Hall, yeoman farmers, who were members of the Society. It is relatively unchanged and, although not considered to be a sacred place (Quakers consider everywhere to be sacred), it has a simplicity and charm that give it an undoubtedly peaceful atmosphere. It was a delight to spend a few minutes in silence here, enjoying the peace and sunshine.

Inside, there are simple wooden benches, where Friends gathered every week for their meetings, seeking together to come close to the spirit of God. They have neither clergy, liturgy or music and simply wait in expectant silence until anyone present might feel moved to offer witness or prayer.

The burial ground is unusual as it has a few engraved stones and some elaborate box tombs (see top photo), the graves of the Myers family, who gave the land and may have helped with the actual building of the meeting house. Originally Friends were discouraged from having gravestones, though now plain stones of uniform size and simple wording are accepted. There are a few of those too, Victorian and marked with the surname Lister. (Maybe they are connected to the Samuel Cunliffe Lister who owned mills in Addingham? See last Sunday's post.)  

I was unable to decipher the swirly writing on the stone shown below... Here lies (?) interred the body of..? wife of .?

The Meeting House is no longer used, though Quakers still meet in nearby Ilkley and Skipton. The building and burial ground are now in the care of the Historic Chapels Trust.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Lob Ghyll Viaduct

Addingham walk
My walking route descended the valley side, through fields of grazing sheep, who were not much interested in me. I then entered Lob Wood, where you unexpectedly come across this impressive viaduct. Built in 1888, it is now disused and getting overgrown but at one time it carried the Midland Railway from Ilkley to Skipton. The line closed as a result of the infamous Beeching cuts in 1965, though four miles of the line from Embsay to Bolton Abbey station were later reopened and now run as a volunteer-led heritage steam railway.

It was a bit hairy trying to negotiate the path underneath the viaduct. The banking seems gradually to be getting eroded and the drop is very steep. It was muddy and slippery and I started to wonder how long it would take for someone to find me if I fell!! Luckily, I safely gained a wider and flatter path on the other side. Phew. The perils of walking alone...

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Bolton Abbey

Addingham Walk
Climbing over a steep stile in a stone wall, at the highest point of my walk, I was quite suddenly treated to this stunning panorama of the Wharfe valley, with the ancient half-ruin of Bolton Abbey (see HERE) at its heart. 

This is where my long lens comes in useful, picking out some of the detail of the scene: 

Bolton Bridge, both the old and new crossings, looks pretty from this vantage point.

You can pick out Bolton Abbey itself, which has one end in ruins since the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536. The other end of the nave was spared and allowed to continue as a church because it was used for worship by local people as well as the monks. It is still used to this day (see HERE).

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Golf, anyone?

Addingham walk
Bracken Ghyll Golf Club may enjoy some of the best views in England! I'm not sure what green I was standing beside but the view over to Beamsley Beacon is stunning.

A little further on I passed a beautiful old house called Highfield House, which dates from about 1780 and has unusually large windows for its period. Sadly the surrounding hedges were too high for a decent photo. A little further on though, I came to Highfield Farm, a laithe-house, where the farmhouse and barn are connected in one long-house. It dates back to about 1800, and to be honest it looked like it could use a bit of TLC. An ancient house like this, in such an exposed spot, must take a lot of looking after. A gaggle of geese and some hens in the yard didn't take any notice of me, thankfully.

Crossing the fields beyond the farm, the views are extraordinary. A stile crosses the ancient medieval boundary of Addingham Parish, which was marked by a serpentine wall and ditch. The path then follows a farm track, and the area is dotted with crumbling old barns and drystone walls. 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

On the way to Highfield

Addingham Walk
I was quite soon walking in open countryside, up a gentle incline with lovely views back down to Addingham and Rombalds Moor in the distance. The autumn colour has not been particularly outstanding this year round here but it's nonetheless pleasing to see the warm bronze tones, especially when the sun lights up the last remaining leaves. 

I was glad that the path was very clear and I just had to head for the next stile in the walls separating the fields. When I reached the stile in the photo below, which had stone steps and a little gate, I had to duck down under the low-hanging tree branch just at the other side. It made me wonder which came first, the stile or the tree...

This ruined 18th century building is called High Laithe. Laithe means 'barn' or 'granary' and this barn seems to have been for hay storage and winter shelter for cattle. It has some interesting old gateposts, with huge holes that once would have held timber 'crooks' as gate hinges, when iron was in short supply.

Monday, 20 November 2017

A walk from Addingham

I took advantage of a crisp, though bitterly cold, day to explore the area around Addingham. My walk took me out of the village up to Highfield, down to Lob Wood and back along the River Wharfe.

I started in the village centre, in the communal park called Hen Pen Garden. Perhaps there was a hen pen here once... but now it is one of several attractive little areas of colour and greenery in the village, cared for by volunteers (Addingham Garden Friends).

The walk took me up the interestingly named Sugar Hill. As far as I can discover, the building on the right (above) was once a bakehouse, which perhaps led to the name.

Further out, one of the last village houses I passed was obviously once inhabited by textile weavers. It has a bricked up 'taking-in door', where yarn and cloth could be winched in and out of the loomshop, above the living accommodation.

I love noticing these small details of history when I'm out walking, though sometimes (even with our wonderful and magic 'Google') it can be hard to piece together the information.