Saturday, 18 November 2017

Lost in translation

It took me ages to work out the name of this boat, moored up by the Hirst Wood Locks. 'Nofe Ixta Boad'. At first I thought it was a foreign language! But no...  obviously someone enjoying their peripatetic lifestyle on board.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Glory in the woods

Way back in September, it seemed autumn was going to come early this year, as the leaves started to look a bit brown. Somehow though, the season has ended up dragging itself out so that it is only now, mid-November, that the richest colours are showing through. The best of the gold is confined largely to beeches and birches. Walking in Trench Woods was delightful, with sprays of tiny gold leaves clinging on under the empty canopy of the larger trees.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Oh, frabjous day!

I met up with a friend and we decided to go for a local walk, even though it was very dull and threatening rain. We headed out along the canal towpath, up the carriage drive towards Milner Field and back through Trench Woods and Roberts Park. Our route took us past the old mill dam, built in 1911 to supply water to the Salts Mill dye works. It's a bit dark and gloomy there at the best of times. The surrounding trees take a lot of the light so it's not the most photogenic location. 

Suddenly, my friend (who has some new glasses) spotted a kingfisher! I could barely see it. (I think I need some new glasses!) It was right on the other side of the mill pond, tucked on a branch under some bushes. It sat long enough for me to attempt a photo. With my lens on its longest telephoto and a very high ISO, and even so with a quite slow shutter speed, the photos below (cropped) are the best I could manage in the short time before it flew off. We waited quietly for ages but it didn't come back. However, we were overjoyed to see it. They are not uncommon if you know where to go, but they are small and so quick, you rarely see more than a flash of blue. I've never managed a photo before. 


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The old and the new

Liverpool trip 
A final selection of photos of Liverpool, showing the way history has been preserved, particularly around the docks, by a visionary usage of the older buildings alongside eye-catching new developments. It really is an exciting and vibrant city.

This is the Albert Dock, opened in 1846. At that time it was a revolutionary development, where ships were unloaded directly into secure warehouses built of brick, stone and cast iron with no combustible wood. Now it's a major tourist draw and the largest collection of Grade I listed buildings in the UK.  It has been transformed into offices, shops, galleries (including the Liverpool branch  of The Tate), two hotels and many bars, cafés and restaurants.

There are a couple of 'tall ships' permanently displayed in Canning Dock. One, Kathleen and May is the only remaining three masted topsail schooner of her type in the world. I'm not sure of the name of the one in my photo but it's a beautiful ship.

The Port of Liverpool building's domes contrast sharply with one of the newest additions to the Liverpool waterfront, the Mann Island buildings. Opinion is wildly divided as to whether these statement glass edifices add to or detract from the area. Me... I liked the reflections in them!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017


Liverpool trip 
Liverpool's waterfront holds some splendid statues. I particularly liked the horse, a work by Judy Boyt, unveiled in 2010.  Entitled 'Waiting', it honours the 250 years of working horses in Liverpool. In the heyday of the docks there were many thousands of horses and their carters, hauling goods from dockside to warehouse, warehouse to railway or canal barge and often then on to wherever those goods were destined. During WWII, they ensured the flow of food and fuel through the port. Immensely strong but easy to handle, Liverpool cart horses were considered the best in the land. Of course, motorisation and then containerisation spelled the end for the traditional docks and their workers and horses. Nowadays, ships are loaded and unloaded by cranes in hours, rather than days.

I have a soft spot for working horses. One of my great grandfathers was a blacksmith and supplier of hay and straw for working horses in Sheffield.

The other statue I particularly like in Liverpool is 'Legacy' (2001) by Mark de Graffenreid. It shows a young family migrating from Liverpool to 'the new world', America.  Something like nine million people, from all over Europe, are thought to have emigrated through Liverpool, undertaking a brave and pioneering voyage to start a new life. The sculpture was given to the people of Liverpool by the Mormon church.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Museum of Liverpool

Liverpool trip 
The new award-winning Museum of Liverpool sits right beside where the Leeds- Liverpool canal terminates, in Liverpool's Pier Head. Opened in 2011, it explores Liverpool through its geography, history and culture - the port, the people and their economic, creative and sporting legacies. I only had time for a quick visit but I was fascinated to read about the docks and their development, and to see old photos and newsreel footage. The history is both good and bad; the docks were a cornerstone of the 'slave triangle', taking goods such as guns and liquor to Africa to trade for slaves, who were then shipped across the Atlantic to the West Indies and North America, the ships then returning with sugar and rum to sell in England. So much to learn about. I must go back!

Sunday, 12 November 2017

The Fab Four

Liverpool trip 
This statue, unveiled in December 2015 on Liverpool's waterfront, really needs no explanation. It is The Beatles, Liverpool's most famous export. Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon were all Liverpool born and bred and started their playing career as a band in Liverpool's Cavern Club. The statue commemorates their last public appearance in their own city on 5 December 1965 - over fifty years ago now. I must admit to being a bit horrified when I read that! I was brought up on them, the first pop group I really fixated on. Paul McCartney was my idol as a young teenager but I have come to appreciate just how talented and unique they all were. Their music lives on too. There was no shortage of tourists wanting a 'selfie' in front of the group.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

The end of it all

This photo shows the end of it all... that is, the end of what I think of as 'my' canal, the Leeds-Liverpool, which runs from Leeds through Saltaire's World Heritage Site and then across the Pennines to Liverpool. Until recently, the navigable canal ended at Stanley Dock in Liverpool. It has recently been extended by 1.4 miles so that boats can go right into the heart of the old docks, now a thriving tourist area that is part of the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The canal terminates in front of the buildings known as The Three Graces - that is, the Royal Liver Building (Liver birds atop its domes), the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building (not shown in my photo) and passes the Mersey Ferry terminal (the modern building to the left) and the new Museum of Liverpool.

It was nice to say hello to 'my canal' at the other end of its journey.

For the next few days, I'm posting some photos I took in Liverpool earlier in the year. I've hit one of those patches where I've run out of interesting current photos so I'm going to have to trawl the archives...

Friday, 10 November 2017

Sunny Salts

There was a sudden burst of sunshine, on a day when it looked set to drizzle endlessly... I grabbed my camera and set out to make the most of it. Walking through Salts Mill yard, I was struck again by the sheer size and majesty of the place. I've shown similar views before, though not for a long time. I really love the detailing of the towers.

Thursday, 9 November 2017


Another image that is layered and uses textured overlays. These are really interesting to play around with. The effect is very unpredictable but that is what makes it fun and creative to do. It's been suggested that I print this on a large canvas and I think that would look good. Not sure it would fit the decor of my house though... Anyway, I don't tend to display many of my own photos in my home. Maybe I should. Do you?

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Ethereal autumn

This is another multiple exposure image, made using layer blending modes in my processing programmes. I'm pleased with this one. It looks autumnal and yet it has a lightness that suits the sprays of birch leaves. They have such a pretty soft gold tone in autumn.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017


An abstract composition: sections of a wonderfully weathered metal container in the garden at Yorkgate in Leeds. It looked greyish to the eye and I have increased the colour saturation as I love to see the depth of colour 'hidden' in such objects.

Monday, 6 November 2017


This curious place is on the hillside above Ilkley, not far from Middleton Woods. It is known as Calvary, and was erected by the local landowner, Peter Middleton, in the 1850s. The 'Stations of the Cross', depicts the final hours of Jesus' life, his 'Passion'. Such Stations, in churches or outdoors, are designed to help the devoted (usually Roman Catholic) to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, by reflecting and meditating on the scenes of Christ's suffering and death.
Even today, this is a peaceful place and has its own (slightly eerie) beauty, though it has obviously seen better days. I gather it was almost derelict by 1906, so someone must have tidied it up since then. Myddleton Lodge was occupied from the 1920s to the 1980s by a monastic order, the Passionist Fathers and then became a retreat house for the RC Diocese of Leeds. A new retreat centre was opened in 2002.


Sunday, 5 November 2017

The oak

'Many a genius has been slow of growth. Oaks that flourish for a thousand years do not spring up into beauty like a reed.' George Henry Lewes.

And isn't this one a beauty? I came across it on a walk near Ilkley. There were a number of beautiful trees in the area, which is now farmland. They had the look of trees that might have been planted as part of a country estate at some time.

Loathe as I am to quote David Icke, he is recorded as saying:  'Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut that held its ground.'  Which may or may not be a good thought!

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Spirit of Bradford

The wonderful lantern puppet pictured above, part of the Cecil Green Arts collection, is a new creation called 'The Spirit of Bradford'. She has many of Bradford's iconic buildings painted around her skirt, including the City Hall and the Alhambra theatre. The puppets appear to be constructed with a wire frame covered in silk. This one stands a good twelve feet tall, by my estimate. They have an operator inside and the hands of this puppet are controlled by two other people.

There were others in the parade too: an angel, a boar (Bradford's symbol) on a bicycle, an owl, a huge heart and one or two other large figures. They look mysterious and beautiful, brightly lit from inside and appearing to glide along the ground.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Lantern Parade

The Cecil Green Arts collective of artist, puppeteers, musicians and circus performers held a Lantern Parade in Bradford's Lister Park in the schools' half term week, as part of the 'Museums at Night' initiative. They brought their huge illuminated puppets and many children were there with their handmade creations, made at lantern-making workshops during the week.

Music was provided by the Peace Artistes and a drumming group, so there was plenty of encouragement to get moving, on what was quite a chilly evening. 

There were also a couple of circus artists performing fire spinning routines. I wasn't sure what settings I needed on my camera to capture that. A tripod wasn't practical in the dark, with so many people around, but I quite like the effect of movement that I captured. 

Thursday, 2 November 2017


Grassington is the main residential and tourist centre in Upper Wharfedale. It is centred around a cobbled square, and once had the status of a market town, with a market continuing until about 1860. It grew important owing to lead mining on the moors above the town, and once a railway was built to nearby Threshfield, it opened up the area to visitors. Now there are shops, hotels and cafés, catering for tourists and walkers. It's usually very busy and maddeningly (for a photographer!) full of cars. It holds a number of themed events and festivals during the year, including a Dickensian Christmas Festival, which pulls in the crowds. 

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Walk with God

Grassington Methodist Chapel, housed in a building dating back to 1811, has its roots back in the 1780s when John Wesley came to preach in the town, to a large crowd in the open air. By 1851, there were over 300 men, women and children attending services. The congregation is no doubt a lot smaller these days, but it is clear the chapel is well cared for by thoughtful people and still plays a key part in the local community. 

I was delighted by the little murals painted in the arches. 

There were pretty vases of fresh flowers on the windowsills and an invitation to 'eat your picnic' on the bench and enjoy the garden and the view - which I duly did, feeling welcomed.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Mrs Dale's Dairies

I had a chuckle to myself when I saw these lorries parked in Grassington. 'Dale's Dairies' suddenly reminded me of a long-running radio serial drama, 'Mrs Dale's Diary', (in fact the first ever significant radio serial drama) that used to air on the BBC Light Programme all through my childhood. Its theme tune and the goings on in Mrs Dale's middle class household (she was a doctor's wife) formed the backdrop to my early life.

Dale's Dairies, on the other hand, is a family business based in Grassington, sourcing milk from local Dales farms, processing and distributing it. They certify their milk is 'free range', from cows kept outside, free to graze for at least 180 days a year. I think their milk is mostly distributed door to door in glass bottles by traditional milkmen. Sadly, milkmen are rare in urban areas these days. I get my milk from Asda in plastic bottles, presumably not at all 'free range'.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Ghaistrill's Strid

Many people have heard of The Strid at Bolton Abbey, where the River Wharfe rushes through a deep, narrow channel in quite spectacular fashion. Fewer are aware that there is a mini version just upriver from Grassington, called Ghaistrill's Strid. It's a more open area and easier to photograph than the Bolton Abbey Strid, really rather attractive, though not quite as amazing. It was a lovely spot to settle down on a boulder and eat my packed lunch. 

Sunday, 29 October 2017


My Grassington walk took me along the riverside to the handsome arched bridge across the River Wharfe. It carries the main road into the town. There's been a bridge here since the 1500s but the present structure dates to the 1820s when the bridge had to be widened and strengthened to accommodate the many pack-horses carrying lead down from the mines above the town.

I was intending to continue along the riverside beyond the bridge - until I realised the footpath was blocked by a herd of cows. They looked peaceful enough but I still didn't fancy trying to carve (calve?) a way through the implacable enemy forces at the bridgehead! I revised my route...

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Linton Falls

Another day, another Yorkshire Dale... This time I took a walk around Grassington in Wharfedale. From the main carpark in Grassington, I walked down the ancient stone-flagged track, known as Sedber Lane, to Linton Falls.

This is where the line of the North Craven Fault crosses the River Wharfe. After all the recent rain, the falls were quite spectacular. There are three main falls.

The upper fall has a hydro-electric plant, using two Archimedean screws to generate electricity that is fed into the National Grid. It was restored a few years ago, as part of a drive to create more 'green energy' and to reuse the old building, which had housed local generators from 1909 to 1948. 

Friday, 27 October 2017


In the early part of the walk up Arkengarthdale, the high winds kept the rain away and the ever-changing light was amazing. Little breaks in the cloud illuminated small patches of the landscape and there were beautiful crepuscular rays.

Once the wind began to die down, the rain and mist closed in, so the return along the river from Healaugh to Reeth was quieter but rather damp. The riverside walk is what is known as a 'corpse road'. In medieval times, the only church and graveyard in upper Swaledale was at Grinton, south of Reeth. (Poor) people had to carry their deceased loved ones' bodies (in wicker coffins devised for the purpose) for long distances from their homes to the graveyard, to be buried in consecrated ground. Corpse roads had flat stones placed at intervals, so that the coffin could be rested. Some of these stones are still there today.