Sunday, 25 June 2017

Gran duty

The childminder, who usually looks after my littlest granddaughter whilst my daughter is at work, has gone on maternity leave, expecting the birth of her own baby very soon. That means a few days of 'gran duty' for the next few weeks, stepping into the breach until the school holidays start. I must admit to finding it quite tiring, being on high alert all the time. M, however, is a delight to look after. Being two and three quarters, she likes to do things for herself and gets quite cross with me if I try to intervene (lifting her into the car seat, for example: "No! I do it!") Generally speaking, she is a very contented and secure little girl, with a remarkably long attention span. She loves building things with Duplo and Magna-Tiles, and will play for ages with little figures and her dolls' tea set. I also found a book with magic pictures that appear when you paint over the page with water. (I remember them from my own childhood, but these days they are reusable.) She loves discovering the pictures and keeps up a constant flow of chatter, exclaiming over what she sees. Utterly cute. I'm a very lucky gran.

Saturday, 24 June 2017


Here is another moody, stormy sky that really seemed to make all the colours glow. Despite the dry spring, the trees of Shipley Glen and the fields on the flanks of Hope Hill are looking lush and green. The clear lighting picked out the peculiar little glazed watchtower on the roof of 47 Titus Street, Saltaire. No-one seems quite sure why it's there. It may have been simply a decorative touch, being more or less central in the village, but in the 1870s the house was the home of Salts Mill's security chief and so the tower may actually have been used as a watchtower.

Friday, 23 June 2017


The National Media Museum in Bradford has recently changed its name to the National Science and Media Museum (it was always part of the Science Museums group) with a greater emphasis on the science of sound and light. They have opened a new gallery called 'Wonderlab', aimed at children, but when a rainy day spoiled a planned walk for me and some friends, we decided to go to the museum and play. It's a fascinating place, though a bit bright and noisy for us oldies!! (Perhaps would have been easier on the senses outside of the school holidays, as there were a lot of children racing around excitedly.)

I especially enjoyed the infinity mirror maze, where you really couldn't tell what was a mirror and what was a corridor or whether you were coming or going!  Hundreds of 'me' visible at any one time. It was utterly mesmerising, although considerably disorientating.

Being deaf, a lot of the 'sound' exhibits defeated me but I liked the light lab that explored the colour spectrum, with lots of filters and lenses to understand refraction and the effect of mixing different coloured lights.

Worth a visit if you're in Bradford, especially if you have children with you. (Free entry too.)

Thursday, 22 June 2017

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Alan Troake and Suzanne Jackson

Just had the good fortune to spend a lovely, warm, sunny evening in Roberts Park watching a free open-air performance of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', this year's play from Shakespeare in the Park, Saltaire. This is the third year they have done a play, though the first I have managed to see. The story of how these performances came about is an interesting one - see here.

It was a delightful evening. The play is, of course, a light comedy about love, fairies and comical mistakes, with some engaging characters. The performance had a modern twist but was pretty faithful to the original dialogue. Being so deaf, I wasn't able to hear much of it really but I know the story from my schooldays so I could just about follow it. (I'm not sure if I've got all the cast correct...) I enjoyed it all very much. It's being repeated on 24/25 June and 9 July, if anyone local wants to catch it.

Puck (Suzanne Jackson) with Hermia (Sophia Leanne), one of the sleeping lovers.

Titania (Meg Hughes) falls in love with Bottom (Stephanie Hindle).

The Mechanicals perform their play for Theseus (Colin Pinks) and Hippolyta.

Pyramus (Stephanie Hindle) dies - amidst a great deal of tomato ketchup!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Red and green

I thought this a rather pleasing juxtaposition of colours. The red door echoes the red leaves of the acer and the bright green shrub is a lovely contrast. This is one of the houses at the eastern edge of Saltaire, built later than the rest of the village, on land used for the Royal Yorkshire Jubilee Exhibition in 1887, which celebrated Queen Victoria's golden jubilee. The land was sold off to developers after the exhibition; these houses don't form part of Salt's master plan and are not included in the World Heritage Site.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Birthday honours!

It has been my birthday recently and I arranged to meet my daughter for the day in York - chance for some light retail therapy and a good conversation over lunch, uninterrupted by the usual chatter of her little girls. It turned out to be a hot, sunny day, so we decided to sit for a while in one of the parks in the shade of the trees.

All of a sudden, our reverie was interrupted by marching music from a military band. My daughter said she'd ordered it specially for me! It was 'birthday honours' but for Queen Elizabeth's 'official birthday' rather than mine. There was some more music, a few short speeches in front of the gathered VIPs and then a 21 gun salute, fired at precise 10 second intervals from three guns. It was impressively done, with each soldier and team knowing exactly what to do and when to do it, amidst a good deal of marching about and standing to attention.

A soldier gave me a leaflet explaining that, in 1971, to commemorate the city's 1900th anniversary, the city of York was given the honour of being one of 12 'saluting stations' across the UK. Gun salutes are fired to celebrate various Royal occasions. The salute was fired on this occasion by the 101st (Northumbrian) Regiment Royal Artillery, accompanied by the band of the Yorkshire Regiment.

I gracefully accepted all the fuss in celebration of my birthday!

(Photos from my phone. I didn't take my camera so I couldn't zoom in very close to the action.)

Monday, 19 June 2017

Where did you get that hat?

Dancers from the Crook Morris side were wearing colourful flower-bedecked hats - with the odd mouse hiding among the blooms!

The Flag Crackers wore a wide variety of wacky headgear, many decorated with pheasant feathers, badges and greenery.

The gentleman below had a top hat with a couple of sunloungers and a pool on top! Not to mention various miniature drinks bottles around the sides... all empty!

The lady below seems to have a tiger in her tank. (Oh dear, knowing that catchphrase rather dates me, doesn't it?) 

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Dance sides

Including the Flag Crackers, the festival at The Airedale Heifer involved half a dozen different dance sides (teams), dancing a wide variety of different traditions.

The ladies above are Fiddle 'n' Feet, an Appalachian dance team based in nearby Shipley. Appalachian-style dances are energetic and involve high kicks and foot tapping on a hard surface.

Persephone Morris dance in the North West tradition of clog stepping and processionals that date back to the days when an annual ceremonial procession brought new rushes for the church floor.

The Buttercross Belles, another ladies North West Morris side, come from Otley. 

Crook Morris are based in Kendal. They have quite a repertoire, including Border Morris dances and Rapper Sword dances. At this festival they were dancing traditional Cotswold Morris dances, familiar to many as the archetypal English dances with waving handkerchiefs and jingling bells.

And finally, there was Saltaire's own Rainbow Morris, who also dance in the North West clog tradition, using garlands, sticks and handkerchiefs.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Flag Crackers

These colourful Morris men (and women) in their rag tunics are a side called Flag Crackers, based in Skipton. They dance Border Morris, relatively simple and raucous dances that originated on the border of England and Wales, in Shropshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire. Their blacked-up faces are a means of disguise and have no racial undertones or implication. They traditionally wear clogs and use sticks in their dances.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Down at the pub

If you go down to the pub today, you may get a big surprise...
Pubs and Morris dance sides go together, of course, like bread and butter (or gin and tonic?)  So maybe it shouldn't have been a surprise to find these characters outside The Airedale Heifer in the nearby village of Sandbeds.
The pub was built in the 18th century as a farmhouse and attached barn. The curious slit windows were ventilation for the barn.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Sunset at Formby

'The biggest cliché in photography is sunrise or sunset.' Catherine Opie

Never mind, I think I'm allowed a cliché now and again. We took an evening walk on the beach near Formby when I was on my Liverpool trip a while back. The sunset was not spectacular but the sky was pleasing, nonetheless, and my iPhone did a creditable job of capturing it.

I was going to post something else today but in the wake of a lot of bad news both nationally and further afield, and from a couple of my friends too, I decided a brief pause to reflect on a peaceful scene might be the more appropriate thing for today. My thoughts and prayers are with the friends I know personally and also all those I don't know, who have lost or are anxious about loved ones or who are suffering in body, mind or spirit.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Pond life

There are as many ways of photographing a pond as there are people with cameras, I guess. This pool on the moors was safely fenced off - to avoid livestock falling in, I suppose, though it was probably as well to keep me away from it too, since I was having an accident-prone day! 

Here are two versions of it: an arty close-up and a more straightforward rendering. 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The greening of England

We walked a long circuit through the farm fields, along the edge of the moors and through little wooded valleys full of bluebells, blossom and pretty white flowers. I thought the white flowers were wood anemones but, on closer inspection, I now think they are a variety of stitchwort (stellaria). Pretty anyway. England is greening up with such a wonderful variety of fresh tones as spring slips in to summer.

Monday, 12 June 2017

A day on the farm

Although my camera club doesn't meet over the summer, several outings are arranged that are usually fun to join in with. One of our members lives on a farm on the edge of the moors above Ilkley, so we were invited to visit.

The day was bright and sunny, the views magnificent and all the farm life was fascinating to this 'townie'. I loved these sheep, waiting for a much needed haircut. I've seen sheep being sheared in a competition at Bingley Show but I've never got so close to the action before. Once the wool is off, in one big loose sheet, it is rolled into a bundle and bagged ready to be taken for processing.

PS: When I was a little girl, my dad taught me how to count sheep using the ancient numbering system used by Derbyshire shepherds. I've always remembered it started (1-5): Yan, tan, tethera, methera, pip. There are many dialect variations. I've just seen, in my Country Walking magazine, the whole 1-20 listed, as used by shepherds in Swaledale: Yan, tan, tether, mether, pip, azer, sezar, akker, conter, dick, yanadick, tanadick, tetheradick, metheradick, bumfit, yanabum, tanabum, tetherabum, metherabum, jigget.  Glorious!